Joseph and His Coat of Many Colors (A Children’s Church Lesson)

This free Children’s Church lesson plan was first written for elementary aged students. It covers the story of Joseph and the interaction with him and his brothers. This material could also be used as the Bible lesson for children’s Sunday school. Be sure to consider your own ministry context and modify it as needed. Please leave any feedback or suggestions for improvement in the comment box at the bottom of this page. We also have a preschool lesson about Joseph and His Coat of Many Colors.

Bible Story: Joseph and His Coat of Many Colors
Scripture: Genesis 37:1-4, 18-28
Target Age Group: Age 7 – 11 (U.S. 1st – 5th Grade)
Time: 20 Minutes
Learning Context: Children’s Church
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Learning Objectives: After this lesson, the children will demonstrate an understanding of the story by answering questions.

Items Needed:

  • PRINT PRINT this lesson plan
  • Bible: Genesis 37:1-4, 18-28. There is a detailed explanation below to help bring out some of the important parts of the story.
  • Paper, markers, crayons
  • Whiteboard, whiteboard markers
  • CD player, musical CD
  • (optional) If you have younger kids, then our printable booklet about Joseph and his brothers will be helpful.

Worship: Use Family Songs (extra print out) to lead the children to sing before the Bible lesson.

Teaching Plan: Joseph and His Brothers

Welcome Activity: Welcome activities are things to have out for the children to do as they are arriving for class. These activities will get them engaged as soon as they arrive and will help the transition from their parents.

Have the children draw their family on a piece of paper. If they finish early, they can write a little something about each person they drew.

Worship: Family Songs

Bible Lesson Introduction
“Our Bible Story is going to be about Joseph, his brothers and his father. We will learn a little about Joseph’s family. How many of you have a family? (allow for responses – everyone should raise their hand) I want you to think about some things that people of your family like to do. What does your mom like to do? What does your dad like to do? What does your sister or brother like to do? (Write these ideas on the white board)

We are going to play “Family Charades”. You are going to act like people in your family doing different things and we are going to try to guess what you are doing. Who’s ready to play? Let’s get started.”

Play “Family Charades” with the children – taking turns with all of the children who want to participate

Bible Lesson
Have the children open their Bibles to Genesis 37:1-4, 18-28. To help them find it, use the following questions. Answers are in italics.

  • What part of the Bible is Genesis in? The Old Testament
  • What book of the Old Testament is Genesis? #1

Read Genesis 37:1-4, 18-28 (NIRV) aloud to the children – or have the children take turns reading outloud.

1 Jacob lived in the land where his father had stayed, the land of Canaan.
2 This is the account of Jacob.
Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives, and he brought their father a bad report about them.
3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made a richly ornamented [a] robe for him. 4 When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.
12 Now his brothers had gone to graze their father’s flocks near Shechem, 13 and Israel said to Joseph, “As you know, your brothers are grazing the flocks near Shechem. Come, I am going to send you to them.”
“Very well,” he replied.
14 So he said to him, “Go and see if all is well with your brothers and with the flocks, and bring word back to me.” Then he sent him off from the Valley of Hebron.
When Joseph arrived at Shechem, 15 a man found him wandering around in the fields and asked him, “What are you looking for?”
16 He replied, “I’m looking for my brothers. Can you tell me where they are grazing their flocks?”
17 “They have moved on from here,” the man answered. “I heard them say, ‘Let’s go to Dothan.’ ”
So Joseph went after his brothers and found them near Dothan. 18 But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him.
19 “Here comes that dreamer!” they said to each other. 20 “Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.”
21 When Reuben heard this, he tried to rescue him from their hands. “Let’s not take his life,” he said. 22 “Don’t shed any blood. Throw him into this cistern here in the desert, but don’t lay a hand on him.” Reuben said this to rescue him from them and take him back to his father.
23 So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe—the richly ornamented robe he was wearing- 24 and they took him and threw him into the cistern. Now the cistern was empty; there was no water in it.
25 As they sat down to eat their meal, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were loaded with spices, balm and myrrh, and they were on their way to take them down to Egypt.
26 Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? 27 Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.” His brothers agreed.
28 So when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels [b] of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt.

Discuss Bible Lesson
1 Jacob lived in the land where his father had stayed, the land of Canaan.
2 This is the account of Jacob.
Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives, and he brought their father a bad report about them.
3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made a richly ornamented [a] robe for him. 4 When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.

• Israel – God changed Jacob’s name to Israel
• Jacob has 12 sons and 1 daughter
• Jacob loved Joseph the best (along with his brother Benjamin who comes along later) because they were the children from his favorite wife, Rachel

12 Now his brothers had gone to graze their father’s flocks near Shechem, 13 and Israel said to Joseph, “As you know, your brothers are grazing the flocks near Shechem. Come, I am going to send you to them.”
“Very well,” he replied.
14 So he said to him, “Go and see if all is well with your brothers and with the flocks, and bring word back to me.” Then he sent him off from the Valley of Hebron.
When Joseph arrived at Shechem, 15 a man found him wandering around in the fields and asked him, “What are you looking for?”
16 He replied, “I’m looking for my brothers. Can you tell me where they are grazing their flocks?”
17 “They have moved on from here,” the man answered. “I heard them say, ‘Let’s go to Dothan.’ ”
So Joseph went after his brothers and found them near Dothan.

• Jacob sent Joseph to find his brothers and then report back to their father

18 But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him.
19 “Here comes that dreamer!” they said to each other. 20 “Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.”
21 When Reuben heard this, he tried to rescue him from their hands. “Let’s not take his life,” he said. 22 “Don’t shed any blood. Throw him into this cistern here in the desert, but don’t lay a hand on him.” Reuben said this to rescue him from them and take him back to his father.

• Joseph’s brothers plot to kill him
• Reuben gets the others to not kill him, but to put him in a well so he could rescue him later
• “Why do you think Reuben didn’t tell his brothers to leave Joseph alone—instead of just changing their plans?” there is no right answer

23 So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe—the richly ornamented robe he was wearing- 24 and they took him and threw him into the cistern. Now the cistern was empty; there was no water in it.

• The brothers take Joseph’s coat and put him in the well

25 As they sat down to eat their meal, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were loaded with spices, balm and myrrh, and they were on their way to take them down to Egypt.
26 Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? 27 Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.” His brothers agreed.
28 So when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels [b] of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt.

• Joseph gets sold

Bible Lesson Activities
Use the following activities to reinforce the learning goals. If time is short, move on to the evaluation portion of the lesson plan.

Activity: Act Out the Story

Characters:

  • Joseph
  • Joseph’s 9 brothers
  • Reuben
  • Jacob

You can either read the Bible again or simply use the summaries written above for the children to follow along with

Activity: Bible Verse Memorization
“Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons and he made a richly ornamented robe for him.” Genesis 37:3 (NIV)

Have the children do the following hand motions along with repeating the words after you, to help them learn the Bible Verse:

Now Israel loved Joseph: hug yourself
more than any of his other sons: point to imaginary people
and he made a richly ornamented: make sparkling motions with hands
robe for him: act like putting on a robe
Genesis 37: hold up three fingers and then seven fingers
3: hold three fingers up

Do this a few times with the children. Make it fun for them to do the motions and say the words. Involving them in active learning is essential for memorization.

Activity: Double Circle Bible Verse

• Split the children into 2 groups (equal groups work best, if possible)
• Have one group be the outside circle and the other group be the inside circle
• The two circles need to face each other
• Play the CD and have the circles turn in opposite directions
• Stop the CD and the children are now partners with the person in front of them (make sure that everyone has a partner)
• The outside circle needs to say the Bible Verse – then it’s the inside circle’s turn
• Do this again, and have the inside circle go first
• Do this a few times to help the children remember their Bible Verse

Evaluation:
Have the children answer the following questions:
• Who was the main character of the Bible story today? Joseph
• Who was Joseph’s father? Jacob (Israel)
• Why did Joseph’s brothers not like him? He was his father’s favorite
• How did his brothers know that their father liked Joseph the best? He gave him a colorful robe
• What did the brothers do to show their distaste for Joseph? They threw him in a well – then sold him

Need More Ideas? Then browse our list of children’s  Sunday School material or find a children’s church game.