Scripture: John 20: 19-31
Memory Verse: “Faith makes us sure of what we hope for and gives us proof of what we cannot see.” Hebrews 11:1 (CEV)
1. Older children will locate the story of Doubting Thomas in their Bibles. Younger children will learn that the story is in the Gospel of John.
2. The children will hear the story, with emphasis on concepts 1 and 2 above.
3. The children will play a game that demonstrates believing things we haven’t seen for ourselves.
4. The class will discuss the game and how it relates to believing in Jesus when we have not seen him.
Welcome and Introductions:
1. Greet the children and introduce yourself. Wear your name-tag. Make sure the children are wearing name-tags. If not, ask the shepherd to supply a temporary badge. Remember you are interacting with a different group of students each week who may not know you.
2. Open with a brief prayer.
3. Explain the purpose of this workshop: Today we’re going to play a game called Draw Your Own Conclusion. First, let’s hear the story.
1. Grades 1-2 will not use Bibles, but do open yours to show them where the story is. For grades 3-5, make sure everybody has a CEV Bible. The shepherds will have extra Bibles. Help the students to find the book of John. (Get the shepherds to go around the room and help with this.)
If necessary, review the organization of the Bible: The Bible is
divided into two big parts, the Old and New Testaments. Each part is made up of
books, which are divided into chapters and verses. Have them figure out whether
John is in Old or New Testament (it’s about Jesus so it’s in the NEW
Show them that if they open their Bible in the middle, they’ll usually land in the book of Psalms in the OT. Point out that the book name is at the top of each page. After finding Psalms, if they then take the pages on the right side and divide them in half, they’ll land somewhere near the beginning of the New Testament. John is the fourth book in the New Testament, so most of them can find it from there. (Encourage everyone to learn the books of the Bible.)
After they’ve found John, help them find chapter 20, then verse 19. Some of the children will confuse chapters and verses. Show them that chapter numbers are the big ones, and also are at top of every page.
Read the story (let the older kids follow along in their Bibles), or tell it using the summary below as a guide. (Optional: Mark off a square on the floor with masking tape and have the kids sit on the tape. Tell them they are the walls of a closed room. The door is locked. Sit in the center of the square and use toy figures to represent Jesus and the disciples as you tell the story. Start with all but one of the disciple figures, add Jesus when he appears in the story, take him away when he leaves, add Thomas when appropriate, and bring Jesus back for his second appearance. )
3. Unless this is the first Sunday of the rotation, let the children help you tell the story. This will give you an idea of how much they already know. Other ideas for reviewing the story in later weeks:
Begin the story and let each person in the circle add one line to the story until it is complete. Help them tell the COMPLETE story.
Tell the story back to them with inaccuracies and let them correct you. (especially fun for the younger ones -- but don’t do this until the later part of the rotation).
Have them roughly sketch the story out and then tell it.
Photocopy the passage (remove verse numbers), cut it up and see if they can put it back together correctly. Let them work in pairs so that less skilled readers are not put on the spot.
After Jesus died on the cross, his disciples were afraid that they were going to get in trouble for being followers of Jesus, so they sat in a room with the door locked. Suddenly, Jesus appeared in the room. He showed the disciples the scars in his hands and his side. They knew that he was not dead any more. Jesus was alive!
One of Jesus' disciples, Thomas, was not there that night. So the others told him, "We saw the Lord!"
But Thomas did not believe his friends. He said, "I will not believe it until I see the nail marks in his hands and touch them with my fingers. And I will not believe until I put my hand where the spear went into his side."
A week later, Jesus’ disciples were together again. This time, Thomas was with them. They had locked the doors of the room, but Jesus came in anyway. He greeted the disciples and then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and look at my hands. Put your hand here in my side. Stop doubting and have faith."
After seeing Jesus, Thomas said, "You are my Lord and my God!" He knew it was true–Jesus was alive!
Then Jesus told Thomas, "You believe because you see me. The people who believe without seeing me are the ones who are truly blessed.”
This is a group game. The class plays together, and each child gets a turn to be the main player. Have a collection of objects concealed in boxes, bags or other containers. With each prop, ask the whole class a question about it (what is it, what color is it, is it hard or soft, etc.) and let them all guess at the answer. Have them guess in some active way – stand up, wave their arms, wiggle their fingers, nod their heads, jump up and down, etc. Then let one child experience the object in some additional way – seeing it, feeling it, shaking the box, etc. – and give a more educated guess. Finally, show the object to the class.
Start with objects where the class will have to guess randomly (it’s a flower, what color is it?) then move on to more specific descriptions (it’s a sunflower, what color is it?).
The purpose of the game is to demonstrate that, like Thomas, we all need information and experience in order draw accurate conclusions. Sometimes we can’t experience something for ourselves but, unlike Thomas, can still believe it to be true because of other information we are given, our past experience, our trust in the source of information, and things we already know or believe to be true.
See end of lesson plan for examples.
Gather the children in a circle and talk about the game.
Which items did you have to just guess about without having any idea whether you were right? The ones where there was not enough information to know the right answer – color of a flower, what’s in the box.
What were some of the questions that were easy to answer? The ones where there was only one answer -- color of a fire truck or sunflower, is a teddy bear soft, what does a lemon taste like.
So some questions were easy because you had knowledge and experience that made you sure of the answer.
Let’s think about Thomas. Did he have the knowledge and experience he needed to believe Jesus was alive? He hadn’t seen Jesus alive himself, but he knew Jesus died on the cross. He didn’t know it was possible for Jesus to be alive.
The only evidence Thomas had was the other disciples’ word that Jesus was alive. I wonder why he didn’t believe his good friends when they told him Jesus was alive? Their word wasn’t enough for him. He needed to see for himself. All his past experience and knowledge told him that Jesus was dead.
When you were playing the game, was it easier to make a decision when you were the one looking at or feeling or tasting the object, or when somebody else was looking or feeling or tasting and telling you about it? Did you ever NOT believe what the person said? Why or why not? Accept all answers.
Sometimes, no matter what somebody tells us, we need to experience the evidence for ourselves, like Thomas. But sometimes we can believe something because we trust the person who tells us, or because we have other knowledge or experience that tells us something is true. Some people can believe that Jesus is alive because it’s in the Bible. Some people need more knowledge and experience. We can’t see Jesus, but by learning about him and trying to live the way he did and experiencing his love for us, we all can come to know Jesus.
Do you remember what Thomas said when he realized it was Jesus? You are my Lord and my God. Jesus is our Lord and our God, too.
Recite the Bible memory verse: “Faith makes us sure of what we hope for and gives us proof of what we cannot see.” Hebrews 11:1 (CEV)
Distribute the journal pages and ask the shepherds to pass out pencils/markers. Optional: Give the children a sticker or some other memento to paste onto their page as a reminder of the workshop.
Read the journal prompt out loud and help the children with suggestions if they seem stuck. (Suggestion: Workshop leader and shepherds model for the children by filling out a journal page themselves, and telling the kids what they’ve written.) Children who finish early can do the activity on the back of the journal page.
Encourage the children to bring an offering next week. Close with prayer. Suggestion:
Jesus, we have not seen you but we know that you are with us always. Help us to believe when we have doubts, and thank you for your love. Amen
Tidy and Dismissal: Ask children to help collect papers, pencils, Bibles. When the room is tidy, dismiss the class.
Teacher preparation in advance:
1. Read the scripture passages and attend the Faith Quest Leaders Bible Study.
2. Prepare opening and closing prayers.
3. Practice telling the Bible story and become very familiar with the discussion points at the end.
4. Collect items for the game and conceal them in appropriate containers.
5. Optional: Bring a CD or taped music for background music while you are gathering, meditative music for Reflection time. A boom box is located in the Puppet workshop cabinet.
6. Write the scripture verse on the white board or display it in the room some other way.
Pencils (in supply bin; the shepherds also have pencils)
Dry-erase marker (in supply bin)
Items for game concealed in appropriate containers
Linda Lawler, Educational Patterns for Children's Ministry, http://www.edupatterns.com/lesson_44.htm
Dennis Dewey, Biblical Storyteller, http://www.dennisdewey.org/Dennis8.htm
Draw Your Own Conclusion – game examples
1. Object: a picture of a flower.
I’m holding a picture of a flower. What color is it?
Let the class “vote” on the first three or four colors guessed: Everybody who thinks it’s red, stand up. Now everybody who thinks it’s blue, stand up.
Caitlin, come up and take a look at the flower. Don’t let anybody else see. Now tell the class what color it is. Let Caitlin look and report to the class.
Everybody who believes Caitlin that the flower is red (or whatever color she said) wiggle your fingers. Now everybody who doesn’t believe her, wiggle your fingers.
Caitlin, show the class the picture.
2. Object: a picture of a sunflower, violet, or other flower that comes in only one color
I’m holding a picture of a sunflower. What color is it?
Let the class vote by standing up and turning around. Then let someone look, report to the class and show the picture, as above.
3. Object: A balloon
I have something in this box. What is it?
Let the kids vote on the first three or four guesses: Everybody who thinks it’s a shoe, hop on your left foot….
It could be a lot of things, couldn’t it? Let’s see if we can narrow down the possibilities. If you think it’s something heavy, slap the floor. Now if you think it’s light, slap the floor.
Johnny, come up and hold the box. Is it heavy or light?
Clap if you believe Johnny. Now clap if you don’t believe Johnny.
Now Brittany, come up and close your eyes tight. I’m going to open the box and let you feel the object inside. Can you tell what it is? Let Brittany identify the object. Everybody who agrees with Brittany roll your head…. If Brittany can’t identify the object, ask her questions about it – is it smooth or rough, hard or soft, firm or squishy, etc. Let people in the class guess and agree/disagree with each guess. If all else fails or the class gets bored, show them the balloon.
Continue in this vein until everybody has been called on at least once. If you have a small group you can let one child do several things with an object (shake the box AND feel the object). If the class is large, divide the participation as above so everybody gets a turn.
Here are some ideas for objects and questions. To keep the game moving, with the easy ones (color of a fire truck, taste of a lemon), just let the class answer and move on to the next object, unless you have a lot of kids who haven’t had a turn.
These are just suggestions. Add or substitute your own ideas and use objects that are easily available to you. Try to involve all the senses.
Toy fire truck – what color is it?
Teddy bear – is it soft or hard, fuzzy or smooth?
A piece of food – what does it taste like? What is it? (use something sweet like a miniature marshmallow – ask about food allergies before letting anybody taste anything)
A slice of lemon – what does it taste like?
A jar of sugar or salt – show to the class and ask which is it? You can’t tell by looking – let somebody taste and report.
Rocks in a box – Is it heavy or light? What does it sound like/feel like? What is it?
Packing peanuts in a box – heavy or light? What does it sound like/feel like? What is it?
Jingle bells in a box – what does it sound like? What is it?
A sock– Hard or soft? Firm or squishy? Noisy or quiet? What is it?
Soap or perfume – What does it smell like? Solid or liquid? What is it?
Jar of liquid – water, dish detergent, honey, oil – what does it feel/ smell like? (Have a wet washcloth to clean sticky hands afterwards.)
Tapes of people singing – who is it? Use somebody popular that most of them can identify from their own knowledge, and somebody they’re unlikely to know.
A tape of someone playing an instrument – what instrument is it? Try one easy and one hard to identify.
A ball in a bag – feel it to tell what kind of ball it is. (baseball, softball, rubber ball, tennis ball…).
Possible ways to vote:
Stand up and….
Shake your left leg
Hop on your right foot
Hop three times
Stand on your left foot
Run in place
Stand on your tiptoes and turn around
Touch your knees
Put your hands on your hips
Put your hands behind your back
Stomp three times
Sit down and ….
Roll your head
Wave your arms
Wiggle your fingers
Put both hands on your head
Put both hands on your back
Pat your knees
Raise both hands as high as you can
Clap three times
Point at the door
Rub your stomach
Pat your head
Put your hand on your heart
Tap your forehead with your finger
Nod your head
Slap the floor