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Reply to "COMPLETE LESSON SET: Joseph's Coat of Many Colors, from FUMC, Ann Arbor, MI"

a completed peace house

Joseph's Coat - Art Workshop

Summary of Lesson Activities:
Children will be woodworking!. They will create “peace houses” and talk about what makes for peace in families.

[Note: 4th – 6th graders visited this workshop. This lesson is great for a woodworking member of your church to work along side a "regular" workshop leader. The woodworker can help the children construct their houses while the workshop leader does everything else.]

Scripture Reference:
Genesis 37:1-36, 39:1-6b

Key Verse:
“We know that God is always at work for the good of everyone who loves him.” Romans 8:28a (CEV)

Leader Preparation:

  • Read the scripture for this lesson.
  • Read and reflect on the overview material provided for this lesson.
  • Gather the materials.

Supply List:

  • Easel; appropriate maker
  • One sheet of white drawing paper; a dark colored marker
  • A picture of an “in the dog house plaque” (do an online search for ideas)
  • Bibles; One purple Adventure Bible with tabs (Law, History, etc.)
  • Bible tab writing kit: tabs, fine-line Sharpie pen
  • Wood to create houses, pre-cut -- For each peace house: one base: 3/4" thick by 3.5 inches wide by 1.75 inches deep. (So cut pieces 1.75 inches from a "1 by 4"); One "roof" cut from wood that is 0.25 inches thick by 1 inch wide by 3.25 inches long; A second "roof" cut from the same dimensional wood by 3 inches long; One main portion of the house: cut from a 1 by 4, 5.5 inches tall. Make a "roof peak" on this piece of wood by making two cuts about 4 inches up.
  • Tools to construct: safety goggles, staple gun with staples, drill with 
    correct size of drill bit, screws, screw driver, hammer, constructed template to make assembly easier.
  • Small wooden hearts (several per student – one for every member of each students family)
  • Adhesive Velcro tabs
  • Colored Sharpie markers
  • Sticky labels (one per student)

Before Start of Class:

  • Create a jig to help the students assemble a house (see photo at end of lesson).
  • Write the key Bible verse on the easel.
  • Arrange needed supplies for the project.
  • On the piece of paper, draw a large peace symbol.

Lesson Plan

Opening- Welcome and Lesson Introduction:

Greet your students warmly, welcoming them to the Art Workshop. Introduce yourself and any other adults. Ask the Shepherd to take care of attendance/nametags while you start the lesson.

Do:  Show the peace symbol.

Ask: Who knows what this symbol means? (peace)
What makes for a peaceful situation? (getting along)
Do you ever have moments when there is not peace in your family?
Do you sometimes have conflict over who gets to use the computer 
or what gets watched on TV?
What does it feel like when there is conflict between friends or between family members?

Say: When there is conflict, things do not feel peaceful. Today we’ll be making something that reminds us about peace. Our Bible story today is about conflict in a family between Old Testament Joseph and his brothers. They needed peace in their family! Before we review our story let’s begin with prayer.

Ask for any prayer requests. Ask if anyone would like to lead the group in prayer. Use the Lord’s Prayer as the ending. [You may ask one or two students to lead the Lord’s Prayer.] A suggestion: “Dear God: Thank you for the stories in the Bible. It is always refreshing to read about situations that are sort of like what happens to us. Help us to see you at work in our lives. You are an awesome God! (End with the Lord’s Prayer). Amen.”

Dig- Main Content and Reflection:

Say: Let’s find our story in the Bible.
Ask: If I told you that it’s a story that Jesus learned as a child, where would we find it in the Bible? (OT)
Say: The Bible is like a library. There are 66 books in the Bible. Our story for today is in the book of Genesis. Genesis is the first book in the Old Testament.

Distribute Bibles. Have everyone find Genesis in the Bible.

Say: Besides being divided into two testaments, the 66 books in the Bible are further divided into collections. We say that the book of Genesis is part of a collection of Bible books called “Law.” Law books include the first five books of the Bible. If you have your own Bible with you today, be sure you receive a tab for the Law section of your Bible. [Show the classroom Bible with tabs. Have the Shepherd do a tab for students who bring their Bibles. Use the classroom Bible with tabs as an example.]
If this is a week early in the Rotation, proceed through the reading plan below. Towards the end of the Rotation, ask the students if they can tell you the story – hitting the points in the reading plan. Have them check their Bibles for accuracy.

The reading plan:
Say: In our story, Jacob is the father. He ends up having 12 sons and one daughter. Jacob (who was also called Israel) lived in the land of Canaan.

Read Genesis 37:3-4. [The point: Jacob’s favorite son was Joseph; Jacob gives Joseph a fancy coat.]

Read Genesis 37:5-8. [The point: Joseph had a dream that made his brother’s angry with him.]

Read Genesis 37:9-11. [The point point: Joseph had another dream that made his brothers madder and made his father wonder what it meant.]

Say: One day Jacob asked Joseph to check on his brothers who were grazing their sheep some distance away. So, Joseph went to find his brothers. His brothers saw him coming—it must have been because of his fancy coat. Let’s read about what the brother’s were planning.

Read Genesis 37:19-20. [The point: They plot to kill Joseph.]

Say: Reuben, the oldest brother, suggested not killing Joseph but just throwing him into a pit. Reuben was thinking that he would secretly rescue Jos
eph. So the brothers took Joseph’s coat and threw Joseph into a cistern (or a pit). Then the brothers calmly had some supper! And they saw some traders coming; these traders were on their way to Egypt.

Read Genesis 37:26-28. [The point: The brothers sold Joseph to the traders.]

Say: Joseph’s brothers killed a goat and dipped Joseph’s fancy coat in its blood. They took the coat to their father who recognized it as Joseph’s coat. Jacob was very sad for a long time.

Read Genesis 37:36. [The point: Joseph was sold in Egypt.]

Say: For the Word of God in scripture, for the Word of God among us, for the Word of God within us,
The class says: Thanks be to God!
Say: We say those words after we read in the Bible. We say that what we’ve read is the word of God and we are very thankful to have God’s words!

Preliminary Discussion:
Ask: Would you want Joseph for a brother? (allow a few responses)
Have you ever had the experience of someone that showed off something that you wished you had, or someone that made you feel inferior?
What is it called to feel unhappy because of another person’s possessions or advantage? (jealousy)

Say: Joseph’s brothers were very jealous of Joseph.
Ask: What about times when you’ve been jealous; what did you do about your feelings of jealousy?
Have people ever been jealous of you? How did you handle that?

Say: Jealousy can lead to problems. Joseph’s brothers didn’t like the way Joseph acted – showing off his coat and telling them about his dreams that made it sound like he was most important. They ended up selling him so that Joseph became a slave in Egypt! There wasn’t peace in his family. Even after Joseph had been sold.

Ask: What if someone could have told Jacob…what if someone could have whispered in his ear…and made him think twice about favoring just one of his sons with a special coat? (pause a moment for thought)

Or what if someone could have reminded the other brothers before they’d sold Joseph: (whisper this part) what will be the effect on Jacob of showing him Joseph’s coat covered in blood? (pause a moment for thought)
Do you suppose that the story could have been different if someone, or some thing could have pointed the family back to maintaining peace?

Start the art project:
Explain the concept of the term “in the dog house” and how someone causing trouble in a family could be thought of as “in the dog house.” Show the picture of an “in the dog house” plaque. Show how the dogs have names written on them and could be moved “into the dog house.”

Say: That sure gives everyone a visual of who is being bad!
Ask: What about thinking positive – about highlighting who is making peace?
Say: Today we will make “peace houses.” This can be a symbol of peace in your household, a reminder to work towards peace in your family by being the one who gets their name placed in the peace house.

Do:  Construct the peace houses with the class.

(Refer to more photos showing construction process at the end of this lesson. Click on a photo at the end of the lesson and use the arrow to scan through all of the photos.)

A group of completed Peace Houses.

Discussion: (while the kids are working, ask)

  • Ask: What are ways for keeping peace in your family? (allow all answers – suggestions: allowing everyone a chance to talk, listening to others, making an effort to share, holding a family meeting, etc.) 
  • Do you suppose that having a chance to be the one to go into the peace house might make you more aware of how you treat others?
  • Do you suppose at that some point in Joseph’s life – probably when his brother’s sold him – that Joseph wondered where God was? (accept all answers)
  • What about you, have you ever faced a rough situation in your life and wondered, where was God?
  • Did it seem like God was hidden?
  • Does it seem like God is absent when times are not peaceful in your life?
  • Do you suppose that having God as your friend means that nothing bad will ever happen to you?

Say: God’s promise is not to stop all our trouble. We unfortunately are still going to have some bad experiences. But God’s plan is to always be with us and to help us through those experiences. You may be surprised to know that God isn’t even mentioned in chapter 37 of Genesis – the chapter that tells our story!

  • Ask: What do we know about Jacob’s family to know that they thought about God?

Go over a family tree of the family – Abraham (“the father of God’s people) was the
really old guy without any kids whom God promised would have many descendants.
Then Abraham had a son named Isaac. Isaac and his wife Rebekah had twin sons
Esau & Jacob. That’s another family with conflict! Remember Jacob stealing his
brothers blessing? Jacob ended up having 12 sons and one daughter. It is likely that Jacob taught his family about God when he told stories about his grandfather Abraham.

the time line mural at FUMC Ann ArborIf time allows while students are working, ask the Shepherd to take small groups out to look for our Bible story in the Bible timeline mural. Remind them not to touch the artwork.

Why are we sending kids out to look at our timeline? We are mighty proud of our time line! It is a work of art! For pictures view the artist's web site.

Say: God was with Joseph. Let me read to you a bit more of the story from the Bible. Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. He’d been sold as a slave to a man named Potiphar. Do: Read Genesis 39:1-5.

Say: God’s activity in our lives may appear to be hidden to us, but God does have a plan for each of you. God is always with you, at work in your lives. Let’s look at our key Bible verse for this month. This is a good Bible verse to know by heart.

Do:  Refer to the easel with the key Bible verse. Ask students to say it with you: “We know that God is always at work for the good of everyone who loves him.” Romans 8:28a

Ask: Why would it be good to learn this Bible verse by heart?
Say: If you find yourself in a situation where you’d need to hear these words they are right there for you if you have them in your heart. Take your peace houses home and display them in a prominent place in your home. Hopefully everyone will have the chance to be in the peace house.

If you have extra time:
Do:  Create groups of 3 or 4 students. Ask each member of a group to recite a portion of the key Bible verse. For example, if there are 4 in a group, break up the verse as…

We know that God is always/   at work for the good/   of everyone who loves him./   Romans 8:28a

Have each group repeat their portion of the verse faster, louder, or softer.


  • A picture of “In the Dog House” plaque found at (link removed - no longer available.)
  • Design of the peace house by Sandy and Ron Hultquist.

A lesson written by Carol Hulbert from First United Methodist Church, Ann Arbor, MI.

If you use this material, even in a modified form, please include the following reference:
Hulbert, Carol. "Joseph’s Coat: Art Workshop." Jan. 2010. Place URL where lesson found inside angle brackets<>.

A representative of reformatted this post to improve readability.


Images (14)
  • A completed "peace house"
  • The jig for creating the houses
  • Peace house construction: applying the roof (one piece of roof is shorter than the other; it goes on the "short" side of the jig
  • Peace house construction: nail the roof down tight
  • Peace house construction: drilling the base to attach it to the house
  • Peace house construction: screwing on the base
  • Completed houses
  • Notice the hearts with velcro dots
  • Kids decorated their house
  • Our painted timeline mural
  • Peace house
  • Peace house measurements
  • Top side view of peace house
  • Front view of peace house
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