With vacations winding down and school starting up again, church activities will soon be in full swing, including children’s ministries. As you plan your activities for the first few weeks, keep in mind that the kids may be feeling a bit unsettled as they adjust to new schedules, new teachers, and possibly even new schools. You may also have some new kids in your class who moved to the area over the summer and who may be nervous about joining the group.

To help kids ease into the school year and build camaraderie, here are a few fun activity ideas:

Create a “Prayer Hands” Banner

This is a perfect activity for helping your kids “make their mark” as they begin a new school year. Get a large piece of fabric that’s thick enough to paint on. Let each child dip his or her hand into a paper plate of paint (make sure to use a paint that washes off easily) and make a hand print on the banner. Then let each child sign his or her name next to the hand print and write a short prayer for the class for the coming year. Hang the banner in your classroom and re-read the prayers at the end of the year.

Pack Backpacks for Kids in Need

Host a school supplies drive at your church and collect backpacks, pencils, notebooks, glue sticks, scissors, crayons and other items for kids in need. Have your class pack the backpacks while you talk about gratitude for the blessings you have and the importance of helping others. Let each child write a note for the recipient wishing them a good school year and slip it into the backpack.

Get Outside and Get Active

In addition to letting your class enjoy free play time on your kids outdoor playground, you can help them burn off some extra energy with classic outdoor games. Think hopscotch, Simon Says, jump rope/double dutch, Red Light-Green Light, Red Rover, and other time-honored activities.

Bring Bible Stories to Life

Divide the class into groups of three or four and let each group choose a Bible story to turn into a skit. Help them decide how to tell their chosen story; you might even bring a box of random items and let the kids exercise their creativity in creating costumes and props. When each group is ready, have them act out their skit for the class, and film it with your smartphone so that they can see their own performances.

Happy back-to-school season!