Moses: Bulrushes to the Burning Bush
Summary of Lesson Activities:
Use a variation of the ancient Jewish art form of micrography to create a burning bush scene. Focus on the burning bush portion of the Moses story and God’s call on our lives. (Micrography uses very small writing to create shapes and designs. Or, call it “Word Art."
Exodus 1:1 – 4:15
But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” And God said, “I will be with you.” Exodus 3:11-12a (NIV)
Workshop Objectives — After completing this Rotation, participants will be able to:
- Name that the story is found in the Old Testament.
- For 3rd grade and up: Locate the story in Exodus. Identify Exodus as a book of “Law.”
- Retell the story in his/her own words.
- Recognize God at work in the lives of story characters.
- Examine God’s presence intersecting in their life. Implement a watch to see where God is at work with plans for them.
- Discover that we don’t have to be perfect to do God’s work; God gives us the abilities we need and God is always with us.
- Read the scripture for this lesson.
- Read and reflect on the overview material provided for this lesson.
- Gather the materials
- Bibles (for 3rd grade and up); For 1st and 2nd grades: Young Reader’s Bible
- Classroom Adventure Bible with tabs (Law, History, etc.)
- Bible tab making kit – tabs & fine-line Sharpie marker
- Easel with paper, pencil, black marker
- Calligraphy paper (at least 1 sheet per student) – sand color is probably best choice
- Fine-tipped Sharpies, colored pencils, gel pens, regular pencils, white erasers
- Examples of micrography printed from Internet (see resource list at end of lesson)
- Magnifying glass
Before Start of Class:
- Take a look at the examples of micrography. Plan how you will demonstrate the process.
- Write the Key Bible Verse on the easel. (For younger students just use: "And God said, 'I will be with you.'”
Opening- Welcome and Lesson Introduction:
Greet your students warmly, welcoming them to the Art Workshop. Introduce yourself and any other adults.
Say: Let’s begin with prayer.
Ask for any prayer requests. Ask if anyone would like to lead the group in prayer. Be prepared to say a prayer yourself, working in prayer requests. A suggestion: “Amazing and Wonderful God, Thank you for gathering all of us here today to hear your word. Thank you for the Bible so we may learn about you. Guide us to be still, and hear your voice calling to us. Amen”
Dig- Main Content and Reflection:
Say: Today we are going to learn about a man named Moses who talked to God in an unusual way.
Ask: Thinking about Bible stories you have learned, what are ways God has spoken to people? (burning bush: Moses, dreams: Joseph (both OT & NT), angels: shepherds, etc)
How do you suppose you would feel if God spoke to you in one of these ways? (accept all answers)
Say: Today we will talk more about how God spoke to Moses and we’ll talk about God speaking to us.
Ask: Would the story of Moses be found in the Old Testament or the New Testament?
Say: This story took place around 3,500 years ago. It is a story Jesus would have learned when he was your age. We find this old, old story in the Old Testament. Even though it’s an old story it’s still important to us today.
For 1st and 2nd grade:
Say: We find our story in the second book of the Old Testament – the book of Exodus. Let’s review the story. Let me show you the pictures in this story Bible. You tell me what you know about the story of Moses. If this age group visits this workshop later in the rotation – chances are they’ve heard the story at least once.
Using The Young Reader’s Bible, show pages 74 to 85. As you show each picture, briefly review the story by asking questions like: o page 75 - What’s happening here? (review Moses’ birth, why hid, why basket)
- page 76-77 - Then what happened? (Moses saved, got to be with his mother)
- page 78 - What happened when Moses was older? (lived w/ Pharaoh’s daughter)
- page 80 - What’s happening here? (Moses’ people are slaves)
Say: Moses was raised as an Egyptian prince but he didn’t forget that he was Hebrew.
Ask: How do you suppose Moses felt about what was happing to his people?
Did he try to do something about it? (killed an Egyptian)
Did that do any good? (no, Moses had to run away to Midian)
What job did Moses do in Midian? (shepherd)
Say: Moses was a shepherd in Midian for forty years.
- page 81 - Ask: Then one day, what exciting event happened?
Tell me about what happened at the burning bush?
Allow students to tell you the burning bush part of the story.
If necessary, read pages 82-85 showing the pictures as you read.
For 3rd grade and up:
Ask: Which book in the Old Testament contains the story of Moses? (Exodus)
Who can name the first five books of the Old Testament?
Say: The first five books (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy) are called the “books of Law” because they are based on the commandments or laws God revealed to Moses.
Show the classroom Bible with tabs.
Say: If you have your own Bible today and you need tabs, we can work on that after we get started on our art project.
Have everyone find the Exodus 1:1. Tell everyone this is where the story begins.
Note: In this workshop we’ll focus on the burning bush portion of the story. Briefly review chapters 1 and 2 of Exodus by asking questions, filling in any portion of the story that’s not known. Use wording like:
Ask: What can you tell me about Moses’ birth? (placed in basket in Nile)
Who found Moses? (Pharaoh’s daughter)
Then what happened (adopted, raised in Pharaoh’s palace)
When Moses was older he left Egypt. Where did he go? (Midian desert)
Then what did he do? (was a shepherd)
Say: After living in the Midian desert for 40 years, one day something exciting happened. This is the part of the story we will focus on so let’s find Exodus chapter 3.
Have a student read Exodus 3:1-4.
Ask: At the burning bush, what was the first thing God asked Moses to do? → If necessary read (or ask a student to read) Exodus 3:5
Say: Moses was in the presence of God. When God said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob” Moses hid his face because he was afraid to look at God.
Ask: Why was God calling Moses? → If necessary read (or ask a student to read) Exodus 3:10
Say: God said he had seen the misery of his people in Egypt. He had heard their cries and was concerned about their suffering. God wanted Moses to go rescue them.
For all students:
Say: Let’s get started on our art project and we can talk more about the story as we work.
Introduce the art project:
Pass around the two examples: “Table & chairs” and the “hand.”
Say: I am passing around a couple examples that represent the type of art we are going to be making. Look carefully at the examples and tell me what you notice.
Ask: What do you notice about these examples? (drawings are made up of words)
Say: The shapes on the drawings are created using words. These drawings are based on an art form called micrography (pronounced mī-krog'ru-fē ). These pictures aren’t actually micrography because micrography, as its name would suggest, uses very small letters written out, to create a design. Micrography is a Jewish art form that has been practiced for over 1,000 years. Very small Hebrew letters were written out to create a design. I have an example of a “real” micrography, though it was done recently.
Pass around the “Crossing of the Red Sea” example.
Say: The words in this picture showing the crossing of the Red Sea are the text of the entire book of Exodus. Crossing the Red Sea is another adventure that Moses undertakes.
Allow everyone to see the Red Sea example. Offer a magnifying glass.
Say: Traditionally micrography is done in black and white but we can use colors. Let’s make a burning bush scene! You may wish to start your drawing by lightly sketching the outlines of a shape, or you may not need an outline to follow – you decide. (Note: See suggestions for younger students at the end of the lesson).
Ask: What words do you suppose we could use to create a micrography of the burning bush story?
Accept all suggestions – Older students could write Exodus chapter 3, or could write words that tell the story - “one day Moses saw a bush on fire but it wasn’t burning up,” or could repeat certain words or phrases – “God called Moses with a burning bush.” Younger students should be encouraged to write whatever they'd like, not worrying about spelling.
Say: Since most of us don’t know Hebrew, let’s make our words in ______ (fill in with your native language).
Using a black marker, demonstrate how to write along the shape of a bush. (You may wish to first demonstrate drawing a light outline of a bush with a pencil.) Write a phrase, curving along a branch of the “bush.” Create a ripple of sandy desert along the bottom of the page, writing: “Where we meet God is Holy ground.” (or just "Holy ground" for younger students.)
Say: I’m using a marker just so you can see what I’m doing. I would suggest you use pens or colored pencils to do your creation. I am also writing large but for your drawing, create the size lettering that you think is best.
Distribute supplies and help everyone get started. Then turn to discussion, directing the Shepherd to help students so that your focus is on discussion. Perhaps you can sit down and work on creating your own art! (But keep the discussion going!)
Discussion: (while the students are working)
Ask: Was Moses expecting to be called by God? (no)
Say: God’s call to Moses was unexpected and surprising – God calling from a burning bush that was not burning up!? Sometimes God gets our attention in unexpected and unusual ways.
Ask: Has God ever surprised you? (accept all answers)
Do you suppose God still calls people today?
Say: God is with us today, just as he was for Moses. He still speaks today!
Ask: What are some ways that God might speak to us today? (allow all answers; suggestions - the Bible, devotional books, worship, Sunday’s school, music, prayer, sermons, youth retreats, Communion, friends or family, conscience - the “still small voice within us."
Do: Share a time in your life when God gave you a message or got your attention.
Ask: How do we listen for God’s call in our lives? (accept all replies)
Discuss ways to listen for God: being quiet, contemplating nature, repeating a phrase such as “Come Holy Spirit, come.”
Say: We need to be open to chances when God may be trying to speak to us. Just as Moses made the decision to go and look at this bush that was on fire but wasn’t burning, we too need to pay attention. It can be difficult to tell when God is “calling” – even for adults!
Ask: How do you suppose you could set up a way to notice God at work in your life? (leave space to allow all answers)
Say: One way to notice God at work in our lives is to keep a list of things that we are thankful to God for; noticing just three a day will result in over one thousand in a year!
Ask: How did Moses respond to God’s call? Was he ready to run right down to Egypt?
Say: Moses was very reluctant to take on the job of freeing his people.
Ask: What excuses did Moses give to God – excuses why God shouldn’t pick him? (allow a few replies) Earlier in the Rotation older kids aren’t likely to know because this workshop didn’t read that portion of story.
Say: The first excuse that Moses gave God is in our key Bible verse for this Rotation.
Refer to the key Bible verse. Read it to the students.
Ask: Do you suppose you will always feel ready to accept the work God has for you? (allow a few replies)
Say: When God calls us to do something, he gives us the abilities we need to do his work. If God calls us to be peacemakers but we are afraid to standup to the bully, God will be with us – helping us figure out the words to say or the adult to talk to. Just as God was with Moses, God will help us with what we need!
If time allows: share info on the other excuses of Moses.
Say: Moses tried four different times to tell God that he couldn’t do the job. He didn’t feel adequate to speak to Pharaoh and to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. But God had a plan for Moses. God was going to make his plan work! God told Moses that he would be with Moses.
Remember to help any student who wants a “Law” tab for their Bible – or ask Shepherd to do this. If they want a whole set of tabs that’s fine. (Refer to classroom Bible as to how it’s done.)
Say: God called to Moses from a burning bush. Moses was sure that he couldn’t do what God was asking him to do. We have talked about God calling us today. When God calls we might also be unsure about whether we are up to God’s task. Our Key Bible verse for this Rotation reminds us that no matter what, God is with us. He will never leave us.
Refer to the key Bible verse. Have everyone say the verse.
Say: This week maybe you’ll face the difficult task; remember that you can talk to God like Moses did and God will be with you.
If you have extra time:
Have students add detail to their work. Have them share their work with the class, explaining a bit about their choices.
Modifications for younger students
Writing "small" requires good fine motor skills. Younger kids may not be able to write small. You may wish to not refer to the word "Micrography." Call it "word art." Don't require writing small. Give them stencils to use to draw a bush shape. (Create these ahead of time using an X-Acto knife and flattened cereal boxes.)
- Bruno, Bonnie and Carol Reinsma. The Young Reader’s Bible. Cincinnati, OH: Standard Publishing, 1998.
- G.R.E.A.T. Adventure Dream Team at State Street United Methodist Church, Bristol, VA. “Moses: From Bulrushes to Burning Bush! – Computer Workshop.” Rotation.org. 2003. Look for this lesson in this forum in the “COMPLETE LESSON SET… State Street UMC Bristol, VA.”
- Faith Quest Lesson Sets at Kirk of Kildaire Presbyterian Church. “Moses and the Burning Bush: Praising Puppets.” (Some discussion questions used.) Look for this lesson in this forum in the DRAMA or PUPPET Workshops…
- The Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary. “Micrography: The Hebrew Word as Art.” 2005. http://www.jtsa.edu/prebuilt/exhib/microg/index.shtml
- Table & chairs: (Moderator removed - link no longer worked). Suggestion: Do an internet search for "Images of Micrography" and you'll get lots to choose from.
- Hand: http://sangiev.deviantart.com/...y-214180489#/d194ivi
- Crossing of the Red Sea: http://levinejudaica.com/catal...117&products_id=1035
Note: Workshops we also used in this Rotation
- Video: View the Nest Entertainment animated video, Moses, to learn story details and story sequence from Moses’ birth to his burning bush experience. See this lesson posted in the Baby to the Burning Bush forum, under the VIDEO/A-V WORKSHOPS…
- Cooking: Create edible baby Moses baskets. We used the lessons from State Street UMC from Baby Moses-Burning Bush lesson set from. Look for it in the Baby to the Burning Bush forum, under "COMPLETE LESSON SET… State Street UMC Bristol, VA."
- Games: Focus on story events. Use the life-sized game board and a game die. Also from Baby Moses-Burning Bush lesson set from State Street UMC.
- Drama: from Kirk of Kildaire Presbyterian Church. “Moses and the Burning Bush: Apostle’s Playhouse.” Do a SEARCH for Kirk of Kildaire drama (without any quotes) in the Baby to the Burning Bush forum.
Visit Carol's blog – where we encourage parents to continue the learning at home.
(Conflict of Interest Disclosure: None, Carol does not make any money from her blog. Any ads you may see there are placed by Wordpress.)
A lesson written by Carol Hulbert from: First United Methodist Church
Ann Arbor, MI
Copyright 2011 First United Methodist Church, Ann Arbor, MI.
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Hulbert,Carol. Lesson set posted at rotation.org: Moses: Bulrushes to the Burning Bush – Art Lesson." 2011. Place URL where lesson found inside angle brackets<>.
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