This is lesson continues our curriculum for preschoolers about knowing Jesus. Each lesson is based on a passage in the Gospel of Mark. You can read the series introduction for more explanation and links to the other lessons.
This particular lesson focuses on the meaning of the Parable of the Soils. Many of us hear the Word regularly, but we must choose how we will respond. Only allowing the Word to take root deep within us will cause it to produce a crop.
Bible Passage: Mark 4:1-20
Bible Lesson Title: Parable of the Soils
Target Age Group: 4-5 years old (preschool & Kindergarten)
Target Time Frame: 37 minutes
Original Teaching Context: Preschool Sunday School
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Knowing Jesus through the Book of Mark: Lesson Twelve (37 minutes)
Scripture: Mark 4:1-20
Exegetical Idea: Many will hear the Word, but only those who allow it to take root deep within their hearts will produce a crop.
Pedagogical Idea: Many of us hear the Word regularly, but we must choose how we will respond. Only allowing the Word to take root deep within us will cause it to produce a crop.
Cognitive Aim: Preschoolers will understand that God desires for us to allow His Word to grow in our hearts.
Affective Aim: Preschoolers will feel a desire to have soft hearts before the Lord.
Behavioral Aim: Preschoolers will memorize Mark 4:20 and pray, asking God to soften their hearts to His Word.
Memory Verse: Mark 4:20, “Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.” (NIV)
- Kindle Curiosity (5 minutes) Description: Talk about seeds; introduce them to parables. Supplies: Bible outfits, package of seeds, bag of soil, boat (can be cut out of paper and taped to the floor or however elaborate you would like to be!).
- God Revealed (15 minutes) Description: Hear the parable. Supplies: Boat, shoreline (can be created by using blue painter’s tape across the floor in front of the boat), pictures of each type of soil taped to the wall behind the boat, Bible
- Personal Pursuit (10 minutes) Description: Discuss our hearts, plant seeds. Supplies: Real soil, seeds that will produce a plant, plastic cups, water, hearts drawn on construction paper with Mark 4:20 written on them for the children to cut out, clean-up materials.
- Daily Knowing (7-10 minutes) Description: Memorize Mark 4:20, pray. Supplies: Bible, notecards with Mark 4:20 written on them for each parent. On the back, remind each parent to help their children care for the plant and reemphasize the parable as they watch it grow. You may want to write out specific instructions so the seeds will for sure produce a plant.
**Before the children arrive, have the Bible outfits ready. This lesson will probably run longer than usual, so keep this in mind as you progress through each segment. The main emphasis is for them to hear the Word of God, so if you think you are short on time, do not leave out this section! Consider having the plants ready for them take home or the hearts pre-cut.
1. Kindle Curiosity (5 minutes)
- Put on Bible outfits!
- Show a package of seeds. Ask (leaving time for answers): What are these? (Put a few in each child’s hand so that they can feel and look at them.) What do seeds need to grow? (Water, sun, good soil) Soil is very important for seeds to grow (hold up a bag of soil and show them what it looks like. Allow them to feel it as well. Have paper towels ready in case it sticks to their hands.) If a seed is not planted in good soil, it cannot grow.
- State: Today we are going to hear a parable that Jesus told to a group of people that focuses on seeds and soil. Do any of you know what a parable is? In the Bible, a parable is a story about something here on earth that is told to explain truth about God and/or about us. Parables always have something for us to learn in them.
- State: Before we hear what Jesus has to say, we have to go to where He is! (Lead them to the boat/shore area.) You are going to be part of the huge crowd that was coming to hear Jesus teach. There were so many people, that Jesus had to get in a boat to teach them! (Climb into your boat.) Gather around me behind the shoreline. Are you ready to see if you can learn from this parable?
2. God Revealed (15 minutes)
- Have pictures of each type of soil taped on the wall for the children to see (including a picture of a seed that has produced a big crop to illustrate the last soil type. As you are telling the parable, point to each soil-type as it comes along in the story so they are able to get a visual.
- State: Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times! Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear. (NIV)
- State: Now sometimes these parables can be hard to understand. In fact, after most of the crowd had left, Jesus’ twelve disciples and a few others asked Him what it meant. Jesus chose to explain to them the meaning of the parable because He greatly desired for them to understand His truth. He desires for us to understand His truth as well. Are you ready to listen carefully and see if you can understand the meaning behind this parable?
- State: The seed is the Word of God. Some people are like the path (point to the picture). As soon as they hear the Word of God, Satan comes and takes it away like the bird took away the seeds in the parable. Others are like the seed sown on the rocky places (point to the picture). They hear the Word and believe it with joy. But they have no root, and when trouble comes their way because of the Word, they quickly fall away from it, just like the sun scorched the plants of the seeds in the parable. Still others are like the seed sown among the thorns (point to the picture). They hear the Word and believe it, but the worries of life and the desire for money and other things choke the Word, making it unfruitful, meaning it cannot grow. Others are like the seed sown on good soil. They hear the Word, believe it, and produce a crop or fruit, some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown (point to the picture of the crops)!
3. Personal Pursuit (10 minutes)
- State: God is so good! He has given us His Word freely, so that we may know Him. When we hear the Word of God, it is like a seed being planted in our hearts. Our hearts can have any of these types of soils. What type of soil do you think God desires for you to have? (Time for discussion.)
- State: We have to choose how we respond to God’s Word. You come here every week and hear His Word taught. You have been introduced to Jesus and know His truth. Though we choose whether or not to believe and follow God’s Word, we cannot soften the soil of our hearts on our own. We have to ask God daily to give us soft hearts that will allow His Word to be planted and to grow, producing a crop like this picture (point or hold up the crop picture). This means that we follow Him all of our lives and share His Word with others along the way. When we trust in Jesus with all of our hearts, He allows us to grow more like Him and teach others how to grow more like Him. This is our crop; our lives and everything in them that is lived for Him!
- State: We are going to plant some seeds together in good soil. These are just (insert name of the type of seed of your choosing). They will not produce a large crop, but they can grow if given the right care. We are going to cut out hearts to tape onto these cups. These hearts will hopefully help remind you to daily pray for God to give you hearts of good soil and make the choice to believe and trust in Him and His Word.
- Pass out cups to each child and allow them to scoop soil into their cups. Pass out seeds and show them how the plant them in the soil. Demonstrate how to water the seed with just a little water. Give them instructions on how to care for the seed at home. Pass out the hearts and allow the children to cut them out (or have them pre-cut to save time). Glue or tape a heart on each child’s cup. Instruct the children on how to care for the plants each day. (*Note-you may want to have the table covered with a disposable tablecloth or sheet paper for easy clean-up, as well as the floor underneath, especially if it is carpeted.)
4. Daily Knowing (7-10 minutes)
- State: One way we can soften the soil of our hearts is to memorize God’s Word. Let’s memorize a verse that Christ himself said to His disciples while explaining the parable. It is found in Mark, chapter 4, verse 20 (show them in the Bible), “Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.” I am sure we can come up with hand motions to help us memorize this verse!
- After working on memorization, pray together with the children for God to soften your hearts and help you to choose to respond to His Word with belief and trust in Christ.
- Make sure you review with them the next week or when you have encounters during the week one-on-one. Remind the parents how important it is for them to help their children review their verses all throughout the week. Provide each parent with a notecard that has Mark 4:20 written on it. On the back, ask parents to help their child care for the plant each and to reemphasize the parable as the plant grows. You may want to write out specific instructions so the seeds will for sure produce a plant. Be conscious of children who do not have parents who are believers and strive to communicate these things with them, along with encouraging them in their pursuit of Christ.