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A Piñata of Ideas for Children and Mission

In Mexico, there is a custom at celebrations to fill a paper mâché or ceramic figurine with goodies and suspend it from the ceiling. Then a child is blindfolded, handed a stick, and allowed to swing at the piñata until it breaks and the goodies fall to the floor.

Here you'll find a piñata of goodies - quick, easy ideas for mission education with children, ideas that can be used in a variety of settings, some with minimal preparation. Some are ideas of things to create - mural, sharing tree, puzzle. Others are learning activities, ideas to stretch the mind and imagination. 

Take a word and, using each letter individually, try to find other words that relate to the original word.

R - restless
E - empty
F - frightened
U - urgent
G - glad
E - exhausted
S - seeking

Act Out Bible Stories
Mission biblical stories, such as the Good Samaritan, can be acted out with few props or words. Assign parts - the traveler, the priest, or band of thieves. Have one child read the Bible story while the others act out their parts.

Bible Shuffle
Write a well-known Bible Verse on giant index cards, one word per card. Distribute one card to each student and see how fast he or she can stand in the correct order in which the verse is written.

Bible verses
Write out mission Scriptures such as the Great Commission and have children memorize them.

Write on balloons with felt-tip markers; make balloon bouquets for shut-in persons; insert tiny strips of papers with Bible verses or messages on them and blow up the balloon; pop the balloons to get the message.

Make bookmarks; illustrate them with drawings, Bible verses, or cheery messages.

Cinquain Poetry
Cinquain is a special style of French poetry. There are five lines to the poem, and it is usually written with these guidelines:

line one - one word - title, usually a noun
line two - two words - describes title - often words ending in "ing"
line three - three words - action words about title
line four - a four word phrase - describes feeling about the title
line five - one word - refers to the title

Homeless millions
Hungering, waiting, hoping
Wanting to be neighbors

Caring Chain
Make a chain using strips of paper. Cut strips of white or colored paper about one-inch wide by 8-1/2" long. Ask each child to write down something caring they have done for someone on one side of their strip, and their name on the other side. Form the strips into loops to make a chain.

Field of Daisies
To keep track of mission dollars received, put a daisy on the bulletin for each dollar received. Encourage giving so that a field of daisies is planted.

Graffiti Wall
Tape a long sheet of paper to a wall. Suggest that the children think of ways people today help others in need. Invite them to draw pictures, write suggestions or make written commitments responding to the question, "How Can We Help?"

Greeting Cards
Make handmade cards to send to missionary families or the sick and shut-in at your church.

Haiku Poetry
Haiku is a Japanese poetry that creates a mood, a picture, or shares an idea. There are usually three lines:

line one - of five syllables
line two - of seven syllables
line three - of five syllables

Use Haiku to tell about a mission.

A child is hungry
a cup of milk and some bread
no more tears, a smile

Jumbles Help children remember words and phrases by searching them out in jumbles. Find these words below: Rain trees forest wells

N W C J Z 0

Individual Volunteer photo
Language Lab
Many children are bi- and trilingual. Teach children how to say words and phrases in other languages.

Write letters of greetings to missionaries or to mission projects around the world. Do it just to say "hi" sometimes, instead of expecting a response.

Use mission learning to create litanies for worship.

Map Search
Find countries and continents on a globe or wall map in which the United Methodist Church is at work.

Mile of Pennies
To keep track of mission gifts, mark off a certain length, depicting a mile. Make huge paper pennies to represent a tenth of a mile. Paste a penny on the bulletin board (or floor) as 1/10, 2/10, etc. of the goal is reached.

Make a mobile, using a coat hanger and colored squares of paper. Print on the paper names of missionaries (for a missionary mobile), mission Bible verses, or mission artwork

Create wall-length scenes using art, pictures, phrases, cutouts, or posters.

Using newsprint, make a newspaper about all the mission happenings in your church.

Picture Storybook
Create a storybook about mission outreach using photos and pictures from magazines.

Play Fair
Use games from different states and different countries to help children experience what it's like to live in other parts of the world.

Using original art, or by cutting out pictures and phrases, crate posters depicting mission themes.

Prayer Power
Write a mission paper to be used in worship. Say prayers for missionaries. Pray for peace in the world and an end to problems such as homelessness, unemployment, racism.

What's going to happen in class today? Write out the planned activities for the session, one activity per sheet of paper. Cut into puzzles and distribute among the children. Let them put them together to find out what's happening.

Scrapbook Survey
Discover a country by collecting material about the history, geography, customs of that place. Be sure to include letters and photos of missionaries and mission projects.

Sharing Tree
Draw a tree trunk, three to four feet high. Cut out leaves. Write on each leaf a thoughtful, kind thing to do. Tape these leaves to the trunk as a reminder to share your love.

Heart Tree: use hearts instead of leaves
Helping Tree: use hands instead of leaves

Singing Start each lesson during fellowship time with a rousing mission song.

Write new words to familiar tunes - use hymns and children's songs - using mission themes.

Divide a story into units (one or two sentences per unit). Give each child a numbered unit - they can be handed out in numerical order or mixed up. Have the children read the story so it makes sense.

Tape Recordings
Tape music or class activities on cassette or video tapes so that they can be shared with absent or sick children.

Want Ads
Depict mission needs as ads, such as, "Wanted, release of 1200 children held in South African jails."