Wednesday, February 4, 2009



I have been sharing teaching ideas with children's ministers through my monthly Newsletters and on my 'Blog' sites since 2002. In these 'Special Blogs', I have grouped together some of my ideas into some of the major Biblical teaching areas. In this way it is hoped that readers will be able to go directly to a particular subject to view some ideas - object lessons, teaching tips, stories etc., or even to prepare a complete children's lesson (or lessons) on that subject.

Maurice Sweetsur
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Contents - All 'Special Blogs'.

1. Creation.
2. Christmas.
3. Easter.
4. The Bible.
5. Prayer.
6. Hearing from God.
7. The Ten Commandments.
8. John 3.16.
9. Teaching Memory verses.
10. Gospel Illusions.
11. Object Lessons (using natural laws).
12. Lessons involving balloons.
13. Lessons involving fire.

Other Blog sites from Maurice Sweetsur :-

Children's ministry -
All teaching material (All Newsletters) -
Object lessons / Illusions -
Bible lessons and Teaching tips -
Stories, skits and puppet plays -
Bible answers for kids -
Kidzone (Children's site) -
Kidzone - Archives. -
To find out more about my ministry to children, go to my main 'Blog' -

Contents (Easter).

Teaching tip - Jesus Understands.
Object Lesson - What happened at the cross? - Jesus takes away our sins.
Object Lesson - The meaning of the cross.
Object Lesson - The resurrection of Christ.
Object Lesson - Our sins are gone forever (Flashpaper).
Object Lesson - Jesus is the light of the world.
Puppet play - "What is Easter all about?"
Story - "Hank"
Elimination Quiz - Easter.
Game - The forgiveness game.
Craft - Making a 'fun' Easter card.

T.T. - Jesus Understands.

The following lesson has been around for a number of years in slightly different forms. I have, however, always found it very effective in ministering God's love to children. Therefore, I will share it here for the benefit of those to whom it is new.

Every child will experience difficult or stressful situations at some time as they are growing up. However you can use the Easter story to show them that Jesus also had to go through many tough situations, especially at the end of his earthly life. In fact, because many of these were similar to those we may go through, He now understands how we feel at these difficult times. It is therefore a great comfort to know that when we share these hard situations with him in prayer, He understands exactly how we feel.

There are a number of circumstances Jesus faced that we could talk about, but I usually choose seven and write their titles out on cards. I then show the cards at the appropriate times as I tell the Easter story. Also, as you are telling the story, It is also a good idea to share a few personal examples of tough situations from your own childhood.

1. Being different.

As Jesus was growing up, he must have realised that that he was different from other children of his age - even though he may not have known exactly what his purpose on earth was while he was very young. But imagine how he felt when he found out that his purpose for being on this planet was to die for the sins of others!

"It is never easy being different. Perhaps some of you here today think you are different from other children. For example, you may feel bad because you think you are too tall, short, fat, thin - - - - , or wear glasses, teeth braces etc. Perhaps you feel different because you don't like most of the things the other children seem to enjoy? If you feel different, remember Jesus Understands, because he was also different."

2. Being let down.

Jesus was let down (or betrayed) by his friend Judas who sold him over to the religious leaders for thirty silver coins.

"I am sure some of you have been let down sometimes. Perhaps someone has promised to give you something, take you somewhere, or do something with you - but they didn't keep their promise. Or perhaps you have shared a secret with a friend - and then he/she has gone and told everyone in your class about it! It is never pleasant to be let down, but remember Jesus Understands, because he was let down in a big way by Judas - and by all his other friends who ran away when he was arrested."

3. Being unfairly blamed.

At his trial, Jesus was blamed for doing things that he was innocent of.

"Perhaps something has happened at school or home, and you have got the blame for it, even though you were not guilty. It makes us feel very bad if we get the blame for something we haven't done. If this has ever happened to you, please remember that Jesus Understands how you feel, because he also was blamed for things he didn't do."

4. Being teased.

Jesus was handed over to the Roman soldiers, and they beat him and mocked (or teased) him greatly.

"It is never nice to be teased. Maybe some of you have been teased, perhaps by being called nasty names - and that does really hurt people on the inside. There is an old saying 'Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.' That is not true! Calling someone a nasty name could hurt them far worse, and for far longer, than hitting them with a stick or stone. If you are hurting on the inside because someone has called you names, remember Jesus Understands because he was also teased horribly."

5. Being left out.

Pilate wanted to release Jesus, so he brought out a murderer called Barabbas. He gave the crowd a choice of freeing either Jesus or Barabbas. And the crowd chose _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Barabbas! Imagine that. A murderer was chosen, and Jesus was left out.

"It is never nice to be left out of something. Perhaps you wanted to join in someone's game, but they wouldn't let you. Or maybe you were hoping to be chosen for a team, but you weren't picked. Or maybe there was a special task to be done at home or at school. You were sure you would do a good job if asked, but someone else was picked instead. It makes us feel bad on the inside when these things happen, but remember Jesus Understands. The crowd chose a murderer instead of him."

6. Being lonely.

On the cross, Jesus was completely alone. His friends had deserted him, and even his Heavenly Father had abandoned him because He couldn't stand to look on sin.

"Perhaps some of you are lonely at times. It could be because you haven't any really good friends, or no brothers or sisters to play with? Being lonely makes you sad, but remember if you ever feel lonely, Jesus Understands. At the very time it seemed he needed his friends the most, he was completely on his own."

7. Being without a father.

The Bible records that Jesus' mother, Mary, was at the cross witnessing his horrible death, but it doesn't mention his 'earthly father' Joseph. It is thought that Joseph probably died while Jesus was still a child. Therefore, Jesus probably grew up without a father.

"Perhaps some of you don't have a father. Or maybe you don't have a mother. It could be that someone doesn't have a father or a mother. In these days many families break up, often leaving children with only one parent living at home. And this can often be a very tough situation. But remember, if you have only one parent at home, Jesus Understands what it is like for you, because he also probably grew up with only one parent."


"If you have identified with any of these seven situations, why don't you take a few seconds right now to tell Jesus about it. Remember, He understands exactly how you feel because he has gone through similar situations himself. If you are feeling hurt or upset, ask Jesus to take it all away and replace it with his love, joy and peace."

Concluding Prayer. "Lord Jesus, I thank you that you know everything about each child here today. You know those who feel different from others, those who have been let down, those who have been unfairly blamed, teased or left out. You know about those who are lonely, and those who only have one parent. I thank you that because of what you had to endure at the end of your own earthly life, you know exactly how each child feels. So I ask you to take away every sorrow, hurt and pain, and replace them with your love, joy and peace. Amen."

O.L. - What happened at the cross? - Jesus takes away our sins.

For this object lesson you will need two chemicals - Potassium Permanganate and Sodium Metabisulphite. ( These are both solids and can be obtained from Chemical suppliers ), a large glass jar, four smaller glasses, and two sticks tied together to form a cross. One of the sticks needs to be hollow at one end ( A bamboo cane is ideal ). The hollow end will form the bottom of your cross.

Preparation. Wrap 2 or 3 grams of Sodium Metabisulphite in a paper tissue and secure it with a small rubber band. Insert the package into the bottom of your cross. Push it down so that it is out of sight.

Dissolve a few grains of Potassium Permanganate in about 250 mls. water (or, alternatively Iodine solution can be used instead). This will produce a maroon coloured liquid to represent "sin."

Half fill your large jar with water. Fill one glass with your Potassium Permanganate solution. Half fill the other three glasses with water, and mark them "Good works", "Church" and "Money" - or, any suitable alternatives which some people think will solve our "sin" problem.

Presentation. This can vary depending on your preferences and the children you are ministering to, but I usually proceed ( often after presenting the "What is Easter all about?" puppet play) along the following lines :-

Hold up the large jar. In the beginning God created a perfect world, and the best thing He made was people. He made them rather like this glass of water - clean on the outside (representing our bodies), and clean on the inside (representing our hearts or spirits).

However, the first people disobeyed God, and this act brought sin into the world and spoiled it all. Pour in about half of the "sin" solution. The jar contents should now be a fairly deep maroon colour. So this now is the problem we are all born with - sin or selfishness on the inside (you could give a few examples here).

Down through the years, some people have realised they have a selfishness problem, and have tried many ways to overcome it. Some have thought the answer may be Good Works. Pour in the "Good works" jar. God does want us to be good to each other but, as you see, that doesn't solve our "sin" problem. Some have thought the answer was going to church. Pour in the "Church" jar. It is an excellent idea to go to church, and by doing so you will probably find the answer to your problem. But, as you see, going to Church in itself is not the answer. Some have thought "If I gave half my money away to the poor, surely God will be really pleased with me and take away my sin." Pour in the "Money" jar. God does want us to be generous, especially to those who don't have as much as we do but, as you see, that still doesn't change us on the inside.

Actually, no matter what we try, it is impossible to change ourselves. But the good news of Easter is that what we can't do for ourselves, God has already done for us. It was on the cross that Jesus died in our place to take away our sins. Pick up your cross and place it in the jar. If you have got your concentrations right, the maroon solution will become clear within a few seconds. If not, gentle stirring with the cross should produce the desired effect.

Conclude the illustration as you think appropriate, but I usually proceed as follows :- Some of you may be thinking "I once did put my trust in Jesus and what He did on the cross, but then I did something bad (e.g. shouted at my dad, was cheeky to my mum, had a fight with my brother etc. ). Does that mean that I have become dirty on the inside again? Lets see shall we. Remove the cross from your jar, then pick up the remaining Potassium Permanganate solution and pour a little at a time into it - repeating the "sins" just mentioned (e.g. being cheeky to your mum). The maroon colour should vanish on making contact with the solution in the jar. Now please don't misunderstand me. If you do something wrong, you need to ask God to forgive you. But, as you can see, once you have put your trust in Jesus and He has taken away your sin, you stay clean on the inside. Now that is the Good News we remember at Easter.

O.L. - The meaning of the cross.

For this close-up illustration you will need a little coloured water, a saucer, a short candle, a glass, a coin and matches.

Presentation. Tell the children that you are going to explain to them what happened at the cross of Jesus.

State - that the coin represents you or me - place it in the saucer, towards the edge.
- that the coloured water represents our sins - pour it into the saucer until the coin is submerged.
- that the candle represents Jesus - stand it at the centre of the saucer, and light it.
- that the flame represents the life of Christ.

Tell the children to watch carefully, as you take the glass and place it over the lighted candle. Within a few seconds, the flame will consume all the oxygen in the glass and be extinguished. However, it will have created a vacuum which, in turn, will draw the water up inside the glass (thus surrounding the candle) and leave the coin dry.

Recap that on the cross, Jesus gave up His life (the flame went out) so that he could take our sins on Himself, and we could go free.

O.L. - The resurrection of Christ.

Here is a close up object lesson on the resurrection that is certain to amaze your class.

Preparation. You will need a large coin, a clear glass, and a piece of thin clear latex or rubber, large enough to cover the top of the glass. (I have found that Qualatex 'Diamond clear' balloons are a good and inexpensive source of this). Stretch the rubber in all directions, hold the coin on your finger and press it on the underside of the rubber. When you cease stretching, you will find - with practice - that the rubber will wrap itself a little way under the coin as well as covering the top. The coin will thus appear to be on top of the rubber sheet (actually it is underneath) because the rubber has been stretched so much that it will be almost invisible. Finally, place the rubber and coin on the top of your glass, and secure with an elastic band.

Presentation. Talk about the resurrection, how Jesus came right out of the tomb, while the stone was still in place. (Alternatively, you can talk about how the resurrected Christ was able to 'appear' in locked rooms, without making a big hole in the door or wall!).

Produce your glass, with rubber and coin in place. Ask for a volunteer. State that he/she is now going to push the coin right through the rubber sheet without making a hole, or even a tear, in it. Get your volunteer to push the coin firmly downwards with their finger. The coin will fall into the glass, leaving the rubber sheet intact.

O.L. - Our sins are gone forever (Flashpaper).

This is an illusion that you can use to illustrate any teaching on forgiveness. I have used it many times, and it is always very effective. You will need a piece of "flashpaper". This looks like ordinary paper, but it is made from special chemicals so that when it is set alight it produces only a colourless gas, and no residue (char) whatsoever. i.e. it "disappears". Flashpaper can be obtained from Christian stores that sell gospel illusions such as or It can be cut to any size, but I usually use a piece about 8cm. x 6cm.

Application. "I have a white piece of paper here. In the Bible the colour 'white' stands for cleanness or purity. This is how God first made people, and this is how He wants us to be today - clean and pure on the inside. But when we do wrong things, it dirties us up on the inside and spoils our relationship with God. What are some of the wrong things that you might have done - either at school or at home?" There is usually a good response to this. Interestingly children usually think firstly of the "physical" things such as fighting, hitting, punching, kicking etc. Then lying, stealing, swearing and disobeying may be cited. Wrongs like greed, selfishness, envy and jealousy are hardly ever mentioned! As different children mention the various wrongs, write the first letter of that 'wrong' with a black marker onto your flashpaper. As you do so, talk about God's attitude to that particular 'wrong'.

When you have about 5 or 6 letters on the flashpaper say "We could continue (give a few more examples) but the paper is nearly full. Now, watch carefully what I do next - because this is a picture of what happens to all these wrongs the moment we say 'sorry' to Jesus for them (and really mean it)." Take a match, light the paper and throw it into the air. It will take about two seconds to be burnt completely - and no trace of it will remain.

"Where has it gone? It is gone and gone forever. It can never come back again. In fact, it is as though it wasn't even here in the first place. Because Jesus has already paid the penalty for your wrongs on the cross, that is exactly what he does with them the moment you admit to them and say you are sorry. It is now as though you never even did them in the first place, And that is good news indeed."

O.L. - Jesus is the light of the world.

You should be able to obtain some "trick" birthday cake candles - i.e. the ones that appear to be extinguished when they are blown, but after a few seconds flame up again.

With one of these candles you can summarise the history of the church. For example :-

Jesus came as the light of the world (lite candle), but Satan used wicked men to try and put out this light by crucifying Him (blow out). However on the third day He came alive again (flame rekindled). Jesus has now passed this light on to the church. Over the centuries Satan has continued trying to put out this light by persecuting the church. At times he seemed to have succeeded (blow out), but each time this light returned brighter than ever (rekindle).

Puppet play - "What is Easter all about?"

You will need three “people” puppets, one “animal” puppet ( I use a sheep), a piece of plain paper, and a pair of scissors.


HOST. Today, we are going to ask the question “ What is Easter all about? “, but firstly let me introduce you to my panel of guests. Representing the younger generation is Miss Know it all.

MISS KNOW IT ALL.. Thank you for inviting me back on your show. Just ask me the question, and I will give you the answer, because I know everything.

HOST. Secondly, representing the older generation, is Mr Don’t know a lot.

MR. DON’T KNOW A LOT. Although my name is Mr. Don’t Know a lot, I know heaps and heaps of things, so all you need to do is ask me the question.

HOST. Finally, representing the animal kingdom, is Shaun the sheep. Say “hello” Shaun.

SHAUN. Baa. Baa.

HOST. Thank you Shaun. If we have time, I will ask Shaun his opinion, but I don’t really think he will be much help at all. Today’s question is “What is Easter all about?” and I happen to know the answer myself. Easter is all about HOLIDAYS. Everybody I know go on holiday at Easter, so that is the answer – holidays. However, just in case there are any other opinions, I will ask my guests the question. Miss Know it all, do you know what Easter is all about?

MISS KNOW IT ALL. I certainly do. Easter is not about holidays. Easter is all about BUNNIES. Everyone knows that Easter is the time that all the bunny rabbits come out.

HOST. Thank you Miss Know it all. That was certainly a very “interesting” answer. Now, Mr. Don’t know a lot, do you know what Easter is all about?

MR. DON’T KNOW A LOT. It’s certainly not about Holidays or Bunnies! No, Easter is all about
EGGS. There are ordinary chicken’s eggs, but the ones I like best are those Cadbury Cream eggs. They are so delicious. I have heaps and heaps of them at Easter time. So that is your answer – Eggs.

HOST. Thank you Mr. Don’t Know a lot. You certainly lived up to your name! Now Shaun, have you any idea at all what Easter is all about?

SHAUN. Baa. Baa. Baa.

HOST. Come on Shaun. Don’t be shy. Give us your answer.

SHAUN .Baa. Baa. I need a volunteer to help me.

SELF. (Holding up your hand). I will be your volunteer Shaun. What would you like me to do?
SHAUN. Take that piece of paper and fold over the top right corner.

SELF. (Folding the top right corner so that it meets the left edge). I have done that Shaun, what next?

SHAUN. Take the top left corner and fold it over.

SELF. (Folding as before so that the top left corner meets the right edge to produce a “house” shape). Oh I see it now Shaun, Easter is about spending time at home with your families!

SHAUN. Now fold the paper down the middle.

SELF. (Folding as directed, to produce an “aeroplane” shape). Oh yes, now I understand. Mr. Host was right all the time. Easter is all about going off on holiday on an aeroplane!

SHAUN. Now cut a strip off the paper, next to the longest edge.

SELF. On no, Shaun, that would spoil my aeroplane.

SHAUN. Just do as you’re told Mr. (name), and cut a strip off the paper.

SELF. Don’t you talk to me like that you silly sheep. I will put you back in your sheep pen, if you are not careful.

SHAUN. Just cut a strip off the paper.

SELF. Oh alright – though I am sure this is going to spoil my aeroplane. (Cut about a 1 cm. strip parallel to the longest edge). I have done that Shaun, what next?

SHAUN. Open the paper up.

SELF. (Opening up the paper to reveal a cross). I think Shaun has given us the right answer. Easter is all about a cross. But not a paper cross. It’s about a wooden cross on which Jesus Christ, God’s Son, died to take away our sins.

Story - "Hank".


You will need a white cloth handkerchief, folded to one sixteenth its full size - i.e. about 10 cm. square, a bottle of iodine, and two drinking glasses, marked "Good deeds" and "Jesus" respectively. In the "Good deeds" glass, add water, in the "Jesus" glass, add either a solution of sodium metabisulphite, or a colourless bleach.


I want to tell you a story about a boy named "Hank". (Show the folded handkerchief). Hank was a typical boy, and liked doing things that other boys like going to school. "Who likes going to school?", doing his homework. "Who likes doing their homework?", and playing games. "Who likes playing games?"

But, just like a lot of boys (and girls), Hank sometimes did some naughty things. "Have you ever done any naughty things?"

One afternoon, Hank came home from school to find that his mother had made a big pile of his favourite cakes. His mum said "Hank, don't you dare touch those cakes. We are all going to share them together for tea. I am going out to the shops now, but don't you eat any of those cakes while I am away."

Hank was left alone in the kitchen with his favourite cakes. And that is when he made his first mistake. Instead of going to a different room where he wouldn't be tempted, he remained in the kitchen - looking at, and thinking about those delicious cakes. Eventually the temptation was too great for Hank, and he ate a cake - - - - and then another, and another, and another - - - until they were all gone!

When we do wrong things, like stealing, it spoils our relationship with God, and makes us dirty on the inside. (Put the handkerchief over the top of your iodine bottle, and invert it - leaving a brown stain).

When Hank's mum came home, and found that the cakes had been eaten, she said to Hank. "Hank, I told you not to eat those cakes." But hank replied, "It wasn't me mummy, I didn't eat the cakes." Hank lied (Make a second stain on your handkerchief). Then Hank continued "It was my brother that ate the cakes." Hank tried to put the blame on someone else (Make your third stain). When Hank's brother found out what he had been saying about him, they ended up having a fight. (Make your fourth stain).

Eventually, Hank realised all the wrong things he had been doing, and that this was making him dirty on the inside. So this is how Hank now saw himself. (Hold up the handkerchief with the four stains). "But how did God see Hank? Because this is what is really important. This is how God saw Hank. (Completely unfold the handkerchief to show all the stains - 64 of them, all equally intense). God not only saw the wrong things that Hank had just done, He also saw all the wrong things Hank had ever done - because Hank had never been forgiven, and these stains (what the Bible calls sin) were still spoiling Hank's life.

Hank had a friend who told him that to be forgiven and get cleaned up on the inside, he had to do lots of Good deeds. So hank did. (Put the handkerchief in the "Good deeds" glass, and mix it around). Firstly, Hank said sorry to his mum for stealing the cakes, and then lying about it. And to prove he really was sorry, he washed the dinner dishes for her - without being asked. Then Hank apologised to his brother, and tidied up his room for him, to show he really meant it. Afterwards, Hank cat the lawn for his Dad, and even began to share his sweets with his friends. Did all these good deeds clean Hank up on the inside? (Remove the handkerchief from the glass). No. They were still there. In fact, the stains now seem to have all run together.

Fortunately, Hank had another friend who told him how he really could be forgiven and cleansed. He said "Hank, Jesus is the only one who can forgive you, and make you clean." So Hank told Jesus what he had done, and asked for His forgiveness and cleansing. (Put the handkerchief in the "Jesus" glass). Did this clean up Hank? (Remove the handkerchief, showing that all the stains had been removed). Yes. Jesus is the only one who can forgive our wrongs, and clean us up on the inside.

Hank said "This is good news. It is too good to keep to myself. I have some friends who also do wrong things. I will have to tell them about Jesus." So he did. (Put the handkerchief in the now brown coloured "Good deeds" glass, and give it a mix. Remove the handkerchief, showing that both it, and the solution are completely clean.)


What a good end to our story. Not only did Jesus clean up Hank, He did the same for his friends as well. And Jesus can do the same for you.

Elimination quiz - Easter.

If a child chooses the wrong answer, they are eliminated. If they choose the right answer, they stay in. Continue until you are left with a few 'winners'.

1. Which disciple betrayed Jesus? A. Peter. B. Judas.
2. Which garden was Jesus praying in when he was arrested? A. Eden. B. Gethsemane.
3. When the guards came to arrest Jesus. A. Jesus tried to resist them. B. He willingly let them take him.
4. Who denied knowing Jesus three times? A. Peter. B. Thomas.
5. Did Pilate find that Jesus had done anything wrong? A. Yes. B. No.
6. Who did Pilate release instead of Jesus? A. Barabbas. B. Lazarus.
7. How many criminals were crucified alongside Jesus? A. Two. B. Three.
8. On what day of the week was Jesus crucified? A. Thursday. B. Friday.
9. Jesus died on the cross because A. He chose to die. B. His enemies were too powerful for him.
10. When Jesus died it was A. To take on Himself the punishment we deserved for our sins. B. To set us a good example of how we should endure punishment.
11. Only Jesus could have died for us because A. He was a miracle worker. B. He was both perfect man and God in one Person.
12. The purpose of Jesus' death was A. To show us that some people could obtain life after death if they were good enough. B. To save us from our sins, now and forever.
13. What did Jesus ask his Father to do about those who were crucifying him? A. Take revenge. B. Forgive them.
14. God abandoned Jesus when he was on the cross because A. God couldn't stand to look on sin. B. God didn't really care what was happening.
15. Jesus cried out "It is finished" because A. He was totally exhausted and on the point of death. B. The work the Father had sent him to do was now complete.
16. On what day of the week did Jesus rise from the dead? A. Sunday. B. Monday.
17. What does the resurrection of Jesus mean to us today? A. Jesus is alive and is able to give us all the power we need to live lives pleasing to God. B. A happy ending to what would have been a sad story.
18. After Jesus rose from the dead A. No one saw him again. B. He appeared to people at least eleven times.
19. Before Jesus returned to heaven, he promised to send someone to help us through life. Was it A. Angels. B. The Holy Spirit.
20. When Jesus returns to earth again, it will be A. As a baby, born in Bethlehem again. B. In the clouds with his mighty Angels.

Game - The Forgiveness game.

Here is a good game to use with any teaching concerning God's desire to forgive our sins.

This is based on the popular game 'Simon says' (You give out instructions to the children prefaced by "Simon says". For example, Simon says - - - stand up - - - jump - - - - stop jumping - - - - put your hands on your head - - - - etc. etc. However, if you give out an instruction without prefacing it with "Simon says" and the child carries it out, he/she is eliminated).

When I play this game, I use 'Jesus says' rather than 'Simon says'. I explain to the children that if they do something wrong and are thus eliminated, I will put a X on the back of their hands. They then have to remember what it was that they did wrong. Begin the game. After a few children have been eliminated, suspend the game and ask the 'eliminated' ones what they did wrong. If they remember and confess their 'wrongdoing', rub off their X and allow them to rejoin the game. (Those that don't confess their 'wrongdoing' remain out of the game). Explain that in much the same way, if we confess our wrongdoing to God, he will always forgive us, wipe out our sin, and give us a fresh start. Continue the game in the same way for as long as you wish.

Craft - Making a 'fun' Easter card.

Get your children to make 'fun' Easter (or Christmas) cards. These are quite easy to make, and all they will need is a sheet of A4 paper, a pair of scissors and some crayons.

I will first describe the finished card, and then tell you how to lead your children in making them. Written on the front are the words "Guess What?" in large coloured letters. On the back are the words "To _______ " and "From ________" , again in large coloured letters, but leaving enough space for the children to write a personal message if they wish to do so. When the card is opened, it shows the face of an animal or bird with a large mouth or beak at the centre. As you partially open and close the card, the mouth or beak will close and open in three dimensions, displaying your Easter message in the centre of the mouth, e.g. "He is Risen" or "Happy Easter".

Note. When the card is fully closed, the mouth will be fully open. When the card is fully open, the mouth will be fully closed.

Instructions. I get my children to follow me step by step as I make a sample card. Most of the older ones manage this fairly well, though some younger children may need personal help.

Take your blank paper and fold it lengthwise. About 3 ins. from the top of the folded paper make a single straight cut about 2 ins. long (cutting from the folded edge). This will be the basis for the animal's mouth. From this cut, fold the paper upwards, making a good crease as you do so. In a similar way, fold the paper downwards from the cut. Experience will show you how far up and down to fold the paper, as this will determine the size of the animal's mouth. You should now have a 'V' shape.

Next, unfold the mouth and open up the paper back to it's original A4 size. Fold the paper down from top to bottom and then from side to side. You will now have your basic card shape. Write "Guess What" on the front, and "To ______" and "From ______" on the back. These will eventually be coloured in, but I usually leave this part until the end when I am also colouring in the animal's face.

Next, the 'tricky' part. This sounds a little complicated, but it is really quite easy to do with a little practice. Open up the card to display the animal's mouth. Place your middle finger inside the upper mouth and hold it there. Place your thumb and first finger on each side of the upper mouth and squeeze the card, which will obviously begin to close. Just before the card is completely closed, remove your thumb and fingers and complete the closing by pressing firmly on both the front and back of the card. When you now open and close the card, the upper mouth should automatically close and open. Repeat the whole procedure for the lower mouth.

Next, partially open the mouth and mark the centre with a pencil dot. This will enable you to centre the Easter message, which is only revealed as the mouth is opening. Fully open up your card back to the A4 size and write your message, centred around the pencil dot.

Finally complete the drawing and colouring of the animal's or bird's face, centred around the mouth. This is where the children can use their own imagination. I was once given a beautiful card made like this, but showing an Angel (complete with wings and halo!) instead of an animal or bird.