Family Resources - August 30
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning.” - Lamentations 3:22-23. This verse always refreshes my soul, particularly this time of year, when I’m beginning to feel overwhelmed by all the new commitments for the fall, and I wanted to share it with you all in the hopes that it would bring peace and rest to your soul as well.
We wanted to share with you some highlights from our curriculum, so that your child will be able to follow along with the lessons they are being taught in Children’s Ministry. This blog post contains information about this week’s lesson from our Gospel Story curriculum, which is being taught to 3 & 4 year olds, up through 3rd grade, as well as this week’s lesson from our New City Catechism that is being taught to 4th-5th graders. May it brighten your week and bless you!
The lesson from our Gospel Story Curriculum for this week is about how God Provides Food and Water for Israel. The biblical account can be found in Exodus 16:1 - 17:7. If you would like to read the child-friendly version of this story from the Gospel Story Bible, you may click here. To access the weekly coloring sheet, click here, then scroll down to the last page.
There is a fun activity here, that involves laying a clean sheet on the floor and having your child pretend to go to sleep. Sprinkle some dry cereal on the sheet beside them, so that when they wake up, there is some "manna" for them to eat! Don't pour out too much, only what they would comfortably eat in one sitting.
Another activity you can do, that ties into this first one, is about not saving any for tomorrow. You will need to prepare this ahead of time. Mix some cereal, 1/2 cup of ammonia, and some green food coloring in a jar, then close the lid tightly. Use another, empty jar while you're starting the activity. While your kids are picking up cereal "manna" to eat off the sheet, collect some yourself, but put it in your clean jar. After they've eaten theirs, talk about how you were smart and saved some, so that you won't have to worry about picking up more food tomorrow. Have the kids pretend to go back to sleep, and while they're "asleep", swap jars for your green goo. Sprinkle more "manna", then let them wake up. Show them your saved manna, how it rotted and spoiled. Open the lid and let them get a whiff of how bad it smells (not too closely, though). Then pick up cereal with your kids to eat then and there, giving thanks to God for giving us "our daily bread".
For a clear object lesson, act out Exodus 17:1-7, with you being Moses and your child(ren) being the Israelites. You will need a staff (stick) and a rock (real, piece of furniture, paper mache, etc). After you've acted it out, and hit the rock with your staff, and the children have begun to pretend to drink the water, read 1 Corinthians 10:1-4 with your kids and talk about who the rock represents. It's a picture of Jesus, who takes our punishment (hit with the stick), and provides us with ever flowing mercy (water). If you want, go ahead and use masking tape to place a cross on the object you used as your rock, to help the kids remember.
You could also purchase some river rocks from a craft store, and give one to each of your children. Have them use a pencil to draw an outline of a cross. Allow them some time for reflection and confession of sin, as they think of a time they have sinned, confess it to the Lord, and write it inside the cross, still with the pencil. Then, offer them some red acrylic paint and have them paint the cross red, for Jesus' blood, covering up their sin.
There are a couple of teaching points that are really good to draw out to your children as you go through this lesson. First of all, help them to see that Jesus is the Bread of Life (John 6:31-35). When God provided manna in the wilderness, He was showing Himself to the Israelites. He was providing for their needs, to feed them and take care of them. He was also teaching them to trust Him, by not having them gather enough for several days, just enough for today, knowing that it would be provided again tomorrow. In the same way, Jesus gives us enough grace for today, and we can spend time reading the Bible and praying today, knowing that He will still be here tomorrow for us to spend more time with. Also, Jesus is the Rock (1 Corinthians 10:1-4). When the Israelites complained and wanted to strike Moses, they were sinning against God. God could have struck them for their sinful anger (against Moses), doubt (the opposite of faith), and distrust of God's care (after all He did to bring them out of Egypt). Instead, He told Moses to strike the rock, letting the rock take the punishment for the people. The rock then gave the people water, even though rocks don't have water inside them. This was a miracle of God's mercy being poured out. Jesus took our punishment on the cross, and pours out a miracle of mercy through His blood.
This is the last week to work on our August Sword Bible Memory Verse, which comes from Exodus 20. For preschoolers, they are learning Exodus 20:4. For K-2nd, they are learning Exodus 20:1-4. And in 3rd grade, they are working on learning Exodus 20:1-9. To see the verses printed out, you can click here and go to Sword Verse #8.
The New City Catechism question for this week is question #5 - “What else did God create?” Answer - “God created all things, and all His creation was very good.” The biblical passage for this Q&A comes from Genesis 1:1-31. The weekly memory verse for this age group is Genesis 1:31.
There are a bunch of resources to go along with this fun lesson. You can access them by clicking here. The first is a list of Animals in Creation. Some of these are pretty tricky, and even I was stumped! But don’t worry, there is an answer sheet you can find here. Let this activity lead you and your children to marvel at the variety of God’s creation in the animal kingdom.
There is also a cake recipe in the resource packet. This is a bit of a puzzler, as there doesn’t seem to be much connection between the lesson and making a cake, but the activity for this, while brief, is profound. What you are to do is to get out a mixing bowl, a spoon/spatula, the mixer, and an apron for your kid. Hand them the recipe and tell them they need to bake this cake. When they begin to ask you for the ingredients, or even try to start getting them out themselves, stop them and let them know that you want them to make this cake the same way God created the world, not by using the things that were already there, but by creating it out of nothing. Obviously, this is not something we can do, but it leads us into a greater awe of God, who did exactly that when He created the world.
There are creation illustration cards in the resource. You can use these as visuals as you read through Genesis 1 together. You could also have your child color them in, if they’re artistic and enjoy some good coloring.
The final piece of this resource is a Joy Grid. The goal is for your child to stop and think about what, in all creation, brings them joy. They may try to write “Jesus”, because He is indeed the source of all joy, but He is not a part of creation, as He has always been and will always be. Have them really think about it, then fill in one square with their answer. The other squares on the grid are for them to fill in with other people’s answers. They can ask their family members, their neighbors, their friends at school, their friends via Zoom or Facetime, until they have an answer for each square. God’s creation is meant to bring Him glory, so let’s start the conversation about it, and all rejoice together in the wonders He has made! (To get you started, my answer is the sight and sound of a mountain creek!)
If you’re looking for other resources for ideas and activities you can do with your children to help them use their time to invest in God’s kingdom, here are some we recommend:
https://familymealblog.com/2013/03/30/manna/ (Although we don’t really know what the manna God sent was made out of, this fun recipe uses scripture to guess at the ingredients. Could be a fun baking project with your kids)
http://kirstymcallister.blogspot.com/2016/03/water-from-rock-craft.html (A fun craft to do with your kids about when Moses strikes the rock and God provides water from it)
https://celebrateeverydaywithme.com/the-7-days-of-creation-in-legos/ (How to build your way through the 7 days of creation with legos)