February 29, 2012

Noah and the Ark: Learning the Story

Image by: Visualphotos.com 

The story of Noah, the ark, the flood, and God's new covenant symbolized by the rainbow set the scene for a fantastic and engaging language arts lesson.  Noah's story is well-known, so using it to learn language arts allows us to really practice key skills.

Does your child know the story about Noah and the Ark?  You can read it in Genesis 6-9:17.  I recommend finding a children's bible you like that has an age-appropriate version of the story.  Sometimes this even helps us adults find the gems in scripture.

1.  Read the story:  If your bible has pictures, take a "picture walk" first.  As you approach each picture, encourage your child to tell you what he sees.  You may wish to point out important things if he doesn't notice them, or you may choose to do a second "picture walk" at the end of the story and see if he discovers them at that time.

2.  Make it real:  Your child needs time to explore the story on his own and with your guidance.  Help him play with the story by recreating it.  What do you have in your home that resembles the ark story?  Maybe you could enact the whole story in the bathtub!  Do you have a toy boat or something that looks like it, such as a Kleenex box?  What kinds of things do you have two of that look alike (legos, Matchbox cars, small animals or dolls, remote controls)?  Could you use a big blue towel for the water?  I picture a bath towel swallowing up animals all arranged two by two in a three-year-old induced tsunami.  This is exactly the idea!  Let him or her play!

If the child is mostly interested in the flood right now, that is okay.  The flood is big, impressive, and important.  He is present in that.  He can see the beautiful meaning of the rainbow tomorrow.  In fact, that's just the way it probably happened for Noah.  I'm sure it was hard for him to remain faithful, trusting God that he would survive this storm.

3.  Be sure your child recognizes Noah was obedient to God.  Noah trusted God and knew He had his best interests at heart.  Noah's trust in God's care helped him be obedient.  In the same way, children trust that there parents care for them, which helps them to be obedient.

1.  Reread and summarize:  Reread the story, and then encourage your child to summarize it orally or with props.  Ask open questions to see if he recalls the storyline (main events as well as beginning, middle and end), characters, and any big picture stuff (such as the flood, dove, and rainbow).

When you ask questions, consider ways to get broader answers.  For instance, instead of, "Who was Noah?" you might try, "What was Noah like?"  This may work with your little one or it may not.  Figure out what works best for you.  Practice with open questions can help answers like, "A man," develop into, "This guy who built a really big boat, the ark.  And the rain came like this.  And the boat didn't sink.  It floated.  Then, when it was dry, they all came out and there was a great big rainbow!"

2.  Clarify & identify:  Find or print pictures of:  an ark, a flood (or stormy water), dry land, an olive branch, a dove, a man, a family, several animals (two of each), the sun, a rainbow.  Depending on your child's age, interest, and developmental level label or have him help you label the pictures.  Mix them up and have your child identify each one.  Use the pictures again later this week for retelling, and help with writing.

3.  Obtain an empty Kleenex box and paint it brown.  This will become an ark and be used later to play out the story of Noah and the Ark.

Next Time
1.  Play out the story:  In the beginning we practiced.  Now it's time for the big production to show what you remember.  You can use props, pictures, written or spoken words, actions, motions to music, the pictures we printed, or draw a picture.  It doesn't have to be fancy.  Trust me, it can be very simple.  This is a real way though of putting the pieces together to create a coherent understanding in your child's memory.

2.  Use your painted Kleenex box as Noah's ark.  Use small plastic animals or toys to represent the pairs of animals aboard the boat.  Be sure to include Noah and his family as well as a bird to find the olive branch.  This can stay in the play area to be used to retell the story of Noah again and again.

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