Summary of Lesson Activities:
Learn the story details and sequence, by playing a game of Jeopardy. [Note: 4th – 6th graders visited this workshop.]
For scripture, background, and objectives, see above.
- Read the scripture for this lesson.
- Read and reflect on the overview material provided for this lesson.
- Easel; appropriate marker
- Bulletin board
- Envelopes (25)
- Push pins
- A marker
- Index cards to use as game cards (25)
- Construction (or another type of paper) to use to make headings (5 pieces)
- Jeopardy questions and answers (see the source in the "resources" list at the end of the lesson)
- Bibles; One Adventure Bible with tabs (Law, History, etc.)
- Bible tab writing kit: tabs, fine-line Sharpie pen
- Paraphrase of the Esther story (Note: choose a paraphrase from among the Writing Team list. Make sure that whatever paraphrase you use includes the info needed to play the game.)
Before Start of Class:
- Write the key Bible verse on the easel.
- Distribute Bibles in a circle on the rug.
- Write the Jeopardy headings on five pieces of paper: Vocabulary, Numbers, Bible Quotes, Other Facts, and Major Characters.
- On the top of each index card, write each Jeopardy category and point value. Then write further down on the card, the corresponding game answer.
- For each envelope, fold back the flap. Write a point value (100 - 500) on the back of each envelope. Load the index game cards into the correct envelopes. Set up the Jeopardy board game on the bulletin board.
Lesson Plan: Opening
Do: Greet your students warmly, welcoming them to the Games Workshop. Introduce yourself and have the Shepherds introduce themselves.
Say: Tell me what you know about heroes. (Accept a few answers)
Tell me what you know about villains (or “bad guys”).
Ask: Do you think you need to have superhuman powers to be a hero?
Say: We are going to learn a story about a hero in the Bible. She doesn’t have super powers, but she does have a lot of courage. In fact, she is a lot like you and me! The Bible is full of amazing stories of heroes and villains. What is most unusual about these people in Bible stories is that the heroes always seem like regular, ordinary people. But God uses them in extraordinary ways!
Ask: What is the name of a seemingly “ordinary” Bible character that we have learned about that went on to great things? (David, Abraham, Moses, Jesus’ disciples etc.)
Say: Today’s story is about a woman named Esther. She was a heroine to her people, the Jews. Everyone thought she was just an ordinary, not-too-special Jewish girl. But God knew better! Esther was going to do something big.
Dig-Main Content and Reflection:
Say: Let’s read about Esther, but first, we need to figure out where we can find the story in the Bible.
Ask: The Bible is divided into two sections, what are they? (Old & New Testament)
If we want to read a story that Jesus learned when he was your age, where would we find it? (in the Old Testament)
Say: Our Bible story is found in the book of Esther.
Ask: If you have no idea where to find this book, what tool could help? (table of contents)
Do: Have the kids find the book of Esther in the Bible. It is a couple of books before Psalms. Remind kids that Psalms is about where you are in your Bible if you open it in half.
Do: Have the children locate the key Bible verse, Esther 4:14b Refer to the easel and point out that the “b” means we are reading the second sentence in this verse, starting with: “And who knows …”
Have all of the kids read that portion of the verse together.
Say: Let’s learn more about Esther! This is a long story so before I begin, everyone do 10 jumping jacks and sit down quietly with your hands in your lap and mouth quiet as fast as you can. Then I will know you are ready to listen! (When kids begin to sit down and listen to your instruction, say “I like how (insert child’s name) is sitting so nice and quiet.” When everyone is ready…
Do: Have the shepherd hand out one ¼ piece of scrap paper to each kid.
Say: Write the names Haman and Esther at the top of the paper. Draw a line down the middle of the paper between the two names. Listen while I read you this story of Esther. When you hear the name Haman (HEY-mann), make a tick mark under Haman’s name. When I say the name Esther make a tick mark under Esther’s name.
Do: Show kids how to make 4 tick marks and then cross the four marks with a fifth so they can count by 5’s at the end. [Note: This helps students to pay attention to the reading.]
Read the story.
- Who was the villain in the story? (Haman)
- Why do you suppose Esther is thought of as a heroine? (went before the king even though this could have meant death, saved her people the Jews)
- What did Mordecai tell Esther, that helped her do what was right? (our key Bible verse: “Who knows? Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this.” Esther 4:14b) Have kids kind this verse in their Bible and read it together again.
- Do you suppose that Esther was afraid to go before the king?
- Can you think of some times when you have been afraid?
- How can God help you in that kind of situation?
- What do we call believing in God when faced with a scary situation?
Say: If you believe in God even when faced with a scary situation, we call that having faith. Esther showed her belief in God—her faith—when her brave action saved her “family,” the Jews, from being killed. Her bravery is still celebrated by Jewish people on a special holiday in springtime called “Purim.
Play the Game:
Say: We are going to play the game “Jeopardy” to help us learn the Esther story. After all, the word jeopardy means risk! Esther certainly took a risk.
Do: Form two teams. Supply each team with Bibles. Ask the Shepherd to keep score. Make sure everyone understands the general idea of the game Jeopardy: you are given an answer and you try to come up with a question for that answer. Teams will work together to come up with the correct question.
Explain the procedure for the game:
- The first player of Team A chooses a category (any category) and any point value.
- They may read the answer on the index card.
- The player then confers with his/her teammates. When the team has consensus, they state the question. [If stumped, they may use their Bible, though you may want to put a time limit on this.]
- If correct, that team receives those points. If incorrect, the other team may try for those points by seeing if they can determine the correct question. (The workshop leader may use his/her own judgment as to whether a given question is close enough to the one written in this lesson.) Be sure to explain any answers and questions that need clarification while playing. Allow time for discussion!
- Play then passes to Team B to repeat steps 1-4. Continue alternating between teams until the board is empty (or you run out of time). Take turns so that every player on each team has a chance to choose a category.
- The team with the most points wins.
Important Notes for Game Playing:
Competitive games should be played as a team so that infrequent attendees or visitors are not made to feel pressured or uncomfortable. Make sure that each player has a chance to choose the category and point value, but make sure all players “confer” with their team before answering! This also will promote discussion among the children.
Say: God can help us no matter what kind of situation we are in. Remember when Esther said that she was going to fast for three days and three nights? Fasting means you refrain from eating any food. It is thought to be a way to focus on prayer. So Esther likely prayed a lot during those three days before she went before the king. We too can ask God for help by using prayer. Let’s close with prayer.
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. A suggestion: “Dear God, We thank you for the stories you have given us of your people. We thank you for showing us that no matter what happens you have a plan and you want what is best for us. Thank you for being with us always. Give us courage to trust you this week. (End with everyone joining in on the Lord’s Prayer.) Amen.
- Merten, Cindy. “Esther: Games Questions, 2002. www.rotation.org link
(for game questions/answers. Note: did not use the “minor characters” category, replaced with a category called “other facts.” If you want my game questions, email me.)
Copyright 2003, 2008 First United Methodist Church, Ann Arbor, MI.
Permission to copy materials granted for non-commercial use provided credit is given and all cited references remain with this material.
Updated in 2019 by Carol Hulbert.