For our second annual Saints Festival at my church, I used as the theme “Fishers of Men.” The children dressed in costumes as a saint or biblical figure. We then had a costume parade into the hall where they stood on stage in front of their parents and other parishioners. The children were asked to share at least one fact about their saint or biblical figure.
We then had lunch. (One of the items served was goldfish crackers.) I found fish napkins and decorations at a party store so the hall was decorated with a fish theme. After lunch, one of our parishioners dressed in costume and told them the story of Christ and the fishermen and explained its significance. She then taught them the Troparion for “the fishermen most wise.”
Most blessed art Thou, O Christ our God,
Who when thou hast made the fishermen most wise,
Did send down upon them the Holy Spirit,
And by them didst draw the world into thy net,
O Lord of mercy, Glory to thee.
After singing, we did a craft. I found a kit at Michael’s craft store to go along with the theme. The kit contained everything you needed to make 30 foam fish, including self-adhesive stickers and glitter pens. It was on sale for only $4.99. This worked well for children of all ages. After decorating their fish, they attached a magnet to the back and had a nice favor to take home.
After that, they played games. I created a fishing game by cutting fish shapes out of card stock. (I attached a magnet to each fish where the mouth would be.) I put the fish in a large plastic tub. I then made fishing poles by taking dowel rods and tying string to them with a paper clip at the bottom as a “hook”. We had 3 or 4 children “fishing’” and set a time limit (say 2 minutes).Whoever caught the most fish was the winner. Someone else made a game by having fishing poles with a plastic ring attached. The children would then try to pick up small soda bottles that were laying on their side with the ring.
As they were leaving, each child got to take home a blue cellophane bag filled with candy, which was donated by some of the parents. (One of the items in the bag was Swedish fish.) I also made them a booklet to take home. I printed the biblical quotation, “And He said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ “ on letterhead I purchased at Office Max that had fish around the border. I found a coloring book that had pages with Christ and the fishermen and the twelve Apostles. I went online and located some word puzzles, and a song that helps you learn the Apostles’ names, along with the Antiochian Gospel Program for the First Sunday of Luke. I then typed up a page giving some suggestions of how children could help share their faith with others, such as wearing their cross, making the sign of the cross when praying in public, (for ex: at a restaurant before a meal), talking about their church, inviting a friend to come to church with them, etc.
The children really enjoyed themselves and also learned something at the same time.
Submitted by Rosemary Shumski, St. John Chrystostom Antiochian Orthodox Church, York, Pa.