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How to teach kids about the Trinity
Up first is an idea originally submitted by Jean Carey, way back in 2001 — yet it is still applicable to today!

Making Ropes to symbolize The Trinity

I was recently at a Scouting event that was making ropes with a very simple three-piece homemade contraption made from wood and a few other cheap ordinary things (one paddle which separated the twine, one table-thing with a handle, and one pulling apparatus). Up to 5 children were able to work on one machine. I instantly saw a church story being demonstrated: The Father, Son and Holy Spirit!

There are many connections that can generate from this: unity, binding faith, trust, and strength against Satan's temptation. I am sure someone can take this idea and create an entire lesson. Each child works together until there are ropes for each of them to take home. It is awesome to watch and participate in because it totally hands-on. Our Brownies (23 of them!) made ropes within one hour with one machine and one very strong armed adult who did some of the major turning.

A volunteer Rotation.org helper-cleaner-up-er, modified this post for clarity.

Last edited by CreativeCarol
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Other ideas on the Trinity, and the problem with certain traditional metaphors

All human and wordly metaphors for the Trinity have problems because the Trinity ultimately describes something that is other-worldly, meaning, it has no example, it is unique. And ultimately, we are trying to describe a mystery, an insight.

"The Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit" are not names for different "parts" of God, but one name for God who has been revealed to us and acts towards us in these three ways.

"3 in 1" is not a math or science statement, it's a statement of profound mystery.



Apple

  • The "Apple" metaphor found in some published curriculum and that many of us learned as children has problems. Father, Son, and Spirit are not three different parts (skin, seed, apple flesh) that make up a whole apple.  It's a bad metaphor because Jesus is "fully" God, not a "part" of God that isn't complete without the others.  Jesus is of the "same substance" of God -- a doctrine known as homoousios (of one substance) and enshrined in the Nicean Creed with phrase, "being of one substance with the Father."

Eggs

  • For the same reason, the "ol egg metaphor" for the Trinity ALSO has problems. An egg has a shell, white and yolk. Same sort of example as the apple. The shell protects the egg; the yolk is where the nutrients are. The Spirit is not a "distinct part" of God, the Spirit is fully God, just as Jesus is fully God. Yet they are "3 different persons" --

Water

  • The old "TRINITY = water, water vapor, water ice" metaphor is a much better metaphor for children, however it too has some problems if it is explained incorrectly.
  • Water can take different forms - ice, liquid, and steam. Different forms, but still water, however, an ice cube is not water vapor, and liquid water is not ice. They are made of the same substance but are not the same thing.


Father and Son Relational Understanding

  • Children are confused by the relationship phrase "Father and Son" -- which in human terms describes two different people.  But when we say Jesus is the "Son" of God it can be said that we are describing Jesus' PURPOSE  --- which is to show us how to be sons and daughters of God. Jesus MODELS for us how to relate to God the Father (from a description by Neil MacQueen).


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Last edited by Lesson Wrangler

Trinity Punch

 

Our class makes Trinity punch for the congregation. We use a yellow fruit juice (pineapple is good, or a tropic blend) to represent God the Creator. Think "let there be light" (yellow) or the creation of living things like fruit trees. Grape juice represents Jesus Christ (reminiscent of the wine of the last supper, the wine of the wedding at Cana, the "I am the new vine", etc)And a clear carbonated beverage represents the Holy Spirit (invisible, but effervescent). The Middle English word for spirit was "sprit" or "sprite", so any beverage with a similar sounding name would be especially meaningful.

When the liquids are still separate, they each have their own identifiable character or "personality". When combined in a punch bowl, one can still distinguish their flavours and sense what they contribute to the whole, but they cannot be separated. Just like the Trinity.

I have had an adult say this metaphor helped her "understand the Trinity for the first time". It's a good, clear illustration , and best of all is one that can be shared, another characteristic of the Trinity. i.e. the Trinity is not a "static triumverate" but an active relationship, both internally between the three and externally with all creation.

 

Larik (Guest) adds:

I also did the Juice example. It worked so well! Then again I asked why it's a good and why it's an imperfect example (imperfect because we say the Father is God, but we don't say that the yellow juice is the punch, it is only a part of the punch). One of my students got the fact that once mixed, the juices are inseparable.

One of my students even knew of the 3 states of matter example, without me even talking about it, how we have liquid, gas, solid, all the same material, but in 3 forms.

Last edited by Luanne Payne

Trinity using 3 transparent pieces of plastic sheets


Anyway, my idea, though still not a perfect representation of the Trinity, is to have 3 transparent pieces of plastic sheets. Have the kids cut them into equal sized circles about 5 inches in diameter. Use colors where you can see through them if you stack them up. Like the fruit punch example, you can use Yellow, Red, and Clear. That would end up making Orange if you stacked them up.

For Yellow, take a black permanent marker and write Father. Red, write Son. Clear, write, Holy Spirit (Ghost). Write them all on the edges of the circles, not the center. Then, in the center of the circle, in all capital letters, write GOD. Write GOD for all circles. Then, stack up the circles, so that GOD overlaps all of them in the same spot. So if you held up the stack up to the light, you will see GOD clearly, but you will also see Father, Son, and Holy Spirit on the edges. Then, punch a hole at the top, and take one of those gold "T" shaped fasteners, and fasten them together.

Here are the connections to the Trinity:
The 3 distinct persons are all "Connected" and "Inseparable" (with the gold fastener).
They are all GOD. They are not a part of GOD, they are all GOD themselves.
They are all distinct.

It's a lot of craft work and I don't know how well it will work. Just an idea.

Last edited by Luanne Payne

Shamrocks

  • St. Patrick used the shamrock to teach about the Trinity. It is one plant, but has three leaves. God is one God, but is in three persons: the Father, Son, Holy Spirit.julie burton posted June 17, 2003
  • For a simple craft you could make a shamrock necklace or keyring.  julie burton posted March 15, 2003

 

Larik (Guest)

 

The Shamrock is a good representation, although, if you were to pin each of the leaves as one of the distinct persons, it's almost like saying that the distinct persons are a "part" of God. But that is not true. Each distinct person "is" God. I know St. Patrick used it as a representation. He may never have said that each leaf is like one of the distinct persons.  Larik (Guest)



I did use the example of the clover - we laminated pictures of clovers, with the back side with the words: It is said that St. Patrick used the shamrock as a symbol to explain the Trinity to Unbelievers, how God is One God in Three Persons. Patrick would hold up a shamrock and challenge his hearers, "Is it one leaf or three?" "It is both one leaf and three," was their reply. "And so it is with God," he would conclude.

Believe it or not, but on font size 7, all that verbiage does fit on a 1.25 x 1.5 inch rectangle.

Then after laminating, we punched a hole to the top (above the paper) and put keyrings through the hole (after cutting around the edges). Now they have something to take home and hang somewhere. I firmly believe that if they take something home, when their parents ask them, "What did you learn in class today?" They would be less inclined to say "Nothing" (I teach 7th graders & 8th graders).

Then I asked them, how is a clover an example of the Trinity. Some of them got it. Of course, I wrote the characteristics of the Trinity on the board beforehand, so all they had to do was read one that made sense. Then I asked them, why is it not a perfect example. And they also got it - because the leaves are parts of the clover, but the Father, Son, Holy Spirit are not parts of God, they ARE God.

Thank you all for your wonderful ideas!!! Smile

Last edited by Luanne Payne

Jewish Challah Bread

Our family uses this for our weekly Sabbath celebrations, and we use it to discuss the Trinity, but also how Christ is the "Bread of Life". An interesting fact: Bethelehem was perhaps where the Shewbread for the temple was baked, and is literally "City of Bread" (beth-city; lehem-bread). Jesus said he is the Bread from Heaven -John 6:32-33, 58. Grace Communion International - specific link had gone dead.

The Jewish Challah bread is three-strand braided bread that is then twisted into a circle and baked, forming one bread. (Poppy seeds or sesame seeds are added to remember Manna from heaven) The Middle-age traditional bread symbolizes the Trinity, for Christians. For a Cooking lesson, you could make little braided loaves like that.

Interesting fact: The Matzah bread, used in the Passover, are three separate unleavened loaves together, yet during the ceremony, the middle one is 'hidden' in the house and the kids have to find it. This also symbolizes Christ who was 'missing' between his death and resurrection.

http://www.myjewishlearning.co.../Hidden_Matzah.shtml (this site also explains the Jewish traditions regarding Challah bread)

Last edited by Luanne Payne

Trinity Meringue Treats 

Kids are fascinated by the 'magic' transformation fo ordinary egg whites into cloudlike treats.) Could be used to teach the trinity along with the egg allegory. 3 in 1 = whole egg, yolk and white.

2 egg whites at room temp with no traces of yolk
pinch salt
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)
1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts (or extra chocolate chips)
Beat egg whites until soft peaks form, add salt, cream of tartar, vanilla.
Gradually beat in sugar to taste. When mixture becomes glossy and stiff peaks form when beater is lifted out, stop beating and fold in chocolate chips and nuts.
drop by teasppon full onto a foil-lined cookie sheet. Bake at 250 for 40 minutes.
Remove from over, cool 5 min 

Originally posted by member Dsevertson

Last edited by Rotation.org Lesson Forma-teer

Thanks for the photo Sharon. It looks cute. Photos can always provide inspiration!

Were kids allowed to "write" a different, more personal "name" with the beads for Father, Son and Spirit? Something that would allow this project to be a bit more "Rotation Model-esce."    (i.e., not just creating a cookie cutter project.)

Blessings,
-- Carol

Video resource for teaching about The Trinity

The Trinity is explained in Vol. 5 of What's in the Bible? Israel Gets a King!  (Saul, David, Solomon). Episode 1: Chapter 4 is about the Trinity. (approx. 4 mins)

To see a preview on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-1AdUwbWLw

Supporting members can access our exclusive "What's In The Bible?" Series Video Guides here.



Music Idea

The Trinity Song - https://youtu.be/LlLLQvY6RjQ

To the familiar tune of "Come Christians, Join To Sing" (also known as "Carmen Ohio" to Ohio State fans).

Last edited by Lesson Wrangler

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