We’re continuing on with our What’s Up curriculum, written by Jack Klumpenhower, during our midweek program. I am still a big fan of the content, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that there is no good way to simplify it for the younger ages. Our older groups have said good things and I think it’s creating more of a culture of authenticity among the kids (they are readily admitting sins and shortcomings), but I wouldn’t do it again simply because of the complexity of the material (it would be great for 6th-8th grades).
This week, we’re on lesson five (page 68 in our books) and the big idea is learning the benefits of becoming a Christian.
The Big Idea: God gives us good gifts when we become Christians.
Large Group Time:
Though the book uses terms like Justification and Sanctification, I think we’ll steer clear of those terms for now (what’s a preschooler going to do with those?!). The entire lesson is based on the idea of gifts, so of course there will be some lovely wrapped presents on display. My plan is to invite kids to open the gifts (one at a time) and then we will discuss what is inside. The three gifts will contain:
This box will have a dry erase board inside with all kinds of sins written on it. We’ll discuss 1 John 1:9 together and then erase the board to represent the gift of forgiveness that God gives us.
This box will contain a certificate of adoption saying that we are now a child of God. We’ll talk about 1 John 3:1 and might talk about any experiences the kids have had with adoption personally.
I’ll also be checking out this sermon just to get some more background for myself. This music video from Third Day might also be something to show the kids. This is a great video as well, but is certainly more geared towards adults (watch it for your own spiritual growth!) With this gift box, we’ll talk about how amazing it is to have God as a father and ask the kids what they think the coolest thing about having God as your dad is.
#3 Whole New Heart:
In this box, I’ll probably put a big foam heart. I thought about making a heart of out jello (youtube it), but that might be a little too Once Upon a Time. 🙂 I’m going to do a little thinking and see if I can find a kid movie that shows a character with a drastic “change of heart” to illustrate this a little more for the kids (suggestions welcome!). I will also mention that this “new heart” gives us the power to fight against sin and explain that we’ll talk more about fighting sin next week (armor of God lesson).
Small Group Time
If you’re looking for a few more coordinating ideas (crafts or games), keep on reading!
You could continue with the gift theme and play “shake the box”, trying to guess how many pennies or candies are in each (find little boxes at the Dollar Tree) (check us out playing this game Minute to Win it style here). You could also play pass the parcel (find instructions here).
Another angle is having the kids write/draw a gift they would like to gift back to the Lord. They could put it in tiny boxes (Dollar Tree) and lay it at the foot of the cross. This book is a great inspiration for that idea:
Clean up the Pennies: This activity, from Ministry to Children, used pennies to demonstrate how God cleans up our lives. It would be good for kids who like science-based activities.
Game Idea: Clean Heart (From Christian Crafters)
- Set Up: Designate a large playing area, in the shape of a heart. Fill the heart with items of various sizes and shapes to represent sin (ie. cones, scarves, cups, rolled up newspaper, boxes, etc.). Establish a start line 15′-30′ away from the heart.
- How To Play: Divide players into teams. (No more than 5 players per team) Tell the players the playing area represents a heart (a life) filled with sin. Have the teams line up at the start line. At the go the first player on each team must run into the heart and remove one item. Then run back to his or her team line to rid the item “a sin,” then tag off to the next player line. Next player in line takes his or her turn. Play continues like this until all the “sins” are removed.
- How To Win: The team with the most sins removed from the heart is the winning team.
- After the Game Discussion: All those items we collected represented the sins in our lives. Some were big “sins” and some were small “sins.” We sometimes look at our own sins as big and small sins too. Telling a lie or being unkind, we might consider to be a small sin, verses stealing something or killing someone. Those we would think of as big sins! However, God doesn’t measure sin like that. God tells us that ALL sin is wrong and that ALL sins, big and small, separate us from his holy presence. All sin must be punished. The only way we can rid ourselves of sin is to trust in Jesus to save us and forgive us. Jesus died in our place to take the punishment that we deserve for sinning. When we believe Jesus did that for us, and we ask him to forgive us, we are forgiven, and our hearts are cleansed.
Take My Sins, God: We did this activity many many years ago and it seemed to resonate with the kids. Give each child a stone and have them write (or draw) a sin that they are struggling with on it. If possible, set up a cross in the room. Have kids pray about their sin, asking God to forgive them, and then lay their sin at the foot of the cross. You can do a similar activity by writing sins on paper and then throwing them away (also check out the prayer stations from the Gathering for more ideas like this).
Guest Speaker: This would be a great week to invite an adult to come in and talk to the kids about adoption (someone who has adopted who has been adopted). Be sure to leave room for the kids to ask questions.
Adoption Certificates: Kids might like to make their own adoption certificate showing they are a part of God’s family.
#3 Whole New Heart
Heart craft ideas abound all over the internet, so do a little searching on this one. We did a Vacation Bible School program called God’s Great Big Love that has a lot of heart craft ideas you might want to check out.
Here’s a few more that I found and love:
I like this one because it kind of fits in the “family of God” as a family tree and new heart. Bonus!
That’s it for now!