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The Baptism of Jesus

Drama Workshop

Summary of Lesson Activities:

Creative dramatics is used to explore John's baptism of Christ and the Presbyterian baptism of infants (or your denomination's practices).

Scripture Reference:

John 1: 19 - 34

Lesson Objectives:
By the end of the session , the students will

  • know that John is one of the four Gospels that share an account of the life of Jesus and know where to find it in the New Testament.
  • be familiar with the story of Jesus' baptism.
  • understand sacrament of baptism, including the promises made by an infant's parents or by the person being baptized and also the promises made by the others involved.

 Background comments on the story:

  • Read the story in the other three Gospels and note the variations: Matthew 3: 1-17, Mark 1: 1-11, Luke 3: 1-22.
  • Although John did not know for whom he was preparing the way, he recognized Jesus immediately ("I saw the spirit come down like a dove from heaven and stay on him," 1:32b). He gave testimony, announcing to everyone that Jesus is the Son of God. (And he continued to give testimony; see John 1:35-36.)
  • From the PC(USA) Book of Order: "Baptism is the sign and seal of incorporation into Christ. Jesus through his own baptism identified himself with sinners in order to fulfill all righteousness. Jesus in his own baptism was attested Son by the Father and was anointed with the Holy Spirit to undertake the way of the servant manifested in his sufferings, death, and resurrection. Jesus the risen Lord assured his followers of his continuing presence and power and commissioned them ‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always to the end of the age' (Matt. 28:19, NRSV). The disciples were empowered by the outpouring of the Spirit to undertake a life of service and to be an inclusive worshiping community, sharing life in which love, justice, and mercy abounded." Check with your pastor to see what your church says about baptism.

 Props, scenery, costumes, and supplies:

  • Bible time costumes
  • Jordan river (tape a large piece of butcher paper to the floor)
  • doll to be baptized
  • bowl with a bit of water
  • copies of the baptism liturgy your church uses (meet with your pastor to find out exactly what is said and done in your church for baptism. If there are any hymns that are normally sung as part of the baptism, consider singing them as part of the portrayal of the sacrament.)
  • materials for bird puppet: paper plates, craft sticks, plain white paper, scissors, markers or crayons, glue, tape, stapler and staples, craft feathers.

Leader Preparation:

  • Gather the materials.
  • Read the scripture ahead of time.


Early arrival activity: Make the "Bird-in-the-Hand" puppets from the book Puppets and Masks: Stagecraft and Storytelling. (If time is short, make the body in advance, and cut a beak shape out as part of the body. Tape the craft stick to the body and use staples to hold the body together instead of glue; leave off the feet.) It is not necessary for everyone to have a puppet; only one is needed to show the Spirit descending like a dove. Students who made a puppet may take it home with them.

Opening-Welcome and Lesson Introduction:
Greet the children and introduce yourself.
Open with prayer.

Dig-Main Content and Reflection:
Read the scripture: John 1: 19-34

Discuss the story:
Characters: Jewish authorities, priests, Levites, John the Baptist, Jesus, people, Spirit of God (like a dove)

Remind the students that John is Elizabeth and Zechariah's son and is a relative of Jesus (see Luke 1).
Read Matthew's description of John the Baptist: Matthew 3: 4-6.

Where did the story take place? in Bethany on the east side of the Jordan River (this is not the same Bethany where Lazarus lived [chapter 11]).

Discuss baptism practices. Does anyone remember how we baptize people in our church? What sorts of questions are asked? Who answers them? Talk about how some people are baptized as infants and others are baptized as youth or adults.

Warm-up exercises:

  • Talk about what it may have looked like when "the Spirit came down like a dove from heaven and stayed on Jesus." (There are no right or wrong answers to this question.)
  • Mime how each of these people present at Jesus' baptism may have reacted to seeing the Spirit descending like a dove:
    • John the Baptist
    • Jesus
    • Others waiting to be baptized
    • Priests and Levites sent by the Jewish authorities
  • Practice using the bird puppets to descend like a dove on Jesus. Depending on how many puppets were made, half the class can be doves and the other half can be Jesus. Switch. (It may be necessary to remind some over-exuberant students that the dove probably did not bonk Jesus on the head.)

Assign parts and act out the story
of John baptizing Jesus.
After you act out the Bible story, baptize a doll. (Before beginning, have the "parents" decide on the doll's name.) With younger students, a teacher may have to read the part of the minister, but allow a child to be the minister and do the baptizing with water. (If time permits and the sanctuary is not in use, consider taking the class to the sanctuary and doing this using the baptismal font or pool.) After formally dramatizing a baptism, allow each child to have an opportunity to baptize the doll.

Pulling it all together (closing discussion):

  • Why was John baptizing people?
  • Why do you think Jesus felt it was important to be baptized by John?
  • What is a sacrament?
  • What is baptism?
  • Why are you baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit? (Look at Matthew 28: 19)
  • Have you been baptized? What do you remember about your baptism (actual memories or from family stories/photos)?


God: help us remember the promises made in our own baptism, and renew our trust in you. Help us to obey your will and to serve you with joy, as did your son Jesus. Amen.


  • Rump, Nan. Puppets and Masks: Stagecraft and Storytelling. Worcester, Massachusetts: Davis Publications, Inc., 1996.
  • PC(USA) Book of Order. 

Books for sharing before and after class:
 Look for books about the lives of Jesus and John the Baptist, including illustrated collections of Bible stories such as 

  • McCaughrean, Geraldine. God's Kingdom: Stories from the New Testament. New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books, 1999.
  • Turner, Philip. The Bible Story. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.


A lesson written by Amy Crane for Palma Ceia Presbyterian Church, Tampa, FL

A representative of reformatted this post to improve readability.

Last edited by CreativeCarol

John The Baptist

The Book of Acts” – Drama Workshop
Grades 1-6

Memory Verse:

Matthew 3:3b “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.”

Scripture Reference:
Matt. 3:1-15, Mark 1:2-11,14,15, Luke 1:5-25, 59-80; 3:1-20, John 1:6-9, 19-37

Lesson Objectives:
The children will learn that:

  • John the Baptist is the last of the Old Testament Prophets
  • John was Jesus’ cousin
  • John is the messenger sent from God to tell of Jesus’ coming.
  • John lived an unusual life
  • We remember John during Advent, the season before Christmas.

 Supplies List:

  • Costume and Wig for John the Baptist
  • PREPARE HIS WAY! MAKE STRAIGHT THE PATHS! , written in large letters on a sign.

Leader Preparation:

  • Gather the materials.
  • Read the scripture ahead of time.


Opening-Welcome and Lesson Introduction:

Welcome the children and the shepherd as they arrive. Say: We are continuing with the theme, “Come Join the Circle,” and the character that is joining the circle this month is John the Baptist, the last Old Testament Prophet. Do you know what a prophet is? (Someone that can tell the future, knows what is going to happen, or something like that.) Well, John was Jesus’ cousin and knows that Jesus is the Savior of the world. But before we begin the story let’s join together in a word of prayer.

Dear God, we ask that you be with us today as we learn about John the Baptist and how he spread the word about his cousin, Jesus. Help us to learn to know what it is to repent of our sins. And all God’s children say, “AMEN.

Dig-Main Content and Reflection:

Read Story: Camel’s Hair and Honey
(If you have a costume for John the Baptist, ask someone if they would like to wear it.
That person could stand in the front and be the leader when it’s time for the children to say their line.)
Say: This is the first Sunday of December and it is also the first Sunday in Advent. Advent is a time when we prepare for Jesus’ coming, his birth at Christmas time.
We are to prepare, to get ready, change our way of living, stop doing bad things and do good things. Think about the REAL meaning of Christmas. We are going to read the story about John the Baptist together. He is God’s messenger and like many of God’s prophets he dressed differently and spoke in a strong manner. John the Baptist dressed like the old prophet, Elijah, in camel’s hair and ate foods of the desert, like bugs and honey. I will read 2 lines of the story and then you read your part all together. Let’s practice your part. Say it boldly and in rhythm.


Continue story: Read the first 2 lines of story and then have children say their line.
Read the next 2 lines and have children say their line. Repeat until story is done.

This is a very short 15 minute class time. If you should have time after the story, ask them some questions about the story. What did John wear? What did he eat? Do you think those things were important to John? Ask them how many Sundays are in Advent. (4) Why do we have Advent? ((To prepare our hearts for Jesus’ coming. To change our lives if need be.) How was John related to Jesus? (cousin) What do you think he meant, “to make his paths straight?” (Change your way of living, repent, share your food and clothing, etc.) If you have lots of time, repeat the story.


Dear God, thank you for sending your messenger, John the Baptist, to remind us to prepare our hearts and minds for the coming of your son, Jesus. Help us to repent of our sins and do good things every day. We also wait for you to come again. In Jesus’ name we pray. And all God’s children say, AMEN.


  • Camel’s Hair and Honey by Jeffrey E. Burkart, ARCH Books, Concordia Publishing House, 2000. ISBN 0-570-07567-X
  • Lesson taken from ARCH Book, Camels Hair and Honey


Adapted by Kathy from: Augustana Church, St. James, MN

A representative of reformatted this post to improve readability.

Last edited by CreativeCarol

Book of Acts

Drama Workshop for Jesus' Baptism
Grades K-2

Lesson Objectives: The children will

  • Be familiar with the story of Jesus’ baptism
  • Understand the sacrament of baptism, including the promises made by an infant’s parents and others involved
  • Understand the use of a Faith Chest


  • Read the Bible backgrounds
  •  Be prepared to dramatize a baptism
  • Familiarize yourself with baptism script, be prepared to say some things together if you need to save time.

Supplies List:

  • Beginner’s Bible, Zonderkidz
  • Baptismal font (use marble font located in the social hall)
  • Dolls
  • Water
  • Candles (can the children keep them?)
  • Shells
  • Faith Chest
  • Samples of items to be placed in chest (candle, napkin, certificate, outfit, etc.)


Opening-Welcome and Lesson Introduction:

Welcome the children back. Then SAY: Even though it is a new year on the calendar, we still have the same theme as when we started Sunday School in September. Do you remember what it is? (We hope that by now they know that it is, “Listen, God is Calling”. Remind them if necessary.)SAY: Do you remember your baptism? Probably not…you were a just a baby. Well, in today’s story God is calling Jesus to be baptized. Yes, even Jesus was baptized; although he was a grown man when it happened. Let’s listen as I read about it out of our children’s Bible. But first let’s fold our hands and pray.

Dear God, Thank you for the time that we have with each other to learn about the story of Jesus’ life. Help us to listen as we learn about Jesus’ baptism; help us to always follow you and be obedient to you as Jesus was. Amen.

Dig-Main Content and Reflection:

Read Story from The Beginner’s Bible pp. 303-307

After you have read the story, show the children the picture on page 307 and tell them that this is one of the few stories in the Bible that shows us the 3 persons of God all in the same place at the same time: God the Father (the voice from heaven) God the Holy Spirit (in the form of a dove landing on Jesus) and God the Son (Jesus standing in the river.) Ask them again: What in the story shows us God the Father? (voice from heaven) What in the story shows us God the Son? (Jesus standing in the river) What in the story shows us God the Holy Spirit? ( dove coming to land on Jesus’ shoulder)

Dramatize a Baptism:
Tell the children that when they were baptized they became a child of God. Be sure to tell them that baptism is not simply plain water; it is water used according to God’s command and connected with God’s word. Without the Word of God the water is just plain water. That’s why we have baptisms in church with the congregation present, and the pastor in charge.
But today in Sunday School we are going to act out a baptism. Each of us gets to bring a “baby” to be baptized like our parents did for us, and then each of us gets to be the one to pour the water on the baby, just like the pastor does when it’s a “real” baptism. Before you bring your baby to be baptized, you need to decide on a name. Have them each pick their own name and practice saying, “I present ___________for baptism.” Have them practice saying, “I do” after you prompt them, also. Have them stand around the font.

Baptism Script:

Teacher: God who is rich in mercy and love, gives us new birth into a living hope through Holy Baptism. By water and the Word together, God delivers us from sin and death and raises us to new life in Jesus Christ.

(Have student step forward and say)

Student: I present __________________for baptism. (Each student repeats for their child using their special name.)

Teacher: (to all the children) Called by the Holy Spirit, trusting in the love of God, do you wish to have your child baptized into Christ? If so say, ‘I do.’

Student: I do. (Each child repeats. Remember, if you need to save time, have them say the responses together.)

Teacher: Do you promise to help your child grow in the Christian faith and life? If so say, ‘I do.’

Student: I do. (Each child repeats)

Teacher: People of God, do you promise to support and pray for your children and their lives in Christ? If so say, ‘We do.’

Students: (all together) We do.

Teacher: Do you believe in God the Father? If so say, ‘I do.’’’

Student: I do. (Each child repeats. Say together if you need to save time.)

Teacher: Do you believe in God the Son? If so say, ‘I do.’

Student: I do. (Each child repeats)

Teacher: Do you believe in God the Holy Spirit? If so say, ‘I do.’

Student: I do. (Each child repeats)

Have each student take turns stepping up to the font, taking a shell and pouring water 3 times on their doll’s head as they say the words:

_____________, I baptize you in the name of the Father (pour), and of the Son (pour), and of the Holy Spirit (pour). Speak quietly along with them if necessary.

(When all have finished with the water.)

Teacher: Let us pray. We give you thanks, O God, that through water and the Holy Spirit you give your children new birth, cleanse them from sin, and raise them to eternal life. Amen.

(Have each child make the sign of the cross on their child’s forehead while they say it. Do it together if you need to save time. Tell them to what to say.)

Student: __________, child of God, you have been marked with the cross of Christ forever. Amen.

(Give each child a candle, but do not light them. Hopefully they can keep the candle.)

Teacher: Let your light so shine before others that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. Let us welcome the newly baptized by repeating after me…We welcome you! (repeat) Let us give thanks and praise to God! (repeat) AMEN.
End of script. Congratulate the children on doing such a good job.

Faith Chest:

Show the children the Faith Chest and some of the items that are placed inside. (I think that we will not have a lot of time for this. Use whatever time you have.)


The children may draw a baptismal font, a candle, or a faith chest in their book.

Closing: Prayer: Thank you, God, for making me one of your children at my baptism. May I always trust in you. Help me to obey your will and to serve you with joy, as did your son, Jesus. AMEN

Alternate Idea suggested by an editor:
Let kids take turns being the pastor, instead of the teacher doing it all. Consider having kids re-enact some 'baptism situations' ...such as baptizing a criminal, a liar, a bragger, a bully, ...and discuss what would be said to each during baptism...what would they need to confess? What would they hope would be 'washed away' ??


  • The Beginner’s Bible, Zonderkids, 2005, Mission City Press ISBN 0-310-70962-8
  • Evangelical Lutheran Worship, ELCA 2006 Augsburg Fortress


A lesson written by Kathy from: Augustana Lutheran Church, St. James, MN

A representative of reformatted this post to improve readability.

Last edited by CreativeCarol
During renovation of this forum, a reviewer really liked this idea found in member SUMC's drama post, --which could be used in the Drama/Story or in a Game workshop.

Have the students quickly follow a simple obstacle course around the room. The key is that they must listen carefully, and whenever you say the word “repent” (loudly, quietly, slowly, or quickly) they must reverse direction on the obstacle course. This will give them a kinesthetic (movement) experience of the meaning of the word, “repentance”.

John the Baptist - Preparing the Way

Drama Workshop


Summary of Lesson Activities:

John lived a simple life in the wilderness to prepare himself for the ministry that God had chosen for him. When he came from the Judean wilderness, he was an unusual man in his dress; he wore clothing of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist. He was also unusual in his food choices; he ate locusts and wild honey. The Bible tells us that when he was a little boy, he greatly loved God. He definitely was living with God’s will as one who would prepare people for the coming of Jesus by urging them to repent, be forgive, and to live lives worthy of God’s salvation. Perhaps in part because he chose to live in the wilderness, he was especially sure of God’s plan for his life.

Lesson Objective:

  • Students will learn that John prepared for the ministry that God chose for him by living a simple life in the wilderness.
  • Students will compare the way that John prepared for the coming of the Messiah and how we prepare today for the Christmas season where we celebrate the coming of the Messiah.
  • Students will understand the value of finding “A place in the wilderness” to concentrate on the true meaning of Christmas in our lives.
  • Students will understand the necessity of “wilderness experiences” to continue to find God’s will for our lives. 


Leader Preparation:

  • The drama room should be prepared with different stations where props are laid out for all the various activities that we do at Christmas to get ready.
    • A card table with Christmas cards and envelopes and fake stamps and pens or pencils laid on it.
    • A card table set up to look like a little store with a cash till and various empty perfume bottles or toys set out for purchase.
    • A card table with wrapping paper and boxes and tape and scissors.
    • A card table with a rolling pin, cookie cutters and some cookie sheets.
    • A small Christmas tree with tinsel and ornaments setting beneath it.
    • A heap of dress up clothes, hats, scarves, old jewelry to get ready for the party.
    • One wall should have the camels and a natural background, a wilderness area.




Opening-Welcome and Lesson Introduction:
Welcome students to Stage Trek Productions.


Open with a prayer.


Dig-Main Content and Reflection:

If this the children’s first workshop in the John the Baptist rotation read the story of John the Baptist from a Bible storybook.


Read Luke 1:80; Matthew 3:4; and Mark 1:6 from a modern language
version of the Bible.


Brainstorm activities that we do to prepare for Christmas. Write
them on a large piece of paper as the kids say them.


Assign students parts (voices) in the play.


Show them all the props.


Read the play through once. Then have all the children do what the
voices tell them to. There should be mad rushing about in the first
part of the play. Kids should be getting frustrated as they barely
begin one activity and then are rushed to the next. Then the pace
should slow as they begin questioning what they are doing, and
finally they should be sitting peacefully in the wilderness area
listening quietly for the ‘voice in the wilderness.”


Have the children sit very quietly without speaking for at least 3 to
5 minutes. Play some background music


Discuss the importance of finding a wilderness place and the
importance of being still and quiet in order for God to speak to us.


Try to help the children come up with places in their homes or ways
that they could make time for use their wilderness time.


Older children should write in their journals places and times that
they could sit

For Younger Children:
The workshop leaders can read the play aloud as the shepherds direct the kids through the activities. Make sure that one voice does all the VOICE 7 parts representing the voice of God.








VOICE 8: I can’t go to the wilderness. I’m getting ready for a
party. What are all these parties for?


VOICE 8: Wait! Why are we celebrating? Whose birthday is it?


VOICE 8: I can’t go to the wilderness. I’ve got shopping to do and
presents to wrap. Christmas is coming.


VOICE 6: What does going to the wilderness have to do with

VOICE 5: Didn’t John the Baptist go to the wilderness?

VOICE 4: Yes, the same John who lived a simple life, wore clothing
of camel’s hair and a leather belt, who ate only weird
stuff like locusts and honey.

VOICE 3: And he went around saying “Get ready for the Lord. Make a
straight path!”

VOICE 2: Christmas is all about preparing for Jesus. John prepared
for Christmas too . . .

VOICE 1: He stayed in the wilderness. It was an area in which few
people lived. It was not used for farming and the land was
more or less in its natural state.

VOICE 2: John stayed there and meditated about preparing for the
ministry that God had chosen for him. God wanted John to
help prepare people for the coming of Jesus by urging them
to repent and be forgiven for their sins. He wanted people
to change and to live lives worthy of salvation.

VOICE 3: But what does this story about John in the wilderness mean
for us?

VOICE 4: Perhaps we need to find our own wilderness, a quiet place
where we could be still and think - -

VOICE 5: But it’s BORING to be still and think!

VOICE 6: But maybe it’s a way to meditate, to spend time in quiet
thinking –

VOICE 5: To consider with careful and thoughtful attention while
you’re alone - - -

VOICE 4: A way to let God speak to me about the real reason for the
joy at Christmas- - -

VOICE 3: Amid the hectic preparation for Christmas Day –
A way to realize that my life is a preparation for God’s
call - -

VOICE 2: And about God’s plan for my life - - How HE can use ME!

VOICE 1: I can follow John’s example of going to our own quiet place
away from the boombox, the TV, and my friends and family,
to seek GOD’S WILL in MY life!- - -

VOICE 2: And not just seeking a wilderness experience at Christmas
only, but for every season- every day ---

VOICE 3: A way to be closer to the Lord in my wilderness place - -

VOICE 7: Be still and know that I am the Lord Thy God! . . .

VOICE 4: And in the quietness I can hear God speak to me.

VOICE 5: I, too, want to go to the wilderness

VOICE 6: And in the quietness, I can hear God speak to me.

VOICE 7: Be still and know that I AM THE LORD THY GOD.



End with a prayer.


A lesson from Desoto Presbyterian Church

Dallas, TX


A representative of reformatted this post to improve readability.


Last edited by Lesson Forma-teer

John the Baptist Baptizes Jesus

Storytelling Workshop

Summary of Lesson Activities:
The children will hear the story of John the Baptist and his baptism of Jesus in a way that involves all of their senses. They will think about how John lived his life in the wilderness and was in tune enough with God to recognize Jesus, the Christ. They will also consider how they can do God’s work, just as John did.

Scripture Reference:

Matthew 3:1-17; Mark 1:1-11; Luke 3:1-22

Memory Verse:

Matthew 3:17(NLT)


Lesson Objectives:

  • experience quiet time to listen for God’s will for our lives and talk about the value and necessity of finding a quiet time and place to do so regularly.
  • understand that our role in sharing the good news of Jesus Christ is never more than what we are able to do—we may be one of many people that God will ask to help someone become a child of God.


Teacher preparation in advance:

  • Read the scripture passages and lesson plan and attend the Bible Study, ...
  • Practice telling the story. Learn it well enough so you can tell it with minimal looking at your notes.
  • Look up the italicized words in the story so you can be ready to tell the children what the words mean.
  • Learn the memory verse.
  • Consider the age level adjustments needed each week (those included in the lesson plan and your own). Confer with the Shepherd on “Stretchers” to use, especially with the youngest children.
  • 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. 

Room set-up:
The drama room should be prepared with a comfortable seating area. The fountain should be set up on a table off to the side. You will need some sort of table for the candle during the scripture/story passage. You may want to use a table big enough to sort out all of your story objects so they are ready when needed, or put your objects on a separate table or keep them hidden in a basket.

Supply List:




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.

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 look at John the Baptist and how he baptized Jesus. We will also think about how John lived his life in the wilderness, and was in tune enough with God to recognize Jesus, the Christ. We will also think about how we can be a witness and tell others about Jesus.


Dig-Main Content and Reflection:

Scripture/Bible Story:
Reading the scripture: Matthew 3: 1-17.
Show the children how to find Matthew at the beginning of the New Testament. Explain that the New Testament is the stories and letters that relate to Jesus’ life and death and resurrection and the things that take place after that. It is in the back part of the Bible and begins with the four Gospels — the Good News stories about Jesus: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

After all of the children have found the passage, have them close their Bibles and set them aside. Tell them you will be reading the story as they listen and experience it.

Tell the story verse by verse to make sure the children understand the story using the props and sensory experiences as indicated in the attached script. If there are unfamiliar words, explain them. (Some words that might cause problems are italicized in the script that follows. If in doubt, ask the children what a word means. You may be surprised at some things which you think the children understand, they have no idea what it means. Have a dictionary handy and use it if necessary so that the children will know that even adults need help understanding and clarifying some things.)


After telling the story with the sensory objects, answer any questions the children have.

Then say: [adapted from “Stage Trek Productions - A Wilderness Experience,” Desoto Presbyterian.]
John lived a simple life in the wilderness to prepare himself for the ministry that God had chosen for him. He was an unusual man in his dress; he wore clothing of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist. He was also unusual in his food choices; he ate locusts and wild honey. The Bible tells us that when he was a little boy, he greatly loved God. He was living with God’s will as one who would prepare people for the coming of Jesus by urging them to repent, be forgiven, and to live lives worthy of God’s salvation. Perhaps in part because he chose to live in the wilderness, he was especially sure of God’s plan for his life. Away from civilization, he had time to stop and listen for God to speak to him.

Brainstorm: what are some activities that we do to talk to God and to listen to God?

One way to listen to God is to meditate and reflect with music or other soothing noise in the background. Listen, and when I stop the music, you can tell me about what you heard and thought. Sit comfortably. It’s okay to close your eyes, as long as you stay quiet and keep your hands to yourself. [Have the children sit very quietly without speaking for at least 3 to 5 minutes. Play some background music/water sounds and let them listen to the fountain. Light a candle.]

“Tell me now, what did you hear?” Allow time for all who wish to respond to do so. Accept all responses.

Younger Students: Prepare the way a way for the Lord. Isaiah 40: 3-5. Full body movement:
Remember last month during Advent and Christmas we talked about the prophet Isaiah. He told the people about a wonderful baby that would be born and would be king. He also told about someone who would be coming to prepare for and announce this king’s arrival. Any idea who that someone was?

Listen and move with me as we hear the word of the LORD: [Read Isaiah 40:3-5.]

“Listen! [hand cupped to ear to listen]
I hear the voice of someone shouting, [stand tall with arms outstretched as if spreading the word]
‘Make a highway for the LORD [march in place on highway]
through the wilderness. [push your way through bushes]
Make a straight, [point straight ahead, arm and pointer finger straight out]
smooth road [flat hand palm down passes over smooth road]
through the desert for our God. [hot desert, wipe forehead]
Fill the valleys [dig with shovel]
and level the hills. [bulldoze]
Straighten out the curves [pull an imaginary rope taut between your fists]
and smooth off the rough spots. [flat hand palm down passes over smooth road]
Then the glory of the LORD [hands ‘sparkle’ and ‘twinkle’ to show glory]
will be revealed, [shade eyes with hand as if looking]
and all people will see it together. [hold hands with those around you]
The LORD has spoken!” [hand cupped to ear to listen]

Pulling it all together (closing discussion):

[Adapted from Kirk of Kildaire “Redemption - Praising Puppets” Lesson Plan]
Let’s take a look at what another Gospel writer has to say about John the Baptist. Read John 1: 6-8.

Tell the children God sent John (a man) to tell everyone about Jesus. This was called “witnessing.” To witness means to say something is true because you know or believe it. Give an example of witnessing, such as that you could witness that this church is called the River Community Church or that a certain child or Shepherd’s name is “______.”

How do you think John knew what to say as he witnessed? God told John all the things he witnessed about—Jesus was in the beginning, Jesus is God, Jesus would become a human and come to Earth to be with human beings. John was not God or the light, just sent by God.

Read John 1: 9-11. Explain that no one knew who Jesus was at first. Jesus needed people like John to witness as to who he was. When Jesus was a man on Earth, lots of people did not believe or accept who Jesus was, but some did.

And those who believed are the children of God (John 1:12-13). They are God’s children because God made them so, not because they were good. It is by the grace of God that they — and we — are children of God. All that we need to do to become children of God is to believe in and accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

Read John 1: 29-34. John witnessed about what he saw.

God wants us to witness as John the Baptist did. God wants everyone to be a child of God. Your role in witnessing can be very simple—just sharing what they know about Jesus and behaving as Jesus would with love toward other people. We can play a part of anyone learning about Jesus (but do not have to do it all).

  • Who was John the Baptist? What was he sent to do? Who sent him? [A man sent by God to witness about Jesus coming, about who Jesus really is.]
  • What is witnessing? [Saying that something is true because you know or believe it.]
  • Who are the children of God? [Anyone who believes and accepts Jesus.]
  • Are you a child of God? [Try to direct this question to each person in the room.]

Review the memory verse.
The memory verse has been reviewed as part of the Storytelling activity. If time permits, ask for volunteers to say it by themselves. Reward those who try with a sticker.

By 11:45 a.m. ask the Shepherd to pass out the journal pages and pencils/markers. Suggestion: You may wish to give the children a sticker to paste in their journal as a reminder of the story and activity. (Water splash stickers would be appropriate.)

Shepherd Time:
[adapted from Kirk of Kildaire “Redemption - Praising Puppets” Lesson Plan ]

Explain to the children, “You don’t have to convince another person to believe in Jesus in order to be a good witness. (Remember that John told many people, and only some believed.) God is in charge of giving people believing faith. We are only called to be witnesses. God is very patient and will give a person a long time to learn about and understand Jesus in order to truly believe. Many people will play a part in making someone a child of God—think of all the teachers at church who are helping people learn about Jesus.”

Tell the younger children to think of someone to whom they would like to witness about Jesus. Ask them to draw a picture of themselves and that person together. They can write “I can witness” at the top of the picture or write it for them.

Ask the older children to think about witnessing. Then tell them to number their page 1 to 5. Ask them to try to list five different things to tell someone about Jesus (they don’t have to be complete sentences, keywords are fine). At the end of journaling, challenge them to try to find someone to witness to this week. Remind them that God wants us to be witnesses for God.

This is meant to be a time of reflection and introspection. Writing about faith helps clarify lessons. In addition to the suggested activity, children may draw pictures relating to today’s scripture or memory verse, 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 for ideas.

Before noon, ask the students to stop journaling for a moment and sit quietly for prayer so they can leave when their parents arrive. Allow them to finish journaling afterwards.

Dear God, help us to find you in the quiet places in our hearts, even when our lives are noisy. Help us to set aside time to know you and love your son and follow your Spirit’s guidance as we witness to all around us your saving Grace in Jesus. Amen.

Tidy and Dismissal:

  • Ask children to help tidy the room. Give any specific instructions for clearing the workshop room.
  • Collect the journal pages before they leave. Make sure their names and the date are on them.
  • 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.

Additional Suggestions:
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 are included in the lesson plan. Be ready with the younger children especially to move on to something different if they seem restless.

For classes composed primarily of pre-readers, show the children how to find the passage in the Bible (for example, “To find the Gospels, open the Bible in the middle and then open the second half in the middle - you should end up in Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. Our passage is in Mark) and then have them do it. After everyone has found the passage, have them close their Bibles and listen while you read.

FIELD TEST NOTE: there is more than enough here for a one hour class (I never got through everything -- but it is always better to have too much to do than not enough). Plan in advance what is most important for you to cover and keep an eye on the time.


  • Desoto Presbyterian Church, Dallas, TX. Lesson set posted at John the Baptist: Preparing the Way. “Stage Trek Productions - A Wilderness Experience.”
  • Kirk of Kildaire, Cary, North Carolina. “Redemption - Praising Puppets” lesson plan:
  • Springler, Suzie. DCE Parkway Presbyterian Church, Metairie, Louisiana. Many ideas for praying around the fountain and talking with children about prayer and quiet time.
  • 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.


John the Baptist Baptizes Jesus

Storytelling Workshop Script

Tell the children, “Listen for the word ‘repent’ and the word ‘turned.’ Whenever you hear either, stand up quietly and turn around in your place.”

Read each scripture line then say/do what follows.

  • Matthew 3:1 In those days John the Baptist began preaching in the Judean wilderness.

    Show wilderness picture. Talk about what the wilderness was like.
    What do you think of when you hear the word ‘wilderness?’ Would you want to live there?

  • His message was 2 "Turn from your sins and turn to God, because the Kingdom of Heaven is near."  3 Isaiah had spoken of John when he said,"He is a voice shouting in the wilderness:`Prepare a pathway for the Lord's coming! Make a straight road for him!'"

    Stand up, turn around.

    Walk across the room following an imaginary curvy line; walk in a straight line back to your seat.
    Which was the quicker way to get to where you were going?

  • 4 John's clothes were woven from camel hair, and he wore a leather belt;

    [Give a small piece of burlap to each child.] Feel the rough, rough fabric and think about wearing something like it next to your skin all the time.

  • his food was locusts and wild honey.

    Sorry, no locusts today. [Give everyone a piece of Bit-O-Honey candy.]
    TALK ABOUT: why do you think John lived like this? Does this sound like a comfortable way to live?
    Remember what the wilderness looks like. Do you see any houses? [Show wilderness picture again.] Think about how it would feel to live in a place like this.

  • 5 People from Jerusalem and from every section of Judea and from all over the Jordan Valley went out to the wilderness to hear him preach.

    Look at the map. Find: Jerusalem, Judea, Jordan River. Talk about how far it might have been for people from the places listed to walk to where John was preaching. (Compare distances to local landmarks — for example, from the church to the Winn Dixie on Airline Highway or the Target on Siegen Lane).
    Have you ever walked that far?

  • 6 And when they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River.

    define: confessed, sins, baptize

  • 7 But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming to be baptized, he denounced them. “You brood of snakes!” he exclaimed. "Who warned you to flee God’s coming judgment?

    define: Pharisees, Sadducees, judgement
    Does anyone know what a brood of snakes is? [Show picture.]

  • 8 Prove by the way you live that you have really turned from your sins and turned to God.

    Stand up and turnaround again.

  • 9 Don't just say, ‘We’re safe--we're the descendants of Abraham.’ That proves nothing. God can change these stones here into children of Abraham.

    TALK ABOUT: what does John mean by “descendants of Abraham” — who was Abraham? [Man of faith with whom God covenanted to make a great nation with many descendants. The Jewish people are his descendants/that great nation, God’s chosen people.]
    [Hold up a rock.] Can God turn this rock into a person? [Yes, nothing is impossible for God.]
    [Reread verse.] If you were one of God’s chosen people, how would you feel about John saying God could turn this rock [hold it up] into one of God’s chosen people?
    IF the children are GETTING RESTLESS: Stand and sing “Father Abraham, had many sons.....” with motions

  • 10 Even now the ax of God's judgment is poised, ready to sever your roots. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.

    [Show a picture of an apple tree.] Talk about how a farmer must spend time caring for a fruit tree — fertilizing it, treating for insects, watering it. If he/she does all that work, and there are no apples, should she keep spending time and money to take care of the tree?
    [No. Tear up the picture of the apple tree and throw the pieces aside as you reread the second half of the verse. FIELD TEST NOTE: tearing the picture really got their attention.]

  • 11 "I baptize with water those who turn from their sins and turn to God. But someone is coming soon who is far greater than I am--so much greater that I am not even worthy to be his slave.

    Stand up and turn around.

  • He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

    Light a candle as you read the last part of this verse. Leave it lit in a safe place on your table as you continue.

  • 12 He is ready to separate the chaff from the grain with his winnowing fork. Then he will clean up the threshing area, storing the grain in his barn but burning the chaff with never-ending fire."

    Explain grain winnowing process; show pictures.

    More fire. What else in this passage did John talk about burning? [trees that do not produce good fruit; Holy Spirit]

  • 13 Then Jesus went from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by John.

    Show the places on the map.

  • 14 But John didn't want to baptize him. "I am the one who needs to be baptized by you," he said, "so why are you coming to me?"
    15 But Jesus said, "It must be done, because we must do everything that is right."
    So then John baptized him.

    John baptized Jesus in the Jordan River. Let’s feel the water as we think about that day. See how the sandy river bottom would have felt under their feet.
    [Have the children come to the table one by one and let each child run his/her hands in the water in a lightweight bowl. Let them feel the sand at the bottom. Have a towel handy. For bigger classes you will want two bowls with sand/water.]

  • 16 After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him.

    What do you think this looked like?
    Let me show you how some other artists chose to picture this.
    [Show several fine-art versions.]
    How do you think the dove moved?
    [Ask the children to get up and be doves and fly around the room and settle back in their chairs.]

  • 17 And a voice from heaven said, "This is my beloved Son, and I am fully pleased with him."

    Define beloved
    Practice saying the memory verse different ways: loud, soft, gentle, boys’ voices only, girls only, ....

  • The word of the LORD.
    Thanks be to God.

This lesson was written by Amy Crane for River Community Church in Prairieville, Louisiana. 


Copyright 2003 Amy Crane. Permission granted to freely distribute and use, provided the copyright message is included.


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Last edited by Luanne Payne

John the Baptist

A Puppet Sketch

Summary of Activity:
A puppet skit introducing the concept of forgiveness and repentance. This skit involves the teacher using a boy puppet (which could be a dog puppet instead).


by Valerie Marcum

Supplies: a boy puppet (or dog puppet, or whatever), and a small steamer trunk (or box) where he lives.

[Ralph the puppet is in his steamer trunk onstage. Teacher interrupts her lesson because she hears something.]

TEACHER: Wait a minute, I think I hear something!

RALPH: Awwww. Awwwww. (retches) Awwahhhghh.

TEACHER: What in the world was that? It sounds like Ralph. I'd better go check on him. Excuse me for a minute, kids. [She walks over to the trunk, opens it, and puts the Ralph puppet on her hand.]

RALPH: Awww!

TEACHER: Ralph! You look terrible! What happened? What's wrong?

RALPH: I feel sick, teacher! My tummy hurts soooo bad! Waaah!

TEACHER: Oh, poor little Ralph! (pets his head) That's sad! Do you think you might have eaten something that made your tummy hurt?

RALPH: Well, maybe it was the candy that I ate.

TEACHER: What kind of candy was it?

RALPH: Chocolate.

TEACHER: Just plain chocolate?

RALPH: Yeah.

TEACHER: Well, you're not allergic to chocolate. How much of the candy bar did you eat?

RALPH: What?

TEACHER: Did you eat the whole candy bar all at once?

RALPH: Well, there might have been more than one candy bar involved.

TEACHER: More than one candy bar?

RALPH: Yeah.

TEACHER: How many candy bars did you eat?


TEACHER: Are you serious?

RALPH: I'm afraid so.

TEACHER: No wonder you're sick to your stomach! I'm surprised you haven't barfed on my shirt already.

RALPH: Yeah, well, don't look in the steamer trunk.

TEACHER: How in the world did you get ten chocolate bars?

RALPH: Easy, they were at the store up the street.

TEACHER: Ralph, I didn't think you had that much money.

RALPH: I didn't.

TEACHER: I can't believe your mom would buy that many chocolate bars for you.

RALPH: She didn't.

TEACHER: Ralph, what did you do?

RALPH: Well, I learned in Sunday School that about a really wild man named John the Baptist who had sticky honey all in his beard and grasshoppers in his teeth, and he was always yelling, "Repent! Repent!"

TEACHER: Well, something like that.

RALPH: Yeah, John the Baptist taught about repentance! Repentance means that Jesus will forgive us for anything.


RALPH: Yeah, so when I figured that out, I picked up a candy bar, stuffed it in my pocket, and said, "Sorry, Jesus." Then I got another one and said, "Sorry, Jesus." Then I took eight more and said, "Sorry, Jesus, sorry, Jesus, sorry Jesus, sorry, Jesus . . ."

TEACHER: No, no, no, Ralph! You can't do that!

RALPH: But Jesus forgives us when we repent, doesn't he?

TEACHER: That's not how repentance works! The Bible says  that if you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge someone has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God. It says that in Matthew 5:24.

RALPH: I don't get it.

TEACHER: Ralph, do you think the owner of the store might have a grudge against you?

RALPH: Well, she might be mad.

TEACHER: Ya think! Taking candy bars without paying for them is stealing, and stealing is a sin because it hurts other people. Before you say, "Sorry, Jesus" you should have tried to make things right with the lady who owns the store.

RALPH: Oh. Do you think she will forgive me? What if I break my piggy bank and see if there is enough money to pay for ten bars of chocolate?

TEACHER: That's a great idea, Ralph. I think that might work.

RALPH: Great! As soon as I pay for those chocolate bars, my tummy-ache will be all gone!

TEACHER: Um, probably not.

RALPH: Why not?

TEACHER: Ralph, the lady at the store might forgive you, and Jesus will forgive you, but that doesn't mean that your little body can handle eating ten candy bars. You're probably going to live with the consequences.

RALPH: What are consequences?

TEACHER: In this case, the consequences of eating ten candy bars is a tummy ache.

RALPH: I don't like consequences. Awww.

TEACHER: You know what, I have some thick, chalky, pink medicine that might make your tummy feel better.

RALPH: I'd rather have the consequences. Can I lie down for a minute before I go back to the store?

TEACHER: Sure, Ralph. I'll put you back in your trunk. (Walks over to trunk, lays Ralph back down).

RALPH: Oh, no! My trunk smells like puke!

TEACHER: You know what that smells like to me?

RALPH: Consequences!


RALPH: Ewww!


A skit written by Valerie Marcum, from EBAC in Clinton, TN

A representative of reformatted this post to improve readability.

Last edited by CreativeCarol

Gabriel's Announcement to Zechariah in the Temple
Drama or Puppet or "Shadow Theater" Workshop

View and print the attached PDF of the lesson

 LIsten to and download the "rap" song file attached to this lesson at


  • Scripture: Luke 1:1-25
  • Focus: Gabriel announces the coming of John the Baptist

The attached lesson PDF has a very creative retelling of the "Birth of John the Baptist" story (notice the fun rhymes). It could be "rapped" by the characters "off stage" while others perform using puppets or a "shadow" theater concept (backlit screen).

Additional Suggestions: Some of the lines in the rhyming script are pretty obscure, and the poetic/rapping style may be hard for younger children. However, "adapting" is what good teachers always do! Convert the lesson PDF to a Word doc text using to convert it, then edit. Have different readers "rap and clap" your new version as it is acted out.

The lesson could use some more life application. One way to get into that is to have your students create different facial/visual reactions for Zechariah and Elizabeth to the announcement. Then, suggest some equally surprising announcements that might come to someone TODAY at your church (about devoting your life, about serving others, about giving up possessions/money, about becoming an important part of God's mission in the world  -- what would be YOUR initial reaction to such an announcement being delivered to YOU?

How are you like Gabriel? -- see Luke 1:19-20. How do you "stand in God's presence"? Where are you "sent to tell the good news"? Where and to whom? What will you say?

See a related lesson from Wendy about Gabriel and Zechariah here in the Advent Forum

You are welcome to use it in part or entirely. In addition to printing the PDF, you can copy the text from the PDF by dragging it with your mouse and copying/pasting into your own document. You can quickly save the PDF to your computer, then upload the PDF to and convert it to a Word doc for easy editing in Word.


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