The book of Daniel – which takes some weird turns we rarely read (see chapters 4, 7, and 12, for example) – takes place during the exile of the people. Among its theme is the question – what does it mean to praise God in a foreign land? The twists and turns of the average life often take us to places that seem like a foreign land. How do we praise God, then? This is an important lesson for Christians of all ages. We may not be tricked or trapped like Daniel, but the lions still snap at us (see 1 Peter 5:8), yet the one who calls us is faithful, and will deliver and redeem us.
For young kids, the most important lesson to learn from this story may be, God is with me when I’m scared. A great lesson can be created out of talking about Halloween or maybe talking about the movie Monster’s, Inc (since monsters are a common fear).
Useful Resources for Understanding the Story
- Luther Seminary’s Enter the Bible article on Daniel. Specifically on Daniel 6. On the exile.
- LSTC Old Testament Professor Emeritus Ralph W Klein’s resources on Daniel.
- Wikipedia on Daniel.
Make and Do
- Make a stand up paper lion. Here is a template. Here is one made from construction paper (but the directions aren’t in English). This one is even more intricate. Or a paper cut-out with a moveable tail. Another variation.
- Make a lion mask.
- Use cupcake papers to make lions and draw a scene from the story.
- Make an “origami” lion (using the old fortune teller…I wonder what neat things you could write on the inside?).
- Make a paper bag puppet lion.
- Make a handprint lion.
- Make a courage bracelet.
- Make a lion pony bead keychain.
- Make a God’s eye for kids to keep in their bedroom to remind them that God is with them, even when they are afraid. Consider a craft that can be on their backpacks to remind them that, even where they’re afraid at school, God is with them.
- Feed a lion prayers about the things children are afraid of.
- This is a GREAT story to act out! Make sure you’ve read the story first to simplify some parts of the story.
- Play Lion, Lion, Daniel (like Duck, Duck, Goose).
- Play pin-the-tail on the lion.
- Play Daniel-Lion-Governor (a variation on rock, paper, scissors).
The first thing you may notice is that there are TWO stories of creation! The first story is about God creating the earth, sky, sea, land, and their inhabitants in order over six days, and resting on the seventh day. The second story is about God creating the animals and, ultimately Eve (whose name means “mother of all living), to be Adam’s helper (Adam’s name means, in the words of Richard Swanson, “mud guy”). Most Sunday School curriculums just pick one, normally the first one, and that’s probably a good plan, especially with young learners. If you’ve got older kids (middler schoolers, perhaps) it might be helpful to compare the two stories. Ask gentle questions about why there might be two stories and what is in common? The most faithful thing I draw from these two stories is that God is the loving artist behind all creation, no matter how everything is made, God made it.
Useful Resources for Understanding the Story
Make and Do
- Fold a regular piece of paper so there are seven sections (or eight and make the first rectangle a “title”). Draw the seven days of creation. Or make big numbers, 1-7, and color them in with what was created each day.
- Fold a paper in thirds. Draw an animal so that its head is in one rectangle, its body in the next one, and its hind end in a third. Then cut up the animals and exchange so everyone makes a new animal. Or, make three loops of paper, one with animal heads, one with animal bodies, one with animal tails. Thread them through another piece of paper with slits cut in it so you can make lots of different animals! Imagine the traits of the new animals you create. What does it eat, where does it live, what does it do?
- Use clay to make a landscape. Include hills, mountains, rivers, creeks, lakes, and the sea. What lives where? What grows where? Why?
- Make a bug home.
- Plant seeds.
- Make a peanut butter, birdseed, and pine cone bird feeder (make a few extras and pastor will deliver to shut ins!)
- Use a paper plate, blue paint, and green tissue paper to make a picture of the earth. Like this.
- Make a 3D picture of the land and sea with a ziplock bag and some dish soap (glitter is a bonus!).
- Make “hanimals.”
- Make an ocean in a bottle.
- Describe animals by their less familiar characteristics and have the kids guess the animal you’re describing.
- Play 20 Questions with various animals as the subject. Or, prepare index cards with animals on them, tape them to the kids’ backs and have them walk around asking each other questions about the animal on their back until they can guess it.
- Make slips of paper with the names of animals, 2 different animals per round. Hand out the slips of paper, at “go” the kids must find their mate/group by only making that animal’s sound. Add well known animals, considering adding real stinkers for the last round, just for fun, like a platypus.
- Play Scategories, using the days of creation as prompts (such as, something that is in the sky, something in the sea, something on the land, a plant, etc).
- Group Juggle – use a variety of stuffed animals. Stand in a circle. Have each person introduce him or herself. Say a person’s name and gently toss an animal to them. They say, “Thank you, ___” and then say another person’s name and toss it along until everyone has had a turn and it is back at the start. Repeat, always passing to the same person, this time, add more animals, until the whole group is juggling. Reverse the order for a challenge.