This is a collection of ideas for entertaining children in a Sunday School, from four years' experience of teaching ages 7-9. Most of them will suit whatever story has been set for the week - they're quite adaptable. I hope they're useful ^^
You will need: Digestive biscuits (check for allergies), icing sugar, food colouring, bowls, spoons, as many cake decorations as possible, something for them to take the biscuits home in.
To do: Provide coloured icing in bowls, biscuits, decorations, and sit back. Ideally, they should draw pictures from the story.
Length: As long as you have biscuits.
Extras: Marshmallows work well as sheep, with blobs of black icing for face and legs.
To go with: Anything.
You will need: Weighed out ingredients, simple recipe (print outs or on a board), access to an oven, stuff to take them home in.
To do: Have the children make the biscuits before the Bible talk, so they can cook and cool in time to take them home.
Length: Depends on the recipe, but probably only about ten to twenty minutes.
Extras: They could ice the biscuits after the Bible talk.
To go with: Anything as long as there's a link of some sort.
You will need: Glasses, glass paints, newspaper.
To do: Have the children paint on the glass. Use lots of newspaper and be careful - glass paint doesn't come out of clothes easily!
Length: Half an hour or more.
Extras: A candle inside a painted jar is very pretty. Tea lights are best.
To go with: Anything involving jars - Gideon (when he attacked the camp), or 'treasures in jars of clay'. Possibly also Mother's Day.
You will need: Hard boiled eggs, pens, doodahs such as foil and cloth.
To do: Hardboil the eggs beforehand, and have the children make little men out of them - use the cut-up eggbox to hold the eggs upright, and give them swords of foil and draw faces and clothes on, and glue cloth on for robes and so on.
Length: Half an hour, maybe more.
Extras: Use a goose egg for Goliath. You could make a whole battle scene out of egg men.
To go with: Anything, although something with well-known characters and/or soldiers works best, so David and Goliath, or Gideon, for example.
You will need: blackboard/whiteboard/flip chart or similar, multicoloured pens/chalk, questions.
To do: Make up questions, either for standard quiz or a variant such as Blockbusters or a crossword (for the latter, keep score of how many points each team has won). Blockbusters requires a hexagon to draw round to make the board, and if possible the answers should all start with a different letter, although having two As (and more questions for 'A') is fine in practice. I never could find a full alphabet's worth of questions on any one topic. Blockbusters rules are here.
Length: Twenty minutes to half an hour.
Extras: Having extra questions is always good, since they usually want to carry on answering. For Blockbusters, I usually make the board square, and make the teams take turns rather than letting the team that won the last one go again, as in the classic rules, because otherwise the game is over too fast.
To go with: Anything.
You will need: paper
To do: Make up codes, and provide the children with a translation from the alphabet into the code. Semaphore is a good one to use. Then give them the coded text and leave them to it. They seemed to like doing it when I did it.
Length: Probably only ten to twenty minutes, depending on how hard the code is and how long the text is.
Extras: You could have more than one code and text to do, or make the coded bits questions and so on.
To go with: Anything, really. Would work well if the coded text was a memory verse.
Photocomic/ Comic drawing
You will need: Camera or scanner, printer, computer, paper, maybe a graphics program (such as Photoshop, Paintshop Pro, Photoshop Elements or the GIMP, which is free).
To do: Plan the frames of the comic to suit the story. Get the children to either pose in suitable poses and take a photo for each frame, or get them to draw the frames. At home, download the pictures to the computer or scan the drawings in and arrange them into a comic, then print out the final pages. Alternatively, you could arrange the printed photos onto a large sheet of paper, then print the words out separately and cut and paste them onto the arranged photos.
Length: Half an hour or more, depending on the number and complexity of frames.
Extras: Props help.
To go with: Anything, although stories with action work better (eg Jonah).
You will need: Paper, scanner, computer, video editor (such as Adobe Premier, or Cinelerra, which is free but runs on Linux).
To do: Plan out the individual frames which will tell the story. Have the children select scenes to draw. Later, scan the finished pages in and make them the right size. Arrange them in the video editor and add subtitles as appropriate. Write each child a CD of the result, if possible.
Length: This will probably take a couple of Sundays, depending on how many individual frames there are.
Extras: Music can be added - free music (of varying quality) is available from the Aminet archives. Don't underestimate the amount of time this is going to take. Having a handy geek to do some of the work is very helpful :)
To go with: Anything.
Picking up plastic men
You will need: Chairs, plastic men, string
To do: Put the chairs back to back with a small gap between them, and the plastic man on the floor in the gap. Put a child on each chair and give them a piece of string. They have to work together to retrieve the man.
Length: Can last ages, depending on how easy the men are to pick up.
Extras: Making this a competition between pairs of children can be fun.
To go with: Jeremiah in the pit, Joseph in the pit, anything involving pits, really (yes, it's quite limited, but for those particular stories, it's great).
You will need: Script
To do: Get the children to act out the story. Works best with action scenes such as David and Goliath.
Length: Ten minutes (could make a good pre-talk activity).
Extras: Props will help.
To go with: Anything.
Pictures for newspaper articles
You will need: Paper, prewritten articles.
To do: Get the children to illustrate the articles with the relevant scenes. Works best if there is a choice of story to illustrate.
Length: Ten to twenty minutes (unless they're very meticulous).
To go with: Anything, although historical scenes work very well (eg Esther).
Hiding the story in bits round the room, or decorating the story as a scroll and having the children read bits keeps them interested. Also, if a journey is involved (eg Paul), a big map for them to stick pins in works well.
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