The "X" Eyes

In keeping with our current church teaching theme of Acts, we had an Acts curriculum at summer camp last week as well.  Of course, there are good things and bad things about that.  The positive is that the kids are really learning some exciting new stories - and hopefully learning them well.  The negative can be that some of the stories in Acts present some rather violent and hard-to-explain scenarios to the kids.

Last week, for example, was a veritable plethora of death stories for the campers.  Well, only two days of the five were death stories, but we covered three people on those days.  We had both Ananias and Sapphira on Tuesday, who of course both dropped dead after they lied to Peter (and more importantly, God).   Then on Wednesday we had Stephen, who of course was stoned.   

Naturally, as my friend Mandy and I were teaching these stories to our precampers (ages 3 - 6), we're stressing that these are rather isolated stories in the Bible, and perhaps God was just trying to let the new church know how serious the situation was, and of course God doesn't strike us down when we lie.  I'm sure they in some way  they got that explanation, and perhaps were able to process it, but I also am positive that they really got the "X eyes".    You see, while I was telling the story of these three individuals, I was drawing it out on the white board, and when Ananias and then Sapphira fell down dead, I drew them in a lying-down position with "x" eyes to show they were dead. 

Kind of like this:
Now, the way I knew that they were into the X Eyes is when we did our activity after the story.  I had found some blank chipboard heads at the store,  and every day were were making people out of them to show the people we had studied that day.  Monday we did Peter, and I glued two faces together to make it dual-sided.  We did one sad/unhappy face on one side to signify Peter when he denied Jesus, and the other side was the brave, Holy Spirit-empowered Peter.  Then we flipped them back and forth several times.  "Sad Peter/Brave Peter", we would say.

I had decided not to make Ananias and Sapphira two-sided, but as soon as they made the "regular" faces, one of them turned their face right over.  "I'm going to make dead Ananias on the back," he said, and proceeded to add a drawn X Eye face to both members of the unfortunate couple.  "Alive Ananias/Dead Ananias", he began to chant happily, flipping the face back and forth.

Of course, it only got worse with Stephen.  Again, I didn't make the faces dual-sided, but only planned for them to make Stephen happy, or perhaps neutral or even determined.  Unfortunately, they all drew Stephen sad and crying, and then flipped his head right over.  But today it was different:  "This is my daddy," one of them said.  "He's dead."  (scritch-scratch, adding Xs on daddy's face.) 

Sigh.  It was then that I knew if was time to move to some more positive, non-death-related Bible material. 

The good news is that the next day were Cornelius and the Ethiopian Eunuch (and don't even begin to think that I went into that subject, although I'm quite confident that some form of explanation would have swiped the X Eye Fascination right out of their heads).  The final day was Paul, and we even had two sides for "Angry Paul" and "Happy Paul".

The bad news is that they were so tired and weary of each other by that point that I'm not sure they retained any of those stories at all.   On Thursday we mainly gave a quick story rendition, did a quick activity, and headed for the playground.  On Friday, two out of the three of them missed the Paul lesson altogether because they were coughing and sick.

So, I'm guessing that the X Eyes and the stories behind them are probably living large in their camp memories for 2010.

And for that I'm sure their parents - and future Bible teachers - are very grateful.

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