Red, White, and Blue Theme Day
Theme Days are some of my favorite events to do in kid's ministry. I love going "off curriculum" to theme out an entire service for one Sunday. Three years ago, I came up with the idea of theme days by having a different theme and set each Sunday in July. I have continued that tradition, and I am currently in the middle of my third annual set of Summer Theme Days. Our theme days always include a themed set design, lesson, games, a costume contest, and sometimes a special snack. Since our first theme day fell on 4th of July weekend it was an easy decision to do a Red, White, and Blue Day. The theme was easy enough that we decided to include our Gen Kids Jr. (0-5 year-olds) kids for the first theme day.
Gen Kids Jr:
Our main craft for the morning in both our 2s and 3s and 4s and 5s classes was making patriotic necklaces. We pre-cut necklace size strings out of red and white baker's twine and attached a bead at the end of each string to make it easier for the teachers. For our 2s and 3s class, we made 2 inch straw beads using red and white striped paper straws and blue and white striped paper straws to make it much less of a choking hazard and easier for smaller hands. Our 4s and 5s class used the straw beads as well as red, white, and blue pony beads and star shaped pony beads. We prepared an extra craft/game for our 4s and 5s class. We prepared the base of the craft by hot gluing jumbo craft sticks to cheap paper plates. The craft portion involved the kids decorating their "balloon boppers" with star and patriotic stickers and red and blue crayons. All of the supplies for this craft were bought at Wal-mart. The game simply involved throwing a bunch of red, white, and blue balloons in the air and having the kids try to keep them in the air by using their decorated balloon boppers.
For our decor in Gen Kids Jr. we went super simple by adding these red and white striped and blue tablecloths to our tables. They added a splash of theme to the room, and made clean up time a breeze. Our snack was red and blue jello made in small clear cups with optional whipped cream to add the white into the mix. I was unsure about how the jello would go over with the 2s and 3s class, but I heard nothing but great feedback about the jello from the leaders.
We encouraged all the kids to come dressed in Red, White, and Blue, but since they are a younger group, we sent everyone home with a prize. We made these adorable cups of red, white, and blue playdough from this recipe. The only thing different was that we decided to add silver craft glitter to the white playdough to make it look a little more festive. We packaged them in these disposable portion cups. Each child went home with a cup of playdough and a star sucker.
This was one of those set designs where I started off unsure of how it would turn out or how I would make it "cool" enough for the kids. Once I really got into it, this set became one of my favorites and one of the cheapest set designs I've done in a long time. It required a lot of DIY projects, but it was totally worth it for the end result.
In the center of the stage, you can see some of the simpler stand-up cardboard stars we created. I used free cardboard sheets that I picked up from Sam's Club to create all of the cardboard stars seen in this set. Sam's Club uses sheets of cardboard to separate some of their food and paper products in the store. They don't mind you walking around the store picking up any stray pieces you see, and sometimes if you are lucky, they will have a stash of them in the back ready for you. The stars I wanted to make were too large to have a template to work off of so I simply used a ruler to create my own template. I cut out my first large star using an x-acto knife, then used that star as a template to trace and cut out the rest of the stars. I have no idea why it worked out so well, but the scrap pieces that were left were the perfect size to use as stands for the back of the stars. These stars were quite easy to spray paint since they were just plain red, navy, and white. The white one did require 2-3 coats to get a nice color. I finished them all off with a coat of craft glitter spray I picked up at Wal-mart. Once they were dry, I attached the stands to the backs of the stars using hot glue.
You can see some stars "falling from the sky" in the front of our set. We made simple star garland with several different sizes of stars using this template: Stars Template. We printed the template out on red, white, and blue cardstock, cut the stars out, punched single holes on two sides of each star, and strung them together using clear fishing line. All of the stars got a coat of spray craft glitter on both sides. On a side note, we actually managed to finish off the giant roll of fishing line we have been using for the last 2 years on this project.
On the front of all of the stage pieces and the keyboard you can see this super cute patriotic banner we made using this free printable I found on Pinterest and we strung it together using my favorite red and white baker's twine. We also used some leftover pieces of banner to make little flags by hot gluing them to dowel rods.
For the side stages, we used our more elaborate large stand-up cardboard stars. The red and white striped star was made by spraying it with two coats of white spray paint. Once both coats had dried, I used blue painters tape to make the stripes all over the star. Then I sprayed red spray paint all over the taped star. Do not remove the tape until the red paint has dried! Once your paint is dry, you should be able to easily remove all of the painter's tape without removing any of the white paint underneath.
The blue star with the small white stars was a bit messy to make (I may have had blue hands for a week), but totally worth it. I started with two coats of white spray paint for this star as well. Once the star was dry, I applied small white paper stars left over from the star garland all over the star using painter's tape on the back of the stars. It was impossible to get a good seal on the stars so I simply held them down with my other hand while I sprayed that portion of the star with the blue spray paint. Do not remove the stars until it is completely dry. It worked pretty well, but in retrospect I think star stickers would have been a better option if I'd had them available.
The Texas flag star may not be of interest to you unless you are from Texas and it was by far the hardest one to make, but it is also my favorite. It started with the two coats of white paint. Once the paint dried, I taped off half of the star with painter's tape. I placed a medium size paper star toward the top left of the star and spray painted that half of the star blue, leaving only the white star. Do not remove the star until it is completely dry. Once the blue paint was dry, I taped off the upper half and left side of the star so I could spray paint the bottom right corner of the star red. You can also see three smaller cardboard cutouts of stars in red, white, and blue attached to the trussing. I created a separate template for these stars and cut them out with an x-acto knife. All of the stars also received a generous coat of spray craft glitter. We decided to leaving our hanging superhero cardboard cut-out up from last month's set and simply attached a Captain America shield to it that we had lying around.
We found moving videos of the Texas State flag and the United States flag for the side banners. You can't see them too well in these pictures, but hanging around the room from the hooks in the ceiling are these awesome firecracker decorations we made.
Here are the original instructions for making the firecrackers: Firecraker instructions. I decide simplify a little more than these instructions, though. I used hot glue for everything except the gold star garland on the ends. I bought this pack of patriotic scrapbook paper to use for the outside of the firecrackers, and used left over red and blue cardstock for the tips of the rockets. Instead of using bendable wire and attaching garland to it, I bought this bendable gold garland with little stars, and simply wrapped it around two fingers to make it spiral at the end. I taped 3-4 spirals of garland to the inside of the end of each of the firecrackers using gorilla tape. I quickly learned that smaller pieces are better for this because if you use too much garland, it weighs down the firecrackers too much. I tied and hot-glued a string of clear fishing line to each firecracker for easy hanging. These were my favorite decorations I made for this set.
In the entryway to the Gen Kids room, we strung more of the patriotic banners and star garland. We also lined the TV with some blue streamers and star garland. Our info table featured more of the star garland (we made way too much of this), some blue streamers, and my favorite smaller cardboard cut-out star. This star was created the same way as the large red and white striped star, but after all of that was dry I taped off the center of the star and add blue spray paint to the side corners of the star. Of course, there was more spray craft glitter.
Gen Kids Service:
Aside from the usual service elements, we added two patriotic themed minute-to-win-it games, a costume contest, a themed lesson, and a fun snack for the kids to take home.
Our first game was the Watermelon Challenge. We had two teams of two kids play this game, but you could easily do more if you want. We played two rounds so each kid would have a chance to eat the watermelon. For each round, one kid from each team would have to try to eat the watermelon out of the other kid's hands using only their mouths. The team that eats the most watermelon between the two rounds wins.
The second game we played was called Human Candle. One kid from each team was chosen to play this game. We had planned on giving them fireballs to use for this game, but I couldn't find any at Wal-mart and had to settle for red hots. I think the fireballs would have been easier since they are bigger, but it was still a fun game. Each kid was given a bowl of red hots and a bucket was placed about 5 feet from each kid. They had one minute to try to spit as many red hots as they could into their team's bucket. The team with the most red hots in their bucket at the end of the game wins. You will definitely want to cover the stage with a tarp or some plastic tablecloth for a much easier clean up time.
I usually write all of my lessons for theme days to fit the theme of the day. The theme for this lesson was Light it up! We talked about three different things the Bible has to say about us lighting up the world, and I finished my lesson with a fun object lesson using sparklers. If you buy the metal rod sparklers they are mostly smokeless and approved for indoor use. I of course had a bucket of water handy just to be safe. Several of the kids were pretty freaked out when I lit up the first one and kept shouting "you can't do that, blow it out!" It definitely caught the kids' attentions and got the point across. Check out my full outline for the lesson here: Red White and Blue Lesson.
All of the kids who came dressed up in anything red, white, and blue received a package of blue or red pop rocks. We bring all the kids up on stage, get some cute group pictures, then vote to see who will win the grand prize. Our grand prize winner received this Fireworks Light Show gun you can use indoors to project fireworks on the wall.
As the kids were being picked up by their parents, they each received a patriotic Oreo treat. We simply dipped oreos in vanilla candy melts and sprinkled them with red or blue decoration sugar and red or blue pearl sprinkles. Even the leaders loved this fun themed snack.
If you would like to see the full version of our schedule for the day in Gen Kids you can check it out here: Red, White, and Blue Day Schedule. 4th of July may be over for this year, but I hope that these ideas can be helpful for you to use in years to come.
Do you ever go off-curriculum to do a special day themed around a holiday or other event? I would love to hear what you have done to make those days extra special.