238 - Hoping and praying

 
 

15 minute Story planner

Reference 
Luke 1
The Children’s Bible in 365 Stories by Mary Batchelor, page 274

Notes
Messiah means ‘anointed with oil’ or ‘chosen one’. Jesus is the ‘chosen one’. Jesus was born in the land that had been called Israel; the land that God had promised to Abraham. Many armies had invaded the land but at the time when Jesus was born the Romans were in charge. The Romans were tough; they wanted the Jewish people to follow their rules and pay money to their leaders. It was difficult for the Jewish people to live under the rule of the Romans.

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

2. Starter question - 1 min  
Do you have an advent calendar at home? Does it feel like a really long wait until Christmas day?

Many, many years ago the Jewish people had a long wait too. They were waiting for the special person God had promised. Nobody knew exactly when the special person would come or what he would be like. The Jewish people thought he might be a soldier or a king like King David. ‘Will He be a warrior king?’ they thought ‘or a good and just king?’ They called the special person they were waiting for the Messiah.

3. Tell the story with props - 4 mins

  • ‘A warrior king!’ thought bubble (see Printables)

  • ‘A good king!’ thought bubble (see Printables)

  • A picture of a Roman soldier from a library book or the internet (beware of copyright regulations)

  • A Roman soldier dressing-up outfit - optional

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 - Take a look at an advent wreath
You will need: pictures of advent wreaths from the internet (beware of copyright regulations) and/or some unlit candles and green foliage.

Some children will be familiar with advent wreaths. Talk to the children about where they might have seen an advent wreath before. If you have one in your church ask the children to describe what it looks like. Briefly talk about the meaning of the advent wreath. Explain that the circle of the wreath reminds us that God’s love goes on forever; just like a circle God’s love does not have a beginning or an end. The red candles are for the four Sundays in Advent. The first Sunday is the nearest Sunday to 30th November. Each Sunday one of the candles will be lit. Usually somebody will say a prayer and read a passage from the Bible. If you light advent candles in your church try and find out the readings that will be used this advent.

Advent is about waiting and getting ready. It is about the past, the present and the future. The time of Advent reminds us that in the past people waited and waited for the Messiah; they longed for the day when the special person God had promised would come. Today the time of Advent helps us to think about our own preparations for Christmas. It helps us think about our friendship with Jesus and His importance in our lives today. Finally the time of Advent is a reminder that Christians all around the world believe that one day Jesus will come back to earth as the triumphant King.

The last candle of the wreath is lit on Christmas Day; it reminds us that Jesus is the Light of the world.


5. Reflective prayer - 2 mins

Father God we think about the story. We imagine the Jewish people waiting and waiting, year after year for the special person to arrive. We think about the questions they may have asked one another: ‘What will he look like?’ ‘Will he be strong and mighty or will he be gentle and kind?’ Father we thank you that we know that the special person is Jesus. Father, thank you for sending Jesus to live among people.

Father we love to hear about the Christmas story, we love to hear of the surprise, the joy and the excitement that surrounded the arrival of your Son. As we wait for Christmas Day this year help us to remember the waiting that took place thousands of years ago. As the excitement builds help us to think again about the wonderful joy that knowing you as our close friend brings. Amen.

With younger children, or during a shorter session you may wish to select just one or two phrases from the reflective prayer.



Alongside this story, make the craft...

 
 
Print Friendly and PDF

239 - The promise of a baby

 
 

15 minute Story planner

Reference 
Luke 1
The Children’s Bible in 365 Stories by Mary Batchelor, page 275

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

Notes
Before telling this story, introduce the characters: Zechariah and Elizabeth. Explain that when 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 his wife 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. But Zechariah and Elizabeth longed for something else too… they longed to have a baby of their own. You may need to explain that in our story today the Messiah is called ‘the promised King’ because many people thought He would be a king like King David.

2. Starter question - 1 min  
Have you ever had a sore throat which changed the sound of your voice? Perhaps you’ve tried to speak and only a croak or a whisper has come out. When somebody gets a bad cold or a sore throat they might find it difficult to speak for a couple of days… but imagine losing your voice for months and months and months.

3. Tell the story with props - 4 mins
Beware of allergies, make sure it is safe for the children in your group to handle the food used in this activity.

  • Cinnamon sticks*

  • ‘Don’t be frightened. God has heard your prayers.’ speech bubble (see Printables)

  • ‘How can I be certain?’ speech bubble (see Printables)

  • A pen and a piece of paper

    * The incense burnt by the priests in the Temple would be made up of many delicious-smelling spices; many people who study the Bible think that cinnamon was one of them.

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 - Something to draw
You will need: ‘what to draw’ textboxes (see Printables), a bowl, a timer, marker pens and large sheets of paper or white board.

Before the session print off and cut out the textboxes. Fold the textboxes at least once and place the folded paper in a bowl.

Divide your group into two teams. Ask one team to nominate an artist. The artist should pick a folded textbox from the bowl. Set the timer to one minutes and encourage the artist to draw the object or thing written on their paper. They must not speak or use actions. Meanwhile the other members of the team should try to guess what the artist is drawing. If the team guesses correctly before the one minute is up, the artist should pick a second textbox and start drawing a second object. After one minute, play must pass to the next team. After a couple of rounds, count how many times each team gave a correct answer. The team with the higher score is the winning team.


5. Reflective prayer - 2 mins

Father God, we think about Zechariah, so excited that he has been chosen to burn incense in the Temple.

Father we remember that at that time burning incense was an important part of drawing closer to you. Thank you that today we do not have to perform special duties or wait our turn; instead we can come boldly to you and know that you listen to our prayers.

Father we remember that Zechariah struggled to believe that what you said was true; Father God we pray that with the help of your Holy Spirit we learn and grow to trust you more and more each day. Amen



Alongside this story, make the craft...

 
 
Print Friendly and PDF

240 - journey to the hills

 
 

15 minute Story planner

Reference 
Luke 1
The Children’s Bible in 365 Stories by Mary Batchelor, page 276
For a printable version of today’s story see ‘Elizabeth and Mary’ in this week’s Printables.

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

2. Starter question - 1 min  
Do you ever enjoy sitting somewhere quiet? Perhaps a hushed, calm corner, where you can be on your own. What might you do in your quiet space? Think? Wonder? Talk to God?

3. Tell the story with props - 4 mins

  • A piece of tinsel to represent the angel’s wings

  • ‘You are going to have a baby boy…’ speech bubble (see Printables)

  • A doll and a blanket

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 - Christmas Charades
Tell the story using the props then talk to the children about how Zechariah had to write down what he wanted to tell the people. Ask the children if they think he may have mimed what he wanted to say too.

Play a game similar to ‘Charades’. Make it Christmassy by asking the children to pretend they have received a Christmas present then encourage them to mime to each other what it is they have been given.

If you would like to give the children prompts, cut out pictures from catalogues and stick them to individual index cards. Present each child with an index card and explain that this is the present they need to describe.

You could cut out some items that the children would think of as a silly gift for someone of their age such as a washing machine, or make it sensible and cut out age-appropriate items.


5. Reflective prayer - 2 mins

Father God we thank you for the times we have heard wonderful news. We imagine Elizabeth and Mary's great joy when they heard how special their babies would be. Father God, please help us to remember that we too have so much to thank you for and so much to look forward to.

We remember how pleased Elizabeth and Mary were to see each other; how much they enjoyed hearing each other's news; how excited they were for one another and how they both longed to see God at work. Thank you Father God for the friends we have, the friends we can share our happy times with. Father help us to be good friends too, help us to share the excitement and joy of those celebrating around us. Amen.

With younger children, or during a shorter session you may wish to select just one or two phrases from the reflective prayer.



Alongside this story, make the craft...

 
 
Print Friendly and PDF

241 - ‘Call him John!’

 
 

15 minute Story planner

Reference 
Luke 1
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

Notes
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...

 
 
Print Friendly and PDF

242 - Joseph

 
 

15 minute Story planner

Reference 
Matthew 1
The Children’s Bible in 365 Stories by Mary Batchelor, page 278

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

Notes
As a carpenter Joseph would have made tools for farming and utensils for the kitchen. He would also have built items of furniture, doors and beams for houses. Before reading the story you may wish to explain what a family tree is.

2. Starter question - 1 min  

Do you like to build or make things? Perhaps you know a game about building things, or you’ve made models out of Lego or clay?

Over two thousand years ago a man called Joseph lived in Nazareth. Every work day he worked hard in his workshop; cutting, sanding and nailing. Joseph was a carpenter; his job was to make things out of wood.

3. Tell the story with props - 4 mins

  • Some sand paper and a small piece of wood (a wooden brick would be suitable)

  • A picture of Rahab’s window (page 93 of The Children’s Bible in 365 Stories)

  • A picture of Ruth (page 123 of The Children’s Bible in 365 Stories)

  • A picture of King David (page 158 The Children’s Bible in 365 Stories)

  • An angel in a dream (see Printables)

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 - Story stocking
You will need: a Christmas stocking and ‘Story words’ (see Printables) cut into slips.

Tell the story then play the following game. Explain that you are going to call out a word. Ask the children to stand up. If the children think the word was in the story they should remain standing if they think it wasn’t they should sit down.

Read out the words on the slips of paper. Once the children have decided whether to sit or remain standing tell the children if they are correct. If the word was in the story place it in the stocking.


5. Reflective prayer - 2 mins

Father God we think about the story. We imagine Joseph working hard in his workshop... chopping, sawing, sanding.

We imagine Joseph's surprise when he heard that Mary was going to have a baby and then his great joy when the angel told him that the baby would be God's special Son. Father we remember Joseph's obedience and kindness as he cared for Mary while they waited for the Baby to arrive.

Father we remember that Joseph was an ordinary person. We remember that although the Christmas Story is an extraordinary story it's also about ordinary people who trusted you and longed to see you at work among them. Father we pray that we too will trust you and like Joseph long to see you at work in the lives of people around us bringing peace and great joy this Christmas time. Amen.

With younger children, or during a shorter session you may wish to select just one or two phrases from the reflective prayer.



Alongside this story, make the craft...

 
 
Print Friendly and PDF

A Christmas poem

 
 

15 minute Story planner

Reference 
This story is not in The Children's Bible in 365 Stories
For a printable version of today’s story see ‘A Christmas poem’ in this week’s Printables.

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 three

2. Tell the story with props - 4 mins

  • A map of Ireland

  • A poetry book

  • A plain piece of paper and an old fashioned pen

  • Cecil's poem (see Printables)

  • A pencil

Click on the images at the beginning of this post for more resources from the web


4. Story activity - 6 mins

Option 1 - Enjoy colouring in this week's Dead Sea Comic Caper (see Printables)

Option 2 - Introducing Cecil
You will need: A copy of the story (see Printables), a shawl and a bonnet if you have one.

Ask a helper to dress up as a Georgian/Victorian lady. Encourage the helper to sit in a chair in front of the children. Give the helper the printed copy of the story and explain that they are playing the part of Cecil in the story and will need to read the words in italics.

Either tell the story or ask an older child to read it aloud, but do not read the words in italics. As you tell the story make sure the children understand that you are referring to Cecil sitting in the chair.

You could tell this story as part of your nativity service. Encourage the children to dress up before the service. During the service tell the story using the idea above, then play ‘Once in Royal David’s City’ from a CD through a PA system while the children simply mime the nativity story. (This will need to be practised a few times before the service).


5. Reflective prayer - 2 mins

Father God we thank you for the many people that have told and re-told the Christmas story, passing it down from generation to generation so that more and more people can hear the wonderful news of Jesus birth.

Father we think about Cecil Alexander who wrote this poem wanting to teach children about your great love. Father, thank you that today we can still hear the excitement and wonder in the words she wrote. Father God please help us, as we sing this and other carols to think again of your great love and how truly wonderful it is that you sent your Son to live among people. Amen.



Alongside this story, make the craft...

 
 
Print Friendly and PDF

243 - Jesus is born

 
 

15 minute Story planner

Reference 
Luke 2
The Children’s Bible in 365 Stories by Mary Batchelor, page 279

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

Notes
Before telling this story, remind the children what had 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. God’s people were waiting for the Messiah – the special person God had promised to send. You might need to explain that in this story, instead of a stable the writer talks about a cave. This is because the stable we are used to hearing about in the Christmas story may well have been a rocky cave.

2. Starter question - 1 min  
Did you know that each Christmas thousands of trees are decorated, millions of cards are sent and expensive gifts are bought from crowded shops in every city? Isn’t it amazing that at Christmastime people spend hundreds of pounds celebrating an event that happened in a small town, in a simple stable tucked away from the crowds and busy streets? But although the stable was simple and the town small, the baby born in those poor surroundings was in fact the most important baby of all. The baby was Jesus. He was God’s Son Who had come to live among people.


3. Tell the story with props - 4 mins

  • A rolled-up piece of paper to represent the census

  • A picture of the Holy Land with Nazareth and Bethlehem clearly marked

  • A blanket

  • A handful of straw

  • A doll wrapped in a cloth

  • ‘We shall call him Jesus’ speech bubble (see Printables)

Click on the images at the beginning of this post for more resources from the web


4. Story activity - 6 mins

Option 1 - Enjoy colouring in this week's Dead Sea Comic Caper (see Printables)

Option 2 - ‘No room at the inn’
You will need a roll of wrapping paper or brown parcel paper. Try and use thick paper that won’t tear easily.

Divide the children into two teams. If you have a small group, work together as one team. Ask the children to remove their shoes for this game. Give each team a piece of wrapping paper approximately one meter in length. Make sure the pieces of paper are the same size. Explain to the children that the object of the game is to try and get as many members of their team to stand on the paper at the same time. When the groups are satisfied that as many people as possible are successfully standing on their paper, they should call out ‘no more room at the inn’. Count the number of children standing on the paper but deduct points if feet are touching the floor. For the next round make the pieces of paper smaller by folding over one edge of the paper by approximately ten centimetres. Encourage the children to now see how many people they can fit on their paper. When the group is successfully standing on the paper they should again call out ‘no more room at the inn’. Again count the number of children standing on the paper, deducting points for feet touching the floor. Keep folding the paper until only a strip remains. Add the points together to work out which team had the higher score.

5. Reflective prayer - 2 mins

Father as we prepare for our own festive celebrations we remember the first Christmas when Mary and Joseph searched for somewhere to spend the night. Father we imagine how thankful Mary was when she was offered the shelter of a stable. Father God help us to remember that although the stable in Bethlehem was simple and bare, that night it held the greatest treasure of all, your Son. Help us to remember that Jesus is the real reason for Christmas. Help us to remember that without him, our celebrations would be empty and bare. Thank you for your wonderful gift of love and forgiveness this Christmas. Amen



Alongside this story, make the craft...

 
 
Print Friendly and PDF

244 - The shepherds’ story (Bauble sheep)

 
 

15 minute Story planner

Reference 
Luke 2
The Children’s Bible in 365 Stories by Mary Batchelor, page 280

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 three

Notes
At the time when Jesus was born shepherds were very poor and often thought of as not important. In the summer months they slept outside taking it in turns to watch the sheep, keeping them safe from thieves and wild animals.

2. Starter question - 1 min  
Do you ever enjoy sitting somewhere quiet? Perhaps a hushed, calm corner, where you can be on your own. What might you do in your quiet space? Think? Wonder? Talk to God?

3. Tell the story with props - 4 mins

  • A toy sheep

  • A long piece of silver tinsel to represent the angel’s wings

  • ‘Don’t be frightened.’ speech bubble (see Printables)

  • A doll and a small blanket (a white pillow case would be appropriate)

Click on the images at the beginning of this post for more resources from the web


4. Story activity - 6 mins

Option 1 - Enjoy colouring in this week's Dead Sea Comic Caper (see Printables)

Option 2 - Sorting sheep
You will need: Plain sheep and spotty sheep pictures (see Printables), lively music (preferably Christmassy) and the means to play it.

Follow the instructions to prepare the sheep pictures. You will need around 25 completed pictures i.e. with a plain sheep on one side and a spotty sheep on the other.

Spread the pictures out on the floor in the middle of the room. Make sure you have the same number of spotty sheep as plain sheep facing upwards. Divide your group into two teams. Nominate one team to be the shepherds of the spotty sheep and the other to be the shepherds of the plain sheep. The shepherds need to run around turning the pictures over so that their sheep are uppermost. Try to discourage children from ‘guarding’ sheep and stopping opposing shepherds turning the pictures over by explaining that the children must keep moving.

Play the music while the children are running around. After one minute or so, stop the music and count the number of spotty sheep and the number of plain sheep facing uppermost. The shepherds with the most sheep uppermost are the winners.


5. Reflective prayer - 2 mins

Father God we think about the story. We imagine the shepherds surrounded by darkness on the hillside. We remember that at that time they were considered unimportant but you chose to share the wonderful news of Jesus' birth with them first. Thank you that you see everybody as important and special.

Father we think of the choir of angels singing of your greatness as they lit up the sky. We imagine the shepherds' fear as the darkness turned into brilliant light and their surprise as your shining angels told them the good news.

Father we picture the shepherds running into town, out of breath and not caring who they met, just desperate to see the special Baby. Father we think of Mary's great joy and surprise as the visitors gathered around the Baby Jesus. Father we thank you that today we can know the same joy and excitement as we discover more about Jesus and enjoy spending each day with him as our close friend. Amen.

With younger children, or during a shorter session you may wish to select just one or two phrases from the reflective prayer.



Alongside this story, make the craft...

 
 
Print Friendly and PDF

244 - The shepherds’ story (Popcorn sheep)

 
 

15 minute Story planner

Reference 
Luke 2
The Children’s Bible in 365 Stories by Mary Batchelor, page 280
For a printable version of today’s story see ‘The Shepherds’ in this week’s Printables.

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 three

Notes
At the time when Jesus was born shepherds were very poor and often thought of as not important. In the summer months they slept outside taking it in turns to watch the sheep, keeping them safe from thieves and wild animals.

2. Starter question - 1 min  
Do you like camping? Spending all day in the open air? Cooking on a camp fire and curling up in a sleeping bag at the end of the day?

3. Tell the story with props - 4 mins

  • Something small to do with camping such as a mallet or torch

  • A large piece of fabric to represent a cloak

  • ‘Innkeeper’ speech bubbles (see Printables)

  • A doll and a small blanket (a white pillowcase would be appropriate)

  • A long piece of silver tinsel to represent angel’s wings

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 - Meet the shepherd
You will need a tea towel and a tie.

A few days before the session ask a helper to investigate the life of a shepherd at the time of Jesus. A lot of information can be found online.

During the session ask the helper to dress up as a shepherd. They will need to place the tea towel on their head and secure it with a tie.

After you have told the story using the props listed above, encourage the children to ask the ‘shepherd’ questions about their lifestyle. You could ask some pre-planned questions too.

Spend some time discussing different questions with the children. Talk about the questions they might have asked the shepherds who visited Jesus. These could include questions such as ‘How did you feel when you saw an angel in the middle of the night?’ ‘Did you take a present for the Baby Jesus?’ ‘What did Mary say to you?’ Ask the children to discuss what they think the answers might have been.

5. Reflective prayer - 2 mins
Father God we think about the shepherds in the fields watching their sheep. We remember that at that time they were seen as unimportant and yet you wanted them to be among the first to hear the wonderful news of your Son's birth.

Father we think about the shepherds running to Bethlehem. We think about them looking at the tiny baby in the manger. We imagine them wondering what this special person would one day do.

Father we thank you that today, when we think about Jesus' birth we can think about all the wonderful things he has done, how he showed us your love, taught us how to live and made a way for each of us to be forgiven. Thank you Father that because of Jesus everybody, everywhere can say 'Yes' to your love and forgiveness and become close friends with you. Amen.

With younger children, or during a shorter session you may wish to select just one or two phrases from the reflective prayer.



Alongside this story, make the craft...

 
 
Print Friendly and PDF

245 - Where is the Prince?

 
 

15 minute Story planner

Reference 
Matthew 2
The Children’s Bible in 365 Stories by Mary Batchelor, page 282

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

Notes
Before telling this story, remind the children what had 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. God’s people were waiting for the Messiah – the special person God had promised to send. Explain that last week we heard the story of Jesus’ birth. Christians believe that Jesus is the Messiah. Jesus is the special person God’s people had been waiting for. He is God the Son. You might need to explain that in this story the Messiah is called the king because people believed He would be a king like King David. After telling the story, reassure the children that although King Herod wanted to capture the baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph took Him safely to Egypt.

2. Starter question - 1 min  
How many rooms do you think there are in Buckingham Palace? One hundred? two hundred? There are in fact 775 rooms in the Palace – 78 are bathrooms! Buckingham Palace is the Queen’s official home in London. Many years ago princes and princesses were born in the Palace – today they are born in hospitals but they are still sometimes christened in the Palace. Two thousand years ago, when the wise men heard that a new king had been born, it was not surprising that they headed straight for the royal palace. But the king who lived there was not at all pleased to see them.


3. Tell the story with props - 4 mins

  • A book about astronomy or images of star maps from the internet; be aware of copyright restrictions

  • Three decorative boxes to represent the wise men’s presents

  • ‘Go to Bethlehem and tell me where he is’ speech bubble (see Printables)

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 - Just in case!
You will need a small suitcase, a large bag of objects (see Printables for a list of suggested objects), answer sheets (see Printables), pens and a stop-watch.

Before the session print enough answer sheets for one per team.

Divide your group into two teams. Remind the children that the wise men packed their bags for a long journey. Explain that you are going to pack a suitcase too. One at a time take items out of the bag and place them in the suitcase. You will need to use about ten of the items. The children will need to watch carefully, trying to remember each individual item. When all the items are in the case, close the lid and start the stop-watch. In their groups the children should try and write down the names of the items you have placed in the case, writing their answers on the sheets. Stop the watch after one minute. Reveal the items you placed in the case. Award the children one point for every item they remembered. The team with more points is the winning team. Play the game again, this time with a different selection of objects. If you don’t have enough objects include some from the previous round.


5. Reflective prayer - 2 mins

Father God we thank you that you are the Creator God. When we think about the star you placed in the sky to lead the wise men to Jesus we marvel at your wonderful creation.

Father God we thank you for the example of the wise men, prepared to make the long journey in search of the Messiah. In the same way in which they longed to see Jesus, help us to want to know you more and more each day. Amen



Alongside this story, make the craft...

 
 
Print Friendly and PDF

245 & 246 - Where is the Prince? & Presents fit for a king ( A tinsel star)

 
 

15 minute Story planner

Reference 
Matthew 2:1-12
The Children’s Bible in 365 Stories by Mary Batchelor, page 282 - 283
For a printable version of today’s story see ‘Wise men and a star’ in this week’s Printables.

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 three

2. Starter question - 1 min  
What do ‘The Great Bear’, ‘Orion’ and ‘The Little Dog’ have in common? Many years ago when people looked up at the night sky they described the different groups of stars that they saw: ‘That group looks like a crab’, they said ‘and that one looks like a hunter’. They began to name the groups after animals and people. Among them were ‘The Great Bear’, ‘Orion’ and ‘The Little Dog’.

3. Tell the story with props - 4 mins

  • A children’s book on astronomy

  • A star-shaped Christmas decoration

  • Three presents

  • A crown

  • A long piece of silver tinsel to represent the angel’s wings

Click on the images at the beginning of this post for more resources from the web


4. Story activity - 6 mins

Option 1 - Enjoy colouring in this week's Dead Sea Comic Caper (see Printables)

Option 2 - A Christmas crossword
You will need: The ‘Crossword puzzle sheet’, the ‘Story with the missing words’ and the ‘Answer sheet’ (see Printables). If you have a large group copy the puzzle onto a whiteboard or large sheet of paper.

Read the story again, this time leaving out some of the words as indicated. Ask the children what the missing words are then write them one at a time on the puzzle sheet or on the whiteboard.

When the children have completed the puzzle, the word ‘worship’ should appear down the centre.

Use this time to talk briefly about the trouble the Wise Men went to, to worship Jesus. Even though the journey was very long and the gifts they brought were very expensive they packed up their things and travelled all the way to Jerusalem. The Wise Men did not stop until they were able to bow down and worship Jesus in the house in Bethlehem. Unlike the Wise Men we don’t have to travel 500 miles to spend time with Jesus. We can talk to God anytime, anywhere. Sometimes, however, there might be things that stop us spending time with him; perhaps it’s the busyness of our lives or sometimes we might just feel like doing something else. Wouldn’t it be great if, just like the Wise Men, we thought that spending time with God was so very, very important that we were willing to stop doing some of our stuff for a while to worship Him?


5. Reflective prayer - 2 mins

Father God, we think about the long journey made by the wise men as they searched for the new born King. We remember that they did not give up but pressed on until they found Mary, Joseph and Jesus.

Father we think about the expensive gifts given to Jesus. We remember that each gift had a special meaning. We remember that they not only spoke of Jesus' life but also of him making a way for everybody, everywhere to become close friends with you.

Father as we look ahead to the coming year, and we start to think again about the wonderful things Jesus did among people, help us to remember the wonder of the Christmas story, and the excitement and joy that surrounded Jesus’ birth. Amen.



Alongside this story, make the craft...

 
 
Print Friendly and PDF

245 & 246 - Where is the Prince? & Presents fit for a king (Star Calendar)

 
 

15 minute Story planner

Reference 
Matthew 2
The Children’s Bible in 365 Stories by Mary Batchelor, page 282 - 283

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 three

2. Starter question - 1 min  
What presents did you get for Christmas? Did you open your presents on Christmas morning or wait until after lunch? In some countries children open their presents on Christmas eve. Do you think that’s a good idea?

Did you know that one of the reasons we give presents to each other at Christmas is because over 2000 years ago the wise men brought gifts to Jesus. The other reason is that Christians believe that Jesus himself was a gift to the world – Jesus was a gift to all people everywhere.

The Bible teaches that Father God sent his Son, Jesus, to live with people here on Earth. Jesus came to show what God is like, to teach people how to live and make a way for everybody everywhere to become close friends with God. Because God sent his Son Jesus into the world people can now say ‘Yes’ to his love and forgiveness – Christians believe that’s the best gift of all!.

3. Tell the story with props - 4 mins

  • A doll and a small blanket (a white pillowcase would be appropriate)

  • ‘Kingly’ dressing up clothes (a selection of women’s scarves and jewellery would be suitable)

  • Pictures of camels from the internet (beware of copyright regulations)

  • Ornate jars or boxes to represent the three gifts

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 - What’s in the box?
Beware of allergies make sure it is safe for the children in your group to handle the food used in this activity.

You will need: a cardboard box (shoebox-sized or slightly larger would be ideal), a pillowcase, scissors, Christmas wrapping paper, sticky tape, strips of newspaper or packaging material, five or six objects such as a mobile phone, a hair brush, a cuddly toy, a slipper, a tin of beans, a chocolate orange or a satsuma (each object should be small enough to fit inside the box).

Before the session wrap the box in Christmas paper. Make sure you can still remove the lid or lift a flap to place items inside. Cut a hole in the side of the box large enough for a child to place their hand through. Fill the box with strips of paper or packaging material and then place one or more of the objects inside.

Explain to the children that they are going to take turns placing their hand inside the box to feel what is inside. After everybody has had a turn ask the children to suggest what they think the item is/items are. For older children place three items in the box. You may need to explain that this is not a lucky dip - the children do not get to keep what is inside. However if you include a chocolate orange or similar you could share it with the children after the session.

To swap the items during the session place the box inside the pillow case while you remove one item and replace it with another.

5. Reflective prayer - 2 mins
Father God we think about the story. We imagine the wise men preparing to set out on their long journey. We imagine them choosing presents for the King: gold, frankincense and myrrh. We remember that each of these gifts show just how special Jesus is.

Father we picture the star that the wise men followed. We remember that today many people have not yet heard your good news. Just as the star led the wise men to Jesus help us to be people who bring others closer to knowing you; help us to speak of the good news that through Jesus everybody, everywhere can become close friends with you.

Father we think about the shepherds and the wise men worshipping Jesus. We think about the rich gifts presented by the wise men. Thank you that you love to receive our gift of worship. Thank you that our worship can be a rich and wonderful gift for you. Amen.

With younger children, or during a shorter session you may wish to select just one or two phrases from the reflective prayer.



Alongside this story, make the craft...

 
 
Print Friendly and PDF

247 - Escape to Egypt

 
 

15 minute Story planner

Reference 
Matthew 2
The Children’s Bible in 365 Stories by Mary Batchelor, page 284
For a printable version of the story see ‘Carpentry in Nazareth’ in this week's Printables

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 four


2. Starter question - 1 min  

Do you think you could make a wooden table? If you ever needed to, you might follow instructions similar to these.

How to make a wooden table:
Step one: Cut four planks of wood to the right size and glue them together to make a table top. Step two: Make a wooden frame to go underneath the table top. Step three: Cut one table leg to the right size then roughly cut the other three. Step four: Clamp the legs together and cut them all to the same length. Step five: Smooth the legs with sandpaper then glue them to the table top and frame. Step six: Hammer nails through the frame to hold the legs in place. Step seven: Turn the table the right way up and make sure it doesn’t wobble!

3. Tell the story with props - 4 mins

  • A book about carpentry

  • A map of the Holy Land at the time of Jesus

  • Wooden spoons, one big and one little

  • Something made of wood such as a small chair or a little box

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 - Talk about carpentry
If you have somebody in your church who is good at carpentry ask them to bring in something that they have made to show the children. Make sure you comply with your church’s child protection policies and procedures when inviting a guest to speak to your group.

Tell the story using the props listed above then invite the guest to talk to the children about what they have brought with them and how it was constructed.

Option 3 - Wood work
Bring in three or four pieces of wood (balsa wood would be ideal) and a few pieces of sandpaper. Ask the children to see if they can change the shape of the wood by sanding it. Talk about the different tools a carpenter would use today.


5. Reflective prayer - 2 mins

Father God we think about the story. We think of Jesus’ family returning home to Nazareth, tired after their long journey.

We imagine Jesus growing up in the small town. We picture him working alongside Joseph in the workshop. We imagine him as a teenage boy carefully cutting wood, sanding it over and over again, then thoughtfully shaping it into fine furniture.

Father we thank you that Jesus knows what it is to live on earth. He understands our struggles. He knows the difficult tasks we face. Father we know that just as we laugh and cry, sleep eat, run, play and exercise - Jesus did all these things too time and time again.

Father we remember that as Jesus grew stronger and taller he also grew in wisdom. Father we pray that as we grow over the coming year, that we not only grow taller and stronger but we grow wiser too. Amen



Alongside this story, make the craft...

 
 
Print Friendly and PDF

247 - Escape to Egypt

 
 

15 minute Story planner

Reference 
Matthew 2
The Children’s Bible in 365 Stories by Mary Batchelor, page 284
For a printable version of the story see ‘Nazareth’ in this week's Printables

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 four

Notes
Remind the children of the story they heard last week. Talk about the wise men visiting Jesus in Bethlehem. Remind the children that jealous King Herod asked where Jesus and his family were living, but God warned the wise men in a dream not to return to King Herod.

Read today's story through first before telling it to the children. If using the Children's Bible you may wish to adapt the story for your group. You could miss out the phrase ‘in order to kill him’ from the second paragraph, then miss the section beginning ‘Now he would have to think...’ and ending with ‘what sadness and tears there were because of Herod's cruelty!’ Finally miss out the sentence ‘The ones who wanted to kill the child are dead’. Alternatively use the story in the Printables section.

2. Starter question - 1 min  
Do you like busy, noisy, cities bustling with people, or do you like quiet villages? Did you know that cities can have millions of people living in them? Some cities have rows of shops surrounded by hundreds of houses while villages may have only a few houses, a school, a shop and a church.

There is a big city in Israel called Nazareth. The city is full of noisy activity with thousands of people living there. But Nazareth hasn't always been busy. Two thousand years ago it was just a small town. Some people even described it as a village. It was around that time that a young lady called Mary and a young man called Joseph lived there.

3. Tell the story with props - 4 mins

  • Beware of allergies - make sure it is safe for the children in your group to handle the food used in this activity

  • Pictures of houses from the time of Jesus, possibly from a children's picture Bible

  • A piece of wood and some sandpaper

  • A jar of olives

  • A bag of flour and a bunch of grapes

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 - Picture presentation
Put together a short presentation of images downloaded from the internet; include pictures of Nazareth today, the hills that surround the city and pictures that show what the town may have looked like 2000 years ago. Add to the presentation pictures of olive trees and vines. Be aware of copyright; make sure you comply with regulations.


5. Reflective prayer - 2 mins

Father God we think about the story. We imagine Joseph taking his family on the long journey to Egypt. We imagine Mary holding the Baby Jesus close as they travelled along the bumpy roads. Father we remember that you kept each one of them safe. Father we pray for people today that have travelled far from their homes we pray that you watch over them and keep them safe too.

Father we think of the family returning home to Nazareth. We imagine Jesus growing up in the small town. We think of him being the age that we are today. Father we thank you that Jesus knows what it is to live on earth as a child... a teenager... and a young person.

Father we thank you that we can speak to you about every part of our life knowing that you are aware of how we feel and what it is like to be our age.

Father we remember that as Jesus grew stronger and taller he also grew in wisdom. Father we pray that as we grow over the coming year, that we not only grow taller and stronger but we grow wiser too. Amen.

With younger children, or during a shorter session you may wish to select just one or two phrases from the reflective prayer.



Alongside this story, make the craft...

 
 
Print Friendly and PDF