Moses as a baby
Summary of Lesson Activity:
The students will learn the story of the birth of Moses and where it is in the Bible. The students will focus on the 5 women who were involved in saving Moses' life: The midwives Shiprah and Puah, his mother Jochebed (pronounced Jockabed), his sister, Miriam and the Daughter of the Pharaoh who adopted Moses. The students will create a weaving using fabric, fiber and other elements to symbolize and represent various facets of the story.
Exodus 1 -2
- Familiarize yourself with the scripture and lesson plan
- Prepare Looms--cut from thick, sturdy cardboard or buy inexpensive looms; add weft in alternating colors from jute
- Search for images to use as Photo cards for use with Bible reading [I got by oogling images; which, for example, showed what midwives might have done or which captured the emotion the midwives might have felt, pictures of Miriam looking through the reeds, etc. and then pictures of the Princess finding the basket. We had pictures of Jochebed coming back to get Moses, of Moses as an infant growing up in his family of origin and even of Jochebed returning Moses to his adoptive mother at 3 years old.]
- Print Parent sheets (we send a paper home explaining what the student has done that morning with some optional questions/discussion starters.)
- Make copies of Memory verse to hand out
- Gather materials for weaving activity
- Make a poster explaining the symbolism of the weaving options (see end of lesson for a suggested)
- Wire cutters
- Fabrics: organza, cottons, flannels
- Fibers: jute, burlap, ribbons
- Metals--colored wires, metal sheets or strips
- Beads--those that look stones or wood
- Looms or loom supplies
- Dried grasses, berries
Opening-Welcome and Lesson Introduction:
Introduce yourself to the students
Say: This morning we are going to learn about the origins of Moses: the circumstances around his birth and boyhood. We are going to read the story from the Bible, then look at some photos, and then do some weaving.
Ask: Is there anyone here who does not know who Moses is? (If yes, say: That's okay because we are spending this month learning about different aspects of his life and why he is such an important person in our history.)
Ask: Did Moses live before or after Jesus? (before) So is his story in the Old Testament or the New Testament? (Old). Do any of you know which book in the Bible we'll find his story? (Exodus)
Say: Let's find Exodus in our Bibles. Before we read the scripture let's pray:
Dear God, open our minds and our hearts to what you have to show us today in the story of Moses. Amen.
Dig- Main Content and Reflection
Read the Bible Story from Exodus. For the younger children you may abbreviate the story.
Say: This is one of the stories in the Bible where women are the heroes.
Pass around photos of the midwives:
The midwives, Shiprah and Puah, had the courage to defy the Pharoah (who isn't even named). The fact that the women are named but the Pharaoh is not, tells us that the midwives were more important than the Pharaoh. Even though they lied, which is, of course, wrong, God rewards them because they did what was really the right thing to do. They could murder innocent babies or they could lie to Pharaoh.
Murder vs. Lie. Which do you think is the worst thing to do?
God rewarded them by giving them their own children.
Ask: Pharaoh was unhappy, so what did he do? (He ordered that all boy babies be killed.) Why do you think he wanted just the boy babies to be killed? (In those days men were the strong ones who served in armies and had the power. Women were considered weak and powerless. That's why this story about these strong women is even more significant.)
Pass around photos of Jochebed.
Ask: What was the name of Moses' mother? (Jochebed)
She gave birth to Moses about the time the Pharaoh wanted all these babies killed, didn't she?
She, of course, didn't want to kill her baby so what did she do? (hid him for 3 months). Have any of you ever seen a new born baby? They are very small and easy to hide because they sleep a lot and will be more quiet if they are well fed--babies will cry when they are hungry. But when Moses was 3 months old he wasn't as easy to hide. So what did Jochebed do? (Made a basket, sealed it with tar and pitch, and set Moses afloat in the Nile river.) Can you imagine your mother giving you away? (of course not)
But in order to save Moses' life his motherhad to give him away.
Pass around photos of Miriam.
Ask: Who comes on the scene next? (Miriam) Moses' sister Miriam goes with her mother to set Moses afloat in the water. Miriam keeps an eye on the basket and follows it.
Why do you think she does this? (it was hard to let him go, she wanted to see if he was rescued, her mother asked her to)
Pass around photos of Princess.
Ask: Who was the next woman we meet in the story? (The Pharaoh Princess.) Does she have a name? (No)
Why not? (because what matters about her is that she is the daughter of the very Pharoah who ordered the Hebrew baby boys killed.)
She finds the basket, pulls it out of the river, and takes the baby.
Does she know that it's a Hebrew baby? (yes)
She adopts the baby, doesn't she? (Yes)
Say: A woman who has not given birth to a baby cannot nurse the baby so how was she supposed to feed him? They didn't have bottles in those days. She had to find someone who had given birth to a baby. That new mother could nurse her own baby and someone else's if it was needed--that happened a lot in those days.
Do you remember what happens next? (Miriam thinks very quickly on her feet and offers to find someone to nurse the baby for the Princess.)
We don't know if the Princess realizes that this woman was Moses' mother but she lets Jochebed take the baby to raise till he doesn't need to nurse anymore, that is 3 years old. So Moses lives with his own mother and father, brother Aaron and sister Miriam.
Ask: Does anyone want to share the feelings that you had looking at these photos? What words would you use to describe these women? (brave, strong, powerful, loving, sacrificing, giving, etc)
Now that we understand the story and have an idea of some of the qualities these women had we are going to make a weaving. I've got the looms all ready to go with the weft already in place. The part you are going to do is weave in the warp. There are a lot of options for the warp part of your weaving. These options are meant to symbolize some of the qualities of these women and some of the other aspects of the story.
[As I introduced the different items I told them what I had been thinking of but gave the students permission to attach any meaning or symbolism to each material that they liked.]
For instance, jute and burlap would represent the roughness and hardship of their lives and some of the fibers they would be using at that time.
There is pink organza to symbolize the Princess who would have worn veils of this typeof fabric.
There are blue fabrics, ribbons and wires that you might want to use to symbolize the water. There are flannels that could symbolize the baby blanket, diaper or clothing of Moses.
There are batik fabrics that look middle-eastern but also might represent the water and the reeds along the Nile.
There is fabric that looks like real basket weaving.
We've fabric and ribbon that brings in the celestial element: God and angels active in the story.
We have metal to represent the strength of these women. The metal is in the form of wire and in the form of chains. The chains could represent the breaking of the bonds of slavery. The chains might also represent the chains of slavery in which these women lived.
There are red fabrics--velvet to represent the softness and strength of Jochebed's love and sacrifice, red braided fabric or plain red fabric to symbolize the midwives.
We have some dried grasses and bittersweet which is a plant. Miriam's name actually means "bitter" so the bittersweet could represent her in your weaving.
We have some wooden and some rock beads which you can add that also represent strength.
With all these different elements to use in your weaving, select a few and start weaving--make it look the way you want it to look so that it has meaning for you. Hopefully when you look at it you will remember that our religion has a history of strong and courageous women at its core.
When the weavings are done take the weft off. The students can insert twigs or dowels to hang the weaving or tie off the ends
Hand out the parent sheets and Memory verse cards.
- This was incredibly successful. All three classes (we have our youngest (Sprouts), our middle years grade 3-6 (Saplings) and our teens 7-12 grades (Buds and Blooms) really got into it. Several in the last week of the Rotation took their weavings home to finish them. One of our teens was so into it that she kept her family waiting till the coffee hour was over!
- The reason for the pictures is that I wanted to give the kids a way to connect emotionally with the story; I wanted them to see what it might look like for a mother to give up her child by seeing the pain on her face or the delight when she retrieves him, etc. This was especially helpful with our youngest class (K-grade 2) and less so with our teens. But I think concrete is often times better all the way around.
- I used hemp string and the sides of old cat litter boxes (you need sturdy cardboard) to make looms.
- Some fabric possibilities included:
- Fabrics and fibers that represent the environment, the reeds, the water--blue burlap, jute, raffia, batik, blue and green fabrics, brown burlap
- Fabrics that represent the infant: flannels
- Fabrics that represent the Princess--organza fabric, organza ribbon
- Fabric that represent Jochebed's love--red velvet
- Fabrics and fibers that represent the basket, the roughness and hardship of the Israelite's lives--burlap, jute, raffia, basket weave fabric
- Red cotton braid--the mid-wives strength
- Metal chains--strength and power of the women to also break the chains of Pharaoh
- Bittersweet--Miriam's name means "bitter"
- Blue and silver ribbon and indigo fabric--God, celestial
- Wooden beads--strength, growth, solid foundation
- Metal wire of different colors: strength and courage, different colors may have additional meanings.
- Rocks--these women are the rocks in Moses' life
A lesson written by “Cat Blue” from:
Lebanon United Methodist Church
A representative of Rotation.org reformatted this post to improve readability.