Yesterday morning I was trying to figure out what to do for Children’s Chapel. There’s always a set lesson, but after that I have to come up with something to do with them for the rest of the time. The past few weeks we’ve been colouring – which at first was a huge hit, but lately has gotten a little boring. I knew it was time to shake things up, but I was at a loss as to what to do.
I remembered last year I’d played a ball game with them that they’d really enjoyed, but didn’t really have much to do with the fact that we were in church. It truly had been a time filler game, and I was hoping for something a bit more. I got to thinking about how much I enjoy the beginning of our time together when we share the best part of our week, or something we are thankful for. It sets the tone for the rest of the lesson, and it lets us all get to know each other a bit better. I decided to see if I could figure someway to combine those two things and came up with a pretty simple game.
We all had to get in a circle and one person would throw a ball at another person. When that person caught the ball, they’d have to say something nice about the person who threw the ball. Wanting to make sure it passed the “cool test” I told my kids what I was thinking about and they both seemed really positive about it. In fact, when we got to church they suggested the three of us throw the ball together and practice so we would know how smoothly the game went. It started out with them being a little awkward and silly: “Your farts stink” Your farts don’t stink” (both of which sadly enough were something each kid took as a compliment), but it quickly turned into genuine kind words “You’ve always got my back” “I like how you are a good brother to me” “You’re a good friend to me”. I could see the smiles on their faces grow and I knew it actually was working.
The same thing happened with all the kids at Children’s Chapel. At first they were a little shy and self-conscious “I like your shoes” “I like your hair”, but it soon got much, much deeper “I like how you are always kind to others” “I like how you always smile” “I like how you always let your little light shine”. I could see them smiling more and more and they all seemed to really enjoy it.
Near the end one of the littler kids got a little antsy and pulled a small bouncy ball out of his pocket and wanted to know if we could play with it. I said if we all sat down we could roll it so we didn’t super bounce out one of the windows. Not sure if they were getting bored I added that they could stop saying the compliments if they wanted and just roll the ball. As my daughter pointed out after though “Mom, did you notice that even after you said they didn’t have to keep saying nice things, they kept on doing it?” Which I had. Because that’s the excellent thing about saying nice things. Once you start, they snowball into more and more nice things, and they become easier and easier to say.
I know my heart left a little happier after our time together. I noticed too that the kids said more kind things to each other during the day.
So easy, and yet so powerful.