Family Resources - August 2
Well, it’s promotion week in Children’s Ministry! If your children are now in the elementary grades, and you will be able to bring them to church this Sunday, know that they will all have moved up to their new classes. If your children are still in the preschool hallway of unopened classes, know that we miss you and will plan to have those classes open as soon as it is safe to do so, but that they will be going to a new class when you return. The new class lists will be posted outside every door, so hopefully that will help make the transition a little easier. And if you have any questions about promotions, feel free to email Heather Reynolds at firstname.lastname@example.org and she will be happy to answer them for you.
We wanted to share with you some highlights from our curriculum, so that your child will be able to follow along with the lessons they are being taught in Children’s Ministry. This blog post contains information about this week’s lesson from our Gospel Story curriculum, which is being taught to 3 & 4 year olds, up through 3rd grade, as well as this week’s lesson from our New City Catechism that is being taught to 4th-5th graders. May it brighten your week and bless you!
The lesson from the Gospel Story Curriculum for this week is about when Moses Confronts Pharaoh. The biblical account can be found in Exodus 5:1 - 7:13. Chapter 6:14-30 is the genealogy of Moses and Aaron, which can be interesting to the older kids, to know what tribe they’re from, how old they are at the time they speak to Pharaoh, who their wives and kids are, etc. But it doesn’t pertain to the story this week, so you can also feel free to skip over that part if you choose. If you would like to read the child-friendly version of this story from the Gospel Story Bible, you may click here. To access the weekly coloring sheet, click here, then scroll down to the last page.
This activity is to help the children understand the difference between a soft heart and a hard heart. You will need a tissue, cut into the shape of a heart, and a piece of cardboard cut into the shape of a heart. Let your child feel the difference between the two, telling you which one is hard and which one is soft. Now, play a game of Simon Says, but tell your child that if they are holding the soft heart, they should listen to everything you say, but if they are holding the hard heart, they should not do any of the things Simon tells them to do. Play for awhile, alternating which heart you give them, so that they have a chance to experience both. At the end of the game, talk with them about Pharaoh's hard heart, and how it made him not want to listen to God or obey Him. Talk about how we can have hard hearts, too, but God has the power to change our hard hearts into soft ones!
Another activity you could use that teaches about hard hearts is to use playdoh. You will want to leave some playdoh out with the lid off for a day or two, until it becomes hard. Give your child some soft playdoh and the hard playdoh, along with some small toys, buttons, or other objects that can be pressed into the playdoh to leave an impression. Let them try to make impressions in the soft playdoh and see how easy it is. Let them try with the dry playdoh and see how hard it is! Hard hearts don't want to change, no matter what you say to them. Could anything leave an impression in that hard playdoh?!? Sure, if a truck tire ran over it, that would leave an impression. Or if you hit it with a hammer. But are those pleasant things to have happen? Pharaoh's heart was hard, and he was about to get run over by a truck (figuratively), only he didn't know it. He was about to experience the 10 plagues God would send, to show His power to Pharaoh's hard heart.
Bricks without Straw. For this activity, you will need some legos of any size. Place a box of legos on the table where your kids can reach it easily. Tell them you need them to build you a brick of legos (you can specify how big and how intricate based on the skill level of your kids). Tell them you are going to set a timer to see how quickly they can make the brick and give it to you. When they've accomplished the task, congratulate them and let them see their time. Now set another timer for that exact same time, but this time take the box of legos and go scatter some around the house, leaving the box in a whole other room. Come back to the table and tell them they must now build you another brick of the same kind, and they must do it in the same time, but they will have to gather the legos themselves. Let them try this, and feel the frustration the Israelites felt at being told they must make the same number of bricks, but would now have to gather the straw themselves. They were so discouraged, they began to turn against Moses and not believe God's word that He would save them. But God always keeps His word, and He was about to show them His mighty, saving power!
The lesson also suggests using a felt board to tell this story. You could also just print extra of the coloring sheet from this week and cut out the pictures of Pharaoh and Moses and hold them up to retell the story. You will also need to make 3 snakes; 1 for Aaron's snake and 2 for the magicians. Make Aaron's snake slightly larger, so that it can "eat" the other snakes and cover them up. If you want to, you can leave off the eyes at first, while the snake is still being a staff. Then when it becomes a snake, you can draw the eyes on.
There are a couple of teaching points that are really good to draw out to your kids as you go through this lesson. First of all, it’s good to talk with them about what a hardened heart is. Most of the activities in the lesson focus on this point, because it's a very important one to understand, both moving forward with this Bible story, and also in our own lives. The Bible tells us that God hardened Pharaoh's heart, and also that Pharaoh hardened his own heart. Both are true. This is another way that the story of Moses points us to Jesus. Moses was God's representative to Pharaoh, to tell him about God's power, yet Pharaoh hardened his heart and refused to believe in God's power. Jesus came to earth to tell us about God's power to save, yet many people then, and now, harden their hearts against His words and refuse to believe. Another important thing to point out is that God is working His plan through Moses. While it is important for Moses to listen to God and obey Him, it's clear that Moses is not the hero of this story, but that God is, as He shows His power to Pharaoh time and again. If your kids are older, a really good Bible treasure hunt is to go through Exodus 6:1-13 together with them, making a list of everything God tells Moses to do, and everything that God says He will do/has done. The lesson lists an example of the ones that they saw, and the two lists are humorous and eye opening in their unbalance. There are only 2 things God requires of Moses, and both of these things are also on the list of things God says He will do. But God's list is sooooo much longer! Use this as a springboard into a conversation about how we can be obedient to God and be used by God in powerful ways, but that ultimately everything we "accomplish" is really God working in and through us. He will never give us more than we can handle, not because we can handle very much, but because He is working through us and He can handle anything!
Since we are in a new month, we have a new Sword Bible Memory Verse. Our August verse comes from Exodus 20. For preschoolers, they are learning Exodus 20:4. For K-2nd, they are learning Exodus 20:1-4. And in 3rd grade, they are working on learning Exodus 20:1-9. To see the verses printed out, you can click here and go to Sword Verse #8.
The New City Catechism question for this week is question #1 - “What is our only hope in life and death?” Answer - “That we are not our own but belong to God”. If you are the parent of a now 4th grader, you will receive a booklet of these catechism questions when your child comes to class, so that they can take it home and study them with you. There is also an app you can download onto your phone for free that lists all 52 questions and answers we will be learning about this year. It is simply called New City Catechism. If you are the parent of a now 5th grader, these questions and answers may be familiar, as we’ve just gone through them this past year. It’s amazing, though, how new points jump out at you as you study God’s word through the repetition of this program! Encourage your child to use the knowledge they’ve gained this past year to dig even deeper this coming year.
The biblical passage for this first week’s question is found in Romans 14:7-12. The weekly memory verse for this age group is Romans 14:7-8. Please read and reread this passage with your children as you go through the lesson.
To introduce this lesson, have your children try to guess what story you are talking about, as you give brief statements about the characters involved:
- “The prince’s only hope was to find the owner of the glass slipper” (Cinderella)
- “The rabbit’s only hope was that Mr McGregor wouldn’t find him in the watering can” (Peter Rabbit)
- “The children’s only hope was Aslan” (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe)
Help your child to see that someone’s “only hope” means that they are in trouble and need help. We are in trouble without God, and need His help to escape from slavery to sin. Introduce the question, helping the children to see what our only hope is.
There is a resource that goes along with the lesson for this week, which you can find by clicking here. It is a series of pictures you can show to your child, asking them to think about how it affects this aspect of their lives, knowing that they belong to God. For example, do they treat TV the same with or without God? Or does belonging to God change the way we watch TV?
Along with that, there is this story of Corrie ten Boom for you to share with your child, to help them see how belonging to God changed her ability to forgive others:
Corrie ten Boon was imprisoned for helping Jewish people during the Holocaust escape from the people who wanted to kill them. Many years later, after she was released, she was at a church service when she saw a man who had been her prison guard. Corrie had spoken all about the forgiveness that God offers through Jesus. The man came up to her after she spoke and told her that he had found forgiveness in Jesus and had been adopted into God’s family. He wanted to shake Corrie’s hand, but Corrie remembered all of the horrible things that had happened to her and others in prison. She just couldn’t bring herself to shake his hand. But then she remembered who she was: a child of God who had been forgiven. As one who belonged to God, she was to live for Him. So she prayed and asked God to give her the strength to forgive this former guard and rejoice that he was part of God’s family, too. God answered Corrie’s prayer.
If you’re looking for other resources for ideas and activities you can do with your children to help them use their time to invest in God’s kingdom, here are some we recommend:
https://www.iheartnaptime.net/play-dough-recipe/ (A homemade playdoh recipe you can use for the hardened heart activity listed above)
https://www.corrietenboom.com/en/information/the-history-of-the-museum (A little more history of who Corrie ten Boom is and what her story is about)
https://youtu.be/z32PsWy8lAg (A fun worship song about trusting God!)