The Time is Ripe for New Land

Scripture: Numbers 13-14

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will learn how God provided fruitful land for the Israelites because he wanted what was best for them.
  • Students will learn how to choose good, ripe produce for eating.

Guiding Question: How can I choose which foods are best for eating by using my senses of touch, smell, and sight before tasting?


  • Select 2-4 types of fruit commonly found in your area: Choose an unripe, ripe, and overripe version of each fruit.
  • A chart to record observations of ripe, unripe and overripe fruit. This can be a grid chart that has fruit listed horizontally at the top with subcategorizes of ripe/unripe/overripe below each fruit. On the side list the senses vertically: sight, touch, taste, smell.
  • Pencils

Procedure: Review the story of the spies Moses sent out to check the land of Canaan. Emphasize how God would have chosen the best land to provide for the needs of his people. Ask students what the land would need to be like in order to support a community. It would need good vegetation and soil so that they could live off of it. The messengers brought back fruit such as grapes and good news of the land even though most were afraid of the civilizations living there.

When selecting good fruit for eating, you cannot just pick any fruit from a shrub or grocery shelf and expect it to taste good. You have to select the best, ripe fruit based on sight, smell and touch. Typically the softer a fruit is, the riper and sweeter it is. The firmer it is the less ripe and “greener,” sour or bitterer tasting it is.

Show students a ripe fruit (one that has distinctive unripe and overripe characteristics). Good examples are bananas, avocados, pomegranates, tomatoes, mangos, blueberries. Show students a banana and explain how to use each sense to test it. First, have the students look at it. A ripe banana is all yellow or may have some brown speckling. The browner it is, the sweeter. Have them feel it. Let them smell it. Compare and contrast the ripe banana to the green, firm, less fragrant banana. Compare and contrast this to the brown, mushy, very fragrant banana. Let them sample taste each and notice the differences in texture and sweetness.

Do the same with other fruits. Some unripe fruits are sour while others are bitter or greener. Record observations on the chart.

Note: Do not let students taste fruits that are harmful if ingested at the overripe or unripe stages. If in doubt, only let them taste the ripe version, but they can use their other senses to observe the rest.

You may also want to explain that some fruits can make others ripen faster. For example, a firm avocado may take a week or longer to ripen, but when it is placed with bananas it will ripen in 1-2 days. The more bananas, the faster it will ripen. Apples and bananas can also ripen each other.

Ask students to raise their hand if they refrigerate their apples. Ask students to raise their hand if they do not. Notice that some students do and others do not. Apples do not have to be refrigerated, but the ripening process is slowed down at colder temperatures. If you need produce to last, place it somewhere cold.

Additional Questions:

  • Which fruits looked the same visually at more than one stage of ripeness? What did you have to do to tell if it was ripe? (example: feel an avocado for firmness/mushiness)
  • What are common characteristics of unripe fruit?
  • What are common characteristics of ripe fruit?
  • What are common characteristics of overripe fruit?
  • Do all ripe fruits have the same characteristics? Consider differences. For instance which fruits are okay to eat when they have brown on them and which fruits should not have brown on them? Compare and contrast characteristics.
  • Why do stores sell unripe fruit? Is it okay?

Supplemental Activities:

  • Have students research recipes and create a plant-based meal or snack. Let them pick/ shop for the foods that are ripe for the recipe.
  • Have students experiment with unripe fruits by combining them with other fruits or using plastic and/or paper bags. What is the quickest way to ripen a certain type of fruit?

Written by: Savannah Negas