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Posts Tagged ‘activities’

I’ve not been fasting from blogging for Lent. Just a normal blogflop due to life and everything. But here I am again. With some fun pics of my friend Kirby, who made some Resurrection Eggs last week in preparation for the fortnight leading up to Easter.

Resurrection eggs are a sort of Jesse Tree for Easter and a creative way to get kids to engage with the wonderful gospel story at the heart of our faith. Kirby used the verses preprepared on this blog. There’s plenty of time to gather yourself an egg box and some plastic eggs. You can use 15 eggs (as Meredith does), a dozen (as I did) or even a simple six. Why not give it a go?

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Our big Advent activity in the Vicarage is always the Jesse Tree – a bare twig we cover in decorations that take us through the salvation story to Jesus. We don’t always manage to get all the way through the readings and the decorating, but we make an attempt each year and cover at least some of it.

If you’re thinking of following God’s story from creation to the birth of Christ with a Jesse Tree for the first time this Advent, an excellently easy way to get your kit together would be to use free printables. These colour-in ones over at Life Your Way look great – there are lots of others all over the internet if you don’t fancy the colouring in, or if you want different bible stories. You don’t even have to use a twig – an outline of a tree drawn on a poster would work just as well (and not take up as much space in the kitchen). In the next couple of days we’ll be digging out our battered Celebrations tin and hunting round for the decorations that went astray when we packed up last year.

Another great Advent activity, especially good for holiday clubs or the like, or if school breaks up way before Christmas, is making a Nativity set. You could use this gorgeous cut up and colour set by Dutch designer Marloes de Vries or buy a set of Nativity Shrinkles, which my kids had lots of fun with last year. My goddaughters have each been sent a set this year. Our schools break up on the Friday before Christmas, so we may not have time for colouring activities this year, but I shall keep the Marloes de Vries colouring to hand, just in case the kids need occupying. We may end up with a house full of nativity sets!

I’ve linked this post up with one of Tanya’s – she’s posting some Advent reflections over the next four weeks.

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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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Our technique for this has proved pretty successful of late. We were particularly pleased this holiday when we managed a walk that included one child who has been rather reluctant to walk of late. But when he was told we were going on a Treasure Hunt, he became quite keen.

What we do, of course, is go Geocaching. Which is using our satnav to go hunting for small pieces of plastic treasure (generally cracker gifts) hidden in small boxes in all sorts of locations. There are over 1.6 million geocaches worldwide and 13,062 in the UK on the day I checked. We visited the Clent Hills in Worcestershire where 32 caches have been hidden by enthusiasts. Some of the ones we found were hidden by Girl Guide troops. All you do is join the website (for free), log the GPS location of the caches in your satnav (there are also plenty of apps for mobile devices) and off you go.

Once you find your cache, you exchange a small item you have brought for one in the box, write your name in the log and rehide the box. We found four geocaches yesterday and managed to get the kids on a decent walk round the beautiful landscape and blow away some Christmas cobwebs.

Enthusiastic kids (honestly!) examining a geocache

Other than with our family and friends, the Vicar has also run geocaching sessions with the youth group at church and on our summer camp for 11-14s. As long as they don’t have to walk *too* far, the teens have loved it. It also seems to be popular with other clergy friends, if my Facebook feed is anything to go by. Free entertainment and a way to get the kids out and active, what’s not to like?

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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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