Keep Away the Vermin

Scripture: Numbers 21

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will review how God provided a way for Israelites to survive the serpents by looking at the bronze snake.
  • Students will learn methods to prevent snake and other vermin.

Guiding Question: How can we prevent and eliminate harmful snakes and other vermin?

Materials: debris, boxes, pictures of poisonous and nonpoisonous snakes, trash can

Procedure: Review the story of the Bronze serpent focusing on how God provided a way for the Israelites to survive if bitten. Discuss the difference between harmful and non-harmful snakes. Explain how good snakes keep vermin away such as bugs and rats, but some can be poisonous. Keeping away vermin will keep away the snakes that want to eat them. Show students pictures of snakes that are both good and poisonous so students can practice identification. Explain that there are ways to prevent the presence of harmful vermin.
Set up an area with lots of debris, boxes, food packaging, leaves/sticks/vines, and other things that attract snakes and rodents. Provide a trashcan nearby. Have students identify the things that attract vermin. Show them how they make homes in the area. Then have students clean the area.
Then show students a variety of plants that naturally repel snakes. Rope off the area with hemp rope, , Tulbaghia Violacea (especially good for lice, fleas, and moles, snakes), plant wormwood (be forewarned: this is often considered a weed and is invasive of other plants), marigolds, clove and cinnamon sticks repel snakes, and garlic bulbs. Let students touch and smell the different plants.

Additional Questions:

  • When are snakes helpful to have around? When are they bad to have around?
  • How are rats and roaches harmful and what diseases do they carry?
  • Which repellents would be most useful for your home?

Supplemental Activity: Have students draw a two-column chart to contrast characteristics between poisonous and nonpoisonous snakes. Such attributes include:
Poisonous: elliptical pupil, pit below nostril, scales in single row beneath tail
Nonpoisonous: round pupil, no pit below nostril, double row of scales beneath tail