Jesus taught many lessons in stories, or parables, to make them more memorable to his audience---even if not always more understandable. Matthew 13:3-23 contains the Parable of the Sower, in which a farmer scatters his seed on four different kinds of ground. Sunday school teachers can use various activities to help students understand the story and how it applies to them.
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Different Kinds of Seeds and Soil
Display different kinds of seeds. Have the children match the seeds with the fruit produced. Ask the students what it takes to make a seed grow into a healthy plant. Show the students the four different kinds of soil talked about in the parable. Ask them which kind of soil would grow the best plants.
Using paper cups as planters, have the students plant seeds in good soil. Allow them to choose the kind of seed they want to plant. Let the students take the planted seeds home so they can explain to Mom and Dad about the need for good soil to provide the best harvest.
Read Matthew 13:3-9 with your students, and then show them four containers of soil. Put rocks and a little dirt in one container. Put hard-packed, dry dirt in container two. Put weed-infested sod in container three and loose, moist topsoil in the last. Place paper next to each container. Ask the students to list what each container represents.
After they make their lists, read Matthew 13:18-23. Compare their lists to Jesus' explanation. Ask the students which container represents their life. Then, transform the containers. Pick the rocks out of container one and add dirt until it looks like container four. Add water to container two and mix until it is pliable and loose. Add water to container three and use a hand trowel to remove the weeds. Explain that God can change lives from unhealthy soil to good soil.
Bring several fruits to class, including a tomato, pomegranate, watermelon, orange, apple and an avocado. Open each of the fruits and demonstrate that each piece of fruit contains a different number of seeds. Some have many, and others have only one. Allow the students to eat some of the fruit as you continue the lesson.
Ask the students how many pieces of fruit each seed will produce if planted, watered and helped to grow. Of course, the answer is that we don't know. The single avocado seed may produce many avocados over the life of the tree. The many seeds of the tomato may produce fruit for only a season, but the fruits may be many.
Sower Picture Book
Use five colouring sheets to put together a wordless book about the parable (see Resources). Have the students colour the pages as you read the story aloud. Staple the pages together so they flip like a book. Tell the students they may use the book to tell the parable to others.
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