When One Teaches, Two Learn

Figuring out children's ministry one day at a time

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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Creating a Binder for Ministry Ideas

 

“So, what are you doing?”  This is the question our senior pastor asked me when he saw me at the office paper cutter with a stack of a few hundred magazine pages.  “Well, rather than keeping all my ministry magazines, I pulled all my favorite articles and am trimming them up to put in a binder of ministry ideas.”

“I think you’re the only person I know who would do that.”

“You wouldn’t be the first one to tell me something like that.” 🙂

photo (1)

Honestly, I’m loving having all my favorite ministry ideas all in one place rather than scattered throughout magazines on various bookshelves.  Seems a little over-the-top, but I think there are plenty of KidMins out there that would appreciate having one too!  Here are the categories I came up with.  Maybe you’ll feel inspired to create a binder of all those articles you’ve had lying around too 🙂

  • Thoughts on KidMin:  These are more general articles on the big ideas of children’s ministry – hospital visits to helping kids transition, small church challenges to making a great first impression with your ministry. 
  • Statistics:  Children’s Ministry magazines puts out a few pages worth of statistics meant to keep children’s ministers up on current issues in the lives of children and families today.  I find them valuable in guiding some aspects of my ministry, so wanted to save them.
  • Family Ministry:  Involving parents is essential and many of the articles under this section are helpful in doing that.
  • Nursery Ideas:  I think so many of our church nurseries have simply become babysitting services.  There’s so much that we can be doing to establish a strong biblical foundation in their hearts and minds at this age, though!  
  • Pre-K/Kindergarten Ideas:  Oh, what fun it can be to help these little ones explore the world around them and the God that made them!
  • Early Elementary Ideas:  This section has ideas for crafts, lesson plans, service projects, and more that help draw children in the lower elementary grades closer to God.
  • Upper Elementary Ideas:  I’ve found some of the articles that I’ve included in here to be particularly helpful in helping preteens transition from children’s ministry into youth ministry. 
  • Special Needs:  Though I’m certified as an elementary teacher, I’m also a certified special education teacher, so exploring how to minister to children with special needs has been a particularly meaningful journey for me this year.  
  • Outreach:  Teaching children to serve while they are young helps to establish a spirit of service in them for the long run.  Creative outreach makes it all the more fun!
  • Technology:  I’m certainly still growing in this area.  I’ve found quite a few articles that can help me figure out how to incorporate technology in ministry, though, and I look forward to seeing how I can better serve the digital natives of this generation.
  • Lesson Plan Ideas:  These are mostly holiday ideas, but they’re still good ones!
  • Kids Night Ideas:  I’ve had a blast with our kids nights (especially the Barefoot Olympics on Friday!) and am always on the hunt for more good ideas.
  • Products and Resources:  These are mostly advertisements from magazines, catalogs, or mailings.  I throw quite a few away, but some of them are worth exploring further.

What other categories would you add for your “Ministy Ideas” binder?

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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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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).

IMG_0323

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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Ahh Organization!

 

For anyone who knows me, it isn’t a shock that I love organization, color coding, etc.  Well, last week, a year-long organization project finally came to a close.  When I started my position here at Fillmore, what is now my office was actually a supply closet.  There were loads of materials for me to use, but they were quite literally strewn all over the place.  Over the years, people had tried to corral the mess in a variety of storage containers, jars, strawberry baskets…whatever they could find, really.  In the summer months, I pulled everything out, threw away the junk, and reorganized everything, but I still wanted to work on getting everything into matching containers.  Storage containers can be expensive, though, so I phased out the old, mismatched containers little by little as I purchased a few totes here and there.  Finally, last week the project was complete and I now have an organized supply wall with matching totes!  I’m probably more excited about it than I should be, but I know that there are at least a few of you organization junkies out there who will feel the same 🙂

Organized Office

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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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Jesus Gives New Life!

It seems appropriate to post this bulletin board idea on a day like today – rainy and a bit warmer than the chilly winter days.  Just as new life is springing forth outside, so can Jesus bring us new life!  This bulletin board couldn’t be easier, but it will put your children’s wing in a “spring” kind of mood!

Jesus Gives New Life

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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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