Monday, September 28, 2020

Christmas on a Sunday

Every once in awhile Christmas falls on a Sunday. Over the years we have approached it various ways. My most memorable Christmas Sunday was a few years back. That year we gathered the Sunday School teachers in November and asked if they wanted to cancel Sunday School for Christmas morning and just have a church service, since Christmas is also a huge family holiday. One teacher was very vocal that Christmas was the whole reason we had church to begin with and it being the celebration of the entrance of our Savior into the world we should absolutely have Sunday School.

So we planned an Intergenerational Breakfast and it was the highest attendance we had all year.

We set up a continental style breakfast. The pièce de résistance were the homemade cinnamon rolls one of our ladies made. We had fruit salad, juice, hot chocolate and coffee as well. 

We used cloth tablecloths and simple centerpieces to make things a little special. It was simple, yet classy. I found everything for the centerpieces in our resource room. Polyester fiber fill, plastic snowflakes and battery operated votive candles. The little snowflakes were made from white paper and a snowflake punch. Walmart and Michael's carry these.

We played several games. 

  1. One was drawing a Christmas tree and fireplace on a paper plate on top of your head. 

  2. The other was piling up snowballs (marshmallows) on a wide wooden Popsicle stick. 

 




We met in the children's area instead of the fellowship hall, and I think this helped the event to be more incorporating of the generations. Some children were there with their families, but there was at least one who came without parents. Adults intermingled and played games with the children whether or not they were related. We even had people come to this that did not normally come for Sunday School. The best thing was that this could be an all-inclusive event. Those with disabilities could be incorporated as well.

My favorite moment came when one of the boys let out a huge yawn, and without missing a beat I asked, "Are we boring you?" What was special was that he was non-verbal. He rarely attended church because while non-verbal, he was not non-noiseful. I am not aware of the level of his handicaps, but at that moment, in the warmth of everyone joined together in one big class area, I interacted with him like any other child, which of course he was, but we so often forget that. It flowed naturally, effortlessly in the atmosphere of the gathering. 

There is a time and place for intergenerational programs and there is also a need for age appropriate teaching. If your church regularly has a Sunday School, an event like this would be great once a quarter, or even 3 times a year. It helps the children to connect with the rest of the church, and helps the church connect with them too. And it is an opportunity for an all-inclusive gathering of everyone in your church.




Monday, September 21, 2020

DIY Scroll

I wonder if Andrew Clements ever dreamed that there would be so many new words in the English language when he wrote the children's book, Frindle published in 1996. It was a book about how a new word gets acknowledged as a new word. Today we have words and terms that my computer's dictionary doesn't even recognize. Terms like DIY and words like repurpose. I looked it up, and repurpose really is a word. According to the online etymolgy dictionary, it became a word in 1983, long before google became a word.

 

But I digress. This is about repurposing that packing paper that comes in all the online stuff we order today. (I wonder when online became a word.) I left file drawers full of this paper at our old church. The first time I unwrapped something wrapped in yards of it, I thought, "This can surely be useful for something." I smoothed out the 10 foot length of it and rolled it up. Sure enough, I found uses for it. 


 

It works great for making a scroll because it is already wrinkled when you get it. All I had to do was cut it in half to make my scroll the height I wanted. You could add dowels at each end, but I didn't bother for this lesson. We just rolled it up from each end, and viola!...a scroll. 

 

I let the children write the Bible verse on the scroll for this particular lesson. It was when Jesus unrolled the scroll and read from Isaiah in the synagogue in Nazareth. Letting them write it themselves, copying it from a Bible, helped them to connect with the story. When we acted it out and "Jesus" read from the scroll, they knew what he was reading had come from the book of Isaiah because they had copied it themselves.

You can check out the whole lesson on rejection at Nazareth here.

 


I have also used this packing paper to make a cave. Full instructions for that are here.


I could have even made this tree from that packing paper, but I repurposed this black paper from a road we made for a VBS. You can search this blog with the word repupose to see what else we have repurposed. And by the way, in the book Frindle, frindle becomes a word for pen.

By the way, if you are still reading this, instead of getting a new church building, we repurposed these walls for about $500. So instead of a tree today, you will find these themed walls in our kidmin place. Here's what it looks like now:




You can read about our remodel project in several posts I wrote. Click here for one of them.


Monday, September 14, 2020

Missions, Missions, Missions

 


One summer, back when most churches had VBS's, we were not able to hold one. So my pastor husband said we should do a big fall outreach for children, and he asked me to be in charge. I love that kind of thing, so I was psyched to plan a children's outreach. Then we had our Sunday School teacher's meeting to plan for the fall classes, pick a date for the outreach and discuss the upcoming mission's conference later that fall. One of the teachers thought it would be a great thing to do something for the kids with the missionary since the one coming was especially good in relating to children. 

So that became our children's outreach to replace VBS, and of course, since I was supposed to be in charge of the outreach event, I was put in charge. I was a little ticked off. It was not what I had envisioned, and it certainly was not what I had agreed to do. Ever felt that way? It seems to happen to me a lot. But in hindsight, it was God's plan. So I encourage you to be sensitive to God when plans don't go as you had planned. What follows is the inter-generational event we came up with before we had ever even heard of the word inter-generational.

I always work with a planning committee for events. Some people hate committees, but I love them because you get so many good ideas and you develop things together. That is what the church (body) is all about, working together to do more than we can do alone. I try to look for a lot of ideas and bring them to the meeting and then let the team go crazy. Usually that means they tell me to keep my feet on the ground. But I love the process of working through plans with other and seeing our dreams come to life together.

Since I am writing this during the pandemic of 2020, most of this event could not be done as we did it. However, I encourage you to be creative and figure out ways to adapt some of it. Check out the adaptation article I wrote for lots of ideas as to how to make this festival "pandemic friendly."

Prep

PASSPORTS: We created "passports" for the children. They were required to visit each booth once before they went back to a booth a second time. They got little international stickers at each site. Here is the PDF we used. We ran the covers off on card stock. 

 



TAKE HOME BAGS: We purchased balloons that looked like a globe (earth day balloons) and ordered a helium tank from a local welding supply company. The plan was to bag up leftover odds and ends from previous carnivals and attach them to the inflated balloons as an anchor. The balloons were displayed in the sanctuary on both sides of the platform. This was for a photo opp of the whole group at the end of the event which we submitted to the local paper. 



DOOR PRIZES: We had some large items donated, so we decided to offer some door prizes. You got tickets for registering at the front door and kids could put them in the prize bucket of their choice. We awarded the prizes in the closing assembly, which encouraged people to stay. You had to be present to win.

 


FOOD: We wrote to the missionary that would be coming and asked for some recipes. We chose empanadas for Argentina, and then added a few other countries with recipes we already had. The internet is a great source, as is your local library.

Here are the categories of what we planned:

  1. Food - we had empanadas (Argentine style), Brigadeiros (a Brazilian sweet), alfajores (a Peruvian cookie) and pizza.

  2. Argentinian Experience - this one wasn't listed in their passport, but our missionary brought items from Argentina and clothing. He explained the different items to children and let them try on the clothing. It was a big hit.



  3. Service Activities - since this festival was missions themed, we included some activities that taught the children to give to others. 
    1. Card Making - we made cards for a local nursing home. We got a list that had the name of every resident on it, and made sure that cards were made for every single one. Even our adult helpers made cards when they had a chance. The residents loved getting them. Children not only made the card, but many wrote a little note in their card.

    2. Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes - we had a whole room set up with items they could fill boxes with. This project took a lot of preparation. Our youth group had a bottle drive to raise money for it. Then the youth went shopping on a Saturday morning at the Dollar Tree and each one was given about $25 and some guidelines for what to buy. We also used some of the money they raised for postage to help mail the boxes. The congregation brought in items as well and also plastic shoe boxes for the event. As children filled a shoe box, they brought it into the sanctuary where we made a big pyramid of them for a photo op at the end of the event.


  4. Craft - I found a book at the public library (every frugal children's workers favorite place) called Around the World Art & Activities: Visiting the 7 Continents Through Craft Fun. Children made a Gaucho Belt. The kids loved these. It took a lot of prep work, but we had youth help one night, and we also sent some home with our older women who liked to cut things for us. I will give a separate post as to how to make them. This book is out of print now, and very expensive to buy used. I suggest the library. Most libraries can borrow it from another library if they don't have it in their collection. I have included detailed instructions in the Gaucho Belt post. (coming soon)

  5. Games - we used two games from South America and then included some regular carnival games. 
    1. Brazil - Hit the Coin. You had a dowel with a coin on top of it and children threw a small rock to try and hit the dowel and knock the coin off. We have flag stands for small flags, so we stuck a dowel in this to make it stand upright. You could also use a bucket of sand.

    2. Brazil - Peteca. This used a Brazillian shuttlecock we purchased online. You just had to toss it into a basket, but it was a piece of equipment the kids had never seen or handled.


    3. Duck Races - this was a fun one. We had a kiddie pool full of water and ducks floating in it. Each child got a water pistol and had to squirt their duck across the pool against other ducks.

    4. Face Painting
    5. Bean Bag Toss
    6. Open Doors - This is another fun one. Someone made a little cabinet with a door on it that had a real doorknob on it. Kids were given a ring of keys and two or three chances to try and find the right key to open the door. If they got it open, they got a small prize that was inside. Otherwise they got a consolation prize. 


      Children visited the booths for 90 minutes (this was actually longer than necessary). Then everyone gathered in our sanctuary and the missionary dressed a few children up and then spoke to the group about Jesus.


 After our missionary shared with the group we had a couple of drawings (this encouraged people to stay for the whole event), we took a picture of the children with the OCC boxes and then all of the children took home a helium filled balloon with a bag of goodies attached to the ribbon, acting as a weight.

 

I had a lot more pictures from the event, so I made the video below to give you an idea of how it went.

DIY Eggtremely Large Easter Egg

  This was an eggtremely time consuming project to do, but it was also very rewarding, and even fun. I want to warn you though, don't pa...