Esther

Summary of Workshops:

--for 4th-6th grade

  • Games: Play Bible Jeopardy.
  • Video: Watch an animated video of the story, the Veggie Tales movie “Esther.” Learn critical viewing skills; Compare the story in the Bible to the video.

    --for 1st- 3rd grade:
  • Cooking: Make Hamantaschen (cookies). Learn about Purim, which commemorates the Esther story.
  • Drama:  Enact the story using “clothesline characters.”

    --for 1st-6th grade
  • Art: Create prayer boxes out of marbleized paper. Make marbleized paper for the next class to use.  Learn about how prayer ties to the story of Esther.

Scripture Reference:

The Old Testament book of Esther

Key Bible Verse:

“Who knows? Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this.” Esther 4:14b (NRSV)

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

  • Name that the story is found in the Old Testament. For 3rd grade and up:
  • Locate the story in the book of Esther in the Bible.
  • Re-tell the story in his/her own words.
  • Explore how God weaves together the events of our lives for our best, even though we can’t see the overall pattern.
  • Recognize that God uses ordinary people who listen for God’s direction. Identify prayer as a way to listen and talk to God.
  • Conclude that having faith in God means choosing to trust God even in scary times.


Bible Background

Story Background

The Old Testament book of Esther is a story of one woman who changed the course of history for the Jewish people. It’s a story with all the ingredients of a Disney fairy tale (or maybe a soap opera, depending on how many details you reveal in the telling). There’s a beautiful heroine, a villain, and surprising plot twists. It is a good story for family read aloud over several nights (if you paraphrase a bit for the younger set). The story of Esther is read every year on the Jewish festival of Purim (pronounced: poor-RIM).

Historical context

The story of Esther takes place starting in 483 BCE. One hundred year and three years earlier, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon invaded Jerusalem. As a result, Jewish people were taken as prisoners to live in Babylon (2 Kings 25). Over time, one group of these exiles had already been allowed to go back to Jerusalem (Ezra 1-2 and 7). Esther’s parents were among the exiles that, for whatever reason, had decided not to return to Jerusalem. Amazingly, these Jewish exiles had great freedoms in Persia, living among a people who did not worship God.

The Setting…

The Kingdom of Persia – the dominant kingdom in the Middle East after the fall of Israel to the Babylonians. Most of the action takes place in the King’s palace in the capital of Persia, Susa.

The Characters

  • Esther:
    • A beautiful young Jewish woman. An ordinary girl, not from royal lineage.
    • An orphan, raised by her cousin Mordecai. (Some authorities say he was her uncle.)
    • She kept the fact that she was a Jew secret because Mordecai had instructed her to do so.
    • Courageous; used her power wisely.
  • Mordecai:
    • Pronounced: mor-di-KI.
    • Raised Esther after her parents were killed.
    • Was a Jew (who would therefore only bow down to God).
    • An official at the palace gate of King Xerxes, allowing him to keep watch over Esther.
  • King Xerxes:
    • Pronounced: Zurk-seez.
    • King of Persia from 486-465 BC.
    • Did not know that Esther was a Jew.
  • Haman:
    • Pronounced: HEY-mann.
    • The villain of the story.
    • An arrogant, egotistical advisor to King Xerxes. Held the highest rank of the nobles - second only to the King himself.
    • Hated Mordecai because Mordecai refused to bow down to him.
    • Plotted to destroy the Jewish people.
  • Vashti:
    • Pronounced: VASH-tee.
    • Lost her position as queen when she refused to go to the King as ordered.


A party gets queen #1 in trouble; enter Esther

Our story starts off with King Xerxes giving lavish parties. In the seventh day of his second party, half drunk with wine, Xerxes calls for his queen, Vashti, to make an appearance. Vashti refused. This action caused Xerxes to banish Vashti from the kingdom, thus opening the way for Esther to become queen. Later Xerxes decided he needed a new queen and his advisors had him collect all the young, beautiful women in his kingdom. Esther was chosen to be among those who made up this gathering. The King was so happy with Esther that she was made his replacement queen.

Meanwhile, Mordecai

Mordecai managed to kept watch over Esther via his job at the palace as a gatekeeper. He continued to advise Esther to keep her Jewish heritage a secret. One day Mordecai learned that two of the King’s officers planned to assassinate Xerxes. Mordecai told Esther who then told the King, referring to Mordecai. Apparently Mordecai was not rewarded for this good deed but his actions were recorded in the history books (Esther 2:23).

Haman and Mordecai clash

About that time Mordecai came into conflict with a man named Haman. King Xerxes had appointed Haman as second-in-command. This ranking required that everyone in the kingdom bow down to Haman. However Mordecai, being a Jew who only bowed before God, refused to do so (Esther 3:2). This enraged Haman. Haman planned to have Mordecai and all Jews killed. He cast lots or Pur (pronounced: PYOOR), essentially a rolling of the dice, to choose the day upon which this killing would take place (Esther 3:7). Haman then surreptitiously persuaded King Xerxes to issue an edict condemning the Jews in the entire Persian Empire, which would have included the Jews living in Jerusalem. The nation of the people of Israel was slated for destruction.

Mordecai asks for Esther’s help

Through intermediaries (Mordecai wouldn’t have had direct contact with Esther) Mordecai told Esther about the King’s edict. He asked Esther – actually, based on the Hebrew translation he commanded her – to go to the King to plead for her people. Back went the patient go-between, to Mordecai with Esther’s negative response: “Everybody knows that if anyone approaches the King without being invited, they get death; and I haven’t been called for in 30 days!” Mordecai sent back this wise pronouncement:

Do not think that in the King’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews… Who knows? Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this (Esther 4:13-14).

This must have jolted Esther into action. Through the liaison, she asked Mordecai to gather together all the Jews and fast for three days and nights. “After that I will go to the King, though it is against the law; and if I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16c)

Help through prayer

Esther’s calling for a fast, was essentially asking all of the Jews to pray for her. “In the Old Testament prayer always accompanied fasting” (iLumina: Esther: Life Application Notes). Fasting meant a person didn’t eat and also didn’t pursue normal activities, their time being replaced by prayer. It was (and still is) intended to be an occasion of drawing near to God.

Through the "Tabernacle Rock" worship-skills-teaching portion of our Sunday’s Cool program, we plan to focus this month on prayer. Prayer is our way of talking and listening to God – any time, any place, and about any topic (Cloyd). It is a connection to God that we seek, but also one that God uses, his loving grace bridging the distance between God and ourselves. [Note: Tabernacle Rock is what we call our gathering time before workshops start.

Where is mention of God in this story?

Mordecai statement (“for such a time as this") shows a belief in God’s plan for good for his life and the life of his people. “Mordecai’s mourning, putting on sackcloth and ashes, and Esther’s request for a fast, are expressions of their religious faithfulness” (First Pres, Grand Haven). Surely at this point in the story one would expect to find the word “God” mentioned. Herein lies one of the interesting features of the book of Esther: the lack anywhere in the book of Esther of the word “God!” Scholars have long debated about this topic. Has the author of this Bible book “deliberately refrained from mentioning God … as a literary device to heighten the fact that it is God who controls and directs all the seemingly insignificant coincidences?” (NIV Study Bible)

We believe that God is active in our lives and wants what is best for us even though we can’t see the overall pattern. We find numerous examples for this in the Bible:

• Jeremiah 29:11
“For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.”
• John 10:10b – in Jesus’ words:
“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
• Romans 8:28:
“We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.”

OK, so God wants what is best for us, but is he really running the show? Are the happenings in this story, and in our lives, coincidences or the special workings of God? There is much posturing about this question. Esther chose to have faith in God and to take her chance at approaching the King. Even though God was in control Esther had the responsibility to act. God uses ordinary people who listen for God’s direction.

Back to the story – Esther approaches the King

Esther was smart. Once the King accepted her into his presence (by extending to her his golden scepter) she didn’t immediately divulge her difficulties. Rather, she calmly invited the King and Haman to be her guests at a banquet. “The idea of delivering hospitality before making a business deal is a good Near Eastern concept” (iLumina, Esther: Comprehensive Commentary). During the feast, the King asked Esther what she really wanted, promising to give her up to half of his kingdom. Esther simply invited both of them to another banquet the next day.

Haman was in a good mood after his first dinner with the King and Esther. Surely his thoughts were: how well liked I am, and I’m invited to another banquet! Haman’s mood soured, however when he saw Mordecai who once again refused to bow to Haman. He went home and complained to his wife and his friends. “Yet all this does me no good so long as I see the Jew Mordecai sitting at the king's gate” (Esther 5:13). It was suggested that Haman build a gallows and ask the king to hang Mordecai. Haman thought this was a grand idea so he had the gallows built – 75 feet tall.

Bedtime reading

That night, after the first banquet, the King couldn’t sleep. He asked for a little bedtime reading. Could someone read to him the official records? That should bore him to sleep! Coincidently (or perhaps not?) the part that was read to him was about how Mordecai had warned of the assassination plot. The King found out that Mordecai had never been rewarded for his good deed!

And it just so happened…

Just at that moment Haman entered – he had come to see the king about having Mordecai killed on the gallows he’d built. But the King interrupted him, asking, “How should I honor a hero?” Haman thought to himself, “Oh, he’s talking about me!” So of course he described an elaborate parade of sorts to honor “this person” (Esther 6:6-10). The King wholeheartedly agreed with Haman’s plan. Haman was humiliated to learn that the person to receive this honor was Mordecai! And, the King asked Haman to lead Mordecai through the city in his honorary parade! Haman couldn’t have been more humiliated.

A second banquet

The next day at the second banquet Esther told the king about how her people were threatened. The King asked, “Who has presumed to do this?” Esther replied, “A foe and enemy, this wicked Haman!” (Esther 7:5b,6a). The King was aghast. When one of his servants pointed out that there just (coincidently) happened to be a gallows set up, the King ordered that Haman be hanged. Mordecai was appointed the new second-in-command.

The rest of the story- the celebration of Purim

What had been written in the King’s decree (about the destruction of the Jews) could not be revoked, so instead the King issued another decree saying that the Jews could defend themselves on the appointed day of destruction. And defend themselves they did. It is interesting to note that Esther 8:17 tells of non-Jews becoming Jews. “This is the only mention in the Old Testament that Gentiles became Jews” (Constable).

Every year since that time, Jewish people celebrate to remember the courageous acts of Esther. “Therefore these days are called Purim, from the word Pur” (Esther 9:26). “The name Purim became a symbolic reminder to the Jews of how God used circumstances, specifically casting the lot, to deliver them” (Constable). The festival of Purim includes a reading of the book of Esther, as well giving gifts to the poor, and joyous partying. As one Jewish website aptly stated: “the Purim holiday in 10 words or less: They tried to kill us, we won, let’s eat” (Simmons)

Conclusion

Esther’s courageous act saved her people from destruction. God provided her with an opportunity and she took it. We have the choice to see or ignore God’s plans for us. Watch for God at work in your life. Perhaps he has prepared you to act “for just such a time as this” (Esther 4:14).


Resources:

  • Butler, Trent C. Editor. “Entry for Fasting.” Holman Bible Dictionary. 1991. http://www.studylight.org/dic/...iew.cgi?number=T2018
  • Cloyd, Betty Shannon. Children and Prayer: A Shared Pilgrimage. Nashville: Upper Room Books, 1997.
  • Constable, Thomas L. “Notes on Esther.” 2008. http://www.soniclight.com/cons...notes/pdf/esther.pdf
  • iLumina Gold Premium. CD-ROM. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 2006
  • NIV Study Bible Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002.
  • Redding, Mary Lou. “The Problem of Pain.” The Upper Room Daily Devotional Guide. July/August 2005.
  • Simmons, Shraga. “The ABC’s of Purim.” 2003. http://www.aish.com/purimbasic...he_ABCs_of_Purim.asp
  • “The Story of Esther from First Presbyterian Church, Grand Haven Michigan.” 1998.
  • The Scripture quotations contained herein are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.

 

A Lesson Set written by Carol Hulbert from: First United Methodist Church
Ann Arbor, MI


Copyright 2008 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

 All rights reserved. If you use this material, even in a modified form, please include the following reference: Hulbert, Carol. “Esther: Bible Background." Dec. 2008. Place URL where material is found inside angle brackets<>.

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

Original Post

Esther

Games Workshop


Summary of Lesson Activities:

Learn the story details and sequence, by playing a game of Jeopardy. [Note: 4th – 6th graders visited this workshop.]

For scripture, background, and objectives, see above.



Leader Preparation:

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

Supplies List:

  • Easel; appropriate marker
  • Bulletin board
  • Envelopes (25)
  • Push pins
  • A marker
  • Index cards to use as game cards (25)
  • Construction (or another type of paper) to use to make headings (5 pieces)
  • Jeopardy questions and answers (see the source in the "resources" list at the end of the lesson)
  • Bibles; One Adventure Bible with tabs (Law, History, etc.)
  • Bible tab writing kit: tabs, fine-line Sharpie pen
  • Paraphrase of the Esther story (Note: choose a paraphrase from among the Writing Team list. Make sure that whatever paraphrase you use includes the info needed to play the game.)

Before Start of Class:

  • Write the key Bible verse on the easel.
  • Distribute Bibles in a circle on the rug.
  • Write the Jeopardy headings on five pieces of paper: Vocabulary, Numbers, Bible Quotes, Other Facts, and Major Characters.
  • On the top of each index card, write each Jeopardy category and point value. Then write further down on the card, the corresponding game answer.
  • For each envelope, fold back the flap. Write a point value (100 - 500) on the back of each envelope. Load the index game cards into the correct envelopes. Set up the Jeopardy board game on the bulletin board.

 




Lesson Plan: Opening

Do:  Greet your students warmly, welcoming them to the Games Workshop. Introduce yourself and have the Shepherds introduce themselves.
Say:  Tell me what you know about heroes. (Accept a few answers)
Tell me what you know about villains (or “bad guys”).

Ask: Do you think you need to have superhuman powers to be a hero?

Say:  We are going to learn a story about a hero in the Bible. She doesn’t have super powers, but she does have a lot of courage. In fact, she is a lot like you and me! The Bible is full of amazing stories of heroes and villains. What is most unusual about these people in Bible stories is that the heroes always seem like regular, ordinary people. But God uses them in extraordinary ways!

Ask:  What is the name of a seemingly “ordinary” Bible character that we have learned about that went on to great things? (David, Abraham, Moses, Jesus’ disciples etc.)

Say:  Today’s story is about a woman named Esther. She was a heroine to her people, the Jews. Everyone thought she was just an ordinary, not-too-special Jewish girl. But God knew better!  Esther was going to do something big.

Dig-Main Content and Reflection:

Say:  Let’s read about Esther, but first, we need to figure out where we can find the story in the Bible.
Ask:  The Bible is divided into two sections, what are they? (Old & New Testament)
If we want to read a story that Jesus learned when he was your age, where would we find it? (in the Old Testament)

Say:  Our Bible story is found in the book of Esther.

Ask:   If you have no idea where to find this book, what tool could help? (table of contents)

Do:  Have the kids find the book of Esther in the Bible.  It is a couple of books before Psalms. Remind kids that Psalms is about where you are in your Bible if you open it in half.

Do:  Have the children locate the key Bible verse, Esther 4:14b Refer to the easel and point out that the “b” means we are reading the second sentence in this verse, starting with: “And who knows …”   
Have all of the kids read that portion of the verse together.

Say:  Let’s learn more about Esther!  This is a long story so before I begin, everyone do 10 jumping jacks and sit down quietly with your hands in your lap and mouth quiet as fast as you can.  Then I will know you are ready to listen!  (When kids begin to sit down and listen to your instruction, say “I like how (insert child’s name) is sitting so nice and quiet.”  When everyone is ready…

Do:  Have the shepherd hand out one ¼ piece of scrap paper to each kid.

Say:  Write the names Haman and Esther at the top of the paper.  Draw a line down the middle of the paper between the two names.  Listen while I read you this story of Esther.  When you hear the name Haman (HEY-mann), make a tick mark under Haman’s name.  When I say the name Esther make a tick mark under Esther’s name.  

Do:  Show kids how to make 4 tick marks and then cross the four marks with a fifth so they can count by 5’s at the end. [Note: This helps students to pay attention to the reading.]

Read the story.

Ask:

  • Who was the villain in the story? (Haman)
  • Why do you suppose Esther is thought of as a heroine? (went before the king even though this could have meant death, saved her people the Jews)
  • What did Mordecai tell Esther, that helped her do what was right? (our key Bible verse: “Who knows? Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this.” Esther 4:14b) Have kids kind this verse in their Bible and read it together again.
  • Do you suppose that Esther was afraid to go before the king?
  • Can you think of some times when you have been afraid?
  • How can God help you in that kind of situation?
  • What do we call believing in God when faced with a scary situation?


Say:  If you believe in God even when faced with a scary situation, we call that having faith. Esther showed her belief in God—her faith—when her brave action saved her “family,” the Jews, from being killed. Her bravery is still celebrated by Jewish people on a special holiday in springtime called “Purim.

Play the Game:

Say:  We are going to play the game “Jeopardy” to help us learn the Esther story. After all, the word jeopardy means risk! Esther certainly took a risk.

Do:  Form two teams. Supply each team with Bibles. Ask the Shepherd to keep score. Make sure everyone understands the general idea of the game Jeopardy: you are given an answer and you try to come up with a question for that answer. Teams will work together to come up with the correct question.

Explain the procedure for the game:

  1. The first player of Team A chooses a category (any category) and any point value.
  2. They may read the answer on the index card.
  3. The player then confers with his/her teammates. When the team has consensus, they state the question. [If stumped, they may use their Bible, though you may want to put a time limit on this.]
  4. If correct, that team receives those points. If incorrect, the other team may try for those points by seeing if they can determine the correct question. (The workshop leader may use his/her own judgment as to whether a given question is close enough to the one written in this lesson.) Be sure to explain any answers and questions that need clarification while playing. Allow time for discussion!
  5. Play then passes to Team B to repeat steps 1-4. Continue alternating between teams until the board is empty (or you run out of time). Take turns so that every player on each team has a chance to choose a category.
  6. The team with the most points wins.


Important Notes for Game Playing:

Competitive games should be played as a team so that infrequent attendees or visitors are not made to feel pressured or uncomfortable. Make sure that each player has a chance to choose the category and point value, but make sure all players “confer” with their team before answering! This also will promote discussion among the children.

Closing:

Say:  God can help us no matter what kind of situation we are in. Remember when Esther said that she was going to fast for three days and three nights? Fasting means you refrain from eating any food. It is thought to be a way to focus on prayer. So Esther likely prayed a lot during those three days before she went before the king. We too can ask God for help by using prayer. Let’s close 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, We thank you for the stories you have given us of your people. We thank you for showing us that no matter what happens you have a plan and you want what is best for us. Thank you for being with us always. Give us courage to trust you this week. (End with everyone joining in on the Lord’s Prayer.) Amen.



Resources:

  • Merten, Cindy. “Esther: Games Questions, 2002. www.rotation.org link
    (for game questions/answers. Note: did not use the “minor characters” category, replaced with a category called “other facts.” If you want my game questions, email me.)

 


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

Copyright 2003, 2008 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.

Updated in 2019 by Carol Hulbert.

Esther

Video Workshop

Summary of Lesson Activities:

Watch an animated video of the story, the Veggie Tales movie “Esther.” Learn critical viewing skills; Compare the story in the Bible to the video. [Note: 4th – 6th graders visited this workshop.]

For scripture, background, 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:

  • DVD: “Esther: The Girl Who Became Queen.” Big Idea Productions, 2003. (Viewing time about 30 minutes, 20 seconds.)
  • TV/DVD
  • Snack items: goldfish crackers, cups, napkins, water pitcher
  • Easel with paper; appropriate marker
  • Good News Bibles (TEV)

Before Start of Class:

  • In the kitchen, fill a pitcher with ice and water. Gather enough plastic cups – the washable type – to serve water and Goldfish crackers.
  • In your classroom, prepare snack by pouring Goldfish crackers into cups. Pour cups of water.
  • Make sure you know how to use the TV/DVD, especially how to move by chapters and scanning forward and backward within a chapter.
  • Insert the DVD. From the main menu, choose “Chapters.” This is where this video will be started. Turn the sound down on the TV.
  • Make a “Things to watch for” list. Include these items: King Xerxes, Esther, Mordecai, and Haman. Also write the words “Esther 4:14b” and these words; “Doing what’s right, even when afraid.”
  • Bookmark a Bible to Esther.


Presentation

Opening- Welcome and Lesson Introduction:
Greet your students warmly, welcoming them to the video workshop. Introduce yourself and any other adults.
[Note: If you’d like the children to have nametags you may need to remind the Shepherd to make them.]

Show the Esther DVD box.
Ask: Is everyone familiar with Veggie Tales videos, where the characters are vegetables?
Say: Today we’ll watch the Veggie Tales video called “Esther: The Girl Who Became Queen.” This video tells our Bible story about Esther – an ordinary girl who became a queen. First, let’s find our story in the Bible. We always want to be familiar with our Bible story so that we can check to see if the video is following the story correctly.

Dig- Main Content and Reflection:
Distribute Bibles.
Ask: If I told you that this was a story that Jesus learned as a child, where do you suppose we would we find our story in the Bible? (OT)

Help the children find the book of Esther in the Old Testament. [Remind them that opening their Bible in the middle gets them to around Psalms. The book of Esther is a couple of books before Psalms.]

Say: The story of Esther is covered in the entire book of Esther. It’s a lot of reading but it’s an exciting story so do take time to read it at home.

Have the students look at the heading above chapter 1: “Esther Becomes Queen.”
[Have kids leave the Bibles open.]

Say: Esther is one of the characters in this story that we’ll be watching for in the video. [Refer to the “Things to Watch for” list.] Esther was just an ordinary girl, yet she became queen. Let’s watch our video to see how it was that Esther had a chance to become Queen.

Using the DVD, from CHAPTERS MENU, choose 1 – “Just an Ordinary Girl.”
VIEW scene of about 2 minutes.
PAUSE when the words “Big Idea Productions Presents” appears on the screen.

Ask: Why was the first queen kicked out of the kingdom?
Say: The video says it was because she wouldn’t make the king a sandwich.
Ask: Do you suppose that was really why she was banished? (no)
Say: These videos sometimes slightly change the real story. If we read this story in the Bible the first queen, whose name was Vashti, was kicked out because she refused to go to the king when he had called for her. This presented the opening for Esther, an ordinary girl, to become queen. In the next part of the video we’ll be introduced to Mordecai who is Esther’s wise cousin.

Use CONTROLS option to SCAN FORWARD until you see the sign that says “Public Transportation, why wait till A.D.” [This is bypassing just a short amount.]

VIEW scene of about 1 minute and 40 seconds.
PAUSE when the door opens to Haman’s vehicle.

Ask: What wise words did Mordecai have for Esther? (you never need to be afraid to do what is right) [Refer to the easel.]

Have the Shepherd distribute the snack.

Say: Esther and her cousin Mordecai were both Jewish but they were living in Persia, a country far from the Jewish homeland. They were living among a people who did not believe in God. Their families had been taken captive from Jerusalem but even though they were prisoners, they were allowed to settle down and live normal lives. Now we will meet Haman

RESUME VIEWING.
VIEW scene of about 3 minutes and 30 seconds.
PAUSE after Esther sings, “what now should I do.”

Ask: What is Esther puzzled about? (what she should do, why she is where she is)
What was Mordecai’s response to why Esther was where she was?
If the kids didn’t catch it, SCAN BACKWARDS until 6:35 and re-watch the scene until Mordecai says, “I’ll come visit you again.”

Say: Mordecai said that he didn’t know the future, but God does know; maybe God has a plan for why Esther has a chance to be the queen.
Ask: Have you ever wondered about the events that happen in your life, if God has a plan? (allow all answers)

Say: Let’s keep this thought in mind: if God has a plan for our lives then we don’t need to be afraid to do what’s right. [Refer to the easel.]

SCAN FORWARD until 9:20 (where Esther is standing in front of the microphone).
Say: In the next part of the video there is a talent contest to see who becomes queen. In the Bible it wasn’t a talent contest, it was a beauty contest.

VIEW scene of about 1 minute.
PAUSE when the flash bulbs start flashing.

Say: Esther sang a song that reminds us that there is nothing we can’t face when God is at our side. That is what we call having faith – trusting God even when it is scary to do so.
Ask: Have you ever found yourself in a scary situation where you trusted God or wanted to trust God? (allow any answers; sharing something from your life would be helpful)

SCAN FORWARD until 12:18 (where the side door with the “pea” peeking out closes).

Have the students read in the Bible, the heading that is half way through chapter 2: “Mordecai Saves the King’s Life.”

Say: Now we will see how the video tells this next part of the story. Watch in this next segment for the scribe – the character that is always writing. He will play an important role.

VIEW scene of about 4 minutes and 25 seconds.
PAUSE when the view of the front of the castle appears and the narrator says: “…found these things out the hard way.”

Ask: What do you suppose the island of perpetual tickling represents? (death)
Have the students read in the Bible, the heading that is at chapter 3: “Haman Plots to Destroy the Jews.”

RESUME VIEWING.
VIEW scene of about 3 minutes and 22 seconds.
PAUSE after the edict gets posted on the pillar.

Ask: What was Haman’s real problem with Mordecai? (Mordecai wouldn’t bow to Haman)

If students don’t know the answer: Have them read Esther 3:5-6.

Have the students read in the Bible, the heading that is at chapter 4: “Mordecai Asks for Esther’s Help.”

RESUME VIEWING.
VIEW scene of about 2 minutes and 5 seconds.
PAUSE after Mordecai says, “Perhaps he put you here for such a time as this…perhaps this is the reason.”

Have the children locate the key Bible verse, Esther 4:14b. Refer to the easel and point out that the “b” means we are reading the second half of the verse; starting with: “Yet who knows…” Read the verse together.

RESUME VIEWING.
VIEW scene of about 17 seconds.
PAUSE after Mordecai says, “We’ll all pray for you” and he disappears down the vines.

Say: In the Bible it tells us that Esther’s reply was…
Hold a Bible open to Esther 4:16 and read the following:
“Go and get all the Jews together; hold a fast and pray for me. Don’t eat or drink anything for three days and nights.”

Say: Esther used prayer and fasting, which means not eating so as to focus on your praying.
Ask: How can prayer help us to figure out what God wants us to do? (allow all responses)
Say: It can be hard to figure out what we should do in a particular situation. Prayer is a way to listen and talk to God. Perhaps your parent’s use the words: “check it out inside” or “listen to the voice within.” ( From the book Parent Talk by Chick Moorman.)That is a way we listen for God.
Have the students read in the Bible, the heading that is at chapter 5: “Esther Invites the King and Haman to a Banquet.”

Choose MENU. Choose Chapter 6: “A Dinner Invitation.”
VIEW scene of about 3 minutes and 40 seconds.
PAUSE when Haman is shown walking down the path to the gate.

Say: This video is for the most part, following our Bible story. One thing that they don’t have right is that in the Bible it was nearly a year before the Jews were scheduled to be eliminated. Haman cast Pur – kind of like throwing dice – to determine when the Jews would be killed.

Have the students read in the Bible, the heading that is part way through chapter 5: “Haman Plots to Kill Mordecai.”

Say: Haman did however, want to have Mordecai killed right away.

RESUME VIEWING.
VIEW scene of about 4 minutes and 40 seconds.
PAUSE when the king says, “Good night.”

Ask: Do you suppose that Haman thought that the king was describing an honor that he himself would get? (yes)
Say: That is quite a plot twist for Haman to have to lead Mordecai through the streets in a parade. Let’s see if Esther can save her people.

RESUME VIEWING.
VIEW scene of about 3 minutes and 40 seconds.
STOP when the screen goes black.

Say: There are some other details that the video left out. Read the story in the Bible to see what they are.

Closing:
Say: Esther was an ordinary girl. She didn’t know it, but God planned for her to be queen so that she could help save her people. Esther was afraid, but God helped her to be brave. With God’s help Esther was able to do what was right

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, help us have the courage to always stand up for what we believe. (End with the Lord’s Prayer) Amen.”

Further Discussion (if time allows):
Ask: Is it easier to do what is right or what is popular?

How can we let God help us do what is right?


Resources:

  • Crane, Amy. “Esther: Movie Time.” 2003. link
  • MacQueen, Neil. “A Brief Introduction to Teaching with Video.” 2002. https://sundaysoftware.com/site/teaching-with-video/
  • Moorman, Chick. Parent Talk. Merrill, MI: Personal Power Press, 1998.
  • Trimboli, Kim. Retired “Rotation.org Writing Team Lessons on Esther: Cinema Workshop.” 2002.

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

Copyright 2003, 2008 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

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

Esther

Cooking Workshop

Summary of Lesson Activities:

Make Hamantaschen (cookies- pronounced: HA-mahn-tah-shun). Learn about the festival of Purim (pronounced: poor-RIM) which commemorates the Esther story. [Note: 1st – 3rd graders visited this workshop.]

For scripture, background, 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:

  • Parchment paper
  • Teaspoons
  • Cookie sheets
  • Serving Spatula
  • A pencil
  • Cups – one per student
  • Items in refrigerator: Jam & Hamantaschen dough (Note: dough must be cold – see end of lesson for recipe)
  • One NRSV (New Revised Standard Revision) Bible
  • For 3rd graders: Bibles – TEV or NRSV (& one purple Adventure Bible with tabs); Bible tab writing kit: tabs, fine-line Sharpie pen
  • The picture book: Esther and the King
  • Story paraphrase (see end of lesson)
  • Aprons
  • Rolling pins
  • Flour
  • Chocolate chips
  • Zipper sandwich bags

Before Start of Class:

  • Wash one metal table.
  • Cover two large cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • When 1st and 2nd graders visit, bookmark the NRSV Bible to Esther 4:14.
  • When 3rd graders visit, distribute Bibles around the tables in the Social Hall.


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.

[Note: The Shepherd will quietly take attendance & do name tags while you are starting your lesson.]

Ask: What are some holidays that we celebrate that include food? (allow a few answers)
Has anyone ever heard of the Jewish festival called “Purim?”

Say: Purim is one of the most joyous holidays on the Jewish calendar. Purim commemorates the Old Testament story of a woman named Esther.
Ask: Has anyone heard of Esther?
Say: Esther was a heroine to the Jewish people. She saved the Jewish people from an evil man named Haman who wanted to wipe out all of the Jews. The festival of Purim is still celebrated by Jewish people every year in March. Today we are going to make special cookies that are made during the festival of Purim. These cookies are called Hamantaschen. When we make the cookies I will tell you about Hamantaschen. First, let’s hear a hint of our story.

Dig- Main Content and Reflection:

1st and 2nd grade:

Hold the NRSV Bible open to Esther 4:14.
Say: Esther is a long story but let me read what Esther’s wise cousin, Mordecai, said to Esther.
Read Esther 4:14b

3rd grade and up:
Ask: The Bible is divided into two sections, what are they? (Old & New Testament)
If we want to read a story that Jesus learned when he was your age, where would we find it? (in the OT)
Say: Our Bible story is found in the book of Esther. There is a whole book of the Bible that tells the story of Esther and how she saved her people.
Ask: If you have no idea where to find this book, what tool could help? (table of contents)
Have the kids find the book of Esther in their Bibles. It is a couple of books before Psalms. Remind kids that Psalms is about where you are in your Bible if you open it in half.
Say: Besides being divided into two testaments, the 66 books in the Bible are further divided into collections. The book named Esther is the last book in a collection of Bible books called “History.” The History books tell of the interaction of God with people in history – people we have learned about like David, and Elijah. Now we will hear about a woman named Esther. If you have your own Bible today, be sure you receive a tab for the History section of your Bible.
[Show the purple Adventure Bible with tabs. Have the Shepherd do tabs for students who bring their Bibles. Use the classroom Bible with tabs as an example. Ask the Shepherd to do both the HISTORY tab and the POETRY/SONG tabs.]
Have the students locate the key Bible verse Esther 4:14b. Explain how the “b” means we are reading the latter half of the verse. So starting with “Who knows? Perhaps you have…” Read this verse together.

For all students:
Say: Esther started out her life as just an ordinary citizen but then, she became the queen of Persia! Her cousin Mordecai is telling her: perhaps you have come to royal dignity… perhaps God planned for you to become the queen…for just such a time as this. It sounds like Esther has a choice to make. I wonder what that choice will be? Let’s make our cookies. While they bake I will tell you the story of Esther. We’ll want to come back to this verse we just heard.

In the Kitchen:
Wash your hands first and then have everyone wash their hands. Offer aprons if kids want to wear one.
Take the dough out of the refrigerator. Use flour to dust the table top, the rolling pins, even hands. (The dough will be sticky.)
Give blobs of dough to the kids. Have them take turns rolling out the dough to 1/8 inch thick. [Note: an 1/8 of an inch is pretty thin – encourage kids to keep rolling!] Use the cups as cookie cutters (they are 3” in diameter). Place four chocolate chips in the center of the dough. (Limit kids to 4 chocolate chips or there will be a mess oozing out! Traditionally the filling was poppy seed.) Bring the dough up to form a triangle, pinching dough well. [In later weeks of the Rotation have the students name the four characters in the story as they place the four chocolate chips- King Xerxes, Esther, Mordecai, and Haman. If they can name other characters in the story – such as Vashti – they can add another chip! Don’t do this exercise if you have allergy kids forced to use jam!

For those with nut & milk allergies: place a dab of jam in the center of the dough. Use a pencil to write kids names on the parchment paper by cookies made.

Say: These cookies are called Hamantaschen. Hamantaschen translates as “Haman’s hats” because they are supposedly shaped like the hat that Haman wore. Also by eating his hat, we are doing away with the enemy!

Bake for about 12 minutes at 350 degrees. Ask the Shepherd to time the cookies. Cookies are done when edges are golden brown. Cool before eating.

Back to the Social Hall – Storytelling, Discussion, and Eating:
While the cookies are baking, go back to the table in the Social Hall and tell the kids the story using the paraphrase.
[Note: As the Rotation progresses, children will become more familiar with the story. Allow the children to tell what they recall of the story. Add to their re-telling, fill in the gaps, and adding extra details or information from the background notes.]

Ask: How did Esther help save the Jewish people? (went before the king)
Why was this a brave thing to do? (no one could go to the king without an invitation; they might be killed)
How do you suppose Esther did such a scary thing? (allow a few answers)

Say: Esther actually prepared before going before the king.
Ask: Does anyone remember what she did? (she fasted & prayed for 3 days)
Say: Esther used fasting. To fast means not eating so as to focus on your pray time.
Ask: How can prayer help us to figure out what God wants us to do? (allow all responses)
Say: It can be hard to figure out what we should do in a particular situation. Prayer is a way to listen and talk to God. Perhaps your parent’s use the words: “check it out inside” or “listen to the voice within.” (From the book Parent Talk by Chick Moorman.) That is a way we listen for God.
Say: Esther was an ordinary girl. She didn’t know it, but God planned for her to be queen so that she could help save her people. Remember that verse we read: “Who knows? Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this.” When her cousin Mordecai said that to Esther, it seemed to help her remember to have faith in God.

Ask: Have you ever found yourself in a scary situation where you trusted God or wanted to trust God? [Sharing something from your life would be helpful!]
How can God help you in that kind of situation?
What do we call believing in God when faced with a scary situation?

Say: If you believe in God even when faced with a scary situation, we call that having faith. Esther showed her belief in God, her faith, when her brave action saved her “family,” the Jews, from being killed. Her bravery is still celebrated by Jewish people on a special holiday every March called “Purim.” The story of Esther is told at this Jewish holiday.

When the cookies have cooled you may serve them. Have everyone eat only one cookie and take the rest home to share with their families. Tell them that they must also share the story of Esther when they eat the cookies at home. Encourage them to read the story in the Bible with an adult.

Closing:
Say: Esther likely prayed a lot during those three days before she went before the king. We too can ask God for help by using prayer. Let’s close 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: “God, We thank you for the stories you have given us of your people – people who turned to you in faith. We thank you for showing us that no matter what happens you have a plan and you want what is best for us. Thank you for being with us always. Give us courage to trust you this week. (End with everyone joining in on the Lord’s Prayer.) Amen.”

Extra Activities (if you finish early)
Have the children help you clean up the kitchen.


Attachment: Story Paraphrase
For 1st – 3rd graders use with the book: Esther and the King. Read these words (not the one’s in the book) while showing the pages indicated.
-- Pages 4 & 5
Nearly 500 years before Jesus was born, in a far-off land called Persia, there lived a powerful king named Xerxes. Xerxes was lonely. He needed a queen.

-- Pages 6 & 7
In that same land lived Esther and her cousin Mordecai. They were Jews who were forced to live in Persia, among people who didn’t follow God. Though they were far from their homeland, they lived a comfortable life. Mordecai worked for the King.

-- Pages 10 & 11 (note: skipping a couple of pages)
To make a long story short…Esther, who had just been an ordinary citizen…she won a beauty contest and became the new queen! However, she did not tell the King that she was Jewish.

-- Pages 12
Now the King had made a man named Haman, his second-in-command. Because he was so important, everyone was required to bow before Haman. Esther’s cousin Mordecai would not bow down to Haman. Jews would only bow before God.

-- Pages 14 & 15
Haman was angry that Mordecai wouldn’t bow down to him. He hated Mordecai. When he found out that Mordecai was Jewish he hated all Jews. Haman made a sneaky plan.

-- Pages 16 & 17
Haman convinced the King to sign an order that said that all Jews would be killed! The King didn’t know that Esther was Jewish. Haman cast pur, kind of like rolling dice, to find the best date to do the awful thing he planned. And then he sent out the announcement to all the lands ruled by King Xerxes: “On the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, kill all the Jewish people.” Mordecai heard about Haman’s plan. He mourned. All of his people, the Jews, were in danger!

-- Pages 18 & 19
Mordecai asked Esther for help. He wanted Esther to go to the King. At first Esther didn’t want to. She knew that if someone was to go before the king without being invited – they could die! But something that Mordecai said made her stop and think. “Who knows? Maybe you were made queen for just such a time as this.”

-- Pages 20 & 21
Esther was terrified. But she knew what she must do. She told Mordecai, “Please gather all the Jews together. Don’t eat or drink anything for three days. Fast and pray. Pray that God will be with me and protect us all when I go to speak to King Xerxes.” So for three days, all the Jews in town did nothing but pray. For three days, Queen Esther did nothing but pray.

-- Pages 22
On the third day, Queen Esther slowly walked to the throne room as she prayed to God to be with her. She reached the throne room. King Xerxes was frowning. But he saw that it was his lovely Queen approaching, and he smiled and held out his golden scepter. That meant that Esther was safe! The King asked her, “My dear wife, what can I do for you?” “Your Majesty, please come to a banquet I am preparing. And bring Haman.”

-- Pages 23
That night King Xerxes and Haman shared a fine meal with the Queen. “Now what can I do for you,” asked the King. “Please, both of you come again for dinner tomorrow night. I will tell you then what I wish.” So the next night they dined again with Esther.

-- Pages 24 & 25
It was at the second banquet that Esther told the king, “All my people will soon be killed. That man, Haman, has ordered that all the Jewish people be killed on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month!”

-- Pages 26 & 27
King Xerxes was furious. He ordered Haman to be arrested.

-- Pages 28 & 29
King Xerxes made Mordecai his new second-in-command. King Xerxes also granted the Jews the right to defend themselves. The good news soon spread throughout the land and on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the Jews triumphed over their enemies.

-- Pages 30 & 31
The Jewish people were saved! And so, to this day Jews celebrate a festival called Purim. At this festival held every spring, they remember Queen Esther’s bravery and God’s faithfulness to those who ask for help.


Recipe: Hamantaschen (makes about 4 dozen, 3 inch cookies)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 1⁄2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
2 eggs, beaten (for egg allergy use egg substitute)
4 tablespoons pulpless orange juice
1 cup margarine or butter (for dairy allergy use soy-based margarine)
Chocolate chips (the traditional filling is poppy seeds; jam can be substituted)

Preheat oven to 350. Sift or mix well the three dry ingredients. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter. Mix together the eggs and juice; add to flour mixture. If too sticky, add a little more flour. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.

Roll out dough to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut with a 2 1⁄2 inch round cookie cutter. Put 1⁄2 tsp. filling (jam or chocolate chips) in center of circle. Shape into triangles by bringing sides up to the center and pinching them. (Pinch dough well so will not open during baking.)
Bake on cookie sheet for 10-12 minutes, until edges are golden brown. Cool on rack.


Resources:

  • Crane, Amy. Retired “Rotation.org Retired Writing Team Lessons on Esther: Drama.” 2002 (for story paraphrase).
  • Denton, Janet. “The Story of Esther: Cooking.” 2002.
  • Moorman, Chick. Parent Talk. Merrill, MI: Personal Power Press, 1998.
  • Pulley, Kelly. Esther and the King. Grand Rapids: Zonderkidz, 2007.

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


Copyright 2008 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. "Esther: Cooking Workshop ." Dec. 2008. Place URL where lesson found inside angle brackets<>.

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

Esther

Drama Workshop

 Summary of Lesson Activities:

Enact the story using “clothesline characters.” [Note: 1st – 3rd graders visited this workshop.]
For scripture, background, 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:

  • Drama script (Note: this not included because it came from the book Crazy Clothesline Characters)
  • An easel; appropriate marker
  • A clothesline strung up across the stage area (at an appropriate height for the students – use 3M Command™ hooks capable of holding some weight!)
  • Costumes
  • Clothes pins (at least 12)
  • Supplies for kids to make groggers - noisemakers:
  • Small paper plates (one per child)
  • Dried beans (handful per child)
  • Markers or crayons
  • Staplers and staples
  • For 3rd grade: Bibles, One purple Adventure Bible with tabs (Law, History, etc.);
  • Bible tab writing kit: tabs, fine-line Sharpie pen


Before Start of Class:

  • Put up costumes on the clothesline for: a king, a queen, Haman, and Mordecai.
  • Write the names of the characters on the easel: King Xerxes, Queen Vashti, Esther, Haman, and Mordecai. Draw faces to go with each name: a circle with a crown for Xerxes, a circle with a crown & a slash through the picture for Vashti, a circle with long hair & a crown for Esther, a face with a frown for Haman, a circle with stick hands in prayer for Mordecai.
  • Make one grogger.
  • When 3rd grade visits, distribute Bibles. Also write the words: “Esther 4:14b” on the easel.


Presentation

 Opening- Welcome and Lesson Introduction:
Greet your students warmly, welcoming them to the Drama Workshop. Introduce yourself and any other adults.
[Note: The Shepherd will be taking care of attendance/name tags while you are starting your lesson.]

Say: When we act out our story today it is important that we have noisemakers. [Shake the pre-made grogger.] We need to quickly make some noisemakers.

Pass out a small paper plate to each child. Have markers or crayons available for all to reach.

Say: While I am talking, decorate one side of a plate using these supplies.
[Make sure they color on the paper side not the waxy side, of the plate. Ask the Shepherd to help them fold their plates when they’ve finished coloring, add a few beans, and staple the shaker closed.]

As the students work…
Ask: Have you ever heard of the Jewish festival of Purim? (Pronounced: poor-RIM)
Say: Purim is a day when Jewish people remember the story of Esther.
[After the first week of the Rotation, ask the students to tell you what they know about Purim.]

Say: Esther was a Jewish woman who lived about 500 years before Jesus was born. Esther was a heroine to the Jewish people who were living in a place called Persia. Persia was far away from Jerusalem where most of the Jewish people had lived. Esther did something that saved her people the Jews, from an evil man named Haman who wanted to wipe out all the Jews. The festival of Purim usually falls in March. [Jewish holidays move around because their calendar is lunar based.] This year it’s on March 10th. It is a tradition of Purim for Jewish people to get together, eat, be merry, and to act out the story of Esther. Today, we are going to act out the story. We are going to act it out in a fun way. But I need to tell you about one more Purim tradition – “groggers.” Groggers are noisemakers. [Show grogger.] They are used in the telling of the Esther story. Whenever the name “Haman” [shake grogger- three quick shakes] is read you shake your grogger. Haman [shake grogger] was the bad guy in our story. People shake their groggers as a way to drown out the name of Haman [shake grogger].

Show the kids how to fold their paper plate in half and put a few dried beans inside.
Have the Shepherd help them staple the plate closed (about 6 staples should do it).
Keep talking while the Shepherd helps with the stapling.

Dig- Main Content and Reflection:
Ask: Would we find the story of Esther in the New Testament or the Old Testament? (Old)
Remind the children that stories of people who lived before Jesus are found in the Old Testament.

Introduce the characters in this story. Refer to the easel.

For 1st and 2nd graders:
Hold a Bible open to Esther.
Say: Esther is a long story but let me read what Esther’s wise cousin, Mordecai, said to Esther. These words are from the fourth chapter of Esther, verse 14.
Read Esther 4:14b: “Who knows? Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this.”

For 3rd grade:
Distribute Bibles.
Say: If you have your own Bible today, be sure you receive a tab for the History 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. Ask the Shepherd to do both the HISTORY tab and the POEMS/SONGS tab.]
Have the children open their Bibles and locate the book of Esther. Tell them that it is a couple of books before Psalms. Psalms is about where you are in your Bible if you open it in half.) Have the students locate the key Bible verse Esther 4:14b. Point out that the “b” means we are reading the latter half of the verse. So starting with “Who knows? Perhaps you have…” Read the verse together.

For all students:
Ask: I wonder what choice Esther has to make? (allow time for thought & answers)
Say: Esther became queen in our story. However, Esther started off as just an ordinary citizen. She wasn’t born into a royal family.
Ask: Do you suppose that God had a part to play in this story?
Do you suppose that God needed Esther to do something for him?

Say: God works through the events of our lives, working for our best, even when we can’t see the overall effect of God’s plans.
Ask: Do you suppose that God is at work in your life? (allow all answers)
Say: Today we will hear our story as we act it out.

Enact the Story:
Say: We have a different way to act out our story. We are going to use “clothesline characters.” We have clothes arranged on a clothesline. There are clothes for King Xerxes, clothes for Queen Vashti, clothes for Mordecai (that’s Esther’s wise cousin), clothes for Haman [shake grogger], he’s the bad guy in our story, and clothes for Esther. We also need people to be the audience too. The audience has the important job of using their grogger whenever they hear the name “Haman.” [Have kids limit their grogger shakes to three (shake-shake-shake) for each hearing of “Haman”.]

Choose 5 people to act the parts of King Xerxes, Queen Vashti, Queen Esther, Mordecai, and Haman. If you have more than 5 students who want to be “in” the play, the audience is important. You can re-do the drama. If you have less than 5 students, have whoever is feeling energetic, jump from one character to the next!

Line kids up behind their appropriate costume on the clothesline. (Note that one Queen costume will be used for both Esther and Vashti.) Tell students that you will be doing the reading of the parts. They will have to listen careful to your story to know when to “act”. They can use their bodies to portray what their character would do.

Say: For example, how would a mad king act? (stomp his feet, clench his fists)
Seat the audience ready with their groggers. [Move chairs over to face the stage area.]

Tell the story using the script. Bring the story to life with voice as well as words:
King: obnoxious, demanding. Esther: gracious, afraid but later also brave. Haman: sly, snarling. Mordecai: old, wise. Repeat, using different students as the characters.

Discussion:
Ask: What did Esther do that was brave? (went before king)
Why was this a brave thing to do? (no one could go to the king without an invitation; they might be killed)
[There were a couple of more discussion questions from the book Crazy Clothesline Characters.]

Say: Sometimes we know that we should do something because it is the right thing to do, but we are afraid.
Ask: Have any of you been in a situation like this?
I wonder what can we do to help keep fear under control?

Say: When we are afraid or alone, God is still near. We can pray a simple prayer called a breath prayer. It takes a little bit of practice but it’s a useful kind of prayer. You can pray a breath prayer and no one else knows you are praying. You can pray a breath prayer while you’re riding on the school bus, or standing on the soccer field. A breath prayer is one word while you breathe in, and one or two words when you breathe out. Example: “God” (breathe in) “is here” (breathe out), which is repeated as you breathe in and out.

Have the kids give it a try. Repeat: God is here. [Start off loud, fade to a whisper.]

Closing:
Say: Esther didn’t know why she was chosen as queen. She was just an ordinary girl. But it turned out that God needed her to be queen so that she could save her people. Even when she was afraid, she kept on trusting God. We too can trust God to be near when we face scary times. We call that sort of trust – faith. We have faith that God will be with us, always guiding us.

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 you for this day and for everyone who is here today. Help us to act bravely as Esther, the heroine in our Bible story, did. Help us to do the right thing, even when it is hard or scary. (End with everyone joining in on the Lord’s Prayer.) Amen.”

Extra Activities (if you finish early)
Re-do the drama.


Resources:

  • Crane, Amy. retired “Rotation.org Writing Team Lessons on Esther: Drama.” 2002.
  • Mader, Carol. Crazy Clothesline Characters. Loveland, CO: Group Publishing, 2000.
  • Vos Wezeman, Phyllis, et al. Ideas A to Z Series: Esther. Kregel Publications, 1997.

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


Copyright 2003, 2008 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. "Esther: Drama Workshop ." 2003, 2008. Place URL where lesson found inside angle brackets<>.

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

 

Esther
Art Workshop

Summary of Lesson Activities:

Learn about how prayer ties to the story of Esther. Create prayer boxes out of marbleized paper. Make marbleized paper for the next class to use. [Note: 1st – 6th graders visited this workshop.]

For scripture, background, and objectives, see above.

Scraping the excess shaving cream. Note the completed box indicated with arrows.


Leader Preparation:

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

Supplies List:

  • Easel; appropriate maker
  • Story paraphrase (see end of lesson)
  • For 1st & 2nd graders: The picture book: The Story of Esther
  • For 3rd graders: Purple Adventure Bibles (one with tabs); Bible tab writing kit: tabs, fine-line Sharpie pen
  • For 4th grade & up: Adventure Bibles (one with tabs); A map that shows Jerusalem and Persia
  • Instructions for making boxes (see resources)
  • Construction paper, white or off-white, cut into squares, one-8” square and
    one-7 and ¾ inch square per student (makes a 3” box)
  • A collection of these sizes of paper that has been marbleized (made ahead of time)
  • Scissors, Wooden tongue depressors, Large wooden bead (all items, one per student)
  • Shaving cream – foamy type (one bottle), a piece of cardboard
  • Paper plates or clean meat trays at least as big as paper (2 or 3 are needed)
  • Acrylic paint – three colors that are complementary (a small amount is needed)
  • Table covers, Art Smocks, Paper towels, Wet wipes (or a sink)

Before Start of Class:

  • Write the key Bible verse on the easel.
  • Practice making a box using the instructions.
  • Practice (or at least understand) the marbleized paper technique.
  • Cover one table and lay out supplies for marbleizing. Have the ready-made marbleized paper divided into two groups based upon size.
  • When 3rd grade or higher visits, distribute Bibles around the other tables.
  • Just before students arrive, plug in the hot glue gun.


Presentation

Opening – Welcome & Lesson Introduction: 

Greet your students warmly, welcoming them to the Art Workshop. Introduce yourself and any other adults.

[Note: The Shepherd will be taking care of attendance/nametags while you are starting your lesson.]

Ask: Has anyone ever done anything risky? (allow a few responses)
How did (or would) you feel about taking a risk – would you feel nervous?
[If necessary, to get discussion going, share a risk you’ve taken in your life.]

Say: We are going to be learning about a woman from the Bible who took a big risk.

Dig - Main Content & Reflection: 

Ask: If I told you that our story was one that Jesus learned as a child, where would we find our story in the Bible? (in the Old Testament)

Say: Our story about Esther is covered in the entire Bible book known as “Esther.” It’s a lot of reading, too much to read today but it’s an exciting story, so do take time to read it at home, ask your parents to read with you a little bit of the story every night.

or 1st and 2nd graders:

Say: Listen as I tell you a story about Esther written from the Bible.

Read to them the paraphrase (see end of lesson) while showing them the pictures in the book: The Story of Esther.

For 3rd grade and up:

Say: Let’s find the book of Esther in the Old Testament.
Holding the Adventure Bible with tabs…
Say: If you have tabs in your Bible, Esther is the last book in the collection of History books. So a quick way to find Esther is to open the Bible to the Poetry & Song tab and go back by one book. If you have your own Bible today, be sure you receive two tabs: one for the History section of your Bible and one for the Poetry & Song section.

[Show the purple Adventure Bible with tabs. Have the Shepherd do tabs for students who bring their Bibles. Use the classroom Bible with tabs as an example. Ask the Shepherd to do both the HISTORY tab and the POETRY & SONG tab.]

Have everyone open to the introductory page about Esther. [On page 557.]

Say: In these Bibles, every book starts with an introduction page.

Have everyone look at the 2nd question: “Why was this book written.” Ask someone to read the answer. Ask: What are some other Bible stories that show how God takes care of his people? (many answers – including Noah, Abraham, & Jesus feeds the 5000)
Say: There are lots of stories in the Bible that show us how God takes care In the first week of the Rotation…
Have everyone look at the 3rd question: What do we learn about God in this book?
(“God does not need to do miracles to rescue his people. He is able to work through ordinary events and ordinary people."

In later weeks of the Rotation…
Ask: What have we learned about God from reading Esther? (allow all answers)
Say: There is a lot we can learn about God but one answer is shown in the answer to question number 3.

For all weeks…

Say: Let’s find our key Bible verse. We call it our “key” Bible verse because it is like a key to the whole story.

Have students find Esther 4:14. Have someone read it.

Say: Let’s find out how that verse is key to the whole story. Listen while I tell you a story about Esther that was written from the Bible.

Read to them the paraphrase (see end of lesson).

[Note: In later weeks of the Rotation, ask them to tell you the story. Read any portions that aren’t clear.

For all students:
Say: Mordecai told Esther: Who knows perhaps you became Queen for just such a time as this.

Ask: How is that Bible verse like a key to the whole story of Esther? (allow all responses)

Say: It goes back to what we learn about God in this story. God does his work using ordinary people. Mordecai knew that God had a plan. He trusted God to take care of his people. He believed that God would use Esther to make a difference.

Ask: Do you suppose that God could use us to accomplish something? (allow all responses)
What do you think gave Esther the courage to face the king even though she knew she could be killed?
[If necessary ask: what did Esther do for 3 days before she went before the King?]

Say: Esther was faced with a scary situation, so she turned to God in prayer. Prayer helped Esther be strong and courageous; prayer can help us to be strong as well. Through: prayer, Esther asked God to help her. Asking for help is just one kind of prayer.

Ask Does anyone know what other kinds of prayers there are? (allow all responses)
Say: There are lots of kinds of prayers - prayers of thanks, prayers asking for forgiveness, prayers for other people’s needs, as well as prayers we learn such as Lord’s Prayer.

Ask: When we really want something and we ask God for it, does that mean that we’ll get it?
Say: Sometimes we might not be able to understand why, but God’s answer may be no.
Today we are going to make a special place for you to collect prayers that you write out; we are going to make prayer boxes. Let’s start our project.
Start the art project:

Printing the paper in the marbelized mess!Pass out one piece of marbleized paper of the smaller size, to every student. Show them how to fold the piece according to the instructions (attached). Adults should do the cutting for the 1st and 2nd graders.

After everyone has the first piece of paper folded. Start groups of 2 or 3 students making marbleized paper for the next class. [Do this even on the last week of the Rotation; the paper can be used for some other project.] Have the rest of the students work on folding a second sheet of paper, using the slightly larger size pre-marbleized paper.

Use the glue gun to glue a wooden bead to the center of the larger box. This becomes like a handle to help open the box.

For Marbleizing Instructions: see resources.

Discussion: (while the kids are working)

Ask: Sometimes we know that we should do something because it is the right thing to do, but we are afraid. Have any of you been in a situation like this?
I wonder what can we do to help keep fear under control?

Talk about breath prayers: when we are afraid or alone, God is still near. Practice praying a simple prayer quietly/silently while breathing in and out: God is near or God be with me are appropriate choices for this meditative spiritual practice.

Closing:

Say: Let’s close with prayer.
Ask for any prayer requests. Ask if anyone would like to lead the group in prayer. Use the Lord’s Prayer as the ending. A suggestion: O God who is always with us, we can’t see what will happen to us tomorrow or next week. Help us to trust your working in our lives. Help us to remember to pray daily. Now we pray as Jesus taught us (End with the Lord’s Prayer) Amen.

If you need an extra activity:

Have the kids play hangman using the names of the characters in the story.



Attachment: Story Paraphrase

For 1st – 3rd graders use with the book: The Story of Esther. Read these words (not the one’s in the book) while showing the pages indicated. For 4th-6th graders just read this paraphrase or later in the Rotation, use it to have the students tell you the story.

-- Pages 4 & 5
Many, many years ago, in a far-off land called Persia, there lived a powerful king named Xerxes . In that same land lived Esther and her cousin Mordecai . They were Jews who were forced to live in Persia. Though they were far from their homeland, they lived a comfortable life.

[Use the map either in the book (The Story of Esther) or in the classroom to show Israel and Persia.]

To make a long story shorter, Esther, who was just an ordinary citizen, was chosen as the queen of Persia! However, she did not tell the King that she was Jewish.

-- Pages 6 & 7
Mordecai could stay in touch with Esther because he worked as a gatekeeper for the King. One day Mordecai overheard two guards plotting to kill the King! Mordecai told Esther who told the King. Mordecai saved the king! The entire episode was written down in the King’s daily records. Meanwhile, the King had made a man named Haman , his second-in-command. Because he was so important, everyone was required to bow before Haman. Mordecai would not bow down to Haman! Jews would only bow before God.

-- Pages 8 & 9
Haman was angry that Mordecai wouldn’t bow down to him. He hated Mordecai. When he found out that Mordecai was Jewish he hated all Jews. Haman made a sneaky plan. Haman convinced the King to sign an order that said that all Jews would be killed! The King didn’t know that Esther was Jewish. Haman cast pur , kind of like rolling dice, to find the best date to do the awful thing he planned. And then he sent out the announcement to all the lands ruled by King Xerxes: “On the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, kill all the Jewish people.”

-- Pages 10 & 11
Mordecai heard about Haman’s plan. He was sad. All of his people, the Jews, were in danger!
Mordecai asked Esther for help. He wanted Esther to go to the King. At first Esther didn’t want to. She knew that if someone was to go before the king without being invited – they could die! But something that Mordecai said made her stop and think. “Who knows? Maybe you were made queen for just such a time as this.”

-- Pages 12 & 13
Esther was terrified. But she knew what she must do. She told Mordecai, “Please gather all the Jews together. Don’t eat or drink anything for three days; just pray.” So for three days, all the Jews prayed. On the third day, Esther went to see the King. When the King saw that it was his lovely Queen approaching, and he smiled and held out his golden scepter. That meant that Esther was safe! The King asked her, “My dear Esther, what can I do for you?” Esther bravely replied, “I would like you and Haman to come to dinner with me.”

-- Pages 14 & 15
So King Xerxes and Haman shared a fine meal with the Queen. “Esther, what is your wish,” asked the King. Again Esther said, “Please, both of you come again for dinner tomorrow night. I will tell you then what it is that I want.”

-- Pages 16 & 17
You can imagine that being invited to dine with the Queen made Haman felt very important. But he was distressed to see Mordecai still not bowing to him. His wife suggested, “Build a gallows and ask the king for permission to hang Mordecai tomorrow - then you can go to the banquet tomorrow night happy.” Haman thought this was an excellent idea, so he had the gallows built – 75 feet tall!

-- Pages 18 & 19
That night King couldn’t sleep so he asked that the daily records be read to him. It just so happened that the day read to him was about the time Mordecai had saved the king. “Did we ever thank Mordecai,” asked the King. “No,” came the reply. Just at that moment Haman came in. Before he had a chance to speak, the King said, “There is someone I wish very much to honor. What should I do?” Haman thought to himself, of course the King wants to honor me! So his reply described a parade of sorts with the man of honor riding on one of the King’s horses.

-- Pages 20 & 21
The King responded, “Do as you have described for Mordecai the Jew.” Haman was humiliated because he had to led Mordecai through town.

-- Pages 22 & 23
It was at the second banquet that night that Esther told the king, “All my people will soon be killed. Haman has ordered that all the Jewish people be killed on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month!” King Xerxes was furious. He ordered Haman to be arrested.

-- Page 24
The Jewish people were saved! And so, to this day Jews celebrate a festival called Purim. At this festival held every spring, they remember Queen Esther’s bravery and God’s faithfulness to his people.


Resources:

  • Crane, Amy. retired “Rotation.org Writing Team Lessons on Esther: Drama.” 2002.
  • Derden, Jaymie. retired “Rotation.org Writing Team Lessons on Esther: Art[2] Workshop.” 2002.
  • Hough, Carol. “Shaving Cream Marbling - Easy Marbling Techniques.” Incredible@rtDepartment. 2008.  Link no longer works - check this one out instead: http://artfulparent.com/2014/0...uid-watercolors.html
  • Pingry, Patricia A. The Story of Esther. Nashville: Ideals Publishing, 1989. (ISBN: 0-8249-8420-X)
  • The NIV Adventure Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Zonderkidz, 2000.

A lesson written by Carol Hulbert from: First United Methodist Church
A
nn Arbor, MI 

Copyright 2008 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. "Esther: Art Workshop ." Dec. 2008. Place URL where lesson found inside angle brackets<>.

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This past Sunday, we offered the Esther Drama Workshop. We also made Purim masks- they were not really needed as I feel it would have been better to see the kids expressions as they acted out their parts. We loved the Crazy Clothesline Characters script.  The audience really enjoyed making and shaking the groggers.  Thanks Carol for this fun rotation.

 

 

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