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Martin Luther King, Jr.

Children's Ministry Magazine

Use these 15-minute lessons to help children understand that even though God made each one of us to be different from anybody else, and he loves us all the same.

By Joclyn Wampler

PRESCHOOL -- KINDERGARTEN

1. "God Made Me" Aerobics -- Have children stand and follow these directions: Wiggle your toes; stand on one foot; do four deep knee-bends; twist at the waist from side to side; do two toe-touches; hold up your arms and flex your muscles; count to 10 on your fingers; wave to each other; twist your head from side to side; smile and show your teeth; blink your eyes and say, "Amen!"

*Say: God made our bodies. We're God's wonderful creations. God carefully planned everything about us-there are no mistakes in the way each of us is made.

2. Simon Says -- Play a version of Simon Says using physical characteristics as criteria for moving ahead. For example, *say: Simon Says everyone with brown hair, take three steps forward, or everyone with green eyes, take four steps forward.


Every once in a while use a characteristic that everyone has such as two legs or 10 fingers. Move kids forward at a fairly even rate. After playing for a while, *say: Simon says everyone created by God, move all the way to me.

Read aloud Psalm 139:13-16. Explain that we are all valuable to God. He made each one of us to be different from anybody else, and he loves us all the same.

3. Man-Made -- Help children make "stick" people out of different-colored pipe cleaners. When children are finished, have them link their people together and display them over the doorway to the classroom.

*Ask: How are our stick people alike? different? How are we alike? different?

*Say: Our stick people are all different. We're all different too, but loved just the same by God.

4. A Special Day -- *Say: Martin Luther King Jr. was a man who loved God and understood that we're all loved just the same by God. He knew it didn't matter to God what color eyes or skin we have. He worked hard throughout his life to make sure everyone else understood how special each of us is to God. On January 16, we'll celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday and say we appreciate everything he did.

5. Snack -- See "Food for Thought."

GRADES 1 -- 3

1. Sound Off -- Before class, tape record four people saying hello and sending good wishes to your class.

As you play the tape in class, ask after each voice*: Does this person sound kind or unkind? fun? Is this someone you'd like to get to know? How does this person make you feel? What color is this person's skin? Does it matter what color this person's skin is? Why or why not?

Read aloud John 13:34-35. Say: Martin Luther King Jr. was a man who loved God and believed the Bible. He believed that God meant for us to love all people no matter what they looked like. He worked most of his life to change laws in this country that treated people unfairly because of the color of their skin. He made a famous speech once in which he said that he hoped his four children would one day be accepted not because of what they looked like, but because they were good people. On January 16, we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.'s life.

2. Shadow Play -- Provide a bright light to cast shadows on a wall. If necessary, hang a white sheet for a good background. Have kids make shadow puppets on the wall. After five minutes, *ask: Which of your shadow puppets is your favorite? How are all the shadow puppets the same? different? How are we the same? different?

*Say: We're alike in so many ways. One way we're alike is that no matter what color we are, we all cast the same color shadow.

3. Silhouettes -- Using the same light, have children pose close to the wall while another child draws the outline of their head's shadow on a sheet of paper. Have children take their silhouettes home as a reminder that our shadows are all the same color and we're alike in so many ways.

4. Snack -- See "Food for Thought."

GRADES 4 -- 6

1. Outsiders -- Play Musical Chairs, but exclude everyone with hair below their shoulders. These people must watch the others play. After each round, the child who didn't get a chair gets to play again, so no player is ever out. After a few rounds, stop playing and ask the excluded kids: *How did you feel during this game? Did having long hair seem like a good reason to be excluded? Why or why not?

*Say: It didn't feel very good to be excluded from playing -- especially for such a silly reason. If a person has long hair, is that person bad? What's more important to God-the way a person looks or what's in his or her heart?

Read aloud l Samuel 16:7. *Say: God knows our hearts. He wants us to care about people regardless of what they look like.

2. New Laws -- Have children create silly laws based on outward appearances; for example, anyone wearing tennis shoes will not be allowed in church, or people with glasses can't ride on buses. After several new laws are created, *ask: Who in our class would be affected by these laws? Are these laws fair? Why or why not?

*Say: Martin Luther King Jr. was a man who helped do away with laws that restricted people just because of their skin color. He knew these laws were unfair, and he understood that skin color doesn't matter to God. Mr. King made a famous speech once in which he said, "I have a dream that my four little children will one day be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." God wants us to look at each other's hearts, not at outward appearances.

3. Face Mosaics -- Give each child a sheet of white construction paper. Provide 1-inch squares of "skin"-colored paper (pink, brown, black, off-white, beige); "eye"-colored paper (blue, brown, green); red paper; and "hair"-colored paper (yellow, brown, black, red). Have each child create a mosaic face combining all the skin colors. Then have children complete their faces with eyes, lips, and hair. Explain that this represents the "palette" God used to create every one of us.

4. Snack -- See "Food for Thought."

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

You'll need: Cupcakes baked with marble cake mix and frosted with confetti frosting-available at grocery stores. Bake the cupcakes in paper liners.

Directions: Ask kids if they can tell what kind of cake is in the cupcake and if they think they'll like it. Encourage kids to never judge a cupcake or a person by its color. Then let kids enjoy their multi-colored snack.

-- Joclyn Wampler is a church volunteer in Oregon.

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