Mustard Seed Art Project
Summary: Student will create an abstract painting of the mustard seed that grew into a tree and became a place where birds nested.
Scripture: Matthew 13:31-32, Also...Luke 13:18 "What is the kingdom of God like? And to what should I compare it?"
Technique: Painting with Marbles
Examples of marble painting abound on the net and Youtube. Here's a good simple introduction.
- Large trays with a lip (can use cookie sheets, large aluminum pans, or box lids) large enough so that 9 x 13 " construction paper fits flat in the tray, have at least the number of trays equal to half your class size. SEE the ALTERNATIVE IDEA BELOW of using large Chinet paper plates.
- Several colors of washable classroom art paints.
- Plastic spoons
- One plastic bowl for each color paint (disposable for easy clean-up), large enough to accommodate the number of marbles needed plus paint
- Mustard seeds
- White glue
- 9 x 13 white construction paper (one per student)
- Small paper leaves (pre-cut, approx 2 ½ inches long) light green, dark green and brown (The more shades of green the better! Cut some variety in the shapes of the leaves.)
- Marbles (a number equal to at least half your class size plus extras)
- Paper towels
- Pictures from magazines, pictures from classic paintings, etc which depict the Kingdom of God (for example: people helping other people, or doing good works, mission work, people smiling, etc.)
- Pens or markers (make sure they will show up on the colors chosen for the leaves)
- Hair dryer(s) [Optional]
- Zipper-closing sandwich bags (one per student)
- paint smocks and clean up supplies.
Alternate Approach: Use white "Chinet"-brand paper plates to create your painting on. They are sturdy and have a rim. When finished, STAPLE a clean plate to the top of the painted one so that the paint won't smear on the ride home. They tend to rise in the middle but you can press that bulge down with your hand.
Advance Preparation Requirements
- Cut out the paper leaves, enough for approximately 4 per child. Size them to fit on the 'tree' that will be created on the paper/plate.
- Put the paints in the bowls.
- Have the room set up so that each tray has a piece of paper in it and the children have enough room to work.
Editor's Note: This is nearly a complete lesson that you will want to flesh out a bit.
Welcome your students and explain how the lesson is going to unfold this morning.
Explain that you are going to tell them a parable. Ask if anyone knows what a parable is. If this is a later workshop in the Rotation, some children may have an idea.
Tell them that a parable is a story that explains one thing by comparing it to another thing. For example, I might tell a parable that says, "Jose's faith was like a rock with rough edges, who became smooth and shiny after being tumbled in the river." Or, "God's love is like a tree in which birds find a safe place to build their nest." To understand what I mean, you have to think about what a rock or tree is like, and what in person's life would make their rough edges smooth. Parables often have surprises in them too, like, "Jose's faith was as tiny as an seed, but watered by prayer, his faith grew into a giant tree!"
Jesus used parables to help people understand and important thing called "the Kingdom of God."
Ask if anyone knows what the Kingdom of God is. If they are not sure, explain that Jesus talked about the Kingdom of God in response to people wondering what kind of "king" he was going to be, and wondering how he was going to rule over the people. They wanted a very visible kingdom, a palace, a throne, an army, victory! But Jesus told them to expect a very different kind of Kingdom, and used many parables to tell them what that Kingdom was going to be like.
It's like a seed that grew into a tree and gave a place for birds to nest.
It's like yeast that's so tiny you can't see it, but it can make an entire loaf of bread dough rise up.
It's like a treasure that some people can't see, but when you see it, you want to dig it up.
Jesus' Kingdom was not a palace or land, it is wherever God's work is being done, and wherever people live as God wants them to live. Like that treasure, not everyone sees it. Like that seed, not everyone recognizes it when its starting to grow.
Today we will talk about the parable of the mustard seed (Matthew 13:31-32).
Read Matthew 13:31-32.
It's short, so when you're done, tell them all to stick out a hand, palm up, ...and drop a mustard seed into it.
Ask: How can something so small turn into something so great?
Say: Jesus was kind of like a mustard seed too. People looked at him and didn't see a king wearing a crown and leading an army. But they didn't realize he was the Son of God, and would soon have billions of followers and change the world.
Maybe you're like a mustard seed too! People might look at you now and think, "you're just a kid," but God may grow you to have a giant faith, and be a powerful helper of other people.
Ask and Say: What does the parable say the Kingdom of God is going to be like? Will birds nest in ANY tree? No, they only nest where they think they will be protected, and near food. God's Kingdom is like that.... because we feel God's presence close to us, we feel protected and fed in our faith.
Where is God's Kingdom? This parable might be saying, "Anywhere you see birds feeling safe!" Now is Jesus talking about real birds? Who are the birds in the parable? That's right, they are US. We are the birds in God's Kingdom. God's Kingdom feels like HOME to us.
Or...maybe we're the sower in the parable, the one who sows tiny seeds that will grow up and be a home for others -a safe friend, a friend protects feelings and shares hope. That's what's cool about parables, you can look at them so many different ways and see new meanings.
Mustard Seed and Tree Art Project
Say: Today we are going to make pictures of a mustard seed growing into a tree and put some leaves on it that show where we might find the Kingdom of God.
First, you need to write the parable (it's short!) around the edge of your canvas. If using the Chinet plate, write it on the rim so that it won't get covered by the marble painting.
Work in pairs to help each other create a marble-painted picture.
Allow them to do a "test picture" so they can learn what not to do.
Tell them that not all the painting has to be done by rolling the marble. If they want to add some tree details, they can dip their marble in the paint and slide it with their fingers. You might even have a few brushes available for those who want to complete their painting in their own way.
Remind them that they will be ADDING LEAVES after their done with the marbles.
Once everyone has created their parable painting, set them aside under a fan to begin drying
While the paintings are drying, hand out the pre-cut "leaves" and hold a discussion about what kind of things God is trying to grow among us, around us, and IN us: Love, forgiveness, peace, kindness, etc etc.
Have students write some of their words on their leaves. After a few minutes, glue the leaves onto their marble painting.
Closing: Have everyone share their painting. Ask them "how was the Kingdom of God here today in our classroom?" It was here because we nurtured our growing faith, and provided a safe place for birds to hang out, were kind and helpful. Announce that it the Kingdom of God can be anywhere that they sow its seeds, ....treat others with respect, and share the love of God.
Contributed by Peggy Franciosa and Neil MacQueen
Note: This is an OUTLINE of a lesson plan. You will want to flesh it out a bit more for your purposes and adapt to your age group and teaching needs.