Noah's ark story for older children

(55 Posts)

For reasons too complicated to explain, I will be teaching the story of Noah's ark to Y5/6 next term. Obviously, I will have to approach it is a far more complex manner than the normal KS1 activities. Has anyone any ideas for an interesting take on the story at y6 level? I am particularly interested in RE ideas; I know that there are lots of great cross-curricular things to do with the story.

seeker Sun 07-Apr-13 21:41:10

Just tell them tht it's a Bible story. Why donyou need more than that?

WishIdbeenatigermum Sun 07-Apr-13 21:53:07

Spectacularly unhelpful, seeker hmm

seeker Sun 07-Apr-13 21:56:08

Why? I am assuming the OP isn't asking for suggestions about how to teach it as anything but a story?

WishIdbeenatigermum Sun 07-Apr-13 21:59:04

One of the stories in 10 and a half chapters by Juluan Barnes is about the ark- I can't remember the details, from a woodlouses pov.
Or examine the themes- the covenant and vengeance?

WishIdbeenatigermum Sun 07-Apr-13 22:00:29

As I said, not very helpful.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Sun 07-Apr-13 22:05:01

Obviously, I will have to approach it is a far more complex manner than the normal KS1 activities. Has anyone any ideas for an interesting take on the story at y6 level?

Sorry, I might have missed something here, but why does it have to be more complex? Read the story as it is, what different takes are there on it?

seeker Sun 07-Apr-13 22:20:40

I honestly, honestly don't understand. I don't understand what the OP wants, and I don't understand why you think I haven't been helpful

WishIdbeenatigermum Sun 07-Apr-13 22:32:07

Are you being obtruse or is this some anti religion stance? Anything from the Water Cycle to the Romans or Tudors could be taught to different ages. The subject matter is essentially the same, the method will be different. It's not a hard concept.

colditz Sun 07-Apr-13 22:33:40

Well, just teach it as it says in the bible. Either tell them it's the truth, if its a religious school, or tell them it's a story, but it really isn't complex either way.

You could introduce the subject of some of the flaws in the tale if taught as truth thugh, such as the normal diet of lions (zebras) and evolutionary bottlenecks. That could be interesting to year five and six.

I have obviously asked in the wrong place. I thought that people who weren't teachers might have an interesting angle which I, as a teacher, might be missing.

I had hoped that Jewish or Muslim mumsnetters might also contribute.

There are lots of different takes possible; at KS1, we sing songs about the animals going in two by two; at KS2 I had thought we could think about what the story tells about Noah's trust in God, about how different religions share stories, about the conflict or lack of it between evolution and religious belief, about how important it might or might not be that the story can be proved by archaeology ....

Colditz, I had been thinking along the lines of eating each other .... I had thought of starting the topic with a brainstorm of all the problems that could have occurred, to see if there were some really creative avenues.
I teach in a church school, incidentally, and will not be teaching the story as 'truth', rather as a story which some people believe is true.

WishIdbeen, I'll research Julian Barnes stories, thank you.

seeker Mon 08-Apr-13 07:19:34

I am neither being obtuse or anti religious. But I genuinely don't understand why something which is just a story should be so difficult to teach. There is presumably no suggestion that in a state school children would be taught that there is any possibility that it's anything but a story? Although the OP talking about the story being proved by archaeology is a little worrying..........

AuntieBrenda Mon 08-Apr-13 07:24:14

Seeker why exactly have you commented on this thread? The OP was only asking for interesting suggestions for teaching the story (might've had more luck in the Staffroom).
I've noticed more and more lately that Threads in this section are derailed by posters intent on beginning a 'god doesn't exist' debate or some type of argument. I have no particular religious leaning myself but I like to read about spirituality here. The derailing makes my uncomfortable.

OP - try reporting in THe Staffroom and good luck with your lessons

seeker Mon 08-Apr-13 07:29:27

I am puzzled that some people are so defensive. What is wrong with explaining why teaching this particular story is so difficult? I am also very concerned that a year 6 teacher - or any teacher at a state school for that matter- is suggesting that the Noah's Ark story can be proved by archaeology, and I am hoping to be told I have misunderstood her.

vicarlady Mon 08-Apr-13 07:36:05

OP perhaps encourage children to think of how the characters would have felt ? Some years ago I watched a production called African Mysteries - a production loosely based on medieval mystery plays. One of the memorable moments was the reaction of Noah's wife. In the end Noah and his sons carried her onto the ark - she had very plainly shown what she thought of the whole idea! Another angle might be to explore the whole story -myth - truth question. One interesting phrase - from the story-teller Joglaresa - 'story is truth with its clothes on'.

Seeker, I am not talking about the story being 'proved' by archaeology. I obviously didn't make myself clear. We might discuss the fact that some people believe that the story is proved by archaeology. RE lessons are not about indoctrination; they are about interesting discussions, developing critical thinking skills and philosophical questioning, as well as understanding, and showing respect for, the beliefs, customs and views of a range of believers.

Auntiebrenda, I always forget about The Staffroom, since it doesn't come up immediately on my list of topics. Thank you. (I am not sure about 'reporting' though - I always thought that the 'report' tab was to report a thread to MN for abuse. Must investigate.)

Vicarlady, Great ideas! This is what I was hoping for. I love the quote and need to research Joglaresa.

Gingerdodger Mon 08-Apr-13 08:39:02

What about examining the faith aspects of this? By this I mean getting the children to explore how they would feel and respond if they felt they were being called to behave in this way. Did they think God was speaking only to Noah or were others just not listening? Is the story fully as presented or is it there to demonstrate listening to God? I don't know the answers to any of these but the story always seems a representation of faith that has possibly been simplified to the black and white story we see in the Bible.

Not sure if this is appropriate for year 6 either but just some off the top of my head ideas.

sassytheFIRST Mon 08-Apr-13 08:41:32

Balloon debate but animals - which species should be last to be thrown overboard? Would work nicely as investigation into ecosystems and food chains etc e.g wasps important in degrading food waste etc.

stressedHEmum Mon 08-Apr-13 08:43:58

It might also be worth discussing what the children think would happen if the story were to be played out today - would Noah believe that God was speaking to him, would his family, what about other people? Kind of an Evan Almighty scenario.

What about using it a s a stepping stone for the whole "Just God" idea - would a fair and just God kill so many people...

The idea that the flood was limited to the area around the Black Sea could give some geography stuff. Also the fact that most major ancient cultures and religions have a similar sort of story is quite interesting.

There is a belief that before the flood, every living thing was vegetarian - God gives Noah permission to eat animals after the Flood and some branches of religion believe that this is when animals started eating each other as well. That might be worth exploring.

I think that I would quite like to link the story of Noah to modern day flood events in some way to show the kids how catastrophic flooding can be, perhaps link in to the situation in Bangladesh and what happened to New York during the hurricane.

How about looking at it from this angle: Gilgamesh and the Flood as an introduction to comparitive religion, history, geography and critical thinking?

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Mon 08-Apr-13 09:42:30

Purely out of interest, do you teach stories from Scientology in your RE classes?

Could you get the children to consider Noah's family - why they went along with him, what you'd think if your dad announced he was going to build a boat in the garden etc. How it would impact on your life - knowing that your firends wouldn't survive the flood if it came.

How about using clips from Evan Almighty? From an RE perspective there are those around images of God - I adore Morgan Freeman in the film and you could look at 'book the The Shack' for another image of God and maybe paintings on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel - all very different. How do our images of God colour how we perceive religion?

Or using Evan Almighty you could explore the cost of doing right and acting ethically. Evan faces strong oppostion to his venture. How do we make ethical decisions? Going back a stage - what are ethics? This could very easily link into all sorts of PSHE issues.

Or you could look at genre- is the story of Noah's ark (remembering that there are 2 held within the Biblical narrative) a news report or a myth or a folk tale or something else. How do we look for clues for the author's intent in the language used? How are stories told and retold for different cultural contexts - paintings of Noah, children's stories, wasn't there a song about unicorns not getting into the ark? Julian Barnes, Evan Almighty, I'm sure there are lots more.

Or there was a good Horizon programme a few years back on the evidence for a flood after the ice age which may have led to the various flood stories around the globe. How do major events such as a natural disater get remembered in songs and stories? The author(s) of the Biblical flood story were trying to make sense of their world and their sense that their God was different from the Gods of the surrounding nations and the flood and the rainbow get worked into the story. How do we make sense of major events today? In blogs, film, books, poetry etc.

MrsShrek3 Mon 08-Apr-13 10:47:44

A piece (operetta) called "Noyes Fludde" (Noah's flood) by Benjamin Britton would give you another angle on it - perhaps too cross curricular, but from the pov of different styles and types of depiction of the story would add a dimension. It is regularly performed, and a quite easy piece for high school aged children to play. I'm sure there will be lots of clips on youtube.

MrsShrek, the reason that I am doing this is that some of our school will be taking part in a production of Noyes Fludde!

Thegreenheart and all other inspried contributers, the minute the trio of squabblling children downstairs are occupied, I will be taking some notes of your ideas!

Pedro, no; no scientology, but not on principal. Just due to time and practicality. If a family joined our school who followed this set of beliefs, we would certainly make the children aware of them. We also don't look at Sikhism, Ba'hai, Shinto, etc. I am sure they are all very interesting, but we have no space in the curriculum. I think that one thing that I would like to do in my teaching is to open children's minds to the possiblity of different belief systems and for them later (or just out of school time) to read or hear about something interesting and want to find out more themselves.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Mon 08-Apr-13 15:06:25

LaBelle I get your point about space in the curriculum. One question I would ask though, and I'm picking on Scientology for its controversial nature here, do you think that teaching about Scientology would be accepted by the parents (even if there was child who followed it - as unlikely as that would be in a normal school) or do you think there would be a backlash at the teaching of such a controversial belief system?

Gingerdodger Mon 08-Apr-13 15:31:13

Based on some of the ideas here I would like to be in your Noah's Ark lesson - it sounds really interesting.

Pedro, I wouldn't teach it. I would say that some people believe it, but others believe this, or that .... If there were a family with those beliefs at school, I think the children would be aware of it. Yes, there would be a 'backlash'. If you read the number of hostile comments from MN parents about the teaching of Christianity in church ie Christian schools, you realise that there is a backlash about almost everything you do in school.

I am in the middle of a lively controversy about spelling tests - one family in my class is 'furious' that I am doing spelling tests, another is taking their child away because there aren't enough ..

AuntieBrenda Mon 08-Apr-13 19:03:13

OP - I made a typo earlier, I meant posting not reporting!
Been reading the thread and the Evan almighty clip idea sounds great

AuntieBrenda, glad I didn't report it then!

MrsShrek3 Mon 08-Apr-13 23:18:35

Belle, awesome grin

Oops, just spotted it - principle, not principal. Hope I won't get dragged onto an 'illiterate teacher' thread!

habbibu Tue 09-Apr-13 07:20:43

To me the interesting thing about the flood narratives is how people used them to try to make sense of disaster -huge, terrible flood cruelly taking hundreds of lives, and various religions find different ways of interpreting them. One of the things that's quite disturbing if you think about it, is how the story, and us as readers, almost oblivious to the suffering of those who didn't make it on to the ark. It gives an impression of a very cruel god, I think, and yet the story is one of the most popular - that, I think, is interesting in itself.

Yes, that is the bit that always bothers me. Although, as you say, it is probably a story written to make sense of a folk memory of disaster. Not sure that it is always that suitable for the youngest children for this reason.

seeker Tue 09-Apr-13 08:08:41

So, seriously, when a thoughtful 10 year old says to you- "but why did God do that to all the living things that he had made and loved?" What are you going to say?

WishIdbeenatigermum Tue 09-Apr-13 08:47:26

You really are a one trick pony aren't you seeker hmm

seeker Tue 09-Apr-13 08:48:09


seeker Tue 09-Apr-13 08:50:01

I think the OP needs to be prepared for the question. 4 year olds may not ask it- but 10 year olds certainly will.

LilyBolero Tue 09-Apr-13 08:53:39

Well, if I was teaching it to that age group I would;
read it in the bible
talk about the context within the bible - ie being in Genesis means it is bunched in with the creation stories - ie probably a story made up by early writers in order to 'make sense' of things they didn't understand
Look at other religions - esp Islam - to see if they have similar stories
look at depictions in culture - art/music etc
Look at Rudyard Kipling's Just So stories
Get them to write their own 'nature explained' story

Seeker, children much younger than 10 ask these questions frequently. We say that some people believe this, some believe that ... we talk about the fact that we don't know the answers to all the questions. I must admit, I have been doing some research about the story this morning, and none of the learned Christians who have written commentaries seem to address the waste of animal life, although they do say that all people apart from Noah were fallen and depraved. I think it might also link to how different religions see animals.

LilyB, the Just So stories is an angle I hadn't thought of - that's why I wanted to ask on MN. Such an interesting range of views.

habbibu Tue 09-Apr-13 19:01:13

I'd have to say "I don't know"! But then again I'm an atheist so I don't feel the need to justify any actions of any god. I think it's a really interesting subject to talk about, nonetheless, and would have liked a lot more of the "some people believe" stuff when I was in (catholic) school.

habbibu Tue 09-Apr-13 19:02:21

And yy to Gilgamesh. What other flood narratives are there?

habbibu Tue 09-Apr-13 19:05:50

But also the number of flood narratives in different cultures might cause - should, really - cause one to question why the version in their own religion is seen as true and others myth, esp as they follow similar patterns re hero surviving etc.

I agree; a really interesting question. I remember worrying about the same thing when I was that age.

seeker Tue 09-Apr-13 21:02:15

The only biblical explanation seems to be that god just lost his patience with man- what with all the sin, and Christian men marrying non Christian women and Sodom and Gomorrah and stuff. He decided to destroy everyone and start again. Then he thought about it, and decided to accept that man was basically evil and he'd have to get over it, which is why he promised never to do anything like that again. It's not a very edifying story from a Christian point of view- no real lesson. Except, i suppose, that Noah believed God even when his neighbours were mocking him. I've often wondered why it's rendered all cuddly for children. The animals, probably.

habbibu Tue 09-Apr-13 21:11:45

Well, not Christians at that point, seeker! I think the cuddly rendering may be because it is a pretty horrific story!

habbibu Tue 09-Apr-13 21:13:21

Apologies for excess exclamation marks...

HolofernesesHead Tue 09-Apr-13 21:58:26

It sounds very interesting! If I were teaching this, I might include...

Something on the two intertwined flood stories in Gen. 6 - 9 and a nod towards the development of the Hebrew Bible (i.e. what we have now is a patchwork of bits of stories, some written earlier than others, not in the order we have them in the books, not in chronological order either). I'd get the children to write their own stories in the same patchwork way.

Something on floods around the world now - link in with climate change.

Something on the symbol of the rainbow and how different groups have used it.

Something on the other flood stories - Penguin have a good little book called 'Myths from Mesopotamia' which has some flood stories in it, Gilgamesh being one of them.

I'd also teach them a little bit (only a little bit!) of Hebrew - children of this age find it fascinating as it's so different from English and if you only find out how to write a few words, it might just open up a whole new world to them - there are some good beginners' Hebrew online resources to look up / print out just a little bit. Or if you're in an area with a Jewish community, get someone who knows to come in and do some Hebrew, and talk about what the story means to them in their faith tradition.

Have fun with it!

HolofernesesHead Tue 09-Apr-13 21:59:58

Also (soryr for double post) something on the theme of the covenant and how that is understood by different faith traditions and 'secular' covenants that are made, e.g. marriage. If they're bright, the difference between a covenant and a contract.

seeker Tue 09-Apr-13 23:03:44

"Have fun with it!"


habbibu Tue 09-Apr-13 23:14:56

Ach, seeker, you can have fun/enjoy teaching something because it's interesting. I guess have fun is maybe an unfortunate turn of phrase, but I dont think it was meant in a tasteless way, do you?

OutragedFromLeeds Tue 09-Apr-13 23:17:30

I think the teachers that 'had fun' with the lesson were the best ones at school.

Who wants to sit and study the bible? Not me. Much better to look at it in different ways, from different angles.

HolofernesesHead Wed 10-Apr-13 06:57:31

Of course you can have fun with it! There are lots of genuinely interesting, engaging aspects which I would enjoy teaching. If I were a school teacher I'd see the nuanced handling of religious texts as quite an important part of my work, enabling children to move beyond the absolute truth / pack of lies dichotomy which seems to bedevil some approaches to the Bible. And dammit, we'd have fun along the way! smile

Mind you, I was the one who, when the health visitor asked our ante-natal group what aspect of parenting we were looking forward to most, replied 'having fun.' she wasn't impressed and gave me a mini lecture about the funlessness of parenting.

I fully intend to have great fun with it. And I really hope that many, if not all, of the children will too. There is nothing quite as exciting as actually using your brain and thinking and discovering your own views/a new way of seeing the world.

And now I am going back to my planning to add more ideas and details. I even have a bilingual Hebrew speaking child in that class!

HolofernesesHead Wed 10-Apr-13 14:43:15

Excellent! Bear in mind though that modern Hebrew is v. different to biblical Hebrew - one group of modern Hebrew-speaking teenagers I was with once couldn't understand much of the Hebrew Bible at all.

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