When One Teaches, Two Learn

Figuring out children's ministry one day at a time

A Creative Twist on the Tower of Babel

I just came back from the KidMin Conference in Columbus, Ohio last week – AMAZING experience, by the way! – where I went to a seminar on the 5 C’s of 21st century learning.  One of these C’s is “creativity.”  The speaker decided to stretch our creativity by having us create a tower using any item in the room.  Her word of exhortation to start us off was this: Don’t “think outside the box.” That inherently puts a box in the picture.   Be creative.

I thought we were being pretty creative till the guy on the left stood up on the table and lifted the ceiling tile so we could continue to build!

KidMin Tower of Babel

The speaker then explained that an activity like this could be used when teaching a lesson on the Tower of Babel, which just so happened to be our lesson at First Alliance Kids for the following Sunday!

I gave our kids a few more limitations than we were given in the seminar at KidMin, mostly because I was afraid that they would stack bookshelves on the table!  I gave them a box of random items from our supply room including popsicle sticks, rulers, pipe cleaners, tin foil, and a few other oddities, then charged them with the task of working as a team to create the tallest tower they possibly could.  It was such a fun learning experience!  Here is part of their tower in progress:

Tower of Babel

 

It was a great intro to our lesson on the Tower of Babel – and so simple to pull off!  What are some ways that you’ve encouraged creativity in your classroom?

 

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Toddler Lesson: Jesus Helps Us Turn from Sin

Our 3s and 4s class started a new unit on Sunday on the topic of salvation.  These last three weeks will focus on some of the building block principles of Jesus’ redemptive work in our lives and how to live for Him.  It’s never to early to start laying this foundation!

Goal:  Today we will learn that Jesus can help us turn from our sin.

Key Scripture:  “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16

Here’s What You’ll Need

  • Mats
  • Stickers
  • “Have a Great Day!  The Story of Jesus and Zacchaeus” by Patricia Nederveld from the God Loves Me storybook series
  • Pictures of children doing things that they shouldn’t
  • Mouse puppet
  • Baggie
  • Pennies
  • Marbles (CAUTION:  Be very careful when using small objects like these around small children.)
  • Tinfoil

Circle Time :  Have everyone find a mat and sit in the circle on the foam tiles.  Sing the welcome song, “I’m Glad I Came to Church.”

I’m glad I came to church; I’m glad I came to church!

With all the other boys and girls, I’m glad I came to church!

(Name) came to church; (Name) came to church

I’m so happy (Name’s) here, I’m glad (he/she) came to church!

(To the tune of “A Hunting We Will Go”)

Add stickers to attendance charts, then return to the foam tile area.

Lesson:  Read “Have a Great Day!  The Story of Jesus and Zacchaeus.”  Explain that even though Zacchaeus had been mean to other people, Jesus helped him to turn away from his sin and start doing the right thing.

Game:  Have the children stand up.  Hold up various pictures of children doing things that they shouldn’t (i.e. stealing a toy, pushing another child, etc.).  Explain what is happening in each picture, then ask the children if that is something that they should do.  Together say “No!” and have the children turn around and face the opposite direction. Each time, say “Jesus helps us turn from sin.”

Puppet Show:  Perform the following brief puppet skit (adapted from Group’s Preschool Hands On Bible Curriculum) using a mouse puppet.  Ahead of time, prepare of plastic bag of pennies for the puppet to hold.

Squeaker

Me:  Well, hello again, Squeaker!  Hey, what do you have in your bag?  It jingles when you shake it

Squeaker: (Shaking the bag) I have lots of money.

Me:  Wow! How much money do you have?

Squeaker:  Hmm, I’m not sure, but I know it’s a lot!

Me:  Can we help you count it?

Squeaker:  If you promise to be careful.  I don’t want to lose any!  (Have Squeaker pour the money out of the bag)

Me:  Everyone, can you help me count the pennies?  (Count pennies out loud together)

Squeaker:  Wow!  I have that much money?  I must be rich!

Me:  You are rich.  Where did you get your money?

Squeaker:  I’ve been finding it all over our house.  There was some on top of my parents’ dresser, some in my mom’s purse, and my brother left some on the kitchen table.

Me:  Uh-oh.  Squeaker, that’s not your money.  It belongs to the other people in your family.  We’ve been learning about a man who took other people’s money.  Kids, what can you tell Squeaker about Zacchaeus?  (Allow the kids to verbally review the story)

Squeaker:  Wow!  I guess I was wrong to take this money.  I wonder what I should do now.

Me:  Hmm.  What do you think, kids?  What should Squeaker do with the money he took?  (Allow for a few responses.  Guide the kids to an understanding that Squeaker should return the money and ask for forgiveness)

Squeaker:  I guess if I gave the money back, it would show that I’m sorry.

Me:  That’s right, Squeaker.  And if you ask for Jesus’ help, He can help you turn away from your sin.

Squeaker:  I’m glad that Jesus can help me turn away from my sin.  I’d better give back these pennies right now.  Thanks for helping me and for telling me about Zacchaeus!  Goodbye, everyone!

Have everyone say, “Goodbye,” to Squeaker.

Conclusion:  For prayer time, give each child a marble covered with tin foil.  Explain that we all have done wrong things in our lives, but when we ask Jesus to help us He removes our sins and helps us to do the right thing instead.  Help each child remove the foil from the marble as a sign that their sins have been removed.  Have everyone say, “Thank you Jesus for helping us turn from sin!”  (CAUTION:  Be very careful when using small objects like these around small children.  With adequate supervision, this creative prayer station – originally created by a child – can be a powerful, hands-on example of Jesus’ forgiveness.)

Sing “I’m Glad I Came to Church” to close.

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Saul on the Road to Damascus – Acts 9:1-19

Our study of the book of Acts has finally brought us to the stories of Paul.  This particular passage is so rich in meaning that there are several different lessons that could be drawn from it.  For our purposes, though, I decided to talk about the transformation of Saul and how God changed his heart. So, without further ado, I give you our lesson on the time when…

Saul Goes to Damascus

Hilarious that this kiddo spelled “Damascus” correctly, but not “Saul.” 🙂

Goal:  Today we will learn that God can transform our hearts by removing our sin.

Key Scripture:  “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  – Acts 1:8, NIV

Here’s What You’ll Need

  • Unpopped popcorn kernels  
  • A few popped popcorn kernels
  • “Saul’s Surprise on the Road to Damascus” (Big book published by Group)
  • TV
  • DVD player
  • “Spider Guts” video (published by Group)
  • Marbles
  • Tinfoil
  • Comic strip templates
  • Crayons
  • Pencils
  • Markers
  • Blindfold
  • Beanbags
  • Comic strip templates (Free download here)

Introduction:  Ask, “Who would like some popcorn?”  Give each child an unpopped popcorn kernel and prepare for a few groans.  Ask, “What’s wrong?”  Show the children the popped popcorn kernels and ask, “How does a kernel become a fluffy, tasty piece of popcorn?”  (Allow for a few responses).  Explain that today’s lesson will be about a man who starts off with a hard heart, like the popcorn kernels they are each holding, but later, Jesus changes his heart, just as a popcorn kernel changes when it’s heated up.

Lesson:  Read the big book “Saul’s Surprise on the Road to Damascus” aloud to the children.

  • After reading the first page, reiterate that Saul was like the unpopped kernels that they are holding.
  • After reading the second page, place a drop of glue in each child’s palm.  Have them spread the glue out into a thin layer on their palm.  Tell them to hold their hand out to let the glue dry and explain that they’ll learn later why they have glue on their hands. (Note:  This idea came from Mission Arlington.)
  • After reading the fourth page, have the children peel the dried glue off their hands.  Explain that this is like the scales that fell off of Saul’s eyes after Ananias prayed for him.
  • After reading the fifth page, talk about how Saul, now Paul, was like a popped piece of popcorn.  He was still a piece of popcorn, but he had been completely transformed from the inside out!

Explain that God forgave Paul for all the wrong things that he did and that was really hard for some of the Christians to accept.  After all, Paul had done some terrible things to Christians before his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus.  Watch the video “Spider Guts” (put out by Group Publishing) to illustrate this point.

Prayer Station:  Explain that we all have done wrong things in our lives, but no matter what Jesus is willing to forgive us and to remove our sins.  Hand each child a marble that has been covered in tin foil.  Have each child hold the marble and thing of the wrong things they have done lately.  Together, ask God for forgiveness and remove the foil from the marble as a sign that our sins have been removed. (Note:  This prayer station was actually developed by a child!  You can see the original post here on Flame: Creative Children’s Ministry.)

What Did You Learn?  Provide the children with comic strip template pages and ask them to create a comic strip that retells the story of Saul on the road to Damascus.  Review the story as necessary to refresh their memories.

Here are a few examples of what our kids came up with.

Saul on the Road to Damascus Cartoon 1

Saul on the Road to Damascus Cartoon 3

Saul on the Road to Damascus Cartoon 2

Game:  If you have extra time, you can have your kids play this game.  Even though it doesn’t entirely relate to the lesson objective, it’s still fun!  Blindfold a volunteer and assign him/her the task of finding and collecting beanbags that have been scattered across the room.  Talk about how difficult it must have been for Saul/Paul to be blind for a few days!

What to see what else we’ve done in the book of Acts?  Check out these links!

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Philip and the Ethiopian Man – Acts 8:26-40

Have I mentioned lately that I’ve loved the series we’ve been doing on the book of Acts?  It’s been great for me to experience the stories all over again and to share them with some of the kids who haven’t all heard them!  This week’s lesson is about Philip and the Ethiopian.  Let me know what you think and, if you’re just jumping into this series with us now, check out the links at the bottom to previous lessons from this unit!

Goal:  Today we will learn that God goes before us to prepare the way.

Key Scripture:  “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  – Acts 1:8, NIV

Here’s What You’ll Need:

  • Quilt
  • Story cards from Seeds of Faith (I colored them in to make them a bit more attractive)
  • World map
  • 10 plastic Easter eggs
  • Slips of paper with the letters to spell the phrase “Jesus Saves”
  • 25 copies of Ethiopian Man Watercoloring Activity from The Building Blocks Learning Program (scroll to page 21)
  • Cups of water
  • Paintbrushes
  • Watercolors
  • Scissors
  • Glue sticks
  • Construction paper

Introduction:  Spread a quilt out on your lap to show the children the pattern and detail.

Quilt

Explain that it takes quite a bit of planning to make a quilt.  The quilter has to select the fabric, the pattern, the stitch, and plan how they all will work together.  Show the children the intricate designs.  Tell the children that even though different fabrics or designs are used, they all work together to form one beautiful quilt.  Explain that each of our lives is like a quilt, one that God has planned and designed to work together.  Explain that in today’s lesson God made a careful plan to help two men to meet for a very special reason. 

Lesson:  Using the prepared story cards, tell the story of Philip and the Ethiopian.

Card 1: Philip was a disciple that we learn about in the book of Acts. One day, an angel of the Lord came to talk to Philip. He told Philip to go to the desert road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.  Philip obeyed and started out on the road to Gaza (Using a world map, point out the general direction that Philip would have traveled).

Card 2:  On his way down the road, Philip saw a man from Ethiopia. This was an important royal official. He had traveled to Jerusalem to worship. The Ethiopian was riding in his chariot and he was reading the book of Isaiah the prophet.

Card 3: The Holy Spirit told Philip to go to up to the chariot and to stay near it. Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading from the book of Isaiah.

Card 4: The Ethiopian was reading a prophecy from the book of Isaiah. A prophecy is a prediction about something that is going to happen in the future. The book of Isaiah, which had been written hundreds of years before Jesus, prophesied all about Jesus. It even described how the Son of God would have to be killed so that people could be forgiven. That is the part of the scripture that the Ethiopian was reading.

Card 5:  When Philip heard the Ethiopian reading, he asked: “Do you understand what you are reading?” “How can I,” the Ethiopian said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he asked Philip to come up and sit with him.

Card 6:  Philip started explaining the scripture to him. He told him the good news about Jesus. The man listened to Philip and he wanted to be a disciple of Jesus.

Card 7:  As they were traveling and talking, they came to some water. The Ethiopian said, “Look! Here is water! Why shouldn’t I be baptized?” He ordered his servants to stop the chariot.

Card 8:  Then both Philip and the Ethiopian got down into the water and Philip baptized him. He was so happy! Then God took Philip away and Philip continued to preach the good news in many towns—and the Ethiopian went on his way rejoicing.

Explain that the Ethiopian needed help to understand what the Scriptures, but God knew that ahead of time and prepared a way to help him understand – by sending Philip!

Good News! (Part 1): Provide the children with the Ethiopian man activity page, watercolors, and paint brushes.  Have them paint the Ethiopian man with the water colors—sort of like baptizing him!  Ensure that everyone’s name is on their paper, then leave pieces to dry.

What Did You Learn?  Mix up the story cards and have the kids put the cards in the correct order, retelling each part of the story as they arrange.

Game:  Play “Pass it on!”  Have the children line up in a straight line and give each a plastic spoon.  Place a bucket of plastic Easter eggs at one end of the line and an empty bucket at the end of the line.  Tell the children that their job will be to pass the Easter eggs down the line using only their spoons, not their hands.  Once all the eggs have made it over to the second bucket, the children must open the eggs and unscramble the message (Each egg should contain a letter to spell out “J-E-S-U-S-S-A-V-E-S”).

Once the children have finished, explain that, just as they were at first confused by the scrambled message, so the Ethiopian man was also confused.  But, God prepared a way for him to understand by sending Philip to Him.

Prayer Station: Spread the quilt in the center of the room and have the children sit around the edge of it.  Have the children trace stitch patterns on the quilt with their fingers and thank God that He has a plan for each of them and has already prepared the way for them.

Good News! (Part 2):  Once the watercolor artwork has dried, cut and paste the Ethiopian man and the message to a piece of construction paper.  Ensure that everyone’s name is on their paper.

Ethiopian Man Watercoloring

Check out our other adventures in the book of Acts!

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Toddler Lesson: Getting Along With Our Family

This week, our 3s and 4s class wrapped up our unit on family relationships.  So far, we’ve learned about obeying our parents, sharing Jesus with our families, and praying for our families.  It seems like a rather natural step to also talk about getting along with our families.  Remember, these toddler lessons are only designed to take about 20 minutes, so if you need to fill a longer time-span, be sure to plan accordingly.

Goal:  Today we will learn that we need to work out our differences with our families by sharing and showing them kindness.

Key Scripture:  “Love each other with genuine affection.” – Romans 12:10

Here’s What You’ll Need:

  • Mats
  • Stickers
  • Mouse puppet
  • Plastic bowling pins
  • Paper bees
  • Small ball
  • Brightly colored circles
  • Magnetic pictures of items kids might need to share

Circle Time:  Have everyone find a mat and sit in the circle on the foam tiles.  Sing the welcome song, “I’m Glad I Came to Church.”

I’m glad I came to church; I’m glad I came to church!

With all the other boys and girls, I’m glad I came to church!

(Name) came to church; (Name) came to church

I’m so happy (Name’s) here, I’m glad (he/she) came to church!

(To the tune of “A Hunting We Will Go”)

Add stickers to attendance charts, then return to the foam tile area.

Lesson:  Perform the following brief puppet skit using a mouse puppet.

Squeaker

Me:  How many of you remember our friend Squeaker?  Can you say, “Hello” to him? (Have the kids say, “Hi!”)

Squeaker:  Hi, everyone!

Me:  How are you doing, Squeaker?

Squeaker:  Well, I’m doing a lot better now than I was yesterday!

Me:  Oh, no!  What happened yesterday?

Squeaker:  Well, I was playing with my sister’s Legos.  I made this really cool spaceship and was pretending to fly through outer space, when all of a sudden my sister came in the room and wanted the Legos.  I told her that I was playing with them, but she wanted to play with them.  We started yelling at each other and I started to cry.

Me: What happened next, Squeaker?

Squeaker:  My mom heard us yelling and came into the room.  She reminded my sister and me that we need to treat each other kindly.  That means that we shouldn’t yell at each other when we disagree.  My mom also reminded us that we need to share with each other. That means that we should take turns.  I had a turn with the Legos, so I should let my sister have a turn, especially because they are her Legos.

Me:  Your mom is right, Squeaker.  We need to remember to be kind and share with each other.

Have everyone say, “Goodbye,” to Squeaker.

Game:  Play “Bee Kind Bowling” with the kids.  Ahead of time, prepare several plastic bowling pins, taping a picture of a bee to each.  Tell the kids that the bees remind us that God wants us to be kind, even when we disagree with others.  Give each child a turn rolling a small ball to knock down the pins.  After each roll have everyone say together, “Be kind!”

Bee Kind Bowling

Note:  The idea for this “bee” bowling game came from the Instant Bible Lessons for Preschoolers series.

Sharing Caterpillar:  Gather the children around the magnetic board.  Ahead of time, tape brightly colored circles onto the board, with a caterpillar head on one end.  Tell the kids that we are going to make a sharing caterpillar.  Show the kids some magnets you have prepared that feature pictures of things they might need to share.  As you talk about each one, add one to each circle.  Afterward, have the kids give examples of other things they might need to share.  Write their suggestions onto the remaining squares. Note:  This is also adapted from the Instant Bible Lessons for Preschoolers series.

Conclusion:  Have everyone find a mat and sit in the circle on the foam tiles.  For prayer time, pass around a foam ball.  Whoever has the ball should say one thing that they are thankful for.

Sing “I’m Glad I Came to Church” to close.

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Ideas to Spice Up Your Easter Lessons!

This year it just so happens that we won’t have Sunday School or children’s church on Easter Sunday.  While it’ll be nice to have a bit of a “week off,” I was a little bummed that I wouldn’t get to teach an Easter lesson.  So, when the local youth center asked if I would give a brief message to two groups of kids before their Easter egg hunt today, I was thrilled!  Hopefully some of my ideas could help you to spice up your Easter experience with your kids 🙂

The Tale of Three Trees

The first group of kids were in grades 1 through 3.  I decided to tell them the tale of three trees with a bit of a dramatic twist.  If you are unfamiliar with the story, here is the gist of the version that I told.  The story goes that there were once three trees planted near each other.  They each had a dream.  The first dreamed of becoming a treasure chest, the second dreamed of becoming a mighty ship, and the third dreamed of staying rooted, tall and strong, to remind all who saw it of how great and awesome God is.  One day the first tree is cut down, but, much to its disappointment, it was used to build a feeding trough for animals.  Much to the tree’s surprise, though, it turned out to be the manger used to hold baby Jesus.  Later, the second tree is cut down, but, much to its disappointment, it was used to build a small fishing boat, not a mighty ship.  However, that fishing boat is the very one from which Jesus calms the storm.  Finally, one day the third tree, much to its disappointment, is cut down.  Later, it is used to build a cross, the very one that was used in Jesus’ crucifixion.  Each of the three trees were used in very different ways that they had planned, but were still used by God.

Now, to present the story, I had three kids come to the front, representing the three trees.  They acted along with parts of my story (i.e. “The first tree was excited that the woodcutter came to cut him down.  He was finally going to become a treasure chest!”).  Then, as we learned of each tree’s final purpose, each volunteer was given a corresponding picture (i.e. after finding out what eventually happened to the first tree, the volunteer held up a picture of Jesus in a manger).  After the story was finished, we talked about Jesus’ resurrection and what that means for each of us.

The kids were completely enthralled.  Most of them have some knowledge of the Bible, but most are from unchurched families, so I’m sure that few, if any, had heard the story before.

He Washes Us White As Snow

For the older kids, I did something a little different.  First, we walked through a set of the resurrection eggs, to gain some familiarity with the Easter story, as the majority of them are also from unchurched families.  Then, I used this fabulous object lesson from Ministry-to-Children.com.  Basically, I covered up a kid with a plastic poncho and some swimming goggles.  Then, I put a white shirt over the plastic poncho and squirted the shirt with washable paint to represent our sins (The kids gave examples of different sins for each squirt).  We then discussed that because Jesus died for us, we can be washed clean, at which point I gave the volunteer a new white shirt.  Be sure to lay down some plastic table cloths on the floor to keep things clean, but it’s worth it for the reaction from the kids!

Have a happy Easter, everyone!

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Toddler Lesson – Praying for our Families

For the past few weeks, the 3s and 4s have been learning about our family relationships, starting off with obeying our parents, then sharing Jesus with our families.  This week we talked about praying for our families.  As usual, keep in mind that this lesson was only designed to take about 20 minutes, so if you need to fill a longer time-span, be sure to plan accordingly.

Goal:  Today we will learn that we should share Jesus with our families.

Key Scripture: “Love each other with genuine affection.” – Romans 12:10

Here’s What You’ll Need:

  • Mats
  • Stickers
  • What Did Jesus Say about Prayer by Helen Haidle
  • 6 copies of Praying Hands Book
  • 6 copies of cut-out boxes
  • Scissors
  • Glue sticks
  • Snack
  • Dixie cups

Circle Time:  Have everyone find a mat and sit in the circle on the foam tiles.  Sing the welcome song, “I’m Glad I Came to Church.”

I’m glad I came to church; I’m glad I came to church!

With all the other boys and girls, I’m glad I came to church!

(Name) came to church; (Name) came to church

I’m so happy (Name’s) here, I’m glad (he/she) came to church!

(To the tune of “A Hunting We Will Go”)

Add stickers to attendance charts, then return to the foam tile area.

Lesson:  Read the book What Did Jesus Say about Prayer by Helen Haidle.  Explain that God wants to hear from us and listens to us when we pray.

Direct the children to sit at the table.  Give each child a Praying Hands Book and the two cut-out boxes.  Help each child to cut out their cut-out boxes and paste the boxes onto the inside palms of the hands.  Then, help the children to write the names of their family members on the fingers of the hand.  Also ensure that each child’s name is written in the heart on the front of the book.

Give each child a snack.

Conclusion:  Have everyone find a mat and sit in the circle on the foam tiles.

Prayer Time:  Have the children hold up their praying hands book and tell us the names of the people in their family.  After everyone has shared, have the children hold their praying hands books open while you lead them in a brief prayer for their families.

Sing “I’m Glad I Came to Church” to close.

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Toddler Lesson – I Can Tell My Family About Jesus

This Sunday was our second week talking about our family relationships in our 3s and 4s class.  Last week we learned about obeying our parents and this week we talked about telling our family members about Jesus.  As I mentioned last week, this lesson was only designed to take about 20 minutes, so if you need to fill a longer time-span, be sure to plan accordingly.

Goal:   Today we will learn that we should share Jesus with our families.

Key Scripture:  “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Corinthians 13:13

Here’s What You’ll Need

  • Mats
  • Stickers
  • Snack
  • Dixie cups
  • Foam ball

Circle Time:  Have everyone find a mat and sit in the circle on the foam tiles.  Sing the welcome song, “I’m Glad I Came to Church.”

I’m glad I came to church; I’m glad I came to church!

With all the other boys and girls, I’m glad I came to church!

(Name) came to church; (Name) came to church

I’m so happy (Name’s) here, I’m glad (he/she) came to church!

(To the tune of “A Hunting We Will Go”)

Add stickers to attendance charts, then return to the foam tile area.

Lesson:  Have everyone return mats to their pile, then stand in the middle of the room.  Explain that God’s word tells us that love is the greatest thing (Throw your arms open wide to emphasize the word “greatest”), so we are going to practice showing love to each other.

Have the children form two groups and line up on opposite sides of the room.  Choose one group to start.  The group that starts must choose someone from the other group and sing, “Jesus loves us; this we know, send [child’s name] over, and we’ll tell [him/her] so.”  The child who was named must run over to the group that called him/her, then the children from that group will surround the called child for a group hug and say,“Jesus loves you, [child’s name]!”

Let the other group choose a child to come over for a hug. Continue the game until everyone has been shown God’s love.

Direct the children to sit at the table.  Talk about the importance of sharing God’s love with our families.  Ask each child to name the members of his/her immediate family and encourage the child to tell their family that God loves them.

Give each child a snack.

Conclusion:  Have everyone find a mat and sit in the circle on the foam tiles. For prayer time, pass around a foam ball.  Whoever has the ball should say one thing that they are thankful for.  Sing “I’m Glad I Came to Church” to close.

I’m still learning how to work best with this age-group.  What would you add to this lesson?  What might you take away?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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The Stoning of Stephen – Acts 6:8-7:60

Continuing in our study of the book of Acts, we covered the story of the stoning of Stephen.  If you’ve been following When One Teaches, Two Learn, you’ll see two additions to the typical lesson plan format that I use.  First, I’ve created a specific section of the lesson plan where I explain how the kids will show what they’ve learned (keeping in line with my new year’s resolution).  Also, I’ve decided to work in a prayer activity for the kids each week, so there’s a specific section of the plan dedicated to that.  So, without further ado, here’s the lesson!

Goal:  Today we will learn that sometimes God asks us to do difficult things, but He will always help us through them.

Key Scripture:  “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  – Acts 1:8, NIV

Here’s What You’ll Need:

  • Stones (enough for each child to have one)
  • Permanent marker
  • Bible character cut-outs of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, David, and Stephen (Printables available here)
  • Masking tape
  • Large basket
  • Several objects labeled with hurtful things that children might do to each other
  • Bowl
  • Pitcher of water
  • Alka Seltzer tablets (or equivalent)
  • Crayons
  • Copies of Stoning of Stephen review sheets (Available for download here)
  • File folder review game (Available for download here)
  • Copies of Stoning of Stephen coloring page
  • Lego verse building set for Acts 1:8

Introduction:  Have the children gather in a circle on the carpet and discuss the following questions:

  • What would you do if someone came up to you and told you that anyone who believes in Jesus is stupid?
  • Would you be quiet or tell them that you believe in Jesus too?
  • What would you do if they laughed at you?

Explain that today’s lesson is about a man named Stephen who told people that he believed in Jesus, even when it was difficult

Lesson:  Ahead of time, gather several stones, enough for each child to have one, and write the word “forgive” on the bottom using a permanent marker.  Place a stone in front of each child with the side with the writing on it facing the floor, but ask everyone to leave the stones in front of them until they are told to pick them up.

Also, prepare a set of Bible character cut-outs.  You will specifically need Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, David, and Stephen.  Distribute these character cut-outs (except Stephen) to the children and also instruct them to leave their character on the floor until they are asked to pick it up.

Hold up the cut-out of Stephen.  Explain that the Bible tells us that Stephen was a man full of God’s grace and power.  He performed many miracles and signs of God. One day, some men decided that they wanted to debate Stephen (Discuss what it means to “debate”).  Stephen was very wise and full of God’s spirit, though, so he had an answer to all of their questions about God and Jesus.

This made the men very frustrated, so they convinced some people to lie about Stephen.  They went to the religious teachers and told them that Stephen was cursing God (Have the children pretend to whisper to each other, as if they were spreading a rumor).  The religious teachers called Stephen to the high council to figure out what going on.  As soon as the men started to tell their lies, something strange happened.  Stephen’s face became as bright as an angel!  The high priest asked Stephen if what the men were saying was true and Stephen replied by reminding him of all sorts of people from the Bible.

Have the children who have been given Bible character cut-outs hold them up.  Explain that Stephen reminded the people at the council of all that God had done to provide for Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, then later for Moses and the Israelite people, and also King David and his son King Solomon.  Stephen told the people at the council that, even though God had done so many good things through these people, they still choose to disobey God.  God sent His son, Jesus, to us and, even though Jesus had never done anything wrong, they still crucified Him.

The people at the council were not very happy that Stephen was saying these things (Have the children make grumpy faces).  After all, they knew that they had done wrong things, but they didn’t like it when someone else pointed out their sins.  That was embarrassing!  The people of the council were so angry that they shook their fists in rage (Have the children shake their fists in the air).

Even though the people at the council were very angry with him, God was with Stephen.  In fact, Stephen was full of the Holy Spirit and when he looked up Stephen could see God and Jesus standing right next to Him.  Stephen was so excited that he said, “Look!  I can see God!  And Jesus is standing right next to Him!”

This made the people of the council even angrier!  They covered their ears so they couldn’t hear what Stephen was saying (Have the children cover their ears while still making a grumpy face).  The people rushed toward Stephen and dragged him outside.  Then, they picked up stones and started to throw them at Stephen.  Have the children pick up the stones in front of them and ask how they think it would feel if someone threw one of those stones at them – hard.

Explain that while the people were throwing stones at him, Stephen prayed and asked Jesus to receive his spirit.  That meant that he was asking Jesus to take him to heaven.  That’s probably something you would be asking Jesus to do too if people were throwing stones at you!  But, then Stephen did something incredible.  Just before he died, Stephen asked Jesus to forgive the people for what they were doing (Have the children turn over their stone so they can see the word “forgive” written on the bottom).  Forgive them?  Stephen hadn’t done anything wrong, but the people still decided to kill him.  Can you imagine someone hurting you for no good reason and still asking Jesus to forgive that person?  That’s pretty amazing.

Stoning of Stephen

Note:  This was probably the most powerful moment of the lesson.  The kids could actually feel how heavy the rock is in their hands and imagine how much it would hurt to have someone throw one at them.  This idea is also used on Debbie Jackson’s blog.  She’s a fabulous resource!

Tell the children that Stephen did a very difficult thing.  He was killed because he stood up for Jesus.  You and I might not die for telling other people about Jesus, but He does ask us to stand up for Him, to not be ashamed that we believe in Him.  Think back to what we talked about in the beginning of our lesson.  If someone says something like “Anyone who believes in Jesus is stupid,” we shouldn’t be afraid to say that we believe in Jesus and that it isn’t kind to say things like that.  It might mean that we get teased, but it’s the right thing to do and God will help us through it.

Game:  Play Forgiveness Relay.  Ahead of time, mark out a heart on the floor using tape or chalk. Inside the heart, place several objects (blocks, etc.) with labels listing different hurtful things that children might do to teach other (i.e. lying, calling someone a mean name, being selfish, cheating in a game, etc.).  On the opposite side of the room, place a basket on the floor that is large enough to hold all the objects.  Tell the children that when someone does something wrong to us, it hurts us, but Jesus commands us to forgive them, just as Stephen forgave the people at the council, even when it was difficult to do.  Explain that in this game we’re going to practice forgiving others and clean up our heart.

Have the children line up on the wall on the opposite side of the room from the heart.  Explain that when it is their turn, they will run over to the heart and bring it back to where everyone else is standing.  Read what is written on the object aloud, then throw it in the basket on the floor and altogether say, “I forgive you!”

Forgiveness Relay

Note:  I left two bean bags blank.  Whoever picked up the blank bean bag had to come up with something on their own that they would find hurtful.

Prayer Station:  Have the children participate in a “Forgiveness Fizz.”  Give each child an Alka-Seltzer tab and instruct them to hold it and think about someone that they need to forgive.  Explain that when we are hurt and angry it hurts us too, but we can ask God to help us to let go of those feelings.  Pour some water into the bowl and have the children place their Alka-Seltzer tabs in the water.  As they watch the tablets bubble, have them imagine giving their hurt feelings to God.  Have everyone say together, “Thank you, God, for helping us to forgive.”

What Did You Learn?:  Distribute the Stephen review sheet and crayons to the children.  Talk through each question and have the children circle their responses.  Review these later to determine how well the children retained the information.

Conclusion:  Have the following service projects available for the children to complete as time allows.

  • File Folder Review Game:  Print a copy of Debbie Jackson’s file folder review game on the story of Stephen.  This game focuses on the facts from Stephen’s speech, so provide Bibles and the reference to Stephen’s story for the children to look up the information.
  • Stephen Coloring Page:  Provide crayons and a coloring page on the stoning of Stephen.
  • Play Forgiveness Relay:  Allow small groups of children to continue to play Forgiveness Relay.
  • Lego Verse Building:  Provide the Lego sets for the children to review the memory verse – Acts 1:8.

Lego Bible Verse Memorization

Haven’t been keeping up with our series on the book of Acts?  Here are the links to the previous lessons.

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Memorize the Books of the New Testament in Less than 10 Minutes!

A few weeks ago, I saw this video by Steve Demme on how to memorize the books of the New Testament in less than 10 minutes. I thought his approach was great, so decided to adapt it for our kids here at Fillmore!  I’ve written out the story as I plan to tell it to the kids, but you can adapt it to suit your church and ministry however you see fit.  Be sure to use the visuals, though, because they’re what the kids will remember!

Note:  I plan to recruit a few of the older kids to act out parts of the story with me to make an even deeper connection and make things even easier on me!

My Very Strange Day

I want to tell you about a very strange day I had not too long ago.  My story begins right here at church one Sunday morning.  Church is a place where we come to learn more about Jesus.  We know that we can read about Jesus’ life and ministry in the books of the Gospel: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  Most of you already know those four, so they’re pretty easy to remember.

After the church service, I noticed an ax leaning against the wall.  It seemed kind of out-of-place, but I got to thinking that this ax can remind me of the book of Acts, which comes after Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

Axe

I turned around and suddenly bumped into [insert child’s name] who was drinking an RC Cola.  And I got to thinking, “Hmm, R.C.C. That reminds me of the next few books in the New Testament: Romans, 1 Corinthians, and 2 Corinthians!”

Royal Crown Cola

Next, I walked up to the children’s church room and saw the strangest thing.  There in the corner of the room stood Goliath eating potato chips!  This day was getting stranger by the minute, but Goliath got me thinking. Goliath eats potato chips…That can help me remember the next few books of the New Testament: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians!

Goliath Eats Potato Chips

 

On the other side of the room, I saw [insert children’s names] playing these tambourines and cheering.  [Insert children’s names] are usually pretty goofy, so this wasn’t all that strange 😉  Their cheer actually helped me remember the next few books of the New Testament, though.  They were cheering, “Thess!  Thess!  Tim, Tim, Ti!”  Their cheer helps me to remember 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus.

Thess Thess Tim Tim Ti

 

Behind these cheerleaders, I saw two guys names Philemon and James.  I could tell that those were their names because of the name tags they were wearing.  Now, Philemon and James were fighting, which I don’t like to see at church, but it turns out that these two boys helped me remember the next three books of the Bible.  Do you want to know how I remember which book comes first in the New Testament: Philemon or James?  I can always remember that Philemon comes first because Philemon, he bruised James. Philemon, Hebrews, and James!

Philemon and James

 

At this point, I was so exhausted from my very unusual and very confusing day that I was ready for bed.  So, I put on my PJs.  But, even my PJs can help me remember the books of the New Testament!  After Philemon, Hebrews, and James, comes 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, and Jude.

PJs

Now all that’s left is that last book of the New Testament: Revelations.  And that’s it!  You’ve memorized the books of the New Testament!

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