15 minute Story planner
The Children’s Bible in 365 Stories by Mary Batchelor, page 276
1. Setting the scene - 2 mins
Find the New Testament section in a Bible.
Show and talk about 'The life of Jesus FlashCards' cards one to two
Before telling this story, remind the children what happened previously. Explain that the Old Testament times had drawn to a close and the Romans were in charge of the land God had promised to Abraham. Zechariah and Elizabeth lived in the hill country near Jerusalem. Zechariah was a priest and like many other Jewish people he and Elizabeth longed for God to send the Messiah. One day an angel announced to Zechariah that Elizabeth would have a baby. The Priest asked for a sign that it would really happen. From that day on Zechariah could not speak – to make himself understood he wrote down what he wanted to say on a writing tablet. At the end of the story, ask the children who the King was, for whom John would one day prepare the way.
2. Starter question - 1 min
What would you like to be when you’re a grown-up? A singer, an actor, a teacher, a footballer… ? It’s hard to think what job you might have, especially when there are so many different jobs to choose from. Did you know that John the Baptist always knew what he would one day do? How do you think he knew?
3. Tell the story with props - 4 mins
A doll wrapped in a cloth
‘His name is John.’ speech bubble (see Printables)
A dressing-up crown
Click on the images at the beginning of this post for more resources from the web
4. Story activity - 6 mins
Option 1 - Enjoy the puzzles in this week's Dead Sea Comic Caper (see Printables)
Option 2 - Name search
You will need: alphabet textboxes (see Printables)
Divide your group into two teams. Explain that the aim of the game is to turn over the correct letters to spell the word ‘John’. However the letters must be turned over one after the other and in the correct order. To play the game the first team should turn over a letter. If the letter is a ‘J’ they can turn over a second letter; if that is not a ‘J’ play must pass to the other team. Eventually when the teams become familiar with where all the letters are they will be able to find the correct letters to spell the word ‘John’. To play the game successfully the children will need to turn each card over so that everyone can see the letter, before turning it facedown in the same place.
Option 3 - ‘What’s his name Zechariah?’
Play a game similar to ‘What’s the time Mr Wolf?’ Ask for a volunteer to be Zechariah. Ask ‘Zechariah’ to stand at one end of your teaching space facing the wall. The remaining children should stand against the wall at the opposite end. The group of children should then call out ‘What’s his name Zechariah?’ at which point Zechariah should turn around and call out a boy’s name beginning with ‘J’. When Zechariah calls out a name other than ‘John’ the children must take one step forward. If Zechariah says ‘John’ the children should run back to their wall while ‘Zechariah’ tries to catch one of them. A child becomes ‘Zechariah’ if he or she is ‘tagged’ or manages to take sufficient steps to reach Zechariah on the other side of the room.
5. Reflective prayer - 2 mins
Father God, we thank you for your great plan to send Jesus to live among people.
As we think about the first Christmas, we remember that you included many people in the wonderful story of Jesus’ birth.
Father God, we think about Zechariah and Elizabeth, thrilled with the birth of their son. Father God we now know that their baby grew up to be John the Baptist. We know John played a special part in making things ready for your Son.
Father God help us to be like Zechariah and Elizabeth, excited about the wonderful things you have done for us, but ready to share your gifts with the people around us. Amen
Alongside this story, make the craft...