We had our first worship service "in person" today! In Louisiana we are allowed to worship outdoors with six foot spacing between families and other restrictions. It was a beautiful (but cold! 60 degrees) morning as 36 of us gathered in a big tent.
This week we offered children our usual worship guides (described in my post above) and asked families to bring their own colored pencils or crayons. There were five families with children and three remembered. (We had $1 boxes of colored pencils from Dollar General on hand -- just in case -- that the other two families could use and keep.)
Next week my church will have bags that will be presented to each family. They will keep these bags, add to them, and bring back to use again every week (fingers crossed). So I have been doing some research (thanks "I Love Kidmin" group on Facebook!) to see what sorts of things churches are putting in their worship kits. I am sharing that list, with some comments:
- children's Bible and/or storybook Bible
- individual packets of crayons (amazon, Oriental Trading, and others sell the 4-packs that restaurants give away -- they are a cheap solution if you want to have something to give each week that is "disposable")
- colored pencils
- pencils or pens
- golf pencils
- erasers (fun shapes)
- zipper pencil bags to hold things or ziplock bags
- clipboard (for a hard writing surface for coloring sheets, puzzles, etc.
- laminate cardstock and use a binder clip to make cheap clipboards (disposable; much cheaper than the cost of clipboards and no cleaning)
- Play Doh (best for outdoor services or no carpet)
- individual packs of Model Magic (maybe a bit less messy than Play Doh?)
- small blank book (for doodles and notes)
- plain white paper
- construction paper
- worship bingo
- pipe cleaners, fat pipe cleaners (A number of people commented, including "Believe it or not, the pipe cleaners are a great fidget toy and one of the most popular items in the bag. I used to keep a bag of pipe cleaners in my boys' stuff when they were kids - best quiet toys ever!!!!")
- Wikki Stix
- dry erase board
- MagnaDoodle or other erasable drawing board
- Lego (for quietly retelling the story - this one may be best at home)
- lacing cards
- quiet rhythm instruments such as egg shakers/plastic maracas
- snacks (probably not a good idea - encourages hands to mouth contact; not good for this season, especially if masks are required)
- individually wrapped hand wipes or hand sanitizer
- things to avoid: bubbles, slime, balls (they roll into other people's space), candy
- suggestions for containers to put it all into:
paper gift bags or lunch bags - families keep or dispose
ziplock bags (gallon or smaller) (can decorate plastic or paper bags with stickers) - can be kept, disposed of, or wiped clean
cloth bags (Oriental trading has them at reasonable prices)
- plastic shoe boxes labeled for each family (filled with things they can wipe off. That way each family’s items are only used by them and they wipe them off. Keep the boxes at a check-in station so that no one else touches the other ones. Then they return them to a cart.)
There seem to be three schools of thought: worship kits in disposable bags (where the families keep the contents or they are thrown away after use), kits that are given to the families and they are responsible for bringing them back (and adding to them based on their kids' needs), and kits that need to be cleaned after use and are reused. The best choice is different for each church based on size of church, budget, space, staffing, .....
Regarding what to call these kits, I would encourage you to call them Worship Activity Bags rather than Busy Bags. We’re not trying to keep children busy; our hope is to engage them in worship.
Note also that I have seen some discussion that if there is only one weekly worship service, it will be an entire week before materials left at church are touched again. Maybe there is no need to clean reused items as any virus won't live that long?? 👀 Proceed at your own risk on this idea, based on what your local authority thinks is appropriate.....
What else do you include in your worship kits?