Wednesday, March 7, 2012

From the Cradle to the Cross: Zacchaeus

This is our last lesson from our Cradle to the Cross unit.  Next week we'll start sharing some Easter ideas you can use!  Can't wait!!!

What kid doesn't like the story of Zacchaeus?  It's one of the first Bible songs kids learn after Jesus Loves Me.  We went out with a bang and I'm excited to share our activities with you.  This was definitely one of Isaac's (and my!) favorites of the whole little series.

We read our story from our Read Aloud Bible Stories: Volume 1 (this was actually a great book to have on hand for this series, because all 5 stories in the book come from the life of Christ), our NIrV Read with Me Bible and our Picture That!: Bible Storybook.  They were all good, but mostly emphasized that Zacchaeus was small, he climbed a tree and Jesus went to his house.

Those are fun details, but they kind of miss the point a bit and I wanted to make sure I at least hit on the main idea some when I went through it with the boys.

What is the main idea?

Zacchaeus was a BAD dude.  He was a tax collector (aka, "scumbag").  Tax collectors were known for their corruption and were despised by the Jewish people for selling out to the Romans.  They taxed people for more than their fair share and pocketed the extra for themselves.  THIS is the guy who was so intrigued by Jesus and wanted to see what he was all about but was too short to get a good look.  When Jesus invited himself over to Zacchaeus' house, the people didn't like it because the religious people prided themselves in steering clear of "sinners."  But I love what Jesus says at the end of this story, "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost."  (Luke 19:10)

I wanted to emphasize this tax-collecting bad guy and how his heart was changed by the Savior.  SO we did something that started out as a fun idea and ended up being one of the more memorable activities we've done together.  A long time ago I made little bags out of leather to help tell the story of David and Goliath.  The kids I worked with collected 5 smooth stones to put in their bag.  I thought a cheaper, easier version of the craft would be perfect for a little money bag.  Here's how we did it.

Supplies needed:  Piece of cloth or felt (I used a 9x12 in. sheet of felt), marker, scissors, rope (or ribbon or yarn or thick string).  Optional:  plate or round object to trace to make circle.

I cut a circle out of a 9x12 in. sheet of felt  (I just traced around one of the boys plastic dinner plates for the template... but really it gets all cinched up so free handing it would work fine too.)  Then I cut little slits about every 1 to 1 1/2 inches.  It's really hard to tell in the picture that I have a little flap of the felt folded up.  Basically, you just need some holes to weave your yarn through about 1/2 inch or so from the edge of your material.

Tie a large not on one end so that it doesn't go through the hole and then weave the rope in and out of the holes (like sewing).  I cut my rope about the same length as the circumference of the circle and that was about perfect!  Cinch it up as you go.

Pull the rope tight and then wrap it around the top and tie it to secure it.  Super easy little money bag!

Isaac LOVED this.  I made Silas' for him, but Isaac sat in my lap and helped me weave the rope.  It was great fine motor practice!

The next day we pulled out a Bible, grabbed our money bags, and a roll of quarters (a handful of loose change or pennies would have worked great too... I just happened to have a roll of quarters that was needing to go into their piggy banks).  We sat down and got ready to act out the story.

We read that Zacchaeus was a wealthy tax collector, so we filled our bags with coins, closed them up and shook them to hear the jingle.  

We also learned that Zacchaeus was short and had to climb a tree.  Silas climbed up onto the coffee table and Isaac climbed up onto a mountain of pillows on the loveseat.

Jesus came and told him to come down and that he was going to his house.  Isaac scrambled down and I let him choose where his "house" was since he was playing the character of Zacchaeus.  He led me to the kitchen.  :)

We talked about how Zacchaues' heart was changed when he met Jesus.  He wanted to repay anyone he had stolen from fourfold and gave 1/2 of his money to the poor!  Isaac grabbed a handful of quarters out of his money bag and gave it to the "poor" teddy bear in his room.
Handing some money to his bear.  It kind of looks like he's feeding it to him.  :)
I wanted Zacchaeus' giving of the money to come alive a little more to the boys, and this is one of those ideas that just kind of hit me while we were doing it.  We grabbed their piggy banks and we divided up the money.  They kept half, so they each added 10 quarters to their banks.

We took the remaining 20 quarters and put them back in Isaac's money bag and headed to the grocery store.

I told Isaac he had $5 to buy any food he wanted for someone who didn't have enough to eat (I suggested vegetables and he thought that was a good idea).  He found giant cans of vegetables on the bottom shelf and thought that a can of corn and spinach (um... yum?) would be good.  Silas chose a large can of peas.  We put them in our cart and headed to the self-checkout with our $5 worth of quarters.

I let Isaac scan and bag the food and both boys put the change in.  It took a couple of minutes and I had to sit Silas on the equipment to free up my hands enough to help them.  It kept telling me to "Remove the item from bagging area" but it wasn't busy so we weren't holding anyone up and they were on cloud 9!  :)

Our grocery store has a giant tub for donations that we dropped the canned goods in on our way out, but you could also donate them to a food pantry at your church, a local ministry or anonymously on someone's doorstep that you know could use them.  (As a quick side note, my family had a period where money was really tight when I was growing up and some sweet people would do this for us from time to time and it was such a blessing to our family.  I remember loving that we often got dessert in those sacks full of groceries left on our front porch!)

We headed home to make a fun snack that I had picked up stuff for while we were at the store:  Zacchaeus' Tree!  The idea was inspired from a snack I found here.  First we took a large marshmallow and stuck pretzel sticks in it as branches.

Then I broke a pretzel rod in half and stuck it in the bottom for the trunk.

Next I cut some green peeps (there are lots of them out there for Easter right now) to use as leaves.  NOTE:  If I had this to do over again, I would have added the leaves before the trunk.  I had to re-attach the trunk a few times the way I did it.  

I did most of the tree building and they did most of the eating.  Silas decided using hands is overrated.

I found these printable flashcards that you can use to put the story in order.  They were kind of a pain for 2 reasons:  1)  Only one picture printed per sheet when 2 could have easily fit and 2) the "Print" option didn't work for me and I had to print from my toolbar BUT I think any opportunity for a child to help re-tell the story is so beneficial.  I think it really helps cement the story in their mind when they can say what happened themselves, so I went ahead and printed them out.  Isaac helped me explain and put the 6 story cards in order.  I liked that it had the details about Zacchaeus being a sinner who needed Jesus that is sometimes left out in Children's Bibles.

We had a really great time doing this hide and seek Zacchaeus craft.  I cut out the "doors" with a box cutter to make it easier.  The boys colored the two pages and then we glued them together.  They thought opening all the doors to look for Zacchaeus was hilarious!  It was another fun opportunity to talk about the story.

Last, but not least, Isaac willingly practiced writing the letter 'Z'  (This is no small feat!) with the printable handwriting worksheet from Christian Preschool Printables.

Overall, this lesson took us a couple of days to complete, but was so. much. fun.  The favorite was definitely the money bag and grocery store excursion.  It was a great one to end on and I look forward to spending more time talking with the boys about the Savior who came to seek and save the lost as we head into the Easter season.

P.S.  Sorry for the insane amount of pictures.  I may have gotten a little carried away.  :)

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  1. I love all of your ideas! Isn't awesome how the Holy Spirit gives you such great ideas in the midst of the lesson! All are wonderful! Thank you for sharing!

  2. Wow, tons of great ideas here, I love how you took the quarters to the store and did the self-checkout so they could get the full impact of buying and paying for something for the poor.

    Thanks for sharing all the ideas and photos!

  3. LOVED the grocery store excursion! SO meaningful!!!!!!!

  4. Desiré, I just wanted to tell you how much we enjoyed all your posts in the Cradle to the Cross series! I know it takes a lot of time to share all your ideas and photos, and I wanted you to know how very much we appreciated each and every one! We found them so meaningful, and now my kids have a whole string of ornaments hanging in their room, that they love to use to tell me the story of Jesus's life. One of our favorites was using your basket idea full of loaves and fish...what an amazing way to share the story! Thank you for the inspiration!!

    1. Thanks so much for your encouragement, Cindy! I'm SO glad your family was able to use some of our ideas!



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