Salty snacks

Prepare a salty snack like pretzels, chips or popcorn for your family and use it as an opportunity to talk about peace. Begin by reading Colossians 4:6. Put individual portions of the snack in sandwich bags along with a verse to read. Choose from Mark 9:50, 2 Corinthians 13:11, 1 Thessalonians 5:15 and Matthew 5:13-16, or any of the verses in the memory verses section.

Read each verse and talk about the difference between “salty talk” and “sour talk.” (“Salty talk” expresses God’s grace to others, promoting peace. The opposite is “sour talk,” words that are quick to judge and accuse others.) When a child speaks in a way that lacks grace and forgiveness, you can gently remind him/her by saying, “Kind words are salty words.” Or “Sprinkle your words with gentleness.”

Relevant Scripture

Colossians 4:6 “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

Celebrate unity!

Life is good and pleasant for everyone when family members live in unity. We can easily take it for granted when children are getting along well. Instead of ignoring the peace, choose to celebrate it!

When you hear a child choosing to be a peacemaker, surprise the playmates by giving a small treat to all of them. As you do, recite Psalm 133:1. Keep the reward small and simple so you can repeat it often (e.g. a chocolate chip, a mini-marshmallow, a sticker or a penny). You may also choose to link this suggestion with the kick-off craft by offering additional decorations for the musical instruments as rewards.

Relevant Scripture

Psalm 133:1 “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!”

“Oh yucky!” exercise

Assemble some foods that your children detest – foods so “yucky” they wouldn’t even want to try tasting them. Have some of their favourite snacks available too.

To demonstrate how much God hates lying, ask them if they would like to eat any of the detestable foods. Obviously, the answer will be an emphatic, No! Explain that God detests lying even more than they hate the “yucky” food.

Read the verses listed below. Close by letting your children have one of their favourite treats and explain that, just as they delight in their favourite food, God delights even more so when they tell the truth.

To further reinforce this lesson, give each child one of the preferred snacks whenever you observe them telling the truth.

Relevant Scripture

Proverbs 6:16-19 “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to Him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.”

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

Zechariah 8:16-17 “ ‘These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to each other, and render true and sound judgement in your courts; do not plot evil against your neighbor, and do not love to swear falsely. I hate all this,’ declares the Lord.”

Sweet detectives

Set out a variety of treats on the table. Some good ideas include melted marshmallow, icing sugar, pudding, Oreo cookie crumbs and melted chocolate with pretzels to dip in.

Have all but one person exit the room. The remaining person may sample one of the treats. (With younger children it is wise to have an adult stay to supervise quantities.) When he/she has sampled one treat, he/she calls the others back in.

Invite the others to guess which treat has been sampled. Note any deceptions the “sampler” has used, such as spilling some extra crumbs on the table to make others believe that they had actually sampled that treat. Take turns until everyone has had a chance to be the sampler at least once.

Reviewing the following questions will help you share the concept with your children that no matter what we do, God is always watching. Take time to explain that even if we conceal our sin from others, God knows what we have done. Let your children know that concealing truth is still considered lying. Choose one or more of the verses listed below to pray in closing.

Questions for discussion
  • How could you tell what treat had been sampled?
  • Even if we guessed wrong, who knows exactly what the sampler ate?
  • Who, other than the supervisor, knows how much the sampler ate?
  • Have you ever tried to cover up the truth only to find out that some little clue led your parents or teacher to the truth?
  • Is it wrong to try and cover up the truth, even if you don’t say anything?
  • Can you lie without saying anything at all?
  • Even if your parents or teachers never know what you have done wrong, who knows?
Relevant Scripture

Psalm 51:6 “Surely You desire truth in the inner parts; You teach me wisdom in the inmost place.”

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.”

Psalm 119:29-30 “Keep me from deceitful ways; be gracious to me through Your law. I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on Your laws.”

Jujube® sneak

Set a bowl of candy on the table after a meal. Have one parent sneak a handful of candy and hide it while the other parent is looking the other way or has left the room.

When the other parent returns, they are to ask, “Hey, has someone taken some candy?”

The candy sneak then asks the kids if he/she should confess that they took the candy. If the kids counsel the parent to tell the truth, everyone gets to share the candy. If your children advise the candy sneaker to lie, then no one gets any.

Questions for discussion

Use the following verses to share a Biblical perspective with your children:

Proverbs 19:9 “A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who pours out lies will perish.”

Proverbs 28:13 “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.”

Proverbs 24:12 “If you say, ‘But we knew nothing about this,’ does not He who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not He who guards your life know it? Will He not repay each person according to what he has done?”

Psalm 139:1,4 “O Lord, You have searched me and You know me. …Before a word is on my tongue You know it completely, O Lord.”

Party time!

Have a truth-telling party! Make the theme “Love rejoices in truth – and so does God” (1 Corinthians 13:6, Proverbs 12:22). You can keep your party simple by adding ice cream at the end of your suppertime meal, or celebrate to the max with balloons, a special dessert, party hats, honoured guests and party games.

Whichever approach you take, make it clear that you are celebrating because you are a family who tells the truth. See the hands-on option entitled “Jujube® sneak” and “sweet detectives” for some other ideas to incorporate into your party.

Relevant Scripture

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

1 Corinthians 13:6 “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.”

Celebrate the joy of Christmas

The purpose of Christmas is to remember Jesus’ birth, so why not celebrate it outside the traditional season? Most children love Christmas and would not object to some Christmas festivities being added to the family schedule any time of year! The ideas provided here focus on the joy surrounding the birth of Jesus and on the enjoyment found in giving. Whichever activity you choose, you can use the discussion questions and related Bible verses to highlight the “Christmas-Jesus-Joy” connection.

Serving others

Organize a stocking stuffing event as a way to have family members bless each other with non-material blessings. Have each family member hang a mini-stocking. Put each person’s picture on their stocking, then have each family member write a note or draw a picture for every other family member, telling or displaying something they appreciate about them. Encourage your kids to be creative and provide assistance as needed. When you open the stockings, do so one person at a time, allowing time for each person to share what the other family members have written or drawn. To make the occasion even sweeter, you may want to hand out candy canes (or flavoured hard candy sticks) to savour while you enjoy the sweetness of your together time.

Fun with food

Make mini-gingerbread “stables” out of graham crackers. Use one cracker for each side wall, one for the roof and one for a back wall. Leave the front side open. While your kids are decorating the walls and interior, ask your kids what they think Jesus was like when He was a child. Have them think of a “Jesus-like” character trait that each type of candy, cereal or dried fruit can represent. For example, cinnamon hearts can serve as a reminder that there is joy in a home when family members are loving toward each other. Another child might say that a gummy blue whale reminds him to be generous and share his toys.

To make the icing for your gingerbread stables, you will need:

2 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla or peppermint extract
2 ½ – 3 cups of icing sugar

Use a hand mixer to beat the egg whites until they are fluffy. Add the flavouring, along with half a cup of powdered sugar. Beat the mixture until it’s smooth. Keep adding icing sugar, half a cup at a time, until the icing forms stiff peaks. This icing is ideal for decorating as it hardens quickly. If you are not going to use it right away, cover it tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate it.

Serving others

To allow your children to experience the joy of giving, plan to surprise someone with a gift of some Christmas baking, out of season. Prior to deciding who you should share your baking with, ask God which family friend, relative or neighbour is in need of extra encouragement. Use the experience as an opportunity to talk with your children about how joyful they feel when they bless another person with a gift. Compare this to the joy they feel when they receive gifts.

Nativity drama

Set up a Nativity scene and have your children act out the Christmas story while you read it aloud. Household items like brooms, towels and bathrobes can serve as props and the cast’s wardrobe. As you read the Christmas story, let your kids play a variety of roles using props of their choice. For example, they might choose a mop to be a donkey, a laundry basket as a manger and a tissue box as a wise man’s gift.

Creative crafts

If your children enjoy crafts, have them make a “baby Jesus in a manger ornament.” As they work, use the opportunity to discuss the joy of the first Christmas. Share with your children the angel’s announcement to the shepherds, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people” (Luke 2:10). Remind your kids that through Jesus, God gave the whole world the gift of salvation.

To make one manger ornament, you will need:

a circular mini-grape vine wreath (6-8 cm or 2½ – 3 inches in diameter)
a wooden bead (1.5 cm or ½ inch in diameter)
strips of cloth (cut from an old tea towel)
a piece of string or ribbon
an ice pop stick
straw of any sort
felt markers
a low-temperature glue gun

  • Begin by gluing a layer of brown cardboard on the bottom of the grapevine wreath to create a manger. Spread a layer of glue in the bottom of the manger and have your child fill it with craft moss, shredded yellow paper or tissue, yellow yarn or Easter basket grass, making a cozy manger.
  • To make baby Jesus, draw closed eyes and a little mouth on the wooden bead. Glue one-third of an ice pop stick to the back of the bead to serve as a “body,” then have your child wrap strips of cloth around and around the stick until it looks like a wrapped-up baby. Secure the end of the cloth with a spot of glue.
  • Glue another smaller strip of cloth over the baby’s head to cover the bead hole.
  • Finally, glue the baby in the manger and tie a ribbon to the top of the wreath so you can hang it up.

Note: This baby Jesus ornament can also be used in the shadow box for the kick-off craft of this lesson.

Drive time

While you are travelling in your family’s vehicle, sing Joy to the World and talk about ways that Jesus brings joy to your lives. Put your ideas into song with your own Jesus-centred remake of The Twelve Days of Christmas. Here’s a sample to jump-start your own ideas:

On the first day of Christmas, Jesus gave to me, His Spirit to live in me.

On the second day of Christmas, Jesus gave to me, two helping hands…

On the third day of Christmas, Jesus gave to me, three cups of kindness…

On the fourth day of Christmas, Jesus gave to me, four jugs of joy…

On the fifth day of Christmas, Jesus gave to me, five reasons to share…

On the sixth day of Christmas, Jesus gave to me, six packs of peace…

On the seventh day of Christmas, Jesus gave to me, seven sacks of smiles…

On the eighth day of Christmas, Jesus gave to me, eight gobs of goodness…

On the ninth day of Christmas, Jesus gave to me, nine loads of love…

On the tenth day of Christmas, Jesus gave to me, ten tons of trust…

On the eleventh day of Christmas, Jesus gave to me, eleven pounds of patience…

On the twelfth day of Christmas, Jesus gave to me, twelve jars of gentleness…

Questions for discussion
  • What is your most favourite Christmas tradition of all?
  • If you could play a part in the Christmas story, which character would you like to be?
  • What do you think it would have been like to have Jesus as a brother?
  • How does Jesus bring joy to your life?
  • How does knowing Jesus change the way you treat others?
Relevant Scripture

Acts 20:35 “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus Himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”

Luke 2:10-12 “But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ ”

Luke 11:13 “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”

1 Thessalonians 5:11 “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”

Popcorn dipping party

Plan a zany activity you can enjoy as a family. Choose from the options below (or any combination thereof), or plan an activity of your own. The goal is to laugh together as much as possible.

Fun with food

Have a popcorn fondue party. Beforehand, prepare by using a low-temperature glue gun to glue cotton balls all over disposable shower caps (one for each family member). The plan is to wear these hats during your party. After everyone dons a cap, put popcorn in the microwave or hot-air popper. While the popcorn is popping, jump around pretending that you are popcorn kernels popping too. Pretend that you are exploding; bump into each other and roll on the floor again and again until the real popcorn is done popping.

Have everyone in the family decide on one or two “dipping sauces” to use with the popcorn you have popped. Examples include peanut butter, peanut butter mixed with melted chocolate, chocolate or butterscotch sundae sauce, melted cheese, jam, ranch or dill-flavoured salad dressing, cream cheese (any flavour), melted butter, pizza sauce, mustard and ketchup. Put a spot of each of the dipping sauces on each person’s plate and give out toothpicks to use as fondue forks. Enjoy as many creative popcorn dipping combinations as you can think of – or stomach!

Fun with hair

Try some crazy hair capers. Start your family fun time by blowing up some balloons. Rub balloons on each person’s head to create enough static electricity to cause their hair to stand on end. See if you can create enough static to stick the balloons on the walls or on your clothing. Can you cover someone completely in balloons?

Since everyone’s hair is now a mess anyway, this is an ideal time to take turns “sculpting” each other’s hair. Bring out some styling gel and have fun creating wild and wacky hairstyles on each other. Don’t forget to take photos or video footage of your escapade!

Note: Supervise young children closely during this activity to ensure they do not chew or inhale deflated balloons or balloon fragments.

Fun with faces

Visit the website and look up pictures of dogs and cats that share the names of your family members. (Young kids find this particularly funny.) See how many dogs you can look at without laughing! You’ll have to navigate around the site a little to find the correct search field. On the home page, click the orange “Community” button. On the drop-down menu, choose “See the dogs.” Next, scroll down near the bottom of the “See the dogs” page and choose “Advanced search.” On the search criteria page, just enter the name of a family member in the search field “Name.” If you prefer feline humour, there is a similar website called

After you enjoy the absolute silliness of letting loose with people you trust enough to be crazy with, thank God for placing you in a family where you can enjoy laughing together. Pray together, thanking God for laughter and for the joy of being a part of a loving family.

Relevant Scripture

Psalm 68:4-6 “Sing to God, sing praise to His name, extol Him who rides on the clouds – His name is the Lord – and rejoice before Him. A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, He leads forth the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.”

Fruit faces

At snack time, cut up fruit in various shapes that will lend themselves to making a smiley face on a plate. For example, a cantaloupe slice can make a smile, apple wedges arch like eyebrows, grapes cut in two are ideal for eyes, and halved strawberries look like funny noses.

Supply the fruit slices and allow your children to be creative in making their fruit face. As you give out the fruit, explain that when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, we are kind and loving to others.

Read Galatians 5:22-23 and ask your children which fruit they think represents certain character qualities. Help them by reviewing choices for them, including love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. As they place fruit on their plate, ask them which fruit of the Spirit it represents, and discuss how the various fruits of the Spirit can help family members be kind to each other. Later, when you can see your children in a situation where they are tempted to be unkind, ask them as a gentle reminder, “Are you growing kindness fruit today?”

Relevant Scripture

Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

“Flopped” cookies

Make oatmeal chocolate chip cookies with your children. Use the recipe for “Family Favourite Oatmeal Cookies” provided below, or another recipe of your own choosing.

Next, make a second, smaller batch of cookies that don’t turn out well. Use a recipe of your own, being sure to double the quantity of oil, or follow the recipe for “Sure-to-Flop Cookies” provided below. The increased proportion of oil will make the cookies meld together on the cookie sheet. (Don’t worry, the “flopped” cookies won’t be wasted; they can be crumbled up and used as an ice cream topping.)

When you are making the second batch, tell your children that you are “making it up as you go.”

After you have compared the success of the two batches of cookies and while you are sampling the cookies, talk to your children about the importance of following instructions. Use this to lead into a discussion on the importance of following God’s instructions. Close your time by praying that God would help you follow His instructions found in the Bible.

Questions for discussion
  • What did I do right the first time?
  • What went wrong with the second batch?
  • Where do we find God’s instructions?
  • What does the Bible say about children obeying their parents?
  • What is the promise for children who do obey their parents?
Relevant Scripture

Ephesians 6:1-3 “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’ – which is the first commandment with a promise – ‘That it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on earth.’ ”

Family Favourite Oatmeal Cookies

¾ cup butter or margarine
¾ cup apple sauce
2 cups brown sugar
4 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
⅔ cup milk
2 cups whole wheat flour
6 cups quick cooking oatmeal
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 cups chocolate chips

  • Mix the first six ingredients in a large bowl with a hand mixer.
  • Add flour and oatmeal, then sprinkle the salt, baking powder and baking soda on top.
  • Mix with the hand mixer again. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop in teaspoonfuls on a cookie sheet.
  • Bake at 375 ˚F for 15-20 minutes.

Sure-to-Flop Cookies

⅔ cup oil
½ cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
¼ cup milk
½ cup whole wheat flour
1½ cups rolled oats
½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
½ cup chocolate chips

  • Mix the first five ingredients in a large bowl with a hand mixer.
  • Add flour and rolled oats, then sprinkle the salt, baking powder and baking soda on top.
  • Mix with the hand mixer again. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop in teaspoonfuls on a cookie sheet.
  • Bake at 375 ˚F for 15-20 minutes.