Elijah and the Widow of Zarephath
The children will play several games focused on the story of Elijah and on the relationship between obedience and provision. Children will also interact with the memory verse. (The obstacle course involves a lot of set up, but it is worth it!)
Passage: 1 Kings 17
Key/Memory Verse: 1 Kings 17:24
After this workshop, the children will:
- Be able to find the story of Elijah in the Old Testament of the Bible.
- Know that Elijah was a prophet of God; that prophets were God's chosen messengers.
- Learn that when we are obedient, God provides.
- Attention-getting device to use as a signal: whistle, maracas, bell
- Bowls filled with Easter basket grass or hay for Raven Relay
- Butcher paper, chalk board, or newsprint
- Copy machine or printer
- Feathers, black
- Index cards, 3” x 5” – colored and white
- Illustrations of bread and meat
- Labels [Optional]
- Paint pen, light color
- Paper, black
- Tape, masking
- Tweezers, 2 pairs
- Materials for the Challenge Course
- Bandannas or cloths, blue and other colors
- Blanket or comforter
- Bread or crackers, small piece for each participant
- Cardboard or poster board for signs
- Cloth or napkin to cover small crate or table
- Compass [Optional]
- Cups, 1 per person
- Flour, enough to fill small bowl
- Flour bags (empty) and other empty food containers
- Jars, 2 small
- Meat, small bite for each participant
- Milk crate or small table
- Plant or tree, very dead or dry [Optional]
- Rope for each group
- Oil, small amount
- Refrigerator box
- Shoeboxes, 3
- Sticks, small
- Trays, serving type
- Water, enough for 1 cup per person
- Secure two helpers for the obstacle course. The helpers will give the clues to each team when they have completed each task. Give the helpers the instructions for their stations. They should read them ahead of time. You will be the Station 3 leader.
Note: In preparing for the games, it is helpful to keep in mind that information for each of the three stations includes Set Up, Instructions for the leader, and Cards for the participants.
Prepare index cards and signs for use with the lesson and games, as noted below:
- Scripture Word Cards: Write each word of the memory verse, including the Scriptural reference (one card), on individual three-inch by five-inch index cards. Make two sets.
- Write the memory verse on a piece of butcher paper, a chalkboard, or a sheet of newsprint. You will need to be able to cover it some of the time.
- Prepare signs on cardboard or posterboard that say:
- Station 1
- Station 3
- Welcome to Zarephath
- Baal is the greatest in Zarephath
- Write the following List of Key Points summary words on a piece of butcher paper and become very familiar with them to use throughout the Bible story. Consider adding some pictures to the words to help non-readers. One source for pictures is http://www.bibleforchildren.org/ --choose English from the list of languages, then scroll down and click on the “CB” next to “The Man of Fire.” Pictures used were pages 4, 5, 12, 7, 9-11 (10 & 11 were used together on one page). You will need to cover the individual items with construction paper before class begins.
- Confront Ahab!
- Word from God: Go!
- Hid by Stream
- Fed by Ravens
- No more Water!
- Word from God: Go!
- Miraculous Jars!
- Fed by widow
- Revive the Son
- Make a poster for each team with a grid that that has seven columns (one for each day of the week) and two rows (Morning Meal and Evening Meal). Make it big enough for one bread and one meat picture in each box.
- Draw a river on a piece of paper. See Station 1 set up for size.
- Make all of the cards for each station. Print the text from the station instructions and tape onto the cards. Use colored cards or labels to organize them according to Station 1, Station 2, and Station 3.
- Prepare the Raven Card for Station 1. Cut out in the shape of a bird. Use black paper and a paint pen to write the message for the card.
- Print or copy the bread and meat pictures to make 28 of each one and cut them out.
- Tape black feathers on the tweezers to make them "look like" ravens.
- Using masking tape, mark off starting lines for two teams to use in the relay and obstacle course.
- Open up the refrigerator box and draw some simple illustrations to make it look like the widow’s home.
Directions for creating the three Stations:
Station 1: “Go hide!”
Station 1 Set-up: You will need a sign that says “Station 1.” Place the shoebox beside the Station 1 sign. In the shoebox, place Card A and a rope. Hang signs around the room that indicate north, south, east and west. For older children, you might hang only a north sign, and let them figure out east from there. Or, you could give them a compass to find east (if you can actually set up to the east). In the east, draw a river on a piece of paper that is an appropriate size for your groups. You might put a “parched-looking” tree or plant near by. Place a shoebox nearby with the raven card in it. Provide a tray of crackers and meat and cups of water covered by a blue cloth. If you have vegetarians in your church, you might use some frozen veg-based bacon. It is tasty and still looks like meat! Cover some other trays with different colored cloths and place Tray cards on each of them.
Instructions for Station 1 Leader: Tell the groups to look in the shoebox when they arrive at your station. You will need to read the cards for younger children. Stress that they follow the directions exactly. They may need help tying the rope (they don't have to really get tied up – they can just loop the rope around their wrists). Go with them to the river area. When they return to the river from the food station, give them Card B. When they are finished, say: “You have been obedient so far. Return to Station 1 to be provided with your next clue.” When they get there, tell them to put the rope back in the box. Give them Card C to move on.
Card A reads: After Elijah confronted evil King Ahab, the word of the Lord came to him, and told him to go east and hide. God said the ravens would feed Elijah while he was there. Elijah was obedient to God’s command, and God was faithful to the promise to provide him with food from the ravens every morning and evening. At this station, your group is Elijah. You must look around the room for a clue as to which way is east. When you figure out the right direction, make a blob of your group by tying everyone together. Then move to the marker in the east that displays the Wadi (or River) Cherith. Find a box there and look inside for another clue. Stay tied together until you are told to untie. When you’ve been obedient to the instructions, return here to be provided with your next clue.
Card B reads: Everyone in your group must have a foot on the masking tape line while each of you eats a piece of bread and a bite of meat. Then each of you should drink a cup of water.
Card C reads: You obeyed the commands and you have been provided with this next clue: There is no more water for you here. You must now go to Zarephath, in the heart of Baal country! A widow there will feed you.
Raven Card reads: Look for the blue cloth. Each member of your group takes but doesn’t eat one of each of the items under the cloth, just like I brought to Elijah every morning and evening. Then go back to the river.
Tray Cards read: You looked in the wrong place. As a group, you must hop back to Station 1, shout, “Obedience is key!” three times, and return to the river to start over.
Station 2: Zarephath
Station 2 Set-up: Hang a poster that says “Welcome to Zarephath” and another that says “Baal is the greatest in Zarephath!” Set up a house area with the refrigerator box. Use the empty bags of flour or other empty pantry items to show that there is no more food. Put a small table or milk crate in front of the cardboard and place a napkin or cloth over it. On the table, place a small jar with a little flour, and a small jar with a little oil. Scatter some small sticks around. Place the shoebox beside the jars, and place Card D inside the shoebox. You will need a spoon and a small bowl of flour, holding enough to fill the jar. Place the bowl of flour far enough away to make a bit of a challenge to carry the flour in the spoon to the jar. (Make the course shorter for younger children or add obstacles to the route for older children.)
Instructions for Station 2 Leader: Welcome the group to Zarephath. Tell them they are in the heart of “Baal country!” Offer them the card in the shoebox, and then start picking up the sticks slowly while they read. When they ask you for water and food, you reply, “As the Lord your God lives, I don’t have anything to offer you. I only have this bit of meal, and this oil. I’m gathering sticks now, and then I will go home and cook for my son and myself. We’re going to eat it for our last meal, and then we will die.” They should ask again. When they do, hand them Card E. When they tell you the jars won’t run out of meal or oil, agree to make a cake for them. Tell them their task for this station is to replenish the jar of flour one spoonful at a time. Every person on the team must participate. When the jar is full, give them their next Clue Card (Card F).
Card D reads: Hi Elijah! This is God. I have commanded this widow to feed you. I know that this widow is very poor and can hardly care for herself, let alone you, but don’t worry. I know what I’m doing. Go and ask her for a drink of water and a bite to eat. She will give you your next clue. If she doesn’t agree at first, tell her I, the Lord your God, will take care of it!
Card E reads: This is God again. You see those jars of flour and oil? Tell the widow that I say that I won’t let them run out of meal or oil until it rains!
Card F reads: Go to Station 3 to meet the widow’s son!
Station 3: The Widow’s Son
Station 3 Set-up: Lay a blanket or comforter in the floor and make a bed. Hold or display the station 3 sign.
Instructions for Station 3 Leader: Greet the children. Tell them that they have just jumped forward in time, and you are the son (or the son’s wife) of the widow they just met, but 20 or 30 years later. Tell the groups they will wait until everyone has finished the challenge course. Tell a brief story of how Elijah saved you from death. Use the Bible to help you prepare to tell this story. Close by quoting the memory verse.
Begin with a word of welcome and offer a prayer. Remind the children that it is very important to listen and follow directions so that they can have fun playing games! They will play two or three games this morning that will help everyone learn more about Elijah.
The games will help the children learn specific parts of the Elijah story, so start with an overview of Elijah’s actions by reading 1 Kings 17. Each item on the List of Key Points should be covered with construction paper. Begin reading the story, or choose one or two strong readers to read the chapter. You will reveal the summary word/phrase as each part of the story is read. Later in the rotation, you may use the list as a review by challenging the children to remember what Elijah does next.
Divide the children into two groups.
The first game is a short relay focusing on the feeding by the ravens. Teams will use their “beaks” (tweezers) to retrieve a week’s worth of food for Elijah, which is 14 pieces (morning and evening) each of bread and meat. The pictures of the bread and meat may be hidden in Easter basket grass, hay, or just placed in a bowl. Each team needs a chart labeled Sunday through Saturday across the top and Morning Meal and Evening Meal on the rows. On your signal, the first person in each line walks backward to the “nest,” chooses a piece of bread or meat, then hops back to the group. If the food drops, the child puts the food back and starts over from the line. The child tapes the bread or meat to the column for the morning meal on Sunday. The next person’s job is to complete the morning meal, and so on until each team of “ravens” feeds Elijah for a week.
Discuss: You can mention that we aren’t sure exactly how long the ravens fed Elijah! Just as the ravens brought food to Elijah, God sent his word to prophets like Elijah. Point out the places on the List of Key Points poster where God sent his word to Elijah.
The second game is an obstacle course that focuses on Elijah’s actions in the story. Teams are provided with a clue when they are obedient at each station!
Invite the children to look at their Bibles (older children) or the List of Key Points poster and identify places where someone was obedient to what God wanted them to do. Next, look for places that God provided specific help for someone. Help the children make the connection between their obedience and God’s provision.
Before starting the second game, make new teams. This will help the children to be less competitive, and won’t allow a single group to dominate every challenge!
Invite the children to participate in a challenge course that helps us experience how God provides for us in special ways when we are obedient to God. Tell the children about the obstacles you have set up based on the Advanced Preparation instructions. If you have a small group, they may all go together through the course, and you may only need one helper to run Station 2. If you have more children, send them through in groups of about five each.
Memory Verse Scramble. Divide the children into two new groups and sit in a circle. Reveal the words to the verse on butcher paper, chalkboard, or newsprint, and read the verse together. Give each group a set of Scripture Word Cards. It is fine if there are more cards than children in a group -- some children may have more than one word. Children pass the cards around the group until all the cards are passed out. On your signal, children read their word(s) in the correct order. That’s the easy version!
The second time, the group will mix up the Scripture Word cards while passing them around. Leave the butcher paper uncovered for this time. On your signal, the passing stops and the cards are read in the correct order. (When you think the group is ready, cover the butcher paper and repeat the “scrambled” Scripture!) Point out that Elijah was one of God's prophets and God spoke through Elijah.
Ask: How did God provide for Elijah at the brook? (ravens fed him)
Why did Elijah go to Zarephath? (because God sent him there)
Say: The water had run out at the brook where Elijah had been staying so God sent Elijah to Zarephath so that God could provide for Elijah through the widow. God sure uses strange ways to provide for Elijah.
Ask: How do you suppose the Widow of Zarephath felt about using up her only supplies to feed someone else?
What happened when the widow trusted God to provide?
How does God provide for you?
Does God ask you to help him provide for others?
Say: God usually takes care of children through their families, but sometimes the family can’t find a job. Sometimes God asks us to help other families that are in need. We can do that by helping at the homeless shelter or with other food collection agencies. We are called to help God in the task of providing for others. God provides for us all.
Adaptations - shorter time
For the Raven Relay, don’t make a poster, just collect the food from the bowls. Use 4 pictures of bread and 4 pictures of meat in each group's bowl. (That number allows everyone to have a chance to collect at least one piece as long as there are not more than 16 kids.) Limiting the time this game takes allows more time for the obstacle course.
In the obstacle course, just use 2 stations.
Send the kids through the obstacle course in one big group.
Adaptations - Younger Children
For the Raven Relay use food tongs instead of tweezers – easier for little hands to work.
Younger children may take longer with the relay and challenge course games.
Use repetition to learn the memory verse with them if they are not reading yet.
Adaptation - Older Children
Make the Raven Relay more difficult by mixing in pictures of other items in the food bowls.
Written for Rotation.org by Zola Griffin
Copyright 2009 Rotation.org
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