Use these five experiences to engage kids with God’s grace and care so they’ll never forget his love for them.
We want kids in our ministries to really experience God’s lavish love. We want them immersed in the truth of his love for them and for all he’s created. And while a lot of that life-changing love is experienced through kids’ relationships with people, you can help them process what it means that God loves them through these five activities and experiences.
1. Love, Filtered
Use this object lesson to show kids that nothing can separate us from God’s love.
- a pitcher of water,
- an empty pitcher,
- ½ cup of sand,
- coffee filters for every few kids,
- large stirring spoon,
- and for each child:
- 1 individual powdered lemonade drink mix packet,
- a bottled water,
- 1 cup
Say: Let’s talk about how powerful God’s love is. Use the large stirring spoon to mix the sand into the pitcher of water.
- What will happen if I pour this mixture through a coffee filter?
Have a couple of kids hold a coffee filter over the empty pitcher while you slowly pour the water and sand mixture through the coffee filter.
- Have you’ve ever felt like you could be separated from God’s love?
Have kids each put a lemonade packet into a bottle of water, close it, and shake it until the mixture dissolves. While they shake the bottles, read aloud Romans 8:31-39.
Have kids work in small groups to hold coffee filters over their cups as they pour the lemonade mixture through the filter.
Let kids drink the lemonade as they discuss the difference between the two experiments.
- Which experiment was more like God’s love for you?
- What difference can that make for you?
Say: God’s love is so powerful; nothing can separate us from it.
Have an adult volunteer help you with filtering while children watch. Ahead of time, make lemonade for everyone, and instead of one bottle per child, use only one bottle for the lemonade demonstration. Let children pass around the bottle and shake it; then read aloud only Romans 8:35, 37-38. Relate separation from God to feeling close or not feeling close to someone you know really well. Tell kids that nothing can keep us from being close to God and his love for us.
Extra-Large Group Twist
Form two teams. Provide a clear container filled with water for each team—you’ll want the containers to be large enough so kids can see them from a distance. Give one team the sand and the other enough lemonade mixture to make lemonade for everyone. Choose a few kids from each team. Give both teams two minutes to stir as hard as they can while teammates cheer them on. After both mixtures are filtered, follow up with Romans 8:31-39 and the discussion questions.
2. Unbound By Love
Use this game to help kids think about how God’s love gives them freedom.
- construction paper,
- and large cross
Ahead of time, cut out construction paper hearts and write one word from John 3:16 on each heart. Make one set of hearts with the same verse for every five kids in your group. Hide the hearts around your church or meeting area.
Form teams of up to five; use yarn to tie teams of kids together in a circle.
Read aloud John 3:16; then have kids search for the hearts until each team has gathered all the words from the verse.
After kids find all the hearts, say: Sin keeps us bound like a prisoner or a slave. Think about some sins you or your friends might struggle with. Pause.
- What are ways those sins can control kids?
Say: God’s love for you is so great that he sent his Son, Jesus, to die on the cross— so you no longer have to be bound by sin. You can be free. Cut the yarn from one child’s wrists, and as you do, say: Jesus’ loving sacrifice frees you. Then let the freed child unbind another child as he or she repeats the sentence. Continue letting freed kids unbind others.
Read aloud Romans 5:1-4.
- What are some ways you feel free from sin?
Read Romans 5:5-9. Ask:
- How does Jesus’ sacrifice show God’s love for you?
Read Romans 5:10-11. Have teams put the verse hearts in order. Invite groups to thank God for his love while they tape the verse to the cross.
Hide hearts around your room. Have groups of five stand in tight-knit circles with their arms locked together. Have kids walk in their groups like that around the room to find hearts. Once a group finds a heart, they can break apart. Then help kids talk about how God’s love frees us.
Extra-Large Group Twist
Instead of hiding the hearts with the words from John 3:16, toss all of them in the center of your room. Teammates will lock arms. The child on one end of the line will have to keep a hand on the wall while the child at the other end will reach the center of the room to look for one word from the verse. That child will pick up the word and bring it back to tape it to the wall while teammates’ arms stay locked. Teams continue bringing one word back at a time until all the words are taped to the wall in order.
3. Care Share
Use this experience to talk about how God always provides and cares for us because he loves us.
- ice cream,
- various ice cream toppings,
- small bowls,
- wet wipes,
- and pencils
Set up two stations with the same type of ice cream, toppings, bowls, and spoons. Keep the stations out of sight and in different areas of the room.
Have kids get in pairs. Say: You’re all going to get ice cream and some toppings, but here’s the catch: Your partner will get it for you.
Have each person write his or her favorite flavors and toppings. (Don’t tell kids what’s available; just have kids list things they like.)
Have partners trade papers and go to separate ice cream stations. Say: You can get up to three toppings for your partner. Your goal is to make a sundae that your partner likes and enjoys. Help kids use their partners’ lists to make a great dessert without any additional input from the partners.
When kids return to their partners, they’ll take turns feeding the desserts to their partners.
- What was it like to get the dessert your partner made for you?
- What was it like to have your partner feed it to you?
Read aloud 1 Peter 5:6-7.
- What are some reasons you might resist God’s loving care?
- What’s so great about knowing the God of the universe loves you and takes care of you?
Instead of ice cream, use snacks such as pretzels or cheese crackers. Let kids talk to their partners about snacks they like before sending them off to their separate stations to choose one snack for their partner. When kids return, let them take turns feeding a few pieces to their partner. Let kids talk about ways God cares for them.
Extra-Large Group Twist
Use a variety of Valentine’s Day candies instead of ice cream.
4. Wrapped in His Love
Use this message to help kids know that God’s love can wrap us in comfort when we’re feeling down.
- colored pencils or crayons,
- one copy per child of the Heart Envelope handout
Have kids cut out the heart on their handouts. Say: Tell about a time you felt down or sad.
Inside the center rectangle in the heart, have kids draw or write something they currently feel sad about or have been sad about in the past.
Say: When we’re down, we can always count on God to listen to us.
Invite kids to silently tell God about what they shared. Re
ad aloud Psalm 86:6-7, and have kids fold the right side of the heart inward on the fold line.
Invite kids to ask for God’s wisdom about what they shared.
Read aloud Psalm 86:11-13, and have kids fold the left side of the heart inward on the fold line.
Invite kids to ask God for help.
Read aloud Psalm 86:1-5, and have kids fold the top of the heart inward on the fold line.
Say: We can always call to God, and he’ll wrap us in his love like a warm blanket.
Have kids fold the bottom part of the heart inward to complete the envelope. Have kids put a sticker over the point of the bottom of the heart to hold the folds closed.
- What do you think about God wrapping you up in his love when you’re down?
Invite kids to trade hearts with someone and hold the other person’s heart while they pray for the other person.
Say: Take home your own heart as a reminder that God’s love can comfort you.
Cut out the hearts ahead of time. Have kids draw on the hearts about something that makes them sad. Help kids fold the sides and explain that God’s love can wrap us up like a warm blanket when we’re sad.
Extra-Large Group Twist
This idea will work just as well with a large group, but if you want to save on paper, have kids form groups of four. For each fold, have one child in the group of four draw a symbol; then have kids pray with that child for God’s comfort.
5. Balloon Surprise
Use this object lesson to help kids talk about God’s faithful love.
- 15 balloons (inflated with air),
- at least 3 yards of ribbon,
- and scissors
Say: Sometimes things seem impossible, but we can be sure that God will always do what he says he’ll do. He loves us, and his love is so powerful that nothing can keep his love away from us. Let’s try something to help us think about that.
Show the balloons. Say: I promise that I can hold these balloons with one hand. Wait for kids’ responses. Each of you could, too. Invite several kids to try.
- Now that several people have tried, do you believe me?
- Tell about some times you’ve had trouble believing that God would take care of you.
For each child who shares, tie one balloon to the piece of ribbon. Tie the balloons closely together so when they’re all on the ribbon, you can use the ribbon to hold all of them up with one hand.
After all the balloons are tied on the one ribbon, show kids that you can hold all the balloons up with one hand.
Say: God will come through for you, even if it’s not in the way you expect him to.
Lead kids in praying about God’s faithful and reliable love.
For each child, cut a small piece of ribbon from the length that’s holding the balloons together. Help kids each tie the ribbon around one finger as a reminder of God’s faithful love.
Substitute three inflatable balls for the balloons, and replace the ribbon with a pillowcase. Choose balls that’ll be too large for you and the kids to hold in one hand, yet small and light enough for kids to hold in a pillowcase. Help kids understand that we can always count on God to do what he says, even when we don’t know how he’ll do it— and that’s because he loves us!
Extra-Large Group Twist
Form groups of 10, and give each group 15 balloons. Let groups work to be the first to have one person hold the balloons with one hand. Allow about five minutes for kids to discuss ideas and try them. Then come back together to show them how it’s possible with the ribbon.