15-20 minutes (or more, depending upon how many times you play)
Children & Youth
This matching game is a fun one to play at Christmas. It takes the elements of “The Legend of the Candy Cane” (apocryphal) and uses it to make connections between the popular Christmas candy and truths about Christ. Even though the widely circulated story of how the candy cane originated is not true, we can still find meaning and symbolism in the candy that will help us to appreciate our Savior.
- Exodus 12:22-23
- Psalm 51:7
- Isaiah 53:5
- Matthew 1:23, 5:12, 26:28
- John 10:11
- Romans 6:4, 9:33
- 2 Corinthians 5:21
- Printouts of “Legend of the Candy Cane – Cards.ppt” (available at www.teachingthem.com on the Lesson and Material Downloads page). There are enough cards in the printout for two teams. If you will have more teams competing, you will need more copies.
- Scissors or a paper cutter (to cut out the cards)
- A simple, red-and-white candy cane to use as an example
- Flipchart or whiteboard and markers
- Optional: If it bothers you that participants will be able to see the images through the paper, you might want to use a heavy stock of paper, or you might even want to glue the cards to cardboard or posterboard before cutting them out.
- Optional: Small prizes for the winners – I recommend candy canes to fit with the theme.
- Print out the cards.
- Optional: Glue the cards on top of the cardboard or poster board (to prevent participants from being able to see the images through the paper).
- Cut out the cards.
- Sort the cards into sets. (There are two identical sets in each printout. Most matching games have you match identical cards, but in this matching game, participants will match a characteristic of the candy cane with its meaning/symbol. So, each set will contain one of each of the following cards: “White,” “Red,” “The Rock,” “J-Shape,” “Stripes,” “Peppermint,” “Hard,” “Sweet,” “Hyssop,” “Sinless,” “Blood,” “Shepherd,” “Born of a Virgin,” “By His Stripes,” “Jesus,” “Wash Me Clean,” “New Life,” and “Heaven.”
- Shuffle the cards, and lay them out in three rows of six cards each. (The cards should be laid out face-down.”)
- Practice the script.
Use the following script and instructions (or modify to suit your needs):
- “Have any of you ever heard “The Legend of the Candy Cane?” (Acknowledge responses.)
- “It’s this story that has been sent around the internet and on different websites about how the candy cane was created and why.”
- “It says that a man created the candy cane to be a witness to Jesus Christ and that each of the characteristics of the candy cane pointed to our Lord.”
- “Unfortunately, some people checked out the story, and it turns out not to be true.”
- “The candy cane has been around for about 300 years, and it started out as just a simple candy.”
- “However, that doesn’t mean that we can’t find symbols of Christianity in the candy cane.”
- “Many times, God uses something to bring glory to Himself even when mankind didn’t intend to give Him glory.”
- “I think the candy cane can definitely bring glory to God.”
- “Let’s look at it more closely.” (Hold up a candy cane for the participants to see.)
- “What are some of the things you notice about the candy cane?” (Hold up you hand to show that you want them to raise their hands to be recognized one at a time. As you call on them, you might want to write what they say on the flipchart or whiteboard. Then, ask them to tell you what this characteristic might represent in the Christian faith. Several characteristics will have two meanings. You will have to give them some guidance, but let them come up with as many as they can. The main responses you are looking for are written below.
- White = Sinless (2 Corinthians 5:21); Born of a Virgin (Matthew 1:23)
- Red = Blood (Matthew 26:28)
- Hard = The Rock (Romans 9:33)
- J-Shaped = Jesus, Shepherd’s staff (John 10:11)
- Stripes = By His stripes… (Isaiah 53:5)
- Peppermint = Hyssop (Exodus 12:22-23), Washes Me Clean (Psalm 51:7)
- Sweet = New Life (Romans 6:4), Heaven (Matthew 5:12)
There may be additional connections that the participants can make, but they won’t be included in the matching game. As you make the connections, you might want to have someone read the Scriptures listed above. Some Scriptures may need a little background information to connect them to the symbol.)
- “See! We came up with at least eleven connections between Christianity and the candy cane!”
- “That can’t be accidental. God must have hidden these truths in the candy cane for us to find.”
- “Now, let’s play a game to help us remember these connections.”
- “It’s a matching game, like when you turn a face-down card over and then try to remember where its match might be.”
- “How many of you have played a game like this before?” (Acknowledge responses.)
- “I’m going to divide you into teams before we play.” (Divide participants into evenly-sized groups – as much as possible – based on how many sets of cards you prepared.)
- “Here’s how it is played for those of you who haven’t played before.”
- “Each team has a set of 18 cards, placed face-down in front of you.”
- “Your goal is to match all the different sets before the other teams do.”
- “You will do this by turning over two cards at a time.”
- “You will take turns on your team being the person who turns over the cards.”
- “Once you turn them over, you cannot change which cards you’ve chosen.”
- “I will look at the two you’ve chosen and tell you if you have a match or not.”
- “If you have a match, I will let you make a set and take the cards off the board.”
- “Sometimes, you may match two cards that actually need a third card to make the set.”
- “You will be able to tell if there is a third card when there is a #3 in the corner of the two cards you have turned over.”
- “Whenever this happens, I will let you turn over one more card to see if you can make a full set.”
- “If you turn over the third card, I will let you remove the cards from the board.”
- “If you turn over two (or three) cards that don’t match, you will have to turn them back face-down in the same place you found them.”
- “After I’ve looked at all the cards, we’ll go to the next turn, and someone else in your team will turn over the cards.”
- “The first team to match all their sets wins!”
- “Do you have any questions?”
- “Are you ready to play?” (Start the game. Do one round at a time, so that you will be able to tell which team wins. If you have a prize picked out for the winners, you can hand it out then. If you finish quickly, you can shuffle the cards and play again. For a more challenging game, you might want to combine two sets of the cards to make a total of 36 cards for each team.)