We combined the books of Ezra and Nehemiah into one week in Hightide, because they focus on pretty much a similar theme: Israel beginning to return to Jerusalem and rebuild their culture. We read excerpts that I picked out ahead of time from Ezra and discussed how the people returned and began to rebuild the temple, but were already failing in following God when Ezra himself showed up.
Then, I brought out graham crackers and icing and we “rebuilt” the temple. We talked about how this rebuilt temple was nowhere near the glory of Solomon’s temple, which we had just talked about.
Moving on to Nehemiah, we again read several verses from the chapters to summarize the story. Nehemiah’s goal was to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, so we discussed the importance of a wall to a city back then, as well as how Ezra and Nehemiah worked together to help the people follow the law.
So then we “rebuilt” the wall–using marshmallows and more icing.
The kids definitely enjoyed being creative and playing with food, and whether or not they remembered all the details, at least they knew that someone built a temple and a wall somewhere. 🙂
In our Hightide (preteens) class, we took 3 weeks going through these six books, doing them in pairs: 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, 1& 2 Chronicles. Because there are so many great stories throughout these books, we did mini skits–I or one of the kids would read a short section of verses, or sometimes I would summarize, and the kids would act out the parts as we spoke. Again, it simply gave them something to do besides just listening.
As we got into 1 & 2 Chronicles, I realized first of all that the timing of stories in the Old Testament was going to start getting a little confusing. Most of the books up to this point are in chronological order, but Chronicles goes back over some of the same time periods of Samuel and Kings, and the prophets later are all over the place. So we made a timeline on a couple pieces of poster board to leave posted in our classroom so that we could follow along better.
Secondly, much of 2 Chronicles is about Solomon building the temple, and it’s very descriptive. To help all of us visualize it, I thought it would be fun to draw the temple, so we did just that! I would read a verse or two at a time and just let the kids draw it how they interpreted it. Here’s their representations. 🙂
We have two services with kids programs, so I teach the same lesson (or close to it) twice each week