Trouble in the Garden: A FaithLaunch Family Time

By Jane Vogel
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Focus on the Family
Try using this activity to teach your kids that sin separates us from God.

Mission Control: Where You’re Headed

You’ll help your child grasp the fact that our sin separates us from God.

1. Blast Off: Getting Started

What you need:

  • materials for making a model of the Garden of Eden (small plastic building blocks, animal figurines, real or artificial plants, etc.)
  • a small figure to represent each person participating

It’s creative construction time! Gather materials to create a miniature Garden of Eden with your child. It can be whatever size you like. The goal is to have fun and make your model as awesome as you can.

Depending on your child’s interests and the materials on hand, you might use any of the following:

  • farm or circus animal figures
  • trees and flowers from playsets
  • a dirt-filled flower pot into which you’ve transplanted plants or inserted cut flowers and twigs
  • plants and animals cut from construction paper
  • “ponds” made of aluminum foil or water in plastic margarine tubs

If your climate and setting permit, try this project outside. Don’t rush; enjoy working on it together, using the time to recall some things you’ve learned so far about God’s good creation.

When you’ve created your Eden, choose a figure (or model one from clay or foil) to represent each of you. Put the figures in the “Garden.”

2. Exploration: Discovering Truth

What you need:

  • a Bible
  • modeling clay or dough

Model one more thing — a snake — out of clay or dough. Put that in the Garden, too.

Read Genesis 3 from a child-friendly translation or children’s Bible, or retell the account in language your child will understand. As you tell the story, have your child act it out with the figures in your Garden.

3. Reentry: Bringing the Truth Home

Check your child’s understanding by having him or her summarize the story for you, using the Garden and figures as props.

Then ask:

  • What would the world be like if people had never disobeyed God?
  • How do you think Adam and Eve felt when they got kicked out of the Garden?
  • How do you think God felt?

Alternate Flight Plan: Options for Ages 8-12

If you think your child will see making a model Garden of Eden as a “baby” activity, try doing some “kid on the street” interviews instead. In person or via phone or instant messaging, help your child ask friends and family questions like the following:

  • Who lived in the Garden of Eden?
  • Who was created first — Adam or Eve?
  • What kinds of fruit were okay to eat in the Garden?
  • Which kind wasn’t? Why?
  • Why did Adam and Eve eat it anyway?
  • What happened then?
  • What does this story have to do with us?

Then help your child check people’s answers against the Genesis 3 account. If your interviews are in person, you may want to document them with camcorder or sound recorder and share them with the rest of the family later.

4. Splashdown: Applying What You’ve Learned

What you need:

  • a Bible
  • craft sticks
  • marker
  • modeling clay or dough

Read Romans 3:23. Explain that we, like Adam and Eve, have disobeyed God. This is called sin, and it separates us from God just as the sin of Adam and Eve did.

Ask your child to name things that kids and moms and dads do wrong. Be as specific as possible. Here are suggestions to prompt your thinking:

  • not sharing a toy or game
  • talking back to parents instead of obeying
  • sneaking more time to play video games by pretending to forget the time limit
  • calling someone at school a name
  • picking a fight with a sibling to get him in trouble
  • being jealous of another family’s bigger TV
  • lying about whether you did a chore
  • cheating on a test

As your child names each sin, write it on a separate craft stick (or draw a symbol, for pre-readers), push the stick into a bit of clay or dough, and use the sticks to build a fence separating the figures from the Garden.

When you’ve built a sizable fence, talk a little about how our sins are like a wall between us and God. Ask how it feels to be shut out of a place your child would really like to be — a party, a theme park, a movie, a toy store.

Assure your child that God is just as eager as we are to knock down the fence and bring us close to Him. You’ll be talking more about that in a future Family Time.

Alternate Flight Plan: Options for Ages 8-12

If you didn’t make a Garden of Eden model and don’t want to build a fence of craft sticks, here’s another way to introduce the idea of being “shut out” by sin. Have your child write kinds of disobedience on strips of crepe paper and tape them over the entrance to his or her room. Announce, tongue in cheek, that he or she will be sleeping in the bathroom from now on. Discuss the kinds of lifestyle changes such an “exile” would require.

Space Snack

What you need:

  • ice cream
  • chocolate cookies or chocolate graham crackers
  • sealable plastic bag
  • gummy worms
  • bowls

Want to wrap up with refreshments? Try “garden sundaes.” Give your child a bowl of ice cream. Let him or her crush chocolate cookies or chocolate graham crackers in a plastic bag and pour the resulting “dirt” on the ice cream. Add gummy worms as desired.

Adapted from FaithLaunch: A Simple Plan to Ignite Your Child’s Love for Jesus by John Trent, Ph.D., and Jane Vogel (Focus on the Family/Tyndale, 2008)


Understand How to Respect and Love your Son Well

Why doesn’t my son listen to me? Have you ever asked that question? The truth is, how you see your son and talk to him has a significant effect on how he thinks and acts. That’s why we want to help you. In fact, we’ve created a free five-part video series called “Recognizing Your Son’s Need for Respect” that will help you understand how showing respect, rather than shaming and badgering, will serve to motivate and guide your son.
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