Category

Youth

Summer Sunday School Resources

First, two apps (full disclosure, I cringe at sending you things that would increase kids’ screen time, but perhaps these are good uses of a screen?):

 

Bible for Kids app – for younger kids.  Kids can navigate to different Bible stories, listen to the story, then complete a fun game or activity.

 

Kid’s Bible Experience (inside the YouVersion Bible App – enable the ‘Kids Bible Experience’ in settings) – daily vlog type devotional geared at pre-teens and younger teens.  Includes some push toward self reflection and applying scripture to your own experience.  I think you can set this up for daily notifications/reminders.

 

This is based on an audubon site in New Hampshire, but Massachusetts has a large number of Audubon sites that would serve just as well  (https://www.massaudubon.org/get-outdoors/wildlife-sanctuaries/places-to-explore/greater-boston).

Sunday School Activities for 6/21/20

Hello, Allin Parents! Happy Summer! Below is our last “official” Sunday School lesson until the fall. I have had a blast curating activities and ideas for you over the last few months – I hope these lessons have been as fun for you to do as they were for me to put together. That said, even though it is summer, I will continue to send activities and resources to assist you in nurturing your kids’ relationship with God and Jesus. I think summer can be a great time to grow “faith skills” – the pace is generally slower and your kids typically have more free time (especially this summer!) to connect with God in ways that make sense to them.

Wishing you all the best for a long, fun summer,

Elizabeth

Learn about and celebrate Juneteenth! June 19, or Juneteenth, is a holiday that commemorates the day that Texas, the last Confederate state, learned about the Emancipation Proclamation—marking the end of legal slavery in the United States in 1865.

For little kids:

[Parents, Consider reading this excellent article about talking to children about Juneteenth. It’ll take about 5 minutes: https://www.pittwire.pitt.edu/news/how-talk-children-about-juneteenth]

Watch the Read Aloud Juneteenth for Mazie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXnMN6Y9AiA

Why do we celebrate Juneteenth? If you were great-great-great grandpa Mose, how do you think you would have felt when you heard you were free? How might you have acted?

For older kids:

Watch this short film describing Juneteenth and its significance.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JOOguH71–E

Ask: Have you heard of Juneteenth before? If yes, when and where? Is it something you already celebrate with your family and your community?

What does it mean to be free? Are there people who are not truly free in the U.S.? In what ways? How do you think Jesus would react (aka What Would Jesus Do/WWJD)?

A follow-up activity to consider:

Plan a small Juneteenth Party with your family (it is okay if it is not on June 19). Find reliable, unbiased sources on the internet to research traditional foods, activities, and other traditions associated with Juneteenth. Share the history of the holiday with your family. Put Juneteenth on your calendar for next year.

[Here are some ideas: https://nmaahc.si.edu/events/juneteenthhttps://www.nytimes.com/article/juneteenth-celebration-history.htmlhttps://www.britannica.com/topic/Juneteenth]

Sunday School Activities for 6/14/20

The main point of these activities is to encourage kids to explore how God speaks to us.

For little kids: Watch the stop-motion video of today’s scripture reading, Genesis 18:1-15. (Thank you, Grace!!!)

Ask these questions: When do you think this story takes place? [a long, long time ago]

Who do you think the visitors are? [I’m not sure I have the theological chops to answer this one, but the internet tells me that it is generally accepted that the visitors were God or God’s messengers.]

Abraham was a good and faithful servant to God. There are many times in the Bible where God speaks to Abraham, including this one.

Now, grab some toys and act out the story using dolls, stuffed animals, etc. You’ll need three visitors, Abraham, and Sarah, and you’ll probably want to work together to build a house or tent. Then read the story out loud while the children act it out with the toys (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+18%3A1-15&version=TLB).

After you are done acting the story out, sit down and ask: Even though this story is from a long time ago, did you know that God still speaks to us today? [Yes, most definitely!]

What are ways you think God talks to us today? [There are many possible answers. Here are some: The Bible, God’s creation/nature, other people, music, situations/coincidences, a voice you can hear, a small voice in your head, prayer, dreams].

Has God even spoken to you? [Totally okay if the answer is no, or I don’t think so. God loves us all equally.]

[I would suggest clarifying that there are many, many ways that God can speak to us.  It’s also true that God doesn’t speak through all  dreams or all people or all coincidences. The idea is that sometimes God may speak to us through these things.]

For older kids: 

Watch the stop-motion video of today’s scripture reading, Genesis 18:1-15. (Thank you, Grace!!!)

Ask these questions: When do you think this story takes place? [a long, long time ago]

Who do you think the visitors are?  [I’m not sure I have the theological chops to answer this one, but the internet tells me that it is generally accepted that the visitors were God or God’s messengers.]

Abraham was a good and faithful servant to God. There are many times in the Bible where God speaks to Abraham, including this one.

What are ways you think God talks to us today? [There are many possible answers. Here are some: The Bible, God’s creation/nature, other people, music, situations/coincidences, a voice you can hear, a small voice in your head, prayer, dreams].

This is a time in history where we are experiencing a lot of upheaval and change.

Do you think God is speaking through what is going on around us? Do you think God is speaking through people right now? How can we tell when God is speaking through another person (or not)? Has God even spoken to you? [Depending on how your children best express themselves, you can do this as a discussion, a drawing, writing down answers and thoughts in a journal].

[I would suggest clarifying that there are many, many ways that God can speak to us.  It’s also true that God doesn’t speak through all  dreams or all people or all coincidences. The idea is that sometimes God may speak to us through these things.]

Sunday School Activities for 5/31/20

Hi everyone! I hope you’ve had a great week. There has been much in the news this week that is weighing heavily on my heart, particularly the death of George Floyd in MN. I believe it is never too early to address issues of diversity, inclusion, and racism with children, even very young children. If I may be so bold, if you are interested in exploring these topics with your children, here are some resources I have found helpful:

Talking to Kids about Race and Racism: https://bouncebackparenting.com/resources-for-talking-to-kids-about-race-and-racism/

Teaching Six Year Olds about Privilege and Power: https://www.kqed.org/mindshift/54150/teaching-6-year-olds-about-privilege-and-power

Talking Race with Young Children: https://www.npr.org/2019/04/24/716700866/talking-race-with-young-children

NYT video series (for older kids, absolutely fantastic): https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/15/learning/lesson-plans/25-mini-films-for-exploring-race-bias-and-identity-with-students.html

Now, for Sunday School!

For younger kids:

Read the Pentecost story. This is one I would recommend using a children’s bible for, or you can read a standard Bible here: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts+2%3A1-21&version=NIV

Ask kids: “Why do you think God sent the Holy Spirit to be with us?” [Lots of right answers here, but you can remind kids that a few weeks ago we talked about how the Holy Spirit is one way that God and Jesus are always with us.]

Ask: “Why do you think the Holy Spirit gave the disciples the ability to speak different languages?” [Also, lots of right answers here. One, it is a huge miracle and it helped people believe. It also reminds us that Jesus and God’s message are for all people everywhere.]

Make a crown of fire: https://craftingthewordofgod.com/2013/07/06/the-day-of-pentecost/

For older kids:

Read the Pentecost story. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts+2%3A1-21&version=NIV

Ask: “Why do you think the Holy Spirit gave the disciples the ability to speak different languages?” [Also, lots of right answers here, but try to get kids to the idea that Jesus and God’s message are for all people everywhere.]

“Let’s put ourselves in the disciples’ shoes. What if you were suddenly given the ability to speak another language – like Chinese, Hindi (the language of India), Hausa (the language of Niger and Nigeria) or Spanish, with the expectation that you were to use that new ability to share God’s love?”

Ask kids: “Pick a language. Okay, now pretend you have just been given the ability to speak it, fluently. Close your eyes and imagine approaching someone who speaks this language, intending to start a conversation with them. Let’s say they are about your age. How do you think you’ll be different? What things do you think you’ll have in common?” Ask them to make a list, and give them a few minutes to complete it. [Explore this, but spend most time on things they are likely to have in common. It is possible that children will engage in some type of bias, making assumptions about children in other countries (particularly poor countries) that are not true. As we are all humans, this is entirely normal, but please challenge it. Ask questions like, “How do you know the boy/girl’s life is this way?” or “Is it possible that your belief about the boy/girl is not true?”]

Added resource – cool map of the most common language in each country: https://thegate.boardingarea.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/World-Map_FIRST-most-popular-language-in-every-country.png

Sunday School Activities for 5/24/20

You might start by saying: “This week we’re going to focus on developing mindfulness. Does anyone know what mindfulness is?” [For school-aged kids, it is likely they’ve already been exposed to the concept of mindfulness because a lot of schools teach mindfulness as part of their social-emotional learning curriculum.]

Mindfulness includes:

  • Taking a moment to be still and quiet and noticing what is happening right now.
  • Taking notice of how your body feels and what you see, smell and taste.
  • Taking time to feel emotions in your body, perhaps through a tightness somewhere, or a good sensation.
  • Noticing what your mind is doing.

By practicing mindfulness and quieting our minds, we are better able to notice God’s love for us in this world.

Optional “object” lesson – if you like you can also put together this glitter jar to help kids understand what you mean by quieting your mind. https://www.mindful.org/how-to-create-a-glitter-jar-for-kids/

Locate a nice spot (outside if possible) where you can spread out a blanket and take a seat with your child/children. It doesn’t really matter where you go, but someplace calm and quiet can make the mindfulness exercise easier for kids.

Sit down together and speak quietly. Explain that you’re going to sit quietly and calmly for a few minutes.

Ask them to remind you what the five senses are (for smaller kids, you might need to tell them!). Tell them that today you’re going to sit quietly and notice at least one thing with all of our senses. To practice, you can start with hearing. Ask everyone to sit silently and listen. Give them a minute or two to sit quietly and listen, then ask: “What do you hear?” Birds? Water? Wind?

Now run through the other four senses. For older kids, you can ask them to sit for about 5 minutes and notice what they sense on their own. For younger kids, you may need to take them through the senses one-by-one, giving them a bit of time to focus on that sense.

Ask kids to share what they sensed while they were sitting quietly. Did they notice something they haven’t noticed before?

Remind kids that God’s love for us is everywhere – all day, every day. Sometimes, if we just quiet our minds, we can notice it. Sitting quietly and using our senses can be a great way to spend time with God.

Sunday School Activities for 5/17/20

For younger kids

Read John 14:19-21 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John%2014:19-21)

Ask, “Where is Jesus? Where do you think he is?” [No wrong answer here]. Then go on to say, “Did you know that Jesus also lives in us, in our hearts?” Ask, “Where is your heart?” Have kids point to where their hearts are. Then ask, “How can we show that Jesus lives in our hearts?” [Explore this idea – there are many good answers to this question, including doing good works, praying, praising God, being friendly and thoughtful.]

Give kids a piece of paper and art supplies and tell them every one is going to draw a picture of him/herself. They should draw the whole self, including their body (not just faces!). Also ask them to be sure to include their heart.

When everyone is done, ask them to share their pictures. Then ask, “How can you show that Jesus is in your heart this week?”

For older kids

Start by giving a little context: this passage is Jesus telling his disciples that God is going to send the Holy Spirit to be with them once Jesus is no longer on Earth.

Read John 14:15-21 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John%2014:15-21)

When you’re done, ask, “Where is Jesus telling us the Holy Spirit lives?” [If you get blank looks,  re-read the passage and ask them to listen to where Jesus says the Holy Spirit lives.] The answer that Jesus tells us in this passage is “In us.” The Holy Spirit and also God and Jesus – the whole trinity – live in us.

Ask, “How do you think people show that Jesus lives in them?” [Explore this idea – there are many good answers to this question, including doing good works, praying, praising God, being friendly and thoughtful.]

Go on to say, “Sometimes, when people talk about Jesus living in them, they talk about Jesus living in their hearts. Have you heard that before?” [You might get some agreement and some non-agreement. That’s okay.]

“I also think that Jesus lives in my heart, but I also think he lives in other parts of the body sometimes too. For example, do you think God lives in the hands of a surgeon who is saving someone’s life, maybe? Or maybe Jesus is in the voicebox of someone who is comforting someone who is sad?”

As an activity today, the kids are going to come up with ideas for how they think Jesus lives in different body parts. This can be funny or sincere, either is fine. Here are two ways to play the game.

One idea: Cut up strips of paper and write a bunch of different body parts on them and put them in a hat, bowl, or bag (or something that kids can pull strips out of without seeing what they are selecting). One at a time, each person picks a body part out of the hat and reads it. The first person to yell out how Jesus lives in that body part gets to pick the next slip of paper out of the hat.

Second idea: Have each person pick a body part and write it down (you can remind them to keep it clean, please). Put all the body parts in a hat or center of the table, mix them up, and then each person takes one. Then give everyone a minute to come up with how Jesus can live in that body part, and then go around the table and share.

Sunday School Activities for 5/10/20

For younger kids

Play follow the leader! To start, form a line with you in the lead and walk/dance/skip around the house, asking the kids to follow exactly what you are doing. Let each kid be leader for a little while.

When you are done, find some place comfortable to sit in a circle. Tell the kids: “Jesus said, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’ We follow Jesus because it is how we come to know and be close to God. Let’s play follow the leader again, but this time, let’s follow Jesus.”

Everyone stand up in a circle. Tell kids to follow what you are doing.

“We follow Jesus when we are friendly.” (Shake your own hand.)

“We follow Jesus when we are kind.” (Pat your own shoulder.)

“We follow Jesus when we give to others.” (Hold out your hand like you are giving something to another person.)

“We follow Jesus when we praise God.” (Say “God is good!”)

“We follow Jesus when we are honest.” (Put your hand up like you are saying an oath.)

“We follow Jesus when we love everyone.” (Put your arms around yourself like you are giving the world a big hug.)

Sit back down and ask kids, “What are other ways we can follow Jesus?” [Give them plenty of time to answer.] Say, “I try to follow Jesus everyday in every way. What is one thing you can do this week to follow Jesus?”

For older kids

Start by saying, “Let’s play a game. I am going to set my timer for one minute. Let’s see how many leaders we can think of before the timer runs out. Just call them out, and I’ll tally it up. Ready? Go!” [Let the kids come up with as many leaders as they can.]

It is likely most of the “leaders” kids come up with are political leaders. When the minute is up, if one of the kids has called out someone who influences trends or what’s cool, point that out. You can say, “I think it is really interesting that you said [So-and-so]. Why did you include him/her?” Or, if no one brings up a trend or cultural leader, ask “What about [Ariana Grande, Selena Gomez, whoever it is your kids think are cool]”? Guide kids toward understanding that there are also people who lead trends and what’s cool, not just political leaders. “Who do you think influences how you act day-to-day more, [a political leader that kids named] or [cultural icon]?” There are no right answers here. Just let the kids explore the idea that there are leaders or other people that influence the way they look/act/feel.

When you are done, you can transition to Jesus by saying something like, “What about Jesus? How does Jesus influence what we do day-to-day? What does Jesus lead us to do?” Spend time exploring/discussing how Jesus leads us. Jesus might lead us to be kind, giving, prayerful, honest, loving.

Jesus said, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’ We follow Jesus because it is how we come to know and be close to God. What are ways you find easy to follow Jesus? What ways are hard? [It is important that you as an adult share too.]

Children’s Activities for 5/3/20

Read Psalm 23 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+23&version=NRSV).

Start with this story:

A grandfather wanted to teach his grandson about Psalm 23 and what it means to him. This is the story the grandfather told his grandson.

“Think of the five fingers on your left hand.

Showing his grandson how to do it, the man gripped his thumb and said, “That stands for The. That’s a strong beginning.

Next, your index finger stands for the word Lord. Grasping his index finger, the man told the boy to ponder the goodness and grace of the Lord Jesus, who loves him.

Touching his longest finger, the man said, “This finger stands for the word, is. The Lord is alive and here with you right now, in the present.”

And the fourth finger stands for the fourth word in the verse: my. A wedding ring on the fourth finger, after all, reminds us of the personal and exclusive relationship we have with the one we love.

And the little finger–the pinky stands for shepherd. When you come to the end of your hand, or to the end of any task, even to the end of life, you find the Shepherd still there, abiding always.”

For younger kids:

Outline each child’s hand on a piece of paper that is NOT white (doesn’t really matter which, but I would suggest brown construction paper). Ask the child to write the word corresponding to each finger on that finger (i.e. “The” on the thumb, “Lord” on the index finger). Cut out the hand, then turn it to the opposite side. Using cotton balls or white circles of paper, make a sheep that looks something like this (googly eye optional): https://healthymamainfo.com/2013/05/handprint-sheep-craft/

For older kids:

Using the attached files, either color the patterned hand or create your own complex pattern on the blank hand using black ink and coloring it in. When you are done, cut out the hand and write the words from the story on the back of the finger it belongs to (i.e. “The” on the back of the thumb, “Lord” on the back of the index finger). If you don’t have a printer, you can also outline your hand on a blank sheet of paper and fill it in with color and pattern, then cut it out. This works especially well using card stock weight paper.

Notes:

The credit for the finger story goes to Better Bible Teachers and Robert J. Morgan (https://betterbibleteachers.com/2017/09/this-one-trick-is-all-you-need-to-explain-the-power-of-psalm-23-to-your-sunday-school-kids/). Also, the file I’m using is actually for Indian mehndi, which has an amazing and rich history of its own. Look up “mehndi” on Google images to see some amazing art!

 

Children’s Activities for 4/26/20

 For this week’s kids activity, we’re focusing on gratitude and feeling grateful. Here are selection of activities that are designed to remind us what we are grateful for. Feel free to do whichever you think will work best for your kids and the supplies available to you (or go crazy and do more than one)!
Make a gratitude wall: Pick a wall in your house. Using index cards and markers (or slips of paper and pens, whatever you have), everyone write something you are grateful for and stick it on the wall. Keep going until the wall is full!
Play the Sweet Gratitude game

With a handful of M&Ms or Skittles, take turns saying what you’re thankful for, but using prompts per color. You can customize the prompts, but here are a few to get you started:

  • Red – Say one PERSON you appreciate
  • Orange – Say one FOOD you love to eat
  • Yellow – Say one PLACE you love to go
  • Green – Say ANYTHING you’re grateful for
  • Blue – Say one ACTIVITY you enjoy doing
  • Brown – Say one THING IN NATURE you appreciate

Children’s Activities for Sunday 4/19/20

Read John 20:19-30 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+20%3A19-31&version=NRSV).

For younger kids

Print out the attached comic strip and cut it up into individual panes (you can leave the first pane out if you want to). Together, put the panes in the correct order. Once the panes are in order, go through them again and talk about what happens in each part. [You can skip this if you don’t have a printer].

Do you think Thomas was surprised when Jesus appeared to him? [Yes, probably]. Ask the kids to show you with their body and face how they think Thomas would have looked when Jesus appeared to him. [There may be some giggles!]

Has God ever amazed you by doing something? What? [There are many, many possible answers here that you can help get them to – everything from rising from the dead, to really cool things in the natural world like rainbows or flowers blooming]. Ask kids to draw a picture of what God has done to amaze them.

For older kids

Print out the attached comic strip and cut it up into individual panes (you can leave the first pane out if you want to). Together, put the panes in the correct order. [You can skip this if you don’t have a printer].

Ask what they think the definition of faith is. [You can even look it up in the dictionary. In general, try to get to the idea that faith is believing in something, even without proof.] Was Thomas someone to whom faith in Jesus’s resurrection came easily? Does it seem like Jesus loves Thomas more, less, or the same as the other disciples? [Try to get at the idea that Jesus loves those who believe without seeing but he also loves those who have to see to believe — he clearly loves Thomas no less for his doubt.]

Are you the kind of person who has to see to believe something? Or are you someone who can believe based on faith? [It is important that you as the adult share your experience here, too. For example, you might say that you are someone who generally can believe without proof, but that you have doubts all the time. How do you respond to those doubts? Or maybe you are someone for whom faith is really hard because you have to see to believe. Perhaps share why you still strive to have a relationship with God, or where you see proof of God’s love that helps you believe].

Ask kids to come up with three things or ideas that they think shows us God’s love is real. They can chose how to answer – write a list, draw a picture, take three photos. If you have more than one kid, tell them to keep their group of things or ideas a secret until you come back together. You can make the secrecy part of it a big deal to give it some urgency. Then, bring everyone back together and have them reveal their three things all at once [you can give it a sense of anticipation/a big reveal…maybe a drum roll?]. Did anyone pick the same things?