Make sure that you get compliance from everyone at the beginning. For instance – if you are going to play a game and everyone dashes into it without you starting it properly – it may lead to chaos. Line up the children and ‘Hi five’ them. Make a bit of a drama of it. Use a horn, a party blower or a timer to start a game or competition. That way you have their attention and compliance.
One parent writes. “Each week, after the prayer, I’d say in an excited conspiratorial whisper ‘next time, we’ll be building a tent’, or ‘next week, there will be a treasure hunt’… and the anticipation level would sky-rocket.” This could be done with even more ‘tease’ factor… without giving away too much… ‘next week, I’ve got something planned that is sooooo exciting, but I can’t tell you yet’.
Read through the materials for the week in advance. Then you have an idea of where it’s going and can make any adjustments to suit the ages and stages of your children. I add to my shopping list what we will need for the next week or two and the children help me find it.
If you have a younger child – keep them on board. Get them to blow the ‘starter’. Modify some questions so they can answer them or throw in one that may have nothing to do with the topic but which they can answer – like the name of the family dog or something Grandma has at her place.
The kids look forward to it and sense the ‘specialness’ of it. There’s always an air of anticipation and I think that has a great deal to do with the secrecy of what’s in the box. It is a great tool for teaching.
If you have younger children they may find some of the readings/lessons too long – so just read just the sessions to allow for that. And older children may want to prolong the discussions again don’t panic if they go all over the place – you will hear things they may not otherwise have shared.
We have made use of our children’s strengths/interests to lead certain activities to give them a sense of responsibility and sharing the leadership.
The kids loved collecting items for the faith box. What I've found is that we've put each plan and the items needed in little kits so that we can re-visit what we've learnt from previous hui.
Don't wait until you think you have it perfectly sorted or for the perfect time or for the perfect evening or for the perfect children cos you will never do it. Do it now!
The balloon game in the very first session: blowing the balloons was too challenging for our family (children aged 9,7 and 4). We adapted it by using our noses to move the balloons along instead, which was lots of fun.
Don't stress if you don't do all of it! If time is pushed or you have a small window of opportunity just pick out what you think is most important. A little bit of time together is better than none at all.
When the boys had to gather up the items for the creation reading - I got both boys to go on the treasure hunt for the items. They I did a draw out of the hat for who as to get the picture cards and who got the treasure hunt items. Then without letting them know the topic of the session I asked them to tell me what the treasure hunt items and picture cards had in common. Once that was done, I asked them to place the cards and treasure hunt items in the correct order. This proved a real challenge. Once they had done that we spoke through the lesson and then did the balloon blowing race. This was great.
Keep the Box in a visible place, so parents and kids can regularly see it.
We have our Faith Box song typed up and let the children illustrate it so that grandparents or visitors can join in too.
Don't be concerned if the discussion during your Faith Box session seems to go way off track - listening to your children's perceptions and stories is part of the role you have in guiding their conclusions. Your aim is to help them see the world through God's eyes.