I’ve been asked many questions about “Taking Root,” the ELCA Hunger curriculum. Perhaps the most common question is about using the materials with children younger than Grade 3. I think the materials do lend themselves to adaptation for younger learners. To use “Taking Root” with young children, this is what I recommend:

1) Focus on the children’s literature. Children are captivated by stories, especially good stories read well. Some of the discussion questions in the Grades 3 – 6 Leaders’ Guide will work for young children. Stay away from too many content questions, such as What was the man’s name? What did the child do? Instead, encourage children to think about the story with questions like, Why do you think the man did that? If you had been the child in the story, what would you have done?

2) Remember that young children are quite able. It is true that young children are not able to think abstractly about an abstract concept. They can, though, think about an abstract idea, like the justice of food distribution, if it is presented in a concrete way. Several activities in the curriculum including The Peanut Game, and Hunger Footprints would work for young children.

3) Emphasize activities and projects, including Neighbor Cookies, Junk Art Sculptures, Vases from the Recycling Bin, and Upside Down and Right Side Up Birdfeeders. These projects are very workable and enjoyable for young children.

4) Proclaim the focus Bible texts. Young children are just developing a concept of the Bible. It would be good for them to realize that the Bible has a concern for justice and also has much to say about hunger and poverty in our world.

Remember… curriculum is closer to a road map than a specific set of directions. Be creative and flexible!

Stacy Johnson, Ph.D., is an ELCA pastor and the author the new World Hunger curriculum, Taking Root: Hunger Causes, Hunger Hopes. She has agreed to post a couple of times on our blog to answer questions and provide suggestions.