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Lesson Plan: Children

God’s Blessing: “Water” Shared by Community

For children ages 4-12 years old

Biblical Background - Exodus 17:1-7: The Lord said to Moses, … “I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb.  Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.”  Moses did so … (Exodus 17:5-6)

Session Goals:  By the end of this session, the children will be able to

  • identify God’s will for each of us to be whole and healthy
  • relate to a leader’s role in carrying out God’s will
  • relate to the individual’s role (their role) in carrying out God’s will
  • sense the relationship between the individual’s “wholeness” and the community’s
  • “wholeness”

Resources Needed:

Demonstration (Moses strikes the Rock)

  • Sponges that can be trimmed into “human shapes” (dry, expandable kitchen sponges are the most dramatic, however, pre-cut craft sponges may also be used)
  • Balloons (several round balloons that can be filled with water)
  • A large wash tub
  • A stick or very long pencil sharpened to a point (must be sharp enough to pierce the balloon
  • Heavy-duty scissors to trim and shape sponges
  • Crayons to color and “personalize” the expandable sponge shapes

Craft (A mural to tell the story)

  • Water-based paints (several colors, poured in flat bowls for sponge painting)
  • Water-based Markers to create the background images
  • A large sheet (roll) of white paper for the mural
  • “Baggies” for each class member (demonstration and craft)

  Session Plan for Teachers

Beginning the Session

Tell the class what is happening today at their church.  The whole church is celebrating a Health Care Sabbath - a time for prayer, study and action.  We believe that God loves us and wants us to be healthy and happy – not just some of us, but everyone.  Today we are discovering what it means to be “healthy and happy” – to be “whole.” In understanding “wholeness” (shalom) as God’s Will, we begin to understand what God is calling us to do – how we must act, and the things we must do, so that everyone can be healthy and whole.

Lead the class in a short prayer:  God, we know that you love us and that you want us to be healthy and happy in a very special way.  Let the lessons we hear today help us discover Your way.  Teach us to share your love; show us what we can do to make our world healthy and happy

Developing the Session


1. Telling the story

Read Exodus 17:1-7, or tell the story of Moses following God's instructions and striking the rock to bring water to God's thirsty followers.  These thirsty people were afraid they would get sick and die in the desert; they were afraid Moses could not help them; they were even afraid that God had abandoned them.  But, of course, God was there - God keeps promises to us, even when we do not keep out promises to God.  When Moses asked God for help, God helped Moses save the people.  God used their leader, Moses, and the healing waters were given to everyone.

Do you think anyone else helped Moses and God?

Who helped the little babies get some of the water?  Could someone have helped the sickly, frail older people?  Did the young shepherd boys make sure their sheep had a drink of water?

Once the people were able to see the water, and because they understood how important it was, it is not hard to imagine that God and Moses had many helpers.

Do you think some people didn’t want to share the water and tried to keep as much as they could, just for themselves?  Why would they do this?

This story is also about People testing God.  The followers were afraid that God would not take care of them.  But, by providing the water, God showed them that they didn’t need to be afraid.  The followers could trust in God; They could all help Moses share the water.

The water in this ancient story was necessary for the people to be healthy.  That is why we are studying the story on Health Care Sabbath. This story teaches us that God wants us to be healthy – all of us.  It reminds us that God is helping us even when we are afraid to trust.  If we can remember this, maybe we won’t be afraid to help God. 

2. Bringing the Story to Life

Considering the allotted time and the resources available, choose to have your class perform the Demonstration and/or create a mural.

Demonstration:  Recreate the desert story using a balloon filled with water as the “rock at Horeb” and the dry sponges as the “thirsty followers.”  The washtub will contain the event.

Before class, fill several balloons with water to symbolize the “rock at Horeb.”  If you prefer a modern interpretation, the balloons could represent our “health care system” and the water, the variety of health care services available in our country.  You may need more than one balloon to assure a satisfactory “burst” of water.  Fill each by securing the opening over the faucet tip and slowly turning on the water.  Tie the balloons in a know at the top to contain the water.

Begin by coloring the flat, dry sponges (smooth side) to represent the people (and animals) in the desert.  For a modern interpretation, have the children draw themselves or members of their family and friends, to represent followers of God and members of the community.  If you are using pre-cut craft sponges, have each child select a shape and mark their sponge so that it can be distinguished from the others.

Place the “water balloon” in the center of the washtub, its weight should it in place.  Have the children surround the “rock of Horeb”/Health Care System with their thirsty/sick sponges.  Even in a random placement, some (those nearest the balloon) will get thoroughly drenched and others will receive just a dribble of the water.  This uneven distribution of the “healing waters” is the intent!

Select a class member to represent Moses/Congress and instruct him/her to strike (pierce) the “rock of Horeb”/health care system balloon with the “pointed” staff.  Caution: Gently pop the balloon. If the blow is too hard, the healing waters may escape the tub.

Watch the water flow into the sponges.  They swell and become whole.  Some, however, get too much water; others, not enough to be completely wet.  But, God intended for everyone to receive the waters.

How can we help our Moses/Congress spread the water to our sponges that didn’t get the water?

Pick up one of the very full sponges and squeeze it over a dry sponge.  We can help God spread the healing waters to everyone.  God works through us – we help God by making sure that everyone has an opportunity to feel the healing waters.  We are God’s disciples, helping God to bring health and wholeness to all the people. 

Have the children help you squeeze the full wet sponges onto the dry ones.  Isn’t it fun, watching the sponges puff up!  Helping God is fun.

Note:  If you have more sponges than one balloon of water could soak, repeat the process.  God promised Moses “that the people may drink,” not just “some” of the people.

Painting a Mural

    • Recreate the story of the “flowing of healing waters” in a mural and display it in your congregation’s fellowship hall where other members can learn and enjoy it.
    • Using the markers create the image of the “rock of Horeb” with waters flowing outward.  Using the precut craft sponges, sponge paint images of God’s followers by dipping them into the dishes of paint and gently pressing them on the paper.
    • Allow the images to dry as you discuss how your mural might reflect the ways some of the followers helped others to get the water.  Challenge your class to be creative – how would they have helped?
    • Working with markers on the dry mural, add the detail of “helping hands.” Ex: one sponge image could be holding a baby and offering it water from a cup.  Your class members may wish to add their image, helping someone receive the waters.

Concluding the Session

Hand out the baggies so that each class member can take one of their sponges home.  They can use the sponge (after its thoroughly rinsed, of course) at bath time.  The sponge is a reminder of the relationship between God’s healing waters and God’s helpers. 

Each time they use the sponge in the bathtub, they should be reminded that can help God make sure that everyone (every child) has those things necessary for health and wholeness.

What do children need for health?

Good water and food, clothes to keep them warm, a home, immunizations, love, etc. if time permits you may wish to make a list to display in your fellowship hall.

 How does your congregation help children to become and stay healthy?

  Conclude with a brief prayer:
            Lord, we thank you
            for the waters that quench our thirst,
            for our healthy bodies and eager minds
            for a spirit that knows your love.
            As we go today
            go with each of us,
            calling each and teaching each to be Your helper.

SuAnne Breen Holmes
[Written for Interfaith Impact's Health Care Advocacy Kit, 1994] 

Faithful Reform in Health Care ~ P.O. Box 6174 ~ Wilson, NC 27894-6174 ~ 1-888-863-8910