Re: Object Lesson Material


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Posted by Thomas J. Cook on February 24, 1998 at 09:26:23:

In Reply to: Object Lesson Material posted by Michael Grom on February 13, 1998 at 16:14:46:

: Our sunday school teachers would like a good resource for object lessons.
: I have searched the local book stores for material
: which might assist and have not had success.
: The age range I am targeting is nursery through
: grade 5. Can anyone recommend a good ressource
: for object lessons which is also age appropriate???


Micheal--

I've been pondering how to respond to this request. Frankly, I'm somewhat at a loss as to what you mean by "object lessons" for preschoolers. These two just don't go together, as I understand what you're looking for. Please clarify.

An "object lesson" typically refers to a presentation of a spiritual truth supported by an illustration using a demonstration, a metaphor, or other approach which is based on a tangible "object" or visual effect. In my college class, our teacher once brought in branches pruned from a fruit tree and led a discussion of sprititual fruit and "abiding in the vine." Presumably your teachers have something different in mind here. If you can clarify what the intention is, perhaps I can help.

The problem in using this type of object lesson with preschoolers is that their developmental state is just not ready for the "leap of logic" required to associate the object lession analogy with any spiritual meaning.

Preschoolers have several developmental characteristics which apply here:

1) They are very literal-minded. If they see a tree branch, they think "tree branch" and nothing else. Symbolism, metaphor, analogy are all beyond the preschooler's thought processes. In fact, real abstract thinking (required for some of the more effective object lessons) does not typically develop until well into the teenage years.

2) They have very limited experience base on which to build new concepts. One of the "seven laws of learning" is that we must begin where the learner is and build incrementally on that knowledge and experience. This is actually one of the great things about teaching preschoolers; to them, everything is new and wonderful, and they are fascinated by everyday objects that we too often take for granted. If I were going to teach a preschooler about nature, I would bring in a bird's nest (or shell or flower or ...) and let them handle and explore it, while reminding them (with appropriate songs, prayer thoughts, and perhaps an appropriate storybook) that God made the bird's nest, that God cared for the birds, and that God cared for them as well. Perhaps this is what your teachers mean, but it doesn't have the same structure as the standard object lesson. The object itself is new and wonderful to the preschooler, and telling a set story or presentation just isn't appropriatte. It's the interaction of the teacher, in an environment and relationship of security and trust, interacting one-on-one with the child as the teachable moments arise and the child expresses her own wonder and excitement, saying "God made the bird's nest. Thank you, God, for taking care of the birds...and thank you, God, for taking care of Mary."...that's what makes the learning experience for the preschooler.

I would hope your normal curriculum materials support this type of teaching. I have seen it work most effectively in our church (Jersey Baptist) and in many other places. It's based on sound educational foundations, developmental theory, and firm spiritual footing. Your teachers need appropriate training so they understand how preschoolers learn, and to help them see the world through the eyes and mind of a child.

If you want to check out the curriculum we use, please visit the Sunday School Board preschool web site. You'll find curriculum ideas plus outstanding training materials.
[No, I don't work for the Sunday School Board...I just sincerely believe they have one of the best approaches to sound curriculum materials available.]

I hope others will respond to this posting as well. Other viewpoints welcome!

Tom Cook





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