I ordered some silicone molds that make perfect ice spheres about the size of a baseball. I put them in the freezer and out came the ice balls for juggling. I went outside and tried them out.
I was able to do it – and of course my hands got very cold! The balls began to melt and in turn got slippery. But I could still maintain the juggle for about a minute or so. Maybe my next trick should involve some sort of mix of juggling these with fire torches. The fire and ice show. What do you think?
I can see some good teaching opportunities here too, such as the nature of water and how it can take on different properties. And how the hands are very warm and have the potential to melt ice fairly quickly.
Here’s a great group game that actively involves everyone and no one gets “out.” It also involves an element of juggling that anyone can do without practice. It is like large group hot potato juggling. Here’s how it works:
Have the group sit in a circle. You can do multiple circles if you want to and have each circle compete for speed in the game.
Start with one ball in the circle. I suggest a ball sized anywhere from a tennis ball to a volleyball. Hand it to a person that will be identified as the “starter.”
Give a “ready, set, go!” Then the starter person passes it to the person on their left (clockwise around the circle) and the ball must be passed around the circle in the style of hot potato. Everyone must physically handle the ball and physically pass it. If the ball skips a person, the facilitator must take the ball and re-start it at the point where it was last touched by a player. You can time the players to see how fast they can get it back to the starter player (kids LOVE this). You can also have multiple circles race against one another if you like.
So far, this is pretty much “hot potato” without the element of randomly halting it.
Now for the extreme version: Add more balls to the circle. The starter passes the first ball. Then count to five (or whatever number you like) and start the second ball. See how fast the group can successfully make a full revolution with both balls making it back to the starter (and every player has passed it).
Try this with three or more balls at the same time. The players have to stay focused on the next ball coming! Again, time the group or have multiple groups race against one another.
For a very challenging variation, try passing one ball clockwise and another ball counter-clockwise around the circle. Or do that with multiple balls in both directions. Add these challenges accordingly based on the average age and skill of the people playing the game.
I’ll warn you that it is very easy for the players to pass a ball and then “check out” no matter how many times you remind the players to look for the next ball coming. It is an interesting exercise in “juggling” multiple tasks at the same time. If you play the game, you’ll find that you will get distracted by watching other balls and then you’ll miss one of them coming your way.
I like to use this game as a way to introduce the idea of juggling to groups in a way that everyone can quickly learn. It is fun and there will be a lot of frustration and a lot of laughter. Enjoy!
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I like finding neat science tricks and visual illustrations that can be used to help communicate Biblical concepts in teaching. I found this neat brain game trick which I like to call the “curved arcs” from Steve Spangler Science. He sells the pieces I bought below. But you can also make your own and he has instructions on his site. I made my own large versions out of wood. The pictures below are the smaller cardboard type.
At first glance, one may look smaller than the other.
You can especially notice how they appear different lengths when you position them like this.
This is the two pieces switched. Now the yellow one is “longer”!
But when you stack them (seen below), you realize they are the same size!
Most adults pick up on this pretty quickly. Kids take a little longer to agree with you, of course. But no matter your age, it is still a fascinating reality. Two objects of the exact same size can appear to be different lengths depending on how they are positioned relative to one another.
Clearly our eyes and brains can play tricks on themselves. And that is one of the points I like to make in teaching kids about the Bible. There are several connections you can make here.
One that I make is that we as humans are all equally fallen sinners before God. We might compare ourselves to other people and think, “Well, I’m not as bad as that person!” The truth is, all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). When you put the two arcs on top of one another, you realize that they are the same. We are the same as humans as well in terms of our guilt before a perfect and holy God.
What metaphors or illustrations would you make with this brain game? Have you used any in the past? Let me know if you have any ideas!
I recently stumbled upon a fast and free way to make Scripture slides for Children’s Ministry (or any other ministry, for that matter) with an array of free and attractive backgrounds.
And it may already be in your phone/device.
It’s built into one of the popular apps out there – the free YouVersion app of the Bible (they’re not paying me to post this, btw 🙂 I just really like this feature and want to share about it).
I was using the app recently and saw a button I had never seen before. So I clicked on it. What I found was amazing. It was an option to make an image of any selected Bible verse over any background of your choice (your own or from their library). The settings make it easy to change the font, the font size, the colors, etc. Below are some steps and pics to show you how to do it.
- First, download the app. Search “youversion” on your app store.
- Once you familiarize yourself with how to find a certain verse (which is intuitive), select a verse by tapping it. It will underline the verse with a dotted line and then give you a selection of options on the right.
- Then tap on the orange button (of a photograph), which will lead you through the step-by-step editing process.
- Once you have your slide, share it as you like! See the images below for a more detailed look at how it works.
Then you can share the image by email, message, or social media. You can also save the image to your device and hence drop it into any slide show you are making (such as Keynote or ProPresenter).
I love to use it to share a quick verse on social media or as a slide when I’m speaking or teaching about the Bible. It’s super easy to use and best of all, it’s free!
Bonus: Many of the most popular Bible verses (John 3:16, for example) have special pre-made images with artsy fonts and backgrounds. Those are fun to discover and you just have to stumble upon them when you go to those verses and then go to this “edit image” process.
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Here are some slides I’ve made since I found out about this……
I love Richmond, VA history. I especially love finding old photos showing the way things used to be in this lovely east coast city. Some things have changed dramatically and some things have stayed mostly the same.
I just found out from smithsonian.com that the New York City Library recently made nearly 200,000 photographs, documents, posters, and sheet music digitally available for public use. We can easily search the collection and quickly download the articles. There is a box you can check when you search to search only public domain articles, which means you can use those images for whatever use you like. Click here for the entry site to search anything. Click here for the Richmond, VA stuff I found.
Many of these images have already been online, but this site makes it easy to search for and download what you’re looking for. I found duplicates of some files over on the Library of Congress site, but there could potentially be some previously “undiscovered” or little known digital images in this treasure trove. If you’re familiar with historical photos of Richmond, VA, I’d be curious to know if you see anything new in the New York Library collection when you search “Richmond, VA.” Try searching other related phrases too (like “Richmond”, “Richmond, Virginia”, “Church Hill”, etc). I’ve certainly found a lot of fun ones that I’ve never seen before.
Can you find any new pics that you haven’t seen before? Who loves RVA history?!
We visited the Auguste Rodin special exhibit at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts yesterday. We learned something interesting that caught my attention: at lot of Rodin’s work as a sculptor was done collaboratively by “the school” of Rodin. In other words, while Rodin was the creative genius behind the design of his works, there were dozens of people involved in actually creating the sculptures.
The same can be said of Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture and Louis Comfort Tiffany’s stained glass works. There were scores of people behind these individuals who brought their creations to fruition. Modern Western culture usually celebrates the triumph of the individual, but there is so much more to be gained from appreciating the collective work of many.
While we give credit to Rodin, Wright, and Tiffany, it is important to understand that without the help of their “schools” of artists, they simply would not have been able to produce as much art as they all did in their lifetimes.
I am a person who likes to do things on my own, but when I stop and realize that the result can be exponentially better when I collaborate with other people, I am reminded that two (or a thousand) heads really are better than one. It takes humility. It takes patience. It takes time. But fly over any city in an airplane and ask yourself, “could that have been built by one person?”
I just read a great book on this for my PhD class called Collective Genius: The Art and Practice of Leading Innovation by Linda A. Hill, Greg Brandeau, Emily Truelove, and Kent Lineback. Check it out and enjoy the journey of creative collaboration!
Below is Linda A. Hill’s superb TED talk:
What do you do when you have a room full of children causing havoc (or could potentially do so) and need to engage them in a way that is both fun and simple to execute? Well, education is a good idea. But perhaps you’ve taught and they’ve learned all day and it’s time to kick back and play a good old-fashioned group game.
Play the “Bring Me” Game!
The Bring Me Game concept is simple and the variations are endless. You, the game leader, should stand up front with a microphone (or not if your group is small enough) and ask for random objects/items. I’ve got a list to get you going below.
The first person or group or team to produce the requested item and bring it to you gets a point for their team. WARNING: Kids tend to RUN a lot in this game. So make sure you remind them to not trample one another or trip over anything in their effort to bring the items up to you. You can decide how long to play (such as “first team to ten points wins”).
One major thing to keep in mind when playing the game and coming up with ideas is the fact that nearly everyone has a device these days (even youth). If you’re at an event where most everyone has a device on them or at least some representatives of each team (such as adults in mostly-kid events) have devices, then make the most of technology in your requests. The internet is an endless supply of “scavenger-hunt” challenges. Just ask for a picture of BB-8 from Star Wars or a map of the country of Malaysia or any other fun idea they can search for.
The types of things you call up will vary depending on the size and the average age of your group. For example, not many kids will have a credit card on them if you ask for one. So be creative with ideas that fit what you think is out there in everyone’s pockets, purses, and accessories.
Here is a list of ideas to get you going. You can come up with your own ideas by thinking of other things similar to or related to items on this list.
- two different shoelaces tied together
- five different socks bundled up in a ball
- a selfie on a device
- a photograph of exactly ten people on a device
- something edible
- something that has a picture of a rainbow on it
- a double-A battery and a triple-A battery
- something that is completely blue
- two people wearing glasses doing jumping jacks next to one another
- two unrelated people with red hair
- a human hair
- a non-human living thing (this will usually be a bug or insect found on the floor)
- nail clippers
- six people forming a human pyramid
- a red pen or marker
- something with a disney symbol or character on it
- two unrelated people with braces
- a nail file
- a one dollar bill, a five dollar bill, and a ten dollar bill (exactly)
- a penny, a nickel, a dime, and a quarter (exactly)
- a liquid
- something that feels cold
- something that feels warm
- something that lights up (that is not a phone or tablet device)
- ten people in a line that goes from tallest person to shortest person
- a pencil
- a tissue
- a crumpled up piece of paper
- something silver
- something gold
- a person wearing two different kinds of shoes
- a rock
- a visible piece of dust/dustball
- something sharp (and if it is a dangerous/forbidden object, you can confiscate it 🙂
- something conical
- something circular
- something in the shape of a cube
- a ball of some sort
- something chewable
- five breath mints
- three different kinds of breath mints
- a picture on a device of the White House in Washington D.C.
- a picture on a device of a mother and a son
- someone who can say the alphabet backwards (for real, not someone saying, “alphabet backwards”)
- pocket fuzz/lint
- a device playing the United States’ National Anthem
- a device playing Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata
- a paper towel
- a circle of exactly twelve people holding hands
I posted about this back in 2012 with more ideas you can use as well!
Please share your lists and ideas in the comments below and we can have a trove of items for people to say “Bring me……!”
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I performed for a small group of three to five year-olds at my daughter’s school today. They were studying about Europe, so I figured I would teach them about Europe’s rich tradition of busking (another term for street performing). I showed them a picture of a busker at the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland as an example of Europe’s street performing scene.
But I wanted to take the lesson a bit further. I concocted a social experiment that I have never before tried (or heard of anyone doing). I counted out fifteen pennies per child and set the money on each child’s carpet square before they entered the room. When they came in, I told them to count their money (an opportunity to practice math) and that the money is now theirs.
I then instructed them that I was going to perform for them and lay a hat out in front of me. I explained the tradition of paying street performers if you like their tricks and think they’re funny. I emphasized that they can certainly keep their money if they choose. If they didn’t like my show or thought I wasn’t funny, then there is no need to give me any money. In fact, even if they like my show, they still don’t have to give me money. But I as the street performer will respectfully ask that they put something in the hat if they like the show. It’s all voluntary.
So I turned on the music, picked up my juggling things, and went to work. I was actually performing for seven little children and two adult teachers just hoping that I would earn some pennies for my hard work. I was surprised at how seriously I took it.
After a few tricks, low and behold, they started coming. The children and the teachers began to trickle up towards my hat and drop pennies in at various times when I would do tricks. It certainly warmed my heart to know that they liked what I was doing.
Some kids held most or all of their money back. And that was totally fine. Enough children were voluntarily showing me their appreciation through pennies that it didn’t bother me. In fact, as a street performer, I should still do my work with excellence whether people throw money or not. As street performers, we are always putting ourselves out there and making ourselves vulnerable to the fate of the audience’s appreciation or lack thereof. It is a risk we are willing to take. And if it means no pay, then that’s life and we will go out and try harder the next day.
Thankfully, these kids were generous with their penny throwing and at the end of the day, I counted up exactly one hundred pennies. It was a buck hard earned.
The header image at the top of this post features Kezzie learning to put money in the busker’s basket when she was only one. This gentleman was happily playing his accordion for us in Malaga, Spain while we were on a family vacation.
I performed at a company holiday banquet on Sunday night in Pennsylvania. As I was eating dinner with the owner and his family, one of his children asked me, “Do you ever get nervous before your shows?” My answer was a quick and simple, “Yes.” Then I explained a little more.
Yes, I still get nervous before my performances even after nearly years of on-stage experience (which is most of my life) and over eight years of full-time one-man show performances.
Why do I get nervous? Frankly, I’m afraid the audience won’t like me. I’m afraid I’ll let down their expectations. I’m afraid I’ll mess up. I’m afraid I’ll injure someone. I’m afraid that it will be the last performance of my career for whatever reason.
And then I do the show…and they love it. I love it. Everybody has a great time. I realize that it was all in my head. And here’s a key thing to consider: Is that really a bad thing?
I would suggest, “No.”
Call it nervousness, call it stage fright, call it butterflies. We all know the feeling. And I believe it is a very normal and human thing. It is the desire to pursue excellence and to deliver something that is beneficial to others. And there will always be the risk of failure. I believe that if we don’t feel at least a little fear or nervousness in the things we strive for in life, then we might not be challenging ourselves enough.
But the fright is still there. Knowing that it is a very common feeling does not make it go away. How do we overcome stage fright?
I think that’s the wrong question.
The question should be, “How can we use stage fright to our advantage?”
So here are some things that I do in order to work through stage fright and use it to my advantage…..
- Just do it – Nike was right. When I just get up and do my show, all the jitters go away. The jitters are usually the worst right before I go out on stage. But within a few seconds of starting my rehearsed routine, I’m all good. Speaking of rehearsed….
- Practice – It sounds trite, but the more you practice, the less you need to worry about them not liking you. If you practice a ton for your presentation, you’ll do great. And even if you mess up, the audience will easily forgive you because they have a sixth sense that knows whether you’re practiced up or not. They can tell when you’ve worked hard on something and that they probably couldn’t do it themselves anyway, so they will appreciate you. Believe me, audiences are a lot nicer than we as performers usually think they will be.
- Look out at the audience before your performance – This may not be the right ritual for everyone, but it helps me. If possible, peek through the curtain to see who you’re about to perform for. Or at least get as good a look as you can at people as they come into the event. The more I see who I’m playing to and the more I gaze into their eyes and expressions, the more at ease I become because I realize that these are normal human beings who just want to enjoy a performance. They’re not out to get me. They’re not out to boo the performer off the stage. They’re on my side. And that helps me tremendously.
- Transfer the nervousness into energy – This is easier said than done. But it really it a mental exercise. Tell yourself that the nervous jitters are going to help you do great because you can go out there with excitement and anticipation for a great show.
- Pray – I am a person of faith who prays. I am part of a larger community of faith that supports me and prays for what I do. I can say from experience that prayer does amazing things – especially when it comes to stage fright and gearing up for presentations. Knowing that God made me and has called me to this vocation helps me focus my thoughts and energy on Him rather than myself. I believe that life is not about me anyway – it’s about bringing glory to God. If you have any inkling in you that there is a God (or even if you don’t believe in God), give prayer a chance and see what happens….
Thanks to Dave Ramsey and other financial teachers, we were inspired to use clear labeled jars to show our daughter how much money she has and how to categorize it. I know that she will grow up in an even more digital world than we did, which means money will become more and more “invisible” as she grows up in the twenty first century. When money is simply an unseen number out there in the cloud of the internet, it is very easy to lose track of how much is there and where it is all going.
So that’s where clear jars come in! It is tangible, real, and visible. She has acquired money through gifts from others as well as through some age-appropriate work. We will let her use the money as she sees fit – and then she will tangibly watch how fast it goes (as well as how it adds up when you save it). She is very much the crafty kid, so we let her take ownership of the process, from the cutting and taping of the labels to the counting out and categorizing of her own money.
Sarah and I agreed not to dictate to her how much she should put in each jar. We want her to have autonomy and responsibility over those decisions. Of course we will constantly have conversations with her about how we categorize our money and offer suggestions on percentages. In fact, when I let her fill her own jars, she just liked plopping coins wherever she wanted, and her “giving” jar was looking nearly equal to the other three categories. I don’t want to tell her to give 10% when she wants to give 25%! God wants a generous and cheerful giver – and it looks like our daughter is off to a good start. Maybe we should learn something from her!
As for the categories – we have her doing the obvious saving, giving, and spending. I decided to add “business” because we are encouraging her to explore entrepreneurial ventures as a way to earn money if she so desires. I have a hunch her desire will suddenly manifest itself when she sees the “spend” jar empty! She could purchase art supplies to make crafts to sell on Etsy, for example. When I was a young child, my mother made me buy the lemonade powder for my lemonade stand. If I was making my own profit, I needed to purchase my own expenses. I’m so glad she made me do that.
What are some tips and tricks you use to teach your kids about money?