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We wanted to do a 9 week summer workshop series on Life in the Time of Jesus. We ran just one workshop each Sunday, but many of the workshops have enough material to do over several weeks. Took lots of ideas found here, especially from Trinity Presbyterian's lesson set called Our Jewish Roots", but fleshed some of them out a bit.

Life in the Time of Jesus Workshop Sketches-Summer 2009

Weeks Lesson Topics:

Week 1: Slide Presentation & Map Making
Week 2: Hebrew Writing
Week 3: Jewish holidays
Week 4: Bible times food
Week 5: Bible time homes
Week 6: Jewish music and dance
Week 7: Unleavened bread
Week 9: Occupations in the Time of Jesus

1. Slide Presentation / Map making

Objectives: The children will be able to:

  1. view a slide presentation/power point of sights in Israel.
  2. locate sights in the slide presentation to create their own map of Israel.


  • slide projector/laptop projector
  • slides of Israel/PowerPoint
  • screen
  • poster board (1/2 sheet per child)
  • glue
  • scissors
  • pattern of Israel to trace
  • printed names of sites that will be located during slide show
  • puff paint for rivers
  • map key
  • sequins etc. to locate cities

Invite children to get ready for a tour of the country where Jesus lived, walked, and preached. What is the name of this place?


  1. Trace the pattern of Israel, label Israel and the surrounding countries.
  2. Add map key and direction key.
  3. Begin slide presentation. As each site is visited have the children add it to their own map. (We started in the north of Israel and worked our way south) Sites included were: Sea of Galilee, Bethlehem, Nazareth, Jerusalem, Jordan River, Dead Sea, Sinai Desert, etc. (Include as many as your time allows and slides you have to present.)

Display student maps in a location for the church congregation to view.

2. Hebrew Writing

Objectives: The students will:

  1. hear Hebrew words and scripture.
  2. practice speaking and writing Hebrew.
  3. learn about the Jewish Bible.


  • have minister tape reading of the Hebrew Shema and the alphabet or some words.
  • locate a Hebrew Bible and perhaps one in another language.
  • cut brown grocery bags to look like scrolls and ribbon to tie them for each student.
  • have markers or calligraphy pens.


  1. Locate Deuteronomy 6: 4-5 in the Bible (Shema pronounced Sh'mah). Play the tape in Hebrew.
  2. Hebrew is the language of Israel-like German or English but much older.
  3. Alphabet has 22 consonants and no vowels. Look at alphabet and words in Hebrew. Practice writing some of them.
  4. Show a Hebrew Bible. Notice they write from right to left and back to front. Show a Bible from a different country too, if you have one available. German would be best. The Bible was written in Hebrew and Greek, later translated to Latin, then German by monks such as Martin Luther. Later into English.
  5. Jewish children still take lessons after school 1-3 days a week to learn to read and write Hebrew so they can read the Bible in their language
  6. There are 24 books in the Hebrew Bible rather than 66 as in our Bible. There is only an Old Testament. The words are the same as ours but some of our books were combined in theirs. The Old Testament teaches both Christians and Jews about God and his love for us.
  7. Jesus was Jewish, a descendent of Abraham.
  8. Rabbis or teachers in Jesus' day memorized the Bible. Jesus heard the Torah read when he went to the synagogue. Sometimes he read it. Each year in the synagogue they read week by week all the way through the Torah.
  9. The Torah was written on parchment scrolls. The paper was made from the stems of a plant called papyrus. Stems were beaten together into long strips, rolled and dried to make scrolls. Others were made from goat or sheep skins that had been dried and stretched. The Torah is rolled up at one end and unrolled at the other as the words are read.
  10. The Torah contains the first 5 books of the Old Testament: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. The Torah is kept in a special cabinet called the Ark.
  11. Practice writing a verse on brown paper and tie it with ribbon. For younger children will need to have a verse written for them or something for them to trace or a picture to color to go with the written verse.

3. Jewish holidays

Objectives: The children will:

  1. Recognize Jewish holidays and what they symbolize.
  2. See that holidays provide a means of passing on beliefs and traditions to future generations.

Prepare some kind of activity/food/experience for each holiday you talk about. Might not be able to get through all that are listed, but that’s OK if you want to focus on a few of them.


a. Rosh Hashanah (New Year)

Activity: Have students dip an apple slice in honey and wish each other a sweet year.
Rosh Hashanah, the New Year, and Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, are two very important holidays in the Jewish calendar.

On Rosh Hashanah, Jews all over the world gather in synagogues to celebrate the day HaShem created Adam and Khavah (Eve), the first humans. We celebrate Rosh Hashanah with sweet foods, like apples dipped in honey and honey cake, as a wish for a sweet year. Some families also celebrate with symbolic foods like the head of a fish, pomegranates, and carrots.

The head of a fish is so that we can be "like the head and not like the tail." This is a symbol of having a year in which we are on top and not the bottom. Pomegranates are symbolic of plenty. Have you ever tried to count how many seeds there are in a pomegranate? Far too many to count. We want plenty of health and happiness for the New Year, just as many good things as there are seed in a pomegranate.

We also eat carrots, and it isn't just to see better in the dark. For Ashkenazi Jews, carrots symbolize the Yiddish word "merren" which also means more. We want more of all the good things in life. More health, more happiness, more success. For Sephardic Jews, carrots are symbolic of the phrase "Yikaretu oyveychem" which means may your enemies be cut down. We ask that those who wish bad for us not get their wish, that they don't succeed.

And of course, we have round Challot made with honey and raisins. These are another symbol of a sweet and happy year. We put decorations on the Challot, such as birds (symbolizing doves of peace).

Rosh Hashanah starts on the first day of Tishrei and lasts two days. Rosh Hashanah is the beginning of the Yamim Noraim, the ten days of atonement.

On Rosh Hashanah, all mankind is judged. HaShem writes the judgment for each of us in the Book of Life. This judgment is based on our lives of the year before, and is the decision of what will happen to us in the coming year.

But the judgment is not final. The days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur give us a time to change the judgment for good. We are given the chance to improve our coming year through Teshuvah (asking forgiveness), Tefillah (prayer), and Tzedakah (charity).

On Rosh Hashanah we wish each other "L'Shanah Tovah Tikatevuh" may you be written in for a good year. But Rosh HaShanah is not the end of the judgment, it is only on Yom Kippur that our judgment is made final.


b. Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement)

Activity: Read from the chapter in Numbers listed below. Have them take off their shoes to represent walking in soft soled shoes. Talk about fasting and what it means. Blow a horn or make a horn noise and have them repeat “Next year in Jerusalem!”

Yom Kippur begins at sunset on the evening of the 10th of Tishrie, Jews all over the world do not eat or drink for 25 hours. The fast of Yom Kippur can be found in (Num 29:7). All adults are required to fast. Boys and girls before their Bar or Bat Mitzvahs are not required to fast. People that are too ill to fast are also not required to fast. Many people wear sneakers or soft slippers throughout the day rather than leather shoes. After the final shofar blast in the Ne'ila service the whole congregation says "Next year in Jerusalem!"


c. Sukkot (Feast of Booths)

Activity: Have the children take a few moments to build a sukkah. Use a table or card table. Cover the top of the table with palm branches (we have some fake ones somewhere in the church). Children can make and cut out fruit and tape it to the corners of the table. Let the children take turns sitting in the sukkah and imagine living in it instead of their home.

An ancient Jewish belief considers the first day of Sukkot to be the day on which a person begins accumulating sins for the next year. To start the new year off right, many people begin building their sukkah right after Yom Kippur. The sukkah is a temporary house, where you eat (and sometimes sleep) for the holiday. It is a reminder of the forty years we spent in the desert going to Israel. Sukkot celebrates the clouds that protected Israel in the desert, while they wandered for forty years. The reason for celebrating Sukkot after Yom Kippur is that after atoning on Yom Kippur we are like a clean slate. With this fresh beginning, we are especially capable of fulfilling the mitzvah of Joy on Sukkot. Joy is an important part of the celebration. The most important symbol of Sukkot is the sukkah itself. It is a small hut (or booth), there is no permanent roof we use branches to cover the top. A Sukkah must have a chair in it, and should also have a table. If you sleep in your Sukkah, a cot is a good idea. After all the decorating, we can spend time in a Sukkah and feel like we are at home away from home. Also, during the fall harvest, farmers would live in Sukkot on the edges of their fields while they completed the harvest.


d. Hanukkah (Feast of Lights)

Activity: Have a menorah for the children to light while talking about the 8 days of Hanukkah. Play a traditional holiday game with a Dreidal. Eat jelly donuts, a special Hanukkah treat.

Hanukkah is the story of a great victory of the Jews over the Syrian-Greeks. In 165 BCE, led by the Hasmonean family of Mattathias the High Priest and his youngest son, Judah, the Jews succeeded in evicting the Syrian-Greeks from Israel and restored the Temple.

According to the Talmud, after the Temple had been cleaned and the Priests were ready to light the Temple menorah, they could find only one jug of oil that was fit to use. This was only enough for one day, but it lasted for eight. This is why Hanukah is eight days long. For eight days beginning on the twenty-fifth day of the month of Kislev we light the menorah to celebrate the victory and the miracle of Hanukah.

Hanukkah comes from the Hebrew word "Khanu" meaning "and they rested," and from the Hebrew date Kaf Hey which equals 25. That is why we celebrate Hanukah beginning on the 25th of the month of Kislev.

Miracle of the Oil-In the temple, a menorah was lit every day. The oil used in the menorah was the purest olive oil. The rabbis say the oil was so pure, only the first drop of oil from each olive could be used. Because of the need for strict purity of the oil, it took seven days to make a single batch of oil. The small jar of oil that had not been disturbed lasted for the one day it was expected to last and continued for the full week it took to make new oil.

Hannah and her seven sons-Hanukah is the story of heroes and bravery. It took great courage to go against the king and not worship idols. It took courage to fight against a powerful enemy and win as the Maccabees did. One of the most amazing parts of Hanukah is in the Book of the Maccabees. It is the story of Hannah and her sons. She loved them very much and they were loyal to HaShem. They would not do what the king wanted them to do and worship idols. One day the soldiers came and took Hannah and her sons away. They brought them to the temple where there was an idol of Zeus and ordered them to bow down and worship and say that they accepted Zeus as their god. Hannah and her sons refused. The soldiers killed her oldest son, hoping that when the others saw this they would worship their idol. But they did not. One after the other they were killed as was Hannah. She died declaring her faith in HaShem.

Judah HaMaccabee-For three years Judah the Maccabee led his followers, those loyal to HaShem, against the Syrians. The Syrian Greeks had weapons, the Maccabees did not. The Jews were greatly outnumbered. They hid in the Judean hills, and attacked whenever they could. Slowly but surely, they wore down the enemies, and retook Jerusalem and cleaned out the temple of the idols and restored it. That is the festival of rededication called Hanukah.


e. Purim (Festival of Lots)

Activity: Read from the book of Esther or a simplified version of the story and have children stomp feet and make noise when the name of Haman is read.
There are four Mitzvot (requirements) at Purim

  • Reading the Book of Esther out loud
  • Being festive and rejoicing
  • Giving Gifts of fruits and nuts
  • Offering gifts to the poor

Traditionally the book of Esther is read out loud at synagogue twice on Purim: once at night and once during the day. The scroll is called a Megillah and it contains the story of Esther. The whole story is read for people to hear. One of the most fun things about the reading is that when the name of Haman is read out, people stamp their feet and make noise (many have noise makers for this) to drown out the evil name of the villain.

Many children, and grownups too, dress up in costumes for Purim. There are contests for the best costume, games, plays and fun for everyone. Giving gifts of food (Mishalach Manot) to friends, family and neighbors is traditional. Fruit, nuts and hamantashen are the usual gifts. Remembering the poor (Matanot l'evyonim) and giving to those less fortunate then you are. Purim celebrates a victory over those who sought to bring about our destruction. It is a victory of people over hatred and violence to others and trusting HaShem to make it possible if we do our part.


f. Pesach (Passover- Festival of Unleavened Bread)

Activity: A traditional game played at Passover dinner is to wrap a piece of matzoh (afecomen) in a napkin and hide it for the children to find. You could hide one or several and then have the children taste and share the matzoh when they find it.

Pesach or Passover is observed for seven days, eight outside of Israel. Pesach celebrates the freedom from almost four hundred years of Egyptian slavery. Pharaoh was asked to let the Jewish people go but he refused. It took 10 plagues to convince him, but in the end he let the People of Israel leave Egypt. Then when he thought about it he sent his army after us. HaShem parted the waters of the sea and we walked across to safety. The army of the Pharaoh was drowned. Passover is a family holiday. It starts by cleaning the house of all Chametz (leaven) is out of the house. There is a ceremony to search for the Chametz and it is called Bedikat Chametz (the searching out of the leaven) and Biur Chametz (the burning of leaven). The highlight of Passover is the Seder (which means order). The Seder service is held at the dining table in most homes, and during the service the story of the Exodus from Egypt is told.

4. Bible times food

Objective: Given information, scripture, pictures, & actual samples of foods that were popular during Bible times the students will be able to describe and discuss these foods.
Resources: A Biblical Garden by Carol Lerner

Introduction: (5 minutes)
How many of you have wondered about foods that people ate during Bible times? What are some of the foods that were popular?
How do we know this? (The Bible refers to many of the foods)
Today we are going to learn about various foods that were popular during Bible times. We will read scripture that tells about this food and even sample the foods.
We are going to create "A Biblical Garden" (have the words written artistically on a large sheet of paper for a mural heading)

Content: (50 minutes)
Pass a colored picture of a lentil plant around (color copied from the book A Biblical Garden) -tape onto the wall near your heading "A Biblical Garden."
Put each fact on a strip of paper (I used a larger font & printed them on a colored piece of paper - one color for each plant.)
Pass a strip to each student (some students will get 2)
Go around the room & have each student read their fact. (You may want to have a short discussion on points that are of particular interest.)
After each student reads his fact have him tape it on the wall, near the picture.
After all the facts are read & discussed for lentils pass around a bowl of cooked lentils for each student to taste.
Pomegranate: Repeat process
Caper: Repeat process
Barley: Repeat process
Almond: Repeat process
Date Palm: Repeat process
Grape: Repeat process
Olive: Repeat process
Fig: Repeat process

Summary: (5 minutes)
As you can see, we now have "A Biblical Garden."
Go around the room & ask each student to tell what food they liked best & one interesting fact that they learned today.

Genesis 25:32-34 "Look, I'm dying of starvation!" said Esau. "What good is my birthright to me now?" So Jacob insisted, "Well then, swear to me right now that it is mine." So Esau swore an oath, thereby selling all his rights as the firstborn to his younger brother. Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and lentil stew. Esau ate and drank and went on about his business indifferent to the fact that he had given up his birthright.

  • The lentil is one of the very oldest plants to be cultivated for food.
  • Its white flowers develop into small pods, each containing one or two lentil seeds.
  • These seeds were eaten in a stew or used to make heavy bread.
  • Lentils can grow in inferior soil and were an inexpensive food, popular with people.
  • Esau traded his birthright for a very commonplace meal.

Pass around picture
Give each student a sample of lentils

Exodus 28:33 Make pomegranates out of blue, purple, scarlet yarn and attach them to the hem of the robe, with gold bells between them.
Deut. 8:7-10 For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land of flowing streams and pools of water, with springs that gush forth in the valleys and hills. It is a land of wheat and barley, of grapevines, fig trees, pomegranates, olives, and honey. It is a land where food is plentiful and nothing is lacking.
1 Kings 7:20 Each capital on the two pillars had 200 pomegranates in two rows around them, beside the rounded surface next to the latticework.

  • Wandering through the desert, the Jews were encouraged by anticipation of the Promised Land. Pomegranates, they were told, were among the fruits of this good land that awaited them.
  • The plant usually grows as a small tree and has long been cultivated in warm climates for its fruits.
  • The fruit is the size of an orange with a thin dry rind. Inside are many red seeds each surrounded by a juicy pulp.
  • The form of the plant decorated the priestly robes, and sculptured pomegranates appeared on the pillars of the first Temple.

Pass around picture
Give each student a sample of a pomegranate

Ecclesiastes 12:5 ....and the caper fruit shall fail; for man goes to his grave, and the mourners go about the streets.

  • Eating the buds and young fruit was thought to stimulate appetite and the sense of taste. The verse speaks of old age as a time when the caper plant no longer has this effect.
  • The caper plant is a low, sprawling shrub that can grow in difficult places- on walls and in dry, rocky valleys.
  • Each large white flower blooms for just a single night.
  • The green buds are gathered to be pickled and served as a flavoring for meat.

Pass around picture.
Have each student taste a caper.

Exodus 9: 31-32 All the flax and barley were destroyed because the barley was ripe and the flax was in bloom. But the wheat and the spelt were not destroyed because they had not yet sprouted from the ground.
Ruth 2:23 So Ruth worked alongside the women in Boaz's fields and gathered grain with them until the end of the barley harvest. Then she worked with them through the wheat harvest, too. But all the while she lived with her mother-in-law.

Judges 15:5 When Samson had set the torches on fire, he let the foxes go into the standing grain of the Philistine, and burned up both the shocks and the standing grain, as well as the vineyards and olive groves.

  • Barley and wheat together were the basic food grains for the people of the Bible.
  • Barley may have been the first cereal to be cultivated for food.
  • It can be grown in poorer soils and doesn't need as much rainfall as wheat.
  • It is cheaper to grow than wheat, so it was eaten by the poor and fed to horses and cattle.
  • Barley ripens and is harvested several weeks before wheat.
  • The hailstorm in Exodus came after the heads of grain (ears) had already developed on the barley and the seed capsules (bolls) on the flax. The wheat plants were still so young that the grains had not yet formed. The plant known as spelt is an inferior kind of wheat and was planted around the boarders of wheat and barley fields.
  • Barley was probably the "standing corn" of the Philistine, which Samson set alight.

Pass around the picture.
Give each student a sample of barley.

Jeremiah 1: 11-12 The word of the Lord came to me, saying, "What do you see, Jeremiah?" And I said, "I see a branch of an almond tree." The Lord said to me, "You have seen well, for I am watchful to carry out My word."

  • The almond blooms very early and is a symbol of the spring to come. In Israel, the pink and white blossoms burst open in February and March, but the leaves develop only after the tree has flowered.
  • Almond trees grow in the wild and also in orchards.
  • The nut we eat is the seed of the fruit. It develops inside a velvety covering, enclosed by a hard shell.
  • The Hebrew word for almond also means "to be watchful" or "to be wakeful," and the passage from Jeremiah plays on this second meaning of the word.

Pass around the picture.
Give each student an almond.

Psalms 92:13, 15 The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree... They shall still be vigorous in old age, full of sap and luxuriant leaves.

  • A date palm growing by itself will not produce fruit, because the flowers that develop into fruits (female) and the flowers that make pollen (male) grow on separate trees.
  • Pass around picture. In the picture, a cluster of female flowers is shown. The brown sheath that covered the growing cluster has split open, and now the flowers are exposed. They are very small, arranged along twiggy stalks.
  • After it is pollinated, each flower develops into a single date fruit.
  • The fruits from one of these clusters weigh from ten to forty pounds, and eight to twelve such clusters may be produced by a healthy tree.
  • Date palms live and continue to bear fruit for over one hundred years.

Have each student try a date.

Psalms 80:9 You removed a vine from Egypt; you drove out the nations and planted it.
Genesis 9:20 After the Flood, Noah became a farmer and planted a vineyard.
Isaiah 18:5 Before the harvest, when the blossom is gone and the flower becomes a ripening grape, he will cut off the shoots with pruning knives, and cut down and take away the branches.
Isaiah 1:8 Jerusalem stands abandoned like a watchman's shelter in a vineyard or field after the harvest is over.
Read Matthew 21:33-46

  • Bread and wine hold a central place in the religious rituals of the Western world, and the culture of grapes may be as ancient as growing of grains.
  • When the floods leave the earth and Noah makes his vineyard, the grape becomes the first plant whose cultivation is mentioned in the Bible.
  • Grapes were eaten as fresh fruit, dried for raisins, and made into wine and vinegar.
  • The plant and its fruits are mentioned throughout the Bible. In the verse from Psalms, the vine becomes a symbol for the Jewish people themselves; elsewhere it signifies peace and prosperity.

Genesis 8:11 This time toward evening, the bird returned to him with a fresh olive leaf in its beak. Noah now knew that the water was gone.

  • Ever since the dove carried the olive leaf to Noah, this tree has been a symbol of peace.
  • The olive was perhaps the most important tree in the lives of biblical people. The fruits and their oil were used for food, and the oil was a fuel to burn in lamps.
  • Olive oil was usually the substance being used whenever the Bible speaks of "ointments" or "anointing" the body.
  • Olive trees were often grown on the higher slopes above the vineyards in the western part of Palestine.
  • Olives grow in shallow soil and are able to with stand long periods of drought, but they do not thrive in the long cold periods which can occur in southern Judah.
  • The olive harvest was the last major event of the agricultural year. It could be done in a more leisurely way than the grain or grape harvests because the fruit ripened slowly, and often lasted from mid September until the start of the rains in October.
  • Most olives were picked by hand although those on the higher branches would be shaken or beaten down.
  • Although they are slow to mature, olive trees can live for hundreds of years.
  • A good tree can produce 10 -15 gallons of oil each year.

Pass around picture.
Give each student a sample of an olive & olive oil.

Genesis 3:7 At that moment, their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they strung fig leaves together around their hips to cover themselves.
Mark 13:28f Now, learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its buds become tender and its leaves begin to sprout, you know without being told that summer is near.

  • The fig is the first plant to be mentioned in the Bible.
  • The many references to the fig tree throughout the Scriptures show its importance in biblical life.
  • Fresh or dried, figs were part of the daily diet of the people.
  • The fig was cultivated so early in human history that its origins are not known.
  • It is a small tree, 1 0 to 20 feet high.
  • The year's first figs begin to grow before the leaves unfold, but they are small and hard and not good to eat. A second crop ripens over the summer and provides edible figs.
  • Figs provided fruit in the early summer, they were seen as a sign that summer was coming. Mark 13-.28
  • Jesus used them as a symbol of the approach of God's judgment.
  • The shady fig tree was seen as a symbol of security.

Pass around picture.
Give each student a sample of a fig.

5. Bible time homes

We have a newly purchased resource book called “Daily Life at the time of Jesus”. It has good pictures of wealthy homes, villages and village homes beginning on page 38.

This lesson focused on some of the aspects of life during Bible times. We measured and taped off an area on the floor that would represent the size of a typical dwelling in Bible times and all sat down in it (I'm thinking it was 5'X9', but I'm not sure--it was small!). I showed the students some pictures and gave them some facts and figures to help them understand what a typical low-to-average income family's house would be like. I posed some questions (like why would some of the houses have flat roofs, why did some people live in tents, etc.) and we discussed this. Most of the students were able to use common sense/logic to determine the answers. If not, we talked about the advantages/disadvantages etc., in order to figure out the answers. We talked about house size, building materials, furnishings, and who lived there (many generations under one roof).

Next we moved to a table, I gave each student a pencil and a piece of paper, and I asked them to fold the paper in half. I asked them to write "Now" on one half and "Then" on the other half. Then I would ask them to draw/sketch a picture of what their house looks like. Then on the other side they would draw a typical Bible time house. We continued on, comparing furnishings such as tables/eating places, light sources, etc.

After that exercise we made Mezuzahs and Phylacteries. (Not each group did both; I chose which one because there was not time to do both.) I explained what they mean/were used for. I had a brief description printed on a piece of paper for each to take home. For the Mezuzahs I had each student write the scripture that traditionally goes in the Mezuzah (which is kind of long, but I wanted them to have that experience and to really have to read the scripture). The students who made the Phylacteries could choose any meaningful Bible verse to insert into their project.

For the Mezuzahs I gave each student a small piece of paper to write the verse on, a pencil/pen, and a piece of poster board. Once they wrote the scripture they could crumple the paper to make it look ancient, etc., if they chose to, and then they rolled up the poster board, inserted the paper and we taped it shut. You could also use toilet paper or paper towel cardboard rolls for this--same effect.

For the Phylacteries I gave each student a small cardboard jewelry box. I had wrapped both parts of each box in newsprint-like paper with no writing on it. I also gave them a small piece of paper that would fit into the box once it was folded, a strip of cloth--from an old sheet--that would fit and tie around the student's head or upper arm, and markers. The compartment was traditionally leathery, so we colored the outside of the boxes to make them look that way.

6. Jewish music and dance

There is no formal lesson for this topic so you can be creative, but ideas might include:
Listening to traditional Jewish music. There is a CD called Music From the Time of Jesus. Can probably download to listen to in class.
Learning a Jewish dance and teaching it to the children, like the Hora.
Learning a Jewish song and teaching it to the children.
Biblical References to musical instruments: 2 Samuel 6:5, Psalms 150:1-6 and 1 Chronicles 13:8.
We have a box of instruments that they can play to the music with.

7. Unleavened bread

Recipe for unleaven bread
3 3/4 c. whole wheat flour
1 1/4 c. white flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. salt
3/4 c. honey
1 1/2 to 1 3/4 c. water
2 tbsp. oil
Combine all ingredients, taking care not to overmix as dough may get too hard (use a little more liquid to keep it soft). Divide dough into 8 large or 12 small balls. Roll out each to desired thin patty. Arrange on oiled cookie sheet and bake 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from oven. Brush with oil and return to oven for 10 more minutes. Remove from oven. Baste with butter and serve hot. Can be stored in freezer and baked later.

Have the students follow the recipe and make unleavened bread. While it was baking you can review the origins of unleavened bread and Passover and its significance to Jesus at the Last Supper.

Background-"And ye shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance for ever. In the first month on the fourteenth day of the month at even, ye shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even. Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eateth that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in the land. Ye shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations shall ye eat unleavened bread." (Exodus 12:17-20 KJV)
Why Unleavened Bread?
The Passover marks the beginning of the Days of Unleavened Bread. What was the purpose of the seven-day observance?

  • "And Moses said unto the people, Remember this day, in which ye came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand The Lord brought you out from this place: there shall no leavened bread be eaten." (Exodus 13:3 KJV)
  • "Unleavened bread shall be eaten seven days; and there shall no leavened bread be seen with thee, neither shall there be leaven seen with thee in all thy quarters. And thou shalt show thy son in that day, saying, This is done because of that which The Lord did unto me when I came forth out of Egypt. And it shall be for a sign unto thee upon thine hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes, that The Lord's law may be in thy mouth: for with a strong hand hath The Lord brought thee out of Egypt. Thou shalt therefore keep this ordinance in his season from year to year." (Exodus 13:7-10 KJV)
  • "Thou shalt eat no leavened bread with it; seven days shalt thou eat unleavened bread therewith, even the bread of affliction: for thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt in haste: that thou mayest remember the day when thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt all the days of thy life. And there shall be no leavened bread seen with thee in all thy coast seven days; neither shall there any thing of the flesh, which thou sacrificedst the first day at even, remain all night until the morning." (Deuteronomy 16:3-4 KJV)
    While students found it hard to believe people actually liked this bread they learned about being thankful for what God provides. They also learned about doing something in remembrance of an important time.

8. Shepherds


  1. To develop an understanding about what a shepherd did and how he lived in the time of Jesus.
  2. To realize that Jesus is our shepherd and that he guides us and watches over us always.
  3. To become familiar with Psalm 23.

The Lesson:

Note: Use the material at Danielle's Place, under the #2 - "The Lamb of God Cup Craft."

Activities: Do one or several or find your own!  Editor notes: the synopsis of these activities...

SHEEP HERDING: -- practice herding sheep - use balloons or cotton balls as sheep. Make "rods" from drinking straws or chenille sticks or newspaper rolled up. Create a "sheep fold" with chairs or a masking tape outline on the floor.

SHEEP FEED (snack) -- bowls of bite-sized snack from which kids may wish to "graze."

SHEPHERD SAYS -- a variation on Simon Says.

HIDE AND SEEK SHEEP -- hide "sheep" around the room for students to search for and bring back to the "pen."

The following activity is from Danielle's Place. Used with permission.


Place a piece of brown paper, the same size as a newspaper on the table in front of you. On top of the brown paper, place three sheets of newspapers. Roll all three pieces together starting at one corner and rolling to the opposite corner. Tape it closed in the middle. You should only have to use one piece of tape around the middle for the whole thing. Tuck in the top and bottom points. You can secure them with a hot melt glue gun or tape. In class have your children decorate their rods anyway they want. They may want to use markers or crayons, sticker, paint, or roll tape around it to make candy cane stripes.

As the children work explain to them how important a rod was to a shepherd. In Bible times when a child was old enough to tend his father's sheep, he would be so excited to go out and look for a sapling that would be perfect to make his first rod. The sapling would be dug from the ground and then whittled down to just the right length and width to fit the child's hand. The young boy would spend hours practicing with his club, learning how to throw it fast and accurate. This was very important because the staff was the shepherd's main weapon against wild animals to protect himself and his sheep.

9. Occupations in the Time of Jesus

Purpose: To learn about what people did to make a living during Jesus’ time.

Background: Refer to our new book “Daily Life at the Time of Jesus” beginning on page 46 to get information on working in the fields, domestic animals, the shepherd (covered in another lesson), the olive press, the blacksmith, the carpenter and the weaver. Great pictures to share with the class too. All include a bible verse that relates to or references these occupations. Interestingly this book does not include fishing as an occupation, but feel free to add it.

Activity: Chose an activity from the book “Bible Time Crafts for Kids” to illustrate one or more of the occupations.

A lesson posted by member jillkath, FCC Torrance

A volunteer moderator removed copyright material and added resource info.


  • Danielle's Place
  • The author also gleaned and expanded upon ideas from Trinity Presbyterian's lesson set "Our Jewish Roots".
  • "A Biblical Garden" by Carol Lerner, Harper Collins.
  • “Daily Life at the Time of Jesus”by Miriam Feinberg Vamosh, Abingdon Press.
  • "Bible Time Crafts for Kids" by Neva Hickerson (Compiler), Gospel Light.

A representative of reformatted this post to improve readability.

Last edited by Luanne Payne
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