Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Hands on intercessions (with an IKEA play rug!)

The other week we managed to come by a second hand IKEA children's rug for a very reasonable price and it seemed perfect for using for some hands on intercessions!

This idea works well with all ages and can be a stand alone prayer station, revisited over period of time, or used as a focus in a group or an all age service.

You will need:
hearts, figures/ people (I used foam shapes but playmobil or lego figures would work well too), toy cars, wooden blocks (or duplo), a town play mat (we used this one)

Place a car on one of the roads- pray for traffic, safety, drivers, pedestrians
Place a block on the map and pray for a building, workplace or home that you know.
Place a figure on the map and pray for a person in this community
Place a heart on the map and pray for situations in the community that need God’s help
Have fun!

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Under 5s: Exploring Holy Communion with A Symbols Treasure Chest

Over the next 4 weeks or so, the whole church (adults and children) is looking at and learning about various aspects of Holy Communion: what it is, why we do it, signs, symbols, stories and liturgy.  At the end of the series, we will have a special celebration where I will preside at communion for the first time and one of our children will take her first communion.  It is actually quite exciting to all be learning together!

We have set up a 'treasure chest' for children to role play with during the service, using an old box we found in an antique shop. 

This is what we put inside...

Handkerchiefs in the 4 liturgical colours (plus extra white ones for children to use as purificatory to wipe the cup with), wooden crosses and doves.

A felt book of church symbols (see a future post on this!)

Some metal cups and plates found for a bargain price in a charity shop, some wooden bread, hearts, battery operated candles and a globe ball.

We put it out for the first time last week and the response was fascinating! Some of the children, completely unprompted, were acting out giving the bread and wine to each other and to their parents and even used the white cloths to wipe the cup after each sip.  We warned the congregation that there was likely to be clinking of metal, but that we welcomed that because it meant that the children were getting involved.  In just one service we learned how much even the youngest children observe and process that symbols and actions they see happening around them!

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Flying Dove Peace Prayers

This is a fun and active prayer activity, using the dove as a symbol of peace.

You will need: A straw, the dove shape and paper rectangle cut out of the resource sheet (click here to print), sellotape, pens

Wrap the paper rectangle around the straw (not too tight) and then fold the top of the paper over to make a 'pocket' for the end of the straw.  Make sure that there is a little gap between the fold of the pocket and the end of the straw or your paper will stick to the straw and will not fly when the time comes!

Write or draw prayers for people or places who need God's peace on the front of the dove shape.  Turn the dove over and sellotape the paper pocket to it, as shown in the picture below.  

Turn the dove the right way round, aim it and then blow through the straw.  Watch your peace dove fly as a symbol of giving the prayers to God!

Friday, 27 May 2016

Jesus walks on water: messy painting with feet!

There comes a time when you just have to get messy in the pursuit of story telling.  I am usually an avoider of paint, but even I couldn't resist the messiness scale of this activity!

This is a fantastic way of exploring the story of Jesus walking on water, but please be aware IT IS MESSY!

You will need: Paint, wallpaper lining paper or a long strip of paper, feet, washing up bowls filled with warm water, towels (old ones that you don't mind getting a bit stained!)

Read or tell the story of Jesus walking on water and then talk about Peter stepping out in faith.  Who he walked towards Jesus he stayed afloat, but when he payed attention to the wind and the waves, he began to sink.  

Lay out the paper to make a long stretch of 'water' and make sure that it is fastened down! It is best to do this either outside, or somewhere easy to clean.

Squirt some blobs of paint onto the paper.  Make sure they are small blobs because big blobs will cause a slipperiness problem for bare feet...

Take off shoes and socks and step out onto the paper, use your feet to spread and mix the paint.  try using bubble wrap 'shoes' to make different textures in the paint.  Several people can paint at once!

When finished, clean and dry feet with the water and towels.

Talk about:
How did it feel, stepping out onto the paint? Were you worried? 
Sometimes stepping out into the unknown requires you to be brave.
Where in life would you like to be brave?
Has Jesus ever helped you to be brave?

Ask children to write their names on the painted paper and pray that Jesus will give them the courage they need when they need to step out into the unknown or when they are worried.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Who is God?: Using Symbols to explore the Holy Trinity with children (and adults!)

So yesterday was Trinity Sunday and we bit the bullet and had a go at teaching about the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (with as little heresy as possible!)

We decided that the best way of proceeding was just to talk about the many different ways we relate to God and the many different ways that God relates to us, and to do this we gathered a collection of symbols.  The idea was that the children could pick a symbol and describe what they thought it meant in relation to what they know about God and the three persons of the Trinity.  There were no wrong answers!  It helped that Pentecost had been the week before, so Holy Spirit symbols were still fresh in their minds.  

Our basket of symbols contained:

  • a cup
  • play bread
  • rainbow ribbons
  • 'fire' streamers
  • 'water' streamers
  • a bottle of water,
  • a battery operated tea light
  • felt flames
  • wooden people 
  • a globe ball
  • a windmill
  • a cross
  • a dove
  • hearts (including a heart with arms- thank you IKEA!)

Using symbols in such an open-ended way, letting the children respond, suggest and give their own interpretations is both a little scary for the adults (because we have to let go of our control) and also amazingly freeing, because it allows the children to express their relationship with and thoughts about God in ways we might never imagine.  It definitely helped to open up the conversation with children and was equally as fascinating when we let the adults have a go and give us their interpretations of symbols given to them at random.  On every level there was deep theological thinking happening!!

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Product Review: An Illustrated Earth for Families

I was very excited, this week, to be given a review copy of the new resource from Illustrated Children's Ministry- An Illustrated Earth for Families and I have to say that we wasted no time in trying it out!
An Illustrated Earth For Families is a downloadable resource that includes 12 separate sessions for the whole family to use together.  Each session includes a Bible story, questions, storytelling cards, a prayer and two colouring sheets- a simple one for younger children and a more complex version for older children and adults. The sessions are split into 3 sections (Water stories, Plant and Food Stories and Animal stories) and each section finishes with four practical ideas for the family to do together.

Some families from church had a go at one of the sessions and it's fair to say that they had a great time!

Here's a review from Emma and her two boys..

C (aged 5) was very excited when he saw the colouring and when I said 5000 he knew the story from School.  This, as much as the written story provided, influenced his retelling using the story boards.  Without me mentioning it C added in that the food had been a little boy's who was willing to share (obviously a school focus point!). 

In discussion while colouring C responded to the questions well and had picked up the central lessons of compassion and giving in relation to Jesus and family.
M, at 2 years old, enjoyed the colouring and listened to the prayer, joining in with a final amen.

I enjoyed all elements and would have liked to spend longer colouring as it is an act that allows for both discussion and a hint of quiet reflection while the boys were engaged in their own pictures.

With my young family it would have been nice for some of the language used, perhaps that on the story boards, to be simplified further allowing emerging readers to combine both the simple images and text together for the retelling.

The scope of the suggested extra activities is brilliant and we will definitely be engaging in at least two of these activities this half term.  I can see both boys
getting very excited about flower bombing the neighbourhood!

Overall I thought the material was beautifully crafted and provided a good starting point for individual families to adapt to their needs.  I particularly like the overriding themes and the continuity this brings.

Here's another family, trying out the 'Lost Sheep' session- both child and parent enjoyed the colouring and were inspired to act out being different creatures that God has created and cares for!

If you fancy getting your hands on this resource then you can buy it here and, what's more, we have a special code to claim a 15% discount on everything in the Illustrated Children's Ministry store until May 30th! Enjoy!

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Pentecost pass the parcel all age talk

Here is a last minute Pentecost talk idea.  We will be using it tomorrow in our cafe church service! This works best before you read or tell the story.

You will need: 

  • A bag of sweets (enough to share with everyone)
  • Lollipops for each layer
  • Pictures of: a dove, a windsock, fire, the word 'welcome' in various languages.  To download a sheet with these pictures on click here.
  • Newspaper
  • sellotape

The bag of sweets and the picture of the dove will be your central layer.  Wrap them in the newspaper.

 On top of the dove layer, put the 'welcome' picture and a reward lolly!
For the next layer, put the fire picture and a lolly and the top layer will be the windsock (the closest I could get to a wind picture!!)

Talk about Pentecost being the birth of the church where, in one day 3000 people came to know Jesus.  We all got an amazing birthday gift that day- the Holy Spirit.

At birthday parties you normally play games so we are now going to play pass the parcel.  Pass the parcel round and play the game. As the top three layers are taken off, the pictures will tell the order of the story- first the sound of a great wind, then tongues of fire above heads, then speaking in different languages.

The bottom layer will reveal the dove and sweets to share with everyone.  People who had removed the first three layers of paper all got a personal reward in the shape of a lolly and no-one else got one, but the Holy Spirit gives power to spread the joy of the gospel not just to one person but to everyone. Share the sweets out and pray that everyone will know the power of the Spirit at work within them!