Tuesday, March 19, 2019


I was thinking of Tangled when we did this activity. Usually I see something and visualize how we could use it in our lesson, but I was outdone by my co-worker on this one. The story was about Rahab, the spies and the scarlet cord.

We have a stage area of sorts in the front of our room. It has a door and a window in it. Dee Dee saw that we could use that window to be the window in the wall of Jericho through which Rahab let the spies down. Here's how we did it.

We always tell the Bible story first using power point, flash cards, flannel graph or stand up Bible characters. This gives the kids the picture. Acting it out helps to bring it to life.

After she told the story, we had the children build up a wall of bricks in front of the window. This represented the wall of Jericho.
Then we acted out the story. We had 2 spies, Rachel, and the bad guys who came to look for the spies. The spies knocked on the door of Rachel's "house" (you could build the wall in front of any classroom or use a refrigerator box). Rachel let them in and they basically repeated what she said to the spies in the Bible. Then, in a moment of inspiration, we grabbed the box of grass skirts from our resource room, and voila! We hid the spies under the flax just like Rachel had done.

Once the "bad guys" were gone, Rachel let the spies down the scarlet cord out of the window. Lucky for us our "house" has a window in it.

Then Rachel let the scarlet cord hang out the window until the next weeks lesson.

I enlarged the spies from a children's craft we found on-line. You can access the PDF here. I had to enlarge them quite a bit, so they are pixelated, but when you cut them out, they will look much better. I printed on 8 1/2 x 11 card-stock and then pieced and taped them together before cutting out.


We used an old CEF flashcard story, but you can make your own flash cards or Power Point from the free images at Free Bible Images. Here's the link for the Rachel set.

Monday, January 28, 2019

DIY Empty Tomb

Our neighbors gave us this pop-up tent years ago for the girls and I to sleep out in the back yard. We used it once for that. But in children's ministry I use it at least once a year. Next to duct tape and a kiddie pool, it is one of the most versatile tools I have used in ministry.

It has been the inside of a cave.

A giant fish to swallow Jonah.

The tent where Joshua was stationed when the the Gibeonites came to him to ask for help against the five Amorite kings that attacked them. (The battle when God rains hail down and the sun stands still.) You can see more pictures here of how we set up the area.

And most recently, it became the empty tomb for Easter.

Binder clips to hold the cloths in place.

I cover the tent with round, black tablecloths I purchased at Sam's years ago. You can use any black cloth though. I use binder clips in some spots to hold things in place. 

Adjustable height ironing board

For the shelf to lay the body of Jesus on, I used an adjustable ironing board 
someone had left at church. You could use some plastic totes and cover them with 
a black cloth, or even boxes. You just need a low height.

I had some scenery paper left over, so I used it to cover a large round piece of cardboard to make the stone to go in front of the opening. You could spray paint a piece of cardboard. This is just a piece from an appliance box. 

To act out the story I have crosses someone made me. I put stick figure people up on them to represent the two thieves and Jesus. I made Jesus on white corrugated cardboard 
and use velcro command strips to attach him to the cross. 
That way we can take him down, wrap him up and put him in the tomb. 

Velcro command strips on the cross to hold "Jesus" in place.
Note velcro command strip. We fold "Jesus'" arms in after we take him down.

Finally, we wrap "Jesus" up in long strips of cloth and place him in the tomb.
Then we roll the stone in front of the tomb and go to a classroom until it is very early in the morning on the first day of the week. We pretend we are the women going to the tomb to anoint Jesus' body with spices. When we get there, the body is gone of course. I usually have someone there dressed as an angel to tell us he isn't there and we need to go to Galilee to find him. So we go to "Galilee" and I have someone there dressed as Jesus. Below are the lines I wrote and gave to "Jesus" to recite.

I have taught this lesson at least three times, and each time I had a different tomb. The tent is the most versatile, but I used whatever was available each year. One year it was an old puppet stage that someone had left set up in our children's area. You can read that post here.
Another year it was half of a "house" that was left in the kidmin area. It is amazing what you can turn into an empty tomb. You can see that one here.

And yes, I have used the same "stone" every year. What have you made an empty tomb from?

Sunday, October 28, 2018

For the Love of Camels and Rebekah

After spending one year in the New Testament, I find myself back in the old with a whole set of new children. I have visuals from some of these lessons, but the children are younger now, so I am finding that I have to change things up.

I always start to prepare by reading the Bible story first. As I read, I try to visualize the story happening in my mind's eye. When I read this story of Abraham's servant going to find Isaac's wife, I was struck by the fact that he took ten camels. The Bible is very specific to mention that. It is also very specific that Abraham's servant watched closely as Rebekah drew water for those ten camels. Why? That was a lot of work! A camel can drink 20 to 25 gallons in 10 minutes and up to 40 gallons in one session. And there were 10 of them. The camels are key in understanding the story.

I downloaded pictures of camels that were labeled for reuse and printed them on cardstock. I always flip the images so I can paste them together front and back and then they can face any direction for telling stories. Some of my older figures are not double sided. Here is the link for my camel doc. You will need to print 5 copies. That will give you 5 of each design, so the camels are a little different.

I made a well by taping together five sides of stone around an upside down bowl. I put a piece of blue felt over the bowl. You could even use the bowl right side up and put real water in it, if you don't mind a mess. Here is the link for the well pieces and the clay jar for Rebekkah. I added some trees from a train set we used to have just to give a little effect.

Phillip Martin clip art. This is "Isaiah," but you could use it for Isaac
I used figures I had purchased to make the story figures of the servant, Rebekah and her family. These figures are no longer available for purchase, but were copyrighted. Phillip Martin has some wonderful free Bible images you can download on his website. Note that you are just looking at the first page when you click this link. There are 21 additional pages you can click onto.

Kiddie pool served as our well, minus the toys. We used drinking cups to fill a bucket from the "well."
For a learning activity, we had a children's swimming pool partly filled, cups and an empty bucket. Children had to use the cups to fill up the bucket, as many times as we could before the class ended. When it was full, we hauled it to an old sink and "watered the camels." They loved this activity.

Additional props used to tell this story:

  • I tied up bundles of small presents in pieces of cloth.
  • Children untied the bundles and explored the presents.
  • Little boxes from a doll house collection of Christmas presents
  • Gems and pretty stones to represent jewelry (spray paint small stones gold and silver)
  • I had one huge fake gem stone in a pretty bag for the kids to explore

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Musings from the Laundry Room

The laundry room, in a children's blog, really? Well, this musing is for everyone, children's workers included. And it is free, so it fits the frugal part of this blog.

Most hometown papers has several columns written by local contributors. Ours has one called, "The View from Hickory Hill" written by a woman whose home is located on, well, Hickory Hill. She shares her viewpoint on all manner of things from class reunions to haying to hand-me-downs.

One day this past summer, while we were in North Carolina on a medical leave of absence, I was inspired to write my own column...in the laundry room. So I thought, if Miss Hickory Hill can write a column about the view from her home, I can write one about my view from the laundry room. I have named it, "Musings from the Laundry Room," just in case I ever get inspired to write another post while in the laundry room. 

Our own laundry room was right in our apartment in Chapel Hill, complete with a new washer and dryer and wire shelving on an entire wall.  One day while I was doing the wash, I pulled the bottle of Purex laundry detergent from that shelving and a memory came flooding over me. I had gone to the Walmart in Chapel hill by myself to buy that bottle of detergent because I knew I could get the size and brand I wanted there. I remembered the heat. I remembered clearly where I had parked the car. I remembered the traffic when I left the parking lot. But most of all, I remembered it was well over a month ago that all of that happened. We still had a lot of time in Chapel Hill. Leaving to go home was not even on my mind that day at WalMart. 

As I set about washing towels for perhaps the last time in Chapel Hill, and as I poured out the depleting liquid into the lid, this wave of emotion just came over me - like when you are at the Jersey shore in the ocean, and you don't see the wave coming up on you until it is too late. It came out of nowhere and its dark shadows spread over my spirit that had been so gay a moment before. Our time in North Carolina was almost gone. We were leaving in six days. 

As I stood there with the bottle in hand, I felt how we cannot hang onto anything, I felt the fleetingness of life and moments. I felt my total lack of control over any of it, try as I had to hold onto all the moments and seize the day. The day was still coming that we would have to leave. A sadness hung over my spirit. And then I was comforted by God. Strengthened by the knowledge that come what may, God will never be moving or leaving or changing or depleting. He is a surety, a stability - one I can anchor my soul in. The rock that is higher than I am. He is the ONLY sure thing in my life, or any of our lives. But what a surety he is. And my soul was opened by the warmth of his love and presence and the knowledge of who he is that will always be by my side.

No wonder that David wrote in the Psalm 62: 
Hear my cry, O God
listen to my prayer;
from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint.
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I,
for you have been my refuge,
a strong tower...

I don't know what life has brought your way, but I do know that none of us can control it. I hope that you have found the rock that is higher than you are and are anchored in Him so that come what may, you have anchored your soul in God. When those moments come - and you never know when they will - remember the one who never changes and pray with David, "lead me to the rock that is higher than I." Thank God that because of who he is, he IS higher than us, he IS a rock and he can ALWAYS answer that prayer. 

Sunday, October 7, 2018

I Quit!

National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, VA

OK, be honest, how many of you have a letter of resignation hidden away in a drawer somewhere? I have been in the ministry long enough to know that almost every pastor out there (lead, senior, youth, kidmin or otherwise) has seriously wanted to quit at least once in their lifetime (for some it might be every Monday morning).

Every once in awhile I come across this file in my documents entitled, "Letter of Resignation." Hmmm, what's that I wondered the first time I saw it. So I opened it. It was a letter I had hurriedly typed to our governing board. It was only a rough draft, but there it was, typos and all. "Wow." I thought as I read it, "Did I really feel like that?" And so I decided to keep it, just to remind myself when I get down, that I have been down before, and kept on.

Maybe we should write letters of non-resignation when we are feeling solid in our ministries. That might be a better thing to look at the next time we want to throw in the towel.

It happened again last weekend, I just did not think I could keep on. Children's ministry can be a lonely place. You feel like everyone cares about the adult ministries, and that no one realizes you are pouring yourself out for kids. In our case, only a few kids. So maybe they sound like David's older brother at the battlefront who said to David, "Who is watching those FEW sheep you are supposed to be watching." I can almost hear them, "Get back there with those sheep and don't come out and bother us again!"

Well last weekend I shared with a fellow kidmin worker, and she gave me some great help. First she talked me off the ledge. Secondly, she shared a video link to a video called, Aim Lower. I wish I still had her letter, but I do have the video to share with you.

Aim Lower from Joan Eppehimer on Vimeo.

If our work were easy, we probably would not be making any inroads. Ministry invades the enemy's territory so of course it is going to be difficult, especially when you are engaging in battle for children. They have their whole lives ahead of them. If you can reach a child when they are young think of all the years they have ahead of them. The Bible gives plenty of illustrations of us fighting the good fight and soldiering as Christians. I just need to be reminded of it when I want to quit.

So when you are feeling like no one else truly cares about the children's ministry, when you feel like you have not accomplished anything, when you feel discouraged...take heart and press on and keep aiming lower...at the children.

My thanks to Kate over at Jesus Without Language for her words of encouragement and sharing this video.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

To Have Children's Church, or Not To

Hamlet's famous line, "To be, or not to be:" rings through the ages. As a children's director in a small church, one of my biggest questions is, "To have children's church, or not to: that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler to make workers suffer the slings and arrows of a work force already stretched thin, or to take up arms against the congregation and subjugate them to noisy children in the service." OK, I confess, that is a totally wrong view of ministry to children for either side of the argument, but it was fun to write.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Pentecost DIY Pins

This was a fun, simple craft for the kids to make for Pentecost Sunday and yet it had a big impact. After a lesson about Pentecost, we made these lapel pins from craft foam.

I made some cardstock templates. The older kids helped trace. Adult helpers cut. Younger kids peeled the sticky back off of the fun foam and placed the yellow flame on the red ones. Some pins had 2 flames, and some 3.