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The lesson plans, ideas, and resources in this "General" forum about Jesus' Birth tend to cover the "entire" story of Jesus' birth, rather than focusing on individual parts or persons in it. Check our other Advent story forums for lessons that are more specific to particular persons or episodes, such as angels, Mary, shepherds, Magi, etc. Don't forget the Writing Team's extra creative Advent lesson sets too!

Note to Visitors: Free registration is required to enter this specific Advent forum.

Editor's Note: This thread has a complete Birth of Jesus lesson set posted by FUMC, Ann Arbor. You'll notice some updates as we taught this rotation twice over a six year period.

The Birth Story of Jesus

Lesson Set 

Summary of all workshops in this Rotation:

  • Art: Create stained glass votive holders using colors to represent the characters in the story of Jesus’ birth. (Uses glass paint)
  • Cooking: Make a nativity snack bag to help them learn the story.
  • Games: Using the game wheel & a quiz game focus on the Bible story of Jesus’ birth & the difference between what it says & what people think it says.
  • Photography: Create tableaux (still pictures) of each portion of the story.
  • Video: Hear the birth narrative from the perspective of the Peanuts characters in the video, A Charlie Brown Christmas.

    Note: These workshops were written for 1st through 6th graders though not all grades visit all workshops.

Scripture References:

Matthew 1:18-23, Luke 1:26-38 and 2:1-20, Matthew 2:1-15

Key Verse:

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11 (King James Version)

"She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’” Matthew 1:23b (NLT)


Rotation Objectives
 
— After completing this Rotation, participants will be able to:

  • Name that the story is found in the New Testament.
  • For 3rd grade and up: Locate the story in Luke.
  • Restate the sequence & timing of story events of Jesus’ birth, in his/her own words.
  • Define Immanuel, a name for Jesus, as “God is with us.”  Explore ways that God makes his presence known to us.
  • Discover that God sent us his son Jesus because God loves us.

 

A lesson set written by folks from: First United Methodist Church
Ann Arbor, MI
Copyright 2006, 2011 First United Methodist Church, Ann Arbor, MI.
Permission to copy materials granted for non-commercial use provided credit is given and all cited references remain with this material

Last edited by Luanne Payne
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The Birth Story of Jesus

Art Workshop

 

Summary of Lesson Activities:

Students will be creating an abstract design representing Jesus’ birth narrative on glass votive holders using sticky backed lead lines and glass paints.
(Updated for 2011; note the use of a different key verse than the 2006 lessons in this set.)

 

For scripture and objectives, see above.


 

Leader Preparation:

  • Read the scripture for this lesson.
  • Read and reflect on the overview material provided for this lesson.
  • Gather the materials.

Supplies List:

  • Bibles
  • Easel with extra easel paper; appropriate marker
  • Sticky-tack (for hanging items on wall)
  • Flannel board supplies: 
    • Large piece of black felt
    • Ten different colors of small pieces of felt (some colors, more than one piece)
    • The attached file: Art Felt Labels (for labeling the felt pieces)
    • Small safety pins (10); a few straight pins
    • Small pieces of paper (10)
  • Table covers
  • Paint shirts
  • Permanent marker (that marks on glass)
  • Glass paint (variety of colors; does not have to match story piece chart)
  • Sticky-backed lead lines; some in shapes of circles and squares is handy for younger kids
  • Scissors
  • Paint brushes
  • Glass votive holders (one for each student)


Before Start of Class:

  • Pre-wrap the bottom and top edges of the votive holders with lead lines.
  • Follow the instructions on the attached felt labels/color chart, for choosing & labeling the small pieces of felt. 
  • Write: “Immanuel = God with us” in large letters on a piece of easel paper. Use sticky-tack to hang this paper where all can see it.
  • Set up the flannel board – pin the black felt to the easel.
  • Cut eight strips of black felt approximately ½ inch wide and of equal lengths, to use to demonstrate the placement of lead lines.  Have these pieces and sticky-tack handy.
  • Cover the tables and have paint shirts, and art supplies ready for students to create their candleholders.


 

Presentation


Opening- Welcome and Lesson Introduction:
Greet your students warmly, welcoming them to the Art Workshop. Introduce yourself and any other adults.

 

Ask:  Do you use lights to decorate your home for Christmas?  (accept a few replies)

Say:  Lights are special at Christmas.  They remind us that Jesus came to earth to bring God’s light to the world.  Today we are going to decorate a light holder – a candleholder – so that you may make a keepsake that reminds you of the story of Jesus’ birth.  Before we get started, let’s have a time of prayer.

 

Ask:  What shall we pray for today?  [It is ok to write down requests.]  

Say:  We will use the Lord’s Prayer as the ending to our prayer time. 

 

A prayer suggestion: Holy God, we are thankful to be here with the chance to learn about your son’s birth. As we count down the days of Advent, help us to focus on the reason why we celebrate the birth of Jesus.  Who would have thought that you’d sent your son into the world as a small, helpless baby!  Help us to look for you among us in surprising ways.  Then pray for requests. End with the Lord’s Prayer.  Amen.

 

 

Dig- Main Content and Reflection:

Ask:  Who are some of the characters in Jesus’ birth story?  (point trying to make: there are lots of characters!)

 

Show an undecorated votive.

 

Say:  There are lots of people and events in the story of Jesus’ birth.  This is a small candleholder; it would be pretty hard to show the details about Jesus’ birth on the outside of this.  

Ask:  Do you suppose that we could use colors and simple shapes to represent different parts of the story?

Say:  Let’s give it a try!  First let’s review our story.

 

Ask:  Where would we find our story in our Bible?  (in NT)

        What are the names of the first four books of the New Testament?

 

Say:   We call these first four books the “Gospels.”  Gospel means “good news.”

Ask: What is the good news of the Gospels?  (allow a few replies)

 

Say:  The good news is that God loves us so much that God gave us his son Jesus!  Jesus lived on earth as a human just like you and me, teaching us about God and about how we should love others.  Then Jesus died for us so that our sins could be forgiven.  That is all very good news. Today we will read of Jesus’ birth from Matthew and Luke.  Because we are using color to represent events in our story, let’s tell the story using colors of felt.

 

For classes with less than 18 students, pare down the number of pieces of felt by removing extra shepherd, wise men, and “gift” pieces of felt. Set these extras aside, they will not be used. 

 

Show the students the collection of felt to be used.

 

Say: Each of these colors of felt will represent a character, or an item, or a place in our story.  Each piece of felt is labeled.  Everyone will have a piece of felt.  As we tell our story, when you hear your item mentioned please come up and place your color on to this black felt, leaving a little bit of black between each color of felt.  You will see that the black will be an important color.

 

Demonstrate leaving a bit of black between each piece by placing three pieces of felt on the flannel board, leaving space between the pieces.  Then distribute the pieces of felt, one per student.  Give the Shepherd the leftover necessary pieces of felt. 

  

Ask:  I wonder what we will create with our colors as we tell our story?

 

 

Tell the story:

Hold your lesson in an open Bible while you tell the story. (It is suggested that you hold the paper inside a Bible so that kids connect the story you are reading with the Bible.)

 

When students hear their character/place/item (underlined below), have them put their piece of felt on the felt board.  Allow students to decide where to place their felt.  Pause briefly as each child comes up, but then keep things moving along by continuing to “tell” the story.

 

 

For 3rd grade and up:

Have students find Luke 1:26.

 

Say:  I will be telling the story and asking questions so you may need to check the Bible for answers. 

Note:  Don’t skip this important practice in finding the story in the Bible, 

even if the kids never need to actually look!

  

Say:  Our story starts in the book of Luke when an angel named Gabriel visited Mary(There will be 3 pieces marked “angel.”  Ask just one of these angels to put up their 

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color. Have the other students wait until another angel enters our story!)

 

Ask:  Who can tell me what Gabriel said to Mary? 

 

Say:  The angel Gabriel told Mary that God would give her a special baby boy.  He would be very important.  He would be the Son of God and there would be no end to his kingdom!

 

Say:  Mary was engaged to Joseph.  When Joseph found out that Mary would have a baby he decided to break off his engagement to Mary.  But then an angel came to him in a dream and told him that he should get married.  My, there are lots of angels in our story!

 

Ask:  Just before Mary had her baby, where did they travel?  (for 3rd grade and up: Luke 2:4)

Say:   They went to Bethlehem to register in the census.

 

Ask:  What happened next?  (Jesus was born)

Say:   Now we have another angel in our story!   God speaks to people through angels. 

Ask:  Whom did this angel visit? (3rd grade and up: Luke 2:9)

Say:  The shepherds came to visit baby Jesus and found him wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.

 

Ask:  What appeared in the sky over the stable where Jesus was born?

 

For 3rd grade and up: 

If they aren’t sure have them find Matthew 2:2.

  

Say:  A very bright star appeared, a different sort of message from God. 

Ask Who paid attention to this message?

Say:  Wise men used the star to find the new king.  They came to worship Jesus.  They had to travel a long way so it was probably a couple of years after Jesus was born. 

 

Ask:  What were the three gifts they brought to Jesus?  (gold, frankincense, myrrh)

 

Say:  Then we have another message from God, an angel visited Joseph in a dream warning him to take his family to Egypt,

to escape from King Herod who wanted to harm Jesus.  So Jesus and his family traveled to Egypt where they stayed until another angel told them it was safe to return home.  The End!

        

 

Introduce and explain the art project:

Say:  What have we created here? I think it looks like a stained glass window!

Ask:   How many of you have ever seen a stained glass window?

 

Say:  Stained glass windows can tell a story with pictures.  In fact, a long, long time ago when not very many people could read, churches used stained glass windows to teach people Bible stories!  We will decorate our candleholder to look like stained glass, using a special paint for glass.  Think for a moment, about how you want to use different colors to tell the story of Jesus’ birth. Our Shepherd will start passing out paint smocks.

 

Have the Shepherd give out paint smocks.  Meanwhile, point out on the felt board how the black acts to separate the colors, making each color stand out.

 

Say:  Stained glass has special lines between each color.  They are called “lead lines” because in real stained glass, these lines were made of a material called lead.  In real stained glass the lead actually holds the pieces of glass in place.  We will use our lead lines to keep our colors separate and to keep the paint from running together.   

 

Show an undecorated votive.  Point out the top and bottom edges.

 

Say: Lead lines have already been applied to the upper and lower edges of your glass.  These lead lines are not made of real lead but they look like lead.  As you look at your votive – a votive is another name for a candleholder – plan for what shapes you want your colors to have.  These lead lines can be bent a little to create a shape.  You can cut the strips to fit it just right. 

 

Have the Shepherd distribute votives, writing their name and grade on the bottom of the votive using the special pen that marks on glass.  Meanwhile, lift the felt board to expose the easel underneath.  Using the black pieces of felt that you cut, and bits of sticky tack, demonstrate the placement of lead lines to create a shape, such as a simple 4-point star or a building.  Show how the strips can be bent (slightly) to create a curved shape such as a heart.  Point out how there can’t be gaps in the lead lines or the paint will run together.                 

 

Say:  You don’t have to make recognizable shapes; you may choose to just create abstract shapes!  You will want to have a plan for your decoration because once you stick on the lead lines you shouldn’t move them.  To stick them on, peel the backing from a strip and press it on to the glass.  You’ll want to apply all of the lead lines that you need before you add any paint. 

 

Distribute lead lines.  Although strips may be curved to fit lines, do not stretch the strips. Try not to handle the strips more than necessary, or they may not adhere properly. Cut the strips to fit with scissors. Pieces should be joined together so that they meet.  Do not leave gaps, as the paint will run together.  Try not to overlap leadlines.

 

Distribute paint and supplies whenever someone is ready for painting.  Apply a bit of paint directly from the tube on to the glass and then use a paintbrush to spread out the paint.  (Paint will become more translucent as it dries.)

 


Discussion: (while the students are working)

Important Note:  Some banter between students about off-topic material is ok however, don’t miss what is an opportune time as the students work, to discuss the story!  It is in this discussion that God’s character can be revealed.

 

Say There were lots of angels in our story.  Angels are one way that God talks to us.

Ask:  Who received a visit from an angel in our story? 

Say:  The first three people to receive an angel visit were Mary, Joseph & the shepherds.

 

Ask:  What was the same about all three of these messages from angels?

Say:  That’s right – all of them were messages about the birth of Jesus.

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Ask:  I wonder what angels look like?  (we picture wings & halos but no one knows)

Has anyone ever seen an angel? (accept any replies)

Do you suppose that angels can look like ordinary people? 

 

Say:  The writer of the New Testament book of Hebrews tells us that people who welcomed strangers, had welcomed angels without knowing it!  That is an interesting thought – that ordinary people could give us a message from God; they could act on God’s behalf. 

 

Ask:  What are other ways that God connects with us?

Possibilities: through…. 

  • The Bible (it helps to know something about God and how he works)
  • Events that happen (perhaps God lead us to & through something)
  • The “voice inside”  (when something just doesn’t feel right)
  • An actual voice we hear
  • Through nature – a beautiful sunset for example
  • Other?

      Workshop Leader: Share your personal story about one of these.

 

 

Say:  All of these are ways that God comes to us; ways that we experience God as being with us. Jesus was called Immanuel; a very appropriate name.

 

Refer to the easel. 

 

Say:  Immanuel means “God with us.” That gives me a good feeling: Jesus is our Savior and Jesus is God, with us.

 

 

Say:  All of the angel visits were while the people were doing ordinary things – like sleeping or working.

Ask:  What does that say about the way God works in our world?

Say:  God can break into our lives at any time.  We might miss it if we aren’t watching!

 

 

Say:  The news of Jesus’ birth had a big effect on the people who heard it. 

Ask:  How has hearing about Jesus’ birth changed you?

 

 

Closing:

Say:  In Matthew’s Gospel it says that Mary would give birth to a son, and they would          call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’”  God sent Jesus to be with us.  God          meant for his son Jesus to live on earth just like us; to grow and learn and teach, as one of us!  It is a pretty amazing story.  Tell it to someone else!

 

 

If you have extra time:

Have students share their work with the class, explaining a bit about their choices.

       

Replace the felt board on the easel and remove the felt pieces. Give them to the students, asking them to retell the story of Jesus’ birth in the correct order. 

 

Ask readers to check the Bible for extra details.


Resources:


 

A lesson written by Carol Hulbert and Sherry Stone for First United Methodist Church

Ann Arbor, MI 

Copyright 2011 First United Methodist Church, Ann Arbor, MI.
Permission to copy materials granted for non-commercial use provided credit is given and all cited references remain with this material

 

If you use this material, even in a modified form, please include the following reference:
Hulbert, Carol and Sherry Stone. "The Birth Story of Jesus: Art Lesson." December 2011. Place URL where lesson found inside angle brackets<>.

 

A representative of Rotation.org reformatted this post to improve readability.

 

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The Birth of Jesus

Cooking Workshop

Summary of Lesson Activities:

The kids will make a nativity snack bag to help them learn the story

For scripture and objectives, see above.


Leader Preparation:

  • Read the scripture for this lesson.
  • Read and reflect on the overview material provided for this lesson.
  • Gather the materials.

Supplies List:

  • Bibles
  • The Young Reader’s Bible
  • Parchment paper
  • Rolling pins
  • Flour
  • Star & Gingerbread men cookie cutters
  • Pencils & Markers
  • Items in kitchen: cookie sheets, hot pads, clean-up supplies
  • paper plates
  • Brown or white paper lunch sacks
  • Hershey’s kisses wrapped in colorful foil (to represent gifts from the Magi)
  • Mini candy canes (to represent Shepard’s hooks)
  • Mini wheat cereal (to represent bales of hay)
  • Animal crackers
  • Sugar cookie dough (Pillsbury brand pre-made dough, enough for all kids to make at least 4 cookies rolled out)
  • Yellow sprinkles (for star-shaped cookies)
  • Toothpicks (to draw a face in the Jesus cookies)
  • Fruit roll ups (to represent the swaddling clothes)

Before Start of Class:

  • Wash the metal tables.
  • Preheat oven to 350° degrees. Turn on vent fan (switch is to right of refrigerator).
  • Set out cookie dough, flour and rolling pins and cookie cutters; line cookie sheets with parchment paper and have a pencil near by for writing on the paper


Presentation

Opening- Welcome and Lesson Introduction:
Gather everyone around the tables in the Social Hall. Greet your students warmly, welcoming them to the Cooking Workshop. Introduce yourself and any other adults. Pass around a basket to collect any offering.
[Note: The Shepherd will quietly take attendance, etc. while you are starting your lesson.]

Say: Today we will learn more about the nativity story which is to say that we will be learning about what the Bible tells us about Jesus’ birth. But first let’s begin with prayer.

Ask for any prayer requests. Ask if anyone would like to lead the group in prayer. Be prepared to say a prayer yourself, working in prayer requests. A suggestion: “Dear God, Thank you for sending your son Jesus to be born and to live among us. Help us to remember that this season is about celebrating your gift to us in Jesus. Amen”

Dig- Main Content and Reflection:

For 3rd grade and up:
Ask: Where in the Bible would we read about Jesus’ birth?
What are the first four books of the New Testament?
What do we call those first four books? (the Gospels)
Say: The word Gospel means “good news”. Jesus’ birth was good news.
Distribute Bibles.
Have everyone find Matthew 1:18-23 to read about Mary and Joseph first learning the news that they would be the parents of Jesus.
Then have the students read Luke 2:1-18 to learn about the birth of Christ and the shepherds coming to visit.
Then go back to Matthew 2:10-12 to introduce the concept of the wise men visiting the baby Jesus.
If this is a week early in the Rotation, read the scripture together. Towards the end of the Rotation, ask the students if they can tell you the story. Have them check their Bibles for accuracy.

For 1st and 2nd graders:
Ask: If we want to read something about the life of Jesus, where would we find it – in the Old Testament or the New Testament of the Bible? (new)
Say: Today, we are going to be listening to the story of Jesus’ birth.
Read from “The Young Reader’s Bible” showing pictures as you read.
Pages 226-231 tell of the angel visiting Mary;
pages 238-243 tell of Jesus’ birth;
pages 244-249 tell of the shepherds visit; and
pages 250-255 tell about the wise men.

For all students:
Say: Today we are going to make a snack bag that will have a variety of fun things to eat in it that will remind us about the different parts of the Christmas nativity story we just read. The first thing I am going to do is pass out a brown paper lunch sack to each of you, and I want you to put your name on the top.

Pass out markers and bags.

Ask: Okay, what was the sign that the shepherds and the wise men saw in the sky that told them about the birth of Christ? (star).
Say: We are going to make some star shaped cookies for our snack bag to remind us of the sign that God sent. Of course, the real star of the story is Jesus himself, so we will also cut out a gingerbread man shape to represent Jesus in our snack bag.

Have the students wash their hands and move to the metal tables in the kitchen. Allow each student to roll out dough and cut out a few star-shaped sugar cookies. Let them also cut out a few gingerbread men shapes to represent Jesus. Allow the students to put yellow sprinkles on the stars if they desire and to draw a “face” on Jesus with a toothpick if desired. Place cut out cookies on cookie sheets lined with parchment. Write child’s name next to their cookies, and place in oven to cook.
[I plan to use Pillsbury pre-made sugar cookie dough according to the directions for rolling it out. This dough calls for a 7-minute bake time.]

While the cookies are baking, move back to the table in the social hall and pass out a paper plate to each child. Show them each item and ask them to guess what the item might represent in the nativity story. Explain the significance of the items to go in the snack bag. Allow each child to put a handful of each of the following items on a paper plate near their seat.
Mini wheat cereal to represent the hay that was in the manger
Animal crackers to represent the stable animals
Candy canes to represent the shepherd’s hooks
Hershey’s kisses wrapped up like presents to represent the gifts from the Magi
Fruit roll-up to wrap around the Jesus cookie when it comes out of the oven to represent the swaddling clothes
Finally, add the star shaped cookies and the Jesus cookies to the plate.

Discussion:
Say: We have learned about the story of Jesus being born. We learned about the same story from two different books of the bible. It is interesting that Luke and Matthew tell the story a little differently from each other, but the main message is clear. God sent Jesus to be born as a human being. God meant for his son Jesus to live and grow and learn and teach as one of us. It is a pretty amazing story. Just think how Mary and Joseph must have felt to have angels visit them to tell them what was going to happen. Think about how bright the new star would have been for shepherds and wise men to see it from so far away.

Ask: Are you surprised that God allowed Jesus to be born in a manger?
Are there any other parts of the story that surprise you or that you have questions about?

Try to answer questions as best as you can. It is fine to admit to the kids that we don’t know all the details about the story and we may not know why things happened exactly as they did, but try to focus on the main point, that Jesus’ birth was a special gift to mankind from God and that is what we celebrate at Christmas.

Closing:
Have the students place the snack items into their paper bag to create a “nativity snack bag.”

Say: I want you to take your snack bags home and show your family and friends what is in them. Tell them how each item represents a part of the nativity story. Of course, sharing your snack bag with someone else is also a great way to share the “good news story” of Jesus’ birth.

Have the kids repeat the key verse with you: For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11

If Time Allows:
Allow the kids to use the markers to decorate their bags – have them draw a picture of what they think the manger may have looked like. Have kids who finish first start cleaning up the kitchen area.


Resources:

  • Bruno, Bonnie and Carol Reinsma. The Young Reader’s Bible. Cincinnati, OH: Standard Publishing, 1998.
  • The KJV is public domain in the United States.

 

A lesson written by B. Moore for First United Methodist Church
Ann Arbor, MI 

Copyright 2006 First United Methodist Church, Ann Arbor, MI. 
Permission to copy materials granted for non-commercial use provided credit is given and all cited references remain with this material

  If you use this material, even in a modified form, please include the following reference:
Moore, B. Lesson set posted at rotation.org:"Birth Narrative - Cooking Lesson." December 2006. Place URL where lesson found inside angle brackets<>.

 A representative of Rotation.org reformatted this post to improve readability.

 

Last edited by Luanne Payne

The Birth Story of Jesus

Games Workshop

Summary of Lesson Activities: 

Play a quiz game on the Bible story of Jesus’ birth.  This quiz highlights the difference between what the Bible tells us and what people think the story says, in a fun way. (Updated for 2011; note in the first post, the use of a different key verse than the 2006 lessons in this set.)

For scripture and objectives, see above.


Leader Preparation:

  • Read the scripture for this lesson.
  • Read and reflect on the overview material provided for this lesson.
  • Gather the materials

Supplies List:

  • Game wheel
  • Bibles (for 3rd grade and up)
  • For 1st & 2nd graders: The Word & Song Bible & The Read With Me Bible
  • A Bible bookmarked to the portions of the story
  • White board/easel and appropriate markers
  • Game questions (downloaded from rotation.org, see resource link at end of lesson)

Before Start of Class:

  • Write the key Bible verse on the easel.
  • Decide what point values to assign to the four colors of the game wheel. Write this info on the white board/easel.


Presentation

Opening- Welcome and Lesson Introduction:
Greet your students warmly, welcoming them to the Games Workshop. Introduce yourself and any other adults. Pass around a basket to collect any offering.
[Note: The Shepherd will be quietly taking care of attendance, etc. while you are starting your lesson.]

Say:  We will be playing a game today about the story of Jesus’ birth.  Let’s start with          prayer.

Ask for any prayer requests.

Say:  We will use the Lord’s Prayer as the ending to our prayer time. 

A prayer suggestion: Holy Lord God, thank you for bringing all of us here today.  Be with our class members who couldn’t be here.  We are thankful to be able to learn about how you sent us your son Jesus, because you love us!  Thank you for this precious gift. Then pray for requests. Now I invite you to pray with me as Jesus taught us.  End with the Lord’s Prayer.  Amen.

Dig- Main Content and Reflection:

Say: We are going to be playing a game today that will see how well you know the story of Jesus’ birth.

Ask: Do we need to review our story before we play our game?

Let the kids decide if they want to review the story.  At some point in the game playing you likely will need a little story review.  It is ok to wait until that time to tell whatever portion of the story needs going over.  Add the following when you do story review…

Prelude to story review for all ages:

Ask: Where in the Bible would we read about Jesus’ birth, in the New Testament or the Old Testament?  (NT)

What are the names of the first four books of the New Testament?

What do we call these first four books?  (the gospels)

Say:The word Gospel means “good news.”  The good news is that God loves us so much, that he gave us his son Jesus.  Jesus lived on earth as a human, just like us – teaching us about God and about how we should love others.  Jesus also died for us so that our sins could be forgiven.  That is definitely good news!

For story review: 

Say: Stories about Jesus’ birth are found in the gospels of Matthew and Luke.

To review about…  For 3rd-6th graders [1]         For 1st-2nd graders [2]

Mary & angel          Luke 1:26b-38            The Word & Song Bible, pg 269-271

Joseph & angel       Matthew 1:18-23           Word & Song,  275-276

To Bethlehem         Luke 2:1-5                   Word & Song,  277

Jesus is born          Luke 2:6-7                   Word & Song,  278

Shepherds             Luke 2:8-18                  The Read w/ Me Bible, 260-265

Wise men              Matt 2:1-1, 9-12            Read w/ Me Bible, 271-276

Escape to Egypt      Matt 2:13                     Read w/ Me, 277-279        


[1] Have them find at least one of the following stories in the Bible.  If time is short, it is not necessary to find every story you review.

[2] Show the pictures in the story Bible as you read.

 
Play the Game:
Divide the class into several teams of 3-5 players.

One member of a team spins the wheel. While the wheel is spinning, (don’t wait for it to stop!) ask the question of the team.  All the people on a team should confer/work on an answer.  Checking Bibles is encouraged!  Remind the children that only the team in play should be talking. Ask the Shepherd to keep score.  Take time for any discussion that may arise.

If the spinner guesses correctly, award her team the points she spun for, if she answers wrong, no points.

After spinning, the player goes to the end of his team’s line, one spin, and one question per turn. 

See link at end of lesson for questions.

Grade 1: Offer just 3 of the multiple-choice answers with each question.

Grade 2-3: Use the multiple-choice answers provided with the questions.

Grade 4-6:  Only offer multiple choices if they’re stumped.

If the kids are taking too long to answer, give them a 30-second limit. 

Leave 4 minutes for the closing.

Closing:

Ask: Did you learn something new about what the Bible tells us about Jesus’ birth? (accept a few replies)

Say:When we study the Bible we learn about how God would like us to be. God really wanted us to know how much he loved us, so God sent his son Jesus to live on earth.  Immanuel was God with us!  At Christmas, we say happy birthday Jesus!

If you have extra time:

First, explain that the letter “b” means that this is the 2nd part of verse 23.

Practice the key verse by repetition, starting from the end and adding more and more. A backwards way of learning a verse!  Have them repeat after you:

Say:  Matthew 1:23b.

With us.  Matthew 1:23b

God is with us.  Matthew 1:23b

Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’” Matthew 1:23b

And they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’” Matthew 1:23b

         --- (for 1st and 2nd graders consider stopping here)---       

To a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’” Matthew 1:23b

Give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’” Matthew 1:23b

She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’” Matthew 1:23b


Resources:


 

A lesson written by Carol Hulbert for First United Methodist Church
Ann Arbor, MI 

Copyright 2011 First United Methodist Church, Ann Arbor, MI.
Permission to copy materials granted for non-commercial use provided credit is given and all cited references remain with this material

If you use this material, even in a modified form, please include the following reference:
Hulbert, Carol. "The Birth Story of Jesus: Games Lesson." Rotation.org. 2011. Place URL where lesson found inside angle brackets<>.

A representative of Rotation.org reformatted this post to improve readability.

 

Last edited by Luanne Payne

Christmas

Photography Workshop

Summary of Lesson Activities:

Hear the story and break into groups to create a tableau (a still picture) of each portion of the story. [Note: 4th-6th grade visited this workshop.]

 

For scripture and objectives- see above.


Leader Preparation:

  • Read the scripture for this lesson.
  • Read and reflect on the overview material provided for this lesson.
  • Gather the materials

Supplies List:

  • Digital camera
  • Tripod (optional)
  • Bibles; One purple Adventure Bible with tabs (Law, History, etc.)
  • Easel; appropriate marker
  • Costumes for Mary, Joseph, Angels, Shepherds, Magi
  • Any props (optional): baby doll
  • Bible tab writing kit: tabs, fine-line Sharpie pen
  • Story to tell during photo shoot, broken into sections for each photo (see attached)


Before Start of Class:

  • Cut apart the attached story on the dotted lines.


Presentation

Opening- Welcome and Lesson Introduction:
Greet your students warmly, introducing yourself and any other adults. Pass around a basket to collect any offering.
[Note: The Shepherd will quietly take attendance, etc. while you are starting your lesson.]

Ask for any prayer requests. Ask if anyone would like to lead the group in prayer. Be prepared to say a prayer yourself, working in prayer requests. Finish with the Lord’s Prayer. A prayer suggestion: “Dear God, Help us to hear the Christmas story in a new way. Help us to remember why you brought your Son to earth and what you wanted to teach us. Help us to remember each time we say the prayer Jesus said: (say the Lord's Prayer). Amen.”

Dig- Main Content and Reflection:
Ask: Christmas is coming! Where do you think we would find the story of the first Christmas in the Bible? (in the New Testament)

Distribute Bibles.

Say: Let’s find the New Testament. [Remind them of the quick way to find the New Testament. Opening the bible in middle lands you usually in psalms. Taking just the back half and finding the middle of that, gets you to the beginning of NT.]

Find Luke, chapter 1, verse 26.

Ask: What are the first four books of the New Testament called? (the Gospels)
What are the names of the four Gospels?
Say: The word gospel means “good news”. The good news is that God loves us so much that he sent us a gift, Jesus.

Say: Besides being divided into two testaments, the 66 books in the Bible are further divided into collections. We call this collection of Bible books, the Gospels. If you have your own Bible today, be sure you receive a tab for the gospel section of your Bible. [Show the classroom Bible with tabs. Have the Shepherd do tabs for students who bring their Bibles. Use the classroom Bible with tabs as an example.]

Say: This is the photography workshop and that means I am going to be taking pictures. Today’s pictures will be all of you acting out the story of Jesus’ birth.
Ask: Does the story in the Bible about Jesus’ birth include several different settings?
Does the story in the Bible have several different characters?

Say: Yes, there are different characters in different settings. We will take a picture of each one. First we must plan out our pictures. Let’s take a look in our Bibles.

Move quickly through this planning phase
[Note for teacher: You may wish to photograph each section as it is discussed or wait and photograph after planning is complete. Regardless of which you choose, have a student read the portion of the “story” from the cut apart sections while each photo is taken.]

1. Have students find Luke 1:26-38.
If their Bibles have headings, point them out. For example: “The Birth of Jesus Foretold” at verse 26. Tell them that the headings can give them a hint of what the picture will need to be. Ask the students what sort of scene and what characters would be needed to create this picture (Mary, angel Gabriel, in Nazareth). [You may wish to jot this on the easel.]

2. Have the students look at Matthew 1:18-23.
Ask the student what is needed for this picture. (Joseph, angel, in a dream)

3. Have the students look at Luke 2:1-5.
Ask about this picture. (Mary, Joseph, traveling to Bethlehem)

4. Have the students look at Luke 2:6-7.
Ask about this picture. (Mary, Joseph, baby in the manger scene)

5. Have the students look at Luke 2:8-14.
Ask about this picture. (Shepherds, angel, in a field)
Point out our key Bible verse, Luke 2:11.

6. Have the students look at Luke 2:15-20.
Ask about this picture. (Shepherds, Mary, Joseph, baby in the manger scene)

7. Have the students look at Matthew 2:1-12 (particularly at 2:11).
Ask about this picture. (Magi, Mary, Jesus as a young child)

Discussion:
Ask:

  • Did you notice as we moved back and forth between Matthew and Luke that there were differences in them regarding Jesus’ birth and some events surrounding it?
  • Which gospel tells the story of the shepherds? (Luke)
  • Which gospel describes Jesus as being born in a stable? (Luke)
  • Which gospel tells the story of the wise men? (Matthew)


Ask: Why do you suppose that the Gospels might tell the story with slightly different details? (accept all answers: written by different authors, at different times)

Say: Matthew was writing for a primarily Jewish audience. So Matthew places an emphasis on things that the Jewish people would have considered important – such as what the prophets had foretold. Three times in chapter 2 Matthew states what prophets had said. Luke was writing for an audience that was already Christian. Luke is trying to tell people that Jesus came for all people, even ordinary people like shepherds.

Create tableaux:
Say: Now we will take our photos. This is called tableau. Each group will create a scene and then “freeze” so the scene can be photographed. We can’t print the photos today but you will receive access to them on the Internet. You might want to make these photos into a book that tells the Christmas story.

Have them quickly choose costumes. Remind students to be creative and to think about the emotions in the story – be sure to show those emotions on their faces and with their body expressions.

Students not currently part of a photo need to sit quietly and watch. Have one student read the portion of the story as the photo is taken. [Use the story sections.]

Closing:
Say: On the very first Christmas God gave us Jesus; Jesus is God’s gift to us.
Ask: Why do you suppose God would give us such a gift? (accept all answers)
Say: God loves each one of us and wants to have a close relationship with each one of us. In order to help us have this relationship, God sent Jesus.

Ask: Remember when we read our key verse in the Bible, who was hearing those words: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” (shepherds)
Say: Ordinary shepherds doing their work of taking care of sheep heard those words.
Ask: Can we as ordinary people, hear those words this Christmas?

Say: Let’s say a closing prayer before we leave. “Lord, help us to remember why we are celebrating Christmas. We are celebrating Christ being here on earth! You sent Jesus because you love us. Help us remember that love as we go about our week. Amen.”


Resources:


 

Attachment: The Christmas Story (from Matthew and Luke)
Cut apart on lines. Give to students in the “audience” to read aloud while photo is taken for that portion of the story.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1.
A young woman named Mary was engaged to Joseph. But before they were married, she learned that she was going to have a baby by God’s Holy Spirit. She found this out when God sent the angel Gabriel to the town of Nazareth in Galilee with a message for Mary. The angel said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

Mary expressed how troubling the angel’s words were.
The angel replied, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.”
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God… For nothing is impossible with God.”
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.”

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
2.
When Joseph found this out, he thought it was strange. He thought about not marrying Mary. Joseph was a good man and did not want to embarrass Mary in front of everyone. So he decided to quietly call off the wedding. While Joseph was thinking about this, an angel from the Lord came to him in a dream. The angel said, “Joseph, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
3.
About that time Emperor Caesar Augustus gave orders for the names of all the people to be listed in record books… Everyone had to go to their own hometown to be listed. So Joseph had to leave Nazareth in Galilee and go to Bethlehem in Judea. You see long ago Bethlehem had been King David’s hometown, and Joseph went there because he was from David’s family. Mary was engaged to Joseph and traveled with him to Bethlehem.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
4.
Mary was soon going to have a baby, and while they were in Bethlehem, she gave birth to her first-born son. She wrapped him in cloths and laid him on a bed of hay, because there was no room for them in the inn.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
5.
Now out in the fields nearby, there were shepherds keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
6.
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
7.
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi (also called wise men) from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” King Herod was disturbed at this, so he called together the chief priests and teachers of the law, and he asked them where the Christ was to be born.
“In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied (for this is what the prophets had written).

Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.” After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.
On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.


A lesson written by Carol Teener and Carol Hulbert for First United Methodist Church
Ann Arbor, MI 

Copyright 2006 First United Methodist Church, Ann Arbor, MI. 
Permission to copy materials granted for non-commercial use provided credit is given and all cited references remain with this material 

 

If you use this material, even in a modified form, please include the following reference:
Teener, Carol and Carol Hulbert. Lesson set posted at rotation.org:"Birth Narrative - Photography Lesson." December 2006. Place URL where lesson found inside angle brackets<>.

 

A representative of Rotation.org reformatted this post to improve readability.

 

Last edited by Rotation.org Lesson Forma-teer

Christmas

Video Workshop

Summary of Lesson Activities:

Hear the birth narrative from the perspective of the Peanuts characters in the video, A Charlie Brown Christmas, and remember that Christmas is about the birth of the Savior, who came as a gift of God’s love to us.

 

For scripture and objectives- see above.


Leader Preparation:

  • Read the scripture for this lesson.
  • Read and reflect on the overview material provided for this lesson.
  • Preview the video and have it cued to the correct starting place.
  • Gather the materials.

Supplies List:

  • The video A Charlie Brown Christmas
  • The TV/DVD will have been reserved for your workshop
  • Snack items: goldfish crackers, paper cups, napkins, water pitcher
  • Bibles (for 3rd grade); a Bible bookmarked to Luke 2:11
  • Story Bible for 1st and 2nd grade – Children’s Picture Bible, pp.176-179


Before Start of Class:

  1. In the kitchen, fill a pitcher with ice and water. (Ice machine is under counter just to the left of door from hall. Pitchers are in cabinet above this counter.)
  2. Prepare snack by pouring Goldfish crackers into cups. (Probably 1/2 full is good.)
  3. Make sure you know how to use the TV/DVD, especially how to move by chapters and scanning forward within a chapter.
  4. Cue the DVD to the MAIN MENU.
  5. Make sure you select the English subtitles from the set up menu before playing the video. This will help you cue the different scenes you will be discussing.


 

Presentation


Opening- Welcome and Lesson Introduction:
Greet your students warmly, welcoming them to the video workshop. Introduce yourself and any other adults. Pass around a basket to collect any offering.
[Note: The Shepherd will quietly take attendance, etc. while you are starting your lesson.]

Say: Let’s begin with prayer. Ask for any prayer requests. Ask if anyone would like to lead the group in prayer. Be prepared to say a prayer yourself, working in prayer requests. Use the Lord’s Prayer as the ending. A suggestion: “Dear God, Thank for you for sending your Son, Jesus, to be our gift at Christmas. (End with the Lord’s Prayer) Amen.”

Dig- Main Content and Reflection:
Ask: What do you think people mean when they talk about the true meaning of Christmas? (allow all answers)

Say: In the video we will watch today, the main character is searching for the true meaning of Christmas. First, let’s try to paraphrase (retell) the story of Jesus’ birth.

(Help the children make a quick outline of the story – see overview materials).

Say: Now we’ll read a retelling of this story from a children’s Bible – this version comes from the Bible in the book of Luke.
Ask: Where in the Bible we can find Luke? (New Testament)
Luke is one of the Gospels – what does the word Gospel mean? (good news)
What good news is this story from Luke telling us? (about the birth of Jesus – that he was sent to us to be the Messiah, or Savior, of all people)

Read pp.176-179 from the Children’s Bible.

Ask the children the following questions:

  • What was the stable like where Jesus was born? (dirty, smelly, full of hay)
  • What was Jesus’ first bed? (a manger)
  • When the angel appeared to the shepherds, what did the angel call Jesus? (the Savior, God’s promised king. Another name is Messiah)
  • Why do you think Jesus, the promised king, was born in such a lowly place? (answers vary; God promised a king of peace and love, not of gold and riches)

1st and 2nd graders:
Say: This is the key verse for this lesson (read Luke 2:11 from the Bible).

3rd graders:
Distribute Bibles.
Have everyone find Luke, chapter 2, verse 11.
Ask a student to read this verse. Point out that this is the key verse for this lesson.

For all students:
Say: In the video, we are going to meet a character, Charlie Brown, who is looking for the true meaning of Christmas – the key verse is very important in his search! He is going to be directing a play based on the story of Luke that we just read. As we watch the video, we’ll look and listen for these two things:

  • Examples of what Christmas means to different characters
  • The spot when one of the characters says our lesson’s key verse


Show the Video:
You will be discussing this video as the children watch it, so there are 7 different places that you will need to stop and start the video. Use the English subtitles for the dialogue cues. Total video running time is about 18-20 minutes (without discussion). Fast forwarding is only needed from scene 1 to 2 and scene 5 to 6; the others continually flow into each other with pauses for discussion.

Have the Shepherd distribute the snack.

Scene 1: Christmas time is here /1 minute, 30 sec.
Start: Beginning of the video
Pause: After Linus says, “ You’re the Charlie Browniest.”

Ask: Why do you think Charlie Brown is always depressed about Christmas? (point out that he is searching for the true meaning of Christmas, beyond trees and presents)

Scene 2: Holiday Letdown/2 minutes, 10sec.
Start: Fast forward to Charlie Brown sitting down at Lucy’s booth
Pause: After Lucy says, “ I’ll meet you at the auditorium.”

Point out that Lucy’s booth says Psychiatric Help – explain that she is offering a listening ear to problems.
Ask: Is Lucy really a doctor? (no, but it is funny that she has the sign on the booth) Charlie Brown says he doesn’t understand Christmas. What do you think he does not understand about Christmas? (that Christmas is a time of love & appreciating God’s gift of Jesus)

Ask: How does he feel about being director of the play? (very excited and happy that Lucy has asked him)

Scene 3: Holiday Letdown/1 minute, 40 sec.
Start: Hit play again
Pause: After Sally says, “All I want is my fair share!”

Ask: According to the decorating contest that Snoopy enters, what is the true meaning of Christmas? (having the best decorated home and winning prize money)
Do you agree with this?

Point out that “gone commercial” means Snoopy is wrapped up in the superficial part of Christmas – decorating, getting presents, shopping, decorated stores, etc.

Ask: Why is Charlie Brown so upset with Sally’s letter to Santa? (she seems to only want money and gifts for Christmas)
What does Christmas seem to mean to Sally? (all the presents that Santa will bring)

Scene 4: Director Charlie Brown/7 minutes, 30 sec.
Start: hit play again
Pause: After one of the girls says. “Do something right for a change, Charlie Brown!”

Ask: What is the play that the kids are going to perform? (the story of Jesus’ birth from the Gospel of Luke)
How do you know that? (the characters that Lucy hands out are an innkeeper, innkeeper’s wife, sheep, cow, and shepherd)
Why is Charlie Brown getting so frustrated with the kids? (they are not listening to him and they are dancing around all the time. They don’t seem to think the play is very important)

Scene 5: The Perfect Tree/1 minute, 20 sec.
Start: hit play again
Pause: After Charlie Brown picks up the tree and says, “Besides, I think it needs me.”

Ask: What does the tree that Charlie Brown picks out look like? (it is small, scrawny-looking)
How is that tree like the stable and the manger where Jesus was born? (it is not the biggest and best – very small and lowly and ordinary)

Scene 6: The Perfect Tree/2 minutes, 20 sec.
Start: Fast forward to Charlie Brown bringing the tree into the auditorium
Pause: After Linus says, “That is the true meaning of Christmas, Charlie Brown.”

Ask: What kinds of mean things are the kids saying to Charlie Brown? (he is stupid and never gets things right; he is undependable and hopeless)
Do you think they understand the true meaning of Christmas?
Why or why not?
What did you hear in this scene that is familiar? (the story from Luke & our key verse of Luke 2:11)

Scene 9: The Meaning of Christmas/3 minutes
Start: hit play again
Pause: end of video

Ask: Why do you think Charlie Brown is happy as he is going to decorate his tree? (he finally understands about God sending Jesus to us as a gift of love)
What happens to his tree when he tries to decorate it? (it falls down)
How do the kids finally show that they know the true meaning of Christmas? (they help decorate the tree for Charlie Brown)

Closing:
Point out the examples of the characters showing how they do and don’t understand the true meaning of Christmas:
Don’t Understand
Snoopy – decorates dog house for money
Sally – asks for lots of gifts and money for herself
Lucy and kids at the play – want a big fancy Christmas tree; call Charlie Brown lots of names
Do Understand
Linus – tells the story from Luke
Kids at the end of the video – help Charlie Brown with his tree

Have the kids repeat the key verse with you: (Luke 2:11)


Resources:

  • A Charlie Brown Christmas. DVD. Copyright 1992, United Feature Syndicate. All rights reserved.
  • Children’s Picture Bible. Retold by Carol Watson. Illustrated by Lucy Su &Mary Lonsdale. Copyright 1995. Quadrillion Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved.

 

A lesson written by Debbie Houghton for First United Methodist Church

Ann Arbor, MI 

Copyright 2006 First United Methodist Church, Ann Arbor, MI. 
Permission to copy materials granted for non-commercial use provided credit is given and all cited references remain with this material 

 

If you use this material, even in a modified form, please include the following reference:
Houghton, Debbie. Lesson set posted at rotation.org:"Birth Narrative - Video Lesson." December 2006. Place URL where lesson found inside angle brackets<>.

A representative of Rotation.org reformatted this post to improve readability.

 

Last edited by Rotation.org Lesson Forma-teer

Review:

During our renovation of the Birth of Jesus forum, several reviewers read all the lessons here and agreed that Carol's FUMC Ann Arbor set is a good one!

The following notes come from the reviewers:

Another version of Carol's "Charlie Brown Christmas" Video lesson can be seen in the Video Birth of Jesus forum here.

The Cooking workshop was actually an interactive Storytelling Workshop.

The "Photography" "Tableau" Workshop would make a good Drama Workshop as well.

You are welcome to post your lessons/ideas/improvements inspired by this set.

Last edited by Luanne Payne

Just a note that I have updated the Art lesson up above. Bringing it up to date (from 2006) after this Rotation was repeated in 2011.  I have also attached a couple of photos and a downloadable file to keep all of the storytelling supplies straight!

 

Enjoy. 

--Carol

Hi Carrie,

Sorry, but the overview materials could not be included because they mostly came from a copyright source:  “The Word of God: Christmas Gospel Comparison-Background.” Glenview, IL: Cornerstones Publishing, 2002.

[Update 2016: In the past year or so, the founders f Cornerstones retired. Their website and materials are no longer available.]

-- Carol

Last edited by Luanne Payne

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