When I popped the bubbles it was like God was saying that everything is going to be okay

8th June 2023

From Wednesday 3rd to Friday 5th May, we held a prayer space at the school in the “outdoor classroom.” The whole school (over 200 pupils) came to use the space in groups of around 15 children, and they each had around half an hour to try out our activities. The room was set up with a gazebo, cushions, fairy lights and lots of different creative things to do, and the children were really excited to see how different the room looked. Most of them remembered coming to the prayer space last year, and had positive memories of it that they wanted to share. 

When they came in, we had a few minutes of sitting down together while we chatted about the prayer space and let the children take turns to talk about what they thought “praying” was. We explained how Christians might think of prayer, and made it clear that they didn’t have to pray – they could use the time just to reflect and be creative if they’d rather do that. We explained the activities and then gave them free, unstructured time to explore the room. Helpers from church chatted to them and supported them to try the activities, and a member of staff from school also stayed with each group. 

At the end of each session, we gathered everyone together again and asked them about their favourite activities, their experience of the space, and how it had felt to try talking to God in different ways.

The prayer space has been left in place for a few more days so that the year 6 children can use it as a calm, peaceful space during their SATs tests week. They will be able to drop in unsupervised, and we have added some colouring sheets with verses about peace and hope for them to do in this free time.


Pipe-cleaner prayers Crowns for leaders Bubble-wrap prayers Sand trays:

Rollercoaster: we put up a large drawing of a rollercoaster, and children were encouraged to think about their feelings that day. They wrote or drew how they felt on squares of paper, then stuck them to the rollercoaster – high up if they were happy or lower down if they were sad.

Prayer tree: drawing or writing prayers, questions or hopes onto paper leaves, then hanging them onto the branches of our tree.

Rough times prayers: children could take a strip of sandpaper and feel how rough and scratchy it was, then think of something that felt like a “rough” time for them or someone else. This included talking about difficult things in the wider world, like war or poverty. They could then wrap the sandpaper in different colours of soft, fluffy wool to represent that rough time getting better.

Calm tent: a space for just a few children at a time to sit and look at the bubble tube and plasma ball, read a children’s Bible or look at some plastic “jewels” to remember how valuable and unique they are.

Response from the children:

Foundation: As they came in, they were excited about the bubble tube and tent, and were keen to play in the sand trays. They wanted to make crowns and took turns sitting on the “throne” in the activity about our leaders. Some comments:

“I’m popping the bubbles because I miss Mummy” (in response to bubble-wrap activity about imagining our worries popping away as we pop the bubbles).

“I’ve made a “d” for Daisy, my dog who died” (pipe-cleaner activity, making the initial of someone we are thinking/praying about).

Y1: There was lots of focus and some children very methodically went round all the activities. Almost all of them remembered the prayer space from a year ago when they were in foundation, and one child said they remembered feeling “peaceful and calm in the tent”. They loved trying the plasma ball and seeing how the current flowed as they moved their hands on it, and they were very interested in the idea of making pipe-cleaner letters. At the end in one of the groups, three or four children chose to say things out loud to God during our feedback time.

“This is the best place ever.”

Y2: They were very vocal about how much they liked the prayer space and all their memories from last year. Several of them were keen to explain what they understood by the word “pray”, saying “talking to the Lord”, “giving God our time” and “communicating with God”. We had some good chats about who might be “leaders” for us, and they were also very engaged with the pipe-cleaner letter activity. 

One conversation between two children went, “This is the best place in the world!”, “No, what about Disneyland?”, “Oh, well okay, Disneyland is good”.

“I liked the sand activity because I had a bad dream last night, and I drew my dream in the sand and then I wiped it away.”

“I was popping the worry bubbles because I am moving to a new school.”

One child remembered one of the photos of a peaceful scene that we had in the tent, as she had seen the same picture out at a church event the week before. She remembered that it had helped her feel calm then, when she did a painting of it, and said that she felt calmer looking at it this time too. 

Y3: This class were really engaged with the writing activities, especially the prayer tree, where they wrote their prayers/hopes/thoughts onto paper leaves. They also loved the tent and we had to encourage children to try other things so that more of them could have a turn enjoying the beanbags, bubble tube and plasma ball. 

“I really like saying things and praying things to Jesus.”

“I liked wrapping the sandpaper in wool – it turns it soft and it made me calm.”

“The sand tray made my worries go away.”

Y4: Lots of the children were very open about chatting about their feelings, and enjoyed the rollercoaster activity where they placed a post-it note on the part of the rollercoaster that matched how they felt (at the top for happy/excited etc, or further down for sad/worried). A small group were talking together about what would make them feel as “high up” as possible, and tried to reach higher than everyone else with their pieces of paper. One child wanted to pray “in his head, but for everyone”, and came to the front during the feedback time to lead all of our prayers.

“It was a very nice place. I had an extremely nice time.”

Y5: We had lots of conversation about what makes a good leader, and what the children would do if they were a king/leader. The tent was very popular, as was the sandpaper activity where children thought about a “rough” time or place, and wrapped the scratchy sandpaper in soft wool as a prayer for things to become less “rough” in that situation. Children were talking about world events (Ukraine, Sudan etc) as well as their own tricky times. 

Y6: There was a lot of thoughtful chat about what the class remembered from last year’s prayer space, with some very clear memories of the way the room had been set up and the specific activities they had enjoyed. Lots of them spent a long time winding different colours of wool to make the sandpaper strips soft and colourful, as well as designing jewelled crowns as they prayed for leaders. One child asked to pray out loud at the end of our session, saying thank you to God for the “beautiful space.”

“When I popped the bubbles it was like God was saying that everything is going to be okay.”

“I felt thankful as I made the initial with the pipe-cleaner.”

“I liked rubbing out the things that have gone wrong, in the sand tray.”