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Oriental Trading

Arm Kids with God As They Go Back to School

Arm Kids with God As They Go Back to School

It’s that time of year again! Some kids are excited, others nervous and some are definitely not looking forward to the end of summer vacation. As a parent, I always have mixed emotions. This year, take some time to set the focus of on Christ with this simple back-to-school “Armor of God” activity.

Download and print the “Armor of God” play-dough mat, then read Ephesians 6:14-18 as you discuss and create the armor of God. Your kids will be prepared for whatever comes their way this year! Remind them that with God, they can do great things! God will be with them.

14 So stand strong with the belt of truth tied around your waist, and on your chest wear the protection of right living. 15 On your feet wear the Good News of peace to help you stand strong. 16 And also use the shield of faith with which you can stop all the burning arrows that come from the Evil One. 17 Accept God’s salvation as your helmet. And take the sword of the Spirit—that sword is the teaching of God. 18 Pray in the Spirit at all times. Pray with all kinds of prayers, and ask for everything you need. To do this you must always be ready. Never give up. Always pray for all of God’s people.

Sign up to download now! Print and use as many copies as you like; there’s no limit! Combine with a party sized play-doh to send home for families to study together. 

Dry Erase Stories On a Budget

Dry Erase Stories On a Budget

If you’ve been following me long, you know how much I use hands on throughout a story to teach kids God’s story. I stumbled across these dry erase flash cards and voilà, dry erase stories on a budget! The kids loved them and they are inexpensive and reusable. (Assuming kids don’t bend them and toss them around like paper airplanes.)

I bought a pack of 48 4×6 dry erase cards for $6.99 (July/2019) and the dry erase markers with erasers on top were less than $10 for a set of 24. As kids gathered in the room, they all saw these items in their packages on my table. Nearly every one of them asked what they were for and would they get to use them. Of course!

Lesson time! Each child receives one dry erase flash card and one marker. Now, these are multi colored markers so if you are afraid of fighting for the blue one, search for a set of black. Break your bible story into small chunks, about eight to ten is a good number to cover a 30 minute time period. I often read straight out of the easy reader children’s bible. Read your first chunk, typically two to four sentences. It should be just long enough to make a point but not lose their attention. After reading, either instruct them on what to draw or let them be creative and draw something simple from what you just read. Remind them it doesn’t have to look perfect. If you can’t come up with anything, go with a letter (name of person reading about, city, etc). I like to set a timer for 30 seconds to keep things moving and add some fun. Kids do fantastic and love this.

Engaging children in God’s word can be fun and simple. Just a few little supplies to use from week to week and you’re set! If this sounds like something you may try in your bible class, you may also like Play Through Bible andTeaching with play-dough mats.

Major Fail & What I Learned From It

Major Fail & What I Learned From It

Lesson learned after a big fail this past Sunday. I oversee the kindergarten through fifth grades, an age group that is very easy for me to work with. They are a great group of kids. I recently took over a combined group that is supposed to be 4 years through third grade, but it was clear I had a handful of three-year old’s too.  Apparently, their parents feel they are too advanced for the 18 months to three year old group, so they just moved them up. (Insert heavy sigh here.)  And I was told there are usually eight to ten kids each week.

So, on week one, I had ten kids, just as expected. I realized very quickly I needed something more hands on and engaging the next week to capture the attention of the youngest to the oldest; after all, my third graders are about to move on the fourth. They begged for Bible Science (we do this on Wednesday evenings). Alright, for a group of ten or so, I decided to make slime to accompany our bible lesson. We’d mix it, let it set during a few songs, the go back to the slime and learn our bible lesson. I brought in a couple of extra helpers since I had a few younger kids that would need help. So far it all sounds good, right? WRONG!

That Sunday, kids just kept coming. I had 20 kids! That’s double what I had planned for. And to make matters worse, the worship leader let them out earlier than usual so I was not even down to my area yet. I had kids racing past me. Yikes! We gave it a shot though. What a mess! Glue mixtures everywhere, including on the little kids Sunday (best) clothes. The one positive, I had the attention of EVERY kid. Turns out, I had the attention of some parents too… and their faces did not look happy.

What did I learn from this embarrassing experience? First, lots of prayer! Then, prepare for more kids. This is an awesome “problem” to run into. Enlist more help for the children who are too young to be there, but I do not want to discourage it; after all, their parents are bringing them to learn about God. And I learned to divide to divide kids up in to the “Little’s” and the “Biggie’s” so each are engaged with an age appropriate activity. I will have them together for songs and prayer but separate for the lesson and activity. We will see how this goes. We live an learn. This was a messy learning experience but I’m excited to try this new approach next week, hoping parent will bring their kids back.

I’d love to hear your experiences. What crazy fails have you run into? And how have those of you with a wide age range handled them?

Ring the Bell Sunday School Kids Game for ANY Lesson

Ring the Bell Sunday School Kids Game for ANY Lesson

Coming up with new ways to make bible class an exciting place for kids is not always easy. Then when you find a winner, they eventually grow tired of it. This week I tried something new with our Sunday School kids and they asked excitedly if we could do it again next week. When they are asking, you know you have a winner, at least for a little while.

I love games about the bible and this one is so simple! All you need is a pair of call bells. I divided my bible lesson into eight pieces making sure to have a question after each short reading. Then it was time for “Last One Standing” played Family Feud style.

How to Play: Set out two bells Family Feud style. Just before you read each section, have two kids come up to the bells, put one hand on the table next to the bell and the other behind their back. Now, read the section, ask the question. The first to ring the bell gets to answer (but you can’t ask any more of the question once the bell is rung). If they answer right, they stay and face off with the next person. If wrong, the opponent gets to guess. If wrong, they sit out. Let’s see who’s the last one standing. Oh, and if they ring the bell more than once, they lose that round. Here’s an example of what I did this past week:

  1. (Matthew 4:12-17, Mark 1:14-15) Jesus heard that his cousin John was thrown in prison. Remember, John had been baptizing people and telling them about Jesus.  Now that he is in prison Jesus left Nazareth and went to Galilee.  He lived by a lake in Capernaum.  A long time ago, before Jesus was ever born, the prophet Isaiah said this would happen! Now Jesus was telling people, “Repent and believe the good news!”  What message was Jesus teaching? Repent and believe the good news.
  2. (Matthew 4:18; Mark 1:16)  One day, Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee and see two brothers named Simon Peter and Andrew.  They were fishermen so they were busy casting their nets into the lake to catch fish.  Where was Jesus walking? By the Sea of Galilee.
  3. (Matthew 4:19-22; Mark 1:17-20) Jesus said, “Come, follow me and I will send you out to fish for people.”  They immediately left their nets and followed Jesus.  A little further down, Jesus saw James and his brother John fishing. He told them the same thing and they left their father and his helpers in the boat and followed Jesus too. Jesus called his first four disciples. Who were they? Peter, Andrew, James & John
  4. (Luke 4:14-15) News about Jesus had spread all over Galilee. Jesus was teaching in their synagogues and everyone praised him.  But then Jesus went back to Nazareth. This is where Jesus was raised when he was little.  Where did Jesus grow up? Nazareth.
  5.  (Luke 4:16-21) On the Sabbath day, Jesus went to the synagogue and stood up to read. Someone handed him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah so he unrolled it and read, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he anointed me to share the good news.” And read a little more, then rolled it back up and said, “Today this scripture is fulfilled.” It was the Sabbath day. What was Jesus doing in the synagogue? Reading (from the scroll of Isaiah).
  6. (Luke 4:22-23) Everyone said good things about him and were amazed saying, “Isn’t that Joseph’s son?” They knew Jesus when he was just a little boy and now Jesus was calling himself a prophet? They were thrilled! Jesus would make their lives easier, right? How did the people know Jesus? He grew up around them.
  7. (Luke 4:24) Jesus realized what they were thinking. They had it all wrong! He was there to save them from sin, not fix their problems on earth. Jesus got their attention when he said, “No prophet is accepted in his hometown.” What was Jesus there to do? Save them from sin.
  8. (Luke 4:25-30) Jesus just compared them to the faithless Jews of Elijah and Elisha’s time. They were mad now and chased him out of town. Why were they mad? Jesus compared them to people that did not have faith.

You can add questions at the end to review more even adding in things from past lessons. Our bible class kids were listening intently, learning from God’s word and LOVING it! This is how we begin building a love for God in our children and as they grow older, they will have the word of God in their hearts and minds to refer back to as they need it.

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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-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.