Friday, May 6, 2011

Fruit of the Spirit

I LOVE doing the Fruit of the Spirit with preschoolers. It might seem like an abstract concept, but I have really found that preschoolers understand and identify with many of the fruits we talk about. The way I usually do the story is to Google, print off, color, and cut out a page-sized fruit for each virtue to go with Galations 5:22-23:

Grapes = Kindness
Orange = Joy
Apple = Self-Control
Strawberry = Love
Banana = Goodness
Peach = Gentleness
Cherry = Faithfulness
Pear = Patience
Watermelon = Peace (get it? a piece of watermelon)

I don't remember where I originally got the idea, but I had a short introduction that went something like this:
"You need a good banana and a brown/bad banana. As you show the children the rotten banana ask 'Who would like to eat this banana? Why not? How can you tell the banana will not taste very good?' Then show the children the good banana and ask 'Now who would like to eat this banana? Why? How can you tell this banana will taste good? Did you know our lives are like one of these two pieces of fruit? Children who belong to God do nice things, so other people see them as good and wholesome, like this good banana. The Bible says in Matthew 7:20, "You will recognize people by their fruit." What kind of fruit do you want to be?"

Then I had the felt board set up with my cut out page-sized fruit taped onto it. Underneath each fruit was an example using our felts of the spiritual fruit it represented:

Love = Mom and Dad holding a kid/baby
Joy = Kid holding a present
Peace = Kid sleeping
Patience = Kids standing in line
Kindness = Kid sharing with another kid
Goodness = Kids helping to set table
Faithfulness = Kids reading Bible
Gentleness = Kid holding a baby
Self-Control = Kid eating ONE cookie instead of five

By removing the fruit covering the examples one at a time and explaining them, the kids really catch on to what each fruit means. By the end of the story, I am usually able to point to each example and have the kids tell me what each fruit is illustrating.

For our craft, I wanted to do something similar to THIS craft from Oriental Trading. I love Oriental Trading's crafts - they are easy and convenient, but I can't afford to do them every week for three dozen children! So, I try to pick the top five or so weeks that I really need a convenient craft due to other events going on in my life and I buy crafts for those weeks. Otherwise, I use Oriental Trading more as inspiration and make my own crafts like it. For this craft, I had my sister draw the apple shape on green foam and we basically copied the craft on our own. This craft would also be a good one for illustrating the Fruits of the Spirit.

In order to help cement more complex concepts like this in my kids' minds, I do try to go over the story again at the end of the night during Award time. Even so, don't be discouraged if a parent asks their child what they learned that night and the kid replies "I don't know." or "Jesus." I truly believe that God's word won't return void and that planting the seeds of the gospel in kid's minds is important - even if it doesn't seem to make an impact immediately. I have learned kids listen closer than you think.

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