Category Archives: activity

Bloom Where You Are Planted (CHALLENGE)


Time

10-15 minutes
Description

This Challenge makes the point that we can make a choice to honor God even if difficult situations.  Joseph was sold into slavery by his own brothers, but he was such a trustworthy slave, that Potiphar put him in charge of everything in the house.  When Joseph was accused by Potiphar’s wife and thrown into prison, the prison warden soon put everything under Joseph’s authority, because Joseph was so faithful in how he handled his responsibilities.  Participants will plant flowers in a mixture of gravel and water jelly crystals to show that you can still bloom when you are in a bad place.

Scriptures

  • Genesis 37-50
  • John 4:10-14

 

Materials

  • Water Jelly Crystals – (You can order them from Steve Spangler Science for approximately $40 plus shipping and handling. (2.27 kg (5 pounds)
    Item #: WSAC-900) Order early, because they may take up to two weeks to receive. It’s important that the crystals are clear and not colored.  You can find these crystals at http://www.stevespanglerscience.com/product/1283.
  • Challenge Card (The file for printing is called, “JJ – Bloom Where You Are Planted – Challenge Card (CHALLENGE),” and it can be found on the Lesson and Material Downloads page at www.teachingthem.com.  This can be printed in black and white on regular paper.  There are two Challenge Cards per page.)
  • Small, potted flowers (preferably seedlings with some leaves but before they bloom, but this is flexible) – 1 per person
  • Small, clear, plastic cups – 1 per person
  • Gravel – enough to fill each plastic cup about ¾ full
  • Ziplock bags – gallon size – 1 per group
  • Scoops or large plastic spoons – 1 per group
  • Gallon jug of water – 1 per group

 

Preparation

  • Divide the water jelly crystals evenly so that you have the same amount for each group, and place them in Ziplock bags.
  • Add a scoop or large plastic spoon to each bag for scooping out crystals.
  • Add enough plastic cups for each person in each group.
  • Divide the gravel evenly among the groups, and put it into a bag or some other container for each group.
  • Set aside enough flowers for each person in each group.
  • Print out the Challenge Card document.
  • Cut the Challenge Card document in half (each half is identical), and put one in each Ziplock bag (one per group).
  • Practice the script.

Procedure

Use the following script (or modify to suit your needs):

  • “We’re going to do a group Challenge today.”
  • “It’s called, “Bloom Where You Are Planted” and it’s part of the Joseph’s Journey Series.”
  • “First, I’ll need to divide you into groups.”  (Divide the participants into the number of groups for which you have prepared kits.)
  • “Each group will have a Ziplock bag with a Challenge Card, cups, water jelly crystals, and a scoop or spoon.”
  • “Each group will also have some flowers, gravel and water.”
  • “When I tell you to go, open your Ziplock bags, and read the Challenge Card.”
  • “You will then take the small seedlings out of their planter and shake off the soil so that all you have is the plant with exposed roots.”
  • “This represents Joseph, who was taken out of the good soil of his home and family.”
  • “Next, take a handful of gravel rocks and a handful of water jelly crystals, and mix them together.”
  • “Then, put them into your clear, plastic cup.”
  • “This represents the bad soil that Joseph was planted in when he was sold into slavery by his brothers and then again later when he was thrown into prison for something he didn’t do.”
  • “Plants can’t usually grow in rocks, because they need nutrients from the soil and something to hold the water when it rains.”
  • “That’s why we added water jelly crystals.  They hold water and help the roots to get the refreshing water that they need to grow.”
  • “So here’s the secret reason why Joseph was able to continue to grow even though he was in a bad place.”
  • “God was with him.”
  • “The water jelly crystals represent God’s presence in Joseph’s life.”
  • “Plants need normal water to thrive, but people need LIVING WATER, which is God’s Word and presence, to thrive.”
  • “Jesus says in John 4:10 that we can ask Him, and he will give us living water.”
  • “Then, He says in John 4:13-14 that ‘Everyone who drinks (regular) water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water (Jesus) gives them will never thirst. Indeed, the water (Jesus) gives them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’”
  • “That means that if you depend on Jesus, you will have eternal life with Him in heaven.”
  • “Put your finger into the gravel and water jelly crystals and make a hole for the seedling to be planted in.”
  • “Then, plant the seedling in the gravel, and move the gravel and water jelly crystals around the root.”
  • “Finally, add some water to about halfway up the cup.”
  • “Now, let’s set these aside.  We’ll watch them during the week (or weeks) to see if they thrive in their new soil.  They may even bloom!”
  • (When you are finished, have them answer the Debrief Questions below (also on their Challenge Cards.  The Rhyme Time is a reinforce to help them remember that if they continue to trust God, He will make even difficult situations a blessing for them.)

 

Debriefing Questions

 

  1. Do you think the flower will bloom where you planted it?  Why or why not?
  2. Why do you think Joseph was able to succeed in difficult situations?
  3. How could you “bloom” when you find yourself in a difficult place?

 

Rhyme Time

If we trust Him and obey,

God makes bad things go OUR way!

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Joseph’s Journey


For summer camp this year, I’ve written ten Challenges (Bible activities for small groups and a leader to do together – sometimes in competition with other groups) and some large group lessons on the story of Joseph. They are all located on the Lesson and Material Downloads page (see the link at the top of the screen), and you can find them alphabetically in the list. They all start with the letters “JJ” for “Joseph’s Journey.”

Hope you can find some lessons that will be useful for you!

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Priorities – Mary vs. Martha (DEVOTION)


Read the following Scriptures, and discuss the questions below as a table group.

  • Luke 10:38-42
  • John 11:1-3, 17-44
  • John 12:1-8
  1. Compare and contrast the two sisters.
  2. What is Mary doing that is similar in each of these Scriptures?
  3. What is Martha doing that is similar in each of these Scriptures?
  4. Why do you think Jesus said that Mary’s choice was better in the passage from Luke?
  5. How are you sometimes like Martha?
  6. What is the danger of living our lives like Martha all the time?
  7. What is the best combination of Mary-type priorities and Martha-type priorities for your life?

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Learning Transfer (EXERCISE)


Audience
Children, Teens or Adults

Time
30 minutes

Description
This activity helps teachers, presenters, facilitators and trainers recognize the inherent challenges in teaching as we compete against our audiences’ or participants’ mental barriers to learning transfer.  This exercise can be presented as a “game,” but it is more of a “gotcha” in which participants are set up to fail in order to emphasize the learning point.

Materials
•    Notecards (approximately 30 for every two people)
•    Marker or pen (one for every two people)
•    Article (There is one at the end of this lesson.  You may want to choose a different article better suited to your participants’ level of knowledge.  It should be written with unfamiliar vocabulary in order to provide a challenge in understanding the message.)
•    Quiz with 10-15 questions and answers (There is one at the end of this lesson, or you can prepare your own based on the article that you choose.)
•    Prizes (optional)

Preparation
•    Read through the article to make sure you are familiar with it.
•    Create your quiz if you are using a different article than the one provided.
•    Divide the group into pairs, and give each pair a marker/pen and a stack of the notecards.
•    Ask someone to be your ‘Distractor’ – the person who will steal ideas from Short-Term Memory

Procedure
Use the following script, or modify to suit your needs:
•    “Brain research shows that the short-term memory is only able to hold seven pieces of information at any one time and that it can only hold each piece of information for about 20 seconds.”
•    “In that 20 seconds, your short-term memory is doing three things:

1.    Trying to understand (“decode”) the message
2.    Dealing with distractions
3.    Learning and transferring the information to long-term memory”

•    “In order to learn new things, you have to overcome challenges in understanding the message and dealing with distractions, and you only have 20 seconds to do it with each piece of information.”
•    “If you don’t learn that information and transfer it to long-term memory in 20 seconds, your brain dumps it and replaces it with something else.”
•    “If more than seven pieces of new information are presented to you at one time, your short-term memory will dump new information even faster as new information replaces ‘old’ information.”
•    “It’s amazing that we ever learn anything, right?”
•    “For teachers, presenters, facilitators and trainers, this is a challenge to how we typically present things we want people to learn.”
•    “If we cover the information too quickly, they won’t get it.”
•    “If we don’t make it simple enough for them to quickly understand it, they won’t get it.”
•    “If they are distracted by fellow students, personal problems, discomfort, irritating habits that the trainer has, etc…, they won’t get it.”
•    “Let’s play a game that will demonstrate how tough this really is.”
•    “I’ve divided you into pairs and given each pair a stack of notecards and a pen/marker.”
•    “In your pairs, select one person to be ‘Short-Term Memory (STM)’ and one person to be ‘Long-Term Memory (LTM).’” (Allow time for them to select roles.)
•    “I’m going to read an article out loud.”
•    “As I read, STM will use the pen/marker and the notecards to write down the most important ideas from the article.”
•    “I won’t tell you what those ideas are.  You have to decide for yourself.”
•    “Once STM has written the idea down, he/she will hand it to LTM.”
•    “LTM will take the idea, read it and place it face-down in front of him/her.”
•    “It doesn’t matter how LTM chooses to organize the ideas.  That’s up to him/her.”
•    “When STM writes down an idea, that represents understanding the information (decoding).”
•    “When STM hands the idea to LTM, that represents learning transfer.”
•    “That alone will be challenging, but there’s one additional challenge you will have to deal with.”
•    “I’ve asked ______ to be our ‘Distractor.’”
•    “His/her job is to walk around the room and steal ideas away from STM.”
•    “Distractor can take the idea when it’s being written or when it’s being passed.”
•    “The idea isn’t safe until it is face-down in front of LTM.”
•    “If Distractor tries to steal an idea, you have to give it to him/her – he/she is much too powerful for you!”
•    “If Distractor steals and idea, STM can rewrite it if he/she wants to, or he/she can skip it and move on to the next idea.”
•    “At the end of the game, you will be given a test.”
•    “After I ask each question about the article, LTM will have three chances to find the card that has that information on it.”
•    “STM is not allowed to help.”
•    “It’s possible that LTM won’t even have the answer, since LTM was dependent on STM to write down the correct ideas.”
•    “If LTM picks up the wrong card, he/she should return it face-down to the table.”
•    “If
•    LTM picks up the right card, he/she can put it to the side.  It counts as one point.”
•    “The team with the most points at the end of the test wins.”
•    “What questions do you have?”  (Answer any questions.)
•    “Okay, let’s play!”  (Read the article at a normal pace as the STMs write down the most important parts.  ‘Distractor’ should roam around the pairs stealing ideas when possible but not taking so many that it completely discourages the participants.  When you are done, give the test.  After the test, find out which team has the most points, and award a prize if you wish.  Then, have the participants discuss the following debrief questions in their original groups or in their pairs.  Debrief as a large group.)

Debrief
o    What made that difficult?
o    How was that like the challenge a learner faces when he/she hears new information?
o    What could we do to help more information move successfully between STM and LTM?

Quiz
1)    What do shadow puppet craftsmen typically use to smooth out the puppets? (a glass bottle)
2)    What is the Indonesian term for ‘shadow puppets?’ (wayang kulit)
3)    Less expensive puppets that are sold to children during shows are typically made of what? (cardboard)
4)    The Punakawan is a family of characters in Javanese shadow puppets, and they are often referred to as what?  (clown-servants)
5)    What are three sources for the shadow puppet stories? (the Ramayana, the Mahabharata or the Serat Menak)
6)    What tools did shadow puppet theater traditionally use to project and display the image of the puppets? (cotton screen and an oil lamp)
7)    What is the most common light sources used today to project the shadow puppets’ images in Java? (halogen electric lights)
8)    What is the Indonesian word for ‘skin?’  (kulit)
9)    Which city in Central Java is most famous for its style of puppets? (Surakarta or Solo)
10)    Which parts on the shadow puppet typically move? (upper and lower arms)
11)    How long does it take a crew of craftsmen to make ten shadow puppets? (one week)
12)    Puppets are supported with carefully shaped __________ and control rods. (buffalo horn handles)

ARTICLE – “Wayang Kulit”
(Source – Wikipedia)

Wayang kulit, shadow puppets prevalent in Java and Bali in Indonesia, are without a doubt the best known of the Indonesian wayang. Kulit means skin, and refers to the leather construction of the puppets that are carefully chiselled with very fine tools and supported with carefully shaped buffalo horn handles and control rods.

The stories are usually drawn from the Ramayana, the Mahabharata or the Serat Menak.

There is a family of characters in Javanese wayang called Punakawan; they are sometimes referred to as “clown-servants” because they normally are associated with the story’s hero, and provide humorous and philosophical interludes. Semar is the father of Gareng (oldest son), Petruk, and Bagong (youngest son). These characters did not originate in the Hindu epics, but were added later, possibly to introduce mystical aspects of Islam into the Hindu-Javanese stories. They provide something akin to a political cabaret, dealing with gossip and contemporary affairs.

The puppet figures themselves vary from place to place. In Central Java the city of Surakarta (Solo) is most famous and is the most commonly imitated style of puppets. Regional styles of shadow puppets can also be found in West Java, Banyumas, Cirebon, Semarang, and East Java. Bali produces more compact and naturalistic figures, and Lombok has figures representing real people. Often modern-world objects as bicycles, automobiles, airplanes and ships will be added for comic effect, but for the most part the traditional puppet designs have changed little in the last 300 years.

Historically, the performance consisted of shadows cast on a cotton screen and an oil lamp. Today, the source of light used in wayang performance in Java is most often a halogen electric light. Some modern forms of wayang such as Wayang Sandosa created in the Art Academy at Surakarta (STSI) has employed spotlights, colored lights and other innovations.

The handwork involved in making a wayang kulit figure that is suitable for a performance takes several weeks, with the artists working together in groups. They start from master models (typically on paper) which are traced out onto kulit (skin or parchment), providing the figures with an outline and with indications of any holes that will need to be cut (such as for the mouth or eyes). The figures are then smoothed, usually with a glass bottle, and primed. The structure is inspected and eventually the details are worked through. A further smoothing follows before individual painting, which is undertaken by yet another craftsman. Finally, the movable parts (upper arms, lower arms with hands and the associated sticks for manipulation) mounted on the body, which has a central staff by which it is held. A crew makes up to ten figures at a time, typically completing that number over the course of a week.

The painting of less expensive puppets is handled expediently with a spray technique, using templates, and with a different person handling each color. Less expensive puppets, often sold to children during performances, are sometimes made on cardboard instead of leather.

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