Baptism doves – children’s church craft activity

This could be a useful activity if you’re using Mark 1.9-11 for any other reason, or if you want your children’s group to make something as a gift for babies or children being baptised in your church (which is a nice thing to do!)

You will need two paper plates per dove, scissors, pens, hole punch, double sided sticky tape (or glue, if you prefer), small bits of paper, some lengths of wool (about 12-18 inches if fine), and a plain piece of card to make the template.  You might also like to pre-print some pieces of paper (or stickers) with the wording taken from the scripture passage – see photo. Leave a dotted line for the name of the child to be written in by hand.

paper plate dove1. Draw on a paper plate the outline of a dove, so that the tips of the wings and the tail benefit from the crimping round the edge of the plate, but the head and the belly are entirely on the flat bit of the plate.  You can cut this out and use this to make a template on your flat piece of card – this can make it easier to replicate the dove shape on the other plates.

2. Use your template to cut out as many doves as you think you need.

3. Now, make another set of doves, but this time using the template the other way round (or, if you want to look at it that way, by drawing on the back of the plate rather than on the front).  Either way, you want to end up being able to stick pairs of doves back to back, with the wings and tail fanning out, as in the picture. Try it, and you’ll hopefully see what I mean.

4. Use double sided tape to stick each pair of doves together. You will need one small strip at the bottom of the belly, one between the body and tail, and one at the neck. Don’t stick the back or the wings together.

5. Gently bend the wings apart.  Use the hole punch to make a hole at the top of the wing, as close as you can to the balance point (the balance point on mine was towards the back of the top of the wing).  Tie each end of the wool through one of the holes, so you have a loop to hang up the dove.

7. Stick on the sticker of piece of paper with the wording on it, and ask the children to write their own name on the dotted line.  Talk about how God also loves us, not as a reward for what we have done, but because we are his children.

6. You should end up with a sort of ‘pocket’ between the wings of the dove. This is where your small pieces of paper come in. Children may write or draw something (as many as they like) to remind them of blessings, encouragements, and gifts they have received without earning them – remembering that the words that God the Father spoke to Jesus weren’t a reward for what he’d done (because he hadn’t done anything yet!) but were spoken out of pure love, and to give Jesus strength and encouragement for all that he would go on to do.  Post the bits of paper into the pocket in the back of the dove – you can pray a thank you prayer as you do this.

7. If the dove is being made as a gift for a baptism candidate, write their name on the dotted line, and on the small pieces of paper write some ‘blessings’ or gifts that the children suggest God might want to give them.  Things like love, wisdom, happiness, family, health etc may be suggested. These words can be made into a prayer for the child being baptised as the dove is presented to them.

Love Life Live Advent – 3rd December – A year of blessings

Today’s action: think back over the last year and say thank you to God for the things that made you most happy.

If I remember correctly (and I’m sure the lovely Paula Gooder will correct me if I’m wrong) the New Testament uses the word ‘Makarioi’ to mean ‘Blessed’ or ‘Happy’ in Matthew chapter 5 (The Beatitudes): Happy are the meek… Blessed are the peacemakers… etc. So at its simplest today’s action is a way of counting (and cherishing) blessings.

There’s a ton of ways you can do this, here are some:

1. Put your happy things in a jar
You remember that pot from yesterday? The one you may or may not have decorated, in order to put money in it for charity?  You may be needing another one, if you decide to go with the suggestion on the Love Life Live Advent Action Support page for today. The bonus with this idea is that it’s ongoing – you can use it to store up happy things as they happen, so you can enjoy them again and again, especially when you most need them.

2. Put a tangible reminder of your happy things in your ‘special place’ (See December 1st)
Often our blessings aren’t things, but people, or events (or even moments that might have looked ordinary to the outside world, but were actually minor miracles or shafts of grace breaking through dark clouds).  If there are happy things that you want to keep for ever, how about writing them with sharpie pens on small stones?  If they are people, why not make yourself some concertina-people out of folded paper, and write the name on each person? If they are events, print out a photograph taken at the time, or use something else tangible from the day (wedding invitation, christening order of service, ticket, baby sock etc)

3. Give thanks online
If you use facebook, set up a photo album of the happy memories you particularly want to treasure, and call it “2014 blessings” or something similar – post a comment on why you’re doing it, and invite others to do the same (this is along the same lines as the ‘three good things today’ idea that was circulating recently).  As always, be safe when you’re online, and only share what you are happy for others to see. Don’t forget you can make particular albums private or visible only to close friends. God can see what you’re thankful for even if you choose to keep it private!)

Ask other members of your family what their happy things are for the last year – celebrate together those blessings that you have in common, and enjoy those that are different – you may find that others remind you of blessings you’d forgotten about.