Cooperative meal

This is a meal you won’t forget! When your family arrives at the dinner table, pair them up as “eating partners.” Take strips of soft cloth and tie the partners’ wrists together, then instruct each pair that they will need to communicate and cooperate to eat their meal successfully. (Depending on the ages and maturity of your children, you may prefer to try this at snack time or over dessert, or plan to serve finger foods only.)

If you have an odd number of people in your family, take turns partnering up. Each person may only use their tied hand to eat; the other hand must remain on their lap or tucked in a pocket.

Pray prior to eating, asking God to send His Spirit to give you love, peace and joy as you eat together.

During your meal, read your choice of the verses provided below, and use the discussion questions to create more dialogue on cooperation and the importance of relying on God for help in situations where there is potential for friction.

Questions for discussion
  • How did you feel when you were trying to put food in your mouth, but you had to allow your hand to feed the other person instead?
  • Was this a fun way to eat or do you prefer eating on your own?
  • What was the funniest thing that happened to you?
  • Did you ever feel frustrated or angry?
  • If so, how did you handle the problem?
  • We had to depend on each other in order to eat. How else do family members rely on each other?
Key concepts

The cooperative eating effort reminds us that is easy to get frustrated or angry when we are required to coordinate efforts. The Bible gives us a lot of valuable advice regarding these kinds of situations: stay under control, keep your cool, be quick to listen and slow to speak, speak gently, be willing to put the needs of others before your own, put up with each other and forgive readily! God gives us His Holy Spirit to create unity.

Relevant Scripture

Psalm 133:1 “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!

Proverbs 29:11 “A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.

1 Corinthians 10:24 “Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.

The big cook

Plan a “cooperative cooking” event to model the benefits of working together. You can cook as a family or organize an event with a group of friends. Ideally, your children will be a part of the team.

The idea behind cooperative cooking is to prepare large quantities of healthy, freezable meals. To find appropriate recipes, search online or use your own favourites. One helpful recipe book is The Big Cook. You can check it out at

Depending on the ages of your children, you may need to hire a babysitter or have older children care for youngsters who won’t stay occupied in the kitchen for long. Another option is to recruit cooperative dads to care for the kids while the moms cook (or roles may be reversed).

For simplicity’s sake, you may prefer to involve only your spouse and your kids in your cooperative cooking event. Don’t be concerned if your children’s participation slows things down. What matters is that they experience being part of the process.

As you eat your meals together, remind your children of the win-win results when everyone cooperated to cook and freeze meals.

Cooperating in the kitchen

In this activity, children will practice following another person’s lead, and leading without being bossy. To prepare, you will need to mix up a batch of cookie dough (for cookie-cutter cookies) or bread dough. For a no-bake alternative, use playdough or modelling clay.

  • Choose one child to lead first and ask everyone else to cooperate by shaping the cookies or buns as the leader demonstrates. (Be sure to divide the dough into equal portions so that everyone gets a chance to be in the leadership role before the dough is used up.)
  • Take turns leading until everyone has had a chance to “teach” the others how to make cookie shapes.
  • This is an ideal time to let your children hear you saying, “Let’s do it your way now.” Also try to make comments similar to these: “We usually make round cookies or buns. What shapes do you think would taste good?” “I’ve never dreamed of a cookie that big!” Or, “You know, I always thought cookies were supposed to be round, but square ones look just fine too!”
  • After the cookies have been baked, sit down to enjoy them as a snack and take time to discuss how much fun it was to share design ideas with each other. Use the questions below in your discussion.
Questions for discussion
  • Which role did you enjoy more: being the leader or the follower?
  • How did you feel when someone told you to make cookies that seemed odd to you?
  • When you are playing with a friend and they keep insisting on doing things their way, how do you feel?
  • How do you think your friends feel when you are always telling them how to play a game?
  • How can you cooperate with others during playtime so they can enjoy playing at our house?
Relevant Scripture

Ephesians 5:21 “. . . submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Proverbs 16:21 “The wise of heart is called discerning, and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness

Favourite foods extravaganza

This activity need not take place during your main meal of the day. It could be a special lunch or snack, if you wish.

You will need to prepare ahead of time by making a “character trait affirmation card” for each child (see text ideas below). Next, place each card in an envelope and tape the appropriate envelope to the bottom of each child’s chair.

While you are eating, allow your children to take turns opening their envelopes. Read the verses and questions listed on each card to start a conversation about how living out that character quality causes God delight.

Here’s some suggested text for a number of different character trait affirmation cards: generosity, reverence, compassion, honesty, humility, faithfulness, obedience, kindness, righteousness and servant-hearted.

Character trait: Generosity

Key concept

God is delighted when we are cheerful givers!

Relevant Scripture

2 Corinthians 9:7 “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

1 Corinthians 10:24 “Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.”

Philippians 2:3-4 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

Questions for discussion

1. Can you think of some ways our family is generous?
2. Do we give cheerfully?
3. Are there any other ways you would like to be generous and share what God has given us?


Character trait: Reverence

Key concept

God delights in those who fear Him! (To “fear” God means to deeply admire, respect and be in awe of God.)

Relevant Scripture

Psalm 147:10-11 “His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor His delight in the legs of a man; the Lord delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love.”

Questions for discussion

1. When are we tempted to be proud of our own strength or abilities?
2. What does God care about more: our hearts or our bodies?
3. What does it mean to “fear” God?


Character trait: Compassion

Key concept

God delights in showing mercy and He is pleased when we are merciful toward each other as well. God’s greatest gift of mercy is His willingness to forgive us.

Relevant Scripture

Micah 7:18 “Who is a God like You, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of His inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.”

Zechariah 7:9 “This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another.’ ”

Matthew 5:7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”

Matthew 25:40 “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’ ”

Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Questions for discussion

1. What does it mean to “show mercy” to someone?
2. How can we be merciful to each other?
3. Are there any ways we can be merciful to those outside of our family?


Character trait: Honesty

Key concept

When we tell the truth, God is delighted!

Relevant Scripture

Proverbs 12:22 “The Lord detests lying lips, but He delights in men who are truthful.”

Psalm 15:1-2 “Lord, who may dwell in Your sanctuary? Who may live on Your holy hill? He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart . . .”

Psalm 101:6-7 “My eyes will be on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with Me; he whose walk is blameless will minister to Me. No one who practices deceit will dwell in My house; no one who speaks falsely will stand in My presence.”

Questions for discussion

1. What does “detest” mean?
2. Are there any foods you detest?
3. Which foods do you delight in?
4. Do you think God would rather eat dessert, or listen to kids tell the truth?


Character trait: Humility

Key concept

God delights in and honours people who are humble!

Relevant Scripture

Psalm 149: 3-5 “Let them praise His name with dancing and make music to Him with tambourine and harp. For the Lord takes delight in His people; He crowns the humble with salvation. Let the saints rejoice in this honor and sing for joy on their beds.”

Isaiah 66:2 “ ‘Has not My hand made all these things, and so they came into being?’ declares the Lord. ‘This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at My word.’ ”

Psalm 31:23 “Love the Lord, all His saints! The Lord preserves the faithful, but the proud He pays back in full.”

Questions for discussion

1. How often do you sing in your bed?
2. What does it mean to rejoice?
3. What does it mean to “esteem” someone?


Character trait: Obedience

Key concept

God is delighted when people choose to obey Him and live righteously. God is also pleased when children obey their parents.

Relevant Scripture

Colossians 3:20 “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.”

Proverbs 11:20 “The Lord detests men of perverse heart but He delights in those whose ways are blameless.”

Joshua 22:5 “But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you: to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to obey His commands, to hold fast to Him and to serve Him with all your heart and all your soul.”

Questions for discussion

1. Who is pleased when kids obey their parents?
2. What does “righteousness” mean?
3. What does it mean to be “blameless”?
4. What does “disobedience” mean?


Character traits: Kindness, justice and righteousness

Key concept

The Bible tells us that God loves kindness, justice and righteousness.

Relevant Scripture

Jeremiah 9:24 “. . . but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,’ declares the Lord.”

Psalm 11:7 “For the Lord is righteous, He loves justice; upright men will see His face.”

Psalm 101:6 “My eyes will be on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with Me; he whose walk is blameless will minister to Me.”

Questions for discussion

1. What does it meant to be blameless or upright?
2. Can you tell me what the opposite of kindness is?
3. What is the opposite of justice?
4. How about the opposite of righteousness?


Character traits: Servant-hearted

Key concept

God is pleased when we follow Jesus’ example and choose to please Him and others, instead of pleasing ourselves.

Relevant Scripture

Romans 15:1-3 “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For even Christ did not please Himself . . .”

1 John 2:6 “Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did.”

Luke 6:31 “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

Questions for discussion

1. What kind of attitude did Jesus have?
2. Did Jesus live to please God or Himself?
3. How can you serve others?

Candy cane crunchin’ – a reminder about faithfulness

Read Psalm 23 and search the Internet for The Legend of the Candy Cane and read it to your children while they savour their peppermint treat.

Relevant Scripture

Micah 5:4-5a “He will stand and shepherd His flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord His God. And they will live securely, for then His greatness will reach to the ends of the earth. And He will be their peace.

A yucky lesson

Some families choose not participate in any activities that are associated with Halloween. If this is the situation with your family, please do not be offended by this suggestion. We respect your choice to pass over this activity option.

You will need a whole pumpkin, squash or eggplant to complete this activity.

  • Carve out the insides of the pumpkin with your children. As you are removing the seeds and slime from the pumpkin, explain to your children that just as you are cleaning the inside of the pumpkin and taking out all the “yucky” stuff, Jesus cleans all the “yuck” (sin) from inside our hearts. Talk about what kind of “yuck” there might be inside of us (unforgiveness, unkindness, anger, hate, envy, jealousy, disrespect, etc.).
  • Carve a design on the pumpkin – perhaps a cross or a smiling face.
  • Then place a candle inside the pumpkin and turn off the lights. (Be sure never to leave the candle unattended. You may wish to use a flashlight instead of a candle.) Tell your children that just as the candle lights up the inside of the pumpkin, Jesus’ light shines inside our hearts and radiates so that other people can see it. When we ask Jesus to come and live in us, His love fills our hearts so that we can share it with others (1 John 4:10-15). Other people see this light and are drawn to it. The people who see the light of Jesus’ love in your life may ask why you are the way that you are. Then you can tell them it’s all because you have the love of Jesus in your heart!

Bitter roots

Have your children taste a bitter, non-poisonous root such as ginger. Alternatively, use some horseradish, lemon juice or lime juice. Have something sweet on hand for your children to eat to remove the bitter taste. Then read Hebrews 12:14-15.

Questions for discussion
  • Do you prefer a bitter or a sweet taste?
  • How did you make the bad taste in your mouth go away?
  • How can we make sure no bitter roots grow up in our family and among our friends?
Key concepts

One of Satan’s favourite tools to cause discord in families and churches is the root of bitterness. It happens easily: one person does wrong to another without realizing it and then the person who feels wronged holds a grudge. Pretty soon everyone is so busy being bitter towards each other, they forget to love each other.

If we miss the grace of God, we harbour grudges and do not forgive. On the other hand, when we share the grace of God with others, we readily forgive before the other person asks our forgiveness.

Holding grudges and not forgiving puts a bad taste in our relationships like the ________ (bitter tasting food). When we forgive others, it is like the ________ (sweet treat). When you ate the ________, it helped to take the bad taste out of your mouth. Just as the sweet taste took away the bitter taste, so God can remove unforgiveness from our hearts and replace it with love.

Relevant Scripture

Hebrews 12:14-15 “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”

Generosity party time

Practice being generous with each other. For instance, have an ice cream sundae night. Each family member makes a sundae for someone else in the family. Put out ice cream and a variety of toppings, and allow your children to be generous in making sundaes for other family members. You can also do this with “monster cookies,” which are oatmeal cookies filled with numerous additions like nuts, chocolate chips, sprinkles, etc. Family members can make monster cookies for designated family members, decorating each other’s cookies generously.

Sweets for the sweet

To celebrate what your child has learned about gentleness in speech, surprise your children with small candies or other sweet treats when they speak gently. Double the reward if they have responded with gentleness to harsh words or someone’s negative attitude.

Relevant Scripture

Proverbs 15:1 “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

Proverbs 16:24 “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”

Please, may I have the crust?

This hands-on option is based on Proverbs 17:1.

During a meal when crusts (or other food items) are avoided, it is a great time to discuss the value of getting along with others. Pick up the piece of food that is left over and ask your children if they would rather eat the crust or the dessert. In most cases, the dessert will be chosen.

Explain that the Bible says it is better to be in a home where there is nothing to eat but dry bread crusts and there is peace, than to live in a house where there is feasting and fighting. The gist of this lesson is that the quality of relationships we have in our home are far more important than the material things that are in a home.

As you enjoy eating dessert, make up your own Proverbs. For example, “It’s better to have an old rusty bicycle with a peaceful and quiet home, than a new shiny one with fighting and biting.” “Better a black and white 12 inch screen TV with harmony than a 60 inch plasma TV with discord.” Close the discussion by praying and asking that God would help you prioritize and value peace in your family more than worldly possessions and comforts.

Relevant Scripture

Proverbs 17:1 “Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting with strife.”