Monday, August 20, 2012

Fruits of the Spirit Summer Project

This time of year, the hard work of summer begins to pay off.  Summer's bounty is at it's peak.

Yummy tomatoes at the North Carolina Farmer's Market

Here in Happily Ever Johnson Land, we've been hard at work too, and we're excited about our bounty.
We're celebrating a different kind of garden harvest, though.
 Behold, our Fruits of the Spirit Garden!

Our Fruits of the Spirit Garden

Our Fruits of the Spirit Garden has been a summer-long project for us.  I am really excited to be able to share our progress over the summer.  The inspiration for our project centered around Mandy Groce's free, online "Fruits of the Spirit" coloring book, found at Ministry to Children.  Ministry to Children is a wonderful, free children't ministry resource website.  We love their coloring pages, Bible story lessons and craft ideas.  I was also inspired by the fun learning lapbooks that Jessica of Shower of Roses makes with her children.  Finally, thanks to our little herb garden for inspiring us to create another out of the "spiritual fruits."

Part I.
After Pentecost last June, we started talking about the Fruits of the Spirit from Galatians 5:22-23:
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.  Against these there is no law."

We talked about how, just like soil, water and sunlight help tiny seeds turn in to a garden of beautiful flowers, fruits and vegetables, the Holy Spirit helps the seeds of faith in our hearts turn into visible "fruits" in our daily actions and interactions.  These visible, spiritual fruits don't appear as cherries and bananas and apples, but instead show up as things like love and joy and goodness and kindness in our daily lives.

Our conversations were a great way to personalize the meaning of Pentecost and the visible work of the Spirit in our family life.  I used Mandy Groce's Fruits of the Spirit coloring page as a visual aid for E-Bear and G-Bear.  
G-Bear's Fruit of the Spirit folder

After the kids colored their pages, we used them to make covers for our Fruits of the Spirit folders. 

E-Bear's Fruit of the Spirit folder

Part II.
For the second part of our project, we took a few weeks to focus only on the first fruit of the spirit.  To help us do this, we made "Love Charts."  I printed off Mandy Groce's "Love" coloring page for each of the kids.  As they colored, we spent an afternoon talking about ways that the Holy Spirit can help us be more loving people.  We made a list of examples of things that the kids could do that would be loving.  Then, we hung the Love Charts on our wall along with a bag of special stickers.  For the next several weeks, every time the kids made a choice or did something that was loving, I tried hard to recognize it by thanking them and asking them to put a sticker on their Love Chart.  Pretty soon, the kids were recognizing loving behaviors both for themselves and for each other.  Before we knew it, their charts were full, and we added them to our folders. 

G-Bear and E-Bear's Love Charts

Part III.
Next, it was time to give attention to the other eight fruits.  Thanks to Nana, we found a great song to help us memorize them: Fruit of the Spirit by Brentwood Kids   My kids love this song!

To help us cultivate all these fruits, we painted an empty egg carton to represent our "garden."  We had work to do.  It looked pretty barren!  I carefully sliced holes into the top of each egg basket.

Our Fruit of the Spirit Garden
Then, I helped the kids assemble little "fruits" that I had cut out of construction paper.  They got to glue the pieces together, decorate them with leaves, and decide which spiritual fruit each stick would represent.

We wrote the name of the spiritual fruit on the fruit sticks and inserted them into slits that I had cut into their folder pockets.

Over the next several weeks, when the kids did something that represented one of the spiritual fruits, they were allowed to get their fruit stick out of their folder and put it in the garden.   This was a great way for me to reinforce examples of each of the spiritual fruits in their actions.  They were also able to look at our garden at the end of the day, recognize the fruits they had "grown," and focus on the fruits they had yet to display.  On our harder days, I could point to our barren garden and show them a visual example of how we needed to 'grow' more spiritual fruit for our family.

Part IV
To reinforce our ongoing gardening project, we made mini Fruits of the Spirit "Gardener Coloring Books" out of Mandy Groce's online coloring book.  We spent several afternoons coloring in the coloring books, talking about the pictures and how they represented particular spiritual fruits.  Then, we added them to our folders.

I also gave the kids a new page of special stickers, so that if they displayed a fruit of the Spirit during the day, and had already put the fruit stick in their "garden," then they could add a sticker to the corresponding fruit page in their coloring book.  

This brings us to the end of our summer and the completion of our Fruits of the Spirit project.  

Our finished Fruits of the Spirit folders

Overall, I am happy with the things we have learned and the ways we have grown together.  In focusing on the Fruits of the Spirit, I grew just as much as my kids, if not more.

I can't wait to get to our new home and set up our garden in another prominent spot.  After all, you can never have too much spiritual fruit!

1 comment:

B-Mama said...

B, this is awesome! I think we may have to hang some love charts around here too--what a great way to encourage scriptural application into real living. Bravo!!