This is the 4th in a 5-part series on the life & ministry of Moses, including a lesson entirely on the 10 Commandments.
This printable lesson plan is designed to teach preschool aged children about the story of how the Israelites kept on grumbling. It could be used in any setting with children age 2-5 at church, including a preschool Sunday School class or a preschool children’s church class. As always, consider your own ministry context and modify it as needed. Click here to see the series index.
Bible Story: Moses and the People of Israel
Bible Reference: Exodus 16:2-4,6-8,11-15, 17:1-6
Learning Objectives: After this lesson, the children will demonstrate an understanding of what the people of Israel were like by reenacting the story.
Target Age: 2 year olds – 5 year olds
- Bible, Exodus 16:2-4,6-8,11-15, 17:1-6
- “Moses and the People of Israel” Booklet
- 1 paper plate per child, crayons
- Sand (different colors if possible), liquid glue, small bowls, plastic spoons, craft sticks
Worship: Use the “Moses Songs” (extra print out) to lead the children to sing before the Bible lesson.
Teaching Plan: Moses and the People of Israel
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.
Let each child color (using crayons) a paper plate. Please make sure each child’s name gets on their plate. These will be used later in the lesson.
Worship: Moses Songs
Bible Lesson Introduction
What does it mean to complain? What do you usually complain about? We will find out what the people of Israel complained about in our Bible lesson today.
Read Exodus Exodus 16:2-4,6-8,11-15, 17:1-6(NIRV) aloud to the children. There is also a book that you can print out that has the story along with simple pictures to help the children understand what is being read.
Read the verses (story) to the children. If you are using the print out story, point to the pictures as you read the story so that the children can better understand what you are saying.
2 In the desert the whole community told Moses and Aaron they weren’t happy with them. 3 The Israelites said to them, “We wish the Lord had put us to death in Egypt. There we sat around pots of meat. We ate all of the food we wanted. But you have brought us out into this desert. You must want this entire community to die of hunger.”
4 Then the Lord spoke to Moses. He said, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people must go out each day. Have them gather enough bread for that day. Here is how I will put them to the test. I will see if they will follow my directions.
6 So Moses and Aaron spoke to all of the people of Israel. They said, “In the evening you will know that the Lord brought you out of Egypt. 7 And in the morning you will see the glory of the Lord. He has heard you say you aren’t happy with him. Who are we? Why are you telling us you aren’t happy with us?”
8 Moses also said, “You will know that the Lord has heard you speak against him. He will give you meat to eat in the evening. He’ll give you all of the bread you want in the morning. But who are we? You aren’t speaking against us. You are speaking against the Lord.”
11 The Lord said to Moses, 12 “I have heard the people of Israel talking about how unhappy they are. Tell them, ‘When the sun goes down, you will eat meat. In the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.’ ”
13 That evening quail came and covered the camp. In the morning the ground around the camp was covered with dew. 14 When the dew was gone, thin flakes appeared on the desert floor. They looked like frost on the ground. 15 The people of Israel saw the flakes. They asked each other, “What’s that?” They didn’t know what it was.
Moses said to them, “It’s the bread the Lord has given you to eat.
1 The whole community of Israel started out from the Desert of Sin. They traveled from place to place, just as the Lord commanded.
They camped at Rephidim. But there wasn’t any water for the people to drink. 2 So they argued with Moses. They said, “Give us water to drink.”
Moses replied, “Why are you arguing with me? Why are you putting the Lord to the test?”
3 But the people were thirsty for water there. So they told Moses they weren’t happy with him. They said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt? Did you want us, our children and our livestock to die of thirst?”
4 Then Moses cried out to the Lord. He said, “What am I going to do with these people? They are almost ready to kill me by throwing stones at me.”
5 The Lord answered Moses. He said, “Walk on ahead of the people. Take some of the elders of Israel along with you. Take in your hand the wooden staff you used when you struck the Nile River. Go. 6 I will stand there in front of you by the rock at Mount Horeb. Hit the rock. Then water will come out of it for the people to drink.” So Moses hit the rock in the sight of the elders of Israel.
Read the story again, but this time have the children do the following motions:
People of Israel – make an angry face
Food – act like you’re eating
Water – act like you’re drinking
Discuss the Bible Reading
When you are finished reading the story the second time, ask the children the following questions so that you can know they understood it.
“Who was in the story?” Moses, God, people of Israel
“What did the people of Israel complain about first?” They wanted food
“What did God give to them?” Bread and Meat
“What did the people of Israel complain about next?” They wanted water
“Did God give it to them?” Yes
“How did God give them water?” He had Moses hit a rock and it came flowing out of it
Bible Lesson Craft / Activity
Activity: Sand Picture
“Where were the people of Israel wondering around in our Bible Story today? (allow for responses) They were wondering around the desert for 40 years! That’s a long time! Does anyone know what the desert has a lot of? (allow for responses) The desert has a lot of sand. Today we are going to make a picture out of sand to remind us of the people of Israel.”
• Give each child their colored paper plate
• Have the children spread glue all over their paper plate (you may want to let them use craft sticks to spread the glue better – optional)
• While the children are spreading their glue, put the sand in the small bowls with a couple of plastic spoons in each bowl
• Demonstrate to the children how, by using the spoon, to pour sand onto their picture. Have the children shake the sand around their paper and them to pour the extra back into the bowl for someone else to use.
• If you have different colors of sand, allow the children to use their imaginations.
Activity: Bible Verse Memorization
“The whole community of Israel started out from the desert. They traveled from place to place, just as the Lord commanded.” Exodus 17:1
Have the children do the following hand motions along with repeating the words after you, to help them learn the Bible Verse:
The whole community of Israel: wave both arms in front of you as though you were showing a large group
Started out: start to walk around
From the desert: swipe your hand across your forehead as though you were hot
They traveled: walk in place
From place to place: point to different areas in the room
Just as the Lord commanded: make a “saluting” motion – bringing a flat hand up to your forehead as though you were in the army
Exodus 17: hold up all 10 fingers and then 7 fingers
1: hold up 1 finger
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 at this age.
Bible Verse Activity: The Desert Obstacle Course
“What is our Bible Verse about today? (allow for responses) Yes, the people of Israel complained a lot and had to wonder around the desert. We are going to act like we are the people of Israel. Our classroom is going to become the desert and we are going to wonder around in it.”
Place items from around the room in some sort of a path for the children to follow. For example:
* Chairs to go around
* A carpet square to step over
* A chair to crawl under
Let the children know that the people of Israel complained while they were in the desert. They kept forgetting how God took care of them.
Evaluation: Have the children reenact the story.