This unit presents stories from both the Old and New Testaments. The parables of the Kingdom – Yeast, Hidden Treasure and Precious Pearl – are told. Then stories of ‘Joseph’ and ‘Moses and the Burning Bush’ are told. The unit develops the concept of the Bible as sacred, telling us about God’s relationship with people.
Students will be able to:
S1.1 demonstrate reverence for the Bible
S1.2 demonstrate growing familiarity with Scripture stories
Students are introduced to doctrine through Scripture and the living Tradition of the Church.
We help the Kingdom of God grow by living the Word of God
Spiritual Reflection for Teachers
Stories reveal something about both the people in them and the storyteller. The Bible is a very particular record of how human beings have met God in their own life experience. In the Gospels, Jesus shows us in human form what God is like and also who we are and who we are called to become.
‘Story’ is a means through which God is revealed.
We are people who think in stories.
God has created us because God loves a good story!
What makes for a good story?
Recall a favourite Bible story
Why is it your favourite story?
Why is it meaningful for you?
Catechism of the Catholic Church
Excepts from the Catechism of the Catholic Church are included below as information for teachers. They present the Church’s teachings contained in the unit.
141 "The Church has always venerated the divine Scriptures as she venerated the Body of the Lord" (DV 21): both nourish and govern the whole Christian life. "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path" (Ps119:105; cf Is50:4).
544 The kingdom belongs to the poor and lowly, which means those who have accepted it with humble hearts. Jesus is sent to "preach good news to the poor"; he declares them blessed, for "theirs is the kingdom of heaven." To them - the "little ones" - the Father is pleased to reveal what remains hidden from the wise and the learned. Jesus shares the life of the poor, from the cradle to the cross; he experiences hunger, thirst and privation. Jesus identifies himself with the poor of every kind and makes active love toward them the condition for entering his kingdom.
546 Jesus' invitation to enter his kingdom comes in the form of parables, a characteristic feature of his teaching. Through his parables he invites people to the feast of the kingdom, but he also asks for a radical choice: to gain the kingdom, one must give everything. Words are not enough, deeds are required. The parables are like mirrors for man: will he be hard soil or good earth for the word? What use has he made of the talents he has received? Jesus and the presence of the kingdom in this world are secretly at the heart of the parables. One must enter the kingdom, that is, become a disciple of Christ, in order to "know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven". For those who stay "outside", everything remains enigmatic.
Scripture: Background Information
Matthew 13:33 Parable of the Yeast
Chapter 13 of Matthew’s gospel is entirely devoted to parables and is often called the parabolic discourse or dialogue. They are parables relating to the kingdom or reign of God and chapter 13 is the centre and high point of the gospel. The Greek word for ‘parable’/ means a comparison while the Hebrew word is broader, meaning ‘sayings’, stories and even riddles. So parables are stories about ordinary life but with a depth of mystery and meaning that can change as our understanding matures. This parable of the yeast is a simple ‘one-liner’ but profound in the beauty of its imagery of the hidden and all-pervasiveness of the kingdom. Just as yeast spreads through bread unseen so the kingdom of God is everywhere in our world and in our lives.
Matthew 13:44-46 The Treasure and the Pearl
Here are two short stories from Jesus, again told in parable form. There seems to be at least two levels of meaning here - first the pricelessness of the kingdom. It is both a treasure and a very expensive pearl. And we are encouraged and empowered to willingly, joyfully and with great abandon give up all to obtain it. It is the chance of a lifetime. There are no half measures. But what is the kingdom or the reign of God? All the parables of this chapter discuss it. Is it God’s presence with us and our nearness to God? Is it God’s loving care and covenant in our lives? Is it all this and more – all we could ever dream of? Treasures and pearls are the stuff of dreams. Dreams do come true. What is my dream for the kingdom? What is it in my life?
Genesis 37:2-36; 39:1 - 46:34 The Story of Joseph
Joseph’s story reads like a small novel at the end of Genesis – the last 13 chapters in fact. Joseph is the son of Jacob and Jacob’s favourite wife Rachel who dies giving birth to Joseph’s younger brother, Benjamin. Joseph in his youth is portrayed as a somewhat naïve and arrogant young man. It seems he is his father’s favourite and also has dreams of his own greatness. He incurs the jealousy of his other brothers who plot to kill him. But after discussing Joseph’s fate the brothers decide not to take his life and instead sell him as a slave to a passing caravan. They tell his father that a wild beast has killed him.
Joseph ends up as a slave in Egypt. He has several misadventures there, even being accused of rape. Because he is a dreamer he can interpret dreams. His dream interpretation for Pharaoh is so successful that he eventually becomes the highest official in Egypt, just below the Pharaoh. Fortunately his various hardships eventually help him mature into a wise and caring man.
During a famine his brothers come to Egypt looking for food. Joseph recognises them but they do not recognise him. Consequently he teases them and frightens them with various intrigues and the use or abuse of his power. Finally he says to them – “I am Joseph your brother. Is my father really still alive?” (Gen 45:3). He also later with great forgiveness and compassion declares “The evil you planned to do to me has by God’s design turned to good” (Gen 50:20). The Joseph saga is a moving story and well worth reading.
Exodus 3:1-12 Moses and the Burning Bush
Moses is out in the desert near Mount Horeb (Mt Sinai) watching his father-in-law’s sheep. This is significant in itself as Horeb is a holy mountain, the mountain of God, where biblical revelations take place. Moses has a revelation or experience of God. He sees a burning bush and removes his sandals because he is on holy ground. Here he realises his mission from God to go and free his people from slavery in Egypt. Moses does not want to do the mission, mainly because it is too dangerous. So he struggles with his newly discovered responsibility as many of us do. God promises to be with him and help him. God even reveals God’s name to Moses as “I am who I am” (Ex 3:14). But this is not enough for Moses. He needs more reassurance. Consequently, God gives Moses powers like the Egyptian advisers to Pharaoh. But still Moses is not satisfied and complains that he is not good at negotiations. So God appointed Aaron his brother, a good talker, as spokesperson for him. Still Moses is uncertain. But God suggests that he just does it! Here again we have another great story – one that is both entertaining and meaningful for us. We often do not want to do what is needed of us – just like Moses. And like Moses, God is with us.
Suggestions for determining students’ development towards the achievement of the outcomes are included below:
Wild M, (1992), Belinda’s Blanket, MacMillan, Sth Melbourne
NOTE: See RE Online for additional resources for this unit.
Unit Content A: The Bible
The Bible is a very special book. It is the sacred Scriptures of the Church.
learn about the Bible as the Word of God
learn to reverence the Scriptures using words and gesture
listen and respond to some parables of the Kingdom of God
The Bible is the Word of God, the sacred Scriptures of the Church. God is revealed in the Bible. In reading the stories about the people and events in the Bible we discover the truth about God and about the people of God. The teachings of the Church are always supported by what is revealed in sacred Scripture.
The Church has gestures and rituals that express our reverence for the Bible as sacred Scripture. The lectern gives the Scriptures a place of importance within the Church. We listen to the Word of God in the Liturgy of the Word and when we gather as a community to pray. We stand for the proclamation of the Gospel during Mass. These are gestures that remind us of the importance of the Word of God.
The Word of God is active and alive. It shapes the life of the Church as we listen to the Word, proclaim the Word, discover the Word in our story (lives) and strive to live the Word authentically.
One way to model the belief that the Bible is the Word of God and show reverence for it is to keep a copy of the Bible in a place within the classroom – a sacred space or prayer space. Be mindful of how you show reverence for the Bible when using the Scriptures with the class. The Bible is kept somewhere special, never left on the floor. In order to bring children to a greater appreciation of the Bible as sacred, teachers need to highlight this reverence for the Bible within the classroom. This is possible in early primary years as children do not have individual copies of the Bible in class. By showing reverence and care for the Bible as it is used in the classroom, children will hopefully grow to care for the Bible as they use it.
The parables used in this Unit Content are useful for exploring the place of the Bible in the life of the Church. The parables of the pearl, hidden treasure and yeast are all parables of the Kingdom. Jesus preaches the Kingdom of God. His preaching, miracles, life, death and Resurrection usher in the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom is now. The Church continues to reveal and bring about the Kingdom through involvement in God’s mission. This Kingdom is one of peace and love, justice and integrity. The Kingdom will reach its fullness in Jesus Christ at the end time.
While giving children time to imagine what this Kingdom of God is, the focus is on the special place of the Bible in revealing God and the Kingdom. When each person and the community hear and live the Word of God, the Kingdom grows. We build the fullness of the Kingdom and wait for its fulfilment in the end time.
The following suggested activities are organised around the key elements of Telling the Story, Wondering, Exploring andPrayer. Teachers select, adapt or substitute activities, ensuring that each of the abovementioned elements is evident in the cycle of learning.
Part 1: The Bible
Children’s literature: Read a story to introduce the concept of ‘precious’. Things I/we value, hold to be very important. Explore this using the characters in the story. You might do some literature activities in English with the story chosen, eg Wilfred Gordon MacDonald Partridge or Belinda’s Blanket.
Show children a Bible. Pose the questions: Why is the Bible so special? Why do we have it here on our prayer space? Students draw or write what they know about the Bible – favourite stories, people, events they know. Use ‘Resource Sheet 1’. Allow children time to share. Make a list of what the children know about the Bible.
Sing a hymn or song about the Bible as the Word of God or create a rhythm for the prayer in KWL p13. Use these to create a procession as a way of showing reverence for the Bible. Incorporate this Procession of the Word, in prayer. The responses from the Liturgy of the Word in Mass could be used here.
Visit the Church and show children the lectern – where the Word of God is proclaimed. Create a special place in the classroom where the Word of God is kept. Include some of the children’s work on Bible stories and what they already know about the Bible.
Part 2: Parables of the Kingdom
Children go on a treasure hunt in the classroom, looking for a pearl. Teacher places in the room many small pearls and one large one. As a child finds their pearl they come and sit down. In the Bible Jesus told a story about a treasure …
Use the KWL Big Book, Parables of the Kingdom, ‘The Treasure and the Pearl’ to tell the stories of the Parable of the Hidden Treasure and Parable of the Pearl (Matt 13:33, 44-46). When presenting the parables remind children that the story comes from the Bible and Jesus told wonderful stories to help us know God better.
Wonder with the children using ‘I wonder’ in KWL p120:
Home task: Children talk to their parents about what is precious to them. Children ask their parents what they find precious.
Read the parables of the Treasure and the Pearl from the Big Book, Parables of the Kingdom. Wonder with the children: why the kingdom of God is like a treasure. Also highlight the Scriptures as ‘a treasure’ or ‘something precious’ to either you or the Christian community.
Display a treasure chest beside the prayer space. Include some things you/the class think are precious. Children bring in something that is precious to them, write the name of, or draw, something that is precious to them. Share and add it to the treasure box. These are treasures.
Gather around the prayer space. Light a candle and pray the ‘Our Father’ together. Tell the children they are also precious; add photos of the children or cards with their names to the treasure box. Conclude with the prayer in KWL p121.
Tell the story of the parable of the yeast, using the KWL Big Book, Parables of the Kingdom, ‘The Yeast’. Remind the children that the story comes from our sacred Scriptures and this story is one that Jesus told.
Children take the KWL book home and read chapters 15 and 16 with their parents. Invite the parents to bake bread with their children. See Home Activity in KWL p115.
Follow the bread making recipe with the children in class. You might need some parent helpers. Ask the children to watch what happens to the dough as it rises. You might also photograph the process of bread making and the dough at different stages of rising. The class then writes sentences to go with each photograph. You might ask the children:
- Why do we put yeast into the flour?
- Why do we knead the dough with our hands? [To make sure the yeast spreads throughout the bread dough.]
Wonder with the children using ‘I wonder’ in KWL p114. After the first few about people making bread ask:
why Jesus said that the kingdom of God is like the yeast
After hearing these parables of the kingdom, allow the children time to respond:
Write about and/or illustrate their favourite part of one of the Scripture stories.
Draw the kingdom of God.
Finish the sentences: The kingdom of God is like … The Bible is as precious as …
Unit Content B: Called by God
In the Bible we can read stories about people’s experiences of God. God is involved in the life of people.
listen and respond to the stories of:
- Moses and the Burning Bush
This Unit Content continues the focus on the Bible as the Word of God, where we read about God and God’s people. Throughout, remember that the children will notice how you reverence the Bible.
Moses and Joseph are two of the greatest figures in the Old Testament. Joseph ends the account of the patriarchs. It is his experience that leads the Israelites to Egypt and eventually into slavery. Yet the Israelites are saved by a famine because Joseph is the governor of Egypt and is able to provide them with food. If Joseph was not sold by his brothers then the Israelites may not have been saved from the famine. God uses this tragedy to bring about good.
After generations of living in Egypt, the Israelites increase in population. The Egyptians, fearing the growing prosperity and population of Israel, begin to create laws restricting their freedom and ultimately finally making them into slaves. This example of racism still prevails. Generations after Joseph’s death the Israelites are in slavery. Moses is born into this situation. He is the person God calls to lead Israel into freedom and into a new covenant with God.
In Kindergarten, the story of Moses’ birth was presented. In this unit children are presented with the call of Moses; and in Year 2 the mission of Moses will be addressed – the journey out of slavery to the promised land. Moses has escaped the Egyptians and lives with his father-in-law, Jethro. Moses has been saved from death twice – at his birth and after saving a Hebrew man from the anger of an Egyptian guard. In this story God calls Moses to lead Israel out of Egypt into freedom.
In both the stories of Moses and Joseph, God calls the unexpected person. Both Joseph and Moses experience danger and God’s saving help. Through the actions of both, God saves Israel. It is not by their skill or power that Israel is saved but by the power of God. We are all called to be instruments of God in living the covenant, living the gospel.
Suggested teaching/learning strategies
The following suggested activities are organised around the key elements of Telling the Story, Wondering, Exploring andPrayer. Teachers select, adapt or substitute activities, ensuring that each of the elements of storytelling is evident in the cycle of learning.
Part 1: The Story of Joseph
Discuss with the children their experience of siblings. How many brothers or sisters do they have? Are there times you get along well / fight…?
Tell the story of Joseph using the KWL Big Book, Joseph the Dreamer – prepare yourself by reading Gen 37:2-36, 39:1-46:34.
You might begin the story by referring to the Bible. For example: “This story comes from our special book, the Bible, so we know it will tell us something about God.”
Sequence the story with pictures. Joseph was Jacob’s favourite son… Joseph’s 10 brothers hated him… Joseph dreamt that his brothers bowed down to him … Joseph’s 10 brothers put him in a pit … then sold him as a slave …
Explore the response to the wondering through drama: jealous brothers, Joseph in slavery / freedom.
Wonder with the children: “I wonder what your favourite part of the story is.” Children share their favourite part of the story then illustrate that scene using paint.
Children take their artwork home to show parents/guardians. They could retell the story to their parents/guardians. The teacher might suggest a good video of the story of Joseph for children to watch with their family.
God chose Joseph to do something special. Joseph thanked God. Wonder with the children: “I wonder what it is like to be chosen to do something special.”
Children illustrate a time they were chosen for something that made them feel special/important – invitation to a friend’s party, to do a special task …
Children write a prayer thanking God for being chosen for something special.
At various times read stories from good children’s literature about Joseph. This could be used to recall the story as children do activities or as story-time book after lunch. It could also be integrated with English.
Liturgy of the Word: Organise a procession of the Word to highlight the importance of Scripture. Practise one response from the Liturgy of the Word to use in the liturgy – see a lectionary. For example: “A reading from the book of Genesis” before reading the text. Then “The Word of the Lord” all respond: “Thanks be to God.” In the liturgy include:
Proclaim – Gen 46:1-5 or another appropriate short passage
Response – use the children’s prayers of thanks, or the drama
Hymn – sing an appropriate hymn to conclude the prayer.
Part 2: Moses and the Burning Bush
Tell the story of ‘Moses and the Burning Bush’ using 3D concrete materials. See ‘Resource Sheet 2’ for script and materials. Prepare yourself by reading Ex 3:1-12.
Wonder with the children. I wonder…
what it was like to see the burning bush / speak to God
Children paint their favourite part of the story. Some children might write a few sentences to go with their painting: “My favourite part of the story is … because …”. The reason given does not have to be complex.
Revisit the story in a shared book experience using KWL Big Book, Moses, ‘The Burning Bush’.
Children sequence a series of pictures to retell the story. God heard his people’s groans & prayers… God saw his people used as slaves … God spoke to Moses from a burning bush … God sent Moses to rescue his people …
Children choreograph a movement / dance to express Moses meeting God and/or being called.
Children compose music to go with the telling of the story. Music expresses the feeling and actions that occur at various stages of the story. Consider dynamic, tone …
Write a poem as a response to the story. The poem may take the form of a style used in English. Class or individual construction.
Allow children time to borrow books from the school library that contain stories from Scripture. Invite them to share these Scripture stories with a sibling/parent/friend they know well and ask the adult to share one of their favourite stories.
Prepare a Liturgy of the Word to conclude this unit. Invite parents and members of the executive. Organise to use the church for the celebration.
Begin with an appropriate hymn and opening prayer.
Procession of the Word – to highlight the importance of Scripture.
Proclaim the Word: use a response from Mass – refer to the previous liturgy.
First Reading – Ex 3:7-8a or an appropriate selection of verses from the ‘Call of Moses’
Psalm or hymn – Ps 95:1-2 or an appropriate section of the psalms or a hymn
Gospel Reading – Matt 13:44-46
Response – select some of the children’s work: prayers, drama or movement as a response.
Hymn – sing an appropriate hymn to conclude the prayer.
After the liturgy have a short assembly to share the children’s work in this unit with parents and executive members.
Resource Sheet 1
What do you know about the Bible?
Favourite story / event
(Adapted from KWL Teaching Companion 2a, p194 BLM)
A sandbox to represent the desert. (You might create a sandcastle to represent a mountain.)
Children are seated in a semi-circle ready to listen to the story. When the children are settled, go to the shelf and carry the materials as you would the Bible. Place these beside you.
Begin by introducing the Bible as the source for the story. For example: This story comes from our special book, the Bible. The stories in this book are very important. We know the story will tell us something about God and God’s people.
Lay the Bible in view in a special place: the prayer space or on a cloth beside the story space.
Comment on the desert and how dangerous it is.
Create a small mountain out of sand.
Add Moses and his flock. Move them towards the mountain.
One day Moses was looking after a flock of sheep and goats that belonged to Jethro, his father-in-law. Moses led the flock into the wilderness near the Mountain of Sinai.
Place the bush on the mountain.
On top of the mountain he saw a burning bush, but the branches were not burning up. “I must go and look at this strange sight,” Moses said to himself.
Move Moses up the mountain.
As Moses came closer to the burning bush he heard a voice calling to him, “Moses, Moses!”
“Here I am” he answered. “Do not come closer. Take off your shoes; you are standing on holy ground. I am the God of your ancestors; the God of Abraham and Sarah, the God of Isaac and Rebecca, the God of Jacob and Rachael”. Moses covered his face. He was afraid to look at God.
Put your hands over your face.
God spoke to Moses, “I have seen the suffering of the Israelites in the land of Egypt.
I want to lead them into a land of freedom, and save them from slavery and suffering.”
Point to the distance.
God continued, “Moses! Go to the Pharaoh and tell him to let Israel go. Tell him the Lord God commands him to ‘Let my people go!’”
Moses was still afraid. He asked God, “Who am I to go to Pharaoh and bring the people of Israel out of Egypt? This task needs a powerful and strong leader.”
But God said to Moses, “I have chosen you, and I shall be with you.” Move Moses to face the children.
Moses began to get ready for the great task that God had called him to do.
Moses became one of the greatest leaders of God’s people.
Carefully pack story materials into storage box and put on shelf. Ensure that children are watching so they know how to pack the materials away and where to find them.
Archdiocese of Sydney Unit 1.5 Stories of God’s People