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.
get your kids talking and engaged
Ask students questions about major events that have happened in their lives, or important people:
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.
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.
give them basic Bible skills
Scripture for Kids to Read Aloud: Joshua 3:5-7, 11-17; 4:1-3
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?
help them apply the story to their lives and open up a conversation about faith and the gospel; close with prayer
hide God's Word in their heartI can do everything through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13 (NIV)