Rotation.org Writing Team
Mary Accepts, Magnifies, and Ponders
and you should too!
Summary of Lesson Activities
This lesson focuses on Mary's statement: "My soul magnifies the Lord," by combining both the use of creative illustration and the words in miniature to be read under magnification. The Bible study is a creative discovery of what the words "soul" and "magnify" are really meant to convey.
The art project: Students create a translucent watercolor-on-coffee-filter painting to illustrate Mary's and our overflowing feeling of joy knowing we are part of God's plan, and he is with us. Prior to applying the watercolors, students use a gel-pen to add "micro-printing" to their filter that includes the verse, and related sentiments discussed during the Bible study (an alternative transparency method is also described). The project is designed to display in a window to let light pass through it. Attached to the display are magnifying glasses for art-lovers can engage the artwork and remember the lesson.
(See "Additional Suggestions" below for alternate projects.)
As part of this project, each student will receive a small magnifying glass with which to read their micro-printing and share with others. (Magnifying glasses are very inexpensive from Oriental Trading Co.) The magnifying glasses make the art "interactive" and are also a great symbol to remember and discuss.
Passage: Luke 1:46-55 Mary's "Magnificat" ~ Song Joy
Memory Verse: "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior." Luke 1:46-47
Objectives for the Rotation
See the Bible Background for teaching objectives and tips!
Specific in this lesson:
- Students will know and be able to express what Mary meant and felt when she said, "My soul magnifies the Lord," and what made her feel that way.
- Read the Bible Background, scriptures and lesson plan
- Set up the table(s) for painting
- Gather art materials, smocks
- Press flat the coffee filters
- White Board (with marker)
- Tablecloth and smocks
- Gel pens (different colors)
- Watercolor Paints
- Thin paint brushes & small sponge brushes, and small sponges to "dab" with
- Glasses of water
- Coffee Filters pressed flat
- Transparency plastic
- Clear craft glue
- Paper towels
- Copy paper for underneath the filters
- Hole punch
- Blow dryer to quick dry painted filters
- Magnifying glasses (see link below to Oriental Trading Co for very inexpensive ones)
Welcome your students and introduce the art project they'll be doing today in the lesson.
Say: Today we're going to take a new look at one of the most famous "songs" in the New Testament, Mary's Song when she was pregnant with the baby Jesus. And then you're going to get to create a work of art that expresses some of what Mary was feeling that day, and hopefully a little of what we Christians feel during Christmas time.
Say: When I point at you, I'm going to yell the word "JOY" and you have to "hit your joy pose" for the rest of the class. Ready? (Make this sort of goofy and do it for two or three students, then break it off to define joy.)
Ask: Well, you weren't really that joyful, were you. Somebody give me another word for "joy." (Start listing words on the board.) Joy, Happiness, Ecstatic.
Let me give you a clue from today's scripture: When Mary sings her song of joy, the word used to describe her "joy" was not "happy," it was the Greek word "agal-lia-sis" which means (act it out) "JUMP UP WOOHOOO! Joy." It means "extreme" joy."
So when I point to you now, show me "agal-lia-sis" joy. (Do this until everyone has gone. Then point and say"agalliasis...everyone on 3!")
Say: Sometimes when we read the Bible, we need to know more about what it is really saying. That's why we study it.
(You'll have the students repeat this fun memory-maker at the end of the lesson.)
Bible Study.... walking through the words of Mary's Song
Teacher Notes: After reading the Song of Joy in Luke 1 together with your students, you will take your students back to the key phrase, "My Soul Magnifies the Lord" and begin to walk through alternate words that unlock new meanings to what Mary was expressing.
Lead your students through something like the following Q & A. Remember to WRITE DOWN the words as you and the kids come up with them. They'll need these written reminders to recombine the words to come up with new translations of what Mary was trying to express.
And remember, Mary was trying to express "Woo-hooo-joy" the kind of joy which comes from your soul — which is nearly impossible using just words. That's why you're going to do the art project, and playfully get the kids to express the memory verse using their voices and motion.
Read Mary's Song of Joy from Luke 1:46-55 with each student reading a verse. Then walk through some of the key words as described below.
In the following walk-through you will be giving them info and clues, and asking them to help you define key words. Write down what they say so that they and you can then RECOMBINE the words they contribute to discover new ways of saying AND understanding what Mary was really saying. Let them use these new words in their art project. Some of the words themselves are great visuals, so act them out.
Ask: Everyone look at Luke 1:46, My soul "magnifies" the Lord. and tell me what does it mean to "magnify" the Lord? (Record their answers on the board.)
Say: Traditionally, the word "magnify" is politely translated as "praise." You hear that word a lot in church, "praise God, praise service, etc." But that's not quite what Mary was saying when she said "My soul MAGNIFIES." The Greek word the New Testament uses for "magnify" is "megas," which means "to make or declare BIG." Praise or "adore" just doesn't cut it.
What she might say in today's language is, "My soul is HUGE with the Lord!"
A few years ago the word "Massive" was cool. My soul is massive!
What are some other synonyms for massive and mega?
How about "Full"? Overflowing? Bursting? Gi-normous!"
Now practice rephrasing Mary's line with your new words, and try to say them as they sound, i.e. "bursting" should be accompanied by a big bursting sound and motion. Write them out.
Ask: What does it mean to say our SOUL magnifies the Lord? (Record their responses on the board.)
The word for "soul" is often translated as "heart." That's another word you hear a lot in church. "Give your heart to God, put your heart into it."
Ask: But remember, Mary is saying her heart is gone massive!
What does it mean to say your 'heart is massive, bursting, full" for the Lord? What does that feel like?
When was the last time your hearts felt like it was going to burst with joy?
How about Christmas morning?
Ask: What made Mary feel like bursting, Christmas presents?
What is it that her heart can hardly CONTAIN??
Say: Well, let me tell you a little secret. "Heart" isn't a perfect translation for soul.
Mary was a HEBREW, and the Hebrew word for "soul" is "life" or "life force."
Actually, it's even more interesting than even the word "life."
The Hebrew word for soul is "nefesh," and it means, "breath."
Mary's BREATH WAS HUGE for the Lord!
Mary's life-breath was jumping wild-happy for the Lord!
(Keep writing words on the board as you and the kids come up with them.)
This is the breath that God inspired into us, and the breath that expires out of us when we die. Sometimes people use the traditional word, "spirit," but the Hebrew word is "breath."
Ask: And where does that breath come from? (God breathed HIS breath into us at creation. The breath that is leaping for joy is God's spirit within us.)
Ask: Have you ever given a gift you were so excited to give, that you couldn't contain your excitement as you saw them hold the package? That's how God felt when he gave Mary the gift of his son. God was jumping for joy.
Now let's practice mixing all the words we have have come up with to make some new translations of Luke 1:46-47.
(Go around the room and have them say the verse using the various words you have put on the board from your discussion. Write down their new phrases!)
Some possible combinations:
- My life is HUGE with you in it, Lord.
- You make my heart BIG.
- My heart if full of your spirit.
- You make my life jump!
- You make my heart pound.
- I am overflowing with your presence.
- God has filled me up! (This is interesting because Mary is literally being "filled up" with Baby Jesus. And as she says in a later verse, WE shall be filled up. It gets even more memorable when you think of what a pregnant women feels like when pregnant
Questions to ask:
- What does it sometimes FEEL like to think about God? (heart pounding joy)
- Does thinking about or being with God always feel bursting or over-flowing?
(It's important that you talk to them about how sometimes God's presence is NOT big, but quiet and hard to see. It would be freaky to have God looming LARGE all the time.)
- How does a person FILL their life with God's life? What things can you do to feel your heart beating for God?
Art Project Time!
Say: Today you're going to do two things to make your art project.
(1) You're going to write some of the new words and phrases for Mary's Song that we learned today onto a coffee filter. But you're going to write them MASSIVELY SMALL. So small, you'll need this magnifying glass to read them.
(2) Then you're going to paint the filter using watercolors to express the wonder and amazement of Mary's Magnificent Massive Song of Wild Joy.
As part of today's project, you're also going to receive a magnifying glass, so that you will remember that even in small things, like words on a filter, or in a Bible, or in a classroom can be GI-NORMOUSLY IMPORTANT to our lives if you know they come from God. (Yes, you should talk exactly like that, Mary did!)
Follow the instructions below for set up and creation of the project, and remember to keep reinforcing the lesson ideas and verses throughout.
Art Project How-to
- Press the coffee filters flat prior to class.
- Have the students choose words and phrases from your Bible study and the rest of Mary's Song of Joy. Have them write the words and phrases onto the filters as small as they can write them using a "gel-pen" type of writing pen. Do not use markers or permanent markers because they tend to bleed. Ballpoint pens tend not to lay down enough ink. "Gel pens" tends to works best and they can be purchased in many different colors.
See the alternative method below for doing the micro-printing on white paper.
- Before writing, place a sheet (or two) of paper underneath the coffee filter. The gel pen won't work as well on a hard surface.
- Practice writing and painting on a spare filter.
- Let them use their magnifying glass to see how their letters look. Have them experiment with simple block-letters, not script, so that their letters are recognizable when magnified.
- Suggest that they draw their words and phrases in artistic shape (remember keep them small) to convey the excitement of Mary's words, rather than printing them in a straight line.
- After practicing their micro-printing, have them experiment with brushing and sponging on small amounts of watercolor.
- Practice painting swoops, starbursts, rays and dots. Try different paint application techniques, such as, using a dab method, or small sponge. Have them imagine what a soul might look like in the center of their drawing (a heart?)
Practice time is the teacher's BIG TEACHING OPPORTUNITY.
As you help them think of shapes and ways to apply paint, continue to express insights about what Mary was thinking about, what made her feel unafraid and hopeful. Use keywords from the scripture, such as, "lowly" and "blessed" and "generation to generation" in your experiments.
Now start them on their "real" filter project.
Once students begin to create their project, circulate and reinforce key concepts as you praise and suggest techniques.
- While the filters are drying, have the students cut a piece of clear plastic transparency slightly larger than their filter. The purpose of this transparency sheet it to make the finished filter hang nicely.
- Punch a hole in the top and add a piece of yarn so it can be hung
- If needed, use a blow dryer to hasten drying. If their paper is soaked, press it first between pieces of paper towel.
- Use small dabs of glue to lightly fix the edges of the filter to the back of the transparency so that the words can be seen.
- Use water color paints from art kits like the one pictured.
- Use thin brushes that won't pick up too much paint. Use a small sponge brush and encourage students to try other techniques, such as applying lines of color.
- Remind students to keep brushes separate (don't dip the blue brush into the yellow paint, for example).
- Have cups of plain water and extra paper towel to rinse brushes.
- Encourage students to only pick three complementary colors which will not turn into mud if/when they bleed. Yellow, green and blue, for example. Or purple, blue and red.
- Place paper towel underneath the filters while painting and keep the towel and filter aligned so the towel doesn't transfer watercolor through the back of the filter. If it gets too wet, insert a piece of plain white paper underneath the filter.
- Do not over-saturate the filter paper or colors will bleed together and turn brown.
- Avoid applying dark colors or too much water over the micro-printed areas of scripture. Rather than paint over text, brush around it to let the color bleed into the white around the letters.
- Print and show the images found at the end of this lesson to stoke some creativity.
Have everyone hold up their magnifying glasses and walk around the table to view their classmates' finished projects, as you continue to reinforce and applaud student efforts.
Finally, gather in a circle and say: We're going to "try the yelling 'joy' game one more time. I'll start and then point to the next person. When you are done shouting Luke 1:46 "My soul magnifies the Lord" the way Mary may actually have felt it, then you can point to another student to have them do it, and so on.... If the group thinks you were MASSIVE! they'll clap. If they think you can do better, they will give you a thumbs down and you have to try again.
Then have everyone read it together and shout a Massive AMEN!
Alternate Method for Micro-printing for younger children
Instead of writing directly on the filter with a gel-pen, which may be difficult for younger students, you can have your students copy/write out the verses/keywords/idea on a regular sheet of paper, then set your church copier to "reduce the size" of the writing, and copy using transparency sheets rather than copier paper. Then it's simply a matter of cutting the transparency sheet to the size of the "soul-joy" coffee filter art and gluing the two together with a few dabs of clear glue.
Alternate Art Materials
Instead of coffee filters, you could go with watercolor on canvas or art paper, and still do the microprinting. Older students may appreciate the more 'artsy' material. As well, students could make "stained glass" watercolors with microprinting by painting on heavy tissue (or art paper), allowing it to dry, and then later laminating it to get it to lay flat against a window.
The KEY is the microprinting and magnifying glass. It gives both students and the art-audience a way to engage and remember.
Oriental Trading Company sells small magnifying glasses for under $7 a dozen. Here's a link to the suggested magnifying glass for this project. "DIY Magnifying Glass" # IN-13649438) If this link to their catalog goes dead, search for "magnifying glasses" at orientaltrading.com.
For Older Students or Group Display Project
Older kids may balk at making something for themselves, so give them the option of creating a "an Advent soul-joy window display" near the church's front entrance. They can use coffee filters, or make theirs on larger sheets of tissue paper. Attach magnifying glasses to string so that others can have fun viewing the micro-printing on the artwork.
Artwork Examples to inspire watercolor ideas and styles:
This Mary seems to have the Spirit of Pentecost about her with the presence of God as a flame around her causing her to speak (just like Peter did at Pentecost).
Even Mary's hair is alive in the Lord.
One could imagine a modern Mary doing this.
Written by: Neil MacQueen for the Rotation.org Writing Team
Copyright 2015, Rotation.org
Permission granted for non-commercial teaching use by our Supporting Members!
Image copyright notice: We're legally using these low-res versions for commentary and teaching purposes.