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BIBLE PASSAGE: 1 Samuel 1
BACKGROUND: Younger children will just be starting to explore friendships and considering the need to share and be kind. Anyone watching children play will see positive and negative behaviours within the space of a few minutes. Use this story to explore how it affects others when we are mean. Create space for children to express their feelings if others are being unkind to them. Make sure they are aware of where they can go to get help. Make sure you follow your church’s policy if the children raise any safeguarding issues.
As the children arrive, welcome them by name and invite them to sit together in a circle. Share out any refreshments you have brought. Encourage them to share stories from their week, and celebrate any birthdays or special events. Ask the children about their friends. These could be friends at church, nursery or school. Talk about how we sometimes get on with these friends and sometimes don’t. If appropriate, share
a story from your own life or ask another leader to do so.
You will need: a bowl of sweets
Provide a bowl of sweets to share (remem- ber to be mindful of allergies). Have one leader (X) pretend that their dentist has said they aren’t allowed sweets. The other leaders tease X, telling them how nice the sweets are and how much they are enjoying them.
Ask the children how they think X feels.
Are the leaders being kind? What might X say back? How could everyone have handled this situation differently? If the children would like to, they can pretend
to be X and show how they would change things for the better.
You will need: baby dolls
Gather the children together and tell this story:
In a book of the Bible called 1 Samuel we find the story of a man called Elkanah. He was a friend of God. Now, Elkanah had two wives. Today people only have one husband or wife, but at this time it was OK to have more than one wife. Elkanah’s wives were called Peninnah and Hannah. Practise saying the names together.
Peninnah had children but Hannah didn’t. Share the dolls out among half the children. Ask those without any dolls how they feel. Every year they all went to a place called Shiloh to worship God and show
him how much they loved him. Every year Peninnah would tease Hannah because Hannah had no children. She was always mean to poor Hannah. She said that God was unhappy with Hannah, and that was why she didn’t have any children. Ask the children what they think of Peninnah and how Hannah must have felt.
Every time they went to worship God at Shiloh, Hannah cried and couldn’t eat because she was so sad. One night while
they were there Hannah went off by herself. She cried and prayed over and over again for a son. She promised that if she had a son she would give him back to God to help the priests. Ask the children what they think happened next. Gather some ideas and then go on with the rest of the story.
When they went home God remembered Hannah and gave her a baby boy! Share the dolls around the whole group. She named him Samuel, which means ‘because I asked the Lord for him’. When he was old enough Samuel went to live with the priests so that he could help people worship God.
Continue exploring the story by discussing these questions:
- Which is your favourite part of the story?
- What didn’t you like?
- What do you think of the different people in the story? Elkanah? Peninnah? Hannah?
- What does this story tell you about God?
- What do you do when someone is unkind to you?
- Who can you talk to when someone is unkind to you?
You will need: small wrapped sweets; squares of material, tissue paper and cellophane; ribbon; luggage labels; pens Ask the children what Peninnah did to Hannah. How did Hannah feel? What did Hannah do? How could Peninnah have behaved differently? Relate these questions to the introductory activity.
Notice that although Peninnah was mean Hannah didn’t retaliate, but instead asked God for comfort. Remind the children that if someone is upsetting them they can ask grown-ups for help as well as God.
Show the children the materials you have brought and let them make packages of sweets to give to others. Show them how to put some sweets in the middle of a square of material, paper or cellophane, then gather and tie the corners together with ribbon. However, if they want to do it a different way you can help them to follow their own ideas.
As you work, talk about any situations in the children’s lives when others aren’t kind to them. What can they do about it? Also think about times when they have been unkind to others. Talk about using kind words, smiles and sharing what we have with others.
Finally, give out the luggage labels and help the children think about who they might give their sweets to. Tie the labels to the sweets and encourage them to ask their parents or carers to help them give out their gifts.
You will need: the packages of sweets from ‘Creative response’
Gather the sweet packages together and pray over them:
Father, please bless the people who receive these gifts. Help us to remember not to tease or laugh at people, but to be kind and friendly. Let us be a blessing to those around us, and send people to help us when others are mean. Amen.
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