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Lesson Prep

Background Scripture (read 2-3 times during the week)

Exodus 19:1-20:21

Story Summary

Shortly after God brought the people of Israel out of Egypt, they traveled through the desert to Sinai where they camped in front of Mount Sinai. Mount Sinai, also called Mount Horeb, is a very significant place. There God met and spoke with Moses, telling him why he had rescued Israel from Egypt.  God had chosen these people to be made into a holy nation, his treasured possession. "Now obey me completely. Keep my covenant. If you do, then out of all of the nations you will be my special treasure. The whole earth is mine." Exodus 19:5

There at the base of this mountain, God held a dialogue with the Israelites through Moses. 

God told Moses to have the Israelites go through a 2-day preparation period. We don't know much about what this 2-day period entailed. The scripture does tell us that they were supposed to wash their clothes and abstain from sexual activity. Other than that, God just tells Moses: "have the people ready".

God also told Moses that he was going to appear before the Israelites on the third day. He told Moses to warn the people not to try to go up the mountain - not to break through the boundaries Moses was to put in place.

On the morning of the third day, they were greeted with thunder and lightning.  A thick cloud covered the mountain and a trumpet gave a very loud blast (where did the trumpet come from?!?!?!).  This made the people very afraid. But it didn't stop there.

Moses led the people out of their camp, to the foot of the mountain. Smoke covered the mountain because God appeared on the mountain in fire. The smoke was rolling up the mountain like the smoke from a furnace. The mountain shook and the sound of the trumpet kept getting louder and louder. Moses called out to the Lord, and God answered him. 

I can understand why the people trembled in fear...

God invited Moses up to the top of the mountain and again warned him that the people should set themselves apart for God, and not approach the mountain. God then asked Moses to go down and invite Aaron to come up with him.

So, there is thunder, lightning, a thick cloud, fire rolling down the mountain, smoke going up the mountain, the mountain is rumbling as it shakes, and a trumpet is sounding, getting louder and louder and louder. Would you go up to the top of that mountain if you were invited? 

So Moses and Aaron got to the top of the mountain, and God gives them the 10 Commandments.

Commandments #1-4 teach us how to show love towards God.
Commandments #5-10 teach us how to show love towards others.

  1. Do not put any other gods in place of me. (v. 3)
  2. Do not make statues of gods that look like anything in the sky or on the earth or in the waters.  Do not bow down to them or worship them.(v. 4-5)
  3. Do not misuse the name of the Lord your God.(v. 7)
  4. Remember to keep the Sabbath day holy.  Do all of your work in six days.  But the seventh day is a Sabbath in honor of the Lord your God. Do not do any work on that day. (v. 8-10)
  5. Honor your father and mother. (v. 12)
  6. Do not commit murder. (v. 13)
  7. Do not commit adultery. (v. 14)
  8. Do not steal. (v. 15)
  9. Do not give false witness against your neighbor. (v. 16)
  10. Do not long for anything that belongs to your neighbor. (v. 17)

What You Will Need

Supplies
Poster board with commandments
Trumpet (real or homemade)
Snack Suggestion
graham cracker tablets or Bugles snacks

Resource Sheet

Ten Commandments Coloring Sheet

This coloring sheet depicts Mt Sinai, when God spoke to Moses and gave him the Ten Commandments

Lesson

1. Warm Up

get your kids talking and engaged

You can do several things to get the kids' attention to start this lesson:

  • If possible, get your hands on a smoke machine. Start it up, getting smoke to pour into the room (be careful to announce to them that there is not a fire!)
  • Blow a trumpet to gather the children to the lesson. If you can't get your hands on a real trumpet, make one! Instructions here: http://www.instructables.com/id/Make-A-Homemade-TrumpetBugle/
  • You can do the "Rule Maker" reinforcement activity.

Ask the children: how do you feel about thunderstorms?  Do you like watching the lightning or do they make you a little nervous?

Today, we're going to learn about a time when God appeared to the Israelites in a thunderstorm and gave them some very important directions.

2. Teach the Story

teach a holistic story

Read story from a Children's storybook Bible for younger children.

For older children, read story from an age-appropriate Children's storybook Bible or tell the story yourself.

As you are teaching the lesson, write the commandments on a poster board to display in your classroom.

Try your best to help the students really get a feel for what was happening on that moutain, but be sensitive (especially in younger classrooms), not to scare them. 

3. Bible Mastery

give them basic Bible skills

Scripture for Kids to Read Aloud: Exodus 19:16-19, Exodus 20:3, 4-5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 (commandments)

4. Comprehension Questions

make sure they understand the story

First, ask the children if they have any questions about the story. What to do if you don't know the answer?

  • What was the name of the mountain where the Israelites were camping? (Mount Sinai)
  • Why did God bring them out of Egypt? (to make them his treasured people)
  • Who went up onto the mountain? (Moses and Aaron)
  • What occurred prior to God speaking? (thunder, lightning, smoke, fire, the mountain shook, and sounds of a trumpet)
  • What did God give Moses? (ten commandments)
  • What are the 10 commandments? (see lesson background, see if the kids can come up with them as a group)

5. Faith Questions

help them apply the story to their lives and open up a conversation about faith and the gospel; close with prayer
  • Have you kept every one of the 10 Commandments perfectly?
  • We are all sinners (we miss the mark of God's perfect law), but through God's grace, he forgives us if we will ask and repent.

6. Memory Verse

hide God's Word in their heart
Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Do not depend on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5

Reinforcement Activities

Mother May I?

Scripture Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long time in the land the Lord your God is giving you. Exodus 20:12

  • Have all the children stand in a line and create a finish line about 10-15 feet away from them.
  • Go down the line and give one child at a time instructions to do something.
  • For example:
    • Take 3 baby steps
    • Take 1 giant step
    • And so on...
  • The child must say, "Mother May I?" before they move.
  • If they don't, they must go back to the starting line.
  • The first child to the finish line is the winner.

Make Thunderstorm pictures

Scripture On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. Exodus 19:16

Supplies blue, black and white paint, white paper

  • Mix paint colors to make various shades of blue and gray.
  • Paint clouds on white paper to make thunderstorm clouds.

Rule Maker

Heads up! This is a good activity to do before the lesson

Scripture Exodus 20:1-17

Supplies posterboard, marker

  • One student is chosen to come up with 10 rules.
  • Write the "commandments" on a posterboard
  • The rest of class has to follow rules.
  • Encourage rule maker to be creative (ex: students must cluck like a chicken before answering questions)

Climbing Mount Sinai to get Commandments

Scripture Exodus 20:1-17

Supplies index cards, one word on each card to spell out ten commandments

  • Have each word of each of the 10 commandments written on separate cards.
  • Divide class into teams and give each team a commandment.
  • One person from each team has to run to Mount Sinai (would be great to have cards at the top of a staircase, or can use a table or other obstacle to climb in room) and retrieve their stack of cards.
  • When they return to their group, the team works to put them in order.
  • You can have them go get another commandment and work on more than one, if the class size is too small to have separate groups do all 10.

Hot Potato Commandments

Scripture Exodus 20:1-17

Supplies chairs, large stone, music

  • Sit up chairs in a circle.
  • Have students pass a rock.
  • When music stops, the person with the stone has to say one of the 10 commandments.
  • They cannot re-use a commandment that someone else has said.
  • If they cannot remember, they are out.

Commandments Balloon Pop

Scripture Exodus 20:1-17

Supplies 10 balloons for each team (have separate colored balloons for each team) strips of paper with commandments on them

  • Place a strip of paper with one of the 10 commandments in each balloon.
  • Repeat for each color of balloon, depending on how many teams you need.
  • Place balloons on one side of the room. (Colors can be mixed up now)
  • Divide students into teams.
  • One person from each team must go choose a balloon that has their color.
  • Take balloon back to their group and pop balloon.
  • Repeat until you have all of the strips of paper.
  • First team to put the commandments in order wins.
  • Can also have them separate commandments into the two groups (relationship with God or others)

Sounds on Mount Sinai

Heads up! You can teach story prior to this lesson, so students have a frame of reference for this activity.

Scripture On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain[b] trembled violently, and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder. Then Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him. Exodus 19:16-19

Supplies trumpet, smoke machine, computer

  • Have students meditate on the sounds that came from Mount Sinai, consider having them close their eyes.
  • Blow a trumpet, gradually increasing in volume.
  • Turn on a smoke machine.
  • Use a computer to play sounds of thunder.
  • After this amazing display, verse 20 tells us that the Lord descended to the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain. So Moses went up.
  • How do you think Moses felt about going up the mountain with all of this going on around him?

Smoke Bombs!

Scripture Smoke covered Mount Sinai, because the Lord came down on it in fire. The smoke rose up from it like smoke from a furnace. The whole mountain trembled and shook. Exodus 19:18

Supplies one star ping pong balls, pencils, thin aluminum foil, lighter

  • Smash and cut up 2 ping pong balls.
  • Put a hole in a 3rd ball.
  • Put the smashed pieces into the ball with the hole.
  • Stick a pencil into the hole and cover with aluminum foil, leaving the pencil end uncovered.
  • Mold foil tightly around ball and pencil.
  • Remove pencil.
  • Light bottom (end with ball) of the smoke bomb.
  • It should take about 10 seconds. It takes longer if your foil is thicker.

Clay Tablets

Scripture The Lord finished speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai. Then he gave him the two tablets of the covenant. They were made out of stone. The words on them were written by the finger of God. Exodus 31:18

Supplies white bread, white glue

  • Make clay according to the instructions below
  • Craft into tablet shapes.
  • Can take a sharpened pencil and lightly trace commandments into clay before allowing it to air dry.
  • Each student can make their own to take home, but make an extra set of larger tablets and keep them to place in the Ark of the Covenant in lesson 20.

Learning 10 commandments- commandment #1

Heads up! This activity will continue for the next 10 weeks, learning a different commandment each week.

Scripture You shall have no other gods before me. Exodus 20:3

Supplies colored beads, leather string

  • Teach the first commandment.
  • When the child can tell you each commandment correctly, without assistance, they are given a bead for a bracelet.
  • Keep the bracelet in the classroom and when they have learned all 10 commandments, they get to take it home.
  • To help them remember the commandments, you can separate them into 2 groups for the children.
  • The first four commandments are concerning our relationship with God.
  • The last six are concerning our relationship with others.

Tablet

Heads up! print out the 10 commandments on half a page of paper

Supplies card stock, printed commandments, scissors, crayons

  • have kids fold over a piece of cardstock and cut a tablet shape out of it (so that it can open like a book)
  • have them title the cover 'the 10 commandments'
  • allow the kids to color and decorate the tablet
  • glue the commandments inside of their tablet/book

Dry Ice Smoke

Heads up! Be careful with dry ice. Do not allow it to touch your skin and do not mix it with water in an air-tight container.

Scripture Smoke covered Mount Sinai, because the Lord came down on it in fire. The smoke rose up from it like smoke from a furnace. The whole mountain trembled and shook. Exodus 19:18

Supplies 1 lb dry ice, hot water, bucket, tongs, gloves

  • Purchase dry ice at your local grocery store (try and get it the morning of your lesson, or just a couple hours beforehand)
  • Heat about 1/3 to 1/2 gallon of water almost to a boil
  • Pour the hot water into a bucket
  • Use tongs (with gloves on) to place a chunk of dry ice into the bucket
  • What looks like smoke will immediately begin pouring out of the bucket. It is actually gaseous CO2 (carbon dioxide), which is heavier than air, so it will settle to the bottom.
  • You can "pour" the smoke out of the bucket by tipping it slightly (being careful not to pour the hot water out)
  • Be sure there is good ventilation in the room you are doing this activity in.