It’s summer! Your kids probably have a lot more free time, so why not bring them together in adventurous ways that’ll build bonds of friendship through fun? Best of all, your experiences don’t have to fit the conventional mold of Sunday mornings! Instead, go for unconventional—get outside and help kids experience different aspects of God’s creation through these games, crafts, object lessons, prayer experiences, and service opportunities.
1. God’s Imprints
Use this craft to help kids discuss what it means that we’re made in God’s image.
- white napkins,
Take children outside to gather various plants. They’ll each need a handful of freshly picked leaves and flowers. Guide kids to appropriate plants.
Demonstrate how to make imprints. First, place a leaf on white paper, and then cover it with a napkin. With a hammer, gently tap the napkin on top of the leaf. (If you don’t want to use hammers, you can use a book to press the napkin onto the leaf.) The leaf will leave an imprint on the paper. Gently lift the napkin to check whether you applied enough pressure to transfer an imprint to the paper.
Read Genesis 1:26-27 to children as they make imprints of all the plants they picked. Have them look for interesting details on each imprint. Lead a discussion about ways the imprints are like or unlike how we’re made in God’s image.
2. God’s Creation Scavenger Hunt
Use this game to help kids explore the elements of God’s creation.
- and 1 egg carton per child
Beforehand, cut pieces of paper to fit on top of the egg cartons. Glue a piece to the top of each egg carton and draw lines to represent each of the sections in the carton.
Say: Today we’re going on a scavenger hunt to learn about God’s creation.
Read Genesis 1:1-5. Say: Find something in nature that helps you think about God’s first day of creation.
Encourage kids to be creative—there’s not a “right” item that they should choose. Have children place the item in the top left section of the egg carton. Have them write “Day 1” and draw a picture on the corresponding section of the paper on top of the carton. Invite children to share what they collected and why they chose those items.
Continue the same process as you go through each of the other days of creation from Genesis 1:1 to 2:4. Have children fill each of the other sections of the
egg carton with other things God created. They don’t have to be items from nature—the point is to help them understand that God created everything. Invite children to discuss the various items they collected.
3. Take Care
Use this simple service project idea to practice being good stewards of God’s creation.
- trash bags,
- disposable gloves,
- hand sanitizer
Beforehand, choose a safe area where you can take children that has either a lot of litter or needs basic cleaning up, such as a park or empty lot.
Say: In Genesis 1:26, the Bible says that God put us in charge of the earth and that we’re to take care of it. Read aloud Genesis 2:15. Taking care of God’s creation is a responsibility, but doing so also means we can live in a clean, safe place.
- What are ways you take care of the things God created?
- What difference does it make if we take care of God’s creation?
Say: Working with others to love and take care of God’s creation is a privilege. Explain that you’ll all be cleaning up an area of God’s creation. Take the children to the area you chose ahead of time. Encourage a fun environment by leading children to sing their favorite tunes as you work. You can also add a game element by having children try to fill their bags.
- What did you like or not like about taking care of God’s creation?
- Whether it was all fun or hard work, why do you want to take care of God’s creation in the future?
4. Garden Prayer Place
Use this idea to encourage children to meet with God one-on-one in prayer.
- other various items for building a nature tent
Beforehand, determine what resources you have available for building a tent outside on your church grounds. You might use large tree branches and rope, or you may choose to use green blankets tied to trees or poles.
Say: In Exodus 26, God asked his people to build a place where he would live. It was called the Tabernacle, and only the holy leaders met with God there. When Jesus came to earth, he made it so everyone can meet with God. We don’t need the Tabernacle anymore, but God still wants to meet with us one-on-one! Let’s make a special place where we can get away and meet with God one-on-one.
Lead kids in using your materials to build a tent or teepee shape.
Have the children gather inside the tent, and lead them in thanking God that we can meet with him because of Jesus. Invite them to pray for one another as well.
- What are good things about getting away to talk to God?
- Where are places around your home that you can get away to talk to God?
Remind kids that anyone can meet with God in prayer anywhere, but if they need a place to get away to meet with God, they can use special places they’ve created to pray.
5. Royal Crowns
Use this craft to help kids understand that they’re royalty as God’s children.
- various colors and patterns of duct tape,
Say: The Bible says when we believe in Jesus, we’re royal. Jesus created everything in the world, and he’s King. That means we can be his royal children when we believe in him. Let’s use God’s creation to make royal crowns.
Take kids outside, and have them collect sticks, leaves, or other items in nature that can stick up like the points in a crown.
For each child, cut a piece of duct tape about 2 feet in length. Cut or tear the piece in half lengthwise, and place one piece sticky-side up in front of each child. Show children how to arrange the items on the sticky side of the duct tape so they all point up.
As kids work, read aloud 1 Peter 2:9, and lead kids in discussing what it means to live as God’s royal children. Help each child place the other half of the duct tape sticky-side down directly over the items and the other piece of duct tape. Use tape to size each child’s crown on his or her head. The crowns should fit securely so kids can put them on and take them off with ease.
6. Geocaching and The Promised Land
Use this experience when kids are learning about how God sent the Israelites into Canaan to inspect the land he had promised them in Numbers 13.
Ahead of time, look on geocaching.com for nearby geocaches that your group could find.
Say: In the Bible, Numbers 13 tells us that God sent 12 spies to the land he had promised them. We’re going on our own spy adventure today.
Let the children choose some geocaches that you’ve predetermined are nearby and that your group can access. Then let kids take turns leading the group to each geocache.
- What were some of the challenges we faced?
- What were some of the positives?
- How was our spying experience like or unlike the Israelites’ experience?
- What are some ways you learn about God’s promises for you?
Use this object lesson to show kids that there’s hope even on stormy days.
- see-through glass or plastic containers filled with water,
- foaming shaving cream,
- blue and yellow food coloring
Say: Sometimes life seems cloudy. Have kids squirt a layer of shaving cream over the water in the glass containers.
- Tell about a time you felt sad or discouraged.
As each child shares, have him or her add some drops of food coloring over the “clouds” of shaving cream.
Say: It’s okay to feel sad. But when we do, God wants us to be encouraged. Read aloud Isaiah 41:10 and Joshua 1:9. Have kids keep an eye on the clouds and food coloring. The food coloring will break through the shaving cream, creating streaks of color in the water.
- What did you like about this experiment?
- How can hard times turn into something good?
Read aloud Romans 8:28.
- What are ways you can trust God in hard times?
8. Right in Place
Use this object lesson to help kids talk about how God makes us.
- 5 clear glasses,
- hot water,
- pipette or medicine dropper,
- Skittles candies
Say: When we see a rainbow in the sky, the colors always have a certain order. The colors never change their order. That’s how God made rainbows. Let’s do an experiment to help us think about that.
Have the children assist you in this experiment. Put two tablespoons of hot water into each of five glasses. Add two red Skittles to one glass, four orange to a second glass, six yellow to a third glass, eight green to a fourth glass, and 10 purple to the fifth glass. Have kids stir the Skittles in the water while it’s still hot until the candies dissolve, about 10 minutes. While you wait, ask:
- What are some special things about you—skills, talents, or characteristics?
Once the water is cool, have kids use the pipette or medicine dropper to transfer the green water into the glass with the purple water. Transfer it by letting the liquid gently run down the side of the glass so the colors remain separated. Even if the colors do mix a little bit, if they’re cooled and you slowly run the liquid down the side of the glass, the less dense liquid should pop back up on top. Next, add the yellow in this way, and then the orange, and finally the red.
Say: Like the rainbow we created, God created each of us in a special way. We fit right in the perfect place so we can love him and others exactly how he made us to. We can be proud of how God made us unique.
- What are some ways you can celebrate the way God made you?
9. The God Phenomenon
Use this object lesson to talk to kids about God’s amazing power.
- mason jar with lid,
- tap water,
- 1 teaspoon dish soap,
- 1 teaspoon vinegar,
- a sprinkle of glitter
Say: God not only created the world, but he also can control it. Read aloud Mark 4:35-41. Let’s make something to help us think about that.
Have the kids assist you with this experiment. Fill the mason jar with water to a couple of inches from the top. Add the dish soap, vinegar, and glitter to the jar and close the lid tightly. Hold the top of the jar to swirl the water for several seconds, and then gently set it down and let the jar sit untouched on a flat surface. You’ll see a tornado develop in the jar. Let the children take turns making the tornado.
- What did you like about controlling the weather in our jar?
- What do you think of how God can control the wind, waves, and sky in our big world?
- If God is that powerful, what do you think that means for what God can do in your life?
Use this object lesson to talk growing our faith.
- plastic bottle,
- 1⁄2 cup 3 percent hydrogen peroxide,
- 1 tablespoons yeast,
- 3 tablespoons very warm water,
- dish soap,
- green food coloring,
Ahead of time, pour the hydrogen peroxide into the plastic bottle along with a squeeze of dish soap, several drops of food coloring, and some glitter.
Read aloud 2 Thessalonians. Say: Let’s do something to help us think about growing our faith.
Have a child mix the water with the yeast. Place the open bottle on a tray, and then use the funnel to quickly pour the water and yeast mixture into the hydrogen peroxide. Move back and watch the reaction.
- What surprised you about this experiment?
- What are some surprising ways God’s grown you?
- How does your faith grow when you trust God?
Say: When we trust God and believe he’s going to be with us, our faith grows even more! Like the mixture overflowing, God can grow us in amazing and surprising ways when we have faith in him.
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