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David Anointed King

Puppet Workshop

Summary of Lesson Activities:

During this puppet workshop, the students will hear and discuss the story of David's anointing from 1 Samuel 16. They will use puppetry to retell/interpret the story in their own words. In so doing, they will grow in their understanding of God’s call for everyone, even the least of us. If time permits, they will also explore David’s work as a Psalmist through a choral reading of a Psalm. 

Scripture Reference:

1 Samuel 16: 1-13

Memory Verse:

1 Samuel 16:7b (NIV)

Objectives for the rotation
(see listing above)

Additional objectives for the puppet workshop
At the end of the session, the students will

  • have an insight into the feelings of Samuel and David regarding the anointing of Jesse’s youngest son.
  • be familiar with David’s role as a Psalmist and one or two of his Psalms. [Optional] 

Teacher preparation in advance:

  • Read the scripture passages and lesson plan and attend the Bible Study, ....
  • Prepare a closing prayer.
  • Learn the memory verse.
  • Confer with the Shepherd on age level adjustments needed each week (those included in the lesson plan and your own). Consider the “Stretchers” you can use, especially with the youngest children.

Room set-up:

  • Puppet stage at one side.
  • Large clear area or chairs where children can sit for hearing the story and discusscion.

Supply List:

  • Bible times puppets
  • Puppet stage or long table covered with a tablecloth or piece of fabric
  • posterboard with memory verse
  • eight brothers’ descriptions in sealed envelopes (secretly mark David’s so you can tell which one it is – see lesson plan for details)
  • Narrator’s script
  • Optional: Copies of Psalm Choral Readings (if time permits), tape recorder and blank tape so the older students can record the Psalm Choral Reading for younger students to listen to.
  •  Memento: star stickers
  • Shepherd Time: copies of page with memory verse (sample included in lesson plan) and pencils or markers


Opening-Welcome and Introductions:
Greet the children and introduce yourself. Wear your name-tag. (Remember, you are interacting with a different group of students each week who may not know you.) Make sure the children are wearing name-tags.

We had an opening prayer during the gathering time, but you may open with prayer if you feel led to do so.

Discuss: Do you have brothers or sisters (or cousins)? Older or younger? How does the oldest treat the youngest? If you were playing a game and needed a team captain or leader, would you pick this youngest brother/sister/cousin? How would you react if someone else selected him/her to be the leader?
Today we will look at a Bible story where the youngest was unexpectedly picked for a big job.

Dig-Main Content and Reflection:

Scripture/Bible Story:
Introduce the story, briefly telling that Samuel was a prophet who shared God’s word with His people and that Saul was the king of Israel (the first king); God was not satisfied with the work Saul was doing.

Read the Scripture: 1 Samuel 16:1-13.
[Encourage the children to use their Bibles in looking up verses. For example, “The stories about David are in the books of Samuel (there are two). Samuel was the prophet who anointed David. 1 and 2 Samuel come after Ruth; her story was during the time of the Judges and so the book of Ruth follows the book of Judges, which follows Joshua, who followed Moses. And you remember the first five books of the Bible are the books of (written by) Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. – or you can use the table of contents!” We restate information about Bible organization in each workshop to be sensitive to visitors and new children in the class who may not have any knowledge of the Bible. We never want a child to feel like they do not belong because they do not know this information before they come to class.]

Review the characters: Samuel, God, Jesse, and Jesse's 8 sons: Eliab, Abinadab, Shammah ... David.

Review the setting: Bethlehem (and sheep pasturing hills around town). Talk about the place of shepherds in society (outside the city walls, dirty from working -- and sleeping -- out-of- doors).

Review/outline the highlights of the story. (Help students remember the story; try to prompt them rather than telling them the answers.) The key events they should remember are:

  1. God tells Samuel to stop grieving over Saul and to go to Bethlehem.
  2. Jesse and his sons arrive with other city leaders for the sacrifice to the Lord.
  3. Samuel looks over Jesse’s sons, but none is the right one.
  4. Samuel asks if there are any more sons; Jesse admits the youngest is with the sheep. They send for him.
  5. At last, the right boy! David is anointed, and the Spirit of the Lord is with him from that day. 

“Today we will recreate what may have happened when God sent Samuel to Bethlehem and when Samuel anointed David. There is not much dialog in the Scripture we read, so you will need to think about what Samuel, Jesse, David and his brothers said and thought.”

Warm up exercises. “Line up in height order. Which people in this class do you think would be the best basketball players? Why? How do those of you at the shorter end of the line feel about this assumption? Save those thoughts and ideas for when Samuel does not select the tall, dark and handsome brother. What might the big brothers have said when the little brother was selected? (Remember, there are no right or wrong answers.)”

Practice reciting the memory verse together. Have it on a poster or slip of paper for those who have not yet learned it.

Introduce the puppets, puppet care, and puppet skills (they are an investment and must be treated with respect):

  • Treat puppets gently; they are fragile.
  • Do not leave puppets lying on the floor where people can step on them.
  • Do not bite anything with the mouth of a talking-mouth puppet - that will break the cardboard stiffener. Make sure the children understand that there will be no warnings. If they “bite” something with their puppet, the puppet will be taken away from them (for the warm-up time or for the first performance). [BE FIRM AND CONSISTENT.]
  • Do not bang the puppets together. There should be no contact between puppets. Respect personal space. [Again, be firm on this one.]

Puppet technique review:

  • Do not turn your puppet’s back to the audience unless the story line requires it.
  • Exiting and entering the stage - do not pop the puppet straight up. It should move onto the stage as if it were climbing stairs, and exit by turning and going down the stairs.
  • Hold puppet high enough so that it can be seen, but not so high that your arm shows. (Depending on the stage and the height of the performers, a bench or chairs or stools may be necessary behind the stage.)
  • Only the puppet that is talking should be moving. Others should be listening politely (or behaving as appropriate in the story).
  • If you are using moving mouth puppets, review mouth manipulation techniques. Open the mouth for each syllable, and close the mouth when the puppet is not saying anything. The mouth does not always open all the way (whispers are partly open, yawns and shouts are full open). When the puppets are not talking, their mouths should be closed.
  • With mouth puppets, your extra hand moves one of the puppet’s hands.
  • Movement should be exaggerated so it can be interpreted by the audience. But the movement should not be so exaggerated so much that it detracts from the story.
  • Warm up/manipulation practice: play “Simon Says:” jump, shake and nod head, hug, cry, look happy or surprised, sleep, get sick, climb stairs, pray, run . . .
  • Special care is needed when introducing puppet activities to older children; they sometimes feel puppets are for babies. Consider inviting a Preschool or Kindergarten class to see the performance at the end of the session. (They will enjoy it, even if it is a rough performance -- particularly if they are studying the same story.)
  • Because this is not intended to be a polished performance, it is okay if the puppeteers’ heads show. We are more concerned with conveying the Bible story than having a “pretty” presentation.

Puppet warmup. All can participate at the same time; this is fun in front of a mirror so students can see how puppets look. If there are enough puppets, let each child have a puppet (any puppet) to practice manipulation. If there are not enough puppets, have everyone practice with “invisible puppets” (hand held like a puppet). Do this around the puppet stage/table. Demonstrate how to move the puppets. Have all the puppets jump, nod, shake their head, act happy, act sad, act afraid, act mad, pray, preach, look surprised, anoint, herd sheep, say ‘hello!’, etc. If desired, this can be done in a “Simon Says” game format.

Assign parts (Samuel, God, Jesse). Don’t assign sons’ names or designate one as David; instead give each son a sealed envelope; inside the envelope have a son’s name and a brief description. For example: “My name is Shammah and I am honest/shy/hardworking etc. I enjoy working with my hands and I am especially good at building. My favorite food is olives.” (See suggestions at the end of lesson plan.) Include a description of David in one envelope.

When selecting parts give each son an envelope but tell them not to open it until it is time to do that in the play. Make sure to give David’s envelope to one child even if all the son envelopes are not distributed.

Have the children create movement and dialog as the scripture/narration is read. (See the script that follows or create your own.) Encourage creative dialog. Remember, there are no right or wrong answers.

Encourage them to hold their puppets tall and to speak loudly and clearly, but remind them that this is not expected to be a polished performance. If the children’s heads are showing behind the puppet stage or table, that is okay.

If there are more children than puppets, some can watch while the others do the puppet show. (The audience is a very important job!) Then, reassign parts and do it again. (Let those who watched the first time have first choice on parts for the second performance. If more than one child wants a part, draw names.)

If time permits, do the puppet show several times, allowing the children to create different dialog each time. (Sons may be assigned rather than drawing envelopes.)

Pulling it all together (closing discussion):

  • Why do you think I didn’t assign Jesse’s sons specific parts but left it as a surprise? [accept answers] Good answers, one reason is to show how we don’t always know God’s plan in advance. We can’t control everything that happens to us. God’s plans for us may come suddenly or as a surprise. God chooses unlikely people to do His work.
  • Do you think Jesse and his sons knew why Samuel was looking them over?
  • Would it have made a difference in the story if they knew he was looking for a king?
  • Would it have made a difference in how they behaved?
  • I wonder what Samuel was thinking as he went down the row of sons and with each less likely choice, God said, “Nope, not him.”? All those good choices Samuel had, and none were right in God's eyes!
  • Think about this: I wonder what God could see that was special in a little boy like David? [do not take answers, just turn it over to the Shepherd now]

Review the memory verse.
Done in preparation for the puppet show. If time permits, ask for volunteers to say it alone, or practice more using the echo method. (Have the children echo the verse as you say it, phrase by phrase. After they seem familiar with it, have them say the entire verse in unison.)

At 11:45 a.m. ask the Shepherd to pass out the journal pages and pencils/markers. Suggestion: You may wish to give the children a star sticker to wear home as a reminder of the story.

Shepherd Time:
I wonder what God could see that was special in a little boy like David?

What does God see special in you? Make a list on a page with the memory verse (sample attached). (Or draw a self-portrait.)

This is meant to be a time of reflection and introspection. Writing about faith helps clarify lessons. In addition to the suggested activity, children may draw pictures relating to today’s scripture or memory verse, list highlights of the day’s activities, or rephrase the memory verse.

You may want to provide an extra activity or worksheet for children who finish their journaling quickly, such as coloring sheets, crossword puzzles, word searches, games. See the Teachers’ Background Notes and for ideas.

Before noon, ask the students to stop journaling for a moment and sit quietly for prayer so they can leave when their parents arrive. Allow them to finish journaling afterwards.

Close with one of David’s Psalms (such as Psalm 34: 1-10), or sing one of the many hymns based on Psalms such as “All People That on Earth Do Dwell.”
Older children can read it in unison.
Younger children can listen prayerfully as you read.

Tidy and Dismissal:

  • Ask children to help tidy the room. Give any specific instructions for clearing the workshop room.
  • Remind the children to take the journal pages when they leave. Make sure their names and the date are on them.
  • Give everyone the parent take-home flyer the first week of the rotation; give it only to children who were absent and have not yet received it the other weeks of the rotation.

Additional Suggestions:
You will need to decide how best to adjust the lesson for older and younger students. Keep the children active and involved in activity. Do what works for you and the children. Some ideas in addition to those in the lesson plan:

Older Children

  • Ask for volunteers to read the Scripture, one paragraph at a time.
  • Allow one of the students to read the narrator’s part and possibly do the side coaching.
  • Sometimes older children think that puppets are babyish. If time permits, consider inviting a preschool class to see their “performance” (warn their teacher that it will NOT be a polished performance).
  • Record the Psalm Choral Reading for younger children (not yet fluent readers) to listen to.
  • Additional Closing Discussion Question for older children: Reflect on two verses, 1 Samuel 16:13 b and Philippians 4:13. What do they have in common? Do you honestly feel like you can do all things with God's help? What can we do/where can we turn when we feel helpless? 1 Samuel 16:13b: “...and the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward.” Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, 4:13: “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (NRSV)

Younger Children

  • Ask if any volunteers want to help read the Scripture (one verse at a time). Teacher reads the rest of the story while the students follow along. Shepherds/other leaders in the class should help the students use the table of contents to find 1 Samuel and turn to the passage. For the youngest, have them find the passage and then close their Bibles and listen while you read.
  • Work on learning just the last sentence of the memory verse.
  • Listen to a tape recording of older students doing the Psalm Choral Reading.
  • The teacher reads each line/phrase of the Psalm 23 Choral Reading and the children echo it back.
  • Consider not using the envelopes with the brothers’ introductions. Let the children create their own introductions or just have the sons bow to Samuel as they are introduced.

Extra time:
If time permits/additional warm-up activity/early arrival activity/concluding activity: Talk about David the Psalmist: “The Book of Psalms is a book of hymns and prayers in the Bible. David is said to have written many of them. Remember that he is often shown playing a lyre to his sheep or to King Saul.” Then do a Choral Reading of one or two Psalms. Scripts for Psalm 8 and Psalm 23 are included.

Smaller group:
If there are less than eleven children in the class, assign the key named roles first: Samuel, David, God, Jesse. The remaining students can be the seven older brothers (some puppets can be introduced to Samuel several times with different names, or amend the script to say something like, “And so it was for seven brothers.


  • Catherine. Posting at Faith Quest Drama lesson plan link.
  • Crane, Amy. Writing Team David drama lesson plan at
  • Cohen, Barbara. David: A Biography. New York: Clarion Books, 1995. (Fills in details using Midrash, archaeology, history, psychology, Bible study, and so forth)
  • Eisler, Colin. David’s Songs: His Psalms and Their Story. New York: Dial, 1992.
  • Mark, Jan. God’s Story: How God Made Mankind. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Candlewick, 1998.
  • Williams, Michael E. The Storyteller’s Companion to the Bible: Judges - Kings. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1992.
  • For additional information on using puppets and drama to bring Bible stories to life, see Amy Crane’s Puppet and Drama Workshop Instructions in the Workshop Design and Teaching Resources section of the IDEA AND LESSON EXCHANGE:
  • Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®.Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
  • The Scripture quotations contained herein marked (NRSV) are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


David Anointed King

Narrator's Script - The Anointing of David (1 Samuel 16:1-13)
(Narrated by the Prophet Samuel)

Scripture taken from the Good News Bible in Today's English Version - Second Edition, Copyright ©1992 by American Bible Society. Used by Permission.
Adapted by Amy Crane. Copyright 2003 Amy Crane. Permission granted to freely distribute and use, provided the copyright message is included.

[Suggested actions and responses are in brackets. Pause in the narration and encourage the students to use their imagination to expand upon the little bit of detail in the Bible. Note that there should be a student portraying Samuel in the puppet show as well as someone reading as Samuel the narrator. “God” can be a voice from “off stage” or a student “on stage.”]

Good morning. My name is Samuel. I am a prophet and a priest, called by God to serve Him. I could tell you many stories -- about Saul, the first King of Israel; about his son Jonathan; about a giant named Goliath; and about a great king named David. I don’t have time to tell all the stories today, but I do want to tell you a story about David. Did you know that he was not always a great king? It all started like this ...

I was unhappy with the way Saul, chosen by the people of Israel to be their first king, was behaving. He was not following God’s way. One day, God talked to me about it.

[God -- either a puppet “on stage” or a disembodied voice from “off stage” -- tells Samuel to stop feeling bad about Saul and to go to Bethlehem and anoint one of Jesse’s sons. Samuel argues, then goes.]

So, I packed my bag and was off to Bethlehem for an anointing and a sacrifice to the Lord. The town leaders were a bit concerned when I showed up, but I told them it was a peaceful visit. Ever since I chopped up that villain King Agag, people have been a bit nervous around me! Everyone got cleaned up and gathered for the sacrifice, including Jesse and his seven sons. Such handsome young men!

[Jesse and his seven oldest sons arrive “on stage” and greet Samuel.]

Well, I could tell it wouldn't be a problem finding a king in that crowd of fine young men!

[One by one, Samuel goes up to each of Jesse’s sons and shakes his hand. The son introduces himself (using the description in the envelope). Samuel talks to God. God tells Samuel no, using the memory verse (I Samuel 16:7) each time. If there are any extra students in the audience, they can help God recite the memory verse. Sons react to being next in line and then being passed over. Jesse reacts to the whole scene.]

Well, I knew something was wrong. And I didn’t think it was the Lord. I had met all seven of Jesse’s sons, and not one of them was the one God wanted. There had to be another son.

[Samuel asks Jesse about additional sons. “Well, there is the youngest ....” Someone goes to fetch David, and explains to him what is going on -- as best he can. David returns with his brother and introduces himself using the introduction in the envelope.]

When the youngest son arrived, David was his name, I could see he was young. He had been tending the sheep and had been in the pasture for who knows how long, so he wasn't particularly clean. But I could see he was a handsome, healthy young man. How his eyes sparkled when he came into the room! And the Lord spoke to me again.

[God tells Samuel this is the right one. Samuel anoints David. Can we see the Spirit of the Lord taking control?]

Well, my job was done. I made the sacrifice to the Lord and returned to Ramah, alone. I could see the Spirit of the Lord was with David. David would be okay there in Bethlehem until it was time for him to serve the Lord and His people.

A Note about Creative Dramatics

Children/puppets act out the story using their own words. The teacher may prompt or ask questions to move the action along: “What do you think Samuel said to God when God told him to find a new king? Do you think he went happily?” “Then Samuel saw seven of Jesse’s sons and knew which one must be the right one.” “David, how do you feel after being anointed?” (This is called “side coaching.

These are informal productions. Props and scenery elements mentioned in the story will not be used. Encourage the students to use their imaginations and think of ways to help the audience to see these things.

If more than one person volunteers for a part, let the others know that if everyone cooperates, there will be time to do it more than once. Try to remember who was promised a part for the second run-through. Or draw names, or reward students who were sitting attentively by selecting them for choice parts (and let the others know why you selected the polite listeners).

Everyone must participate in some way. Not everyone has “lines” to speak: David’s brothers do not have to say anything (but some may want to speak). The audience is an important part, too, both for interaction and reaction during the performance and feedback afterwards.

Review with the children where on stage each scene takes place. For example, show them where Jesse’s house is and where David’s sheep field is.

Encourage the students to think about why a character did or said something.

The action should follow the Bible story, but everyone should use his own words.

Psalm Choral Readings
Adapted by Amy Crane

Psalm 8

Scripture adapted from the Good News Bible in Today's English Version - Second Edition, Copyright (c) 1992 by American Bible Society. Used by Permission.

Parts: All; Boys; Girls; Teachers; Voice 1; Voice 2

All: O Lord, our Lord,

Boys: Your greatness is seen in all the world!

Girls: Your praise reaches up to the heavens;

Boys: it is sung by children

Girls: and babies.

Voice 1: You are safe and secure from all your enemies;

Voice 2: you stop anyone who opposes you.

All: When we look at the sky, which you have made,

Girls: at the moon

Boys: and the stars,

All: which you set in their places –

Boys: what is man, that you think of him;

Girls: what is woman, that you think of her;

All: what are human beings, that you think of them;

Teachers: mere mortals, that you care for them?

Boys: Yet you made them --

Girls: us
All: Yet you made us inferior only to yourself; you crowned us with glory and honor.

Girls: You appointed us ruler over everything you made;

Boys: you placed us over all creation:

Teachers: sheep

Girls: baaaaa

Teachers: and cattle

Boys: mooo

Teachers: and the wild animals too;

Girls: the birds

Boys: and the fish

Teachers: and the creatures in the seas.

All: O Lord, our Lord, Your greatness is seen in all the world! Amen!

Psalm 23

Scripture quotations taken from/adapted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright (c) 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Parts: Divide the class into two parts - indicated here as left and right.

Left: The Lord is my shepherd,

Right: I shall not want.

Left: He makes me lie down in green pastures;

Right: he leads me beside still waters;

All: he restores my soul.

Right: He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake.

Left: Even though I walk through the darkest valley,

All: I fear no evil;

Right: I fear no evil;

Left: I fear no evil;

Right: for you are with me;

Left: your rod and your staff –

Right: they comfort me.

Left: You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;

Right: you anoint my head with oil;

Left: my cup overflows.

Right: my cup overflows.

All: my cup overflows!

Left: Surely

Right: Surely

Left: Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me

Right: all the days of my life,

Left: and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.

Right: and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.

All: and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long!

A Note about Choral Reading

  • Choral reading is similar to Readers’ Theater. Groups and individuals read from a script. Choral readings are usually less plot directed than Readers’ Theater; for example, poetry and catechism work well. A choral reading is almost musical in its weaving of voices.
  • Readers should read clearly with plenty of expression.
  • Review the script and decide which parts should be loud, slow, fast, quiet, excited, sad, and so forth. Experiment and have fun! 


Descriptions of David’s Brothers
[from Catherine. Posting at Faith Quest Drama link

Eliab: I am the oldest son of Jesse. I have always been the boss and when I get older I will inherit all my father’s land. I’m good at math and I especially like counting money. Oh, did I mention that I am considered very handsome?!

Abinadab: I’m the second oldest. I’m also quite good looking but I’m jealous of my brother because he gets all the attention and land because he is the oldest.

Shammah: I’m the third oldest. I’m kind of shy. I like to read a lot, I’m good at drawing and I love animals. My favorite food is olives. I love to go to church to worship with my family.

David: I’m the youngest of eight boys. My chore is taking care of the sheep each day. I try to do a good job for my father because he has given me a big responsibility. I hope he is proud of me. When I take care of the sheep at night I like to look at the stars and write poetry.

________ (Son #4): I’m right in the middle. To get attention I like to pick on my little brothers and fight with my older brothers. I am really very smart but sort of lazy. My favorite food is pita bread with honey.

_________ (Son #5): I love to work as a messenger because I enjoy running to bring messages to different people. I don’t like sitting still. My favorite food is dates. I keep a handful in my pocket for quick energy.

__________ (Son #6): I am studying to be a carpenter because I enjoy building and using my hands. I’m glad I don’t have David’s job taking care of the sheep. I used to have to watch the sheep before David was old enough to do it. Shepherd is the worst job! But I love David; he is a great kid.

________ (Son #7): No one ever pays attention to me because I’m not the youngest but I’m not near of the big kids, either. I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. Maybe a farmer.

Note: if the children wish, they may give names to the unnamed sons.


This lesson was written by Amy Crane for River Community Church in Prairieville, Louisiana. 

Copyright 2004 Amy Crane. Permission granted to freely distribute and use, provided the copyright message is included.

 A representative of reformatted this post to improve readability.


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