As a teenager, I loved watching the nursery class at church. I did things a little differently, though. Instead of just watching them play during church, I would make lessons for them and do crafts with them. I took this a step further and when there would be a special Bible study series (sometimes these would be an all day event) or a church dinner, I would take over the kids. I would plan fun things for them to do and set a "kids table" for dinners. I continue to do this with my own kids and their cousins and friends. I thought I'd share how I do this. Oriental Trading always makes my life easier.
Make sure your table is kid friendly! You can use a table that doesn't matter if it gets scuffed up or even cover it with wrapping paper, a plastic table cloth, oil cloth, or even brown craft paper. I had a kid friendly table, so I used a chalk table runner as an extra fun "zone."
Have plastic or paper plates, cups, and utensils. Kid size spoons and forks will definitely make a difference. I like to use ones that I can either use again or send home with the kids. These Plastic Color Brick Party Fork & Spoon Sets from Oriental Trading are perfect!
Your centerpiece should be non-breakable. I used a wooden bowl with a mason jar in it. I surrounded that with plastic puzzles that are fun and also an activity for the kids.
I had a lot of fun with the place mats. I found printables online. One side is a Thanksgiving table setting with a quote on it. This allows the kids to learn a little about the way the table goes and color a little. The other side has a dice turkey game that I found online. I put them inside wipe-off sleeves. This way, if food gets spilled, it doesn't hurt them and they can also color on them with dry erase crayons. For the dice turkey game, I put 2 small dice beads inside a small bubble gum machine container. My kids can't open these and it keeps the dice from rolling all over the place. From my experience, this works better than a bowl and lid.
Make It Fun!
I'm doing something a little different this time. Instead of just letting the kids have a "free for all" with the activities. I'm using a pocket dice for them to decide what to do next. They roll the dice and the decision is made.
I used a roll of dry erase stickers and cut squares I could write the options on and stuck those inside the pockets so that I could change them up, if I wanted.
I had a lot of fun coming up with the activities. Here is what the options on the dice were.
- Scribble (Using the fun Yeti notepads and penguin crayons
- Turkey Dice Game
- Craft (The options were: Advent Tree, Thankful Frame, Give Thanks Pin)
- What are you thankful for? (I provided foam leaves for them to write on, then they could drop them in the mason jar)
- Run off energy. Where we live, it is still pretty warm at Thanksgiving, so I let the kids run off some energy outside. They are given punch balloons, glow stick, light wands, and bubbles to have fun with. I also included an alphabet puzzle for the littles that can't run with the big kids.
- Puzzle Balls
With each option, it could be done multiple times, so it didn't matter if the dice was rolled more than once. I would like to suggest that you keep the following things on hand for the crafts: glue, glue rollers, permanent markes, ziploc bags, and scissors. I always keep extra craft supplies the kids can use to come up with their own projects- like paper bags, stickers, and markers. You could also make reading a book and option and provide a stack of Thanksgiving or Christmas books.
I'm also proving a box that the kids can take their goodies home in. I used a VBS box, but you could also use a plain colored one and let them color it as a fun thing to do. Every thing each child needed for the activities were included in the box, so there was no passing items out or anything like that. Everything was set up and ready to go. My kids had a ton of fun with it, so I know other kids will too.