Drama, Puppet, or Storytelling Lessons, Ideas, Activities, and Resources for Teaching the Story of Joshua, including the Conquest of Canaan - Fall of Jericho, in Sunday School.
Post your drama, puppet, or storytelling lessons, ideas, activities, and resources for teaching the Story of Joshua, including the Conquest of Canaan - Fall of Jericho, in Sunday School.
Joshua and the Battle of Jericho
Summary of Lesson Activities:
In obedience to unusual instructions from God, the Israelites cross the River Jordan and march around Jericho before the "walls come tumbling down" in this noisy creative dramatics exercise.
Joshua 1 - 6
At the end of the session, the students will be able to
- find the book of Joshua in the Old Testament using the table of contents.
- connect this story of the Israelites wandering in the wilderness to the story of the Exodus from Egypt.
- know who Joshua is and that he was chosen by God to be the leader of the Israelites after Moses.
- relate the story of the fall of Jericho.
- understand the Israelite's trust in one true God who keeps His promises to His people.
- know that God asks us to be obedient servants and to do what is right (even when people make fun of us).
Background comments on the story:
- The story emphasizes that the Israelites' success in crossing the river and taking the city are entirely God's doing (signified by the Ark's presence).
- Read Numbers 27: 12-23 for background on the selection of Joshua. See Numbers 13 for another spying expedition across the Jordan.
- The repetition in the story, particularly in the crossing of the river, indicates that parts of stories from two slightly differing traditions have been combined (for example, the placement of the circle of stones differs in 4:8 and 4:9).
- The celebration of the Passover (5:10) as well as the memorial set up in Gilgal underline the importance of telling the children the stories of God's mighty acts (4: 21-24). (Part of the Passover tradition is the youngest child asking, "Why is this night special?")
- Note that God provided exactly as much manna as was needed. As soon as the Israelites began to eat the food grown in Canaan, the manna stopped (Joshua 5:11-12; see also Exodus 16: 15-18).
- An interesting fact: Rahab (who helped the spies and was saved when Jericho was destroyed) was an ancestor of Joseph, who married Mary, the mother of Jesus (Matthew 1).
- Bible-time costumes
- Ark of the Covenant (spray paint a box with gold paint, use wire or pipe cleaners to attach dowels for carrying rods)
- trumpets (use party noise makers or make kazoos with wax paper, rubber bands, and toilet tissue rolls)
- blocks for walls (use boxes, buy blocks, or collect Chubs baby-wipes boxes)
- benches for Rahab's house on wall
- red ribbon
- Jordan river drawn on large roll paper taped to floor
- stones in river (grocery bags stuffed with newspaper).
- Read the scripture ahead of time.
- Gather the materials.
- Draw/color Jordan river on large paper on floor, make kazoos (decorate toilet tissue roll with markers and rubber band a piece of wax paper over one end; hum into the other end)
- make 12 stones out of paper grocery bags stuffed with newspapers, stack blocks for walls.
Books for sharing before and after class:
- Look for illustrated children's story Bibles that include this story, such as
- Hartman, Bob. The Lion Storyteller Bible. Colorado Springs, Colorado: Lion Publishing, 1995.
- Turner, Philip. The Bible Story. New York: Oxford University Press, 1968.
Opening- Welcome and Lesson Introduction:
Greet the children and introduce yourself.
- Open with prayer.
Dig-Main Content and Reflection:
- Tell the story (see the following adaptation).
- Read the scripture: Joshua 6:1-25
- Discuss before acting out the story:
*Characters: Joshua, Rahab, two spies, king's men, angel, Israelite army, priests, people of Jericho
*If the younger children ask about Rahab, it should be sufficient to explain that a prostitute is a woman who entertains men.
*Where did story take place: crossing the Jordan River, Gilgal, around walled city of Jericho, Jericho.
*How would you feel if you were: Rahab when she realized who the people who came to her house were, Joshua when he was told he was standing on Holy Ground, Joshua when he heard God's instructions, Israelites when they heard God's instructions, people in Jericho when Israelites were marching around?
*Outline story highlights and how best to portray them; discuss where in room different scenes will take place.
- Everyone mime: stepping into the cold River Jordan while carrying the Ark of the Covenant, climbing out of a window and down rope, blowing trumpets, watching walls come tumbling down.
- A volunteer (or the teacher) is Joshua, and must explain to the Israelites what the "plan of attack" is. The other students are the Israelites and ask questions about the plan and comment on its absurdity and suggest alternatives.
- Have a volunteer be a guard on the Jericho city wall, reporting to the rest of the guards what happened during his watch (Israelites marched around once without attacking). The other students are his coworkers and ask questions about what he saw and speculate about what the reason for this strange action may be.
Assign parts and act out story one scene at a time (you may want to reassign parts for each scene so more people can be Joshua). Have fun walking around the wall of blocks six times quietly — except for the priests blowing their horns (playing kazoos). Consider turning the lights on and off between circuits to show the passage of time rather than returning to "camp." Have the students march around seven more times on the seventh "day" before shouting and knocking over the block wall. A few students can be the residents of Jericho, and laugh at the silent walkers. Discuss other things that can be added to drama, and if time permits, reassign parts and act it out again.
Pulling it all together (closing discussion):
- What do you think the Israelites shouted before the walls tumbled? (Joshua 6:5, 20) Do you think the walls would have fallen if they had not followed the instructions?
- Have you ever been asked to do something that seemed silly or pointless but turned out to be a good thing to do?
- Are we, as Christians, asked to do some things that don't make sense to the rest of the world?
- Has anyone ever made fun of you for doing what you thought was the right thing? How did you feel? What did you do?
In chapter 24, Joshua speaks to the people and urges them to remain faithful to God in all things. Joshua 24:14-16 reminds us that we, too, must decide whom we will serve.
Now then,' Joshua continued, ‘honor the Lord and serve Him sincerely and faithfully. Get rid of the gods which your ancestors used to worship in Mesopotamia and in Egypt, and serve only the Lord. If you are not willing to serve Him, decide today whom you will serve, the gods your ancestors worshiped in Mesopotamia or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are now living. As for my family and me, we will serve the Lord.'
Lord, help us to be faithful to you in all things. Give us the strength and wisdom to trust you, even when the way is difficult or unusual. Help us to be mindful of your leadership, of your presence, of your strength that gives us courage to do what is right. Help us to serve you and do your will in all things. Amen.
Joshua and the Battle of Jericho
adapted from Joshua 1-6, Today's English Version
Now, you remember that with God's help, Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, across the Red Sea, and into the wilderness. For forty years the Israelites wandered in the wilderness. Moses grew old, and Joshua, son of Nun, was chosen to be Moses' successor and lead the Israelites.
After Moses died, the Lord spoke to Joshua, "Get ready now, you and the people of Israel, to cross the River Jordan into the land that I am giving you. Joshua, no one will be able to defeat you as long as you live. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will always be with you."
Joshua ordered the leaders of the twelve tribes to go through the camp to tell the people: "Get ready, for soon we are going to cross the River Jordan to occupy the land that the Lord your God is giving you."
Then Joshua sent two spies to secretly explore the land of Canaan, especially the city of Jericho. When they came to the city, they went to stay in the house of a prostitute named Rahab. The king of Jericho heard there were Israelite spies in town. He sent word to Rahab: "The men in your house are spies. Send them out!"
She replied, "Some men did come to my house, but I don't know where they were from. They left before the city gate closed at sundown. If you hurry, maybe you can catch them." (Now, Rahab had actually hidden the two men on the roof of her house.) The king's men hurried off to look for the spies.
Rahab went to the spies. "I know that the Lord has given you this land. Everyone in this country is terrified of you. We have heard how the Lord dried up the Red Sea. We were afraid as soon as we heard how you killed other kings east of the Jordan. The Lord your God is God in heaven above and here on earth. Now swear by Him that you will treat my family as kindly as I have treated you. Don't let us be killed!"
The men said to her, "May God take our lives if we don't do as we say. We will treat you well."
Rahab lived in a house built into the city wall, so she let the men down from the window by a rope. The men said to her, "We will keep the promise that you have made us give, as long as you don't tell anyone what we have been doing. This is what you must do: Get your family together in your house. When we invade your land, tie this red cord to your window. No one in your home will be harmed."
The spies went into the hills and hid. The king's men looked all over, but did not find them. After three days, the spies returned to Joshua and reported everything they learned: "We are sure that the Lord has given us the whole country. All the people there are terrified of us!"
Early the next morning Joshua and all the people of Israel left their camp, and went to the bank of the River Jordan. There they camped, waiting for the command to cross the river into the Promised Land.
The Lord spoke to Joshua: "Tell the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant that when they reach the river, they must wade in and stand near the bank."
The Israelites packed their tents and their belongings. They gathered their children and herds. The priests went ahead of them, carrying the Ark of the Covenant. The priests stepped into the cold water of the River Jordan.
The Israelite nation, gathered on the bank of the River Jordan, watched as the water stopped! There was no water coming down the River Jordan. It began to pile up; some say it was piled three hundred miles high! The people were in awe. Now they knew for certain that God was with Joshua as He had been with Moses.
And so the people walked across the River Jordan on dry ground. No mud! The priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant stood on dry ground in the middle of the river while the entire nation crossed over the River Jordan.
The Lord said to Joshua: "Call twelve men, one from each tribe. Command them to take twelve stones out of the River Jordan, from the very place where the priests are standing with the Ark of the Covenant. Tell them to carry the stones with them and to put them down where you camp tonight. These stones will always remind the people of Israel of what happened here."
The twelve men did as Joshua ordered. Each took up a stone from the riverbed near the feet of the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant. Those stones were carried to the camping place, and arranged there. That place was named Gilgal, which means "circle of stones."
When all the people were across the river, the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant followed them out of the river. When the priests' feet touched the riverbank, there was a great roar as the water began flowing once more.
Now, you must realize that although the Israelites were safely across the River Jordan and in the Promised Land, they were not able to call it home yet. The first obstacle loomed above them there on the banks of the Jordan: the great walled city of Jericho.
One day, while they were camped at Gilgal, Joshua saw a man standing in front of him, holding a sword. "Are you one of our soldiers, or the enemy?"
"Neither," the man answered. "I am here as the commander of the Lord's army."
Joshua threw himself on the ground in worship and said, "I am your servant, sir. What do you want me to do?"
"Take your sandals off. You are standing on holy ground." Joshua did as he was told. "I am putting Jericho into your hands. You and your soldiers are to march around the city once a day for six days. Seven priests, each sounding a trumpet, are to go in front of the Ark of the Covenant. On the seventh day you and your soldiers are to march around the city seven times while the priests blow the trumpets. Then they are to sound one long note. As soon as you hear it, all the men are to give a loud shout, and the city walls will collapse. Then the whole army will go straight into the city."
So Joshua called the priests and told them to carry the Ark of the Covenant around the city. And he ordered the soldiers to march quietly in front of and behind the Ark. They did this one time and then returned to camp.
Early the next morning, they did the same thing. They did this for six days. On the seventh day, they marched around the city the same way, seven times. After the seventh time around, Joshua gave the command and the men shouted and the walls collapsed. The soldiers captured the city and spared Rahab and her family.
So the Lord was with Joshua, and his fame spread though the whole country.
TIPS FOR TELLING Joshua and the Battle of Jericho:
Read the story in several translations of the Bible and Bible storybooks to see other ways to tell it. Try to visualize the action, and then describe what you see in your own words.
This is an exciting and dramatic adventure story. Tell it with amazement and excitement. (The part about the spies can be quiet and confidential.)
Bring the story to life with your movements and emotions as well as the words. Carry the Ark, step in the cold river, lift the stones for Gilgal, march, blow a trumpet, watch in amazement as the walls fall.
If you cannot learn this story by heart (to tell it in your own words), read and reread it until you are very comfortable with it. Then you will be able to look up and make eye contact and interact with your listeners, which will help bring the story to life for them. (Consider making your "cheat sheet" copy of the script into a scroll.)
A lesson written by Amy Crane (firstname.lastname@example.org) for Palma Ceia Presbyterian Church
Copyright 1998 Amy Crane. Permission granted to freely distribute and use, provided the copyright message is included.