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Storytelling, Science, and Other Lessons, Ideas, Activities, and Resources for Teaching "Jesus' Birth Through the Eyes of the Shepherds, Angelic Host, and the Stable" in Sunday School.

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Manger, Luke 2:8-20, Heavenly Host, Shepherds, Keeping Watch by Night, Glory to God in the Highest. Birth of Jesus, Mary, Joseph, Nativity, Inn, etc.
Bible lessons for "Jesus' Birth Through the Eyes of the Shepherds, Angelic Host, and the Stable" -with science experiments, demonstrations, object lessons, magic tricks, presentations, etc.

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Jesus' Birth through the Eyes of the Shepherds and Angels

Storytelling Workshop

Summary of Lesson Activities:
The children will hear the Christmas story via a “visitor” from Bible times - a shepherd. [Note: 4th – 6th graders visited this workshop.]

Scripture Reference:
Luke 2:1, Luke 2:10-12, and Luke 2:17

Key Verse:
“But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.'” Luke 2:10-11 (NIV)

Lesson Objectives:  At the end of the Rotation, kids should be able to:

  • Name that the shepherds’ story is found in the New Testament in the Gospels.
  • Locate the story in the Bible. Identify Luke as the third of four Gospels.
  • Retell the story of the birth of Jesus from the point of view of the shepherds and the angels.
  • Recognize the shepherds’ fear, amazement and joy at the sights/sounds of the angels visit.
  • Question who are the messengers of the good news, both in Bible times and today.



Leader Preparation:

NOTE: This workshop requires two “leaders” – one to be the storyteller (dressed as a shepherd) and one to handle other duties.

  • Read the scripture and the Bible background information.
  • Gather the materials


Materials List:

  • Bibles
  • Easel with marker
  • Storyteller’s script – note: this script can not be posted, see note in resources below.
  • Costume for the storyteller
  • Two chairs
  • Strips of paper
  • Air-drying clay (enough for each student to have a 2” ball)


Advanced Preparation Requirements:

  • The Storyteller should practice the story using the script.
  • Write the key Bible verse on the easel.
  • Write on the strips of paper, the key verse breaking it into short phrases. Use at least 10 strips. Include the Bible reference as one strip.
  • Break the clay into 2” balls, one per student.


Lesson Plan

Opening:
Do:  Greet your students warmly, welcoming them to the Storytelling Workshop. Introduce yourself and the Shepherd(s). Have the Shepherd take care of attendance/name tags while you are starting the lesson.

Say: Today we have a special guest – a visitor from Bible times – a shepherd. He will tell us about the events that happened on the very first Christmas.
Ask:  Can anyone tell me what a "Shepherd" is?
Is it like the dog "German Shepherd?"

Say: Before we hear our shepherd's story, let’s start with prayer.

Ask for any prayer requests. Ask if anyone would like to lead the group in prayer. Be prepared to say a prayer yourself, working in prayer requests.
Use the Lord’s Prayer as the ending. A suggestion: “Dear God, as we wait for Christmas to come, we thank you for sending a baby who turned out to be the shepherd of us all. Help us to follow where the good shepherd leads us. And help us to go tell everyone the good news of his birth with the same excitement as the shepherds who first heard this good news. (End with the Lord’s Prayer) Amen.”

Dig In- Main Content and Reflection:
Ask: What is the good news about Christ’s birth? (accept a few answers)
Say: Let’s find our story in the Bible to see who told about this good news.

Distribute Bibles if needed. (For younger non-reading students use a picture book to tell the story.)

Ask: In what part of the Bible would we read the story about Jesus’ birth? (NT)
What are the names of the first four books of the New Testament, the Gospels?
Does anyone know which two Gospels tell about Jesus’ birth? (Matthew & Luke)

Say: Our story is in the Gospel of Luke. That’s the third book of the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

Have everyone find Luke, chapter 2, verse 1.
[If necessary remind them of the quick way to find the New Testament - Opening the bible in middle lands you usually in psalms. Taking just the back half and finding the middle of that, gets you to the beginning of NT.]
Have the students tell you the story, checking their Bibles for accuracy.

Ask: Who was the first messenger to tell the good news about Jesus’ birth? (an angel)
Ask: What did the angel tell the shepherds?
[Have the students find and read Luke 2:10-12.]

Ask: In this story, who else is a messenger of this good news?
[Have them find Luke 2:17 – the shepherds.]

Say: If we thought more about this question – who else is a messenger of the good news – there are lots of possible answers.
Ask: Can you think of anyone else who acts as a messenger of the good news of Jesus’ birth? (prophets; writers of the Gospels; us!)

Say: Now let’s hear from our visitor.

The Storyteller takes over:
Tell your story using the script.
When you are finished, turn the class back over to the workshop leader.

Discussion/Project:
Say: Thank you very much for visiting with us today. [Shepherd may leave if desired.]

Do: Pass out balls of clay.

Say:  Our friend the Shepherd mentioned making something out of clay. Take this clay and fashion something that you can take home with you to help you remember this story.

As the students work Ask:

  • Do people remember things better if they have something to look at?
  • I wonder what will you remember about the story when you see your clay creation?
  • To whom would you like to tell this story of good news?
  • I wonder how has the news of Jesus’ birth had an effect on you?
  • Who is the “angel” who first told you about Jesus?
  • I wonder why God sent the angel to the shepherds with the good news, instead of to important people in town?
  • Recall how our Shepherd told us about the huge group of angels…and how they sang praises to God, singing “Glory to God in the highest.” What does "glory" mean? How can we show glory to God?


Closing
:
Allow students to share what they have made.

Say: Take this reminder home. Let it remind you to be a messenger who brings joyous news to others – a Savior has been born! He is Christ the Lord.

If you have extra time:
Pass out the prepared strips of paper. Ask the students with the papers to stand up and put themselves in order so that the verse is correct. Repeat as needed, swapping strips each time, to provide adequate review of the Key Bible verse.

Resources:
Crane, Amy. “Christmas through the Eyes of the Shepherds.” Rotation.org, 2001.
“This is My Dear Son: Jesus’ Birth to Baptism.” Faith Challenge Lesson Sets at Kirk of Kildaire Presbyterian Church, 2003, www.kirkofkildaire.org/ed/F...rth_to_BaptismA1.htm


Note:  The storyteller’s script was purchased as part of a workshop from Cornerstones Publishing. I wrote the workshop portion of the above lesson; I didn’t use any of the Cornerstones material. Sorry, but Cornerstones Publishing is no longer in business. In case you can find this lesson somewhere else, (perhaps at your denominational resource center or borrow from another church who has it) it was entitled: "The Covenant -- Messengers of the Covenant - Bedouin Encampment."


A lesson written by Carol Hulbert from First United Methodist Church, Ann Arbor, MI. Dec. 2007.

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

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Last edited by CreativeCarol

Jesus' Birth through the Eyes of the Shepherds, Angelic Host, and the Stable


Storytelling and "Science" Workshop  - "Snow Playground" Workshop

Summary of Lesson Activities:
Ahead of time, create a "snow playground" by filling a room with at least 6" (deep) of white packing peanuts. The children will explore the 4 elements of the shepherd's encounter with God (Fear, Trust, Discovery, and Praise) in a very memorable way.

Scripture Reference:
Luke 2:1-20

Memory Verse:
“Do not be afraid; for see – I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people.”  Luke 2:10 (NRSV)

Concepts

  • God cares for us all.
  • Explore the 4 elements of the Shepherd’s Encounter with God:
    • Fear upon HEARING the news.
    • TRUSTING God.
    • DISCOVERING the Christ Child
    • PRAISING God
  • We can learn from the shepherds about how to respond to God

Lesson Objectives

  • Use the room full of packing peanuts to help us create gestures and actions to represent and think about the story.
  • Discuss the meaning of the story
  • Learn where to find the story in the Bible.

Leader Preparation:

  • Read the scripture passages and review curriculum sheet
  • Have already hidden a few or several small bibles in the peanuts before arrival.
  • Have already hidden the small item in the peanuts for the DISCOVERING section. (Maybe a coin or other small object)
  • Have vacuum ready at the entrance.

Materials List:

  • Lots of packing peanuts
  • Bibles
  • Coin or other small object
  • Vacuum
  • Whiteboard or Chalkboard


Lesson Plan

Opening- Welcome and Lesson Introduction

  • Before going in the Snow Playground, meet and introduce yourself to the children in the Hallway.  Remember you are dealing with a new group of students each week.
  • Go over the rules of the Snow Playground.
  • Tell the children what they will be doing inside the snow playground and that they must be paying attention throughout the lesson.

Dig- Main Content and Reflection

  1. Before entering the Snow Playground, ask…

  • Can anyone look up in their bibles the story of the Shepherds and Angels? (the kids more than likely don’t have a bible in their hands)
  • What? You don’t have a Bible?  Well, there are a few buried in the Snow Playground… Lets go find them! (let them go find the bibles buried in the peanuts) 

  2. When all the Bibles have been found.

  • (grades Prek-2) Help or explain to them where the Story can be found; New Testament, Gospel of Luke, etc.  Read the story to them
  • (grades 3-6) Make them find it even if it takes forever.  They should naturally help each other if there’s a struggle. If they need extra help finding the chapter, tell them something like, “how does a book usually go?  Beginning = birth, end = death”  When they find it, make them read it TWICE out loud taking turns reading. 

  3.  After the story has been read...

discuss what happened in the story.  When someone says one of the 4 Key Elements (Hearing, Trusting, Discovering, Praising) write it down on the board.  When all of them are up on the board, tell the class we are going to do some more activities to help us remember them.

Hearing and Trusting

  • What happened when the Angels appeared to the shepherds?  (the shepherds were filled with fear)  When we get scared, sometimes we fall backwards. 
  • Have everyone find a partner to make a big pile of peanuts, then take turns falling backward into the pile.  After everyone has done it a few times… have everyone freeze.
  • Ask, “Did falling into the snow hurt?” (no) Why?  (God catches us when we are scared and comforts us)  So if we fall, can we TRUST God to catch us? (yes)

Discovering

  • When the Shepherds trusted God and the Angels, did they do something about it? (yes, they went to go find Jesus in the manger) 
  • Tell them to find a difficult to find object that you hid.  If it’s really well hidden, have them all work as a team to find it.

Praising

  • After the shepherds discovered Jesus, and after they returned back to where they came from, what did they do? (They glorified and praised God) 
  • So lets praise God with the peanuts for sending Jesus to us!  Throw the peanuts in the air!  Praise Party!

Reflection Time:

After a few minutes of having a praise party, have everyone sit and review the actions that we did. 

  • What were the 4 things the shepherds did in the story?
  • What did we do for Hearing? and Trusting? Discovering? Praising?
  • How do we hear God in our everyday lives?
  • When we hear God in our everyday lives, how should we respond?

Closing:

Prayer: Thank you God for keeping the promise of long ago to send the Savior of the world, the Prince of Peace.  Thank you for the shepherds who brought this great message to the world.  Help us to learn how to respond to You when You call us.  Help me be a good shepherd and share the good new of Christ.  Amen.

Tidy and Dismissal: 

  • Have the kids push back the peanuts away from the entrance area. 
  • Have them line up at the door and have them brush off as much of the peanuts as they can, using a partner if needed. 
  • Have the teacher at the door with the vacuum and one at a time get as much off with the vacuum as possible. 
  • When all the kids have been cleaned, they can get their shoes back on. And be dismissed.

Resources:

St. Elmo's Choir Rotation Writers Group. "Drama Workshop: The Shepherds and The Angels." 2001.  Web.

Faith Challenge Lesson Sets at Kirk of Kildaire Presbyterian Church.  "Shepherds and Angels." 2005.  Web.


 

A lesson written by Chris Stuberg from:  St. Mark's Lutheran Church
Bowling Green, OH

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

Last edited by Luanne Payne

We used the above idea and it was absolutely amazing! 

We created a "pit" of 2 8' and 2 6' tables and then made a snowscape of sorts around it to cover the legs and be more inviting.

...found the recyclable peanuts through our local shippin/packaging wholesaler ($20 filled my back seat).  took us 2 bags to fill our pit -but worth every bit of time.  K-3 were delighted.  thanks for the idea.




Last edited by Neil MacQueen

We did the "Snow Playground" lesson last Christmas and I thought that I would share our experience--and some photos. 

We did not use an entire room.  I blocked off a corner of one of out rooms using some folded up tables and an old bulletin board!  I covered these with fabric.  I put a big painting tarp on the floor to contain the "snow".  I left a small opening so that the kids could enter the area as I didn't want them crawling over the barrier.

The peanuts were more expensive than I thought. I ended up getting a huge bag of them from UPS for about $20.  The prices at the U-Haul were way too expensive.  The best approach would be to plan farther ahead and get them online.   That's another reason why we used just a small space (which works because we have small classes)--it would have been too expensive to fill an entire room.

20151213_11153620151213_103042

The peanuts were supposedly static-free.  They actually were static-free for the first class.  By the second week, they were sticking to everything.  I used a lint roller to get the bits of fluff off. 

The kids did enjoy the snow pit--make sure you go over the "rules" before you get into the snow, since they just want to dive in and start throwing it!  The lesson mentioned using a small coin.  I thought this would be too small, so I used a small Tupperware lid.  Even so, it took a while for the kids to find it.  If I'd used a coin, we might still be there!  20151220_110747

Clean-up wasn't too bad.  We actually used a small snow shovel to get a lot of the peanuts back into the bag.  Then we used the tarp to pour more of the peanuts into the bag. 

Attachments

Images (3)
  • 20151213_103042: Lesson Time
  • 20151213_111536: Set-up
  • 20151220_110747: Clean-up
Last edited by Luanne Payne

I used packing peanuts once. I think it was just a box full and the kids had to feel around to find something. It definitely was a static mess!!!!

 

one suggestion for getting lots of peanuts: ask people to bring in what they have at home. I know I hate throwing them away; but if you ask far enough in advance, you can get some from the non-hoarders too.

Packing Peanuts - Static Problem Solution

From what I've read doing an internet search it appears only the pink foam peanuts are static free.

I searched the internet and found some suggestions that people offered to a mom (link dead) for cleaning them up off her living room floor after her kids had a blast, but then found herself in the predicament of trying to clean them up (white foam peanuts):

  • someone suggested she try a tablespoon or so of liquid fabric softener in a spray bottle and fill half way with water - gently shake to mix. Spray a bit of the mist over the peanuts and the static electricity should be gone.
  • someone else suggested spraying them with Static Guard.
  • the woman ended up spraying them (spray bottle of plain water) and she said that worked really well, and she also said she found when her hands were wet it was easy to pick them up.

So I'm wondering if you misted them (spray bottle of regular water) after you lay them out before the first use, and then again after each use, if that might solve the static problem.

If anyone tries this let us know if it helped with the static problem.

Last edited by Luanne Payne

Sounds like a good idea! But I would test on a small sample, as it seems they make some peanuts with a formula meant to dissolve in water (to keep them from lasting forever in landfills)?

CreativeCarol posted

Summary of Lesson Activities:

Children will hear the Christmas story via a “visitor” from Bible times - a shepherd. [Note: 4th – 6th graders visited this workshop.]

...

  • The storyteller’s script was purchased as part of a workshop from Cornerstones. (I wrote the workshop portion of the above lesson; I didn’t use any of the Cornerstones material.) Order this lesson from Cornerstones Publishing. The unit is under "The Covenant" -- Messengers of the Covenant - Bedouin Encampment.  


    A lesson written by Carol Hulbert from: First UMC
    Ann Arbor, MI

It looks as though Cornerstone rotation curriculum no longer exists - I can 't find it anywhere.  Is there another publisher who bought them out where I might get the script you mention?  Thanks



Rotation.org moderator removed all but the important part from this quote.

Last edited by Luanne Payne

Rev. Cindy,

You are correct, Cornerstones Publishing went out of business. As far as I know, no one bought them out. I'll look into the possibility of sharing the script.

Thanks again - I've been hiding away at our Resource Center for Churches planning 2017 - 2018.  Thanks to Rotation.org and some old PowerXpress curricula, I've managed to plan out the Scope & Sequence.  Working title for the year: Mountain top to Seashore  

Here is an interesting science experiment that creates a Christmas ornament to go along with the Jesus' birth story of Angels and Shepherds: Grow a Crystal Angel Ornament.

Crystals are grown on colorful pipe cleaners (chenille stems) from a saturated borax solution. Borax crystals grow faster than sugar or salt crystals. Crystals will start forming about two hours after shape is hung in glass of solution. This is probably not quick enough for an in-class project, but could be done at a special event or at-home.

For each cup of water (boiling) you will need about 3 tablespoons of borax (found with laundry supplies; dissolve as much in the hot water as you can). Make an angel shape from pipe cleaners and suspend the angel in a glass of hot borax solution and crystals will form as solution cools.

5 pipe cleaners in angel shapes

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