Use this children’s Sunday School lesson on the birth of Samuel to teach kids about being generous toward God.
Needed: Bibles or a volunteer to play Hannah (you can read the Hannah script if you want rather than getting a volunteer), random items, playing cards or Go Fish cards, pennies
Intro Activity: How did God Make It?
Divide students into groups of two or three. Give each group an item from your home, from around the church, or from your classroom. Tell each group that they have to come up with the steps God used to make that item. Ask them to be as detailed as possible.
Two common steps, for example, would be that God created the raw materials to make the item and gave humans the intelligence and creativity to use those raw materials to make something new.
Give each group approximately 10 minutes to come up with an answer. Then, have each group share what they think. Discuss the steps as a class and see if you can name any other steps God used to make the item or if you can trace item back to God more directly.
(Note: Always allow students enough time to think about and answer the questions before clarifying the teaching.)
Ask students, What is the one thing that you want most in the whole world? If you could have anything, what would it be?
Okay, now, I want you all to close your eyes and imagine that you got that thing, whatever it is that you wanted. Think about how happy you would be. Now, imagine how you would feel if God asked you to give that thing to Him instead of keeping it for yourself.
In the Bible, there was a woman who got exactly what she wanted but then, gave it back to God.
(Read 1 Samuel 1 with your students or read the following script as a summary.)
Hi, everyone! My name is Hannah. It’s great to see all of you here today. I just love kids. In fact, that’s why I’m here. I want you to tell you about my little boy.
You see, I always loved children, but for a long time, I couldn’t have a baby. I was married to a very nice man named Elkanah, but my body couldn’t make children. My husband’s other wife, Penninah, had lots of children and she would always make fun of me because I didn’t have any. Yes, I said my husband, Elkanah, had another wife. Penninah and I were both his wives. A long time ago, men were allowed to have more than one wife, but now God said they’re not.
Anyway, I was so sad that I couldn’t have any children. Elkanah told me I shouldn’t be sad because he loved me so much, but I was sad. I loved Elkanah, but I also wanted children.
Whenever we went to church, I would pray for God to give me a baby. One time, I was sitting by myself, and I was praying and crying, and I said, “Mighty Lord, please look at how sad I am and give me a baby. If you will give me a baby, I will give him back to You so that he can serve You for his whole life.” I was praying and crying so hard that Eli, the priest, didn’t know what was wrong with me. He thought I was drunk and told me not to drink so much alcohol.
I told him I wasn’t bad like that and that I hadn’t been drinking. I was just so sad that I couldn’t have a baby. Then, he said, “Go ahead and go home, and God will give you a baby.”
A few days later, God did help me to get pregnant! I had a baby boy named Samuel. And when he was old enough, I did what I said I would do. I knew that God had given me a baby as I asked, so I gave him back to God. I brought my little boy to the church and gave him to Eli the priest so that Eli could teach Samuel how to serve God for his whole life.
(Have students thank Hannah for telling her story. Then, review what they head with the following discussion questions.)
What was the one thing that Hannah wanted most in the whole world (A baby.)
When Hannah had a baby, what did she name him? (Samuel.)
And what did Hannah do with Samuel when he was old enough? (She gave him to Eli the priest.)
Why did Hannah give Samuel to Eli instead of keeping him for herself? (She made a promise to God to give Samuel back to Him.)
What are some things that we can give to God? (Listen to student’s responses. Then, discuss the points below.)
As Christians, we believe that God owns everything. God owns your money and your clothes and your toys and your bed and your house and everything. God even owns you and your family.
When we get something, we know that it’s not really ours. It’s God’s, but He’s letting us use it. That’s why Hannah gave Samuel back to God. She knew that God gave Samuel to her, but that God still owned Samuel, just like He still owns all of us. When she gave Samuel back to God, she was thanking God for letting her have Samuel for a little while and was showing that she believed that Samuel really still belonged to God.
That’s why if God ever tells you to give something to Him, you have to give it to Him – even if it’s your most favorite thing. Because God owns everything. He gives us the things we have and lets us use them for a little while. But really, everything still belongs to Him.
When we give our offerings in church, we’re thanking God for the things He’s given us. But if God ever tells us to give everything back to Him, then we have to be willing to do that because everything was His in the first place, and He’s just letting us use it.
Game: Go Fish! Tag
In this active version of Go Fish, you can choose 1-4 students to be your Dealers, depending on how large your group is. The Dealers divide the deck of cards either by suit (if you’re using traditional playing cards) or by characters (if you’re using Go Fish cards). They randomly pass out the cards to the other students.
The cardholders spread out in your playing area and when you say, “Go!” the Dealers have to chase down who has their cards. If a Dealer tags them, the Dealer has to ask for their specific cards back. They can say something like, “Give me back all the Hearts I gave you, please” or, “Give me back my sharks, please.” The Dealer can only request one thing or category at a time.
The cardholder then gives up the cards. If they have other cards that another Dealer gave them, they’re still in the game. Once they’re all out of cards, that cardholder is out.
The winner is the Dealer who re-collects all their cards first. If you’re playing with only one Dealer at a time, play a few rounds and time how long it takes each Dealer to re-collect their cards. The winner is the one who does so the fastest. The next Dealers are the last cardholders in the game.
After you play a round or two, remind students that when God gives us something and asks for it back, we have to give it to Him, just like we have to give our cards back to the Dealers when they ask for them.
Game: Give it Away
Divide students into two teams. Give one team a handful of pennies. Have them keep as much as they think they need, giving a rationale for each cent. Question their decision on what they need to keep their money for and what they don’t. You are trying to get them to see the difference between needs and wants.
Tell them to give away the rest, putting it into an offering plate. The leader takes some of that money, explaining that it’s for the church to pay its bills, and then gives the rest to the other team. Now, ask the second team to keep what they need from what they’ve been given by the first team. Again, they put their extra into the offering.
Then, the leader pulls out more money to give to the first team to reward them for their generosity. The more they gave away during their round, the more they receive as a reward from God. They are also given the offering from team two. This is how offering works and how God rewards us for it.
Play three rounds. At the beginning of each round, the money that the teams kept is “spent” on their necessities and recycles back into the leader’s supply.
God, You made everything. You own everything. Thank You for letting us use what You made. Help us to be greedy about what we have, but give us a heart that is willing to give You back anything You ask of us. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
You can also find this lesson for Kindle or in print in my book, Samuel and David: Children Sunday School Lessons on the Boy Prophet and the Shepherd King.