I have been sharing teaching ideas with children's ministers through my monthly Newsletters and on my 'Blog' sites since 2002. In these 'Special Blogs', I have grouped together some of my ideas into some of the major Biblical teaching areas. In this way it is hoped that readers will be able to go directly to a particular subject to view some ideas - object lessons, teaching tips, stories etc., or even to prepare a complete children's lesson (or lessons) on that subject.
Email : email@example.com
Contents - All 'Special Blogs'.
1. Creation. http://www.ms-creation.blogspot.com/
2. Christmas. http://www.ms-christmas.blogspot.com/
3. Easter. http://www.ms-easter.blogspot.com/
4. The Bible. http://www.ms-bible.blogspot.com/
5. Prayer. http://www.ms-prayer.blogspot.com/
6. Hearing from God. http://www.ms-hearing.blogspot.com/
7. The Ten Commandments. http://www.ms-tencommandments.blogspot.com/
8. John 3.16. http://www.ms-john316.blogspot.com/
9. Teaching Memory verses. http://www.ms-memoryverses.blogspot.com/
10. Gospel Illusions. http://www.ms-gospelillusions.blogspot.com/
11. Object Lessons (using natural laws). http://www.ms-objectlessons.blogspot.com/
12. Lessons involving balloons. http://www.ms-balloons.blogspot.com/
13. Lessons involving fire. http://www.ms-firelessons.blogspot.com/
Other Blog sites from Maurice Sweetsur :-
Children's ministry - http://www.unclemaurice.blogspot.com/
All teaching material (All Newsletters) - http://www.mauricesweetsur.blogspot.com/
Object lessons / Illusions - http://www.objectlessons.blogspot.com/
Bible lessons and Teaching tips - http://www.teachinglessons.blogspot.com/
Stories, skits and puppet plays - http://www.christianstoriesandplays.blogspot.com/
Bible answers for kids - http://bibleanswersforkids.blogspot.com/
Kidzone (Children's site) - http://www.funatkidzone.blogspot.com/
Kidzone - Archives. - http://www.kidzonearchives.blogspot.com/
To find out more about my ministry to children, go to my main 'Blog' -
Introduction (Gospel Illusions).
Have you ever had a Christian "magician" come to minister to your children's group on a special occasion ? If so, I am sure you remember how much your group enjoyed it. Children love to be amazed ! But why not perform your own illusions? Too hard ? Too expensive ? Not really. Most illusions are simple, and can be obtained at little or no cost. You will be able to amaze your classes, and at the same time teach spiritual truths that they are unlikely to forget.
Saying 'NO' to drugs.
We are special.
Making the right choice.
Break in communication with God.
Jesus is the light of the world.
A memory feat.
Can we trust our senses?
Obedience brings success.
The resurrection of Christ.
Our sins are gone forever (Flashpaper).
The Mobius strip.
Three miraculous signs for Moses.
The writing on the wall.
Long distance miracles (Cutting a banana in half).
Feeding the 5,000.
Changing water into blood.
Predicting a number.
The importance of recycling.
I usually use this Object lesson after telling the story of David and Goliath.
Summarise the story by saying " David was able to overcome the Giant because he realised that God was on his side. If you are trusting in Jesus, then God is also on your side and will help you defeat any Giants in your life." A Giant is any problem you have which seems too big for you.
Give a list of possible "Giants." e.g. Other People - Bullies etc. Bad habits - Lying, stealing, swearing, fighting etc. Fears - The dark, nightmares, dying, flying, spiders, snakes, dogs etc.
Produce two prepared "curved shapes" as shown below. These can be made of cardboard or paper and cut to any suitable size. It is more effective to use different colours. You will note that the cards are actually the same size, but if one is held above the other. it will appear to be smaller. On the first card, write the word "Giant" On the second card, write the word “Me" on one side and "Me + God" on the other side.
Hold card 2, showing "Me" above card 1, showing "Giant." State. " If you compare yourself with your Giant, the Giant will always appear to be bigger, and you will think that you won't be able to defeat it." Pull the cards apart, and turn card 2 over to show " Me + God" State "Remember that if you are trusting in Jesus, it is not just you against the Giant, but you plus God against it." Bring the cards back together again, but this time hold card 2 below card 1. State that " No matter how big your Giant is, when you compare it to God, you will always find that God is far bigger, and that He is able to help you defeat it - just like David defeated Goliath.
I usually conclude by repeating the "changing cards" process to emphasize the point.
All you need for this illustration is a square piece of cardboard - ideally about 30 cm x 30 cm. On one side of the cardboard draw a large horizontal arrow. On the other side of the cardboard draw a large vertical arrow.
Hold the cardboard in front of yourself, with your left hand grasping the top left hand corner, and your right hand grasping the bottom right hand corner. Practice twisting the card over. The secret is to keep your hands still, and let the card make all the movements. Now, change your hand positions. Grasp the bottom left hand corner with your left hand, and the top right hand corner with your right hand. Twist the card over a few times as before. You will note that - depending on where your hands are placed - you can make the arrow appear to either stay pointing in the same direction, or to keep changing directions as the card is twisted.
You are now ready to illustrate any story which involves a change of direction (or repentance), e.g. Jonah, Zacchaeus or Saul. I often use this method to share my testimony as follows, changing the direction of the arrow at the appropriate places:-
Once I always went my own way ( <- ) and did my own thing ( <- ) . Nobody, not even God could get me to change my direction ( <- ). But then I heard the good news about Jesus Christ. He said to me what He says to us all - "Instead of going your way ( <- ), you need to turn round and start going My way ( -> ). Instead of living a life centred around yourself ( <- ), you need to centre your life around Me ( -> )." For a little while, I wasn’t sure what to do. Whether to continue going my way ( <- ), or to turn around and start going Jesus' way ( -> ). But then I decided that the best thing I could do was to turn and start going Jesus' way ( -> ), because I saw that His way was the best way ( -> ). For the last 20 years I have been going His way ( -> ), His way ( -> ), His way ( -> ) all the time.
Having tried out your square piece of cardboard a few times, you may wish to try out your story with an Octagon (eight sides). This is essentially the same as for the square, but it has the advantage that - by grasping the shape at two opposite corners - you are also able to make the arrow point vertically upwards or downwards.( With a little practice, you should soon become proficient ).You could then conclude your story as follows :-
Going Jesus' way (-> ) is the best way, because His way ( -> ) leads you Upwards towards God. His way ( -> ) leads you Upwards. But does your way ( <- ) lead you towards God ? No, your way ( <- ) leads you Downwards away from God. So the best thing you can do is to go His way ( -> ), His way ( -> ), His way (-> ) all the time.
Saying 'NO' to drugs.
Here is a similar illustration you could use to complement any lesson on avoiding drugs.
All you need is a square piece of cardboard - ideally about 30 cm x 30 cm. On one side of the cardboard write the word NO (in capitals). Turn the card over and from bottom to top write NO again. (i.e. on one side NO is written from left to right, and on the other, from bottom to top).
Hold the cardboard in front of yourself, with your left hand grasping the top left hand corner, and your right hand grasping the bottom right hand corner. Practice twisting the card over. The secret is to keep your hands still, and let the card make all the movements. Now, change your hand positions. Grasp the bottom left hand corner with your left hand, and the top right hand corner with your right hand. Twist the card over a few times as before. You will note that - depending on where your hands are placed - you can make the word to appear to either keep saying NO (or ON), or to keep changing from NO to ON as the card is twisted.
You are now ready to illustrate your lesson, twisting the card at the appropriate places.
e.g. You must always say "NO" to drugs. No matter how many times you are offered them, you must keep on saying "NO", "NO", "NO." Because if you take drugs, you will then be "ON" them. You may say "NO" most of the time, but each time you take them you will be "ON" them. And, because they are so addictive, you will soon find that you are "ON", "ON", "ON" them all the time. So the only answer to drugs is to say "NO" to them and keep on saying "NO", "NO", "NO".
Yet another possibility, if you want to teach your children to compliment their mons, is MOM and WOW - just use your imagination!
We are special.
Please refer to the Figure below to see how to operate this rope illusion.
Cut three pieces of string or (better) rope to the following lengths:-
1.23 cm. (Red in diagram)
2. 37 cm. (Blue)
3. 55 cm. (Black)
For clarity, the ropes are different colours in the diagram, but for your actual lesson will be the same colour.
Hold the ropes in your left hand as per Fig. A., with the BACK of your hand facing the children. "With the aid of these three ropes I am going to show you how God really sees you - And how He sees you is far more important than how you or other people see you.
Some of you may see yourself like this short rope (Hold up Rope 1). You may say "I'm not very special, I'm not very important. I don't get good marks at school, and I'm not good at running, music or anything."
Some of you may see yourself like this middle sized rope (Hold up Rope 2). You may say "I get good marks at school, and I'm good at Soccer or Netball etc., but I don't think I am really THAT important."
Hold up Rope 3. "This long rope stands for the people that most others think are very important. Give a few people as examples (applicable to your own country or locality) e.g. Presidents, Sports personalities, Film stars etc.
Actually God doesn't see us that way at all (little, middle or very important).
With the aid of these ropes, I will now show you how He really sees you.
Manipulate your ropes as shown in Figs. B,C,D and E. Remember to keep the back of your hand towards the children. Essentially, what you are doing is looping the long rope (3) through the short rope (1). With practice, this should only take a few seconds.
Fig. B. Bring the bottom of Rope 3 across the other ropes.
Fig. C. Bring the bottom of Rope 1 up to the top, and hold it next to your thumb.
Fig. D. Bring the bottom of Ropes 2 and 3 up to the top, and hold on the right of your hand.
Fig. E. Grasp the three ends on your right (i.e. the two ends of Rope 3, and what was the bottom of Rope 2), pull horizontally, then release.
The three ropes - from your perspective - should now be as in Fig. E. From the Children's perspective, they will appear to now be three ropes of equal length.
"God does not have favourites. He sees us as all different, but all equally important, all equally special - just as these three ropes are now all the same size."
You could then re-emphasise your points by adjusting the lengths of the ropes by pulling on each end of Rope 3, and making a few remarks e.g. "You may not be as clever as the President, but you are just as important as he is to God." Conclude by restoring the "original" ropes, either by pulling them apart, or by screwing them up and throwing them in the air.
Making the right choice.
A well known "Magician's" trick is to force a volunteer to choose the "right card" from a number of different cards. This technique can be used to ensure a child makes the "right choice" from a number of options represented by different cards.
This lesson is very versatile. For example you can pose questions such as "How can we get to heaven?" or "How can we find peace with God?" The right answer is, of course, Jesus. Now, choose seven alternative answers, which some people may give e.g. Prayer, Reading the Bible, Going to church. Keeping the ten commandments, Doing good, Not doing anything bad, Being Baptised, Believe in God, etc. (Other questions you can ask are "Who is the best role model you can follow?" - it is a good idea to choose a mixture of well known "good" and "bad" role models. – or, "Who or what should be the most important thing in your life?").
Take eight identical pieces of cardboard (of the right size to suit your group), and write "Jesus" on the back of one, and the seven alternative answers on the back of the others. On the front of each card, draw a question mark. However, on the card with "Jesus", make the question mark slightly different from the others - e.g. have the "dot" slightly nearer the main symbol, or have the "curl" slightly more enhanced.
Choose your first volunteer to come and stick each card - question mark to the outside - on a board. Ensure that he/she does not let either you or the rest of the group see what is written on the back of each card. They have complete freedom to stick each card wherever they like, provided that they end up with two columns of four cards each. By looking at the question marks, you will know which is the "Jesus" card.
Explain the purpose of the lesson, and get a second volunteer to come and make what you say you hope will be the right choice. Force him/her to make the right choice as described below. This is a very simple technique, but still seems to baffle the vast majority of people.
Suppose, for example, that the "Jesus" card is in the first column. Ask your volunteer to point to either the first or the second column. If they point to the first, say "Fine, that is your choice, so let us now look at the four cards you have rejected in the second column." As you turn over each of these four cards, explain why they are wrong choices. If your volunteer points to the second column, say "Fine, you have rejected these four cards in the second column", and proceed as before.
You are now left with the four cards in the first column. Ask your volunteer to point to any two of the cards. If the "Jesus" card is one of those chosen, say. "These are the cards you have chosen, let's look at the two you have rejected." Obviously, if they don't point to the "Jesus" card, say " The two you have pointed to are the ones you have rejected --------. " I think you will have got the idea by now, ensuring that your volunteer ends by choosing "Jesus."
Break in communication with God.
All that is needed for this illustration is a piece of string or rope at least 1 meter long, and a pair of scissors.
Explain that the rope represents a line of communication. Start by stretching it out horizontally, and say that it could represent a telephone line, with your words going along the line to your friend, and their words coming back to you.
Now hold the rope vertically. Explain that this represents a prayer line to God, with your prayers going up the rope to Him, and His answers coming down to you. State that there is only one thing that can stop your prayers getting through to God - your sins (the bad things you do).
State that you are now going to demonstrate this problem by cutting the rope (Prayer line). Hold the top of the rope in one hand, and grasp the centre of it with the other. Bring the centre portion of the rope to the top, but as your bottom hand reaches your top, swap the centre for a piece of rope about 10 to 15 cm. from the top. This will take place behind your top hand, so will not be noticed. With a little practice you will soon become proficient. It will appear to your group that you are now showing the top and the centre of the rope in your top hand, whereas you will actually be showing the top and a section 10 to 15 cm. below the top.
Cut the rope where it is looped. You have actually cut off just a small top portion, but have appeared to cut it in equal halves. While still concealing the top of the rope behind your hand, tie the small section of rope around the centre, and release for all to see.
Explain that the knot around the centre stands for sin, and prevents your prayers reaching God. Explain that some people try to deal with the problem themselves by reducing their sin. Cut the ends off the knot to make it smaller. Obviously this doesn't work, because the problem (knot) is still there. Explain that some people try to hide their sin. Cover the knot with your hand. This doesn't work either, because we cannot hide anything from God.
Explain that the only way to remove sin is to bring it to God, tell Him you are sorry for it, and ask Him to forgive you. Say, "Imagine my right hand is God, and I am going to bring this sin (knot) to Him." Hold one end of the rope in your right hand, and begin to wrap the rest of the rope around it with your left hand. As you reach the knot - and while still continuing the wrapping - slide off the knot, and keep concealed in your left hand. Unwrap the rope, showing that it has been completely restored! No one will notice that it is now slightly shorter than at first.
Here is a simple illustration to demonstrate that with God "All things are possible."
Take a piece of cardboard ( about 40x40cm. ) and cut out a round disc (about 15cm. diameter) from the centre. Retain both pieces. Find a solid disc (an ordinary plate is ideal) a little larger than your cardboard disc e.g. about 20cm. diameter.
"Sometimes we find that we just cannot do certain things. But we need to remember that God can do absolutely anything. With Him nothing is impossible." Hold up your cardboard sheet and disc. Explain that the disc is just small enough to pass through the hole. Pass the disc through the hole a few times in different ways e.g. face on and side on.
State that if the disc were any larger, it would be "impossible" to pass it through the hole. Your class should agree. Produce your larger disc and pretend to attempt to pass it through the hole in different ways as before. Remind your class that what is impossible for us is possible for God, and state that you are now going to demonstrate that by passing the larger disc through the small hole.
Fold your sheet in half, and place your larger disc inside so that the top protrudes through the hole. Grasp this part of the disc with one hand, and with the other pull down on the side of your sheet - this actually stretches the hole - A gentle tug on your disc will ensure that it passes through the hole without tearing it in any way. You may wish to repeat the operation a few times.
Jesus is the light of the world.
You should be able to obtain some "trick" birthday cake candles - i.e. the ones that appear to be extinguished when they are blown, but after a few seconds flame up again.
With one of these candles you can summarise the history of the church. For example :-
Jesus came as the light of the world (lite candle), but Satan used wicked men to try and put out this light by crucifying Him (blow out). However on the third day He came alive again (flame rekindled). Jesus has now passed this light on to the church. Over the centuries Satan has continued trying to put out this light by persecuting the church. At times he seemed to have succeeded (blow out), but each time this light returned brighter than ever (rekindle).
A Memory Feat.
Adam was created perfect with a wonderful mind and memory. He had to name all the many different animals that God brought before him, and then would have had to remember all their names. To illustrate this you can then amaze your class by doing your own memory feat.
Have fifty cards, blank on one side and numbered from 1 to 50 on the other. On the same side write , apparently random, six-digit numbers across their centres. State that you are going to memorise all fifty of these six-digit numbers. Flick through the cards as you pretend to memorise them, give them a good shuffle, turn the blank sides upwards and offer the pack to about six volunteers who will each choose a card. One at a time, ask your volunteers to tell you the number of their card (i.e. between 1 and 50), and as they do so write on the board the six-digit number associated with that card! You will achieve a 100 percent success rate!
You will have probably realised by now that you don't really memorise the numbers, rather you calculate them from the card number you are given. This is how you do it :-
To the number you are given (i.e. between 1 and 50), add eleven. Reverse this two-digit number. This will be the first two numbers you write on the board. Add these two numbers together to give your third number. However, if this is a two-digit number, ignore the first digit (i.e. "1") and write down the second. Proceed in this way, adding your last two digits together, until you have written down all six digits. Ask your volunteer to confirm this is the number they have on their card. A few of examples will make this clear :-
Card No. 15. Six-digit No. will be 628088.
Card No. 16 Six-digit No. will be 729101.
Card No. 17 Six-digit No. will be 820224.
As can be seen, even card numbers that are close to each other will produce completely different six-digit numbers.
Here is a two-part illusion to illustrate your teaching on the Trinity.
Produce three ropes of equal length (about 80 cm. is ideal). State that these represent the three Persons of the Godhead - Father, Son and Holy Spirit. "The first thing to notice is that the ropes are of equal length, reminding us that the three Persons are all equal."
State that you are now going to bring the bottoms of the ropes up to the top, and tie them into three loops. Holding the ropes near their tops together in one hand, one at a time bring the bottom of each rope up to the top, and tie it to the top of a different rope. (To ensure that I don't make a mistake at this point, I mark beforehand a spot with a pen on the top and bottom of the middle rope. I then tie the bottom of the outside rope with the top of the first, followed in turn by the other two ropes, ensuring that I don't tie the "spot" ends together).
"It appears that I now have three loops, but that is not really true." Release the ropes to show that you now have one large loop tied in three places - reminding your class that there is one God comprising three Persons.
Now for the "fun" part of your illusion. Put your rope away in your bag, but immediately bring out a similar looking rope. This second rope (which your class should think is still your first three-part loop) is actually one long piece of rope - of total length just less than that of your three original ropes combined (i.e. about 220 cm) - tied to form a loop, and with two small lengths of rope tied around two small loops in your longer rope at the appropriate places to give the appearance of knots.
Tell the class that they are probably thinking that this loop is three pieces of rope tied together, but that actually it is now just one long piece of rope. Untie the (genuine) knot to demonstrate. The class will not look two impressed, because the other two "knots" are still there. State that these are only two small lengths of rope, and that you can easily remove them. Pull the two ends of your rope (or get two volunteers to do it), and the small ropes will "pop" off, leaving only one long piece of rope!
You may ask "won't the children realise that you have swapped the ropes?" Well, in my experience, they never have.
Can we trust our senses?
Sometimes our natural senses - sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste - let us down. However, there is one thing that will never let us down, one thing that is totally reliable - God's Word, the Bible.
Try out these hearing and eyesight tests on your class to show them that their senses are unreliable.
1. How many of each type of animal did Moses take onto the Ark?
(None. It was Noah who had the Ark).
2. You are the driver of a train. There are 30 passengers on board. At the first station, 10 passengers get off. At the second station, 5 passengers get on. What is the name of the train driver?
(You will probably have to repeat the question, using the right emphasis "You are the driver of a train - - - - ").
3. It is noon. You look at your watch, the little hand is pointing to 3, and the big hand is pointing to 6. What time is it?
(Noon. If your little hand is pointing to 3, and your big hand to 6, your watch must have stopped!).
4. Let's all spell out the word S. T. O. P. together. Then I will ask you a simple question that you have to answer immediately. S. T. O. P. spells STOP. What do you do when you come to a green light?
5. Let's all spell out the word S. I. L. K. together. Then I will ask you a simple question that you have to answer immediately. S. I. L. K. spells SILK. What do cow's drink?
6. Write out the following two sets of words on triangular pieces of paper or cardboard as shown. Show each sentence to your class, and ask them to study it carefully. After about 15 seconds, put the paper away and ask them what it said. Most will get it wrong, missing out a "The" and an "A" respectively.
Obedience brings success.
This is a very popular object lesson that children love to try for themselves.
Effect. Place a square handkerchief (linen or paper) in a "diamond" shape on a flat surface. Lay a pencil across the centre of the handkerchief. Bring the bottom corner of the handkerchief up to the top, but ensure that it slightly overlaps. The pencil will now, of course, be covered. Place a hand on the pencil through the handkerchief, and tightly roll it up until the lower corner flips over. Unroll the handkerchief, and you will see that the pencil is now on the top. i.e. it appears to have penetrated the handkerchief from inside to outside. Try it out. It is much simpler than it sounds!
Explanation. By rolling up the handkerchief until one corner 'flips over', you are actually turning it inside out, and thus bringing the pencil from the inside to the outside. The critical part is ensuring that only one corner flips over. If both ( or no) corners are flipped, the pencil will remain on the inside.
Application. This illustration can be used to complement any teaching on Obedience. I usually use it in connection with Ephesians 6 v. 1.
Example. " If you obey your, Parents, God has promised that you will be successful. If my volunteer here obeys me, he will be able to pass this pencil from the inside to the outside of this handkerchief. What I want you to do is roll it up tightly, tap it three times with your finger, unroll it, and the pencil will have passed through the material - you will be successful. Wait a minute! First let us see what will happen if you are disobedient, and you tap the pencil four times? (Ensure that the rolling stops just before the flip over). Oh dear. You were unsuccessful because you were disobedient! This time you can be obedient (Ensure the bottom corner flips over). Wonderful. Your obedience has brought success!
You may wish to get a few more volunteers to try it out. All you need to remember is that you control the flip overs, depending on whether you want the person to be successful or not. It is very rare for any volunteer or spectator to notice the differences in the three ways you can roll up the handkerchief - i.e. no, one, or two flip overs.
These are pieces of white plastic, but they look and feel like cardboard. They can be obtained from http://www.onewaystreet.com/ . Take one plastic sheet and one ordinary cardboard sheet (which comes in the same pack), and write on each "GIANT". The two sheets should look identical. Give the cardboard sheet to a small girl, and the plastic sheet to a big boy. Explain that we are going to imagine that both the volunteers have giants to overcome. God is on the side of both of them, but one - and you are not saying which - is like David, and has remembered that. The other is like the other Israelite soldiers who forgot that, and so were afraid of the giant.
Ask the volunteers to defeat their "giants" by ripping up the 'cardboard' into small pieces. It will soon be obvious which one is like David.
The resurrection of Christ.
Here is a close up object lesson on the resurrection that is certain to amaze your class.
Preparation. You will need a large coin, a clear glass, and a piece of thin clear latex or rubber, large enough to cover the top of the glass. (I have found that Qualatex 'Diamond clear' balloons are a good and inexpensive source of this). Stretch the rubber in all directions, hold the coin on your finger and press it on the underside of the rubber. When you cease stretching, you will find - with practice - that the rubber will wrap itself a little way under the coin as well as covering the top. The coin will thus appear to be on top of the rubber sheet (actually it is underneath) because the rubber has been stretched so much that it will be almost invisible. Finally, place the rubber and coin on the top of your glass, and secure with an elastic band.
Presentation. Talk about the resurrection, how Jesus came right out of the tomb, while the stone was still in place. (Alternatively, you can talk about how the resurrected Christ was able to 'appear' in locked rooms, without making a big hole in the door or wall!).
Produce your glass, with rubber and coin in place. Ask for a volunteer. State that he/she is now going to push the coin right through the rubber sheet without making a hole, or even a tear, in it. Get your volunteer to push the coin firmly downwards with their finger. The coin will fall into the glass, leaving the rubber sheet intact.
Our sins are forgiven (Flashpaper).
This is an illusion that you can use to illustrate the story "the true picture of your life", or indeed any teaching on forgiveness. I have used it many times, and it is always very effective. You will need a piece of "flashpaper". This looks like ordinary paper, but it is made from special chemicals so that when it is set alight it produces only a colourless gas, and no residue (char) whatsoever. i.e. it "disappears". Flashpaper can be obtained from Christian stores that sell gospel illusions such as http://www.childrensministry.org/ or http://www.onewaystreet.com/ It can be cut to any size, but I usually use a piece about 8cm. x 6cm.
Application. "I have a white piece of paper here. In the Bible the colour 'white' stands for cleanness or purity. This is how God first made people, and this is how He wants us to be today - clean and pure on the inside. But when we do wrong things, it dirties us up on the inside and spoils our relationship with God. What are some of the wrong things that you might have done - either at school or at home?" There is usually a good response to this. Interestingly children usually think firstly of the "physical" things such as fighting, hitting, punching, kicking etc. Then lying, stealing, swearing and disobeying may be cited. Wrongs like greed, selfishness, envy and jealousy are hardly ever mentioned! As different children mention the various wrongs, write the first letter of that 'wrong' with a black marker onto your flashpaper. As you do so, talk about God's attitude to that particular 'wrong'.
When you have about 5 or 6 letters on the flashpaper say "We could continue (give a few more examples) but the paper is nearly full. Now, watch carefully what I do next - because this is a picture of what happens to all these wrongs the moment we say 'sorry' to Jesus for them (and really mean it)." Take a match, light the paper and throw it into the air. It will take about two seconds to be burnt completely - and no trace of it will remain.
"Where has it gone? It is gone and gone forever. It can never come back again. In fact, it is as though it wasn't even here in the first place. Because Jesus has already paid the penalty for your wrongs on the cross, that is exactly what he does with them the moment you admit to them and say you are sorry. It is now as though you never even did them in the first place, And that is good news indeed."
The Mobius strip.
The intriguing Mobius strip effect has been around for over 100 years. I have heard presenters use it in a number of different ways, but none (at least to my mind) entirely satisfactorily. I will describe below how I use it, but if anyone can think of a better Biblical application, I would be grateful if you would share it with me.
Effect. Take three strips of paper (e.g. Newspaper) about 1 meter long and 3 cm. wide. Tape the ends of Strip 1 together to form a loop. With loop 2, put a full twist in the paper before taping the ends. With Loop 3, put a half twist in the paper before taping it. Take some scissors, and cut down the middle of each of your loops. Loop 1 will (obviously) result in two equal but separate loops. Loop 2 will result in two loops linked together like a chain. Loop 3 will result in 1 large loop.
Note. http://www.childrensministry.com/ supply a zipped material Mobius loop, with velcro at the ends for easy attachment, which can be used over and over again. However, the effects are the same as for the paper ones.
Application. Produce your three strips separately as you talk about each one. I pre-tape Strips 1 and 2, but leave Strip 3 un-taped until I start talking about it.
(Hold up Loop 1). God created us for union with Him, to be completely at one with Him, just as this loop is one loop. You could imagine one side of the loop as God, and the other side as you - but completely joined together. However sin entered the world and caused separation between us and God. (Cut the loop down the centre to produce two loops, Hold them apart). This is the problem we are all born with - separation from a Holy God.
(Hold up Loop 2). (The children may notice a twist in it, but there is no need to bring it to their attention). But God still loved the people of this world, so he sent His Son, Jesus, to die for our sins. This means that we can now be forgiven and reunited with God. Can sin now separate us from God? (Cut Loop 2 down the centre to produce two loops interlinked). No! The Bible tells us that nothing can now separate us from God. God has a hold of us, and He won't let go.
(Hold up Strip 3). But what about the person who turns wholeheartedly to God and really begins to live for Him? (Put a half turn (twist) in your strip and tape the ends together). What is this person's relationship with God now like? (Cut Loop 3 down the centre to produce one long continuous loop). As you see, this person is now completely reunited with God. And that is the best choice anyone could ever make.
Three miraculous signs for Moses.
(by Helen Setser)
In the famous encounter with God at the burning bush (Exodus, chapters 3 and 4), Moses was concerned that the Israelites and Egyptians would not believe that he had really been sent by God. Therefore, God gave Moses three miraculous signs that he could use to convince them.
These were :- a. Throwing his staff to the ground, and it turning into a snake. b. Putting his hand into his cloak, and it coming out leprous, like snow. When he repeated the process, his hand became clean again. c. Pouring water from the Nile onto the ground, and it turning to blood.
With a little preparation, you can re-enact these three signs for your class. You can perform them all yourself, or use a previously prepared volunteer.
a. Cut out a piece of cardboard in the shape of a staff. On the other side of the staff, draw a snake. Thus when you throw it to the ground, ensure that the "snake" side is upwards.
b. Have your (or your volunteer's) hand coated with petroleum jelly, and some talcum powder in your coat pocket. As you place your hand in your pocket and give it a good rub round, it should come out looking leprous, like snow. When you place your hand in your pocket a second time, you should be able to rub off the powder.
c. Place some red food coloring, or some red (tempera) powdered paint in a tray, and cover it with soil. When you pour water onto the soil, it will appear to have turned to blood.
The writing on the wall.
Here is an object lesson that you can use when teaching about the famous 'writing on the wall' in Daniel, Chapter 5.
Write out the words (Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin) with a white crayon on white cardboard or paper. Get a volunteer to gradually paint over the cardboard with food colouring. The words will then ‘magically’ appear in white as the food colouring adheres to the cardboard, but not the crayon.
n.b. This is also an interesting way of teaching Memory verses.
Long distance miracles (Cutting a banana in half).
Jesus sometimes healed people from a distance - just by speaking a word of faith. In this illustration you appear to cut a banana in half just by speaking and/or by making a 'chopping' action with your hand towards it.
Take a banana, choose a point near the centre, and push a small sewing needle through the peel and most of the way through the soft centre. With the needle still in place, move it in an upwards and then a downwards direction a few times. This action will cause the centre to be cut in half, but leave the peel largely unaffected. On removing the needle, only a small prick should be visible in the otherwise 'normal' banana.
Show the class your 'normal' (but prepared) banana. Select a volunteer and have them hold up the banana so that everyone can see it. Stand a few metres away from your volunteer and 'command' the banana to be cut in half. At the same time you could make a chopping motion with your hand in the direction of the banana. Finally, get your volunteer to carefully peel the banana. The banana centre should be clearly seen to have been cut into two halves.
Feeding the 5,000.
One of the most famous miracles performed by Jesus is "the feeding of the 5,000." Here is an excellent object lesson to help children remember this dramatic story.
You will need a pair of Chinese rice bowls. These have been around for many years, and are available from most "Magic" stores.
The basic idea of the bowls is that you fill the first one with rice, place the empty second bowl over the first, remove the second bowl - and the first is overflowing with rice! In other words, the rice has been multiplied. This illusion can be achieved using many different substances as well as rice. This includes bread, which of course, would fit in very well with your story. However, the bowls are quite large and you would need quite a few slices of bread - which also goes stale after a while. Therefore, I have reverted to using rice, saying "If Jesus did this miracle today, he may well have multiplied rice (Probably the most used food worldwide) instead of bread."
Empty all the rice from the bowls. One of the now "empty" bowls then produces a stream of water. You could say "Maybe after eating the food the people were thirsty, and Jesus made some water for them to drink." Produce the water.
You could go even further with the illusion. "Maybe Jesus decided to give the people wine to drink instead of water. In fact, there was another occasion on which Jesus turned water into wine." Direct your stream of water into an "empty" wine glass (actually containing a little food coloring powder - See Object Lesson 21, Newsletter 8). "Actually, it turned out to be the very best wine." Finish by drinking the "wine".
Object Lesson 73 - Changing water into blood.
One of the best known miracles in the Bible occurred when Moses struck the waters of the river Nile with his staff, and they turned into blood. This is how you can recreate that miracle.
For your staff you will need a stick with a hole in at least one of the ends. Bamboo cane is ideal for this as it comes with inbuilt holes at both ends. Into one hole place a little red food coloring powder (available from many food manufacturers). Compress the powder so that it doesn't fall out beforehand (The flat end of a pencil is ideal for this). At the appropriate part of your story, dip your stick into a clear container of water. It will turn red almost instantly.
Turning the "blood" back to water is a little more difficult. This is because the food coloring is hard to remove. An alternative is to use Potassium permanganate in your stick instead of food coloring powder. However it will take a little time for this chemical to dissolve in the water (you will probably need to stir it vigorously), and the color once produced is more like maroon than red. However, if you do use Potassium permanganate, you can instantly turn your "blood" back to "water". In the other end of your stick place a little Sodium metabisulphite, press down, and dip into your "blood" at the appropriate time.
This is how I usually perform this object lesson. I produce a glass full of previously dissolved Potassium permanganate, and announce it to be the blood. Say "I turned this water into blood earlier, but then I thought you would like to see me do it." I then produce a second glass of water, and dip my stick with red food coloring into it. "That worked even better. This time it looks more like real blood. Now watch me turn the blood back to water." I then dip the end of my stick containing Sodium metabisulphite into the original blood (Potassium permanganate). Miracle completed!
Object Lesson 74 - Predicting a number.
Prepare six cards, each showing 32 numbers, as illustrated below.
This illustration is sure to be a "winner" with lots of laughs. It could be used for pure fun, or as a lead in to teaching about heaven, or about God being all-knowing.
Chose a volunteer. Ask them to think of any number between 1 and 63, and say that you are going to predict which number they will choose. Hand your volunteer a pen and piece of paper and, while you are turned away (or even out of the room), get them to write down their chosen number, show it to the rest of the class, and hide the paper.
Tell your volunteer that you are going to show them (and the rest of the class) six cards (prepared as shown below), each with lots of different numbers written on them. All they have to do is say "Yes" if their chosen number is on the card, or "No" if it is not.
This next part is where you can really have a lot of fun. If your volunteer says "Yes" to a certain card, say something like "Are you sure, that is supposed to be a "No" etc. etc. However, you place all the "Yes" cards in one pile, and all the "No" cards in another. At this point you will know (see below) the chosen number (say 37 for example), but pretend that you are still confused.
Having completed this task, say something like "Oh, I am sorry, this appears to have gone completely wrong -------------- I know lets talk about something else. Lets talk about my favorite subject - heaven. Do you know that some people think that there are many different ways of getting to heaven. They think there may be, say, 37 ways of getting to heaven. But I am sure you don't think there are 37 ways of getting to heaven. I an sure you know that there is only ONE way and that is through Jesus Christ. But why do I get the impression that you are thinking about the number 37. Hey, could that be the number you have chosen? Come on let me have a look at that paper ------. Wow, I got it right after all, you did choose "37".
This trick is actually a lot simpler than it sounds. The right number is arrived at by a process of elimination. There are 64 possible numbers to choose from (including "0"). Each of the six cards shows 32 numbers - write them out on large pieces of cardboard (or paper) as shown below, and make your numbers large enough for all the class to read.
After your volunteer has said "Yes" or "No" to the first card, the number of possible numbers has been reduced from 64 to 32. As you continue the process, the number of possible numbers is halved each time, i.e. 32. 16. 8. 4. 2. and 1. So after the six cards, you have deduced the chosen number.
The six cards are designed in such a way that you can quickly calculate the chosen number. All you need to do is add up the FIRST numbers on all the "Yes" cards. For example "37" is found on cards 1, 3, and 6. Thus, adding the first numbers on these cards, you have 1 + 4 + 32 = 37. If the chosen number was "54", it will be found on cards 2, 3, 5, and 6. Thus, adding up the first numbers, you have 2 + 4 + 16 + 32 = 54.
1 3 5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21 23 25 27 29 31 33 35 37 39 41 43 45 47 49 51 53 55 57 59 61 63
2 3 6 7 10 11 14 15 18 19 22 23 26 27 30 31 34 35 38 39 42 43 46 47 50 51 54 55 58 59 62 63
4 5 6 7 12 13 14 15 20 21 22 23 28 29 30 31 36 37 38 39 44 45 46 47 52 53 54 55 60 61 62 63
8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63
16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 73
32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63
O. L. 75 - The importance of recycling.
God created a wonderful earth for his finest creations (us) to look after and enjoy. It is the responsibility of all of us to take good care of this wonderful earth. One thing that we can all participate in to help maintain a good environment is recycling our rubbish (or trash as it is called in the U.S.A.). Every household produces much rubbish every year, but we can minimize this by recycling much of it. Here is a "fun" object lesson / illusion to help teach children the importance of recycling. This utilizes one of the oldest "magic tricks" around, but nevertheless will still amaze most children.
You will need three cardboard boxes of different sizes. It does not matter whether they are round or square. Cut the bottoms out of the largest two boxes. The smallest box (Box 1) should still be large enough to contain the items to be recycled and the items they will be "changed" into. (See below for some examples). Both the larger boxes should be taller than the smallest box so as to hide all the items that it contains. If you make the middle sized box (Box 2) taller than the largest box (Box 3) it will lead to a better visual effect.
The diameters of your three boxes will depend on availability and the items you wish to recycle. However, the boxes I use have diameters of 15, 20 and 25 cm. respectively. Mark Box 2 - "Bin". Mark Box 3 "Recycling box".
I usually "Recycle" three items in each presentation. The possibilities are endless, but here are a few suggestions - remembering that all the items have to be small enough to fit into Box 1.
Note. I usually give the "changed" items away to the children as I produce them from the recycling box.
Old Newspaper page (Screw up in front of children just prior to recycling) ----------- Small notebook.
Banana skin --------------- Whole Banana. (Although this is obviously not a good recycling example, as such, you could perform my Object lesson 70 here (Newsletter 66) - cutting a Banana in half. As the Banana is peeled by a volunteer, give the two (or three) segments away.
A burst balloon (Burst in front of children) ----------------- A rubber bouncy ball or an eraser.
Empty tube of toothpaste -------------- A full tube.
Empty soap package ------------- A bar of soap.
An old drinks can (Crush in front of children) ----------------- A full can.
Place the open ended Bin (Box 2) and the items to be recycled in full view of the children. Place the items that they will be "Changed" into in Box 1. Place the open ended Box 3 over Box 1. Thus, Box 1 and its contents will always be out of sight.
Talk about how much rubbish we all produce "Some people just throw their rubbish in the bin." Drop first item (e.g. screwed up newspaper) into the bin (Box 2). "They think they have got rid of it. But really they haven't." Lift up the "bin" to show that it is open at the bottom and reveal the newspaper. "Throwing things in the bin does not really solve the problem, because it is though it is open at the bottom and the rubbish just goes right through. We have just moved the rubbish from one place to another. However, there is a much better solution. It is called RECYCLING. Much of our rubbish can be recycled, or changed into something useful."
Draw the children's attention to the Recycling box (Box 3). "Let's see what happens if I put the bin into my Recycle box." Place Box 2 inside Box 3. You will note that Box 1 and its contents are now also inside Box 2. "Let's make sure that my Recycling box is nice and clean." Lift up Box 3 to show that it also open at the bottom and completely empty. (Box 1 and contents are still hidden because they are now covered by Box 2). Place Box 3 back over Box 2. "Let's see if I can recycle this old newspaper." Drop the newspaper into the bin, which is now inside the Recycling box, ensuring that it also lands inside Box 1. Get a stick or ruler and begin a stirring action inside the boxes. "Recycle....... Recycle....... Recycle....... What have we here?" Reach into the boxes and lift out the recycled item (e.g. Notebook). Remove Box 2, showing that the "Bin" is empty. You can then repeat the process and "Recycle" as many items as you wish.
"Some of you may be thinking "Does it really matter if I throw away a small amount of rubbish each day?" Well, yes it does, because it all adds up. Let us see what would happen to all the rubbish if we could turn back the clock and un-recycle it." Begin your stirring action with your stick, in the opposite direction to before. "Un-recycle...... Un-recycle...... Un-recycle...... " Grab the side of Box 3 and Box 1 at the same time. (Remember that Box 1 must still remain hidden). Tip them up - To reveal all the rubbish!