One wise minister once said, “If you don’t put on a program for kids, they will put on one for you.”
Those words are so true! From beginning to end, I plan almost every detail of our weekly meeting but I used to fall short with pre-church activities. Many of our children arrive early on one of our vans or buses without parents or grandparents. To keep kids’ hands busy until the program starts, I rotate activities each week. Here are some of the ideas I use to fill time in my ministry.
- Mini board games: I routinely visit the dollar store to find new mini games like mini bingo, checkers, Scrabble, Boggle etc. Have several sets out of the box, assembled and ready to use.
- Play dough toys: I know many teachers have mixed feelings about this doughy product but the kids seem to love it. We use it in the non-carpeted area and always have volunteers monitoring. If you’re really concerned about getting dough on the carpet, stuff play dough into large balloons and tie them off. Draw funny faces on the balloon with permanent markers. Kids will love these active toys.
- Butcher paper coloring: Want a tip for saving time and money on coloring activities? Invest in a roll of butcher paper! Spread the paper across the table, taping the edges to the table to keep it in place. No more standing in front of the copier or searching for coloring pages to copy.
- Story time reading: Wear a wacky hat and read a story to the kids while you wait to get started. I put a chair in a corner of the room and ask kids to sit around me. We read Bible and inspirational stories. This activity is the perfect vehicle for interacting with my children.
- Straw games: Before class, cut out shapes from construction paper. If you have a die cut machine this goes much faster. Put all the shapes on one end of a table and give all the kids a straw. Kids need to move the shapes from one end of the table to another using only their straws. Wacky fun!
- Table hockey: You need a table and bean bags for this hockey game. Kids have to slide the bean bags down the table, sliding them off the end, not the sides.
- Prayer box or board: Post a board or a prayer box somewhere prominent. Encourage the kids to stop by the prayer station when they arrive to write down their prayer requests.
- Icebreaker sheets: Each week, ask kids a silly question or two, like, “Which do you prefer Doritos or Fritos?” I print the question on 1/4 page flyers. I use the icebreaker sheets during the service, letting the audience guess who prefers which chips.
- Discovery bottles: I admit that I found this idea on Pinterest but my kids really enjoyed it so I had to share it with you. Fill empty, dry water bottles with colored sand, small sea shells or other objects. When they turn the bottles, (with the lids on them) they can “discover” the small objects hidden inside.
Keep your kids occupied before and after your church service with these cool ideas.