Sunday, November 21, 2010

Parable of the Mustard Seed

This week at our Familienbrunch (Family Brunch) I shared the Parable of the Mustard Seed with the children.  Jesus told this story when asked to describe his Father’s kingdom and likens it to the smallest of all seeds that grows into a large bush-like tree.  One of the things that Godly play does well is allowing the listener to enter into the mystery of God without too much being explained away.  And GP’s treatment of the parables is excellent. Even though I have heard this parable all of my life, I discover some new aspect each time I tell it that I hadn’t thought of before.

Below is a picture of the materials that I used.  Traditional GP materials are always made of wood, but it can be quite expensive when you are first starting out to purchase all the materials.  And while I tend to be a jack-of-all-trades, carpentry is not one of the things I have experience with!  As a result, I use natural materials as often as possible, but I am not above using Playmobil figures when appropriate to the story.

The questions in the Ergründungsgespräch (The Wondering Phase) at the end are great:  What did the sower do while waiting for the mustard seed to grow?  Could one take the tree and put it back into the ground?  Was the sower happy when the birds came?  What could the tree be? What or who could the trees be?  The kids were a bit restless during this part today, so it was challenging to keep them on track. : )  However, one of the older three-year-olds was fully engaged and had some interesting answers. 

For the Creative Phase, we painted flowerpots and planted cress, an edible and fast-growing plant found in Germany.  I like to do activities in children’s church that help them explore God’s creation. Many children in the western world and in big cities are somewhat disconnected from nature, and I believe that experiencing nature is vital to children being able to explore the character of God and understand the Bible.  It is also amazing how much joy children find in getting their hands dirty with planting seeds and then being able to eat the fruits of their labor.   The inspiration for this project came from Nataša, a Montessori teacher in Croatia, whose blog, Leptir, I follow. 

One of the Montessori elements that I also value and try to implement in our children’s worship services is the idea of giving the children different options instead of having them all do the same thing at the same time.  While there is always some sort of artistic way of exploring the story, the children may also choose to play with the materials in the story. 

This week I offered another option which was a hit.  (It, too, was inspired by Nataša in Croatia!)  One classic Montessori exercise to develop fine motor skills and the ability to classify and categorize is to have the children transfer objects with a tweezer from one place to another.  Here to go along with the theme of planting, I placed dried beans in a bowl of sand and had the children fish them out with tweezers and transfer them to another bowl.  

Update 2012: Please click here to see a later post on the Parable of the Mustard Seed and here to find out about the new materials.


  1. You are my hero! I feel like you're on a whole 'nother plain than I am in helping children play and explore creatively, but I want to learn from you. Thank you so much for blogging when you get time.

  2. That's a real compliment coming from you! Especially since I have learned so much from you over the years.: ) Glad I can return the favor.