When One Teaches, Two Learn

Figuring out children's ministry one day at a time

The Barefoot Olympics: Let the Games Begin!

This was probably my favorite kids night event that I’ve done so far.  I loved it and the kids did too!  Below is the plan that we followed for the evening, but you could certainly substitute your own foot-related activities.  Don’t be afraid to get a little wild and crazy.  That’s what makes an event like this fun!

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 loves us and accepts us, no matter what we have done. 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 father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’” – Luke 15:22-24

Here’s What You’ll Need:

  • Storage tote
  • Balloons (red, yellow, green, and blue)
  • Construction paper (red, yellow, green, and blue)
  • 4 hole punches
  • String
  • 4 black markers
  • Scissors
  • 4 lengths of butcher paper
  • Washable paint (red, yellow, green, and blue)
  • 8 paper plates
  • Stickers for each team
  • Baby wipes
  • Bed sheet or blanket
  • Brown paper bags
  • Marshmallows
  • Cotton balls
  • Cooked noodles
  • Dry cereal
  • 4 aluminum pans
  • Jell-O
  • Marbles
  • Bread
  • 8 styrofoam bowls
  • Peanut butter
  • Jelly
  • Dixie cups
  • Grapes (or another snack that you would rather serve)
  • Living Inside Out “Rescue 911” DVD
  • TV
  • DVD player
  • Hula-hoop

Decorations:  Décor for this event can be minimal.  Each team’s area should be decorated with a few balloons of their team’s color, then they will add the team banner that they create.

Barefoot Olympics Decor

This is what our space looked like at the front of the room.  I stored the materials for the games under the small table on the left and had instructions for all the games on the podium in case I needed to reference them.  The three chairs up front were used for one of the games that you’ll read about.

Arrival Time (10 minutes):  Have each child check in at the registration table.  Place a large tub next to the table where all children will deposit their shoes.  Divide kids into teams as they arrive – red, yellow, green, or blue (Note:  I only had 3 volunteers, so I nixed the green team for our event).

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Having everyone’s shoes in one place will be important later on. Don’t skip this step 🙂

Have the following team activities available as the children arrive.  (Personnel Needs: 1 leader for each team)

  • Foot Necklaces:  Have each child trace his or her foot on construction paper (same color as their team) and cut it out.  Use a hole punch and string to create it into a necklace.  Provide markers for the children to write their names on them. Explain that they will receive stickers for their necklace throughout the evening – 1 sticker for each point their team earns.
  • Team Banner:  Provide a length of butcher paper for each team and washable paint on paper plates.  Allow the children to use their feet and the paint to create a team banner.  Provide baby wipes for the kids to wipe their feet off.

Team Area Set-Up

This was each team’s set-up.  I attached the balloons to the chairs, then the kids attached their banners to the chairs – that way we wouldn’t have to worry about wet paint on the walls.  Each station was also equipped with a box of baby wipes and a small trash can (not pictured).

Guess Who? (10 minutes):  Gather all the children into a group, sitting on the floor.  Choose one team to stand behind a sheet or blanket.  After the kids behind the sheet have been sufficiently mixed up, lift the sheet just enough so that the children’s feet are visible.  Have the other three teams try to guess whose feet are whose.  Correct responses earn 1 point each.

Senses Activity (10 minutes)  Fill several brown paper bags with different items.  Have each team send a representative to the front.  The representatives from each team will stick their feet into the bag (one at a time) while a volunteer holds the bag.  After each representative has felt inside the bag, they must guess what is inside the bag.  Correct responses earn 1 point each.

  • Round 1: Marshmallows
  • Round 2: Cotton
  • Round 3: Cooked noodles (let these dry a little before putting them in the paper bag)
  • Round 4: Dry cereal

Jell-O Dig (10 minutes):  Give each team a small bowl and an aluminum pan filled with Jell-O, embedded with marbles.  Assign each team the task of using their toes to dig all the marbles out of their pan.  Each marble is worth 1 point.  Provide baby wipes for the kids to wipe their feet off.

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Oh this was so much fun.  So, so much fun.

Sandwich Contest (10 minutes) Provide each team with a few slices of bread, along with some jelly in one bowl and peanut butter in another.  Challenge each team to work together to make the best peanut butter and jelly sandwich that they can using only their feet.  Explain that each sandwich will be judged to see which will win a prize.  Provide baby wipes for the kids to wipe their feet off.

Snack (5 minutes):  While the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are being judged, serve each child a Dixie cup of grapes.  Award each sandwich a prize and announce those prizes after snack has been served.

PB&J Competition

Each sandwich was clearly deserving of a different prize 🙂  The yellow team won the “Most Bread” award for having more bread than peanut butter or jelly and the red team won for “Mushiest PB&J,” because, well, it was mushy.  The blue team won for “Neatest PB&J.”  For making it entirely with their feet, I thought they did pretty well!

Lesson & Songs (25 minutes):  We began by singing a few songs from our Sunday School curriculum (we use Group’s Living Inside Out).  The first two were just some of our favorites, but the third song was entitled “God Loved the World So Much,” which fit in well with the lesson that followed.

Explain that you will need everyone’s help to tell the story this evening.  I used this version from Children’s Ministry Magazine because it was so interactive and fun!  I altered the ending, though, to make a bit of a different point.  I read this article and learned that, in Jesus’ times, the poorest people and the slaves often had to go without shoes. Now that may sound like fun for a while — we all like to go barefoot sometimes. But it wasn’t fun when you had to work or walk a lot with no shoes. Pretty soon, your feet would be very sore.  When the father welcomed his son back, he wanted to throw a party for him, but before he even mentioned the party, the father asked for someone to put sandals on his feet.  Shoes represented his acceptance as a son. The father would not send him out to be a servant, but received him back into the family as a son. And sons get shoes.  We are like the son in this story and God is like the father.  We do bad things and run away from God, but, no matter what, God will always love us and accept us as part of His family.  Every time we ask for His forgiveness, He gives it to us freely.  He doesn’t make us work like a servant to earn His love back.  Instead, He gives us a pair of sandals and celebrates that we’ve returned to Him.  This conclusion gave new meaning to the story and makes a great connection to the foot-theme for the evening.

Play the game “Surrounded by Love” from The Humongous Book of Games for Children’s Ministry (published by Group).  Have the children stand in a circle, holding hands.  Loop a hula-hoop onto a child’s arm. Explain that the goal of the game is to work the hula-hoop around the circle without letting go of anyone’s hand.  The children will end up ducking and climbing through the hula-hoop in order to move it around the circle.  Once the hula-hoop has made its way around the entire group, talk about how, when someone would duck through the hula-hoop, that person was surrounded by the hula-hoop, just as we are surrounded by God’s love, no matter what.

In conclusion, we sang “God Loved the World So Much” again.

Shoe Mix-Up (10 minutes):  Dump everyone’s shoes into a pile in the middle of the room (This is why it’s important to have everyone’s shoes in one place!).  Have the children stand in a large circle around the pile.  Assign two teams to run into the center of the room, find their shoes, put them on, and return to their seats.  Once the first two teams have finished, have the last two teams do the same. Close by reminding the children about the sandals from the story and that God loves each of them and accepts them as His own.

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Jungle Adventure!

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
  • Pencils
  • Colored Pencils
  • Toilet paper rolls (approximately 40)
  • Double-sided tape
  • Markers
  • Safari stickers
  • 4 hole-punches
  • Yarn
  • Scissors
  • 3 disposable cameras
  • Safari sheets
  • Cards with jungle animals printed on them
  • Masking tape
  • Slips of paper with animal family roles
  • Whiteboard
  • 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
  • Bananas
  • 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.

Bananza Monkey

 

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.

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  • 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!

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  • 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.

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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 🙂

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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.

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Bananza!

Last night was our Fillmore Kids Bananza and, let me tell you, we had some fun!  We had quite a crew – almost 20 kids! – due mostly to the major hook I had going for us:  I promoted the event at our Halloween Harvest Bash while wearing a giant banana costume AND promised a 10-foot-long banana split!  Check out what we were up to and feel free to adapt it to meet your own needs.

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 does not look at outside appearances, but at our hearts. 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 Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16:7

Personnel: 4 minimum, 6 preferred

Here’s What You’ll Need:

  • Banana coloring pages
  • Crayons
  • Jungle Animal Bean Bag Toss set
  • Bean bags
  • Jumpin’ Monkeys board game
  • Yellow and brown Play Dough
  • Conversation ball
  • Instruction cards for arrival time games
  • Yellow balloons
  • Bucket
  • Slips of paper with challenges for the Monkey Blast game
  • 2 bananas
  • Chairs, one for each child
  • Clues for each group for the treasure hunt
  • Chocolate syrup
  • Whipped cream
  • Candy toppings
  • 1 banana, refrigerated for several days
  •  TV with DVD Player
  • Music DVD
  • 1 10-foot piece of gutter
  • Tin foil
  • Approximately 15 bananas
  • 10 gallons of vanilla ice cream
  • Styrofoam bowls
  • Plastic spoons
  • 4 large serving spoons
  • 2-3 ice cream scoops

Decorations:  Create a tent-like effect with yellow table cloths and green balloons in the center of the room.

Add green streamers throughout to accent, along with several inflatable monkeys.

I had to get a closer shot of these monkeys for you.  I got them at Oriental Trading.  Aren’t they adorable?

Use a jungle-themed table cloth on the registration table and hang a few monkey posters throughout the room.

Arrival Time (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.  Before the parents leave, invite them to join us for the banana split.  (Personnel Needs: 1)

Have the following activities available as the children arrive, along with instruction cards for each.  (Personnel Needs: 3)

  • Banana Coloring Pages:  Have crayons available for the children to color a variety of banana pictures.
  • Jungle Animal Bean Bag Toss:  Give each child five tosses with the goal of getting one beanbag in each jungle animal’s mouth. (NOTE: This was a game that we already had at the church.)
  • Jumpin’ Monkeys Board Game:  Use your launcher to shoot your monkeys onto the tree.  If one of your monkeys lands on the tree, then you get a banana!  Whoever earns the most bananas wins.  (NOTE: This was a game that we already had at the church.)
  • Play Dough Sculpture:   Provide yellow and brown Play Dough and ask the children to use them to create their best banana and/or monkey.
  • Conversation Ball:  Have small groups of children toss the conversation ball to each other.  When a child catches the ball, he or she must answer the question that is under his or her right thumb.  (NOTE:  We used Group’s Throw & Tell Ball)

Monkey Blast (10 minutes):  While music is playing, have the kids bop yellow balloons in the air without letting them touch the floor.  When the music stops, have the children grab and hold onto the balloons.  Have a bucket with several slips of paper with monkey-related challenges written on them.  Pull a challenge out and have the children complete the challenge.  Restart the music and repeat until the challenges have run out. Below are a few of the challenges we used. (Personnel Needs: 2)

  • Dance like a monkey
  • Rub your stomach while patting your head
  • Walk across the floor like a gorilla making gorilla noises

Banana Relay (10 minutes):  Divide the group into two teams and have each team line up in a straight line.  Give the first person in line a banana and explain that they must pass the banana all the way down the line and all the way back to the first person using only their elbows.  As a variation, have the children complete the relay using only their knees.  (Personnel Needs: 1)

Banana Split!  (10 minutes):  Have the children sit in chairs a circle and assign everyone an ingredient in a banana split (banana, whipped cream, chocolate, or ice cream).  Have one child stand in the middle and call out either an ingredient or “Banana split!”  If the child in the middle calls an ingredient, all children who are assigned that ingredient must jump up and find a new place to sit.  At the same time, the child in the middle must try find a place to sit.  The child left in the middle calls out the next ingredient – and so the game continues.  If the child in the middle calls “banana split,” all children must stand up and find a new place to sit.  (Personnel Needs: 1)        

Treasure Hunt (20 minutes):  Ahead of time, hide the chocolate syrup, whipped cream, and candy toppings throughout the church and create clues that the kids must find and follow to discover their treasure.  I developed 4 clues for each team.  Have a copy of the clues with you during the scavenger hunt so you can assist groups as necessary.  (Personnel Needs: 4)

Lesson & Songs (15 minutes):  We spent some time singing some of our J.A.M. Time songs, then I used a lesson on 1 Samuel 16:7 that I found on eHow.   After the lesson, I previewed our upcoming unit on Bible Heroes and invited the kids to join us on Sunday mornings.  To wrap things up, we sang two of the new songs that accompany the Bible Heroes unit.

Snack (15 minutes):  While you are teaching the lesson, have volunteers prepare a banana split for the kids.  Cover a 10-foot piece of gutter with tin foil, then fill with bananas and vanilla ice cream.  Top portions with whipped cream, chocolate syrup, or both.  Have a selection of fun-size bags of candy available as additional topping options (Allow no more than one per child).  Offer a quick prayer of thanks for the food, then serve the children.

I’m so bummed that my camera battery died halfway through the evening.  I only got a few pictures of the kids and didn’t even get a picture of the completed banana split 😦  Oh well!  The kids loved it and that’s what matters!

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Back-to-School Sizzle!

What better way to kick off a new school year than with a Back-to-School Sizzle?  Never mind the thunder and lightning that rolled in just moments before the event even started…we still had fun!

Goal: The goal of this event is to provide an opportunity for the children of our church to celebrate the beginning of a new school year and learn to use the armor of God to stand against Satan’s tricks.  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: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” – Ephesians 6:10-11, NIV

Here’s what you’ll need to pull it off:

  • Streamers (I used green)
  • 6-12 red paper apples
  • String
  • Poster board cutouts of each piece of the armor or God
  • Crayons
  • Masking tape
  • Two balls of varied sizes
  • Goofy sunglasses
  • 4 small buckets
  • 2 Styrofoam cups with a small hole in the bottom of each
  • 10 water balloons, filled with water
  • 10 spray bottles, filled with water, set to mist
  • 1 balloon, inflated
  • Shopping bag filled with school supplies
  • Bible with sticky note marking Ephesians 6:10-11
  • A bucket filled with slips of paper listing “tricks” Satan might use against us

Decorations:  I kept the decor low-key for this event as I had planned to spend half of our time outside.  As you can see in the picture at the beginning of this post, I hung red paper apples and green streamers over the sign-in table.

Arrival Time Activity: Have the cardboard cutouts of each piece of the armor of God out on a table with crayons.  As the children arrive, have them work to decorate the armor.

Game Time: Once enough children have arrived, let the games begin!  I’d recommend playing these games outside if you can..

  • Beach Ball Relay: Before the game, use tape or chalk to mark a starting line and a finish line at least ten feet apart.  Have the children stand in a line behind the starting line.  Give the first child in line the smaller of the two balls and a pair of goofy sunglasses.  While wearing the sunglasses and carrying the ball between his or her knees, the first person races to the finish line and back to the starting line, where he or she must hand off the sunglasses and ball to the next person in line.  Time the children to see how fast they can complete the race.  To add to the giggles, try the race again using a larger ball!
  • Bucket Blast:  For this game, you need two or more children. The first child fills the cup with water from the full bucket and runs with it to the empty bucket to pour their water into it. Both children (or teams) continue until they empty the original bucket of water and fill the second bucket. The child or team with the most water in the bucket wins.
  • Water Balloon Toss: Divide the children into pairs and line up in two lines facing each other, with one partner on each side. Give every person on one side a water balloon. When you say to start, everyone must toss their balloon to their partner. Those who drop their balloons or whose balloons pop are out. Everyone else takes one step back so the distance between partners is further apart. Have the pairs continue to toss the balloons until only one set of partners remains.
  • Squirt Bottle Float: Give each child a squirt bottle (set to mist).  Toss a balloon in the air and have the children use just their squirt bottles to keep the balloon in the air.

Snack:  Serve the kids “pencils” (pretzel sticks) and “erasers” (gumdrops).

Message:  I found a fabulous back-to-school message on putting on the armor of God at Ministry-to-Children.com.  I adapted it slightly to meet my needs, but not significantly enough to post my version.  Check out the full message here: http://ministry-to-children.com/back-to-school-bible-lesson/.  P.S. I used the armor that the kids decorated during the lesson!

After the message and prayer, I introduced some of our J.A.M. Time songs to get the kids excited for the fall ministries that will be taking place at our church.  I also took them on a quick tour of the newly decorated rooms.  Hopefully the kids are excited as I am!

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