Warm weather and water play go together for young children. This summer, use this love of water to introduce children to stories of Jesus. As he lived near water, and used water imagery in his teachings, it is a common topic in many Christian scriptures. Suggestions for stories are listed below. The children will not fully grasp the scripture meanings as they might understand the Nativity scriptures, but the aim here is to familiarize them with these scriptures. This is not a formal lesson, but a way of keeping Jesus in mind on a warm day.
Draw a simple fish outline on a piece of cardstock or construction paper, about 6 inches long. Cut this out and use it as a pattern for six more fish. On each fish, write a scripture citation:
Mark 1:9-11 (Jesus’ baptism)
John 2:6-10 (changing water into wine)
Matthew 4:18-22 (Jesus meets and calls the fishermen to follow him)
Mark 6:45-51 (Jesus walks on water)
Mark 9:41 (Jesus talks about giving a drink of water)
Luke 5:1-11 (the miraculous fish catch)
John 21:2-11(Jesus appears on the lake shore after his Resurrection)
Attach a paper clip to each fish. Make a fishing pole out of a dowel and a length of yarn for line. Tie a small magnet to the end of the line. Experiment with sizes of paperclips to make certain the fish can be ‘caught’ with the magnet.
Spread a blanket on the floor and scatter the fish on this. Allow the children to go ‘fishing’ from the ‘shore’. When it is story time, choose one child to catch that day’s ‘story fish.” Read the scripture story listed on the fish. Mention that Jesus lived near water and many people worked to catch fish for their jobs. Then offer water related activities, and refer back to the stories as children play.
- Fill a water table or several dish pans with water and marine life plastic animals, small boats, etc.
- Bring in three or four cardboard boxes, each big enough for a child to sit in. These can become ‘boats’. Designate an area of the room or playground as the sea; suggest they fish like Jesus’ good friends.
- Serve cold water to thirsty children and together say a thank-you prayer for the gift of clean water.
- Using an eyedropper, drop a small amount of food coloring onto absorbent paper. Have children drip water onto the paper with eyedroppers, watch the color spread and become less intense.
- Have children help you name all the ways they use water in the classroom. Suggest they do this at home with family members.
- Spread a length of blue paper on the art table and suggest children create a mural of underwater life with paints or markers. Provide a book or magazine with pictures of a variety of fish and other marine life.
- Cut clean sponges into fish shapes and have children make fish prints with paint and the sponges.