Growing “patience candy”

This science-related activity is based on Colossians 1:10-12.

You will need one cup of water, three cups of sugar, a glass jar, a paper clip, food colouring (optional), a paper towel or coffee filter, and wool or cotton string.

  • As the adult supervising, boil a cup of water on the stovetop.
  • Remove the pot from the stove and have your children help you stir in the three cups of sugar, one teaspoon at a time. (This is the first patience exercise.) As your children stirs each teaspoon of sugar until it dissolves, talk about situations where it is hard to be patient. Encourage them to stir diligently. (If the sugar is not stirred in gradually, your “patience candy” will not form properly.) Once sugar starts to clump at the bottom of the pot, enough has been added.
  • Next, pour your sugar-saturated solution into a clear glass jar. If you wish, now is the time to use food coloring to tint the sugar water.
  • To create a growing surface for the crystals, tie a wool or cotton string to the middle of a pencil. Tie a paper clip or similar sterile, lead-free weight to the other end of the string.
  • Dangle the string into the sugar solution, making sure the weight is very close to, but not touching the bottom of the jar.
  • Move the jar to a location in your house where it will be undisturbed, but can be observed closely. Cover the top with a paper towel or coffee filter to protect it from contamination.
  • All that is left to do is watch and wait. About 24 hours afterward, you should see crystals forming. Crystals will continue to form until the sugar is used up.
  • Finally, remove the crystals and allow them to dry. You can save them or eat them.

As you enjoy eating or admiring the crystals, take time to discuss with your children that it is God’s power in us that helps us to be patient. Just as the crystals did not grow right away, sometimes it takes time for the Fruit of the Spirit to grow in us. Explain that being patient is hard, but with God’s help it is possible. Talk about how being patient pleases God. Finish by praying with your children, asking God to send His Holy Spirit to grow patience in the hearts of your family members.

Note: For an easier option, blogger Julie suggests making JELL-O® instead of sugar candy. Or for a sugar-free alternative, encourage your children to be patient as they grow a flowering plant and wait for it to bloom. 

Relevant Scripture

Colossians 1:10-12 “And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.”

Telephone fun

This activity helps illustrate the direct connection we have with God when we pray. The concept is based on Psalm 66:18-19.

You will need two clean, empty tin cans or paper cups, an awl or nail (to punch a hole in the tin can) and a 10- to 12-foot length of string. Kite string is ideal.

  • Be sure that the tin cans have no sharp edges. Punch a hole through the base of each tin can. The hole should be just large enough for the string to fit through.
  • Have your children help you thread one end of the string through the hole in one of the cans. Tie some knots at the end of the string to keep it from being pulled back through the hole when the string is pulled tight.
  • Thread the other end of the string through the base of the second can and tie it off. Now your “telephone” is complete.
  • Have each child hold one can and instruct them to pull gently, making the string taut. Let them take turns talking into one can and listening with the other can. As one person speaks into one can, the sound vibrations travel through the string to the other can.
  • Point out that when one person speaks, the other person needs to be listening, or communication cannot take place. Explain that talking to God also works this way. He listens when we pray. When we talk with God, we also need to take time to be quiet to listen to what God wants to say to us. Communicating is all about taking turns speaking and listening.
  • Have your children try to use the tin can telephone while you are holding the string with your hand. This stops the vibrations from travelling through the string, preventing the children from hearing each other. Liken this to cherishing (or holding on to) sin in our hearts. Psalm 66:18 says that when we cherish sin in our hearts, God does not listen. God is always ready to listen when we want to confess our sins.
  • After you have had fun playing with the tin can telephone, decorate the exterior of the cans. Add phrases like, “God hears me when I pray,” and “I can hear God when He speaks to me.”
  • End your time by letting your children know that there is no need for string or a tin can telephone when they want to talk to God. They can talk to God anywhere, at any time.
Relevant Scripture

Psalm 66:18-19 “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer.”

1 John 5:14 “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.”

Clean hearts

You will need some white cotton fabric (an old washcloth or pillowcase works well), washable felt tip markers, bleach, water and a bowl

  • Premix a solution of equal parts of water and bleach.
  • Cut a heart shape out of easily-bleached cotton fabric. Have your children colour all over it with washable felt tip markers. As they are colouring, tell them that the heart represents our hearts and the felt marks represent sin. Talk about what sins they might be.
  • Next, dip the heart in the bleach solution. As you do so, read 1 John 1:8-9: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
  • Explain that God promises to take our sins that are as red as the red felt tip marker and make them white like snow, or as bright as the freshly-bleached fabric heart.
  • Next, read Isaiah 1:18: “…Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” Take a minute to ask your children if they want to have stained hearts or washed hearts. Pray a prayer together from the kids talk with God section.

Allow your children to keep their fabric hearts as a reminder of God’s promise to forgive sins. During the week, when your children sin, ask if they have put some marks on their heart. Suggest that you pray together so that God can “wash” the sin from their hearts.

Gentle heating

In this lesson, kids will change solids to liquids to learn about the importance of allowing God to shape a gentle attitude in their heart.

You will need solid chocolate, a teaspoon of salt, aluminum foil, scissors, a desk lamp and a stir stick such as a wooden skewer or a drinking straw.

  • Cut two squares of tin foil approximately 10 cm wide. Fold the edges up on all sides, pinching the corners to make two small square dishes.
  • Put some chocolate into one foil dish; put the salt into the other dish.
  • As the adult supervising the experiment, you need to adjust the lamp until it is about 2 cm above the boxes. Turn the lamp on.
  • While you are watching and waiting, tell a story about gentleness or review a story from the Bible stories section of this lesson. After five minutes, turn the lamp off and put it aside so no one will accidentally get burned.
  • Use the stir stick to see if there have been any changes in the substances. As you stir the chocolate, mould it into a heart shape. Try to do the same with the salt.
  • Tell your children that after it has cooled, they can taste your experiment. As the substances cool, read Zechariah 7:11-12, Hebrews 3:7-10 and Luke 6:45 (see below).
  • Prior to sampling the substances, explain to your children that when we refuse to allow God to soften our hearts and put His love in them, we are like the salt that was not changed by God’s Holy Spirit (represented by the lamp). But when we listen to God’s directions in the Bible and allow Him to put His love in our hearts, we are like the chocolate. God softens our hearts with His love, and we are kind and gentle with our words and actions.
  • Sample the substances, then pray, asking God to send His Holy Spirit to put His love in your hearts and to help you to speak with words that are sweet like the chocolate.
Relevant Scripture

Zechariah 7:11-12 “But they refused to pay attention; stubbornly they turned their backs and stopped up their ears. They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to the law or to the words that the Lord Almighty had sent by His Spirit through the earlier prophets. So the Lord Almighty was very angry.”

Hebrews 3:7-10 “So, as the Holy Spirit says: ‘Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert, where your fathers tested and tried Me and for forty years saw what I did. That is why I was angry with that generation, and I said, “Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known My ways.” ’ ”

Luke 6:45 “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.”

Love covers sin

This experiment is based on 1 Peter 4:8.

You will need:

1 tbsp of vinegar
1 tsp of baking soda
2 tbsp of water coloured with a few drops of red food colouring
a small bowl.

  • Begin by placing the vinegar in a bowl. The vinegar represents a child playing happily with a toy. The baking soda represents another child interrupting and asking for the toy. Add the baking soda to the vinegar and you will see a lot of fizz. Tell your children that the fizz is fighting. The first child says, “No, you can’t have my toy!” The second child starts yelling, “I’ll tell Mom and Dad if you don’t share!” Be sure to pour the red coloured water into the bowl before the fizzing stops. With the addition of the red water, all will be calm again.
  • Explain that the red water represents love. The Bible tells us that loves covers any amount of sin (1 Peter 4:8). Love will help a child offer a turn with a toy (Luke 6:33). Love is not easily angered, love is kind and love does not demand its own way (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). Summarize by saying that responding to others in difficult situations with love results in peace instead of discord.
  • Have your children think of scenarios in their lives where they need to choose to respond in love to maintain harmony. Redo the experiment for each example and allow them to pour in the red water and say, “Love covers sin.” Close by praying that God would fill your hearts with His love so you have lots of love to offer each other.
Relevant Scripture

1 Peter 4:8 “Above all love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.”

Honest scales

This exercise is a hands-on illustration of Proverbs 16:11-13. You will need an ice cream stick or a ruler, a large, cylindrical felt-tipped marker or dowel, 15-20 pennies and tape.

  • Use the ice cream stick or ruler as the beam of your balance scale. Tape the marker or dowel to a table and place the beam across it.
  • “Weight” one side of your scale by taping some pennies together, then taping them onto one end of your balance’s beam. While you are doing this, explain to your children that in Bible times, weights were used to balance the scales and help weigh out oil, spices, perfumes and other items people wanted to purchase.
  • Pretend that your five pennies represent five pounds. Place the “five pounds” of pennies on one side of the scale and balance cereal or nuts on the opposite side of the scale.
  • Explain that dishonest people would pretend their weight weighed a certain amount, but it was actually lighter. Every time someone thought they were getting five pounds of wheat, or something else, they would really receive less because the seller used “dishonest” measuring weights.
  • Read Proverbs 16:11-13, then discuss the questions below while role-playing making various purchases.
Questions for discussion
  • Who would you rather make your purchases from – someone with honest weights or dishonest weights?
  • Who values honest boys and girls, men and women?
  • Would you prefer to have honest or dishonest friends?
  • In what ways can we have dishonest scales in our lives? (For example, shoving toys under the bed instead of cleaning them up, by throwing toys in random bins instead of where they belong or by saying you have vacuumed the floor when you only went over parts of it so your chores could be done quicker.)

The Bible says that kings value honest men. Encourage your children by telling them that you, as parents, also delight in children who tell the truth. Assure them that when they tell the truth, the disciplinary measures will be lighter than if they were to try to cover up their wrongdoing. Emphasize that future teachers and employers also will value students and employees who are people of integrity. People who can be trusted to be honest are valued highly everywhere!

Relevant Scripture

Proverbs 16:11-13 “Honest scales and balances are from the Lord; all the weights in the bag are of His making. Kings detest wrongdoing, for a throne is established through righteousness. Kings take pleasure in honest lips; they value a man who speaks the truth.”

Pure truth

For this experiment, you will need a small bowl of water, a peppershaker, cotton swabs (the double-ended stick swabs), liquid dish detergent and some additional water.

  • Prior to beginning the experiment, coat one end of the cotton swab with dish detergent. Leave the other end free of soap. Mark the soapy end in a way that only you will know which end it is.
  • Shake a generous amount of pepper onto the surface of the water in the bowl. Explain that the pepper represents people.
  • Tell your children that the cotton swab represents God. Put the non-soapy end of the swab in the water and move it around to let some pepper gather on it. Explain that when we are truth-tellers, God will allow us to come into His holy presence.
  • Next, tell your children that the people in the bowl have been lying. Ask them to list some ways the people could be telling lies. Then place the soapy end of the cotton swab in the bowl and watch the pepper flee! Explain that when we have been lying, God doesn’t want us in His presence, nor do we feel comfortable coming to talk with Him until we have confessed our sin.
  • Add some extra water to the bowl. As you do so, explain that when we ask God to forgive our sins, He washes our sins away. (Adding the extra water causes the pepper to scatter across the water’s surface again.)
  • Finally, using the non-soapy end of the cotton swab, swish the cotton swab through the pepper, showing that the pepper no longer “runs away” from the cotton swab. Emphasize that after we have confessed our sin, God welcomes us back into His presence.
Relevant Scripture

Psalm 24:3-4 “Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false [or swear falsely].”

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.”

Umbrella tag

Play this game to teach the concept that God protects us like an umbrella. While you play your game of tag, have an adult hold a large umbrella that serves as a “home free” base. Runners can only stay under the umbrella for a count of ten. Ideally, arrange to play this game with a larger group of children in a play-date setting or with friends.

Note: A walk in the rain with an umbrella provides an alternative activity that teaches the same concept. When someone chooses to step out from under the umbrella, they are no longer “protected” from the rain.

Use the discussion questions below to help your children understand that God wants to protect us. When we follow His instructions given in the Bible, we are following what is good and right, and we have little to fear. On the other hand, when we are prideful and think we can do things on our own, refusing to follow God’s way, we often end up in trouble.

Questions for discussion
  • What would happen to little chicks if they didn’t run under their mother’s wings when a predator came along?
  • Have you ever thought that you knew better than your parents and chose not to follow a rule?
  • How is that like the chick that refuses to hide under his or her mother’s wings?
  • What would happen to a little child who decided to live on their own, taking care of himself/herself?
  • Which rules in our home were made to keep you safe?
  • If you chose not to follow these safety rules, what could happen to you?
  • Have you ever ignored a parent’s warning and ended up in trouble?
  • Can you think of any rules God gives us in the Bible?
  • How would life be different if we chose not to follow God’s rules?
  • What is the main reason why someone would ignore God’s instruction or advice from their parents?
  • Read Psalm 5:4-5, 11-12. (See below.) What blessing does God promise for those who are righteous?
  • Read Proverbs 16:20. What does God promise for those who listen to advice?
Key concepts

Rules can be a bother to follow and they may even seem to take away some fun at times, but rules exist in our home for a reason. They keep us safe and help us live at peace with God and others. A child may not like the rule at home that says, You must be supervised by a parent when you play outside, but parents make this rule so that children are kept safe from harm.

Similarly, God also gives us rules to protect us. One of God’s safety rules says that people are not to kill each other (Exodus 20:13). That rule makes a lot of sense, because no one would be safe if people walked around killing each other!

The main reason children ignore their parent’s advice or instruction is pride. Refusing to follow a leader’s guidance or God’s rules is called being rebellious or prideful. An attitude of pride says or thinks, “I know better than you do, so I am not going to do as you ask.” The Bible says that fools follow their own way and wise people take advice (Proverbs 12:15). We also read in the Bible that God promises to protect those people who prove they are righteous by following His directions. It says God will “surround them with favour, as with a shield” (Psalm 5:12). When we live our lives following God’s advice, we know God will use His power to shield us from danger, just as the mother hen shields her chicks from harm with her strong wings.

Relevant Scripture

Proverbs 12:15 “The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.”

Proverbs 16:20 “Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.”

Psalm 5:4-5, 11-12 “You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil; with You the wicked cannot dwell. The arrogant cannot stand in Your presence; You hate all who do wrong. …But let all who take refuge in You be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread Your protection over them, that those who love Your name may rejoice in You. For surely, Lord, You bless the righteous; You surround them with Your favor as with a shield.”

Pride is sneaky

For this hands-on option, you will need a piece of paper measuring 7 cm x 7 cm (2¾” X 2¾”), a flat surface such as a tabletop, and a plastic water bottle or a glass pop bottle with a mouth measuring less than 2.5 cm (1″) in diameter.

  • Begin by asking your children to list the things they are tempted to be proud of. Write their ideas down on a small sheet of paper.
  • Take that list and crumple it into a tight ball. Have your children practice blowing the paper ball around on a flat surface, such as your kitchen table. For extra fun and practice, have them try to blow the paper ball through a “goal” area. You can make a goal by placing two coins 15-20 cm (6″) apart.
  • Once your children have mastered the technique of blowing the ball around, hold the bottle at the edge of the table so its mouth is level with the surface. Ask your children to take turns trying to blow the paper ball into the mouth of the bottle. (Since the bottle is full of air, the ball will not go in). After your children have had plenty of opportunity to try blowing the ball into the bottle, stand the bottle up and allow them to drop the paper ball into the bottle using their hands.
  • Explain that the paper ball represents pride. The bottle represents us. When we acknowledge that we need God’s help in life, we are humble. Humility is often demonstrated by a person bowing down. The bottle on its side is in a bowed position. If we stay humble, honouring God instead of ourselves, pride has a hard time getting into our hearts. On the other hand, when we become self-confident and forget to honour and trust in our own ability to resist sin, the sin of pride can easily sneak up on us.
Relevant Scripture

Psalm 119:133 “Direct my footsteps according to Your word; let no sin rule over me.”

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

1 Chronicles 29:20 “Then David said to the whole assembly, ‘Praise the Lord your God.’ So they all praised the Lord, the God of their fathers; they bowed low and fell prostrate before the Lord and the king.”

Nehemiah 8:6 “Ezra praised the Lord, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, ‘Amen! Amen!’ Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.”

Psalm 22:27 “All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations will bow down before Him…”

Acts 3:19-20 “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that He may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you – even Jesus.”

Let’s try to make snow

In this activity, you’ll give your children a chance to try to make snow, in order to help them understand human inadequacy when compared with God’s sovereignty. You will need these supplies:

ice cubes
zipper lock bags
small plastic bowls
plastic plates or cutting boards
large and small towels or cloths
a rolling pin or crushing tool
plastic rules or similar “scrapers”
a close-up image of a snowflake
a few large marshmallows

  • Start by covering your kitchen table with absorbent towels. Initially, give each of your children a small bowl of water and ask them if they can make snow. They may tell you they could if the water was frozen. In this case, provide ice cubes for them to work with as well. Invite them to crush or shave the ice to make snow using the cutting board, rolling pin and scraping tool.
  • No matter what they try to do with their water or ice, there is no way your children will be able to make true snowflakes. You may need to explain that although finely crushed ice has many snow-like qualities, it is not real snow. The ice crystals in crushed ice are not uniformly formed like snow crystals are.
  • Now show your children a close-up photograph of a snowflake. Have your children help you build a model of a similar snowflake using the marshmallows and the toothpicks. Make your snowflake by using a large marshmallow as the centre and poking six toothpicks into it, evenly spaced. Then put a mini-marshmallow on the end of each toothpick (like a six-pointed star). Now make a crushed ice crystal by randomly sticking toothpicks and marshmallows together (in an non-uniform design).

Option 1: If it is wintertime and you have access to snow falling outdoors, continue this activity by catching some snowflakes on your mittens or on black paper so you can observe the uniformity of their shapes and compare them to crushed ice.

Option 2: Visit science websites or seek out DVDs on the science of snow formation. Alternatively, simply view close-up photographs of snowflakes. An excellent children’s book on this topic is The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter’s Wonder by Mark Cassino and Jon Nelson. Chronicle Books, 2009.

Option 3: Cut your own paper snowflakes. Search online for simple instructions.

  • After your interactive snowflake activities, stimulate discussion by asking the following questions:
Questions for discussion
  • Were you able to make snow?
  • Why not?
  • How are ice chunks different from snowflakes?
  • Who is the only one who can make real snowflakes?
  • Have you ever heard of a snow-making machine or skied on man-made snow?
  • Do you think skiers prefer man-made or God-made snow?
Key concepts

Only God can make snow and the original design for the snowflake is His! Crushed or shaved ice may look and feel like snow, but it does not feel like real snow does. You cannot make a snowball out of crushed ice. It will make an ice ball, but not a true snowball because the ice doesn’t have the same air spaces between the crystals that snow has. Another great example of this are the snow-making machines on ski hills. Any skier will tell you that man-made snow just isn’t the same as the snow God makes!

As people, we tend to become proud of our accomplishments and abilities. In Jeremiah, wisdom, strength and wealth are listed as things we should not boast about. 1 Corinthians 1:25 says, “For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.” One of the best ways to stay humble is to remain focused on God’s greatness. He is so much wiser than us and so much stronger, and everything in the whole wide world is His! God is pleased when we fear (or respect) Him greatly (Psalm 147:10-11). When we recognize the magnitude of God’s holiness, power and love, and realize how imperfect, weak and unloving we are in comparison, it helps us to stay humble.

Relevant Scripture

Psalm 147:1, 4-6, 16-18 “Praise the Lord. How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise Him! …He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power; His understanding has no limit. The Lord sustains the humble but casts the wicked to the ground. …He spreads the snow like wool and scatters the frost like ashes. He hurls down His hail like pebbles. Who can withstand His icy blast? He sends His word and melts them; He stirs up His breezes, and the waters flow.”

Psalm 148:4-13 “Praise Him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies. Let them praise the name of the Lord, for He commanded and they were created. He set them in place for ever and ever. He gave a decree that will never pass away. Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths, lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do His bidding, you mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars, wild animals and all cattle, small creatures and flying birds, kings of the earth and all nations, you princes and all rulers on earth, young men and maidens, old men and children. Let them praise the name of the Lord, for His name alone is exalted; His splendor is above the earth and the heavens.”

Jeremiah 9:23-24 “This is what the Lord says: ‘Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, 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.”