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Portable Stick Puppet Stage

Puppets are very effective tools when it comes to reaching kids. However they require a lot of effort in preparing a team and most importantly a stage. But what if there isn’t any team available? Can you still use this method of teaching? How nice would it be if you could set up the stage and present the story yourselves without much strain yet equally effective as the conventional style! Well, here’s a tip for you: portable Stick Puppet Stage. Enjoy!

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Featured

Are you prepared?

In my previous posts I had shared various ways of teaching a story through crafts. You can check them out here, here and a lot more here. Today, I want to show you the path to preparing a lesson on your own, simply because you know your kids better. I could find no better place to start than the ‘Preparation’ itself. Thanks for reading 🙂 and don’t forget to share your thoughts with us in the feedback form provided below.

ARE YOU PREPARED?

Have you seen an athlete, who prepares for years to run a few hundred meters? When you were younger, did you spend months preparing for a few exams? Have you seen your mum get up early in the morning to prepare for hours for the day’s meal? All these examples lead us to one simple conclusion: Preparation! Preparation! Preparation! It is the soul of a successful Sunday school session too.

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Featured

5 basic ingredients for a rewarding Sunday school

         Hey guys! Vanaja here. Following are a few tips for a rewarding Sunday school I would like to share with you as a remainder. These are simple principles I have learnt and followed over the years of my ministry with kids.

Continue reading “5 basic ingredients for a rewarding Sunday school”

Challenging stories for teens

Teen years are when change becomes an everyday constant. There is change in the reasoning abilities, emotional patterns, social behavior and physical body. In short, there is change in almost everything. And that is why it makes the teen years very important part of life. It is the laying up of foundation period. The choices made then, has lifelong impacts. As a teen worker or a parent, monitoring the growth status in every area of a teen is very important and necessary.  One practical way is to tell/show/read to them great examples of people who have lived before or handing them some inspiring books that shaped your teen years as a Christ-follower.

When I was a teen, there were a few stories which helped me take the right decisions. I have listed a few  for you:

  1. Barney’s Barrel:

The most important decision one has to make, which has the most eternal impact is accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior.  Here’s a beautiful story that enables early teens to make the life changing decision.

Story:

This story is about a young boy named Barney whose home was a barrel. He lost his parents at a young age. He would sell papers in the day time to make enough money to partly satisfy his hunger. At night, he would curl up in an old coat and try to forget that he was lonesome, cold and hungry. One day while lazing around the streets, he heard a song, ‘Jesus paid it all!’ coming from a small building. ‘GOSPEL MISSION – Welcome’ said the board on the window. The warmth of the song led him inside this strange building. He occupied the last row. The preacher spoke from the book which he called ‘God’s precious word’.   Barney was touched by the message and gives his heart to Jesus. He becomes a changed person, though the situations in his life remained the same. He was no longer lonely but had a new and great friend named Jesus. The joy of the new life, made Barney to share about Jesus to everyone he met during the day. Barney felt he was the happiest person ever. Then it was the coldest part of the year, the winter. Barney did not have enough clothes to keep him warm. He soon became dreadfully sick that he could not leave his barrel. He laid there suffering and sobbing. Finally a police man who happened to come that way, found him and rushed him to the big city hospital. They took good care of him there. The nurses asked him what he would like to have. Barney asked them to bring a Bible and read him some more about Jesus who died for him. But the nurses were unsaved and denied his request. The doctor visited him that night and knew that Barney would not make it despite their hard effort. This time, they did not want to deny anything he asked because they knew he had a very less time left. They brought a Bible and read to him from the Bible about Jesus and His love. Something amazing happened in that room that day. The doctor and the two nurses knelt down at Barney’s bedside and gave their lives to Jesus. Barney died that night but he went to be with the Lord who died for him. There in heaven, Barney’s name was written in the ‘Lamb’s book of life’.  He found a beautiful golden crown waiting for him. It was the soul-winner’s crown. In that crown were three shining stars – one for the each of the nurses and one for the doctor. He to saw the bright and morning Star, the Lord Jesus. Barney could have never reached Heaven, if Jesus had not reached down and washed the sin-sick boy and made him white as snow.

http://agapeministriespress.com/children/images/barney.htm

  1. I want blue eyes

Teens care much about their self-image. When they feel they are not appreciated for their looks or who they are as a person, they fall into the trap of low self-esteem and inferiority complex. It is very important to make them understand that they are God’s master pieces  no matter what. They are special, unique and loved by God. Here’s the story that would help early teens to learn this message:

Story:

Amy Carmichael was born with brown eyes. She wanted blue eyes. He mother had told her that Jesus would give her anything she asked for. So every night Amy would kneel down by her bed and asked Jesus to turn her eyes blue. In the morning, she would jump out of her bed and to rush to the mirror to find if Jesus had answered her prayer. Well, to her disappointment the eyes remained brown. Amy sobbed and sobbed. Her mother had the hardest time, explaining to Amy that even ‘No’ was an answer from God. Little did Amy know that one day God would use her in India where people had brown eyes. In 1892 when Amy answered the call to become a missionary in India, she could get along the natives easily because of her appearance. She did might works of God helping children who were abused.

http://weekinchurchhistory.blogspot.in/2007/03/he-didnt-turn-her-brown-eyes-blue.html

  1. In His Steps

Salvation is free and simple because of the difficult work handled by Jesus on the cross. But the Bible clearly mentions that only those who are faithful to the end shall be saved. This makes the sanctification process very important. This inspiring story challenges  teens as well as people of any age.

Story:

The story begins with a heart-moving speech by a tramp. This leads the pastor to invite the people to partake in a pledge that would transform their lives forever.  A few accept the invitation unaware of the difficult choices that followed. But their commitment brings about a complete transformation. Do you want to know what the pledge is? Well, guess I should not spoil the thrill before you read the book. One thing is for sure, living for God is not easy but a challenge and it is worth it!

https://www.amazon.com/His-Steps-Charles-M-Sheldon/dp/1453832866

 

Are there any inspiring books that shaped your teen years?

Jesus helps me when I ask- Game

Focus                            : Ask Jesus for help

Key Verse                  : Then call on me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory.[Psalm 50:15 NLT]

Age Group                  : 8 years and above

Game category         : Outdoor; 20-30 children batch max

Materials required  : None

Preparation               : None

Method: 

  • Choose a child to be the catcher.
  • When the game conductor signals ‘Start’, the catcher runs to catch someone.
  • While he/she is targeting a child, that child should shout ‘Help! Help!’.
  • Other children try to help run close to him/ her and hold his/her hand without being caught by the catcher.
  • The catcher cannot catch someone who has found help like this.
  • But if a child is caught without any help he/she becomes the next catcher.

Moral:

In this game you had some friends protecting you from the catcher. All you had to
do is ask for help. In life people will not be able to help you always. But do you know
someone who can help you at all times? [Let the kids answer- Jesus!] What should
you do? [Let the kids answer – Just ask Jesus!]

 

This game is an excerpt from Kids Camp 2015, ‘Do you love me?’. Click here for more information.

 

 

Picture Courtesy: Interact Dataset

Kids Camp 2016 (Outstation)

Hey Guys! The 3 days material is ready for delivery! You can get a free copy of the lessons delivered to your Inbox by filling out the form given at the end. Yes, you heard it right! It is absolutely free!

Here’s the lesson plan:

Group A ( Children less than 8 years of age)

 

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Daily Theme Jesus is good Jesus helps Jesus gives
Memory verse The Lord is good to all. [Psalm 145:9] God is my help. [Psalm 54:4] Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life [John 3:36]
Story The wedding at Cana Jesus heals 10 lepers Jesus on the cross and resurrection
Bible Portion John 2: 1-12 Luke 17:11-19 Luke 22: 63-65; Matthew 28:1-9
Message Jesus is good and powerful God Jesus helps everybody who asks Him. Jesus died to give you a place I heaven.

 

Group B (Children 8 and above)

 

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Daily Theme Jesus gives joy Jesus heals Jesus forgives
Memory verse In your presence there is fullness of joy. [Psalm 16:11]  I am the Lord, who heals you. [Exodus 15:26] But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins [1 John 1:9]
 Story The wedding at Cana Jesus heals 10 lepers Jesus forgives Peter
Bible Portion John 2: 1-12 Luke 17:11-19 Mark 14: 1-2, 10-11; Luke: 22:31-34; Matthew 26:41,69-75; 27: 27-66; Mark 16:1-8; John 21:1-19;
Message Jesus brings joy to those who invite Him in their life. Jesus heals anybody who asks of Him When you feel sorry for the mistakes you have done against God and confess it to Him, He will forgive you. You will have a place in Heaven.

 

A nicer way to celebrate Easter!

The celebration of Good Friday and Easter is still a debated event among Christendom. Nevertheless it is a happy time for all the children because most of them have holiday on Friday. Who does not enjoy a long weekend!

Is there a nicer way to celebrate Easter? 

There may be many, but here is one tried and tested strategy.

Kids Camp Team has developed a simple curriculum for 3 days with the theme, ‘Jesus my Superhero‘. It introduces Jesus to children in a way they understand. The interesting fact about this material is that it is designed with the following kind of people in mind:

  • People who are quite busy and have very less time to spare
  • Short of resources (Well, you may be the only staff available)
  • Simple budget

but

  • WITH TONS OF PASSION FOR GOD
  • WITH A HUGE BURDEN FOR CHILDREN

The three days materials have some special features like indoor and outdoor games (so if the available space is less, indoor games would come in handy), easy to do craft, life-changing stories, creative crafts and thought provoking activities. Here’s a glimpse of what is done!

Group A ( Children less than 8 years of age)

 

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Daily Theme Jesus is good Jesus helps Jesus gives
Memory verse The Lord is good to all. [Psalm 145:9] God is my help. [Psalm 54:4] Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life [John 3:36]
Story The wedding at Cana Jesus heals 10 lepers Jesus on the cross and resurrection
Bible Portion John 2: 1-12 Luke 17:11-19 Luke 22: 63-65; Matthew 28:1-9
Message Jesus is good and powerful God Jesus helps everybody who asks Him. Jesus died to give you a place I heaven.

 

Group B (Children 8 and above)

 

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Daily Theme Jesus gives joy Jesus heals Jesus forgives
Memory verse In your presence there is fullness of joy. [Psalm 16:11]  I am the Lord, who heals you. [Exodus 15:26] But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins [1 John 1:9]
 Story The wedding at Cana Jesus heals 10 lepers Jesus forgives Peter
Bible Portion John 2: 1-12 Luke 17:11-19 Mark 14: 1-2, 10-11; Luke: 22:31-34; Matthew 26:41,69-75; 27: 27-66; Mark 16:1-8; John 21:1-19;
Message Jesus brings joy to those who invite Him in their life. Jesus heals anybody who asks of Him When you feel sorry for the mistakes you have done against God and confess it to Him, He will forgive you. You will have a place in Heaven.

So you don’t need a big space, a lot of children or staffs. If you have around 10 children near your house/ apartment, why not spend Easter sharing the love of God in sending His Son to die on the cross, in ways your children can understand?

You can do this as a church too. This is our story – Two years ago, our VBS director realised a problem with the standard 5 days church centralized pattern. It required a lot of effort, staff, budget and the results were appealing too. Around 200 children would attend but there were many more in our neighborhood who were willing to come but were not able to. Some of them were restricted by the parents to come to church,  some were not allowed to travel long distances to church and so on. So the church administration with the guidance of the senior pastors decided on a new strategy. Instead of bring the children to the camp in one centralized location (Our church), why not take the camp to the children in many de-centralized location (believers’ house) too? This idea was criticized and appreciated. But the team pioneered with faith that many  more children will be blessed. But then the question arose, ‘How can we conduct Kids Camp for 5 days in so many places? It would require a lot of resources and effort’ That’s when Kids Camp outstation (3 days) birthed. In our first year, Kids Camp outstation was held in  most of the places where care cells were held – 22 houses and 669 children were blessed!  The church saw the benefits and did not regret the choice they had made. Our main Camp staffs went to those places and taught the children. God blessed the second year abundantly. New homes were opened and many more volunteers who realized that the material is quite simple and anyone with interest can handle it, joined. Last year Kids Camp-Outstation was held in 51 homes and 1274  children were blessed!  We can’t wait for Easter to come to witness God’s goodness in this year’s camp. Though the 3 days camp brought blessing to many children we did not stop the 5 days camp in the church. It may be the only time some of the children get to see a church and the testimonies we heard encourages us.

So here’s a great opportunity as a church or an individual! Hope you don’t miss it!

Fill out the form below for your free copy of Kids Camp – Outstation (3 days):

* The materials will be mailed after 15th March, 2016.

Welcoming the new year with a…

Well, let me let the cat out of the bag a little later! 😉

First off, HAPPY NEW YEAR 2016!

2015 may or may not have been a great year, but I am sure it would have been a worthwhile learning experience. I am hoping that 2016 is going to be even challenging but would definitely end with a stronger us.

A question rang a bell this morning: ‘How best can I welcome 2016?’

May be calling family, visiting friends, baking cakes, going for a long drive, planting a tree and so on are a few good ways to start the year. You might have an even better list.

But the best way? I reckon it is more than self-centered desires, hobbies or plans. And immediately the question transforms into ‘How best would God like me to welcome 2016?’

Then the answer starts pouring from His word – Start the year in His presence; commit all your plans to God; depend on God for every little thing, meditate on His word, take godly decisions…

A standout for me was, start the year with a vision from God. Our plans, dreams, desires, vision may or may not happen. But a vision from God will stand. It will come to pass because He is faithful to fulfill His words.

The word of God says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” [Proverbs 29:18a (KJV)]

A vision is the like the sail which helps steer a boat in the direction of the wind or the catalyst which fastens a chemical reactions or a dream that becomes life’s purpose. In short, a vision propels, motivates, encourages, gives hope and even more – a divine vision happens. We need a vision, a vision for us from God.

To know God’s vision for us, we will have to sit in His presence, commit our plans to Him, meditate on His word and listen to Him speak.

If you are yet to ask God for His plans and vision for your life and ministry this year, I urge you to do so. There is nothing more accomplishing in life, than living with a divine vision. What is God’s vision for you this year?

Top 5 Endangered Truths kids need to know

Know the truth and the truth shall set you free [John 8:32]… (And here’s a funny continuation someone added to it – but is quite grating at first 😉 )

Blaise Pascal said “Truth is so obscure nowadays and lies well established that unless we love the truth we shall never recognize it”.

Did you know that the choices we make later in life are very much decided by the truths that were inscribed in us while we were children? As Sunday school teachers or kids workers, God has given us the much privileged, challenging and indispensably significant task of shaping the tomorrow’s choices of today’s kids. Over and over again, we read in the book of Kings and Chronicles in the Bible that the kings who were shaped by Godly mentors lived a God-pleasing lives and turned out to be history-making, successful leaders.

Following are top five endangered truths I believe kids today need to know:

Truth #5 

Jesus loves you the way you are and He can make you into someone special, when you choose to become His friend.

Truth #4

Life with God is not a boring or joyless life as the world tags it

Truth #3

Living for God has always been a challenge – a swim against the tides

Truth #2

Without God you can do nothing

Truth #1

This is where I need your help 🙂 Please let me know what you think today’s kids need to be taught. (You don’t have to stick to just one! )

Post Update [15-Aug-2015]

Thanks everyone for your thoughtful responses. Here are some of the amazing truths our readers would like to add:

Myth: God will only talk to adults.
Truth: God loves kids and he talks and could possibly reveals mystery to/through them.

– Nirupa Samson


God starts at a very early age. Example: John the Baptist can accept a word of Blessing from Mary when he was still in the womb, Joseph can have God’s plan from childhood, Samuel can have Prophetic gifts when he was very small (Jeremiah 1:5 also justifies that). God does not need a kid to grow up to reveal His plan but at the age he/she is in.

– Nath


 

Jim & Jom – Fruit of the Spirit

This short story can be used as an introduction to the Fruit of the Spirit series. You can check out our additional resource on helping kids memorize the nine fruit of the Spirit here.

Message: To bear the fruit of the Spirit, you need to have Jesus in your heart.

Target audience: Primary

Key Verse: He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. John 15:5b

Things required:

  • Two apples
  • Googly eyes (optional)
  • Sketch pens

Preparation:

  • Draw a happy face on one apple and an angry face on the other.
Jim
Jim
Jom
Jom

Method:

  • Use the happy faced apple for Jim and angry faced apple for Jom as props while you narrate the story.

Story: In the center of a beautiful garden called “The World of God” was a large apple tree. This was the most famous of trees in the garden. It was the home to many cheerful apples who dearly called it Appletown. The tree loved the happy apples who stayed in its branches. It created leafy shades for them to rest. But anytime the apples did any bad thing their stem would shrivel and become weak. Eventually they would fall from the tree and hurt themselves badly.

Summer vacations had just got over. Kids returned from their grand parents’ homes. So did a delightful young apple named, Jim. His parents had recently  shifted their house to this town and they had enrolled him in a new school. Jim was quite excited. He wondered how his new school would be. He could not wait to get new friends.

It was the opening day and all the little apples had come with their parents. Jim’s class teacher greeted his parents and invited him in to the class. She gave him a nice place to sit. Jim gladly waved good-bye to his parents and they left satisfied looking at Jim’s happy face. Jim turned around to see his new class-mates, his to-be-friends. Right next to him sat a grumpy little apple. Jim was surprised as to why his bench-mate looked so angry. He wanted to be nice and so he put out his hand and said ‘Hi! What’s your name?’. But the cross little boy, snapped back saying, ‘You first tell me what is yours!’. Jim was taken aback, yet he politely replied, ‘My name is Jim. I am called Jim because JESUS is IN ME‘. When his cranky neighbour heard his name, he laughed aloud and said, ‘My name is Jom – JESUS is OUT of ME.’ Jim was surprised. He wondered how would anybody want Jesus out of them. He is the best friend one could ever have.  Jom continued in a rough voice, ‘I hate Jesus and I hate you’. Jim was hurt but he decided to LOVE Jom and pray for Him because Jesus told us to love our enemies and pray for those who hurt us. Jim told him softly, ‘I still love you Jom’.  Jom got even more angry and turned aside. Right then he felt dizzy and thought it was because of the cold weather in the garden. However he missed to realise that his stem started to shrivel because it was a bad thing that he was doing. Many teachers came and taught their subjects. Then the day got over. All the kids rushed home. Jim was filled with JOY. He knew that Jesus would be proud of him because he had decided to love Jom who hurt him.

The next day, Jom was upset that Jim was always happy. He wanted to start a fight with Jim and make him sad. Jom and his friends were ready with a banana skin and were hiding behind the class door waiting for Jim to come. Jim happily entered the class greeting everyone along the way. Not knowing that a banana skin was on the way, he stepped on it and slid to the other end of the class scratching himself all over. Jom and his friends sneered at him and laughed loudly calling him by funny names. Jom thought to himself, that Jim will definitely come to fight with him and then he could hit him hard. But to is surprise Jim kept PEACE. He walked to his seat and sat silently without saying anything though he knew that Jom was the one who did it. Jom was irritated. He told himself, ‘Jim will surely fall for the next prank. When he would come and fight with me, I will hit him and make him sad.’

Just then the class teacher entered in the class and all the kids stood up to greet her. All of a sudden the entire class pointed at Jim and started giggling. He was confused at first and then embarrassed. He did not know what was happening. The teacher also did not know why everyone was laughing at Jim. Then she noticed that Jim’s pants were blotted completely with ink. Someone had spilled blue ink all over his chair. Jim knew right away who would have done it. The teacher was angry and wanted to know who did it. But no one admitted that it was Jom. Though Jim knew it was Jom, he was PATIENT and kept quiet. After trying hard, she gave up and continued with the class. Jom felt safe and happy now that he had escaped punishment. However, he was bitter that Jim was not angry yet and he still had love. Once that session got over, the teacher left the class. Jom jeered at Jim and said that he looked like a fool. Right then, their strict maths teacher entered. He straight away started with numbers and addition. He asked Jom a question, for which Jom did not know the answer because he had not done his homework. The Maths sir got irritated and told Jom that he should stay back after class that day for an hour as a punishment and solve some extra problems which he would give him. Jom was very angry.

The class got over and everyone left home. Jom stayed back reluctantly with a frown on his face. Now that he was doing mistake after mistake, his stem was getting weaker and weaker. To his surprise Jim did not leave the class too. Jom was bewildered and asked him, ‘Why are you staying? Do you not want to go and play with your friends?’. Jim said, ‘Jom, I did not want to leave you alone. I will stay with you till you finish and then we can go and play together’. Jom was amazed and said, ‘After all the bad things that I have done against you, why do you want to be kind to me?’. Jim smiled and said, ‘Jesus wants us to be KIND and do GOOD always and that is why I want to be with you and help you’. That evening, Jim stayed with Jom and GENTLY taught him how to solve the maths problems. They became best of best friends since that day.

One day, Jom asked Jim how he was able to be so loving, kind, patient, good and happy always. Jim had the answer in his name ‘Jesus is In Me’. Jom also wanted Jesus in him. Jim explained to him that Jesus is willing to be with everybody. All he had to do was to just believe in Jesus and ask Him to come into his heart. Jom did it right away. He closed his eyes and said, ‘Jesus come into my heart. Forgive me for all the mistakes I did’.  Jom was filled with happiness and joy like he never had before. Jim told him that from now onwards he need to talk with Jesus and listen to Him everyday and He will help him be good. That day, his stem became strong life before and Jom felt healthy again.

However as days passed, Jom started to forget Jesus. He stopped praying. He stopped reading the Bible. His life started to change to worse again. He was not FAITHFUL. Because he  went away from Jesus, he lost his SELFCONTROL and did all the bad things like before. Jim tried to warn him and help him come back to Jesus. But Jom would not listen.

One day, his stem became very weak that it could no longer hold Jom to the tree. While everyone was watching Jom fell down from the tree and got himself wounded very badly. Jim felt so sorry for him and sobbed, ‘If only Jom had not left Jesus, he would be still be happily in the tree. The entire town was sad that Jom did not have Jesus in him. They watched Jom decay without any food supply from the tree. The gardener who cleans the garden in the evening, saw him lying on the floor and picked him up. Finding that he was wounded very badly and is of no use, he threw him into a dustbin and no one heard of Jom again.

Why ‘Do you love me?’ ?

Usually God is portrayed as a good or rather the best friend to children, which is very true. We as teachers have in mind that such a great God calls us His friends. But while presenting it to kids, the emphasis is given only on the friendly nature of God. As a result, kids see Jesus more as a friend than as God. Is there a problem in such a case? Yes! We tend to limit the greatness and power of God because when we say friend, we see him as someone equal to us. Yes, He made us his brothers and sisters by shedding His precious blood on the cross. Does that mean He is weak like us? No, He is still the powerful Almighty God who deserves fearful reverence. The more we magnify Him in our eyes as God, the more we get to experience Him as God. Is it not right to teach our children that He is the great matchless God who is humble enough to be our friend? This year we are aiming on striking a balance between the godliness of Jesus and His humility in being our friend.

Who else could be a best example who saw Jesus as God and friend than Peter, one of Jesus’ first disciples? Peter on his first encounter with Jesus saw Him as God and his response was, ‘Get away from me Jesus. I am a sinner’(Luke 5:8). Three years later, this same Peter discovers a friend in Jesus and he tells Him, ‘I love you Jesus’ (John 21:15,16,17). This year’s theme ‘Do you love Me?’ has been taken straight from the words of Jesus to this ordinary fisherman, Peter. His answer to this question made him do extra-ordinary things for God.

Our earnest prayers and great hope is that the kids will know that Jesus is The God and there is no other, which will result in repentance; that they will also have the revelation that Jesus has paid a huge price on the cross to reconcile us to Him as His friends once again; that their response to His question will be, ‘I love you Jesus’.

Stick Puppets

One hardly needs to describe the magnitude of our major childhood attractions – one of them being puppets: puppets of varying size and type. Here’s one easy and inexpensive way of doing it for your kids. Hope you like it!

Tip  These stick puppets will look much better when used with a background. Click here to learn to make a simple portable puppet stand.

Continue reading “Stick Puppets”