As we approach our last Sunday School Sunday this week, I am looking back to all of the beautiful things the Discovery children did in Sunday school this year…we started the school year off with a new type of curriculum called “WoRM” (Workshop Rotation Model ) in which we devote an entire month of Sundays to a particular unit or story in the bible. In doing this, we delve much deeper into the story and learn in rich context what it means and experience different angles and meanings of the story. The year’s units were called “A Witness to God’s Presence”.
Our first unit began with a lesson in Creation. We studied Creation for the month of September which included fun games where we blew bubbles and used the parachute as a group to illustrate the “breath of God”. We made a paper quilt to illustrate all of the children’s drawings of their favorite day of Creation…we had a dramatic re-enactment of the beautiful story, “Old Turtle” by Douglas Wood. As we entered October, we learned about the Plagues and Passover.
November concentrated on the Exodus story which we called Wandering the Wilderness where we learned how those oppressed found courage and hope in this story of liberation as they were led to the Promised Land. These two months were full of the richness of the Old Testament! The children played games that taught them the plagues, we made portable “holy ground spaces” to illustrate the holy ground that God calls all of us to, just as he appeared to Moses as the burning bush. We experienced a Seder meal, we kneaded bread dough as a way to illustrate the Israelites frustrations with their exile and then baked it to illustrate how their prayers and petitions “rose”( like the bread) to God, and then as we ate our bread with milk and honey, how our prayers are answered, just as the Israelites were led to the Promised Land. We took our own journey to storytelling stations in which volunteers re-enacted the pillars of cloud and fire, thunder and lightning, sapphire stones, devouring fire and the dry path that God cleared through the Jordan River. At the end of these units, we held our own “Sukkot” to celebrate the harvest of the Promised Land!
As we approached Christmas, December focused on the Incarnation. One of the most memorable lessons we had was the one where we used Mary’s Treasure Box to illustrate how the memories she stored of her son’s birth tell us the details of his birth story…we took items such as real sheep’s wool, straw, gold, stars, swaddling cloth, myrrh, and a miniature flute out of the box and talked about each one and how it tells His birthday story! We did a workshop called Wise Men Still Seek Him where we used Godly Play props and the Advent wreath to talk about Epiphany…we learned so much! Who knew that the Christmas pageant re-enactment wasn’t necessarily accurate?! In January, we studied the story of the Feeding of the 5,000…we made gyatoku fish prints, we popped popcorn to see how the small kernels “multiply” from a small handful to a bowl full…we even put ourselves in the bible setting and ate our way through the story.
February concentrated solely on The Lord’s Prayer. What an important part of our Eucharist and a memorable unit for the children! We used the ACTS model of prayer…Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication and assigned a color to each one. We set the framework to “pray in color” and played games to identify which phrases of the Lord’s Prayer matched with which type of ACTS prayer. We made multi-colored prayer bread…offering prayers of adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication as we twisted the colored dough into bread that we then baked and enjoyed while we shared different types of prayers with one another. We even learned a dance where we recited the Lord’s Prayers using no words, only our bodies. It was a beautiful practice in silence!
March focused on The Last Supper as we shared in a Seder meal, learned a dance for “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord”, made stain glassed windows of the chalice and bread and experienced a Tenebrae service in which we heard the personalities, thoughts and feelings of the twelve apostles following The Last Supper and leading into Holy Week.
As we moved into April, we made terrarium gardens as we learned about the Garden of Gethsemane and kept them as a reminder that sometimes we need a quiet place to pray and remove ourselves from the distractions of the world, just as Jesus had. We used visuals to illustrate the story of Palm Sunday and explained to the children that the palms and cloaks on the ground represented the people “rolling out the red carpet” for their King. We made necklaces with real nails and leather as we learned the story of the Crucifixion. The children were very aware during Lent that we have to go through hard parts of the story that make us sad and make us question to get to the really good part! After Easter, we acknowledged a God that was ever-alive and present as we wrote our own Prayers of the People for Children’s Sunday Service.
The year has been incredible and full of witnesses to God’s presence!