Posted in Crafts and activities, Ramblings

What fruit tree are you?

Sitting here in the autumn sunshine, looking out at the glorious colours the leaves have turned, I realise that I had better share with you what we did at Kids’ Club near the beginning of the school term.  While summer was coming to an end and the leaves were starting to put on their autumnal colours, the children were gathering conkers from underneath the big tree on the corner of the school grounds. The inspiration for a Kids’ Club session came to me and I thought of what Jesus said in the Bible,

“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bears good fruit. Each tree is recognised by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thorn-bushes, or grapes from briers. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” – Luke 6:43-45

There’s a lot to think about here, but with the current group of children at Kids’ Club, because of their younger age, it is necessary to keep things simple and to the point. I was trying to find a fun game to engage them. They could all relate to gathering conkers from the school playground, and have come across different fruit. So, in preparation for a quiz, I went foraging for conkers and some big leaves from the conker tree (horse chestnut) with the “help” of our new puppy (who’s occupying a lot of my time and hence the delay in writing posts!). I also went round to the other group leaders Arthur and Rita’s to ask for some twigs and fruit from their fruit trees – apples, pears, and tomatoes. From my own garden, as it’s so overgrown with weeds, I found plenty of brambles with blackberries! I also had some elderberries from the elderflower bush, some blueberries (shop-bought) and a small branch from my blueberry bush.

The game was to inspect the leaves and twigs, guessing what trees they came from and hence match the different fruits to them. When I showed the children the conker tree leaves, many of them immediately knew what tree they came from. Many of them also knew that the thorny bramble produced blackberries, and one girl knew what a tomato plant looked like. Then it became trickier with the apple and pear tree twigs as their leaves were quite similar. It became easier when I brought out the actual fruit and we matched up the rest of the fruit to the leaves or twigs.

The point of this game is to illustrate what Jesus said above, to show that sometimes we don’t know what a tree or plant is, even if we look at the leaves, but if we see the fruit with the plants, then we know whether they are good trees or bad.

Each tree is recognised by its own fruit.fruit of the spirit colouring page

This game led us to introduce the fruit of the Holy Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. After a brief prayer, we moved onto the next activity, which was to colour in a sheet with fruits which represents these qualities. One can find a variety of colouring pages on the internet, but this is the one I used.

I find that the children easily lose focus if I just talked at them, and they’re not going to remember all 9 fruit of the Holy Spirit, but they absorb more information as they’re doing an activity. And because we’re usually blessed with a high adult to children ratio in our sessions, we sometimes have some meaningful conversations whilst the grown-ups help the kids with their activities. For example,

“What colour are you using for the kiwi fruit?”
“Green!”
“Brown?”
“Greeny-brown then…”
“Ew! I don’t like kiwi fruit.”
“Why?”
“Cos the bits get in your teeth.”
“Well, that’s what it says here – you need patience to get the bits out!”

Let’s hope and pray that some of these truths sink in, take root and grow!

Look out for my next post, as the next Kids’ Club session build on this theme of bearing fruit…

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Posted in Crafts and activities, Ramblings

Kids’ Club joins in new craze of Easter Egg Tree

Did you know that the Easter Tree is nothing new? I thought it’s a novel idea, but apparently  it’s a European tradition and our American cousins have had Easter Trees for a while. Anyway, that’s the activity Arthur had prepared for us on the last session of Kids’ Club before school broke up for the Easter holidays, but first of all we had to talk about the Easter story. The children were keen to show off their knowledge, so we had a Q&A time.

It turned out that a fair bit of prompting was needed, so we had a quick recap of Jesus’ death on the cross on Good Friday, and then how on the very first Easter Sunday, Jesus’ disciples and Mary Magdalene went to the tomb only to find his body gone. Two angels told them that Jesus was not there. He had risen from the dead! Much to Mary’s surprise, Jesus himself appeared to her in the garden where the tomb was, and her grief was turned to joy. Jesus also appeared to his disciples later, but that’s for another time. We wanted to focus on Easter Day in the session, and what it means to us.

Sprouted willow cuttingTo help with the explanation, Arthur had brought in a willow “tree” from his garden, or rather, a slender branch he had stuck in a pot of compost last year because it looked dead. He looked after it all winter, and a few weeks ago it showed signs of new life – fresh young green leaves sprouted from the twigs. So he thought it would be very apt to use it to illustrate the message of Easter – that of new life.

New Life

Talk of Easter to anyone and what excites them about it, and people think of Easter eggs, especially the children. So we asked our Kids’ Club children what the eggs have to do with Easter and with new life. At first they couldn’t move past the thought of chocolate eggs…

Easter Egg templatesArthur:   What has an egg got to do with new life?

Children:  Easter eggs!

Arthur:   Yes… what might be inside an egg?

Children:  Chocolate!!!

Arthur:   What new life would you get inside a real egg?

Children:  Chocolate!!!…Er… Chick?

Arthur:  Yes! Little chicks are the new life you get from eggs. The eggs might not look alive, but there can be new life forming inside them. It’s a bit like that on the first Easter Sunday. Everyone knew that Jesus was dead but he came back to life with a new kind of body.

 

Easter Egg Tree
Easter egg tree made by Kids’ Club

I remember taking my own children to local farms when they were little, and we always enjoyed seeing baby animals. We remember the excitement and joy of handling tiny chicks, bunnies and guinea pigs. There is definitely something to celebrate about new life.

So here at this Kids’ Club session, in order to celebrate new life, we made an Easter tree by hanging decorated Easter eggs (coloured-in cards by the children) on the branches of the willow “tree”. The idea was borrowed from an article that Arthur’s wife Rita read in the Woman Alive magazine with templates for the eggs.  The children coloured these in and wrote their names and perhaps a short prayer on the back of the eggs. Then we hung them on the branches using scarlet yarns.

The Easter Egg Tree has only just been catching on over here in the UK and apparently it’s taking over Instagram and Pinterest by storm. More and more shops are selling Easter trees, together with chocolate eggs and myriad food items and decorations. This is turning into Christmas!

And like Christmas, it’s great that everyone is celebrating this important Christian festival, but let’s not forget the real meaning of Easter – that sin, death and decay isn’t the end; that God gives new life – a different kind of life, which was displayed in Jesus when he rose from the dead.

We see this similar but perhaps less powerful life force at work everyday around us, especially in springtime – in the new growth in nature, in the waking up of animals from hibernation. So it stands to reason, perhaps, that the dead-end things in life, the ugly, shameful and, dare we say sinful, things in our lives don’t have to imprison us forever. If we turn these over to Jesus, he who defeated death on a cross, can surely produce new life in us, and bring something new to our situations.

As the children have shown us, just the mere talk of new life, of little chicks (and of course chocolate) and little bunnies, fill us with excitement and positive energy. Perhaps it’s time for us grown-ups to take a leap of faith. Let’s face it, what humans can create new life? We can help the process of growth along, just as gardeners take cuttings of seemingly dead twigs and put them in compost, but we can’t force any roots or shoots to appear by will. Parents help babies and children grow by caring for them, but we don’t understand entirely the mystery of how it all happens. Scientists for centuries have tried to create new life, but still haven’t found any definitive answers.

I say that God is the only one who truly creates new beginnings, new life, new answers to our dead and decaying world. Perhaps this Easter we can let Him do that in our lives. Then we would truly have something to celebrate about.

Have a Happy Easter!

Posted in Uncategorized

The Kingdom of God belongs to such as these…

Welcome to our new Kids’ Club website!

I started this blog mainly, but not exclusively, for parents, grandparents, siblings and carers of the children who come to our Kids’ Club sessions. I hope that all the children who come would agree that they enjoy our time together – they sure seem to be very  enthusiastic! Sometimes in all the excitement I forget or don’t have time to get across some ideas that I have prepared, or some thoughts might take a bit more time to digest. So the hope is that, if I can put our messages on a blog, then any kids or their parents or carers who are interested can find out what we did in the sessions and what it’s all about, together with some further food for thought.

I hope that you, or anyone who might stumble upon our site, would get as much out of it as I do, because it gives me and all our Kids’ Club leaders great joy when we do these sessions. It isn’t easy with our limited energy and resources, but it is always a privilege to engage with our children. We learn a lot from them and from preparing for the sessions, and are reminded of Jesus’ words,

Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” – Mark 10:14

I hope that you will have a glimpse of this Kingdom of God through our kids too. If you find anything useful here, please feel free to share.

God bless!

Janice, Rev James, Arthur & Rita
Kids’ Club Leaders

** Kids’ Club dates – If you are looking at our mobile site, please keep scrolling down to find out when our sessions are **