The Baptism of Jesus is a really great story to tell to children as there are so many intersting physical elements to talk about; there's John the Baptist's hairy clothes, all scritchy and scratchy, and big bushy beard all wild and fluffy, there's his diet of eating locusts and honey all crunchy and sticky (yuck!), there's the water splishing and splashing and there is the dove flapping and flying.
In this Sunday School lesson I decided to focus on the dove for the meaning of the story. I kind of worked backwards on the lesson plan; I started searching for ideas for how I could deliver the lesson by searching through fine art images of The Baptism of Jesus, there are so many beautiful interpretations I highly recommend taking a look. This led on to me looking at stained glass windows that featured an image of the story, I looked at both traditional and contemporary designs. I thought it would be really nice for the children to create their own stained glass window but to simplify the idea for the 3-5 age range I was teaching, I thought the could use the image of the dove.
This led me to consider where else in the Bible a dove features and what the meaning of this is. I thought of Noah's ark and the dove delivering a twig of olive leaf showing that the people had been saved from the storm, also sacrificial doves that were used to save people from their sins, and then of course the dove of the Baptism story which showed that Jesus was sent to save us from our sins as a living sacrifice.
I thought about how I could introduce the story's focus on the dove by asking the children what birds meant differed things, I thought we could discuss ideas like owls making them think of the dark and night time, robins for Christmas, and parrots making them think of pirates!
I planned to read the story of the Baptism of Jesus, I used this version below, but you can use any version so long as it mentiones the dove:
I then planned a short prayer to read at the end.
The class would have gone really well if I hadn't forgotten to take the sticky-back-plastic that I needed for the stained glass windows!! This epic disaster was thankfully averted by a roll of extra wide sellotape which I found on the side somewhere (thank you God!) I really like using the stick-back-plastic in this way as it eliminates the use of glue altogether making it a nice clean activity.
If you have more time or older children you could get them to cut all the parts of the craft out themselves.
If you would like a copy of this lesson plan you can download it bellow, I have also included the power point presentation of artworks that you can use.
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