Last week we went into our local church infant school to run a prayer workshop for each class in celebration of the 'Thy Kingdom Come' 10 days of prayer. This was one of their favourite activities!
We got the original idea from the cross in this post and then added a few little twists to it :-)
We wanted the children to think about God being a provider (linked to the Lord's prayer and 'give us today our daily bread') and to know that God wants good things for us.
My friend Charlotte built an amazing cross out of cardboard tubes of various sizes and spray painted it gold to make it extra special. In each of the tubes we put a sweet and then we asked the children to write or draw their asking prayers on a piece of paper, put it into one of the tubes and take a sweet as a reminder that we can ask God for things and that He wants to give us good things. We have done quite a lot of work with the children at the school and they are really familiar with the symbol of light to represent Jesus as the light of the world. Because of this we also gave them some battery operated candles to put into the tube with their prayer as a symbol of who they were bringing the prayer to.
When we went back a few days later for another meeting, the teachers told us that the children were still talking about what they had been doing!
We had a last minute planning situation at our children's group this last Sunday, due to a leader's illness. We were not deterred however! I got out my Godly play materials to tell the story of the Great pearl and then we had lots of activities to choose from that didn't take a lot of preparation.
As most of the children in the group are under 5, it's good when we have a craft that is a bit loose and free flowing and they absolutely love anything to do with food! This craft involved some stuff that I found in my cupboard the night before...
You will need: Plain biscuits, icing sugar (made into spreadable icing), sprinkles, cupcake cases, white fondant icing rolled into 'pearls'.
Spread some icing on top of the biscuit and then add sprinkles to decorate your 'treasure'.
Add a fondant pearl to the top of your treasure biscuit to remember that the pearl was the most special treasure of all.
Finish by covering the biscuit with a cupcake case so that the treasure is hidden. Take the cupcake case off to show the treasure that you can't see at first but have to look for like the merchant in the story!
When we had made the biscuits we spent some time talking about treasure and special things and thinking about heaven and what it might be like. Young children have some amazing ideas about the kingdom of God!
We hold a monthly Ecumenical Messy Church in the local parish hall- the Church of England, the Methodist Church and the Church of Christ working together, pooling our resources and building relationships! Messy Church has proved to be really popular with our local non-church families and this month we explored the story of the Good Samaritan. Here's what we got up to...
'Plaster' biscuits (biscuits, fondant and strawberry jam!)
Wool friendship bracelets
Playing with a toy doctor's kit and lots of bandages!
Pin the Good samaritan on the donkey
Thinking about people we have helped and those who have helped us
Colouring and acting out the story with stick puppets
We then told the story with oranges and bananas (check out the link here)...
...and then ended by thanking God for the people who help us and sticking plasters to ourselves to remind us to be people who help others :-)
You will need: A plastic bottle or glass jar, water, vegetable oil, food colouring, Alka seltzer tablets
Fill a bottle or jar halfway full with water and mix in some food colouring.
Now fill the rest of the bottle with oil, leaving a small space at the top.
The oil will separate from the water into a separate layer.
Drop an Alka Seltzer tablet (or try a quarter or half at a time if they are large tablets) into the bottle and watch as bubbles of coloured water start to ascend into the oil layer in the style of a mini lava lamp!
Talk: Watch the bubbles rising and think about the sight of Jesus ascending and what that might have meant for the disciples. What might they have been thinking/ feeling? What does it feel like to wait for something, as the disciples had been told to go and wait for the Holy Spirit to come?
Pray: Think about situations where you or people you know are waiting for something to happen.
As you drop the tablet into the liquid and see the bubbles ascending, pray that God will take the worries and stresses of waiting away and that they will feel God's presence with them as they wait.
In a couple of weeks we are going to be hosting a community pizza making event and Easter Egg hunt. Because our pizza making project is about building initial trust and relationships in the community amongst those who have never been to a church, we are never the first to mention God (even though we make Pizza in the church itself!). We wanted to have a Christian flavour to the event, though, as it is in celebration of Easter! We are going to use pictures of the Easter story in our egg hunt and I thought I'd share it with you here.
You will need: Print outs of Sheet 1 and Sheet 2 (1 of each), Print outs of the competition sheet (1 per person), marker pens, hole punch, string, pens or pencils, Easter eggs and copies of the Easter story as prizes.
Cut the egg shapes out of sheet 1 and 2 and laminate them.
Pictures show: A palm leaf, a crown, a cup and bread, a cross, a sad face, a cave and a rock, a happy face, the word 'alive.'
With a marker pen, on the back of each laminated egg shape, write a random number e.g. 47 or 391 (rather than 1-8, which are easy to guess)
Punch a hole in each egg shape, thread some string through the hole and go and find somewhere to hang them up.
Give each player a copy of the competition sheet. They now have to go and find each egg shape. When they find an egg shape, they need to turn it over and write the number on the back in the box on their picture sheet.
When they have found all of the pictures they can return to the start and claim their prize (after all of the numbers have been checked!). We are giving out creme eggs and this booklet to everyone who hands in a completed sheet- adults included!
Last week's Messy Church was based around the story of baby Moses being left in a basket in the river by his mother. What we focussed on was the theme of safety: thanking God for those who keep us safe and asking God to keep others safe. Here is the prayer activity we ended with. It was so easy but felt so significant!
You will need: cupcake cases, mini pom poms (it really helps if you put one pom pom in each cake case before you start), a long box filled with water (or several boxes if you have lots of people).
Talk about people who keep us safe, just like Moses' mum tried to keep him safe from the Egyptians and then safe on the water. Are there any times when God has kept you safe? Who do you know who needs help to stay safe at the moment? (We had lots of suggestions e.g. homeless people, people who were going to have an operation, people who were going on a journey).
Invite everyone to take cake case with a pom pom in it and think about someone who keeps them safe or someone who needs help to keep safe. Either say thank you to God or ask God to help them. When they have prayed, ask them to float the case on the water as a sign of their prayer.
This is a fun activity we will be doing with our children on Sunday when they look at the story surrounding the birth of Isaac. Food crafts always go down well but this one is also a reminder of what God has earlier said to Abraham.
Then the LORD took Abram outside and said to him, "Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That's how many descendants you will have!" Genesis 15:5
You will need: plain biscuits (Rich Tea or Digestive are good), icing sugar, water, star shaped sprinkles, Jelly Babies
Make some thick icing out of the icing sugar and water and spread some of it over a biscuit.
Sprinkle on some stars and then place a Jelly Baby on top.
Talk about: What is your favourite part of the story?
Who is your favourite character?
How would you have felt if you were Isaac's parents?
What is a promise?
What does it feel like the someone keeps their promise?
Do you wonder anything about this story?
Thank God for our families and then eat the biscuits!
Easter is coming way sooner than seems possible! Lent starts next week so here are some ideas to get things going...
Shrove Tuesday is traditionally the day when people use up all of the rich foods in their homes, ready for the Lent fasting to begin. This is not a cooking activity (because every time I make pancakes it is a total disaster!), but it is an active way to celebrate and thank God for the good gifts He has given us.
Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, and a day where we have a chance to say sorry for things we have done wrong and to think about our lives. This post contains a simple interactive liturgy, an 'ash' related prayer activity and a craft to draw out the themes of the day.
At Cafe church last week we were talking about the different aspects of God's character and how different people are drawn to different pictures of who He is. We looked at different images from the Bible...
A Father (Hosea 11: 1-4)
A Shepherd (Psalm 23)
A Mother Hen (Matthew 23:37)
A King and a Warrior (Psalm 24: 8-9)
The Creator (Isaiah 40: 28)
Love (1 John 4: 7-8)
A Potter (Jeremiah 18:1-6)
A Fortess, a Rock and A Shied (Psalm 18:1-3)
...and then talked about who God was to us.
This play dough mat was made to help children to explore their ideas in a hands-on way.
The story of Jesus being presented in the temple is full of amazing imagery from Simeon and Anna about light and Jesus' power to set people free. If you are covering the story this Sunday (and even if you aren't!) here are some ideas to help you...