Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Creation

We are using My Father's World curriculum for kindergarten this year, and I'm actually feeling quite good about that choice overall, but the truth is that the introductory unit is quite weak.  It is supposed to be 10 days focusing on reviewing the letters of the alphabet and focusing on the Creation story from Genesis.  Isaiah has known his letter names for quite some time, and Ezekiel actually even knows the majority of at least the capital letters as well.  So, I knew I'd probably just try to do a few of my own activities to review the letters.  The portion of the unit that was focused on the Creation story was also lacking, which seemed a little disappointing since it is sort of the foundation for the units of the curriculum for the  year, but again, perhaps it was mainly intended and assumed to be review.

So, I started to look for some supplemental activities that we could do for our Creation mini-unit.  I have to admit that I was rather shocked to find quite a lack of activities.  There are so many ideas and materials and lessons out there for all kinds of Bible stories and themes, but for Creation, there are really quite few.  A personal frustration was that ALL of the ones that I did find were activities that were focused on learning the specific days of creation.

Now, I should give a little disclaimer that this is likely to get a bit controversial and may leave me with all lots of people disagreeing with me for various reasons.  I'm ok with that.  I feel surprisingly strongly about this.
First off, I believe that there is one God who created the entire universe, and homeschooling does provide me an opportunity to teach my boys that.  And, I do believe that is possible to do in conjunction with good science and that the two are not mutually exclusive!

It wasn't an option for me to consider glossing over this, as I believe it sets a really significant foundation for whatever we delve into throughout this year, in which the focus is on different aspects of the world that we believe our Father in heaven has created with great power and love.  Now, I could have totally phoned it in on this one, read the verses to him, and just had him make the little number coloring thing that was included for each day.  My problem, however, isn't just that it was "light" in content or that I just wanted him to do more.  My main problem is on the consuming focus of this and all the other activities I found being on memorizing the specific things created on each specific day.

This is where I'm going to lose a lot of you who were with me up to this point.  Honestly, I could really care less if my son can tell me what is listed on day one, day two, day three, etc.!  I know he won't be the rock star of Sunday School class, but seriously, this just isn't the point of the Creation story, in my mind!  As we were doing one of our activities, Isaiah asked me if "that was how long it took" God to make those things, and I said, "I don't really know."  That's right.  It makes absolutely no difference to me whether it was seven literal days or seven years or seven hours or seven millenia!  Could God have created the entire world in seven literal days as we know that time reference?  Absolutely!  Is it any less spectacular if that is a mode of communicating the account and not intended as a scientific measure of time?  Absolutely not!
What's the big deal, though?  I am not trying to be overly dramatic about the activities that focus the learning of the story that way, but I just think it puts our time and focus and energy on an aspect of the Creation story that is not the point and risks missing the attention on what, I believe, is truly important in the story.

So, if, by chance, you are still actually reading this with me, here is what I actually want my kids to know about the Creation story:
1.  God did it!  There is one God, and He created it all!  He spoke, and it came into being.
This may seem obvious, but the true significance of it can get lost when we focus on memorizing the details of the "schedule."  Moses is presumed to have written down the Creation account at a time when there was a group of people who had been recently freed from captivity, and God was trying to lay out a theology for them with the intent for them to be used to bless the world.  They had lived and continued to live among people who worshipped the sun and the moon and water and the animals and the creation rather than the Creator, and in order to bless the world, they needed to (and we need to!) understand who He was (and is).  I just don't think His point is on when and how as much as that HE DID IT!  "Those things the people around you are worshipping?  I made them.  They worship the sun?  I made that.  They worship the waters?  I made those, too!"  (That's obviously my paraphrase. :)  )

2.  God's creation was good.
There is sin in this world, but God Himself said that what He created was good.  It was perfect, and the big story of God throughout history is reconciling and redeeming all of creation to be as He created it to be.

3.  The pinnacle, the focal point, of all creation was creating human beings in His image!  
He is a loving and relational God who created humans to be in relationship with Him, and they are the delight of His creation.

Ok, so enough of my theological soapbox!  Where did that leave us?  Well, I wish I could say that I had figured out even more to do, but as we read each section of verses, every day, I have talked with Isaiah and asked him in recent days about the three things I want him to know and remember from the story (in much briefer and kid-friendly language, of course).  If he remembers only Genesis 1:1 ("In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.") at this age, I would be thrilled.

I have also read Psalm 136:1-9 to them, as I think it captures the essence of the Creation story.  I had hoped to have them (or at least Isaiah) engage in sort of a responsive reading with me and have him repeat the phrase "His loves endures forever," but I think that may have been a bit of an unrealistic expectation.  We're going to try again over the next couple of days, but that may not work out quite as I hoped.  I had also actually hoped to "write" our own additions to it, such as "who formed the Himalayas," "who sends the monsoon rains," etc. from our current context, always drawing back to the focal point:  "His love endures forever"!  I actually had a professor in college who taught us the original Hebrew for that phrase, which I still remember, and for a second thought it would be really cool to have the boys repeat that Hebrew phrase for our reading.  Then, I remembered they are 5 and 2.  Maybe in a couple years. :)

I also want them to experience and engage their senses in our times of learning these foundational stories, so I had an idea to make a video--sort of a process art kind of thing.  I got out some materials and turned on the video while they pretended to form the Creation.  With significant help from my husband, I edited it and set it to some music to then be something for them to watch.  My hope was that they would engage the story with their senses as they put together their scene and then experience the narrative in yet a new way as they watched it put together as a whole and as now observers.  There are expected snags in such a project with little ones.  Fighting over the playdough to form the land sort of puts a damper on the focus on a perfect Creation!  :)  And, perhaps my biggest angst was that the plastic army tank the neighbor had given them recently ended up in a very focal position in the scene and video.  Sigh.  Given that it was the little one who was super motivated to include it, and since he had limited creative input with a very directive older brother involved, I didn't have the heart to tell him he couldn't include it.  Just know that, if you decide to actually watch it, I am, in no way trying to make some sort of theological or political statement!  It's just a toy that the little one really wanted to put in there!  Oh yeah, and Adam and Eve are played by superhero lego figures and a rubber ninja.  So, you know, obviously we are not trying to perfect theology with this project!  Just hoping my boys experience the significance of this foundational story.

They really got into making their Creation scene, and I showed the video to them for the first time today, and they have already watched it 8 times and begged to watch it even more.  I obviously haven't come up with the brilliant activities or ideas on how to teach this story to them yet, but my underlying hope that I am trying to express in this long-winded and opinionated post is to focus with my boys beyond the details and into the heart of God's bigger story, starting...in the beginning.

Creation Video

I'm not really sure what happened when I was trying to upload the video here, but it wasn't working, so there is no thumbnail or anything, but if you click on "Creation Video" above, it should take you to the youtube link.






2 comments:

  1. That video was AWESOME!! And I totally agree with your theology on Creation.

    My boys will be so happy to learn that God even created superheroes!! :)

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  2. Thanks, Jen!
    We just had an issue today when Isaiah was supposed to paint something from God's creation, and all he could focus on was superheroes! :)

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