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Cary North Carolina. It may be used for non-profit uses only.
Scripture: Psalm 23
Key Verse: "He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake." Psalm 23: 3
Psalm 23:1-6 (A psalm by David). The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff - they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (New Revised Standard Version, with just a touch of King James!)
(A poster of this should be on display in the room.)
God guides us to make good choices.
1. Know how to find Psalm 23 the Bible.
2. Make progress in memorizing Psalm 23.
3. Explore how God “leads us in right paths.”
1. Introduce yourself and make sure that everyone is wearing a name tag, including you. Extra name tags can be found in the plastic bin for your workshop or in the Shepherd’s bag.
2. Open with a brief prayer.
sure everybody has a Bible. There are extra Bibles in the cupboard of the
puppet room. The children will not read Psalm 23 out of the Bible because the
version we are teaching is a combination of two different translations (New
Revised Standard Version, with a touch of King James) and will not exactly
match what’s in the children’s Bibles. But do have them practice finding it in
If necessary, remind them that if they open their Bible in the middle, they’ll usually land in the book of Psalms (everybody but the first-graders should know this). Point out that the book name is at the top of each page. After finding Psalms, have them find chapter 23. Some of the younger children will confuse chapters and verses. Show them that chapter numbers are the big ones, and also are at top of every page.
For the first- and second-graders, read the psalm to them from the display and let them follow along if they’re able. For older children, have the class read it together. After the second or third week, if the children seem very familiar with the psalm, this step might not be necessary.
2. Practice one of the memorization activities. See the handout describing these activities. Tell the children that because the words of Psalm 23 are helpful in many situations, they will be memorizing it. They will be doing this same activity in each workshop throughout the rotation.
Assign several children to be the “sheep,” one child to be the voice of God, and five or six others to be a distracting voice friends, TV, music, video games, etc. (If you have a very small group you can have just one sheep at a time, but most groups will need to have more than one sheep in order to let more children play). Take the sheep out of the room, blindfold them, bring them back in and have them find their way through a maze made of chairs and tables lined up with several dead-end paths. The distracting voices will talk to the blindfolded children all at the same time, mostly giving wrong directions. They could also play music on a boom box, sing, pretend to be a TV ad urging the sheep to buy something, tell them “it’s more fun over here,”etc. God will also be giving directions but will be difficult to hear because of other voices. One at a time have the voices go silent, ultimately leaving only God's voice to guide the children through the course.
Repeat with another group of sheep and voices. Be sure those who didn’t have a role the first time get to participate this time. While the sheep are out of the room, have the children help rearrange the maze.
If the children are enjoying the game, repeat it as long as time permits, giving as many kids as possible a chance to be sheep. With the younger children, keep the maze very simple. With older kids, you might add more dead-ends and some obstacle-course features (things to climb over or under, etc.) Might also space the chairs a few feet apart so they can’t just feel their way through, have to listen to directions. With large groups, consider having two mazes to give everybody a chance to play.
Gather on the floor and recite the key Bible verse: "He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake.”
What made getting through the course difficult?(the distracting voices)
What made it easier? (God's guidance).
What does “he leads me in right paths” mean? (For sheep, right paths lead to the green pastures and still waters. The good shepherd leads the sheep along this path. The wrong path might lead a sheep to a cliff or a dead end, etc. God, our shepherd, helps us make good decisions.)
Do sheep always follow their shepherd? Do we always follow where God leads? Name some wrong paths that sometimes people follow (Wrong paths for all children might include lying, cheating, stealing, being unkind to other kids, etc. Older children might mention drugs, sex, drinking, etc.)
What kind of things can distract us from making good decisions, or tempt us to do something wrong? (Seeing that other kids are doing something wrong, wanting to do something fun when you’re supposed to be doing chores or homework, TV ads that urge us to buy things we don’t need, being in a situation where telling a lie or cheating on a test will keep you out of trouble, etc.)
Describe a few “what-if” situations. A good source of scenario ideas is Judge Judy Sheindlin’s Win or Lose by How You Choose!, a children’s book available at library. It describes situations where kids have a chance to be dishonest, sneaky, mean, etc., and gives kids choices of how to respond. You can read parts of the book to the younger children and use some of the scenarios for discussion with the older children.
In the game we could hear God’s voice talking to us. How does God guide us “in real life”? (prayer, talking to parents and teachers, learning from the Bible what is right and wrong, giving us the courage to do what we know is right, etc.)
Have the shepherds pass out the journals. Optional: Give the children a sticker or some other memento of the workshop to put in their journal.
Ask the children to write at the top of the page, "He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake,” (first-graders might skip the writing), then write or draw a picture of what that means to them, or of what they did in the workshop. They might write or draw some of the distractions they face when making decisions, or how God can help them make decisions.
Prayer Close with prayer. Suggestion: Use the litany below or one similar. Tell the children you are going to say some times when we need God to lead us, and they are to respond each time, “Lead us, God.” The Shepherds can help the children come in at the appropriate times.
When we aren’t sure what the right decision is ....
Lead us, God.
When friends or fun or other things distract us from good decisions ...
Lead us, God.
When we know what the right choice is, but it’s hard to do it ...
Lead us, God.
When we know what the right choice is, but it’s not fun to do...
Lead us, God.
When we know what the right choice is, but we need to be brave to do it ...
Lead us, God.
Tidy and Dismissal Ask the children for help with putting away maze materials and any other cleanup. The Shepherd should collect name-tags and journals.
Note: I find that the kids participate better if they get little rewards along the way. Skittles are highly motivating for some reason. If I were leading this workshop I’d give them a Skittle for bringing their Bible, for finding the Bible passage, for participating in the game and discussion, for writing in their journals, a Skittle to everybody on the way out the door, etc. I’d have several small jars of Skittles on hand and put the shepherds in charge of distribution. (Better check with shepherds and make sure nobody is diabetic!)
Teacher preparation in advance:
1. Read Psalm 23
2. Post the 23rd Psalm, in the version they are memorizing, on the wall.
3. Set up the maze in one corner of the room, using available chairs and tables.
4. Prepare an opening/closing prayer. Ask for prayer concerns.
A poster with Psalm 23.
Extra Bibles for those who don’t bring theirs. See the cupboard in the puppet room.
Chairs and tables for maze.
Boom box and music for game.
Optional: Skittles, journal memento
Handout of activities for Memorizing Psalm 23
Judge Judy Sheindlin, Win or Lose by How You Choose!