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Oh, the Lessons They'll Learn!

Courtney Wilson

Teamwork Time

From The Book -- The story of the Tower of Babel from Genesis 11:1-9.

Here's the Hook -- Kids will learn that they need to work together for the right reasons.

You'll need a real turtle or a picture of a turtle, a small plastic turtle, and nine small wooden blocks. Note: Live turtles carry salmonella. Have kids wash hands thoroughly after handling the turtle.

Show the real turtle or picture of the turtle to kids and ask, "Where does a turtle belong? What would happen if a turtle didn't want to be in the water and thought he should be more than a turtle?"

Read the book Yertle the Turtle. As you tell the story, create a block tower by placing three more blocks under the plastic turtle every time Yertle's tower gets higher. Knock down the block tower when Yertle falls into the water.

After you've read the story, ask, "Why did Yertle build a high tower? What did Yertle think of himself? How did Yertle feel after he fell in the water?"

Say, "In Genesis, there's a story about people who thought they could build a tower to heaven."

Read aloud Genesis 11:1-9. Then ask, "Why did the people want to build a tower? How were the people in the Bible like or unlike Yertle?"

Say, "The good thing in our Bible story is that the people worked together. But they worked together for the wrong reasons."

Ask, "What are right reasons to work together? What are ways we can work together?"

Tumble Towers -- You'll need various stackable items found in your classroom or church such as books, erasers, or plastic tubs.

Form groups of six. Have each group work together to build a structure that only touches the ground in four places (like the four legs of a turtle). The structure should be about 5 feet high, using only supplies found in your classroom. Designate items that are off limits for safety reasons, and encourage kids to work together.

After they're finished, ask, "How are your towers like or unlike the ones we read about today? Why does God like it when we work together?"

Sticky Towers -- You'll need six round crackers per child, plastic knives, paper plates, plastic bowls, marshmallow cream, and one green jelly bean per child.

For each group of four, fill a bowl with marshmallow cream. Give each child a plate, a plastic knife, and six crackers. Have kids build towers on their plates using the crackers and marshmallow cream. When kids are finished constructing their cracker towers, have them place their green jelly beans on top to remind them of Yertle; then they can eat their towers.

Toothpick Towers -- You'll need toothpicks, marshmallows, a bowl, and green food coloring.

Before class, color one marshmallow green per child by dipping marshmallows into a bowl of green food coloring. Give each child a green marshmallow. Set out toothpicks and plain marshmallows to share.

Say, "You're going to build a tower out of toothpicks and marshmallows to take home to eat. The green marshmallow represents Yertle; place it on top of your tower. You'll have to share toothpicks and marshmallows to build your tower."

("Tumble Towers" adapted from Forget-Me-Not Bible Story Activities by Christine Yount, Group Publishing.)

God Protects Us

From The Book -- "I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety" (Psalm 4:8).

Here's the Hook -- Kids will learn that God protects them when they're scared.

You'll need a television, VCR, and the VeggieTales video Where's God When I'm S-scared?

Cue the video at 9:30. Play the video to 11:07. Then say, "Today we're going to hear a silly story about being afraid. In the video, Junior learned that "God is bigger than the boogeyman." Let's see if God is bigger than what scares the character in our story."

Read the story What Was I Scared Of? After you've read the story, ask, "What would you do if you saw a pair of pale green pants floating in the air? What are some things you're afraid of? What helps you when you're afraid?"

Say, "In the Bible, a man named David wrote about being afraid at night."

Read aloud Psalm 4:8.

Say, "David wrote that he could sleep through the night because he knew God would keep him safe. God is always with us, even when we're afraid."

Surrounded by a Big God -- You'll need a nylon parachute, four adults, and a large area to do this activity.

Have kids and adults circle around the parachute and grab edges of it to hold for the activity. Position the adults at 12, 3, 6, and 9 o'clock on the parachute. Tell kids to move the parachute up and down; then have them let go while the adults continue moving the parachute up and down.

Have kids run under the parachute. Then have the adults bring the parachute edges to the ground, creating a bubble over the kids.

After the activity ask, "What was it like to be surrounded by the parachute? Did you feel safe inside the parachute? Explain. How is God like a parachute when we're afraid?"

Say, "When we're afraid, God is like a parachute, surrounding us with his love and protection. We don't need to feel afraid because God is always with us."

Sleepin' in Graham Comfort -- You'll need graham crackers, frosting, food coloring, cake decorating tubes with various tips (one for every four to five kids), plastic knives, several small bowls, mixing spoons, and paper plates.

Say, "We're going to decorate graham crackers with frosting and make them look like kids in sleeping bags. The only rule in decorating the crackers is that you have to put a smile on your cracker kid's face to show that he or she can 'Lie down and sleep in peace,' for God alone holds you in safety."

Have kids frost their crackers, making smiling faces with the decorating tubes. When kids are finished say, "Before we eat our snacks, let's thank God that we can have smiles on our faces at night knowing that God will hold us in safety."

Glowing Helpers -- You'll need black construction paper, glow-in-the-dark crayons, and glow-in-the-dark face paint.

Give each child a sheet of black construction paper. Have kids write Psalm 4:8 on their sheets of paper with the glow-in-the-dark crayons. When kids are finished, draw a cross on each child's cheek with glow-in-the-dark face paint. Turn off the lights to see how everyone glows. Tell kids to hang the verse in their bedrooms to remind them that God helps them when they're afraid.

("Sleepin' in Graham Comfort" adapted from FoodFun: Devotions for Children's Ministry by Dennis and Lana McLaughlin, Group Publishing.)

The Earth Is The Lord's

From The Book -- "The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it" (Psalm 24:1).

Here's the Hook -- Kids will learn to care for God's earth.

You'll need newspapers, tape, and scissors.

Give each child a whole newspaper section. Demonstrate how to unfold it and open it up wide, with an equal number of pages on each side. Starting at one side, roll up the newspaper into a long tube and use a small piece of tape to hold the roll together. Cut strips approximately 5 inches long and ½ inch wide around one end of the tube. Gently twist and pull out the middle strips to make the tube taller and fuller.

Say, "You've just made a Truffula Tree. The cool thing is that you recycled newspaper to create your tree rather than using new materials. Some of you may not know what a Truffula Tree is, so listen as I read the story of the Lorax and the Truffula Trees."

Read the story The Lorax. After you've read the story, ask, "Why did the Lorax have to speak for the trees? Did people really need the Thneeds? What happens to animals when trees are chopped down in a forest? What does pollution do to the environment? What are some ways we can take care of God's creation?"

Say, "The Bible says, 'The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it.' "

Ask, "If you'd created a cool art project and someone came along and wanted to ruin it, how would you feel? Do you suppose that's the same way God feels about his creation? Why or why not?"

Say, "People will continue to pollute unless we help care for God's creation."

Recycle Races -- You'll need newspaper, scrap paper, trash bags with handles, and a paper-recycle bin.

Form pairs. Throw newspaper and paper scraps all over the floor. Place the recycle bin at one end of the room. Have each pair do a "wheelbarrow" race to the other end of the room with the trash bag. The person walking on his or her hands picks up as much paper as possible and puts it in the recycle bin. Let kids know that when we recycle, everyone wins!

Sweet Earth -- You'll need one tortilla for each child, cream cheese, plastic knives, blue decorating sugar, green decorating sugar, tape, and a picture of the earth. Tape the picture of the earth so it can be seen by everyone. Tell kids to spread cream cheese over their entire tortillas. Have kids sprinkle blue and green decorating sugar over their tortillas so they look like the earth.

Trash Walk -- You'll need trash bags.

Say, "We've made a snack for later, so let's spend some time caring for God's creation by picking up trash around the church. Get into groups of four and take one trash bag for your group."

If you have enough adults, you can form more groups to cover more territory. Otherwise, stick together, and make sure groups take their bags to the trash container when they're finished. When you return to your room, have kids wash up. Then eat your snack together, and thank God for his creation.

Courtney Wilson is a children's and family pastor in Vancouver, Washington. Please keep in mind that phone numbers, addresses, and prices are subject to change.

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