Creating Stone Memorials for Crossing the Jordan Story

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Joshua entering the promised land

I love the way God shows himself to His people in the Old Testament and how He builds into the story a way for the people to tangibly remember what He did for them.  The crossing of the Jordan story found in Joshua 3 and 4 is one example.

After all the Israelites had crossed the Jordan and while the Priests holding the Ark of the Covenant were still in the middle of the river with the waters backed up, Joshua chose 12 men, one from each tribe, to go back into the river and pick up a stone.

Stone sculpture created to in response to crossing the Jordan story in Joshua 4
Stone sculpture created to in response to crossing the Jordan story in Joshua 4

The people then used those stones to build a memorial that would stand as a testament of what God had done that day.  And get this—it was supposed to illicit the curiosity of their children!  Here is what Joshua says– “… when your children ask in time to come, saying, What do these stones mean to you?’ Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever.”  How’s that for wonder!

Invitation to create and wonder about the stone memorial from the story of crossing the Jordan found in Joshua 3 and 4
Invitation to create and wonder about the stone memorial from the story of crossing the Jordan found in Joshua 3 and 4

And what an opportunity to explore this story with stones!  I love when Bible stories lead to natural opportunities to learn through play.  During our Vacation Bible School over the stories of Joshua, I adapted activities to fit the abilities of several age groups.

The preschool children explored the idea of stones as a way to remember the story by experimenting with balance and using stones to create pictures through loose parts play.

Exploring Joshua 4 through loose parts play "building a stone memorial"
Exploring Joshua 4 through loose parts play “building a stone memorial”

They also made story stones by gluing pictures to stones using Mod Podge.

Story stones created by preschool children to remember stories from Joshua, i.e. crossing the Jordan and the Battle of Jericho.
Story stones created by preschool children to remember stories from Joshua, i.e. crossing the Jordan and the Battle of Jericho.

The Elementary students used cool temp glue guns and stones to create stone sculptures like the one the Israelites created in the story.  Many of the children engaged in this activity and took their work of “creating” very seriously.  we used a lot of glue so the finished products look a bit stringy, but the kids didn’t seem to mind.

Sample stone memorials created by Kindergarted-2nd graders in response to Joshua story, Crossing the Jordan River
Sample stone memorials created by Kindergarted-2nd graders in response to Joshua story, Crossing the Jordan River

During their work time, the leaders guided the children to reflect on the following I wonder statements…

  • I wonder what it was like to get to go into the river and pick up a stone.
  • I wonder what the memorial they built looked like
  • I wonder what these stones could help you remember about following God.
Invitation to create and wonder in response to Bible story--Crossing the Jordan River
Invitation to create and wonder in response to Bible story–Crossing the Jordan River

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