Monday, August 2, 2010

Children's Church and Food

I like Children's Church at my church. For whatever age group we work with we teachers rotate so that our turn comes around about once every four months. Unlike Sunday School which is every week. It's a special treat for me because I get to visit with between five and fifteen four- to five-year-olds about once every four months. So, I probably get more excited than the kids do about it. No, I definitely get more excited than the kids.

Seven- and eight-year-olds are great for Sunday school each week but the four- to fives--I like their "take" on things. I don't like just reading a lesson and having them spit it back. I like for them to get up, run around, do things, make things and offer some critical thinking.

Yeah, critical thinking in four-year-olds; there is such a thing! It's an adventure. You take a li'l-o'-this--which may be an awesome Bible story or a concept like helping other people; then you do a -o' that--which may be a game and you make something else then you use it to see if they "got it!" "Tell me what you think..." "How would you...?" "What would you do if...?" If they can process what the media is telling them they should be about processing positive messages via the Word of God. I know which I prefer. The Word of God tells them that they are something special--wonderfully made and connected to other wonderfully made spirits while the media tells them something entirely different. But I digress on another of Ms. Kathy's soapbox issues. At any rate, like the older kids, four- and five-year- olds should be encouraged and are anxious to share their spin on things and it's always wonderment

Today's lesson was about being thankful for food. The lesson dealt with how the Israelites complained to Moses when the food they took with them from Egypt started to run out. "We should have stayed in Egypt to be slaves rather than die of starvation out here in the desert!" some of them complained. So God told Moses that they would have quail and manna each morning. Then they complained of getting tired of manna. The children concluded that if someone gives you something you should say thank you. 

We marched around and around the room pretending to be on a long hike while in the background Glad sang "So goooood to me" on the CD player. "Imagine walking like this every day! You have no car, no bike, no trike and no roads--just sand." 

"Oh, I'd be so tired! I got to sit down and rest!"

It made sense that the Israelites had to rest, too, especially at night. So they stretched out on the floor and went to sleep for the night 'cause the Israelites didn't have beds. They camped out under the stars. Some of them snored, too. Really.

"Ooo! I'm glad I got a bed in my house!"

"I got a bed at my house, too!"

The next morning, breakfast on the grounds served by God! While they had their little eyes closed I placed some small paper plates on the table. Each plate had about a teaspoon of mashed potato flakes. They could taste it if they liked and pour the rest into the plate at the center of the table.

"What's that stuff?"
"That's manna like them people had, boy!"
"I don't want dat! I ain't eating' it!"

"That's what them people said! If you don't got no money and no store you s'posed to say thank you for whatcha get!"
"I still ain't eatin' dat!"
"Do you got some juice with this?" 
"Hey! It tastes good! Tastes like potato chips! I love potato chips!"
"You do not have to eat it, but anyone who wants to taste it, you may try it now."
"If your mama gives you food you're s'posed to say, 'Thank you, Mama!' Even for the stuff you don't like."
"Yeah then you eat up all the stuff you like."

An interesting topic, as we made peanut butter and honey sandwiches, was where all the ingredients originated. Half the children agreed that the bread came from the grocery store because they’d seen it there when they shopped with a parent. They knew honey came from bees and peanut butter from peanuts. Somebody had to "mush up" the peanuts and I think the bees have some kind of factory according to a five-year-old's theory. 

We talked about wheat and processing it into bread and how the grocery store has food delivered from different sources. But the ultimate source is from the One whom we give thanks when we sit down to eat.

Just think! The Israelites didn't even have to go to the grocery store! "They ain't got any Winn Dixie [grocery store] So they shoulda been glad they didn't have to walk to Winn Dixie! That's a long walk!"

I had pictures drawn on the board. They took another look at the quail and figured it was a bird--so we had to talk about quail.

"Hey! They ate birds? You ain't supposed to eat no birds! That's nasty!"

"Do you go to Popeye's Chicken?"

"Oh! I do!"

"Do you go to Church's Chicken? KFC? What do you eat from there? Corn, mashed potatoes and what else?"

One little boy gave me the Duh! It's so obvious look and said, "You get chicken there! I eat Popeye's Chicken!" Then he folded his little arms and looked at me like I was some kind of pitiful if I couldn't figure out they called the place Popeye's Chicken and not Popeye's Filet Mignon.

"Well, a chicken is a bird, boys and girls."

Silent pause. Crickets chirping. One little girl's chin dropped to her chest and her eyes became saucers.

"Nah ah!" said the little boy who was anti-mashed potato flakes manna. "Chicken ain't no birds! Chicken is food!"

That led to pictures of other foods and where they came from. The children helped me draw lines from favorite foods to food sources. Then we circled all the pictures and made a big arrow that pointed to the Ultimate Food Source. 

"That is why you s'posed to say 'Thank you, God, for the food' when we eat lunch!" one child concluded.

"Yeah! We say grace at our house!"

"We do, too! We go like this!" another little girl chirped as she clasped her hands together and bowed her head as if in prayer. Two children shared prayers of thanks for food as it is done in their homes. Then she ate the rest of the potato flakes that all of the children had poured from their plates.

The saucer-eyed child was stuck on the chicken parts like she would never eat chicken again.

We prepared for Food Bingo. Each child was to twice fold a sheet of copy paper so that when the sheet was unfolded the creases made four rectangles. Inside each rectangle they were to draw food they liked. They could look at the drawings on the board for examples. The pictures were to be refolded, taken home and opened during home prayer time for remembering to say "Thanks for pizza!" "Thanks for eggs!" "No thank you for chicken, not ever again!"

On the way out of the classroom door the children received their bag juice and a bag of graham cracker snacks. "Mmmmmm! Thank you for snacks, God!"

Thank you God, for the opportunity to be in the presence of your most precious pint-size gifts!

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