It is very important that we don't make assumptions about the
children we are dealing with. This program may be the closest thing to
Sunday School or church that they have ever experienced. Remember, that
they don't have a wealth of background about the Bible or God. The
"Wilderness" Series is an attempt to introduce the children to the basic
message. We have dealt with a lot of topics but we need to start dealing
with some of the central ideas. We want the Zoo kids to come away having
some concept of who Jesus is and what he is like. It will be our goal to
present the lessons in very simple language avoiding typical Christian
lingo. If we are going to impact children we need to weigh our words
very carefully. We have to use language that is relevant to today's
listener and to our "non Christian society."
The lesson that we will be teaching is a two week package that
attempts to answer the question "Who is Jesus?".
- Week 1: Jesus is our friend
- Week 2: Jesus is our Saviour
Lesson One - Jesus is Our
This lesson will reinforce the idea that Jesus is a friend, not just
any friend but the perfect example of what a friend should be. Children
tend to think in very concrete terms relying heavily on their senses;
touch, taste, and sight. Since we can't see Jesus this lesson will
attempt to make Jesus tangible. Jesus will be put in terms that even the
smallest child can comprehend.
Jesus is always with us. He never leaves us. In this section the
children will learn that even when they are lost Jesus is right there
and He will not stop searching for us. He loves us through all
This is the time normally used to introduce the rules and the theme.
It can be done by a Wilderness character. He or she will dress in a
plaid woolly type shirt. We have selected "Rugged Rob" who just came in
from the woods!
The opening will be interrupted by a short commercial break. It has
come to our attention that there are some safety issues that need to be
addressed. The children must hear about the dangers that may be a threat
to them. One that was brought to our attention is taking candy from
strangers. We have a responsibility to explain to the kids that not
everyone who gives out candy is from the "Zoo". (This is particularly
relevant in the outdoor program.) We have chosen to deal with the topic
by introducing a new puppet character. The character is a puppet that we
already had and have dressed to look like a Forest Ranger. His name is
"Forest Ranger Russ". Ranger Russell can be used to make any
announcements not just safety.
Normally, at this point in the program the leader "Rugged Rob" will
open in prayer and there will be a short introductory puppet song. Try
selecting a song that deals with the lesson or fits the "Wilderness"
During the music time the children have a chance to use some of their
energy. Try to use upbeat, fun songs with lots of actions. If possible
it would be good to choose songs that go with the theme. This is an
effective way to create continuity in the program. It is also good to
use songs that the children know and introduce new songs gradually
rather than all at once.
This is a part of the Zoo program that is very important. If the
games are fun the children will want to stay for the rest of the
program. Select a few from each team to play the game. Although not all
children participate the games are usually entertaining for the others
to watch. We try to select games that have to do with our theme. This
involves a little creativity but can easily be done. The simplest way is
to take basic relays and adapt them. You'll see....
- Set up Camp
Select 4 children from each team. Each team will be given a knapsack
and camping gear (whatever you have will do) The first camper will pack
up all the gear and run back to the next player who will unpack all of
the stuff and set up camp. Then the knapsack will be given to the next
camper who will pack up. This will continue until each child on the team
- Rabbit Trap Race
Select 6 children from each team. Put them in partners side by side
and tie one leg of each partner to the other. Tell the children that
last week when you and your buddy went rabbit hunting you got your legs
caught in a rabbit snare. It wouldn't come off so you had to run all the
way home tied together. Have them line up and race.
Each week the children are given a memory verse to learn. We have
been trying to think of interesting ways to teach them the verse. In
this series the children will be participating in "The Zoo Ranger
School". Ranger Russell will be teaching the children verses that will
help them survive in the wilderness of life. If they can learn the
verses for all three weeks they will receive a certificate as graduates
of "The Zoo Ranger School". This will be given out with the candy on the
Ranger Russ has a code that the children must use to figure out the
verses. It is simply a picture drawn for every letter of the alphabet.
Using the key the children must figure out the letters and then learn
the verse. At some point during the teaching it is important to explain
to the children that these words come from the Bible. It is also
essential that the meaning of the verse be explained. There is no point
in teaching the children a sentence if they have no idea what it means.
This week's verse is " There is a friend who sticks closer than a
brother." Proverbs 18:24
This is also a very important part of the Zoo program. It gives the
children a chance to see what they have been learning through the use of
everyday items. It provides a concrete way to express what is being
The story is an important means of communication. Through history
people have used stories not only to relay information or to entertain
but also to teach. Dr. Charles A. Smith recognized this when he wrote;
"Childhood stories can be used to teach valuable lessons about life from
conquering fear to helping others." This secular author saw the value of
the story and so did our Lord. Jesus often taught his disciples and
followers using stories. For this reason we need to use this portion of
the program very effectively.
Parable of the Lost "Camper"
(This story is a take off of the Parable of the Lost Sheep found in
the gospel of Matthew. It has been adapted to fit the theme and to
relate to an inner city child that would have little concept of farm
The story will be told by a puppet character called "Back Pack Mac".
He is sort of a rugged woodsman type character. He is older and has seen
a lot of things happen over the years. While he is telling the story it
will be acted out by other puppets.
This story is written out to give the premise but should not be read
directly since the dialogue is somewhat canned. Please feel free to add
detail and create more character for Mac. Remember it is good to
translate your own ideas and character into the puppet. When he reflects
you he will have life!
Hi all you guys out there! My name is Back Pack Mac. I have been
livin in this here part of the woods for forty years and I have seen
plenty of excitement. I remember a good story to share with you. Listen
close. Back about two weeks ago there was a bunch of kids about your age
who wanted to go campin. They called up their favourite camp leader Dave
and off they went. There were about 100 kids in all.
They drove on busses to the summer camp. They brought all kinds of
equipment and hiked way back into these here woods. I was out huntin
that day and saw them all go by. Eventually they came to a spot to set
up their tents. They all began to unpack food and sleeping bags when
Franklin discovered that one of the campers had gone missin. It was Ann.
He ran to Dave and told him what happened. The other leader said, we
have enough kids here to look after we don't need to be out runnin after
one. But Dave was worried. He organized some campers to help him search.
Dave looked everywhere. He climbed trees to look for Ann. He looked
in caves. He searched all night. The others got tired and went back to
camp, but Dave never gave up. He walked through the swamp and through
prickly bushes but he kept on looking. Suddenly he heard a small cry and
looked behind a small pine tree. There was Ann. She had her foot stuck
in a hole and couldn't get out. She was cold and crying. Dave managed to
get her foot out and picked her up. He carried her back to camp and they
all had a big party.
Now what do you think about that? Dave was a good friend and he
thought Ann was very important. Did you know that Jesus is even a better
friend than Dave. Hard to believe, eh? Well it is true. Jesus is
perfect. He is the perfect friend and he is always with you. He is right
there beside you all the time. All you have to do is talk to him by
praying and ask him to stay with you.
Copyright 1996, Bread of Life Ministries