Pumpkin Patch (Object Lesson)
Items needed: If possible, have several different sizes of pumpkins. Provide one tiny, one small, one large, one lopsided, and one with dirt all over it. Choose a pumpkin that is normal in size. Carve out the top, eyes, and face, and put a light inside. Have another pumpkin with the top off but all the insides still waiting to be carved out.
Say to the children:
“Hey everybody! I have a bunch of different pumpkins here. What is unique or different about each pumpkin?” (Let them respond). “What is the same? Yes, you’re right; they all are pumpkins, but each one of them is shaped a little different. One is big, one is small, one is dirty, one is lopsided, and they are not looking very perfect. That is like all of us. God made us all different, but each one is unique. However, he doesn’t make any mistakes.”
“Do you think each one has the same yucky stuff inside?” (You can open up the one that still has its insides and show them how it looks). “Yes, each pumpkin has these seeds and gooey stuff inside.”
“The Bible says we are all different, yet each heart is the same. We all have sin, bad things that we have done, that need to be carved out. God said when Jesus died, he came to remove all the yucky things inside. Then his light can be put inside so we can share the new life we have in Jesus.” (As you are talking about what Christ has done, remove the insides of the pumpkin to illustrate and show the pumpkin that is done. You might turn the one with the smile around so that they can see). “Once we ask Jesus to forgive us of all those bad things we have done, he comes inside. As the song I wrote says, ‘He then places a candle in the dark.’ As harvest time and pumpkins are a time of change and growth, so is our life in Jesus. When we respond to him and let him shine his light inside, our life is free to shine to the world around us.” (Make sure to light the pumpkin inside and show how the pumpkin lights up).
1. Glowing Pumpkins. In this craft activity the children will be making glowing pumpkins out of baby food jars or canning jars. Depending on how big you want to make it, you will need the following:
Help the child draw a happy face on their paper with the marker before they start putting on the tissue paper. Insert the paper inside of the jar, with face visible, to use as a pattern. Show each child how to apply tissue paper to the jar by "painting" over it with the glue. (Show them how to make tissue paper balls and apply in mosaic style.) Remind them not to put tissue paper where they had drawn their eyes, nose, and smiley face. Once the jar is covered with tissue paper, remove paper pattern from inside of jar. You should be able to see through the happy face that they had drawn earlier. Allow glue to dry and then add the candle to the inside of the "pumpkin". The light from the candle will shine through their happy face just as Jesus shines through their face when they have Jesus in their heart.
(Children will need to be cautioned to not light their candles without parent supervision.)
2. Pumpkin Card. This craft will help remind the children that when Jesus takes out all the "yucky" stuff in our hearts, we can shine for Him. You will need the following:
When this activity is done, the children will have a card that they can use to remind them of what God can do for us. Forgiveness, what a wonderful thing! Give each child a yellow piece of construction paper and have him glue seeds and yarn all over his paper. This is to represent all the goop that is in the pumpkin or in our hearts. Allow to dry. Staple along the left side the orange pumpkin and blank yellow paper to make a card. Once the "goop" page is dry, staple it along the right side of the blank yellow paper, and then fold over the cover (pumpkin). Through the face you should see all the goop that the child had just glued. Open the cover (pumpkin) and lift up the goop page. What you should see now is the blank yellow page. Fold the pumpkin back down and you have a clean smiley face.
3. Paper plate pumpkins. Again, have the face pre-cut for small children. You will need:
Have the children paint the bottom of the plate orange that has the smiley face on it. On the other plate, have them paint it yellow on the side that you eat on. Once it is dry, staple the two plates together so when you look through the face you will see the yellow "shining" through.