The animals, a big boat, water, and a rainbow. The story of Noah is a classic baby lesson. That’s why we see it on nursery wallpaper, in the bath toy department, and sometimes even on clothes. This story screams baby and toddler devotions, because it’s full of elements tiny people are already familiar with and love. And to be honest I love this story too. However, I often wonder if while we’re teaching this story to our littles, we sometimes get the whole point of the story wrong. So often I see it taught: The world was bad, Noah was good. God destroyed the world, because it was bad. Only saved Noah and the animals because they were good. And then he put a rainbow in the sky. And yes, generally that is what happened. But I think we have to be careful to avoid giving the message “be good or God’s going to take you out.” That’s not the message at all. I think the story of Noah can best be summarized in Genesis 8:21
“…the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done.”
Genesis 8:21 ESV
Then the Lord put his rainbow in the sky (Genesis 9). The Lord put the rainbow as a reminder that he would never again destroy the earth by water again, not because we’re good and sinless, but because he knew we would continue sinning. He knew we were kind of a lost cause, so in that moment he declared a better way: Jesus.
This is not to say that Jesus was an afterthough. No, there are several verses prior (specifically in Genesis 3 pointing to God’s great redemption plan). However, looking at extra-biblical texts from this time period, sharing stories about the great flood, we see a narrative that is unique from the other stories. We see a story of a God who is loving and compassionate, seeking a better way in the end.
I think my main point in all of this is to say, we want to be careful to teach the story in a way that does not lead our children into legalism, when the story is so much bigger than that.
Look to the rainbow.
This week, as you teach your child, I encourage you to meditate on that truth. The rainbow is a sign that God chose another way. He chose you. He loves you. The more we let this truth sink into our own lives, the better we can share that love and hope with our children.
Now some other ways to share with our kiddos:
As I said, the story of Noah is so baby friendly, and there are so many activities you can do with it. When we got to the page where the animals board the ark, I had our baby practice her animal sounds. I also asked her if she could find different animals (i.e. can you find the elephant?) And she was always thrilled to point it out.
When we got to the rain, we would sing a song we learned from our local story time:
*Sing to the tune of “Ten Little Indians”
One little, two little, three little raindrops
Four little, five little, six little raindrops
Seven little, eight little, nine little raindrops
Falling on my head.
Because we are bilingual I also translated it into Spanish. How don’t know how correct this is, but my husband says it worked. So we used it. If you have a better translation let me know in the comments below.
Una gotita, dos gotitas, tres gotitas de lluvia
Cuatro gotitas, cinco gotitas, seis gotitas de lluvia
Siete gotitas, ocho gotitas, nueve gotitas de lluvia
Callendo en mi cabeza
Finally, on the rainbow page, we would point to the colors and name them. By the end of the week I would ask my child where different colors were (i.e. where is blue?) And she’s still pretty little, so it was kind of hit or miss, but she always knew where orange was, so I’m thinking she has a favorite color.
Sensory: Water Play
Water play! How can you study Noah’s Ark with a toddler and not do water play? We got out our plastic animals from Target, made a milk-jug ark, and “saved” the animals from the flooded sink. For the ark, I literally just cut a hole in the side of a clean milk jug. Also, this activity gave us the chance to practice our counting, and we counted as we loaded the animals into the ark. Baby girl is still pretty young, so she doesn’t know her numbers yet, but me counting with her helps build her vocabulary and teaches her how to count.
We color-sorted pompoms. I know that this sounds super advanced for an 18 month old, but after I scrolled through Pinterest and saw over 20 other moms with their 1 year-olds sorting pompoms, I had to give it a try. And guess what! My kid was a natural. It’s amazing what kids figure out. This activity became my sanity saver for the week, because she would literally stand on her learning tower and sort pompoms for a half-hour straight. Any mom with an 18 month old knows how hard it is to keep their attention for 5 minutes, much less a half-hour. My suggestion is start with 2 different colors and start separating them to show them how. Say the name of the color as you sort it. Then ask them to sort. (I.e. “where does the blue go?” Hand them a blue pompom and see what they do). If your child doesn’t get it right away, that is ok! Don’t freak out. Just let them play with the pompoms. You can even fill a tub up and make it a sensory bin for the week. Hide plastic animals in the pompoms for them to find.
Another skill to work on that works for younger babies is Animal Noises. Sit down with a book with animal pictures and point to each one. If your pointing to a cow say “the cow says ‘moo…’ Then encourage your baby to make the noise. “Can you say moo…” Even if your child can’t talk yet, ask them any way. Being asked questions and given a chance to reply works on their conversation skills.
Arts and Crafts: Paper Plate Rainbow
We made a rainbow with a paper plate, cottonballs, and construction paper. Depending on your comfort level and you’re child’s age, try letting them control the glue. I know, scary! But I watched a friend let her 18 month-old use the glue, and was inspired.
Snack: Rainbow Fruit
While at the grocery store, try to pick out fruit with a variety of colors. (I.e. purple grapes, blueberries, green kiwi, yellow banana, oranges, red strawberries, etc.) Make a sample plate and talk about the colors while they eat. If you want to be super extra, arrange your fruit in the shape of a rainbow.
Another fun project we have done with Noah’s Ark is make a rain stick!
What you need:
- An empty, plastic Voss water bottle (or sensory bottle)
- Dry rice
What you do:
- Break down the sticks to fit into the water bottle
- Let your child push the sticks into the bottle (a great posting activity!)
- Pour in a handful of dry rice.
- Screw on the cap and let your little one enjoy the sound of rain
Some books I have found that we love to learn about Noah’s Ark are:
‘Arca de Noe’ por Bianca Cerrato
This fun book book teaches little ones about the animals that joined Noah on the Ark in both English AND Spanish!
I love the racial representation this book offers to little learners. With fun rhymes and beautiful illustrations, littles will learn about the flood story that ended with a promise of love and redemption.