Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Fabulous Fall Sunday School Kickoff: Kick-Off Party Ideas

Earlier this week we shared some fundraising ideas so you and your kids can have a fabulous fall kickoff even on a budget! We also have some great Kickoff Party ideas to share with you!

WHEN: Host your party two to three weeks prior to your first Sunday school meeting so you can have a fairly accurate head-count before the meeting. By planning ahead, you can order additional student papers as needed so you have enough supplies on hand for all the children.

PROMOTION: Three to four weeks prior to your party, promote the event with posters. Send Kickoff Party Invitations to the children who attend your church and to neighborhood children. Be sure to include the date, time and location of your party. The invitations may be copied onto white or yellow card stock, then cut apart and mailed as postcards. (Add the person’s address and a stamp on the back.) Or the invitations may be copied onto colored paper (you can copy the party information onto the back), folded in half, and inserted in card-size envelopes to either
mail or hand out in person. Make extras for your church kids to use to invite their friends.

Advertise in your church newsletter and on your church website. Decorate a wall or bulletin board to look like the party invitations. Use balloons and streamers for a festive
touch. After the Kick-Off Party, have your leaders send a personal note of welcome to each family.

REGISTRATION: Have a registration table on Sunday mornings for parents to register their kids for Sunday school. You may want to have a free gift available at sign-up such as a pencil, bookmark, or wristband. Also, promote Sunday school donor opportunities during this time.

DECORATIONS: Decorate your party area with streamers, balloons and stars hanging from the ceiling or on the walls. Cut the stars out of construction paper or copy them onto colored card stock.

FOOD: Have a simple and inexpensive meal of hot dogs, chips, beans, and lemonade with cupcakes, brownies, or cookies for dessert. You can barbeque the hot dogs or put them in a large roaster or crock pot with water to cook them. If you prefer, hold a potluck to showcase the cooks in your church. You may want to bring unfrosted cookies or cupcakes and let everyone decorate their own dessert. Provide frosting, sprinkles, gumdrops, gummi bears, etc., as well as plastic knives for the decorating.

Sample Party Schedule

15 minutes: As children arrive, have them do a simple craft activity. Let each child (and any parents who wish to) decorate a large star cut-out with his/her name and/or favorite Bible verse using markers, puff paints, glitter, etc. Create the stars onto colored card stock and use them to decorate hallways and rooms. Hang them from the ceiling or tape them to the walls. As the children work, explain that all children are stars in Jesus’ eyes. They don’t have to excel at sports or music or schoolwork or anything else for Jesus to love them. Let them know that in Sunday school, they will be doing some of the fun things they’ll do today at the Kick-Off Party and they will also be learning more about Jesus.

20-25 minutes: Begin with a brief welcome, thanking families for coming. Have your pastor or Children’s Ministry Director say a prayer and then serve the meal.

10 minutes: Give a brief overview of the Sunday school program and what the children will be doing during the meeting time. You may want to help walk parents through a typical class, hand out a parent newsletter if you have one, and give parents a copy of the memory verses for the quarter.

5 minutes: Teach everyone the theme song for your program, if your program has one, or sing a familiar worship song.

15 minutes: Play some games (suggestions shown towards the end of this article) or try the following.

Who’s Got the Penny?
Have everyone sit in a circle with hands placed palms together, as if praying. Have a volunteer, the one who’s ‘It’,  hold a penny in his/her hands then walk around the circle and, in turn, insert his/her hands between the palms of the others, leaving the penny between the palms of one person. Explain that the person who is “It” should continue pretending to leave the penny with other people, even after the penny has been handed off, just to make it harder to tell who really has it. The ‘It’ person then points to someone in the circle and asks, “Who’s got the penny?” He/she then gets three guesses. If they guess correctly, they become the next one ‘It’. If they fail to guess who has the penny, the ‘It’ tells him and the child with the penny becomes the next ‘It’. After the game, explain that God is very different from ‘It’. God gives His good gifts to everyone who asks in His name, not just to one person. And we never have to guess whether He will hear and answer our prayers. God hears us no matter where we are!

10 minutes: Learn a Bible memory verse together. Before the party, print the memory verse on a white board or sheet of poster paper. During the party, talk about what it means then say it together a few times. Use one of these fun activities to help everyone learn the verse.

Memory Verse Mix-Up  
Whisper one word of the verse to each person until each word is taken. Whisper the Scripture reference to one person. Now let the people without an assigned word mix up the other people in the center of the room, guiding them around by their shoulders so they are standing side by side in a line. The “guiders” may now sit down and watch. Have the people say their assigned words when you point to them. This will be a mix-up jumble of words the children will find funny. Now, ask the people to arrange themselves in the correct verse order. They can refer to the verse on the board and the “guiders” may help non-readers. Repeat a few times so everyone has a turn to say part of the verse. Then say it all together once more.

Circle the Wagon
Have everyone stand in a circle. Start with one person and have him say the first word of the verse, then the next person will say the next word. After the verse is completed, the next person will say the verse reference then the person next to him will start again with the first word of the verse. Continue in this way until the verse is said in its entirety several times. If someone gets stuck on a word, one of the people next to him may say it for him and then have him repeat it. Try saying the verse faster and faster each time. Take down the words or erase the board after several rounds, and try saying the verse from memory, going around the circle. Then say it all together one final time.

5 minutes: Close by singing the Theme Song you learned earlier (if your program has one), or a worship song. Dismiss the group, thank everyone for coming, and encourage parents to meet the leaders and register their children, if they haven’t already. Have FUN! And remember, every child is a star in the eyes of Jesus.

More suggested kick-off games and activities

God Knows You
Hand out an index card and a pencil to each person. Say, Write your initials on one side of the card. On the other side of the card, write one fact about yourself that you think nobody else at the party knows. For example, one person may write that her uncle flew a mission in Afghanistan or that she’s lived in five different states. After each player writes his fact, have him turn the card in to the leader, who will mix them up and hand them out. (Anyone who gets his own card may trade it for another.) Each player tries to find the person who wrote the statement on the card he is holding. When he does, he has the writer autograph the card. After each writer has been identified say, Getting to know someone means that you may learn something new
about him or her. At our party today, we will be getting to know more about God and His Son, Jesus.

Football Relay
Use a football for each team. Mark a goal line about 15 feet away from the teams. The first player on each team runs with the ball between his knees to the goal line and back. The players may touch the ball with their hands only to pass it to the next player or to pick up a dropped ball. A player cannot move while he has his hands on the ball. The first team to make it back to the starting line wins. Point out that although this game had winners and losers, each person is a winner in Jesus’ eyes, no matter what his talents and abilities. No one is a loser in Jesus’ eyes. Jesus loves each person.

Under the Limbo Stick
Have two leaders hold one broom (or broom handle) about chest high, as a limbo stick. If you have a large group, set up several limbo areas. The first player goes under the stick, bending backward as necessary, so he doesn’t touch the stick, and goes to the end of the line. The next player does the same. Any player who touches the broom is out and may cheer on the remaining players. When the first player reaches the head of the line again, lower the broom. Continue lowering the limbo stick each round until only one player can wiggle under it without touching it. Explain that during this game the object was to not get too close to the limbo stick. In our lives, we want to stick close to God and His Son, Jesus. When we lean too much on things like money and popularity, it’s easy to fall away from God and do wrong things (sin). But when we stick close to Jesus and obey Him, He helps us get through tough times and keeps us from falling into sin.

If you choose not to have a full meal why not serve popcorn, pretzels, juice, and a variety of fruit chunks. Provide wooden skewers and let people make their own fruit kabobs. Decorate the table with goal posts, streamers, and other decorations. Explain that eating healthy food helps us keep our bodies healthy and strong so we can be our best for God.

If possible, have a college or high school football player who is a Christian come and talk about what it means to have Christ as his or her coach. Here’s a suggested devotion:

Just as players need a coach to help them play their best, we need a coach to help us do something that is much more important than playing a game—we need a coach to help us live our lives. When we believe in Jesus as our Savior, we are on Jesus’ team, and He is our coach.

The Bible is our playbook. As our Coach, Jesus helps us work together as a team. He helps us realize that everyone has different talents and plays different positions, and He loves each person. There is room for everyone on Jesus’ team. To get on His team, you just need to talk to Jesus. Read John 14:6. Then pray, thanking God for Jesus.

Some final thoughts

Remember this is a big job, so meet with your Christian education director, children’s pastor, or Sunday school superintendent. Begin with prayer, asking the Lord to direct you to the people whom He wants to teach your children. Ask Him to prepare the hearts of these people to be receptive to becoming Sunday school leaders or helpers.

Then make a list of qualified people who might be interested, and make an appointment to visit them in their homes. Explain the Sunday school program and the responsibilities of being a leader or helper. Ask him or her to pray about the decision, and if desired, leave any materials with him or her. It is good to involve a variety of people in working with children: fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, college  students, or adults with older children may all enjoy working with children. Make a concerted effort to get men involved in the program — particularly fathers. They will love it, and so will the kids. A man in the classroom often helps to reduce discipline problems, too.

Organize a list of “substitute” teachers from which to draw when a regular leader or helper is unable to attend. Be sure to fill each vacancy each week. There are most likely people in your church who aren’t available on a weekly basis or just don’t want to be tied to a schedule, but do like to help when presented with a special need. These are the people who can help you by preparing handcraft materials, cutting out visuals, or making or providing snacks. Senior citizens and singles are particularly receptive to this idea.

Always remember to show your appreciation for your leaders’ and other volunteers’ help! Here’s a tasty idea! Give each of your volunteers an individually wrapped bag of popcorn with the following note attached: We’re BURSTING with appreciation for you!

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