November 14– December 12, 2004


Antioch Arcade


Scripture:  Matthew 1:18-25


Memory Verse:

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”  Luke 2:11 (King James Version)



  • God works through ordinary people who obey God.
  • God planned from the beginning to bring Jesus into the world to save the world.
  • Jesus has many important names: Son of God, Son of the Most High, Son of David, Emmanuel, Christ the Lord, Son of Man, the Messiah.
  • Jesus came into the world to reveal God the Father.



1.     Older children will locate the scripture passages in their Bibles. Younger children will learn that the story is in Matthew. All will hear the story told.

2.     The children will play a quiz game to reinforce the details of the story.

3.     Through discussion, the children will relate the story to their lives and the concepts above.



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 (optional, as they have just prayed in Great Hall).


3.     Explain the purpose of this workshop. Today we’re going to hear the story of Jesus’ birth from Joseph’s point of view. Listen closely because then we’ll play a game where you have to know the details of the story.

Scripture/Bible 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 Bible. The shepherds will have extra Bibles.  Help the students to find the book of Matthew. (Get the shepherds to go around the room and help with this.)


2.     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 Matthew is in Old or New Testament (it’s about Jesus so it’s in NEW Testament). 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. Remind them that the first book of the NT is Matthew.


After they’ve found Matthew, help them find chapter 1, then verse 18. 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.


3.     Explain: “Now I’m going to read a version of the Bible story we just looked up in Matthew. When you hear the word ‘up,’ get on your feet! When you hear ‘down,’ sit down.” (Alternatively, you can tell them to raise and lower their hands.)


A young woman named Mary was engaged to marry a man named Joseph. Joseph traced his ancestry in a long line all the way down from King David’s family. But before Mary and Joseph lived together, Mary up and found out that she was going to have a baby. Joseph felt down in the dumps about this news because he was not the father of the child, and he was up against a problem. He was an upright man and it would disgrace him to marry Mary under the circumstances, but he was also downright kind and did not want to embarrass her by stirring up a fuss. So Joseph made up his mind to quietly call off the marriage.


Then one night, Joseph lay down and went to sleep. In a dream, an angel from God came up to him and said, “Joseph, the baby Mary will have is from the Holy Spirit.

So calm down. Don’t be afraid to marry her. She will have a son, and it’s up to you to name him Jesus. He will save his people from their sins.”


This fulfilled God’s promise that had come down from the prophet who had said, “a virgin will have a son, and he will be called Immanuel, which means “God is with us.”


When the sun came up, Joseph woke up. He did what the angel said, down to the last detail. He and Mary were soon married. When the time was up, the baby was born, and Joseph named him Jesus.


1.     Divide the class into several teams of three to five players (you might call them the Angels, the Prophets, etc.). The teams will take turns spinning the game wheel and answering questions about the scripture. Have the shepherd keep score on the white board.


2.     Line the teams up and let the first person in line for the team spin and answer a question. Let him consult his team if needed, but he is the only one who can give the answer. If he answers correctly, award his team the number of points he spun for. No points for a wrong answer. 


Grades 1-2: Use the multiple-choice answers provided with the questions.


Grades 3-5: Give the team a chance to answer the question, but offer multiple choices if they’re stumped.


3.     After his turn, the player goes to the end of his team’s line. Go to the next team and continue until everyone has had a turn. Use the answers to emphasize the concepts at the beginning of the lesson plan.


4.     Alternatives:


  • If the player answers the question alone, his team gets the number of points he spun for. If the team helps him, they get half the points.
  • Let the rest of the team, but not the spinner, use their Bibles.
  • Consider covering over the “bankrupt” and “lose a turn” sections of the wheel. They deprive the spinner of the chance to answer and make scoring seem more important than the story.
  • If a team is taking too long to answer, give them a one-minute limit and get the shepherd to time the game using the timer in the supply bin. Adjust the time limit if it turns out to be too short/too long.


Reflection Time: (10:30)


Gather the children in a circle and discuss:


Joseph first decided to call off the marriage, and then he changed his mind. I wonder if it was easy for him to decide to marry Mary after all? Probably not…but he trusted that the angel was bringing a message from God, and he obeyed. God works through ordinary people like Joseph who are obedient. God also works through us when we obey and try to do what God wants us to do.


I wonder why Matthew thought it was important to tell what the prophet had said a long time ago? He wanted to show that God planned from the beginning to bring Jesus into the world to save the world.

Jesus has many important names. The one in our story today is …. Emmanuel … and it means… God is with us. Through Jesus, we can know God.


Our memory verse tells two other names for Jesus. Let’s say the memory verse together: For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”  Luke 2:11.


Journals: ¨At 10:35 a.m. pass out the journal pages and ask the shepherds to pass out pencils/markers. Optional: Give the children a sticker or some other memento to paste in their journal as a reminder of the workshop. Read the prompt out loud and offer suggestions if needed. If they don’t know how to spell a word, write it on the white board. Those who finish early can turn the page over and do the activity on the back.


At 10:45 ask the students to close their journals and sit quietly.


Closing: (10:45)


Encourage the children to bring an offering next week. Remind them that it will go to the Christmas Joy Offering. Presbyterians all over the country give to this offering every Christmas. The money helps retired church workers, and it supports eight Presbyterian colleges.


Prayer:  Close with a brief prayer. Suggestion: God, thank you for sending Jesus to the world so we could know you. Help us to be obedient to you like Joseph. Amen.    


Tidy and Dismissal: Ask children to help collect Bibles, pencils, etc. When the room is tidy, dismiss the class.


Extra Activity:

Grades 3-5: If you have time, play a few rounds of "who can find the passage first." Call out verses for the students to search and read when they find them -- do this in pairs if you wish. Use these passages that tell other parts of Jesus’ birth story:


Luke 1: 26-28

Matthew 2: 13-15

Luke 2: 1-7

Teacher preparation in advance:

1.     Read the scripture passages and attend the Faith Quest Leaders Bible Study.

2.     Prepare opening and closing prayers.

3.     Display the memory verse in the room (don’t use the white board, as you need it for scorekeeping).

4.     GAME WHEEL: The game wheel is kept in the main room of the Activity Building.


Supply List

Extra Bibles

Dry-erase marker (in supply bin)

Game Wheel

Questions for game

Pencils (in supply bin; the shepherds also have pencils)

Journal pages



The Birth Narrative from St. Elmo’s Choir: Skills and Games Workshop.


Storytelling ideas:

Game Questions


What family was Joseph descended from?

Family of King David

Family of Abraham

Family of Jesus


When Mary found out that she was expecting a baby, were she and Joseph married?

No, they were engaged to be married.


When Joseph found out that Mary was expecting a baby, what did he first decide to do?

Go ahead and marry her anyway

Quietly call off the marriage

Ask an angel for advice


Why did Joseph plan to do it quietly?

He did not want to be embarrassed

An angel told him not to make a scene

He did not want to embarrass Mary


Who appeared to Joseph in a dream?

An angel

A prophet

A wise man


The angel told Joseph that Mary’s baby came from ….


The Holy Spirit

Royal ancestry


What did the angel tell Joseph to do about Mary?

Quietly call off the marriage

Take her to Bethlehem

Marry her


What did the angel tell Joseph to name their child?





What did the angel say Jesus would do in his life?

Turn water into wine
Die and rise from the grave
Save people from their sins


Matthew says all these events made a promise from whom come true?


King David



Who does Matthew say had told the promise from God?

His mother
A prophet a long time ago. (Matthew wanted to show that Jesus’ birth was part of God’s plan for the world.)

King Herod


What had the prophet said the baby would be called?


Son of God

Emmanuel. (This is one of the many names that Jesus is called. Some of Jesus’ other names are Son of God, Son of the Most High, Son of David, Christ the Lord, Son of Man, the Messiah.)


What does Emmanuel mean?

Son of God

Prince of Peace

God is with us. (Jesus came into the world to reveal God to us.)


When Joseph woke up, what did he do that was different from what he had planned to do?

Marry Mary. (He obeyed the angel, who was a messenger from God.)

Go back to sleep

Get on to Bethlehem


What did Joseph name the baby?


Jesus. (He obeyed the angel, who was a messenger from God.)



Which book of the Bible is this story from?



Matthew. (Other stories about Jesus’ birth are in Luke.)