Prior to group time, set up your classroom. Use as many decorations as you care to in order to create a party atmosphere. Set up snacks; pour M&Ms in a bowl, but do not put it out as a snack. As students enter, surprise them with an impromptu party. Explain that the party is for no particular reason other than to celebrate your group and the people in it.
If time allows, play this ice breaker game (if not, skip to the next paragraph). Have our students sit in a large circle. Walk past your students one by one and have them pick an M&M randomly from the bowl—instruct them not to eat it at this time. Once everyone has one, instruct them to tell something about themselves based on the color of M&M they chose. Go around the circle asking each student to show their M&M; ask them the coordinating question. (After playing the game, students may eat the rest of the M&Ms.)
M&M Icebreaker Questions
Yellow – What are your three favorite foods?
Green – What is something you can’t live without?
Blue – What do you want to be when you grow up?
Red – What is your favorite book or movie?
Orange – What is your favorite animal and why?
Brown – What is something you are good at?
Have students talk about special celebrations they have attended: a surprise party, wedding anniversary, classroom party at school for a goal met, a birthday celebration, etc.
Show the following video clip to your students [2:56]:
Subway Sweet Sixteen – a surprised birthday on the train!
- How would you describe the friendship between Addie and the birthday girl Jen? (Answers will vary, however, most students will say Addie went out of her way to make her best friend’s Sweet 16 celebration special. The girls seem to be very close friends and have a fun, special relationship.)
- Why do you think the passengers played along instead of being annoyed at the disturbance? (The girls planning the party did a great job of including all of the passengers and created a feeling of excitement and anticipation for everyone on the train. They even had cupcakes for all and interactive decorations. The passengers seemed to be happy to be a part of the birthday surprise celebration.)
- When Jen entered the train and was surprised, a woman went up to her and told her she had wonderful friends. Do you agree or disagree with this assessment of Jen’s friends? (Most students will say that Jen has great friends. Her friends went out of their way to make Jen’s birthday special and they took notice of the fact that Jen loved the subway and they incorporated her love of it into their celebration surprise.)
- The birthday entertainment came mostly from the passengers. Why do you think everyone got involved in this celebration? (Answers will vary. Invite students to share. A 16th birthday is a big deal and those on the train wanted to make the young girl’s birthday celebration memorable and also seemed to be caught up in the excitement of the celebration.)
Celebrations happen all of the time, but some are more special than others as we saw in this surprise birthday celebration. The Israelites had reason to celebrate something very special—let’s find out when and how they celebrated!