Pudding fun

Whip up a treat, and a teaching tool! Prepare by filling a small bag with pudding, then use a twist-tie or bag clip to firmly close the opening. With a pair of sharp scissors, cut a small hole at one of the bottom corners of the bag. (Yes, you guessed right: this is messy fun; choose an area where clean-up is easy!) Give each child a prepared bag of pudding and a plate. Let the children have fun squeezing the pudding out all over their plates.

Next, ask each child to put the pudding back in the bag. Obviously they can’t, so instead, invite them to eat the pudding. While they are enjoying the snack, initiate a discussion about speaking hurtful words.

Be sure your children understand that, just as it was easy to squeeze the pudding out of the bag, it is easy to allow harsh or unkind words to spill out of our mouths when we are upset or angry. Once our words have left our lips we cannot take them back, just as we could not put the pudding back in the baggie.

Questions for discussion
  • Was it easier to squish the pudding out of the bag or to put it back in?
  • When we are angry or upset, is it easier to speak or to remain quiet?
  • What kind of words do we usually say when we are angry?
  • How do these words make others feel?
  • Was it possible to clean all of the pudding off of the plate?
  • Is it possible to mend the hurt in someone’s heart after you have said something unkind?

Refer to the Proverbs listed below and finish the discussion by brainstorming some words of “death” and “life.” Close by praying a short prayer based on Psalm 19:14. For example, “Dear God, May the words of my mouth and the thoughts in my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock. Amen.”

Relevant Scripture

Proverbs 13:3 “He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.”

Proverbs 18:21 “The tongue has the power of life and death…”

Psalm 19:14 “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”

Fruity fun

Your goal for this activity is to work together as a family to “earn” enough fruit to make a fruit salad – a tasty reminder of Proverbs 18:21.

Begin by placing an empty bowl in a visible location. Let your children know that you will be listening for “words of life” and rewarding positive communication by allowing them to place a fruit of their choice in the bowl. Explain that when the bowl is full, they will be able to “eat its fruit” in a fruit salad.

“Award” fruit when you hear your children speaking in a kind, loving and/or encouraging way. Be especially watchful for situations where your children speak politely despite a difficult situation.

Once enough fruit has been collected in the bowl, cut it up for fruit salad. As you prepare the fruit, talk about what it means to “speak life” and what it means to “speak death.”

Relevant Scripture

Proverbs 18:21 “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”

Mashed potato mountains

Serve mashed potatoes and allow your children to make “mountains” with the potato. If you prefer, you can also use play dough on a cookie sheet. Sand or dirt makes a good outdoor alternative.

As your children are making their mountains, read your choice of the verses listed below. Encourage each child to act out the verses that you are reading, demonstrating God’s power by squishing the mountains and making “streams flow.” (Streams can be created using melted butter, gravy or water.)

Use the discussion questions to talk about the magnitude of God’s power and His unlimited ability to answer prayer.

Questions for discussion
  • Have you ever seen an ocean?
  • Have you ever swum in big ocean waves?
  • Who decides where the shore of the ocean is?
  • Who can calm the ocean’s wild waves?
  • Have you ever been to a desert?
  • Why do so few plants grow in the desert?
  • What do you think it would be like to go for a long walk in the desert?
  • Who can cause streams to flow and plants to grow in the desert?
  • Who is in charge of everything that happens in nature?
  • If God gives orders to the ocean, flattens mountains and make rivers in the desert, is there anything He can’t do?
  • Read Mark 11:22-24 (see below). What did Jesus tell His disciples about prayer?
Key concepts

When we think of the way God uses His power to control all of nature, we are reminded that His mighty strength has no limits. We can take courage or be encouraged, knowing that when we pray, there is nothing God cannot do.

Close by thanking God for His love, power and constancy. For example, you could pray, “Dear God, it is a comfort to know that although the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, Your love for us will not be shaken. Amen” (Isaiah 54:10).

Relevant Scripture

Job 38:8-11 “Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness, when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place, when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt’?”

Psalm 46:1-3,7 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. …The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”

Isaiah 41:17-20 “The poor and needy search for water, but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. But I the Lord will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs. I will put in the desert the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive. I will set junipers in the wasteland, the fir and the cypress together, so that people may see and know, may consider and understand, that the hand of the Lord has done this, that the Holy One of Israel has created it.”

Isaiah 54:10 “ ‘Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet My unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor My covenant of peace be removed,’ says the Lord, who has compassion on you.”

Amos 9:5-6 “The Lord, the Lord Almighty – He who touches the earth and it melts, and all who live in it mournthe whole land rises like the Nile, then sinks like the river of Egypt– He who builds His lofty palace in the heavens and sets its foundation on the earth, who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out over the face of the land – the Lord is His name.”

Mark 11:22-24 “ ‘Have faith in God,’ Jesus answered. ‘I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, “Go, throw yourself into the sea,” and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.’ ”

Understanding cultural differences

For a mini-version of a cross-cultural experience, cook or purchase a meal or an appetizer that is culturally different from the food your family is accustomed to. Encourage your children to sample the ethnic food and discuss being open-minded towards different food or people.

As part of the meal, you may also want to have your children put coloured nylon stockings over their arms. Simply cut the feet out of a pair of knee-high stockings. During the meal, point out that a different coloured covering (skin) on a person’s body doesn’t mean they are different from others inside.

For a more in-depth version of this activity, invite someone from another country or different cultural background over to your house, or visit him or her in their home. Prepare questions to ask them ahead of time. Share a special family tradition or custom with them and ask them to do the same.

If you would like to fully immerse you children in a cross-cultural experience without leaving your home, consider billeting foreign students.

Paper dolls or cookie people

Cut out paper dolls and have your children decorate them. After they are done, use the discussion questions below to begin a dialogue about favouritism and accepting individual differences.

Explain that just as none of the paper dolls are alike, God made people with individual differences as well. People can be similar or very different, but no two people will ever be exactly alike. Explain that we find it easy to choose a favourite paper doll, but God does not choose favourites – He loves all of us exactly the same.

You can do the same activity with “roll and cut” cookie dough. Roll out the dough and have your children make at least ten cookies using the same cookie cutter. These can be compared afterwards, just as you compared the paper dolls. Once again, no two will be alike, and even the rejects or the “funny-looking” ones will taste good. The dolls and cookies can also be used to role play inclusive and exclusive playtime activities.

Questions for discussion
  • Can you find any two paper dolls that are the same?
  • Which is your favourite doll?
  • What kind of food do you enjoy eating most?
  • What kind of activities do you enjoy?
  • What is your brother’s/sister’s/friend’s favourite food/hobby?
  • What would our family be like if everyone were the same?
  • Does God have favourites?
Relevant Scripture

Acts 10:34-35 “Then Peter began to speak: ‘I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear Him and do what is right.’ ”

Romans 2:11 “For God does not show favoritism.”

James 2:8-9 “If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.”