Psalm 23: A Shepherd's Psalm
Summary of Lesson Activities:
Children will create crossword puzzles to explore the meaning of the words in the psalm (Grades 2-6). Children will illustrate the psalm (Grades K-1)
NIV Adventure Bible - Psalm 23, "The Chosen One" from The Picture Bible, pages 278-280.
God loves us and cares for us like a shepherd cares for his sheep.
See Background Information
- KidPix Software
- Crossword Studio Bible Edition Software
Advanced Preparation and Room Set Up:
- Read the Background Information, teaching tips and lesson plan.
- Preview the software.
- Copy Shepherd graphics for the Crossword Puzzle activity (clip art or internet search).
- Copy the navigation tips and handouts for each computer station.
- Turn on computers, insert CDs and open programs before children arrive.
Notes for Computer Teachers:
This workshop can always use extra hands, especially for the younger children. Ask the shepherds to sit with the children at a computer station and help with navigation, reading text and discussion. At the 10:45 session, use your shepherds and the 5-6 grade helpers. You might also want to pair older students with younger ones. As much as possible, try to sit with your students as you go through the software together. The lesson is not what’s on the computer. It’s what you and the students do with what’s on the computer. Guide your students through the content, share yourself and facilitate their sharing with each other. Model your enthusiasm for the Word of God. Please make sure that children take turns at the mouse and keyboard. If necessary, use the timer in the room to help the children switch roles.
Opening-Welcome and Introductions
Welcome the children and introduce yourself. Make sure you are wearing your name tag and that the children have picked up their nametags. Always begin each class with introductions. Remember that workshop leaders rotate often, and the children may not know you. Please include the shepherds in introductions. Tell the children that today they will learn about one of the best-loved psalms in the Bible.
Psalm 23 Verse Match (Grades 2-6)
As children arrive, play the matching game to encourage the children to commit the psalm to memory.
- Psalm 23 text
- Paper sack
- Cut the attached lines of text from Psalm 23 into strips, one sentence per strip.
- Put the strips into the paper sack.
- As children arrive, have them draw strips from the sack.
- Have them work together to put the psalm in order.
- Refer to the Psalm 23 poster in the room.
- As the weeks go by and the children get better at remembering the psalm, cut each strip in half and progressively smaller sections
- Repeat this activity each week until they have the psalm committed to memory.
- Read the psalm back to them with some inaccuracies and let them correct you. (Don’t do this until the end of the rotation and only if the children seem to have memorized the psalm.
- Have them tell the psalm in their own words.
- Cover up key words on the Psalm 23 poster in the room and have the children fill in the blanks… “The Lord is my _________.” “I shall not _____.” “He makes me lie down in
Loving God, We praise you and we thank you for all you do for us. Be with us today as we learn more about you. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.
Important Teacher Notes:
Each workshop includes the Bible story. One of our primary goals is to improve the children’s Bible literacy! If children did not bring their Bibles from home, use the classroom Bibles. Shepherds should help the children locate the stories. Use the Background Information to help you introduce the story.
Remember that as the rotation progresses; the children will become more familiar with the story. When this happens, allow the children to tell you what they know. The children should still locate the story in their Bibles every week. Use the bold headings in their Bibles to guide your discussion. You may want to review some of the Bible notes as well. Be sure to fill in any missing information and add additional details using the Background Information to help you. One of the greatest advantages of this model is that children who come regularly learn the story in great depth.
Each lesson contains more Background Information and discussion questions than can be used in one session. Remember, children are studying this story for four weeks! Be sure to follow the time guidelines and leave ample time for the activity.
Dig-Main Content and Reflection:
Introduce the Story
Long, long ago, before Jesus was born, there was a shepherd named David. David became a famous king in Israel one day, but first he was just a simple shepherd. He took care of his father’s sheep. David loved to play his harp and make up poems and songs to sing to the sheep. Many of his poems are found in the Bible. They are called psalms. A psalm is a special song or poem in the Bible.
David spent a lot of time with the sheep. Being a shepherd was hard work. It was not a very attractive job -- in fact it was considered a lowly job. But David was a good shepherd. He took good care of his sheep. David also loved God. David wrote a psalm to tell us that God is just like a good shepherd. What is a psalm? (a special song or poem in the Bible) This is called Psalm 23. Let’s find it in our Bibles now.
Bible Study: Grades K-1
Where would we find a psalm that was written many years before Jesus was born? (Old Testament)
Have the children turn to page 278 in The Picture Bible. Read "The Chosen One" from page 278 to the top of page 280 (stop after the first frame). This reviews David being chosen by God to be the new king and briefly mentions his work as shepherd and creating psalms. Next pass out the handout of Psalm 23. Read as the children follow along. Have the children close their eyes as you read the psalm a second time asking them to try to imagine every image described in the psalm.
Bible Study: Grades 2-6
Where would we find a psalm that was written many years before Jesus was born? (Old Testament)
Have children locate Psalms in their Bibles. (A quick trick to find Psalms is to open the Bible to about the middle – they should find the Psalms or be very close). Psalms is an Old Testament book of Poetry.
Help the children find Psalm 23. Read (or ask for a volunteer to read) as the children follow along in their Bibles. (Note that the translation we are asking them to memorize is slightly different. This is because Psalm 23 is so well-known. The version we are memorizing is more familiar to most people.)
Have children with their own Bibles use the Bible highlighters to highlight “Psalm 23:1."
Read and discuss the following Bible notes:
Words to Treasure: page 618
Life in Bible Times: What God is Like, page 618
Let’s Live It: God is My Shepherd, page 619
- What is a psalm? (a song or poem written to express emotion to God)
- Who wrote Psalm 23? (David)
- Who did David say is his Shepherd in the Psalm? (God)
- What was David's job before he became King? (shepherd)
- What does a shepherd do? (watches sheep, cares for them, protects them, loves them, gives them food and water)
- What does it mean to say that God is our shepherd? (God watches over us and cares for us)What makes a shepherd good? (he takes care of his sheep, loves them, protects them, feeds them, etc.)
- How is God like a shepherd? (cares for us, loves us, guides us, is always with us)
Say: Today we are going to talk about ways God is like a shepherd to us. One line in the psalm says, “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil.” Shepherds have to lead their sheep or else the sheep get lost. Shepherds have to take their sheep to new pastures for fresh grass. In the winter shepherds bring their sheep down to low land. In the summer they take their sheep up high in the mountains to new pastures. When they travel, they have to pass through the dark valley. Sometimes there is danger in the valley. What kinds of danger do you think might be in the valley? (wild animals, people who want to steal the sheep, bad weather) The shepherd loves the sheep, but they still must go through the dark valley so they can get to the other side. Does the shepherd send the sheep through the valley alone? (NO!) No, the shepherd always goes with the sheep. In fact, the shepherd walks ahead of the sheep to check out the dangerous areas. The shepherd uses his rod to protect the sheep from enemies and the staff to guide the sheep along. No matter what the sheep go through, the shepherd is with them.
God guides us through dark valleys, too. The dark valleys are like the hard or dangerous times we experience. What are some hard times you have experienced? Did you know God was with you during that time? One of the most important things to remember about Psalm 23 is this: God is always with us!
If time allows, use the Background Information to talk more with the children about sheep and shepherds.
Help the children locate the memory verse in their Bibles.
"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…." Psalm 23
Encourage the children to memorize as much of the psalm as they can (at the minimum, K-1 graders should memorize the first line of the psalm. Older children should memorize several lines and hopefully the entire psalm). Children who participate in Worship Arts this month will learn to sign the psalm -- which will greatly help them with the memorization process.
Computer Exploration (K-1)
Children will illustrate traveling through the darkest valley with God to protect and comfort them.
Before sending children to the computers, discuss with them some scary times they have faced. What scares them? When have they been frightened? How does it feel to know that God is with us no matter what we face? It’s important for children to realize that being Christian does not mean we won’t face hard times – in fact we can be sure that we will. What we do know is that no matter what we face, God is always with us. Like a shepherd, God will not leave us alone to face our fears.
- Gather the children around one of the computers to demonstrate use of the drawing tools.
- Show them the basics of drawing with pencils, paint brush and using stamps. Show how to increase the size of the items and how to choose colors and backgrounds.
- Divide the children into pairs at the computer stations.
- Pass out the navigation tips.
- Have the children illustrate a situation or thing that scares them at the top part of the screen.
- Then have them draw how it feels to know that God is with them.
- Children should take turns drawing – one child may want to draw the scary thing while another draws the comforting thing. If time allows children can each draw a picture.
- Be sure to save the pictures.
- Print out two copies of the pictures – one to take home and one for our scrapbook.
- Save about 5 minutes at the end of class for children to share their pictures with one another. You may either show the printed copies or move from computer to computer to view the screens.
Computer Exploration (Grades 2-6)
Children will explore the words of the psalm by creating a computer crossword puzzle.
Crossword Studio Bible Edition
- Before bringing children to the computer stations, brainstorm with them some of the most important words used in Psalm 23. Write these words on the white board in the classroom.
- Gather the children around one computer to demonstrate how to work a puzzle. Use one of the samples already created.
- Next quickly demonstrate how to create a new puzzle and how to insert a graphic.
- Divide children into pairs at the computers.
- Have children work together to solve the Psalm 23 puzzle on each computer.
- Next have children work together to create a new crossword puzzle using words or concepts from Psalm 23. Allow about 10 minutes for this.
- Be sure to save the puzzles.
- Then have groups switch computers to try to solve one another’s puzzles.
- If desired, print out copies of the puzzles for each group to take home.
- If time allows, children may create additional puzzles.
- Save about 10 minutes at the end of class to share the different puzzles.
Reflection and Journal Time
The last ten minutes should be reserved for Journal Reflection Time. This is an opportunity for processing and reflection about what children have learned.
Instead of journals, use the children's illustrations and crossword puzzles for discussion.
Gather the children together. Review with them one word or concept that they learned in today’s lesson. (Shepherd, sheep, psalm, darkest valley, hard times, comfort, God with us). Ask for prayer requests and pray together.
Have the children help put away all supplies. Remove CD’s from the computer. Replace in their cases and store in the cabinet in the room. Turn off all computers. Close windows and turn out lights.
KidPix Navigation Tip Handout
(copy one for each computer station)
Basic Drawing Instructions:
- Click pencil tool or paint brush on left hand side of screen.
- Select size of line by clicking on dot on lower screen. Medium usually works best.
- Be sure to completely enclose your shapes if you want to color them in.
- Click paint can on left hand tool bar to color in drawing. Choose solid colors/colored textures, stripes or patterns by clicking on the paint buckets at lower tool bar. Use the up and down arrows for more selections.
- Erase mistakes by clicking on the face in the middle of the left-hand tool bar. Important: You can only erase the last thing you did! The eraser icon will erase your entire picture.
- Click the green arrow at the upper right of screen to hear the computer read the text.
- Click on the disc icon on the upper right tool bar to save the picture.
- Type in name and click SAVE.
- Click printer icon on right hand tool bar to print.
- Be sure to click “landscape” orientation.
- For new picture, click on the paper icon on the middle right hand side of the screen.
- Click on the door on the right hand tool bar to exit program.
- Children may also use stamps by clicking on the Stamp tool on the left.
- Select more stamps by using the up and down arrows on the bottom of the screen.
Crossword Studio Navigation Tips
(Copy one for each computer station)
To Open Program (Do this before children arrive)
- Double click on Crossword Studio icon on desktop.
- Click PLAY to start the program.
- Click anywhere on the screen.
- Click on CLICK HERE.
To Solve a Puzzle Already Created:
- Click on one of the Psalm 23 puzzles in the box.
- Click OPEN
- Read the clues in the Down and Across boxes.
- Use the mouse to click on a box in the puzzle.
- Type in the letters into the boxes. Type over letters that are already in place or skip past them.
- Watch your spelling!
- When all the boxes are complete, check your answers.
- Go to FILE à DISCARD MISTAKES.
- Re-enter correct answers.
- To start a new puzzle to to FILE à CLOSE
To Create Your Own Puzzle:
- Click on CREATE NEW PUZZLE.
- Type “Psalm23-(your initials) in FILE NAME
- Click SAVE.
- Type words followed by a colon ( followed by the definition à ENTER.
- Example: Psalm: a sacred song or poem
- Enter 6-7 words.
- Enter larger words first to make sure they all fit on the puzzle screen.
- Click OK when done.
- If you need to edit your clues, go to EDIT à EDIT WORDS AND CLUES.
To Add a Picture:
- Exit the Crossword program à FILE à EXIT
- Double click on the SHEPHERD IMAGES FOLDER on the desktop.
- View the different images available and select the image you want.
- RIGHT CLICK on the image. Click EDIT.
- A new window will appear in the upper left.
- Click EDIT à SELECT ALL à COPY
- Open up the Crossword Studio again (double click on the desktop icon)
- Open the puzzle you have saved – be sure it is yours and not the example!
- Click EDIT at top menu bar.
- Click SCREEN LAYOUT.
- Adjust the size of the puzzle screen by grabbing the box on the lower left and making the box smaller.
- Click EDIT on top menu bar à PASTE GRAPHIC.
- Position the puzzle and clue boxes so the arrangement is pleasing and you can see the graphic.
- To add background color: Click EDIT à BACKGROUND COLOR à select the color you like and click OK.
- Click EDIT à SCREEN LAYOUT to remove the puzzle grid and view your puzzle.
- SAVE CHANGES? Click YES.
- Switch computer stations with another group and try to solve each other’s puzzles.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil;
For you are with me. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil.
My cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
- A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, Phillip Keller, Zondervan Publishing, Grand Rapids, 1970.
- Poster of Psalm 23.
A lesson written by Jaymie Derden from: State Street UMC
A representative of Rotation.org reformatted this post to improve readability.