There is a certain species characterized most easily by its amazing ability to talk constantly about a wide variety of subjects: everything from Broadway musicals to soccer to video games.

Its common name is the Fourth Grade Girl.

The girls I get to spend time with each week are no different. When they come on Sunday morning, the incessant chatter can quickly become overwhelming. The sheer volume of information coming my way can make my head spin. Don’t get me wrong—I love that they are so eager to share with me but when it’s time to start group, getting them to focus on a topic can be a little difficult.

That’s when the activities I am given each week become a lifesaver. Not only can they help to steer their focus to the piece of God’s story we are talking about that week or that month, but they can also open the door for conversations about issues specific to our group.

Last week we were supposed to start group by playing rock, paper, scissors. The purpose was for the winner of each round to say something that is important to God. But, as is the case with many groups, I find that I have more chiefs than Indians and as they all started to file in that morning, it quickly became apparent that rock, paper, scissors was not on their agenda.

Several of the girls began to tell me about a new game they learned and soon they all wanted to play this new game instead. They proceeded to get up and start showing me how to play the game. After a few confusing minutes, I managed to sit them down and explain why and how we were going to play rock, paper, scissors.

I noticed that a few of my girls were still trying to lead us in another direction, or, more appropriately stated, trying to lead us in their direction. So, I used this time talk with them about our little chief problem.

I have been reading “Love Works” by Joel Mambey and in the chapter I read that week Joel pointed out, in order to be a great leader you have to listen to the people around you, instead of merely directing people to follow what you want them to do.

This really hit home with several of my girls and they started listening to me. Although the activity was meant to prepare us for the story we were about to hear, it also provided the perfect opportunity for us to talk about a specific issue to our group!

What are some ways you have been able to use the activities you are given to refocus or teach invaluable life lessons to your elementary group?

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