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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!

BOOK REVIEW: The Pumpkin Gospel

BOOK REVIEW: The Pumpkin Gospel

Looking for a good book that brings the focus of Halloween back to God; after all, shouldn’t God always be our focus? Check out “The Pumpkin Gospel.”

I love children’s books. My kids are grown, yet I still find myself buying these fun little books. Thankfully, I work with kids in children’s ministry so I have a good excuse! As I was searching for new book, I stumbled across “The Pumpkin Gospel” by Mary Manz Simon. I ordered it off Amazon. (No one contacted me for a review.) It did not give me a look inside, so I was not sure what I was getting. I’m glad I got this one. It’s a keeper!

For starters, it’s a hard back book with hard pages inside too so good for young kids. The pictures are bright and colorful. I had this book laying on my desk the first night I got it When I turned the lights out to call it a night I was thrilled to see a glowing Jack-O-Lantern face smiling back at me. Yep, it glows in the dark!

There are 12 pages, six with pictures and six with words. This book is a poem with a stanza on each of the six worded pages plus a short and applicable bible verse. Now the part that really matters… what’s it about? It is a story of God’s forgiveness.

It’s a great object lesson! This book shares with us how the inside of a pumpkin is a bit like us, gooey and gross compared to our sins. BUT, we scoop out the gushy mess just like God cleans out our sin, God forgives. When the insides are clean, the Jack-O-Lantern wears “a smile” and shines it’s light from within just like we are “beaming” from God’s love shining from us. It ends with, “To glow like my big pumpkin and have nice clean heart, ask God to please forgive you. You’ll have a brand-new start.”

This is a simple book, “The Pumpkin Gospel,” that gets kids engaged in God’s message. We can expound from there. I think this is an excellent read before or after letting families make happy Jack-O-Lanterns. (I think we may try this in our small groups with families!)

If you enjoyed this, you may also like to read up on “The Pumpkin Prayer” craft- a popular “prayer” for the season!

And if you missed it last week, make sure to check out this article to download you “Scary Bible Stories to Tell in the Dark” with Lessons & Activities.

By the way, I am super excited to share with you that I’ve been working long and hard on two separate daily planners, planners missing from the marketplace (at least the way I want to use them). One is designed specifically for bible class teachers and the other for parents who want a little help getting organized to make GOD the focus of the family. I’m putting in the finishing touches now so if you’ve got some special requests, things you would love to see in your daily planner, send me a quick email (courtney@raisekidsforchrist.com). Like I said, they are almost ready for print, but if I missed something important, I want to make sure to get it in! I appreciate everyone’s thoughts.

The Bible’s Got It All – Even Scary Stories (Perfect for Halloween)

The Bible’s Got It All – Even Scary Stories (Perfect for Halloween)

Halloween is often a questionable holiday for Christians. Do we participate or do we abstain? I am not here to debate this subject, but to share how we use it.

My prayer is that we reach every child with the word of God and raise them with a strong foundation in Christ so that they not only keep their faith through adulthood; but continue to grow. I want kids to hear and read scripture seeing God’s word as exciting, spooky, encouraging and everything else they find in the secular world (that is good and God approved).  Holidays are a great opportunity to reinvigorate our kids and reach out to others.

I created this book “Scary Bible Stories to Tell in the Dark” in 2018 and was surprised to hear a few people ask why I wanted to scare kids. It wasn’t from the masses, but regardless, I thought this was an interesting take. The goal was never really to scare kids, but to show them that God’s word has it all, even scary stories that are perfect for Halloween.  Kids turn to all kinds of secular stories, movies and costumes. They want to be a little spooked, just not so afraid that they can’t sleep alone at night. Maybe my kids were the weird ones, but they’d see previews for scary movies and beg to watch. Of course, we’d use our judgement on which were okay and which were not. They’d have sleep overs and pull out the flashlights in the dark telling each other “scary” stories. This is all during elementary AND middles school years. So I say, bring on the spooky with a little scary!

It turns out there are plenty of “scary” stories in God’s word. We don’t need to check out books with ghost stories we are supposed to believe are real. These bible stories are scary and true. And they have a good ending- with God, we don’t need to worry about any of these scary things. Legion may be scary, but not for long. The Holy Spirit lives in me so demons can’t touch me! God said not to get involved in sorcery or witchcraft and we see what happens to King Saul when he calls up the ghost of Samuel so stay far away from voodoo, Ouija boards and the likes. There are so many scary stories with valuable lessons.

Let’s help our children see that God has it all.  Move over Disney, God’s got this!

Last year I shared my e-book with coloring pages. This year I’ve added to it! Now there is a lesson with an activity to go with each “scary” bible story. They are all simple and perfect for a bible class, a small group lesson, family night or story and activities at a Trunk-or-Treat type event. And it’s all FREE- No Strings Attached. I’d love to hear how you use these to help build excitement for God in children. Email me your experiences at courtney@raisekidsforchrist.com

If you’d like to read this later, please save it to Pinterest.

If you enjoyed this article, you may also like: Easy Pumpkin Craft and Creative Storytelling: The Witch of Endor

Crafty Thursday-Triumphant Entry Donkey Balloon

Crafty Thursday-Triumphant Entry Donkey Balloon

As many of us get ready for Easter and the events leading up to it, here’s a great craft for kids introducing them to Palm Sunday. Jesus enters Jerusalem on a borrowed donkey the week before his crucifixion. The disciples spread their cloaks on the donkey for Jesus to sit on. Many people came out to welcome Jesus. They laid their cloaks and palm branches before him and praised him.

Have fun teaching kids about “The Triumphant Entry” of Jesus entering into Jerusalem fulfilling another prophesy by making a fun balloon donkey on a stick or string to walk down halls after class. Talk with them about why he may have chosen a donkey instead of a horse. Teach them about Jesus being a servant and relating to the people. (Matthew 21:1-11)

What you’ll need: Balloon, Donkey template, scissors, tape, string (and colors if you’d like kids to color their donkey first)

  1. Print copies of the donkey template on card stock.
  2. Cut out donkey then color if you’d like.
  3. Blow up balloon to desired size
  4. Tape donkey head, legs and tail to balloon.
  5. Tape string or stick to balloon.
  6. Now you’ve got a donkey to walk down the halls and when asked what the donkey is for, kids should be ready to share the story of Jesus entering Jerusalem on a donkey!

Check out more kids crafts here.

Egg-ceptional Outreach Opportunity

Egg-ceptional Outreach Opportunity

Easter is coming! Easter is coming! Although some denominations do not believe in celebrating the resurrection on this day each year, we can all agree that we are to celebrate the resurrection of our Savior every Lord’s Day. Whether it is Easter or any other given Sunday, the resurrection of our Savior is an incredible and selfless gift for us. And regardless, Easter is the time of year when a large number of society takes time to worship the God of heaven. This is an amazing time for outreach when people are coming to churches instead of churches going into the communities; so use this time wisely.

Of course we want to use the time wisely, but how? Start with the setting. What do people see as they are walking into your building? Flowers? Green grass? When guests come into the building, are they greeted with a smile and someone helping them find their way? If they arrive late, is there someone to help them find a seat in a possibly crowded sanctuary? And of course, are you providing them with information about your congregation, the times you meet, the topics they can learn about in individual classes, the things you are involved in, and more? We want to give them reasons to return.

Kids! They are often timid about going to a new place and they certainly are not going to beg to return if we do not give them a reason to. Perhaps offer them something special when they arrive, to your guests and members. This may be a set of colors and coloring book about Easter, Easter Egg slime or putty, Easter chalk set, a stick of gum with a note… you get the idea. It doesn’t have to be expensive. With their little gift, offer an incentive to come back to class next week or another upcoming event. Have a special service, a children’s church, just for them so it is on their level. We want them to understand why they are there and enjoy being a part.

Here are some Easter lesson ideas from some of the best. I have not used these but have been exploring my options. I do not make money for sharing these with you, just putting what I’m looking at in one place to make it easy.

Children’s Ministry Deals: Newest Easter Curriculum

Children’s Ministry Deals: 6 FREE Easter Program Choices

High Voltage: Surprise! Easter.

Teaching Sunday School: Exploring Easter

Need some freebie ideas to hand out to kids this Easter? Here are a few I like (I may receive a small commission on these items):

Not a FREEBIE, but nice to use as a prop in class:

Crafty Thursday-Cotton Ball Painting

Crafty Thursday-Cotton Ball Painting


I do not particularly like “crafts” in bible class because they just get thrown away. With that being said, I do like crafts when they draw kids in and cause them to invite friends.

Kids love to paint. Let’s be honest. If there is a chance of getting messy, most kids love it. When we find something they love, I am all about incorporating it into learning about God. So this week I am sharing a fun cotton ball painting that is simple and a lot of fun. Basically, we are sponge painting with cotton balls on the end of clothes pin. Take a look and see what you think.

Fun and simple cotton ball painting for kids of all ages

TOOLS FOR THIS PROJECT:

Fingerpaints

Clothespins

Cottonballs