How to Pray

We are starting a unit on prayer this week and are starting out with a discussion on how the Bible tells us to pray. We’ll look at Matthew 6:5-8 to first see how Jesus says not to pray, then look at the Lord’s Prayer and other scriptures to see what we should do instead.

I found a neat little game to get our class time started in a lesson on prayer. I wrote Scripture verses about prayer in white crayon on white index cards and will hide them around the room. However, several cards have pictures or random words on them. The kids can color over the index card with a marker to reveal what is written in white crayon. We’ll use these verses in our discussion, writing our findings up on the white board. Then we will transition into some discussion.

I enjoyed this brief article on some things to emphasize when discussing prayer with older kids, like I will be doing this Sunday. It has some really great thoughts in a concise way of stating them. I’ll definitely be talking about this with my 4th & 5th graders.

Prayer does not come easy for me, and I’m sure it doesn’t come easy for a lot of kids. We live in such a busy world, with so many distractions constantly bombarding us. It’s hard to find peace in such a crazy life. That’s when we need to remember that communication is how we build any relationship, especially our relationship with God. Just like I need to be intentional to stay in touch with friends and calendar time to get together and enjoy each other, we need to be intentional about making time for God. Yes, prayer is something we can do anytime, anywhere, and God wants us to “pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17)” but we also need to put forth an effort. God wants to be close to us. God wants to answer our prayers. We have to give him that opportunity.
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Getting to know you

Now that a new school year is starting, we had our “move-up Sunday” for all the student ministries. We had several Kindergarteners move up into the elementary class, and we have a huge group of 4th graders this year going into our Hightide class. I’m excited for this year!

Because our Hightide preteen class became such a tight-knit group last year, I want to encourage that to happen again this year, so we just played a bunch of icebreakers and get-to-know you games last Sunday for our first week. But they came off pretty well, so I thought I’d share some of the games that worked with this age group!

The first game we played is kind of like the game Headbandz–each person had a character name taped to their back. They went around to different people asking yes or no questions to figure out who they were. As an added part of the game, once they figured out who they were their had to find their partner: for example, if someone was Mickey Mouse, they had to find Minnie; if someone was Cinderella, they had to find Prince Charming. Once they found their partner they had to learn three facts about that person. To encourage them to talk to each other, they could only ask each person two questions before finding someone else to talk to.
Note: Yes or no questions were a little difficult for the kids to figure out, so I eventually told them to just ask questions, and allowed kids to give hints if needed.

Next we played a variation of Charades. I had only 4 cards for them to choose from which read “favorite animal,” “favorite sport,” “favorite thing to do,” “instrument you can play or would like to play.” When each kid came up, they had to act out what the answer was for them, allowing us all to learn something about them!
Note: The kids really liked this game! They asked to keep playing it after everyone had a turn.

Then we played the M&M Icebreaker game. I’ve played this before, and it’s always creates a more interesting way to share facts about yourself. Each kid took 3 M&M’s, whatever color they wanted. Then I wrote questions on the board, and we went around the circle three times, with everyone answering one question each time. They had to answer the question that correlated with the color M&M they chose. For example: Red–something about yesterday, Orange–something you do well, Yellow–favorite subject in school, Green–what you want to be when you grow up, Blue–favorite movie this summer, Brown–something you can’t live without. This game was another hit!

We then played Get-to-know-you-BINGO! The kids really loved this one too! I made a BINGO board (see below) with various facts. They had to find someone who fit each fact, and had them initial it. Again to encourage more conversation, the kids could only get 2 squares initialed from each friend.

Finally, we played one of our Hightide favorites. We call it “the chair game” but it goes by many other names. Basically, everyone sits in a chair in a circle, with one person in the middle (without a chair). The person in the middle says something like “I like people who like baseball” or “I like people who are wearing jeans” or “I like people who like tobyMac” and whoever the statement applies to has to get up and find a new chair, while the person in the middle tries to get one of the newly-vacated chairs. Whoever is left in the middle takes a turn.

So there’s a few games that the 9 & 10 year-olds at our church enjoyed playing while getting to know each other!

 

Bingo Icebreaker

Hebrews

This Sunday, in our Hightide class with our 4th & 5th graders, we talked about the book of Hebrews. More specifically, we focused on the “Hall of Faith” section. Since we are wrapping up our brief walk through the Bible in this class, I thought these verses would be a good review on many of the stories we talked about a few months ago.

We read through several verses in Hebrews 11, picking out a few stories here and there to help them see what this chapter is about, then I wrote all the people from the chapter on the board, and had each student choose one. They then had to write who they were and what they did by faith, and draw a picture.

Here’s our Hall of Faith:

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Paul’s Letters

Although I would’ve liked to spend more time on Paul’s letters, I condensed an overview of them into one lesson. Our 5th graders will be moving out of our class at the end of next month, and I wanted to get through the whole Bible before they leave.

I got several ideas from a couple places on the web and combined them, but wasn’t able to copy the link properly; sorry for no citing of sources this time!

To start out, I wrote the names of all the rest of the books of the Bible after Acts on the board, and asked the kids to guess which ones Paul wrote. We determined that he wrote 13, which is more books of the Bible than anyone else wrote, though they are short and don’t take up a lot of actual space in the Bible.

So, knowing that Paul wrote 13 books, I asked the kids to write 13 things you know about God. I gave out markers and colorful paper, and the kids got to work. After a few minutes, I asked if it was easy or harder than they thought it would be; most said hard and had only gotten about 4 or 5. If we have a hard time just writing 13 things about God, how did Paul write 13 long letters about God? We looked up 2 Timothy 3:16 and learned that Paul was able to write all that because God helped him. I then added that Paul wanted these letters to be shared and it pleases God when others read about him, so several of the kids posted their lists on our bulletin board once they had finished.

Now that we know God inspired Paul’s writings, we had to find out what God wanted Paul to write about. We read Ephesians 3:3-5 and found that God had a “mysterious” or “secret” plan he wanted Paul to share with the world. I each of the kids a piece of white paper and a white crayon, and told them to write something good about themselves that not many people know that they would like to share. So we read Ephesians 3:6-7 to find out that God’s plan is that everyone–no matter your background–is part of the body of Christ, that all people can be part of God’s family if they believe in Jesus. We don’t want to keep good secrets to ourselves, especially if it’s something we are excited about! The kids passed their paper to someone else, and we painted over the white crayons with watercolor paints, revealing the secrets. 

A lot of what Paul wrote was about Jews and Gentiles, because that was something the new church struggled with. Most of the Bible was about the Jewish nation, but Paul wanted everyone to know that through Jesus the gospel is for them.

Paul also wrote to encourage the churches in the many cities he had traveled to. He reminded them of God’s love and gave them instructions on how to live better. I wrote down the names of all the kids in class, and had each kid draw another name. The kids wrote a note of encouragement to the person they drew. I told them I would send the notes out on the first week of school, which about a month from now. The kids will probably forget about writing them, and will get a nice surprise in the mail. Most of the kids, especially the boys, just wrote a simple “have a good week,” but I think it was still good to get them thinking about encouraging others, especially people they might not be close friends with.

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Acts

This week in Hightide we talked about the book of Acts! I was trying to come up with something new to do with the kiddos, and a friend suggested making a comic strip. So I went with that!

I took 14 of the more major stories in the book of Acts, and created a comic strip template that I printed on 11×17 paper for the kids. In class, we either read the story or I summarized it, depending on its length, and the kids drew their representation of that story in each box. We got some pretty fun interpretations… The first class of kids seemed to enjoy it more than the second, maybe I just had more creative kids in one group, but it went over well in general. As they drew, I explained more parts of the story, or the characters, or other information I thought of, or they just chatted.

Here’s the stories I used:

  1. Jesus taken into heaven – Acts 1:1-11
  2. Holy Spirit comes – Acts 2
  3. Peter heals the beggar – Acts 3:1-10
  4. Stoning of Stephen – Acts 6-7
  5. Saul’s conversion – Acts 9:1-20
  6. Peter brings Dorcas back to life – Acts 9:32-43
  7. Peter in prison and released by angel – Acts 12
  8. First missionaries – Acts 13:1-14:7
  9. Paul and Silas arrested – Acts 16:16-40
  10. Paul arrested by the mob – Acts 21:27-36
  11. Paul on trial – Acts 24-26
  12. Paul shipwrecked – Acts 27
  13. Paul bitten by viper – Acts 28:1-10
  14. Paul in prison for life – Acts 28:11-31

And of course, here’s some lovely examples of their artwork! 4th and 5th graders are the best. 😉

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The Gospels

We spent two weeks talking about The Gospels in our Hightide class–the first week we went through the story of Jesus, hitting all the major events and using all 4 gospels. I wanted the kids to just have a really good grasp on the life of Jesus. I taught them a few big “churchy” words, like Ascension and Transfiguration.
The following week, I talked (in brief) about how and why the gospels are  different. I gave a brief overview of who each author was and why that helped shape their perspective, along with who their audience was and what their main point was. Matthew, one of the disciples and a Jew, emphasizes Jesus as the Messiah, as the long awaited King of the Jews. Mark, a young follower of Jesus, talks about all the things Jesus did and how he was a servant to all. Luke, the Greek doctor and historian, emphasizes Jesus as the perfect man — yes, the Son of God, but he was fully human. And John, one of Jesus’ closest disciples, explains that Jesus is the eternal Son of God, emphasizing his deity.
I also taught them the phrase “Synoptic Gospels”–that Matthew, Mark, and Luke are very similar in stories and teachings of Jesus, but John has many differences. We didn’t get too deep into the differences, just talked about having different points of view.
Finally, we played another game of Jeopardy, since the kids had so much fun with it last time. There were 4 categories (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), and like last time each question had a Scripture reference to help them find the answer. I tried to pick stories and teachings that were unique to each gospel for the questions, though I had trouble with Mark. Because the kids are generally more familiar with the Gospels than they were with the Major Prophets, there were a few questions they could answer without looking in the Bible.

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Here’s a list of my questions, if you’re interested in what I used.

Major Prophets

After finishing the books of Poetry in the Old Testament, I decided to continue to do several books a week through the Prophets. When you’re 10, books like Ezekiel and Habakkuk just don’t seem as exciting. And though they of course hold lots of value to Christians, since my purpose with my Hightide class of preteens is to give them an overview of the Bible this year, I want to do just that.

So this week we covered the Major Prophets, sans Daniel. I decided to save that one for it’s own week, because it’s got such cool stories in it. 🙂

I began working on my lesson and talking points like I always do, starting out with all the basic information and hoping to add a fun aspect by the time I reach the end. I found this lesson online which gave me a lot of good info in a nice, summarized way. I wrote it all out and included lots of Scripture to look up through Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, and Ezekiel, and realized I had a lesson that mostly included me talking. I didn’t even have a ton of questions and discussion. And if you know 10 year olds, that is not their preferred way to spend 45 minutes of their morning.

Then I decided to play Jeopardy. I’m not exactly sure how or why I came up with the idea, but I’m glad I did.

I created questions from the three major books we were covering: Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. I ended up doing 8 for each. I set it up Jeopardy style on our white board, with good old fashioned paper and tape, like so:

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Before we got started, I gave a basic overview on the books and what their main topics were and some information about the authors. Then we got to our game.

I divided the kids into teams (I had 6 kids both services that I taught this lesson, and divided them into 3 teams of 2 the first time and 2 teams of 3 the second time and it worked both ways). Each team would take a turn choosing a category, and then anyone could answer the question.

For example: One team would choose, “Jeremiah for 600” and their question might say, “What kind of love does God have for us? (31:3)” The kids then had to race to look up Jeremiah 31:3 to find out that God has an “everlasting” love for us.

Or they might choose “Ezekiel for 400” and get the question, “Ezekiel had a vision about some cherubim–what were their bodies covered in? (10:12)” So the kids quickly flipped to Ezekiel 10:12 to find that these strange creatures were covered in eyes.

Because it was all new material, not a review on previous information, it was a great idea to just have them look up verses to find the answers. Basically it was a Sword Drill without them knowing. We had a couple kids who were really good at finding the verses, and some who struggled, but all of them had a blast. My husband hung out in class for some of our second service and was looking up verses on his phone, and we still had one of our kids find the verses faster in his Bible than Chris on his phone! I was impressed.

It was really a great lesson, and the kids requested to do something like that again. I definitely will! Maybe I’ll figure out a different game show to impersonate next time. 🙂

If you’d like, you can check out my list of questions here, but don’t hesitate to read through these books and find some of your own!