Looking for Garden of Gethsemane Lesson Ideas

This month, I'm working on the Garden of Gethsemane lesson set with the Writing Team.

Question 1: What is the most INTERESTING Gethsemane lesson idea you've ever done to teach the story of Jesus in the Garden?

Question 2: What do you think is "THE BIG TAKE AWAY" for kids and this story?

Question 3: What plants could you plant in a real garden to commemorate this story? Also...what do you think about creating a Gethsemane "Rock and a Hard Place Spot" at the church?  Rocks. path. Olive something. Praying space. Thinking out loud here! 

Reoccuring Plea #5:  Yes, I am still wanting to press olive oil (Gethsemane means "place of the  olive press" and "pressed" is a good double entendre regarding Jesus there). Anybody ever done that with kids? --I ask this every year    @CreativeCarol says pressing oil from olives with kids is not do-able. Help me astound her! 

~Neil the Asker

P.S. If your "olive oil" idea makes it into the WT set, the Board will give you a free three-month membership. I didn't ask them if I could do that, but they are so nice, ...really.

Original Post

I think pressing olive oil looks like good messy fun! The problem I see is that you would not be able to complete the process in an hour, at least according to these instructions:   https://www.wikihow.com/Make-Olive-Oil

The instructions also say

This process can be extremely messy. It's best to wear “junk clothes” you don't mind dirtying and/or a full-body kitchen apron while making the olive oil. You should also prepare the oil in an area that will be easy to clean afterward.

Which makes me think this is a better project for a retreat or Saturday morning event or lock-in.

Here is a video that is not great quality, but talks about doing this project with kids:


I am not sure how easily available fresh uncured olives are - I have never looked for them, but Whole Foods seems to be mentioned as a source. Not sure if they are a seasonal fresh product either.

That being said, if the olives can be had relatively inexpensively, starting the process with all the smashing and blendering and stirring and straining might be fun! It would be a good opportunity to talk about the pressure Jesus was under at the time. And maybe show a brief video of the full process?? Here is a Martha Stewart video that also shows the olives being harvested:  https://www.marthastewart.com/914327/making-olive-oil



I love the idea of a special dedicated, preferably outdoor, space in church. We tried this a couple of times... we have a "Prayer garden" that is really a concrete window well area outside our basement Fell. Hall... you can see it from the windows when inside, and it was pretty ugly... We added a fountain, concrete benches - the kids used tiles and stained glass to make mosaic symbols on the top, added potted plants and some garden stepping stones. The concrete benches and stones could represent your "hard" spots, and the way they were transformed shows the beauty and good of what Jesus is doing/did for us.

We also made an actual Bible garden once (until the trustees decided to plant big bushes right in the middle)! We chose plants that had either biblical names -- Jacob's ladder, Lamb's ear or represented something from a story --  lemon balm, lilies, crown of thorns...

We have also made mosaic pots using symbols from the story, filled them with flower and auctioned them off for a mission offering. 

A stone labyrinth would be amazing... or maybe just have a basket of stones that could be used as prayer stones... could add words that remind us of Jesus' suffering in the garden? Having it outside would limit some of the interactive prayer tools you could include, but it would be neat to have a dedicated space for that. 

The big takeaway idea... Jesus did something very HARD out of LOVE for US. 

I'll ponder this more -- now that I have some time in retirement!!!



Amy Crane posted:

Here is a video that is not great quality, but talks about doing this project with kids:

I am not sure how easily available fresh uncured olives are - I have never looked for them, but Whole Foods seems to be mentioned as a source. Not sure if they are a seasonal fresh product either.

Thanks Amy. I've seen that video several times over the years that I've searched the web for solutions to this "pressing" problem. 

I've committed myself to going into my own kitchen to "figure this out" since nobody else seems to have shared their secret. Gotta be a quick, kid-friendly project in this!  True fact: I don't even like olives 

One of the favorite things we did was Cathy's prayer labyrinth.  But, I always thought it would be nice if we did it again to put all the station focuses on the actual Garden of Gethsemane story and what we want the kids to learn from that, rather than on just prayer.

So maybe instead of calling it a prayer labyrinth call it the Garden of Gethsemane Labyrinth.

I was also thinking Jaymie's idea above would make for a good art activity while the children are waiting for their turn to enter the labyrinth.

Jaymie said, "We have also made mosaic pots using symbols from the story, filled them with flowers and auctioned them off for a mission offering."


OK found a few photos... and ran by church to take some pics from the window well garden area since I couldn't find those. IMG_0552

This is the garden -- the windows are to our Fell. Hall. You can see the benches along the wall.


Bench #1

IMG_0554Bench #2 (not sure if you can tell, but to the right of the "Y" they used leaf shaped tiles to depict the garden.


This was actually designed to be a birdbath... but has been turned into a flower pot saucer. It's made from a large clay saucer glued to an upside down pot. Writing says, "My peace I give to you." 


Bench #3 - pretty good representation of a garden. The older kids designed this one. The younger kids did the Pray Bench and the sun was done by middle grades. These benches have been outside for 10+ years, so they have held up remarkably well. 


Stepping Stones -- made by last year's confirmation class -- they never grouted them. 


Another stepping stone... the one to the right was made by a real artist in the church as a gift. 


Set up for the mosaic pots. We've discovered that the little round glass pebbles are MUCH easier for kids to work with... and they do fine with the grouting. We encouraged them to choose simple shapes and talked about key symbols... 



Completed pots... allow to dry 24 hours then grout.



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Those are great photos Jaymie! I am glad you found them, because when you said "window well" this is what I was thinking...

Window wells
And I could not envision how you turned a window well into a garden!  LOL.

The biggest takeaway from this Rotation: That it is okay to struggle with your faith and prayer can be a way to help one face whatever is bothering you.

Neil said...

Gethsemane means "place of the olive press" and "pressed" is a good double entendre regarding Jesus there).

Thinking about ideas, (this would be more for lesson opening...) I know you are focused on pressing olives (if it can be done... ) How about something sciency relating to stress in an engineering sense, as a way to illustrate stress as occuring when someone is hard-pressed to deal with some obstacle. (Breaking bars of soap comes to mind.) It could just be a way to demonstrate what Jesus must have experienced. 

We have done prayer stones as well. If you don't want to go to the expense of paint pens (much easier for kids than actual paint and brushes on such small surfaces), you can have them draw with permanent marker on very thin paper, then use mod podge or diluted glue to cover the stones. We did that for a series on the Life of David. We used paint pens this month making prayer stones for Daniel. We provided a simple tutorial of a lion using one of my favorite kids' art blogs: https://artprojectsforkids.org. Kids had an option of drawing their own, using the tutorial or choosing something different to put on their stone.


mceclip1Life of David Story stones-1


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