I imagine you fellow bloggers have similar arguments as this: One side of the brain says, “Nothing like tooting your own horn,” while the other side says, “It’s selfish of you not to share. You’ve been out pilfering others’ ideas all week.” (Never mind that I recognize that my ideas are hardly original but rather whisperings from beyond.)
Back and forth those two sides argue while I debate whether or not to post an idea. (Except on ideas like crock-pot beans and paper pumpkins, my brain doesn't even bother to discuss topics like that.) Sometimes “nothing like tooting your own horn” wins and I don’t post an idea, and sometimes “don’t be selfish” does and I post; both win their share.
Today “don’t be selfish” won. I do hope it’s helpful to someone, but even if it’s not, it appeases my guilt for using others’ great ideas all week while sitting on my own.
The Parable of the Cake
This learning activity is designed to help students gain greater comprehension of the scriptures that they read.
It is appropriate for family or classroom teaching.
For this activity, you will need: a baked chocolate cake, caramel ice cream topping or sweetened condensed milk, whipped topping, and Heath bits or crushed candy bars
Begin the class by asking students to name their favorite kind of cake.
Remind students that a parable is a way to teach divine truths by comparing those truths to material things (see Bible Dictionary) and that today you are going to teach them The Parable of the Cake. Write The Parable of the Cake on the board.
1. State similarities between cake and scriptures: i.e., they’re both sweet, you feel satisfaction after reading/eating them, they are both enjoyable, etc. Have students read several verses or a story from the scriptures. Ask them if they would agree that reading the scriptures is like eating cake. Write Reading the scriptures underneath The Parable of the Cake.
2. Ask students if they would agree that another way that reading the scriptures is like eating cake is that sometimes they are both a little bit dry. (I’ve yet to have someone not agree with that assessment.) If you ask them what they usually eat with cake, most will say frosting. Explain that they can have the cake just like it is, or they can add more layers to it. (At this point, pull out the caramel and show them that you will poke holes in the cake and pour the caramel over the top of it if they want to add another layer.) Compare the cake to the scriptures they have just read: they can be happy with what has been read or they can add another layer by going back and studying to find additional information. Take a vote. (I’ve yet to have a class choose plain cake instead of one without caramel added.) Write Studying the scriptures underneath Reading the scriptures on the chalkboard.
3. Have the students reread the scripture block, but this time they are to use their footnotes or cross-references, ask questions or make comments, and discuss what they read. (As the students are studying the scriptures, add the caramel to the cake.) After everyone has had sufficient time to study the scriptures discuss as a class their findings and increased learning. Ask the students if their learning isn’t sweeter and more interesting by adding studying to reading. Compare the cake to the scriptures they have read, and the caramel to the studying. Explain that they can stop now, as they have built an appetizing cake, or they can continue to add more; like reading the scriptures, they can stop now as they have certainly learned and felt more. Show them the whipped topping. Tell them that if the cake is like reading, and the caramel is like studying, then the whipped topping would be like pondering, writing down your thoughts and new understandings, praying over the things you’ve read and learned. Take a vote. (Once again, I’ve yet to have a class choose caramel and cake without adding the whipped topping.) If they choose to add the whipped topping, give them time to think and write about what they’ve read, felt, and learned. (While they’re writing, spread the whipped topping on the cake.) Write Pondering, Praying, Recording underneath Studying the Scriptures on the chalkboard.
4. After the students have had sufficient time to ponder and write. Show them how they have certainly learned much and it is probably very satisfying and pleasing – much like the cake they have created. Tell them they can stop there, or they can add another layer to their learning. Pull out the Heath bits. Take a vote on whether to add another layer or to stop. (Again, I‘ve yet to have a class vote to stop the add-ons.) Remind them that while reading is like the cake, caramel is like studying, the whipped topping is like pondering and writing, and the candy bits are like teaching and testifying of what they’ve learned. Give each student an opportunity to teach something they have learned, or to ask a question they are seeking for an answer. (You can do this as a class discussion or as a partner/pair share, or a combination [have them share in partners and then ask for two or three students to share their findings with the class]. Because everyone will have had sufficient time to prepare by writing something, they should all succeed in this portion of the lesson.) Write Sharing and Testifying underneath Pondering, Praying, Recording.
5. After sprinkling the candy bits on the top of the cake, show the students the cake they have created. Restate some of the things they taught that they had learned, compare their first reading of the scriptures to what they now know, what they feel now compared to what they felt in the beginning, etc. Tell them you are glad they have learned so much and created such a wonderful cake because your family will be very glad to eat it for dinner. (Most often their reactions fall as they thought they were making the cake for themselves. Although you never said it was to be eaten, it was implied as you stated again and again that they were making a better cake.) Acknowledge their disappointment by saying something like, “You thought this was for you, didn’t you? Well, if it’s for you then there is one more thing we must do in The Parable of the Cake. If reading is like the cake, and the caramel is like studying, and the whipped topping is like pondering, and the candy bits like teaching and testifying of what you’ve learned, then eating the cake must be like applying what you’ve read into your own lives. The scriptures will never do you any good, no matter how much effort you put into them if you don’t get them down inside of you and let them make a difference in how you live your life.” Have the students make a personal goal of what they have read and learned to their own lives. To the chalkboard add Apply the scriptures to my life. The chalkboard should look like this:
The Parable of the Cake
1. Read the scriptures.
2. Study the scriptures.
3. Ponder, Pray, Write.
4. Teach and Testify.
And then . . . serve the cake.
(Note: I have had great success with this lesson and retention is very high. I have only had one time where this lesson was not as effective as I had hoped. The class was large [75+ people] and due to unforeseen circumstances class time was suddenly shortened from 50 minutes to less than 20. I tried to take the class through the steps [without them feeling rushed and still allowing for limited participation] and there was not sufficient time for sound understanding. In hindsight I would have just taught it as a lecture [not very effective] or just given them the cake without any explanation [what was I going to do with 75 pieces of cake at home?] and saved the lesson for another day. )
I’m grateful for good ideas. Thank you for posting yours.