Shepherds and Angels (Revised)

November 13-December 11, 2005

Antioch Arcade


Scripture:  Luke 2:1-20

(If time allows, grades 3-5 will also use Matthew 1:18-25 and Luke 1: 26-38)


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



  • God cares equally for all people.
  • God communicates with people in different ways.
  • We can learn from the shepherds about how to respond to God. 



This story will be familiar to most of the children. The part of the wonderful story of Jesus’ birth that will be the focus for this unit of workshops involves the shepherds and angels.  The interaction between shepherds and angels tells us a lot about how we are to respond to God’s call, why Jesus was sent to us, and the role of angels.

1.      Older children will locate the passage in their Bibles. Younger children will learn that the story is in Luke.

2.      The children will play a game to reinforce their knowledge of the story.

3.      The class will discuss angels as messengers from God, how the shepherds responded to the angels’ message, and how they can be like the shepherds.



Welcome and Introductions:

  1. As the children come in the door, count them off by color -- Red, Orange, Green, and Purple -- and have them go to the area of the room that is designated with their color.

2.      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.


3.      Open with a brief prayer (optional, as they have just prayed in Great Hall).


4.      Explain the purpose of this workshop. Today we’ll play a game to see how well you know the story of the Shepherds and Angels.

Scripture/Bible Story:

1.       Grades 1-2 will not use Bibles, but do open yours to show them where the story is located. For grades 3-5, make sure everybody has a Bible. Extra Bibles are located in the room.  Help the students to find the book of Luke. (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. Remind them that the first four books of the NT are the gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John. 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. From there they should be able to find Luke.   After they’ve found Luke, help them find chapter 2. 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.      Read the story from the CEV or review it using the summary below as a guide. Either way, be dramatic! Tell them that even though they’ve heard the story before, they need to listen very carefully and remember the details in order to play the game that’s coming up. Unless this is the first Sunday of the rotation, you might 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. Variation for older kids: Use the timer in the supply bin (or just a watch with a second hand). First child starts telling the story. After 15 seconds, second student picks up the tale, even if in mid-sentence. Keep going around the circle until the story is completely told.


  • 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.)


  • Photocopy the passage (remove verse numbers), cut it up and see if they can put it back together correctly.

Story Summary

It happened that the Roman emperor, Augustus, gave orders for the names of all the people to be listed in record books. Everyone had to go to their own hometown to be listed. So Joseph had to leave Nazareth in Galilee and go to Bethlehem in Judea. Long ago Bethlehem had been King David's hometown, and Joseph went there because he was a descendent of David.

Mary was engaged to marry Joseph and traveled with him to Bethlehem. She was soon going to have a baby, and while they were there, she gave birth to Jesus. She wrapped him in cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

On the night when Jesus was born, some shepherds were in the countryside nearby watching over their sheep. Suddenly they saw an angel standing in front of them, and they were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’ve got good news that will bring great joy to all the people. A baby has been born in Bethlehem, and he’s your savior, the Messiah, the Lord. You can find him wrapped up tight in cloth and lying in a manger.

Suddenly a crowd of angels appeared, praising God and saying “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace.”

After the angels left, the shepherds decided to go and see for themselves what the angel was talking about. So they went to Bethlehem and found Mary, Joseph, and the baby. Afterwards they went back, praising God and telling everybody what they had seen and heard, and people were amazed at the story. But Mary kept quiet, and thought and wondered about everything that had happened.



1.      The children are already divided into four teams, named for the four colors on the buzzer box – Red, Orange, Green, and Purple. Line the teams up into four lines at a table holding the buzzer box (one of the round tables from the main room is good for this). Give the player at the head of each line a buzzer. There are two buzzers for each color, and all 8 buzzers must be plugged in, but make sure only one buzzer of each color is used.

2.      Explain that you will call out a question and players who think they know the answer should press their buzzer. The first to buzz gets to give the answer. (If you don’t know who buzzed first, look for the color with both lights on.) After each question, the player at the head of each line moves to the end, and the next people in line take a turn. Make sure everybody gets to play.

Questions: See end of lesson plan. Feel free to add some questions of your own.

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. If the class seems to already know the story well, you can mix up the order of the questions.


Grades 1-2: Don’t keep score. Just keep the game moving. First graders sometimes take a while to master the mechanics of operating the buzzers  – they especially get confused about turning off the sound. You can turn the sound off entirely if you prefer.


Grades 3-5: I prefer not to keep score, but if you want to, you can do so with the older kids. Each line is a team. Ask the shepherd to keep score on the white board. Award 5 points for a correct answer. No points for a wrong answer; let anyone who knows the correct answer tell it. (You can use a different scoring system if you prefer, but keep it simple.)



Try not to let one knowledgeable or fast-fingered child dominate the game. If one child is answering every time he/she plays, mix the lines up so that player doesn’t play against the same group every time. OR, announce that anybody who answers three questions correctly will be retired as permanent champion (with a big round of applause) to give everybody else a chance to compete. Also, don’t let non-playing team members help the players; this in effect lets the fast kid answer by proxy.


Be sure they know the answer before buzzing. If they are buzzing and then taking too long to think of the answer, use the timer in the supply bin and give 5 seconds to answer after buzzing (this has not been a problem in the past).


Reflection Time: (10:30)

Gather the children in a circle and discuss:

Who told the shepherds about Jesus’ birth? An angel. An angel is a messenger from God.

I wonder what angels look like. We picture wings and haloes, but we really don’t know.

It seems like there are a lot of angels in the Bible. I wonder if angels ever appear to people today. Accept all reasonable answers, but point out that God communicates with people in different ways. God might use ordinary people — friends and relatives and teachers, to speak to us.

What did the angel tell the shepherds? A baby has been born in Bethlehem, and he’s your savior, the Messiah, the Lord. You can find him wrapped up tight in cloth and lying in a manger.

What did the shepherds do?  The shepherds heard the message about Jesus, believed it, looked for and found Jesus, praised God, and told people. We can learn from the shepherds about how to respond to God. 

I wonder how we can know if a message is from God.  Accept all reasonable answers but suggest if they are wondering about something they hear, they can pray for wisdom, ask parents/teachers/pastors, think about whether it’s consistent with what they know about God or what they’ve read in the Bible.

Shepherds weren’t considered to be very important people. I wonder why God would choose them to hear the news of Jesus’ birth. God cares equally for all people. People who are not important to other humans are important to God. Maybe the shepherds were chosen to show the world that God loves everyone.


Recite the Bible memory verse learned in the Great Hall. “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people.”– Luke 2:10 (CEV).


Journals (10:35): 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 onto their page as a reminder of the workshop. Read the prompt out loud and if needed, help them think of ways to honor God by the way they live at home, at school, or live peacefully with friends, brothers and sisters, people they don’t like, etc. Remind them that being a peacemaker is a way to honor God. 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 put away pencils/markers and sit quietly.


Closing: (10:45)

Encourage the children to bring an offering next week. Remind them that the offering from this rotation will go to the Joy Gift offering.

Prayer: Close with a brief prayer. Suggestion: Thank you, God, for the gift of Jesus, for the angels and shepherds who shared the good news, and for all the people who bring the message of God’s love to us today. Amen.

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


Extra Activity if time permits:

Grades 3-5:

1. Have the children find Matthew 1:18-25. -- do this in pairs if you wish. Then ask these questions:

In verse 20, who spoke to Joseph in a dream? (an angel)

In verse 21, what did the angel tell Joseph?

In verse 23, what does “Emmanuel” mean? (God is with us)

2. Now have the children find Luke 1: 26-38. Ask these questions: 

In verse 26, where did God send an angel? (to Nazareth)

What was the angel’s name (Gabriel)

Whom did Gabriel come to see? (Mary)

From verse 28: What was the first thing the angel said? (You are truly blessed! The Lord is with you.”)

From verse 29: What was the second thing the angel said? (Don’t be afraid...)

The angel told Mary she would have a son. In verse 36, who else did he say would have a son? (Elizabeth)




Teacher preparation in advance:

1.      Attend the Faith Quest Leaders Bible Study.

2.      Read Luke 2: 8-20 and familiarize yourself with the details of the story. Be sure you know the meaning of unusual words. For Grades 3-5, also read Matthew 1:18-25 and Luke 1:26-38. You won’t dwell on these passages, but a few questions in the game refer to them.

3.      Practice telling the story.

4.      Prepare opening and closing prayers.

5.      Room set-up (must wait until after Total Life Center closes on Friday).

6.      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.

7.      Make four signs designating Red, Orange, Green, Red, and post in different areas of the room. Display the scripture memory verse somewhere in the room. (For the last couple of workshops, you might, instead of displaying it, use it as a question in the game.)

8.      Practice using the buzzer box and be sure you understand how it works.

Supply List

Extra Bibles

Dry-erase marker (in supply bin)

Timer (in supply bin)

Buzzer box and wires

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

Journal pages



St. Elmo’s Choir. Rotation: “The Shepherds and the Angels.” Bible Skills and Games Workshop.

Amy Crane, Palma Ceia Presbyterian Church, Tampa, Florida. Lesson: “Christmas through the Eyes of the Shepherds.”

Storytelling ideas:

Questions for game

1. Who were Jesus' human parents?

  1. Mary and Joseph
  2. Shepherds and angels
  3. Sarah and Abraham


2. Where did Joseph and Mary live?

  1. Nazareth
  2. Bethlehem
  3. Jerusalem


3. In what town was Jesus born?

  1. Nazareth
  2. Bethlehem
  3. Jerusalem


4. Where did Mary put Jesus after he was born?

  1. In a crib
  2. In a cow’s stall
  3. In a manger


5. Why did Mary and Joseph not get a room in the inn?

  1. No room
  2. No money
  3. No identification


6. Who was the first to hear the news of Jesus’ birth?

  1. Wise men
  2. Shepherds
  3. King Herod


7. What time of day was it

  1. Morning
  2. Noon
  3. Night time


8. What were the shepherds doing?

  1. Watching their sheep
  2. Eating supper
  3. Telling stories around a campfire


9. Who told the shepherds about Jesus?

  1. The innkeeper
  2. An angel
  3. Mary


l0. When the shepherds first saw the angel, how did they feel?

  1. Joyous
  2. Confused
  3. Scared


11. Why was the angel so scary?

  1. The angel was carrying a big sword
  2. The glory of the Lord shone around the angel
  3. The angel was gigantic


12. What was the first thing the angel said?

  1. Go to Bethlehem
  2. A baby is born
  3. Don’t be afraid


13. What did the angel bring the shepherds?

  1. gifts for them to give the baby
  2. a sheep they had lost
  3. good news


14. Who was the good news for?

a.      Everybody

b.      Just the shepherds

c.       Just Mary and Joseph


15. What was the good news?

  1. a lost lamb is found
  2. a Savior is born
  3. wise men are on the way to Bethlehem.


16. The angel told the shepherds how to recognize Jesus. How would they know they had found the right baby?

  1. there would be a big star over him
  2. there would be a big crowd of people around him.
  3. he would be wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger


17. After the angel told the shepherds the good news, what suddenly appeared?

  1. a bright star in the sky
  2. lots more angels
  3. three wise men


18. What did the angels say?

  1. Make a joyful noise to the Lord
  2. The Lord is my shepherd
  3. Glory to God and peace on earth


19. After the angels left, what did the shepherds do?

a.       went to look for sheep that the angels had scared away

b.      went to Bethlehem and found the baby

c.       collected gifts to take to the baby


20. After they found the baby, what did they do?

  1. told others what had happened
  2. promised Mary and Joseph they wouldn’t tell anybody.
  3. went back to their sheep and forgot all about it.


21. What did Mary do afterwards?

a.       told everybody what had happened.

b.      told an angel what had happened.

c.       kept quiet and thought about everything that had happened


22. Which gospel tells the story of the angels and shepherds?

a.       Matthew

b.      Mark

c.       Luke

d.      John