Interrelated Love

This week, we shifted our focus just a bit.  In Bible, we are discussing 1 and 2 Corinthians.  Our main focus for the week was chapter 12 and 13.  In chapter 12, Paul discusses that God has given each person who has accepted Jesus as their Savior unique spiritual gifts; even if we do not think our spiritual gift is important, we are all part of the body of Christ.  Together, we make up one united body.

1 Corinthians 12:26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

We discussed what this looked like in the church of believers.  We cannot all be pastors; some may simply be doing something in the background.  Not all are “important” body parts; some may be a toe.  Without the toe though, the body will lose balance.

Not only were we able to discuss this in relation to the body of Christ, but we were able to relate it to animals and their interactions within the ecosystem.

On Monday, we played a game of predators and prey.  Two students were falcons and the rest were squirrels.  The squirrels had to run across the gym to get at least 3 food tokens.  Meanwhile the falcons had to tag 2 squirrels in order to survive.

Each child was both a prey and a predator so we could discuss which one was harder (predator by an almost unanimous vote).  We also discussed aspects that made them more successful as prey and predators, which allowed us to define various adaptations.

In relation to the predators and prey, we watched a video about how important wolves are to Yellowstone Park.  Recently, these animals were reintroduced into the ecosystem, which impacted the prey but also other types of animals and even the way the river ran. When one part is impacted, the entire ecosystem is impacted.

The next day, we continued to discuss the important interactions within a salt-water marsh ecosystem by recreating a food web.  The children each got envelopes with which animal they would represent and hand motions to show it.  Prey would stay still, and predators would go around collecting food tokens.

At the end, we created food webs.  The children got to see how important each animal was in the saltwater ecosystem and what might happen if one left.

Not only did we apply 1 Corinthians 12 to understanding the importance of every member in the larger scheme, we also talked about the importance of 1 Corinthians 13.  1 Corinthians 13 is all about what love looks like.  We discussed how in Greek there are many forms of love.  God’s love for us is agape, which is unconditional, ever-faithful love.

We talked about what love looks like in our classroom and how we can show more love to those around us.

One way they applied this lesson is by showing me love on my birthday.  The children initiated making a card…a giant card that they got the entire school to sign.  They made me a a crown, and they sang me happy birthday.

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Overall, this week they learned the importance of each classmate and believer in the body of Christ, and they learned how to better show love to those around them.

(By the way, here is a picture of our Promethean board fully working, which we are all super excited about using!)

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Going Beyond

This week, we continued to watch as our faithfulness stretched in unexpected ways.

In morning meeting, we continued to discuss Romans.  Our verse for the week was Romans 8:38-39: “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Through this verse, we learned that nothing can separate us from God’s love because he is ever faithful.  

We also discussed Romans 7 that talks about the spirit of the law versus the letter of the law.  The law is the Old Testament, and as believers in Jesus, we are no longer bond to the letter of the law.

To help illustrate this, we used English idioms like “I’m so hungry, I could eat a horse!”  The letter of the law means that someone would eat a horse and likely get sick as one child pointed out, but the spirit of it would be that a person is extremely hungry.

We brought this discussion into social studies as we discussed the Iconoclast Controversy in the Byzantine Empire.  I began the discussion by holding up a decorative cross that I had made.  I asked the children, “Is this an idol?  Why or why not?”  We defined an idol as something that comes before God.  The children thoughtfully responded that they did not think this cross was an idol because I did not pray to it.  They said it was only a symbol.

We discussed how, during the Byzantine Empire, many people became Christians and rejected former gods and idols, and so they may have viewed a decorative cross as an idol.  However, others viewed these images as visual reminders of what Jesus had done for them.  This led to the controversy.  We brought our morning discussion of spirit of the law vs letter of the law, and suddenly the children understood both history and the Bible truths a little bit better.  Through this, not only was our faith stretched as we determined what an idol is, but we also understood how the Christians in the Byzantine Empire also experienced faith stretched.

Later in the week, we learned about Methodius and Cyril, Greek missionaries to areas in the Byzantine Empire.  These missionaries’ faith was stretched when they realized that the people that they were ministering to did not have a written language to read about Jesus’ love.  These brothers then created the Cyrillic alphabet from the Greek alphabet that they were familiar with.  This alphabet later became the basis for Russian.

Naturally, we had to learn about the Greek alphabet, which the children loved learning.  They then wrote their names in English, Greek, and Cyrillic.  Many were surprised that these languages did not have a j sound or other familiar sounds that we have in English. img_8441

And finally, to top off our week, we had a special visitor.  Because of unforeseen circumstances, we were not able to take a field trip to Triple R Ranch, so instead we invited Nature Josh to our classroom.

He shared with us the importance of crickets in our world.  They clean their habitats because of what they eat, but they are also food for other animals.  Crickets play an important part in the earth, and without them, ecosystems would be impacted.  He shared that God told Adam and Eve to have dominion over the earth, which involves taking care of the earth.   This is just another way that we can stretch our faithfulness–learning about  animals so that we can better take care of the earth.

The children then eagerly announced that they had a presentation for Nature Josh.  Then, they shared their presentation that they had written about all that they had learned.  Each child in fourth grade had a part in this.  Unfortunately, I did not get a video, but here is the transcript of what they said.

  • Male crickets chirp 3 times before a fight.
  • Baby crickets are nymphs. Their predators are birds, rodents, reptiles, beetles, wasps, and spiders
  • The loudest cricket in the world is the chainsaw cricket. It sounds like a chainsaw.
  • Crickets’ ears are on their elbows.
  • We observed that crickets turn white when they molt.
  • Next time, we will get cricket quencher and the cricket flakes again.
  • If we had to do it again, I would keep everything the same. They looked happy. Some died and molted. They were funny. They are always hungry. I hope you like our presentation (it was hard).
  • Here are our crickets. We have worked hard and did a lot of research on them. Do they like to climb? Yes
  • How many crickets did we need? 60
  • How much did they cost? 14 cents
  • How did we get our crickets? At Petsmart.
  • Where will they stay? In cages.
  • Where will we get the money? From CCA and from donations.
  • How many cages do we need? 4
  • Here are some things that we have learned about what crickets need. They need water. We got cricket quencher.
  • They need cricket food. They need a good home.
  • They need each other. They need females.
  • They need to have waste (poop). Here are some things that we should have done better.
  • We should have bought or got bigger cages so all 60 could be together. We should have done better with making their home.
  • Some other things we would like to tell you is that we can’t understand why their cages smell so bad. Also did you know that the male crickets fight over a female cricket?

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When third grade left, Nature Josh answered some of our questions.  He then discussed falconry to go along with our fourth quarter book  My Side of the Mountain. He showed us how to capture a bird of prey and the amount of faithfulness needed to care for these birds.  The children were amazed, and now, many want to be falconers themselves when they are a bit older. In the words of one of the children at the end of the day, “Mr. Josh was pretty cool!”

Overall, we learned quite a bit about faithfulness as we experienced it stretching in various ways throughout our week, going beyond what we all expected.

Faithfulness Stretched

This quarter, our theme is faithfulness stretched.  On Monday, we defined it as a class: to expand, to go beyond what you think you can or beyond expected limits.  We realized that being stretched is not comfortable, but it will make us stronger.  I told the children that I don’t want to hear, “It’s too hard!”  Instead, I want to hear, “I know it is challenging, but I’m going to do my best.”

This week, already we have seen our faithfulness stretch throughout the various subject areas.

Monday was Halloween, and we had a famous author come to visit! Mrs. Stephens came to our class to discuss how she wrote Little Pot and the basic plot skeleton that she followed.  Then, came the stretching of our faithfulness.  Mrs. Stephens asked the children to begin their own plot skeleton for their own stories that they will be writing and developing over the next few weeks.  Some did tell me it was too hard, but I simply reminded them of faithfulness stretched.  After a whole week of planning out our stories, I am extremely impressed with the creativity and excitement of the children.  I look forward to reading finished pieces.

As a thank you for coming and teaching a lesson, the children created cards for Mrs. Stephens.  After chapel today, we went into her office and delivered our cards to her.  She loved each one.

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In math, we reviewed basic math facts.  Then towards the end of the week, when I knew they understood what multiplication is, I stretched their faithfulness by presenting them 16 times 12.  I told them that they could solve it however they wanted based on what they already knew.  There were many different strategies, but many were able to figure out the problem on their own without my assistance.

In social studies, we stretched out our history timeline from the first quarter.  We worked as a class to find the mid-point of our classroom timeline.  Then, we looked up the year, wrote a sentence, and colored images of each of our events.  When we were finished the children admired all of their handiwork that stretched almost half-way through the classroom.

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However, the most important part of stretching our faithfulness came as we studied Romans.  We looked at the history of Romans, and then we took a detailed look at the Roman Road.  Together, we discussed many verses throughout the book of Romans that point to who Jesus is, what He has done for us because we are sinners, and how we can accept His free gift.  As we were discussing, several students’ faith was stretched as they asked probing questions or evaluated their own faith.  It is truly amazing to see God working throughout the lives of children on a daily basis.