Rotation.org Writing Team
Advent: Isaiah Promised, Jesus Fulfilled
Summary of Lesson Activity
Students will begin to make their own rock candy in the workshop, then take it home in semi-sealed mason jars to finish growing. This memorable and "sweet" activity s-l-o-w-l-y demonstrates the preparation and patience that faith in God requires, in order to see the promises and plans of God "crystallize" in the world. (Sorry for the puns, but they are part of the lesson!)
Isaiah 7:14 (Immanuel, God with us)
Isaiah 9:2,6-7 (Great Light, Mighty God, Prince of Peace)
Matthew 1:20-23 (God will save us from our sins)
Objectives for the Rotation
See Bible Background.
- Read Bible Background, scripture and lesson.
- Gather all the ingredients and materials.
- View the video below and make a sample of rock candy at home to test your procedure and show students.
- Prepare some Popsicle sticks before class, by writing the questions found in "Cooling Time Stick Questions Bible Study Game" onto them.
- Rock Candy Ingredients: sugar, water, food coloring/flavoring (if desired).
- Cooking Supplies: measuring cup, pot, hot plate or stove, candy thermometer, HotPad, long-handled stirring spoons
- Funnel to distribute hot sugar liquid into mason jars
- Small mason jars with holes in lid, (see note below) 6 ounce "jelly jars" or "half pint" (8 oz) Ball jars are perfect. Smooth sides.
- Popsicle Sticks for the sugar to crystallize on, and for the Study Game
- A glass of water to dip sticks into
- saucers or plates (for sticks to be rolled in sugar)
- pens or permanent fine-point markers (for writing on Popsicle sticks)
- Take-home instructions to parents
Preparing the Mason Jars and Lids
Prior to class, punch holes in the metal lids that you will use to "seal" the mason jars for students to take home. Use a screwdriver to punch two "slits" about 1 inch from each other to hold the two Popsicle sticks. Punch another two or three slits to let heat and some moisture escape during cooling.
Use a piece of masking tape to hold up the Popsicle sticks from touching the bottom or sides of the jar.
How to Make Rock Candy
It's easy! There are several excellent videos on Youtube. Here's one:
Here's another good "how to" youtube video. There are many more.
See the Recipe section below in this lesson.
Our lesson recommends Popsicle sticks, because we're going to write a scripture verse on them. Remember to 'seed' the stick by rolling it in sugar prior to suspending it in the sugar liquid. We are also suspending it through a slot in the lid so that the jar can go home. We also strongly suggest using a LONG HANDLED SPOON to protect the students' hand from any splashed liquid.
It is recommended that you use a temperature-controlled "hot plate" for two reasons:
(1) Temperature control.
(2) Safer positioning while cooking the sugar solution. Stoves are too high for most children and the burners can be too forward or unstable. A hot-plate can be more safely positioned, used, and seen by the students. It will make this a more memorable "hands-on" lesson.
Such hotplates are handy to have in the Rotation Model's Cooking Workshop.
Making home-made candy is a time-honored tradition in many families, but may be a new experience to some of your children. It may also seem dangerous to some of today's "helicopter parents." Be sure to establish safe procedures around your (recommended) temperature-controlled hotplate and sugar liquid, and have helpers to keep this "hands-on" and safe.
"Patience and Preparation" are part of the scriptural metaphors you want to demonstrate. Measuring, adding ingredients, mixing, positioning, and taking care while waiting — are all parts of the lesson you want to impress upon your students. Such "double meanings" may not be as obvious to some students, especially younger ones, so don't be afraid of over-doing it with the explanations!
In your "go home" instructions, include a reminder to parents that they discuss stove safety with their children, in case one of your students attempts to make candy on their own.
Using mason jars with small slits in the metal lids will reduce potential spillage, though the liquid sugar will have cooled down by lesson end.
Welcome students and explain what they'll be doing today in the Cooking Workshop
Follow these steps to introduce the scriptures and begin assembly of their rock candy jar.
- Give each student two Popsicle sticks, and a pen or permanent marker. Before you have them read today's scripture: Isaiah 7:14 and Isaiah 9:2, 6-7, make the following observation:
Isaiah lived 700 years before the birth of Jesus, and yet he described perfectly the kind of person God was sending to rescue the people from their sins. In fact, if you listen and read very carefully, you will see that Isaiah foretold that God himself was coming, and not merely a human leader. This "promise" is sometimes called a "prophecy" in some churches.
Ask: If the people needed rescued in Isaiah's time, then why did God wait 700 years before sending Jesus to fulfill that promise? Does it mean that God didn't care about people back then?
Answer: From God's perspective, people need rescued all the time, back in Isaiah's day and even right now. God came as Jesus to announce his forgiveness and rescue us in a dramatic way, by living with us and dying for us, and showing us on Easter Sunday that even death can't win.
So while 700 years seems like a long time to fulfill his promise, in fact, God was with them then ever step of the way.
But it does teach us that we need to be patient, that God's time is not our sense of time. During Advent we talk about "waiting" a lot, don't we! We wait for the coming of the Messiah, we wait for the birth of Jesus, we wait for Christmas morning.
That's one of the reasons we're making Rock Candy today, because it reminds us that people of faith often have to slow down and look carefully for God.
We believe God is with us and all around us, but if we don't prepare ourselves, like you will prepare these sticks to go in the sugar, we could miss out on something wonderful — Jesus.
If we rush through Christmas, we will miss the amazing message of God coming into our world.
If we don't take the time for scripture and prayer and worship, we will be unprepared to recognize Jesus' sweet presence in our daily lives.
So today we are making Rock Candy, but what we are really doing is teaching ourselves to pay attention and prepare ourselves to see God with us.
Have students write their favorite key words and phrases from Isaiah on both sides of one of their Popsicle sticks.
Now read Matthew 1:20-24 together, and have them write a keyword and phrase on the second Popsicle stick.
- Have students write their names on a jar lid.
- Finally, have students dip their two sticks into water, roll in sugar, then slide their sticks (up through the underside of the lid) into the two slits punched in the metal jar lid.
- Have them assemble the lid on the jar making sure the sticks are high enough through the lid that the sticks (sugar coated ends) do not touch the bottom of the jar.
- Set aside the jars. Now you're ready to start making the Rock Candy.
Start Making Rock Candy
- Working together and taking turns, start mixing the water and sugar per the recipe (see below). Keep in mind that you will need to increase the recipe quantities in order to have enough for each student's jar, and temperature is very important.
- Once your liquid sugar is ready, pour it carefully into each student's jar.
- Next have the students carefully place their lid with the sticks into the jar of liquid, making sure the sugar coated end of the sticks aren't touching the bottom, or sides, or each other.
- Then have the students using a hot pad grab the jar and screw the jar ring down.
- Slide them to the middle of the table to cool.
Cooling Time "Stick Questions" Bible Study Game
[Before class, write the below questions on popsicle sticks.]
You play this discussion game like "pick-up-sticks."
- To start, one player holds them in a bundle on the top of a table and then takes their hand away -letting them fall to the table.
- One by one, each player tries to remove a stick without moving any other stick. When they remove the stick, they must answer the question. If any other stick moves, the stick they were trying to pick up must be put back, and the player loses their turn.
- The object of the game is to collect as many sticks as possible.
Not all the sticks have to have questions on them. And of course, each question stick and student answer is an opportunity for the teacher to elaborate!
Questions to Write on the Sticks:
What is sweet about Jesus?
What do Christians need to be patient about?
If you are the stick, what is God is trying to grow on you?
What is your favorite title for Jesus in today's scripture?
Name one thing you do to make Peace.
What is your favorite part of the Christmas story?
What is the mightiest thing God has done?
How is God like an ever-lasting rock candy?
What does "Emmamuel" mean?
What does Jesus need to counsel you about the most?
How is Jesus like a great light?
What do people need most from God?
Name a gift you wish you could give the world.
Why did God send the prophet Isaiah?
Why did God send Jesus the Messiah?
You are welcome to add more or adapt these.
"Bag" ~ The Lesson Reflection
Give each student a lunch bag and invite them to draw the following instructions and "slogans" on it.
"Do Not Tip"
"This Side Up"
"Put in Cool Place and Wait 2 Days"
"Looking for the Christ at Christmas"
"Keep an eye out for the Great Light!"
"Waiting for Jesus? He's already here!"
"I'm on God's Time"
"God's Plan is Sweet"
Have students share their bag slogans, then pray that their families will ask questions about today's lesson, and realize how wonderful their mighty God really is.
Out the door: Place "home" instructions in each bag, and discuss how long it will take the sugar to crystallize on the stick (2 days minimum). Put the cooling jars in the bags and remind them to keep it level on the ride home. For younger students, give the bags/jars to a parent. See the post below here at rotation.org for suggested home instructions.
For younger children: Read the scriptures to them, and ask them to 'vote' on their favorite words and phrases. Help them write these words on the Popsicle sticks. Use your judgement about letting them help you melt and stir the sugar, it is very hot (again, a hotplate will be safer than a stove). You might let them help you stir it until it gets too hot, then take over from there. When pouring, have the students stand back. Help them place the lids on, and screw it on for them, while YOU hold the glass with a hot pad (the glass will be hot).
For small groups: Consider making extra rock candy to send home in decorated bags.
The videos shown in this post and linked here contain rock candy recipes, as do many other websites. You will want to test your use of the recipe ahead of time, as it is important to get the proportions and temperature correct. You will need to increase the recipe quantities based on the number of students you have, and the size of jars you have.
A basic list of Rock Candy ingredients:
2 cups (473 ml) of water
4 cups (946 mg) of granulated white sugar
Food coloring (optional)
This will boil down to about 1 3/4 cups of liquid (14 ounces), which is enough for three 6 ounce ball jars not filled to the top.
The sugar crystals form on the stick because the boiled sugar solution is "super-saturated," so don't skimp on sugar or it won't work.
See the video "how to" in this lesson post and view step-by-step instructions at
Written by: Neil MacQueen with help from Carol Hulbert and Luanne Payne
Copyright © 2015 by Rotation.org
Printed from https://www.rotation.org