Summer play days built around religious themes

Events for kids built around religious theme



Summer play days at Heritage Presbyterian Church serve various purposes.

For the children, it’s all about fun and learning.

For their parents, it provides two hours of being child-free to run errands or have some alone time.

For the church, it’s a community outreach.

Pastor Kristin Stroble said Heritage offered the play days last year for the first time. “We’re a small church with a few kids,” she said. The play days attracted participation from children of churchgoers, neighbors and Little Learners Academy, the preschool that rents space at the church. The same is true this year.

“We did vacation Bible school in the traditional sense,” she said. She added the play days aren’t “as intense and don’t require as much of a commitment.”

Last year, the church at 1951 Mathews Road sponsored the play days four times in July. “We had a good response ... it grew in number,” Pastor Kristin said. The turnout averaged 12 children. “For us, that was a good number,” she said.

The success of last year prompted a return this summer. Sessions are planned from 10 a.m. to noon Tuesday and July 23 and 30. The first one took place this week; 13 children participated. The suggested age range is 3 to 11 years old. For information, call Pastor Kristin at 330-707-9031.

Pastor Kristin said there’s a Bible story of the day, craft, games, music and snack – all tied to a theme. This week, it was the story of Daniel in the Lion’s Den. The craft was making a kaleidoscope, which symbolizes how Daniel keep his focus on God.

Games, suggested by the Olympics, symbolized strength. They included a bean-bag toss representing the shot put, pool noodles for the javelin, Frisbee toss for discus and the 100-meter dash.

Children began learning the song “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus” with accompanying hand and body movements.

For a snack, children made Lion Chow out of Chex cereal, peanuts, butterscotch chips and powdered sugar — then enjoyed eating it.

Volunteers help with craft projects.

Kathy Moff was among 10 adult and two youth volunteers assisting. “The kids are so good, and we had so much fun last year,” she said.

Moff said “word of mouth” in the community provided advertising for the program. She noted the mission committee of the church is the sponsor of the free activity.

Candy Morgan of Poland brought her grandchildren, Mackenzie Morgan, 5, and Christian Leonard, 9. “This is full of activities, and they ran to get into the door,” she said. “They’ll talk about it all day long and sing what they learned on the way home.”

Morgan, who also was baby-sitting her 10-month-old granddaughter, Lillian Morgan, described play days as “a wonderful program.” She said the once-a-week activity in July was just enough and something the children “looked forward to.”

Josh Massie of San Antonio, Texas, arrived to pick up his son, Gage, 31/2, and twin cousins, Cole and Chase Massie, 7, of Columbus. Joe and Linda Massie of Boardman are the children’s grandparents.

“Grandma suggested it,” Josh Massie said, adding the play days allow the children “to meet other kids and learn some things.”

Their grandmother added the children “learn to follow directions, behave and have fun.”

“They couldn’t wait to get here,” she added, noting they will return.

Lorieona Jannone, 5, also was among participants. “She just loves coming,” said her mother, LeeAnn Jannone of Struthers, adding she and 4-month-old son Anthony spent the time grocery shopping. “It gave me one-on-one time with him.”

Jannone said the program is “wonderful” and gives her daughter a creative experience.

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