By: Marlene LeFever
A missionary couple called my mother one day when I was a child. “We need to travel the next two weeks, visiting churches and raising financial support. Could you possibly keep our kids?”
So for two weeks, Judy and Jimmy joined our family. Mother had an idea. “Let’s celebrate a different holiday every day. These children have never seen how we celebrate here because they live in a different culture. We’ll make decorations and cook special foods.” Decades later, I look back on those weeks and smile. New Year’s Eve with homemade confetti, St. Patrick’s Day clover hunt, on and on for two glorious weeks.
You, too, can turn the cloistered days of the pandemic into days of delight that your children will never forget. Start with these ideas for teachers to implement—working alongside the parents of your students. Be sure to gather the email or text information needed to reach each student and his/her parents.
Parents: Make a list of people who would be encouraged to get a letter or email from your children. Have your children write and send one note every day. Write to retirees, manager of a store or restaurant your children enjoy, a Sunday school teacher, or a city or town official. Share with the teacher.
Teachers: Share pictures of some of the letters—and especially any responses!—among the group.
Parents: Create a family movie script, and record the scenes. Edit the video on your phone. Come up with a great title, like “Our Family Cook Off” or “Hidden Talents.” Send the video to the teacher to share.
Teachers: Send a video each day to the class members.
Parents: To make a long string of beads, you will need one cup of flour mixed with one-third cup of water. Then add food coloring or make strong coloring from natural dyes found in berries, beets, and nuts. Thoroughly mix the dye, flour and water. Grease your hands with wet soap and begin to roll little dough balls the size of the beads you want. After you finish each ball, roll it in a dish of salt to give it a crystal look. Stick each bead through with a long pin to create a hole. The beads will take several days to dry. Then string your beads on a thread.
Teachers: Give each of your students the name of someone else in the class. When class can meet again, ask students to bring their jewelry-gifts and exchange them. In the meantime, encourage them to pray for the one they have made salt jewelry for.
Parents: Find a recipe for taffy and have a family taffy-pulling evening (Be sure to take pictures!). Wrap finished taffy in wax paper and box some for neighbors and friends.
Teachers: Share stories and pictures you receive from the families.
Parents: Have your children use colored chalk and design a picture or message on your driveway, sidewalk or even different parts of your church parking lot. For example, “God keep you safe”, then send pictures to the teacher.
Teachers: Share the pictures—encouraging the students to guess which child created it.
Coat of Arms
Parents: Help your child make a personal coat of arms. Cut a paper into the shape of a shield. On one half, children should draw something that identifies them. For example, if a child loves soccer, she might draw a ball and a foot kicking it. One the other side, children should draw something that shows they belong to Jesus. It could be a cross or a Bible. Encourage them to be creative. Photograph the finished piece and send to the teacher.
Teachers: Share the photographs with each person in the class, along with an explanation. You may want to make a class coat of arms, too!
What Happens Next?
Parents: Pick an exciting book to read aloud with your children. Read only one chapter a day. Keep them wanting to know, “What happens next?” If your children enjoy reading aloud, take turns, but make this less of a reading project and more of a fun time together. Write a “book report” to share with the class.
Teachers: Share the book reports and recommend specific books you love, too.
Why You Are Special
Teachers: Write a personalized letter or email to each child in your class. Tell each why he or she is special, what talents you see in them, what people-gifts they have, and what you like about their personalities. (Teachers who have done this find that years after they have written these affirmations, students will tell them that they still have the letters, and reread it when times are difficult.)
Working together to encourage others and to build family and class community is not just important during this epidemic. It is an ongoing goal teachers and parents should have. A question to answer frequently: What can I do to delight my children, exercise their creativity, and encourage them to show their love to Jesus and others?
Our special week with the missionaries’ children ended, but not without God adding His miracle to our celebrations. Jimmy was playing outside, and got into a pile of discarded cans and bottles. One had some pretty blue liquid in it, and he drank it. It was poison, a household cleaner. The doctor said to watch him closely and if he got sick, rush him immediately to the emergency. Amazingly, he showed no symptoms of being poisoned. When his parents returned, they told this story. “We were driving to the next church and had the strongest feeling that we should pull over to the side of the road and pray for Jimmy.” This happened at exactly the time Jimmy was drinking poison. Our God is great! No poison and no virus can ever challenge Him or the love He has for each of His children.