I’ll give you a fair warning before you try this event out at your own church: I’ve had bad luck with it. Not with the activities itself or the lesson, but with actually holding the event! It was originally scheduled to be our January kids night, but the night before I caught some sort of virus and we had to cancel it. So, I rescheduled it for early February, but it turned out that that day was a snow day (albeit a senseless one because we ended up not getting any snow at all!). So, I actually just cut out a few of the activities and had our jungle adventure during children’s church a few weeks ago and the kids honestly did enjoy it!
So, if you end up with a virus and/or a snow day that cancels your event, don’t say I didn’t warn you 🙂
Goal: The goal of this event is to provide an opportunity for the children of Fillmore Wesleyan Church to have fun together and learn that God can help us to squash our bad habits as we practice self-control. This event also presents the opportunity for children from the community to engage with the Fillmore Kids program in a non-threatening environment.
Key Scripture: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” – Galatians 5:22-23
Personnel: 4 minimum, 6 preferred
Here’s What You’ll Need:
- Jungle Animal Bean Bag Toss set
- Wild Life Origami Set
- How to Draw Wild Animals book
- Let’s Make Stencil Art book
- White paper
- Colored Pencils
- Toilet paper rolls (approximately 40)
- Double-sided tape
- Safari stickers
- 4 hole-punches
- 3 disposable cameras
- Safari sheets
- Cards with jungle animals printed on them
- Masking tape
- Slips of paper with animal family roles
- Dry erase markers
- Poster with 1 Corinthians 9:24-25a (ICB) written on it
- Fly swatter with 2 Timothy 1:7 written on it
- Paper mosquitoes
- Dixie cups
- Animal crackers
- Jungle Bingo cards
- Toy snake
- CD player with music
Decorations: Use construction paper to create animal foot prints. Place these on the floor to guide the kids to the fellowship hall. Decorate the room with jungle animals (I bought these from Oriental Trading). Crepe paper from the ceiling to look like vines would also be a great touch! These inflatable monkeys are also fun for the kids 🙂 Our children’s church room has a jungle-themed mural, so our decorating needs were minimal.
Arrival Time (about 10 minutes): As the children arrive, have them check in at the registration table. If they do not have a registration form on file, have the parent/guardian fill one out. Give each parent a check-out slip for each child. (Personnel Needs: 1)
Have the following activities available as the children arrive, along with instruction cards for each. (Personnel Needs: 3)
- Jungle Animal Bean Bag Toss: Give each child five tosses with the goal of getting one beanbag in each jungle animal’s mouth.
- Jungle Animal Art: Set up a table with blank paper, colored pencils, and regular pencils. Provide the children with a wild life origami book, a book on how to draw wild animals, and an animal stencil art kit. Allow the children to be creative!
- Safari Binoculars: Have the kids take two toilet paper rolls and tape them together with double-sided tape. Then, they can decorate their binoculars with stickers, markers, etc. Attach yarn so they can wear their binoculars around their necks. (Personnel Needs: 1)
- Animal Preserve: Invite the children to bring a stuffed animal with them to the Jungle Adventure to display in our “animal preserve.” Provide a few disposable cameras so the children can photograph the animals, just as they would on a safari. Provide several Safari Sheets for the children to fill out with their observations at the “animal preserve.” (If you need ideas, check out this Animal Safari Sheet that I made).
Animal Charades (about 10 minutes): Prepare several cards with pictures of animals printed on them. Call one child up at a time and have him or her act like the animal on the card. The rest of the children will have to guess which animal it might be.
Elephant Race (about 10 minutes): First, divide up the guests into two equal teams. Then each team must form their “elephant”. To do this, line up each team in a single file line. Then each guest reaches through the legs of the person in front of them and holds one of their hands and they also hold the hand of the person behind them (who is reaching through their legs), while everyone makes their best elephant noise. Then simply make a designated path they must travel and send watch them go.
Find Your Family! (about 10 minutes) Ahead of time, prepare slips of papers with roles in different animal families (i.e. Mr. Lion, Mrs. Lion, and Baby Lion and Mr. Elephant, Mrs. Elephant, and Baby Elephant, etc.). Give each child a slip of paper, but tell them not to tell anyone else what their paper says. Once everyone knows their role, the game begins. Each person must start making the noise of the animal designated on his or her slip of paper. No talking, though! Animals should identify their family based on the sounds they are making. Once a family is formed, they should sit down together.
Lesson & Songs (about 20 minutes) As you walk to the lesson area, swat at the air, pretending that mosquitoes are all around. Tell the kids that this is one downside of spending time in the jungle – too many mosquitoes!
Gather the children in a circle on the floor. Write the word “Habit” on the chalkboard.
Ask the children to name some good habits they have (i.e. brushing their teeth, praying before a meal, etc.). Explain that we can also have bad habits, things we wished we didn’t do. They can be annoying like mosquitoes, so we try to squash them. When we try to break a habit (“squash the mosquito”) without God’s help (erase the “h”) we still have “a bit” of the habit left. So, we try even harder (erase the “a”), but without God’s help a “bit” still remains. We can still try just a little bit harder (erase the “b”), but “it” – the habit – is still a part of our life. What do you think the problem is? (Erase the “t”) That’s the problem! “I” is right in the middle of the habit. I cannot break a habit on my own, but God can help me to grow my self-control.
Remind the kids that self-control is part of the fruit of the Spirit. Sing the “Fruit of the Spirit” song. Have the kids give suggestions for fruit to insert into the song (i.e. “Oh, the fruit of the Spirit’s not a coconut”).
Ask the kids: “How do you think God helps us to grow out self-control?” Allow for a few responses. Hold up a poster with the following verse: “You know that in a race all the runners run. Bur only one gets the prize. So run like that. Run to win! All those who compete in the games use strict training.” – 1 Corinthians 9:24-25a (ICB) Explain that we grow in self-control by practicing! Every time we are tempted to carry out one of our bad habits, God has given us “mosquito squashing” verses to help.
Pull out a fly swatter with the following verse on it: “God did not give us a spirit that makes us afraid. He gave us a spirit of power and love and self-control.” – 2 Timothy 1:7 (ICB) Explain that we can use this verse to squash our bad habits. Point out the paper mosquitoes on the wall, each labeled with a different bad habit (i.e. eating junk food, laziness, watching too much TV, interrupting, losing my temper, gossiping, etc.). Use the fly swatter to squash each of them.
Close with a prayer that God will help us to practice our self-control and that, with His help, we can squash our bad habits.
Snack (about 5 minutes): While you are teaching the lesson, have volunteers prepare snacks in Dixie cups. Offer the children the option of animal crackers or bananas. Offer a quick prayer of thanks for the food, then serve the children.
Jungle Bingo (about 15 minutes): Give each child a Jungle Bingo card (just Google it and you can find a variety) and a marker. Draw a picture card from a bag and read its name out loud, then ask the children to mark the matching image on their bingo card using their marker. The first person to match five-in-a-row up, down, or diagonally wins! I found that safari-theme stickers were an appropriate “prize” to win 🙂
Poisonous Snake (about 10 minutes): Play this game just like “Hot Potato,” but use a toy snake in place of a potato. Tell the kids that the snake is poisonous and they must pass it as quickly as possible to the next person to avoid being bitten.