Sunday, February 6, 2011

Lesson Plan: Miracles of Jesus About Food (Wedding at Cana, Disciples Catching Fish, Feeding the Multitudes)

Last week in our World Religion class, where we are currently studying Christianity, I did a lesson about the miracles Jesus did that involved food.  I started with the Wedding at Cana, which was the first miracle reported in the Gospel of John.  With all three of these miracles, I simply told the story, rather than reading it out of the Bible or a written rendition.

For the Wedding at Cana, I had made some preparations beforehand.  I had a glass pitcher of water and a tray with enough plastic cups for all the students.  However, before class, I had put a tablespoon of red Kool Aid in each cup.  So as I told the climax of the story, I poured the visibly clear water into the cups where-Voila!-they turned into red liquid.  While a younger audience might be fooled by this, the middle schoolers figured it out, and started shouting out I had stuff in the class and that it was Kool Aid instead of wine, etc.  But I never said a thing.  I neither confirmed nor denied their accusations, and, of course, I never said that I was performing a "miracle."  However, when we were reviewing last week's lesson, they all remembered the red drinks and the water into wine story--which, of course, was my real goal for doing it.

The next story I told was when Jesus told Simon/Peter and Andrew to cast their nets into the water, even though they had been fishing all night and had caught nothing.  When they did as he said, their nets were filled with fish, causing Simon (whom Jesus called Peter) to be the first disciple to acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah that had been promised in the Jewish Torah.  Once again, I prepared something before class.  I took a large white piece of paper and drew a rough fishing net on it with permanent ink (I used a Sharpie pen).  In between the...well, they weren't squares...looks like maybe they were trapezoids (thank you, Google!)....anyway, in the white space in the net, I took a white crayon and drew fish shapes.  I had to press down fairly heavily to leave enough crayon, but you still couldn't see it against the white paper.  Then when I was in class, when I got to the part that Simon cast his nets in the water and they filled with fish, I took some dark blue water color paint and painted over the nets.  TAAA  DAAA--the invisible fish suddenly showed up!  They thought that was really cool, and couldn't figure that one out as easily.  Once again, when asked about it the next week, the students could tell the story.

The last one was less "magical," but may have been appreciated most of all.  As I talked about the two stories, one about feeding 4,000 families and one about feeding 5,000, both times with just a few loaves of bread and a few fishes, I took an unsliced loaf of bread I had bought and tore it into pieces, put it into a basket, and passed it around.  I also had a bag of Swedish fish candies, which I put into another basket, and passed it around.  So they had a ghastly meal of Kool Aid, Sourdough Bread (albeit high-quality, natural, and without preservatives), and Swedish fish candies--most of which I would NEVER serve my son at home.  But, of course, it was a HUGE hit.

It's one of those rules of thumbs, really with most children, I think, but definitely with middle schoolers--if you want them to love your lessons, give them some food.  But it was educationally justifiable in this case!  And, as I said, they seemed to have a much higher recall then they have had with some of my other lessons.  What can I works.

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