Art lessons and ideas for teaching the Jacob stories, including Jacob and Esau, and Jacob's Ladder, in Sunday School

Post your Sunday School art lessons, ideas, and activities for the Jacob stories, including Jacob and Esau, and Jacob's ladder here. 

Jacob and Esau, Genesis 25, Genesis 27, Genesis 28, Isaac blesses Jacob, Jacob's Dream, Stairway to Heaven, Jacob and Laban, Leah, Rachel, Jacob Wrestles, Bible Sunday School lessons about Jacob and Esau -with Art, activities, craft, painting, construction,drawing, etc.

You are welcome to post your Sunday School lesson plan for the Jacob stories. Click "reply" at the end of this thread.

Take me to the lessonsIt includes THREE creative Art Workshop lesson plans for Jacob and Esau.

Jacob & Esau
History/Art Lesson 

Summary of Lesson Activities:

Jacob's family tree 

Scripture Reference:

Genesis 25:19-34, 27:1-45, 28:10-22

Workshop-specific Goals

  • To understand God’s Covenant with Abraham, as patriarch of his household, that he would be the “father of many nations” and “kings would come from him.”
  • To learn that God extended to Jacob the unconditional promises previously given to Abraham and Isaac – land, descendants, that nations will be blessed, and God’s presence and protection.
  • To recognize that we are all part of Abraham’s descendents and kingdom by filling in the blanks of his family tree.
  • To remember that God is behind the dynamics of Jacob & Esau – He does not always follow the “norm” of society to do His will.
  • To discover that the parts of their story work together to emphasize what happens is God’s work, intended to advance His plan for our salvation.
  • Memory Verse: Genesis 28:15

Leader Preparation:

  • Review Bible Background notes (notes especially relevant to this station are in bold)
  • Gather the materials.
  • Read the scripture ahead of time.

Supplies List:

  • Bibles (supplied in teaching box)
  • Construction Paper – “leaf” colored such as greens, orange, yellow, red
  • Markers/Pens
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Abraham’s Family Tree Poster—on large sheet of paper or poster board

Advance Preparation Requirements:

  • Abraham’s Family Tree Poster – This poster will be the most time-intensive to prepare ahead of time as it is the backdrop for the lesson. It serves as an oversized “worksheet” for the kids to fill in the blanks of fathers and sons. A suggested layout should accompany this lesson. It could be created on a large piece of poster board. But, something that is more mural-like, say 6 x 6 foot would be more creative and impressive.
  • The blanks of the tree could be filled in one of two ways – 1) prewritten with leaves taped over them that the kids take turns uncovering or 2) lines that the students simply fill in. I like #1 for younger groups and #2 for the older. So, if resources allow, perhaps two posters could be made? You might want to use leaves for the older students to write on—instead of directly on the tree—so that you can reuse the family tree from week to week. 


Opening- Welcome and Lesson Introduction:

(Teacher lesson begins after guide time—the guides will review/ask questions about what happened last week) 

Make sure you have your nametag on. Introduce yourself to the students.

Open with a prayer if the guide does not. 

Dig-Main Content and Reflection:

Bible Story:

On the first Sunday of the rotation, begin with: Last month we spent a lot of time talking about Abraham. Can you remind me who he was? Today we are going to look into history to see who came after Abraham (his sons, grandsons, great-grandsons, etc.)

On the following Sundays of the month begin with: Can anyone tell me about what you’ve learned so far about the story of Jacob & Esau. (Prompts: Are they brothers? Who was born first? They’re twins? Etc.)

After a few minutes to get them warmed up to the topic, tell them: Today we are going to look into history to see where these guys came from (who was their father, grandfather, etc.) and who came after (their sons, grandsons, great-grandsons, etc.)

Do you remember Abraham from last month’s lessons? God made a covenant with him - a promise. Can anyone tell me what it was? Review Genesis 17 with the kids.

God promised Abraham that he would be the “father of many nations and “kings would come from him.” Do you think that God kept his promise? Let’s take a look in the Bible and see.


Has anyone here ever put together a family tree? Do you know what it is? Allow kids time to answer. It’s a way to diagram/draw out the “branches” of your family to see who came from whom. It would list your parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters, spouse, children, grandchildren and on and on. A large family would have lots of branches and leaves on its family tree. If God said Abraham would be the “father of many nations” – would he have a large tree or a small sapling?

There should be enough “blanks” on the tree for all the names listed below in bold.

Let’s start by putting Abraham at the top of the tree and let’s add his wife, Sarah. Now, who was their son? Let’s look it up in Genesis 21:1-3.

Isaac had an interesting journey with his father – remember the offering on the mountain? When he grew up it was time to for him to marry, Abraham’s servant went to find his wife. Read the story he told of how he found her in Genesis 24:42-49. What was her name?

Rebekah and Isaac did get married, with Abraham’s blessing, but they weren’t able to have kids right away. Let’s read about Isaac’s prayer in Genesis 25:21-26.

What were the boys’ names? Right - Jacob and Esau, the focus of our lessons this month. The bible verse says that “two nations” were in Rebekah’s womb. Who was the oldest? (Esau). In Bible times, the oldest son was the favored one and received the better inheritance. But God had His own plans, which put Jacob before Esau. We’re going to focus on Jacob’s lineage next.

Jacob left his mother and father’s land to his mother’s brother, Laban, in Haran. Read Genesis 27:41-45 to find out/remember why.

Isaac passed Abraham’s special blessing on to Jacob before Jacob left. Read Genesis 28:1-4. Remember this promise says that he will be “fruitful and increase in numbers.” While in Haran, Jacob took two different wives – what were their names? We can find them in Genesis 29:16

Between these two wives, Leah and Rachel, Jacob had 12 sons. Can anyone name them? Let’s take the easy route and read them from Genesis 35:23-26. That’s a pretty big nation!

In fact, one of those names sounds pretty familiar – have you ever heard the phrase, “The land of Judah?” Maybe around Christmas time? Let’s jump up to the New Testament and read a different list of fathers and sons. Matthew 1:1-15.

There were 42 generations from Abraham to Jesus. That’s a lot of branches! But what a special tree it is. Without each of those people, we would not have the salvation that comes from Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection.

Did God keep his promise to Abraham that he would be the father of many nations? Yes! But, the tree didn’t stop there. Many generations and thousands of years later, each one of us joined the family tree. Let’s add our names to the list.

Have the children trace their hands on construction paper and cut out these “leaves” for the family tree. Write each name on a leaf and adhere it to the poster along the bottom. If time allows, have them decorate their leaf more elaborately than just their name. Perhaps they could include something on the leaf that represents them or their own “history”.

Now let’s stop and look back at the middle of this tree. Jacob had to flee from Esau because he held a serious grudge against him. Remember Genesis 27:41? “The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob.”

What would have happened if Esau had killed Jacob? The line to Jesus would have been disrupted! But, God had a plan for our salvation. He knew that the brothers had to forgive each other. Let’s read Genesis 33: 1-11. The chapter ends with Jacob building an altar to God and calling it “El Elohe Israel” which means “God, the God of Israel” or “Mighty is the God of Israel.”

God truly is mighty. He has plans for each our lives, and nothing can get in His way. What a great tree to be a part of!

Journal Topic (last 5 minutes of class):
Help the guide to hand out pencils/pens and the student folders. The guides will have copies of the journaling pages. The children should find a place to sit quietly and think and write in their journals. You and the guide may need to help the younger children with their writing. Another option for younger children is to draw a picture about the topic.

Older children:
Who is a significant person in your family tree? How has s/he contributed to who you are today?

Younger children:
Name the various people in your family. What are some favorite things that they have given to your life?


Dear Lord, Thank you so much for planting such a wonderful family tree for us. We are proud of the many branches that have grown from your son. Each individual is a special creation you have made. Most importantly, we thank you for your son Jesus, for sending him to us so that we can have forgiveness of our sins. Please be with us as we continue to grow in your name. Let us learn from those generations before us so we can teach the ones that come later. In your precious name, Amen.

Age Adaptations
See Above in Poster Description.


A Sunday School lesson from St. John Lutheran Church. 

Original Post

Alternative Idea from Neil:

Posted by Wormy

Go Bigger on the "Jacob and Esau" tree described above.

Get a large tree branch and trunk and set it in a bucket of concrete (the 5 gallon kind from Home Depot). Prune the branches to suit your needs.

You can also purchase an inexpensive 'fake ficus tree' at a home decor center and prune it to your needs.

Then have students WRAP the trunk and branches in colorful VINYL TAPE. Color code periods of history (red for Abraham's close members, brown for Moses/Exodus, blue for Judges and Kings, white for Jesus/disciples). Etc.

Make sure you have several branches for The Church (Catholic/Protestant/Orthodox).

Label the tape colors with Bible story references, such as, "Genesis" "Exodus" "Kings" .New Testament" ....and make leaves to represent various Bible characters and one for each kid. (You can find already made "fall leaves" in the craft store.

Fasten to the branches using florist 'green' wire. Be sure to "wrap" a branch for your church and add KIDS' own leaves on that branch.

Finish by wrapping a GOLDEN RIBBON from bottom to top titled "God's Plan for Salvation". The teacher can do this in full view of the students....discussing as they wrap how Jacob and Esau's flaws and sins didn't derail God's plan.

Discuss how God works through "people like us" to get out his message of salvation.

Discuss how God might "graft on" a new branch to his tree (the Church was described by Paul as being "engrafted" to the story of his ancestors).

Discuss how WE might help others be engrafted to this tree (bring others to Christ).

From the internet, have pictures of "trees that have grown around obstacles".
--- picture of bicycle growing inside tree.

---picture of tree growing around rock.

<>< Neil

They and We are Part of God's Tapestry

An Art Project

One of the things that the story of Jacob and Esau teaches us is that God's family is not perfect, and that God can work through imperfect and diverse people.... like us. We are woven by God throughout God's tapestry or story (which is different than thinking God is woven around us.) This lesson expresses these ideas. Our weaving strips will be woven into God's watercolor tapestry.



Member @Jaymie Derden shared this wonderful "tapestry" idea with us, and we are expanding on it here. There are so many creative possibilities depending on your age group, amount of time available, and materials you select. Be sure to see the "quick drying tips" below. Your suggestions and improvements are welcome.

his is one of my all-time favorite Art Workshops. The inspiration came from some artwork I saw while in Chicago at a Worship For Life meeting. -Jaymie

We did a weaving of painted watercolor paper strips to represent how God wove together all the experiences of their lives (and ours) into an amazing tapestry. It was really cool.

Two "how-to" options:

The Two Week Option:

weaving1Week One: After studying parts of the story, each student first paints a water color painting representing the timeless majesty and love of "God."  You can use colors and shapes to represent this. Large details will still appear in a creative way even after you weave strips through them. Note: as they paint, keep talking about Jacob and Esau's story, what it means, and how we are part of that story. 

Then they paint a second water color representing all God's people in their diversity and imperfections. How do you represent that? The second water color will be cut into strips and woven into the first.

Set them aside to dry. Be sure the student's name is on the back of each watercolor. 

Tip: Use watercolor paper, not construction paper or copy paper. See the Tips in the One Week Option for speeding up drying. 

Week Two: Fold God's water color in half and use scissors to cut 7 or 8 slightly curvy slits from the folded edge out to the two edges without cutting all the way to the edge (leave about 3/4".  

Alternately, cut God's water color completely into strips and use its strips as the vertical strips, and weave-in the 'people' water color strips horizontally.  

For younger children, cut the God paper for them and place a strip of tape around the backside of the God paper so it doesn't rip when they start weaving with it. Let them cut the people strips. 

Cut the God's people watercolor into slightly curvy strips.  You now have strips to weave into your God watercolor.

After weaving, use a marker to write the names of Bible family members, like Abraham and Sarah, Jacob and Esau. Jesus. Heroes in your church. Members of your family and your own name. Only write on the "people" strip squares

To finish: Add a title, such as, "God's tapestry." Then mount the weaving to a backing piece of paper by gluing it. 

One Week, Option #1, Painting in advance

weaving2This option focuses the students on expression through weaving rather than the painting.

In advance, the teacher paints both the God and"people water colors and let's them dry. Be sure to do something different in your technique or choice of color to help express God strips from people strips. Provide a variety of offerings. Remember that the water color can have large shapes that suggest things like love, embrace, majesty, etc.  

Cut the People watercolors into strips and pile them on the table.

Fold and cut six or seven vertical SLITS in the God watercolor sheets and stack those next to the People strips. (To cut the slits, fold the God sheet in half and cut from the folded each to within 3/4" of the opposite side of the paper. If students wish to completely cut through the God sheet, they can, but it will be more difficult to weave.

Explaining the project. Read select scriptures from the story, and after each section is read, ask the students to select water color strips and ask them WHY they choose those strips. Continue doing this for three or four short sections of scripture. 

After they have selected the People strips, offer them 

To the students....weave their own strip(s) into the Jacob and Esau tapestry, because 'you' are part of their faith family too.

One Week, Option #2, the "Fast Drying" Option

Ideally you'll want your students to paint either or both of the watercolors. But if you only have one week to paint AND weave, and want students to do both, then you need to accelerate the drying and assembly process. Note: This options requires 45 minutes of class time.

Fast Drying Methods:

1. Use real watercolor paper, not construction paper or copy paper. Watercolor paper is stronger, and thus, easier to weave when still damp.

2. Use a lot less water!  Dip the brush in water, then brush water off of it before dipping in the watercolor paint. (children tend to soak their paper)

3. Use a hairdryer set on low. This is the watercolor artists' secret!   Set up a "drying station" with two hairdryers. You don't need your watercolor paper perfectly dry to start weaving it.


4. You will need a really sharp pair of scissors to cut slightly damp paper. Younger students will need someone to do it with them so that their paper doesn't tear.

This "tapestry weaving" has so many possibilities. 
God's watercolor could be the shape of a tree, like a Jesse Tree, or a boat, or other symbols of God's family. The resulting weave is supposed to look rather impressionistic. The key idea is to include NAMES of past and present "family" members.

Adam and Eve's family
Abraham's family
Jesus' family
Matthew 1, Jesus' genealogy
Family of God


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