Over the summer I planned a series for our church’s Sunday morning children’s program called PICTURE BOOK SUNDAYS: Sparking Faith Conversations using Picture Books and Scripture. Each week during July and August, using an engaging picture book as the spark along with games and a craft, children ages 3 – 10 delved into Scripture as we investigated what it means to be a beloved child of God. Over the course of the fall, I will be sharing these and other picture book lessons that can be used as the spark for conversations about faith with your children. Today, I kick off this occasional series by sharing my lesson for I WANT YOUR SMILE CROCODILE (Zonderkidz, 2018) written by Denette Fretz and illustrated by Jackie Urbanovic. Stay tuned for more this fall.
PICTURE BOOK SUNDAYS: A Faith-Sparking Lesson
I WANT YOUR SMILE CROCODILE
by Denette Fretz
PURPOSE: To recognize that each one of us is a miracle of God, wonderfully made and created with a special purpose and that our Heavenly Father delights in lavishing His love upon us! Praise God!
OPENING PRAYER AND GATHERING GAME: Zoo Charade
Open in prayer, then explain that in today’s story, we will be taking a trip to the zoo. First, have the children write down (on little scraps of paper) several animals you might find at the zoo. Put the slips of paper in a cup, then let each child pick a slip and then use pantomime to act out which animal they have. No speaking or sounds aloud. The children will have fun guessing and can cheer each other on.
INTRODUCE THE STORY: Introduce Denette Fretz’s I WANT YOUR SMILE, CROCODILE, by showing the book cover. Can they guess what is happening? Explain that Meerkat has a problem. He’s got a bad case of “the grass is greener on the other side of the fence” syndrome! Can they guess what that is? It means he thinks he would be happier if he had what others had, instead of what God gave him. Have they ever wished they had what someone else had? Did they think it would make them happier? What do they think God would say in this situation? Share and ponder together, then read the story.
FAITH-SPARKING CHAT TIME: After enjoying the story, use these questions to spark meaningful conversation.
1. Who does Jack remind us of? US!!
2. Who does the zookeeper remind us of? GOD!
3. Do we need reminders from our zookeeper, GOD, that we too are wonderfully made and created for a special purpose? YES!
4. And where can we find those reminders? IN THE BIBLE!
DIG INTO SCRIPTURE TIME:
Wrap up the discussion by digging into scripture together to find beautiful reminders from God that we are wonderfully created and made for His wonderful purposes. Use these verses to get you started:
Genesis 1:27 Genesis 1:31 Psalm 139:14 I Peter 4:10
STORY-BASED CRAFT TIME: Craft Stick Crocodiles (from Easy Peasy and Fun!)
This fun crocodile-themed craft which I found on the amazing blog Easy Peasy and Fun (and which I am sharing here with their permission) was a big hit with my class. They especially loved the crocodile’s big, toothy smile. As we made the crocodiles, we chatted about what special gifts God has given us. If not big toothy grins, then what? Their answers were thoughtful and fun. Here’s the link to the craft: https://www.easypeasyandfun.com/craft-stick-crocodile-craft/ or you can follow this helpful video tutorial:
10:25 WRAP UP: As children are finishing up craft – have them review who the various characters in today’s story are supposed to remind us of. Then, give thanks that God loves us and created us with His special purpose and that He loves us very much. That is the beautiful message of today’s story.