You Gotta ♥ Valentine;s Day

Valentines Day really has a lot of great applications for children’s ministry.

How about some “Conversation Heart” Bingo?  Using the sayings from a (clearance) bag of candy hearts, make up some Bingo  cards.  Then pick one heart from the bag at a time and call out the saying until one of the children has a bingo. Whoever wins, gets the hearts that were called. Tie this game in with a lesson on Christ’s love  – any time of the year.

Speaking of Conversation Hearts,  About.com has a free printable page with conversation hearts, in color and black and white. There are even some blank hearts which you can customize for your lessons, activities and games. Too cute!

Kevin Savitz also offers free printable Valentine items from games to cards and even candy box patterns you can use for your children’s class. He offers a family safe free resource.

Clearance sales after Valentines’ Day offer a great time to stock up on little items for treasure chests and prizes. And you can purchase boxed valentines to give to the children the next year or to use for craft projects.

Stuffies with hearts on them make great prayer reminders:

  • Attach a prayer card with the name of  a person or situation that needs prayer to each stuffie and send it home with the child as a reminder to pray for that person or situation.
  • Or use them during prayer time in class by lining them up across the front for a month at a time. Have each toy represent one prayer need.
  • Play a memory game associated with the prayer requests to see if the children can remember  what prayer request each stuffie represents.
  • You can also pass them out during prayer time and have each recipient pray out loud for the request associated with his stuffie.
  • The animals holding little hearts are a great reminder that Jesus loves. others. Use them to pray for the salvation of loved ones.

According to Jennifer at Clip With Purpose, these after holiday sales are a great time to pick up shoe box items for Operation Christmas Child too. Don’t forget, not only will valentine candy, trinkets and stuffies be on clearance, so will winter hats and mittens which make great shoebox items. (or gift items for your class for next Christmas).

 

Free Valentine Craft book and a coupon money maker!

I recently found a blog called Clip With Purpose which has all sorts of ideas year-round for filling shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child. Kudos to Jessica for doing that – it’s such a great resource.

But her blog can also be a good resource for children’s ministries on a tight budget as she features some “extreme couponing” and a variety of other things. Yesterday Jessica featured a “money maker” where you can buy several products using coupons and store deals along with a rebate and end up making $5! I’m still trying to wrap my brain around that one. But if you’re interested,  see Jennifer’s blog hereIf you try it, let me know how it works LOL!

Today on her blog, Jennifer  had a link to a free downloadable Valentine Craft e-book. Now who doesn’t need free craft ideas for their children’s ministry class?????

The heart of the matter

Valentine’s Day has come and gone, but hopefully you haven’t gotten rid of all the trappings just yet…

One of my favorite gifts on Valentine’s Day is my box of chocolates. Yum – I love the chocolate, BUT… the box is what I really want. I love those little heart shaped boxes because they are good for so many great things like object lessons.  So after you eat the candy, SAVE THE BOX!

One year I covered my box with all sorts of ribbon trim, creating this darling heart-shaped box. I happened to have a lot of the lace and ribbon trims  that I purchased from a ribbon outlet store so it only cost pennies to make.

What a great object lesson it made as I showed the kids how we think we’re okay on the outside, but we really have sin in our hearts. I invited them to each take a little baggie of dirt out of the box when I opened it up. You can also do the reverse of that idea by roughing up the outside of the box and then showing them what a difference it makes when Jesus comes into our hearts – the inside is white and clean.

I also used it for a devotional talk  about how God loves us  by filling it with Hershey kisses. Each kiss had a scripture attached to it with words of Love from the Lord. As it was passed around the room, each lady took one kiss and read the verse, sharing how that verse was meaningful to her. Oh taste and see that the Lord is good!

How about using the heart box as a prayer reminder. Have each person write down a person they want to pray for and place the name in the box. Let them know that these people are now close to God’s heart as we remember them in prayer.

I’m sure you can come up with some great ideas to use your heart boxes too! E-mail me and let me know what you do with your boxes. I’d love to hear your ideas.

Hmmm – now how can I use that neat Christmas tree candy box I got last year…..

Growing in God – a Valentine devotional to share

God is calling us to grow and change– yes, each of us!

You may think you’re pretty good as you are, but the truth is that there are areas in each of our lives which need to change. He sees something special in you  that He wants to refine to make you shine.

But why does He bother?  Because He wants to use you to touch the lives of others.  There will always be someone walking behind you on life’s journey, watching your life and in need of your particular, special wisdom..

So He  works with us and trains us so we can lose the plump, caterpillar body we waddle around in to become butterfly models of overcoming to those around us.

God sends mentors to help you grow

Read Joshua 1: 1-9 from the translation of your choice.

Joshua spent most of his younger life in the shadow of Moses. He learned how t lead by watching the example of Israel’s greatest leader. He also learned about God at Moses feet. Yet he still lacked confidence when it came time for him to take the reins of leadership. God had to tell him 9 times in that first chapter to be strong and very courageous!

Think back to the Christians who helped you in your journey. God placed them in your path to teach and guide you.He even encouraged you Himself through the Scriptures. When you’re ready, He will place you in the path of others to teach and guide. It’s the way He works.

He disciplines us to bring out our best

Read Hebrews 12: 1-12

God continually  works with us, training us and disciplining us so we can become strong. Usually strength comes from adversity. Look at the butterfly – it is through its struggle to get free of the cocoon that the fluid is forced out of its body and into its wings making them strong and sturdy enough for flight.

In the same way, He uses the struggles of our lives to strengthen us. No one likes to go through pain, but struggles are a part of life. Everyone has them. How we deal with them will make all the difference. When we lean into Him and work through them, we change like the caterpillar until we are no longer emotionally chained to the struggle. We learn to soar. Then others see what God has done in our lives and  will desire it too. Without even realizing it, we are beginning to mentor them in their spiritual growth process.

He motivates us with His eternal love and life.

Read 1 Corinthians 9: 22-27

The truth is, if we are comfortable in our struggles, we will never change because change hurts! Growth hurts.And we will normally try to avoid hurt at all costs.. But when we hurt so bad we can’t stand it in our struggles, He shows us a better way, giving us hope and the will to change.

“How does one become a butterfly?” she asked. “You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.”
Anonymous

***

Butterfly

I found this beautiful interactive Butterfly Valentine by Marilyn Scott Waters AKA the Toymaker. Click here to download a copy either for an illustration or to give  as a reminder of the devotional. Put one together as a sample to demonstrate how the wings flutter.

Close in prayer of dedication.

.

 

Tools for scripture memorization

It’s snowing today here in central PA.  The freshly fallen snow covers up the dry brown grass and the winter grit along the roadsides, leaving everything white and pure.

What a great day to spend indoors, perhaps memorizing scripture?

I belong to a great rubberstamping community, frequented by many Christian crafters. One of my favorite threads of conversation on that site is “Divine Bible Designs” where the gals encourage each other to memorize scriptures by creating a monthly paper craft project – a card, scrapbook page, altered book or anything else paper-crafty with a scripture as a focal point. ( You can visit the thread as a guest and scroll 100_0185down through the conversation, clicking on the various submissions to see the projects at Splitcoast Stampers. )

I’ve been a lurker in the past, looking but never participating. But this year, I decided to submit a card  each month with a scripture verse focal point.  In honor of our lovely snowfall, I submitted this card with Psalm 51:7 “Take away my sin and I will be clean. Wash me and I will be whiter than snow.

Supplies used: Nestabilities small scalloped octagons to create the mats for the verse, the Cuttlebug snowflakes embossing folder to create the raised snowflake design on the blue and white striped design paper from DCWV, white and blue cardstock, rhinestones and ribbon scraps.

One of the things that helps as we work to memorize scriptures is to create a visual of the verse we want to memorize. By creating a card or scrapbook page, I take time to think about the verse as I plan the project. I involve  my tactile senses in the creation process and after completion, I have a visual reminder of the verse that I can look at each day to help memorize it.

Perhaps you’re not a crafty person? No matter! Here’s some other Bible memory verse ideas:

Make or purchase a screen saver  for your computer with the Bible verse on it.

Find an old calendar and print your chosen verse on your computer. Attach the verse to one of the photos and frame it, hanging it somewhere you will see it on a daily basis. You might move it from time to time so it doesn’t become “invisible.”

Print out the Bible verse words and cut them apart. Put a magnetic strip on the back of each word and put them on your fridge. Play a game each time you go into the fridge where you put the words in their proper order. It’s fun for the kids too – they can help you by mixing the words up each time.

No matter how you do it, you’ll be glad you started hiding God’s word in your heart!

The Armor of God

The Armor of God is a fun lesson series which generates lots of ideas!

Consider some of these:

Games:

The Sword Drill with a twist: Using a jousting tournament theme for the lesson about the sword which is the Word of God, Ipaired the children up, an older child with a younger child. Since the younger ones weren’t all able to read, I wanted them to still be able to participate. Using masking tape, I made 10 lines on the floor about a foot apart. The older children were lined up at the 10 foot line while the younger ones were lined up on the first line, opposite their partner.

After the bible references were read, the younger children shouted “Charge,” which signalled their partners to look up the reference. The older child who found the verse first, read it aloud and then he and his partner each advanced the the next line, closing the distance between them. The pair that met in the middle first was the winner. 

Indoor “snowball” fight: For the lesson on the shield, we made chipboard shields and played a game similar to dodgeball. One team lined up against the wall while the other team launched wadded paper “balls” at them. the team being attacked, used their shields to fend off the paper wads, but if a person was hit by a wad, he was “out.” Then we switched sides so the other team had a chance to dodge the paperwad snowballs.

Crafts:

Helmet of Salvation: We used heavy duty paper plates. Make a straight  cut from the outer edge of the plate into the center. Then overlap the edge an inch or two  until you have a hat shape. Staple the overlapping edges for added strength.cover the hat with foil and add a face protector with brads.  Cut the face protectors out of card stock, chipboard (opened and flatened cereal boxes) or other sturdy material You may add feathers if desired to look like plumes on the helmet.

Shield of Faith:  Cut out a shield shape from chipboard (cereal boxes  which have been carefully
opened up work well!). Glue ric-rac onto the chipboard. This will make a raised design under the foil
in a later step. The children can get creative with their ric-rac, putting it around the edges or making cross designs, etc.

Using a glue stick, put some glue on the chipboard to hold the foil in place then cover the chipboard and ric-rac with foil. Using their fingers, the children should smooth the foil on the shield, especially rubbing the areas where it covers the ric-rac – this makes a raised (embossed) design in the foil.

They can decorate the front of their shields with foam shapes or any other embellishments you have on hand. Cut a strip for the back to use as a handle (I used plastic canvas so it was sturdier) and fasten it on using gold or silver brads.

“Gotta Have It” Tool for Children’s ministry – I Love My Xyron!

My dear husband knows I’m a gadget junkie – especially when it comes to tools for my card making addiction. I have a craft area full of wonderful do-dads and  thing-a-ma-jigs.

But the truth is – I really do use my paper crafting tools, especially for teaching children’s church.So over the next few weeks. I’ll be sharing some of my favorite tools  for paper crafting in children’s church.  While I’m not suggesting you run right out and buy them, you may find a few that will make an indispensible addition to your arsenal of teaching tools. 

One of my very favorite tools is my Xyron machine. It is simply a sticker making machine.  I can print out any image from my computer, a die cut image, magazine picture or any kind of photo and run it through the machine and voila! I have a perfect sticker.

How it works:
The cartridge has two rolls of material – the top one is a clear plastic film and the bottom is a waxy type paper which has a glue substance on it. The image of your choice slides between two rollers and gets sandwiched between the film and waxy glue-paper. When it comes out the other side, you cut it away from the machine and peel off the plastic film which also removes the excess glue from the waxy paper. You’re left with an image that is stuck to the waxy paper. When you’re ready to use the image as a sticker, just peel off the waxy back leaving a layer of glue on the back surface of your image.

The glue comes in permanent and repositionable types as well laminate and magnetic materials. The Xyron machine comes in several sizes which make stickers  from 1 1/2″ to  whole scrapbook page sizes of 12 “. I have a 5″ machine and a small 1 1/2” X-shaped model, both of which I use often for ministry, depending on the paper projects I’m doing or the type of stickers I need.

Uses:
Attendance Chart stickers, reward stickers, etc – I never have to worry about finding the right pre-made stickers for my projects. I can print the them in any size I want  from my computer clip art program and create custom stickers for all lessons, seasons, etc. When I make the small stickers, I usually use my little Xyron.

Gluing small pieces – When projects call for small pieces to be glued  in place, I like to use the Xyron  rather than  glue with my children’s church kids simply because there’s no mess! It also works great when you don’t have time for glue to dry before they take their projects home.

The stickers themselves make a great  craft  project – the kids can color their own or even make scratch-n-sniff stickers

Refill cartridges have 18 to 20 feet of material and can be a little pricey, but I usually wait to buy refills when I have a 40 or 50% off coupon at my local craft store, making it economical to use.

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