Back-to-School Faith Builders

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In this special section, you’ll find ways to help kids overcome
fear, serve others, develop character, pray for others, and much
more.

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Disciplemakers

Theme: The Great Commission
Scripture: Matthew 28:19-20
Age Level: 6 to 12
Prep Time: None
Activity Time: 20 minutes
Materials: Bible, masking tape, large activity
area

This is a high-energy game you can use to teach kids how
important it is for us to reach others for Jesus as we were
directed in the Great Commission.

Using the masking tape, make two “x” shapes on the floor 20 feet
apart. Form two teams, and have each team form a line 20 feet away
from its “x” — home base — on the floor. Select one
“disciplemaker” from each team, and have that person stand on home
base, facing his or her team.

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Read aloud the Scripture. Say, “Making disciples for Jesus is
the first and most important job God has given us. When we give
people who don’t know about Jesus the chance to know him, we please
God. This game is a fun way to remember this very important job.
Disciplemakers, on ‘go,’ you’ll run to your team and make disciples
of your teammates. They’re all captives of our world and they don’t
know Jesus. You must rescue them!”

On “go,” the disciplemakers run to their teammates, the
“captives.” When they reach the captives, they’ll grab the hand of
the first person in line and cry out, “Be Jesus’ disciple!”

Then they’ll lead the captive by the hand and run back to home
base. Once a captive is safe on home base, the disciplemaker runs
back to the captives and rescues another until all the kids have
become disciples. The team that finishes first wins the game.
Say, “That was hard work, wasn’t it? Making disciples out of the
world’s captives is hard work! How did it feel to be a
disciplemaker, running back and forth while you were rescuing
captives? How did it feel to be a captive? How can we work in our
lives to carry out the Great Commission?”

Stoyan Georgiew
Sofia, Bulgaria


Harvest Cross

Theme: Changing seasons
Scripture: Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
Age Level: 10 to 12
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Activity Time: 30 minutes
Materials: Bible, 10 small or medium pinecones per
child, dried or artificial fall leaves, ribbon, craft wire,
cardboard, scissors, a hot glue gun, and craft glue

Have kids make a harvest cross to mark the changing seasons and
remind them of this Scripture.

Read aloud the Scripture. Ask, “Why do you think God made
seasons? How do our lives change like the seasons? To celebrate
this season, we’re going to make a harvest cross.”

Cut out a cardboard cross for each child to use as backing.

Adults will need to help with this step. Using a hot glue gun,
glue the pinecones to the cardboard cross backing with the pointed
ends up.

Allow the glue to cool. Then have kids use craft glue to affix
the dried or artificial leaves to the crux of the cross. Have kids
tie a ribbon bow and glue it on top of the leaf arrangement.
Finally, kids can make a wire loop for a hanger. Have adults affix
the hangers with hot glue.

Terri Quillen
Greenwood, Indiana


Container Creatures

Theme: God looks at the heart
Scripture: 1 Samuel 16:7
Age Level: 6 to 12
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Activity Time: 30 minutes
Materials: Bible, an opaque container with candy
or treats inside, cylinder-shaped cardboard containers (oatmeal or
cornmeal), construction paper, markers, 12-inch pieces of rope or
yarn, large wooden beads, empty wooden spools, pompons, glue or
tape, and a hole punch

Have kids each bring a cylinder-shaped cardboard container (such
as an oatmeal or cornmeal container) to class.

Read aloud the Scripture. Ask, “Why do we often judge people by
the way they look on the outside? When you only look at someone’s
outward appearance, what do you really know about the person? What
does God look at? What’s important to God — the way we look on the
outside or the way we are in our hearts? Explain.”
Hold up the container with treats inside. Say, “Would you rather
have this container or what’s inside it? Explain. Let’s open the
container and see what’s inside.”
Show the class what’s inside the container. Say, “Containers are
important, but they’re not as important as what they hold inside.
How is that like or unlike us? Have you ever judged a person by how
he or she looked on the outside? Explain. How can we learn to see a
person’s heart and not just the outside? How can God help us see
the good in others?”

Say, “We’re going to make a fun storage container that’ll help
us remember this Scripture. It doesn’t matter what it looks like on
the outside, but we’ll store things inside that are important.”

Give each child a cardboard container. Have children wrap their
containers with construction paper. Have them make a fun face with
markers, construction paper, and pompons for noses. To make the
legs, help each child punch two small holes about ¾ inch from the
bottom edge and about 2½ inches apart under the face. Thread a
12-inch piece of rope or twine in one hole and out the other, pull
it through until equal amounts of rope hang out of each hole. Tape
the rope on the inside of the container to secure it. Tie a large
wooden bead or wooden spool at each end of the rope for feet.

RoseAnne Sather
Greeley, Colorado


No Fear

Theme: Facing fear
Scripture: Daniel 6
Age Level: 3 to 5
Prep Time: None
Activity Time: 10 minutes
Materials: Children’s Bible

Help younger children overcome their first-day fears with the
story of Daniel and a song.

Say, “Sometimes I get scared. If I go to a new place or see
people I don’t know, it can be scary. Let’s listen to the story of
Daniel. He knew what it felt like to be afraid!”

Read the Scripture.

Say, “Daniel had a scary slumber party with lions, but God
protected him and he wasn’t hurt. That shows us that God wants us
to pray when we’re scared and that God will help us get through
scary times.”

Sing this song with your class to the tune of “If You’re Happy
and You Know It.”

If you’re scared and you know it, pray for help.
If you’re scared and you know it, pray for help.
If you’re scared and you know it, pray for God to help you through
it.
If you’re scared and you know it, pray for help!

Sandy Spooner
O’Fallon, Missouri


Sand Sculptures

Theme: God’s masterful plan
Scripture: Psalm 139:13-16
Age Level: 6 to 12
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Activity Time: 30 minutes, plus one week drying
time
Materials: Bible, a large bucket, a large stick,
clean sand (available at landscaping and home improvement stores),
a scoop, glue (large quantity), tempera paints, assorted beads,
plastic lids, toothpicks

Help kids appreciate the details God put into each of us as they
create these unique paperweights.

Read aloud the Scripture. Say, “Imagine what a job it would be
to create everything on this earth, piece by piece. From every
grain of sand to every leaf on every tree. How big a job would that
be? Imagine how God worked to create the earth, and imagine how he
worked on each of you. Everyone in this room is God’s creation —
that means he made every part of you — your smile, the color of
your eyes, the way you walk. Everything we see and know about is
part of God’s creation.”

Pour the sand into the bucket. Have kids reach into the bucket
and lift out a handful of sand. Tell them to let the sand trickle
through their fingers. Ask, “How many grains of sand are in your
hand? Can you count them? Why or why not? Imagine how many grains
of sand are on a beach. More than we can comprehend! Just think —
God created every single grain of sand, just as he created every
one of us. How does it make you feel to know that God made you just
the way you are and that he worked very hard to make you that way?
There are times we wish we were different — maybe in the way we
look or the way our personalities are. But God has a special plan
for each of us. How can we please God and make the most of the
special gifts he’s given us?”

Say, “We’re going to create paperweights that’ll help us
remember that God created each of us to be special and unique.”

Pour glue into the bucket and stir it with a large stick until
all the sand is moistened. Have kids pick a plastic lid to create
their paperweight on. Scoop the sand mixture into each child’s
hands and have them form a paperweight. They can decorate their
paperweights by pressing beads into the sand or dropping small
amounts of paint onto the sand and swirling it with a toothpick to
add color. Kids can press their fingers or toothpicks into the sand
mixture to create different shapes and textures.

Once kids are finished decorating their paperweights, have them
set their creations where they can dry for one week. Once dry, kids
can peel away the plastic lid and enjoy their sand creations.


School Prayer

Theme: Praying for others
Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Age Level: 6 to 12
Prep Time: None
Activity Time: 20 minutes, plus follow-up
prayers
Materials: Map, Bible, colored pins

Teach kids they can actively impact their schools and friends
through prayer.
You’ll need a laminated 24X36-inch map of your city or county where
the children in your class attend school. Hang the map in a
prominent location in your classroom.

Read aloud the Scripture. Ask, “Why is it important to pray for
other people? What happens when we pray for other people?”

Say, “This year, we’re going to spend a lot of time praying for
other people and thanking God for all the great gifts he’s given
us. School is an important place — we spend a lot of our time
there. So let’s focus on praying for our schools.”

Have kids mark their school locations with a colored pin. Each
week, have your class say a special prayer for a different school,
the administrators and teachers, and all the kids who attend that
school. Form prayer teams each week and have kids each pray for one
thing, person, or issue in their schools. Home-schoolers can pray
for kids on their sports teams, their parents, siblings, other
home-schoolers, or other friends.

Pam Kohlbeck
Apple Valley, Minnesota


Fun Nights For Outreach

Theme: Outreach
Scripture: Acts 17:26-28
Age Level: 6 to 12
Prep Time: 1 hour per night
Activity Time: 2 hours

Encourage your class to invite friends to join in the fun during
these themed “Fun Nights.”

Schedule two or more Fun Nights for each year. Friday nights
work best. Publicize each event in advance with fliers,
announcements, emails, and ads in your church bulletin. Use these
themes.

Game Night — Invite kids to bring their
favorite game (board, cards, or activity). In addition, organize
several fun active games such as a dress-up relay where kids have
to dress up in funny clothing and run an obstacle course. For more
fun games, go to www.cmmag.com. Serve homemade caramel corn,
apples, caramel dip, and cider.

Movie Night — Choose a full-length kids’ movie
with a Christian or moral message, plus a few shorter cartoons such
as the old Disney classics. Serve cookies and juice for snacks.

Teri Nessia
Lansing, Michigan


Supplies And Demand

Theme: Serving others
Scripture: 1 Peter 4:10
Age Level: 3 to 12
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Activity Time: Collection taken over four
weeks
Materials: Wrapping paper cardboard rolls, tempera
paint, paintbrushes, poster board, markers, a large cardboard box,
construction paper, tape

Sponsor a four-week back-to-school supply drive as a service to
less fortunate children.

Partner with a local public school or shelter so you can provide
much-needed supplies such as notebooks, pencils, crayons, paints,
folders, erasers, and more to children in need.

Have kids decorate a large cardboard box with construction
paper, paint, and markers. Make a “Back to School Means We Need
You!” sign. Create fliers explaining the goal of the collection and
who’ll benefit from it. Include a list of needed items and the
final day of the collection.

To spice up the collection area, decorate with extra-large
pencils made from wrapping paper cardboard rolls. Paint the rolls
yellow, and attach a pink eraser and a black tip made from
construction paper. Fold two poster board sheets in half lengthwise
to create oversize books. Write the Scripture on the inside
“pages.” Schedule a time for your class to drop off the items.


Plagues For Halloween

Theme: Moses and the 10 Plagues
Age Level: 6 to 12
Prep Time: None
Activity Time: 1 hour plus

Here’s a great way to give kids a learning experience with all
the fun gross-out of the Halloween season without losing their
focus on Christianity.

To set the stage for each station in this activity, purchase
Moses and the 10 Plagues ($1.99, Concordia Publishing House,
800-325-3040; www.cph.org). The book contains a good story that
rhymes and fits well with the activity. As kids arrive at each
station, read the story that corresponds with each plague.

Water to Blood — You’ll need red food
coloring, corn starch, water, and bowls. Mix the water and corn
starch until the mixture is thick. Add enough food coloring so the
mixture is dark red. Have kids dip their hands into the mixture.
They’ll find that when they tightly squeeze the mixture, it becomes
solid. When they open their hands, however, it becomes liquid and
flows through their fingers.

Frogs — You’ll need 100 small plastic frogs*,
flashlights, and a dark room. Spread the frogs throughout your
room, then turn off the lights. On “go,” send the children on a
frog hunt using only a flashlight. The child who finds the most
frogs wins the hunt.

Gnats — You’ll need tiny seed beads, plastic
containers with dividers, and tweezers. Depending on the size of
your class, you can use this activity in two ways.

  1. Have kids try to get as many gnats (seed beads) as they can
    from one section of the container to another in 10 seconds using
    only tweezers.
  2. Set up a relay race in which each player runs through an
    obstacle course to get to the gnat container. Players must move 10
    gnats from one section to another with the tweezers, then return to
    the line.

Flies — You’ll need fly rubber stamps
(available at craft stores), stamp pads, and paper. See how many
imprints of a fly children can stamp on a blank piece of paper in
10 seconds or set up a relay race. Have kids navigate an obstacle
course. Once they reach the paper, they must stamp as many flies as
they can in 10 seconds.

Pestilence — You’ll need small plastic animal
figures* such as camels, donkeys, horses, cows, and more. Before
children arrive, hide the plastic animal figures around the room.
On “go,” give kids 10 minutes to find all the animals. If they have
trouble, use hints such as, “You’re getting cold” or “You’re very
warm” to guide them to the hidden animals.

Festering Boils — You’ll need plastic grapes
mixed with petroleum jelly or real peeled grapes and a container
with an opening just big enough for a child’s hand. Have kids sit
in a circle, then read the story. Have a volunteer turn off the
lights, and pass the container around the circle. Have kids feel
the “festering boils.”

Hail and Lightning — You’ll need a spray
bottle filled with water, four dozen 1-inch plastic foam balls, and
blindfolds. Blindfold each child, then group children in a tight
circle. Read the story of hail and rain. Mist kids with water while
another adult throws the plastic foam balls in the air, allowing
them to fall on kids.

Locusts — You’ll need blindfolds and very
stale potato chips. Blindfold each person and hand them a few
“locusts” to crush with their hands or feet.

Darkness — You’ll need blindfolds. Remove any
tripping hazards. Blindfold everyone and have each person walk
across the room using the sound of your voice to guide them.

Death to the Firstborn — You’ll need red
construction paper, scissors, tape, and candy. Before class, cut
red construction paper strips and tape “x” marks above various
doors in your church. Hide a bag of candy in each marked room, turn
off the light, and close the door.

Form several groups. Have each group search for the marked rooms
and the bags of goodies for 10 minutes. Once time is up, have each
group return to class with the candy to share with the entire
class.

Jackie Grauel
Mohnton, Pennsylvania


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