Fertile Question: How can people know about God?
Teachers before you start:
- Read the Teacher Background information about the book of Genesis and the creation stories, to deepen your understanding in preparation for teaching. Catholics do not believe in the literal interpretation of the creation stories but that they are sacred myths honouring both God as creator and the goodness of God's creation. It is important that students are not taught anything that would need to be re-taught at a later date.
- Familiarise yourself with the teaching and learning activities.
- Make sure you have access to a good translation (e.g. NRSVCE) of the Bible. Read any texts you are teaching so you can share with the children what is actually in the Bible.
- Ensure that your class has an attractive Bible and arrange for a special place for it to be displayed in the classroom e.g. your prayer table.
- Locate and organise resources.
- Plan the nature walk.
Stage of Inquiry
Explore some ways people can know about God.
Students brainstorm their initial ideas about the fertile question: How can people know about God? They contribute to a class list that is written by the teacher on a large class poster entitled 'Ways people can know about God'. Students each illustrate one of these ways and these illustrations are added to the poster.
Introducing the class Bible
The students listen as the teacher introduces the class Bible as a special book with stories about God and explains that many people know about God from some stories in the Bible. The students brainstorm some stories they may already know in order to contribute to a class list called “Stories from the Bible”. This list can be added to throughout the learning byte.
Creation is good!
The students listen as the teacher introduces the very first story in the Bible and explains we can call it a creation story. Students are guided by their teacher to discuss what it means to create something. They brainstorm a class list of things they can create (e.g. paintings, collage, constructions) and a list of things that God created.
The students participate in a teacher led nature walk around the school. On the walk they respond to the question “What can we see that people can’t create – only God can create?” The students choose items to be photographed and these digital images can be added to a class slideshow entitled “Look what God Can Create” that is hosted on the class Life Page.
The students review the class slideshow and are asked to comment on the goodness of each item (e.g. what is good about the flower). The students describe the “goodness” of God’s creation, making links between God and the natural world.
The students sing the song “The Wonders I See”, by Bernadette Farrell (Great Gifts CD or as an MP3 file).
The first creation story in the book of Genesis
Students discover the world of the text for the first creation story in the book of Genesis (1 – 2:4a) by participating in a teacher led echo mime drama strategy. Click here for sample text and movements.
The students can repeat the activity, taking on responsibility for performing the repeated actions for the phrases that are repeated throughout the story, e.g. “and that’s what happened” - (hands on waist, lean forward and nod); “and it was good” - (hands crossed over heart and then open up).
Students view/listen to the picture book “In the Beginning”, written by Andrew Chinn and illustrated by Jacqui Brown together with the accompanying song. The students understand that this is the same story as the first creation story in the Bible.They learn the words of the chorus and join in singing "God made the world, and saw that it was good ... God made the world for you and for me".;
Stories with messages
Did it really happen? What’s the message?
The students listen together to stories about themselves that are made up by their teacher. Click here for some examples of stories a teacher could make up. The students come to an agreement about whether or not the story actually happened. If it didn't actually happen they come to an agreement about whether the story has a true message. This activity is repeated from time to time so that the students (when developmentally ready) have the opportunity to develop critical thinking.
The students listen as the teacher explains that this type of story is called a myth. The things in the story didn't really happened but the story has special true messages (to help people understand important things).
Creation stories are called myths.
Students view a selection of carefully chosen creation stories from other sources that are suitable for prep students – especially Aboriginal Dreamtime stories (e.g. Dreamtime Story Animations by RedPixels Animation, Tiddalick the Frog, Girawu the Goanna etc.).
Students listen as the teacher explains that people in different parts of the world have their own special stories to try and explain how the world came to be created or how things came to be; this type of story is called a myth. Students may be able to offer examples of some creation stories that they know.
Students begin a class mural of creation stories. As they hear a story they add their illustrations to the mural. Depending upon the members of the local community, students may welcome visitors to the classroom from other faith or cultural traditions, to tell a creation story from their tradition.
Messages about creation from the Bible
Students review the first creation story from the Bible (Genesis 1–2:4a) by repeating the teacher led echo mime and/or singing/viewing the song/book In the Beginning by Andrew Chinn.
Students listen as the teacher explains that people who believe in God, call the creation stories in the Bible sacred myths; because science tells us it's not really the way the earth was made but that the creation stories in the Bible have special true messages God creating a very good world.
The students are led to understand that people believe that God inspired people to write the stories in the Bible. They listen as the teacher explains that the creation stories in the Bible are stories that people wrote down thousands of years ago to tell others about the world and about God. (The students can view a photograph of a Qumran fragment as an illustration the ancient nature of the Biblical texts.) The students are led to understand that at that time nobody really knew how the world was made but the authors wanted to give some important messages about God and creation. The students are led to understand that the stories are kept in the Bible because the special true messages are so important.
Students contribute to a class list of important messages from the first creation story from the Bible (Genesis 1–2:4a). The chorus from "In the Beginning" by Andrew Chinn summarises some important messages suitable for Prep students: "God made the world, and saw that it was good ... God made the world for you and for me". The students illustrate these messages and add these to the class creation mural.
The second creation story in the Bible (Genesis 2:4b-9, 15-25)
Students engage in the world of the text for the second creation story in the book of Genesis (2:4b-9, 15-25) by helping to create a class big book. They first listen to the story read from the text printed onto A3 sized paper (click here for a prepared document). In small groups they illustrate the pages of the story. The pages are then stapled together to make a book that can be placed on the class bookshelf to be read and re-read. Students contribute to a list of important messages from the second creation story from the Bible (Genesis 2:4b-9, 15-25). The students illustrate these messages and add these to the class creation mural.
Teachers note: Only part of this story is required as a mandated core text for Prep students. Check the Bible references and use the actual Bible text to teach children this story.
Responding to the creation stories in the Bible
Students use picture cards to help re-tell the first creation story. They discuss the important messages of the creation stories using sentence starters such as: “I think that God…” “When I think about God I feel…” “Sometimes I wonder whether God…”
Students sing the song “The Wonders I See”, by Bernadette Farrell (on the Great Gifts CD or as an MP3 file), taking it in turns to substitute words for wonders that they can see in their local area.
Students listen to, sing and make up actions for the song "Thank you to our God", by Damien Halloran and Maria Millward.Students draw pictures of creation and respond to questions such as: “What do you think about God’s creation?"; "How do we know that God’s creation is good?”; “How do you feel when you think about the goodness of God’s creation?”; “What have you learnt about the goodness of God’s creation?”. Student responses can be recorded using a tool such as http://vocaroo.com/. Student responses can be written on a class Life page using a blog called "Our thoughts about God and Creation". Student pictures can be added to the blog.