Nebula Jar and Lights of the World Lesson Plan

While our son attends Trail Life USA meetings, our daughters, along with most of the Trail Life boys’ sisters, are part of God’s Girls. God’s Girls isn’t a formal organization like Trail Life, but the local moms who band together to plan devotionals and related activities make it a very worthwhile experience.

I volunteered to lead a couple lessons this year, and since the activity I led this week was really successful, I want to share it with all of you so that you can use or adapt it to fit your family, homeschool co-op, youth group, or other Bible class.

What You Need:

-Dark room or dark area outside

-Items to create an obstacle course (I used hula hoops held up by moms, a milk crate, a snow shovel, and scattered boots, roller blades, shoes, laundry baskets, etc.)

-A few tealights or candles (only enough for about 1 per 5-6 participants)

-1-2 flashlights

-1 Maglite or other large flashlight

-Discussion questions (find below)

-Glass jar with lid (1 per participant)

-Enough cotton balls to fill each jar (with ~20 girls with jars all smaller than 1 quart, we used about 4 bags of 200 cotton balls)

-Bright-colored paint (I believe acrylic or tempera will work – with ~20 girls, 20 small paint bottles was plenty)

-Glitter, if you dare

-Faucet or pitchers of water

-Popsicle stick, butter knife, or other washable/disposable item that can poke cotton balls into deep jars

-Glue to adhere lids to jars at the end

-Paintbrushes to paint lid, if desired (I actually spray painted my jar lids ahead of time since they were from pickle and marinara sauce jars)

-Yarn, ribbon, twine, etc. and paper tags with one of the Bible verses written on to tie around the top of the jar

What You Do:

-Set up the obstacle course ahead of time. I hoped to be outside and tie ropes to a fence and have mom volunteers hold the lines taut and prop tree branches and snow shovels across the course with a few tires scattered throughout. It wound up being right about zero degrees Fahrenheit, so we did the obstacle course inside. A few parents held hula hoops at crawl/climb-through heights, and we had folding chairs, a milk crate and laundry baskets, a stool and shovel, and a heavy concentration of boots and shoes to trip everybody. I didn’t turn on the far light for this picture, but the obstacle course extended all the way down a hallway, so maybe about forty feet.

-When the sky or room is dark, bring your group to the obstacle course. Explain that they’re going to go through it in the dark and that nobody is allowed to use a phone or other lights they may have.

-Give them a few minutes to navigate the course in the dark. Depending on how the group is doing, you can either distribute the relatively small number of tealights or candles now, or let them finish the course and go through again with the tiny light. As they work their way through the obstacle course, some will naturally huddle close to the girls holding lights. If some prefer to take the challenge of attempting it fully in the dark, just let them and don’t make a big deal out of it.

-After/while going through the course with the tiny lights, distribute the flashlights. (I had a few parents rearrange the obstacle course before passing out the lights so the course was different every time). The girls may flock to the few kids with larger lights. Again, if some don’t want to give in and accept the help of the light, don’t make a big deal, but maybe point it out, like, “Ooh, Avery wants to struggle alone. Looks like Brynn and Aleah are making the most of one light.”

-Finally, pass out the Maglite (or whatever large light you have available) and observe what the group does. Maybe they’ll delegate one girl to hold the light so everyone else can see, or maybe they’ll take turns with the light. If they do something really unexpected you can point it out, but otherwise you can wait for the discussion to talk about the details.

-Extinguish any candles and get ready for the discussion. We divided into three age groups, each one led by a few moms. Of course every group is different, so use your discretion. For this group, we wanted the teenage girls to have a chance to take the discussion deeper and talk through relevant issues they’re going through with some moms, while the middle-grade girls could talk through it at their level with the moms, and the wee ones would have a better chance of keeping their excited thoughts and chatter on track in a smaller group. We used the same discussion questions for each age group (with the exception of the last question, which I divided into Younger Girl, Middle Grade Girl and Older Girl Questions).

Discussion Questions:

  • Was it easier to go through the obstacle course with light? Give them a minute to tell about bruised shins, etc. Tell them that the obstacle course symbolizes life, the darkness is the world, and the light is like being a Christian. Mention that being a Christian doesn’t necessarily make life easy, but with the light, we at least have God to guide us through the challenges.
  • Psalm 19:1-4a (NIV) says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”

How can a star, or a light, have a voice without using words or being heard? What does this mean? (If they’re struggling to come up with ideas, suggest that light can have an effect without making sound. Remind them that when lights were added to the obstacle course, they tended to go toward the light).

  • Matthew 5:14-16 (NKJV) says, “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Ask them if they realize that they are lights in the world. Let them share stories of times when friends came to them for advice, etc. If they haven’t experienced this yet, share your own stories of times when you noticed that other people were interested in your faith or wanted to hear how you would handle a certain situation.

  • Philippians 2:14-15 (NIV) says, “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky”

What do stars do? Let them share their thoughts, and hopefully the group will reach at least two conclusions:

Stars provide direction. Before GPS and even before compasses, people used the stars for navigation. Some people still know how to use the stars like a map. Like the stars providing direction on a journey, our lives should light the way for others in this dark world.

Stars provide light. We might not think of needing the light from the stars for life, but the sun is a star, and without the sun, plants wouldn’t grow, all water would freeze, and people and animals would die really quickly. Remember that it was a plague when God gave the Egyptians total darkness. We need the sun, which is a star, to live. Our faith should urge us to live in a way that others (Christians and unbelievers) need our example.

  • What do we mean that the world is dark? Ephesians 5:8-11 (NIV) says, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.” Colossians 1:13-14 (NKJV) says, “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.”

Usually we use the word power to describe an engine’s strength or the forces in nature. Do you think of sin as being powerful? Is it hard to resist?

  • Younger Girl Question: If your siblings or friends are making fun of someone, how can you be a light?
  • Middle-Grade Girl Question: Is it possible to be a light when your siblings pick on you? How can you settle a fight and still be a light?
  • Older Girl Question: You’ve been trying to make some new friends, and they’ve finally invited you to hang out with them. You’re excited, but you’re also a little nervous since they might be doing things that a Christian shouldn’t do. You realize that everybody who will be there should probably have some exposure to a godly person, so it should be ok for you to go, right? After all, Paul said, “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” -1 Corinthians 9:22. What are your thoughts on this?

Let the girls ask about or discuss other situations as time allows. When you’re satisfied with the discussion, introduce the Nebula Jar activity as a way to remind us that we should shine like stars in this dark world.

There are oodles of places to find recipes for nebula jars. Here’s an easy-to-follow tutorial. The only additional steps we did were to glue the jar lid on and tie a cute tag with one of the Bible verses written on around the top of the jar. I printed: “Shine like stars in the sky!” and cut them and hole-punched them ahead of time.

If you have led a similar activity, or used this one, let me know in the comments below 🙂

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