Category Archives: Christian Education Archive

Advent Devotional Resources

If you would like to celebrate the season of Advent this year with a devotional for your family or congregation, here are all of the resources you will need to take part in that. We have a devotional booklet, craft, event information, and game that are all printable for your church or family Advent celebration!

advent 1 bibleAdvent Devotional Book

Advent Wreath Instructions

Advent Intergenerational Event

Would You Rather Game Slips












How to Teach “Leading with Care”

I was privileged to see this light hearted introductory skit highlighting the importance of the Leading With Care policy at Oakridges Presbyterian Church in London Ontario.  Thank you to the author, Rev. Jane Swatridge, for allowing us to post this resource and giving permission to other congregations for it’s use. ~Tori Smit

Leading With Care: On Gilligan’s Island


It is now time for our Leading with Care presentation, and I’m sure it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before!

But please understand that although we may have a little fun with the policy today, the message is important for the continued safety of our church family and those we serve. Watch and learn, and enjoy!

Leading With Care: On Gilligan’s Island

(Play the “Gilligan’s Island’ theme song.  Gilligan & the Skipper appear at top of verse 2; rest of cast appear at, “five passengers set sail that day …”  Pantomime the storm at verse 3, “The weather started getting rough …”, mimicking being tossed around on stage, etc.  Then cast members step forward, acknowledge crowd as their character is mentioned.)

(After the song ends the pantomime continues with the Howell’s ‘chat’ quietly with each other counting their money; Gilligan, Mary Ann & Ginger ‘chat’ excitedly as Gilligan picks up picnic basket; Professor notices something on the ground, bends to examine; Skipper notices Prof’s actions, then turns to Gilligan]

Skipper: What are you up to, little buddy?

Gilligan: The girls & I are going on a picnic to the other side of the island.

Mary Ann: I’ve packed us nuts, and fruit, and I made my famous coconut cream pie!

Ginger: And I’m the scenery.

Prof: I’m not sure that’s a good idea.

Thurston: But she’s always the scenery. (Lovey glares) Sorry Lovey, here (hands her some money).

Prof: No, I’m referring to these prints I’ve found here in the sand.

Skipper: What is it, Professor?

Lovey: Looks perfectly harmless to me.

Prof: Why, Mrs. Howell, don’t you realize what this means?

(everyone reacts, looks stunned, confused, shrug shoulders, etc.)

Prof: Why, judging from the unusual size and shocking depth of these footprints, and the apparent direction and pace of perambulation, before you can go picnicking anywhere, you’d better prepare a (look to audience) RISK ASSESSMENT.

(Mary Ann cowers beside Gilligan, Ginger cowers beside Skipper, Thurston cowers beside Lovey for protection)

Gilligan: Do you mean, Professor, that we can’t just do whatever we want …

Mary Ann: whenever we want …

Ginger: with whomever we want …

Lovey: without completing one of these? (brings Risk Assessment form out of purse) Well, that’s ridiculous!

Prof: Mrs. Howell, that’s precisely what I mean.

Thurston: Now look here, my good man. I’m Thurston Howell the Third, and I don’t fill in any forms. I have people to do that.

Prof: Mr. Howell, if you want to stay safe, I’m afraid you’ll have to. Why, all our lives may depend on it.

(Thurston harrumphs indignantly)

Lovey: Oh there there, maybe you can pay someone to do the form for you.

Gilligan: Do we all have to fill them out?

Mary Ann: For everything we do around here?

Ginger: What do you consider, risky, Professor?

Lovey: My yes, are we safe here?!

Prof: Absolutely. But we must understand that certain activities involve RISK.

Skipper: Well, like what sorts of things, Professor?

Mary Ann: Oh, how can a friendly picnic possibly have any risk?

Ginger: Come on, Professor, just one teensy, weensy little picnic?

Thurston (to Lovey): Where in the blazes were the tickets on sale for this picnic?

Lovey: We almost went down in a storm on the Thames, and he’s worried about a picnic!

Gilligan: Yah, she’s right – Skipper, whatever happened to the pre-tour Risk Assessment?

Skipper: Well, I thought YOU did one…

Gilligan: … I didn’t do one – I thought YOU were going to do one …

Skipper: No, little buddy, YOU were supposed to do one …

Gilligan: Uh-uh, I’m not trained on the paperwork, YOU were supposed to do one …

(they keep arguing until cut off by Thurston)

Thurston: I KNEW we should have just bought our own boat & crew!

Mary Ann: Well, it’s not Gilligan’s fault if he wasn’t properly trained.

Ginger: Ooo, training is everything. I mean, that’s the difference between a Golden Globe … and an Oscar!

Prof: There are important things to consider in every case. Mary Ann, do you know for certain that those nuts and fruits are safe for everyone to eat? I mean, did you check for allergies?

Mary Ann: Well, no, but I’m sure we’d find out one way or another.

Prof: And what about food preparation? Did you wash your hands, and ascertain that the utensils & working area were clean?

Mary Ann: I brushed off the sand as best I could. Back home in Kansas, we just wipe our hands on our pants.

(Howell’s & Ginger turn up noses/cringe; men just nod in agreement, ‘oh yah, that works’, etc.)

Prof: And Ginger, were you really planning on hiking to the other side of the island in that gown, with those shoes?

Ginger: What’s the problem? They match.

Gilligan: Well, you do look like an Incident Report ready to happen.

Skipper: Good thinking, little buddy.

Prof: And Gilligan, as the leader of the picnic group, have you considered the appropriate ratios of leader to number of those in your party? What about your Criminal Record Check? We haven’t checked all your references yet. And what about the vulnerability of those you’re caring for?

Gilligan: They look pretty sturdy to me.

Thurston: On second thought, think I’ll go back to our cabin and lock the door. Coming, Lovey?

Lovey: Oh you’re not worried, are you dear?

Prof: As long as we’re prepared, and we’ve considered all the risks, we’re perfectly free to proceed with virtually any plan.

Ginger: You mean, like a quiet, scenic picnic.

Mary Ann: Or sharing a meal together.

Gilligan: Or a simple little hike in a ball gown.

Skipper: Not quite, little buddy.

Prof: But about these footprints. We’re obviously not alone on the island (everyone looks around, wide-eyed, scared & suspicious).  Ladies, you stay here. Mr. Howell, you come with me and we’ll conduct a reconnaissance mission.

Skipper: And Gilligan, you come with me and we’ll conduct a reconnaissance mission.

Gilligan: Ok, but I really think we oughta scout around a bit first.

(girls exit stage right, Prof. & Thurston exit stage left; Skipper & Gilligan exit stage right)

Voiceover: Sadly, they remained on the island, marooned there forever. What a positive difference it would have made had they invested in training and planned ahead appropriately for the tour. Oh well …

Theme Song resumes

When Kids Ask Tough Questions

Hey, Have I Got A Question For You!

The Art of Asking and Answering Difficult Questions With Children

Why do we ask questions?

We ask all sorts of questions in Church School.  If we’re asking questions, why are we asking them.  Some of the reasons are:

  • to check in and find out what children have learned (or not learned)
  • to hear if there are concerns or issues that require further conversation and/or explanation
  • to prompt debate
  • to prompt deep thinking
  • to experience God

The art of asking questions:

Good questions open up the room to great conversation.  We don’t want to simply recite questions and receive the ‘correct’ answers.  We hope that the subject energizes the room and together we grow in our knowledge and experience of God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and kingdom of God living.  These thoughts should help you plan for better questions and discussion that moves us into new realms of experience:

  • ask open-ended questions, not closed, one-word answer questions
  • ask one question at a time and resist the urge to add on even more questions hoping one of them might resonate with the class. With too many questions at once children become overwhelmed with the options
  • present questions to the whole group, not to individuals
  • provide positive feedback on the answers your receive
  • follow-up answers with more probing questions, inviting the group to dig deeper into the subject
  • be silent; let the question resonate and good thinking to occur. Don’t try and fill the silence assuming your question wasn’t well presented or with your answer so things keep moving along.  Leave time for deep thinking
  • use an inquiry style, don’t interrogate
  • encourage participants to ask their own questions of each other
  • encourage conversation across the group and away from you
  • accept responses as a gift

There are three types of questions:

  • information
  • analytical
  • personal

By ensuring all types of questions are asked, often moving from the first type, on to the second and finally spending quality time discussing the third type we help participants personalize their learning and growth in a non-threatening way.

Invite difficult questions:

These are the questions we often fear, but they are also the questions that help us move from knowledge about God to knowing God.  They require honesty and deep care  and compassion for everyone in the group.  Setting an inviting tone for such questions helps your class to become a meaning-filled place of acceptance and deep learning.

Answering difficult questions:

Thinking about how you might answer difficult questions before they are even asked helps prepare you for great conversation.  The following helps in thinking about how you might answer questions that make you sweat and stumble over your words:

  • listen carefully to what is being asked. Don’t jump to thinking about your answer, first think about the question, the age of the person asking, and what they are really asking
  • honour the question and the person asking it
  • ask questions of clarification
  • ask, ‘what do you think (feel, have experienced etc.)?
  • you might ask the class what they think,or what their experience of God ays to them
  • take time to think about your answer – it’s not a race to the finish line
  • give age appropriate answers
  • know that it is okay to say, ‘I don’t know; perhaps we could do some research together, we could ask the minister, or look into that in next week’s class etc.
  • don’t give and answer you’ll have to undo down the road
  • give answers that are consistent with what you believe about a loving and caring God
  • let parents know if a child’s questions need further conversation at home. Ask for permission to do this
  • recognize the balance between confidentiality, safety and disclosure



Do you have more questions?


Feel free to ask me!

Tori Smit

Regional Minister for Faith Formation

Synod of Central, Northeastern Ontario and Bermuda



Children in the Pews

Something positive about kids to put in the pew racks

The following is a text for a permission giving way of welcoming young children into worship, put their parents at ease and remind the adults of the church about their role as faith-sharers in the ministry of children.  Please feel free to copy this resource and place it in your pew racks or print in the bulletin from time to time, especially when you might expect some new families to join you in worship.

To the parents of young children…

Relax! God put the wiggle in children; don’t feel you have to suppress it in God’s house.  All are welcome in this place!

Sit towards the front where it is easier for your little ones to see and hear what’s going on.  Children get tired of seeing the backs of others’ heads.  Please feel free to quietly explain the parts of the service to you children.

Sing the hymns and respond to the prayers and scripture readings.  Children learn how to worship by copying us.  And, please let us know if they act out at home what they see in the church.

If you have to leave worship, feel free to do so, but please come back.  As Jesus said, “Let the children come to me.”

Remember the way we welcome children in church directly affects the way they respond to the Church, to God, and to one another.  We truly want them to know this house of worship as home.

And please allow your child to use the other side of this card to draw and doodle.  We can always make more cards!

To members and visitors…

(insert the name of your church) loves children, and we appreciate the gift they are to us, and the reminder that our church family continues to grow.

Please welcome all children in our midst and give a smile of encouragement to their parents.  This is one of the ways we continue to care and model God’s love for our children and their families, and affirm our “We will!” of faithful support for each child and his/her parents in the covenant of baptism.

(on the reverse side of the pew insert print:)

Draw a picture of what you see happening in church right now.