Prayer bracelets update

I’ve now done the prayer bracelet activity with the children in my Sunday School group – I used a set of coloured beads from Hobbycraft, and bought some of their cross-shaped beads as well.

We did Psalm 23 for the story part of the session, using this book. The illustrations provided rich material for discussing the psalm, and the children are doing the Old Testament stories of the time of the Kings, so they had some context for when and why the psalm was written.

I then let them loose to make the bracelets, having suggested:

  1. They can assign meaning to the colours themselves (maybe “thank you,” “help,” “wow”) and then hold a particular bead when they feel the need for that prayer.
  2. They could choose a colour for each line of Psalm 23, and then say the psalm as they work their way around the bracelet.
  3. They could rotate between two or three different prayers, like doing a rosary.

I then gave them and their parents the handout (below), to help them learn some of the suggested prayers at home.

Children who wanted to make more than one bracelet were encouraged to make one for a family member or friend.

As our Year 6s were coming up to exams when we did this activity, I suggested wearing the prayer bracelet to their exams and using it if needed to relax them and remind them God was with them.

Prayer bracelets

Starburst conference handouts and slides

This Saturday, I had the privilege of attending the Starburst conference in the Diocese of Peterborough, and leading workshops on All-Age Worship and Storytelling.

Below are the slides from the workshops, and all the handouts, in case you missed out. (The Worship Clock and the Elements of Worship sheet are missing – I don’t have access to them today, so I’ll post them tomorrow.)

For more on the Beulah Land “fuzzy felt” Bible storytelling, you can visit Mustard Seed Kids (be aware this is my company, so there’s a conflict of interest).

For more on Godly Play, visit Gody Play UK’s website.

Starburst All-Age Worship (presentation slides)

Starburst Storytelling (presentation slides)

Basic Resource List Starburst

Going to Church No Diocesan Branding

Going to Church Older No Diocesan Branding

Helping Kids With Behaviour In Church

Whispering in Church

The Big Story – concepts

Pray and Play Corners_full versionPray and Play Corners_full version2Pray and Play Corners_full version3Pray and Play Corners_full version4

Tools, not toys

childrenThis is a wonderful article on how to use the new craze for “spinners” productively, to help children focus, accept differences, and “fidget productively.”

It’s very applicable to churches – worship, including in Junior Church, often requires periods of sitting still, listening, and so on, which some children find difficult. Providing ways for children to fidget productively – with pew bags or liturgy boxes or physical prayer objects or just good old-fashioned paper and pens – can help children engage more deeply in worship and feel more at home in church.

(Link will open in a new tab.)

 

Simple Prayer Idea

beads

My Sunday School kids often come in with friendship bracelets or beaded jewellery they’ve made, so I’m thinking I can turn that interest into a prayer activity.

I’m planning to separate the beads by colour and assign each colour to a simple one-line prayer. For example:

RED: Please protect everyone I love.

ORANGE: I have so many questions – help me hear your answers.

YELLOW: Shine your light into the dark places.

GREEN: Protect this beautiful earth you’ve made.

BLUE: Be with me when I’m feeling sad and blue.

PURPLE: Forgive me when I realise I’m sorry.

WHITE: Thank you for all the good things.

BLACK: Help everyone in the world who needs you.

You can either print out the sentences, laminate them, and tie them onto the bracelets when they’re done (print on both sides so the card isn’t huge), or you can provide them as separate cards.

Allow children to make their own patterns with the different colours, then allow them to spend some time using the bracelets to pray. There are two ways to use the bracelets (maybe you or your kids can think of more) – and they’re both appropriate at different times:

  1. Hold each bead in turn and say the sentence that goes with it. Pray your way around the whole bracelet.
  2. When you need a particular prayer, use the beads of just that colour to help you connect with that prayer.

Imaginative Spiritual Play in action

20170205_093750Those of you who have been to any of my workshops or training sessions might have heard me talk about “imaginative spiritual play” and how to facilitate it. Yesterday, Patrick, aged 5, gave me a good example.

His mum was leading one of the Sunday School groups, so he arrived early. As the space was set up, he started playing – first, he arranged the electric candles on the altar.

What I did: got more candles when he asked, helped him come up with an idea on how to arrange them when he was frustrated that there weren’t enough to go all the way around.

Then he asked me if I had any red paper. He balled up the red paper and stuck it in the chalice to be wine.

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He also went to the toy corner and got the wave and the rainbow toys and set them on the altar.

What I did: Asked him about his setup, using open-ended questions, e.g., “would you like to tell me about what you’ve made?” rather than “is that rainbow from the Noah story?”

When I asked him about his setup, he explained that the water and the rainbow were, in fact, from the Noah story, and asked me if I’d heard this story.

What I did: Instead of saying, “yes, I know that story,” I asked him to tell it to me.

20170205_094928Using the rainbow and the water wave, he briefly recapped the Noah story, and then asked if we could take out the plastic animals from the cupboard to play with them. As the service was about to start, so we had to go into the main worship area, I said no, but reminded him there was a Noah’s Ark toy in the church’s Pray and Play area if he wanted to go and play with that during the start of the service, before Sunday School began.

What made this work:

  1. Easy availability of toys that aren’t proscriptive in their usage – flexibility of symbolism in, for example, the water toy, lets it be used for play based around lots of different stories, or around baptism, or just exploring its shapes and colours and textures and becoming familiar with the image that way. The toy corner in our Sunday School areas, as well as our Pray and Play area, doesn’t change that much – it’s not tied to the story of the day. The same toys are available year round, with a few extra at festivals.
  2. A pretty laissez-faire approach from the facilitator. This episode was child-led. I was the audience – he wanted me to see what he was doing – but not the leader. I helped when asked, but I didn’t direct his play or tell him what meaning to make from it.
  3. Patrick’s familiarity with Bible stories. Patrick’s mum is a Sunday School volunteer and leads our toddler group. She reads Bible stories at home and Patrick is in church most Sundays. But that doesn’t mean she’s doing anything complicated – she’s just making sure he knows the stories, the same way he becomes familiar with, say, Thomas the Tank Engine stories. That’s the foundation of this kind of play, and it isn’t hard to do.