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Reply to ""SCIENCE" and STORYTELLING Workshop Lessons and Ideas for Nicodemus"

Nicodemus: Brand New Life

Science Workshop

Summary of Lesson Activities:

Nic at Night Detective Agency.

Bible Memory Verse: John 3:16 (also verse 17 for older ages)
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it.”

Scripture Reference:

 John 3:1-17

Goals for this workshop:

Children will …

  • Learn the who, what, where, when, how of the story of Nicodemus coming to Jesus at night with questions
  • Do 2 science experiments with club soda to learn the idea of how something changes completely, not just on the surface
  • That Jesus called the change within us by the Holy Spirit being “born into God’s kingdom by water and the Spirit” or “reborn”.

Supplies List:

  • star stickers
  • club soda
  • detective props such as:  dark sunglasses, detective hats, trenchcoats
  • 11 clues - see list of clue props below
  • Storysheet with blanked out clues
  • detective star/badge that says “Nic at Night Detective Agency – Trainee”.
  • small notebooks / pencils

Leader Preparation:

  • Make detective star/badge that say “Nic at Night Detective Agency – Trainee”.
  • Hide the 11 clues (see below) around the room before the kids come in each week. The kids will know it’s a clue and not just a decoration or prop in the room because each of the clues will have a star sticker on it. For the younger groups, hide them in easier places.
  • Also this lesson includes a “science experiment”. You may want to practice before presenting it to the class.


Opening - Welcome and Lesson Introduction:

As kids enter your workshop welcome them to the “Nic at Night Detective Agency”. Tell them that you were expecting some new recruits and that you’re glad that they’re here to help with this case. Tell them that your name is Detective _________.

Open with a prayer.

Dig - Main Content and Reflection:

The Story

Pass out a pair of dark sunglasses OR a detective hat OR a trenchcoat to each of the kids, so they each have at least one item. Give them each a detective star/badge that says “Nic at Night Detective Agency – Trainee” to wear and a detective notebook and pencil. (They can take these home at the end of class.)

Tell them that the new case you’re working on has clues spread out throughout the workshop. Have them choose a partner, since detectives usually work with a partner. If there is an odd number of kids, have the “shepherd” be a partner with one of the kids.

Tell them that they will know it’s a clue when they find it because it will have a star sticker on it.

Explain that all together they are to find 11 hidden clues. Tell them that sometimes the clues will be an object, sometimes a paper with a picture or word on it. Each pair of detectives is to find only 1 clue, take it with them and go sit on the rug, putting the object in the briefcase (or near if too big) on the floor in the middle.

You will need to keep track of the clues and make sure all 11 are found before starting the next part. You may need to ask some of the detectives to find more than one clue.

As they’re waiting for others to find clues, have them write down or draw in their notebook the items found so far. Once they’re all sitting in the circle have them write down or draw in their notebooks all 11 clues.

For Lower Elementary Group:

Have all detectives sit with you on the rug and tell the story like a rebus. You will read the story from the attached page. Everywhere there is a word in CAPS on the attached story, it’s a clue that they should have found. So when you get to that word in the story pause and see if the detectives can choose one of the objects to fill in the blank. See below for the next activity titled “questions for all ages”

For Upper Elementary Group:

Sit on the rug and place the briefcase in the center. Have the pairs write down all the clues gathered in their notebook.

Then give each pair of detectives a clipboard, pencil, and story sheet and have them work together on the Bible story sheet to fill in the blanks adding the clues they’ve all found.

After they all finish, read the story together to check if they got each one correct.

Then at the bottom of the story sheet there will be the words Who, What, Where, When, Why, How. Each pair is to come up with a question for one or more of these categories that they can ask in the next Q&A time. You may need to watch the clock and call “time” before they finish.

Questions for all ages:

  • Who were the two characters in the story? Jesus and Nicodemus
    Ask if anyone else has a “who” question for the group
  • When did Nicodemus visit Jesus? [at night]
    Ask if anyone else has a “when” question for the group
  • How does Nicodemus know that Jesus has been sent by God? [He’s heard about Jesus doing miracles]
  • How many kinds of birth does Jesus say there are and what are they? [2 – birth by your parents as a baby and birth through the Holy Spirit into God’s kingdom]
    Ask if anyone else has a “how” question for the group
  • What is the only way that Jesus says someone can enter the kingdom of God? [everyone must be born again of water and the Spirit]
  • What do we call being born of water and the Spirit? [baptism]
    Ask if anyone else has a “what” question for the group
  • Why did God send Jesus to us? [God sent Jesus to us because he loves us so much that he wants us to live forever with him in heaven.]
    Ask if anyone else has a “what” question for the group
  • Where in the Bible can we find this story of Nicodemus visiting Jesus? [John chapter 3]
    Ask if anyone else has a “what” question for the group

 Tell the kids that detectives ask questions to find out the truth. Nicodemus was looking for the truth and he found Jesus, who is Truth!

ASK: Do you ever have questions that you’d like to ask Jesus? (look for a yes or no answer rather than the questions themselves --- maybe just by a “raise your hand” poll)

SAY: Be daring enough to investigate who Jesus is and what he says. You can open the Bible and "visit" Jesus. Later we’ll take some time alone to quietly ask Jesus to show you who He is and how you can get to know Him better. He will be there waiting for you, just like He was there for Nicodemus and me and for all those who come to Him.


SAY: Right now it’s time to go to the Top Secret Lab and work on some experiments!

MOVE to the table to do the following discussion and experiments.
SAY: One of the things Jesus said to Nicodemus was about being “born again”. Jesus explained it to Nicodemus but Nicodemus was still confused. Let’s talk about this.

ASK: What are the differences between a newborn baby and someone your age?
SAY: It's easy to see the differences between newborn babies and those who are older. But there are other things you can't tell about people just by looking at them.
ASK: When you just take a quick look at someone, how can you tell whether he or she is a good person or a bad person?
SAY: In the same way, you can't really tell if a person is a Christian and follower of Jesus just by looking at his or her appearance. Was Nicodemus thinking about the outside or inside of a person when Jesus was telling him about being born again? (outside) Did Jesus mean outside change or inside change? (inside)

Give each detective a clear cups and a stir stick.

For the older kids also give them one “prediction” sheet per pair and one pencil. The younger kids you’ll just ask the questions, 2 older groups you’ll ask but they’ll record their answers on the paper.

The label will be removed from the club soda so they don’t know what it is. Pour some in each child's cup, filling it only half way.

Ask for their prediction on the following:

  • What do you think this drink will taste like?

Tell them to take a very small sip of it, but explain that they need it for their science experiment, so only a small sip.

  • Were your predictions correct about the taste of the drink?

Tell them that you are going to put 2 drops of food coloring in each of their cups. Ask:

  • Do you think the look will change?
  • Do you think the taste will change?

Put 2 drops of food coloring in each child’s cup. You can ask what color they’d like. Have the Beacon help to speed the process.

Hand them each a stir stick to mix up their drink and completely color it. Ask:

  • Was your prediction correct about the color?
  • When you take a sip again, do you think the taste will change or not?

Have them take a very small sip. Ask:

  • Were your predictions correct about the taste?

SAY: The soda didn't really change. It looks different, but it tastes the same.

ASK: What kind of change was Jesus looking for Nicodemus to do?
Superficial change/outside change or real/inside change? What's the difference?

ASK: What did Nicodemus think Jesus meant when he talked about a man being "born again"?
SAY: Jesus was talking about the inside of a person. Jesus meant that our souls, or the part of us that makes us who we are, are "born again" when we receive the Holy Spirit.
Let's let your drink represent a person who doesn't know about God.


  • · What does the drink taste like right now?
  • · How are people who don't have God in their hearts like this drink?

SAY: Now let's let this white grape juice represent the Holy Spirit.
Pour about as much juice in the kid's cups as they have water, an even amount of each.


  • Do you think the look will change?
  • Do you think the taste will change?

Have the kids mix then take a small sip. Ask: Were your predictions correct?
SAY: The sweet juice helps the drink taste much better and sweeter. Even though it looks the same as it did before, the drink is now different on the inside.
That's why Nicodemus didn't understand about what it meant for a man to be "born again." He was thinking about the outside of a person (the look) and not the inside.

As the kids finish their drinks, ask:

  • How is being "born again" like what we did to the plain water?
  • Why can't we tell by looking at another person if he or she has received the Holy Spirit and been "born again"?
  • What things does a person who has been "born again" do?
  • How would you define "born again" in your own words?
  • How can a person receive the Holy Spirit and be "born again"?


Allow for 5-10 minutes of wrap up/prayer with the shepherd and kids.

Story/Clue Sheet: The words in CAPS are the clues we hid. Clues were blanked out on the clue sheets. There is a key at the bottom of the story as to what the object was.

Nic At Night:
Nicodemus was a Pharisee. He tried with all his HEART to keep God’s laws and to obey all the many RULES that had been added to them over the centuries. He was also a member of the ruling Jewish Council.

Nicodemus had HEARD all about Jesus, but he was not angry or jealous about what Jesus was doing, like many of the other Pharisees were.

“Jesus must be a good man,” Nicodemus thought, “or he could not do such MIRACLES.”

Nicodemus wanted to talk to Jesus, so he decided to visit him at NIGHT, when no prying onlookers would tell his friends on the Council. They wouldn’t approve.

Jesus knew all about Nicodemus, long before he came out of the dark shadows of the night to talk to him.

“There is something important that I must tell you,” Jesus said. You will never enter God’s kingdom by trying to keep the laws. You need to be born again.”

“How can I be born at my age?” Nicodemus asked. “I can’t become a BABY all over again!”

“There is more than one kind of birth”, Jesus explained. “You are born into this world through natural parents. But you are born into God’s kingdom through his Holy Spirit.”

Even though Nicodemus was a trained teacher in the laws, he had no IDEA what Jesus meant.

“God’s Holy Spirit is like the wind,” Jesus said. “You cannot see the Holy Spirit any more than you can see the wind. But just as you know when the wind is blowing by what it does and how it effects things, so you will know the Holy Spirit is at work in your life. The Holy Spirit is the ONE who can give you God’s life.

“For God so LOVED the WORLD that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to SAVE it.”

Nicodemus walked slowly away into the dark night. How different was Jesus’ way from the teachings he knew of. One day he would make up his mind which to follow.

(Adapted from “Children’s Bible in 365 Stories” by Batchelor.)

Heart - heart shaped cookie pan
Rules - rules from a board game
Heard - a plastic ear from a costume
Miracles - the word "miracles" on a piece of paper
Night - a blow up moon
Baby - doll
Idea - lightbulb
One - "we're number one" finger
Loved - another heart
World - small globe
Save - life preserver

Creative Carol added the following note and questions to the lesson:

Just wondering if I understand what the Bible story sheet looks like. (We did Nic a couple months ago but I’m thinking this would be fun to do next time.) Was it just the story that you posted but with blanks instead of the caps? As in...

Nicodemus was a Pharisee. He tried with all his _____ to keep God’s laws and to obey all the many _____ that had been added to them over the centuries...

And then at the bottom:
Who: _________
What: ________

Also wondering:
How did this work out for kids visiting this workshop at the beginning of the Rotation? Did you have the situation where this would be their first hearing of the story?

Other thoughts:
Clue for "save" could also be a pack of lifesavers. Might be fun to have the clue for miracles be a cell phone with a star on it and then have someone outside the room call that cell phone to give the clue.

Thanks for sharing your lesson,

Jan in Napa responded with this clarification....

We had our oldest group of kids go first and that was their first time hearing the story. After gathering all the clues, by writing down the name of the object, they were able to work it like a puzzle (example: ear = hear, "Nicodemus had ____ all about Jesus", "heard". They did this part as a group so between all of them, and getting extra help/clues, they got it. We even did this with our preschoolers (their last rotation) and they remembered the story and had a blast with finding the clues!

Luanne added on March 11/14 Word Docs:

Nic at Night Teacher Sheet

Nic at Night Student Sheet

A lesson written by Jan Napa from: First Presbyterian Church
Napa, CA

A representative of reformatted this post to improve readability.



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