Preparing For and Implementing the Unit
This past year I did a month long study on the fruits of the Spirit with my four year old son. The fruits of the spirit are found in Galatians 5:22, “But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control."
The 9 concepts become a fantastic Sunday School unit that could be spread out over 9 weeks, or done at a faster pace by covering multiple concepts in one lesson. To prepare for the whole unit you will need to make a tree (see picture below) with the Fruits of the Spirit on it. Write the 9 qualities out, and cover them up with a small piece of cardboard attached with tape so that they look like they are hidden until you open up the tab. I also made little cardboard cut outs (see picture below) with the qualities on them and while we were doing the lesson I handed the card for that day out, and when we were done we put them in a little mailbox. At the end of the unit we pulled out all the cards and reviewed them.
Each day we started, or ended, with the Fruit of the Spirit song. There are different versions of this song, but my favorite is found at www.youtube.com if you type in "Fruits of the Spirit" by VinceMims77. This is an upbeat song, with motions, which makes is great for young children. It is repetitious so it gets memorized easily by children, which helps them remember the nine qualities quickly!
After singing the song, it's important to read the passage from Galatians and explain that the fruits of the Spirit are Godly qualities that the Holy Spirit helps us to develop and live by so we can be more like our Heavenly Father. Explain that there are nine characteristics that they will be studying and that they will learn one a week (or more if you desire).
So, after singing song and explaining the overview each day, I would teach one quality. I would do a simple skit using two pieces of plastic fruit. I used a banana and an apple that I drew faces on. You could name them and use other fruits too, as small props. Young children love puppets or manipulatives, and these type of visuals help break up the lesson, and capture their attention. The small plastic fruits would explain the concept, like small puppets, and then do a short skit on the wrong thing to do and how to correct it, or just a short scenario of the right way to demonstrate the characteristic.
For example on the first concept, love, the banana would have a hard time sharing a toy and the apple would come in and ask nicely to share. The apple would talk about what a loving action would look like as a friend. I made the skits up as I went along, but you could also write the skits out before hand.
After the skit we would discuss ways we could practice being loving, peaceful, etc. Then, you could expand the lessons to add a worksheet or a craft that would go along with the characteristic. I did lessons as short teachings, which usually took 10 minutes. Now that my son knows all nine, he sings the song, and talks about the importance of a certain characteristic at times when it comes up in his day. The Fruits of the Spirit are something you will want every child to learn to help him/her learn how to be like Christ in this world.