It’s that time of year again—the indoor shoes have reached maximum dirt capacity; final report cards have been stuffed into the bottom of backpacks and the school bell is ready to ring its last.

Summer break is within reach!

And though we know the joy of having kids running around the house wildly, we also anticipate those three words that will inevitably spill from kids’ mouths come mid-July— “I’m bored!”

Worry not—what an opportunity to use these spans of time to raise up kids of deep compassion! What better time to share with them—in a way they can comprehend—God’s heart for those living in poverty?

Here are 5 fun activities to do with your kids this summer to help them develop deep compassion for those entrenched in poverty. Through these simple and educational activities, your kids can learn not only the importance of gratitude, but how their “enough” can flow into someone else’s “not enough.”

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1. ‘Clear the way’—for learning about clean water accessibility 

Clean and accessible water from kitchen taps and water coolers is something that our kids may assume everybody just has.

But as we know, many children and their families across the globe don’t have access to clean drinking water at all, forcing them to drink from hazardous water sources.

Create a mini water filtermuch like those that can be gifted through Compassion— to let your kids see first-hand how children just like them access clean water.

Supplies

  • dirty water
  • plastic water bottle or 2-litre soda bottle
  • scissors
  • 2 coffee filters
  • sand
  • gravel/pebbles
  • rocks

See full instructions at Compassion Explorer!

Tying it together:

When your water filter experience is over, tie it all together by discussing these questions with your kids:

  • Did you feel like your access to water was limited? If so, what did that feel like?
  • Describe how you felt during your water filter activity.
  • If you had to filter your water like this each time you needed a drink, what might you have to skip to have time to do it? How would that feel?

Memory verse:

 “But whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:14

Questions adapted from Step Into My Shoes.

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  2. ‘Bend it like Burundi!’—for learning about living simply

Living from enough begins with a heart of gratitude.

For many kids across the globe, entertainment is not found in the latest Xbox game or fidget spinner. It is found in using their creativity to create games—like making a soccer ball by using only twine and grocery bags!

Build your own DIY soccer ball with your kids and allow them to step into the shoes of kids from around the world.

Supplies:

  • 6 plastic shopping bags (grocery size)
  • Yarn or twine

Directions:

  1. Wad five bags into a ball, and place wad into another bag. Close the bag.
  2. Wrap the handles of the bag around the wad and tie the ends.
  3. Wrap the yarn or twine around the ball and tie the ends. You are now ready for a game of soccer!

Go the extra mile:

Have your kids invite their friends over to have a soccer tournament in your backyard! Have them create two teams representing the countries where your sponsor children are from, or countries where Compassion works. Buy two colours of t-shirts from your local craft store and have them decorate their team jersey. Make a post-game snack by researching fun foods from the countries they’re representing!

Memory verse:

 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”  Philippians 4:11

 Adapted from Step into My Shoes.

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3) ‘Living room camping’—for learning about the homes of kids in poverty

Two brothers smile under their mosquito net and bed

Stepping into the shoes of those in poverty starts with understanding someone else’s reality.

In many countries across the globe, families live in very small houses—some living in just one room where the family all sleeps together.

Take a night this summer to change up your family’s usual sleeping situation. Plan a living room camp out night to give your kids a better idea of how many of our friends across the globe sleep each night!

Directions:

Using masking tape, mark off a 10×10-foot area in your home. This is a common size of many houses of people living in extreme poverty in Africa. Inside that space, set up your whole family for the night! Remember to keep it simple by laying a sleeping bag underneath, and thinner sheets on top.

 Go the extra mile:

Many kids across the globe use mosquito nets around their bed to protect them from mosquitos and other critters that carry infectious diseases.  To get a full experience, create a “mock mosquito net” by draping a sheet over top of the sleeping space as a canopy. Refrain from flashlights or main lights by using candles to light your way!

Memory verse:

 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:32

Adapted from Step into My Shoes.

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4) ‘The art of survival’—for learning about how kids around the globe earn income

Have you ever made a lemonade stand to raise money for something you really wanted?

For some kids, selling handmade items is not for the purpose of raising money for things they want—but things they need.

In some lower-income countries, many kids make arts and crafts to sell in marketplaces to earn money for food, medicine and other needs. Compassion’s church partners teach artistic skills to sponsored kids so they can earn money when they grow up.

Spend some time creating prayer bead bracelets to step into the shoes of young kids around the globe crafting to support themselves, while also creating a daily reminder to keep these kids in your prayers!

Supplies

  • Magazine or recycled paper
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • String or pipe cleaner
  • Glue

Directions:

Collect old magazine pages and cut into long triangular strips. Flip over each triangle so the back is facing upward. Roll the triangle onto a pencil from the bottom of the triangle to the top. Once it has been rolled, place a small bit of glue at the small end of the triangle to secure it, and then spread it all over the bead for a light glaze. Slide the completed bead off the pencil and let it dry.  Repeat to make as many beads as you desire. Once they’re all dried, string them onto your string or pipe cleaner to complete your bracelet!

Go the extra mile:

Sell your prayer bead bracelets at your church or small group (talk to your church leadership first!) and raise money for an extra gift for your Compassion child. Have your kids make a piggy bank to store the money they raise for their Compassion child!

Memory verse:

“May the favour of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us— yes, establish the work of our hands.” Psalm 90:17

Adapted from Compassion Explorer.

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5) ‘Sprouting house’for learning about the importance of safe shelter

What would it be like to live in a home that didn’t protect you from the weather? 

The homes of children living in poverty can look a lot of different ways. Some have roofs made from ribbed metal sheets, and others have roofs made from thatching—but one thing these homes have in common is that they can often leak and let in rain, which can cause damage to their belongings or even sickness. This is especially the case for those who live in countries that experience a lot of flooding!

Create a sprouting sponge house as a reminder of how important it is for all families across the world to have safe and protective shelter. Put yourself in another family’s shoes—imagine how it would feel to see water rising up around your home and coming down from above! Pray for the safety of those living in leaky houses like this.

Supplies

(Adult help needed)

  • 4 colourful sponges
  • scissors
  • toothpicks
  • small bowl
  • shallow dish
  • 3 tbsp. seeds (chia, alfalfa and/or wheat berry)
  • water
  • misting spray bottle

See full instructions at Compassion Explorer!

Tying it together:

When you’re done building your Sprouting House, tie it all together by discussing these questions with your kids:

  • How would you feel if you lived in a home with a leaky roof and floor?
  • How do you think waking up to a flooded home would affect a child’s day?
  • Why do you think it’s important for everyone to live in secure homes?

 Memory Verse:

 For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe. I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings. Psalm 61:3-4

Adapted from Compassion Explorer.


To discover even more fun activities that help shape compassionate kids, subscribe to or download the latest issue of Compassion Explorer magazine.

Written by: Laura Phillips

Laura Phillips is the Marketing Writer for Compassion Canada. She is passionate about pursuing justice and mercy through writing, crafting, music, and sharing stories over a cup of strong coffee.