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Lesson Prep

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

Joshua 1, 3-5:1

Story Summary

When Moses died, Joshua became the leader of the Israelites. In Joshua 1, God reaffirmed his promises to give the promised land to the Israelites. God told Joshua to be strong and brave three times between verses 6 through 9 just in chapter 1 of Joshua. God promised to be with Joshua, as He was with Moses. 

In chapter 3, Joshua began to rally the Israelites to get prepared to cross the Jordan river and into the promised land. The Israelites approached the Jordan river and then set up camp there. The priests prepared the Ark of the Covenant to be carried into the Jordan river. Remember that the Ark of the Covenant was created by Moses under instruction from God. They placed the 2nd set of stone tablets that had the 10 Commandments written on them into the Ark of the Covenant (anyone remember what happened to the 1st set of stone tablets?).

Joshua told the people that they need to watch for the Ark of the Covenant, and when they see it pass by, to follow along, but not too close (about 1000 ft behind).  So the priests picked up the Ark of the Covenant and carried it into the Jordan River. As they entered the river, the water began to pile upstream so that it stopped flowing. The priests were standing in the middle of the river on dry ground!

Joshua chose 12 men - one from each of the 12 tribes of Israel - to gather a stone from the middle of the river and carry it across. Joshua wanted a physical reminder of where they had been, so he piled up the stones as a monument to this very important event.  He told the Israelites to tell the story of how God led them across the river on dry ground to all of their children when they asked about that pile of stones.

After the men gathered the 12 stones and all of the Israelites had crossed the river, Joshua ordered the priests to finish carrying the Ark of the Covenant across the river. As soon as they stepped onto the river's bank, the water began to flow again. 

What You Will Need

Supplies
pictures of important events in your family or church

Resource Sheet

Joshua Crossing the Jordan Coloring Sheet

This coloring sheet depicts Joshua leading the Israelites across the Jordan river, with the Ark of the Covenant

Lesson

1. Warm Up

get your kids talking and engaged

Ask students questions about major events that have happened in their lives, or important people:

  • What was your favorite birthday present you have ever been given?
  • What was the name of your kindergarten teacher? 
  • What was the name of your first pet?

We remember things that have been important to us.

If you have pictures of important events in your life (your wedding, birth of children, graduation from high school, etc) or church (your first service, old pictures of members, previous buildings, etc) show them to the students and talk about what happened.  

In our Bible story today, God tells the Israelites to remember something that happened to them that was very important.

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.

3. Bible Mastery

give them basic Bible skills

Scripture for Kids to Read Aloud: Joshua 3:5-7, 11-17; 4:1-3

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 river did the Israelites cross to go into the promised land? (The Jordan River)
  • What city was across the river? (Jericho)
  • What did the priests carry into the river? (the Ark of the Covenant)
  • What was in the Ark of the Covenant? (the 2nd set of stone tablets that had the 10 Commandments written on them)
  • What happened to the first set of stone tablets? (Moses broke them in anger when he came down the mountain to the Israelites worshipping the golden calf)
  • What happened when the priests stepped into the water? (it stopped flowing and they stood on dry ground)
  • What did Joshua order 12 men to pick up from the river? (12 stones)
  • Why did he want them to pick up the 12 stones (so they could have a physical reminder of when they crossed the river on dry ground)
  • Who were the 12 tribes of Israel? (the descendants of the sons of Jacob)
  • This was the 2nd time the Israelites crossed a body of water on dry ground as they were leaving Egypt. What was the first? (when the crossed the Red Sea fleeing Pharaoh and the Egyptian army)

5. Faith Questions

help them apply the story to their lives and open up a conversation about faith and the gospel; close with prayer
  • We've talked a lot today about important events in our lives and how we should remember them.
  • Do you remember when God saved you?

6. Memory Verse

hide God's Word in their heart
I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13 (NIV)

Reinforcement Activities

Paint Stones

Scripture He said to them, "Go back to the middle of the Jordan River. Go to where the ark of the Lord your God is. Each one of you must pick up a stone. You must carry it on your shoulder. There will be as many stones as there are tribes in Israel. Joshua 4:5

Supplies one stone per child

  • Paint stones as a reminder of the 12 stones the Israelites collected in the dry bed of the Jordan River, as they crossed.

Stone memorial

Heads up! Can use cereal box cardboard, instead of card stock

Scripture “Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe, and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, from right where the priests are standing, and carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight.” Joshua 4:2

Supplies 12 small stones, per student, cardstock, glue (possibly hot glue gun, depending on size of pebbles), blue paint, white paint. paint brush

  • Paint cardstock blue.
  • Add white and lighter blue to look like water.
  • Glue 12 stones in a pyramid shape onto cardstock or cardboard.
  • Glue a strip of white paper with Joshua 4:2 once dry to bottom of cardstock.

Learning Memory Verse with Stones

Heads up! Write one word of the memory verse on separate stones

Scripture He said to them, "Go back to the middle of the Jordan River. Go to where the ark of the Lord your God is. Each one of you must pick up a stone. You must carry it on your shoulder. There will be as many stones as there are tribes in Israel. Joshua 4:5

Supplies 12 or 24 stones

  • Use a permanent marker to write one word of the memory verse on 12 different stones.
  • If making it a competition between two groups of students, make 2 sets of the verse.
  • Challenge students to place stones in order to spell out the verse.

Reminder Journal

Scripture The stones will serve as a reminder to you. In days to come, your children will ask you, 'What do these stones mean?' Tell them that the Lord cut off the flow of water in the Jordan River. Joshua 4:6-7

Supplies small journal for each student

  • Glue a few small stones or pebbles on the front cover of a journal.
  • Encourage students to write down their prayer requests in a journal.
  • Looking back through a journal can help them see the way God has been working in their lives.

Stones Mobile

Scripture He said to them, "Go back to the middle of the Jordan River. Go to where the ark of the Lord your God is. Each one of you must pick up a stone. You must carry it on your shoulder. There will be as many stones as there are tribes in Israel. Joshua 4:5

Supplies 12 stones per student, 3 small sticks per student, twine, glue gun

  • Connect 3 sticks together with string or twine.
  • Attach 12 stones to twine with a glue gun.
  • Tie twine with stones to sticks. Add a piece of glue to knot to hold.

Stone Necklaces

Scripture He said to them, "Go back to the middle of the Jordan River. Go to where the ark of the Lord your God is. Each one of you must pick up a stone. You must carry it on your shoulder. There will be as many stones as there are tribes in Israel. Joshua 4:5

Supplies thin colored wire, 1 stone per student, needle nose pliers, Ribbon

  • Bend wire around stone to hold it securely and twist at the top to create a loop for the ribbon to go through. This should create a pendant.
  • Attach a ribbon through wire pendant
  • Tie ribbon to length you want the necklace.

Cardboard box Ark of the Covenant

Heads up! Reinforcement activity from lesson 20

Scripture Exodus 25:10-22

Supplies cardboard box, 2 broom sticks

  • Decorate box
  • Attach 2 long sticks on bottom of box, near sides
  • Place clay tablets (made in lesson 19) inside box.

Holding Back the Water

Heads up! make sure index card will completely cover the opening of the glass

Scripture Right away the water that was coming down the river stopped flowing. It piled up far away at a town called Adam near Zarethan. The water that was flowing down to the Dead Sea was completely cut off. So the people went across the Jordan River opposite Jericho. Joshua 3:16

Supplies glass, water, index card

  • Fill the glass all the way to the top with water.
  • Allow it to barely overflow the glass.
  • Place index card over the opening of the glass.
  • Press down to make sure index card seals to the opening of the glass.
  • Hold your hand over the index card, as you slowly turn glass upside down.
  • Move your hand.
  • Index card should hold water in the glass.
  • The force of air pressure against the card is stronger than the force of gravity on the water.
  • The air pressure holds the card in place.

Learning 10 commandments- commandment #7

Scripture Do not commit adultery. Exodus 20:14

Supplies colored beads, leather, string

  • Teach the seventh commandment. Obviously this commandment only really applied to adults, but it can still be taught to children in an age appropriate way. You can teach it as, "Husbands and wives should show love only to each other".
  • 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.

Find 12 Stones

Scripture He said to them, "Go back to the middle of the Jordan River. Go to where the ark of the Lord your God is. Each one of you must pick up a stone. You must carry it on your shoulder. There will be as many stones as there are tribes in Israel. Joshua 4:5

Supplies a field with rocks or stones in it

  • If there is a field near your place of worship, take your children outside and have them find 12 stones
  • Bring them together and pile them up
  • Remind the students that Joshua had 12 men, 1 from each tribe, carry 12 stones to the place they were camping and piled them up as a reminder that God did a miracle when they crossed the Jordan River into the promised land
  • If you can, leave them there and encourage the students to take their parents out to that place and tell them what it means.
Find 12 Stones Example

Grab bag of holiday items

Heads up! Opening activity with students of special holidays that we celebrate with

Scripture Joshua 4:5

Supplies Items for Christmas (ornament), Thanksgiving (turkey pinecone), Holloween (pumkin), Easter (plastic egg), etc

  • Have one child at a time pull something from the bag and tell what it helps them to remember about that time of the year. We celebrate special days too and have things that help us to remember them year after year like the rock memorial to the Israelites.