One of the greatest challenges I find in my work with schools is figuring out how to teach Jesus parables to young children. Children have fantastic imaginations but are often quite literal in their interpretation. Tomorrow the story telling team and I are going into school to act out the parable of the sower. I am aiming to show that this is a story with a special meaning, and will use a multi media approach to do this, the storytellers will be act out the parts of Jesus and his followers, while I will attempt to paint the story itself onto a sketch board. This is my version of the parable for young children (aged 4-6).
The Parable of the sower
Jesus travelled from town to town teaching the people and telling stories, his friends followed him, and often large crowds of people came to hear him. When he told stories lots of people would stop and listen, they loved to hear Jesus speak.
One day Jesus told this story:
A farmer went out to sow his seed. Some of it fell on the road; it was tramped down and the birds ate it.
Other seed fell in stony ground it sprouted, but withered and died because it didn't have good roots.
Other seed fell in the weeds; the weeds grew with it and soon grew so tall that the farmer's seed could not see the light anymore so it withered and died.
Other seed fell into good soil and produced a wonderful harvest.
The people looked at one another and wondered why Jesus had told them this story. They already knew that seeds would grow best in good soil!
Jesus looked at them and said;
My story has a special meaning it is really about people; my words are like the seeds, some people hear my stories and understand them, those people are like the good soil in my story, when I teach people to be kind they are kind. When I teach people to love one another they love one another. They are good, and their lives show it, just like the wonderful harvest in my story.
Some people make me sad, because when I teach them to be good and to be kind they are nasty to one another; those people are hard like the road, and the rocky ground.
Other people are like the weedy soil, they are so worried about themselves that they cannot see any good things, and their worries and cares mean that they don't care about their friends or neighbours!!!
"I want to be good and kind", said one person!
"I hope that I am never nasty" said another person
"I don't want to forget about my friends" said another
Jesus smiled at them. Good he said, then follow me and I will show you how to live God's way!
Lots of the people were happy because of Jesus teaching, but some of them grumbled and went away sad because they were too worried about themselves and their own lives to understand Jesus story.
I'd love to hear your opinion/ suggestions on teaching parables to young children, and from anyone else who does this.