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. 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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