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Art Workshop

Summary of Lesson Activities:

Learn about how prayer ties to the story of Esther. Create prayer boxes out of marbleized paper. Make marbleized paper for the next class to use. [Note: 1st – 6th graders visited this workshop.]

For scripture, background, and objectives, see above.

Scraping the excess shaving cream. Note the completed box indicated with arrows.

Leader Preparation:

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

Supplies List:

  • Easel; appropriate maker
  • Story paraphrase (see end of lesson)
  • For 1st & 2nd graders: The picture book: The Story of Esther
  • For 3rd graders: Purple Adventure Bibles (one with tabs); Bible tab writing kit: tabs, fine-line Sharpie pen
  • For 4th grade & up: Adventure Bibles (one with tabs); A map that shows Jerusalem and Persia
  • Instructions for making boxes (see resources)
  • Construction paper, white or off-white, cut into squares, one-8” square and
    one-7 and ¾ inch square per student (makes a 3” box)
  • A collection of these sizes of paper that has been marbleized (made ahead of time)
  • Scissors, Wooden tongue depressors, Large wooden bead (all items, one per student)
  • Shaving cream – foamy type (one bottle), a piece of cardboard
  • Paper plates or clean meat trays at least as big as paper (2 or 3 are needed)
  • Acrylic paint – three colors that are complementary (a small amount is needed)
  • Table covers, Art Smocks, Paper towels, Wet wipes (or a sink)

Before Start of Class:

  • Write the key Bible verse on the easel.
  • Practice making a box using the instructions.
  • Practice (or at least understand) the marbleized paper technique.
  • Cover one table and lay out supplies for marbleizing. Have the ready-made marbleized paper divided into two groups based upon size.
  • When 3rd grade or higher visits, distribute Bibles around the other tables.
  • Just before students arrive, plug in the hot glue gun.


Opening – Welcome & Lesson Introduction: 

Greet your students warmly, welcoming them to the Art Workshop. Introduce yourself and any other adults.

[Note: The Shepherd will be taking care of attendance/nametags while you are starting your lesson.]

Ask: Has anyone ever done anything risky? (allow a few responses)
How did (or would) you feel about taking a risk – would you feel nervous?
[If necessary, to get discussion going, share a risk you’ve taken in your life.]

Say: We are going to be learning about a woman from the Bible who took a big risk.

Dig - Main Content & Reflection: 

Ask: If I told you that our story was one that Jesus learned as a child, where would we find our story in the Bible? (in the Old Testament)

Say: Our story about Esther is covered in the entire Bible book known as “Esther.” It’s a lot of reading, too much to read today but it’s an exciting story, so do take time to read it at home, ask your parents to read with you a little bit of the story every night.

or 1st and 2nd graders:

Say: Listen as I tell you a story about Esther written from the Bible.

Read to them the paraphrase (see end of lesson) while showing them the pictures in the book: The Story of Esther.

For 3rd grade and up:

Say: Let’s find the book of Esther in the Old Testament.
Holding the Adventure Bible with tabs…
Say: If you have tabs in your Bible, Esther is the last book in the collection of History books. So a quick way to find Esther is to open the Bible to the Poetry & Song tab and go back by one book. If you have your own Bible today, be sure you receive two tabs: one for the History section of your Bible and one for the Poetry & Song section.

[Show the purple Adventure 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 POETRY & SONG tab.]

Have everyone open to the introductory page about Esther. [On page 557.]

Say: In these Bibles, every book starts with an introduction page.

Have everyone look at the 2nd question: “Why was this book written.” Ask someone to read the answer. Ask: What are some other Bible stories that show how God takes care of his people? (many answers – including Noah, Abraham, & Jesus feeds the 5000)
Say: There are lots of stories in the Bible that show us how God takes care In the first week of the Rotation…
Have everyone look at the 3rd question: What do we learn about God in this book?
(“God does not need to do miracles to rescue his people. He is able to work through ordinary events and ordinary people."

In later weeks of the Rotation…
Ask: What have we learned about God from reading Esther? (allow all answers)
Say: There is a lot we can learn about God but one answer is shown in the answer to question number 3.

For all weeks…

Say: Let’s find our key Bible verse. We call it our “key” Bible verse because it is like a key to the whole story.

Have students find Esther 4:14. Have someone read it.

Say: Let’s find out how that verse is key to the whole story. Listen while I tell you a story about Esther that was written from the Bible.

Read to them the paraphrase (see end of lesson).

[Note: In later weeks of the Rotation, ask them to tell you the story. Read any portions that aren’t clear.

For all students:
Say: Mordecai told Esther: Who knows perhaps you became Queen for just such a time as this.

Ask: How is that Bible verse like a key to the whole story of Esther? (allow all responses)

Say: It goes back to what we learn about God in this story. God does his work using ordinary people. Mordecai knew that God had a plan. He trusted God to take care of his people. He believed that God would use Esther to make a difference.

Ask: Do you suppose that God could use us to accomplish something? (allow all responses)
What do you think gave Esther the courage to face the king even though she knew she could be killed?
[If necessary ask: what did Esther do for 3 days before she went before the King?]

Say: Esther was faced with a scary situation, so she turned to God in prayer. Prayer helped Esther be strong and courageous; prayer can help us to be strong as well. Through: prayer, Esther asked God to help her. Asking for help is just one kind of prayer.

Ask Does anyone know what other kinds of prayers there are? (allow all responses)
Say: There are lots of kinds of prayers - prayers of thanks, prayers asking for forgiveness, prayers for other people’s needs, as well as prayers we learn such as Lord’s Prayer.

Ask: When we really want something and we ask God for it, does that mean that we’ll get it?
Say: Sometimes we might not be able to understand why, but God’s answer may be no.
Today we are going to make a special place for you to collect prayers that you write out; we are going to make prayer boxes. Let’s start our project.
Start the art project:

Printing the paper in the marbelized mess!Pass out one piece of marbleized paper of the smaller size, to every student. Show them how to fold the piece according to the instructions (attached). Adults should do the cutting for the 1st and 2nd graders.

After everyone has the first piece of paper folded. Start groups of 2 or 3 students making marbleized paper for the next class. [Do this even on the last week of the Rotation; the paper can be used for some other project.] Have the rest of the students work on folding a second sheet of paper, using the slightly larger size pre-marbleized paper.

Use the glue gun to glue a wooden bead to the center of the larger box. This becomes like a handle to help open the box.

For Marbleizing Instructions: see resources.

Discussion: (while the kids are working)

Ask: Sometimes we know that we should do something because it is the right thing to do, but we are afraid. Have any of you been in a situation like this?
I wonder what can we do to help keep fear under control?

Talk about breath prayers: when we are afraid or alone, God is still near. Practice praying a simple prayer quietly/silently while breathing in and out: God is near or God be with me are appropriate choices for this meditative spiritual practice.


Say: Let’s close 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. A suggestion: O God who is always with us, we can’t see what will happen to us tomorrow or next week. Help us to trust your working in our lives. Help us to remember to pray daily. Now we pray as Jesus taught us (End with the Lord’s Prayer) Amen.

If you need an extra activity:

Have the kids play hangman using the names of the characters in the story.

Attachment: Story Paraphrase

For 1st – 3rd graders use with the book: The Story of Esther. Read these words (not the one’s in the book) while showing the pages indicated. For 4th-6th graders just read this paraphrase or later in the Rotation, use it to have the students tell you the story.

-- Pages 4 & 5
Many, many years ago, in a far-off land called Persia, there lived a powerful king named Xerxes . In that same land lived Esther and her cousin Mordecai . They were Jews who were forced to live in Persia. Though they were far from their homeland, they lived a comfortable life.

[Use the map either in the book (The Story of Esther) or in the classroom to show Israel and Persia.]

To make a long story shorter, Esther, who was just an ordinary citizen, was chosen as the queen of Persia! However, she did not tell the King that she was Jewish.

-- Pages 6 & 7
Mordecai could stay in touch with Esther because he worked as a gatekeeper for the King. One day Mordecai overheard two guards plotting to kill the King! Mordecai told Esther who told the King. Mordecai saved the king! The entire episode was written down in the King’s daily records. Meanwhile, the King had made a man named Haman , his second-in-command. Because he was so important, everyone was required to bow before Haman. Mordecai would not bow down to Haman! Jews would only bow before God.

-- Pages 8 & 9
Haman was angry that Mordecai wouldn’t bow down to him. He hated Mordecai. When he found out that Mordecai was Jewish he hated all Jews. Haman made a sneaky plan. Haman convinced the King to sign an order that said that all Jews would be killed! The King didn’t know that Esther was Jewish. Haman cast pur , kind of like rolling dice, to find the best date to do the awful thing he planned. And then he sent out the announcement to all the lands ruled by King Xerxes: “On the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, kill all the Jewish people.”

-- Pages 10 & 11
Mordecai heard about Haman’s plan. He was sad. All of his people, the Jews, were in danger!
Mordecai asked Esther for help. He wanted Esther to go to the King. At first Esther didn’t want to. She knew that if someone was to go before the king without being invited – they could die! But something that Mordecai said made her stop and think. “Who knows? Maybe you were made queen for just such a time as this.”

-- Pages 12 & 13
Esther was terrified. But she knew what she must do. She told Mordecai, “Please gather all the Jews together. Don’t eat or drink anything for three days; just pray.” So for three days, all the Jews prayed. On the third day, Esther went to see the King. When the King saw that it was his lovely Queen approaching, and he smiled and held out his golden scepter. That meant that Esther was safe! The King asked her, “My dear Esther, what can I do for you?” Esther bravely replied, “I would like you and Haman to come to dinner with me.”

-- Pages 14 & 15
So King Xerxes and Haman shared a fine meal with the Queen. “Esther, what is your wish,” asked the King. Again Esther said, “Please, both of you come again for dinner tomorrow night. I will tell you then what it is that I want.”

-- Pages 16 & 17
You can imagine that being invited to dine with the Queen made Haman felt very important. But he was distressed to see Mordecai still not bowing to him. His wife suggested, “Build a gallows and ask the king for permission to hang Mordecai tomorrow - then you can go to the banquet tomorrow night happy.” Haman thought this was an excellent idea, so he had the gallows built – 75 feet tall!

-- Pages 18 & 19
That night King couldn’t sleep so he asked that the daily records be read to him. It just so happened that the day read to him was about the time Mordecai had saved the king. “Did we ever thank Mordecai,” asked the King. “No,” came the reply. Just at that moment Haman came in. Before he had a chance to speak, the King said, “There is someone I wish very much to honor. What should I do?” Haman thought to himself, of course the King wants to honor me! So his reply described a parade of sorts with the man of honor riding on one of the King’s horses.

-- Pages 20 & 21
The King responded, “Do as you have described for Mordecai the Jew.” Haman was humiliated because he had to led Mordecai through town.

-- Pages 22 & 23
It was at the second banquet that night that Esther told the king, “All my people will soon be killed. Haman has ordered that all the Jewish people be killed on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month!” King Xerxes was furious. He ordered Haman to be arrested.

-- Page 24
The Jewish people were saved! And so, to this day Jews celebrate a festival called Purim. At this festival held every spring, they remember Queen Esther’s bravery and God’s faithfulness to his people.


  • Crane, Amy. retired “ Writing Team Lessons on Esther: Drama.” 2002.
  • Derden, Jaymie. retired “ Writing Team Lessons on Esther: Art[2] Workshop.” 2002.
  • Hough, Carol. “Shaving Cream Marbling - Easy Marbling Techniques.” Incredible@rtDepartment. 2008.  Link no longer works - check this one out instead:
  • Pingry, Patricia A. The Story of Esther. Nashville: Ideals Publishing, 1989. (ISBN: 0-8249-8420-X)
  • The NIV Adventure Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Zonderkidz, 2000.

A lesson written by Carol Hulbert from: First United Methodist Church
nn Arbor, MI 

Copyright 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.

 If you use this material, even in a modified form, please include the following reference:
Hulbert, Carol. "Esther: Art Workshop ." Dec. 2008. Place URL where lesson found inside angle brackets<>.

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Images (2)
  • Printing the paper in the marbelized mess!
  • Scraping the excess shaving cream. Note completed box.
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