Bible Lesson: Not Meatballs, But Manna

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cloudy-with-a-chance-of-meatballs-bookCloudy With a Chance of Meatballs has recently hit the big screen.  Though I’ve not seen the movie, I love the book version. This lesson plan uses that story to introduce children to the biblical accounts of God providing manna in the wilderness for the Israelites.  This lesson would work for children’s church or Sunday school and is targeted for grades 1st – 6th.

About The Book

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs is the story of a town called Chewandswallow, whose residents never go the grocery store, because food rains down from the sky.
Occasionally, Chewandswallow rains milk and soup, sometimes there is a windstorm of frankfurters, and at other times it snows mashed potatoes and peas.  The townspeople love their food from the sky, until the weather turns on them and innumerable silly disasters ensue.
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs is an imaginative story with creative images and scenarios.  But it’s not an original story.  The original story was written by God, for the Israelites, and is written in the book of Exodus.

If  you have not seen the new movie, read the review from

God Give Manna in the Wilderness Lesson Plan

Materials: Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs book, [print_link] this lesson plan, Bible, worms or maggots, manna cookies, clean soup cans or juice containers, art supplies (construction paper, felt, sequins, glitter, glue, scissors, buttons, etc.), Compassion International information.
Bible Basis: “The Lord said to Moses, “I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites.  Tell them, ‘At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread.  Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.’”  Exodus 16:11
Anticipatory Set:

  1. Ask the children what it would be like if syrup rained down from the sky, if meatballs hit us like hail, and if spaghetti tied up our town.  What would it be like for food to fall from the sky?  Would it be messy?  What if too much came?  What if you didn’t like the food that fell?
  2. Read Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, by Judi Barrett.

Bible Lesson:

Ask the students to imagine life in the town of Chewandswallow.  Have you ever heard of it raining food from the sky?
Tell the students that God did rain down food from the sky – manna and quail – for forty years.  For forty years, food fell from the sky, just like we saw in our book today.  It was how God provided for the Israelites.
Invite the students to pretend to be the Israelites and act along in our story today.
Begin with grumbling and complaining, throwing up arms in frustration, and shaking their heads.  Explain that the Israelites are angry because they used to sit around pots of meat in Egypt and now they are starving in the desert.
Read Exodus 16:11. Pretend that it’s nighttime.  Yell, “Quail, quail, quail!  Look at all these birds to eat!  This will be our delicious meat!”  Have the students rub their bellies and say, “Yummy.”  They are then allowed to go to sleep for a minute.  They have your permission!
Wake them up with a loud song, “Wake up Israelites, wake up Israelites, wake up Israelites, it’s time to wake up!”  Have them look all around at the food on the ground.  Tell them it looks like white flakes of frost.  Have them turn to each other and ask, “What is it?”
Read Exodus 16:15b. Go over the rules with the food.  Have the students repeat after you.

  • Rule #1:  Don’t be greedy.  (Only get what ya need.)
  • Rule #2:  Don’t keep any till morning.
  • Rule #3:  Get twice as much on the 6th day (so that ya won’t have to work on the Sabbath.)

Explain that some Israelites did not obey.  Yell, “Gross!”  Show the students a container of maggots or worms.  (Maybe even dangle one in front of the children.)  Tell them that some Israelites broke Rule #2.  They kept it till morning and it grew maggots and got stinky.  Shake your head angrily at the Israelites, as Moses would have.
If that weren’t enough, tell them some of them also broke Rule #3.  Explain that some people went out looking for the manna on the 7th day, when they should have been resting. Sigh loudly and read Exodus 16:28, where God is angry at Moses and His people.  Tell them that God wants us to rest on the Sabbath day.
Read Exodus 16:31 -32.  God wanted the Israelites to always remember that he provided for them when they were in the desert.

Review & Lesson Application Questions:

  1. How do you think the Israelites felt when they knew that God had “rained down” food on them?  (in awe, “wow”, thankful)
  2. Do you think there were some that were still ungrateful?  Do you think they ever got bored with what God provided for them?  Do you ever get bored with God’s provision?  (He has given us so much and yet not many seem to be truly happy or content with what they have.)
  3. Why do people get bored?  (Because we sometimes look to things or situations to make us happy instead of God, the source of life.)
  4. Why did God give the Israelites rules about the manna and quail?  (Because it was His way of taking care of them.  He wanted them to learn to trust Him and to rest on the Sabbath.)
  5. How does God provide for you?

Lead the students in prayer by thanking God for His provision in our lives.  Pray for those who do not know where their next meal is coming from.  Pray that God would provide for others, too.
Art Project:  “Compassion Cans”

  1. Utilize this opportunity to tell the students about Compassion International, a Christian relief organization.  If you have a sponsored child, introduce this child to your students and read them a letter from the child. You could also show a brief video that explains what Compassion does around the world.
  2. Tell them that 1 in 7 children go to bed without a thing to eat every day.  Have the students count off.  Every 7th student would not have had anything to eat.
  3. Read 1 John 3:17-18.  “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need and has not pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?  Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue, but with actions and in truth.”
  4. Tell the students that we can show our love for God by loving others, and giving to those who don’t know where their next meal is coming from.  Issue a one month Compassion challenge, to see how much spare change the group can come up with.  Distribute empty, clean cans or juice containers.
  5. Have the students decorate the cans with construction paper, felt, buttons, sequins, glitter, etc.  Once completed, have them take home the cans and place them in a frequented place in their family’s home.
  6. After one month (continue to remind students every week though!) collect cans for a final count of donated money.  The teacher should be modeling this also!  Congratulate students, and write a check on the spot (with money received) for Compassion International’s Global Food Crisis Fund.
  7. When Compassion responds with a thank you letter, make sure to read it to the students and post it where everyone can see!

Optional Snack:  “Manna Cookies”

  1. Make sure that the students know that no one has any idea what manna really tasted like.  The Bible said it was like wafers with honey, but that’s all the information we really know.
  2. Tell them that today’s snack may give the students a small idea of what manna was like, because it will be flavored with honey.  But it will still be far from the real thing!
  3. Distribute the Manna Cookies.

Manna Cookies Recipe:
½ cup butter
½ tsp vanilla
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 c. flour
2 tsp. honey
Cream butter and sugar;  add eggs and mix well.  Add honey and vanilla.  Add flour slowly.  Drop by half teaspoon on cookie sheet.  Bake at 400 degrees for 8 minutes.

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