Reply to "PUPPET and STORYTELLING Workshop lessons and ideas for Noah"

Noah and the Ark

Science/Storytelling Workshop

Will it Float?

Summary of Lesson Activities:
This lesson involves water and "floaty things." After the "Floating the Story" Bible study, in "Will It Float Part 1" you and the kids will play the WILL IT FLOAT? game, ...placing various objects in a tub of water and predicting whether or not they will "sink or float".

In "Part 2" you'll demonstrate various theological concepts IN THAT TUB of water in a fun interactive way.


Scripture Reference:

Genesis 6-9.

Leader Preparation:

  • Read the scripture ahead of time.
  • Gather the materials.

Supplies List:

  • Washtub full of water
  • Canvas tarp
  • Floating and non floating objects (list below)
  • Gravel

Advanced Preparation Requirements:

  • Set up a washtub of water in your room, with plenty of space for your kids to gather round.
  • Put down a canvas tarp for splashing, there's going to be plenty of that! I wish I had not put the tub on the floor because I ended up spending the entire lesson on my knees. If I were to do it again, I would put it on a low table.
  • THE KEY to your setup, however, is the kids have to be able to see down into the tub.



Opening- Welcome and Lesson Introduction:

Greet the children and introduce yourself..

Prepare Your Inner Child! This lesson requires a teacher/storyteller who is playful and quick thinking. One of your main props is going to be an action hero. I used "Spiderman". He floated too much, so I tied a fishing weight to him. The "dialog" I've written below is about half of what I remember and in shorthand. It's not intended to be a script, but a guide.

A list of floatie objects can be found below.

PS: "Will It Float?" comes from David Letterman's reoccuring skit by the same name.

Dig-Main Content and Reflection:

Floating the Story (10 minutes)
You'll first start off by floating Noah's Ark, -while various readers read the story from the Bible. No kidding, even with my older kids I had a couple of small action figures on the side whom I moved around to the action of the story. That was great fun, and the action figures eventually ended up in our Ark on the water in the tub. You'll also need some animal figures. It's okay if you only have one or two, or use other objects like "an eraser" to represent a hippo, or whatever. We had a stuffed monkey who was too big to ride in the boat. The kids totallly enjoyed it.

The Ark was an unsinkable boat I made out of styrofoam I had glued together. It had a flap on the top to throw in Noah and the animals, which was kept shut by a rubber band. Not pretty, but made us smile

When it came time for the flood, we floated our Ark loaded with our action figures and eraser. We 'rained' on it on cue with the scripture, had a couple of kids slosh some waves at the boat. I pulled a bird out of my pocket (a piece of twisted paper) and flew it around the kids making bird noises, then handed it off to one of the kids. On the third attempt it came back with a stick, and our action figures rejoiced and worshipped on the edge of the tub (our dry land).

Follow up the story with a few questions about "why God chose Noah", "what did Mrs Noah probably say?" "What would you have said to your friends about Noah your dad!" "What are some of the hard things God asks us to do?" (I believe the Noah story is more like a parable, and definitely not 'history' as we think of it. I've written more about that in my computer workshop lesson on Noah in this forum. It's a perspective on reading the Bible that I share with my older kids.)

Will It Float?

This next phase of the lesson has two parts:
Part 1: The Will It Float Game
Part 2: After-Float Demonstration and Discussion

Here's the basic INTRO I said to set up the game "Will It Float?"

I said something like: First, let's look at the water... is water good or bad? What about in a storm? (I said this as I splashed it around making the ark go crazy). "Water is the Bible can be a sign of chaos. A flood is definite chaos. How about the Ark? What's it a sign of? (I picked it up and sprinkled the kids with it) Yep, shelter, safety, salvation! Did you know that the early church thought of itself like a BOAT? In fact, in many churches, the inside of the sanctuary ceiling with all its beams is meant to look like an upside down boat.
(I had made a boat out of styrofoam and was now floating it playfully in the tub.)

Where do we use water in the church? Yep, baptism. (I baptized an action figure) I baptize Spiderman in the name of the Father.... Water cleanses. What did the flood do to the earth in this story? Yep, cleaned away wickedness, same thing in baptism. But killed a lot of people too, how many people does baptism kill a year? Correct, zero. There are a lot of things the New Testament "corrects" about the Old... including this idea that God goes around smiting people or planets.

Weird thing....Water was also used TO JUDGE. The flood judged and juried the earth. The seas judged and swallowed Noah. And they use to see if witches would float or sink. If you sank, you weren't a witch, if you floated, you were and they killed you. Weird. But really, Baptismal waters judge us too... they judge us WORTHY of being part of God's family. In our church, however, we don't dunk people because we're afraid they'll float and then we have to kill them as a witch. Right? (Remember... I'm doing all this with action figures in the tub, and I have a strange sense of humor.)

Let's Play a Judging Game: "Will It Float?"

Pull out objects one at a time, ask the kids "Will it Float" and have them vote. Then have one of the kids put it in the water. Do this with about 7 objects. The kids loved this.

Suggested Objects:
action figure
Have a can of Diet Coke and Regular Coke. The Reg Coke will sink because it's more dense.

You can use other objects from the classroom or home if you want. We played about 7 or 8 rounds and needed to move on.
Here's an interesting one: a ball of clay will sink, but shaped like a boat it will float. We are like that clay, able to float if shaped the right way.

Part 2: AFTER playing "Will It Float?"

Part 2 is a RIFF on various water metaphors that you demonstrate with objects and action figures.

Sin can Sink. That's what the gravel is for. As I pour it in the bowl over the top of our action hero, I'm naming some sins the kids might commit, until it sinks.

Trouble can weigh you down and make you close to sinking. Let the bowl sink

Ask: What can remove sins? What can help you remove trouble? When the rains come, when sin is pouring down, what can help Spidey here in his Ark-Bowl to keep from filling up with water? Yep...MOVE! Find some shelter from life's rain, stay away from people pouring gravel on you, make God your floatie and shield (it's a Bible verse, I swear).

Sinking happens. You can count on it. Floods happen, raging storms happen. God knows this, and that's why God made a Covenant PROMISE to rescue us, -- to find us whereever we have gone ("whether I descend into the depths of Sheol or this tub"). Other people can throw life rings, but only God can reach down and pull us out of any thing, just like in the story he saved Noah and his family. (I'm demonstrating this as we go, my hand reaching down like God's to dramatically pull Spidey up from the bottom of the tub).

Now imagine poor spidey action hero is not living life the way God intended. (down he goes a bit) He gets fed up with church and stops going. He got mean and splashed some water on Pete over here (splash!) In fact, he is splashing his bad attitude all over the place. (splash splash) You know anybody like that? Then his mom and dad split up, and Spidey thinks life is unfair. (sink some more). His new friends aren't real good people (sink sink). He stopped praying (gravel) He starts doing drugs. His hippo fell on him (eraser!) He put his faith in money and made that the most important thing (drop coins on him) As he got older he made his work more important than his family, but his potato farm was wiped out by bugs (drop the potato on him). And his life seems to be without real meaning. Kerplunk, he's sunk. What now? What does he need? Maybe he's down there thinking "this sucks, and that's all". Some people don't know they are 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. They don't know there's a better world waiting for them like the Little Mermaid dreamed :-) They look around at the bottom and think this is all there is, life isn't great. This is an action figure who desperately needs rescued from his attitude and life choices. He needs "salvaging"... brought up to breath some new air and attitude. And that's what salvation is like. (I know I said more, but you get the idea)

After "the hand of God" dramatically saved Spidey, I said, "Now here's Spidey. Some how God got through to him, brought him to a new place and way of looking at things. Is he immune from STORMS? (splash) No, he needs a BETTER BOAT... a hope that won't sink. A hope that floats." What should a person build their NEW LIFE-ARK WITH? I pulled out the styrofoam trays and markers, and wrote down whatever the kids said: good deeds, helping, worship, prayer, having a good attitude, eating right, not being greedy, being nice to his neighbors. The point: these thing are just nicey-nice ideas, these attitudes and actions are the thing that will FLOAT YOUR LIFE.

Eventually we built up this styrofoam around Spidey, and wrapped him inside it using some rubber bands, then we stuck him/it back into the water and no matter how rough that water got, Spidey floated. Even when life pushed him down, Spidey floated back up. He whispered to me and said he was still sticking with God who had saved him. One of the kids thought he heard that too! :-) Water was flying around....and Spidey's Ark worked.

We grabbed a bunch of green styrofoam from the local "decor" store, including some odd shaped pieces they sell there. The kids cut and trimmed them with sccissors and a small coping saw I had -to create their own personalized, customized ARKS. They used toothpicks to attach some of the odd shapes and told them they could glue those at home. (If we'd had a glue gun, maybe!). Then then used a pencil to push their name into the styrofoam, an used a marker to color the indentation. They weren't pretty but the kids had fun and they did FLOAT IN OUR TUB... which is where we piled them all in for a prayer that God would continue to bless us, protect us, and save us. After we did this, I wish I had demonstrating putting all the mini-arks into one big Ark named "church" or Christ, many metaphors, so little time.

I hope you enjoy expanding on this, and splashing around with your kids. It's a joyful lesson they won't forget.

In addition to the "Will It Float" objects, for Part 2 you'll also need (if you're following my patter):

a cup to pour water
Several 4" x 6" styrofoam trays (grocery store)
Rubber bands to hold the action hero to the Ark
About two cups of gravel
a permanent marker
a small lightweight plastic bowl for Spidey's ark

Note: Since they'll probably ask... an object will sink if it weighs more than the water it displaces, and an object will float if it weighs less than the water it displaces.

Note 2: I have a computer workshop lesson in this Noah forum as well, and have included some 'Bible Background' in that lesson.



A lesson written by Neil MacQueen from: Sunday Software 

Venice, FL


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