It was an awesome morning of engagement and purpose as I read this book to my K-2 religious school class. The children went home chatting about the story and I was in awe of how the lesson evolved.
This beautiful story is about responsibility, kindness and respecting earth’s garden. After God tells Noah to build an ark and collect two of every animal he then calls upon Naamah (Noah’s wife) to save two of every plant and bring them onto the ark. She is to gather all the seedlings, roots, bulbs and all growing things including moss, dandelions, spores and more. Then, after 40 days and nights on the ark, Naamah’s work begins in replanting her seeds all over the world.
After reading the story, I paired the class of 18 and tasked 12 of them to go outdoors and gather two of everything that is natural. The children went into the school garden for seeds and combed the landscape around the building to gather seedlings from grass, trees, leaves, and pinecones. Some children were tasked with finding animals (or creating them) and they too had to gather two of every animal they could find.
And lastly, a team of four children were tasked with building an ark that floated. (I filled the bucket one third of the way with water and had foam blocks on hand for constructing.)
I noticed the children who were tasked with building the ark were struggling with how to create something so big. They realized they needed something that would stay afloat and hold all the animals and plants. They collaborated and kept trying to rebuild, but it was a hard concept to construct in such a short time. Since time was my enemy (90 minute class) I needed these children to quickly assemble the boat before the rest of the children came inside with all their gatherings. I put away the science lesson and didn’t question the piling of the foam blocks in the water. (In retrospect I should have had them start without water and then filled the tub with water after the boat was created. That would have been a completely different lesson on floating, sinking, construction, collaboration..(an endless learning opportunity here that I will save for a later date).
When the ark was completed, the group that was outdoors came in and one by one added their findings to the “ark.” A plank was added for the animals to get into the boat.
They placed all their items in the “ark” with care and intention. They added two figurines to portray Noah and Naamah.
When the boat was fully loaded we moved it across the room to unload. We set the stage for a world empty of plant and animal life, a blank canvas.
The children placed Noah and Naamah on land, then each paired group took out what they put in and set the world up again so it would prosper and grow.
The children and I were so engaged in this lesson that we were all surprised when parents started showing up to pick up their children! One child asked if she could show her mom what they had created. When I got home I reflected on the day and realized how much more could have come from this lesson on so many levels. Spiritual, cognitive, academic, self awareness, respect, responsibility, taking care of our earth and more. This would have sparked so many threads in an everyday classroom. As usual my wheels are spinning to see where we will go.
It is interesting to note that I first used this book for 5th and 6th graders and that was a completely different lesson of a higher level. These children verbally documented their visual interpretations by using loose parts and iPads to present those reflections. This book is wonderful for all learning ages.