Cheryl writes, "Our children's church is a pretty short period of time. The kids are dismissed after our time of worship and offering; so I have them for about the length of the sermon, which is usually 25-30 minutes. My kids are grades 1-3, I usually have between
4-8 children, sometimes up to 12.
I like to start out by asking the children if they are familiar with whatever Bible character we are studying. They like to tell me what they know, and it gives me a feel for how much background or explanation they will need with the story. I then read the story and present the lesson. Many times I have the kids act out the lesson."
Galatians 5:22-23 "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control."
Love: Jonathan and David
I asked the class to tell me about David. If they don't mention Jonathan, I ask who was David's best friend? If they don't know about Jonathan, they may know about King Saul. After they understand the background and who the main characters are, read the story. 1 Samuel Chapter 20. You can read the whole chapter if you think your kids can follow along. I didn't, instead, I told them the story. I explained that Jonathan's dad was a king. He didn't like Jonathan's friend David. David was afraid so he wanted to run away, but Jonathan told him to wait until he talked to his dad the king, and then meet him later. Jonathan told David to hide behind a rock and wait for a secret message. They decided since Jonathan was a prince and had a helper, it would be a good idea for Jonathan to shoot arrows and talk to his helper. David would stay behind the rock and listen to what they said. If Jonathan said, "Look, the arrows are beside you," to his helper, it would mean David could come out, he would be safe. But if Jonathan said, "No, the arrows are farther beyond you," then that would mean David should run away, because the king wanted to kill him. When Jonathan talked to his dad, he got really mad. Jonathan was sad, because he knew he would have to tell David to run away.
Then I read 1 Samuel 20:35-42. Next we had a short discussion about how much Jonathan must have loved David to protect him from his father the king, and that Jesus wants us to have that kind of love in our hearts.
Next, the best part, we acted out the story. The first time I first did this, we had a large rock in the church, so our "David" actually hid behind a rock. You could use a box, or a table with a cloth over it, whatever a child can hide behind. For arrows we made paper airplanes. That was a BIG hit! The parts were King Saul, Jonathan, the helper who collected the arrows, and David. We didn't have any time for review, they played the game over and over until church was over.
I started by asking each one if they ever got anything they really, really wanted; like for a birthday or Christmas, and how they felt when they got it. Then we talked about Hannah and how she really wanted a baby, but she had to wait a long time. Then one day, God gave her a baby. She was so happy, she said a beautiful prayer. Then I read 1Samuel 2:1-10. I told them I thought her prayer sounded like a poem, because it was so beautiful. I asked them if they would help me write a poem about the joy God has put in their heart, and we could hang it on the wall. They told me emotions that God gives them, their favorite thing about God, their favorite songs about God, their favorite bible stories, etc. We wrote all the ideas on a big sheet of paper and decided on the order to place the words. They were very creative! Then we read the poem together and they each signed their names to the final copy.
The story is from 1 Samuel 25. I told them I wanted to talk to them about their friends. They each told me about some friends. Then we talked about how hard it is when you have two friends who don't like each other. I then told them about David, Nabal, and Abigail. We talked about how Nabal was rude to David, and how angry David became, angry enough to fight. But Abigail intervened and there was no war. Then we acted out the story.
Because we have a kitchen, I asked for the kids to be dismissed to the kitchen. Before we started, I asked them to tell me about Joseph. Most of them mentioned his coat of many colors. I told them that I wanted to tell them the whole story of Joseph, about how he was a picked-on little brother who became a king. But it took a LONG time. Joseph had to be patient. Then we made peanut butter cookies. If you are in a church where there is no kitchen, you could still use this lesson with a no-bake cookie recipe. As I measured out and added each ingredient, I told them about something that happened in Joseph's life. I also had them taste each ingredient. Some of them were sweet events, but some of them were bitter events, just like the ingredients. Then I said, "But God took them all and mixed them together, just like we are mixing these ingredients. But we don't have cookies just because we mixed all these things up, do we? We have to wait awhile before we get to the best part. We have to be patient, just like Joseph had to be patient and wait for God to do what He thought was best." While the cookies were baking, we cleaned up and talked about all the things that happened to Joseph and that he had to wait a lot longer then we did! Then we ate our cookies!
Most of my kids were not familiar with Rahab. Only one child knew she helped protect the spies. So I told them about Rahab. I told them that this story happened after Moses died and Joshua became the leader of the Israelites. I explained that Joshua had sent spies out, then I read Joshua 2:2-13. I said that the spies told Rahab to have a red cord in the window and that everyone in the house would be safe during the battle. Then we acted out the story. I was Rahab, and all the kids were spies. I snuck them down the hall to an empty room, had them climb onto the "roof" (on top of a table), then I covered them with "flax" (a blanket). After I turned out the lights, I climbed up on the table too and we talked. I said what Rahab had said, then I had them climb one at a time into a basket, which I lowered to the floor. Remember, these are 1st- 3rd graders, so they weren't too heavy. Then I sent them down the hall and tied a red cord on the doorknob. Then we played it again!
Goodness: King Josiah
I started by asking who was eight years old? I asked them if they ever heard of an eight year old king before. Then I told them about Josiah. (2 Kings 22 & 23) We talked about how Josiah found out that his people were not doing what God wanted them to do, so he decided to do something about it. (Prior to this series we had done a series on the Ten Commandments, so they were very familiar with the concept of idol worship). We decided it was good to do what God wants us to do, so Josiah must have had goodness in his heart. I told them that Josiah decided to smash all the idols in the kingdom, and that God was pleased with this. Then they made crowns for themselves. While they decorated the crowns, I stacked up some boxes. After they made the crowns, each one had the opportunity to be king Josiah and knock down all the idols. Which they did over and over!
For this lesson, we talked about the meaning of faithfulness. They didn't think they knew. I explained that another way to describe faithfulness is with the word loyalty. I asked if they had a favorite cartoon they watched or a favorite sports team. Of course they all did, so we discussed how loyalty and faithfulness are alike. Then we talked about Ruth and how faithful she was to her mother-in-law Naomi (Ruth chapter 1). After that, I asked them to tell me what friends do when they are faithful to each other. I wrote their comments on a big sheet of paper, and at the bottom I wrote, "God helps us to be faithful friends." Then I gave them each an instrument (I used triangles, tambourines, rhythm sticks, etc.) Then we sang about faithfulness.
This is a natural tie-in to the previous lesson. We reviewed what we had talked about the week before. I said there was another person who was special to Ruth, and that was Boaz (Ruth chapter 2-4). I told them how Boaz noticed Ruth and that he told her pick grain from his field and even told his workers to leave some extra for her. He gave her a meal, and reminded his workers to be kind to her. I told them he could have been mean and stingy, but instead he was gentle and kind, and that one day they got married. Then they colored and decorated a set of paper dolls I had made, a bride and a groom. I made them paper chain style, so they were holding hands. Then I traced around them onto a piece of paper and made copies.
Self Control: David And King Saul
This was my most favorite lesson of all! We started by talking about what self-control is. I told them I had a hard time not eating too many potato chips, and sometimes I want to talk when it isn't my turn. Then I asked them to tell me what they had a hard time with. I asked them if they remembered when we talked about David and Jonathan and how Jonathan's dad, King Saul, hated David. I told how Saul chased David all over the place, and there came a time when David could have killed Saul and become king, but he didn't. He had self control! Then we acted out the story. My son, who was a 5th grader at the time, went into our "cave" (a table with a blanket over it. He had an old T-shirt of my husband's on. He pretended not to notice the kids, and they each snuck in and cut a piece of the king's "robe." (Make sure your helper has an old shirt on underneath too. My son's shirt was accidentally cut.) After everyone cut a piece of the robe, they took a sharpie marker and wrote on their cloth the areas in their lives where they needed self-control. I told them these could be their prayer cloths, to keep them in a special place to remind them to ask God to help them have self control.
Copyright 2002 Cheryl Coffey
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