Mary Mother of Jesus was a peasant girl who gave birth to the Son of God--to Christianity. The four gospels tell her story from the annunciation to the resurrection, and modern archaeology fills in the rest. Using both, teachers can share what kind of life she led, what kind of person she may have been and what daily life was like. Classroom activities will help to teach the students about Mary of Nazareth.
Create a map of Mary's world, ancient Israel, for the class as well as one on the board. Mark off all the cities and towns mentioned in the gospels and draw the routes that Mary took alone, with Joseph and Jesus, and with Jesus when he began his ministry. For instance, when Mary was first pregnant with Jesus she went to stay with her cousin Elizabeth. When Jesus was 12, the family joined a caravan to travel to Jerusalem.
Write short plays about single events in Mary's life. Paraphrase the dialog in the Bible to make it easier for the children to read. The teacher can narrate the play as well if the performers are too young to memorize lines. The nativity is an often-performed play during the Christmas season. Angel Gabriel's visit to teenaged Mary is a simple beginning to her story. One girl will play young Mary and either a boy or girl can play the Angel Gabriel. Select stories from the gospels that illustrate how Mary helped Jesus as a child and as an adult.
Create a board game about following Jesus as his mother did. The players take turns and use a die to count the moves. Mark off some spaces with penalties and rewards. If you land on a square where "you complain about the heat," you lose a turn. "You helped a neighbor," you can take an extra turn. Keep playing until all children have completed the game. As each child reaches the finish line he will have traveled in Mary's path and followed Jesus. It will just take some children longer than others to complete the game.
Mary in Art
Mary, Mother of Jesus is depicted in scores of paintings. These paintings show all aspects of her life, from the Annunciation to the Resurrection of Christ. Using posters and art books, tell the students what is going on in the paintings. If the children are younger, coloring pages following the events of Mary's life can be given to the children to complete. Have the students color several pages and a cover, and they can create their own illustrated biographies of Mary.