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Oriental Trading

Teach About God With Jack-O-Lantern Activity Mats

Teach About God With Jack-O-Lantern Activity Mats

There are so many fun ways to work with the holidays to teach Christ to our children. This October, I wanted something hands on for my kindergarten through third grade children that could work as a short devotional and activity parents can do at home AND something I could use to fill the time in children’s church when the preacher gets a bit long winded. I LOVE activity mats so I came up with a simple Jack-O-Lantern Activity Mat.

I will share verses from Colossians 3:9-10. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.

Then, we can dive into the devotional. I want our children to understand that with Christ, we get rid of our sinful self and become a new self. A self that loves God and is an example of him to others. We dig out of the pumpkin all of the gross insides. We make it clean just like Jesus makes us clean, free from sin. Now we are ready to really do God’s work! We will turn our plain old pumpkin into a happy Jack-O-Lantern!

It needs eyes to see those in need, a nose that’s not stuck up (it’s humble), a mouth to share the word of God, and even some ears to hear the word of God. A pumpkin that’s been cleaned out of all the seeds and yuck is clean and ready to serve. The light we put inside shines for God! Expound on each one and you’ve got a full lesson that kids can apply in their week.

Download a FREE copy of the Jack-O-Lantern Activity Mat here. (Use with play dough, play foam, wikki stix, slime and more. Laminate it and you could even use dry erase markers.) Already a subscriber? You’ll receive this in your email automatically!

A Relationship, Not An Acquaintance

A Relationship, Not An Acquaintance

Johnny, a very bright 5 year old, told his daddy he’d like to have a baby brother and, along with his request, offered to do whatever he could to help. His dad, a very bright 35 year old, paused for a moment and then replied, ” I’ll tell you what, Johnny, if you pray every day for two months for a baby brother, I guarantee that God will give you one!” 
       
      Johnny responded eagerly to his dad’s challenge and went to his bedroom early that night to start praying for a baby brother. 
       
      He prayed every night for a whole month, but after that time, he began to get skeptical. He checked around the neighborhood and found out that what he thought was going to happen, had never occurred in the history of the neighborhood. You just don’t pray for two months and then, whammo- a new baby brother. So, Johnny quit praying. After another month, Johnny’s mother went to the hospital. When she came back home, Johnny’s parents called him into the bedroom. He cautiously walked into the room, not expecting to find anything, and there was a little bundle lying right next to his mother. His dad pulled back the blanket and there was — not one baby brother, but two!! His mother had twins! 
       
      Johnny’s dad looked down at him and said, “Now aren’t you glad you prayed?” 
       
      Johnny hesitated a little and then looked up at his dad and said, “Yes, but aren’t you glad I quit when I did?” (http://jokes.christiansunite.com )

This was too funny not to share. My mind has been on prayer a lot lately. Last week I released “My Prayer Journal” for children and youth, a guided prayer journal to download, print and start praying. I want so much for kids to understand that God is always here and wants a relationship with each one of us. He doesn’t want us sitting on the sidelines just waving now and again. It’s easy for all of us to put God on the back burner and forget he’s there. When you can’t see Him and get an immediate answer to our questions or troubles, we sometimes turn to other people instead of our Heavenly Father. No one has the power or wisdom that God has. He will always choose to do what is best for us. Now… we just have to get this message across to the kids in way it sinks in. We will need a lot of repetition for sure.

There are so many examples of prayer in the bible. Our we teaching our children how to pray, how often and what for? Our we teaching them who we are praying to and what our attitudes should be? In scriptures, talking to God is not some flippant conversation. And when anyone was in the presence of God, they were full of fear and reverence. Our children need taught to truly respect God while understanding that he truly cares for us.

If you’re interested, I created a Play Dough Mat to teach The Lord’s Prayer. Download a copy here. It keeps things simple, in a way they understand while they have fun so they want to do it again and again. I love it when kids enjoy learning about God!

This One Event Grew Bible Class by Over 300%

This One Event Grew Bible Class by Over 300%

Bible Science is my favorite time of the year because it is so much fun, kids beg for it and it brings children to church that might not have come otherwise. We saw an increase in mid-week attendance of over 300% on our first night! Sounds really cool when I put it like that! We typically have about a half dozen kindergarten through fifth graders on Wednesday nights during the school year. The first night of Bible Science brought in 20 kids.

Wednesday nights during the school year are hard for parents of elementary children.  By the time evening rolls around, they are worn out! Then there’s dinner to prepare. Did the kids finish their homework? Project? Did one of the kids just say they have a project due tomorrow? Then there’s bath time and bedtime. Whew! And that’s if there aren’t any sports practices or games that night too. Needless to say, getting kids to bible class during the week is not high on the list of things to do.

But that’s during the school year. Summer is a whole other story! They will come, but only if there’s something compelling them. For me, it’s Bible Science.  Every summer I host an 8-week series, one and half hours a night on Wednesday nights. We start with sugar free snow cones on the playground followed up with a hands-on science experiment, applicable bible lesson and a game. Kids beg for it all year long! This gives parents enough time to run an errand, relax, or attend a class for them.

Bible Science is easy. Just pick an age appropriate experiment; Pinterest is full of them. Make sure to test if first. Tie it to a bible lesson and you are ready to go! I have a Bible Science Creation series that I put into a course and it will be available July 1, 2019. You can download the curriculum, watch the experiments, get ideas for how to structure your program for your size and budget, and learn ways to promote your program. Run an 8-week series like me, set up a day camp, or more. Link to purchase coming soon.

This is not part of the Creation curriculum, but it’s one you can try with your kids to see what you think. I have one student that asks all the time if we can do this one again!

Sparkling Wool: “Spread the Word” (Acts 13:49; Luke 6:12-16 – 12)

NOTE: This experiment should be done outdoors on solid ground such as a parking lot or sidewalks (not grass). Also, you may want to have a fire extinguisher on hand (although we have never come close to needing it).

Supplies:  Steel Wool , Aluminum Foil, 9V Battery (Kids may share)

  • STEP 1: Make sure everyone has their supplies: Steel Wool and Foil (Don’t pass out batteries until you are ready for them to use them.)
  • STEP 2: Begin splitting apart the steel wool, loosen it up, spread it out.
  • STEP 3: Now, wrap it up into a loose ball
  • STEP 4: Place in the center of your aluminum foil. STEP 5: Now, pass out batteries. Touch the end of the battery to the steel wool in a few places. It will begin to spark. (Pass the battery to the next person for use.)
  • STEP 5: Stand back and watch the sparks spread all over the wool. What just happened? We transferred the energy from the battery to the steel wool. This created sparks that kept traveling all throughout the steel wool.

 BIBLE LESSON: In Acts 13:49, we read, “The word of the Lord spread through the whole area.” What spread? God’s word!

Now we will learn about some very special people who made it their mission to spread God’s word. We are learning from the New Testament book of Luke. Luke is one of the four gospels that teaches us about the life of Jesus.

At about that same time Jesus climbed a mountain to pray. He was there all night in prayer before God. The next day he summoned his disciples; from them he selected twelve he designated as apostles: How many did he choose as his apostles? 12

Jesus gathered his disciples together and from those, he picked 12 for a special job. After Jesus had died and risen from the dead, this was the mission he gave them (Mark 16:15-16): 15He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. What was their mission? To tell the whole world about Jesus.

The names of the first 12 apostles were: Simon, whom he named Peter, Andrew, his brother, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James, son of Alphaeus, Simon, called the Zealot, Judas, son of James, Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

BIBLE APPLICATION In our experiment, the steel wool is all the people in the world around us. The battery is us. When we touch one person with the word of God, it starts a chain reaction. That spark creates another and another and another. This is just like when we share God’s love with someone. They get excited and share it with someone else and that person shares it with another and it just keeps going. Who can you share God’s love with? (Family, friends, neighbors….)

If you try this, I would love to hear how it went!

Does Sunday School Really Matter?

Does Sunday School Really Matter?

Is Bible Class really all that important? For us, bible class is about bible study, a deep dive into God’s message.  Have you ever noticed that the more time you spend in scripture, the easier it is to behave like a Christian? It becomes second nature. Ever noticed that you gain a better understanding of who God is and find that those tough questions aren’t as tough to answer anymore? Bible classes help get us to these understandings.

For my elementary children, the goal is to teach them the biblical accounts, or stories, so they develop a better understanding of who God is, His character and His plan for us. After elementary, we want to stress the principles from these stories and later see that these stories teach us how to live. The bible holds the answers to life’s tough stuff, and let’s face it, these days, our kids are dealing with a lot of tough stuff from cyberbulling and social media fame to sexual identity and suicide! Bible class is one area where the church can partner with parents to help build this solid foundation in Christ. 

So, is bible class really important? Absolutely! There is nothing, and I mean nothing more important that our souls, than our children’s souls. If nothing is more important, than we should be taking every opportunity available to build our spiritual walks, our relationship with God. Sure sleep, sports and education matter, but they have their place. Always stay focused on what is truly important.

I will leave you with a few words from the wisest of all…

Deuteronomy 6:4-9, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.” (NIV) 

2 Timothy 3:14-17, “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (NIV) 

Overcoming Obstacles – Galatians 6:9

Overcoming Obstacles – Galatians 6:9

Obstacles. This past Sunday our children learned about the exiles returning home to Jerusalem from Babylon, part of our three-year chronological bible study. They learned about Zerubbabel, Ezra and Nehemiah. The loved saying, “Zerubbabel.”  As God’s chosen people tried to rebuild, they continued to run into obstacles. There were even people who did not want to see them succeed and worked against them. Have you ever run into that?

As bible class teachers, children’s ministers and parents, what obstacles have you come across in your pursuit of God? How about in your journey to train up and raise kids for Christ? We may become discouraged when kids do not engage, when it feels as though they are not interested in God in the least. Sometimes we lose motivation as kids simply quit showing up. There are times of frustration when we hear about our children being hurt or bullied and we want to jump in to fix it, but there is not a quick, easy fix. How about time? Does a lack of time ever get in the way of serving God? There are so many obstacles that can interrupt our walk with God if we let them.

We can learn from the Zerubbabel, Ezra and Nehemiah still today.  There was prayer, fasting and dedication to God.  Yes, fear got the best of them at times and the work stopped; however, they listened to the encouraging words of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah. Nehemiah never backed down and encouraged the people he was leading in rebuilding the walls.  The point is, with God, we can accomplish great things for Him.  Pray, pray and pray some more.  There is amazing power in prayer.  Surround yourself with people who love and support you, who will encourage you to keep working for and trusting God. 

Remember, God is at work. Allow God to work through you.  Be His hands, His feet, His mouthpiece to spread His message.  We need to persevere in doing God’s work and let Him take care of the rest.  He never said it would be a cakewalk.  On a brighter note, focus on the incredible feeling you get as you overcome obstacles with God’s help and see children (and their parents) loving God.   

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. –Galatians 6:9 (NIV)

Crafty Thursday-Bible Cootie Catchers

Crafty Thursday-Bible Cootie Catchers

Bible Cootie Catchers (Jonah & Daniel)

Trying to come up with ideas for kids that they will share with friends is not an easy task. I remembered a few kids running around with cootie catchers, aka Fortune Tellers, not too long ago. They went from friend to friend playing this simple handmade game. Why recreate the wheel? If they love it, let’s find a way to use it!

After some trial and error with upside down teeth and such, I finally got it! Take a look at the video to see how you can make Bible Cootie Catchers of Jonah or Daniel in your bible classes. Inside the big fish is a praying Jonah and inside the lion is the angel that shut the lions mouth. These are perfect when you need a quick lesson and activity. I’ve prepared the bible story with printables, all ready to go when you need something in a hurry!

How do you get yours free to download with bible stories too? It’s easy! If you are a subscriber, it will be in your email box. Not a part of the RaiseKidForChrist.com family yet? No problem, subscribe here and you’ll receive your templates.

Subscribe to RaiseKidsForChrist.com and receive your free Jonah & Daniel bible cootie catchers plus bible story for quick and easy lesson time.