God's Garden

Growing In Christ Children's Lesson |by Dianne Richards

This four week lesson plan was designed by Dianne Richards of Valhermoso Baptist Church, Valhermoso Springs, AL. It has been used with great success. The room is decorated to look like someone's back yard and garden. Go elaborate, kids love it. 

Week one: "Preparing the Soil"

Bible verse: I John 1:9 placed on overhead or poster board (use version most helpful to your students) "If we confess our sins..."

Objectives: To help us understand God loves us and wants to care for us. We must ask his forgiveness. 

Song: Rise and Shine and Give God the Glory, Glory (Wee Sing Bible Songs)

Object lesson: (have two plants; one very healthy and one nearly dead) "Do you know what boys and girls? Did you know that we are a lot like a plant? Can any of you guess why I would say that? Can you raise your hands and tell me a way we are like a plant? (good soil with no rocks or weeds in it, water, food, nourishment, sunshine, love, care, warmth and rest) Those are all good answers. We grow just like a plant grows. We started out very small. Our parents fed us, clothed us, and cared for us. As they did that we grew. If they had not done that we may have become very ill or weakly. Take these two plants for instance. Lets say that one of these plants was taken very good care of. We gave it water and food when needed. We kept it weeded and pruned. We made sure it had plenty of sunshine and maybe we even talked to it. Some people even say that if you play soft music to your plant it will grow better. Now let's say that the other plant never got watered. It was left to fend for itself. Some plants can do that but not when they are in a pot like these are. If you were to tell me which plant was which could you do it? How may of you think this plant is the healthy one (point to the dead plant and allow for response) How many think it is this one? (point to healthy plant) Of course this is the healthy plant. We can tell by what it looks like can't we? Now, let's think about us. If we are cared for, eat healthy, get plenty of exercise and sleep and so on, we will be healthy and strong like this plant. If we don't eat properly, we only eat junk food, we stay up real late, sit and watch TV and play video games all the time and never get exercise we could end up being very tired and lazy. Our minds won't function properly. Yes, indeed, we are a lot like a plant with some unique differences though. One difference is we were made in God's image. We can feel love, sadness, happiness. We can communicate (talk) to God. A plant can't do that. Another thing we can do that a plant can't do is reason and think. We can make choices. This week we are learning how we can become part of God's garden. We can chose to live there or we can chose to live with Satan. We make that chose by the things we do, the things we say, the friends we keep, the places we go, and so on. God wants us to live in his garden but he loves us so much he allows us to make choices on our own. Sometimes we make the wrong choice but God never stops caring for us. Go is waiting for us. He wants us to grow strong in the Lord. I can't even imagine anyone wanting to live in Satan's garden. There are weeds of sin, the soil is rocky and dry, it's full of darkness, and Satan does not care for us. If you were in Satan's garden do you think he would keep the weeds pulled? Would he keep you watered and fertilized? Probably not. Satan enjoys it when we suffer and struggle to survive. However, God on the other hand does care for us. Our Bible verse tells us how to be part of God's garden. Let's say it together. Does everyone know what it means? (Explain if necessary) When we follow the guidelines of this verse and then live it we can live in God's garden. Let's say it again. Now let's bow our heads..

Craft time: Give each child a Styrofoam cup, a few green bean seeds or a small amount of grass seed and some rocky, weedy soil. Spread paper out for each child so they can dump their soil on it and pick out the weeds and rocks. They should place soil in the cup and plant the seeds. Help them put a small hole in the bottom for drainage. Water each cup and glue a copy of the Bible verse on the cup. Instruct them to water a little each day and place in a sunny place.

God's Garden - Week #2: Fertilizing and Watering our Garden

Bible verse Eph. 3:17-18 "And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts, living within you as you trust in him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God's marvelous love; And may you be able to feel and understand, as all God's children should, how long, how wide, how deep, and how high his love really is." (You could give a prize, such as a small plant, for any child who learns the whole verse.)

(Or you may continue to use the verse from the first week and use it thru-out the four week sessions.)

Objectives: To help us understand how important it is to read our Bibles daily, to commune with other Christian friends, and to attend church regularly. God tells us in His Word to do these things. They will encourage us, lift us up spiritually, and give us guidance in times when we truly need it.

This week's lessons are all object lessons.

Object Lesson #1: preparation: A stalk of celery in a clear glass filled with water to which has been added several drops of red food coloring. Allow to set overnight or longer. Have another stalk that has not been soaked overnight to represent our life without God.

Presentation: Look at this celery (hold up glass of red coloring with celery in it). I put it in a glass filled with red water. What happened to the celery? (Allow any responses) That's right. It absorbed or took in the food colored water and turned it color, didn't it? Do you realize, boys and girls, we are a lot like this piece of celery. We absorb and become like the people and things around us. If we are around naughty friends, what might happen? (Responses) If we are around caring people, what happens? (Responses) If we surround ourselves with the things of God, what will happen? (Responses) It is important that we read God's word. It is important we go to church on a regular basis. It is important to choose the right type of people to be our friends. We will absorb these things into our lives, our actions, and our works. That's a lot like the plants we had here the last time we met. Remember? One was taken very good care; watered, fertilized, kept in the right amount of sunlight and so on. The other was not. It was neglected. It could not be saved and I had to throw it away. How sad. Reading our Bible daily, going to church, being with Christian friends, praying and talking to God are all like the red water that was absorbed into the celery. The celery represents us. We must absorb the right things into our lives. 

Song: "Read, Read, Read the Word" (Mother Goose tape)

Object Lesson #2: Preparation: A package of Mustard Seeds

Presentation: In my hand I have something very tiny. Would anyone like to take a guess as to what it might be? (Responses) They are seeds. They are mustard seeds. How many of you like mustard? What do you like it on? (Responses) Did you know these are some of the smallest seeds, and yet, with the proper care, fertilization, water, they will grow into one of the biggest plants around? Pretty cool isn't it?

Jesus talked about the mustard seed. He said if it is taken care of, it could grow to be bigger than most of the plants around it, and that eventually birds would be able to build their nests init. Now, when Jesus was talking about these seeds he was not actually talking about seeds. No, he was really talking about people. He was teaching us about planting our lives in God's kingdom. He wants us to listen and understand God's Word, to accept God's presence in our lives, and to follow Christ's teachings. Even though we may be just a small seed in God's universe, we grow as Christians and become as large as a tree in the kingdom of God. I am going to give each of you a mustard seed to take home, they will be hard to keep a hold of, so be careful. You may want to try and grow it when you get home. Do not bury it deep. In fact. Just lay it on the ground in a good spot and swish a little dirt over it. Mark it somehow so you remember where you put it. Or you can carry it with you in your pocket as a reminder that you become what you absorb. 

Craft time: A seed picture. Each child will need a Styrofoam cup of assorted seeds; one or two Q-tips; a small amount of Elmer's glue; and a simply designed picture of an animal placed on typing paper which has been pre-glued to poster board squares. . You can pick up an assortment of beans from the grocery store in the dry bean section. Or pick up a few bags of Fifteen Bean Soup mixes. Works great. 

The children will "paint" portions of their picture using the Q-tips and glue, then apply their beans in any way they care to. Continue until their pictures are complete. Allow to dry flat. Shoebox tops make great carriers for them to carry their pictures home in. You may want to frame them using a dark construction paper border and glue the memory verse on the frame.

God's Garden - Week #3: Protecting your Garden from Disease and Pests

Bible Verse: I Peter 5:8 "Be careful and alert; because your enemy, Satan, is like a lion, roaring, walking and stalking, seeking out who he can eat and destroy."

Objectives: To show us that sin is destructive. Satan is alive and will try to trick us no matter what it takes. We must put our faith in God and resist sin. Sin will destroy us if we allow it in our lives. And just like a garden which is uncared for; it will produce very little and be worthless.

Object Lesson #1 (the kids really like this lesson) Preparation: Have an easel prepared with a large sheet of paper or poster board on it. Also have on hand large tip markers of black and red. (practice drawing Satan at home with his forked tail, horns, long skinny fingers, and evil face) If you decorated your classroom with a garden you will want to add some weeds to it at this time (you will pull them out during the lesson).

Presentation: Boys and girls, I want you to listen to me very carefully. I want everyone to have a chance to answer me if they wish to. Do not call out answers unless I call on you. Do you understand? O.K. I am going to draw a picture of what we think Satan looks like. Are you ready? Now, think about what you think Satan looks like. Raise your hand if you have an idea. When I call your name give me ONE thing about him. Give others a chance to name a few things about him too. Ready? Let's see, who will I call first? (as you pick each child list the things to the side that will be drawn last and draw the things that you are able to do first-example: a child may say that Satan is red. You cannot color the "red" until you have made his body. So the color red would be listed until a child names his body which you can draw. Then erase the word red from the list and color his body.) Continue this until you have drawn Satan. You may have to give a few clues, such as "what might Satan have in his hand?" in order to get the picture of Satan as you practiced at home.

Now, boys and girls, this is what people think Satan looks like. But, Satan is clever. Do you know what that means? He's sneaky like a fox waiting to catch a rabbit. He can change his looks to appear in different forms. He was a serpent when he was in the Garden of Eden; there he tricked Adam and Eve. He was at one time a beautiful angel in heaven. Like our Bible verse says, he is like a roaring lion. So, as you can see, Satan does not run around in a suit like this picture I just drew. He can change his appearance to trick us into sinning. Usually he tries to look pretty, and inviting. He tries to make everything seem fun and exciting. But boys and girls, sin is wrong, no matter what form it takes. We must be careful and put our faith in God. God provides Jesus and the Holy Spirit as protection for you. Sin is like the weeds and bugs that attack our garden plants. If we see a small weed growing, we must remove it quickly. (Remove the weeds from your garden) If we don't, it will grow, wrapping its roots around our plant's roots and take away the nutrients and vitamins needed by our plants to make them strong and healthy. The bugs will eat at the stalks and tender leaves, damaging the plant making it weak and unproductive. Sin will do that to us too. Just a little sin will gradually grown into a big sin that will wrap us up and destroy us before we know it. 

Object Lesson #2 Preparation: A duck decoy, about 10 foot of string and a duck call if possible.

Presentation: Have any of you ever gone hunting? (Responses) I used to go hunting with my dad a long time ago. We went deer hunting. Some people hunt Bear. Some hunt elk. Some hunt rabbit and squirrel. And some people hunt ducks. They get up very early. They sneak out to the pond. They tie a string around one of these decoys. (Tie your string around the neck) After the string is tied they go to a hiding place called a duck blind. There the hunter waits for the real ducks to arrive. When the real ducks fly overhead, the hunter jerks gently on the string causing the decoy to move. This makes it look like it is a real duck. While he is doing this he will also blow on the duck call. The real ducks will fly close by or land near the decoy. What do you think happens next? BANG! POW! The ducks become the hunter's dinner that evening! Interesting, isn't it? Well, Satan often works the same way. He tries to trick us. Sometimes he makes something seem so right, so good, so inviting. Like when we pretend to be sick so we can stay home from school or church, or your friends say "Just try it one time," like drugs, cigarettes, or beer. We might feel embarrassed to witness for Jesus or pray for our food in a restaurant. Satan even tries to pretend he is like a god so people will serve him. You know, in my garden at home, there are some really pretty flowers. But after reading about them, I've discovered they are not flowers at all. They are very pretty weeds. They have to be destroyed and removed. They are nice looking, but they are destructive to my garden plants. Satan works just like that in our lives. We must watch out for the weeds, bugs, and decoys that Satan will put in front of us. We must keep fertilized and watering our lives with God's Word, and he will be a Gardener that we can count on to care for us properly.

Craft time: Preparation: large yellow meat trays, one for each child (sometimes a meat department or meat market will donate trays if they know they are for church) in which you have pre-drawn (or cut out) two identical duck bodies (no feet), a cotton ball for each child and one pair of webbed feet totaling 4 inches wide cut from orange construction paper (which you have pre cut), and a small dab of Elmer's glue. You may purchase wiggle eyes or draw them so each child has two.

Children will glue the cotton ball to the inside of one of the ducks. Add glue to the other side of the cotton and place the other duck on it. The two ducks will stand with the cotton holding them apart a little. Place a small amount of glue on the bottom of each duck and set them on the webbed feet. Allow to dry. You may add the Bible verse to the back side of the duck if you wish.

God's Garden - Week #4: The Harvest and Sharing it

Bible verse: Matthew 9:37 Then Jesus said to his disciples, "The harvest is plenty and the workers are few, pray that God will send workers to the harvest."

Preparation for the following discussion: Write the verse on a wipe off board or chalk board. Underline the words harvest and workers. What do you think Jesus meant when he said the word harvest? (lost people of the world) What do you think he meant by the word workers? (Those of us who must tell them about Jesus)

Let's change the word first harvest to the word people and the last workers to the word me. How would the verse sound? ( Erase the words harvest and workers and replace them with the words people and me. ) Let's read it together now. ("The people are plenty and the workers are few, pray that God will sent me to the harvest.") Makes it more personal doesn't it? 

Song: The Harvest is Ready words by Dianne Richards 

Sing to the tune of "The Lord is my Shepherd"
The harvest is ready, Lord send the workers now,
The harvest is the people, Lord send the workers now.
I'll go, I'll go, I'll be a worker too,
I'll go, I'll go, I'll tell them "God loves you."

Object Lesson #1 Preparation: You will need a large dishpan or a small child's pool filled with several inches of water. If you can get a very small plastic boat to float in the water it will help the children see the movement better. You will need several quarter size pebbles and enough food color to color the water well. 

Presentation: I have something very important to tell you. I want you children to gather around the water. Do not crowd. Make room for everyone. Some of you may want to stand behind those who are sitting. DO NOT touch the water or the container. It must remain completely still for this lesson to work. Remain very quiet and don't move. (If a child should accidentally bump the container have them wait patiently until it stops moving again- do not scold the child-they get excited and want to be as close as possible) I am going to drop one of these pebbles into the water, right in the middle of it. Watch closely. (drop a pebble) What happened to the water? (It rippled) Did you notice the boat rocking? (Drop several more pebbles so all can see the rippling effect that happens.) You know boys and girls, whenever we do anything, it will have an affect on someone else at some time. The words we say can help or hurt someone. The things we do can hurt or help us and so on. We are like the pebbles that were dropped in the water. We will cause a ripple in the lives of others. When we are living an active life for Jesus we will have a good ripple effect. But if we are serving Satan, what kind of an effect might we have on people? (Response) Bad, that's right. We should always be good examples of what Christ Jesus has done for us. People should be able to tell by our actions that we are Christians. You may all go back to your seats. Be careful.

Object Lesson #2 Preparation: Add some artificial vegetables to your garden area if you are using one for decorations in your room. Make sure there are enough so later you can harvest them and give one vegetable to each child as a reminder of the lesson. You may want to glue the memory verse on each one prior to placing them in your garden. Kids love taking things home. If you want you could purchase real cucumbers and green peppers and yellow neck squash instead. (If you did not use the garden decoration you can still do this lesson by using a basket of fruit)

Take a look at our garden (basket). My, my, my. Look at all the vegetables. My garden has done very well this season. I guess I've done a pretty good job at taking care of it. I've kept it watered when it didn't rain. I've kept the bugs away and the weeds pulled. I see no weeds in this garden. The plants and vegetables look very healthy. It has taken a lot of work. I've had to study about the plants. I've talked to other gardeners and growers. I've learned about all the diseases and pests that could be harmful to my garden plants. I had to weed it nearly every day to keep those little weeds from taking over. Now it is time to harvest my vegetables. Does anyone know what that means? It means to begin picking them or gathering them up to eat or sell or give away. (Begin to gather them making sure you are having trouble holding them all. Drop one or two, etc.) Can I get _______ to help me? I seem to have too many vegetable to handle here. This is just great! But what am I going to do with all of them? Oh, I know. I can give some to you. Yes, that's what I will do. Here, you take this one, and you take this, (continue until each child has one.) You know boys and girls, that's what we should be doing with Jesus. Once we have him in our hearts we need to share him with others. We can't keep him all to ourselves. We should be doing what our verse is telling us to do and tell others about Him. Jesus had 12 special friends called disciples, who did not keep Jesus to themselves. They shared what Jesus did for them with other people. They helped other people. They told people about Jesus and what he could do for them. We are to work in the garden (world) God has given us and tell others about his love. When we become a Christian, telling others becomes our responsibility. 

Craft time: You can allow the children to glue the memory verse onto their vegetables or decorate them with eyes and yarn hair. 

Copyright 2003 Dianne Richards

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