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Make a Thumb Piano

African thumb piano

Thumb pianos are instruments used in Sudan and other African countries to accompany singing. You can make a simple thumb piano.

Needed: 3 large bobby pins; a piece of sanded wood about 6 inches wide, 3½ inches tall, and ½ inch thick; pliers, and a staple gun.

Squeeze the looped ends of 3 bobby pins with pliers. As your release your hold on the bobby pins, they will break.

With a staple gun and the help of an adult, staple the broken pieces to the wood. Fasten each piece with 2 staples. Staple the first pin near the top of the pin (the broken end). To create different sounds, fasten each remaining pin further and further away from the top of the board — but no further than halfway down the pin. Bend the bottom ends of the pins upward, away from the board.

To play the thumb piano, hold it in both hands, with one hand on each side of the thumb piano, and pluck the pins with your thumbs.

Make a Tukel

“Tukels” [TOO-kuhlz] are huts with cone-shaped roofs. Many Sudanese families live in tukels.
The roofs are made of neatly layered stalks of grass or grain. Sometimes, the roofs reach almost to the ground.

To make a tukel roof, trace around a saucer or small plate on thick paper or cardstock. Cut out the circle. Then cut one slit from the edge of the circle to the center. Slide one edge of the slit under the other and tape or staple the edges together to form a cone. Draw or glue grass or thin sticks on the roof.

To make walls, staple together the ends of a cardboard strip to form a circular shape smaller than the large end of the roof. Cut out a door. Put the roof on top of the walls.

Write “God Loves You” in Chinese


Chinese writing uses “characters” instead of letters. There are rules about how to write each character. Click on the image to find a Chinese writing activity to print.


Soap Slide Scripture Game


Setting: Indoors on a smooth non-carpeted floor

Needed: Two small boxes of equal size, two small strips of paper containing a Bible verse, tape, two chairs or crepe paper strips

Background: In a country where Christians have been imprisoned for telling people about Jesus, Christian activities are not allowed in the prison. So some Christians invented creative ways to encourage one another. One group of Christians wrote Bible verses on very small pieces of paper. They cut a portion out of a bar of soap, put the paper between the two pieces of soap, and put the soap back together. Then they slid the soap under the bars of their cell into other cells opposite theirs. Other Christian prisoners were happy to see the verses.

Instructions: Cut a slit in the top of two small boxes of equal size. Insert a Bible verse on a small piece of paper through the slit into the boxes. Tape the boxes shut to represent the bars of soap. (Variation: Use the instructions in a soap-making kit to make small bars of soap. Add Bible verses on small pieces of paper before the soap hardens.)

Divide into two teams with an equal number of players. Mark starting and finish lines several yards apart. Mark another line halfway between the starting and finish lines. To represent the jail cell doors, place two chairs just beyond the finish lines, one for each team (or make a cell door from PVC pipe.) Or, to represent cell bars, hang several strands of crepe paper from the ceiling to about six inches above the floor, for each team.

Using relay rules, let the first player on each team run to the halfway line, place the soap on the floor, and slide it along the floor with their hand air-hockey style to get it between the legs of their team’s chair (or underneath the crepe paper). If they miss, they can retrieve the soap and return to the center line to try again. They continue attempts until they succeed. The second player then runs into the cell, gets the soap, and takes it back to the third player, who slides it as the first player did. The team whose members all finish their task first wins. If desired, play a second round, switching the players who retrieved the soap with the players who slid it.

(Variation: Have someone act as a prison guard who paces back and forth past the playing site. When the guard comes near, no one can slide the soap.)

(Source: Kids of Courage VBS curriculum)

Accordion Book

Volunteers at The Voice of the Martyrs made an accordion booklet about bold Christians. To make one like it, fold three or more pieces of paper in half. Lay them side by side, then overlap the middle edges about 1 inch. Tape or glue down the overlapped parts. (See the photo.)

Print photos and headlines from VOM websites or photocopy them from VOM publications to glue or tape to your booklet. Use the booklet to tell other Christians about persecuted believers around the world, or as a reminder to pray for courageous Christians.

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