1) Snack and lesson with me
While the kids munch on this yumminess:
Valentine's Day Strawberries and Cream Puppy Chow from Life, Love, and Sugar (I added heart-shaped sprinkled to the chow)
... I lead them through a discussion of God's love using conversation hearts. This lesson was inspired by a pin that only led to a photo, so I can't credit it. I cut out pastel-colored hearts and wrote a typical conversation heart saying on one side and a corresponding Bible verse on the other. We discuss different kinds of love on earth. Then, the kids each got a heart to read to the group and we discussed how God's love is unbeatable. They get a pack of conversation hearts as I send them to the next station and encourage them to "Have a conversation with God."
Be Mine - John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life."
All Mine - John 10:29b "...no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand."
True Love - Jeremiah 31:3 "The Lord appeared in the past, saying, "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness."
Love Me - Luke 10:27 "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind' and 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"
Be True - John 14:15 "If you love me, you will obey what I command."
I'm Sure - John 14:1-2 "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you."
Sweet Talk - Psalm 119:103 "How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!"
Cutie Pie - Psalm 139:13-14 "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful. I know that full well."
Call Me - Jeremiah 33:3 "Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know."
2) Valentine Puzzle
Since Miss Pam first sent this cute message home on Reed's first Valentine's Day, I've seen this same idea used 1,000 times. I turned it into a riddle for the kids. They had to look up John 3:16 (or recite it from memory) and fill in blanks to reveal the secret words. I used an outline font and added hearts to color to help fill time at this quick center. My printer is sketchy and so are my hearts, but kids are easy to please, so it'll work.
3) Handprint Heart craft
Here, I employ my awesome big kids (my group ranges from four-year-olds to seventh graders, with an occasional high school helper) to paint hands for me. First, kids write a verse or message (or color a design) along a penciled heart. After they erase the pencil line, each hand gets painted a different color to be stamped into a heart shape. Then they report straight to the bathroom to wash up (and hopefully not trash the sink!) If they need to kill time, stencils and heart-shaped hole punches let them add more embellishments.
Handprint heart idea from Decorating by Day
Check out other children's church ideas here.