social spark Aisling Beatha: October 2012

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Welcome to my blog. I hope you enjoy your stay, however short, and find something that interests and blesses you.

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Saturday, October 20, 2012

How I Choose Assemblies

This is my day eighteen post for the "31 days of blogging in October" challenge.  I am blogging 31 days of Children's Ministry.  To find links to all the other days (as they get posted) go to DAY 1.


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This week where I live and work is the half term break from school.  That means I have no assemblies to do, because the schools are not open.  It doesn't mean I won't be working, however.  During each half term break I choose the assemblies I will use during the following term.  So now I am choosing the assemblies I will do in January, February and March.  I will email these to the schools by the end of this week, so that when they get back at the beginning of the following week they can choose the dates for their assemblies.

I have a number of resources I use when looking for assemblies.

These are the ones I go to most often.




Then there are a few books that I go to to look for ideas:





Initially I will go to those (and other books and websites) for a quick scan through.  I will bear in mind any particular Christian Festival I want to cover plus any themes I am aware of in the school year, such as anti bullying day or walk to school day and so on.  I will bookmark a few assemblies on the sites, or put post it notes on pages in the books, initially marking more than I will actually need.  A couple of days later I will look again at the pages I have marked to narrow the list down.

Some assemblies need props to illustrate the point, others are just me talking.  Some need interactivity from chosen volunteer children, others are just me alone or the interactivity is from the whole school.  For some assemblies I make use of the multimedia equipment available to me in school, but most of the time I try not to, because that always has the opportunity to go wrong out of my control. I try to keep a balance across the term and certainly across the year of a mix up of all those things.

I will then narrow down my list to the 3 or 4 I need for that term with maybe one back up.  Then I look at whether I can use the assembly (or idea because sometimes I pull discussion starter ideas and turn them into assemblies) exactly as it is or whether I will need to do a lot of work on it to make it usable in the schools I work in.  Again I try not to choose 3 or 4 that all need a lot of work for me to use them, I try to keep a balance.

I also try to build the Christian content each term, beginning the term with something that might seem very Christian light to fellow church members, increasing that in the second assembly and going much deeper in the third and possible fourth assembly each term.

If I feel I have that balance right, I will set the list aside for another day and come back to it a third time to look over it again.  If I am still happy with my list, I will write a summary couple of sentences for each assembly that I can include in the email to schools.

Finally I type up or copy and paste for my own use, the details I do have and begin the work on editing them to be as I will use them.  Most time that editing work continues through the term as I LEARN each of the assemblies, because sometimes what looks good on the page will not necessarily come out the same when I start to speak it out and I will edit as I go through that learning process.  Maybe I will come up with a better way of saying something, or think of a different story to illustrate the point, maybe I will be able to add a personal illustration that means something to me, all of those elements might make the assembly more memorable first for me as I learn it and secondly for the children when I deliver it.

Those are not the only websites out there with assembly ideas on but a lot of the others are aimed more at school teachers who are having to lead the assembly, rather than Christians coming in from the outside.  There are plenty of other books out there of assemblies or short talks.  I also sometimes scour the books I use for Sunday School, particularly the books and websites with Object Lessons in them, although most of those assume a much higher level of Christian understanding already, than most of these children have, and assume the talks are being given to a Christian audience so you can say things I would not be able to say in school.  Having said that, sometimes there are some excellent ideas.

So with that I had better finish and get started on this week's process.
Later in the month I will share with you the list I have chosen for the Spring term 2013.


You can check out the sites I link up to over in my sidebar. Before you go, why not check out my recipes index page, or my craft projects index page, I am sure you will find something there to interest you.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Prayer Space Activities

This is my day eighteen post for the "31 days of blogging in October" challenge.  I am blogging 31 days of Children's Ministry.  To find links to all the other days (as they get posted) go to DAY 1.


So what makes a good prayer space activity?  The following explanation is taken from the Prayer Spaces in Schools Website:
Prayer stations are usually flexible and open, and yet they do need some structure so that participants can engage with them easily and confidently.
If you plan to create your own prayer stations, it's a good idea to follow these guidelines. 
a) An introduction/explanation of the station itself - “This is a prayer wall. Prayer can take many forms...”
b) Simple directions/instructions - “Take a piece of cardboard...” “Stop and breathe slowly...” “Look at yourself in the mirror...”
c) Questions that encourage reflection - “How did you feel when...?” “What do you think this might tell you about...?”
d) Some encouragement, quotes from people, words from the Bible and other sources, around the prayer station theme... and in some cases, suggestions for exploring the theme further. 
When gathering ideas together, whatever their source, ask yourself - is this simple? Would someone who has no experience of God or church or faith understand how they can participate in this activity, within 10 seconds of reading or hearing the explanation? And - is this prayerful? Would someone who has no experience of God or church or faith feel welcomed into honest, simple prayer and into personal reflection? If yes, go for it.


Another thing to consider is the age range of participants, particularly in a primary school, where you may have children as young as 4 attending the prayer space, pre readers and pre writers, but maybe I can discuss that further in a future post.  For now, I want to give you a taster of some prayer stations that were set up at the recent training day I attended for Prayer Spaces in Schools.





That is obviously a secondary school activity, but it is one that I really like the idea of.


This activity is along very similar lines to the previous one, and shows how you can adapt an idea to the supplies you have available.




For those who don't like to do too much reading, you can use mp3 players and audio tracks.


Obviously you need to be careful using water in your prayer space, but these are some good ideas:






Those are just a few ideas, but the prayer spaces in schools website has many more ideas for you to look through and choose from if you can't come up with your own and some are very popular.  This one in particular.



People manning prayer spaces will often have to clean the hand off after a few sessions, to make space for more names.  That's why we laminate the photos.
But if you can't get a laminated huge photo of a hand like that, you can always just draw one out like this, and use post it notes which can be removed, or draw a new one each time it gets full.




You can check out the sites I link up to over in my sidebar. Before you go, why not check out my recipes index page, or my craft projects index page, I am sure you will find something there to interest you.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Open the Book Video

This is my day seventeen post for the "31 days of blogging in October" challenge.  I am blogging 31 days of Children's Ministry.  To find links to all the other days (as they get posted) go to DAY 1.


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Normally I would not even dream of videoing an Open the Book session for use on the internet because of us using children from the school to play roles and all the stuff about permissions etc.  But in this case the children's backs are towards us and the only children involved in the action are sat down to shake some cloth, so I think we are safe.  I thought this would help those of you who are interested to get a look at an Open the book story.  I was at the back of the hall so the sound is a bit on the quiet side, and you might want to turn your volume up a bit.



I didn't video the introduction and conclusion, because I was doing those this week and therefore couldn't video them.  But they are important parts of the assembly.

You can check out the sites I link up to over in my sidebar. Before you go, why not check out my recipes index page, or my craft projects index page, I am sure you will find something there to interest you.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tattercoats

This is my day sixteen post for the "31 days of blogging in October" challenge.  I am blogging 31 days of Children's Ministry.  To find links to all the other days (as they get posted) go to DAY 1.


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I don't have too much time to write today, so I have another story for you.  This story doesn't work well with younger children because it's so long, at around half an hour.  But it works well with older children and adults.  I haven't told it in a while, so I would probably have to re learn it if I needed to tell it again.  It's basically the cinderella story but from before it got tweeked to the modern fairy tales happy endings.  There is a version of tattercoats out there, published on the web but I think that was published AFTER the workshop at which I learnt this story.  It was presented to us as a very bare story and we discussed how to flesh it out and develop it.  I'm pretty sure that whoever did publish it did so after that workshop.  So, my version is slightly different than the one you will find out there on the web, which appears to cut off certain parts of the story as I know it.


How would I use this in children's ministry?  There's an element that this story has a purpose of pure entertainment, but I also find it makes people think deeply, it moves people, and can spark all sorts of discussions about why the people in the story behaved the way they did, and how they could have behaved differently, or we discuss how a godly response would be different than the ones in the story.


You can check out the sites I link up to over in my sidebar. Before you go, why not check out my recipes index page, or my craft projects index page, I am sure you will find something there to interest you.

Monday, October 15, 2012

TRACING - The Non Arty Kids Leader's best Friend

This is my day fifteen post for the "31 days of blogging in October" challenge.  I am blogging 31 days of Children's Ministry.  To find links to all the other days (as they get posted) go to DAY 1.


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I don't have the best drawing skills.  I'm not afraid to admit that.  While I am discovering that I do have artistic abilities, drawing is the one area that still lets me down.  This can be a problem when preparing materials for lessons, or more particularly for Open the Book school assemblies.  I am sure I am not the only kids leader who finds myself in this position.

That's where the internet and tracing comes to my rescue.  Over and over again!


Last week in Open the Book we were doing the story of Cornelius and peter and needed a sheet with some of the animals that Peter sees on the sheet.  So, off to the internet I went doing an image search.  Eels, lobsters, lizards, prawns, pigs, snakes and a ham all came my way!  I printed them off at an appropriate size and placed them under the fabric at a spacing I thought looked OK.  I traced over the lines with a black permanent marker, then coloured them in with kids poster paints.  I'm really pleased with them, what do you think?

If you are involved in children's ministry in any way, how have you worked around areas in which you are not particularly strong?


You can check out the sites I link up to over in my sidebar. Before you go, why not check out my recipes index page, or my craft projects index page, I am sure you will find something there to interest you.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Prayer Spaces in Schools Training Day

This is my day fourteen post for the "31 days of blogging in October" challenge.  I am blogging 31 days of Children's Ministry.  To find links to all the other days (as they get posted) go to DAY 1.


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What an incredible day! On Friday I spent a day at the prayer spaces in schools training day. This post is just a first reaction to the day, I'll be back with more thoughts later in the month.

The biggest thing I shall come away from the day with is an understanding that we are part of a bigger picture, that God sees the whole of. When interacting with a child or young person in a prayer space, we can trust the Holy Spirit. Trust Him to take what we are able to say and use it in the way Father determines. Trust Him that if we make the space and the time, with these activities, we can step back and allow the children to discover prayer, and therefore God, for themselves, we don't have to SHOW them, they will find Him for themselves. Trust Him that there is a bigger picture that we might never see.  We do not need to "take Jesus into the schools", He is ALREADY THERE, we're just facilitating that discovery.

Also we might not have all the answers, and that's ok.

So, come back later in the month for more details of the training day.


You can check out the sites I link up to over in my sidebar. Before you go, why not check out my recipes index page, or my craft projects index page, I am sure you will find something there to interest you.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Kids Worship

This is my day twelve post for the "31 days of blogging in October" challenge.  I am blogging 31 days of Children's Ministry.  To find links to all the other days (as they get posted) go to DAY 1.



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Last Sunday I experienced a bit of a blast from the past.  Along with my husband and our youngest son we attended the Christening of a young family member of our extended family. The church the christening was held at was a traditional C of E church.  They have 3 services every week, a full sung service, a said service and a family service.  The Christening was held during the family service.

This vicar was amazing, he did EVERYTHING HIMSELF.  He set up the projector, laptop and screen, as well as the microphone in the few minutes between the two services.  He worked the laptop himself, and he worked the PA himself, having to disappear behind a screen every so often to do so.

So, you can imagine, not having a band, children's worship might be difficult.  NOPE, Duggie Dug Dug to the rescue!  This vicar has every single one of the Duggie Karaoke videos on his laptop.

These are songs we used with the children in our church about 5 years ago, hence the blast from the past, but they are still valid and so much fun, particularly with the very young children.  Heck, I'm over 40 and I still find them fun.  Certain non church going relatives were amused by the fact that I knew all the words and danced around to the songs.  If they thought me bopping around in my seat was amusing I dread to think what they would make of me full on dancing at our church.  Maybe one day we'll have to invite them over.
 
Sadly I can't find any videos of the actual karaoke backgrounds online to share with you, so you will have to make do with these alternatives.  These are two of the songs we sang at the Christening.





And, although we didn't sing it at the Christening of course I have to share a favourite of my American friends, "Is there a plank in your eye?"  Unfortunately I can't find a video version of that song, so you will have to cope with just an audio sample.

With the group of children I teach in Sunday's Cool we tend more towards videos with actions shown rather than the karaoke background ones.  I'll be posting about our kids worship in more detail soon.  But in short, we use a variety of different styles, some stuff from Duggie, some stuff from Ishmael, some stuff from Hillsong Kids, among others.  But hey, this guy was doing everything himself, every week, and I think considering that, he was doing an amazing job.

I'll leave you with a video from Hillsong Kids.



You can check out the sites I link up to over in my sidebar. Before you go, why not check out my recipes index page, or my craft projects index page, I am sure you will find something there to interest you.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

WHY Prayer Spaces in Schools?

This is my day eleven post for the "31 days of blogging in October" challenge.  I am blogging 31 days of Children's Ministry.  To find links to all the other days (as they get posted) go to DAY 1.


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Today I am heading North to attend a training day for Prayer Spaces in Schools tomorrow.  prayer spaces in schools are a spin off from 24/7 prayer rooms.  This, from their website:

During 2008, a handful of people around the UK seemed to stumble onto the same idea at roughly the same time - to set up creative prayer rooms in primary and secondary schools, to make prayer simple and accessible to children and young people. By the end of the year, at least six Prayer Spaces in Schools had taken place. 
Most of these people already had experience of prayer rooms through the 24-7 Prayer movement (http://www.24-7prayer.com), which began in Chichester in 1999, and has since spread into more than one hundred nations and most Christian denominations, giving birth to prayer and justice initiatives around the globe. 
During 2009, having heard encouraging stories from students and teachers from the first six schools, a further twelve schools workers and children’s/youth workers decided to host one in their locality. Again, all the feedback seemed very positive. 
Then towards the end of 2009, we began gathering some of the stories, the photos and the feedback, the good practice guidelines and policies, as well as the curriculum links that teachers were beginning to identify, and we put it all together into a simple resource pack. More than 100 of these packs went out within a few months, which suggested that people liked the ideas and were keen to explore hosting Prayer Spaces themselves. 
Six months into 2010, more than fifty further Prayer Spaces in Schools had taken place around the UK. In some areas, single Prayer Space weeks have triggered conversations between schools workers and teachers/educational professionals to multiply these Prayer Spaces in Schools across whole areas or school networks (Romford, Gloucester and Oxford, for example). And as a result of these single Prayer Space weeks, some schools are planning a week into their annual rhythm, some are considering setting up permanent Prayer Spaces, and some are considering launching or reviewing their chaplaincy/pastoral roles. The response of children and young people, and of the schools, to this simple idea has been extraordinary. 
I thought the Prayer Space was fantastic.  A way for pupils to write down their fears as well as hopes.  It gave me as a teacher a real insight into the thoughts of my pupils and what they are dealing with outside the classroom.  The comments I overheard from pupils of all years was extremely positive and some were very thought-provoking.  I personally hope that the room is here long-term.!” (Maths teacher, secondary school) 
It’s probably important to say that Prayer Spaces in Schools are well-rooted in the Christian practices of creative prayer - of communication with God, and of hospitality. We would emphasise hospitality, because these Prayer Spaces are places of welcome, where children and young people of all faiths (and those of no faith) can find time and space and creative ways to reflect on questions of life and meaning and spirituality. So far, they have been hosted by people from across the denominational spectrum, and as such they don’t promote a particular ‘brand’ of Christianity at the exclusion of others.



I've been following the idea of prayer spaces for a number of years now, and have been really keen to see them happen in our local schools.  This week there is a week of cross denominational prayer happening in our town and a number of schools have at least considered the idea of a prayer space even if we haven't managed to organise one.

But WHY?  Let me share some snippets from reports from recent prayer rooms across the country.

 . . . . . .

I glimpse some of the anonymous stories shared with God; "happiness for my sister not to think about suicide", "that my parents don't argue", "for forgiveness", "thank you for friends, family..." and I love that we can trust each of these tales to God. I am grateful for the opportunitiy to provide a place like this, to lift some of the weight off precious shoulders. 
What I cherish most is not just the in-the-moment reactions but the long-lasting seeds sown. When asked about their favourite prayer activities, students talk about the tent with it's flame-effect tea lights and the science-y electromagnetic globe. But the most popular 'activity' turns out to be the spontaneous one - during each session, Dan gathers a 'gaggle' of 13- and 14-year-old students who sit around laughing, listening and longing for the life they see in Dan. 
They rollercoaster-talk of Bible stories, including the meaning of Jesus' life, death and ressurection... students ask 'true treasure' questions like; "if God's real why is there suffering?" "Are there still miracles today?" amongst others. Maybe God will one day play us a movie of our lives, and only then will we realise how these simple, creative, honest prayers were heard and answered?

 . . . . . .
We were also challenged by the hopes that the young people wrote down in the ‘Hope Blossoms’ activity. In the week preceding our Prayer Space, a national report from ‘Ambitious Minds’ was published and an article appeared in the newspaper highlighting Norfolk as one of the worst areas in the country for young people to achieve their dreams and aspirations. I fully expected the hopes and dreams of these young people either to show low aspirations or completely unrealistic ones such as “becoming famous” or “being rich”. But this wasn’t the case – they wanted to be teachers, doctors, vets, midwives, architects, mechanics, musicians, farmers, property developers etc. Some just wanted “to be loved” or for their “family to be happy”. One wrote “to get a decent job and have a family”. The challenge for us is to figure out how we can do more to enable these young people to achieve the potential and dreams that God has given them? 
At the end of each session in the Prayer Space, we asked pupils if it was what they had expected. Every time the same answer came up “No, we thought that prayer would be boring and that we would have to be silent. This was really cool” or “I didn’t know that prayer could be like this”. When asked if there was anything they didn’t like, there was silence, although a few said that they found the forgiveness section or the pictures of poverty hard. By contrast, when asked which was their favourite activity, they had lots to say, with blowing bubbles (to give your worries to God) and the fizzy forgiveness activity being clear favourites."

 . . . . . .

So there you have it.  Watch out next week if you are interested in learning more as I am sure I will be sharing. some of what I learn.



You can check out the sites I link up to over in my sidebar. Before you go, why not check out my recipes index page, or my craft projects index page, I am sure you will find something there to interest you.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Lords Prayer School Assembly

This is my day ten post for the "31 days of blogging in October" challenge.  I am blogging 31 days of Children's Ministry.  To find links to all the other days (as they get posted) go to DAY 1.


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This is the assembly I am doing in local primary schools for the month of October.  It is based on the Lords Prayer because in our town this week there is a 24/7 prayer space that is focussing on praying for the schools.  The version of the Lords prayer I use here is actually a mix of The Message and the Contemporary English Version, but it gave a version I thought was most accessible to the children I speak to.

Good morning Children.
Hands up if you've ever heard of something called The Lords Prayer.  Hands up if you think you know how it goes.  Hands up if you think it goes like something like this: "Our Father who art in heaven hallowed be thy name"
Well, that is one way of saying it, but what I have here is a different way of saying it, in easier to understand words.  You see Prayer is how Christians talk to God.  Now listen carefully:


Our Father 
In heaven 
Help us to honour your name. 
Set the world right, 
So that everyone on earth 
Will obey you 
As you are obeyed in heaven. 
Give us our food for today 
Forgive us for doing wrong   
As we forgive others  
Keep us safe from ourselves   
And from evil  
You’re in charge 
You can do anything you want 
You’re ablaze in beauty  
Yes yes yes

Just before this prayer appears in the bible, Jesus’ friends had asked Him to teach them how to pray.  You see, even people who have been Christians for years and years have a hard time praying sometimes.  Even peope who had Jesus right there with them, had to ask him to teach them to pray so it's OK for us to need some help sometimes.

I want you to imagine you go to a country far far away where people speak another language.  You don't speak their language and no one there speaks English.
Now imagine it's past dinner time, you haven't had any breakfast or lunch and you're hungry.  How might you get what you want for dinner? (allow time for responses and hopefully give the following responses but prompt them if not) 
That's right, you could try pointing.  But in some countries pointing is very rude and you could get into trouble.  What about miming or acting out the fact that you're hungry and want some food?
But imagine it wasn't dinner you needed but the toilet.  Miming that could get very rude and get you into lots of trouble.  So you see, if you really want to communicate with someone you need to speak the same language.

And people think prayer is like that  they think they need a whole different way of talking.  Or maybe they see it a bit like a code.  I want you to listen really carefully now.
Tap out S – O – S in Morse code (3 quick, pause, 3 long, pause, 3 quick)
What did I just say? (give opportunity for response, if there's time you could also ask what the three letters mean)
There are people all over the world, who speak many different languages who understand those 3 letters of morse code and people are using it all the time to get help in difficult situations.  I know we have modern technology now that helps us out of tricky situations, like our mobile phones that we can call for help on, but what if I accidentally got locked in a room with no mobile signal?  It's a big building and there's no one in the rooms near me and shouting for help isn't working.  What I could do is find a pipe that goes to the rest of the building and start tapping out SOS on it.  Noise travels well along pipes so someone might hear the noise and realise that someone needs help and come and find me.
But what if you didn’t know Morse code?  You wouldn’t know what all that tapping meant and I might be stuck there forever.

If you want to communicate with Morse code you would have to learn it.  You would have to know what mix of short and long signals make up each letter and that takes a long time to learn.
And people think prayer is like a new language or a code, where if you say the exact mix of right things God will give you whatever you want.

Use Sign Language to say I love you   (BSL not ASL, index finger to middle finger, arms across chest, point to audience)
What did I just say?  (give opportunity for response then talk about why sign language is used and some of the different versions)

People often think that in order to communicate with God they need to learn a whole new language, that need to talk in flouncy words (give an example of a flouncy wordy prayer).  But communicating with God can be as easy as talking to our friends.
We can pray in our minds so no one else can hear or we can pray out loud and either way we can use simple easy words, just like I would if I was talking to my friends (give an example of an easy comfy prayer)

Now lets think about the Lords prayer that I read at the start again.  I want to teach you some actions to go with it that I hope will help your understand the words even further.

Our Father hands joined
In heaven point to the sky
help us to honour your name. heads bowed as if before the queen
Set the world right, release hands and make a gesture of invitation
so that everyone on earth all stamp feet for ‘earth’ 
will obey you a salute
as you are obeyed in heaven. Salute and then point to heaven
Give us our food for today hands out ready to receive
Forgive us for doing wrong  hands clasped together in front of the body and then released
As we forgive others  turn and shake hands with the people either side
Keep us safe from ourselves  hands together in front of the face, shielding away temptation 
And from evil  one hand up as a stop sign
You’re in charge salute again
You can do anything you want stay in the salute
You’re ablaze in beauty  make a circle in front of you  with fingers spread
Yes, yes, yes pump hand as if cheering


Jesus made prayer nice and easy for his disciples.  That's why he taught them the Lords prayer.  He wasn't saying "You have to use these exact words" he was saying, this is a way of praying, these are some of the things you need to include.
He wanted them to tell God how wonderful he is.
He wanted them to Ask for what they needed
He wanted them to Ask for forgiveness for the wrong things they did
And he wanted them to ask for help

Prayer can be simple for us, too!
Now I'm going to finish with my own prayer and I want you to see if I manage to all 4 of those things.


pray and be prepared for them to call you out if you miss something, which I did do yesterday.


You can check out the sites I link up to over in my sidebar. Before you go, why not check out my recipes index page, or my craft projects index page, I am sure you will find something there to interest you.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Getting The Full Attention of a Room Full of 15 Year olds

This is my day nine post for the "31 days of blogging in October" challenge.  I am blogging 31 days of Children's Ministry.  To find links to all the other days (as they get posted) go to DAY 1.


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Last week I did 3 assemblies for Operation Christmas Child at a local secondary school.  It is the 4th year and I didn't know how to make this assembly different than the previous years.  In the end a teaching assistant at a local primary school came to the rescue when he wrote a shoebox rap for us.  A group of children at the secondary school performed it as a poem to camera and I was able to share this with the whole school.

On Thursday I was to have only the year 11 group in for assembly.  As the oldest students in school, I wanted to change the assembly up a bit to give them a bit more of an age appropriate challenge to get involved.  As they were entering the room I got an indication of how tough some of them were going to be as an audience when I heard one girl say to another "Oh no, it's her again."

So I ran through all the stuff about how to pack a shoebox and what to put it in and then I said this:

I understand that You are all looking forward this year.  Planning your futures, looking forward to college or even thinking about university eventually.  And I understand that a project like this might seem far removed from your lives, but I want you to put yourself in the place of a group of young people who received shoeboxes from us a few years ago.

I want you to imagine that you are your age and living in a large polluted industrial city in Eastern Europe.  You have no family left, for whatever reason, except maybe a younger brother or sister you have to look after.  You're homeless so you sleep on the streets, finding whatever shelter you can.  You beg during the day for food or money or maybe pick up some casual jobs that are messy and dirty and pay a pittance.

Then things begin to change in that city and gangs of adults decide they are going to "clean up the streets" and now armed and violent gangs are on the streets at night and you don't know if you will wake up in the morning.  So, you make the only decision you can and that is to sleep in the sewers.  You find a manhole cover, open it up and climb down into the sewers.  You find a dry ledge above the water line and that is where you will sleep from now on.

Because that is a group of young people who received shoeboxes from us a few years ago.  Young people who don't have a bright future to look forward to.  Young people just like you who have no hope, who think they are forgotten, who think that no one cares.  And your gift, your shoebox, can communicate to them that someone, somewhere around the world knows about them, knows and has not forgotten, and cares.  You have the opportunity to send that message with a simple gift.

And I tell you, the whole room, every single one of them was quiet and thinking, I had their full attention, not a one was fidgeting, not a one was talking, not a one was ignoring me, every single one of them heard that story and listened.

Young people are not uncaring, they do want to help, they just need things presented to them in a way that they can relate to!

Come back later in the month for the story I finished my assemblies with this year, about how these gifts might not be to people you will NEVER meet and why it's important to include a photograph in your shoebox.


You can check out the sites I link up to over in my sidebar. Before you go, why not check out my recipes index page, or my craft projects index page, I am sure you will find something there to interest you.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Story Telling - Learning the Bare Bones

This is my day eight post (there was no day 7 post) for the "31 days of blogging in October" challenge.  I am blogging 31 days of Children's Ministry.  To find links to all the other days (as they get posted) go to DAY 1.  Today I am just going to share links to some bible props and costumes that I have shared in the past.


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On Saturday I promised you a post about learning a story by the bare bones method.

I shared with you a recording of me telling the story of Big Bad Brian the Lion.  Here is the text of that story as it originally appeared in the book:


Once upon a time, there was a lion. He was called Brian. He was very big and very strong and ... and he was a bully! He thought he was bigger and better than any of the other animals in the jungle. 

Everywhere he went, he boasted about how clever and how strong he was. 'I'm big bad Brian the Lion!' he would snarl at anyone he met. 'RRROOOAAARRR!!!' And he showed all his huge teeth and his huge claws and his huge orange lion's mane. 
The other animals were scared of him. I don't blame them, do you? 
For instance, one day, Mr Giraffe was quietly minding his own business, chomping away at the sweetest, tenderest leaves on the topmost branches of the trees. Big bad Brian the lion crept up behind him so softly, so quietly, and then ... 
'I'm big bad Brian the Lion!  RRROOOAAARRR!!! ' 
Poor Mr Giraffe! He was scared out of his skin and ran off into the jungle. Brian just laughed. 

For instance, one day, Mrs Elephant was quietly minding her own business, having a nice cool mud bath at the edge of the river. Big bad Brian the lion crept up behind her so softly, so quietly, and then ... 
'I'm big bad Brian the Lion!  RRROOOAAARRR!!! ' 
Poor Mrs Elephant! She was scared out of her skin and ran off into the jungle. Brian just laughed. 

For instance, one day, Mr Monkey was quietly minding his own business, chomping away at a banana, peeling down the firm yellow skin to enjoy the soft white middle. Big bad Brian the lion crept up behind him so softly, so quietly and then ... 
'I'm big bad Brian the Lion!  RRROOOAAARRR!!! ' 
Poor Mr Monkey! He was scared out of his skin and ran off into the jungle. Brian just laughed. 

What a rotten bully! 

Now, one day, Brian was swaggering through the jungle, thinking how big and strong and clever he was, when suddenly..... a huge net dropped out of the trees right on top of him, and several fierce-looking men with spears jumped out from behind the bushes. 
Brian snarled and roared and struggled and rolled, but he couldn't get free. The fierce men bundled Brian into a large bamboo cage on wheels and pushed him down the jungle trail. Before long, they came to a wide road that led them to a huge walled city, and Brian's cage was wheeled through the open gates. 

People on each side jeered at Brian and threw stones and rotten fruit at him, He growled and snarled and scratched but he couldn't reach any of them. In the middle of the city, the cage was pushed up to the edge of a great hole in the ground and Brian was suddenly tipped in!

It was dark and dusty at the bottom of the hole, and there were several other lions down there, but Brian was bigger and fiercer than any of them and they soon backed off. When his eyes grew used to the gloom, Brian saw a man sitting in a far corner of the hole, He had his back to Brian and his hands clasped together. He seemed to be muttering something under his breath. Here was Brian's chance to really frighten someone! Big bad Brian the lion crept up behind the man so softly, so quietly and then. . . 
'I'm big bad Brian the Lion  
RRROOOAAARRR!!!' 

The man didn't move! He didn't seem to notice Brian at all and just kept on muttering, his head on his chest. Brian was puzzled, This had never happened before. He took a deep breath and growled even louder, 
'I'm big bad Brian the Lion! 
RRROOOAAA.RRR!!! ' 

The man still didn't move!! He just kept talking quietly under his breath, his head bowed and his hands clasped tightly together Brian took a huge deep breath. His eyes bulged! His great fangs stretched wide!!  His huge black lion's mane stuck straight out from his head, making him look twice as big!!!
'I'm big bad Brian the Lion! 
RRROOOAAARRR!!! ' 

The man still didn't move!!! Suddenly, something tapped Brian on the shoulder.  He turned round and found himself facing a gigantic figure over ten feet tall, all dressed in shining white with massive golden wings. 
'MY NAME’S GABRIEL AND I'M AN ANGEL!!!' 

Poor Brian! He was scared out of his skin and ran whimpering into the corner like  a frightened little kitten, 
And do you know what? I think it served him right! 


When I learnt the bare bones method I was told you only ever use 5 bones.  I'll be honest and say I often shift that to 6.

Basically, the method involves breaking any story down into 5 or 6 main points or sections and summarising those points in 1 or 2 sentences. Each of those points is a bone and it is the bones that you learn, the bones that you memorise.  Then, having read the story through a few times and with your story telling skills at the ready, you TELL the story, from those bones, embellishing as you go.  As I said on Saturday, it is not about reciting, it is about TELLING.  You don't need to learn the whole story by heart, you just need to learn those bones and although the details of the story may come out slightly differently each time you tell it, the STORY itself will be the same, you will have communicated what you intended.

Let's face it, if you have ever told a traditional fairy tale or folk tale to your children, from memory you have probably already done this without realising it.

This method can be used for stories from quite short right up to huge long stories.  There is one story that I tell that takes over 30 minutes to tell, and I learnt that in exactly the same way, through the bare bones method.


So, for Big Bad Brian the Lion, my bones might be:

  1. Brian is a lion and a big nasty bully
  2. He scared the giraffe.  And the elephant. And the monkey.
  3. He was captured my some men and taken to the city, where he was tipped into a hole with other lions.
  4. There was a man in the pit who wasn't afraid of Brian.
  5. Behind Brian, the angel appears in ALL his glory.
  6. Who's afraid now?


So you see, if you've read the story a few times, or listened to it, so you kind of know the way it goes and learn those bones, your telling of Big Bad Brian the Lion might come out differently than mine, and mine will come out differently the next time I tell it, but we will still be telling the same story.


Go split your favourite story into bones and come back and tell me how you got on.



You can check out the sites I link up to over in my sidebar. Before you go, why not check out my recipes index page, or my craft projects index page, where you will find various props for bible story telling.  I am sure you will find something there to interest you.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Story Telling

This is my day six post for the "31 days of blogging in October" challenge.  I am blogging 31 days of Children's Ministry.  To find links to all the other days (as they get posted) go to DAY 1.  Today I am just going to share links to some bible props and costumes that I have shared in the past.


One of the things I love to do is storytelling.  Here is just a sample


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Big Bad Brian the Lion
Heeheee.  What a title.

This is the recording of me telling the story of big Bad Brian the Lion..


I have used it in schools to talk about bullying, and in church to tell a bible story from a different angle.  Tomorrow I will tell you my technique for learning stories like this.  YES, I learn them.  I don't read them from a book, I learn them.  But the learning technique is not to learn them by heart (except for one or two stories where it depends on the exact wording to make sense) but to use a technique called "learning the bones".  I will explain that technique, using this story as an example, tomorrow.


You can check out the sites I link up to over in my sidebar. Before you go, why not check out my recipes index page, or my craft projects index page, I am sure you will find something there to interest you.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Bible Story Props and Costume Tutorials

This is my day five post for the "31 days of blogging in October" challenge.  I am blogging 31 days of Children's Ministry.  To find links to all the other days (as they get posted) go to DAY 1.  Today I am just going to share links to some bible props and costumes that I have shared in the past.


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Those are just the step by step tutorials that I have shared.  I will be sharing a very simple but new one later in the month when I can get the photo of it in action, a set of prison bars for the story of the Christians praying for Paul when he was in prison.


You can check out the sites I link up to over in my sidebar. Before you go, why not check out my recipes index page, or all my craft projects indexed on one page, I am sure you will find something there to interest you.
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