Monday, August 16, 2010

The Kingdom of God & Toddlers

"What is in God's Kingdom stories for toddlers?" - a google search that brought someone here.

How often does Jesus say, "The kingdom of God is like..."? Whether you are old or whether you are young, this question and it's answer requires first hand concrete experience which take us back the the very early days of this blog and talking about "concrete," hands-on, 5 senses type life experiences for children.

Look at all the agricultural images in the gospel. Kids were around when parents or servants planted and weeded and harvested. Goats, sheep, donkeys were a common even in urban environments. Kids were probably learning to help around the house (or tent) at a very early age. Kids were there watching & tasting & smelling bread dough and the making of bread. Moms or servants made bread EVERY day but the Sabbath. These experiences and the foundations for the understanding of Jesus' parables didn't take place for only one hour on the Sabbath. These experiences were foundational daily experiences. Even if parents didn't talk about these things (and parents were commanded to talk about God's word coming and going and lying down every day) kids were still experiencing these things and these experience were points of reference and association as their understanding and communication skills matured.

Here are some places where you will hear, "The kingdom of God is like..."

Matthew 13

Mark 4

Luke 13

Luke 19

John 3

If you must think in terms of classroom activities for toddlers , think in terms of growing their experiences & and perhaps their vocabulary.

The Pearl Hidden in the Field - Hide one item for each child to find. "When you find it, sit down and wait."

The Fish Net full of fish - Gather a bunch of good & bad "fish," grapes, or something else and throw the bad away. It doesn't have to be fish.

Matt 16: Keys. What do keys do?

John 3 - Babies being born. As important as spaying & neutering is to keep pet population down because there aren't enough homes, animals giving birth does gives children real life experience with birthing and mothering. (I volunteer at a humane society. so you never heard that from me.) But visit a responsible breeder raising working animals or a farmer or foster a pregnant momma cat or dog for a shelter.

The Wedding Banquet-taking your place at God's banquet table with lots of people, different kinds of people. When you have a big gathering & special food, let the little ones eat at the table with you. Weddings are a wonderful time for that. Weddings are all about family but kids aren't invited to weddings anymore. I understand why but I have a hard time with that.

When Jesus spoke about the kingdom of God He often healed those who needed healing... play doctor with band aids & slings & making hurts better.

The camel through the eye of the needle - being too big to go through a small space. Trying to carry lots of stuff through a small space...playing with an obstacle course that specializes in squeezing through small spaces. Give each of the kids a bag or a stuffed animal or something that won't fit through the space and let them problem solve. That might be a little counter productive but they'll have fun.

Being stuck in the dark with a lamp that runs out of oil or a flashlight without batteries.

Greatest & Least? Treating children like the greatest in the kingdom of God...

You get the idea. At this age, I think it's more about the experiences and simple naming words than it is about concepts and understanding...

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