Here’s an interactive way to let the kids in your congregation play with the adults. The lesson plan resulted from a couple boys in Sunday School who were on a paper airplane-making streak. You could use this as a benediction or it could easily be adapted for use in another part of a service.
- Children’s Bibles
- Pencils or pens
- Knowledge of how to fold paper airplanes
- First, coordinate with the pastor/worship leader to lead the benediction (or another part of the service) on a Sunday morning.
- During Sunday School, invite the kids to make paper airplanes, and write a Bible verse or phrase on each plane. Tell them they will get to fly the airplanes in service, to inspire the congregants with scripture and their handiwork. Older children can help younger children write and fold. Perhaps each child makes one, but some older kids can be pretty fast and make several to share.
- At the appointed time near the end of the service, the children can tiptoe (what kid doesn’t love to sneak?) into the balcony and hide. Then, when it is time for the benediction, after the pastor announces the benediction, the children stand and fly their airplanes. If you don’t have a balcony, the kids could stand in the aisles. It’s fine if you don’t have enough for every member of the congregation – part of the fun can be trying to catch them!
- After a brief announcement such as “today we have a special send-off for you, from the children. Please protect your eyes… and go in peace.” (Note: You may also want to prepare someone to turn off ceiling fans if you have them, so the planes don’t go straight down from the balcony), launch the airplanes into the congregation.
Often during Sunday School discussions we provide paper and crayons for drawing and doodling. One day, instead of drawing on the paper while we talked about the Bible story, two boys started making paper airplanes. I had noticed that often the girls in class could sustain a discussion of the Bible story longer than the boys, and our ratio of girls to boys was often three or four to one, leaving me with a niggling concern about how we were engaging the boys as well as the girls.
I am not an early childhood education expert, but I have heard of the term “emergent curriculum,” building a curriculum based on children’s interest at the time. I tried to put it into practice that morning. Instead of stopping the boys and insisting on my lesson plan, I wondered how we might connect making paper airplanes with the Bible. We decided to write Bible passages on the paper airplanes, and fly them down from the balcony at the end of a worship service.
It was awesome. I have never seen young kids sit and flip through Bibles like that. Some kids copied longer passages they found, and some just wrote from memory (Gabriel said: “fear not”) or even paraphrased (God sent a rainbow as a covenant with Noah). The boys loved showing others how to make the planes. Some kids made two, some kids made seven. Somehow the energy was both excited and focused, and the tone was casual and fun. I loved looking at the passages they chose, and I let the work be theirs: some kids had misspellings and some had crossed out mistakes. I figured the people who received those airplanes were getting a piece of the Bible and a piece of that child.
When the day came to fly the planes, some new kids were present, but it didn’t matter. Each child took at least one airplane, and we sneaked out of the Sunday School room and into the balcony, crouching behind the railing. When the pastor announced that the benediction would be a surprise, we all stood and sailed them down to the congregation. Laughter and smiles were our reward.
© Hadley Bunting, 2018