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Feed the Monkey (Learn Books of the Bible)

Feed the Monkey (Learn Books of the Bible)

God has breathed life into all Scripture. It is useful for teaching us what is true. It is useful for correcting our mistakes. It is useful for making our lives whole again. It is useful for training us to do what is right.  By using Scripture, the servant of God can be completely prepared to do every good thing.  -2 Timothy 3:16  

God’s word.  What an amazing gift we have.  It provides us with comfort when we hurt, direction when lost, encouragement when down, peace when in turmoil, instruction when in need of answers and so much more.  By following God’s word we can find joy, peace, contentment… a fulfilling life.  Now for the fun part- helping our children to see the value in knowing God’s word and how to find what we are looking for in the scriptures.

As we teach our children what is in the scriptures, we should teach them where they are learning from.  For instance, when teaching creation, how we got here, we should teach them that this is all found in the Old Testament book of Genesis.  When we are teaching about the life of Christ, we should teach them to search the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  As they grow older, knowing this will help them know where to turn in the bible when they need to.  Of course, we have Google!  As often as I use Google, I have found that this knowledge is often helpful.

Have you ever noticed people searching through their bibles trying to find the book the teacher has asked the class to turn to?  I do not work on a lot of memorization, but I do repeatedly teach the books of the bible to our kindergarten through fifth grades.  Not only is this beneficial, but the kids have fun learning (at least the way we teach them) and are proud of their accomplishment when they can say all 66 books!  We sing the songs each week.  Then our lower grades pull a card, a ball, a paper airplane or banana with a book of the bible listed and tell me if the book is found in the old or new testament.  Then they make a basket, soar through a hoop or feed the monkey.  Our older kids race to find the books in their bibles.  As the kids get good at this, they start to tell me the name of the books that come before and after the one they chose.

Memorizing the books of the bible is not essential to a person’s salvation, but it will help in finding the answers they need when situations arise.  Let’s prepare our kids.

How can a young person keep their life pure?  By living according to your word.  -Psalm 119:9 

If you enjoyed this article, you may enjoy reading “Is Memorization Still Important?

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.

Reaching Gen Z, The First Post-Christian Generation

Reaching Gen Z, The First Post-Christian Generation

I like living in my bubble.  My bubble is nice.  It is comfortable.  It is happy.  Life was good until I read, “Meet Generation Z” by James Emery White at which time my bubble burst.  I thought that since I was working with elementary age kids, I should learn more about this generation. These are kids born between 1996 and 2014.  Wow!  What a wakeup call!  I think I’d like to go back into my bubble now.  Unfortunately, it does not work that way when serving the Lord.

So what did I learn?  Perhaps the most startling fact was that this generation is the first true POST-Christian generation.  I supposed I should not be surprised, after all, we cannot talk about God in the work place (unless you work in ministry).  We cannot talk about God in schools.  Our monuments tied to Christianity are no longer welcome.  And then we watched evil sweep in.  We cannot talk about God in school but we can teach the science of evolution.  We cannot discuss God; however we can talk about accepting the homosexual lifestyle.  We cannot talk about God but transgenders are welcomed into elementary schools and encouraging kids to accept this lifestyle.  No, I guess I should not be surprised at this latest statistic.

This generation makes up more of the American population than Baby Boomers.  This is a large group and only 4 out of 10 attend church services weekly.  Today’s generation is very secularized and has little to no knowledge of the gospel.  Here’s how White summarized Generation Z, “First, they are lost.  They are not simply living in and being shaped by a post-Christian cultural context.  They do not even have a memory of the gospel.  The degree of spiritual illiteracy is simply stunning… (Second), they are leaderless. Little if any direction is coming from their families, and even less from their attempts to access guidance from the internet.  So how can they be reached?”

Reaching children when we have them is one thing, but getting them to us is a whole other dilemma.  Then, of course, there is keeping them focused on God as they grow and we know that parents have more influence on this than church leaders.  It seems to me that yes, we need to make our children’s ministry attractive; after all, the statistics on how much a child influences decisions in the home these days is truly astonishing!  None the less, we must deal with reality.  Equally important to an inviting and engaging children’s ministry is a parent’s ministry.

The parents of our Gen Z kids are mainly from Generation X.  We need to understand them to know what pulls at their heart string.  These parents are more cautious and frugal than generations past, but are known to spend more on their kids.   They want good things for their children.  Most of our kids homes have two parents working outside the home so kids come home to an empty house after school every day or are enrolled in after school care.  Then there’s divorce… much higher divorce rates than years past.  So their kids are growing up more independent, but not necessarily learning what they ought to.

Now, we know how important their kids are to them but we also know how pressed for time they are.  Parents are short on time and want to spend time with their kids so they put their kids in sports.  Baseball, soccer and cheer is fun for everyone, but this means even less time for the church each week.  It may appear hopeless, but let’s look closer.  Parents want to be good parents.  They love their kids.  The church needs to teach parents what is happening to children when they are not hearing about God every day.  They need to be shown them very real and scary statistics of our children growing up without expressing and showing them that God is the focal point, the priority for the family.  Then we need to teach a parent how to do this. And finally, we do not need to overwhelm parents with more programs, but we do need to offer them the tools to raise kids for Christ with the church as their partner.

What tools do they want and need?  Here are just a few ideas:

  • Scriptural answers for why we believe in God
  • Time management tips
  • Prayer suggestions
  • 5-minute devotional with discussion question
  • Share their bible lesson from Sunday and give ways to reinforce at home
  • Fun family activities that allow discussion of God
  • Discussion starter questions about God for the dinner table, traveling to school, etc.
  • Make counseling available. Being a parent is hard and sometimes, we just need extra help.

Remind parents of Deuteronomy 6:5-8:  And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Why would God instruct us to talk about God’s commands ALL the time, at every opportunity?  Are parents doing this?  If parents had been doing this all along, do you think the state of America would be where it is today?  Make your children’s AND parent’s ministry a priority.

Interested in reading more about Generation Z?

Even Visitors WANT to go to Kids Class!

Even Visitors WANT to go to Kids Class!

How often do you see visitors with their kids trying to talk them into going to their bible class, but they are shy and uncomfortable so they quietly protest?  This week I was sitting in my adult class just before time to start when I overheard a visitor sitting behind talking to his dad about his first grade daughter.  He said, “I thought I was going to have to bring her to class with me until she saw they were playing with Play-doh in her class!” He continued to say, “Usually I tell her she can go to her class or mine and that my class will be boring to her, we don’t get to play.  Her response is typically, ‘We don’t get to play in my class either.'”  So both this dad and daughter were thrilled when she was playing with Play-doh.  He got to enjoy his adult class knowing his daughter was enjoying her children’s bible class.

Was she just playing?  Not at all!  She was using a Play-doh mat I created of Psalm 23.  She got to give the lamb a tail, make a river and more.  She was learning scripture and having fun doing it!  Who says Bible class needs to be boring?  Not me!  Let’s make Bible class a place our kids and their friends actually desire to be.  We are not “entertaining” kids, we simply recognize how children learn best and “teach” this way.  Your teaching does not have to include Play-doh, but it should capture children’s attention and make them desire to participate.

I’m attaching a copy of the Psalm 23 Play-doh mat I used this week.  Feel free to download, copy and use as much as you would like.  Send it home with kids to play at home.  I am working on a full set of 24 at the moment since my kiddo’s enjoyed it so much.  I will post when they are ready in the event any of you are interested in using them for your classes or to simply send home with families as a way to intentionally bring God’s word into the home each week. (This may be a great idea for children’s gifts this Christmas with a small party sized Play-doh.)  I have the stories I plan on using, but would love to hear those you would like to see.

Psalm-23-Play-doh-mat.pdf (37 downloads)

Play-Doh Party Bag Dough, 15 Count (assorted colors)

I Don’t “Feel” Like God Meant What He Said

I Don’t “Feel” Like God Meant What He Said

Feelings.  We live in a time where feelings dictate behavior.  And it has become acceptable in our culture.    Many of our youth does not seem to feel like God meant what He said.  Dress modestly?  I don’t feel like it and God would want me to be happy.  Sexual preferences and gender identity? I feel this way and God would want me to be happy.  Worship the way God says?  But I feel like God would like it this way better because I can get into the service better this other way.  Love your neighbor?  But he has stolen from me twice and lied about it.  Surely God doesn’t mean for me to love a sinner like that?  Regardless of what scripture may say, many of our youth have developed an attitude that our feelings outweigh obedience.

Yes, our awesome God wants His children to find happiness, but not happiness of the world.  Not a self-centered happiness, but one with a servant’s heart.  Here are just a few verses of hundreds that tell us what our God expects, and selfishness is absent.

  • “The greatest among you will be your servant.”  (Matthew 23:11)
  • “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” (Galatians 6:10)
  • In 1 Samuel 15:22, Samuel tells Saul that it is better to obey than to sacrifice.  Our God wants obedience, yet our youth are more focused on how they believe God wants them to feel. They’ve made this life all about them, not God.  So how do we turn this backwards way of thinking around?

We have a problem, now how do we fix it?  It will not happen overnight, but we can teach the next generation, our children.  It’s important that we teach them how much God loves them and wants a good life for them, but this good life comes with obedience.  We should reinforce often God’s desire for obedience and share the many bible stories that teach this.  They are everywhere!  Saul grew impatient waiting for Samuel so he offered the sacrifice before going into battle and this act of disobedience cost Saul his kingdom.  Yes, we could easily see how Saul justified his decision just like we often do with our own choices today, but God expects obedience.  Then there is Daniel.  He chose to obey, praying to God in spite of an earthly law and God closed the mouths of the lions keeping Daniel safe.  We can show this point in just about every biblical account beginning with Adam and Eve.  Take the time to do this and explain to our children that it is clearly not about what we feel, but what God asks of us.

Need ideas?  Take a look at my curriculum (FREE) and use as is or just for ideas.  (More to come.) The goal is to reach our children with the God’s Truth, teaching our kids to KNOW God, LOVE God, and SHARE God with others.