Summary of Lesson Activities:
Make “fiery tongue” puppets and do a group performance to reproduce how it might have felt to be there on the day of Pentecost. Lastly, participate in a news report to learn about the Holy Spirit. [Note: 4th – 6th graders visited this workshop.]
- Read the scripture for this lesson.
- Read and reflect on the overview material provided for this lesson.
- Gather the materials.
- Distribute Bibles around the seats. Set up the fan to blow on the students.
- Write the key Bible verse on the easel.
- Practice reading aloud the paraphrased Bible story (see lesson).
- NRSV Bibles
- Easel; appropriate marker
- Slips of paper (can be scratch paper); pens or pencils
- Popsicle sticks (preferably the wider type)
- Red material for flames cut into about 1 inch strips, 6 - 8 inches long (red streamers, red rip-stop nylon, or red tissue paper), 5 strips per student
- Staplers (with staples) that works on Popsicle sticks (or a glue gun with glue sticks)
- Puppets – any type of people puppets (one per student)
- A fan – preferably one that is loud!
- Script for news show (see attached) – five copies
- Scene clapper
- Pretend microphone
Greet your students warmly, welcoming them to the Puppet Workshop. Introduce yourself and any other adults.
[Note: The Shepherd will be quietly taking attendance/doing nametags while you start your lesson.]
Pass out slips of paper and pens and ask everyone to write their first and last name on a slip of paper. Collect these for later.
Ask: How many of you have ever seen wind?
Have you actually seen the wind or are you seeing the wind at work? (allow all answers)
Say: Our story today has an amazing thing happen with wind, and with flames.
Ask: Do you suppose that flames could be described as fiery tongues? (allow all answers)
Say: Today we are going to make “fiery tongue” puppets and use them to learn about the Holy Spirit and about a day when the Holy Spirit came to earth, in a dramatic way, a day called Pentecost.
Ask: Where in the Bible would we read about something that happened just after Jesus’ resurrection? (in the New Testament)
What are the first four books of the New Testament? (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John)
What do we call those first four books? (the Gospels)
Say: The word Gospel means “good news.” Today we will hear another story about the good news of God’s love and how that good news was spread to lots of people.
Distribute NRSV Bibles. Have everyone find the book of Acts, chapter two. Note that Acts is the first book after the Gospels.
Say: Acts is the only book of History in the New Testament. If you have your own Bible today, be sure you receive a tab for the History section in the New Testament of your Bible. The Old Testament has a section of History books, that’s where we found stories such as David and Goliath.
Say: Our story covers the entire chapter – chapter 2. Let’s review our story by looking at the headings.
Have everyone note the heading above chapter 2: “The Coming of the Holy Spirit.”
Say: The Holy Spirit comes upon the followers of Jesus. It is just 50 days after Jesus has risen.
Have someone read the next heading: “Peter Addresses the Crowd.”
Say: Peter explains to the crowd that gathers, what has happened – about the Holy Spirit.
Have someone read the next heading: “The First Converts.”
Say: Because of what has happened, the coming of the Holy Spirit, we say that this day is the start of the Christian church. In fact we call Pentecost the birthday of the church. Three thousand people became followers of Jesus on that day.
Have everyone find verse 2:38 and ask someone to read it aloud.
Refer to the easel…
Say: The Holy Spirit is a gift from God.
Ask: What is the Holy Spirit? (allow a few answers)
Say: The Holy Spirit is the third part of what we call the Trinity. There is only one God but three equal persons: Father (or Mother), Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. God is not divided into parts. All three are God. It is like water – water can be solid when it is ice, or a vapor, or a liquid, but all three are still water. As you think about that let’s make our puppets that we’ll need to tell our story.
Make “Fiery Tongue” Puppets:
Have someone read Acts 2:3.
Ask: How do you suppose that would have looked? (accept a few answers)
Say: Our story needs “fiery tongue” puppets.
Hand out one Popsicle stick and “fiery tongue” materials to each child. Ask the Shepherd to help them staple or glue the “tongues” onto a stick. [Don’t spend a lot of time doing this.]
As the puppets are made…
Ask: Can we see the Holy Spirit? (no, but we see the work of the Holy Spirit; remind them of the example of the wind)
What sort of work does the Holy Spirit do? (allow all answers)
Do you suppose that the Holy Spirit…
- Helps us realize that we need God in our lives? Shows us God’s love?
- Conveys to us a sense of Christ; that Christ is near?
- Is our friend; helps us to become friends with God and Jesus?
- Is a counselor, or a coach?
- Helps people do God’s work?
- Helps change our hearts, to make us more like Jesus?
- Comforts us and is always with us?
Say: The Holy Spirit is often called counselor, comforter and friend.
Explain how the puppet skit will work:
- Introduce a signal that means, “Stop what you are doing and listen.” (For example, two claps of the scene clapper).
- Everyone will operate a regular puppet on one hand as a disciple of Jesus, and wave a tongue puppet as the Holy Spirit with the other hand. Ask them to keep their tongue puppets “silent” for now.
- Demonstrate “whispery gibberish.” (Whispery is important so that things don’t get too loud!) Have everyone practice whispery gibberish. After a few seconds give your stopping signal.
- Pass out the slips of paper with student’s names on them. (If they receive their own name have them trade.) Ask the students to speak whispery gibberish and occasionally insert the name on the paper. Have them practice this. After 18 seconds give your stopping signal.
Say: You will see the point of the flame puppets and the whispery gibberish and the names as I tell you the story and you act it out. We won’t be on the stage; just stay seated for now.
Distribute a regular puppet to everyone. Remind them to treat these puppets gently.
Say: These puppets represent the followers of Jesus on the day of Pentecost.
Read the following; things for you to do are indicated in brackets .
On the day of Pentecost all of Jesus’ followers were together in one place. They were probably praying, as it was 9 o’clock in the morning and that was a time for morning prayer. [Encourage all to act as if praying] Suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind. [Turn on the fan] The sound filled the house where they were meeting. Then the followers of Jesus saw what looked like fiery tongues moving in all directions, and a tongue came and settled on each person there. [Encourage everyone to move their fiery tongue puppets and have the tongues rest upon their puppets] The Holy Spirit took control of everyone, and they began speaking whatever languages the Spirit let them speak. [Encourage all to speak gibberish with the names inserted]
[After 15 seconds, raise your voice to talk above the whispery gibberish]
Many religious Jews from every country in the world were visiting Jerusalem for the Pentecost festival. When they heard this noise, a crowd gathered. But they were surprised, because they were hearing everything in their own languages. They were excited and amazed, and said: “Don’t all these who are speaking come from Galilee?” (For people from Galilee couldn’t know these other languages.) “Why do we hear them speaking our very own languages and telling the wonderful things God has done?” Everyone was excited and confused. Some of them even kept asking each other, “What does all this mean?” Others made fun of the Lord’s followers and said, “They are all drunk.”
[Allow 15 seconds of acting…]
Give your stop signal. Turn off the fan.
- How did it feel during all of that noise and wind, to hear your name?
- Did it feel special? Powerful? Spiritual? (allow all answers)
- Do you suppose that you got a feel for the day of Pentecost – with a whir of different languages yet each foreign Jew being able to hear something in his/her own language (in this case a name) among all the noise?
Report the news:
Ask the children whether they ever watch TV news, or hear it on the radio.
Tell them they are going to help report the news on WFUMC by interviewing about what it was like to be witnesses of Pentecost. Divide the class in half - the first half will do the skit and the other half will be the audience. Rearrange chairs to face the stage. Allow a quick choice of costumes for the actors. Chose one actor to be the news announcer and the rest are interviewees. (Or you can be the news announcer.) If there aren’t enough interviewees they can play more than one role. Repeat the process for the second group.
Say: Let’s say our key Bible verse together: “And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 1:38b) Now I would like you to insert your name into that verse. So say it as “And you, will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Have everyone repeat the verse with his/her name inserted.
Say: This week, remind yourself that you can receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
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. Use the Lord’s Prayer as the ending. [You may ask one or two students to lead the Lord’s Prayer.] A suggestion: “Holy One, thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit, who teaches us the truth about God and Jesus and gives us peace and joy. (End with everyone joining in on the Lord’s Prayer.) Amen.”
If you have extra time:
Re-do the skit with the fiery tongue puppets.
- Some content based on previously posted lessons here at Rotation.org.
- Osborne, Rick and K. Christie Bowler. I Want to Know About the Holy Spirit. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998.
Notes about this workshop:
Becuase we have just 45 minutes, our workshop leader has elected to make the flame puppets ahead of time. This allows more time for discussion during and after the newscast.
Written by Carol Hulbert for First United Methodist Church
Ann Arbor, MI
Copyright 2009 First United Methodist Church, Ann Arbor, MI.
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If you use this material, even in a modified form, please include the following reference:
Hulbert, Carol. "Pentecost: Puppets/Drama Workshop." May 2009. Place URL where lesson found inside angle brackets<>.
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