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).

 

How To Hook Your Children’s Church Class

“What do a strawberry and a tomato have in common?” I held up a juicy red strawberry and a ripe red tomato for my class to see.

“They’re both red. ” “They both have seeds.” “They both have green stems.”

“Yes, they have all those things in common. But you haven’t guessed the one thing I’m thinking about.” I love to lead them on! They get all excited and sit there on the edge of their seats, waiting to find out what’s on my mind.

I grinned,  held the fruits up high and squeezed them both as hard as I could. Seeds spurted from the tomato all over the podium and the children in front of me. Juice dribbled down my arm. Strawberry juice stained my hand. “They both squish!” I  yelled, laughing at them as the girls screamed, “Eeeeewwww!” The boys sat there grinning, “All right!”

From that moment, the class was hooked and listened to the rest of the story as we discussed the meaning of the last two fruit of the spirit –  gentleness and self-control.

It’s a little trick I learned from being a writer. You have one or two sentences to hook your readers before they will turn the page or move on to another article or blog. A catchy title and great hook will usually cause them to read on for a few more paragraphs until they can begin to see what’s in the article for them.

It’s the same way with the children’s church class. They’re so used to the challenge of fast paced video games with flashing scenes on the screen or high adventure of kid’s TV programming. It’s almost impossible to  catch their attention to make them listen to a story  (especially when told without props or illustrations) on a Sunday morning in Children’s church.

So how can you draw them in to the lesson? 

1. Use Object lessons with  pizzazz,  a science experiment, a magic trick –  an opening illustration with props which will lead into your story. One of my favorites is the bottle rocket made with an empty pop bottle, baking soda, apple cider vinegar and a balloon.  If you put several tablespoons of vinegar in the balloon and  some baking soda in the pop bottle, it will keep them separate until you stretch the lip of the balloon over the opening of the pop bottle. Then as the vinegar drains out of the balloon into the bottle, it will mix with the baking soda blow up the balloon and launch it  into the air. I’ve used this to illustrate the dynamic power of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life.

2. Do something shocking as you start your lesson. Today’s squashed tomato and strawberry  fit that category. They weren’t expecting me to do that so it took them completely by surprise and was enough to hold their attention to see what I was going to do next.

3. Start your lesson with a question and draw them into the lesson with the discussion. This may not be as exciting as the first two “hooks” but can be effective if you promise them an answer to the question later in the lesson. Trivia type questions work well. It can also be made into a contest – whoever is paying attention in the story and hears the answer first; or perhaps allow a few guesses and announce the answer at the end.

4. Lead into your lesson with drama, a video or puppets. Many of the prepared curriculums include a DVD with a drama which can be shown on a large screen s or short skits for the children or puppets to lead into the story. This is good if you can afford those fancy  curriculums, but if not, you might find a video clip on YouTube or God Tube. You might use some of the teens from your church to present a short puppet skit – but make sure they practice ahead of time or it will flop, causing you to lose your class and not hook them!

These are a few suggestions of how to add a hook to your lessons – if you’ve found a great hook, I’d love to hear from you!

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