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!

Friday, 13 May 2016

Love Each Other: Exploring John 13: 34-35

Here are some ideas for exploring this passage...

This session was used with a group of children ranging in age from 2-10 so there are lots of hands on things to do! 

Memory verse hunt: Cut out the words of the memory verse below and hide words around the room. 

Everyone will know that you are my followers if you love each other. John 13: 35 

Children find words and have to make the verse when all words have been collected.

  • Make up actions to try and remember the verse.

  • Make bookmarks using the memory verse.  Make hearts using thumbprints

Talk about: 
What is love? 

  • Talk about love for friends and family. 
  • How do we show that we love each other? 
  • Jesus showed love for Peter. Even though Peter denied him, Jesus forgave him and gave him a job to do and Peter went on to do great work for God (we had been looking at some stories involving Peter in the previous weeks, so the children would have been familiar with his story) 
  • Who loves you? How do you know?
  • Why would we want people to know that we are Jesus' followers?

Some of the things the Bible says love is... 

  • protecting
  • not selfish
  • trusting
  • hopeful kind
  • patient
  • not jealous keeps trying

Make a mobile using these words and any others you can think of to do with showing love to others.

Other ideas:

Sewing hearts with wool.  

Tissue paper heart collage

(click on the link for details!)

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Martha and Mary (Luke 10:38-42): Crafts and Activities

Today I have been challenged by requests for ideas on two stories that I haven't covered yet on this blog and so I decided I needed to get my act together!

One request was about the story of Martha and Mary- how have I managed to miss this one?!  Thanks, Peggy, for you request :-)

This story comes in Luke 10: 38-42 and involves Jesus visiting the home of the two women.  Mary sits at Jesus' feet as a listening disciple, while Martha is more concerned with the work of cooking and cleaning.  Martha always seems to come off worse in interpretations of this story, but this is because her focus is off.  Hospitality and serving others, as Martha is doing, is not, in itself, wrong, but Martha is distracted by worries that are taking her focus in hospitality away from Jesus.  I do like Martha because I realise that I act like her quite a lot!

Here are some ways to help children to explore themes in the story:

Taking time to focus on Jesus:

Make or use finger labyrinths

Reflection bottles

Make a sacred space: Use cushions, lights, drapes and even a pop up tent!

Reflective colouring sheets

Reflective painting

Hospitality/Ways of serving others with the focus on Jesus (showing something of his love)

Random Acts of Kindness and generosity

Kindness Prayer station

 Have fun!

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Holy Trinity Spinners

So the time has finally come to bite the bullet and think about teaching the Trinity...

I am fully aware of the fact that it's nearly impossible to try and explain the Trinity without committing some kind of heresy so this is never going to be a perfect analogy and I don't claim that it is!!

My main aim really is to get the children thinking about the different ways God relates to us as Father, Son and Holy Spirit and to try and get across the fact that God is all three at the same time. I'd like to just say 'it's a mystery,' but that's a bit of a cop out!

Here's what we will be doing...

You will need: 
  • collage paper/ feathers etc or felt tips
  • blue tack
  • glass pebbles
  • bottle tops
  • card
  • a circle split into three equal parts drawn or printed onto card

Get children to think about what they have heard and know about the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  

On each third of the circle use colours, shapes and symbols to draw or collage their thoughts/ feelings/ ideas about each person of the Trinity. It will be really interesting to use the time to chat to the children about what they choose to do!

Turn the spinner over and stick the flat side of a glass pebble to the middle of the circle.


On the front of the spinner, blue tack a bottle top to the middle.  

Twist the bottle top to spin the spinner and see how the three parts blend into one!