Object lessons are "talking points illustrated with objects." Children's sermons and Sunday School teachers use them all the time. The point of using "objects" is to create visual focus and tactile interaction. They are a "hook." In the Rotation Model, we've even created an entire workshop concept around the idea of teaching with object lessons as a "main activity." It's called The "Science" Workshop. And while the "demonstrations with props" are often wrapped in the guise of science experiment, they are in fact, object lessons. We aren't really teaching about science, but rather,playing with objects and their fun effects to make a point. (Learn more about the Rotation Model's "Science" Workshop.)
It's important to note that the "objects" in a demonstration do not have to have metaphorical or deep significance (which is a common misconception). A rock can just be a rock in an object lesson. It doesn't have to be a stand-in for God's "strength" (and indeed, if Piaget is right, to most of our young kids in the "concrete" stage, a rock is just a rock). It IS a murky line, and part of our job as educators is to help kids develop their ability to see deeper meanings that common things can represent. But for everyday teachings purposes "objects" are teaching visuals that excite children's interest.
Feel free to add your own ideas and thoughts to this topic.
The following two video demonstrations are object lessons that could easily be adapted for Sunday School or a children's sermon. I would definitely adapt some of the language and examples, but the basic "demonstration" is cool.
See my two other "Holy Spirit ~ balloon" demonstration notes after the two video clips.
Neat Demonstration of what "Being Filled with the Holy Spirit" Can Do
Check out this pastor's great YouTube presentation (seen below) about how being filled with the Holy Spirit causes the "other" stuff to depart. I'm not suggesting you show this video, but rather, recreate the demonstration adapted for children or whoever your audience is.
For a lesson about Pentecost, I would ask "what was 'in' the Disciples that might have been standing in the way of reaching out to others in the name of Jesus? The pastor's inclusion of hot sauce (anger over what happened to Jesus) is good. What food color would represent fear? Or feeling inadequate, not good enough to be a follower? What would the vinegar represent to children? I would have them TASTE the ingredients before putting them in the glass. I might add objects that will float out when pouring --objects that represent our hang-ups. What would you add? I would demonstrate this, then have the kids learn how to demonstrate it so they can do it at home.
Nice Demonstration of how allowing the Holy Spirit to fill you can help you.
This teacher demonstrates on YouTube (and below) how a balloon with water in it doesn't pop when held over a flame. Use your own language and interpretation. I would add that the Holy Spirit is not magic, and doesn't keep us from pain. The Holy Spirit gets us through it with comfort and hope and the knowledge that no matter what happens, we are in Jesus' hands, ...even the burst balloon (whose pieces I would collect. How and what else would you say?
I'm not keen on the "Protection" title this guy gave his video as it suggests the H.S. is some sort of force field to kids. Bu the demonstration is totally adaptable! As always, the wording and interpretation of such things is up to you.
Other Balloon Holy Spirit Ideas
I also once did a children's sermon using my ancient "balloon animal tricks" showing how the Holy Spirit can fill a balloon and then 'shape you' into something useful" (balloon people, hearts, hammer, eye glasses to see need, halo, etc.) I had some of the balloons blown up to then shape them. And had others in a bag already blown up and pre-shaped so I didn't take too much time. Kids loved it, especially when something popped (which was also a point that God restores). (And YES, I used to do balloon animals ...the product of my late 70's clown ministry foray. Great skill to have.)
There's another balloon~Holy Spirit demonstration I once saw where the balloon was placed inside a clear glass bottle and then inflated. The balloon was then completely filled using a pump, and it took on the shape of the bottle. The point was made that the Holy Spirit will "shape you" for whatever you need to do in Jesus' name --and help you do things that need done "even when you don't think you have it in you... what you need is God's Spirit in you."