David and Goliath
Summary of Lesson Activities:
Readers’ theater is used to dramatize David’s battle with Goliath. Many of the Psalms attributed to David are featured in the script. Younger students will use a tape recording of the older students’ reading as the soundtrack for a puppet show.
1 Samuel 17: 1-58
2 Samuel 22:2b-3 (NLT)
Objectives for rotation
(see listing above)
Additional objectives for the Drama Workshop
At the end of the session, the students will be able to
- relate the story of David the shepherd and Goliath the giant.
- know that David is said to have written many of the Psalms.
Teacher preparation in advance:
- Read the scripture passages and lesson plan and attend the Bible Study, ...
- Prepare a closing prayer.
- Learn the memory verse.
- Learn the story well enough so that you can retell it with minimal use of notes and maximum eye contact.
- To our teachers at RCC: The design of this workshop is very intentional. The activities and discussion questions for this workshop were designed to meet the goals of the entire rotation and the educational objectives of the Rotation Model (tm) at River Community Church. While we feel it is important to follow the serendipitous leading of the Holy Spirit, please do not change the lesson plan without consulting a Curriculum Planning and Writing Team member.
- Check out the room before your first Sunday workshop so that you know where everything is located.
- Write the memory verse on a piece of posterboard in two colors as indicated in the memory verse activity on page - of this lesson plan.
- SCHEDULING NOTE: one of the older classes should be in this rotation first so they can record the script for the younger classes to use for a puppet show.
If possible, have a chair for each of the 13 parts in the Readers’ Theater Script.
Optional: Puppet stage (or table covered with table cloth or turned on its side)
- smooth stones (from a garden supply store or the floral department of a discount store)
- flip chart or whiteboard and markers
- tape measurer
- memory verse poster
For Readers’ Theater:
- scripts (13 copies for readers; prepare them for easy use by highlighting one reader’s lines on each one)
- simple hats or headpieces to help identify characters (or construction paper and patterns for making them from Paper Hat -- see notes following lesson)
- tape recorder and blank tape
For younger student puppet option:
- tape-recording of the script and tape player
- Bible-time puppets
- sheep puppets (can be posterboard sheep covered with cotton balls attached to a paint stick)
- lion puppet (or lion action can take place “off stage")
- For Goliath, pretend a regular puppet is big, use a bigger puppet, have Goliath be “off stage,” or have a student dressed up in Bible-time clothes pretend to be Goliath.
Opening-Welcome and Introductions:
Greet the children and introduce yourself. Wear your name-tag. (Remember you are interacting with a different group of students each week who may not know you.) Make sure the children are wearing name-tags. If not, ask the Shepherd to supply a temporary badge.
We had an opening prayer during the gathering time, but you may open with prayer if you feel led to do so.
Explain the purpose of this workshop: Today we will retell the story of David and Goliath using Readers’ Theater/puppets.
Give each child a smooth stone to look at and feel. Have them tell you words to describe their stones; write them down on the flip chart or whiteboard headed with the statement “words that describe this stone.”
Tell the story (see The Lion Storyteller Bible for an excellent condensation of the story for reading or retelling). If you use notes, hold them in your Bible so that it is clear the story came from the Bible.
In addition to being a shepherd, David later became king. He also wrote songs, called Psalms, some of which we will hear today. Let’s read one of the songs written by David. As we read, think about what this Psalm shows about David and how he felt about God.
Read the scripture: Psalm 139: 17-24.
(Encourage the children to use their Bibles in looking up verses. Show them how they can open their Bibles to the middle and find Psalms.)
Discuss before acting out the story:
Characters: David, Jesse (father), King Saul, Eliab (oldest brother), Abinadab and Shammah (second and third oldest brothers), Goliath of Gath, Israelite army, Philistine army
- Where did the story take place? Jesse’s home and sheep fields, Israelite army’s camp, battlefield
Use the tape measurer to show how tall Goliath was. Most Bibles say he was 6 cubits and 6 span (9 feet, 9 inches tall); the Dead Sea Scrolls (an older manuscript) indicate he was 4 cubits and 1 span, which is 6 feet, 9 inches -- still quite tall! (Walker, Giants!)
Look at the smooth stone word list: did anyone put down a word having to do with weaponry or implying power?
Dig-Main Content and Reflection:
Mime (act without words):
- David facing lions and bears
- Jesse when David wanted to join brothers
- Israelites when Goliath yelled at them
- King Saul when David volunteered to fight Goliath
- Goliath when he saw David
- Philistine army when Goliath fell, Israelite army when Goliath fell
(These are meant to be brief warmups. Point out a child or two that does an emotion/reaction especially well and then move on to the next item on the list.)
Practice saying Eliab, Abinadab, and Shammah.
Assign parts and read the story using the Readers’ Theater script. (David has the biggest part, so it should go to a good reader. The narrators should be confident readers, also. Note that this is one of those stories with no female roles. Girls can portray any of the men or boys in the story. If necessary, one person can read several smaller rolls.)
Explain that in some churches, Psalms are chanted by a cantor. Demonstrate, and suggest that David consider chanting the songs in the script.
Consider tape-recording the performance to play it back for the group, or to play it for another class or program. If another class will be using the recording for a puppet show, be sure to leave pauses for the puppet action.
Listen to the tape, discuss other things that can be added to the performance, and if time permits, do it again.
Variation: Puppet show. Have a class of older students record their Readers’ Theater reading with pauses for puppet action and movement. Play the tape once so the puppeteers are familiar with the plot and dialog. Play the tape again, with the puppets miming action and moving their mouths (if they are moving mouth puppets) in sync with the tape. You will want to do this several times so that everyone can learn their cues. It may be necessary for some of the action to take place “off stage” (such as the battle with the lion and Goliath being killed and beheaded).
Pulling it all together (closing discussion):
∙ Was David braver than all the soldiers? Why?
- I wonder how David knew God was with him?
- I wonder why Saul trusted the boy David with all of their lives? (Remember Goliath’s challenge, that if he won, the Israelites would become slaves.)
- I wonder how the story would have changed if David had worn Saul’s armor?
- What sorts of ‘giants’ do we have to face in our lives? Is God with us? How do we know?
- Have you ever had to depend on God with a faith that looked foolish to the world?
Review the memory verse.
Write the memory verse on a piece of posterboard in two colors as indicated below.
Divide the class into two groups and call one group the “red” group and one group the “blue” group. Have them read the appropriate color line on the memory verse poster; purple lines are to be read in unison (both groups together). After a few times have the groups switch and read the other color. Then read it one time in unison. (If time permits in later weeks of the rotation, ask for a volunteer to say the verse by himself/herself.)
The LORD is my rock, [purple]
my fortress, and my savior; [red]
my God is my rock, [purple]
in whom I find protection. [blue]
He is my shield, [red]
the strength of my salvation, [blue]
and my stronghold, [red]
my high tower, [blue]
my savior, [red]
the one who saves me from violence. [blue]
2 Samuel 22:2b-3 [purple]
Turn the class over to the Shepherd.
This is meant to be a time of reflection and introspection. Say, “We will spend some time in quiet reflection and meditation rather than journaling today.”
Have everyone pick up a smooth stone. Dim the lights, if possible. Say slowly and quietly: “Everyone, feel your stone. Rub it with your hands. Feel its weight. Feel its coolness. Close your eyes and think about where it may have come from. Think about how it was formed. Think about David, searching for just the right stones. Try to imagine what was going through David’s mind as he prepared to fight a 9 foot tall giant armed only with 5 stones like the one you are holding. [pause]
“Or did David have nothing but those five stones?
No, he had God with him.
“Think about a difficult time you faced alone. Or were you alone?
“Take a few moments for silent prayer.
“And all God’s children say --- Amen.”
(Allow the children to take their smooth stones home as a memento.)
If time permits, children may also do a journal page. They may draw pictures, list highlights of the day’s activities, or rephrase the memory verse. The journal pages will be saved and given to the children at the end of the school year.
You may want to provide an extra activity or worksheet for children who finish their journals quickly, such as coloring sheets, crossword puzzles, word searches, games. See the Workshop Leader’s Background Notes and rotation.org for ideas.
At noon, ask the students to turn in their journal pages and sit quietly for prayer.
Close with one of David’s Psalms (Psalm 23 would be appropriate), or sing one of the many hymns based on Psalms (such as “All People That on Earth Do Dwell. Many hymnals have a section of hymns based on Psalms.
Tidy and Dismissal: Ask children to help tidy the room. Give any specific instructions for clearing the workshop room.
Give everyone the parent take-home flyer the first week of the rotation; give it only to children who were absent and have not yet received it the other weeks of the rotation.
You will need to decide how best to adjust the lesson for older and younger students. Keep the children active and involved in activity. Do what works for you and the children. Some ideas:
- older students (third grade and up) can read this lesson as Readers’ Theater. For younger students, have the older students tape record the reading (with pauses to allow time for movement and action) to be used as a sound track for a puppet show.
- If time permits, the older children may enjoy using their tape to do a puppet show. Or they may want to switch parts and record the script again.
- For classes composed primarily of pre-readers, show the children how to find the passage in the Bible and then have them do it. After everyone has found the passage, have them close their Bibles and listen while you read.
- Have the children do a puppet show using the Readers’ Theater taping from a previous week as their soundtrack.
- Focus on the first part of the memory verse.
- Anne Diebel and Patt Newbold, "Hat Patterns to Help Teach Bible Stories", 9781564229946 (24 easy to make hat patterns such as : Angel, King David, Sheep, and Whale.)
- Cohen, Barbara. David: A Biography. New York: Clarion Books, 1995.
- Eisler, Colin. David’s Songs: His Psalms and Their Story. New York: Dial, 1992.
- Hartman, Bob. The Lion Storyteller Bible. Colorado Springs, Colorado: Lion Publishing, 1985.
- Walker, Paul Robert. Giants!: Stories from Around the World. New York: Harcourt Brace and Company, 1995.
- Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.
David: Shepherd, Psalmist, and Soldier
Readers’ Theater Script
Based upon I Samuel 17 (adapted from Today’s English Version)
Copyright 2003 Amy Crane. Permission granted to freely distribute and use, provided the copyright message is included.
Jesse (David’s father)
Philistine soldier 1
Philistine soldier 2
Eliab (David’s oldest brother)
Abinadab (David’s second brother)
Shammah (David’s third brother)
Each person introduces himself:
I am ________. I am reading the part of __________.
Narrator 1: Once there was a shepherd:
David: It’s so peaceful and quiet out here in the fields, watching over my father’s sheep today. Sometimes, it is noisy and stormy. Sometimes, I hear lions roar and I hear bears growl -- it’s frightening then. But I always remember that the Lord my God is with me protecting me, and then I am not lonely or afraid.
Narrator 2: This shepherd’s name was David.
Narrator 1: David watched over the sheep carefully. He counted them frequently. He named all of the sheep.
Narrator 2: But he was not just a shepherd, he was also a musician. He loved to play his harp. The hills around Bethlehem were a beautiful place. David delighted in creating songs praising God for the glory of His creation.
David: Sometimes when I play the harp, it seems almost as if the sheep were dancing.
(Following in singing or singsong voice)
O God, it is right for us to praise you in Zion and keep our promises to you,
because you answer prayers.
You show your care for the land by sending rain;
you make it rich and fertile.
You fill the streams with water;
you provide the earth with crops.
What a rich harvest your goodness provides!
Wherever you go there is plenty.
The pastures are filled with flocks;
the hillsides are full of joy.
The fields are covered with sheep;
the valleys are full of wheat.
Everything shouts and sings for joy.
(Psalm 65: 1-2a, 9, 11-13)
Sheep: Baaa, baaa, aaaamen!
Narrator 1: But the hills around Bethlehem were also a dangerous place. Especially if you were a sheep. There were rocky valleys and thorny bushes where a sheep could be lost.
Narrator 2: And there were lions and bears. David never hesitated to put his own life at risk to save a lamb from a lion or bear.
Narrator 1: One quiet evening, David heard a sound that made his blood run cold -- a low growl from the bushes at the lower end of the pasture.
David: (whisper) It sounds like a lion!
Sheep: (panicked) Baaaaa!
Narrator 2: David was a brave young man. He had faced lions and bears before. But he also knew enough to be cautious and afraid.
Narrator 1: David prayed.
David: Protect me, O God; I trust in you for safety.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
all the good things I have come from you.”
You, Lord, are all I have, and you give me all I need;
my future is in your hands.
I am always aware of the Lord’s presence;
He is near, and nothing can shake me.
And so I am thankful and glad,
and I feel completely secure, because you protect me from the power of death.
I have served you faithfully,
and you will not abandon me to the world of the dead.
You will show me the path that leads to life;
your presence fills me with joy and brings me pleasure forever.
(Psalm 16: 1-2, 5, 8-11)
Sheep: Baaa, baaa, aaaaamen!
Narrator 1: And David put down his harp and picked up his shepherd’s staff and ran down the hill, shouting at the lion, which now had a lamb in its jaws.
David: Go! Leave it alone! Drop Abigail now!
Narrator 2: David went after that lion. He attacked it and rescued the lamb. The lamb ran off to find her mother.
Narrator 1: The lion turned on David. David grabbed the lion by the throat and beat it to death. He took the lion skin home to his father that night.
Narrator 2: David lived with his father Jesse.
David: Father, I have killed a lion.
Jesse: Good job son.
David: God was with me.
Narrator 1: David was the youngest of eight sons. His three oldest brothers, Eliab, Abinadab, and Shammah, had gone off to join King Saul in the battle against the Philistines.
Narrator 2: As much as David loved his time in the fields watching over the sheep and singing songs praising God, he wanted to be in the Elah Valley with Saul and the Israelite army.
David: Father, let me join my brothers Eliab, Abinadab, and Shammah in service to King Saul.
Jesse: David, you know we have discussed this before, and my answer has not changed. No. You are too young. I don’t want to hear any more about it.
David: But Dad! All the other kids get to go to war!
Jesse: Now, David....
David: Yes, Father.
Narrator 1: David was an obedient son. He did not bring up the subject again. But that does not mean he stopped thinking about going to battle for his God and his King.
Narrator 2: Then, one day, the unexpected happened.
Jesse: Son, it has been a while since we have had news of your brothers and King Saul’s army. Take this grain and bread to your brothers in the camp. Take these cheeses to the commanding officer. Find out how your brothers are doing and if they are well. And then come home with the news.
David: Yes, sir! Thank you!
Narrator 1: So David set off with joy in his heart and a song on his lips.
David: (in singing or singsong voice)
O Lord, our Lord, your greatness is seen in all the world!
Your praise reaches up to the heavens;
it is sung by children and babies.
You are safe and secure from all your enemies;
you stop anyone who opposes you.
When I look at the sky, which you have made,
at the moon and the stars, which you set in their places --
what is man, that you think of him;
mere man, that you care for him?
(Psalm 8: 1-4)
Narrator 2: Meanwhile, in the Philistine army camp, overlooking the battlefield:
Philistine soldier 1: Can you believe we have been here forty days, and nothing has happened?
Philistine soldier 2: If only all wars were this safe and easy.
Philistine soldier 1: Yeah. Where did they find that big guy, anyway?
Philistine soldier 2: You mean Goliath? He’s from Gath. I have never seen anyone that tall before. Do you know that he’s over nine feet tall?!
Philistine soldier 1: Where in the world did he get his armor? It has to weigh more than I do. Plus he has that helmet and a javelin and a spear. He’s not only big, but he’s strong! I’m glad I’m not an Israelite.
Philistine soldier 2: The Israelite soldiers sure don’t seem to be worth much. None of them has stepped forward to fight Goliath yet. It’s been forty days! Their king, what’s his name, Saul?
Philistine soldier 1: Yeah, King Saul, that’s it. He’s the first king they ever had.
Philistine soldier 2: Well that explains a lot. I don’t know why he doesn’t just order someone to fight Goliath and get it over with. Otherwise, we might be here forever!
Philistine soldier 1: Maybe he’s hoping that if he waits long enough, we’ll forget about it and go home.
Philistine soldier 2: Or die of old age.
Philistine soldier 1: Yeah, maybe.
Narrator 1: And all is not quiet and restful in the Israelite’s army camp, either. Let’s listen in on some of David’s brothers and their comrades at arms.
Eliab: Twice a day for forty days now.
Abinadab: It’s been awful, hasn’t it? I’m not sure I can bear to hear that monster shout at us again.
Shammah: It’s almost enough to make me wish I were at home with David, watching the sheep.
Eliab: Shammah! How can you say such a thing! You know it is our duty, and a great honor, to serve in King Saul’s army.
Abinadab: I’m not sure that I feel like I am serving any wonderful cause.
Eliab: Abinadab! Watch your tongue. You know we are here to ...
David: Eliab, Abinadab, Shammah! Hi! I brought some food from Dad. How are you doing?
Shammah: What did you bring? Pizza? Chocolate chip cookies?
Abinadab: Shhhhh! Quiet! Here comes Goliath!
Goliath: I am Goliath, a Philistine. Choose one of your men to fight me. If he kills me and wins, all the Philistines will be your slaves. But if I kill your man and win, you Israelites will be our slaves. I challenge the Israelite army! I dare you to pick someone to fight me!
David: What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and frees Israel from this disgrace? Who is this man that he defies the army of the living God?
Israelite Soldier: King Saul has promised to give a big reward to the man who kills Goliath! The king will give his daughter in marriage. And the man’s family will not have to pay taxes.
Eliab: David, what are you doing here? Who is taking care of those sheep of yours? You spoiled brat! You just came here to watch the fighting!
David: What have I done? Can’t I just ask a question?
Narrator 2: Some of the soldiers heard what David was asking, and ran to tell King Saul.
Israelite soldier: King Saul! There is a young man here who sounds like he is willing to fight the giant!
King Saul: What are you waiting for? Bring him to me at once!
Narrator 1: David was led into the tent of King Saul. He bowed and spoke quickly.
David: Your Majesty, no one should be afraid of this Philistine monster! I will go and fight him.
King Saul: No. How could you fight him? You are just an untrained boy. He has been a soldier all of his life.
David: Your Majesty, I take care of my father’s sheep. Any time a lion or bear carries off a lamb, I go after it, attack it, and rescue the lamb. I have killed bears. Just this week I killed a lion. I will do the same thing to this Philistine, who has insulted the army of the living God. The Lord has saved me from lions and bears; He will save me from this Philistine.
King Saul: All right. Go, and the Lord be with you. Take my armor, too.
Narrator 2: David was dressed in King Saul’s armor and helmet and was given his sword. He could barely stand up.
David: OOOFF! Ouch! I can’t walk. I can barely stand up! I can’t fight with this. I’m not used to it.
Narrator 1: So he took off the armor. And he picked up his shepherd’s staff. As he headed toward the battlefield, he stopped by a stream. The Israelites watched as he paused, looked heavenward, and then bent and picked up something and put it in his bag. It looked like a stone. With his slingshot ready at his side, he went out to meet Goliath.
David: O Lord, my defender, I call to you.
Listen to my cry!
If you do not answer me,
I will be among those who go down to the world of the dead.
Hear me when I cry to you for help,
when I lift my hands toward your holy Temple.
Give praise to the Lord, he has heard my cry for help.
The Lord protects and defends me;
I trust in him.
He gives me help and makes me glad;
I praise him with joyful songs.
(Psalm 28: 1-2, 6-7)
Goliath: Hey, look! They’re finally sending someone out to fight me!
Narrator 2: Goliath started walking toward the center of the battlefield.
Goliath: It’s a boy! They are sending a boy to fight ME! What’s that stick for, little boy? Do you think I am a dog? Come on and fight me, child. I will feed your body to the birds.
David: It is true that you come against me with mighty weapons. But I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the Israelite army, whom you have insulted. This very day the Lord will put you in my power and I will cut off your head. Then the whole world will know that Israel has a God. And everyone here will see that the Lord does not need swords or spears to save his people. He is victorious in battle. He will put all of you in our power.
Eliab: That’s not our baby brother David out there, is it? What in the world is he doing?
Shammah: I can’t bear to watch! You tell me!
Abinadab: He’s running toward Goliath. Goliath is just standing there. Now David is reaching into his bag. He took something out.
Eliab: It’s a stone. Can you believe it? Our brother the shepherd thinks Goliath is a bear he can scare off with a little stone.
Shammah: Oh, I can’t watch. What’s happening now. Is he dead yet? Father will be so unhappy with us.
Abinadab: Look! Look! He put the stone in his slingshot, and can you believe it? It hit Goliath -- smack -- right in the middle of his forehead.
Shammah: What was that crash? Is the world coming to an end? Oh, I can’t stand it.
Eliab: Who does he think he is anyway? Look at the little showoff now, picking up Goliath’s sword.
Abinadab: Look, look, he’s cut off Goliath’s head with Goliath’s own sword. Our baby brother! Won’t father be so proud! And look, all the Philistines are running away. Let’s go after them!
David: The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my savior;
my God is my rock, in whom I find protection.
He is my shield, the strength of my salvation, and my stronghold,
my high tower, my savior, the one who saves me from violence.”
(2 Samuel 22:2b-3)
Narrator 1: And so, David faced Goliath and defeated him with God’s help.
Narrator 2: David continued to serve King Saul, and eventually became King himself. But, that is another story.
Sheep: Hey, wait, what about me? Don’t I get to be famous, too? Without the sheep, David would never have practiced with his slingshot! Baaaa.... Oh, Mr. Narrator, what about me.
Narrators 1 and 2: Quiet! The end!
Scripture taken from the Good News Bible in Today's English Version - Second Edition, Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society. Used by Permission.
"Costuming" notes for Readers' Theater
Paper Hat see info. above under Resources for book ordering info.
- you don’t need to follow the colors the book recommends
- use posterboard for the headband and the main part of the hat and then construction paper or scraps of posterboard for the “decorating”
- leave the headbands flat — we will tape and retape with masking tape as needed (they need to be big enough to go around Nathaniel’s head, or maybe even an adult head)
- the Readers’ Theater script is at the website in the Drama lesson plan for David and Goliath if you want to see where/how these are used
Character hat needed
Narrator 1 none *
Narrator 2 none *
David page 6 “David’s Hat”
Jesse (David’s father) page 19 “shepherd headdress”
Philistine soldier 1 **
Philistine soldier 2 **
Eliab (David’s oldest brother) ***
Abinadab (David’s second brother) ***
Shammah (David’s third brother) ***
Israelite Soldier ***
Goliath page 9 “Goliath hat”
King Saul page 4 “crown”
- if you have extra time, you can choose and make hats for the Narrators.
You can choose the soldiers’ helmets from page 20, 21, 22:
- make 2 soldier’s helmets that match
- make 4 soldier’s helmets that match (different from the Philistines’ helmets)
A lesson written by Amy Crane and Emily Nichols for River Community Church
Copyright 2003 Amy Crane. Permission granted to freely distribute and use, provided the copyright message is included.
A representative of Rotation.org reformatted this post to improve readability.