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Archive for the ‘Kids’ Category

If you have been reading the blog for a while, you’ll know we are fans of Seeds Family Worship here in the Vicarage, especially their kinetic typography videos. I just came across a couple of new videos they’ve done. Maybe not quite as fancy as the early ones, but still brilliant for teaching memory verses – at home, in Junior Church or Kids Club, in school assembly or even with the full church family on a Sunday.

The first one is John 16:33 – Take heart

 

And the latest production – just out this week- is Hebrews 4:12 – The Word of God

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Last week I was on Junior Church duty. As usual, we are using the excellent TNT resource On The Way, and we were beginning a series of four sessions from 1 Samuel on King Saul.

One of the reasons that we like On The Way is that bible stories are taught in full – not just the purple favourite parts. So we’re not just teaching the kids about Samuel anointing Saul, but other parts of the story leading to that point, and beyond it. Last Sunday my teaching was about the people of Israel asking for a king, and then Saul turning up at Samuel’s house whilst he was searching for missing donkeys. We did a lot of thinking about the temptation to want to be like the “nations” around, even when we really know that it’s not good for us.

It seems that the passage I was teaching (1 Samuel 8v1-9v26) is not a favourite one for Sunday school. On The Way has great resources and we used their printout to make little card Sauls and Samuels. But I always like the kids to have a colouring sheet and wordsearch to keep their fingers occupied as I tell the bible story.

And, even though I looked through the WHOLE of the internet (approximately), I couldn’t find a picture of Saul looking for donkeys, nor of the people of Israel whinging at Samuel about wanting a king. So I had to improvise with a simple picture of donkeys. And I made my own wordsearch, which meant I was able to use the exact words from the Good News Bible that we have in Junior Church.

Surprisingly, the kids quite enjoyed colouring two rather boring looking donkeys. And listened very well. Samuel will do the anointing in our next session, so that will be an easier surf for resources.

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We normally have about ten kids in our Junior church. Their ages range from 4 to 12, so we have readers and non-readers. We often have some very wriggly childen with us. So as well as creatively teaching the bible through story telling and crafts (we’re currently looking at the life of the prophet Samuel) we try to include a runabout game which reinforces what we’ve been learning.

I reckon that there are three ‘games’ that be readily adapted for any bible story and include some bible reinforcement along with fun and (hopefully) enough physical activity to keep the kids engaged.

Roundabout games can be lots of fun

1. The first game I use is an adaptation of Port Starboard Bow Stern (PSBS). I used to play PSBS when I was in the Girl Guides – you label the ends and sides of the hall and run between the walls and do various actions as commanded by the leader (in PSBS eg ‘Captain’s Coming’ = stand straight and salute).

What I do is adapt PSBS to the bible story. So when we were looking at Samson the other week, we had the kids running from Gaza to the temple, to Delilah’s house and then to the country of the Philistines. They had to stop to scoop honey from the lion or pretend to drink wine. They brought down the temple columns and had their hair cut. I think they all remember the story of Samson pretty well now.

2. A big favourite with the kids is any adaptation of ‘Simon Says’. We might play ‘Samson says’ or even ‘Jesus says’ (cos you should do something if Jesus says it!). And then they can all be encouraged to run around or to do silly actions or some based on the story. Very simple.

3. The other game option I sometimes employ is a relay race with some tangential allusion to the story, but I use these less now, as the first two games are easier to prepare and also give you more opportunity to reinforce the teaching. Also the first two games ensure that all the kids are running all the time and get nicely tired out. And there are not really any winners so everyone stays happy.

How do you help your active Sunday schoolers use up their energy?

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My three kids are all pretty good readers. The Queen, who’s ten, chomps through literature at a terrifying rate and the Joker (aged nine) loves poems and joke books. The Engineer is seven now and just at that tricky reading stage between picture books and proper story books with chapters. Our series of choice at this stage of reading is by Chris Riddell and begins with Ottoline and the Yellow Cat.

Ottoline is a little girl who lives in an apartment with Mr Munroe whilst her explorer parents travel around the world. Mr Munroe is a creature who comes from a bog in Norway and is covered in long hair. Ottoline likes to solve mysteries and she and Mr Munroe do this successfully in the first book and continue their adventures in Ottoline Goes to School and Ottoline at Sea.

The hardback books are beautifully produced and have a quirky retro style. The black and white illustrations (which have single colour tints) are exquisite. It was the first book that the Queen ever desparately wanted to read again as soon as she’d finished it. The Joker read them over and over, and now the Engineer loves them too. The vocabulary is interesting and includes stretching words like ‘distractedly’, ‘llamas’ and ‘knickerbockers’ (to give a few examples from Ottoline at Sea).

The Engineer has now decided that he wants to attend World Book Day (1st March, when you dress up as a literary character for school) as Mr Munroe. So I am off to Birmingham’s Rag Market on Friday to purchase fake fur. You don’t seem to be able to get a readymade Mr Munroe costume anywhere, curiously enough.

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It’s the holidays. We are all playing games as much as possible. Today the Joker has been incarnating as Dr Who. And I was asked for a picture…

No daleks allowed in the Vicarage

But we’re not worshipping him.

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George Osborne is apparently going to announce today that 260,000 2 year olds will be allocated nursery places, especially targetted at deprived areas. This sounds like it will result in children in poorer homes being given great education (a whole extra year at school!) and impoverished parents being able to get back into employment earlier.

But will it work? I can see there’ll be a benefit for parents already back at work – they’ll bear less of their childcare costs. And childcare may look more affordable for someone getting a full time job. But in our parish, I can’t see many full time jobs available and barely any of those part time jobs that someone could do in between dropping a child at nursery and returning to collect them 3 hours later. One friend would love to work during the school day (and year) but very few jobs are that flexible, unless they’re in a school. So perhaps that’s the government’s plan – employ all those unemployed parents in the nurseries that will be expanding.

It’ll be a good break for some knackered (mainly) mums but then it supplies the message that a 2 year old is better off in the hands of a government run nursery than at home and out and about with their family. I think that this was what the communists did. Aren’t we heading for the ultimate Nanny State? Am I missing something, or is this just something that the Chancellor is announcing to deflect attention from the horrors of the economy? I note that it’s been used as the headline in the online Telegraph site and doesn’t seem to be mentioned in the Guardian. Hmmmm.

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This week I finally put into action a project that I’ve been wanting to organise ever since our friends the Rocks showed us their fantastic puppet theatre constructed from PVC plumbing pipes. After a bit of internet research we decided that we’d try and make a fairly large theatre, as we usually have two puppets in the sketches that we do in church and school.

A quick trip to our local plumber’s merchants and £34 later (after they gave us a special discount) and we had the piping for a theatre that’s about 2m high at the back, 1.4m at the front (for a kneeling adult or standing child) and 1m deep. Our plumber’s merchant didn’t advise gluing the thin-walled 32mm piping we had, so we had to cut small joining pieces to connect the T-pieces and 90 degree bends.

Yesterday morning we had one of our holiday Cake and Chat sessions. These are pretty much the same as the ones in term time, except they start later (for holiday lie-ins) and we have more kids with us. So we took all the pipes and connecting pieces down to the church hall, together with a couple of hacksaws, and got down to work. Rocky was the man with the saw, and we had a team which included his fiancee Bee and her mum, and various children who particularly enjoyed applying washing up liquid to the joints to make it easier to connect the pipes in.

Once we’d assembled everything, we found that the frame was still a little wobbly (especially at the beginning when we were still missing the strut for the middle of the front). We will be applying some silicone (the sort you use to line the side of the bath) to the T-pieces, which should stop the rotation that caused the wobble by fixing the connectors to the pipes.

Bee and her mum have kindly offered to make some proper curtains (today’s were a random selection from my materials box) and also a kit bag to carry the rather unwieldy piping, so we are hoping to have everything looking pukka in the next couple of weeks. I’ll blog the first official appearance of the theatre so you can see the final product.

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Last night we had a great time at Messy Church – the next one in our series on the ‘I am’ sayings of Jesus. This time we were looking at ‘I am the True Vine’ and the craft team decided that they’d like one activity to be making playdough grapes to place on a vine drawn on a paper plate. The Vicar then volunteered me to make the playdough, knowing that I had a recipe up my sleeve.

Every playgroup leader has a  recipe for playdough – that ubiquitous soft dough which mums hate to find in carpets. But many folk I’ve spoken to have found their homemade dough to be too sticky or oily. This recipe always seems to come out well, though, as long as you don’t mind your fingers getting a bit stained with food colouring. It lasts a few weeks if kept in an airtight box in the fridge.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (250ml) plain flour
  • 1 cup (250ml) water
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) salt
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • Few drops food colouring

All you do is pop all the ingredients together in a pan (preferably non-stick) and heat it up, stirring, until the dough magically forms. You can also do it by heating it in a covered dish in the microwave for 1-2 minutes but it’s so fast on the stove top I use that method. Also, the food colouring can make the inside of a microwave dish look rather interesting.

I know these were meant to be grape coloured, but the local shop only sells colouring for pilau rice and Indian sweets, so the colours are a little lurid and approximate. For Messy Church I made a quadruple batch, which was ample. It’s great fun to hold and knead – we gave a couple of handfuls away to some of the teenage tearaways who were lurking in the church yard. One came in especially as he reckoned it would help him to deal with stress.

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Not my own, you understand. I am definitely morning-challenged and I have a battle with myself every day as I force myself to leave the cosiness of bed. But we have recently discovered the wonders of children with alarm clocks.

Some folk complain about how their kids are always up at 5am or some other hour before God has risen. But ours have always been blessed with a good sleeping-in instinct. This was great when they were tiny, but now that they need to be up for school it has begun to be somewhat problematic. The Queen, if left to her devices, will sleep until 9am. Not good when school starts at 8.45am and there are things like getting dressed and breakfast to be dealt with.

So we have been waking our children in the mornings and cranking them up for the school day. It had got particularly bad with the Queen as she likes to feel in charge of as much of her life as possible and recently, she has felt very strongly that getting up should be her domain. This means that she does not take kindly to being woken up, given a morning cuddle, having her clothes presented to her, having her curtains opened or any other morning activity being done for her by others. As you can imagine, there have been a few stressful mornings, when Mum or Dad appearing and trying to help has had the opposite of the desired effect.

Then I had a very helpful conversation with Glamourpuss, who also has a strong willed daughter, who was also getting grumpy in the mornings. Glamourpuss told me how she gives Wildchild her phone, with its alarm set. Wildchild is in charge of waking up to the alarm and bringing her mum the phone every morning. So I went straight out and bought an alarm clock for the Queen. We’re now a week in and our mornings have been transformed. The boys have one too, which has been helping them to rise, but it’s the Queen’s attitude that has undergone the greatest transformation. She has been delightful in the mornings – up and dressed without any shouting needed, and this morning she also went and spent time reading her new devotional book, praying and looking at her bible. All before breakfast.

Now a week is obviously not a habit, but I’m so glad that one of the big battles in our house seems to have disappeared. And so simply. Now I just need to find out how she bounces out of bed immediately the alarm goes off and copy her…

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This summer I was looking for ways to help the Queen to improve her ‘working memory‘. She struggles to hold facts and numbers in her head for long enough to manipulate them with ease. Or where she just put something down.

So I went on a little google hunt and found a brilliant game, which  is designed to teach facts and improve working memory. It’s called Brainbox and consists of a series of cards on a variety of subjects. The set we got this summer was on nature. Other topics include maths, history, football and the World. You take it in turns to study a card for ten seconds. You can play on line to see what sort of cards are included (you’ll have to concentrate!). Once your ten seconds are up, you roll a die and answer the question with the corresponding number from the back of the card.

The children loved this game – it’s quick to play, interesting and doesn’t seem like hard work, as you might expect from an educational game. It comes in a robust box which means that it will last. So many games seem to come in boxes not designed to store their contents for longer than a couple of plays, which drives me loopy. I have the maths and a history one tucked away for Christmas stockings. Mind you, as these evenings get darker and more uninviting, I might be getting them out before then.

Prices on Amazon seem to range between £5-£10. I originally bought them from the Happy Puzzle Company, who do an excellent range of games, but they charge £12.99.

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