The Apostle Paul helped lay the foundations of the Christian church. His missionary zeal and commitment to God’s truths are a shining example for all Christians. To help you celebrate the Apostle Paul’s teachings and life, we asked Children’s Ministry Magazine readers to give us the best ideas they’ve used to teach about Paul.
On the following pages, you’ll find environments, snacks, crafts, and Bible activities that’ll help your kids grow as they learn about the Apostle Paul.
To help children better understand the world of Paul and the places he went, set up these environments in separate rooms for children to travel through. Have the leaders in each room dress in appropriate costumes as well.
- LYDIA’S HOUSE
Decorate the room with nice furnishings, including lots of purple cloth and Bible-time vases and pitchers. Have a woman tell the story as a monologue from Acts 16:14-15. Part of the monologue can include showing kids how to dye cloth purple and illustrating the importance of being good hosts and hostesses.
Give each child fabric crayons and a piece of purple fabric. Have them draw pictures on their fabric. Then gather the pieces and make a wall hanging.
Dip square sponges into brown paint and stamp them onto newsprint to create “bricks.” Cover the room walls with these bricks. Put a menorah on a table and a large scroll on a lectern. Have children leave their shoes at the door. Give children prayer shawls to cover their heads as they enter. Then have them kneel on mats during the teaching time. (If possible, research Hebrew traditions or interview a rabbi so you’ll be prepared to answer children’s questions.)
Provide sandboxes and a poster of the Hebrew alphabet so children can practice writing in Hebrew (check out www.jewfaq .org/alephbet.htm). Children can also make small scrolls as a craft to remind them of the Scriptures that were read in the synagogue.
3. JAIL ROOM
Stuff large paper grocery bags with newspaper and tape them shut. Stack the stuffed bags on each other to create the “stone” walls of the jail, but don’t tape them together. Lay black plastic on the floor of the jail. Spread out shredded raffia and plastic rats and bugs on the floor. Glow-in-the-dark bugs with black lights are even better! “Chain” high-school prisoners to the jail walls. Make your storyteller a jailer who takes the kids back in time for the story from Acts 16:22-40. When the earthquake hits, push the “stones” onto the children so they can experience the earthquake as Paul did.
To help tell this story, use The Great Escape video from The Visual Bible for Kids Series (Tommy Nelson, 800-933-9673, 800-663-3133 [Canada]; www.tommynelson.com).
4. SHIPWRECK ROOM
To simulate the belly of a ship, unroll a 20-foot roll of black plastic. Use duct tape to connect the long edges on the outside, keeping the short edges open to make a tube. Set a box fan at one of the ends of the plastic, and tape the edges closed around the fan’s edges (not behind the fan). Turn on the fan, and the plastic will inflate. Put sand and driftwood next to the ship, and paint a sky backdrop on the wall behind the ship.
Have kids crawl through the opening in the other end to enter the ship’s inner cavity. Mist children with water from spray bottles, and play sound effects of the beach and storm as you tell the story of Paul and the shipwreck from Acts 27:14-44.
Have children use nails to make tin punches of the Ichthus symbol in aluminum pie plates. Explain that this “fish” symbol was important in Paul’s life because after Jesus died, it was dangerous for a person to be a Christian. To tell others that they were Christians in Paul’s day, people would draw this symbol in the sand. As Christians today, we can also use this Ichthus symbol to tell others that we believe in Jesus.
2 SPECIAL DELIVERY IDEAS
The Apostle Paul’s ministry was immortalized in his letters that became the bulk of the New Testament. Understanding Paul’s letter-writing ministry can help children learn more about Paul.
- PAUL’S LETTERS
Have children make paper. This activity works well with children as young as 4. Children can use the small round paper to write love notes to family members or to Jesus.
You’ll need a 34.5-ounce coffee can; a 11.5-ounce coffee can with the top and bottom removed; one 8×8-inch piece of plastic needlepoint canvas (available at sewing or craft stores); two 8×8-inch pieces of window screening (available at hardware stores); one plastic tub; newspaper (minus the slick ads); warm water (coffee carafes work great to keep the water warm); paper towels; marigold seeds, dried flower petals, or glitter; and old stamps, printed Bible verses, or small newspaper cartoons.
For each child, you’ll need a plastic jar with a lid such as a peanut butter jar.
Paper-Making Station Setup
One paper-making station for every five to seven children is most helpful.
• Set the plastic tub on a flat surface at a height that the children can easily reach. • Place the larger coffee can in the center of the tub. • Place the following items on top of the larger can in this order: plastic needlepoint canvas, one sheet of window screening, and the smaller coffee can. • Have the second piece of window screening and paper towels available.
Tell Kids To:
• Tear an 8×8-inch piece of newspaper into dime-sized pieces.
• Place the pieces into your plastic jar.
• Add marigold seeds, dried flower petals, or glitter as desired.
• Fill your plastic jar two-thirds full with hot water and close the lid.
• Cover the lid with a paper towel to catch dribbles. Then shake for five to 10 minutes to make paper pulp the consistency of runny oatmeal.
• When the newspaper has turned to pulp, move to the Paper-Making Station.
• At the Paper-Making Station, swiftly dump the paper pulp into the smaller coffee can.
• Allow the water to drain through the screen and plastic needlepoint canvas into the larger can.
• Carefully remove the smaller can and set it aside.
• Place old stamps, Bible verses, or cartoons on top of the paper pulp as desired.
• Place the second piece of window screening on top of the paper pulp and blot it with paper towels.
• Remove the top piece of window screening. Lay a paper towel on the paper, flip it over, and remove the back window screening.
• Cover the paper with more paper towels and press to absorb water.
• Carefully remove the paper creation and lay it flat on a fresh paper towel to dry overnight.
• When your paper is completely dry, use a fine-point Sharpie pen to write your name and message.
2. PEN PALS
We wanted our children to understand the importance of Paul’s letters in encouraging, loving, and instructing the early churches. To do this, we placed our children in groups named after the early churches: Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians. We gave each group a real mailbox that we purchased from a local hardware store. Each group decorated its mailbox with its name. Then we assigned each child a pen pal in one of the other groups. Over the course of a three-month period, the kids sent letters of encouragement to their pen pals each week. Our adult volunteers delivered the letters to the mailboxes.
It was so much fun for the children to come in each week and check their mailboxes. At the conclusion of our unit, the kids each identified themselves to their pen pal and new friend.