Monday, March 30, 2009

The Order of the Phoenix Sunday

Last Sunday - that was yesterday, 28 children came to St Barnabas to take part in an experience. There were several tents set up in the hall, filled with colour and props and staffed by costumed leaders.

The task was to experience each tent and carry something away. Each child needed a password to get into the upper room when they had finished collecting their experience in all the tents. We in the Hebrew tent were the source of the passwords. We had a few books as props, a table, and a box full of words in Hebrew with the meaning and transcription on the back of each word.

The password was simple. Each child had to pick a unique Hebrew word from the box and find the correct first letter of the word. That means getting the word right side up and picking the rightmost character. Then they could find their password - the name of that Hebrew letter - by scanning the walls of the tent where all the letters were hung - right to left of course - to match the shape.

Perhaps a half-dozen of the children found this easy since the letters were not new to them - but all succeeded and each listened to a bit of the Bible in Hebrew which contained the word they chose. Then they memorized their password and put their word in their bag and went to the next tent.

After everyone had finished, children and parents all went into the church for an episode of Godly Play. Everyone came away with sparklers.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The children of the Raven

We had a fun lesson today - I gave the boys and the girls two sets of 7 blocks containing sufficient letters to spell לִבְנֵי עֹרֵב without the vowel pointing. It is not a very easy task - both groups succeeded in forming the words with the letters in the right order. (Each had a little confirming help from me - but the boys won.)

The advanced 11-year-old student was not there, but I am told by his mother that he has finished the first four chapters of Putnam's Toward Reading & Understanding Biblical Hebrew. So soon he will be teaching me. Now here is a time for careful encouragement and a new source of teaching material and experience.

Think of this though - in a small Sunday School, you can make a difference with 5 minutes a week. Children like content and a rich environment - they will respond in their own way at their own time. It is a joy to see.

This was our last week on the Hogwarts house animals. The exercise was difficult but we were able to focus on bits of it. If we come back to these verses with the same children a year from now, we can go deeper.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Just right - and more than expected

Before I even moved into the circle today one youngster said to me - 'I remember last week's word'. And he did - how delighted I was, because I had prepared the blocks to show them last week's word and two more words that can be made out of the letters with one substitution and have them spell two of the other animals in the Hogwarts menagerie.

Here they are:
  • badger (or seal or dolphin or whatever this animal is): תחש, tachash
  • serpent (as in Genesis 3:1): נחש, nachash
  • and lion - the fierce one from last week: שחל, shachal
There were just 4 in the class today and one of them, about 8 years old, really enjoyed laying out the blocks and organizing them in the right order to spell each word. Much more to be said.

The blocks have lasted well - almost a year since I made them with blocks from the dollar store and some mac-tac using this image.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Too much - too complex

Lions they know about but not the simple shape of Hebrew poetry. So we did Lion - as planned (see the homework I did here) , but I note there are also two variations on snake in Psalm 91:13 and next week we will do the subtle serpent. But I really ought to look at one word at a time. (Though the Genesis passage has several words that some of the children might recognize.)

I had two new 10 year olds who had never had a Hebrew lesson - I suspect they were a bit flummoxed by the 5.5 minute Hebrew lesson! (Yes I went overtime.)

Too much - too complex. I will take some of my exercise books to the Tuesday class - and it will be too little - too boring (לִ לֵ לֶ לַ לָ לֹ but we'll get through them quickly and they are useful for practicing the sounding out of words). Where is the middle ground?

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Some more images

Placeholders for the next 3 weeks. These are the images I will work a lesson around. The aim is that after 4 weeks the children will be able to see how letters and vowel markings fit together. They will probably learn a few other things also.

The hints so far are here

Tomorrow - poetry

Psalm 91:13 is a beautiful example of Hebrew poetics - 6 words, a b c / c' a' b' - not quite a reversal. The image does not show the 'answer' 3-3 but puts the words in the form 2-2-2 in order to have the children find the 3-3 pattern as an exercise.

We will begin with transcription - since most of the children cannot yet hear the Hebrew - then we will move to form - all in less than 5 minutes.

And this is part of the preparation for Easter using Hebrew scripts from Hogwarts.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Easter, Hogwart's and Animals

What have the Lion, the Snake, the Badger, and the Raven to do with Easter? As we work through Lent, we will look at these animals in the Bible, and I am sure we will be able to find some teaching that will suggest answers to this question.

Such is the direction that I think we will go.

I can report after an hour's lesson today with one older student and his mother, that there is more retained and grasped than one might expect - even at 5 minutes a week! For the older student, I am now recommending 15 minutes a day.

Today's hour was largely review of the first 10 or so lessons, (see here). We did both writing and sounding out words and reading.