It is the beginning of Holy Week and many Christians are preparing to think about and reflect on the sacrifice of Jesus. However, when you are thinking about it with small children, its hard to know what to say so they can appreciate it and yet not much that they are disturbed or scard! Sofia Cavalletti came up with a brilliant idea that allows the children to think about the story. We have in the Atrium we have a city of Jerusalem map. The map has a main board, a control map, and movable pieces. The work is out only during lent and the Easter season. Here are a few tips on using a work like this at home. I have adapted the traditional presentation for home use. Please know that going to an Atrium and seeing the work first hand can never be substitute and many Atriums are more then happy to have you stop by for a visit or even join! If you want to find an Atrium near your, you can visit http://www.cgsusa.org/. Now on to the practical points of the presentation.
This presentation require a small map of the city of Jerusalem. In the atrium, we have a city on a board with a control chart to move the pieces to. There is a wall around the city, the Tower of Antonio (where Pilate lived), the Temple with a wall around it, Herod’s Palace, the House of Caiaphas, the Cenecle (or upper room), Garden of Olives, Calvary, and the Tomb of the Resurrection. Now I figure that you are all not going to have this work laying around your house. So it is more then possible to make it up with whatever you may have! Use building blocks, Legos, wood scraps, heck, even use the red rods! What you want to to create the walls of the city like the ones in the pictures above. Then you will need some buildings. The Tower of Antonio is part of the top right of the wall. The temple is across from the Garden of Olives and the Cenecle is at the far end of the city. Just set it up according to the pictures above. Then you are ready to tell the story.
1. Using the sandpaper globe, point out where the Land of Israel is to the child. “This is the land of Israel. This is where Jesus lived when he was on earth. Now we cont see all the mountains and roads and towns can we? No, So here is a map of the city of Jerusalem. This was a very important city because Jesus came here to teach and pray. It is also where he died and rose again.”
2. Next start to point out the different pieces of city and walk the child through the city following Jesus. If you have a control chart, move the pieces after you mention each piece. Here is an idea of what to say.
“Why do you think that the city is surrounded by walls? Yes it helps to protect it from bad things. There was a big wall around Jerusalem to keep it safe. There is also a wall around the temple. The temple was a really important place for the Jewish people to come pray. The wall protects the temple too.”
“On plan Sunday, Jesus came into the city. Maybe he came in on one of these road. On Holy Thursday, Jesus went to the cenecle with his disciples to celebrate the Passover. While there were there he blessed the bread and told his disciples that this was his body. Then he took the wine and gave it to his disciples saying this is my blood. After singing a song of praise to God, they left for the Garden of Olives”
“At the Garden of Olives, Jesus prayed. While he was praying, the soldiers came and arrested Jesus. They thought he was a bad man.”
“So they took him to the House of Caiaphas. Caiaphas was the priest who was a leader in Jerusalem. He asked Jesus alot of questions, but Jesus didnt answer them. Since Pilate was in charge, Caiaphas sent Jesus to him.
“Pilate lived in the Tower of Antonio. It is the tallest building in the city and build into the wall so he can look down and see everything. When they brought Jesus to the Pilate, Pilate talked to Jesus and realized that there was nothing bad about him. So he decided to send Jesus to King Herod who was in charge of land where Jesus lived.”
“So off to King Herod’s Palace they went. King Herod had always wanted to meet Jesus and see one of his miracles. But when King Herod asked Jesus questions, Jesus didnt say anything, so Herod told the people that he saw nothing wrong with Jesus. So he sent him back to Pilate.”
“Pilate told all the people again that He saw nothing wrong with Jesus. The people didnt like that. So Pilate gave Jesus the cross to carry to Calvary.”
“Jesus walked the road to Calvary with his cross. When he got there, he was put on the cross and died.”
“When Jesus died, they took his body and buried it in the tomb. It looked like the light went out of the world forever. But did Jesus stay dead? No! That’s right, he rose again! (Light a candle) and the light came back into the world! What a wonderful thing. What do you think we can say to Jesus while we think about this? (allow time for the child to offer a prayer or thanks to God). This is why Easter is a celebration, a happy time! You can use the map to think more about the story. You could draw your own city or you can write a prayer.”
This is a simple version of what we do in the Atrium with the children. I love this because there are things to do, things to touch and see, and the children can connect with the story of salvation without worrying about the pain of death. I hope that this will give you a way to live the story of Jesus with your children this week! It is amazing to me that each time this work is done, I can see the story come alive for the children and their little tiny prayers are always ones of thanks and love for Jesus! It is a beautiful thing! Again, if you have the opportunity, go to your local Atrium and see the work that allows the Lord to speak to their hearts!
If you want to see more amazing Montessori fun, be sure to stop by the Montessori Monday link up! I am there partying, so you should to! Happy Holy Week!