Tag Archives: Children’s Church

How to Write an Entertaining Puppet Show

Puppet shows are great for grabbing the attention of the children in your Sunday School. But how do you keep their interest once the puppet appears? You’ll need a great script! Here are 4 steps for writing an entertaining puppet show.

Before you start brainstorming, keep these things in mind:

  • The puppet show can be used to introduce the topic of the lesson to the children. The puppet does not tell the Bible story, but has a problem  that is related to the application of the lesson. For example:  In a lesson about forgiveness, the puppet struggles to forgive a friend who hurt him. In a lesson about talents, the puppet feels he is not able to do all the things his older brother can do and feels like he is useless. In a lesson about temptation, the puppet struggles to obey his mom when she is not there to see what he is doing.
  • The puppet show can also be used after you have told the Bible story in a creative way. The puppet still has the same problem, but now you can include the children in solving his problem. This allows the children to apply the message from the Bible story to the puppet’s problem. In this way the puppet show helps to solidify the application of the lesson for the kids.
  • The puppet is not the teacher, but the puppet has problem that needs to be solved. This will lead the kids to relate to the puppet and his problem (yes, I also struggle to obey my mom when she is not there), and will make the kids think about a solution for this problem.

Here are four steps for writing an engaging and fun puppet skit.

  1. Identify the problem

Think about the main point of the Bible story you are going to teach the children. Take the topic you’d like to address, for example the talents God has given us or showing kindness when someone is nasty to you. Think about the practical application of the topic, and the barriers your children may face when they want to apply this to their lives. So children may think, ‘I don’t know what my talents are’ or ‘I struggle with being angry with my little sister when she scribbles on my homework’.

Use the problem your children face and turn it into a problem the puppet has. He might be confused about something, or misunderstand something, or he may worry about something like not being able to go to sleep in the dark.

Then think of a conversation the puppet is going to have with the teacher about the topic.

 

2. Attempts to Solve the Problem

To make the puppet skit into an engaging story, you need to come up with three attempts to solve the problem. Perhaps the teacher suggests solutions and the puppet has already tried them. He tells what happened and why that did not work. The puppet may also come up with solutions himself that are quite silly or outrageous, and the kids can tell the puppet why that would not work. Then present the solution as a final attempt to solve the problem. Connect the solution to the main part of your message from the Bible story.

 

3. Include the Kids

Insert moments in the conversation where the kids get to say something. First of all, you can let the kids call the puppet. Kids love to be loud as they call for him to come. Secondly, let the kids be a part of the solution. You may let the class as a whole participate, or you can (carefully) choose a child to come to the front for a short part of the puppet show, who will then ask a question or make a suggestion to the puppet. Including the children in the conversation, even if it is for a small part, will be a tremendous help to get the children engaged.

 

4. Add Funny Details

Come up with at least 3 crazy or funny things the puppet can say in the puppet skit. Think of jokes, play tricks on words, and let the puppet be overly dramatic. Let the kids laugh as the puppet shares crazy ideas. For example, “I don’t have so many talents. Hmm… let’ see… I am good ad fighting! Does that count as a talent?”

If puppets fight, keep the tone light and don’t use bad words. Relate it to the types puppets you use. If you have a bird puppet, you could say, “You’re just an old bird! You’re just made of feathers!”

 

Bonus Idea

Don’t make your puppet show too “preachery”. Instead focus on things like God’s love, how He wants to use the kids, how important they are in God’s eyes, how they can show love to others, etc.

Your kids will love it whenever you bring out those silly puppets. Having a clear problem and practical solution will help the children catch on to what you’re teaching them. Including the kids in the skit, adding jokes and some fun dramatic parts will make learning an entertaining experience for them, and will make them want to come back for more.

To get some inspiration, download a sample puppet-skit-Sam-and-Gloria.pdf

Enjoy!

If you don’t have puppets, check out How to Make Simple Puppets

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10 Tips on How to Use a Puppet

Puppets can be so much fun. Kids just love them. But puppeteering can be a bit more challenging than you might think. Here are 10 things to keep in mind as you prepare your puppet drama.

1. Know Your Character

One reason puppets are so appealing, is that they have character. They can be silly, crazy, even ridiculous and it is all allowed because they are puppets. It makes the puppet so entertaining. Spend some time thinking about the character of your puppet – the clearer your idea is about your character, the easier it is to portray him with character and the more interesting he will be to your audience.

2. Add Drama

As you practice with your puppet, experiment with the amount of drama your puppet uses. He can simply say things, or he can exaggerate. ‘Hi’ can be said in many different ways. What does your puppet feel like? Is he upset? Then let him be VERY upset. Is he happy? Then exaggerate that happiness in how he communicates. Silliness is appreciated in puppets – up to a point, of course.

3. Give Your Puppet a Voice

Experiment with the type of voice you want to use for your puppet. Often people like to use a high pitched voice to add drama, but be careful – make sure you choose a voice you can easily use for the entire duration of your puppet skit. Your voice must be easily understood by the listeners, and if it is too high pitched it might become too difficult to actually understand. Consider using a crazy accent rather than a difficult pitch. If you’re not sure if your voice works, make a quick audio recording on your phone or other device so you can hear what it sounds like. If you have a conversation with your puppet, make sure you can switch well from your own, normal voice, to the puppet’s voice.

4. Let Your Audience Hear You

Using a puppet stage can be useful, and can be easily set up with some tables and fabric. However, if you do not have a sound system, don’t use a puppet stage, because the audience will not be able to hear you. Just hold your puppet and talk to it. Don’t worry about them being able to see your mouth move. If you practice how to move your puppet, the kids will focus on the puppet while it speaks, and will focus on you while you speak. It can work beautifully.

 

5. Move the Puppet’s Mouth 

Moving the mouth of the puppet properly is important. You’ve probably watched a puppet skit where the puppet stops moving its mouth as the puppeteer is busy reading his script and forgets to move the puppet’s mouth – it quickly turns the puppet skit into a lame presentation. It’s confusing too; who is talking? Practice moving the mouth in front of a mirror. Open the mouth wide when he says something loudly. If your puppet does not have a mouth that opens, then move the face as he talks.

6. How to Hold the Puppet

After speaking, make sure you hold the puppet in a way so that people can see the face. People often hold the puppet up too high so that the audience sees the neck and mouth, but not the eyes and face.

7. When to Move the Puppet

A lot of the puppetskit will likely involve conversation. Whenever there is a conversation going on, only move the puppet when he is talking. The only exception is that you move him to show that he changes what he is looking at, so he may look at the kids, and then look at you. Movement distracts the audience, so whenever the puppet moves while someone else is talking, he becomes a distraction.

8. Make Eye Contact

Let your puppet look at the audience, and make eye contact with your puppet as you talk to him yourself. Have an actual conversation with your puppet. Eye contact will make your conversation seem more real to your kids.

9. Show Don’t Tell

You may have heard this rule before. It applies to storytelling and drama and writing. And yes, also to puppeteering. Always try to think of ways in which you can communicate without using words. Doing things, acting things out, showing what you mean by using body language and facial expressions will make the kids watch you a little closer. It helps our visual learners, but it also forces the children to keep their eyes on you. It adds interest. It encourages engagement. And that’s what you want.

10. Let the Puppet Introduce Your Topic

Puppets are very useful when it comes to introducing the main topic of your lesson. Let the puppet have a problem that is similar to a situation your children may face, but then slightly more dramatic or silly. During your lesson the children will see how they can handle such a situation in their own lives. At the end of the lesson, you can use the puppet again, and have puppet ask the children how he can deal with his problem. It will give the children an opportunity to figure out how they help someone apply what they learned. It puts the children in a role of teaching the puppet, and that is a great way for them to learn.

What if you have no puppets? Make them yourself? Here’s how!

Coming soon: How to Write a Puppet Skit

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Small Groups

Ministry is most effective  within relationships. And the easiest way for us to build relationships with our children in Sunday School is through Small Groups. Jesus modelled this for us. He had his own Small Group of twelve disciples. Small Groups are the perfect setting for building relationships. One teacher and up to twelve kids see each other every week (or every two weeks), talk about how to live their lives for Jesus, share their experiences, and hold each other accountable; that is the perfect setting to cultivate relationships and to see children grow spiritually. Week after week the teacher shows the children that he cares about them, that he remembers the details of previous conversations, that he takes them seriously and that loves to have fun with them. Can you see it? It is so beautiful. As the relationships grow, the teacher gains the right to speak into the lives of the kids, and he gets to be ministered to by the children, too.

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Building relationships takes time and effort and it does not happen overnight. You must be willing to invest, just like Jesus invested in his disciples. In order to facilitate this, I always keep the rule that volunteers must come every week or every two weeks. No exceptions. When I started in Children’s Ministry, I volunteered once a month and real relationships simply did not develop. It just doesn’t work. If a child doesn’t come the week that you are there, you won’t see that child for two months! If you are serious about reaching kids, volunteering every 2 weeks is no big deal at all, and it will actually make it much, much more rewarding for everyone involved.img_6092

Kids are desperate for adults who will invest in them in this way. I have seen it happen so many times; suddenly kids start to share very personal stories, or they ask questions that have been on their minds for a long time. They are waiting for an opportunity to share with someone – someone they can trust, someone who will actually listen, someone who genuinely cares and who will pray for them. Sadly, often kids don’t have many adults in their lives who are really there for them. If you are willing to invest your time, you can be the person for them. The kids are waiting to have this barrier broken in their lives – the barrier of not really knowing people in their church, people in Children’s Ministry. And this barrier keeps them from getting closer to Jesus. They are waiting for someone. Will you be that person for them?

So what do you do in a Small Group? Check out some of our lesson samples to get some ideas!

Joseph - Living for God Sample Lesson

 

Acts Sample Lesson

 

He Loves Me sample lesson

 

For more on the importance of building relationships, read Barrier #1: No Relationships, or read the series starting at From Barriers to Values.

You can also download the full document From Barriers to Values.

 

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Teach with Creativity – Creative Language Use

Capturing the attention of our children during Sunday School may prove to be more challenging than we’d like to admit. Many children have already heard the Bible stories, so it’s easy for them to ‘tune out’ quickly. What can we do to grab hold of and keep their attention?

Teaching with creativity is a great way to reel in those kids who are about to let their minds wander off in a different direction. There are many creative methods for us to choose from. Let’s look at Creative Language Use.

Here is an example from one of the Acts lessons.

Throughout the lesson the children are taught the phrases that summarize the key parts of the story. By adding motions to the phrases, different learning styles are utilized, and as they memorize the phrases, the kids will be more likely to remember the story itself.

So how can you use this creative teaching method as you prepare to tell a story?

First, divide your story into segments. Make sure that each segment contains an important event from the story.

After that, come up with two phrases or sentences that point out key elements of the story. Try to make rhythmic rhyming phrases. Count the syllables in each phrase to check your rhythm. For example:

“They were beaten but were glad (7), even if it hurt so bad (7).”

“Go stand in the temple and tell everyone (11) about God’s love and what Jesus has done (11).”

You can also keep them shorter, like this:

“We disobey (4), God far away (3). Be born again (4), Be God’s friend (3).” (From He Loves Me, lesson 4)

Finally, come up with simple, clear, interesting motions that flow with the rhythm of your lines. Practice them to make sure that they will work with the story and with your children.

As you tell the story, teach the children the phrases and motions as they come up in the story. After you teach them a set of phrases, repeat the entire set from the beginning of the story and add your new lines at the end. Then continue to tell the story until you finish telling the next key event. Teach the children the next set of phrases, repeat from the top, and continue your story again. This may seem repetitive, but many children will enjoy the challenge and at the end of the lesson they will have memorized all the key elements of the story in a fun way. The children will remember the story and they will be able to use the rhymes to tell someone else the story as well! Have fun!

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Reviews

“This curriculum is absolutely excellent!!! It is presented in such an exciting and engaging way that it totally captures the children’s attentions, enabling them to really understand the lessons. It is also great that it can be applied to children from different backgrounds. It was wonderful using it to teach the kids about God and the Bible.”

Meti Ketema – Ethiopia

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Reviews

“It’s packed with full of resources and fun ideas. As a Sunday School teacher, I enjoyed preparing the lessons for the kids using these books. We will be able to use it for all kids with any background. Personally, it amazes me to see auther’s natural way of approaching kids with the strong truths from the Bible and encouraging them to memorizing scriptures by heart. Great job, Jacoba! Wish you will continue to explore treasures for kids.”

Ruth Arokia – Ethiopia

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Acts Curriculum – Available now!

In our shop now:

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Downloadable Children’s Ministry Curriculum.

So after Jesus went to heaven, what happened? Here’s a resource to help you teach your kids in creative, fun, engaging ways!

There are so many powerful, beautiful and encouraging stories in the book of Acts. They show us so many things, like how God wants to use us and encourage us, how we can tell others about Jesus, how we need to serve Jesus with a pure heart, how we can be guided by the Holy Spirit, and how we can praise Jesus no matter what our circumstances are. And so much more!

Download a free lesson sample here:  Acts Sample Lesson

Download a brief overview of the lessons here:  Acts Summary

Purchase the full curriculum or go to the Resource Shop

 

Find out what others are saying about Reach Out Kids Children’s Ministry Curriculum.

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Acts Curriculum

Coming soon!

acts cover
A Children’s Ministry Curriculum based on the book of Acts. Includes 14 Large Group – Small Group lessons.

The stories in Acts are filled with important, powerful, transforming lessons! Kids  will discover that God calls them to live their lives fully devoted to Him, and how they can reach out to the world around them. Twelve lessons are based on the book of Acts, one lesson focusses on how God uses kids all over the world today, and the series concludes with a lesson about Heaven.

Different creative teaching methods are used in each lesson. Highly practical. Uses only easy-to-find-materials. Reproducibles included.

Price: $24.99

Contact us if you want to be notified at the time of the release of this series!

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Barrier #6: I’m SO Smart!

This is the last barrier in the series From Barriers to Values, and it is one that I didn’t discover until after I had started been giving this training module at our church for some time. As I began to recognize the existence of this well-disguised barrier, I started to see that this is a barrier we cannot afford to ignore.

As we get to know the children in our classes, we can easily divide them into a few categories. There are the disruptive ones, who often get in trouble because they always push the boundaries and step outside them in order to see what will happen. There are a few clowns, who may or may not get in trouble, depending on how good they are at staying just within those boundaries. There are some average kids, who are neither clowns nor pushers, and although many of them may not be particularly eager to learn, they do quite well in general. And then there are the smart ones. Some of them are simply very smart, and may not even realize it or they may not think much of it. But there may be some who like being smart and they are proud of it. Some of them want to answer all questions and do so before anyone else does. Some have a need to show off.

This sixth barrier, I’m So Smart, is not a barrier in all kids, but it is a barrier for kids who are prideful about being smart. This barrier is different than the previous ones, as most of those focus on kids who struggle to engage. This barrier focuses on kids who actually are very engaged, but they focus on head knowledge and impressing others, without engaging their hearts with the message. They have pride in their hearts.

The Bible says, “Knowledge puff us.” (1 Corinthians 8:1) Pride is never good. We can be proud of our accomplishments in a humble sort of way, knowing that what we accomplished we were only able to do because God gave us the ability, but pride is not like that. Pride says, “I’m better than you!” In this case it says, “I’m smarter than you and therefore I am better than you!” And, though it may be subtle, it says so with attitude.

Well-meaning teachers often feed into this barrier, perhaps mostly unintentionally. It is fed when we have children memorize verses and hand out prizes to the ones who have memorized the most. It is fed when we only ask knowledge-based questions. It is fed when we always let the same children answer. It is fed when teachers favour smart kids. If left unchecked, the smart kids get more prideful and the not-so-smart-kids feel more and more left out, and will eventually give up and stop trying.

Knowing a lot about the Bible, of course, is great. Memorizing verses is important. Having brains that can process information well is a wonderful blessing. So how do we deal with this barrier?

Strategy 11: Reaching Hearts

Children’s Ministry is not about head-knowledge only, and it’s not about giving perfect answers. What is it about, then? I believe the answer is not so hard to find, although implementing it will require constant watchfulness on our part. Here’s our strategy: we must focus on reaching the hearts of the children.

“Knowledge puffs up,” the Bible says, and then it continues, “but love builds up.” Our answer is love. Focus on love. Help the children discover God’s amazing, powerful, transforming love for them. Help the children to love God above all, and to love others as themselves. As we do this, they will be built up in a healthy way.

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You see, God has always been after our love. He wants us to love Him with all of our hearts, souls, minds and strength. (Deuteronomy 6:5) Although He wants us to know Him with our minds, God does not just want us to have head-knowledge about Him. Neither does He want just an emotional response from us. He wants all of us. No holding back. And the most amazing part of it is that above all He wants our love. He wants us to love Him with our hearts. He wants us to love Him with our souls. He wants us to love Him with our minds. He wants us to love Him with our strength. How amazing that the Creator of the universe longs for my love, for your love, and for the love the children can give Him.

Here are some practical steps:

  • Teach the children from your heart. Let the stories enter your heart as you prepare to teach them, as I described in Strategy 7: Value Excellence – Excellence from your Heart. Let the story change you, move you, penetrate you. You cannot teach from your heart if the story has not entered your heart. If it has only entered your head, it will only come from your head and reach the heads of the children.
  • As you teach, point out things about God’s character and how He demonstrates His love, care, protection and faithfulness to the people in the stories. Focus on things that will help the children stand in awe of God, rather than just focussing on the facts of the things that happened in the story. This will help to strengthen their love for God as well as their faith.
  • Instead of asking “knowledge” questions, include other kinds of questions. Ask questions about how they can apply the stories to their lives. Ask questions that require honesty and openness about the things the kids might be struggling with. Praise kids for giving honest answers, not just the “right” answers.
  • Do not reward answering questions with candy or stickers or other things. This will only motivate the kids to answer by telling you what they think you want to hear, rather than telling you what is in their hearts.
  • Don’t always choose the same children to answer your questions.
  • Don’t treat smarter kids as your favorites, as this can breed bitterness in the other children.
  •  When children give answers that you don’t quite understand, or that don’t seem to make sense, ask more questions to clarify what they are trying to say. Sometimes they have a hard time expressing themselves, and they may actually have a great point hidden underneath their confusing answer.
  •  Encourage children to obey God, not out of obligation, but from their hearts. Teach them about having a positive attitude as they obey. Teach them to obey God because you love Him, not because you want to stay out of trouble.
  • Sometimes doing the right thing is hard. Sometimes understanding what is going on in our lives is hard. Model transparency and honesty. Tell the kids that you sometimes struggle with certain things as well so that they can see that nobody is perfect, and that it is okay to talk about it. Do this in a child-appropriate way. If they ask a difficult question and you don’t now the answer, tell them. You can say that you’ll look into it and will try to have an answer next time. Or you can tell them that some things are a mystery, and we do not have answers to all questions.
  • Model being teachable. Being teachable requires humility, and is the opposite of a prideful “I know it all” attitude. You can tell them about the new things you have discovered in the lesson yourself. Encourage the kids to be teachable as well.

When we focus on reaching the hearts of the children with God’s love, we will work to bring down this prideful barrier in our children. As we seek to build up our children through love, all children, the smart ones and the not-so-smart ones, will be able to know that they are loved and valued, not because of the perfect answers they give, but simply because they were wonderfully created by our God. Let’s show all our children that our mighty God dearly loves them.

Other articles in this series:

From Barriers to Values
Barrier #1: No Relationships
Barrier #2: Church is Boring
Strategy 3: Value Fun
Strategy 4: Value Creativity
Strategy 5: Value Learning Styles
Strategy 6: Value the Uniqueness of Childhood
Barrier #3: Poor Presentation
Strategy 8: Value Storytelling Techniques
Barrier #4: It’s Just a Bunch of History
Barrier #5: I Don’t Understand!

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