Sunday, 19 October 2014

Floating Prayers

I was recently reminded of this prayer activity and it was great to try it out again.  I'd forgotten how peaceful and reflective an activity it could be!

This is suitable for use with all ages but certainly has a 'wow' factor that children will appreciate. What's great is that you can go as big or small scale as you want.  I've seen it done in paddling pools with larger groups but it works equally as well in a small container.

You will need: Thin paper, pens, scissors, a container filled with water.

Ask children to think of people or things they would like to bring to God and then ask them to cut out a shape from the paper. This shape could correspond to their prayer topic or, in a more guided session, each child could use the same shape and pray around the same topic.  Options could include:

Praying for others- flowers or stars, writing the name of a different person on each petal/ star arm
Love/ forgiveness/ sorry- heart shapes
Thanks- the shape of something you want to thank God for.

Fold the corners, sides or petals of the shapes into the middle (as shown in the picture collage above).

Place the bottom of the prayer shape on top of the water and watch as the petals or folded portions of the shapes gradually open out, symbolically opening out the prayer to God.  The opened shape will then float on top of the water. This will take some time to happen fully so there is plenty of opportunity to watch and reflect on the prayers!

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Make Your Own Bible Story Stones: Pictures to Print and Use

Story Stones are a great way to help children to interact with the stories we tell them.  Symbols and pictures on the stones help us to tell the story and then children can use the stones to retell or interact with different elements of what they've heard. They have so much potential!

Making story stones can seem a bit of a chore, though, if painting is not your thing or if you just don't have a lot of time.

Here is a possible solution...

The end result might not be as pretty as hand-painted stones, but they do the job!

Print out the sheet of pictures (click here), cut out and stick onto stones (flat, polished stones work best).  Now you are good to go!  As you can see, the sheet has stones to help tell several Bible stories so there is plenty of opportunity to test them out.  Let me know how it goes if you decide to test them out!

Monday, 6 October 2014

Sandpaper Prayers: Praying for People having Rough Times

This is a very tactile way of praying for people who are going through difficult times and can be used with a variety of Bible stories where difficulties of some kind has to be faced e.g. the story of Joseph in the Old Testament. I love it because the wool 'sticks' to the sandpaper naturally, creating a colourful picture and breaking up the roughness of the surface with softness.   It is quite a reflective activity so children might even like to use it if they are having some quiet time with God...

You will need: Sandpaper, short lengths of wool

Talk about: The rough feel of the sandpaper.  What does this remind you of? 
Which stories from the Bible do you know where people were having a difficult time but God brought a change and a new start for them?
Share times from your life and from the children's lives when things have been rough and God has helped you through.

Feel the sandpaper with your fingers. Think about people you know who are going through rough, difficult times at the  moment.  Ask God to help and bless them.  As you pray and think about these people, arrange the soft, coloured wool on the sandpaper as a sign of the new life and change you are asking God to bring.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Pipe Cleaner Intercessions

I love the versatility of pipe cleaners and children seem to feel the same!  They are great for playing 
with and they are also great for praying with...

Here is a version of some prayers I did at a recent All- Age service with the whole congregation.  The prayers would work well with a small group of children or in a family prayer time.  Take time to talk with children about each section as you go along so that they know clearly who and what they are praying for.  They will undoubtedly have lots of suggestions!

1. Shape the pipe cleaner into an initial or a shape that stands for one of your friends.
Hold the shape and tell God how your friend might need His help.  Ask God to bless them.

2. Screw the pipe cleaner up.  
Think about people in the world who live in confusion and don't understand what is happening to them- people who live in war torn areas, who have to leave their homes, who don't know where they will get their next meal.  Hold the shape and ask God to help them.

3. Link your pipe cleaner with someone else's
Think about people who are lonely- those who have no friends, family or support around them.  Ask God to send them people who will be their friends.

4. Loop the pipe cleaner around your wrist.
Think about when God has been with you this week.  Has he answered any of your prayers?  If you have any prayers, ask God now. Thank God for always being with us and caring for us.  Wear the pipe cleaner around your wrist as a reminder of God being with you.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

DIY Foil Finger Labyrinths

Finger labyrinths have been really popular on Flame for a while, so I thought I'd post another way of making them. This is a very tactile version, very easy to make, and allows children the chance to make their own wandering line!  The labyrinths would work really well as a craft activity for any Bible story that involves a journey e.g. The Exodus, Joshua.

You will need: Paper plates, pencils, foil, glue (PVA works best)

Get children to draw a spiral on the paper plate- start in the middle and work outwards but take the line on a wander if you want to!
 Next, cut pieces of tin foil and roll them into thin sausage shapes.
Glue the foil sausages to the spiral on the plate.  If using PVA you will need to wait a while for the glue to dry!
Children can now use the labyrinths as prayer tools, either as a way of using something tactile as they reflect or, more specifically to think and pray about life journeys (see below)

Talk about:
How does it feel to go on a journey? What do you need?
How can life be like a journey?  
Who journeys with you? Who do you journey with?
Does God journey with you?  How?

Give children the chance to spend time in silence, thinking about their life journey or the life journeys of people they know.  As they follow the foil line with their finger, encourage them to talk to God about their lives and how He might be with them on the journey. 

A version of this activity appears in the current edition of Premier Children's Work Magazine.  Check it out!

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Exploring the story of Ruth with 3-5s

As a previous post has looked at ways of exploring the story of Ruth with older children, I thought it was only fair to see how younger children might explore it through playful ideas!

This is a great children's Bible with a good retelling of the story:
As the children play, use the time to chat to them about what they've heard in the story...

Explore themes of community and sticking together with the people we love using jigsaws and lego or duplo

 Think about family, people we love and people who care for us with a collection of hearts
 Think about journeys with old maps (and toy cars!) and act out the story with peg people
 Make a game of collecting buttons to act out Ruth gleaning the wheat
Use this craft to continue exploring the idea of people we love and God loving and providing for us.