Family Resources - May 17
Congratulations, all you homeschooling parents, on reaching the end of the school year!! Some of you may not have expected to find yourself as homeschooling parents this year, but I have witnessed (through social media) how many of you have picked up the torch bravely and taught your children, equipping them well for next year. Here’s to you, and to the end of the school year!!! And for those of you who are still taking another week or two to finish up, take heart, the end is in sight!
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 Jacob’s Dream of a ladder (or stairs) coming down from heaven. The biblical account can be found in Genesis 28:10-22, but if you want to back up the story for more context, feel free to begin your reading in Genesis 27:41. If you would like to read the child-friendly version of this story from the Gospel Story Bible, you may click here. There is also a preschool version of the story of Jacob’s Dream, taken from the Beginner’s Gospel Story Bible which you can read here. To access the weekly coloring sheet, click here, then scroll down to the last page.
There is a good object lesson in the curriculum that introduces the story well. You will need to accordion fold a piece of paper, so that when you unfold it gently, it looks like steps. Talk with your kids about stairs and how they help us reach things we couldn't otherwise reach. If you have stairs in your home, talk about how those help you reach the bedrooms that are upstairs. Or maybe your front porch steps help you reach the door. For younger children, they might use a step stool to reach things, like the bathroom sink. Walk your fingers up the paper steps you've made, to show the children how walking up the steps makes them higher, to reach things. Transition to asking them what the steps (ladder/stairs) in Jacob's dream were for? Where did they go? Explain to them that these steps in Jacob's dream represent a person who helps us reach heaven. Do they know who that person is? That's right, it's Jesus!
For a good art activity, give each child a decorative rock, or you can decorate your own rocks with paint. Ask the children how God blessed Jacob in our story (by appearing to Him, by promising to be with Him, making a covenant with him to give him the land he lives on and bless him with many children, etc). Ask the children how God has blessed them (draw them out to think of their blessings, including the cross and the saving work of Jesus Christ). Jacob set up the rock as a memorial, so he would remember God's presence and blessing. Have the children set their decorated rocks somewhere where they will see them, and remember God's presence and blessing.
For a simpler art activity, you can hang a long strip of paper from the ceiling, so that it hangs down to the floor. Have children draw angels and cut them out and attach them to the hanging ladder, so that they are going up and down. Talk with them about Jesus, who is our ladder to heaven.
There are a couple object lessons that focus on Jacob’s decision to tithe to the Lord. If your children are younger, give them each sets of 10 items (10 toy animals, 10 legos, 10 pennies, etc). Talk with your children about how Jacob vowed to give a tithe (one tenth) of everything he owned to the Lord. Ask your children to give you a tithe of their toy animals, their legos, their pennies, etc (not to keep, but to demonstrate what it is and how we give). For slightly older children, give them each a handful of cereal and have them divide it into piles of 10. Have them pick out one out of every ten cereal pieces to give to you. Did that take away all their cereal, or do they still have most of it left? Why did Jacob give God a tithe? Why do we still tithe today, giving a tenth of our money that God blesses us with? Talk with your children about how we do this out of thankfulness to God for blessing us so abundantly, and also because we acknowledge that the earth is the Lord's and everything in it, and we are trusting Him to provide for our needs.
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, point out to them that God reached out to Jacob, confirming His covenant with him. This was a low point in Jacob’s life, when he could have been tempted to feel alone and forgotten. Yes, he had the birthright and blessing, but he couldn’t use any of it, because he had to run away from his home, leave his family behind, and escape his brother who wanted to kill him. But God wanted Jacob to know that he was not alone or forgotten. God was with him, would stay with him, would bless him, and would make him a part of the blessing of Abraham! God is so gracious! Another good point to emphasize is that the ladder in Jacob’s dream is a picture of Jesus. In John 1:51, it says, “And He (Jesus) said to him, ‘Truly, truly I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.’” Our only Way to get to heaven is through Jesus Christ, our Savior.
For the month of May, the Sword Bible Memory Verse is taken from the middle part of Psalm 145. For preschoolers, they are learning Psalm 145:8. For grades K-2, they are learning Psalm 145:8-10. And in 3rd grade, they are working on learning Psalm 145:8-13. To see the verses printed out, you can click here and go to Sword Verse #5.
The New City Catechism question for this week is question #42 - “How is the Word of God to be read and heard?” Answer - “With diligence, preparation, and prayer; so that we may accept it with faith and practice it in our lives.” The biblical passage for this week’s Q&A comes from 2 Timothy 3:10-17. The weekly memory verse for this age group is 2 Timothy 3:16-17.
One activity in this week’s lesson involves some imagination storytelling. Have the children pretend that they are citizens of a small kingdom, but there is a famine (a shortage of food). However, their wise king has saved up enough food for all the people in their kingdom, so they won’t starve to death. But now some other kingdoms have begun to plot to come and make war against your kingdom to steal the food. The king calls all his citizens together in his throne room, and announces that he has hidden the saved up food in a secret location outside of the kingdom. If war should come, he may be killed, and then you all would starve because nobody but himself knows where the food is. Which is why he has decided to tell you where the food is, so that if anything should happen, you will be able to reach the food and feed yourselves. Imagine how closely you would listen as the king told you this information. Do you think you would be thinking of something else while he talked? Or would you be talking to your neighbor? No, when it’s a life-or-death thing that is being told to you, you listen closely. That is how we should listen to God’s word, as closely as if our lives depended on it. Without God’s word, our souls will starve to death, so we should treasure it and respect it.
An art activity is to give your child 2 pieces of red construction paper and have them fold them in half together, then draw a half heart on the fold and cut it out. This should give them 2 identical red hearts. Now take one of these hearts and fold it again, cutting a small slit in the fold. Glue your hearts together around the edges. Take a piece of paper and write 2 Timothy 3:16-17 on it (this week’s memory verse). Slide it through the slit in the heart, so that it is safely hidden in the pocket the hearts create. We want to hide God’s word in our hearts for real, not by making a slit, but by memorizing it and learning it, so that we may carry it with us everywhere we go.
There is a short section in the lesson that addresses the concern of “What if I find the Bible boring?”. Many children at this age can be tempted to think this way (especially if they get stuck in Leviticus or the minor prophets!). This is not a character flaw, but a real concern for them, and should be carefully addressed. The lesson uses an analogy of a person who is watching a soccer or baseball game for the first time. They might find it boring, because they don’t know the rules yet, and they don’t understand it. But if they keep watching other soccer and baseball games, they begin to learn more about the game, and it goes from being boring to becoming exciting and fun! If you are tempted to find reading your Bible boring, keep reading and paying attention, trusting that God will open your eyes and your heart to understand it more and more. As you begin to learn more about God through reading His word, you will find it going from being boring to becoming exciting and life giving!
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:
Childrens-upcoming-events (Cedar Springs Presbyterian is hosting their excellent VBS online this year. Although it will be different than normal, Cedar Springs generally does a very good job of making the Bible fun and exciting for the children, and sharing the gospel through their yearly VBS. I’d encourage you to consider participating the week of June 1.)
https://pin.it/5QghBpt (A good object lesson about putting on the armor of God in today’s trying times)
https://pin.it/6Fxu08V (This Proverbs reading plan is designed for kids, to introduce wisdom. It’s 42 days, and omits a lot of Proverbs 5 and 7, which speak of adultery. If you give yourself Sundays off, it will take you about 7 weeks to complete. If you give yourself the weekends off, it will take a little over 8 weeks. Either way, that’ll put you nicely into July with a simple reading plan for your kids!)