Make and Take Sunday School

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Today at church a volunteer commented about how our church has “nice things” for the kids to make and take home. She said that the things that the kids take home are not immediately thrown away because they are nicer than some of the things that her kids brought home from her previous church. I appreciated her comment and I have tried to give kids things to make and do that I thought they would enjoy doing and with products that they would like. But her comment made me think about the things we make with kids at church, why we have kids make things and what we really expect to happen to them afterward.

If the purpose of the making an item in Sunday School, VBS or any other church program is for them to keep long term, we are doing a bad job. Most of the stuff kids make and take home barely gets looked at. In fact, much of it barely gets home. So why do we bother? There must be some good reasons behind the practice. Here are some reasons I came up with:

  • While the kids are making things, we can talk about the lesson and review the story or get to know them better.
  • When the item goes home the kids can tell their parents, grandparents and friends about how they made the item and remember the Bible story.
  • The item can remind kids of the Bible story and the relationships that were built as it was being made.

Here’s what else I started wondering: are we sending another message to children when the things that literally take away with them have no value? Are the kids learning that they can also throw away the lesson that was taught? Most programs, including the one I run at my church, don’t have the budget to send fine art home with the kids every week. I wonder, however, if these things really accomplish what we want them to. I am not ready to eliminate crafts but I would love to hear what others have to say on this topic.

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Laura, I think it's wonderful that you are thinking deeply about how every aspect of Sunday School can be glorifying to God and edifying to the kids.

For me, the most important part of crafts or other activities at Sunday School is not the end result, but the action. Kids learn in different ways. Listening to the lesson or story is one way for them to learn, and using their other senses continues to add to that learning. Using their hands and different parts of their mind to make things reinforces the lesson, not only when you use that time to review the story, as you mentioned, but also as they create something that is sparked by the story. For some kids that act of creating a craft will be a reinforcement of the lesson, for some it's probably THE way they learn and retain what that story is about.

So I agree with you, don't eliminate crafts. Thank God for the variety of children's personalities and ways that they learn.