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Bible passage: Genesis 1:1-13
Background: The story of creation from Genesis is rich in awe and wonder. There’s no need to dwell on the hows and whys here. Rather, help the children experience the grandeur of God’s creation and think about how amazing God is to have created such amazing things.
As the children arrive, welcome them by name and invite them to sit together in a circle. Encourage them to share stories from their week and celebrate any birthdays or special events. Ask the children if they have ever seen any natural wonders such as waterfalls, massive trees or big mountains. What was their favourite thing about what they saw?
You will need: ‘opposites’ cards (see below)
Before the session, make simple pairs of cards showing all kinds of opposites: light and dark, tall and short, hot and cold, hard and soft etc.
Shuffle these pairs together and spread them, face down, in front of the children. In turn, each child turns two cards over in an attempt to find a pair of opposites. Keep playing until the children have found all the opposites.
Depending on the age and abilities of your group you may prefer picture cards or toys, or even to act out your opposites.
You will need: a screen and a light source (see below); garden canes; tissue paper; black paper; sticky tape
You are going to tell the story using shadow puppets, and you’ll need to do some preparation before the session to get everything ready.
First, make your screen. Use a white sheet or roll of drawing paper stretched as flat as possible. The size and positioning is up to you, as long as the children can see it and you can fit a lamp and puppets behind it. Use any available furniture and clothes pegs or masking tape to hold your screen in place. A desk lamp will work best as a light source. Remember to stay behind the lamp, as anything in front of the light will appear on the screen.
You will also need to make your ‘puppets’. Take a large sheet of pale blue tissue and attach a garden cane across the top so it looks like a sideways flag that you can move up and down. Do the same with a dark blue sheet. These are your sea and sky. Cut some hill shapes from black paper and attach these to a cane with tape. This is your land. Make some vine or beanstalk shapes in the same way.
Now you are ready to tell the story. You may want to practise beforehand so everything flows well and looks as you want it to. Ideally, there will be two leaders operating the puppets. If necessary, you can sit on either side of the screen while you do this so you can still supervise the children! Once you are all set up and ready, tell this story:
Dim the lights and start with the lamp off. In the beginning God created the sky and the earth. The earth was empty and dark, but God’s Spirit was there. God said: “Let there be light!” and there was. Turn on the lamp. God called the dark night and the light day. That was the end of the first ever day.
Hold both blue tissue paper ‘flags’ together so they make one colour when you hold them in front of the light. God decided to separate the sea and the sky, so he created air. Slowly move the pale blue ‘flag’ upwards and the dark downwards so two stripes of different shades of blue appear on the screen. That was the end of the second day.
Then God made land come out of the seas. The second leader uses the land puppet and makes it gently rise up from the dark blue. He was happy with what he had made. Lay your puppets down. Now God created all kinds of plants to grow on the earth. Take your beanstalk and vine puppets. Place them at the very bottom of the screen and move them upwards, as if they are growing. Some plants would make seeds to eat, some would grow fruit and they would all make seeds to grow more plants. God was very pleased. That was the end of the third day.
Tell the story as often as the children would like to hear it. Let the children retell the story themselves and operate the puppets if they are interested in doing so. Make sure they keep away from your light source, as it may be quite hot.
Ask the children these questions, encouraging everyone to take part in the discussion:
- What was your favourite part of the story?
- How do you think God felt when he made the world?
- What do you think God created next?
- Are you good at creating? What things do you like to make?
You will need: small pots; sticky labels; crayons or felt-tip pens; either seeds (such as sunflower seeds) and sterile compost, or cress seeds and cotton wool
Plant some seeds with the children. You could go the whole hog with compost and flowerpots, or keep it simple with cress on cotton wool. The important thing is to talk with them about what plants need to grow properly, and how God created all the things they need. Talk about the way plants give food and shelter to us and the animals he created. Marvel at God’s creation together.
Encourage each child to write their name on a sticky label and decorate it. They should then stick it on their pot ready to take home.
You will need: children’s praise music and the means to play it; ribbons and flags; tambourines and other child-friendly musical instruments
Teach the children the actions to the prayer below. Practise them until the children are confident in what they are doing.
Read the prayer out to the children and encourage them to perform them at the right time:
Thank you, God, for the light (hands up with fingers wiggling)
and the dark (hands over your eyes).
For the sea (make waves with your hands)
and the sky (wave hands in the air).
The land (hold hands flat)
and the plants (raise hands).
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