Title: The Parable of the Mustard Seed: The Kingdom of Heaven
Age: 3 to 8 years
Liturgical Time: Non-specific, but usually after Christmas-Epiphany
Doctrinal Content: The mystery of the Kingdom of God. This mystery is understood within the context of the mystery of life: that is to say the Kingdom and life is growth, transformation, it is contained within all of life, and while the Kingdom is not of us, we do have a role.
Direct Aims: This lesson plan directly aims to: proclaim the parable of the Mustard Seed in order to isolate and lift up the power of God in the mystery of life; to introduce to the child the power in something so small and to see the transformation of something so small (the mustard seed) to something so big (the mustard seed tree); to enable the child to realize the power is not just in the mustard seed, but in everything; and to enable the child to come to understand this power inside themselves.
Indirect Aims: Indirectly, this less plan aims to: inspire wonder in front of the mysteries of God's Kingdom; to inspire a response of praise, love, and gratitude toward God, the Creator of Life; to increase our reverence for all of life, including ourselves; and to offer a foundation for moral formation.
Sources: Matthew 13: 31-32
Materials for the Lesson Plan:
Text of scripture:
Container or picture of mustard seeds
Picture of fully grown mustard tree
Scripture Booklet or Bible
Candles, Matches, Snuffer
Sing with Joy: Music for the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd
Parable of the Mustard Seed Power Point Presentation
Note: This lesson can be completed in three moments, in three progressive weeks, or it can be completed in one session.
Invite and gather the children for a presentation. Introduce the text to open our ears, the catechist says: "Today we are listening to more words of Jesus. These words are a parable. Jesus gave us lots of parables. A parable is a story about something from life that is familiar to us. Jesus uses this type of story to teach us about something else, something about God and the Kingdom of God. Jesus told many parables about the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is an important topic; we know this because Jesus told lots of parables about the Kingdom. This is a big subject for us and we can't understand everything in just one parable. This parable, the parable of the mustard seed, I am going to read to you are the words of Jesus, so let us light a candle (Light candle). Get ready to hear and listen about the Kingdom of God.
The catechist solemnly reads the text of Matthew 13:31-32: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.'
Meditation and demonstration of the text, the catechist says, "Let's think about what Jesus is telling us. I have some mustard seeds in this box. Remember Jesus told us the smallest of all seeds is the mustard seed. I am going to pass the mustard seeds so you can look. Take one. Maybe you can put one on the palm of your hand and hold it while we talk about these words Jesus told us. These seeds are very small. Jesus told us these seeds were the smallest of the seeds. Have you ever seen anything so small? Now if you took that seed like the man in the parable did and planted it, it would grow into the greatest of shrubs, a tree. If you look in the picture you will see a tree, a very tall tree. How can this happen? A tiny seed becomes the largest of trees? It takes something very powerful. How does that happen? It needs man to plant it, good soil, rain, and the sun: all of these things help the tiny seed to grow. It is these things that really make it grow? Can we do this? Who is doing this? Whose power is doing this? Are you telling me God's power is in this seed? Is God's power in this seed? Have you ever thought about God's power being in small things? We can build things together so they make something big. How do we do that? But that is not what God is doing, putting things together. He is transforming the tiny seed into a large tree. Jesus said the kingdom of heaven is like that. Like the mustard seed the man sowed in the field grew to be a big tree, so big that birds came to perch on its branches. That tree must be thick and strong. Could that tiny mustard seed hold a bird? No, not at this stage, but when it is grown into a tree it could.
Restoration of material, "If you would like to put back your mustard seed, you can put it in this box. If you would like to keep your mustard seed we can tape it to your hand. You can look at the tiny mustard seed and think about the amazing power of God. Think about it this week. I am going to put the picture and the box on this shelf. You can look at the seeds in this box if you like.
Invitation to work, "You may choose some work now.
Gather and settle children for presentation. Introduce the text by summarizing last week, "Do you remember last week, the parable of the mustard seed? Remember who told us this parable? Jesus told us. What is this parable about? Is it just about a mustard seed? Remember a parable says one thing but tells about something else. Remember the kingdom of heaven? Jesus tells us about the kingdom of heaven. I am going to read the parable of the mustard seed again. Remember how small the mustard seed is? And how it grows into a large tree? (Light candle)
Read Matthew 13:31-32
Meditation of text and demonstration of material, "Last week we talked about the amazing power in the tiny mustard seed because it grows so strong and large that birds can perch in its branches. I wonder is this power, the kingdom of heaven, just in the mustard seed? Or is it in anything else? Take responses. So they have the same power as the mustard seed? Yes. The kingdom of heaven is like the mustard seed. Where else do we see this power? All over the world? Everywhere, it is there. Have you ever thought of the kingdom of heaven being in so many places? Things changing, trees shooting up, it is everywhere, isn't it? I wonder about that, the kingdom of heaven. Why is Jesus telling us the kingdom of heaven is like this? What does this make you think about? What does this tell you?
Restoration of material and invitation to work, "I am going to leave this here for you, on the shelf where it belongs. Put box and picture back on the shelf. You can think more about this if you like. Maybe draw a picture, if you like.
Gather and settle children for presentation. Introduce the text by summarizing last couple of weeks. Light candle.
Read Matthew 13:31-32.
Meditation of text and demonstration of material, "Let's think a little more about this great power in the tiny mustard seed, this power everywhere. The more we look, the more we see. The more we hear, the more we learn. Listen again to the words of Jesus about the mustard seed, about the kingdom of heaven. The man sowed the mustard seed and this tiny seed grew, didn't it? What did it grow into? A large tree, so large birds nest in its branches. But we have learned that this mysterious power in not just in the mustard seed. It is in other things, this power of God. We haven't thought about this power being closer to us, like in babies. Did we start out as babies? Were we small and then we grew bigger and bigger? I was that small at one time and I grew until I was this size. Even when our body is done growing, do we stop? How else do we grow? Do we learn? We grow when we learn more about God, God's love. We all die, eventually, but is that it? No, we continue to grow in the kingdom of heaven. Does this mean that this power that is in the mustard seed is right inside of us? I wonder if this makes us want to say something to God about this kingdom of heaven. It is everywhere we look, even inside of us.
Continuous prayerful response: "We could sing a song, a song of praise. The kingdom of heaven, what is it like? Sing from songbook.
Restore the material and invite the children to work.
Have children plant a seed in a pot, and then place it on their windows to watch it grow. Give them instructions on how to care for their plant.
Exploration of the mustard seeds and picture of the tree.
An Album Page prepared by Mindi Armatas, St. Catherine Greek Orthodox Church
Notice: This lesson plan utilizes training and the general philosophy/method of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program. Materials found in this document, however, have been created specifically to incorporate the theology and dogmatic teaching of the Orthodox Church. The author of this lesson offers special recognition to Mrs. JoAnne Padget, CGS Instructor, who provided instruction and guidance in the CGS method. The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program requires intensive study and strongly recommends that teachers using their program enroll in and complete coursework through an authorized CGS instructor. More information about CGS is available at http://www.cgsusa.org.