Are you tired of goldfish crackers? Don’t be quick to give up on snacks! They’re worth a lot more than you may realize.
I wasn’t a churched kid so my times at church as a child are few and far between. But there are a few things I remember well — and that is significant to me. I attended a local VBS with friends at a church on Main Street in my hometown. I remember that we played games on a paved parking lot, we sang lively songs like “I’m in the Lord’s Army,” and we had snacks.
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So those things remain — games, music, and snacks. In particular, I remember a refreshing orange push-up at that particular VBS. Just think: If a faith concept had been connected to that snack. Hand in hand, or maybe hand to mouth, I would remember that truth as well.
I think we get the importance of games and music in children’s ministry, but I’m not always sure that we get the importance of snacks. Or as I like to call it: Food for Thought! A creative snack with a point can be food for thought. And, amazingly, that snack can attach itself to kids’ memory banks like no other thing.
In “Food and Memory,” a Harvard University Press blog, John S. Allen gives us the three reasons why snacks matter to kids’ memories.
1. Food connects to emotions. The hippocampus, the part of the brain that’s critical for memory, stores long-term memories connected to emotions. Think about how kids light up when it’s snack time. My 2-year-olds consider it the best part of our time together.
2. Smell locks in memories. Again, the hippocampus stores memories with strong connections to smell.
3. The hippocampus and digestive system are strongly connected. So many of the hormones and systems needed for digestion have receptors in this important memory-storage part of our brains.
Based on this science, I think we can more effectively use snacks to make them more than snacks. Think about these transformations that’ll move your snack from just a snack to Food for Thought.
Instead of just cookies, when you’re teaching a lesson about Moses, use oval sandwich cookies and licorice strings to make Moses’ sandals. Pull apart the cookie and loop the licorice strings to be sandal straps. Then close the cookie. Use this clever snack to teach kids that Moses took off his sandals because the ground was holy.
Instead of jelly beans at Easter, serve these Resurrection Buns. When kids bite into them, they’ll be empty.
Instead of sugar cookies for Christmas, have kids recreate the manger scene with shredded wheat for straw, a gummy bear for baby Jesus, and a pastry shell for the manger.
Instead of simple veggies and fruit, transform your snack with these seven ingredients for a clever Creation Mix.