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5 Ways To Teach Kids Thankfulness

24 Oct

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Thank you

A simple phrase that we love to teach our kids or students. It is a respectful response that should be used often.

However, thankfulness goes beyond the words and phrases we use. Instead, a thankful posture grows out of a heart of gratitude. Below are 5 ways to help your students or children mature in gratitude and move beyond a simple phrase into a constant state of thankfulness.

A Prayer of Thanksgiving

Prayer is a simple yet powerful way to teach thankfulness. The next time you pray with children, lead them in a prayer of thanksgiving. The format for this style of prayer is to have the child list something or someone they are thankful for and say, “God, thank you for ______”. You continue the prayer until the child has run out of people or items for prayer. For concrete thinkers (elementary age) give them a goal to reach, such as to thank God for ten people or things in their life.

I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.” – Psalm 9:1

Thankfulness Board

Grab a whiteboard or large sheet of paper and set it around your home, classroom, or church. Allow kids to write and draw pictures of what they are thankful for on this board. Incorporate the board in a weekly routine so that children are constantly engaging with their creative side while striving to grow in thankfulness.

Thank You Cards

Anytime your child receives presents for Christmas or their birthday, sit down with them and help them write thank you cards. As a Sunday school or classroom project, set aside some time to write thank you cards for police officers, fire fighters, soldiers, government officials and local businesses. Don’t have the budget to buy cards? You can print some for free on Greetings Island Thank You Cards

Gratitude Walk

The next time you take kids on a walk, go for a gratitude walk. As you stroll to your destination, have kids point toward objects around them and say “I am thankful for _____”. For kids that may have a harder time staying focused on this activity, make it into a Gratitude I Spy Game by stating, “I am thankful for something that is the color _____”. After a kid guesses the correct object, have everyone proclaim together “We are thankful for ______” (the object just guessed).

Local Thankfulness

Bake a tray of cookies and buy a simple box or bag from the dollar store that can be decorated by kids. Package up the cookies and take kids on a trip to a local business or government building. Go inside and have the children offer the gift of cookies to an employee by sharing how they are thankful for that person or business. It is a truly sweet moment when you can see the shock on an employee’s face at the practice of gratitude by a child. Several stores that have worked well for me in the past include: City Hall, YMCA, Recreation Centers, and Small Retail locations.

By putting some of the above activities into practice, you can teach children that thankfulness goes beyond a simple phrase and is a lifestyle that comes from a heart of gratitude.

Looking for another “No Mess” way to teach children about Gratitude? Check out our Gratitude Object Lesson Blog Post.

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10 Fun Ideas For A Friendship Lesson

12 Feb
  1. HappyRoll out butcher paper on the floor. Have kids write words that describe a good friend or draw pictures of someone being a good friend.

2. Tell a personal story of when someone was a good friend to you. Include what actions they took that made them a good friend and how it made you feel.

3. Memorize a bible verse. Make up actions to help the kids remember the words. Or better yet, have them create their own actions.

“A friend loves at all times.”  Proverbs 17:17

“Do to others as you want them to do to you.” Luke 6:31

4. Watch the Friendship Soup video

5. Discuss in small groups:

Why are arguments a part of friendship?

How do you think God wants you to deal with arguments in a friendship?

How can you disagree with someone in a kind way?

6. Make Friendship Soup. Put out bowls of snacks- goldfish crackers, pretzels, dried fruit, cheese puffs, Chex cereal, etc.  Each child spoons some of what they want into a bowl to make their own soup.

7. Make friendship bracelets and trade them with each other. Instructions can be found on these sites:

Cool and Easy to Make Friendship Bracelets

Basic Friendship Bracelets

8. Create an obstacle course. Divide kids into pairs. One child must close his/her eyes while the other ones leads through the course. Practice trusting a friend during this activity.

9. Tell a Bible story about friendship. The JellyTelly Parents blog has a good post with ideas.

10. Play Guess the Mood. Print off pictures of faces or tear them from magazines. Have the kids work together in teams to divide the pictures into similar emotions.

 

What ideas do you have to build friendship in your church, organization or family?

 

 

Creating an Environment the Pixar Way

16 Aug

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Right now the Minneapolis Science Museum is sponsoring a special exhibit called The Science Behind Pixar

The exhibit runs through Labor Day and is worth a visit. Not only do you learn about all the cool math and science behind the movies, there are lots of photo opportunities with characters from the films. My favorite part, however, was the short video clips of people who work at Pixar explaining what they do and why they do it.

A Set Supervisor told how he put things in the set that will evoke a memory in those watching. In the film, Ratatouille, you find him looking out over Paris with the Eiffel tower in the background. In A Bug’s Life the grass is made to resemble a forest. In creating these places or in placing a prop strategically, the viewer enters into the experience by past memories.

In kid’s ministry, the way we approach designing a room or decorating an area should start with asking ourselves “what kind of experience do we want the kids to have?” When we incorporate props from their everyday life, it helps them to feel comfortable and at home. Creating an area that is imaginative will lead to curiosity and open their minds to learn. Having areas with large pillows to sit on and lean against will instill a sense of calm.

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I’ve found that there are a wide range of areas that can help children experience God. Finding one that is right for your ministry is the key. For some a large stage with fun lighting and high energy props works. For others rolling a special carpet out each week with hands on type props passed around a circle while the story is told in an engaging way works. Others love to create an environment that transforms a room into an Egyptian marketplace, a movie studio or a bubbling science lab.

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Test Tube Fun with CSI Camp.

The key is whatever we do, let’s make sure that we are thinking about the experience we want the children to have and work towards preparing that experience long before they arrive.

 

What type of experience are you creating in your ministry?