This week the children enjoyed a lesson with dirt and crayons. If you are a kid, it doesn’t get much better than that! This week’s lesson was one that I designed to incorporate all ages. Our youngest group (0-3) was going to read a book entitled Designed by God. This sweet little book describes each of our senses and how God gave us each for a very special purpose. I was going to have Mrs. Graham read the little ones this book in the nursery while I taught my lesson. I was then going to invite them to join the older kids where I could encourage them to use their senses. We didn’t have any wee little ones (besides my daughter) this week so we are going to save this book for next week.
As for the older kiddos, they were in their glory playing with soil and seeds! Their lesson was on the Parable of the Sower. I set up a table in the fellowship hall where we could do our lesson and also where we can watch our bean plants grow each week.
In the parable, some seeds fell on the path where birds took them away, some seeds fell among thorns where they were choked out and unable to grow, some seeds fell on rocky ground where they grew up quickly but then died. We had three pots at our table to represent these seeds. Then the children planted their seeds in good soil.
The seeds that fell onto good soil flourished and grew in the parable.
The children sat down to draw their predictions for the seeds in each type of pot. Some children were pretty optimistic and thought all of the seeds would grow but most agreed that the seeds in good soil would be the only ones to grow and maybe the seeds in rocky soil would grow a little bit.
We then started to talk about the meaning of the Parable of the Sower. The bible says this in Matthew 13:18-23: “18 “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19 When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20 The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 22 The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. 23 But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
This is an extremely complex explanation for children. Also, when you create a lesson that is so hands on and so stimulating, you are met with the challenge of making sure the educational part of it comes through. I decided to simplify the meaning of the story. It was enough just getting them to learn the parable. I didn’t want to overwhelm them with trying to get them to understand the meaning of every part of it too.
So, I talked to the children about Earth Day and how it is important for us to give back to the Earth and take care of it. We can give back to nature by planting things like a sower. Then I compared people to seeds. I taught them that just like seeds need good soil, water and attention; people need a home, family and love. Life is really hard for people and seeds who don’t have “good soil.” That is why Jesus teaches us to care for and love each other. Share the good things you have in life with others.
Plants and people need good beginnings.
As the children make observations about their plants each week, that will give me the opportunity to review the parable and teach them the meaning of it from Matthew 13:18-23.
(Just to note, Ryan’s preteen/teen group joined my lesson because he already taught the Parable of the Sower when he did his Parables of Jesus series. After the planting was finished, he sat down and taught them about Gregor Mendel. He was a monk who enjoyed experimenting with bean plants (this is the reason I chose to use bean plants!). He discovered the basics of genetics through breeding tall bean plants together to get tall plants, short plants to get short plants, etc. This man of faith paved the way for other scientists to unlock the secrets of genetics. This lesson on Mendel was used to reinforce the Parable of the Sower to the older kids and to teach them that you can be a scientist AND a child of God.)