I am working on a series of How To videos to help get some practice in front of the camera and in the editing process. I still have a long way to go before I am smooth enough to be considered good, but I do think that this video has some neat ideas if nothing else. There are two versions of the video. The first one had examples for each category, but when I got to the end of the video it was over 20 minutes long. So I went back and edited a much shorter version that clocks in at just over 10 minutes. If even that is too much for you, just skip to the last minute to get a quick recap of the whole thing.
At our Winter Overnight a couple of days ago we did a time where we set up prayer stations. One of those stations you will find below. It used sand as a way to help students realize they were making impressions on the people around them. I didn’t want to make a mess with real sand so I got some kinetic sand. Let me tell you this stuff is amazing! Check out my video below. It is now my favorite desk toy.
So something a little sillier. Here is the text of the prayer station. I set up two bowls of kinetic sand for them to make impressions in.
Read Acts 1:8
Right before He went back to live in Heaven, Jesus commanded his followers to take His truth around the world. Your life is affecting the lives of those around you. As you move through your days and weeks you are leaving marks that others can see. You are impacting the people around you for eternity, but are you impacting them for good or for evil? Are you pointing them toward God or away from Him?
Spend a moment making impressions in the sand. As you press the sand notice how you leave your fingerprints. In the same way as you move through your life you are leaving your prints on the people around you. As you make impressions in the sand ask God to mold your life into one that points people towards Him.
To continue this act of commitment, choose one of your classes at school. On the back of this sheet write the names of all the people in that class. As you write their names pray for each person. Pray that God will help them see the truth about who He is and that He will use you to make an impact in their lives.
Sometimes I am pleasantly shocked when it comes to teaching students. Actually, I am probably surprised more often than not. This week we were talking about the personality of Jesus and trying to figure out what we could learn about him from the stories that were being told in the gospels. I wanted a way to help demonstrate what you could learn from the way people act as opposed to just what you are told about them. Often you can learn more by watching a scene than anyone could tell you if they described the people involved.
I think this is why the gospels are full of Jesus stories rather than a long letter describing Jesus. They aren’t a list of qualities, a resume, or even one friend describing someone to another. The gospels are a collection of stories and teachings and in those we find the personality, the passion, the heart of Jesus.
So anyway, I wanted to demonstrate that so I came up with the idea of the students creating their own characters and putting those characters into a situation to see what we can learn from them.
Here with the activity:
Use the space below to come up with a 1 or 2 sentence character sketch. Your character can be real or made up (probably easier if they are made up). Your sketch should start with “___________ was the type of person who…” or something very similar to that. For ideas check out the examples below.
Wes was the type of guy who always had the right answer at least he always thought he did.
Ellen was the type of girl who cried at old movies. She rarely cried over real life things though, her life at taught her that crying over those things didn’t do you any good.
After you have finished your sketch I will put some scenarios on the board. Choose 1 of them and write a 2 or 3 sentence story of your character’s response to that scenario.
(These were the scenarios I put on the screen:
Trapped at the end of an alley by a big barking dog
Confronted by a loud-mouth ex-boyfriend or girlfriend
Someone trips and falls in front of him/her walking down the street and appears hurt)
- I made sure everyone had a character sketch before showing the scenarios. This helps to establish a character that will react instead of creating someone specifically for a situation
- I had everyone share their sketches with a partner
- After they had written the scenarios I had them share those with a partner as well
- I had a few volunteers share their scenarios with the group (not the sketch, but the scenario) and the group tried to figure out what we could learn about their character’s personality.
- I did find that I needed to remind students to make a story, not just write a description of what their characters did, but in the end that worked out fine.
So in planning this activity I knew of probably 2 students who were going to just eat this up and that I was probably going to get groans from the rest of them. But I decided to go ahead with it because we don’t do as much for the creative writer people as we generally do for the artists and performers in our group. So I ran with it. As we started I even made this same basic disclaimer stating that I knew it wasn’t for everyone, but just give it a shot.
What happened next surprised me. I had a few initial complaints, but then everyone at least created something. What else surprised me was just how good some of the scenarios ended up being. I mean, they weren’t high art or anything, but from the two or three paragraphs the whole group was able to identify some of the personality traits of the made up people.
It helped us then to go and look at a couple of the stories of Jesus in the Bible and try to see what the gospel writers were showing us about His personality. It made for a cool lesson.
Use a simple circuit to light up some LEDs using “squishy circuits” to talk about sharing God’s love with others. What are “squishy circuits” you ask? Squishy circuits are two specific types of homemade dough that you can use to create simple electrical circuits. You will need to create both a conductive dough and an insulating dough. Check out this link for the complete formula. For a very spunky description of squishy circuits be sure to see the video below.
Just like a circuit, God’s love flows through us to others.
What you will need:
I put my group into teams of 3 and then gave each team the following items. So you will need one set of these items for every group of 3 you will have. You can order they Squishy Circuits Kit or you can just pick up all of these things at Radio Shack.
- 9-volt battery
- 9-volt battery connector thingy (I don’t know what these are called, but you can buy them at radio shack and they snap onto the top of a 9-volt battery and have two leads coming out that connect to the dough)
- 3 or 4 LEDs
- jumper wires (little wires that can connect the circuits)
- Ball of conductive dough
- Ball of insulating dough
- You can also get a couple of cheap switches if you want to give students more to experiment with
- Ask: Does anyone know how a circuit works?
- The basic idea of a circuit is this. Free electrons flow from the emitter through the circuit.
- Take a few responses and then set up a simple circuit in front where everyone can see. (Using the alligator clamps connect a resistor to the shorter lead of the LED. Clamp the other side of the resistor to the black wire (-) side of your battery connector. Clamp the long lead of your LED to the red wire (+) coming from your battery connector. If everything is connected you should see your LED light up. (LEDs have polarity so make sure the long leg is running to the positive terminal).
- Ask: What happens when I take one of wires off the battery? Since it is connected to the battery why doesn’t it stay lit?
- In order for a circuit to work it needs a complete path. The electricity won’t flow unless the circuit is closed.
- Point out which dough is conductive and which is insulating. You may also want to give some general pointers about the positive and negative side of the LEDs and that the conductive dough can’t touch or the light won’t light up.
- If possible play the video above (from the Mini-Maker show) as a way of teaching your students how to make circuits.
- Say: Your mission is to make a complete circuit and light up your LED using the materials provided
- Give students some time to make a few circuits. You may want to encourage them to make some of the more complicated circuits that you find on the links above.
- After everyone has had a chance to play with the circuits disconnect the lights.
- I would suggest moving to another location or cleaning up everything before you try to do the lesson, the squishy circuits can be a pretty big distraction.
- Direct students to turn to John 15:9-12.
- Call on a volunteer to read the passage.
- Ask: According to verse 9 how had Jesus loved His disciples? (As the Father has loved Him)
- Ask: Look at verse 12 how does Jesus tell us to love others? (As He has loved us)
- So the picture looks like this. God loved Jesus. Jesus passed that love on to us. We then pass that love on to others.
- Just like a circuit God’s love should flow through us to others.
- The question we have to ask ourselves is are we being conductors of that love or are we insulating others from the love of God.
- Pass out a sheet of paper with the word conductor on one side and insulator on the other
- Have students think back over the course of this past week and write actions that they did that either demonstrated Jesus’ love (conductor) or kept people from seeing God’s love (insulator). For example they may write that they shared their lunch with someone on the conductor side and that they were mean to their sister on the insulator side.
- After a couple of minutes ask students for ways that they can be conductors of God’s love this week.
In Ephesians 6:10-13 Paul tells the Christians in Ephesus to put on spiritual armor because the day of evil is coming. He warns them that their struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against a spiritual foe. To this end he says to put on the full armor of God. This object lesson is a fun way to talk about the need to protect yourself. Some of the projectiles thrown won’t be very damaging, while some could be devastating. The same is true in our lives. Some attacks are easy to shrug off, but some could be devastating. That is why we need to put on the full armor of God.
Bonus stuff: Any time you get students working together it is a good thing. Add to that the fact that God is creative and we who are “in his image” are also creative and you have a pretty neat (albeit long) object lesson.
One set of the following for each team:
- 20 popsicle sticks
- 10 tongue depressors
- 20 standard rubber bands
- 4 thick rubber bands
- 2 large binder clips
- 4 medium binder clips
- 4 small binder clips
- 1 roll transparent tape
- 2 spoons
- 6 mini-porcupine balls (Like these)
- 1 pack of index cards
- 2 LEGO mini-figs or other similar small toy
Make a 2 foot by 2 foot square on the floor. About 4 feet away place another square directly across from the first one. This will be the starting place for 2 teams. Add additional square pairs as needed. The picture here is of my set up.
How to Play:
- Divide your group into teams. Optimal team size is probably 4-6. Groups will be working on 2 separate projects, building a wall, and building a catapult. So 4-6 allows teams to divide that work.
- Pass out the materials and instructions to each team. Modify the rules as needed.
- Give students around 20 minutes (maybe even longer) to create their walls and catapults
- When everyone is finished groups that are across from each other take turns firing their catapults at their opponents structure.
- Points are awarded as indicated on the instruction sheet
- Get an adult volunteer to choose the best design awards.
- Create a structure using only index cards and tape that can protect your mini-figs from being knocked over.
- Create a device using the materials given (and the rules set up below) that can knock over the mini-fig of the opposing team.
- You may only use the index cards and tape you were given.
- You may not use ANY other building material
- Other building material includes the structure being propped against anything or being supported by anything other than the floor.
- Your building must be within your designated square
- Your launcher must be made with the materials given.
- You may use anything you were given to create your launcher, but you may not use anything else.
- Your launcher must fire on it’s own power (you may not fling a spiked ball with a spoon in your hand for instance)
- Your launcher must have a base that sits on the ground. You will not be allowed to hold your launcher in the air
- You may stabilize your launcher when firing it, but it must stand on its own.
- You must shoot from behind whatever walls your team has built
- Tally up the total points after you have taken all 6 shots
Knocked down mini-fig 1000 Points
Knocking down part of the structure 500 Points
Knocking down part of your own structure -500 Points
Successfully firing spike ball over your wall 100 Points
BONUS: Best launcher design 1000 Points
BONUS: Best structure design 1000 Points
Team Name: ______________________________________________
Total Points: _______________________________________________
- Check out Mini-Weapons of Mass Destruction for my inspiration
- We did this tonight in our youth meeting. It took WAAAAAAY longer than I had planned, but everyone seemed excited about the process so I just cut the rest of the lesson short. This would be a great way to spend an extended time at a retreat or d-now weekend. We could have easily spent an hour crafting and firing these things.
- You may want to build something yourself before the time starts. I had a catapult already built and that helped teams to get an idea of how to proceed and the general scope of the project.
- I bought a bunch of plastic boxes from Dollar Tree to put the material in. I have been giving out lots of small bits lately and wanted something that I could reuse. I am surprised that no team used the box in their design.
- If you can find sugar cubes I would suggest using those as building materials instead of the cards. I couldn’t find them anywhere around me. If you go with sugar cubes award 100 points for each cube knocked down.
- I found the porcupine balls in the party favor section at Walmart. They were 6 for 97 cents.
- You can probably get away with less stuff than in each box, but I wanted to be sure that the students had the materials needed to really pursue whatever idea they could come up with.