Monday, September 26, 2011

The Parables of Jesus (The Sower): A Lesson for a Sensorimotor Preschool Experience

Luke plays with our Parable Box once we get home...

This morning, the kids and I were blessed to begin a new term with the local Catholic co-op we are a part of.  We love this co-op as it gives us all an opportunity to learn, grow and share with like-minded friends of all ages.

This term, Luke is in the "big room" with the "older kids", where he is taking one course about the moon and another about Africa.  Meanwhile, Nina and Jack join me in the "back room" with the five-and-under crowd, where I am the Leader. After lessons finish, we all hop in the car for a short ride over to a local playground where we enjoy some lunch, exercise and social time with some of our co-op friends.  It makes for a full and blessed morning and early afternoon.

Lesson Aims

Of course, me being me, I cannot just do a canned curriculum with the Pre-K's.  Rather, I seek to frame more traditional activities and learning in a way that will introduce the wee ones to faith teachings while offering them opportunities to:

  • practice control of themselves during short circle times
  • explore and exercise with all of their senses
  • weave in some early learning skills and topics
  • reinforce practical life skills
  • pray
  • use grace and courtesy

With that in mind, this is the plan I came up with for this week, which worked more or less as written.  (Although, we missed doing anything after the Craft project because following the children's apparent needs and interests, I afforded some extra block-playing time after outdoor recess and, thus, did not have time to close the lesson as planned.)
I am sharing the lesson as written in case anyone else might like to use it as is or adapt it to personal needs.  Although I wrote the lesson for pre-k's, I think it would work well with K-2, or even older children, with some adaptations.  Also, in all honesty, fit is not written for the two and under crowd.  In fact, I brought some open-ended infant-toddler toys for our youngest participants to use today whenever what the rest of us were doing was not of interest to them.

Now, without further ado:

The Parables of Jesus:
A Sensorimotor Preschool Experience

Planned and Led by Martianne Stanger

Week One: The Sower

Gathering, Introduction and Prayer (15 minutes)

Coming Together Song (Vestibular/ Auditory): 

All children stand in a circle, holding hands or holding onto a blanket moving right while singing:

Here we come together, together, together. 
Yes, here we come together, to pray and to play.
by Martianne Stanger

Repeat, moving left. 

Self-Introductions (Auditory/Motor Planning/Visual): 

Children sit in a circle on carpet squares, parachute edge or blanket edge.  Leader sits in center.

“Hmmm… who has come together today with us?  Let me see.  I’m ~.  You are…”

Leader rolls a soft ball or tosses a soft toy to child.  Child says name and passes ball or toy back.  Leader continues through each child.

Opening Prayers (Motor Planning):

“Well, I am so glad everyone has come together today.  Can anyone think how we should start our day?” 

Leader invites children to offer answers, commenting positively on each one, and guiding to the idea of “with a prayer”.

“That’s right.  And, how do we start our prayers?” 

Leader guides to the idea of the Sign of the Cross.  Then, Leader teaches/reviews:

In the name of the Father, the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Leader shows a picture of Jesus.

Now, who is this?

Children answer.

And, who is Jesus’ Mother, our Mother in Heaven?  

Leader shows a picture of Mary while children answer.

 That’s right.  Mary.  Does anyone know a prayer about Jesus and Mary? 

Teacher determines if any child can recall the following prayer.  If not, Leader teaches it/

Jesus, Mary, I love you, save souls.

Parable Presentation  (20 minutes)

Parable Introduction:

Leader asks,

Does anyone know who Jesus is?

Leader responds to children and guides them to the idea that He was a Teacher and Storyteller, too. 

Leader explains (using figurines of Jesus and Disciples as a visual):

Jesus traveled with his disciples and, almost everywhere He went, crowds of people followed.  They wanted to meet Jesus and to learn from him.  To teach them Jesus often told stories.  They were called parables.  Does anyone know what a parable is?

Leader responds to children’s ideas and continues:

A parable is a made-up story that teaches a faith lesson.  Jesus made up stories to teach people.

Have you ever heard the story of the Three Little Pigs?  Who can tell me what happens in it?
Leader allows children to retell what they know of the story.

And, what do you think the pigs learned?

Leader responds to answers and suggests that the lesson might be to take the time to prepare for things.

And, why do you remember the story?

Leader responds to children’s replies.

Well, I remember that story lots of other stories and the lessons they teach because I really like listening to and reading children’s stories. 

When Jesus lived, people liked stories, too.  So, He told grown-ups stories in order to help them remember important things.  But, instead of telling stories that were really made up –  with pigs that build houses and wolves that huff – He told stories about real life things.  No pigs building houses.  No big, bad talking wolves.  Instead,  Jesus used real life things.  Who can name some things he might have talked about?

Leader takes answers and gives physical or verbal hints if needed to prompt some answers, such as “flowers”, “trees”, “people”, “sheep”, etc.

Would you like to hear one of Jesus’ parables?

The Sower (inspired by “Godly Play”)

Leader holds a gold box with materials inside.  Throughout the entire telling of the parable, Leader adapts story and questions to engage and maintain children’s attention.

This is a box. It looks old.  Like it’s been around for a long time.  Parables have been around a long time.  It also looks gold.  God is precious and valuable.  Parables are precious, too.  I wonder if there’s a parable inside.  Hmmm.  And, I wonder if this box is a gift.  A parable is a gift.  It was given to us long ago, even before we were born.  Oh, there’s a lid.  It’s like a door.  A closed door.  Parables seem like they have doors sometimes and, sometimes, they don’t open to us.  We have to keep coming back until they open to us.  Maybe we should look inside and see if there is a parable.

Leader opens box and pulls out long brown cloth or paper.

I wonder what this is…  It’s brown and long. 

It looks like that’s all there is to help us get ready for the parable.  So, let’s begin…
There once was a man who said great things and did great things.  People followed him. His name was Jesus.  The people heard him talk about a kingdom, but not like the one they lived in.  And, not like one they had visited.  The kingdom was not even like one they had ever heard about before.  So, they asked Jesus what the kingdom of Heaven was like. 
He said it was like a sower, someone that scatters seeds.

Leader takes our sower figure, walks it along brown material and then moves hand as if scattering seeds.

There was a sower.  He went to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path.  It didn’t get pushed down into the soil, but laid on top of it, and the birds came and ate it up…

Leader places a number of bird figurines on one side of brown material, and if Leader senses the children need a break from “listening” to “do”, has children act like birds pecking to eat seeds.  Leader then takes out a container of rocks, shakes it, listens and makes a “what’s this?” sort of face before placing some rocks next to the birds.

Some fell on rocky places, where there was not much soil. It slipped between the rocks and These seeds sprang up quickly, because the soil was so shallow.  But, when the sun came up, the plants were scorched.  They withered because they had no deep roots. 

Children can act like the sun if they wish or like plants withering.    Leader then shakes a container of “thorns”.  (Dried plant stalks work great for this)  Leader places these next to the rocks.

Other seed fell among thorns.  It pushed itself down between the thorns and began to grow.  But, the thorns grew up and choked it.

Leader takes our a container of soil.

Still other seed fell on good soil. It pushed down deep into the soil.  Then the sun came up and the rains came down and this seed grew and grew.  The seed multiplied thirty, sixty, even a hundred times!

Leader guides children to grow like plants larger and larger.  Then, during the following, the Leader takes and responds to children’s ideas, allowing some time for silence and wondering.

I wonder, does this person have a name?  Who could the sower really be?  I wonder if this person was happy when the birds came and ate all of the seeds… I wonder if the birds were happy when they saw the sower scattering the seeds and why they ate all the seeds so quickly…  I wonder where the sower was when the seeds were trying to push their roots into the stone or when the seeds were being chocked by thorns…  I wonder where the sower was when the little seeds grew and grew and filled the earth…  I wonder if it made him happy…  I wonder what all this could really be…

Leader points to different things when referring to them.  Then, puts them away in the box.

The birds of the air… The rocky ground… The thorny soil… The good soil… The sower…

Art Exploration  (15 minutes)

Seed Sculptures (Tactile/Proprioception): 

Leader guides children in making Air-Dry Clay.  (See recipe sheet.)  Individual children take turns kneading the mixture while other children play with the measuring cups and a bowl of dried bean “seeds”.

Once the Air-Dry Clay is ready, children make their own sculptures with it using seeds and clay.

Break Time (35 minutes)

Bathroom Break

Parents of babies and toddlers come in to do a diaper check/change and offer nursing time/snack.  Other children go to bathrooms to go potty and wash hands. 

Snack (Fine Motor/Motor Planning/Gustatory)

Then, Leader and children work together to prepare a simple family-picnic style snack on a blanket inside or outside, depending on the weather.  To do so:

1.                  Lay out blanket.
2.                  Get cups and small water pitcher.
3.                  Pour snack crackers into a serving dish and put serving utensil in it.
4.                  Get napkins or plates.

Before eating, group says grace together. Leader asks children if they know any prayers spoken before eating and selects a child to lead one.  (If no child wants to, Leader teaches a simple grace.)

Then, Leader encourages children to pour their own cups of water if they are able to do so and to use courtesy, asking one another to pass the snack bowl and serving themselves and each other

Children chat freely during snack.  When there is a lull in the conversation, or as children finish snack, Leader introduces Choice Activities

Choice Activities

As individual children finish their snack, Leader encourages them to be responsible for cleaning up their own spaces and asking to be excused before they move into Choice Activities, which if outside, might include chalk, playing with balls, bubbles or similar and, if inside, might include playing with puzzles, the parable box, the Jesus and disciple figurines, blocks, manipulatives or a sensory bin.  Three to six stations a week are set up depending on how many children there are.

Clean Up (Auditory/Proprioception/Motor Planning)

When children begin to get antsy, or when it is time to move the program along (whichever comes first), Leader begins humming the following clean up song and, then, sings it, while children join in and clean up.

Clean-up Song (tune: Mulberry Bush)

This is the way we clean up, clean up, clean up.
This is the way we clean up, on at Our Lady Queen of Saints. 
            adapted by Martianne Stanger from

Sensorimotor Circle (25 minutes)

Coming Together Again Storytime (Auditory)

Leader thanks children for cleaning up so nicely and asks them to gather in a circle.  Leader then reads one or two short stories or parts of stories related to sowers, seeds and/or the potential God places within people, such as:

§         “The Sower” in Tomie dePaola’s The Parables of Jesus
§         In the Fiddle Is a Song by Durga Bernhard

Prayer (Vestibular/Auditory/Motor planning):

 To get bodies moving again, Leader transitions by asking:

Do you know who made the flowers, seed, even us?  (God.)

Do you know why He made us?... (Because He loves us and wants us to love Him.) 

That’s right.  And, what else did He make?  (…)  Yes, He made the sky.  Can you stretch up to the sky above? 

All stretch reaching up with both hands and alternating hands. 

And He made the ground below

All stretch, bending to touch the ground. 

Yes, he made everyone… Can you stretch your arms out to everyone on your right side?  How about on your left side?  In front of you?  Behind you? 

All stretch and lunges in each direction. 

He made ALL that is good that we come to know. 

Turn around. 

Let’s try that again, but as a thank you prayer.

Thank you, for sky above and for the ground below.  Thank you, God, for all that is good that we come to know

Stretch accordingly.

And, God as Jesus made up many great stories so we could know more about him.  What was today’s parable about again?  (Seeds)

I’m A Little Seed (Vestibular/Auditory)

Leader teaches children the following poem, singing it at least twice with them to the tune of “I’m a Little Teapot.”

I’m a little seed planted deep in the ground.  (Curl up on the floor with knees tucked into chin and arms around them.)
Out comes the sun, so warm and round.  (Sit up and reach hands in a circle above head.)
Down comes rain.  I need it you know.  (Wiggle fingers, moving hands downward, to simulate rain.)
With sun and rain, up I grow!  (Pop up to standing, growing.)
by Martianne Stanger

Sower Obstacle Course (Proprioception/Vestibular/ Balance)

Leader asks what you call a person who plants seeds.  (A sower.)  Then, leader explains that children will take turns being a Sower, taking a bag of seed to the fields.

Leader and children will construct a small obstacle course, such as one with something to hop or jump along (carpet squares), crawl under (chairs with blanket atop), crawl along (carpet squares), toss something in (block into a bowl) and balance on (beam, tape line or similar).  Children will take turns moving along the path with  a “bag of seeds” (a pillow case with some balls or other small relatively heavy items inside it or a grocery bag of beans.

Seed Gathering Walk or Creative Dramatics Seed Story (Vestibular/Balance)

If the weather is good and the children seem up to it, Leader gives children egg cartons, bags or small containers and takes children on a brief nature walk to collect as many seeds as they can find in these.

If the weather is bad, Leader gathers children on a series of carpet squares set up like a garden plot or on top of a blanket.  Leader then narrates a story about a seed and children act it out.  For example:

Once there was a seed that was planted deep in the ground.  Curl up like a seed.  Now, it is raining gently so you are getting watered.  You can grow.  You are coming up slowly out of the ground.  Ooo, here comes your stem...  I think I see some leaves... A bud... More rain and sunshine... The petals are opening.  Oh, all the flowers look so beautiful!  What kind of flower are you? And you?  Oh, now it’s the height of summer.  It’s such a hot, hot day and there’s been no rain for a while.  You begin to wilt.  God see you and wants to take care of you, He sends a little rain cloud just for you.   You perk up.  He wants to see if you’re strong.  So, he sends a small storm.  Ooo, there is rain and wind.  You are blowing.  The storm ends.  God is happy that you are strong and healthy.... He knows you need some rest though.  You might be tired from growing so quickly.  So, now it’s fall.  Your petals begin to fall off... And, now, it’s getting colder and colder, because it’s winter.  God wants you to really rest so You can grow again later.  You die back until spring, when you can grow again....”

Craft  (10 minutes)

Seed Sowing S’s (Fine Motor)

Leader asks children what today’s parable was about.  After children narrate the parable, Leader asks what letter starts “sower” and “seeds”.  Leader then helps children draw big S’s on paper and offers seeds (beans and/or collected seeds from outside – which children will use pincer grasp to pick up) and glue so children can make seed S’s.  (It’s a good idea to put the glue in water bottle lids and to use q-tips as applicators in order to encourage future pencil grip.)

While children craft, Leader activates early learning concepts with questions such as:

§                     What other words can you think of that start with “s”?
§                     How many seeds do you think you will need?
§                     Can you count the seeds?

Closing Circle, Prayer and Songs (10 minutes)

Closing Circle, Prayer and Song (Auditory)

All gather together.  Leader asks if anyone would like to share a favorite part about the day’s experience.  Then, Leader shares something positive that two to three individual children did, such as:

 “It was wonderful when ~ and ~were sharing ~.”  Or, “Look at the creativity ~ used in this art work.”

Then, Leader asks if everyone is planning to remember to let God’s seeds of love grow within them this week.  Finally, Leader invites children to chant the following closing prayer together:

Thank you, God, (repeat)
For my friends 
We had fun. 
Now we end. (

Leader, then, offers a “teaser” about what we will be doing next week – a few words about one of the activities we might do or what the Parable will be, before singing the Goodbye Everybody song, waving on the goodbye lines and resting hands on “we’ll see you again” ones.

Goodbye Everybody (tune: Goodnight Ladies)
Goodbye everybody, goodbye everybody, goodbye everybody,
We’ll see you again next time!
(add names, such as)
Goodbye Sally, goodbye Johnny, goodbye Carrie,
We’ll see you again next time!

Closing Blessings:

Leader directs all children to get their craft and tells them that it is time for their closing blessings.  One by one, Leader offers each child a blessing by making the Sign of the Cross on the child’s head and saying,

“God bless, you, ~.  May the seed of God’s love always grow within you.”

Resource Links to Offer Parents for Further Exploration of This Parable:

Materials and Supplies

  • blanket, carpet squares or parachute
  • ball
  • pictures of Jesus and Mary
  • box, brown clopth or opened paper bag, bird figurines, sower figurine, rocks, soil and “thorns”
  • 1 cup of flour
  • ½ cup of salt
  • ½ cup of very warm water
  • dry beans
  • bowl
  • spoon
  • measuring cups
  • snack and serving bowl
  • water, water pitcher and cups
  • picnic blanket
  • choice activity materials, such as chalk, ball, bubbles, blocks, puzzles, etc.
  • pillow case with small relatively heavy objects inside or grocery bag filled with dry beans
  • bags, egg cartons or small containers (if doing nature walk)
  • story books
  • paper and marker
  • glue and applicators

No-Cook Air-Dry Clay
(a basic handed-down recipe as I recall it)

You will need:

1 cup of flour
½ cup of salt
½ cup of very warm water

Step 1:

Mix flour and salt.

Step 2:

Pour in water and stir.

Step 3:

Knead for five minutes.

Note:  Will keep on week in air-tight container.  To dry, bake at 200 degrees F 3 hours or leave out.

Note:  Please forgive any funky formatting.  Because I have a feeling if I don't share this now, while the kids are having a quiet time after co-op and playground I never may, I have literally cut and pasted my lesson from the Word document I created it on to this blog post.

Feel free to cut and paste from this post to use the lesson yourself, but, in courtesy to me, if you do so, please offer credit where credit is due on any print or electronic copies with a brief line saying "created by/inspired by Martianne Stanger at Training Happy Hearts (  Thank you! ~ Catholic Crafts and more!
This post is being shared at Tea with St. Anne at


Amazing_Grace said...

Great lesson! I love exchanging lesson plans and getting new ideas! :)

Thank you for sharing!!!!!

Jane Ellen said...

This is fabulous! I was a preschool teacher for many years. Are you familiar with Atrium?

martianne said...

If you're talking about CGS, I am a little familiar and would love to be trained, but time, finances and other circumstances preclude that. SO, I do what I can as I can to introduce my children to parts of it. I so wish there was an atrium near by to us.

Deb Chitwood said...

I love that you're using Godly Play inspired lessons, Martianne! I appreciate all the work you put into preparing and sharing your activities. I featured your photo and post at

Anonymous said...

Jennifer @ Crafolic has left a new comment on your post "The Parables of Jesus (The Sower): A Lesson for a ...":

Thanks for adding this to my Tea with St. Anne link-up! I actually have a post about this same parable I've been preparing to post! (I'm always slow to get things out, I have about 6 posts started that I need to finish!) Thanks so much for sharing and God bless!

Martianne said...

Jennifer, not sure why your comment desappeared, but I was able to get it back. In any case, I am happy to share at Tea with St Anne. It is a lvoely link up. :)

And, I, too, have countless half-written posts. It's part of being a mommy with busy children, I think!


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