Reply to "DRAMA, STORYTELLING, and/or MUSIC Workshop Lessons and Ideas for Jesus in the Temple"

Young Jesus

Background comments:

This rotation introduces the students to Jesus as a child like them. Recently we’ve learned that Jesus was a special baby, announced by thousands of angels. We’ve learned that He was a special toddler, visited by Wise Men from the east. Now we’ll learn about Jesus as a child. We don’t know much about his childhood from the Bible, but we know that not only was Jesus fully God and fully human, but he was also fully a KID!!

More importantly, we'll teach the idea of Jesus making his religious education a PRIORITY. That's what the story of Jesus in the Temple teaches. He was about his father's business, and perhaps that is the ONLY excuse a child can ever use to disobey their parent. Plenty to discuss there.

We'll also learn about Jesus through his brother's eyes. James "the Just" was not an early follower of Jesus, and there's plenty of grist for the mill there! Why? How did he come to believe in Jesus? It seems he became a follower after the Resurrection.

Storytelling at James' House

Summary of Lesson Activities:

Uses a script to tell the story.


Scripture Focus:

Luke 2:41-52

Memory Verse:

Luke 2:52

Lesson Objectives for childhood of Jesus rotation:

  • Introduce Jesus as a child
  • · Learn about daily life in Jesus’ time
  • Christian life is everyday, all day
  • Learn what church, school, food, chores, clothes, etc. were like in Jesus’ time


Teacher preparation in advance:

  • Read story, learn verse
  • Read and study provided resources about what life was like in Jesus’ time
  • Choose some simple foods that Jesus would have eaten, some that we still eat, others that we consider more exotic!

Supply list:

  • Wood working materials
  • Samples of foods

Zola's lesson was a sugggestion. Neil has added the following storytelling presentation details.




Opening-Welcome and Lesson Introduction:

Greet the children and introduce yourself.


Open with a prayer.


Dig-Main Content and Reflection:

James welcomes your students and talks them about his brother.

In this 'storytelling' workshop, your kids will be invited into JAMES' house to meet James, Jesus' brother. Who better to tell the story of what Jesus was like in his younger years! Interestingly, James was not an early follower of Jesus. Indeed, it seems he didn't become a believer until the Resurrection! I think this opens up all sorts of interesting storytelling possibilities....James not realizing who his brother was. James being told by Mary and Joseph about the angel, but not wanting to believe it. Why? Because Jesus was his brother!


James' House

In a traditional 'one week' Sunday school lesson on this story MOST churches would never devote this much effort to constructing James' house. But we in the Workshop Rotation Model BELIEVE in creative spaces, and because we will rotate different grades through that space each week, we can 'afford' the extra effort because we don't have to tear it down next week.

1. Design your workshop space to look like the house of James in Nazareth. You can hang large brown paper "painters" drop cloths to help create the room. Paint a window shutter and some wall lamps/hangings and extra furniture (you're building a set, -an imaginary room).

For this workshop, you may want to pick a very small room so as to be able to cover the walls with the paper and paint the scene. If you have a larger room, you can still hang the brown paper from frames, or other dividers. Go big and be creative!

2. His father was a carpenter, so consider some simple wooden tables, and some saws and tools laying around (they don't have to be authentic, the kids will play along). Have a rug to unroll as part of James' "patter" ...because guest shouldn't have to sit on the floor.

3. You'll need a water basin and towel for washing feet. As James honors your students with this ritual, he will explain it, and remember the night Jesus did that same. The pouring of the water can also be a way for James to remember the time Jesus was baptized. James wasn't there but perhaps later he was baptised.

4. At a point in the story, provide some grapes, dates, figs, and bread for your guests. These too can give James something to talk Jesus would eat with anybody, and how the authorities would react to that.

5. Have a floor game that "Jesus might have played", and think about other games that Jesus and James might have played together. James can ask the kids what games they play, and when they say "video", he can pretend not to understand.

6. Have a handdrawn map of Israel (as if it belong to James) marking the cities and road. Put some "X's" where Jesus and James had been. James will talk about all the places they went as children nearby Nazareth. The time their dad took them to see the Sea of Galilee!

Discuss what biblical places Jesus would have been able to see from the hilltops: Mt Carmel where Elijah fought th prophets of Baal, Mt Gilboa where Saul and Jonathan were killed. And Jesus could have seen snow on top of Mt Hermon to the north! All these things will help the kids imagine Jesus' life as a boy.

At the end of James' presentation, James will discuss being a leader in the early church, telling others about his brother. With older classes, at the end he will remove his cloak, and the teacher will tell the children that James was killed in Jerusalem because he would not renounce his faith.

The following link is to an excellent article about James the Just:


There are others on the web as well.
It includes details on the family of Jesus.


James' Storytelling Outline

1. The children assemble outside the door and knock. James comes out, closing the door behind him, and questioning who the children are. (James was a leader of the church who was killed for being a follower). "You haven't come from the Temple Guard have you?" James quizzes a few of the kids about who they are, who they follow.

2. After he is assured of their credentials. James welcomes the children by having them take off their shoes. He invites them into his humble home, unrolls a large rug for them to sit on. Offers a pillow to the teacher whom he lauds as one who deserves a place of honor. He insists that the girls wear something over their hair, explaining this custom, but the teacher intervenes saying this is no longer done, there is "neither male or female" in Christ, and James agrees.

3. James washes the children's feet (they can ask for their hands to be washed if they choose). James tells them about the ritual, and remembers the time at Jesus' last supper.

4. James and the group begin a conversation

  • Where are you from? (Never heard of it. America is a place?)

James talks about the churches he has helped lead in Jerusalem, and has heard of many others being found in Ephesus and Antioch for example. He asks if they have met Paul, for example.

  • What are you doing here? ...this is James' segway into describing life growing up in Nazareth. He gives his biography, and tells a few stories about his brother Jesus.
  • James tells the kids he never thought Jesus was different, even though his mother and father thought so. He only heard the story of the Angel much later.
  • James tells the children about how he came to believe AFTER the resurrection and became a leader in the church. "Perhaps you've read my letter to the Christians? Well I hope you is a summary".

5. James feeds the children.
As they eat, he talks about life as a child in Nazareth. Things Jesus and he would have done (when not helping in the business). Games, and sites they could see from the hilltops. James pulls out a large scrolled map of Israel and lays it on the ground (made out of crumbled butcher paper that's been crumpled until it was flexible). He gives an impromptu Bible Map lesson, mentioning famous locations of stories they could see as children. Places where Jesus visited. (see notes below)

6. James tells the story of Jesus going to the Temple as a young boy to talk with the teachers, and being left behind by his family. He mentions what Jesus did there, but admits he scoffed at his brother and was glad he got in trouble for disobeying his parents. James asks the children if Jesus was right to do what he did. James should be the devil's advocate: when is it right to disobey one's parents? James may also confess why he didn't become a follower of Jesus. (He was too busy working? He didn't realize who Jesus was? He didn't believe the stories?) Why doesn't a person believe?

7. After he tells this story, he brings out a box which has a toy in it. It is a Dreidel... a Jewish spinning top toy, not used in the time of Jesus but later. James explains that Dreidel means "a great miracle happened here". He can say what that miracle was to him in his life: faith in Jesus as the resurrected Messiah. The four sides of the top each have a letter, depending on which side is revealed when the dreidel falls over, the person who spun it "wins" or doesn't win whatever prize was placed on the table (raisins, candies). The "pot" on the table can grow as the spinners each take their turn. GOOGLE "how to play dreidel" or read:

Give each child a wooden dreidel and show them how to spin it. These can be purchased IN BULK on James the carpenter's son would have made his out of wood. Give each child a crumpled & rolled bit of brown paper bag (when you crumple it, it gets soft). Have them write what the four Hebrew letters/sides of the dreidel mean and take it home with their dreidel.

8. Question Dreidel! Now pull out a large dreidel again. This time James assigns one of the Hebrew letters to a student. He first asks one of the following questions, and then spins the dreidel to determine who must answer his question:


  • How do you know that Jesus is the Messiah?
  • Name someone you have shared the story of Jesus with and what you told them.
  • What would you say to your parent if you wanted to go to church but they were too busy?
  • If someone wanted to put you in jail for believing in Jesus, what would you tell them?
  • If you could invited Jesus to play with you, what game would you invite him to play?
  • What would Jesus say to your family if you invited him over for dinner?

9. Finish by playing the Dreidel Prayer Game:
-assign a word of prayer to each of the four dreidel symbols and pass the dreidel to each student and have them spin it, see how it lands, and complete the prayer request:

  • something you are thankful for
  • something you want God to help the world with
  • a personal need you would like to share
  • something awesome that God has done

[At the end of James' presentation, James will discuss being a leader in the early church, telling others about his brother. With older classes, at the end he will remove his cloak, and the teacher will tell the children that James was killed in Jerusalem because he would not renounce his faith. The storyteller should add a word of encouragement, and invite the kids to read Jame's letter.]



End in a prayer.

A lesson idea written by member Zola. Elaborated by Neil MacQueen.


A representative of reformatted this post to improve readability. Inc. is a volunteer-run, 100% member supported, 501(c)3 non-profit Sunday School lesson ministry. All content here is the copyrighted property of its listed author. You are welcome to borrow and adapt content here for non-commercial teaching purposes --as long as both the site and author is referenced. Posting here implies permission for others to use your content for non-commercial purposes. Inc reserves the right to manage, move, condense, delete, and otherwise improve all content posted to the site. Read our Terms of Service. Google Ad Note: Serving the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, S. Africa, and more! is rated 5 stars on Google based on 55 reviews.