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Picture This!

A do-it-yourself backyard Bible club your friends-and family-will love

Imagine neighborhood kids flocking to your door asking, "Can we play Bible?" Picture them begging to hear Bible stories then running gleefully home waving a photo, shouting, "Look, Mom! I'm in the Bible!" All of that—and more!—happened at our house when we held a backyard Bible club one summer.

The basic plan was simple: Invite elementary age neighborhood children over for a time of dressing up, pretending, and telling stories. After spreading the word to parents on our block, my children and I set to work deciding how to help our friends in the neighborhood have fun while discovering God's Word.

When the kids arrived the first day, we all sat down in the yard to explain what we'd be doing.

My kids and I had picked out several Bible stories that lent themselves to great visual moments—Esther pleading before King Xerxes, Lazarus rising from the grave, and of course, David's victory over Goliath. The idea was to get the kids excited about the stories of God's people. We told the neighborhood kids that we would spend the week discovering some terrific tales from the past that they would get to to re-enact. They couldn't wait.

Each day, we briefly described the characters in a Bible story and asked the kids to choose their parts. Then we let them go crazy creating simple costumes and props from the materials we provided. We even took pictures of the kids in dramatic poses from the story so they could see how great they looked.*

Once the kids saw their photos, we asked if they wanted to know the story. Seeing themselves as the stars - whether hero or villain - they were eager to hear more. In fact, the kids often refused to go home until we read the whole story! With their rapt attention, I read the story. We sent them home with a Polaroid picture of themselves and the Bible reference written on the bottom so they could look up "their" story with their families.

At the end of the first day, I gave each family the Kids' Devotional Bible (Zondervan) donated by a women's Bible study group which had heard about our project. I showed the children how to find the book, chapter, and verse for the story we had chosen. They learned eagerly, anxious to show the picture and story to their parents when they went home.

And that was it. Five days of playing, laughing, creating, and reading. I had hoped this homegrown "camp" would be a way to provide a fun outlet for the kids in our neighborhood, but even I was amazed at all the wonderful ways God worked throughout the week.

The children were enthusiastic and brought a great sense of adventure and excitement to the activities. Our family had a blast putting together a simple curriculum for the week. Best of all, the week prompted friendly conversations with neighbors with whom my previous contact had been limited to a smile on the way to the mailbox. One un-churched mom even came over to thank me for motivating her to get into the Bible.

I know you're thinking there's no way you could pull this off. But believe me, if you love God, can stand having children in your house, and can read at a third grade level, you can do this. I'm not the world's most disorganized person, but my family assures me my nomination would be seriously considered. I don't sew, barely cook, and burn myself on hot glue guns. So, if I can do this, most people can.

Just play, be friendly, and let the kids express their creativity, even if it gets messy. The goal is to have fun getting kids into the Bible while creating a memorable experience. So here you go, a no-brainer guide to a great week of discovery and fun.

Day 1

A Royal Scavenger Hunt (photo op:Esther 5:2; whole story:Esther 3:8-10:3)

Start with a scavenger hunt, walking from door to door together looking for materials.

Your list should include:

  • costume jewelry, faux gems, or rhinestones
  • crowns or materials to make two crowns (like sparkly pipe cleaners)
  • a scepter or materials to make one (a baton or gift wrap tube). Add modeling clay or Play Doh to the top and encrust it with glitter.)
  • a black cape and hood for the executioner
  • bright fabric, towels, even bed sheets that can be draped into capes, robes, or togas
  • a play axe or a piece of cardboard and duct tape to make one
  • a folding chair for the throne


King Xerxes Queen Esther Executioner Members of the royal court

Day 2

Great Grapes! (photo op:Numbers 13:23; whole story: Numbers 13:17-14:38)

You'll Need:

  • dish cloths, tablecloths, mop heads
  • an adult's T-shirt
  • several round purple balloons
  • safety pins
  • three sheets of green felt
  • hole punch
  • brown pipe cleaners
  • bobbie pins
  • broom


Spies: Have several kids dress like desert nomads (using the dish cloths, curtains, table cloths, mop heads for beards). These are the spies Moses sent to look for good land. The two who carry the "great grapes" are excited, proud, and happy because the grapes are a sign that they have found good land. At least one (and up to ten) are sullen, jealous, and angry because they are afraid to trust God.
Grapes: Have one child wear the T-shirt. Blow up the balloons and pin them all over the shirt. Cut leaf shapes out of three sheets of green felt. Overlap the tops of the leaves, where stem would be. Punch holes in the felt and tie leaves together with the pipe cleaners pushed up through holes. Twist to look like a stem. Bobbie pin leaves to the child's hair. You can opt to add tights with curled green pipe cleaners attached to look like tendrils.

The two happy spies carry a broom handle across the "grapes" to look like it takes two of them to carry them. The story ends with the believers being rewarded and the unbelievers struck dead. The boy playing the unbelieving spy at our house had great fun staging a dramatic death scene captured on film. Use your imagination!

Day 3

My Brother, the Mummy! (photo op and whole story:John 11:1-43)

You'll need:

  • several rolls of toilet paper
  • a roll of gauze or tape
  • tablecloths, sheets, bedspreads, dish towels
  • eyebrow pencil or eyeliner to make beards
  • garbage bags, one per child


JesusFriends and enemies of JesusTwo SistersLazarus: Have the child stand up, legs together, arms down. Help the other children wrap "Lazarus" until he/she looks like a mummy (make sure you leave space to breathe!) Wrap just enough gauze or tape around to hold TP in place.

This story in particular lends itself to a variety of fun "scenes." Let the children choose from this list (of course you can always do more than one!):

Scene One: Two sisters weeping at feet of their dead brother.

Scene Two: Jesus calling "Lazarus! Come out!" Onlookers express shock, disbelief, hope, confusion.

Scene Three: Stand the mummy up. Have onlookers imagine how they'd feel if they saw a dead person come out of a grave. Jesus' enemies are angry. Others are shocked or overjoyed to see their loved one alive again.

Scene Four: Jesus says, "Take off his grave clothes and let him go." Let the fun begin! Everybody tears off the TP with amazement and joy!

Clean-up hint: Give everyone a garbage bag. Race to see who can fill their bag first.

Days 4 & 5

The Giant Who Lost His Head & the Boy Who Brought Him Down (photo op:1 Samuel 17:51; whole story:1 Samuel 17:20-54)

Making the costume for a beheaded giant is a challenging construction project requiring teamwork and adult help, so you may want to start with the simpler project of David's costume. Most kids will be motivated by the challenge and eagerly work at it, wanting to have their picture taken as the giant. You can assign teams to different parts of the task to make it go faster, as long as there is enough supervision. Consider making Day 4 construction day and save the pictures and story for Day 5.


DavidGoliathSoldiers: Make shields, helmets, and swords with cardboard wrapped in aluminum foil or duct tape.

David's costume You'll need:

  • an old pillow case
  • a jump rope, cord, or rope
  • safety pins or Velcro buttons
  1. Cut open the top seam of the pillowcase to make an opening for your head.
  2. Cut away the top corner on one side. Cut it on a diagonal. Leave at least one inch between the neck opening and the open corner so that side doesn't fall down.
  3. Cut open seam from the remaining top corner going down about six inches (make enough room for one arm to go through).
  4. Pull pillowcase over head. Put one arm out the sleeve opening and the other out the cut-away opening.
  5. Tie jump rope, cord, or rope around waist.
  6. Use pins or Velcro buttons where needed to fit.

Goliath's costume You'll need:

  • large piece of cardboard (24" wide) and long enough to wrap around the child's shoulders (36" to 48") You can buy a roll of corrugated cardboard used for bulletin boards, or cut up a box.
  • two cardboard gift wrap tubes
  • men's long-sleeved dress shirt
  • paper, socks, or bubble wrap to stuff into shirt sleeves
  • newspapers
  • one necktie
  • a belt, long enough to buckle around the child's shoulders
  • duct tape
  • scissors
  • tape
  • yarn, string, shoe strings, or cord
  • red cloth
  • safety pins
  • paper clips

Making the Torso

  1. Cut a piece of cardboard to make the torso.
  2. Wrap cardboard around the child to make a tube that covers his face and body. Hold in place with large paper clips.
  3. Mark half-circles at each shoulder as a guide for cutting shoulder holes.
  4. Draw a circle in the front, large enough for the person's face to poke out. Make the bottom of this circle at least 3" from bottom of the tube.
  5. Take the torso tube off. Cut out the opening for the face. Cut slits into the half-circles so the tube can rest on the child's shoulders.
  6. Tape ends of the tube closed at the back.
  7. Mark an X on each side of the tube where the giant's arms would be.
  8. Cut along the X's and slide gift wrap tubes through the openings.
  9. Dress torso with the shirt. Button to the top.
  10. Stuff sleeves to look like arms, using socks, bubble wrap, crumpled tissue, etc.
  11. Secure red material inside collar opening.

Making the Skirt

  1. Lay out a section of newspaper, several pages thick.
  2. Lay necktie on the newspaper, tracing necktie shape four times on the newspaper. Repeat process until you have 16-20 necktie-shaped panels.
  3. Staple newspaper pages together at the top of each necktie shape.
  4. Cut out each necktie shape, cutting through all the pages.
  5. Fold newspaper panels over belt and staple newspaper to itself. Don't staple into the belt. You'll cover belt later.
  6. Slide each panel close to the next, leaving room at end to buckle the belt. Cover staples on both sides with tape. This protects kids from staples and keeps skirt panels together. The skirt should be able to slide on the belt.
  7. Cut out a strip of cardboard long enough to cover the belt. Make a buckle out of duct tape.

Add-Ons for Goliath

If you have the time and inclination, you can add shin guards (soccer or baseball guards work well; we used shiny cardboard laced with yarn), sandals, a sword, and a spear. We used corrugated silver cardboard over a broom handle to make a giant sword, using duct tape for the hilt. The spear was a mop handle with a tip made of duct tape and cardboard.

Assembling the Giant

  1. Have the child playing Goliath cross his arms over his chest, then buckle belt of skirt around shoulders (with hands inside belt).
  2. Put giant's torso on child's shoulders, and face through the head opening. Tuck shirt into the belt all around. Have child hold on from inside and help from outside to keep torso on.
  3. Wrap cardboard belt around top of skirt, below the chin and secure.
  4. Make an armored breastplate to go over torso. We used gold cupcake papers stapled to a grocery bag.
  5. Carefully lay the giant down on ground.
  6. Add shin guards, sandals, and other accessories.

Connie Neal, a mother of three, is the author of Walking Tall in Babylon (WaterBrook). She lives in California.

*Get permission from parents before taking photos

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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