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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Hall of Faith

When we had our lesson on Hebrews last week, I said Hebrews 11 is sometimes called the “Hall of Faith”. One of our students said that “Hall of Faith” reminded him of the pop song “Hall of Fame.” So I told him he should rewrite the lyrics to be about what we were talking about.

And he did. And it’s awesome.

So here is “The Hall of Faith” by an 11-year-old boy named Chase. (To the tune of “Hall of Fame” by The Script)

You could be righteous
You could be the one
Lighting up the dark
Shining bright like the sun

You can have a pure heart
Preach it to the world
Let them see your light
Let them hear your words

You can stand strong
and put away your fears
If God is on your side, tell me
Who’ve you got to fear?

You’ll go on a mission
To spread God’s word
If you do all that
Then you’re gonna be

Standin’ in the Hall of Faith (yeah, yeah)
The Lord’s gonna know your name (yeah, yeah)
‘Cause you burn with the brightest flame (yeah, yeah)
And since the Lord’s gonna know your name
You’ll be on the Walls of the Hall of Faith

And you could lose the race
But don’t believe all the lies
Keep your head up high
Keep your eyes on the prize

Press on to the end
Never give up
Put your hope in God
And don’t believe in luck

Stand for the good
Stand for the truth
Stand for the peace
The right, the virtue

Go and seize the moment
This is your time
Livin’ for the moment
When you are

Standin’ in the Hall of Faith (yeah, yeah)
The Lord’s gonna know your name (yeah, yeah)
‘Cause you burn with the brightest flame (yeah, yeah)
And since the Lord’s gonna know your name
You’ll be on the Walls of the Hall of Faith

Be a champion, be a champion
Be a champion, be a champion,
From the walls of the Hall of Faith

Be students. Be teachers. Be doctors. Be preachers.
Be believers. Be leaders. Be courageous. Be champions. Be truth-seekers.

Standin’ in the Hall of Faith (yeah, yeah)
The Lord’s gonna know your name (yeah, yeah)
‘Cause you burn with the brightest flame (yeah, yeah)
And the Lord’s gonna know your name
You’ll be on the Walls of the Hall of Faith

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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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Prayer

This week was the 1st Sunday of the month, which for us means switching it up. We take a break from our normal curriculum and format. The kids worship upstairs with their families and take communion with them. The kids sang a song from our upcoming VBS on stage, which the congregation always loves.

So we decided to talk to the kids about prayer.

Chris asked three questions and wrote their answers on the board. One interesting thing that we’ve found is that as long as you ask a lot of questions and keep it very interactive, kids don’t mind sitting still for a lesson for about 20 minutes. You don’t always have to have games and object lessons and videos, though those are all very good and have their place.

Anyway. Chris first asked the kids: Who do you like to talk to? We got lots of answers like friends, family, and a few funny ones like, “Siri” and “myself.” Then we asked the kids What do you like to talk about? We received answers like food, video games, movies, Minecraft, pizza, sports, that sort of thing.

Then we asked the kids What do you talk to God about? And we got a lot more serious answers, like asking for healing, safe travel, praying for food, help on tests, etc. So Chris asked the kids if they talk to their friends about the things they talk to God about, and most said no, because friends can’t heal someone or help you on a test. Then he asked do you talk to God about the things you talk to friends about? We got a resounding No! So we asked why? They didn’t really have an answer. I was expecting them to say that “God doesn’t care” but they just didn’t seem to know why. So we told them that you can talk to God about anything and everything, because he loves us and cares about us and cares about what we care about.

Finally, we asked the kids How do you pray? One kid said, “You have to fold your hands, close your eyes, say ‘Dear God’ at the beginning and ‘Amen’ at the end.” So we said that’s a good way to start, and read Matthew 6:5-13, talking about how God doesn’t want us to be showy, he just wants us to be honest with him. We talked about five things to do when you pray: Praise God for who he is, Read the Bible prayerfully, Ask for things we need, Confess things we have done wrong and ask for forgiveness, and Thank God for what he has given us.

At the end of class, we divided the kids into groups of 5-6 kids with a leader, and had the kids say something they were thankful for and something they want to pray to God about. Then we had each kid pray that out loud in their group. It was a good time having an intimate setting and getting kids to start praying out loud and just praying honestly.

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.