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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10 Commandments

Our preschool class has been learning about Moses and the 10 Commandments the past few weeks, so my mom (who happens to teach that class) and I came up with a review craft for them this past Sunday.

The teachers helped trace the children’s hands onto a piece of paper.

Then, they cut out these images I made and glued one on each finger.

10 fingers… 10 commandments.

The visuals really helped the kids remember the commandments, even though they can’t read yet!

Feel free to use the file for your own classes.

10 commandments

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 Fruit of the Spirit

This past week was the first Sunday of the month, which gives us a shorter time with the kids than usual at our church. Kids worship and observe communion with their parents, then come downstairs, usually after singing a song on stage. We also have our “Pier Dollar Store” where the kids get to spend the “Pier Bucks” they get for bringing their Bible, knowing the memory verse, and answering questions. Between all that, we usually have about 20 minutes with the kids to do a short lesson.

This week we picked to talk about the Fruit of the Spirit. I asked the kids what that meant, and they named all of them as we wrote them on the board. But then I asked what it meant, why it’s called “fruit of the Spirit” and none of them could give me an answer. So I asked, “how do you know a tree is an apple tree?” (“because there’s apples on it.) I briefly talked about fruit being what shows in our life, so we should show these things in our life. However, none of us are perfect, and it’s really hard to always be loving, joyful, patient, kind… and that’s where the “Spirit” part comes in. God gives us the Holy Spirit to help us make the right choices and do the right things. We also sang a Fruit of the Spirit song that we learned last year, to help solidify what the “fruits” are in their minds.

Then we played a game. It’s basically the game Fruit Basket Upset, which has many variations and names. We had all the kids sit in a circle, each with a carpet circle. One child was in the middle. Each kid picked a fruit–we just used love, joy, peace, and patience for the sake of not being too complicated. The child in the middle would call out a fruit and whoever picked that fruit had to get up and find a new seat. The middle kid also tries to find a seat, leaving a different child without a carpet circle, so they are now in the middle. Play continues. At any point, the kid in the middle can shout “Fruit of the Spirit” and everyone has to find a new seat. The kids really had fun with it, and surprisingly no one fought over a carpet or bumped heads. 😉

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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.