Mustard Seeds and Matryoshka Dolls

Teaching Jesus’ parables to three and four year olds is challenging.  Pre-schoolers struggle understanding abstract concepts.  The figurative nature of the parables will largely pass them by because they usually think in more literal terms.

This morning the class I was teaching tackled the Parable of the Mustard Seed.  Jesus told a story about a farmer planting a tiny little seed.  The seed sprouted and grew into the tallest of trees.

We began the class by sorting seeds.  The children pulled the tiny mustard seeds from the pile and we marveled that such a tiny seed could grow into a large tree.

The three little boys I was teaching are also very small.  They dream of the day when they can be big and strong like their dads.  Great men begin as little boys.

Sometimes hands-on activities are helpful in helping pre-schoolers understand concepts.  I chose a couple of these to stress the point about growth.

  • First, I placed a tiny little paper circle on the table. Then, one at a time, I revealed a set of circles of ever increasing size. The children loved stretching their vocabulary to describe the sizes.  Tiny, little, small, medium, bigger, enormous, giant and finally, super super huge.
  • Secondly, I was able to make use of some Matryoshka (nesting) dolls that I had on hand.  Seeing the sizes displayed in doll form helped the children relate to how they themselves are in the process of growing.

All in all it was a great class.

Sometimes my efforts in teaching seem extremely small.  What difference will my teaching make in the bigger picture?  This parable reminds me that God does great things from small beginnings.

Hand-prints for All Ages

Multi-age handprints

I love reading about the bible character, Caleb.  He served God his entire life.

Caleb and Joshua were the two spies that brought a good report back to Moses in the story Twelve Tribes and Twelve Spies.  Then, when he is an old man we read about him in The Land is Conquered and Caleb Fights the Giants.  Caleb did not let age stop him from fighting the battles needed to conquer the promised land.

When you teach this story invite some older Christian brother and sisters to attend your class and spend time with the children.  Ask the guests to talk about their faith and how they serve God.  They could talk about their prayer life or show photos of things they have done in their life.

Another way to help children and older people relate to each other is to have them participate in an activity together.  Hand-prints are easy and fun!

Supplies for Handprints:

  • Paper  (or use this template)
  • Washable paint such as tempera paint
  • Plate or other flat container to hold the paint (like a paper plate)
  • Paint brush or cloth
  • Damp towel to wipe the paint off  when finished

Instructions:

  1. Pour paint in flat container
  2. Apply paint to hand with paintbrush or cloth
  3. Press hand on paper and lift off carefully
  4. Repeat for each person making a print
  5. Set aside to dry
  6. Be sure and make two sets so that both the older person and the child can keep a copy.

Other Bible Stories for this Craft: