9 ideas to make this your most
amazing fall for families, children, and your entire
Colorful leaves, football, hayrides, apple cider,
a return to school, and fuller Sunday school rooms. Fall must be
here! This autumn, create some new memories with this amazing
assortment of tried-and-true ideas. Not only will children and
families have a blast, but they'll also get to know one another --
and God -- even better.
REMEMBER WHEN, 2010
Summer never seems to last as long as we'd like, but you can help
families preserve their cherished memories.
Get Ready You'll need card stock, markers, glue sticks,
scrapbooking embellishments (stickers, buttons, ribbon), and some
sample pages or scrapbooking magazines for ideas. Recruit a
scrapbook enthusiast from your congregation to provide tips and
possibly share a die-cutting machine. Hold this in a large room
with several tables.
Get Set Have families bring in pictures from their summer
activities and outings-vacations, staycations, birthdays, family
reunions, VBS, the zoo, amusement parks, whatever. Then have them
spread out their photos, group them by topic, and work together to
assemble some pages. Encourage families to journal on their pages
and spreads so they can remember all their adventures for years to
Faith Talk Read Psalm 118:24. Ask: What will you
remember most from this summer? What are ways God was with you
during the good days and the tough days of summer?
Another option is to give each family an inexpensive
mini-album, available at craft stores or online. If you have access
to a computer and printer, people can print their comments and then
paste them in their scrapbooks.
There's a Mother's Day and a Father's Day, so set aside a day to
celebrate Children's Day.
Get Ready Ask parents to write a letter to each of their
children, telling how much they love and appreciate them -- and
why. Encourage them to keep the letters a surprise and either mail
or hand-deliver them to you. Make sure you have a letter for each
child; if a parent doesn't return one, write a letter to that
child. Have some generic letters on hand for extra children who
show up that day.
You'll need decorations (balloons, banners, table centerpieces), a
variety of snacks, ribbons or flowers to pin on each child, and
small gifts or certificates.
Get Set Greet all the children by pinning a ribbon or
flower on them as they arrive. In every segment of your service or
lesson, create ways for children to be in charge. For example, let
them vote for which game to play from a short list of options.
Discuss a Bible passage that involves children (God calling the boy
Samuel, David working as a shepherd boy, Jesus welcoming children).
In advance, select a few letters to read aloud. Present each child
with his or her special letter. Remind children they're all special
to God, who loves and appreciates them every day.
Conclude by handing out small gifts or certificates. For example,
give children each a 100 Grand candy bar with a sticker that says,
"You're priceless to God!" Or hand out official Kids Appreciation
certificates, rolled up and tied with blue ribbon (download
certificates at childrensministry.com).
WALK THROUGH WALLS
At Halloween, all sorts of zombies arise in costume. But we know
there's only one true Savior who can raise people from the dead --
the greatest Tomb Raider of all: Jesus. Here's an eye-opening game
from Group's The Great Tomb Raid fall festival to use. Kids will
transform a simple piece of paper into something they can step
Get Ready You'll need 11x17 sheets of paper (1 per child)
and child safety scissors.
Get Set Show kids the sheet of paper and ask them if they
think they could miraculously walk through it. Then show children
how to cut the paper so they can walk through it, using the steps
on the right.
Faith Talk Read Luke 24:1-9 about a genuine miracle. Ask:
What surprised you about this game? Why do you think the
women were so surprised by Jesus' miracle?
To learn more about Group's The Great Tomb Raid fall festival, go
1. Fold the paper in half and cut from the folded
side to about half an inch from the open side. Do this on both ends
of the paper, about half an inch in.
2. Cut down the fold in the paper, but don't cut
the folded part of the two strips from step 1.
3. Alternating from one side of the paper to the
other side, cut strips about every half-inch, ending each cut about
half an inch from the opposite edge of the paper. (The closer
together guests cut their strips, the more space they'll have to
4. Carefully open the paper, which will be a large
paper hoop kids can walk through.
Give children and families the chance to get creative without
worrying about making a mess.
Get Ready You'll need several 4x15-foot canvas drop
cloths, tape, paint trays or tray liners, assorted colors of paint
(ask families for donations of old paint), and a camera. No
Get Set Hold this in a local park or even in your church
parking lot. Section off the drop cloths with tape, and assign a
section to each family. Instruct them to paint anything that
depicts their family, but they can use only their hands, feet, or
other body parts. After a set time limit, take a photo of each
family with its canvas. Then display the dry artwork in your
children's area, along with enlargements of the photos you
Faith Talk Read Psalm 19:1-4. Have families discuss:
What does God's creation say about him? What does your
artwork say about your family?
Contain all the mess by having families create colorful chalk
murals on park or church sidewalks.
LEND A HAND
Colder weather makes it increasingly difficult to shop for and load
groceries. Your ministry can reach out to people who are struggling
to simply get their food into their vehicles in parking lots.
Get Ready You'll need inexpensive T-shirts with your
church or ministry logo (you might have some already from a VBS or
camp), as well as umbrellas or other weather-appropriate gear.
Ahead of time, contact a nearby grocery store for permission to
assist shoppers, and let them know when you plan to be there.
Get Set Have children and families stand near the store's
exits, ready to ask, "Need a hand?" Then they just cheerfully
assist shoppers, using care in the parking lot. This is a simple
but amazing way to show love and be a positive presence in your
Faith Talk Read John 13:14-15. Ask: What was it like
to help out people this way? What type of response did you
expect-and receive-and how did that make you feel? What are some
other ways we can follow Jesus' example by serving other people,
including our families?
Have your children's ministry provide this umbrella service on
Sundays when it rains at your church.
GREAT CHILI COOK-OFF
When fall's cooler air arrives, it's time to turn up the heat.
There's no better way to do that-and to raise some funds for your
ministry-than with a Chili Cook-Off.
Get Ready Schedule your cook-off for a Friday
night or a Sunday after worship
services. Publicize ahead of time so amateur chefs in your
congregation can plan their recipes. Assign entrants each a number
and ask them to color-code their recipes, from mild to insanely
Also recruit volunteers to decorate the eating area ahead of time,
possibly with a chili pepper theme. Invite entertainers (singers,
face painters, and balloon artists) to participate.
You'll need tables and chairs for attendees, serving tables for the
pots of chili, fixings (crackers, grated cheese, sour cream), corn
bread (baked by volunteers), pitchers of water and lemonade, bowls,
spoons, napkins, cups, ballots, pencils, and a ballot box.
Get Set Set a small entry fee, such as $2 or $5,
and sell tickets in advance, if necessary, to plan for the number
of attendees. Reserve some tickets for the door, as well.
Give ballots to guests when they arrive, or place the ballots on
tables. Have people vote for their favorite chili-or ask your
church or ministry staff to be judges. Award a prize to the winner,
such as an apron or a chef's hat. Post photos of the cook-off and
the winning chef on your church's website and on a bulletin board.
Move around and talk to people about your children's ministry to
see if they're interested in joining your team.
PETS ON PARADE
This hilarious gathering will have all the pet lovers in your
congregation howling, purring, or making whatever noise turtles
Get Ready You'll need small prizes to hand out, such as
gift certificates to a pet-supply store.
Get Set Publicize this pet parade ahead of time, inviting
pet owners to dress their animals in creative outfits. Challenge
people to match their pets; think Bert and Ernie, Batman and Robin,
and so on. Have owners and pets parade around together in an
outdoor area or in a room with washable floors. After the parade,
award gifts for various categories (best dressed, best owner-pet
pair, most creative).
Instead of the actual parade, have everyone bring in photos of
their pets to add to a "Pet Parade" bulletin board.
BFF (BEST FRIENDS FOREVER) DAY
Calm children's back-to-school jitters by letting them showcase
their best friends. This special day is a great way to reassure
children that friends come in all sizes, shapes, and
Get Ready You'll need paper, crayons, markers,
bowls, spoons, ingredients to make banana splits, and a
Announce in advance about BFF (Best Friends Forever) Day. In the
weeks leading up to it, have staff members and volunteers introduce
their own BFFs, such as childhood teddy bears or blankets. Get
children thinking about all the possible people or things they can
bring. When planning for the special day, allow enough time so all
children have an opportunity to introduce their BFFs.
Get Set Ask children to bring one of their BFFs to
church with them. The key is to be creative about what a friend is
and who their friends are. For example, a grandparent, school
friend, or neighborhood playmate could accompany them that day.
Children can also bring a favorite book or toy.
Discuss what makes a good friend, using biblical examples such as
Ruth and Naomi, David and Jonathan, or Jesus and his disciples.
Encourage children to be good friends to one another, and teach
them how to choose friends wisely.
Conclude by enjoying banana splits together. Invite any of the new
BFF children to come back again. Take pictures of kids and their
BFFs to post later.
Faith Talk Read John 15:13-15. Ask: What makes your
BFF so special to you? In what ways is Jesus your BFF? How can you
let other people know that Jesus wants to be their BFF,
Here's a fun game you can use any time, but it's perfect for
Group's Slime Time Halloween alternative (since it came from
there!). Get ready to enclose kids in a human-size bubble!
Get Ready You'll need a child-size wading pool, a tarp, a
hula hoop, and a cinder block. You'll also need pre-made bubble
solution consisting of 2 gallons distilled water, 6 cups Dawn dish
soap, and 4 cups corn syrup.
Place the tarp on the ground, and set the wading pool in the center
of it. Pour the pre-made bubble solution into the pool. (It really
is important to make the bubble solution the night before.) Set the
cinder block in the center of the pool, and set the hula hoop in
Get Set Check with parents to see if kids can keep their
shoes on. (Shoes with non-slip soles can help kids stay steady if
the cement block gets slippery). As a child stands on the cinder
block, two people will lift the hula hoop up, forming a bubble
around the child!
To learn more about Group's Slime Time fall festival, go to group.com/slimetime.
Sue Kahawaii is the children's executive
pastor at Champions Centre in Tacoma, Washington. Adam
and Courtney Walsh are experienced children's
ministers from Illinois. Adam joins the Group team this