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.
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?’ 7 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!
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.
They also made story stones by gluing pictures to stones using Mod Podge.
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.
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.