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DIY Christmas Countdown Party Craft

DIY Christmas Countdown Party Craft

It’s Christmas time! I LOVE Christmas when so many hearts are receptive to Christ.

This is the time of year when so many people turn their focus to God, even those who do routinely attend worship.  It is the prime time for outreach, for sharing the message of salvation.  I like to host children’s events just for them while giving parents time to do some Christmas shopping.  I also like to encourage events for the whole family to spend time together during the holiday season.  This year’s theme… “Santa’s Workshop,” and it can be held either way. Regardless of which way you go, children’s party or family event, make sure to promote! Get the word out about your event.

I recommend having a feature “item” that is the main draw. This could be a play, concert, meal or unique craft. Gingerbread house building is a popular one. For our Santa’s workshop this year, kids were excited to use a hammer and nails to make there very own Christmas countdown.  More on this in a minute.

What do we do at Santa’s workshop?

  • Holiday Singing
  • Devotional
  • Crafts
  • Games
  • Snacking (of course!)

For family events, set up centers so families can come and go, participating in the different parts of the event at their own speed.  Have a devotional center with times posted for when you start the story each time.  You will want this area to be very comfortable and inviting, maybe even offer hot chocolate to sip on while listening.  Set up a place for families to take their pictures.  You could even have someone stationed at this spot to take the pictures and offer to email them the picture immediately.  This way, you get their email address to follow up. Craft stations may be as simple as coloring a picture or gluing cotton balls to Santa’s beard.  Go all out and make elf slime!  Games?  Oh the fun you can have!  Check out Pinterest if you can’t think of anything.

Now for a children’t event, it will probably look a little different. They can’t really wonder around on their own.  Here’s what my party looked like:

  1.  As kids were arriving, we made elf slime. Kids can’t get enough of slime! (I made a few extra ahead of time for those that arrived late.)
  2. Make Christmas countdown trees
  3. Pass out snacks to eat during story
  4. Christmas story time
  5. Game: Word game (Stick one card with a holiday word or picture on it onto child’s forehead. Other kids give clues to help them guess the word.)

I was prepared! If we finished early, we were heading to the playground.

I didn’t forget! I told you I’d tell you about the Christmas countdown trees. Here’s a video showing you just how it’s done.  They are easy and something kids will keep.  I did not do this, but I wish I had given kids a sticker to put on the back with the church name and the year.  You do want adults (or high school kids) to help. My older kids did great, but a few younger ones still needed help. (I had 2nd – 5th grades).  Also, I did not end up giving my kids all the countdown numbers, instead, I just gave them two blank presents that I laminated along with a dry erase marker to easily change days left until Christmas.  Here’s a link to the countdown presents if you want to use them.

Make sure to recruit plenty of help for your event. Kids always need help whether it is with cutting, tying knots, or getting snacks… This is one of the best times of the year for kids so as a church, we want to help make it memorable when it comes to God’s family.  I’d love to hear what you have done for your parties each year. I’m always looking for new ideas.

Refocusing My Child’s Heart at Christmas

Refocusing My Child’s Heart at Christmas

Christmas is all about the presents and the parties, right?  Kids sit on Santa’s lap and share their biggest wants. They play fun games at holiday parties, look at Christmas light displays and more.  But how much Christ do they get at Christmas? I know Jesus was not actually born on Christmas day, probably not even in winter, but this is the one time of year that most of the world focuses on Jesus so I believe it is a great time to remind our kids of the greatest gift our Heavenly Father ever gave us, His Son!

Refocusing My Child’s Heart at Christmas is a guided play dough lesson for kids. There is a downloadable play dough mat, play dough recipes, suggestions for reinforcing the spirit of Christmas this season as well as information on the science behind the way I teach. Kids learn best through play!  I explain a little about this for your knowledge.  The guided lesson is just that.  I share the story of the birth of Christ while guiding kids through play dough creations to help put this message to memory.  It’s fun AND they learn!

My goal is to spread the message of Christ all across America. I want every child to know God, love God and share God. Help me get the story of Christ’s birth into the hearts and minds of children by sharing this with parents, grandparents, children’s ministry leaders, bible class teachers and more.  It’s free!  Really! There’s not sales pitch hidden in the content. It’s just a message that everyone should hear, especially at Christmas. It’s not some professionally edited video. Nope. It’s just a low key teaching of the greatest gift ever given.

Learn more here.

For added fun, I found an Advent holiday Play-Doh set.

Creative Storytelling – The Witch of Endor

Creative Storytelling – The Witch of Endor

Creative Storytelling of The Witch of Endor to engage kids in God’s word and etching His lessons into their minds to pull from when they need it most in life.

This October I have been sharing scary bible stories with my kindergarten through fifth grade bible class on Wednesday nights. The goal is always to get kids excited about God!  When they are excited about this, they learn who God is, they develop a love for God and they have a natural desire to share God with friends.  One week they learned about “The Witch of Endor.”  Real live witches in the bible? Yes!  The bible really does have it all! Of course, I make sure to remind them that God said to stay away from witchcraft!  It was not and is not acceptable to our God!

You will have children’s full attention as you make a crystal ball to tell the story.  You can use ANY size container you want.  In fact, when doing this activity for a large group, I had a large bowl.  After telling the story ask questions to make sure they were paying attention.  We want them going away with God’s word more so than the crystal ball. Then watch the excitement on their little faces when you let them try this activity on their own.  I bought some small containers from the grocery story (like you see in the picture).  They come with lids so you can even put the water in the bowls before class.  I put the dry ice in each cup though and told any child that touched the dry ice they would lose theirs. Every child got their own string and groups shared the soapy suds.  (Dry ice can usually be purchased at large grocery stores.  You have to ask for it though.)

For the rest of their lives, when they see this activity, I bet they think of the “Witch of Endor.” And what lesson can they learn from this?  King Saul had turned his back on God.  He only called on God when he was afraid, so God was not there this time.  King Saul was so afraid that he chose to sin even more by seeking out a witch to conjure up Samuel from the dead.  King Saul did not get the answer he wanted either.  He learned that he and his sons would die, and that’s just what happened.  We need to be obedient to God, always.  The bible tells us that sin leads to death. Sure, we will all mess up from time to time and God will forgive us, but we should not call on God only in times of trouble.  That’s not a good relationship.  And when we are afraid, do not make matters worse by adding sin into the mix.  That’s just asking for more trouble.  Trust and obey God. Grow a real relationship with your Heavenly Father who loves you.  It’s an awesome lesson to learn any time of the year, but it is especially fun at Halloween.

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If you enjoyed this article, check out the Pumpkin Prayer.

Easy Pumpkin Prayer Craft for Kids

Easy Pumpkin Prayer Craft for Kids

I wish I had pictures of the kids making these to go along with the Pumpkin Prayer! They had more fun than I expected.

This month has been all about taking Halloween and turning our focus towards God.  Yesterday the kids sat in a circle while they listened to the Pumpkin Prayer and watched as the Jack-O-Lantern was carved.  I cheated. Before getting with the kids, I had already cut the top off and cleaned out the inside leaving just enough to pull out for that part of the prayer.  If I had thought about it, I would have roasted the seeds and let the kids eat them while listening and watching.  I cut the eyes as we talked about “opening our eyes” to see God’s love and cut the mouth as we talked about “sharing” God’s word.  You get the idea.  And at the end, I placed a flashing LED light inside for the kids to see our lights shining for God in all we say and do!

Then it was their turn.  No, I was not too comfortable with the idea of handing a bunch of elementary kids sharp objects… so I passed out miniature pumpkins and these awesome acrylic paint markers so the kids could draw their Jack-O-Lanterns to take home with the Pumpkin Prayer.  (And down the road they can use the markers to make prayer rocks or story stones.)  Then I emailed the Pumpkin Prayer to the parents suggesting that as a family they carve pumpkins as they go through the prayer.  We will see how many give it a shot!

 

Modernize Puzzles & Story Telling to Engage Kids

Modernize Puzzles & Story Telling to Engage Kids

Ever find yourself running short on time to prepare for bible class but want something that interests the kids?  Yep!  It happens to the best of us.  This week I came across the perfect bible story telling solution!  I bought several dry erase pocket sleeves (a set of 12 was only $15). Then I bought some fun erasers because they will get the kids attention quickly!  I have dry erase markers in the class for the kids already for other activities.  All that was left was for me to fill them with an activity sheet to go along with our lesson.  So easy and can be used over and over again.

I write my own lessons so I simply added some words and pictures with instructions on what to do with each item.  (I’ll attach both so you can see what I mean.)  As the kids went through the lesson, they were fully engaged.  No time to design your own? No problem.  Draw a handful of boxes on a page, make copies and slide it in.  Instruct kids on what to draw with each part of the lesson.  Another way I plan to use these is for a modernized method of working puzzles.  Simply make copies of word finds, mazes, connect the dots and more.  Slip them into the pockets and kids have an assortment of puzzles to work.  They just trade as they finish.  Sure, you can make a bunch of copies and they can use pencils or crayons, but this way gets them excited because it’s different.  We want kids excited about bible class and sharing it with friends.

Here’s the lesson that goes with activity you see in the video:

  1. We are learning from the book of 1 Kings. Is this in the Old or New Testament?    TRACE K-I-N-G-S
  2. (Acts 13:22) King David was a man who loved God very much. The bible says he was a man after God’s own heart.  Even though David messed up sometimes, he always told God he was sorry and God was always with him.  TRACE the heart
  3. (1 Kings 3:1-15) King David grew old and died. His son Solomon became the next king.  God told him he could have anything.  Solomon did not ask for tons of gold or money. He did not ask for a big palace or a long life either.  No, Solomon asked for something even more valuable than all of those thing.  He asked for wisdom so he could lead God’s people wisely. TRACE the “W” for Wisdom
  4. (1 King 5:1-9) When the King Hiram of Tyre heard Solomon was the new king, he was pleased so he sent him a message. King Solomon sent back a message asking for cedar and juniper logs.  What did King Solomon need all this wood for?  He was building God’s temple, a place for God to live among the Israelites.  So King Hiram floated them by rafts across the sea and then Solomon had men get them and bring them on land.   Draw the water for the logs to float in.  What were these logs for?  Building the temple.
  5. (1 Kings 6:1-13) After four years as king, Solomon began building the Lord’s temple. God said to Solomon, “If you obey me and keep my commands, I will fulfill my promise to your father David and live among the Israelites. I will not abandon them.”  What did God say?  (1 King 6:14-29) The temple was very special.  Why?  Because this is where God would live.  Wouldn’t you want to make God’s home perfect and amazing?  I know I sure would!   In the place where the ark of the covenant would be, Solomon overlaid the inside with pure cold.  He made a pair of cherubim out of olive wood stretching from wall to wall.  Give the cherubim wingsHe spent SEVEN years building it.  How long?  7 years!
  6. (1 Kings 7:1, 51-8:1) When all the work for the temple was finished, he brought in the things his father had dedicated, the silver and gold, and placed them in the treasuries of the temple. Then King Solomon summoned the elders of Israel, the heads of the tribes and the chiefs of the families to Jerusalem.  He wanted them to bring the ark of the covenant from Zion, the City of David.  What did he want them to bring to the temple?  The ark of the covenant. Draw two long poles to carry the ark of the covenant.
  7. (1 Kings 8:3-11) So that’s just what happened. Who remembers who must carry the ark?  Only the priests.  Does anyone remember what tribe they were from?  Priest came from the tribe of Levi.  They carried the ark on the long poles.  Nothing was in the ark except the two stone tablets that Moses had placed in it. TRACE the stone tablets for the 10 commandments.  When the priests left the Holy Place where the ark was being kept now the cloud filled the temple.  Wow!  The glory of the Lord filled His temple!
  8. (1 Kings 8:12-62) In front of everyone, King Solomon praised God. He said, “Lord, the God of Israel, there is not God like you in heaven above or on earth below.” (vs 23)  DRAW more cloudsIs there anyone more amazing than God?  Anywhere?  No way!
  9. (1 Kings 9:4-8) God reminded Solomon that if he walked faithfully and obediently like his father and never serve other gods, then God would be with them and he’d be successful. BUT, if they turned from God then God would reject them.   What did they have to do for God  to always be with them?  Obey God and not serve any other gods. TRACE “O-B-E-Y”
  10. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) Remember how Solomon was making the temple beautiful and lining it with gold?  Why?  Because that was where God would live.  Did you now that in the New Testament things changed?  God does not live in the temple Solomon built.  Nope!  He said that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit.  God lives in  So our bodies are special and we need to honor God with our bodies.  That means we should not use our bodies for bad things. DRAW a  stick man body. 

Summary:  Solomon was the wisest king to every live.  He built a temple for God to live in among His people, the Israelites.  God told him that if they obey, He will be with them.  If they serve other gods, God will turn away from them.  Today God does not live in a building lined with gold.  He is lives in us!  That means God is ALWAYS with us and helping us make wise choices like Solomon.

 
 

If you like this, you may enjoy more on activity mats. Read here.

Fun with Boogers in Bible Class

Fun with Boogers in Bible Class

I recently had a brother and sister in a small group setting.  He is in the third grade and his little sister is in pre-school.  While playing with gooey green slime as we talked about Solomon’s wisdom the little girl laughed as she said, “This looks like boogers.”

She has a propensity for putting things in her mouth so I said, “It sure does, but let’s not eat the boogers.”

Her brother chimed in, “Oh, my sister never eats her boogers.”

And little sister jumps in proudly, “Yes I do!  I eat my boogers all the time.”

 

Kids love slime. They cannot seem to get enough of it.  Every time I think it’s getting old, kids beg to make slime and take it home.  I am a huge believer in making bible class fun so I added slime to the rotation!  As I tell a bible story, I stop after every couple of sentences to ask reinforcement questions AND have the create something that has to do with what I just said.  For example, when I tell the story of Solomon’s wisdom, we begin with the him becoming a king so they make a king’s crown.  Then we talk about two woman fighting over a baby so they may make the number two or perhaps a baby rattle.  Getting the idea? They use a fun activity like slime to make the bible lesson click.

 

Slime is really easy to make!  You have probably already made some before being in children’s ministry, but just in case, here’s my go to recipe and links to purchase on Amazon for ease (however the local Wal-Mart will have everything you need too):

Supplies per person:  ¼ c glue, ¼ c liquid starch, optional food coloring, bowl, spoon, hand wipes

  1. Mix starch and food coloring (optional)
  2. Add glue, stirring with spoon. It will form a glob.
  3. When it is all sticking together, use hands to kneed for 2 – 3 minutes

*Use different types of glue. Clear glue and no food coloring, glow-in-the-dark glue, glitter glue… you get the idea.