Our Harvest festival was rather early this year but that didn't deter us form turning out in force and bringing gifts a plenty for those in need.
This years Harvest theme was scarecrows and so a few members of the congregation and the children dressed up as scarecrows and promised not to scare the Vicar ;-)
We held our service in the Wilbury Hall, adjacent to the main Church. This gave the service a more relaxed and informal atmosphere for which the Children (and other members of the congregation) could explore and create their Harvest crafts.
We had a few activities which involved creating a Harvest Hanging Plate. This could be decorated with autumnal stickers and themed colouring in picture squares which could be placed in the centre of the plate.
Everyone enjoyed making these and if the children didn't want to take them home they could be placed around the Alter at a later date as an alternative frontal.
The children and their helpers joined in a little performance about Harvest and I led the children and congregation in singing The Dingle dangle scarecrow song. We weren't available to film ourselves but I have found a video on YouTube for you if you would like to join in with it below:
There are so many activities to do with the children around Harvest. The main themes are of giving and saying thanks. You can coincide with the seasons of change and look at leaves and leaf printing, or make a leaf wreath - try saying that ten times ;-) Over the next few sessions at STOCKS we will be exploring some of these activities and linking to psalms and scriptures.
A good teaching practise is for children to build one xisting knowledge and link to experiences. In our lead up to our Harvest festival then we have discussed the themes surrounding it and asked the children to create their own poster inviting others to join us for the service.
Their response was wonderful in that they understood the importance of giving to others in need and recognised the importance of giving sealed food/household items instead of fresh fruit and vegetables.
They decided on a tree which grew all the items others were unable to obtain. Here are some pictures of them in action:
Here is the ultimate product - apologies for the quality (printing issues):
Anyone and Everyone are welcome at St. Thomas's and we look forward to meeting/seeing you soon.
This year we looked at how all the Elements come together to help everything and one another co-exist. We could not be without one of the following Earth Air Fire and Water. We had a look at the following videos which we broke down into smaller sections and spread over four days.
On the fifth day we watched a slideshow of pictures of the children working and having fun from during the week. For the life of me I cannot get the dvd to upload on here for you all but I am on the case and will change the format or some such technical stuff as soon as possible so please bare with.
We hope you enjoy the following footage (of which were sourced from YouTube and hope to see you at next years Holiday Club.
This year we chose to look at the elements with our holiday club children. We spread the elements of Earth Air Water and Fire over four days and planned to have our traditional end of the week party 'banquet' on the last day.
The leaders were given their team colours and tables and set to work on the planned activities for each day. We had decorating cakes in the earths colours for Earth Day, paper mache a balloon to make a globe, and planting cress globes too. I headed up the Green team with Peter and a parent helper. I had one of the children in our team make my name badge. Each of the four teams were coloured in their team colours and had their teams symbol drawn on it. We were Green so we represented Earth.
For our Air day we made whizzzers and I have a little video of Peter, one of our leaders and members of the congregation, giving a fantastic demonstration: (Waiting to upload)
It's harder than it looks you know. This can be a great workout for your biceps and triceps if you practise hard enough. Trust me by the time I got the hang of it I was starting to feel the burn.
We play several games everyday and one was 'Ping-Pong-Tennis' made out of paper plates and using a balloon. Luckily enough the 'bats' turned into fans which was a welcome relief for it was so warm in the halls.
We also enjoyed a fantastic game called 'The List Game' it really is as simple as it sounds but it's my new favourite and definitely one to whip out at big family gatherings. Everyone sits in their teams and has up to two minuets (you may like to shorten this for family do's) to list everything they can think of on the given topic. For example our topic is birds for they are airborne so we had to list every single bird we could think of. At the end of the time the leaders sit at the front and we go through thee lists. Simple. But not quite. If someone were to get a bird wrong, repeat a bird or simply run out of ideas they or a team member get to do a forfeit, eg: tell a joke, sing a song or do a dance. I think the children secretly like to do them ;-)
On our day to celebrate Water we started off by making paper origami boats which we were all trying to sink in the giant paddling pool later in the day. Luckily no one fell in but we had strong swimmers on hand ;-) The childrens favourite part of the day was making junk model boats. And who can blame them, such fun.
The fourth day saw us melting marsh mallows over bbq's which was amazingly (and extremely safely) organised. The children (and I in particular) loved making the all American S'mores - a traditional campfire treat. We talked about how we needed fire to make food and then we watched a video on creation. I asked the children if they thought we could survive without any one of the elements we had been looking at. There was a unanimous shaking of heads and two volunteers demonstrated how we are all united and need to look after each and every element (including mankind) in order to survive. They did this by the time old game of 'Link Arms' where you sit back-to-back and link arms then try to stand up at the same time.
I really enjoyed seeing how creative the children were in all their decorations of the wind chimes to the candle holders and place mats. Their imagination knew no bounds when it came to creating a picture for our new Alter cloth. One little girl drew a house which had a green garden and a great big berry tree outside. It was also home to a ghost, a spider and a hedgehog. Fantastic stuff and will be on our Alter for all to see.
These are just a few of the pictures we have taken and I will post a gallery over the next few days with more pictures and videos which we used.
So yet again another fantastic year here at St. Thomas' Holiday Club. We hope everyone enjoyed it and look forward to seeing so many of the children again next year. I hope they remember that I and many of the holiday club leaders are at Church every Sunday and together we run our S-T-O-C-K-S Sessions where EVERYONE is welcome :-) (similar to holiday club activities only shorter)
On that note I had better go and prepare for this coming Sunday.
Until Next Time
Kate at S-T-O-C-K-S
*All pictures were granted permission by parents and guardians upon registering their children, for use on the St. Thomas' Church website and here at S-T-O-C-K-S website*
Temptation is put before us every single day from the people we meet on the street to what we see on the TV. Adverts for toys, the media's ideal for beauty and that bigger is better tempting us to be greedy. I am tempted daily to be distracted from the task in hand and I found that by reading the Bible and putting my trust in Jesus the temptations haven't gone away but I am stronger to resist them.
Today I sat the children on our carpet and began filling an empty box full of sweets, chocolate and a secret envelope. The children asked what I was doing so I told them that if they sat well with me and listened to today's lessons that at the end of their crafts they could have the sweets and chocolate.
We looked at this:
"Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation:the spirit indeed is willing but the flesh is weak."
I then asked the children to recite the story of Adam and Eve and if they knew what the temptation was in the beautiful garden of Eden.
Occasionally the children looked at the box and only once did a child go up to the box but didn't take anything. We made a playdough garden of Eden after drawing our own garden of Eden. Today was more focussed on learning through play and and it was definitely fun for the children. Playing with playdough not only trains their fine motor skills but unleashes their imagination. It is a great tool for teaching art, science and lots of other curriculum subjects too.
After presenting ur work to the congregation I gave the children their treats and in the envelope was this:
All to often we can feel overwhelmed and confused by what's going on around us. For children it isn't any different. It is important to talk to our children and to let them know they are not alone. Not only do they have us, their designated grown ups, but they have God. We should encourage them to put their trust in Him that all will be well they may find comfort in the following verses:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.
This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.
For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?”
One of my favourite hymns Trust and Obey clearly states: "Trust and Obey, for there's no other way than to be happy in Jesus than to trust and obey". If you haven't heard this hymn before follow THIS LINK to listen and sing along at home.
So today we talked about times when we have had to put our trust in God and we re told stories with scenarios of children having to put their trust in God when they were afraid etc. We then made a rainbow mobile and sang the rainbow song with sign language. I didn't have anyone to film this morning so I will share a clip from YouTube so you too can sing along at home: (please note this is not BSL British Sign Language)
Before sharing our song with the congregation we then made our rainbow mobiles.
Today sees our vicar celebrating 25 years since his ordination. I am so proud of his work and pleased to have him at our Church.
To celebrate a few members of the congregation went to see him at the breathtakingly beautiful St. Albans Cathedral for an evensong service with non other than the Bishop himself and several other clergy members who were also celebrating their ordinations. I haven't been to a service at the Cathedral since I was a youngster so I wasn't too sure what to expect.
I was excited and hoping to see an award ceremony and have everyone else acknowledge the hard work and commitment our Reverend has given to the Church over the past 25 years. Yes it is his calling, his duty to God, but it would be naive of anyone to think that being a Vicar is easy. That it isn't work. It is just and so much more besides.
Our Vicar is our confident, our guider, our believer. He trusts in us as we trust in him. His life is barely his own for he is forever striving to help others and bring peace to a frantic world. He is our counsel, he is our messenger from God and he is our friend.
I was a little disappointed to find then that at this auspicious occasion where we were to celebrate this wonderful achievement that nothing but a name was mentioned. I thought that the Bishop would have more involvement in the service though the all girl choir did a sterling job and reminded me of my time as Head Chorister at a neighbouring Church. I would have liked to have seen everyone who was celebrating presented with a scroll or certificate. Something to mark to occasion. I mean how hard is it to print a certificate and pop it in a 99p frame? It's not the value that matters its the thought. It would have been especially nice since there was a visiting congregation from America. Instead it all felt all too British and reserved.
Sadly our Vicar was to be whisked away to have a quick dinner at the Bishops house with the other clergy members so the remaining members of our Church and I raised a glass to him over a love dinner at a local eatery.
Here is how we commemorated the evening, and we will be celebrating with the rest of our Church at a BBQ at the vicarage in August.
Congratulations Vicar, heres to another 25 years ;-)
I am an avid reader and I think it is important to be ever expanding ones knowledge and exercising our brains muscle. It is especially important when we are working with children. If we are not open to learning new things and passing on that information how can we expect the children to want to learn?
This week I have been reading a book by one of my biggest religious influences, whom I have mentioned several times before.
Body and Soul is the latest book from the inspiring shark attack survivor Bethany Hamilton. In this book which is aimed at aspirational teenage girls, but is a great read/reference for any age, Bethany encourages you to get yourself healthy.
With the help of her personal trainer Dustin Dillberg Body and Soul is divided into easy to digest chapters with eye catching pictures illustrating some of the exercises Bethany uses in her training as a professional surfer.
Together they offer a few mouthwatering recipes which make me want to hop onto a plane and move to Hawaii - who wouldn't. Most of the ingredients are accessible here in the UK and can be easily adapted - for example I have never seen a purple sweet potato so I would just use your average sweet potato bought at a super market or local fresh produce market. The fresher the better.
There is a chance to get to know Bethany a little better with a Q and A chapter. I relish in her honesty and open answers. My particular favourite was:
Q: I absolutely hate the gym. I know it's good for me, but I just can't drag myself there. Any advice for what I can do instead?
A: Girl, there's a whole wide world of awesome, body-blasting activities out there. While It'd be great if you loved to hit the gym daily, it's not for everyone (trust me)
Then there is a small list of healthy and fun exercise activities which don't require a gym membership, such as Water sports, Zumba and Aerial Yoga.
Bethany is a voice for Jesus Christ. She uses her experience of surviving losing her left arm to a Tiger Shark to educate and inspire people in God's word and spreading God's love. Throughout this book there are some of Bethany's favourite Scripture passages for example:
Therefore, I urge you, brothers ad sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God - this is your true and proper worship.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interest of others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.
I personally like reading a book where there is a verse or Scripture passage besides it which helps me relate the experiences and my emotions to that of The Lord and how I can implement them in every day life.
The Bible is full of illustrations that we should look after our bodies and cleanse our soul in order to keep our promise to God and worship Jesus Christ. For example:
First Corinthians 6:19-20 says, "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body."First Timothy 4:7b-8 says, "Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come."
How do you keep you and your family happy and healthy in body and soul?
I am sharing this from my sister site of Makeshift Mummy because it will explain some of my absences on twitter and this blog:
It's been a glorious week filled with sunshine, friends and family and my positive outlook has not wavered. Even when walking the dog with Youngling and I get chased down by a gigantic Bumble Bee.
Oh yes folks I was taken out by little critter. It literally had it in for for me on Friday. It started buzzing playfully in the field teasing us with its summer dance of flitting from one flower to another. When suddenly it's attitude changed and it circled me and when I thought it would admit defeat and retreat it dive bombed me making me lose my balance.
I started to hop away from my attacker but we were in the middle of the field and each direction looked further and further. I felt helplessly trapped. Again and again this vicious creature circled me and again and again it took a dive, stinger first, towards my innocent skin.
I stumbled and felt myself falling so I let go of my walking stick to brace myself only my foot went in one direction and my knee - yes the operated one - went in the other. I squealed as only I could squeal and then I heard the most almighty crack. A snap as if a breaking branch had lost the will to hold on any longer. I too lost my fight and fell in a crumbled heap on the muddy ground.
Youngling laughed his infectious laugh and asked if my tears were happy tears. I screamed for help as the beaten track lay empty. Youngling began to cry and then took a deep breath and came to lift my head onto his lap. "If I stoke your hair it will make you better Mummy" he whispered leaning over me with a gentle touch.
I fumbled for my phone realising the pain in my foot and daring not to move in case the fall, the silly embarrassing fall, had undone any of my surgery from seven months ago.
I dialled my mothers number, no answer. I dialled again. Again and again. Still nothing and by this point I was conscious that I was still in the field and so was the blessed Bumble Bee.
Just then a vision appeared before me. Two strangers were walking in our direction and I asked Youngling to stand up bravely and ask for help. He did, and they helped a wailing me, flapping dog and brave five year old back to their car where they took us home.
The kind strangers generosity didn't end there. While waiting for a friend to come and assess my need for medical attention these strangers played with Youngling under supervision, fed my dog, gave me water and a sugary treat for the shock. But nothing could take away the embarrassment. Nothing could take away the pain.
So to the hospital having dropped Youngling to my parents where mother felt guilty for not hearing her phone and wanted to come with us. I was glad she did. I needed the light relief and funny entertainment from my friend but even at thirty I needed the cuddles and hand holding from my mother just like when I was three.
Five and a half hours later most of the tears had stopped, thought the pain had not. Five and a half hours later I saw my feet, knee and leg from the inside out. A rare beauty which should be looked after more carefully.
I may have been in pain but I only came away with a sprain, a small mercy to be thankful for. I said so many prayers on Friday night, not for my foot to have not been broken or my knee to be ok but for a lady who lost a life that night. Right before our eyes, she was miscarrying her unborn baby.
Five and a half hours wait isn't really that great for me but five and a half hours wait for someone losing a life is simply unacceptable.
On Friday night I was extremely thankful.
On Saturday night I held Youngling tight.
My foot is bruised and my foot is sore. But something so precious was lost on Friday something much more than my dignity.
A life was lost.
A mother lost her unborn baby.
Two friends actually broke their feet over the weekend and one is still in hospital undergoing a series of serious surgeries.
My bruises will heal, theirs may not.
The lessons I learnt that in the midst of an emergency the human race can be the most kind hearted and generous of beings. There will always be someone who needs our prayers more than ourselves. And finally if in doubt pray.