Summary of Lesson Activities:
Enact the story using “clothesline characters.” [Note: 1st – 3rd 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.
- Gather the materials.
- Drama script (Note: this not included because it came from the book Crazy Clothesline Characters)
- An easel; appropriate marker
- A clothesline strung up across the stage area (at an appropriate height for the students – use 3M Command™ hooks capable of holding some weight!)
- Clothes pins (at least 12)
- Supplies for kids to make groggers - noisemakers:
- Small paper plates (one per child)
- Dried beans (handful per child)
- Markers or crayons
- Staplers and staples
- For 3rd grade: Bibles, One purple Adventure Bible with tabs (Law, History, etc.);
- Bible tab writing kit: tabs, fine-line Sharpie pen
Before Start of Class:
- Put up costumes on the clothesline for: a king, a queen, Haman, and Mordecai.
- Write the names of the characters on the easel: King Xerxes, Queen Vashti, Esther, Haman, and Mordecai. Draw faces to go with each name: a circle with a crown for Xerxes, a circle with a crown & a slash through the picture for Vashti, a circle with long hair & a crown for Esther, a face with a frown for Haman, a circle with stick hands in prayer for Mordecai.
- Make one grogger.
- When 3rd grade visits, distribute Bibles. Also write the words: “Esther 4:14b” on the easel.
Opening- Welcome and Lesson Introduction:
Greet your students warmly, welcoming them to the Drama Workshop. Introduce yourself and any other adults.
[Note: The Shepherd will be taking care of attendance/name tags while you are starting your lesson.]
Say: When we act out our story today it is important that we have noisemakers. [Shake the pre-made grogger.] We need to quickly make some noisemakers.
Pass out a small paper plate to each child. Have markers or crayons available for all to reach.
Say: While I am talking, decorate one side of a plate using these supplies.
[Make sure they color on the paper side not the waxy side, of the plate. Ask the Shepherd to help them fold their plates when they’ve finished coloring, add a few beans, and staple the shaker closed.]
As the students work…
Ask: Have you ever heard of the Jewish festival of Purim? (Pronounced: poor-RIM)
Say: Purim is a day when Jewish people remember the story of Esther.
[After the first week of the Rotation, ask the students to tell you what they know about Purim.]
Say: Esther was a Jewish woman who lived about 500 years before Jesus was born. Esther was a heroine to the Jewish people who were living in a place called Persia. Persia was far away from Jerusalem where most of the Jewish people had lived. Esther did something that saved her people the Jews, from an evil man named Haman who wanted to wipe out all the Jews. The festival of Purim usually falls in March. [Jewish holidays move around because their calendar is lunar based.] This year it’s on March 10th. It is a tradition of Purim for Jewish people to get together, eat, be merry, and to act out the story of Esther. Today, we are going to act out the story. We are going to act it out in a fun way. But I need to tell you about one more Purim tradition – “groggers.” Groggers are noisemakers. [Show grogger.] They are used in the telling of the Esther story. Whenever the name “Haman” [shake grogger- three quick shakes] is read you shake your grogger. Haman [shake grogger] was the bad guy in our story. People shake their groggers as a way to drown out the name of Haman [shake grogger].
Show the kids how to fold their paper plate in half and put a few dried beans inside.
Have the Shepherd help them staple the plate closed (about 6 staples should do it).
Keep talking while the Shepherd helps with the stapling.
Dig- Main Content and Reflection:
Ask: Would we find the story of Esther in the New Testament or the Old Testament? (Old)
Remind the children that stories of people who lived before Jesus are found in the Old Testament.
Introduce the characters in this story. Refer to the easel.
For 1st and 2nd graders:
Hold a Bible open to Esther.
Say: Esther is a long story but let me read what Esther’s wise cousin, Mordecai, said to Esther. These words are from the fourth chapter of Esther, verse 14.
Read Esther 4:14b: “Who knows? Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this.”
For 3rd grade:
Say: If you have your own Bible today, be sure you receive a tab for the History section of your Bible. [Show the classroom Bible with tabs. Have the Shepherd do tabs for students who bring their Bibles. Use the classroom Bible with tabs as an example. Ask the Shepherd to do both the HISTORY tab and the POEMS/SONGS tab.]
Have the children open their Bibles and locate the book of Esther. Tell them that it is a couple of books before Psalms. Psalms is about where you are in your Bible if you open it in half.) Have the students locate the key Bible verse Esther 4:14b. Point out that the “b” means we are reading the latter half of the verse. So starting with “Who knows? Perhaps you have…” Read the verse together.
For all students:
Ask: I wonder what choice Esther has to make? (allow time for thought & answers)
Say: Esther became queen in our story. However, Esther started off as just an ordinary citizen. She wasn’t born into a royal family.
Ask: Do you suppose that God had a part to play in this story?
Do you suppose that God needed Esther to do something for him?
Say: God works through the events of our lives, working for our best, even when we can’t see the overall effect of God’s plans.
Ask: Do you suppose that God is at work in your life? (allow all answers)
Say: Today we will hear our story as we act it out.
Enact the Story:
Say: We have a different way to act out our story. We are going to use “clothesline characters.” We have clothes arranged on a clothesline. There are clothes for King Xerxes, clothes for Queen Vashti, clothes for Mordecai (that’s Esther’s wise cousin), clothes for Haman [shake grogger], he’s the bad guy in our story, and clothes for Esther. We also need people to be the audience too. The audience has the important job of using their grogger whenever they hear the name “Haman.” [Have kids limit their grogger shakes to three (shake-shake-shake) for each hearing of “Haman”.]
Choose 5 people to act the parts of King Xerxes, Queen Vashti, Queen Esther, Mordecai, and Haman. If you have more than 5 students who want to be “in” the play, the audience is important. You can re-do the drama. If you have less than 5 students, have whoever is feeling energetic, jump from one character to the next!
Line kids up behind their appropriate costume on the clothesline. (Note that one Queen costume will be used for both Esther and Vashti.) Tell students that you will be doing the reading of the parts. They will have to listen careful to your story to know when to “act”. They can use their bodies to portray what their character would do.
Say: For example, how would a mad king act? (stomp his feet, clench his fists)
Seat the audience ready with their groggers. [Move chairs over to face the stage area.]
Tell the story using the script. Bring the story to life with voice as well as words:
King: obnoxious, demanding. Esther: gracious, afraid but later also brave. Haman: sly, snarling. Mordecai: old, wise. Repeat, using different students as the characters.
Ask: What did Esther do that was brave? (went before king)
Why was this a brave thing to do? (no one could go to the king without an invitation; they might be killed)
[There were a couple of more discussion questions from the book Crazy Clothesline Characters.]
Say: Sometimes we know that we should do something because it is the right thing to do, but we are afraid.
Ask: Have any of you been in a situation like this?
I wonder what can we do to help keep fear under control?
Say: When we are afraid or alone, God is still near. We can pray a simple prayer called a breath prayer. It takes a little bit of practice but it’s a useful kind of prayer. You can pray a breath prayer and no one else knows you are praying. You can pray a breath prayer while you’re riding on the school bus, or standing on the soccer field. A breath prayer is one word while you breathe in, and one or two words when you breathe out. Example: “God” (breathe in) “is here” (breathe out), which is repeated as you breathe in and out.
Have the kids give it a try. Repeat: God is here. [Start off loud, fade to a whisper.]
Say: Esther didn’t know why she was chosen as queen. She was just an ordinary girl. But it turned out that God needed her to be queen so that she could save her people. Even when she was afraid, she kept on trusting God. We too can trust God to be near when we face scary times. We call that sort of trust – faith. We have faith that God will be with us, always guiding us.
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, Thank you for this day and for everyone who is here today. Help us to act bravely as Esther, the heroine in our Bible story, did. Help us to do the right thing, even when it is hard or scary. (End with everyone joining in on the Lord’s Prayer.) Amen.”
Extra Activities (if you finish early)
Re-do the drama.
- Crane, Amy. retired “Rotation.org Writing Team Lessons on Esther: Drama.” 2002.
- Mader, Carol. Crazy Clothesline Characters. Loveland, CO: Group Publishing, 2000.
- Vos Wezeman, Phyllis, et al. Ideas A to Z Series: Esther. Kregel Publications, 1997.
A lesson written by Carol Hulbert for First United Methodist Church
Ann Arbor, MI
Copyright 2003, 2008 First United Methodist Church, Ann Arbor, MI.
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Hulbert, Carol. "Esther: Drama Workshop ." 2003, 2008. Place URL where lesson found inside angle brackets<>.
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