Rotation.org Writing Team
The Story of Creation
A Glo-Science Workshop Lesson
Summary of Activities
Using a special hand lotion that glows when illuminated with a blacklight flashlight, students will explore the important meaning of the phrase "image of God" and how sharing God's goodness, creativity, and care (i.e., "image") is what we were created to do.
Scripture for the Lesson
Genesis 1:1 - 2:3 (NIV)
Key Verse: Genesis 1:27 (NIV)
"So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them."
Related Verse: Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)
"For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."
See the Bible Background at Rotation.org for insights on this story and the lesson set's learning objectives.
Materials and Preparation
- Read the Bible Background and scripture.
- Glo Germ™ Gel lotion or Glitter Bug Lotion. Temporarily cover the label of the bottle so as to disguise this product. This non-toxic product washes off with soap and water. Designed to demonstrate how "germs" spread and persist, we have repurposed its fun effect for this lesson!
See more about this product in the endnotes of this lesson.
- Blacklight UV Flashlight (They are inexpensive. Some lotion kits come with one but be sure it is strong enough. Refer to the endnotes.)
- Make photocopies of the "Shorter Version" of the Genesis scripture (one per student). (Refer to the endnotes for more info about this shorter version.)
If possible, copy onto colored paper as it makes the Glow Germ (which will be applied to these pages) stand out. It will not appear as vibrant on white paper.
Do not use an inkjet printer to create copies—the Glo Germ will smudge the ink.
- Markers and a large sheet of paper (optional)
- A plate for every group of 4 to 6 students
- Ability to dim the lights in your room. The darker the room the greater the glow effect.
- Whiteboard, chalkboard, or flipchart. Write on the board:
- Q1. What does this story tell you about what God is like?
- Q2. What else is God like?
Before class begins, in big letters using a modest amount of the Glo Germ lotion, write the word "GOD" on a prominent wall or door in the classroom and circle the word with the shape of a heart. if you didn't use too much lotion then it will become nearly invisible to the unaided eye in about 30 minutes Test it with your blacklight. You will get back to this "God Heart" in demonstration #2 at the end of your lesson.
Draw a large heart on each of your scripture handouts using trace amounts of the lotion. Test with your blacklight and then let the handouts dry before stacking.
As students arrive in the classroom, give each of them a squirt of Glo Germ but tell them it is "hand sanitizer." You want them to be surprised—surprises are great memory hooks. Assign some easy tasks to help them unknowingly spread the "glow" around your classroom:
- Arrange chairs, or...
- Move scripture handouts or Bibles to the table, or...
- Have a big sheet of paper on the table with some colored markers and invite them to quickly sketch an image of their favorite animal, bug, or place in God's world.
After a few minutes, explain that today they are going to be learning about the story of Creation and the special way in which God created us.
Ask them if they know where that story is found in the Bible, then ask them to summarize the story of Creation as much as they can. (If they mention the story of Adam and Eve, remind them that that story is found after the story of Creation in Genesis 2.)
1. Pass out the Scripture handouts, but before reading the scripture together, address the two questions written on the board.
Q1. What does this story tell you about what God is like? (Will we discover that God is mean or joyful? Boring or creative? Cares or doesn't care?)
Q2. What else is God like? (These can be characteristics learned from other lessons, such as "saving," and "comforting.")
2. Just before you start reading the passage together, tell the class you have a secret you want to share with them. Tell them that you didn't squirt hand sanitizer onto their hands; it was a special lotion.
3. Pull out your blacklight flashlight and shine it onto everyone's hands to show the glow. Shine the blacklight on a few other things students may have touched. (Assure students that this is a safe, non-toxic material.)
Hold the blacklight in such a way that students don't stare into it.
4. Now turn the blacklight into a teaching metaphor by saying something like the following as you are shining the blacklight around the room...
The lotion I put on your hands is invisible until we see it with a blacklight. In the same way, the presence of God in our world and our universe is not always easy to see—until we shine the light of faith on it. Our faith helps us see God's fingerprints all over Creation. Our faith helps us to know that God has been at work creating this wonderful gift of Creation.
5. Now shine your blacklight on their scripture handouts (on which you have drawn Glo Germ lotion) and say:
In the same way, not everyone who reads or hears these words from Genesis will care about them. But when WE read and hear them—with the love of God in our hearts—God's word GLOWS with his presence and wisdom.
6. READ the Creation Scripture together.
7. Return to answer the two questions you wrote on the board:
Q1: What does the story say God is like?
Q2: What else do we know about what God is like?
Follow-up questions to ask:
--Does this story say that God cares only about BIG things?
(Obviously not, God cares about small things—things like bugs and fish. That means God cares about the things that bug us or make us happy. Nothing you do or say or that you are hurting about, is too small for God to notice and care about.)
--Does the story say we are the same as all the other animals or are we different?
(Different in that we are made in the "image of God.")
--How are we different than the rest of Creation?
(Let the children try to answer this before you go into explaining it in the next step.)
What does the phrase "image of God" mean? Let me show you!
Ask for two volunteers who are willing to let their foreheads touch each other for a moment. Draw a 1" solid heart on one student's forehead by dipping your finger in Glo Germ Gel. Call this person "God," and then have "God" touch their forehead to the other person to "share" their heart with them.
Tip: Don't use too much lotion as when they touch foreheads the lotion may slip and "smoosh" the heart shape.
You may choose to touch one arm to another person's arm.
Say: God gives every human being the ability to love and care for the world and for each other.
Shine the blacklight on God and the receiving person's foreheads, saying: Because we believe in God and that God has shared his image with each and every person—making everyone special—we treat each person with love and respect.
Ask and Do: Who else wants to try and share the "image of God" from their forehead (or arm) to another student? (Spend some time sharing the image of God. You can choose a heart or a cross. If a student is too shy to interact with another student in this manner, ask them to dab some Glo Germ from their hand to yours.)
Interacting again with the Scripture (optional)
1. Highlight with lotion the verses about the "image of God." Say to them that his part of the Creation story is the "heart" of the story because it tells us what God made us to do.
2. Highlight every occurrence of the word "good" in the passage. Ask what this word tells us about Creation. Are there destructive things in Creation? Sure, there are tornados and destructive people. But there's a promise built into Creation that God will never abandon us. That God will save us and that's very good! (You don't have to get too complicated here.)
3. Now, draw yourself into the passage, because you too are a part of God's story of Creation. God made you special and gave you the power to love and care.
Created to BE God's Image in the World (Ephesians 2:10)
Say: It isn't enough to just say you are created in God's image, God wants you to LIVE like you are created in God's image! That's the power God gives you when he gives you his image, his character, his Spirit. We are created to BE God's image in the world!
...So let's see what that might look like using some Glo Germ lotion and our blacklight...
Demonstration 1: The "Goodness" Pass
Say: I'm going to press a dab of our special lotion onto the back of one person's hand. They will then press that lotion into another's hand, who will press it into another, and so on. Let's see how many times we can "pass the glow" to another person before the lotion gets too faint to see. Keep it going around in a circle if necessary until the remains of the original lotion are almost too faint to see. Then point out that "the image of God" we share with the world through acts of goodness and kindness can go a long way! You never know how many people your act of goodness will affect. Imagine if everyone passed along God's goodness to everyone they met. What would the world be like then?
Demonstration 2: Gratitude for God's Goodness and Love
Say: One of the most important reasons for WHY we were created in God's image is so that we can love God back, in a way that bugs and trees cannot do. You were made by God to be able to return God's love. Imagine how sad it would be to love someone so much, but they never said "I love you" back? How terrible would that be? God feels the same way.
Shine your blacklight onto the Glo Germ heart circling the word "God" you drew on the classroom wall before class. Then, invite each student to think of something in Creation they want to thank God for and write it next to your God-heart using their finger and a dab of Glo Germ lotion.
Be ready to offer some suggestions about what to write. Shine the blacklight to help them spell it out. Then when everyone is done, shine the blacklight and read everyone's thanksgiving to God. Let them know this message will stay up here for a while (a few weeks or all year—as you like) as an "invisible" prayer of thanksgiving to God.
A Glowing Benediction
When it's time to go, line up your students at the door* and as each one leaves, PRESS a heart or cross from your hand to theirs, shine your blacklight on it, and offer this benediction: "Be the image of God's love and goodness to everyone you meet and every part of Creation."
*If your students don't leave until a parent comes for them, apply the sign and benediction as they leave.
For Younger Students:
Some younger students may not want something "put on their hands" at first but will likely jump in once they see others doing it. Some may not want it put on their forehead so let them extend a hand or piece of paper.
Use a Bible storybook to tell the Creation story. Before class starts, draw a heart shape on the cover of this Bible. Eliminate the "glo-marking" of scripture activity but do discuss the "image of God" portions of scripture.
Count the number of times "good" appears in this story.
For Those With More Class Time:
Prior to reading the story add finding Genesis in the Bible.
Rather than using the shorter version of scripture, read the entire scripture from the Bible.
Using the Glo Germ, have students work together to write the first two parts of Genesis 1:27 on a wall or on a plastic surface using an art brush or their fingers. (They'll think they need more lotion, so use the blacklight to see where they are applying it.)
For a Shorter/Simpler lesson plan:
Eliminate having other students share the "image of God" from their forehead (or either arm) to another student.
Eliminate the "glo-marking" of the scripture.
Eliminate the "Goodness Pass."
For At-Home Use:
Because of the cost of materials, this may not be a good lesson for home use, though the reading of scripture and the discussion questions can be shared at home.
Important info about "Glo Germ" and "Blacklights"
"Glo Germ" was designed to simulate "germs" and thus to teach the importance of proper handwashing. It is also useful to show how "germs" spread. Which is what we are repurposing it for! Glo-Germ contains non-toxic tiny plastic particles that have been treated to glow under blacklight. The lotion is mostly mineral oil.
A little bit of Glo Germ lotion goes a long way when painting on skin or non-porous surfaces. You may need a bit more to brush onto a semi-gloss painted wall. Paper will absorb the lotion quickly. The lotion EASILY WASHES OFF hands, walls, and other surfaces and will not mar the surface when it dries.
The 8-ounce bottle of Glo-Germ is less than $16 on Amazon. Two ounces is enough for up to eight students depending on how much illustrating and writing you do with the lotion in this lesson. (Again, a little bit goes a long way!)
Avoid "educational" supply websites that are overcharging for this product!
If you want to do some "painting" of hidden pictures and words, try the Glo-Germ "powder" and mix it with water. It will do better on porous surfaces, such as paper. Use your blacklight as you draw to avoid over-using the lotion or powder.
Take care not to get Glo-Germ in students' eyes. Flush eyes with water immediately and continue to flush until discomfort is eased. (Contact a physician if irritation persists.)
Don't skimp on the size of the blacklight flashlight. Some distributors of Glo Germ sell very tiny lights which are okay for personal use, but you'll want a brighter blacklight for a more dramatic appearance and to light a broader area all at once (such as a wall that you've painted a message on). The style of light seen on the right is $7 on Amazon.
Blacklights emit light in the UVA category. Limited exposure shouldn’t cause any issues, but prolonged eye contact can cause retina damage. Keep your blacklight in the hands of a knowledgeable teacher.
About the "shorter" version of the Scripture passage:
Genesis 1:1-2:3 is a long passage of Hebrew poetry whose structure, grammar, and repetitions can be challenging for children to follow. As well, the NIV preserves some archaic words (like "vault") that are not essential to the meaning of the passage and require precious lesson time to explain. Thus, we've created a "streamlined" version, removing repetitive phrases and clarifying some language while preserving the beloved and essential wording and structure of the passage. See this greyed-out version to view the portions of scripture that we have removed and changed.
Written by Chris Epstein, Neil MacQueen, and the Rotation.org Writing Team
Copyright Rotation.org Inc.