Etch the words into your heart

Water stories?

In this Bible verse from Deuteronomy 11:18a, Moses is admonishing the Israelites to always remember what God has done for them.

'So keep my words in your hearts and minds.

As our kids learned earlier this year, God provided freedom from slavery in Egypt. Moses goes on to instruct the Israelites to teach their children about these liberation stories.

Teaching these stories is still today a priority for us as parents/caregivers. But not only the specific stories of Moses; we also need to ensure that our children grasp the reality of God’s love. You’re probably already doing this task through many avenues:

  • Reading and telling Bible stories,
  • Praying with your kids,
  • Teaching service to others,
  • Naming instances you see in the world of God’s love and grace, etc, etc.

Here’s another way:

Encouraging the memorization of scripture.

And the perfect spot to start: John 3:16. (Read it in different Bible versions here.)

A heart shape with God written in it

Etching God’s words of love into our children’s hearts.

This is not memorizing like you would learn facts for a test. This is a different sort of learning, for a different purpose. Tell your children: “We are keeping God’s word in our heart.”

That’s right, I said we. Because you’ll want your kids to do as you do. It will be a much more powerful lesson if you are working on this as well.

Learning God’s words by heart makes it instantly available when you need it. Your mind can pull them up faster than a smart phone, right?

How to go about this task? Here are some ideas:

  • Refer to this past post for hints. (No sense in repeating myself!)
  • Start ’em young: Age 2 has been suggested. (But it’s never too late to start! Though it does get harder with age.)
  • Say it differently: Try a fun way of saying the verse. Use a cowboy voice, cheerleader style, opera style, referee style, or baby style. What other ways can you think of?
  • More games: If you have a dry-erase or a chalk board, write out the verse. Then erase one word and say the verse with the missing word. Continue until all the words are gone. Don’t have such a resource? Arm your child with a stack of Post-it Notes. Write out the verse on a sheet of paper and use the Post-it’s to cover up the verse a word at a time.
  • More songs: Try this one on YouTube to learn John 3:16-17. Search for other verses to find songs.
  • Catch them on video: Once your child can say part of a verse, video them. I’ll bet they’ll like watching themselves, and saying the verse with themselves!
  • After you’ve mastered John 3:16, learn verses based on the alphabet. Try these ABC Scripture cards.
What are your hints for etching God’s word upon our heart?


Photo credits:
Water stories by Abigail Keenan, via Unsplash.
Heart clip art by rygle, via
Both licensed under CC0 1.0 Public Domain.

Our Moses workshops – pictures!

We’ve just finished up a couple of Rotations on Moses. We started in January with Moses’ birth, his trip through the bulrushes in a basket and his adult experience with a burning bush. Then in February we continued the Moses story with the plagues on Egypt and the very first Passover. (I love how this will tie into our March Rotation on the Last Supper.) Here is a review of our study of Moses, with lots of pictures!

Reviewing a story in the Bible
Each workshop starts off with reading the story in the Bible. By the third week everyone knows the story! But finding it in the Bible is still important.
(This photo from our Green Wood location.)

In January there was a Games Workshop using our life-sized board game. Kids played a game modeled after the board game, Cranium.
1st grade use the large game board in the Games Workshop

The game in action; pointing out the game cube First graders in the Games Workshop
See that cube thing? (At the orange arrow). That is the game die. A team tosses it and depending on the picture they roll, they have a certain type of activity that they need to do. Here the card might have said “Using Playdoh, see how quickly team members can create a pair of sandals.” Of course, meanwhile the leader was asking everyone, how sandals enter into the story.

There was a Storytelling Workshop…

Moses visits in the Storytelling Workshop Moses at Green Wood
“Moses” visits the Storytelling Workshop downtown (for 4th-6th graders)

  And “Moses” at Green Wood.

(Okay, so it wasn’t really Moses. Just a couple of guys who did a great job portraying Moses!)

In the Drama Workshop kids acted out the burning bush portion of the story…

the 5th grade poses on stage at the Drama Workshop
Nice burning bush. Notice all the sheep? There were lots of props. Which ones can you name?

Meanwhile, in the “Greenhouse” (ages 3 years old to kindergarteners) they were learning about Moses as well. Here they learned about unleavened bread.

Trying unleavened bread Kids in the Greenhouse

In February it was on to the Plagues and Passover portion of the Moses story. There was a different Games Workshop. This one was Bible Bowling. Here the 1st and the 6th graders work together in teams. Teams had names like “the Gnats” and “the Frogs.”

1st and 6th graders work together in the Games Workshop A team member takes a shot at the bowling pins
Kids sure do know the answers to the questions! When the team answered correctly, they got a chance to knock down the pins.

There was a Cooking Workshop…

5th graders in the Cooking Workshop
Mixing up some unleavened bread – in a hurry!

And there was an Art Workshop where kids made comics using thumbprints…

An artist at work in the Art workshop More artists
Another artist More artists
Created art work Created art work
Can you tell the story using these thumbprint drawings? What part of the story does this one tell?

What was your favorite Workshop?

Photo credits: Click here for info on banner photo (not visible in readers or email).
Other photos by Beth Pascoe, Carol Hulbert and folks at Green Wood. Used by permission.

Breaking down the Moses, Plagues to Passover story

Moses and Aaron before Pharaoh

We are about to embark on a follow-up Rotation on Moses. Last month we covered Moses from his birth to his encounter with God in a burning bush.

That was a lot of ground to cover in the Bible, as is part two: Plagues and Passover. But have no fear! Here is a reading plan for your family group to use, to break down this month’s story into manageable chunks. (For the part one reading plan click here.)

Might I suggest covering our story over several days? Start off with a review of God’s call to Moses. (The Burning Bush!) The next day, read about Moses and Aaron’s first encounter with Pharaoh. (See picture above.) On subsequent days you can read about each plague, as God displays his power to Egypt. Eventually you’ll read about the first Passover and about how a lamb’s blood saved the Israelites.

As an added bonus there are questions for discussion at the family dinner table. (Or wherever your family is gathered together.)

If you’d like to print out this reading plan/discussion guide (I’ve tried to squeeze it into a one-page document!) click here.

Read Discussion question
Exodus 3:1-6 Why take off your sandals? What sort of relationship to God does this imply?
Exodus 3:7-15 What does God want Moses to do?
How many different ways does God identify himself?
Exodus 4:1-17 Does Moses sound like he is whining? When was the last time you whined? Reread verse 11. Which of your perceived limitations needs this sort of talking to?
Exodus 5:1-18 How did you expect Pharaoh would react to Moses’ request? Tell about a time you asked for something and were turned down.
What can help you to keep in mind that God is with you in times of stress?
Exodus 5:22-6:8 Do you suppose Moses is ready to give up? So soon? When have you felt this way?
Exodus 7:1-7 Why do you suppose God “hardened” Pharaoh’s heart? Or did Pharaoh harden his own heart? What do you hope to be able to accomplish at age 80?
Exodus 7:8-13 How do you suppose Moses and Aaron felt when Pharaoh’s magicians made their staffs into snakes? Who (in your opinion) “won” this round?
Exodus 7:14-24 To the Egyptians the Nile River was a god. What does this say about God’s power?
Do you see “magicians” in society who try to mimic God’s power?
Exodus 8:1-15 How do you suppose it would feel to find frogs in your oven and in your mixing bowls?
Why do you suppose the magicians didn’t try to stop the frogs?
Exodus 8:16-19 Starting with this plague, the magicians were no longer able to reproduce a plague. Why do you suppose this didn’t have an affect on Pharaoh?
Exodus 8:20-32 What sort of pattern of behavior is happening? Starting with this plague, the Hebrews were unaffected. What sort of message did this send to Pharaoh? To the Hebrews?
Exodus 9:1-7 How do you suppose Pharaoh planned to recover Egypt from these plagues?
Exodus 9:8-12 God didn’t tell Moses how many plagues would happen. How is Moses likely feeling?
Exodus 9:13-35 What does the warning in verse 19 say about God? How about verse 32?
Exodus 10:3-20 If God knows that Pharaoh will change his mind, why does he keep stopping a plague when Pharaoh says he will let them go? Why does Pharaoh ignore his officials advice?
Exodus 10:21-29 The sun was a god to the Egyptians. What does this story teach you about your allegiance to the “gods” of today’s society?
Exodus 11:1, 12:1-13 Why do you suppose there are such explicit directions for a Passover feast? How does Jesus’ Last Supper relate to this story? How about Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross?
Exodus 12:21-30 In the manner of verse 26, discuss your family traditions.
Exodus 12:31-42 What sort of blessing do you suppose Moses gave Pharaoh? Have you ever received a blessing? How do you suppose the Hebrews felt as they left town in a hurry?


Photo credits:
Moses and Aaron before Pharaoh by Benjamin West (1738-1820) in the Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Moses: Let My People Go!

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Hebrews are enslaved in Egypt
Let my people go!

Rotation Model logoOn Saturday nights and on Sunday mornings at FUMC our Cool Disciples experience Rotation Model Christian education. They learn about Bible stories and concepts through kid-friendly workshops that each focus on different learning styles.

In February 2012, we are continuing the story of Moses. Last month we learned about Moses from his watery beginning in a papyrus basket, to his dramatic experience as an adult meeting God in a burning bush. God wanted Moses to bring his people, the Israelites, out of Egypt to the Promised Land (Exodus 3:9-10).

We saw Moses reluctantly agree to lead God’s people to freedom. And this is where we pick up our story for this month. As we will see, freeing the Hebrews from Pharaoh’s grip is not an easy task. It involves frogs, and gnats, and flies! And a mysterious “passing over” with protection provided by the blood of a lamb. Read about our story in Exodus 5:1-6:13, 7:1-12:42. (It’s another long one. Stay tuned for Here is another reading plan to break it into manageable chunks!)

This is where the “Schedule” used to appear — which grades were visiting which workshops over the course of this Rotation. However it was removed as it was sort of out of date 🙂 Our current schedule of workshops, for whatever Rotation we are currently on, can be found on this page.

For prosperity, here is what we did in each workshop for this story: (Be sure to catch pictures of the action!)

  • In the Art Workshop students will create comic strips that tell the story using their thumbprints (Ed Emberley style).
  • In the Cooking Workshop students will make unleavened bread and discuss the Passover and the Israelites’ departure from Egypt.
  • In the Games Workshop students will participate in a Bible Bowling game as they learn story characters, events and story sequence. Which team will win – the Gnats, or the Flies, or the Frogs?
  • In the Music Workshop students will learn a silly song about the story. The words to B-I-N-G-O never sounded like this!
  • In the Video Workshop students will watch portions of the animated video The Prince of Eygpt. I wonder how closely the creators of video follow the story as told in the Bible?

If you are in the area please join us for the fun learning at First United Methodist Church in Ann Arbor, MI


Photo credits:
Line drawing of Hebrews enslaved, from the book
The Big Picture Bible Time Line by Gospel Light. Used with permission.