"Moses and Me Upholding the Ten Commandments"
An art lesson about the Ten Commandments
from the Rotation.org Writing Team
Participants will create an aluminum foil sculpture of themselves "upholding" the Ten Commandments (like Moses) to make, remember, and reflect on the Commandments they commit to "uphold" and live by.
Why foil sculpture?
Foil sculpture is a great "art" medium because it easily and quickly allows each student to visually and memorably express their understanding of key lesson concepts with their hands and sculpting decisions. The materials of this foil sculpture project are also widely available, easy for all ages to work with, and fun to play with.
As well, unlike many "craft" projects which merely focus on "making tablets," this lesson uses sculpture to put the students in the story as one who "like Moses" is called to uphold God's Commandments -- a visual which begs the question, "how do I 'uphold' the Ten Commandments?" By cleverly shaping the tablets like a heart, the sculpture also comes to embody one of Jesus' key teaching that God's Laws are commandments to love.
- A Bible or optionally: a computer to access the above scriptures and show the lesson PDF.
- A large piece of paper and some markers
- Aluminum foil (about 3 feet per participant)
- Glue stick
- Red paper for hearts
- Thin cardboard or posterboard or foamboard
- Marker to trace the tablets and write on them
- Pliers to bend the wire
- Wire (thin coat hanger wire or electrical "bell" wire). You'll need about 24" of wire per person (which is about three-quarters of a wire coat hanger) to make a 10" high wireframe.
Save and Share a PDF of this Lesson with members of your congregation
- Cut and bend the wireframe ahead of time.
- Cut the tablets out of poster or foam board.
- Practice wrapping or "scrunching" layers of foil on the frame.
Explain what the group will be doing and learning and then begin with a reading of the Ten Commandments followed by a memory activity because "you can't uphold what you don't remember!"™
Read: Exodus 20: 1-17
Activity: Trace two hands onto the paper in front of your group. This will give you ten fingers -- one for each Commandment. One at a time, pass the marker to each player and have them write one of the commandments above its "correct" finger. Depending on the age of your players, their memories, and how much time you have, help, give hints, check your Bibles, and correct mistakes (as seen below) until you complete the ten fingers.
When all ten Commandments are correct on the page, draw a heart shape around the hands and share the following idea:
God gave us ten rules to live by
because God LOVES us
God knows that following these ten rules
will help us lead loving and faithful lives.
We in turn follow God's Commandments
because we LOVE God, and know that following God's rules
will help us be loving and faithful not only to him but to others as well!
Share the photo of Moses holding up the tablets in a heart-shape seen at the top of this lesson and show other photos seen below. The heart-shaped tablets "upheld" in our sculpture will visualize these ideas.
The sculpture you are to make is a sculpture of YOU (not Moses) embracing and/or holding up the Ten Commandments. It's a sign of your desire to follow God's rules and hope others will too. Once you have the basic sculpture created, take care to have its shape and pose represent YOU and the message about God's ten rules for your life.
Below in this post and in the PDF are a series of helpful photos of the foil sculpting process. At various points in the sculpting process, refer back to the Ten Commandments and the statement.
Note about the sculpture's symbolism:
Moses holding the tablets above his head is an iconic image that can convey a sense of sternness ("thou shalt not") and even anger or punishment. By changing it to an image of us holding God's heart-shaped tablets, we are intentionally changing the meaning to align it with Jesus' insights found in John 13:34 and Matthew 22:36-40. (These ideas are also explored in other lessons in this set.) Posing the sculpture offers many opportunities to express important meanings. How do you "uphold" or "hold on to" God's loving laws in your life? How else could you pose the figure and tablets to send a message to others about God's rules for living a holy life?
After everyone is done, let each explain their sculpture. This will give you time to reiterate the key points stated above.
Some additional thoughts: (These can be discussed during the sculpting time too.)
1. How can we help each other to "uphold" (remember and obey) commandments such as, "do not lie," "do not covet," and "honor our parents"?
2. Which of the following Commandments do you need to work on?
- Making God #1 in your priorities
- Keeping the Sabbath
- Honoring parents
- Not hurting others with your words or actions
- Taking things that aren't yours.
- Being more honest
- Stop wishing you had "more stuff" or being jealous of what other people have.
Close with a prayer thanking God for his love and rules to live by. Pray for each person's needs.
Tips on Sculpting with Foil for This Project
- Cut and bend the wire using pliers. You can wrap the base in foil too to hide the wire and make it lay flatter. Adjust the tilt and shape of the wire base to accommodate tablets held over the sculpture's head.
- Folding your thin sheets of foil several times will help make them tear-resistant as you wrap and bend them. You can also lay two flat layers of foil together and "scrunch" them onto and around the wire.
- Scrunch additional sheets of foil to fill-out the body, legs, arms, and head, then press and crush the foil at various locations to make the figure look anatomically "correct."
- Make and glue the foil tablets together FIRST so they have some time to dry.
- Create the legs and body first, then fold a long piece to form the arms and fasten it just below the "head" by either tieing a half-knot with the arm-foil, or using a second sheet of foil to scrunch around the length of arm-foil to fasten it to the body.
- Make the sculpture's arms extra long so the tablets can be held above the head and the ends of the foil arms can be bent into hands to hold the tablets.
- Apply small personalizing details last to make the sculpture look like you. This can include foil shaped like your hair, or a skirt, or even glasses. The smaller the piece, the harder it will be to make it stick, so instead of trying to attach a small hairpiece, it's easier to add a loose layer of foil around the entire head and scrunch the top of the foil to make it look like hair. The same is true for the hands. It's easier to shape the ends of the arms into hands than it is to try and add small hand-pieces to the arms.