Let's Explore Canaan
Telling the story of the twelve spies going to spy out the land of Canaan for Moses could be rather dull. So, when I ended up teaching it on a Wednesday night, I decided we would pretend to be the spies ourselves and spy the land out right there in the classroom.
The first thing we did was get our binoculars ready. If you're short on time, you can do like the girl in the picture, and just hold your hands around your eyes. I made a set for all my kids by stapling two toilet paper tubes together and then attaching a string to go around their neck. This also gave them something to do at the very beginning of class while I was reviewing what they'd talked about the week before, and setting up that night's adventure (lesson). They colored their set to look like they wanted while I talked.
After your binoculars are ready, double-check with everyone that they have a map and know what God is wanting us to look for. I came up with a check-list simply by looking through the verses of Numbers 13:17-20. Here's my checklist of what we were supposed to be scouting out.
Speaking of grapes. I made my big cluster by blowing up green and purple balloons and tying them into a large group. To carry them, we used an old wrapping paper tube that they could slide between the grapes and then have two kids to carry one end each. I know the grapes weren't that big in real life, but the clusters were so big that the Bible says it took two men to carry them back. So this at least gives a general idea.
I had also brought some grapes for them to eat, too.
Canaan wasn't called the land of milk and honey for no reason. It truly was a land rich in all that the people of God would need. So, in a couple different places around the room, I had hidden some honey (with bread for them to eat it on) and a thermos of milk and some cups. This allowed them to taste the experience as well as see it.
While they're seeing what a good land it is, also make sure you're pointing out the parts that scared ten of the twelve men. The giants and the strong cities need to come up several times as you walk around the room.
When you're done exploring (it took them forty days, but it probably won't take you that long), return to your table and read from Numbers 13:25-33, telling your students that this is what the Bible says the spies reported when they got back. I like to even throw some grasshoppers on the table when I read verse 33. I got these beauties from Dollar Tree one time.
After that, ask them what they would have wanted to do if they had been an Israelite. Would they have jumped at the chance to move to a land like that? Or would they have been scared?
Then, tell them what really happened in Numbers 14. How the people decided not to go and God punished them by making them wander in the wilderness for 40 more years.
You can do a craft or worksheet or memory verse to finish out whatever time you have left. This isn't the most elaborate class, but by taking them on a journey using their imaginations and senses, it brings the story more to life and makes it more memorable.
Would you add anything? Any suggestions for how to make it even better?
I am one of those Bible class teachers who can't stand to just present the lesson and then hand out a worksheet. I want whatever I do in class to stick with the kids, reinforce the lesson, and really make them understand that this isn't just a story ... it's something that really happened. I want to include some of the ideas I've come up with here so that I can hopefully help some of you who want the same thing. I'd love to hear your ideas, too!
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