Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt- Overview

ADMITI mentioned last week that one of the best things I did in children’s ministry last year was change our Easter Egg Hunt to an Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt.  A reader (hooray!) emailed to ask for more details about this event, so I’ll be sharing more about what we did in a few posts over the next few days.  Today, I’ll share an overview of our event.  Next week, I may share more details about specific elements of our Scavenger Hunt.

My inspiration for this event was from Sam Luce’s blog.  I’ve never been a fan of Egg Hunts because of the behaviors they tend to bring out in kids and even parents.  Being in Pennsylvania, we also combat unknown weather challenges (I will never forget spending an hour hiding eggs all over the local park we use in the freezing rain only to have 25 kids show up).  So after reading Sam’s blog and doing a little more thinking and praying, a team member and I decided to run with the idea of an indoor egg hunt.

As families arrived at the event (which was a two hour, come as you can kind of event), they were given maps of the church with the four stations highlighted.  As families completed each station, a team member stamped their map.  The stamp was their key to earning tickets for prizes. Each station had up to one hundred laminated paper eggs (that we had our congregation decorate in the weeks before the event) taped to the walls and furniture in obvious and creative ways as well as a theme.  This extended the engagement of the event.

Our goal is always to make things simple and provide as many ways as possible for a child and their family to encounter Jesus.  Our stations were intended to give parents tools to talk about what Easter was really about while still having fun and getting candy and prizes.

Sanctuary- The Life of Jesus

In the sanctuary (where families began), in addition to having over 100 paper eggs hidden around the room, we brought all of the art from around the church of Jesus’ life and placed it up front for families to see.  In retrospect, we should have put this in a smaller room to have more impact as the sanctuary is so large and there were a lot of eggs to find.  We played praise music that talked about Jesus’ life and love for us in this station.

Nursery-Resurrection Eggs

Each family could make a set of Resurrection Eggs in this station.  We had a set of cards (both a preschool version and an elementary version) to help families go through the eggs and talk about the Crusifixion and Resurrection of Jesus in an accessible way.  We had options for what to stuff each egg with, making them a little more personalized.  I will share more about this next week.

Youth Room- Egg-palooza

This classroom is at the end of a hallway that we were concerned would get congested, so it was strictly a “see how many eggs you can find” station.  One of our youth helpers taped some eggs to himself and hid around the room to add to the fun.

Fellowship Hall- Craft and Prizes

We had a very simple Easter craft set up at one end of this large room- foam crosses with stickers that children could decorate (this was leftover from VBS).  At the other end of the room, children brought their maps (each station stamped the map when families left) to get tickets and choose their prizes.  We kept it very simple- each stamp was worth five tickets so each child could earn twenty tickets maximum.  Prizes were candy and trinkets with a few larger items like Seeds Family Worship and VBS CDs.  Every child got a bag of candy simliar to what we had given out at past Easter Egg Hunts.

Overall, it was a successful event.  We drew a lot of families from our preschool (many of whom are not members of any church), but not as many older children.  We didn’t have the number of children we had from our usual outdoor Easter Egg Hunt on  a nice day, but everyone who came left with a big smile on their face, with tools for their family to experience Holy Week in a new way.  Reggie Joiner says we have to define the win for any given event so people don’t make up their own definition of what a win is- happy families equipped to talk about Easter at home was our win.

 

Goals for 2015

2015Unlike the previous posts this week, my goals for 2015 are not strictly for my kidmin work in my local church, but also for this space and what I hope to offer soon through KidMin Solutions. I have two categories of goals for 2015- project oriented goals and learn from my mistakes of 2014 goals.  Today, I’m focusing on the project oriented goals particularly for KidMin Solutions.  Monday I will share the learn from my mistakes goals that are less measurable, but may be more important for a God honoring year.

Project Oriented Goals

KidMin Solutions Project Goal #1- Have Sunday School Curriculum available for sale and immediate download by the end of February.

This has been the core of what I hope to provide at KidMin Solutions.  The lessons I have written over the past two years have been tested in our local church and refined to provide you with an affordable curriculum option that is simple for teacher and children to connect with, with the goal of building lasting faith.  Whether you are looking for lessons on a specific subject matter or book of the Bible or a quarterly subscription that gets sent to you automatically, you will find it here.  As soon as we get the technical aspects figured out…

KidMin Solutions Project Goal #2- Blog three times a week, sharing ideas and struggles in my work as a volunteer children’s ministry coordinator

I have realized over the years that I am someone who processes things with words.  So for me to only share craft ideas or tips for successful ministry seems a little stilted.  Like the reflection on hope I shared during Advent, I will be using this space to wrestle with and share my thoughts about my personal journey with God.  Because children’s ministry is the lens I see the world through, I am confident these reflections will have relevance to you as well.  Basically, I’m holding this blog space with my hands wide open to how God would like me to use it.  If he gives me words or thoughts I’m wrestling with and I feel compelled to share them here, I will.  With a little more freedom in what I choose to share here, I hope to build this blog into something that will be meaningful for both you as readers and me as the writer.

KidMin Solutions Project #3- Develop an e-course or webinar to help small churches develop children’s ministry teams

I have been talking with my pastor about how to best use my skills to serve other churches.  He had suggested doing on site consultations to churches in our conference.  In some ways, this idea is very exciting to me.  But I am leery of the way this might pull me away from my family and their needs, which is my greatest priority.  So as a way to offer my skills to the churches I hope to serve, I will be writing and developing at least one (but hopefully 3-4) e-course/webinars covering topics that I am passionate about or have experience that might help other churches succeed.  I hope to offer my first e-course by May 1st.

My greatest barrier to overcome in all of these project goals is the technology needed.  I’m learning a lot as I try to blog more frequently, but I am very new to all web design elements.  We are looking into getting some outside help for these projects to make them the best that they can be.

My church KidMin goals are:  To re-work our busy bags that children use during worship, to build upon the past success of our Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt and VBS, and develop better parent resources (possibly a library of resources parents can check out).  I will be sharing these projects here on the blog both as I work on them and hopefully sharing some feedback for how things went.

Enjoy the weekend!

 

My Worst KidMin Choices of 2014

WORST KIDMIN

It is certainly easier to blog about the best kidmin choices I made in 2014 than the worst choices, but I think both are necessary for growth as a leader.  Maybe by sharing a few of my worst choices from last year, I can save you from making some of these mistakes too.  These are a little more general than my best choices from Monday because I hope they will be more applicable for you in your kidmin setting.

1. Valuing convenience and busy schedules over relationship

Perhaps the greatest lesson I’ve learned in the past year is that all the best things in life and in ministry are about relationships with other people.  Unfortunately, even though a part of me knew this to be true, I made choices last year with my crazy calendar in mind instead.

Two key places this really hurt my work in kidmin were in preparation for VBS and with my Sunday School team.  I was so concerned with how busy everyone is that I chose to create online training and meetings almost exclusively.  While I believe that an online or paper training packet can be a good back up, I realized that it was more important to sit around a table and talk with my teams.  Without face to face, eyeball to eyeball conversation, we lose sight of the team and building relationships with one another.  So often my Sunday School teachers and VBS team have excellent ideas for how to improve our ministry, but unless I’m sitting with them at the table, they may not share these ideas with me.

 

2. I battled procrastination and lost more often than I would like to admit.

Procrastination is probably my worst habit.  I intend to get lessons sent out in ample time and get distracted by any number of rabbit trails- anything from Facebook or other social media outlets to a phone call or getting bogged down in researching a minor detail of the Scripture the lesson I am working on is based upon (often this detail will not even become part of the lesson)  There was an evening last summer that I spent an hour trying to find information about hummingbirds for an analogy that I ended up not even using.  But more than that somewhat useful rabbit trail, I far too often procrastinated writing or the less glamorous parts of ministry (paperwork and organization of supplies) for personal distractions of reading or surfing the internet.  My procrastination typically led to me scrambling to get the work done at the last minute.  When this happens, something or someone else suffers, usually my husband or children.  This is one choice that I must fight to change in 2015.

3. Not utilizing my team’s gifts

I have a fantastic team of Sunday School teachers who are all endlessly creative and able to modify lessons to meet their own strengths.  But in order to do this, they need preparation time.  All to often, my procrastination (see number 2) meant they did not have this time.

In addition to this, I didn’t include them in the planning process for our units of study, allowing them to suggest activities or crafts that might help children learn.  Most of my team has been teaching for Sunday School for many years and knows their classes very well. Who better to bounce ideas off of than these fantastic teachers?

4. Sticking with a familiar plan even though it doesn’t seem to work any more.

We have an extremely small preschool class this year in Sunday School.  Going into this year, my teachers had wondered how this would work, but I decided to forge ahead as usual.  One of these students has special needs and I wasn’t sure how he would respond to joining the larger K-2nd grade class.  Because this class was so small, there were weeks where we didn’t have a class at all or only had one student.  We attempted to have class (because we have a roamer, this is acceptable under our Safe Sanctuaries policy).  This was not exactly disastrous, but not the best practice.  We are making changes this winter to adapt our model of teaching in our preschool-2nd grade class to better suit both the teachers’ and children’s needs.

5. Missing God moments in pursuit of productivity

Even with my tendency to procrastinate, I can also be a worker bee, keeping my head down and getting work done without noticing the little moments of joy and God’s work.  Get it done becomes my mantra and it takes an earthquake to shake me from task.  Now that I see this in myself, I can’t help but wonder how many God moments and opportunities for joy and wonder I have missed.  All I can say is that I am so glad that God knows me and my habits and loves me anyway.

I will be sharing my goals and dreams for 2015 on Friday.  I think you will see some connection between these bad choices and my goals for 2015.

My Top 5 KidMin Choices of 2014

MyI’m always a little slow with my end of the year reflection and New Year goals.  It’s not unusual for me to start making a New Year’s resolution on January 10th.  So why would my blogging be any different?

I started writing a best and worst choices of 2014 post last week (while it was still 2014), but I realized I needed a little more time and focus to have meaningful reflections.  This week, I hope to share with you the best and worst choices I made in KidMin last year as well as my hopes and dreams for 2015.  Since I’m a positive person by nature, we’re starting with the best choices I made in 2014.  Wednesday, I’ll share my worst KidMin choices of 2014.  Friday, I’ll share my goals and dreams for 2015.

My Top Five KidMin Choices of 2014

Top Five KidMin Choices of 2014

  1. Moving from a traditional Easter Egg Hunt to an indoor scavenger hunt.   I will be sharing more of the details as Lent draws closer, but this was far and away my favorite event of 2014.  If you are not a fan of the behaviors a traditional Easter Egg hunt brings out (not just in children), don’t be afraid to shake things up.  We had a fantastic turn out and everyone left with smiles on their faces.
  2. Introducing station days to Sunday School– our kids really enjoy the change of pace a station day brings.  I’ve talked about our prayer stations and other ideas before.  It might be my favorite teaching strategy of 2014.
  3. Making VBS Sunday a celebration with simplicity– in years past, we have dabbled in all kinds of different ways to celebrate the end of VBS.  Partially due to the theme of Weird Animals and partially due to our new Outdoor Worship Center, we conceived a time of worship (led by the kids), a quick hot dog lunch and a special program by Reptileland, a local zoo focused on (big surprise) reptiles.  We had a great turnout, not only from our congregation, but also from the families who attended both preschool and elementary VBS.  It was fun, it was memorable, it was simple and it was worshipful.  As I start planning for VBS 2015, this simple and memorable celebration is at the forefront of my mind.
  4. Attending Orange Tour with a team.  We took a portion of our youth and children’s ministry teams this year to Lancaster, PA for Orange Tour.  Time together to learn and experience new ideas is invaluable and the Orange Tour is a very affordable way to do this.  One of the best after effects of this day away was the shared vocabulary with my team.  Having team members hear from Reggie Joiner and others about strategy in children, youth and family ministry was very valuable as we worked together to solve problems and plan for 2015.
  5. Finding ways to be part of the local school district (particularly the elementary school) events and programs so that district officials and teachers know that  CUMC is a church that cares about the kids of our community.  This can be challenging, but so valuable.  A few ways we worked with schools in our area in 2014 were:  serving in the preparation and distribution of meals for kids in need as part of a community outreach mission, participating in the the elementary school’s Trunk or Treat event (we passed out pretzels and glow sticks attached to fliers about our church), making connections with the school nurses to support any kids in need and a church wide random act of Christmas kindness sharing encouragement and love to the teachers in our district by sending hand written thank you notes, Dunkin Donuts and coffee.  The middle school principal (who is usually rather stern) was downright giddy thinking about how he would share our donuts, coffee and cards with his teachers.  This year in particular, our school district has needed support from the community.  We have been happy to step up and be part of this support in as many big and small ways as we can.

What were the best choices you made in children’s ministry in 2014?  What ideas do you have for making 2015 even better?