Saturday, January 15, 2011

There's scripture study and then there is this...

This is Willem's new favorite book. And because its highly engineered paper art, we keep it high on the shelf and only pull it down when he requests and quite honestly it never leaves my hands.

It depicts the stories from Genesis: the creation, the Garden of Eden, Noah and the Ark, the Tower of Babel, Jacob's dream of the ladder to heaven, and Joseph in Egypt. The artwork is beautiful and the information is overwhelming honestly. It has fold out books that discuss the artwork on the page, as well as other famous works of the same story. It also has background information into that story of the Bible, with verses and summarizes of the book. We have not been able to explore it completely because its for a maturer level than Willem at his 3-almost-4 years of age.

He has been getting a great deal of out of it, however.

Tonight, we looked at it for scripture study and I discovered that its the best scripture study I've experienced with him. Its 3-D, its concrete, visual, tactile, truly perfect for young cognition.

While looking at the page for the creation, Willem picked which days he wanted to read about. Under each pop-up image of the day, there is a tab you can pull out to read the verses from Genesis. Tonight, he chose separating the light from the darkness and the creation of the animals. When reading about the greater and lesser lights, we asked him if he knew what that meant.

Me: "What does 'the greater light to rule the day' mean? What is that?"
Willem: The Sun
Me: "What does 'the lesser light to rule the night' mean? What is that?"
Willem: The Moon

How's that for language arts and beginning to understand metaphor!

Next on the page for the Garden of Eden,  we asked what the story was about and he tried to explain that it was something about eating the fruit. That's a good start. I asked him if he knew what would happen if they ate the fruit, he didn't know so we talked about what the phrase "and ye shall surely die" means. I told him that I don't think it means that Adam and Eve would die instantly after eating the fruit. Its not like it was going to make them sick and kill them, but that it meant that they would leave the garden and be subject to mortality. They would live, learn, grow old and die as a consequence of eating the fruit.

I asked him which one he would pick: Would he eat the fruit and leave the garden or would he want to stay?

Such a proud mommy moment when he said he would choose to eat the fruit to leave the garden. My son would make the courageous choice that Eve made!

I then asked him what choice he thought Adam made. Did Adam eat the fruit so he could stay with Eve or did he stay? He got that answer wrong but we were then able to explain how Adam did the best he could to be obedient to God's commandment so he chose to eat the fruit to stay with Eve. He chose to break one commandment in order to keep another, otherwise, Eve would have been alone in the world and that's not the way to make babies...

But my favorite part was when we came to the page with the Tower of Bable. He started telling my husband the story of how the people built the tower to get close to God and then he said, "But they didn't need to build a tower, they needed to pray to God."

My husband and I beamed at each other on that one. I then asked a question that I was hesitant to ask because I really didn't want him to feel led into answering a certain way, but I felt it was right to ask and I also know that he's so without guile that he will answer honestly. I asked him if he felt that he was close to God when he prays and he said yes.

This is progress because I have asked at other times and bore my testimony to him of prayer on other occasions and in the past he has seemed skeptical. I have been careful to not force my beliefs on him or to expect certain answers but to encourage him to be honest with me about what he feels is right. I hope this is an example of that.

I want more than anything for the Spirit to teach him and not for him to learn the "right" answers by parroting what we say or teach him. And so often, the challenge for that with young child is through teaching in a developmentally appropriate manner. It is very hard to teach in the way that children learn abstract concepts like God, Spirit and the past. If its not right here, right now, in front of them in a way they can touch and interact with, it will be difficult for them to learn and understand. That is my biggest challenge as a mother and a preschool teacher teaching the gospel to my young children and any time I can find something that is meets that criteria, I am happy for it.

This also seems like a good time to mention this set that I have seen: a fantastic bible felt board set with 600 peices or something. Willem is almost the age where this would be a great resource for Family Home Evenings and reading the Bible as a family for scripture study. If only there was a set for the Book of Mormon...

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