Amaze kids and families with these great ideas that'll
help them grow closer to God.
Love is to the heart what the summer is to the farmer's year,"
Billy Graham once said. "It brings to harvest all the loveliest
flowers of the soul." We couldn't agree more -- summertime is the
perfect time to celebrate God's love and extend his rays of
beautiful sunshine into your children's ministry.
Bring the kids in your ministry along on these late-
as we say farewell to the long days of summer and prepare for the
ringing of school bells.
Good Samaritan Shadow Play
Age Level: 10 to 12
Materials: Two large white bedsheets sewn together, a clothesline,
clothespins, and a lamp
Get kids involved in retelling the story of the Good Samaritan
with this unique storytelling adventure.
Before class, hang the bedsheets from the clothesline. Place the
lamp on the floor 10 feet behind the curtain.
Say, "God wants us to love our neighbors. There's a story in the
Bible about a man who wanted to know what Jesus meant by the word
'neighbor.' This man didn't really want to love everybody. He was
hoping that it'd be okay to show love to only a few close friends
and family. Let's see what Jesus said."
Form two groups. Have one group go behind the curtain and the
other group sit on the other side of the curtain as the audience.
Assign a role in Luke 10:30-37 to each child behind the
curtain. Turn off all the lights except the lamp. Have the kids
pantomime their parts behind the sheet and in front of the lamp,
while a strong reader reads the Scripture. Then have the groups
Afterward, ask, "How do you think the person who was beat up felt?
How do you think he felt when he saw the priest approaching him?
How do you think he felt when the priest left without helping
Say, "The Israelites didn't like the Samaritans. If Israelites
needed to cross Samaria to travel somewhere, they'd travel hundreds
of miles out of their way just to avoid entering Samaria."
Ask, "How do think the Israelite felt when the Samaritan stopped
to help him? Why do you think Jesus said the Samaritan was a true
neighbor in the story?"
Say, "The Samaritan showed love to a person who normally would
have nothing to do with him. God helped the Samaritan love the
Israelite. God helps us love others. What kinds of people are hard
for you to love? How can you show love to them?"
Close in prayer, thanking God for loving us and asking him to help
us love others.
Age Level: 6 to 12
Materials: Butcher paper, tape, tempera paints, and a vacant
Here's a creative idea that'll help kids reflect on the biblical
lessons you teach throughout the year.
Select a wall in your classroom that kids can paint after each
lesson. You may choose to cover the wall with butcher paper, or let
kids paint the wall itself after each class session. Place stored
tempera paints nearby.
After each lesson, invite kids to spend five minutes finger
painting things they remember about the lesson on one section of
the wall. Write the Scripture or story title above the group of
paintings. You can revisit the wall during any lesson or teaching
time to remind kids of the lesson and event.
Once the wall is covered or the year is completed, simply repaint
the wall or tear down the butcher paper.
Sunday Morning Sam's Sampler
Have you ever purchased a bushel basket of those yummy little
cream puffs featured in the Sam's Club frozen food aisle? If you're
at all like me, your decision to buy started with the friendly
"Have you tried our cream puffs?" the sampler asks, knowing it'll
only take one experience before you're hooked.
Before the taste of the sweet cream leaves your tongue, you find
yourself filling your basket, rationalizing all the different ways
you'll be able to use these delicacies. Sam's samplers grab your
attention, whet your appetite, and convince you to explore
What if children's ministries capitalized on this concept? Imagine
someone standing behind a little cart in the foyer or hallway in
your kids' department, greeting and capturing kids' attention with
something that activates the senses. Someone who whets the appetite
for learning and motivates kids to explore further?
"Would you like to try some roasted locusts and honey?" tempts the
Sunday morning Sam's sampler. "We're studying John the Baptist this
morning, and this is what he ate."
Boys and girls sample the offer as others gather in disbelief. And
the kids proceed to class with soaring expectations.
By following a curriculum's scope and sequence, all sorts of
multisensory experiences can be featured at a Sunday morning
sampler station. And you don't have to always offer food -- just
offer something that activates the senses. Here are ideas to get
• Doctor Luke writes about Jesus. Take kids' blood pressure and
• Jesus said, "I am the light of the world." Have kids light and
blow out candles.
• Jesus said, "I am the bread of life." Serve fresh bread that's
baked at church for the aroma.
• Jesus casts Legion's demons into pigs. Serve pork rinds.
• Jesus tells a kingdom story about seeds. Serve a variety of
seeds, such as sunflower and pumpkin.
• Jesus tells a kingdom story about yeast. Provide bread dough in
various stages of rising.
• Jesus feeds his disciples breakfast. Serve fried fish
• Jesus turns water into wine. Provide a taste test of grape juice
watered down in stages.
• Mary Magdalene brings spices to Jesus' tomb. Grind cinnamon,
black pepper, nutmeg, or coriander in a hand mill.
• Soldiers cast lots for Jesus' clothes. Have kids draw straws and
With the help of a Sunday morning sampler, your children's
ministry can build anticipation for learning in a fun and truly
memorable way. Your kids will get in the habit of "trying" -- and
"buying" -- too.
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Age Level: 6 to 12
Materials: Red yarn and various props
Using simple red yarn and your imagination, take kids on an
exciting journey through the desert with the Israelites.
Before class, set up various learning stations in different rooms
or different sections of your room that represent what the
Israelites may've experienced as they journeyed through the desert.
Then place red yarn from the starting point of the journey to the
ending point, creating a pathway for kids to follow. Wind the yarn
around obstacles such as tables, overturned chairs, and partitions
so the pathway meanders and is a little mysterious to kids.
Here's how we designed the learning stations.
• Daily Life-The yarn first took kids into a tent where an adult
discussed daily life in the desert.
• Daily Food-Kids were led into the "quail room" where they
learned about desert birds and constructed simple paper
• Mount Sinai-A third room held a tripod covered by a tablecloth
to represent Mount Sinai. An adult talked about the yellow ribbon
that kept children back from Mount Sinai as representative of God's
commandment not to touch the mountain or go near it.
• Manna-A fourth room held a quart jar filled with oyster crackers
covered in melted white almond bark to represent manna.
• Rock of Horeb-The fifth room had a stack of chairs barring the
kids at the entrance. This was the rock of Horeb where the children
of Israel begged for water. Moses struck the rock with his rod.
Behind these chairs were several pitchers of ice water and plenty
of paper cups.
In each "room" we had an adult leader, an activity or craft, and
discussion questions. The red yarn led kids back to our central
classroom where we celebrated what we'd learned and praised
Splish, Splish, Splash!
Age Level: 4 to 9
Materials: Large plastic cup, plastic bucket, and water
Kids love to play this wet variation of Duck, Duck, Goose! in the
hot summer months.
Have kids wear clothing that can get wet, and plan to do this
Fill a large bucket with water. Have kids sit in a circle and
appoint one child to be "It." It fills the cup with water from the
bucket and then walks around the outside of the circle saying,
"Splish, splish, splish" as he or she taps each child on the head.
Then It chooses a child, says "Splash!" and pours the water on that
A chase ensues as the child chosen tries to catch It. Whichever
child reaches the empty spot in the circle first sits, and the
other child becomes It.
Here are two great bulletin board ideas you can use this summer to
spice up your children's ministry.
• All We Need Is You!-To get potential volunteers' attention,
place a Hawaiian shirt, a pair of shorts, a lei, and a pair of flip
flops on the bulletin board with a sign that says "All We Need Is
You!" Alternatively, you could place several pairs of flip-flops on
the board with the words "We could use you to fill these for our
summer children's ministry."
• Hear's What We're Learning-Place three large artificial flowers
across the board. In the center of the flowers, staple a small felt
"packet" that holds a small recording device (available at craft
stores). Record the memory verse, lesson, Bible point, or other
information your programs are focused on.
Label each flower for your children's programs-such as Sunday
school, children's church, and the midweek program. Place a "press
here" sticker on the felt packet where the recording device is.
Anyone who sees the display can press the button and hear what's
new in each program. Record new information each week so the board
stays current and keeps people coming back to find out what's
happening in your children's ministry.
Smelly Feet and All
Age Level: 10 to 12
Materials: Two aluminum casserole pans filled with water, two
towels, two bars of soap, two chairs, masking tape, and an activity
Give preteens a chance to experience servanthood firsthand with
Place two chairs spaced 10 feet apart at the far end of the
activity area. Place an aluminum pan filled with water, soap, and a
towel on the floor in front of each chair. On the opposite side of
the activity area, mark a starting line on the floor using masking
tape. Form two teams and have the teams line up behind the starting
mark facing the chairs.
Read aloud John 13:1, 3-5. Say, "We're going to do what
Jesus did." Tell kids they'll wash one another's feet, but they'll
all get to experience what it's like to have their feet washed.
Remind them to wash with care -- as Jesus would.
On "go," the first preteen of each team runs to the chair, sits,
and takes off his or her socks and shoes. The second preteens in
line run to the aluminum pan and wash and dry the first people's
feet. When done, the first person moves aside, puts his or her
socks and shoes back on, and runs to the back of the line. The
preteen who just did the feet-washing now sits in the chair, while
the next person in line washes his or her feet. The kids who were
first in line wash the feet of the last kids in line.
Once everyone has had a chance to experience both, ask, "How did
it feel to wash someone else's feet? How did it feel to have your
Say, "Jesus washed his disciples' feet to show his love for them.
And long ago, people had very dirty feet-they walked everywhere in
Read aloud John 13:13-15. Say, "God wants us to love one
another-smelly feet and all!"
Bergenfield, New Jersey
Age Level: 6 to 12
Materials: Butcher paper, markers, masking tape, and Post-It
Chart the course of your Sunday school year using a timeline. Put
up a large piece of butcher paper at the beginning of the year, and
mark off a few defining events such as the first day, holidays,
Christmas, Easter, and spring break. At the end of each month, give
children each two sticky notes and ask them to write two ways
they've grown closer to Jesus that month. One at a time, each child
can place his or her notes on the timeline and explain their
significance. At the end of the exercise, thank God for the kids
and the way he's worked in their lives to help them grow.
Misty Anne Winzenried
Late Summer Tea Party
Delight the little girls in your children's ministry with an
old-fashioned tea party especially for them. Use these tips to make
your afternoon or evening tea party a wonderful success.
• Invited guests-Keep this 90-minute party special for little
girls. Invite them to bring their favorite doll as a guest along
with Mom or Dad.
• Decorations-Make your church fellowship hall festive with lace
tablecloths, flowers, and colorful streamers. Add a pretty touch by
bunching fine netting around the lace-covered tabletops and adding
long strings of beads and small silk flowers in different colors.
If you have tables with adjustable legs, lower them to the right
height for children, and borrow chairs from the preschool
department. Decorate tables with old teapots filled with flowers
• Dress Up-Have girls make flower wreaths for their hair to take
home. For wreath instructions, go to Web Extras at www.cmmag.com.
Provide plenty of dress-up clothes, dressy shoes, and old jewelry.
Little girls love feather boas and glitzy outfits. Have the
clothing and jewelry spill out of old trunks and treasure chests.
Supply enough dress-up clothes in many sizes to fit the older or
larger girls. Provide full-length mirrors to add to the fun of
• Photo Op-Parents will thank you for providing photos of the
party. Set up a special photography area with an attractive
background-for example, clothes or hats draped over a screen.
Photograph each girl and her doll after she's chosen her favorite
dress-up outfit. Hint: Take two photos-a close-up and a distance
shot that includes the background. After the party, mount the
photos on heavy paper suitable for framing. Crop the close-up photo
and attach it to the corner of the distance shot. Have the photos
ready for girls to pick up at church a week or two after the
• Now Serving-Serve everyone tea and cookies against the soft
background of classical music. Use fancy plates-glass hostess
plates and cups are a good choice. Serve a special, aromatic blend
of tea; offer decaffeinated tea as an alternative. Serve the tea
lukewarm with two "lumps" of sugar (sugar cubes). Frothy pink punch
goes great with tea, and most little girls will like to try both.
Serve cookies and mini muffins.
• Pretty Please-Instruct the girls in proper etiquette for an
old-fashioned tea party. Hold your spoon straight up and down to
stir the sugar into your tea, so it doesn't hit against the sides
of the cup. Unfold your napkin and make it into a triangle. Place
the napkin in your lap with the point of the triangle over your
knees. Use only the folded-over portion to wipe your mouth-that way
it doesn't touch your clothes and keeps you clean. Use good table
manners-no reaching, gossiping, or getting angry.
• Saving Money-Expenses for your tea party can be minimal if you
borrow materials for decorations such as tablecloths, candles, and
teapots. If your budget is small, ask ladies to make cookies and
mini muffins. Provide film, and ask a volunteer to be the