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Storytelling and Science Lessons, Ideas, and Activities for Teaching the Story of Joseph in Sunday School

Post your storytelling and science Sunday School lessons, ideas, and activities for the Joseph Story here.

Joseph, Egypt, Pharaoh, Joseph's Brothers, Coat of Many Colors, Well, Potiphar, Dreams, etc.
 
Bible lessons and ideas about Joseph  -with science experiments, demonstrations, object lessons, magic tricks, presentations, etc.
 
Use the "Post Reply" button below to post your storytelling and science Joseph's Story lessons, ideas, and activities for Sunday School.
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Joseph in Canaan  joseph

Science Workshop

Summary of Lesson Activities:
The children will learn the story of Joseph. They will then use two experiments to explore how Joseph’s brothers were feeling. They will observe how friction creates heat just like friction in a family can make situations “hot.” They will then observe how carbon dioxide bubbles can be “ignited” and explode when the right object is added to a Diet Coke; similarly, we "explode" when too many annoying things happen to us.

Scripture Reference:
Genesis 37:1-36; 39:1-6b

Memory Verse:
"We know that all things work together for good for those who love God."  Romans 8:28a (NRSV)

Key Concepts and Life Application
The children will:

  • Identify Genesis as the first book in the Old Testament; locating the story in Genesis.
  • Retell the story in their own words – identifying story characters and their feelings.
  • Explain how jealousy erupted in Joseph’s family. Learn how feelings can grow inside us and make us feel like we are going to explode.
  • Understand that God loves us and is never separated from us, that he is always there to help us through any situation.

Leader Preparation:

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


Supply List:

  • Bibles – minimally one for every two children. See Arrival Setup.
  • Yeah and Boo Melodrama originally written by Steve and Brenda Klusmeyer. Find an adaptation of this melodrama by Cathy Weygandt here. (Scroll down to the Drama Workshop).
  • YEAH-H-H and BOO-O-O signs, one each on different color cardstock.
  • Whiteboard and markers

Friction Experiment 

  • Styrofoam cups (will need 2 per each group of 3-4 students)
  • Sand to fill cups
  • Instant read kitchen thermometer with metal probe
  • Masking or duct tape
  • Optional, egg timer that ticks.

Mentos Geyser Demonstration

  • 2-liter Diet Coke (one per class session)
  • One tube of Mentos (one per class session)
  • Use a test tube or a piece of paper rolled into a tight tube to insert the Mentos into the soda bottle 
  • Small piece of card stock (size of a playing card) to serve as the "plug"
  • Rain poncho for teacher

 

Filler Materials: Sticky Verse

  • Craft sticks: 4 sets of craft sticks. Each set should contain one stick with the following:

• We know
• that God
• is always
• at work
• for the good
• of everyone
• who loves him.



Presentation 

Opening:
Greet the children and introduce yourself. Wear your nametag. The Shepherd will be taking care of attendance, etc. This can all happen quietly while you are starting your lesson. Have students come in and sit in a circle on the floor.

Overview:
Say:  Let’s take a quick poll. (You may want to record on the whiteboard.)

Raise your hand if you are the only child in your family. Count.
Raise your hand if you are the oldest child in your family. Count.
Raise your hand if you are the youngest. Count.
Raise your hand if you are somewhere in the middle. Count.

Say:  We all know it’s hard to live with brothers and sisters, especially when everyone wants his or her own way. Today, we’re going to see how hot families can get when brothers and sisters start to rub each other the wrong way. 

Dig:

Bible Story:
Distribute Bibles to each child or every two children.
Say:  We are learning about Joseph and his relationship with his brothers.
Ask:  Where in the Bible would we find this story? (Old Testament, Genesis)
Have the students find the book of Genesis, chapter 37, verse 1, in their Bibles. Make sure it is noted that Genesis is the first book in the Old Testament.

Note: Even though you’ll be telling the story to the students, the exercise of finding the story is still important. We will do this every week.

Say:  Today, I’m going to read you a different version of this story and you are going to provide some sound effects. I will read a short part of the story. If something good is happening, say “YEAH-H-H.” If something bad is happening, say “BOO-O-O.”

Read the following story, pausing between sections to allow the children to respond appropriately with YEAH-H-H or BOO-O-O). For younger ages, you may want to ask the shepherd to hold up the YEAH-H-H or BOO-O-O signs to guide them.

Use the Yeah and Boo Melodrama originally written by Steve and Brenda Klusmeyer. Find an adaptation of this melodrama by Cathy Weygandt here--scroll down to the Drama Workshop (If link goes dead, use SEARCH on Yeah Boo.)

Say:  Earlier we talked about families rubbing each other the wrong way.
Ask:  What things in the story about Joseph and his brother show that they rubbed each other the wrong way?
Say:  Friction is the term describing two things rubbing against each other. When two people don’t get along, they are said to create “friction.” Today, we're going to do an experiment to see if things really do get hotter when they rub each other.

Friction Experiment

Divide the children into two or more teams of 3-4 children each. You need at least two teams. Give each team 2 styrofoam cups--one of these is filled about 3/4 full with clean sand.

Help each team take the starting temperature of the sand by putting the thermometer probe in the center of the cup (don’t touch the sides). Record each temperature on the white board.

Put the empty styrofoam cup on top of the filled one (rim to rim, not stacked). Use masking tape or duct tape to hold them together. Give each team five minutes to shake their containers. Ask them to be careful not to let any sand escape.

Set a ticking timer to make the competition more suspenseful. You could also play some music. When the time is up, help each team take the temperature of their agitated cup of sand. They can do this by sticking the metal probe straight through the cup and into the sand. The team that creates the most heat in its cup of sand is the winner! (No prizes)

Ask:  What caused the sand to get hotter? Accept all answers but get the kids to understand that it was because the sand was rubbing against other grains of sand.
What caused Joseph’s brothers to get hot? Accept answers.

Say:  Often, when we get rubbed the wrong way, we get hot! Not physically but emotionally.
When someone bothers you, do you feel hot? Feel like you are going to explode?
Let’s go outside and discuss this further.

Here is a link to a short video explaining how to do the Mentos Geyser experiment. If this link goes dead you should easily be able to find another.


Mentos Geyser Demonstration
Take the children outside--make sure it is a space that is safe from cars, etc. And make sure that it isn't too close to anything that you don't want to be splashed!  Put on the poncho, if desired. 

Hold up the 2-liter bottle of soda.
Ask:  Have you ever shaken up a bottle of soda? What happened? Why?
Explain:  This bottle of Diet Coke is like the brothers. Inside, the brothers were bubbling! When they saw Joseph coming, they felt like they were going to explode.
Let’s let the Diet Coke represent the brothers. In this tube, I am going to put seven Mentos mints. They represent how the brothers felt about Joseph: Put a Mentos in the tube as you say each of the following:

  • Joseph is a tattletale!
  • Joseph is spoiled!
  • Joseph got a coat and I didn’t!
  • Why does Father like Joseph best?
  • Why doesn’t Joseph have to take care of the sheep?
  • Joesph thinks he’s better than we are!
  • Joseph even thinks he’s better than his Father and Mother!


Then they see Joseph coming. They are bubbling inside. They aren’t thinking clearly. They are just reacting. So Joseph comes into their camp and they react!
Ask the children to step back!
Put the cardstock "plug" on top of the tube. Turn it upside down on the Diet Coke bottle opening. Remove the "plug". Be prepared to move back quickly as the Diet Coke shoots into the air!
Ask:  How did the brothers explode? Accept answers.

Explain:  In our experiment, the bubbles in the soda were attracted to the Mentos. It turns out that Mentos are very bumpy so there are lots of places for the bubbles to form. But the bubbles want to go to the top of the soda and the Mentos wants to go to the bottom. So more and more bubbles keep forming and WHAM! The soda blasts!
The brothers were bubbling too. When Joseph walked into the camp, they reacted. They didn’t think.
Go back inside.

Reflecting:
Say:  Joseph’s brothers were frustrated, jealous, and angry. Just like the sand, Joseph rubbed them the wrong way. Just like the soda, they were feeling the need to explode.
Ask:  We all feel that way sometimes. What are some things you can do to remain calm instead of getting hot or exploding? Accept answers. Offer suggestions (talk to an adult or friend, count to 10, go off by yourself).

Say:  Because God is with us, we can always turn to him. We can pray. We can read the Bible. We can recite verses that we’ve memorized. All of these things can help us when we are frustrated, jealous, or angry.
Let’s say a prayer asking God to help us when we have trouble controlling ourselves.

Filler Time (Use only if you need it): Sticky Verses
If you have time, use the following to help the children learn the Bible verse.
Divide the class into three or four groups. If using just three groups, remove one set of sticks.
Mix all the sticks up and distribute seven to each team. They will get duplicates.
Have groups arrange the sticks they have in the verse order.
Pick one stick they don’t need (hopefully a duplicate) and pass to group on their right. Play continues until a group has the entire verse in order.
Repeat as necessary.


This lesson was created by Ann L. Wright, Children’s Ministry Director, Saint Andrews Presbyterian Church, Raleigh, NC

References

  • Yea/Boo Melodrama
    Kusmeyer, Steve and Brenda. "Joseph, The Dreamer: Storytelling." October,2002. (The original version is no longer on this site.)
  • Friction Experiment
    Ferdinandsen, Caroline. Fun Science That Teaches God's Word for Tweens. Colorado Springs, CO: © David C. Cook, 2008.
  • Friction Experiment:  Integrated Science at Home blog
  • Mentos Geyser Demonstration
    Spangler, Steve. Naked Eggs and Flying Potatoes: Unforgettable Experiments That Make Science Fun. Austin, TX: Greenleaf Book Group, 2010. Print.

A lesson written by Ann Wright from: St. Andrews Church.
Raleigh, NC

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Last edited by CreativeCarol

I will be leading a small, multi-aged group of children whose parents are preparing to serve as missionaries for the United Methodist Church.  Your materials on discord within the family (though it may be parents rather than brothers) and the emphasis on God always being with us and always working for the good seem like just what we need.

Editor's note:
Member @Jaymie Derden sent us these two science (demonstration) experiments that illustrate Joseph's rejection by and forgiveness of his brothers.

In addition to demonstrating these experiments, you will want to teach your students to perform them at home AND be able to connect them to the principles in the Bible story.


1. Repelling, pushing away & bringing together, welcoming back

Pepper sprinkled on pan of water is repelled to the edge when a piece of soap touches the center of the water (breaks the surface tension).

Sprinkling sugar attracts the pepper back to the middle again.

What repels others? attracts?
What tools does God give us to be forgiving?
Which is Joseph like in this demonstration?
Jesus?

Demonstrate Joseph's rejection-forgiveness

See this demonstrations nicely described at Fun on a Dime's website
Images courtesy of funonadime.net, used with permission.


2. Magic Toothpick - What sinks the toothpicks? Causes them to scatter on the water?

What destroys the bonds between brothers? friends? Christians, nations?

In this experiment, touching the water inside the square of toothpicks -with a toothpick that has been dipped in soap, destroys the (surface tension) bond.

toothpick-trick

For details, see Floating Toothpick Trick (Kiwicrate is a maker of science toys/experiments packages). Their page has a good walk through and explanation (and a short video), as does www.kidzone

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Last edited by CreativeCarol

Here are two science demonstrations about color and absorption. The water is absorbed, leaving the color changes. God uses our experiences to change and transform us.

Supplies:

  • clear plastic shoe boxes/containers with low sides – 1 per every 3-4 children
  • water based markers
  • clear plastic cups - 3 cups for every 3-4 children
  • white paper towels (thicker ones work better)
  • food coloring (blue & yellow show up best)
  • Pitchers of water
  • Table coverings

 
Advanced Preparations:

  1. Cover  tables with plastic tablecloths.
  2. Set out the cups and pitchers of water. You will need one set of three cups for every 3-4 children.
  3. Divide the markers into containers (lids to containers work well, or foam plates) and set out on tables within easy reach of each group of 3-4 children.
  4. Tear sections of paper towels and set aside. You’ll need one section for every 3-4 children for the first experiment, 1 sheet for every pair of children for second experiment.
  5. Make a sample sheet with marker dots to show children.

 
Walking Water #1
Source: allforkids tv season 4 episode 37 absorbing science (link removed - site no longer active)

Introduce the Activity:
Say: Today we’re going to do 2 demonstrations with water and color to remind us that God goes with us, just as God was with Joseph. God's presence changes us and transforms us.

Directions:

  1. Place two cups next to each other.
  2. Fill one cup with water and have children stir in several drops of food dye. Be sure the water is dark.
  3. Roll up a paper towel and demonstrate how to place one end in the cup with water and the other in the empty cup beside it.
  4. The blue water will travel up the paper towel and into the empty cup…eventually both cups will have the same amount of blue water!
  5. Next try the experiment with two colors.
  6. Give each child a third cup with water and add yellow food coloring. 
  7. Roll a second paper towel. Place one end in the new cup and the other end in the middle cup. The middle cup should have one end of each towel in it.
  8. As the colored water is absorbed in the towel it travels up and then into the middle cup. The two original colors combine to make a third color (yellow + blue make green).

    This experiment takes a little time. While the water is “walking, “ perform the second demonstration:walking water 1


    Walking Water #2
    Directions:

    1. Give each pair of children a section of paper towel.
    2. Show children the sample paper towel sheet with marker dots, prepared ahead of time.
    3. Have children work together using the markers to make a line of dots about 2 fingers up from the bottom of the paper towel. Fold the top of the paper towel over the container so the dots are inside the container but not resting on the bottom.
    4. Slowly pour in some water until it just covers the bottom of the bottom of the paper towel – not covering the marker dots.
    5. Watch carefully as the water slowly travels up the paper towel toward the dots. What happens when the water reaches the dots? (the color in the dots starts to rise and spread). Eventually the water will move through the entire sheet of paper towel.

    walking water 2

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Last edited by Luanne Payne

Joseph Story-Drama and/or Art Workshop

View and print the attached PDF of the lesson

Summary:

  • Scripture: Genesis 41-42
  • Focus: A retelling with props from Joseph's Story.


Activities:
 The attached lesson PDF has a narrator's or storyteller's script for retelling the story of Joseph. It includes the use of numerous props and invites students to come forward and uncover them as the story is told. The props are good visual hooks for the different scenes of the story.

Suggestions:  With some simple additions and edits, the storyteller's script could easily be ACTED OUT by small groups of students who walk forward with the props and take on the roles described in the story. The storyteller would "direct" them in the creative walk-through.

Following the storytelling, the PROPS could be used to play a story-memory game by putting the props in the correct order.

As well, the storytelling script could form the basis of an ART project in which representations of each prop created by the students were glued together to form a story collage. 



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

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Joseph "Science" Workshop

View and print the attached PDF of the lesson

Summary:

  • Scripture: Genesis 41-42
  • Focus: God can help us develop "thick skin" to deal with problems.


Activities:
 In addition to an opening demonstration, student take part in a science experiment in which they write some of the troubles/unfair treatment they've experienced and then learn how to pass a pointed skewer through the "thick" part of a balloon without popping the balloon.

Additional Suggestions:  The experiment begs the question "what to do" about fairness/unfairness -- which can be issues of justice and not simply playground issues.  After the first experiment passing the skewer through the thick part of the balloon (which suggests God helps us toughen up instead of explode), do additional balloon experiments to illustrate other ways to deal with fairness and injustice.

For example, write injustices on a deflated balloon and watch it expand and contract depending on whether you "chill" it or warm it up. (i.e. how you can affect the effects of injustice by YOUR actions).   

Or, use the vinegar/baking soda experiment to fill or deflate a balloon to show how problems can be made worse by what WE bring to the issue (be part of the solution, not part of the problem). Or use the effect to describe how the Holy Spirit can inflate the deflated (lift up the weak, etc etc)  https://www.stemlittleexplorer...balloon-experiments/



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

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Last edited by Neil MacQueen

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