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Teaching in the Word and Life – Sprouting

One of the best teachers is experience. I don’t have many specific memories of book-work I did as a home-schooled child, but I will always remember the inner workings of the ear from the model we built, the patterns of beavers from the dam my mother allowed us to dig in the front yard, and the layers of a volcano from the ice-cream “volcano” we created (and ate) with strawberry “lava” and powdered sugar “ash”. Because God created both the natural world and the scriptures, they are also intertwined and provide ample opportunities for teaching both the Word of God and life skills side by side.

One activity that is fun for children, while teaching them valuable life skills (and helping you get your own work done in the process) is sprouting. Since sprouts take several days from beginning to end, below are some planned activities around this same concept for a whole week (or more) if you are all having fun doing it! Note that for many of these (especially for the older age groups) will take more than one day to complete. You may want to chose one project in each subject area and have your students work on each one a little every day.

If you are new to sprouting, then read the article about sprouting first. Also, your first time or two (especially with kids involved) do not get too attached to the results. Know that this will be a learning experience, and that the fun is in the exploration and discovery. You will be getting lots of sprouts in no time, but it may take some experimentation to find a method that works for you. Below is a sample five-day curriculum to learn sprouting along with related activities and scriptures. Try using sprouts such as quinoa, wheat, adzuki bean, lentil, mung bean, or oats, so that you will be ready to harvest by the end of the week.

Day 1: Prepare your containers (one per person), soak, and start your sprouts.

Discussion Topics: God’s creation of the world (Gen. 1:1 – 2:2). God’s creation of us as individuals (Phillipians 1:3-11).

Activities for young children (2-6):

●       (Art, Writing) Have each child decorate their sprout-growing container. Glue on beads, leaves, or pictures of the plants. Write their name on a piece of paper, draw designs or pictures, and glue it to the container.

●      (Reading) Get some books from the library about various types of plants.

●      (Social Studies, Science) Take a walk through the neighborhood or yard and identify as many types of plants as you can.

●      (Math) Count how many seeds of each kind are planted.

●      (Bible, Critical Thinking) Help children identify which day of creation plants were created. Talk about why it was important that it was that day rather than sooner or later in the week.

Activities for older children (7-12):

●      (Science, Writing) Look up the scientific names of the plants you are sprouting and add those to the labels.

●      (Language Arts) Search the library or Internet to find poems about the plants you are growing.

●      (Art) In addition to the written label, create drawings of the plants to add to the containers.

●      (Math) Figure out the total number of seeds by multiplying how many in each container by the number of containers.

●      (Geography) Identify the regions of the world that each plant is from on a map.

Activities for middle/high-schoolers:

●      (Science) Use the scientific method to determine the ideal growing conditions for sprouts. Have each student chose 2-4 different variables to study (e.g. sunlight vs. darkness, aerated vs. airtight container, etc.) and write a hypothesis about which plants will grow the best and why.

●      (English, Bible) Write a one- to two-page paper about why our actions are so often referred to as fruit in the Bible (e.g. Phil. 1:11) and what we can learn from the natural world in our spiritual growth.

●      (Math) Look up information regarding the calories and nutrients in sprouts. Then calculate how many pounds per week of sprouts a teenager would need in order to survive on sprouts alone.

●      (Social Studies, History, Geography) Research what people groups first cultivated each sprout you are growing and the historical uses of the plants.

Day 2: Rinse your sprouts.

Discussion Topics: Water and its role in the natural world (Gen. 1: 6-8; 6:9-8:22; 26:19-32). Water as a symbol for the Spirit and belief in Jesus (John 4:1-42; John 7:37-39, Revelation 7: 14-17)

Activities for young children (2-6):

●      (Critical Thinking) Use duplicate pictures of plants to create your own plant matching game. (Or animals to follow the theme of the animals coming into the ark two-by-two.)

●      (Science, Pre-Math) Chose several containers of various sizes. Have children pour water from one container into another. Guess which container will hold the most water, the least water, the same amount of water. Talk about the shapes of the containers and how the water fits into any shape.

●      (Music) Sing the Noah’s Ark song.

●      (Art) Draw a picture of a rainbow. Talk about how water makes rainbows (if the weather is nice you could even try making your own outdoors) and the symbol of God’s love that a rainbow teaches us.

●      (Geography) Take a field trip to the nearest natural body of water (river, lake, pond, etc.). Talk about the separating of water and land from the creation story you studied on Day 1.

Activities for older children (7-12):

●      (Science) Explore all the states of water by pouring liquid water into a pan and heating it into steam, and freezing it in an ice-cube tray.

●      (Science, Art) Draw a picture of the water cycle and label each phase.

●      (Geography, Social Studies) Using a Bible map or other reference, find the location of Samaria and Israel during the time of Jesus. Think of other groups of people that have been prejudiced against each other. Talk about how Jesus came for all people.

●      (Phys. Ed.) Walk the same amount of distance as it would take to walk entirely around the ark.

●      (Math) Calculate how many ounces, quarts, and gallons of water a person needs to drink in one day and one week to survive.

Activities for middle/high-schoolers:

●      (Science) Follow up with the scientific evaluation you began by journaling the findings regarding differences in growing conditions (including if there is no noticeable difference at this point). Try to find other studies regarding growing conditions, especially as related to the effect of water. Compare and contrast these studies to your own findings.

●      (History, Social Studies, English) Research floods in history and current events. Write a one-page paper comparing and contrasting these floods with the great flood of Noah’s time.

●      (Math) Calculate the size of the ark in cubic feet, and then convert to cubic meters.

●      (Art) Draw or paint a picture of what you imagine when reading the passage in Rev. 7.

●      (Social Studies, Verbal Communication) Research to find a non-profit organization that is seeking to fill people’s need for both physical and spiritual water. Report to the rest of the family on what you find and take a stance as to whether it would be a good organization to support.

Day 3: Rinse your sprouts.

Discussion Topics: Soil and its role in plant growth (Gen. 1:9-13). Soil as a metaphor for salvation (Luke 8:1-15, Mark 4:1-20).

Activities for young children (2-6):

●      (Phys. Ed., Science) Go for a walk, taking shovels and small paper bags with you, and try to find different types of soil (e.g. sand, dirt, clay, etc.). Alternatively, if you do not live in an area with much soil diversity, try to collect these ahead of time from friends, or at a home and garden store. (If possible recreate each type of soil from the parable.) Feel each one with your hands. Compare the textures. Get them wet and see how the feeling changes.

●      (Writing) Help each child draw their name in the dirt.

●      (Math) Measure the dirt in measuring cups. Put piles of dirt in order from smallest amount to largest amount.

●      (Music) Sing to the tune of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” – “Dig, dig, dig some dirt, spread it nice and smooth. Thank you God, for the dirt, to grow delicious food.” Create your own hand motions of digging dirt and planting seeds.

Activities for older children (7-12):

●      (Art, English) Write and illustrate your own book telling the story of the parable of the soil.

●      (Math, Science) Create dirt pudding” for a snack to learn all the layers of soil in a yummy treat.

●      (Social Studies, Geography) Research where different types of soil are located (e.g. dessert sand), and how people use the soil (e.g. Native American adobe cliff dwellings).

●      (Spelling) Make a list of spelling words from the parts of soil and have a spelling bee.

●      (English, Verbal Presentation) Go to the library and have each child find a book about soil and then do a book report about what they learned.

Activities for middle/high-schoolers:

●      (Science) Journal your observations regarding differences in growing conditions between the various samples you started on Day 1. Try to find other studies regarding growing conditions, especially as related to the effect of soil. Compare and contrast these studies to your own findings. Why are your sprouts able to grow without soil?

●      (English, Science) The parable of the sower gives many different types of things that can prevent or assist in plant growth. Research what other properties of soil (e.g. lead in the soil, PH balance, etc.) affect plant growth. Write a paper describing these things and drawing spiritual parallels to life (e.g. if we are not balanced in our approach to the Word looking for both promises and admonishions, then good fruit will not grow even though we have learned a lot of knowledge).

●      (Art) Create, direct, and perform a play about the parable of the sower. Involve younger children, or perform it for them using sock puppets or by getting together a group of friends to play different parts.

●      (Math) Using the parable of the sower for your data, answer the following questions. Assuming all the seeds are scattered evenly, what is the probability that the seed will fall on good ground? If 100 seeds fell on the good ground, and there is an equal distribution of seeds producing 30, 60, and 100 times, what will the total harvest be? Sketch a diagram representing the area to be planted. The good ground should be 10’ x 12’, the path should be 20’ x 2’, the rocky places should be 4’ x 3’, the thorny ground should be 6’ x 1’. Using this diagram, and assuming all the seed is scattered evenly, what is the new probability that the seed will fall on good ground? What is the probability that the seed will fall on rocky soil? Thorns? The path?

●      (History, Charting) Research the agricultural practices of Israel during the time of the New Testament and the modern day practices. Create a chart comparing differences and similarities.

Day 4: Rinse your sprouts (some sprouts may be ready to harvest).

Discussion Topics: Patience and diligence in growing plants (Psalm 24:1-2,  Proverbs 6:6-8). Patience with other people (Psalm 37:7-9, Proverbs 15:18, Galatians 6:9, Colossians 3:12-13).

Activities for young children (2-6):

●      (Art, Writing) Pick one of the verses about patience. Write it out in your best handwriting and decorate it to hang on the wall. Alternately for very small children, write out the verse for them and have them color it, or use stencils.

●      (Science) Pour various kinds of liquids from one container to another (e.g. molasses, syrup, honey, milk, water, etc.) Which ones pour faster? Which ones pour slower?

●      (Critical Thinking) Draw a series of plants on index cards from seed to fully grown plant. Have the children put the index cards in order from first to last.

●      (Math)

●      (Music) Learn a simple song using an instrument like the piano, clapping, or even just your voice. Talk about how it takes time and practice to get good at things.

Activities for older children (7-12):

●      (Home Ec., Critical Thinking) Find recipes using the sprouts that are growing. Make sure you have all the other ingredients needed for the recipes, or make a list of items that you will need to purchase at the store.

●      (Math) Go to the store to buy items for the recipes you found. Compare prices of each item to find the best price per unit. Alternatively, if you have all the ingredients already, Calculate the cost of the recipes (including the cost of the seed sprouts) based on receipts or online prices at your favorite store.

●      (Art) Draw a picture of a plant using pointillism (the form of art creating a picture out of many individual dots). Look at works by Paul Signac and Georges Seurat for inspiration.

●      (Science) Get books from the library about ants and study how they work together.

●      (English) Choose one of the following people and do a report (written or verbal) about how they showed patience, especially with other people:

○      Harriet Tubman

○      Mother Teresa

○      Thomas Edison

○      Martin Luther King Jr.

○      Gladys Alward

Activities for middle/high-schoolers:

●      (Science) Journal the findings comparing your various plant growing conditions. Review your original hypothesis and compare that to the results you are getting through experimentation.

●      (English) Read one of the following books, especially watching for how the characters reaped what they sowed.

○      Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

○      Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi

○      The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

○      Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

○      The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

○      Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Day 5: Rinse your sprouts, harvest and eat if ready.

Discussion Topics: Harvesting what you have sown (Genesis 8:22, 44:1-56, Psalm 85: 10-13, Proverbs 10:5, 20:4, Matthew 9:36-38, 13: 24-30)

Activities for young children (2-6):

●      (Critical Thinking) Find or draw simple pictures of action and result (such as planting a seed, then a picture of a flower, flipping a switch, and a picture of a light on, etc.) Have children match the action to the result.

●      (Math) Count how many bunches of sprouts grew.

●      (Reading) Get the book “The Gardener” by Sarah Stewart from the library or bookstore and read it together.

●      (Science) Use all your senses to examine the sprouts. Look at them carefully to see what you can observe about their color and shape. Feel their texture – are they smooth, bumpy, hard, soft? Smell them. Taste them. Listen to the crunch they make while you chew.

●      (Art) Use playdough to make different kinds of fruits and vegetables.

Activities for older children (7-12):

●      (Social Studies) Make a list of your favorite foods and research how they grow and are harvested (e.g. grow on a tree, grown in water, grown underground, grown on a bush, etc.).

●      (Math) Make some of the recipes you found on Day 4. Double at least one recipe.

●      (English) Make a list of the virtues that God is working on growing in you (use the fruits of the Spirit from Galations 5 as inspiration). How do you know if those things are present in your life?

●      (Art) Gather leaves, flowers, or whatever else is available and press between contact paper to make a collage.

Activities for middle/high-schoolers:

●      (Science) Journal any final observations in the plant growth of sprouts under various conditions. Make a final statement regarding whether your hypothesis was true or false. Create a list of additional growing conditions you would be interested in testing in the future, and any other questions that this research created in your mind.

●      (English) Write a paper comparing and contrasting the virtue of patience with the vice of schemeing using the book from Day 4, along with the Bible, as your source material.

Have fun exploring ways to adapt this to your own family dynamics, children’s ages, and goals for your curriculum. Most of the activities suggested are versatile enough to be adapted for any age group with a little creativity in order to even further expand the possibilities. If you are not a homeschool family, these suggestions can still be used for family time together. You could also adapt this to two or more weeks by doing fewer activities per day and going into more depth with each one, and either sprouting several rounds in succession, or by sprouting longer germinating plants such as garlic or wheat-grass, both of which take about twelve days before being ready. Feel free to experiment and bring your own creativity to planning and please leave us some comments about how this worked for you and your family!

Editor’s Note: As an example of one of the activities you can use for this lesson, we’ve included a Word Search Game appropriate for your older homeschoolers. Click on this link to open up a downloadable pdf file for your convenience.

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