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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

Why I Brought My Tortoise to Bible Class

Why I Brought My Tortoise to Bible Class

Change things up now and then. Some of my kids in bible classes saw the picture of my baby pet tortoise on my phone. It’s my screen saver. Of course, they begged me to bring him. After several months of pleading, and one crazy Sunday morning trying to get the kids to pay attention, I finally used the tortoise. I promised them that if I could see and hear them singing praises to God with all their hearts, I’d bring it the next week.

Guess what happened… They all chimed in and sang the best I have ever heard them sing before! All it took was a little bribery, I mean incentive. That week, I think they all had a bowl full of sugar for breakfast, but the promise of a visit from my baby tortoise got their attention. Then the next Sunday, I kept my word and brought Rowdy the baby tortoise. Everyone got to sit in a circle and watch him move around. They got to take turns holding him for just a minute. They were thrilled and did well that Sunday too. We tied the tortoise into our lesson and it worked like a charm!

This got me to thinking. Every now and then, we need to change thing up, surprise the kids. Offer a perk for participation, memorizing a big set of scriptures, bringing friends to church… whatever the goal, this is a great way to encourage kids to participate. And think about it, it was so simple. All I did was bring my pet tortoise.

What are some ways you can get the kids excited and participating like never before? For a quick and easy one, just bring a bunch of balloons. If they get to end class with a balloon bash, they won’t be able to contain themselves looking forward tot he next week. Blow up a bunch of balloons, put them in the middle of the room, then tell kids they have to use only their feet to get the balloons into a specific area. They have until the music is up. You play bible music you want them to learn or have stuck in their heads all day. They’ll love it! (Side note: You may want to invest in an electric pump. I bought an electric balloon pump and it was one of the best purchases I’ve ever made! They are loud though.)


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.