Summary of Lesson Activities:
Use handle-bag puppets to re-tell the story of Joseph and his brothers – how a special coat and strange dreams cause trouble in Joseph’s family. [Note: 1st – 3rd graders visited this workshop.]
Genesis 37:1-36, 39:1-6b
“We know that God is always at work for the good of everyone who loves him.” Romans 8:28a (CEV)
- Read the scripture for this lesson.
- Read and reflect on the overview material provided for this lesson.
- Gather the materials.
- Handle-bag puppets: 3 male puppets, one with colorful coat, and a “group” puppet representing the group of brothers
- The puppet stage
- Script - is not included with this posted lesson due to it being copyright material. (We adapted the story from The Word & Song Bible.)
- Scene clapper
- For 3rd grade and up: Bibles; One Adventure Bible with tabs (Law, History, etc.); Bible tab writing kit: tabs, fine-line Sharpie pen
- The Young Reader’s Bible
- The book: Disney’s Storybook Collection
- Easel; appropriate marker
- Video camera with cords to hook to TV
Before Start of Class:
- When 3rd grade visits: Distribute Bibles on the seats in the room.
- Write the key Bible verse on the easel.
- Arrange the puppet stage so it is on the stage in the room. Arrange a few chairs in front of the stage.
- Familiarize yourself in how to operate the video camera and how to hook it to the TV.
Opening- Welcome and Lesson Introduction:
Greet your students warmly, welcoming them to the Puppet Workshop. Introduce yourself and any other adults. [Note: Ask the Shepherd to take care of attendance/nametags while you start the lesson.]
Ask: How many of you remember the story of “The Lion King”?
Say: The young lion cub, Simba, would someday become king after his father, King Mufasa. Mufasa’s brother, Scar, wanted to be king and was not happy Simba would inherit the throne. He took Simba out in the wilderness to prevent him from becoming king.
Do: Show picture of Simba and Scar on page 245 in The Disney Storybook.
Say: Scar was jealous of Simba. When someone is jealous they are unhappy about what someone else has—like a special position such as king or special clothes like a colorful coat.
Ask: Do you remember the story of Cinderella? Why were her stepsisters so mean to her?
Do: Show Cinderella and her mean stepsisters on p 53 of The Disney Storybook.
Say: Everyone loved Cinderella because she was kind and sweet; her father especially loved her. Her stepsisters were jealous. They did not like the favoritism and made Cinderella work hard and wear old clothes. In our Bible story today we will see how jealousy put Joseph in a bad situation. The hardships he experienced were the beginning of a happy ending for Joseph and his family, which we’ll learn about in next month’s workshops.
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: “Dear God, We ask that you be help us learn today about Joseph and his brothers. May our time together show us that you are with us in difficult situations? Even when we don’t understand why bad things happen, give us the awareness that you are always with us and have a plan for us. We pray for those people and situations that were mentioned by our classmates this morning. We ask these things in your name and pray as Jesus taught us to pray saying Our Father, Who art in heaven… Amen.”
Dig- Main Content and Reflection:
Say: Our Bible story today is about the sons of Jacob, namely Joseph and his eleven brothers. This takes place before the birth of Jesus.
Ask: If we want to read something before Jesus was born, where would we find it – in the Old Testament or the New Testament of the Bible? (Old)
For 3rd grade and up:
Say: It is the first book of the Old Testament. Turn to Genesis in the Bible. Genesis is the not only the first book of the Bible, it is the beginning of the section called The Law or Pentateuch (pent ah took), which means “five books.” These books tell us about the creation of the world and the beginning of the nation of Israel. If you don’t have a tab for Law yet, the shepherd can prepare one for you to put at the front of your Bible.
Distribute Bibles. Have everyone find Genesis 37 and then Genesis 39 in the Bible.
Say: This is a long story – too long to read it all in class. Please read it this week at home. Now close your Bibles while I read you this story.
For 1st and 2nd graders:
For all students:
Show them the pictures from The Young Reader’s Bible “Sold! A Sneaky Deal” pg 56- 61. Read to them the story while showing them the pictures in the book.
[If it is later in the month ask the students to tell you the story. Fill in any missing details.]
Say: When we are done reading our Bible story we are going to say what is said in church after the scripture is read. Be ready to say “thanks be to God!”
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!
(Use a few of the following questions to see if students understood what they heard and are ready to act out the story using puppets. Re-show pictures if needed.)
- What happens first in the story? (Jacob favors Joseph with anew, fancy coat)
- Why did Joseph’s brothers feel the way they did? (They were jealous when Jacob showed that he liked Joseph more and gave him a nice, new colorful coat)
- What happened in the first dream? (Joseph dreamed his wheat shaft stood tall while the other shafts bowed down to his shaft)
- What did the brothers think about this dream? (They figured that this dream was about them; didn’t like the idea of bowing down to Joseph and their dislike for him grew)
- What did the brothers do to Joseph? (They put him in a pit and later sold him to traders)
- What did the brothers tell the father? (That Joseph had been killed by an animal; they showed him his torn, colorful coat with goat’s blood on it)
- What happened to Joseph after he was put in the pit? (Traders took him to Egypt where he became a slave)
Show the kids how the “bag” or body, slips off the rod or handle. Show them how you hold the rod with one hand. Now slip the handle through the top of the bag. Show them how one hand is on the handle and the other hand is in the far corner of the bag – it becomes the “hand” of the puppet. Demonstrate how the puppet can wave, cover their puppet mouth to cough, and pick up something.
Enact the story using puppets:
Assign parts or have students choose which puppet they want to be.
Scene 1: Narrator, Scene Clapper operator, Jacob, Joseph, Brothers (group puppet)
Scene 2: Narrator, Scene Clapper operator , Joseph, Rueben, Brothers (group puppet)
Ask the Shepherd to video tape the show.
For 1st and 2nd graders:
Have students listen carefully to what you are reading and act out what they hear.
For 3rd grade and up:
Pass out copies of the script. Run through the script. Repeat with different puppeteers.
(Assuming you recorded two versions of the puppet show, watch the first version and discuss the first two questions. Watch the second version and ask the second set of questions):
Ask: What happened in our story that led to Joseph being sold into slavery? (listen for the following answers: Joseph got a fancy coat, was his father’s favorite, had dreams of ruling over family, made his brothers jealous, Reuben prevented his death by having him thrown in dry well)
Ask: Was it apparent that God was with Joseph before he got to Egypt?
Say: Maybe not. Joseph was not liked by his brothers and treated meanly. Being in the dry well and traveling with the slave traders was probably hot, dirty and not comfortable. He was probably scared for his life. He took care of Joseph by sparing his life when the brothers threatened to kill him and put him in a position with the Pharaoh to help others when the time came. Sometimes God’s activity in our lives may be hidden. We may not always see it but he does have a plan for each of us.
Do: Watch second version of recorded puppet show.
Ask: Do you think Joseph felt that God was with him during this difficult time? (did he remember the dreams that God sent him that told him his family would bow down to him?
Ask: How can you remember that God is with you when you have difficult times? (Can you remember that God loves you? That you are a child of God? That God is always at work for the good of everyone who loves him?)
Say: Our key verse this month is (refer to the easel) “We know that God is always at work for the good of everyone who loves him.” Romans 8:28
Let’s practice saying the first part together “We know that God is always at work”
And now the last part “ for the good of everyone who loves him. Romans 8:28”
Ask: How do we know that God is at work for Joseph?
Why does the key verse tell us that Joseph’s story has a happy ending?
If you have extra time:
Allow the children to exchange roles in the puppet play and record another video for them to watch.
- Bruno, Bonnie and Carol Reinsma. The Young Reader’s Bible. Cincinnati, OH: Standard Publishing, 1998.
- Disney’s Storybook Collection. New York: Disney Press, 1998.
- Hunter, Kurt. Puppets, Kids, and Christian Education. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2001.
- The Word & Song Bible. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers,
First United Methodist Church
Ann Arbor, MI
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