Heart check

You will need six clear glasses or cups, a plastic tablecloth to protect your work surface, a white cloth or paper towel, food colouring in red, yellow, blue, green, and brown or black, a tablespoon and some bleach.

  • Prepare by putting one tablespoon of water in five of the glasses.
  • Add enough food colouring to each glass to create an intense colour – a different colour in each glass.
  • Add water to the sixth glass until it’s about one-third full.

Begin the teaching component of your object lesson as follows:

  • Lift up the cup of red water and explain to your kids that the red water represents anger. Add, “When we speak in anger, it often hurts others.”
  • Now use the tablespoon to spoon a little of the red water onto the towel. (Leave the rest of the red water in the cup for later.)
  • Explain that the coloured stain left on the towel represents the pain that speaking angrily can cause.
  • Continue adding dye stains to the cloth with the following explanations:

    the yellow dye represents teasing – it leaves a stain that represents sadness

    the blue dye represents being quick to point out someone else’s faults or mistakes, or correcting someone harshly – the blue stain represents a bruised heart

    the brown or black dye represents prejudice – the stain represents hurt feelings over unfairness and being unfairly judged

    the green dye represents envy – the stain represents the hurt of feeling the anger and resentment of others.

  • Next, have your children observe all the stains from the coloured water. Remind your children, “When we have intense emotions boiling around inside us, it’s easy to say hurtful things without considering the feelings of others.”
  • Take the cup of clear water and pour some on the white cloth, then point out that the pure water left no stain.
  • Explain that the clear water represents someone who has a pure heart. Before this person spoke, they asked God to check their attitude to make sure it was right before they said anything.
  • Agree together to adopt “Make no stain, cause no pain” as your family motto for the next little while.
  • Now read Acts 15:8-9. Continue your lesson by saying, “If we are feeling angry, critical, sad, troubled, jealous or upset and we are tempted to speak unkindly, we can ask God to send His Holy Spirit to clean our hearts. God will take the bad attitude right out of us, if we ask Him to. Just like human doctors love to help people get better when they are sick, God loves to take sin out of our hearts.”
  • To illustrate your point, add a tablespoon of bleach to each cup of coloured water and watch as it makes all the dyed water look pure and clear. It’s fascinating! (Do impress on your children, however, that the water is not safe to drink.)
  • In closing, assure your children that praying about a bad attitude makes God happy! He loves it when His children come to him for help! Explain that God already knows what is in our hearts and He even knows what we are going to say before we say it! You can end with a simple prayer as follows:

    Dear God, please help us remember to pray to You when we have bad thoughts and sinful attitudes, so You can take them out of our hearts and put good attitudes there instead. We want good things to overflow from our hearts so that kind words come out of our mouths. Amen.

Relevant Scripture

Acts 15:8-9 “And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as He did to us, and He made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith.

Psalm 139:4 “Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.

Psalm 141:3 “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!

Proverbs 22:11 “He who loves purity of heart, and whose speech is gracious, will have the king as his friend.

Matthew 12:34-37 “You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.

Cause and effect

Your goal is to help your children understand that both their physical actions and the words they say have an impact on others. You can spread this activity over three sessions if you wish.

Part one: Peace in motion

Newton’s First Law of Motion states that an object will remain at rest . . . unless acted upon by an external force. You’ll use toy cars to compare this with God’s first law of consideration which is Aim to live at peace with everyone.

Begin your teaching time by placing a toy car at the top of a ramp. Ensure the track begins with a flat section before heading downhill.

If you don’t have a Hot Wheels track or something like it, you can make a ramp by taping sections of cardboard boxes onto a staircase or other structure.

See how many different ways your children can send a car down the ramp without touching the car. For example, they could blow air though a straw, or use another car to push the first car.

Use the questions and key concepts below to discuss what you observed. After your discussion, pick a Bible verse and pray through it, asking God to help you choose peace instead of discord.

Questions for discussion
  • Did the cars ever move on their own?
  • Who made them move?
  • Have you ever caused someone to get upset without ever touching them?
  • What kinds of actions can get a brother, sister or friend upset without touching them?
  • In those situations, who is responsible for causing the upset emotions?
  • In the future, when you see someone playing happily, what can you do to make sure that person stays “at rest”?
Key concepts

The cars never moved on their own! Similarly, a child will rarely get angry with a sibling if they are not provoked.

God’s first law of consideration is Aim to live at peace with everyone. This means we should not stir up trouble on purpose. Just as it’s important to stop and consider what might happen before we jump into a pool, throw a ball, or pull a lever, it’s equally important to be considerate of the feelings of others before speaking or acting.

Relevant Scripture

Proverbs 20:3 “It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling.

Romans 12:16-18 “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

Romans 14:19 “So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.

2 Corinthians 13:11 “Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.

Part two: You have the power

Newton’s Second Law of Motion explains that if a force acts on an object, it will cause that object to pick up speed in the direction the force was applied. This time, you’ll compare this law with God’s second law of consideration: Do your best to calm a situation that is headed in a bad direction.

To demonstrate these “laws” in action, let each child take a turn at placing a car on the launching end of your track. At first, ask your children to send their cars down the ramp as slowly as possible.

Next, show them how they can launch the car more quickly if they quickly lift the ramp up at a steep angle. Leave each car at the bottom of the track, so that each new car sent down the track ends up crashing into them.

Questions for discussion
  • How did you make your car move down the ramp faster?
  • What happened when you sent the car down faster?
  • Can you think of some ways you can bother a sibling or a friend who is already upset?
  • What usually happens when you do something to aggravate someone who is already upset?
  • When a sibling is upset, what can you do to make the situation better?
Key concepts

Often when a child is upset, other kids love to upset that child even more! They might imitate the upset child or laugh at them or tease them.

The end result is a lot like sending a car down a ramp at an uncontrolled speed – there is inevitably a big crash at the end.

On the other hand, if someone is upset, there are many things you can do to help them calm down. The Bible provides instructions on dealing with emotionally charged situations. Let’s read these Bible verses and discuss what each one says about keeping the peace.

Relevant Scripture

Proverbs 15:18 “A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.

Proverbs 26:17 “Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears.”

Proverbs 26:20 “For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.

Ephesians 4:29 “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Galatians 5:25-26 “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

Part three: Equal and opposite reactions

Newton’s Third Law of Motion explains that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. In other words, if one object exerts a force on a second object, the second object exerts an equal force back at the first object.

This law is like God’s third law of consideration: Treat others the way you want to be treated! For example, if we speak to someone harshly, we can expect a harsh reply. When we speak softly, others will usually respond with gentleness in return.

To allow your children to experience this idea “hands on,” use some sturdy tape to hang a soft foam ball on a string in a doorway. Ask your kids to tap the ball lightly and observe what happens. Allow them to gradually increase the force of their tap. Eventually, let them hit the ball with enough force that it comes back at them quite quickly.

Questions for discussion
  • What happened when you tapped the ball gently?
  • What happened when you hit it harder?
  • How is hitting the ball like having a conversation with another person?
  • How do you like to be corrected?
  • Before saying or doing something, how can you remember to think about the impact your words or actions will have on others?
Key concepts

Objects move based on how hard we apply force to them or how hard we push them.

The words we use when speaking to someone are similar. When others feel attacked by our words, they are more likely to be defensive and fight back. On the other hand, when we correct or approach someone with gentleness, they will probably respond politely. The Bible says exactly that too, saying “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1).

Even if someone does something wrong or bothers you on purpose, it’s important to correct them with kindness. This means approaching them with a gentle “tap” rather than an aggressive “shove.”

Speaking respectfully and using a soft tone helps solve problems and bring peace to heated situations, while speaking rudely or loudly escalates disagreements and difficult emotions.

Relevant Scripture

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

Proverbs 15:18 “A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.

Galatians 6:1 “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.

Colossians 3:12-14 “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

1 Thessalonians 5:15 “See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.

Fire power

For this activity, you will need six candles and a lighter.

Before lighting each candle, read aloud one of these fire safety rules:

  1. Fire is a tool, not a toy! Never play with fire, matches or lighters.
  2. Matches, stoves, lighters and lanterns are to be used by adults, not kids! Never use these tools unless you have your parent’s permission and supervision.
  3. Stay away from anything hot! Never run, play or fool around near a fire or a hot stove.
  4. Never light a candle, strike a match or start a fire without your parent’s permission and supervision.
  5. The fire department is for your safety, not for fun. Never call in a false alarm.
  6. If your clothes catch on fire, do not run! Instead stop, drop, and roll to put out or “smother” the flames.

Give your children time to sit and admire the beauty of the candle flames. With careful supervision, allow those who are interested to put a finger near a flame to feel the intensity of the heat. Depending on the interest level of your children, share some information about heat and combustion.

Next, read the story of Nadab and Abihu from Leviticus 10:1-5, a miraculous story of God’s “fire power,” then use the questions here to prompt discussion.

Questions for discussion
  • Would you ever put your finger all the way into the flame? Why not?
  • What things can you think of that burn hotter than a candle?
  • What can fire be useful for?
  • Did you know that the sun is a big ball of fire?
  • Who made the sun?
  • What did Nadab and Abihu do wrong?
  • Why do you think God punished Nadab and Abihu so severely?
  • Why do I often remind you not to play with fire?
  • What are some ways fire is helpful?
  • When is fire scary?
Key concepts

Fire can be safe, beautiful and helpful if it’s used carefully, but if it gets out of control it can be scary and harmful.  The flame from a candle is hot enough to really hurt a person. Campfires and barbecues are even hotter. The sun is hotter yet, but God is even more powerful than the heat from the sun.

In the story of Nadab and Abihu we learned about two men who did not revere or obey God. They were both priests, and as God’s priests, they were supposed to set an example for the people by being very respectful of God. But instead they insisted on offering incense to God, even though God had said only their father, Aaron, was allowed to do that job. As Nadab and Abihu rebelliously lit their incense, fire from the presence of God came down from heaven and killed them.

This story might make someone think that God is like a fireball in the sky, looking for bad people to burn up. But that’s not what God is like at all. God doesn’t want to hurt people. He is slow to get angry; He is loving and He is willing to forgive sin (Psalm 103:8-13, 2 Peter 3:9). However, stories like this help remind us that God is very powerful and He is very serious when He says we should keep sin out of our lives.

The Bible tells us that God will bless and care for those who love and obey Him (Deuteronomy 30:15-20). His commands are like “life safety rules.”

In closing, invite your children to list some sins that disappoint and anger God. Extinguish a candle each time one is shared. Pray this prayer together, or a similar one:

Dear God, You are patient with us and slow to get angry. We are thankful that You don’t pay us back for the wrong things we do. Instead You pour tons of love on us and forgive us. The sky is far, far away from the earth and we thank you for taking our sins that far away. We want to learn to live in a way that honours You. Please teach us to obey and respect You and to love You lots and lots! Amen.

Relevant Scripture

Deuteronomy 4:35-36,39-40 “To you it was shown, that you might know that the Lord is God; there is no other besides Him. Out of heaven He let you hear His voice, that He might discipline you. And on earth He let you see His great fire, and you heard His words out of the midst of the fire. . . . know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other. Therefore you shall keep His statutes and His commandments, which I command you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may prolong your days in the land that the Lord your God is giving you for all time.

Hebrews 12:28-29 “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.

Lessons in the sand

Here’s what you need to do to set up the demonstration:

  • Prepare in advance by gathering your two sand buckets. Take one of the buckets and cover the opening of the bucket with strong, clear plastic. Firmly secure the plastic in place with strong tape.
  • Gather your kids and visit a park where there is a sandbox. (Or alternatively you can stay indoors and use rice or cornmeal instead of sand.)
  • Once you reach the sandbox, place the two buckets side by side in the sand. The open bucket represents a thankful person who appreciates their blessings. The “closed” bucket represents a person who finds faults with their blessings or is ungrateful.
  • You go first to show your children how this works. Think of something you are thankful for. “Children” might be a good first example. As you pour a scoop of sand into the open bucket say, I’m thinking of a gift from God: I’m thankful for my children.
  • As you try to pour a scoop of sand into the closed bucket add, But some days I’m tempted to complain about all the work I have to do to take care of my children. For more drama you could add, I have to change diapers, make meals, pick up toys, do piles of dishes, wash the floor and bathe kids too!
  • Now invite your children to think of things they are grateful for, and ways they can be ungrateful for the very same thing. For example, a child might pour sand into the open bucket saying, I’m grateful for food, then pour sand into the closed bucket saying, But I don’t like soup.
  • Once the open bucket is full, compare the two buckets. Explain that, like the full-of-sand bucket, a person who notices and appreciates their blessings will feel like their life is full and comfortable. On the other hand, the empty bucket is like an ungrateful person who doesn’t notice all the wonderful things he or she has in life. They will feel like their life is empty and that they are missing out, even though they experience many blessings from God.
Relevant Scripture

Psalm 145:5 “On the glorious splendor of Your majesty, and on Your wondrous works, I will meditate.

Psalm 145:6 “They shall speak of the might of Your awesome deeds, and I will declare Your greatness.

Psalm 145:7 “They shall pour forth the fame of Your abundant goodness and shall sing aloud of Your righteousness.

Rose-coloured water

For this demonstration you will need a large, clear jar filled with fresh water, food colouring in blue, red, green and yellow, and a toy catalogue.

  • To begin, have your children take turns looking through the jar of clear water to observe the room around them. Invite them to name some of the things they can see.
  • Now share a brief story about a child who wanted everything. Bring out the toy catalogue and let your children choose items from the catalogue they think the greedy child might want.
  • With each item your children select, add a couple of drops of food colouring to the water in the jar, based on the colour of the object selected. For example, add blue food colouring for a blue bicycle or yellow for a yellow construction toy.
  • To make the water even cloudier, tell your kids that the greedy child demanded an ice cream at every snack time too, then add some milk or ice cream to your jar of water as well.
  • Keep the toy ideas flowing and keep adding colouring until the water is brown and murky.
  • Now invite your children to look through the jar again and name the things they can see in the room.
  • Explain to your children that just as the clear water grew cloudy and hard to see through, wanting more and more things “clouds” our perspective and makes it hard for us to see all the good things we already have.
  • Point out that you started out with something really valuable, but that people often take for granted or fail to appreciate. Ask your kids to guess what that might be. (Having clean water to drink and use.)
  • Explain that when we’re obsessed with the things we want, we often fail to appreciate that we’ve already been given some of the best things of all – the things we really need for life, like clean water and food.
  • Now place your jar of murky water in the sink. Run some fresh water into the jar until the jar begins to overflow, and observe how the dirty water starts to become clearer.
  • Explain to your kids that the fresh water is like God’s Holy Spirit. He can wash the gimmies out of our hearts and give us an attitude of gratefulness instead.
  • Encourage your kids to list some of the good things they enjoy, that they can thank God for. Encourage them to confess too – sharing something they often want or desire, or the times when they get the gimmies. As each child shares an idea, open the tap and add another jet of fresh water into your jar.
  • Continue adding water until the cloudy water has all been replaced with clear water.
  • Close by praying a prayer like this one:

    Dear God, You give us so many good things, yet we are still tempted to want more and more than we need. Please send Your Holy Spirit to give us fresh and pure hearts that are just like the clean water, so we are grateful that we have what we need. Help us to care about the poor people who have so much less than we do and who have no clean water to drink at all. We want to be more concerned about giving things to others than we are about getting more things for ourselves. Amen.

Relevant Scripture

Isaiah 43:20-21 “The wild beasts will honor Me, the jackals and the ostriches, for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to My chosen people, the people whom I formed for Myself that they might declare My praise.

Ecclesiastes 2:11 “Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.

1 John 3:17 “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?

If you feed it, it will grow

You will need a grow-in-water creature (often available in dollar stores), a large clear bowl, a jug that can hold 8 cups of water, a cup, a teaspoon and up to two cups of sugar.

  • First, put your grow-in-water toy in the bowl.
  • Add 8 cups of water to your jug.
  • Have your children gather food from your cupboards that might contain sugar.
  • Examine the food labels on the food you’ve gathered. For each food item, determine how many grams of sugar are in an individual serving.
  • For each food item, have your children take turns adding sugar to the jug of water in direct proportion to the sugar found in the food.

    (Since one teaspoon of sugar weighs four grams, divide the weight of sugar given on the food label by four to determine how many teaspoons of sugar to add to your jug of water.)

    Here are some examples to help:

    one chocolate chip cookie has 12 grams of sugar (according to the label) and 12÷4=3, so add 3 teaspoons of sugar to your jug of water

    one 355 ml can of Coca-Cola has 39 grams of sugar (according to the label) and 39÷4 = 9.7, so add 10 teaspoons of sugar to your jug of water.

  • After preparing your sugar water, allow your kids to “feed” the expandable creature by pouring 2 to 3 cups of the sugar water into the bowl.
  • Once or twice a day, revisit the expandable creature and observe its growth. Continue to add sugar water as needed. Most will be fully grown in 24 to 48 hours.
  • Once the creature has expanded to full size, remove it from the water and watch to see what happens over time.
Questions for discussion
  • If you could eat any one food all day, every day, what would it be?
  • Would your body be healthy then?
  • What happened to our toy creature when we fed it sugar water?
  • What happened when we stopped feeding it sugar water?
  • Besides taking away our appetite for healthy foods, what does too much sugar do to a person?
  • How can our appetite be like the toy creature?
  • Can you think of any other appetites or habits that like to grow and grow, but are unhelpful?
Key concepts

Practicing moderation in a culture that is very pleasure-oriented can be challenging. We love treats, and it can be hard to stop ourselves from having more than we should. The problem is that when we continuously indulge in all kinds of things – such as sweet food or junk food, for example – having a lot of these things becomes the expected norm, eventually causing a lack of appreciation for the treats. This kind of overindulgence breeds ungratefulness.

Some other potentially harmful things we can overindulge in include watching television, playing digital games or buying clothing, toys and gadgets. None of these activities are wrong in and of themselves, but a constant “diet of pleasure” can cause a person to lose their appreciation for things that are meant to be “treats” that we enjoy just a little of.

It’s always a good idea to stop and think about the choices we are making. Some good questions to ask might be:

  • Do I really need this, or do I just want it?
  • Can I do without this?
  • Will I regret making this choice (or purchase) later?
  • Is this a healthy choice, or am I just eating it because I want to?
  • Is there a better way for us to use this money than buying ________.

End your lesson by praying as a family, asking God to help you be careful with the money you spend on extras.

Relevant Scripture

Proverbs 25:16 “If you have found honey, eat only enough for you, lest you have your fill of it and vomit it.

Luke 12:14-15 “But He said to him, ‘Man, who made Me a judge or arbitrator over you?’ And He said to them, ‘Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.’

Our conscience is our compass

For this activity, you will need a compass and a map. The goal is to discuss how a person’s conscience can work like a compass when the person chooses to listen to God’s directions.

  • Begin by showing your child a map of your city or town. Point out how the map is marked with the directions north, south, east and west. Show your child some neighbourhood landmarks and ask them to determine whether those landmarks are north, south, east or west of your house.
  • Next, show your child how to use the compass by lining up the floating arrow on the compass with the “N” for north. Based on the reading from the compass, have your child tell you which direction is which, from inside your home. Help your child identify the direction of the back yard, the front street and your neighbours’ houses.
  • When your child has had sufficient opportunity to explore using the compass, use the questions for discussion to relate their compass experience to discerning right from wrong and finding direction from God.
  • Pray with your children and ask God to put on them the same Spirit that rested on Jesus so they have wisdom and understanding.

Note: If your child is older and loves outdoor activities, you may want to expand this activity by going geocaching or orienteering.

Questions for discussion
  • What is a compass used for?
  • How is a conscience like a compass?
  • When is a compass useless?
  • When is a conscience no longer useful?
  • How can we deaden our consciences?
  • How can we decide what is right and what is wrong?
Key concepts

A compass points in the direction of north and helps hikers find their way to their destination. But a broken compass is of no use to a hiker and can even send them off course. God gives us an inner voice called a conscience. It’s the quiet prompting we hear inside of us that God uses to encourage us to do what is right. A conscience is like a compass that gives us direction in the choices we make, showing which choice is the right way to go.

A person who believes that God’s commands in the Bible show how we should live and act has an inner compass that is functioning correctly. A person who has a “faulty” conscience is someone who makes decisions based on what they think is right, rather than using God’s Word to decide right from wrong.

If we listen to our conscience, our conscience stays sensitive to leading from God’s Spirit. However, if we constantly ignore the prompting of God’s Spirit through our conscience, it becomes “deadened” and we begin to find it easier and easier to ignore God’s guidance.

As you get older, you will have to make more and more choices on your own about what is right and wrong. It’s important that you start practicing now, building a habit of “running things by God” and asking His Spirit to show you what is a good choice, and what is not.

Relevant Scripture

Isaiah 11:1-2 “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.

James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

James 3:13 “Who is wise and understanding among you? By his conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.

The art of enjoying change

You will need a flat-bottomed pie dish (or something similar) for each of your children plus milk, food colouring in at least three different colours, dish soap, and toothpicks or cotton swabs. (Don’t use low-fat or skim milk.)

  • First, do a demo for your kids. Prepare two flat dishes by pouring milk into each one to a depth of about 5 mm or 1/8 of an inch.
  • Next, squeeze a drop of food colouring on the surface of the milk. Take other colours and continue spacing drops of food colouring across the milk until there are eight to ten different drops of colour.
  • Do the same with the second bowl of milk. Now set this bowl aside and leave it untouched. This will be your comparison bowl.
  • Returning your attention to the first bowl, coat the end of a toothpick with dish soap, then dip it in the centre of one of the drops of food colouring. Continue to dip the toothpick into each drop of food colouring and watch as the colours “explode” into various shapes and mix together to form new colours. (Dish soap both reduces the surface tension in the milk and “pushes” the fat in the milk around the surface, facilitating movement within the milk.)
  • Allow each of your kids to try making their own “milk art” while you use the questions for discussion to help your kids understand that life change can be exciting.
  • If you wish, take some photos of your milk art, then print them out and display them with captions such as “Change can be wildly fun!,” “Life is full of colour!” or “There is an art to enjoying change!”
Questions for discussion
  • Which bowl of milk has been more interesting to watch? Why?
  • How are the bowls like our lives?
  • When is life change fun and exciting, like this experiment?
  • How are our lives like the seasons: spring, summer, winter and fall?
  • Is life ever like this second bowl of milk, with not much change happening?
  • Would you like to dip a toothpick into this second bowl of milk now?
Key concepts

Life change can feel threatening, but it can also be exciting. Just as the seasons of nature change and make life interesting, the changes in our lives keep us from getting bored. Some people prefer lots of change while others prefer less change. We know the “art of enjoying change” when we view changes as part of God’s plan for our lives and trust that He loves us and will always be with us.

Relevant Scripture

Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”

James 1:17 “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”

Wise waste management

You can choose just one of these activities, or do all five in succession if you wish.

As you complete the activities, talk with your children about our God-given responsibility to rule over the earth (Genesis 1:26). Explain that when we are wasteful with resources or when we create excess garbage, we are not caring for the world God made.

To expand the spiritual component, read Psalm 8:1-9 and thank God for the honour of being named rulers of the things God made on the earth. Ask Him to help you live wisely, caring for all He has given you. Thank Him for your clean water supply and for a reliable source of electricity. Thank Him, too, for allowing you to live in a land of plenty and ask Him to teach you not to be wasteful or thoughtless in the way you use your resources and treat the environment.

Relevant Scripture

Psalm 8:1-9 “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth! You have set Your glory above the heavens. Out of the mouth of babies and infants, You have established strength because of Your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger. When I look at Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You care for him? Yet You have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas. O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!

Paper vs. plastic

Run this simple, week-long experiment to teach your kids what the word “biodegradable” means. (A simple definition they can learn is “to break down and become part of the soil.”)

To set up your experiment, simply take a portion of a paper bag, and a portion of a plastic grocery bag, and lay them in warm water on a cookie sheet or plastic tray.

Check on your experiment over the course of a week to see what is happening. (The paper will be disintegrate, but the plastic will remain unchanged.)

Key concepts

When we dispose of our garbage, it is taken to a landfill. Any paper bags in the garbage break down quickly and become part of the soil, but plastic bags don’t.

Plastics never “biodegrade” or go away entirely. The plastic we put in the garbage will eventually break down into smaller and smaller pieces of plastic, but it is never gone. Sadly, an increasing amount of plastic is ending up in the world’s oceans. In the water, as the plastic breaks into smaller and smaller particles, animals begin eating these plastic particles instead of plankton. Over time, the animals are harmed by eating plastics instead of nourishing food.

The good news is that every person can make a difference by using biodegradable or re-useable containers instead of plastic. Here are some helpful things people can do. Which ones do you think we should do as a family?

  • Bring reusable bins or bags to the grocery store for our groceries.
  • Ask for paper bags or boxes for our groceries instead of plastic bags, if we forget to bring our own bags.
  • Use wax or parchment paper instead of plastic wrap in the microwave.
  • Use re-useable containers and bags for lunches and snacks.
  • Store food in containers with re-sealable lids instead of plastic wrap.
  • Stop buying polystyrene or plastic plates and cutlery for parties and picnics.
  • Buy products that are not wrapped in plastic whenever possible.

Pollution and seepage

When garbage is buried in a landfill, some of the garbage leaks pollutants into the environment. This simple experiment helps kids understand the idea of underground seepage of pollutants.

You will need sand, water, a large glass jar, tongs, five paper napkins and food colouring in yellow, blue, red and green.

  1. To begin, soak each napkin in food colouring to make one yellow, one red, one blue and one green napkin. Create a brown napkin too by mixing drops from all four food colourings together.
  2. Fill the jar 1/6 full with sand. Add just enough water to saturate the sand.
  3. Next, use the tongs to place one of the coloured napkins in the jar. Cover it with wet sand, then add another napkin.
  4. Continue layering the sand and napkins until all the napkins are covered in sand.
  5. Observe the sand over a few hours, watching where the coloured water goes.
Key concepts

Much of the garbage we make is hauled away and buried in a landfill. But that doesn’t mean it’s gone. Even buried garbage can harm the environment and animals. Just as we saw the coloured water seep into the sand, the same thing happens in landfills. The pollutants in the buried garbage seep out of the landfill and into the water under the surface of the soil. These pollutants eventually end up in our lakes, rivers and oceans where they can harm the animals living there.

Fortunately, there are some things we can do to help. Which of these “seepage stopper” ideas do you think we could do as a family?

  • Buy soaps and detergents that are environmentally friendly and phosphate free.
  • Dispose of paints, solvents and aerosol cans by taking them to special toxic waste disposal sites. Contact friends and neighbours and offer to take theirs too.
  • Take prescription medicine back to a pharmacy where it will be properly disposed of.
  • Do the “double check” before throwing an item in the garbage. The double check is to ask two questions: Where will this end up? and Can this be reused or recycled? The many items that can be recycled include cardboard, paper, plastic, glass and sometimes polystyrene too.
  • Ask our municipality to start curbside pickup for recyclables and compostable material.

Note: You can expand this activity by setting up your own family recycling bins. Run a one-week trial to see how much your household garbage is reduced when all paper, cardboard, plastics, cans and organic matter are removed for recycling.

You may also want to visit a landfill and a recycling depot as a part of this learning experience. The sight and smell of tons of garbage will make a lasting impression on your children. On the other hand, visiting a recycling station illustrates the positive side of waste management. Excellent video footage is also available online.


Once, in the Florida waterways, an environmentalist named Stephen Nordlinger rescued a turtle that had eaten so much polystyrene it was too buoyant to submerge underwater. In this object lesson you’ll simulate the experience of the rescued turtle, to illustrate for kids the danger litter poses to wildlife.

You will need a re-sealable plastic sandwich bag for each child, permanent markers and chunks of polystyrene.

It’s easiest to do this activity at bath time, but you can also do it at the kitchen sink or in a tub of water.

  1. First, draw the outline of a turtle on each plastic bag, with the turtle’s mouth at the opening of the bag.
  2. Seal each bag tightly, and let your kids make their turtles “swim” underwater in the bathtub.
  3. Next, sprinkle small chunks of polystyrene on the water.
  4. Have your kids make their turtles “eat” the polystyrene chunks, taking them into the bag. (They may need your help to “feed” the turtles, to ensure as little water as possible gets into the bags.) Help your kids realize that, eventually, their “turtles” can no longer stay submerged under the water.
Key concepts

The litter that people throw on the ground is often dangerous for wildlife. Animals can cut their paws on broken glass, for example. And the litter doesn’t always stay where it’s thrown. It often gets washed into streams and rivers, and then out to sea.

It’s common for water birds and aquatic animals to get tangled in plastic garbage, particularly discarded fishing line and plastic six-pack beverage rings. Once entangled, animals are easy prey for predators, or can starve to death.

Sometimes animals mistake litter for food. Sea turtles, for instance, often mistake plastic bags for jellyfish, and polystyrene pellets for the eggs of sea life, stuffing themselves with this “junk food” until they are weak and starving. And sometimes, like we saw with our plastic-bag turtles, it can prevent them from swimming underwater to catch their real food.

Here are some ways people can make sure wildlife doesn’t suffer this way. Which of these do you think should we start doing as a family?

  • Pick up litter when we see it. (People are more likely to litter if they see litter on the ground already.)
  • Take part in a community clean-up day.
  • Always take a bag when you’re out for a walk, to collect trash along the way.
  • Keep a garbage bag in your vehicle so you want be tempted to throw garbage out the window.
  • When picnicking or hiking, use reusable water bottles, dishes and cutlery. For the rare times you must use disposable dishes, choose plates made from paper.
  • Recycle all plastics and polystyrene. Research the options for recycling these in your community.

Natural resource conservation

Begin by talking with your kids about where tap water comes from and how electricity is generated. To help, look for videos online, or check out your library.

Next, try to go for an hour at home without using any water or electricity! Use this time to talk about how much harder life is for the many people in the world who do not have access to electricity and clean water.

Explain that there is an environmental cost to using electricity and water, then do a room-by-room tour of your house and ask your kids to suggest ways that water and electricity can be conserved in each room.

Key concepts

Becoming aware of our wasteful habits is a key step in reducing the thoughtless use of water, electricity and other natural resources. In our house we can conserve water and electricity by:

  • Running the dishwasher only when it is full.
  • Putting the plug in the sink while washing dishes, instead of continually running the tap.
  • Running water only when you really need it when brushing your teeth or washing your face.
  • Recycling water that’s still useful by watering plants with it.
  • Turning off lights when you leave a room.
  • Having short showers and installing low-flow shower heads.
  • Having “party baths” (i.e. sharing the bathtub).
  • Installing a low-flow toilet.
  • Watering plants and grass in the early morning or late evening so less water evaporates, or xeriscaping our yard so less watering is needed.

Bugging everyone

Reinforce what you’re learning about caring for the environment by designating family members to watch for ways you can be more responsible.

To help, craft special bug badges. Much like sheriff badges, they give the wearer authority to politely “bug” other family members about being responsible.

Here are some ideas for crafting an electricity bug, water bug, anti-litter bug, recycle bug and a buy-less bug. Attach each bug to clothing with a safety pin to remind family members of their role for the day.

You will need craft foam or construction paper in an assortment of colours, safety pins, felt-tip markers, a glue gun and a few pennies.

  • For the electricity bug, cut bright yellow lightning stripes for its back.
  • For the water bug, colour it blue with spots shaped like water drops.
  • Craft the recycle bug from old toy parts, jewelry, paper clips etc.
  • Craft the anti-litter bug from common litter items such as a disposable drink lid, drinking straws and candy wrappers.
  • Cut the compost bug’s body in the shape of a leaf and decorate it with raisins or dried cranberries for spots, or cut thin strips of dried mango.
  • For the buy-less bug, craft a red ladybug with coins for spots, since ladies often do like shopping!


Salt water is special

Note: This activity idea also appears in the Kids of Integrity Easter lesson.

You will need a large bowl, four cups of water, plastic drinking cups, one raw egg for each child, stickers or permanent markers, tablespoons and 10 tablespoons of salt.

  • Have each child decorate a raw egg with stickers or markers to represent himself or herself.
  • Place the eggs in the bottom of a plastic bowl, then have your children take turns pouring in a cup of water at a time (four cups of water in total). As each cup of water is poured in, ask your children to list things that make people cry.
  • Observe the egg sitting on the bottom of the bowl, and explain that sometimes someone who is very sad says they feel as though they are “drowning in sorrow.” Mention that, just as we can’t breathe under water, sometimes our sorrows feel so heavy that we feel we can’t handle it.
  • Read Psalm 116:1-5, then have your children begin adding salt by the tablespoonful. Be sure each spoonful is stirred and dissolved before the next one is added. As you add the salt, work through the discussion questions below.
Questions for discussion
  • What do people do when they are sad?
  • How are tears different from drops of rain?
  • Have you ever cried so hard you felt like you were going to stop breathing?
  • Do you think God sees your tears?
  • When we feel dreadfully sad, who promises to care for us?
  • If a friend is sad, how can you encourage them?
Key concepts

God gave us tears as a way to help us cope with our sadness. Tears taste salty and they contain special chemicals that are released by our bodies to help us feel better. (To enrich your children’s understanding of the fascinating way God made our bodies, especially tears, you may want to do a little research on the Internet, or look through a children’s physiology book.)

Even when our grief is so overwhelming that we feel we cannot bear it, we can be sure that Jesus sees our tears, and that He understands and cares. Jesus’ death on the cross made Him familiar with sorrow and pain. He knows what it is like to be made fun of, hurt, and even betrayed by a friend.

God is like the salt that “lifted up” the egg. He is described in the Bible as the “Father of compassion” and “the God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3). God promises tol always be with us and “carry us” through our trials and difficult days (Isaiah 46:4-5).

In Psalm 56:8, David asks God to keep track of his tears. When we cry and taste our salt tears, we can use it as a reminder of God’s care for us. If a friend or family member is experiencing sadness, we can remind them of God’s love by telling them that He cares about and understands their sorrow.

Relevant Scripture

Psalm 116:1-5 “I love the Lord, for He heard my voice; He heard my cry for mercy. Because He turned His ear to me, I will call on Him as long as I live. The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came upon me; I was overcome by trouble and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the Lord: ‘O Lord, save me!’ The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion.

Psalm 56:8 “You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book?

Isaiah 46:4-5 “. . . even to your old age I am He and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save. To whom will you liken Me and make Me equal, and compare Me, that we may be alike?