As promised, this is an example of a concrete meditation on Scripture for primary-grade kids. Please read Teach your children mental prayer for background. I will go through all the steps outlined there, and add in some other subjects for homeschoolers at the end.
Read and meditate on Exodus 16.
This is for you, the parent. Take this Scripture passage to prayer. What does the Holy Spirit will to teach you through it? After you have finished praying, write down ideas for sharing the story with your kids. What virtue do you want them to learn? I chose to make this a unit on gratitude.
Read “Manna from Heaven” aloud to your children.
This is the title of the story in The Golden Children’s Bible. You may also wish to include “The Bitter Well of Marah” and “Water from the Rock,” since their themes are similar. Or read the same stories from your favorite children’s Bible.
Pre-read the selection and note any new vocabulary or place names to define or find on a map. You can define these for your kids or have then look the words up, as you choose.
Read the story once aloud, slowly and clearly. (If reading more than one, do one per sitting.) Then the kids narrate it back to you, one at a time. Write down each narration as it’s given, unless the child is old enough to do this himself.
Discuss how the Israelites failed to be grateful. What had God done for them? Why weren’t they happy? How should they have acted?
Read at least one book about gratitude.
Picture books work great as read-alouds for the whole family. Try Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman, Andy and the Lion by James Daugherty, or one of the many good books on the first Thanksgiving (if it’s the appropriate season).
Discuss: What similarities and differences are there between your chosen book(s) and the Manna story?
Copy and memorize 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.
The parents don’t need to do the copywork, but you should memorize it with your kids. It reads, “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all things give thanks.”
Use this guided meditation or create your own:
“Close your eyes and imagine you are in the desert with the Hebrews. You have been traveling all day for three days. You are hot and tired. Your throat is dry. There is no water to drink. Everyone starts complaining that life was better in Egypt. Moses says to trust God, who will supply you with water. [Pause]
“Now imagine that you have come to the table for dinner. Mom is serving a dish that is not your favorite [be as specific here as you wish]. This is the third day in a row you have had to eat food you do not like for dinner. You feel like whining and complaining or refusing to eat. But you choose to be silent and at least try a small bit. [Pause]
“Let us pray. [Children should repeat the rest of this, sentence by sentence.] Heavenly Father, thank you for all the good gifts you have given our family. Thank you that we always have enough to eat and drink. When I am tempted to complain about my food or drink, help me to remember that many children go to bed hungry or thirsty each night. They would be happy to eat my leftovers. Teach me to be truly grateful. Prepare my heart to receive you as my spiritual food in the Eucharist. Amen.”
Bonus for homeschoolers
You can make this into a unit that includes all subjects. This is how we homeschool. Here are some ideas for various subjects.
- Science/health: learn about nutrition.
- Math: bake bread together. Double the recipe and have your kids add or multiply fractions.
- Music: sing “Shepherd of Souls.”
- Art: see the altarpiece above, from circa 1470. Make egg tempera paints and paint with them. Here is a lesson plan and here is another with photos.
- History/geography: learn about nomadic tribes.