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Samuel: Listening to God!

Some lessons include the story of Hannah too!

Overview of the Workshops:

  • Art: This lesson has been replaced with Anne Camp's decorating Samuel "I'm Listening" pillow cases.
    Focus: Listening to God, serving God.
  • Bible Skills & Games: Children will play several listening games.
    Focus: Learning to listen to God.
  • Cooking: Children will create Samuel’s bed snacks.
    Focus: Remembering the story, hearing God’s voice.
  • Drama: Children will explore the different characters in the story using Frozen Statue techniques.
    Focus: Learning about the characters in the story, exploring baptism.
  • Mission: Children will gather and sort Baby Shower Mission Gifts and make gift cards to go with packages.
    Focus: Serving God like Samuel
  • Video: Children will view the Nest Video “Samuel.”
    Focus: Overview of the story.
  • Music Video Idea for older children/youth added by Neil MacQueen at a later date.
  • Samuel: Listening to God Music/Movement Workshop: Blacklight Theater added by Jaymie, at a later date, is found over in the "Music & Other Workshops for Samuel" forum located here.

Scripture References:

I Samuel 1-3

Memory Verse:

“Speak Lord, I’m listening.” I Samuel 3:9


God spoke to the people in the Bible. God still speaks to us today through the Bible, through those who love us, through preachers and teachers, through Christian friends, through worship and prayer and experiences.

Background Information:

The books of I and II Samuel explore the history of Israel from the 12th Century to 10th Century B.C. These books describe Israel’s transition from a loosely organized Tribal Confederacy governed by judges to a unified monarchy. Samuel was Israel’s last and greatest judge.

After the death of Moses and the Israelites’ entry into the Promised Land, Israel was governed by judges. Judges were people with great moral character and believed to have a close connection to God. They made God’s will known to the people. Eli was a priest and judge in the town of Shiloh. The Tabernacle had become a more permanent structure, sometimes called a shrine, and was located at Shiloh. Eli served as the priest and cared for the tabernacle. Each year, the Israelites made three required pilgrimages to worship and offer sacrifices at Shiloh.

Hannah and Elakanah
Elkanah (El-KAY-nuh) was from the tribe of Levi. He had two wives – Hannah and Peninnah (Puh – NIN –uh). He greatly loved Hannah, but she was unable to have children. His second wife, Peninnah, had several children. Polygamy in these times was not considered morally wrong, however it was economically unfeasible for many. If a first wife was barren, it was common for men to take additional wives. This seems to have been the case in Elkanah’s situation. Rural families also tended to have more wives to ensure enough children were born to work the fields and because infant and childhood mortality was so high. Children in Bible times were considered to be special blessings from God (still are!). Children were a symbol of fulfillment. In contrast, childlessness in Bible times was considered a great curse and punishment from God. Hannah’s barrenness was a bitter disappointment for her. Peninnah did not help matters by constantly teasing her about her childlessness.

Each year, Elkanah’s family made the pilgrimage from their home in Ramah to Shiloh to worship and offer sacrifices for the forgiveness of their sins at the tabernacle. (The tabernacle by this time was housed at Shiloh and may have been a more permanent building than the portable building used in the wilderness.) Each year, as family members gathered, Hannah was reminded of her childless state. Her bitterness and despair over her childlessness dominated her entire life. Because of her depression, she was unable to see the blessings God had given her, such as a loving husband.

During one of these annual pilgrimages, Hannah fervently prayed for God to give her a child. In return she promised that she would give him to the Lord as a Nazirite. (A Nazirite was one who was under a special vow of separation to the Lord. Nazirites could not cut their hair, touch a dead body or drink any fermented drinks. Samson was probably the most well-known Nazirite. Samuel and John the Baptist were also dedicated similarly.) The dedication of the firstborn son was a common practice for families. However, most families “redeemed” their firstborn by bringing a special sacrifice to the tabernacle or temple. God answered Hannah’s prayer, she became pregnant and baby Samuel was born. The name Samuel means “name of God” or “asked of God.”

The dedication of Samuel
Hannah remembered her promise to God. After he was weaned (probably at about age 3-4), she took him to Eli, the priest at Shiloh, and left him in his care. Hannah’s prayer of joy and praise at Samuel’s dedication is an amazing declaration of faith and understanding of God. In this prayer, Hannah declares God to be holy, the one who sees and judges all human affairs, the one who satisfies our needs and the Master of all that happens to us. Mary’s Magnificat (in Luke 2) is modeled after Hannah’s prayer of thanksgiving in I Samuel 2.

It may be difficult for our children to understand how Hannah could “give away” her son. This did not mean that Hannah stopped loving her son; indeed, we read that each year Hannah and Elkanah journeyed to Shiloh to visit Samuel and bring him a new coat. Young children were often apprenticed to learn various careers. Samuel was groomed to replace Eli since Eli’s own sons were spoiled, unruly young men. It would have been a great honor for a young boy to serve in the tabernacle with the priest. And we also read that God blessed Hannah and Elkanah with three more sons and two daughters. God is able to answer our prayers in greater ways than we can imagine!

Relation to baptism
There are similarities between the practice of infant baptism and Samuel’s dedication to the Lord. In both instances, the parents promise to bring their children up to know and love the Lord. In our Baptismal Covenant, parents promise to nurture their children “in Christ’s holy church, that by (their) teaching and example they may be guided to accept God’s grace for themselves, to profess their faith openly, and to lead a Christian life.” The congregation also promises to “do all in your power to increase their faith, confirm their hope and perfect them in love.” Samuel’s upbringing with Eli would have surrounded him in the ways of God and groomed him for God’s service.

God calls Samuel
One night Samuel heard a voice calling out to him. Thinking it was Eli, he went and woke the old priest. After the third time, Eli finally realized that Samuel was hearing the voice of God and instructed him to say, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.” Samuel obeyed and God relayed his message. God told Samuel that Eli’s sons would not inherit the priesthood because of their evil ways. They regularly violated the regulations of the Law regarding the sacrifices. They were violent, dishonest and adulterous. While Eli rebuked his sons, he was unwilling to take the discipline further and continued to allow them to serve as priests. Because of this Eli’s sons would lose their positions. Instead, God called Samuel to serve him in a mighty way as a prophet and leader of Israel. Samuel would be the one who would take over after Eli’s death. God continued to lead the Israelites through Samuel for many years.

God calls us
Too often, adults brush children aside. Children are not expected to fully participate in worship or to understand matters of faith. This story makes clear that God speaks to willing hearts – young or old. Children as well as adults are called by God to serve. What are ways our children can listen to and serve God?

How do we hear God’s voice today? Sometimes God still speaks in an audible voice. But we also hear God’s voice through prayer, by listening or reading the Bible, through worship, by listening to sermons or Sunday school teachers, through Christian friends and parents, and through the feelings and experiences God presents us with. Children need to know that God speaks to us very clearly through His Word, the Bible. How do we show God that we are listening to him? By taking time to be still and seeking God’s voice, by talking to God and by doing what God says to do. As we grow in faith, God’s voice becomes more clear in our lives.


  • New Invitation Bible Studies, Summer 1990, Fall 1995, Graded Press; Bible Zone #6 “Hannah and Samuel” Abingdon Press, 1998; Bible Teacher’s Commentary, Lawrence O. Richards, Cook Communications, 2002; United Methodist Hymnal, United Methodist Publishing House, Nashville, Tennessee, 1989.

A lesson set from State Street UMC Bristol, VA. Updated by the Content Team

Last edited by Neil MacQueen
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Hannah, Eli, and Samuel Video Workshop


Children will watch the video “Samuel” from Nest (or two alternatives on YouTube mentioned below), learn about Hannah's promise (like their own parent's promise) and Samuel’s faithful response, and consider their own embracing of their parent's promise to dedicate them to the Lord.

Scripture References:

I Samuel, Chapters 1-3
(The video(s) is the scriptural retelling for this lesson.)

Leader Preparation:

  • Read the scripture ahead of time.
  • Read the Background information, Teaching Tips and Lesson.
  • Preview the video.
  • Gather the materials

Materials List:

  • Video: Samuel from the Animated Stories from the Bible series by Nest Entertainment (25 min). See preview on YouTube.
  • Alternatively, use the Hannah and Samuel short videos from "God's Story" series posted for free on YouTube by Crossroad Kids. Both are very good and have some life application emphasis.
  • Popcorn

Lesson Plan


Welcome the children as they prepare to watch the videos. Tell the  what they'll be seeing, doing, and learning about today.

Introduce the Story:

Post these questions on the board and tell students to "watch for the answers in the video." After viewing, go over the questions.

  1. How did Hannah learn she was going to have a son?
  2. What did Hannah promise God?
  3. What does the name Samuel mean?
  4. Did your parents make a promise to God about you?  (Yes, at your baptism. Explain the baptismal promise.)
  5. When and how will you hear God's call to serve him?

Here's a brief outline of Nest's "Samuel' video.

DVD Chapter Index:
Hannah Promised a Child
Eli's sons Steal Sacrifice
Eli is Condemned
"Hannah's Song"
Samuel is Taken to the Tabernacle to Serve the Lord
Samuel Witnesses Hophni and Phinehas Wrongdoings
Samuel is Visited by His Mother
The Lord Speaks to Samuel
=you may wish to stop here=
Samuel Tells Eli His Day of Judgment has Come
The Ark is Taken From the Tabernacle
Hophni and Phinehas are Slain and Eli Dies
Samuel Serves the Lord as a Prophet

Hand out the popcorn and a drink and start the video!

After the Video(s)

Review the questions you posted and have the students answer and discuss them.

Zero-in on the practice of infant baptism, if it is part of your tradition, and review the promise that parents make at their child's baptism.  Consult with your pastor or church's baptismal liturgy to hear what parents promise.

If your church doesn't practice infant or child baptism, it may have a "child dedication" liturgy it uses instead.


  1. Do you think Samuel could have rejected his mother's promise to dedicate him as a servant of the Tabernacle?
  2. Samuel was "asleep" and God woke him up. How can a person be "asleep to God," unaware, neglecting, and what can wake up a person's faith?
  3. What helped Samuel's decision to serve God?
  4. What words did Samuel use when the call of God came to him?    Review 1 Samuel 3:10 --The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
  5. How are YOU listening for God?  (name some of the ways)
  6. What questions does God want to ask you?
  7. How will you answer with words?  With actions?   (Tip: Write their answers for all to see under the title "Waking Up to God's Call")


Practice saying out loud the memory verse, "Speak, for your servant is listening" and then one-at-a-time, have each student say it as a prayer. Close with silence, then the words, "Lord help us listen to and serve you. Amen."

A lesson written by Jaymie Derden, State Street UMC, Bristol, VA
Update by the Content Team


Images (1)
  • mceclip0
Last edited by Wormy the Helpful Worm

Hannah and Samuel, A "Mission-focused" Lesson Idea

Our church has a "baby shower" mission project where we collect newborn needs for a local "store" that provides needed items for teenage moms.

In this lesson, our students learn the story of Hannah's dedication of her son to God, and help prepare gift tags for gifts brought in by our members.

If you don't have such a mission project, perhaps you could find a local need by speaking to a labor and delivery nurse, or women's shelter. Kids could also collect money to purchase and gift a collection of children's Bible books to mothers of newborns in your own CONGREGATION. For example, the inexpensive "ARCH" Bible storybooks from Concordia are quite good. In some churches, the children of the church participate in a child's baptism, or you could have your kids create "welcome to the family" cards for newborns in the congregation.

For the Bible Study:

If you haven't already used them, consider watching the excellent short video:  "Hannah" from the Crossroad Kids' "God's Story" series free on YouTube.  You can also watch their "Samuel" video to show what God did with her child to bring blessings to Israel.

Possible questions:

  1. How did God turn a difficult problem into a blessing?
  2. What was Hannah's response to God's goodness?
  3. What promise have your parents made to God about you?
  4. How will you honor to their promise and answer God's call to you?

Materials List:

  • Bring together all the gifts people have brought in. (Diapers are popular!)
  • Bags/baskets for sorting collections into gift bags.
  • Colored paper
  • Markers
  • Stickers

Our Baby Shower Mission Activity:

Children will sort all the collected items and place in baskets/bags. Children make cards on colored paper to send with the items.  Brainstorm and write on the board a series of "card" sentiments children can use, such as, "Welcome to God's family, little one!" and "You have big brothers and sister in Christ who will keep an eye out for you."


  1. Have children sort through all the collected items and group like items together.
  2. Place the items in bags or baskets.
  3. Have children make cards to send with the items. They may use stickers to decorate their cards.

For our closing:
Perform a "laying on of hands" blessing over the gifts/cards. This ancient tradition embodies the sense that we all work together and through the Spirit to touch other's lives with goodness.

A lesson sketch from Jaymie Derden and Neil MacQueen

Last edited by Wormy the Helpful Worm


A-Mazing Resources and Ideas for a Bible Skills and Games Workshop

The following "Maze" and "Blindfold-follow" game ideas examine the question of "how we listen and hear God's voice" in our lives -- just like Samuel did that night in the Tabernacle (1 Samuel, 3). The games includes some possible discussion questions for you to work with and adjust.

This lesson also includes a printable complex maze with discussion questions for grades 2-6. You can also "make your own maze" or have the kids make their own (suggestion below). As part of this lesson sketch, we created this printable Samuel Maze. PDF attached,

The "maze" is a metaphor for desiring to find/listen to God, to following him. Feel free to expand on that metaphor and tweak it after playing it.

Tip: After playing the maze and discussing it, have students illustrate "barriers" and "things in the way" of someone who is trying to "find their way to God," "listen to God's voice trying to answer God's call."

After playing the PDF maze, invite students to make their OWN maze with illustrations representing their own journey from child to disciple of the Lord.  QUICKLY make copies of these completed mazes on the church copier and pass them around to other students to play in class or at home.

Another a-Mazing option: Hand out copies of the attached SIMPLE  MAZE and follow its directions for a stimulating metaphor-rich discussion about listening to God and following him.


Note: We all fail and fall off the path. God doesn't "wait" for us to get to him. Instead, he is the Good Shepherd who comes looking for us and carries us home!   He is the Prodigal's Father who watches and when he sees his son when he is yet far off, comes running to welcome him home!

Children’s Bible Game: Listening to God

This game is similar to a "maze" but it's more interactive.

Form pairs. Have one person in each pair be blindfolded and lead them across the room at least 20 feet away, then return to the other side of the room.  Place several chairs as obstacles in their path.

Round 1:  Let one person guide their partner by voice. If you bump into a chair your turn is over.

Round 2: Let all pairs simultaneously try to guide their partners, listening carefully for ONLY your partner's voice. If you bump into a chair your turn is over.

Round 3: Secretly tell the guiding partner to give the wrong instructions, but change the rule that if they bump into a chair their can continue to try.

Round 4: Secretly tell the blind folded person to do the opposite of what their partner says to do.


Have some discussion in between rounds.

How easy or difficult was it to listen to your group members’ voices? How did other people’s instructions affect you? What techniques did you use to listen well?

Say: Listen to this story about a little boy who learned to listen well — and heard God’s voice.

Read aloud 1 Samuel 3:1-11.


Think of the techniques we used in our game to listen well.
How can we use some of those same techniques to listen well to God?
What will God's "voice" sound like to you?

Add your own insights and life application questions that work for your students!

Lesson ideas inspired by Jaymie Derden and updated by the Content Team


Last edited by Neil MacQueen


"Freeze Frame" Drama Workshop

Summary of Lesson Activities:
Children will explore and remember the story using the "Freeze Frame" frozen statues drama technique. They will conclude by viewing photos of their scenes and creating a "Freeze Frame" of their closing prayer.

For scripture and objectives, see above.

Preparation and Room Set Up:

  • Review the Background Information.
  • Prepare the Character and Situation "slips."
  • Set up a camera to record the "frozen poses."

General Tips for Drama:

  • You may wish to organize costumes or puppets ahead of time to cut down on a flurry of activity and possible hurt feelings. Have props ready ahead of time. This is especially important for the younger children. The older children often are very creative with props and costumes.
  • You will want to limit the amount of time the children are allowed to dress-up. (They can easily spend the entire class time selecting costumes!)
  • Be sure that all children are involved in some way. Some children are intimidated by the prospect of being on a stage. Offer them alternative roles as well as the children who do not have main parts. They can always be “sound effects” or “crowds” or stagehands to help change scenery, or video camera operators (for the older children). Remember as well that children can draw the backdrop for the drama on the blackboard or videotape the plays (older children).
  • To eliminate competition, you may wish to place the names of characters in a hat and have children choose their parts.
  • Be sure to explain the activity to the children and ask for questions.
  • Even though making a video or taking photos of the drama may seem unnecessary, it seems to encourage better behavior from the children, and a desire to "try again." Reviewing them afterwards is also a great way to reinforce content and ask follow questions!
  • Have fun and make this fun for the children!
  • The purpose of the drama workshop is not to create a polished performance. Expect some goofiness and use imperfections as discussion points.

Lesson Plan


Welcome the children give them a simple overview of today's activities and what you hope they will learn.

Stand in a circle and practice some freeze poses:

Fall asleep
Snore loudly
Hear a voice
Wake up suddenly
Look Afraid
Listen intently, now more intently!
Show "wonder," "amazement," "caution," "resolve" (sureness)

Pose your reaction to"Jesus walking into our classroom RIGHT NOW!"
Pose your reaction to "Jesus pointing at you and saying, "YOU -- come and follow me."


Introduce today's story by saying the following:
Many, many years before Jesus was born and after the people of Israel settled into the Promised Land, they were led by important religious leaders called judges. Judges were very strong, moral religious leaders who helped the people understand God’s messages. One of the greatest judges during this time was Samuel. This is his story…

Call-of-Samuel-Arch-BooksYounger Children:
Use a Bible storybook that has the Call of Samuel in it. Concordia Publishing's Arch Book Series has a very nice (and very inexpensive book titled "The Lord Calls Samuel."  It's also available as an e-book.

Video Options:

To include God's promise to Hannah, consider showing Saddleback Kids' Slapstick Theater presentation of "Hannah and God" at

For Samuel's Call, consider showing Saddleback Kids' "God Speaks to Samuel" short video:

Memory Verse:  “Speak Lord, I’m listening.” I Samuel 3:9

Reflection Questions for All Grades (Adjust Accordingly)

  • What did Hannah pray for? (to have a child)
  • Does God always answer prayers? (Yes, just not always the way we want!)
  • Why is prayer so important? (it brings us closer to God, God wants to know about us and share our joys and concerns with God)
  • Why did Hannah bring Samuel to the Tabernacle to Eli the priest? (to fulfill her promise to God)
  • What promises have YOUR parents made to God about you? (They did so at your baptism.)

  • How do your parents help you grow to love and serve God?
  • How does our church help you grow to love and serve God?
  • How did Hannah show that she loved Samuel after he went to live with Eli? (made him a new coat and brought it to him every year)
  • Who spoke to Samuel one night? (God)
  • What message did God give Samuel? (Eli’s sons would not inherit the priesthood)
  • How does God talk to us? (through prayer, Bible, preachers, teachers, parents, Christian friends)
  • How do we know what God wants us to do? (above)

Let's Freeze Frame the Story!

If you've never used this technique before, take a look at's "Freeze Frame" Drama Technique page.

The following version of "Freeze Frame" has kids "sculpting each other" into poses. See more options on the Freeze Frame technique page.

Characters/Situations to Freeze Frame:

Print or write these on individual slips of paper and place in a basket.

  1. Hannah is upset because she doesn’t have a child.
  2. Elkanah tries to comfort Hannah.
  3. Peninnah teases Hannah because she has no children.
  4. Hannah prays to God for a child.
  5. Eli listens to Hannah praying and thinks she is drunk.
  6. Eli talks to Hannah.
  7. Hannah has a baby.
  8. Hannah cares for Samuel.
  9. Hannah dedicates Samuel to the Lord.
  10. Eli cares for Samuel.
  11. Samuel hears God calling.
  12. Eli tells Samuel to answer God.
  13. Samuel grows up to be a mighty prophet.


  • Divide children into pairs.
  • One child is the sculptor and one is the clay.
  • Have each pair select a character and situation from the basket.
  • Give each group 1-2 minutes to think about how they will demonstrate their character/situation. Have them think about the following questions:

a. Who is this character?
b. What was happening in this part of the story?
c. How did the characters feel?

  • The clay should be silent while being sculpted. The sculptor will pose the clay in an appropriate pose for the character selected. For example: If the character is Hannah at the Temple, the sculptor might pose the clay in a kneeling position, praying. The clay may move to show an action, but then must freeze at the end and wait for the audience to guess who and what part of the story is being dramatized.
  • One at a time, have the groups come forward. The rest of the group must try to guess who the character is and what part of the story is being dramatized.
  • Have each group take turns dramatizing all the characters and situations. Be sure to have the shepherd take pictures!
  • Pause to discuss the situations between dramatizations.
  • When all the situations have been dramatized, have the children sequence the character slips so that the story is told in order.

Modifications for K-1:
Divide the children into pairs – sculptors and clay. Instead of drawing characters from a basket, call out the characters and the situations. Call them out in order to help the children remember the correct story sequence. Have children take turns being the sculptors and the clay.


Show your Freeze Frame Photos. Have students say what part of the story it is from and what's happening. Add insights and any final reflection you may want to include.

Take a group photo of your kids "freeze framing" their gratitude that God calls them too just like he called Samuel.

A lesson written by Jaymie Derden from: State Street UMC Bristol, VA, and updated by the Content Team


Images (1)
  • Call-of-Samuel-Arch-Books
Last edited by Neil MacQueen


Cooking Workshop Lesson Sketch: "Wake-up Samuel!" Foods

Summary of Activities:

Students will enjoy several healthy breakfast foods that are healthy metaphors for waking up to God's call and starting our day off right.

In this "wake up to serve the Lord" meal-making exercise, allow students to choose what they prefer and try new tastes as a 'memory hook' for your content and focal point for asking questions.

See the Bible Background for scripture passages and additional information.

Consider using a Bible storybook with illustrations, or a short video of the story to help tell it.

Use the food activity to reinforce and ask key questions.

Supplies List:

  • Cold pitcher of water and cups for students
  • Instant Oatmeal packets, one per student
  • Bowls and spoons
  • Hot water to mix in oatmeal
  • Brown sugar and a variety of cut fruits to mix into oatmeal
  • Granola mix with chopped/smashed M&M candies
  • Peanut butter to mix into the granola to make the "manna" snack
  • Bananas as an alternative or addition to the peanut butter (form granola with mashed banana)
  • Plastic wrap to package the granola as a take-home "Wake up" snack
  • Beanbag or small pillow for closing game
  • Small doll or figurine in a "bed" (box) to represent Samuel in the closing game

Lesson Sketch


Welcome the children and introduce yourself. Explain what they will be doing during the workshop and what you hope they will learn.

Prayer: Please begin your class with prayer each week. Pray your own or use the prayer printed below.

Play the "Telephone Game" with lines from today's story:
Gather the children in a circle and tell them that you are going to whisper in the ear of the child sitting next to you. That child will then whisper what they heard to the person next to them. This should continue around the circle. The last person in the circle should say aloud what they heard. Play music softly in the background to keep the children from overhearing someone other than the person whispering in their ear.

When you are sure everyone understands, whisper these lines from today's scripture:

  1. The boy Samuel served the Lord by helping Eli the priest.
  2. One night Eli, heard someone calling, “Samuel!”
  3. Samuel got up and went to Eli. “Here I am. Did you call me?”
  4. End with: “Samuel said, ‘Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.’"

After the sentence has traveled around the circle and the last child has said aloud what they heard, tell them what you had whispered. Correct them (or have them try again).

When all four sentences have been used, S-L-O-W-L-Y repeat each line while the students say them along with you.


  1. What would be your FIRST reaction if you thought you heard God's voice waking you up in the middle of the night?
  2. What do you think God would want to wake YOU up about?  Praise? Change? Warning? Comfort? Help?
  3. How would you know it was God's voice?
    (This is a tough one, but if you had been studying God's message in the Bible, and been praying to God, you would probably know his voice.  God would also likely give you a confirmation, assurance in your heart, that you had heard him.)

Tell the Story:

Introduce the story and begin sharing it using either an illustrated storybook or short video.

Our story today is about a boy named Samuel. Samuel lived many years before Jesus was born. Let's read/see his story! Samuel means “name of God” or “asked of God”. Samuel’s parents were Hannah and Elkanah. Hannah had been childless, and she had let it bother her so much that she was unable to see the blessings God had given her, such as her loving husband.

Every year Elkanah’s family traveled to the Tabernacle at Shiloh, to worship and offer sacrifices to God for the forgiveness of their sins. During one of these trips, Hannah fervently prayed for God to give her a child.
She promised that she would dedicate her child to God.

After the story is presented, discuss the following:

  • Why was Hannah upset? (she did not have any children)
  • Why did Hannah and Elkanah visit the Tabernacle each year? (required by law, to make a sacrifice so that they could be forgiven for their sins – contrast this with how we are forgiven through Jesus!)
  • What happened when Hannah and Elkanah went to the Tabernacle? (she prayed to God to give her a son)
  • How did Hannah feel after she prayed? (she felt a sense of peace, was no longer troubled)
  • How was Hannah’s prayer answered? (she had a son, Samuel)
  • Does God always answer prayers? (Yes, just not always the way we want!)

Foods to Wake Up Samuel!  (and energize God's servants for the day)

  • Ask:  What did God do to wake up Samuel and call him to become his prophet?
  • Have you ever heard God's voice out loud?  What do you think it would sound like?
  • What do you think God said to Samuel? Called him to do? Become?   And do you think God is calling YOU to do the same?

Things to share:

  • Most people don't hear God's voice, they FEEL IT in their heart, or hear God's voice speaking through prayer, scripture, songs, and feelings.  What do you think God's voice makes you FEEL like ? (accept any answers)
  • Sometimes we say we "hear" God's voice when someone else is speaking. We say it is like God was "speaking to me through" that person or through that song. Has that ever happened to you? (accept any answers)
  • Sometimes we say we "hear God speaking" when we experience something beautiful that feels like a message. For example, a beautiful sunset after a day of trouble.  Or a feeling of comfort that comes over you after a walk in the woods or the appearance of a good friend when you were feeling sad.   Has that ever happened to you? (accept any answers)


Sometimes, God's voice feels like a cool glass of water when your heart is thirsty.

Raise your hand if you feel a bit brain groggy and foggy in the morning/
Did you know that plain old water first thing can help you wake up faster? It’s estimated that a person loses about half a quart to full quart of water during an eight-hour night of sleep because at night you perspire and also because your body releases water into your bladder.  That's almost a pound of water weight lost overnight leaving you mildly dehydrated. And when that happens, your body doesn’t have enough water to carry out normal functions, like energizing muscles and brain. So let's start off with some water. And by the way, if you find yourself nodding off at school mid-afternoon, or feeling tired after running around on the playground or playing with friends, a glass of water can really help.

Ask as you distribute cold water:
How is water used in the Bible?
Jesus described himself as "Living Water."  What do people spiritually thirst for? How does Jesus quench that thirst and revive our spirit?


A classic bowl of oats is still one of the best things you can eat early in the morning. It’s an energy powerhouse thanks to its low (slow) glycemic index—a measure of how quickly the body absorbs carbohydrates and turns them into fuel. Oatmeal is slow burning, so it’ll keep you running all morning without causing you to crash and burn in a couple of hours like overly sweet foods and drinks can.  It can also be customized with many different ingredients to suit the eater's taste -- which can also have some fun meaning/memory hooks attached to them. If they need to add some brown sugar to get them to try it, don't be a sugar-nazi. This activity is primarily to remind them of the story and reflect on waking up to God's call like Samuel did.

As you demonstrate preparing a bowl of oatmeal, share these thoughts. Then let students prepare their own!

When you wake up in the morning, wake up your FAITH & SPIRIT TOO! God's voice is the energy that wakes up your sense of joy and gratitude for another day of life. God wakes up your sense of purpose and readies you to be loving and forgiving in the day ahead, rather than being tired, groggy, and foggy. 

Ask as students mix and taste their own Wake Up Cereal:

  1. Do you remember the story of God providing Moses and the Israelites "manna" to feed them in the wilderness?

    What basic things does a person need to be a follower of God every day?  (love, compassion, perseverance, Word, etc)
  2. What are some of the "sweet things" God puts into our days that allow us to enjoy our lives?  (a sense of purpose, friends, learning, rest, etc.)


There are many no bake "make your own" granola bar recipes. Most are as simple as mixing dry granola with peanut butter or bananas, along with sweet ingredients, like smashed M&Ms.  Let the children choose what to include. Turn each ingredient into a reminder, a talking point for the things we can do, listen to, and read (and not do!) in order to follow God all day long.  Eat some and wrap some to take home.

Our bodies need to wake up and get energized for the day, but they also need refueled during the day too.

When do you start to get hungry during the day?  What are your favorite snacks that reenergize you?

In the same way, though Samuel heard God's wake up call, it wouldn't be the last call or fuel Samuel needed to serve God. Samuel would many times turn to God and God's Word to find purpose for his life and listen for God's voice. Eventually, God would tell Samuel to "go get Israel a king!" ...first Saul, and the King David.

How many of you know the story of God giving Moses and the Israelites "manna from heaven"?  (Let the retell if if they can and fill in as needed.)

Briefly retell this Exodus wilderness miracle story, then begin making "manna" granola we can snack on to keep our energy up for following and serving God today.


Play "Wake Up Samuel." 
Put dry oatmeal or granola into a sealed bag and use it as a "bean bag" to toss at a future of Samuel sleeping in his bed at the Tabernacle. You may otherwise toss a small pile or bean bag.

If the thrower's bag touches Samuel, everyone shouts "Wake Up Samuel!"

Close with a pray that each of us would "wake up and hear God's voice calling us to......"

A lesson sketch by Neil MacQueen based on a concept by Jaymie Derden

Last edited by Wormy the Helpful Worm

Instead of the dream catchers, we used an idea from the "ideas, not full lesson sets" forum and decorated pillow cases. Some of our teens report that they STILL use the pillow cases they made over five years ago!


Here's the way we modified State Street's Art Workshop lesson posted above...

Samuel's Call

Art Workshop: Making Samuel Pillow Cases


The children will use fabric markers to decorate a pillow case that will remind them that God spoke to Samuel in his dreams to call him into service, and God calls us too in many ways to follow him.

For scripture and objectives, see original lesson above.

Preparation and Room Set-Up:

  • Review background information, teaching tips and lesson materials.
  • Gather necessary supplies (see end of lesson)
  • Cover the tables

Teaching tips:

  • In an unusual form of prayer, God sometimes speaks to Biblical people in their dreams or, as to Samuel, in the moments while he was lying in bed. Notable examples are Jacob and Joseph (in Genesis), Daniel, and Joseph in Matthew’s nativity narrative. John of Patmos reveals his many visions in Revelation. Occasionally prophets warn against misinterpretation of dreams, however, so listening carefully for God’s word is important (Jer. 23:28; Deut. 13:2-6)
  • Each student uses fabric markers to decorate a pillow case. By first creating the design on an 11x17 piece of paper, and then inserting the paper inside the case, the students can realize the most success in tracing their own designs.

Time guidelines:

  • Welcome and introductions 10 minutes
  • Bible Study 15 minutes
  • Pillow Cases 30 minutes
  • Closing 5 minutes

Supplies List:

  • Pillow case for each student
  • Fabric markers
  • Poster board or shirt cardboard (to put inside the pillow case to prevent the markers from bleeding through to the back of the pillow case)
  • 11x17 paper for each student (may consider printing with “I’m listening, Lord. What do you want me to do? I Samuel 3:9" ) Students may choose to trace the letters. (Use only “I’m listening, Lord.” with K-2 students.)
  • Book of Christian symbols such as Symbols of Faith by Marcia Stoner, Abingdon Press (September 2001) ISBN-10: 0687094755 ISBN-13: 978-0687094752
  • Students may choose symbols to decorate their pillow cases. A very successful method is to have the students draw the symbols in a dark color on their 11x17 paper, place the paper inside the pillow case on top of the posterboard, and trace the letters and the symbol onto the pillow case.

Lesson Plan


Welcome all children and introduce yourself. Explain that we will be exploring how God speaks to us, especially in our dreams, and decorating pillow cases.

Ask children about their dreams: do they remember them? do they imagine they can learn from them?

Explain that many people feel God speaks to them at night in their prayers and in their dreams. When you dream, your brain goes through many stages, and in some of those stages you can think of things -- and remember them when you awake.  Joseph learned in a dream that Mary was going to give birth to Jesus, for example. And Jacob dreamed he was at a place where angels came and went into heaven. Joseph was a famous interpreter of dreams -- helping Pharaoh, for example, understand the strange dreams he was having about hippos.

Describe and Show an Illustration of the Tabernacle

Explain what happened there. Explain that it was a movable worship space used by Moses and the Israelites which would later be built out of stone and wood by King David and Solomon in the city of Jerusalem. Explain that Samuel was a young boy who lived near the Tabernacle and was a helper to a priest named Eli who served there -- and it was there that Samuel heard God's call to be his servant.

Explain that Samuel would one day receive a message from God to go find the next king of Israel, David.

Image attached!



  • Explain that a man and woman named Elkanah and Hannah did not have any children.
  • Every year they traveled to the Tabernacle in Shiloh to make a sacrifice and pray to God for the forgiveness of their sins. Hannah was always sad about not being able to have children.
  • The priest at the Tabernacle was Eli.
  • Eli heard Hannah praying very hard, asking God to give her a son. She made a promise to God that if He gave her a son, she would dedicate her son to the Lord.
  • God did in fact bless Hannah with a son and Hannah followed through with her promise. She named her son Samuel which means “asked of God.” Hannah kept Samuel with her until he no longer needed her to nurse him and then she took him to Eli.
  • Even though Samuel was very young, she knew that he should serve the Lord in Shiloh at the Tabernacle, and study with the priest, Eli.
  • Hannah and Elkanah would visit Samuel as often as they could, but Samuel stayed with Eli and learned how he should serve the Lord.

Bible Study

Samuel lived many years before Jesus. Where would we find his story in the Bible? (Old Testament)

Younger students: Let’s find his story in our Bible story book now. [Help the children locate 1 Samuel, chapter 3. Read or paraphrase the text.]

Older students: We can read about Samuel in the books of the Bible that are named after him: I and II Samuel. These are books of history. Let’s find the story in our Bibles now. Help the children locate 1 Samuel 3: 1-21. Read as the children follow along (or ask a volunteer to read.)

[In later workshops, use the pictures or Bible headings as cues for the children to tell the story.]

So Eli continued to teach Samuel about the priesthood until he died. Samuel followed God’s will throughout his life. He became a great prophet.

Memory Verse:
I'm listening, LORD. What do you want me to do? I Samuel 3:9 (Contemporary English Version)

Discussion Questions:

  1. Why was Hannah so sad when she went to pray at the Tabernacle? (she could not have children)
  2. When she went to the Tabernacle one year, she first made a sacrifice to God for the forgiveness of her sins. Then she asked God for something. What did she want so badly? (a child)
  3. How was Hannah’s prayer answered? (she had a son, Samuel)
  4. Does God always answer prayers? (Yes, just not always the way we want!)
  5. Why is prayer so important? (it brings us closer to God, God wants to know us and share in our joys and concerns)
  6. Why did Hannah bring Samuel to the Tabernacle to Eli the priest? (to fulfill her promise to God.)
  7. How did Hannah show that she loved Samuel after he went to live with Eli? (she visited him as often as she could, and made him a new coat every year)
  8. How do your parents help you grow to love and serve God?
  9. Who spoke to Samuel one night? (God)
  10. What message did God give Samuel? (Eli’s sons would not inherit the priesthood)
  11. How does God talk to us? (through prayer, Bible, preachers, teachers, parents, Christian friends)
  12. How do we know what God wants us to do? (above)

Samuel’s Pillow Cases (Grades K-5)
The moments before we fall asleep can play an important role in our lives. We’re going to make pillow cases with Samuel’s response to God on them to remind us to listen for God as we lie in bed.

a sample Samuel pillow case       another sample pillow case

Samples of children's pillow cases.

Click on the photos to see images in a larger size.

Advanced Preparation:

  1. Cover all tables.
  2. Set out supplies.
  3. Prepare 11x17 sheet for each student.


Clean up: Gather all supplies and encourage each child to clean his/her own work area.

Gather the children together before leaving. Review with them one word or concept from today’s session. Suggestions include: listening, dreams, hearing God’s word, obeying God. Ask for prayer requests and pray together.

Closing prayer idea:
Lord, you create each day – you also make the night.
As we lay our heads on these pillow cases,
come upon us with quietness and help us be still.
Open our hearts to the whisper of your Spirit;
help us pay attention to your nearness in our dreams.
When morning comes, help us rise with new life,
open our mouths with your praise
so that we may show Christ to the world each day of our lives.

A lesson written by Anne Camp from: Shadyside Presbyterian
Pittsburgh PA


Images (4)
  • Samuel pillow case
  • Samuel pillow case #2
  • Tabernacle-Samuel
  • Samuel-Pillow-Lesson
Last edited by Wormy the Helpful Worm

For older children and youth, and your own learning and enjoyment...

How Does God Speak to Us Today?

Mike "Big Daddy" Weaver discusses and sings about the time God spoke to him in his garage.

In one of her lessons above, the writer asks "how does God speak to us today?" It's an important and profound question that needs answered, and more importantly personally witnessed to. Most Christians eventually feel "spoken to" by God in some way shape or form, but may need help identifying the when and how of that conversation.

For me, it has happened in many ways and times, including an answer during a cold winter walk that literally flooded me with a warmth that still ebbs and flows within me to this day. And though I laughed at the time, I'll never forget the life-changing sound one of my confirmands clearly heard as God's answer to him during a doubting moment that eventually led him to the mission field. God works in mysterious ways for sure.

So when I heard Mike "Big Daddy" Weaver's interview about hearing God in his garage -- and using that conversation as the inspiration for one of his best songs, I listened.

Watch: "Jesus Came Into My Garage"  with Big Daddy Mike Weaver and watch his band perform the song it inspired.

The first half of this ten minute video is his testimony during one of his concerts about trying to lose weight, falling short, and going to God in despair. Then God spoke to him in his garage, telling Mike what he liked about him.  It's a powerful testimony about self-esteem, how we can feel like a failure, and how God speaks to us, redeems us, -especially through our troubles.

The second part of the video is his performance of Big Daddy Weave's #1 hit, "Redeemed," which is one of my favorite songs. You can see a lyrics video of it here. Hope you enjoy it. Older children and youth can learn a lot from it.

I am redeemed, You set me free
So I'll shake off theses heavy chains
And wipe away every stain now I'm not who I used to be
I am redeemed
I'm redeemed
All my life I have been called unworthy
Named by the voice of my shame and regret
But when I hear You whisper, "Child lift up your head"
I remember oh God, You're not done with me yet

(The video clip was posted on James Robison's YouTube channel, but is all Big Daddy. )

Last edited by Wormy the Helpful Worm

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