Old Testament stories

Here’s a collection of activities, games and things to make and do together, all of which extend and expand the in-game fun beyond the Guardians of Ancora app. Look through this collection and choose one or more ideas to help your family discover more about stories from the Old Testament part of the Bible.

Here are some great questions to start you chatting about any story from the Bible:

  • What sort of thing has this Bible story reminded you of, that you knew before?
  • What new things have you discovered, from this Bible  story?
  • Is there anything you’re going to keep thinking about, from the Bible story?

New activity ideas are added for each Bible Quest, as well several collections of activities about prayer, stories and so on. Look out for more Family Activity downloads, on guardiansofancora.com

A quick introduction to spiritual styles

Family activities from Guardians of Ancora are devised to inspire varied ways of knowing God:  four distinct avenues for connecting with him through word, emotion, symbol, and action. These ‘spiritual styles’ are broad approaches to spirituality and faith, through which children experience God and make sense of their lives in the world around them.

If you want to find out more about spiritual styles, this article is a helpful introduction to a fascinating topic:

http://www.faithformationlearningexchange.net/uploads/5/2/4/6/5246709/saturation_spirituality-creating_environmentsthatnurtureallchildren_-_csinos.pdf

Praise the Creator

Bible link

Psalm 104

What you need:

digital photos to make up a slide sequence to accompany the reading of Psalm 104 or a selection of colour photos, magazines pictures (especially from colour supplements), calendar pictures, postcards or birthday cards

some large card to mount the pictures

scissors, glue and felt-tip pens

What you do:

Read Psalm 104 together and prepare a visual presentation, as a slideshow or poster.

Divide the psalm up a follows:

Verses:          Pictures:

1–4                  skies, dawn breaking, clouds, etc

5–9                  seas and rivers

10–15             animals, birds, rain, grass, harvest time

16–18             trees and forests, mountains

19–23             moon and sun, sunsets, wild animals

24–30             people

31–35             any pictures which portray God's majesty and glory

This activity will encourage children with an emotion-centred approach to knowing God.

Green fingers

Bible link

Genesis 1:11,12

What you need:

a houseplant, or some flowers or leaves

a magnifying glass (if possible)

What you do:

Let each person look carefully at the plants. Look at the shape and the colour and look close up at the veins in the leaves. Use a magnifying glass if you have one.

When everyone has had a go, talk about what you could see. Was there something that surprised you, or made you think, “Wow! That’s amazing!”?

Now read Genesis 1:11,12 together. Did you know that God made about 200 different plants that we can eat, and about another 100 that we can use, like bamboo (for making furniture) and cotton (for making material)?

If you have time, see if you can make two lists together, one of different flowers and shrubs and the other of vegetables. Which list is longer?

To make a leaf rubbing, put a leaf under some paper and rub it with a pencil.

Pray: “Thank you, God, that you didn't just make one or two plants, but loads of different ones for us to use or enjoy, especially… Amen.”

This activity will interest children with a word-centred approach to knowing God.

Taste test

Bible link

Genesis 1:29

What you need:

assorted “nibbles” of food in separate bowls or plates (for example, crisps, sultanas, cubes of cheese, small pieces of bread, sliced apple and banana, and chopped raw vegetables such as celery and tomatoes)

What you do:

Take it in turns to close your eyes and taste some of the food. Ask the taster to guess what they are eating and describe what it’s like – sweet, sour, savoury, crunchy, and so on.

When everyone has had a go, read Genesis 1:29 together. God has given us all sorts of food to enjoy. Which do you enjoy the most?

Pray and thank God for the food you eat every day, especially your favourites! (Perhaps some of the money you will spend on food next week could be given to a relief organisation which works where there are famines and people are starving.)

This activity will motivate children with an action-centred approach to knowing God.

All sorts

Bible link

Genesis 1,2

What you need:

any type of mixed sweets such as allsorts, dolly mixture or jelly or chocolate beans

What you do:

For this, and any activity involving food, be aware of hygiene and allergy issues, especially if friends are joining in.

Spread the sweets out so that everyone can see all the different sizes, colours and shapes. Talk about the different types of sweet and then about different things in God’s world.

Choose a sweet and thank God for an aspect of nature. A green sweet could suggest a prayer about plants; brown for land; blue for water, ponds, rivers and the sea; stripes could suggest animals; and so on.

Take it in turns to choose a sweet and pray.

You can adapt this activity, using any mixture of coloured objects, if you prefer not to use sweets.

This activity will inspire children with a symbol-centred approach to knowing God.

Pet consequences

Bible link

Genesis 1:24,25

What you need:

a sheet of paper and a pencil for each person

What you do:

You’re going to create some ideal pets for your family!

  1. Each person draws an animal’s head at the top of their sheet of paper.
  2. Fold it over so that you can still see the neck and swap papers.
  3. Draw a body and legs, fold the paper over and swap again.
  4. Draw the tail, fold over and swap papers for the last time.
  5. Open up the papers in turn to reveal your ideal pets!

Can you think of names for the animals you’ve created? Do you like them?

Read Genesis 1:24,25 together. How did God feel when he had created animals? If you have time, see how many different animals you can think of and make a list. God made them all!

Pray and thank him, especially for your pets or favourite animals.

This activity will inspire children with a symbol-centred approach to knowing God.

True or false quiz

Bible link

Genesis 1:14–19

What you do:

Read Genesis 1:14–19 and then do this quick quiz together to find out more about some of the things God created. You could get everyone to nod their head if they think the answer is true and shake it if they think it’s false.

  1. The moon is a quarter the size of the earth.
  2. If you travelled to the moon at 100 miles per hour it would take about 99 days to get there.
  3. The first men on the moon read the story from the Bible of how God created the world while they were circling the earth in their Apollo spacecraft.
  4. It would take about 100 years to reach the sun if you travelled at 100 miles per hour.
  5. If the earth was any closer to the sun, it would be too hot for anything to survive, and if it was further away it would be too cold.
  6. If you want to count all the stars, it would take a thousand years at the rate of three a second.
  7. The sun gives the earth all its heat and light. More reaches the earth in a minute than the whole earth could produce in a year.

Answers: All these facts are true! Thank God now for his amazing creation.

This activity will interest children with a word-centred approach to knowing God.

Creation game

Bible link

Genesis 1:1,20–25

What you need:

several people or dolls and soft toys or a large quantity of building bricks

a tape measure

What you do:

Read Genesis 1:1,20–25, then play this game together.

Read these descriptions and then try to demonstrate the sizes, with people or toys.

  1. The male African ostrich is the largest bird and grows to a height of 8 feet (2.5 metres). That’s as high as some rooms!
  2. The male wandering albatross has a wingspan of 10 feet (3.15 metres) – as wide as two of you standing side by side with arms outstretched and fingers touching!
  3. The anaconda and the python are the longest snakes. Both grow up to 30 feet (9.5 metres) long. That’s six of you lying in a line, head to toe! (To be more realistic, you could lie in a wiggly line and hiss!)
  4. Baluchitherium was the largest known land mammal ever to have lived. It lived in Asia, and its head alone was 3 feet (1 metre) wide! That’s as wide as one person with arms outstretched.

Thank God for creation, especially any creatures that make you think, “Wow!”

This activity will inspire children with a symbol-centred approach to knowing God.

Rainbow poem

Bible link

Genesis 9:8–17

What you do:

This is an example of a Rainbow poem, with each line starting with a letter of the word “rainbow”:

Remember how great God is.

All people should love him.

If you are in trouble, he will help you.

Never forget how good he is.

Bring your praise to him.

Only God is worth your praise.

Wonderful, powerful God!

Try to make up your own Rainbow poem about God's love. (It doesn't have to rhyme.)

Look up Genesis 9:8–17 to find out what’s special about rainbows. Read your Rainbow poem together as a prayer.

This activity will interest children with a word-centred approach to knowing God.

Family differences

Bible link

Genesis 25:27–34

What you need:

a soup bowl

soup (optional)

What you do:

Find a soup bowl or dish and, if you like, fill it with warm soup (but you could always imagine the soup!).

Isaac and Rebecca had twin sons, Jacob and Esau. Esau was just a little older, so he was going to be head of the family when Isaac grew old and died.

Read a little about the family in Genesis 25:27,28. Say which of the parents preferred which of the sons. Draw a picture if it helps. Then talk about whether it’s fair for parents to have favourites. How do you think the two sons felt about each other?

Using the bowl (and the soup), mime what happens in Genesis 25:29–34. Can you tell how the brothers felt about each other? What ending to the story would have made God happy?

This activity will motivate children with an action-centred approach to knowing God.

It’s not fair

Bible link

Genesis 37:1–4

What you do:

Read about Joseph in Genesis 37:1–4. What was unfair in the story? Why did the brothers hate Joseph?

Things aren’t always fair in families or at school or at work. This isn’t what God wants, but there are good ways and bad ways of acting when things aren’t fair.

Read Genesis 37:17b–35. It’s a long story, so, if some of you would like to, you could mime the actions in the story. Afterwards, decide whether Joseph’s brothers acted in the right way. What could they have done instead to stop the unfairness?

What can you do about unfairness in your family, at school or anywhere else?

This activity will interest children with a word-centred approach to knowing God.

Animal forms

Bible link

Job 40:15–24

What you need:

modelling clay or play dough

What you do:

Together, make an animal. It need not be like a real one, but all your own design. Perhaps you could mix up parts of animals – give yours a cat’s tail and a giraffe’s neck, for instance!

Read Job 40:15–24 and have fun guessing what animal is like the monster Behemoth. (There’s no right answer. Nobody really knows!) Then thank God for all kinds of animals, both ordinary and strange.

This activity will inspire children with a symbol-centred approach to knowing God.

Yes or no?

Bible link

Exodus 4:10,12; Luke 1:38

What you do:

Play the “Yes/No game”. See who can answer ten questions (for example, “Do you like oranges?” or “Have you watched TV today?”) without saying “yes” or “no”. No nodding or shaking heads is allowed! Answer “I do” or “I haven’t” or “I like oranges” instead.

Next, find out what Moses said when God chose him for a special job by reading Exodus 4:10. What was God’s answer to Moses? See Exodus 4:12.

What did Mary say when God gave her a special job (Luke 1:38)? What was that special job? If you like, think of other Bible characters who said “yes” or “no” when God gave them work to do. Find their stories and see what God promised each one.

Pray together that you will always say “yes” to God.

This activity will interest children with a word-centred approach to knowing God.

The Great Escape

Bible link

Exodus 14:10–31

What you do:

Get everyone sitting down. Then read this slowly, stopping for a moment after each sentence to give everyone time to imagine what has been read.

You are all escaping from a great danger. You are scared, hot and tired. You are walking, and carrying with you all you own. You never want to go back to the place where you have been living. You were treated like slaves there and you're glad to have escaped.

But the army is after you. If they catch you, they'll take you back. Worse still, ahead of you is the sea! You can't go any further forward now and you can't go back towards the soldiers. What's going to happen to you?

Explain that God’s people, the Israelites, were in just this danger. What did they do? Read Exodus 14:10–31 to find out.

Remember, the powerful God, who rescued the Israelites, is our God too. Talk to him about any situation which seems impossible to you. Ask him to help.

This activity will encourage children with an emotion-centred approach to knowing God.

Ten special rules

Bible link

Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 6:4

What you do:

Do you have any family rules, school rules, rules at work or other kinds of rule that you have to keep? Name some of these – remember the laws of the country and rules of the road!

God’s people were given rules or commandments by God. These were meant to help them live together peacefully with God and with each other. Which of the rules you have just mentioned are about living together peacefully?

Look at one of the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:12. Talk together about how this commandment helps people live peacefully together. How should parents make it easy for their children to keep the commandment? Find Ephesians 6:4 if you find it hard to answer.

This activity will inspire children with a symbol-centred approach to knowing God.

Eyes, teeth and cheeks

Bible link

Exodus 21:24; Matthew 5:38,39

What you need:

a large sheet of paper and some felt-tip pens

What you do:

Get someone to draw two quick sketches of people on a large sheet of paper. (They can be stick people, but make sure they have eyes, teeth, hands and feet!) Call one drawing “A” and the other “B”.

In Exodus 21:24 we can read God's rules about what happens if someone hurts you. Draw what happens on your sheet of paper. A hurts B’s eye. What should B do to A? Is this fair? Let everyone say what he or she thinks.

Now look at Matthew 5:38,39. Jesus is telling us a new way. Draw what happens on your paper. Is this fair? Does it mean we should let bullies do what they like to us? How can families help each other if one of the family is being bullied or hurt? Should bullies ever be allowed to get away with it?

This activity will motivate children with an action-centred approach to knowing God.

I am with you

Bible link

Joshua 1:1–9

What you need:

materials for making a poster

What you do:

Joshua lived in Old Testament times. He had been Moses’ helper. When Moses died, God had a special job for Joshua and a special promise too.

Ask one person to read Joshua 1:1–9. Everyone else should close their eyes and imagine they are Joshua, listening to God.

Talk together about how you think Joshua would have felt. Which words do you think he enjoyed hearing? Maybe you could copy those words on to a sheet of paper and decorate it as a poster.

God’s words to Joshua are true for us too. Can you think of times when they could help you? How about putting your poster on the fridge door (or somewhere you’ll see it a lot), so that you can remember God’s special promise?

This activity will encourage children with an emotion-centred approach to knowing God.

Praise stones

Bible link

Joshua 4:1–24

What you need:

one large (clean) stone for each person

What you do:

Talk about some of the things God has done for you, your family, your church or your neighbourhood. Include ordinary things he has given you like food, the rain and the sunshine – not only special, extraordinary things.

Read Joshua 4:1–24, listening out for the words about the stones. You could act out what Joshua and the people did with their stones.

Now each one of you holds a stone. Place them, one by one, to make a pile, each saying one thing that God has done which makes you glad.

Perhaps you could leave your pile of stones somewhere for a while as a reminder of “how great the Lord’s power is”.

This activity will inspire children with a symbol-centred approach to knowing God.

Joshua chant

Bible link

Joshua 6:1–5

What you do:

Joshua was the man God chose to lead his people into the land they had been promised. As they entered the new land, they came to the city of Jericho, which they had to capture. It was such a big city that it seemed impossible. Read Joshua 6:1–5 to find out what God told Joshua to do. (If you have time, you could continue reading to verse 20.)

Take the letters of Joshua's name and see if you can write a verse, rap or chant using one letter of the name to begin each line. (It doesn't have to rhyme!)

The first line could be:

Jericho was a city with a high, strong wall.

You could then thank God that when you have hard things to do he will help you, just like he helped Joshua.

This activity will interest children with a word-centred approach to knowing God.

Use your ears

Bible link

1 Samuel 3:1–10

What you need:

a dice

What you do:

Take turns to shake the dice. If you shake a one, talk about number one below; if you shake a two, talk about number two, and so on. Everyone else must listen – no interrupting, fidgeting or making faces!

Play the game until everyone has had at least one turn. If anyone finds it hard to talk, others can help by asking questions, but otherwise just listen.

  1. What I like to eat.
  2. Which clothes I like wearing.
  3. My best friends.
  4. Things that make me cross.
  5. Places I like going to.
  6. Things that make me happy.

Did you find it hard to listen? If you did, make sure you get lots of practice! Listening to each other is important, especially in families.

Read a story about some people who had to listen in 1 Samuel 3:1–10. Pray now and ask God to make you all good listeners.

This activity will interest children with a word-centred approach to knowing God.

The story of King Josiah

Bible link

2 Chronicles 34:1–21,29–33

What you need:

pieces of dowelling rod, or ice lolly sticks (two per person)

sheets of paper

pens or pencils

What you do:

Talk about any times when you have lost something. Searching for missing things can take ages! And sometimes we come across things that have been hidden away for ages that we didn't even know we'd lost! (With very young children, you could play a game of “Hunt the thimble” at this point.)

Read 2 Chronicles 34:1–21,29–33 together. You may like to act out a simple version of the story.

Talk about four things that happened to the part of the Bible which was found during the temple “spring clean”. First of all, it was LOST. After it had been FOUND, it was READ and OBEYED.

Make simple scrolls, using the paper and wooden “handles”. Write the four words “Lost”, “Found”, “Read” and “Obeyed” on them, to remind you of the story.

Now talk about the ways you read the Bible. Does it get “lost” sometimes? If so, perhaps you could find time to read it, and then obey what it says.

Finish by reading Psalm 119:4–8 as a prayer.

This activity will encourage children with an emotion-centred approach to knowing God.

Pottery class

Bible link

Jeremiah 18:1–7

What you need:

earth-clay, modelling clay or play dough

vases or pots made of china (hand-made pottery bowls would be ideal)

What you do:

See if each person can make a pot and then show it to everyone else. Talk about how the one they’ve made compares with the other vases or pots.

Read Jeremiah 18:1–7 together. Talk about how the potter is like God, and we are like the clay. We're not perfect yet, but gradually, if we want him to, God will help us to get rid of the things that aren’t right in our lives and be “moulded” into the sort of people he wants us to be.

Ask each person to think quietly of one thing in their life that they want to change.

Keep the miniature pots you made, to remind you of the way God wants to change you and mould you into something better!

This activity will inspire children with a symbol-centred approach to knowing God.

Sheepish

Bible link

Ezekiel 34:11–31

What you need:

a large sheet of paper

pencils or pens for each person

What you do:

Tear the paper into about eight pieces. Draw a fat, woolly sheep on each one.

Think about what a shepherd does to look after his sheep. Write what he does, one idea on each sheep!

Look through Ezekiel 34:11–31 if you need help, but there’s no need to read every word, just skim through. Read verse 31 out loud when you have written something on every one of your sheep.

This verse reminds us that God looks after us just like a shepherd looks after the sheep. Go through the ideas on your pieces of paper. Take the ideas that match what God does for us, such as: he protects us; he gives us food.

Display your sheep pictures somewhere for a few days to remind you to thank God for the way he looks after you.

This activity will encourage children with an emotion-centred approach to knowing God.

Build it up

Bible link

Nehemiah 1:1–4a

What you need:

a set of toy building bricks or wooden blocks

What you do:

Build a model city with a small wall around it. Imagine this is Jerusalem, a city surrounded by a strong wall which keeps the people in the city safe.

Something terrible happened to Jerusalem. You can read about it in Nehemiah 1:1–4a. When you have read it, change your model to show how Jerusalem now looked.

Work out what Nehemiah might do. Even if you know the story, think of the possibilities. Then read on (1:4b – 2:6).

Did you notice the first thing that Nehemiah did? He prayed about the problem. If you have problems or troubles, pray about them now. Then build your model city back up, just as Nehemiah did, as a reminder that God has heard your prayer.

This activity will encourage children with an emotion-centred approach to knowing God.

Teasing and taunting

Bible link

Nehemiah 4:1–6

What you need:

paper and pens

What you do:

Do people ever make fun of something you have done? If so, you’ll know how Nehemiah felt. He was trying to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem to make the city safe from enemies. Read Nehemiah 4:1–6 together.

Draw your own wall on a sheet of paper, making at least four rows of bricks. On the bottom two rows, write things which people say or do to make fun of others. Talk about why people do this.

Then, in the upper rows write things that you could do if someone is making fun of you. To start you off, find the two things Nehemiah and the people did (verses 4 and 6).

This activity will encourage children with an emotion-centred approach to knowing God.

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