Daniel in the Lion's Den
Drama Workshop Idea
State Street UMC G.R.E.A.T. Adventure Sunday school
Overview of the workshop: Children will act out the story while taking photographic “stills” of key scenes.
Note: Briefly review the story from the Bible, since the story will be covered in detail during the activity.
- Bible costumes – lion head costumes, soldier costumes, crowns
- Digital camera
- Cardboard bricks covered with tan fabric to look like lion’s den
- Optional: Bring a laptop to class to show the pictures to the children. If you have LOTS of time (or a helpful volunteer), you might want to create a keepsake for the children. I created a photo storybook using the photos from the workshop. I made small storybooks and gave to each child. They loved it!
- Assign parts.
- Have narrator read the script to set the scene for each part of the story. Have children choose costumes and/or props and act out the scene briefly. At a moment of high action, have children freeze their action and take a digital picture.
- Move onto the next scene and repeat.
- Pause in between scenes to reflect on the story and discuss the feelings of the characters.
As the Rotation progresses and/or for older children, shuffle the story slips before acting out the scenes. Have children put the scenes in order before creating the “still” pictures. Encourage children to be creative as they set the stage for each scene.
If you have a short timeframe, divide the scenes into two parts. Have one group of children create the first scenes, then on a different week, have the second group of children create the remainder. Or offer the workshop two times and complete the scenes in two sessions.
The nation of Israel, had been divided into two kingdoms, the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah. For many years, prophets tried to warn the people of God to turn away from worshiping idols and worship God alone. But they didn’t listen. First the northern kingdom fell. Then even the southern kingdom of Judah fell. The Babylonian army came to Jerusalem. They captured all the brightest and smartest young people and took them away to live in exile in Babylon, far from their home. Daniel was a young teenager when he was taken away. His friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were taken also.
Daniel and his friends quickly became leaders in the king’s court. Daniel lived to be a very old man. Four different rulers governed Babylon during Daniel’s lifetime. Daniel became a trusted friend and advisor to all the kings. Our story begins when Darius was King of Babylon…
Scene One: King Darius Chooses Daniel
Characters: Daniel, King Darius, King’s officials/governors
Narrator: Daniel worked hard for the new king. The new king put Daniel and two other men in charge of all 120 regions in his empire. But Daniel was a much better leader than the other two men. So King Darius decided to put Daniel in charge of ALL the regions. The other two governors or officials were bitterly jealous of Daniel.
Discuss: Why was Daniel put in charge? How did the other governors feel? How can we show this scene?
Photo: Darius selects Daniel to be in charge of all his regions.
Scene Two: The Officials Plot Revenge
Characters: King Darius, Two governors (officials)
Props: scroll, pen, throne, signet ring
Narrator: The officials were bitterly jealous of Daniel. They decided they would find a way to get Daniel in trouble with the king. But try as hard as they might, they couldn’t catch Daniel doing anything wrong. “This man never does anything wrong,” they said. “We’ll have to find something about his Jewish religion that will get him into trouble.” And so they plotted and schemed….
Now Daniel had grown from a young teenager into an old man. Although he had lived in Babylon nearly his whole life, he had not forgotten the ways of his home. He had stayed loyal and true to his God. Three times a day, Daniel knelt next to his window, facing Jerusalem and praying to God. He knew that even though he was far from home, God was with him.
Finally, the jealous officials came up with a plan to get rid of Daniel. They went to the king and tricked him into making a new law. People were required to pray only to the king for the next month. Once the law was signed it was sealed with the seal of the King. Such a law could not be broken. And here was the worst part – anyone who broke the law would be thrown into a den of lions!
Now King Darius didn’t realize the officials were trying to trap Daniel. Daniel was his friend. So, without realizing what was really happening, King Darius signed the new law.
Discuss: Why were the officials jealous? What did they try to do? Why did they have to find something in Daniel’s religion to pick on? Why would the king sign a law against Daniel? How can we show this scene?
Photo #1: The officials plot against Daniel
Photo #2: King Darius signs the new law.
Scene Three: Daniel Gets the News!
Characters: Daniel, Officials
Props: Daniel’s room, window
Narrator: The officials were very cunning men. They knew exactly what they were doing, even if King Darius didn’t. They knew that Daniel prayed every day. Soon, they would trap him! Soon Daniel would be lion chow and they would be rid of him forever!
Daniel heard about the law. He probably figured out that the officials were trying to trap him. Daniel must have wondered if he should just pray silently, maybe move inside his room, instead of praying next to his window facing Jerusalem…. After all, God would still hear his prayers, right?
But no! He decided he would not give in. He continued to pray by his open window as he had always done. He prayed out loud to God, just like he had always done. And, sure enough, the officials who were watching saw Daniel praying …. Disobeying the King’s new law.
Discuss: Why didn’t Daniel just pretend to stop praying? Why didn’t Daniel do what he had to do to save his skin? Wasn’t he crazy to do what would bring certain death? How would we show this scene?
Photo: Daniel prays at his window.
Scene Four: Daniel is Thrown to the Lions!
Characters: Officials, Daniel, King Darius, Soldiers, lions
Narrator: The officials were watching closely. With glee, they saw Daniel praying out loud at his window and ran quickly to the king to report the news. The king realized he had been trapped by his officials, but there was nothing he could do. The law could not be broken. He gave the order for the soldiers to go and arrest Daniel and throw him into the den of lions. The king felt so bad that he came along. Before they threw Daniel into the lion’s den, he said, “You always serve your God faithfully. May he save you!” Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den. A large stone was rolled across the opening so he couldn’t escape. The King sealed the opening with a seal from his special ring.
Discuss: How do you think the king feels knowing he has been tricked into putting his friend to death? How do you think Daniel is feeling? How can we show this scene? What do you think Daniel did while in the lion’s den?
Photo #1: Daniel placed in the lion’s den.
Photo #2: Daniel praying while the lions sleep.
Scene Five: Sleepless in Babylon!
Characters: King Darius
Narrator: Now the king felt just terrible about this whole situation. Daniel was his trusted friend. How could he have been so stupid! How could he have been so gullible? What was he thinking? All night long the king paced back and forth, worried about Daniel. He felt so guilty for letting this happen.
Discuss: Have you ever done something without thinking that hurt someone else? What can you do to make it better? What do you think the king learned from this? How can we show this scene?
Photo: King Darius worries and can’t sleep.
Scene Six: The Next Morning!
Characters: King Darius, Daniel, King’s servants, two officials, lions
Narrator: As soon as the sun was up, the king ran from the palace to the lion’s den where Daniel was. He called out to him, “Daniel, Was your God able to save you from the lions?”
And amazingly enough, Daniel answered him. “My king, God sent his angel to shut the mouths of the lions. They haven’t hurt me at all.”
King Darius was overjoyed! His servants lifted Daniel from the den. There wasn’t even a scratch on Daniel! Then King Darius made another law. He ordered the officials who had tried to trick Daniel to be brought to him. They were thrown into the den of lions right then. And this time the lions did not keep their mouths shut!
Photo: Lions attack the other officials
Scene Seven: King Darius worships God!
Characters: King Darius, Daniel, people of Babylon
Narrator: Then King Darius wrote to the people of all the nations, saying, “Everyone in my kingdom must respect and honor Daniel’s God. He is the living God. He will live forever. He sets people free and saves them. He does miraculous signs and wonders. He does them in the heavens and on earth. He has saved Daniel from the power of the lions.”
Discuss: How was Daniel’s courage used to tell other people about God? How can you do what is right when others around you are not? How did Daniel’s practice of praying three times a day make his faith stronger? How can we show this scene?
Photo: King Darius, Daniel and people worship God.