Building the Nation Children’s Sunday School Lessons


Hey, Sunday School teachers, parents, and children's activity coordinators! It takes a lot to build a bunch of slaves into the nation that God wants them to be. Here are some of the lessons the Israelites had to learn.

  • Helping to Build the First Church – how were the Israelites supposed to worship?
  • Following God's Lead – how could they know what God wanted them to do?
  • God Chooses the Leaders – where did the people fit into God's plan?

These are questions that we need to answer too, and, thankfully, the lessons God gives us through the experiences of the Israelites helps us to do just that. Kids will learn about humbly using their talents for the good of God's church. They'll also learn about Christ's sacrifice for them and how they can listen for God leading them in their daily lives. This is a power-packed collection of lessons that, while not based on the most popular stories, has some important messages for all of us.

Building the Nation

If you missed them, go back and pick up my lessons on Preparing for the Exodus , The Exodus , and 40 Years in the Desert .

You can also check out my children's sermons about the Exodus for shorter object lessons on some of the main stories.

Recommended Extras

All you need to make these Sunday School lessons successful learning experiences are provided below. I do, however, like to mention some other teaching tools I've used. They're inexpensive or free and can be a great help in providing a clearer picture of the Biblical setting.

Paid Resources

God's Special Tent – This in-depth book Jean Stapleton is a great resource for your classroom. It would be well worth walking through with an older group of kids during your lesson on Helping to Build the First Church. It talks all about how the Tabernacle was constructed, how the Israelites worshipped, and what the priests did. It's from a Christian perspective and reinforces the message of Jesus as our once-for-all sacrifice.

Tabernacle 3D Puzzle – This puzzle from Christian company Hark! makes a great activity for you and your small class to work on together. Use it to talk about the Tabernacle and what the Israelites did there. Afterward, keep it a decoration in your classroom to remind the students of what you talked about.

The Tabernacle Workbook – Nancy Fisher has certainly done her homework on the Tabernacle, and she invites kids and adults to do the same with this all-encompassing resource. I've used it for the reproducible worksheets, but it also includes craft and recipe ideas you could try in class.

Free Resources

Let kids take this spiritual gifts test during your lesson on Helping to Build the First Church or God Chooses the Leaders to help them discover how God might be wanting to use them. If you don't have to complete it in class, send it home with the kids to do on their own time. Encourage them to show you the results the next week so that you can go over it with them.

Free Sunday School Curriculum has a coloring and activity page for The Tabernacle as well as a pattern to make your own cardstock replica . They also published a packet for The Israelites Follow God . I recommend using it for your lesson Following God's Lead. It includes a board game for the Israelites following the cloud.

Helping to Build the First Church Children's Sunday School Lesson

Purpose: Use this children's Sunday School lesson about the Tabernacle to teach kids about the Church and what Jesus did for us on the cross.

Note: This lesson could be divided into three lessons if you wish: Building the First Church, Bring Our Offerings, and What They Did at the First Church

Needed: paper, crayons or markers, offering plate, supply of coins, (optional: soft play balls or paper wads)

Intro Activity: What Can You Do to Help? – Have the students draw themselves doing one thing that they can do to help at the church. Help them think of something if they can't come up with something on their own.

Lesson: (Note: Always allow students enough time to think about and answer the questions before clarifying the teaching.)

Summarize Exodus 35:30-36:7 , using the following story and asking the included questions as you read.

After God brought the Israelites out of Egypt and gave them His rules, the next thing they had to do was build the first church so that they could worship God in it. The first church was called the Tabernacle.

Then, Moses said to the Israelites, "See, the Lord has chosen Bezalel and has put the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, to live inside of him and has given him talents and skills to build the Tabernacle church and to make all the furniture and decorations for the church. And God has made people to help him."

God gave Bezalel three things. What were they? (The Holy Spirit to live inside of him, talents and skills to build the church, and people to help him.)

Do you think God could give you the Holy Spirit to live inside of you? (Yes. The Holy Spirit lives inside of everyone who believes in Jesus.)

Do you think God can give you talents and skills to help at church? (Yes. God gives everyone some kind of talent. It's different for everyone. We have to think about what kinds of talents and skills God has given to us and think about how He wants us to use those skills to help at church.)

Why do you think God gave Bezalel people to help him at the church? (Building the church and making everything was a big job. God knew that Bezalel would need help. That's why we need to help at church too. One person can't do it all by themselves. We all need to do our part to make it the best it can be.)

So, Bezalel started working to build the Tabernacle church, just like Moses had told him. But he needed some things to do his work.

If you were building a church, what kinds of things would you need? (Suggestions could include wood, metal, cloth, etc.)

So, the rest of the people brought their offerings to Bezalel at the church so that he could buy the things he needed.

Do you think our church needs money to do the things we do? (Yes.)

What kinds of things does our church need money for? (Paying the pastor and the other workers, paying our electricity and water and gas bills, money to help people, etc.)

Where does the church get the money for that stuff? (From people's offerings.)

Just like the people needed to bring their offerings to the church back in Moses and Bezalel's time, so we need to bring our offerings to church now.

And the people brought so much offering to the church, that Moses said, "We have enough money, everyone! Stop bringing your offerings!"

Do you think Moses was happy that the people had brought enough money? (Yes.)

And we can be happy to have enough money for our church, too, but to make that happen, everyone has to do their part in bringing their offerings.

If you get an allowance or you get birthday money or anything like that, you should learn how to do your part by bringing part of that money to church and giving it as an offering to God.

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.

Lesson continues: When the Tabernacle, the first church, was finished, what do you think the people did there? (Help students brainstorm to name some of the things we do in church today, explaining that those things that we do are some of the same things that they did back then.)

One thing that the Israelites did back then that we don't do today is they killed animals during church!

God's rule is that when someone does something bad, when they sin, they are supposed to be put to death. When you sin, God says you have to die. That's the punishment.

But God doesn't want you to die and He didn't want the Israelites to die, either. So, He made a way for the people to be forgiven when they sinned so that they wouldn't have to die.

God said that if you did something wrong and sinned, you could bring an animal, like a sheep or a cow, to the church, and then, the pastor, whom they called a priest back then, would kill the animal, and the animal would die instead of you.

It was like God was pretending that the animal had done the wrong thing and could be punished instead of you. When the animal was killed, God forgave you for what you had done.

Do we still do that today? Does the pastor kill animals in church? (No).

How we can be forgiven for the wrong things we've done? (Listen to responses).

Instead of killings animals to take our punishment for us, Jesus came and died on the cross and took our punishment. Jesus died so that we don't have to. When we believe in Jesus, God forgives us for all of our sins.

Jesus coming to die for us was like someone volunteering to get spanked or grounded for us when we were the ones who did something wrong. Jesus loved us enough to come die and go through the worst punishment ever so that we could be forgiven for our sins. When we believe in Jesus, God forgives us and takes us to Heaven when we die.

So, let's remember that we can all do things to help in church like Bezalel did. We can all bring our offerings to church to help the church pay for things like the Israelites did. And we can do all the things that Israelites did in the first Tabernacle church in our church, except Jesus came to die for us and forgive us for our sins so that we don't have to kill animals anymore.

Game: Taking Our Place – Play a game of dodge ball with soft play balls or paper wads. When one team starts to accumulate a lot of players in the "Out" zone, run in and say that you'll take their place being out. They can get back in the game. Do the same for the other team. Keep doing it as long as time allows. Then, explain that just like we were taking the place of people who were out, Jesus took our place on the cross. He took our punishment so that we could be forgiven for our sins.

An alternative is a game of two-team tag. Take the place of students who are tagged and out of the game.

Closing Prayer: Father, thank You for giving all of us ways that we can help in Your church. And thank You for sending Jesus to die for us so that we could be forgiven for our sins. Help us to live for You every day and to do our part to help Your church. In Jesus' name we pray, amen.

Following God's Lead Children's Sunday School Lesson

Purpose: Use this children's Sunday School lesson about Moses leading the Israelites to teach children about what it means to follow God.

Needed: newspaper or current events magazine

Intro Game: Simon Says – Students follow your commands and motion when you say, "Simon says" first. If you don't say, "Simon says" before the command, and they do it anyway, they're out. If they follow a motion that doesn't match the "Simon says" verbal command, they're out. The winner is the last one in the game.

End by bringing everyone back into the game and telling the group that you're going to take them on a journey. Have them follow you, mimicking your motions, on a journey through the church.

Lesson: Summarize Numbers 9:15-23 , using the following story and asking the included questions as you read.

After God brought Moses and the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, they had to walk through the desert to get to their new home, they place where Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph were all from before Jacob and Joseph and all his brothers moved to Egypt.

While they were in the desert, God gave them the Ten Commandments and told them to build the first church, the Tabernacle. When the people of Israel had built the Tabernacle, a cloud from God came down and floated above the whole building. It stayed there all day, and, at the end of the day, when it started to get dark, the cloud turned into a pillar of fire. In the morning, it was a cloud again. And it kept going like that every day. In the daytime, a cloud covered the Tabernacle, and, at night, fire covered it.

Sometimes, the cloud would float up above the Tabernacle and start moving to someplace else. When the people of Israel saw the cloud move, they knew that was God was telling them that He wanted them to move too. So, they would pack up all their things, pick up the Tabernacle, and follow the cloud wherever it went.

Why did the people move when the cloud moved? (Because that was God telling them that He wanted them to move.)

If the cloud didn't move on some day, the people wouldn't move, either. They would wait until God made the cloud move. Sometimes, God would make the cloud stay where it was for a long time, and, sometimes, He would make the cloud stay there for only one day. However long the cloud stayed there, the people of Israel stayed where they were. And if it moved, they moved with it. Whatever the cloud did, the people followed God's command and followed it.

Why did the Israelites stay where they were if the cloud stayed where it was? (If the cloud stayed where it was, that was God's way of telling the people that He didn't want them to move yet.)

So, God used the cloud to tell the Israelites where to go and what to do. Do you think God could tell you where to go and what to do? (Yes.)

Does anyone remember a time when God told you to do something?

What kinds of things could you use to help you know what God wants you to do?

God uses the Bible to tell us, or prayer, or our conscience. Sometimes, the Holy Spirit living inside us gives us a feeling of what we should do. Sometimes, God uses other Christians to help us know what to do. Sometimes, something happens in our life to tell us.

(Tell a story about a time God led you to do something through one of these ways or through another method.)

One time, a man was driving in another country and he was taking Bibles to people who didn't know about God. But before he got there, a big snowstorm started and his car began sliding all over the road because the snow was so slippery. He crashed his car in a ditch and didn't know what to do. A few minutes later, an old man came out and took him to his farm. When they got there, the old man asked if he had brought the books. He said, "What books?" and the old man said, "The books about God."

The man had been taking Bibles to other people down the road, but God had made his car crash here so that he could give the old man a Bible too. Sometimes, things happen in our life to help us know what God wants us to do. If his car hadn't crashed, he never would have known that he was supposed to give a Bible to that old man. So, look for what God is doing in your life. Go where He wants you to go and do what He wants you to do just like the Israelites did when they followed the cloud.

Game: What Does God Want? – Have the students pair up and read through a newspaper story. Their goal is to determine what God would want in the situation. Try to avoid taking sides on political issues, but speak in general terms.

Prayer Activity: Have the students sit quietly in prayer. Direct them to listen for one thing God wants them to do today. Ask for volunteers to share afterward.

Bible Activity: Have the students choose a random Bible story to read on their own. Ask them to find one thing that God wants to say to them through that story. Again, ask for volunteers to share what they found.

Game: Simon Says – Play the intro game again, reminding students that we want to follow God whenever He tells us to do something.

Closing Prayer: Lord, make us be like the Israelites who only moved when You told them to. We only want to do what You tell us. Help us to pay attention to all the ways You can speak to us. In Jesus' name we pray, amen.

God Chooses the Leaders Children's Sunday School Lesson

Purpose: Use this children's Sunday School lesson about Moses and the Israelites to teach kids about using our talents in the way God calls us to.

Needed: Nothing (you might need some supplies depending on which activities you pick for the Talent Time game)

Game: Talent Time – Have students perform a mix of activities to show that everyone has different talents.

Some examples include running a race, seeing who can kick a ball or paper wad the furthest, seeing who can do math problems the fastest, seeing who can answer the most questions about the Bible, seeing who can bust out the best dance moves or sing the best, seeing who can tell the best joke or do the best funny voice

You can run the game as a Decathlon with different stations or as a talent show with volunteers to perform in each category. At the end, you can ask for volunteers to show any talents that you didn't already name.

Lesson: Ask students, How do people pick their leaders?

What does a leader have to be good at?

If you're with your friends, who gets to be the leader?

How do we pick our leaders for the country, like the president?

How do we pick our leaders in church?

(Summarize Numbers 16 , using the following story and asking the included questions as you read.)

One day, while Moses and the Israelites were living in the desert after God freed them from slavery in Egypt, four men named Korah, Dathan, Abiram, and On started making trouble for Moses and his brother, Aaron. They said, "We are all God's people. Why does Moses get to be the leader? And why does his brother, Aaron, get to be the priest? Why can't we be the leaders?"

Do you think the four men should be allowed to be the leaders?

Should anyone have a chance to be the leader if they want to?

When Moses heard the four men saying this, he got down on his hands and knees and prayed. Then, he stood up and said to the four men, "Tomorrow, the Lord will show you who the leaders are supposed to be. You will all get your chance to try to be the priest, and whoever God chooses, that person will be the priest."

So, the next morning, Aaron and all four of the men and the four men's followers came to the Tabernacle church. Then, God made it so that the ground started shaking and an earthquake happened. The ground split apart under the four men's feet and they fell down into the crack. The ground closed back up and the men were smooshed and buried in the crack. Then, God sent fire down from Heaven and burned the four men's followers. Only Moses and Aaron were left because they were the ones whom God had chosen to be the leaders for the people.

Why do you think God killed those four men who wanted to be the leaders?

The four men were trying to take over being the leader from Moses and Aaron. God had already picked Moses and Aaron to be the leaders.

Remember that God has given us all talents and made us good at different things. He made some people to be good at making things and some people to be good at singing and playing music. He made some people to be good friends toward people and He made some people to be good leaders. You have to do what God has made you good at.

You can't be the leader if God has made you good at something else. If you want to be the leader, you have to wait to see if God has picked you to be the leader. If God hasn't picked you to be the leader – if He's picked you to do something else – then you shouldn't try to be the leader.

What do you think God has picked you to do? What has He made you good at?

We all have to do our part and use the talents that God gave us. But, let's say you do think God made you to be a leader. Does that mean that you have to be the main leader?

God might want you to be a leader who helps the main leader.

(Summarize Exodus 18:13-26 .)

One time, Moses was trying to be the leader all by himself. Everyone would bring him their questions and problems. Moses' father-in-law, Jethro, said, "Moses, you can't keep being the leader all by yourself. You'll wear yourself out! Choose some other people to help you."

Jethro gave Moses a plan to make different levels of leaders. Some leaders were leaders over 1,000 people. Some leaders were leaders over 100 people. Some leaders were leaders over 50 people. Some leaders were leaders over ten people. And Moses was the leader of all of them.

The leaders who were leaders over ten, 50, 100, or 1000 people helped Moses as the main leader.

So, even if we think that God wants us to be a leader, we have to think about whether He wants us to be the main leader or a leader over a smaller group who helps the main leader.

There's nothing wrong with being a leader who helps and there's nothing wrong with not being a leader at all. God made us all to be good at different things and He wants us all to do our part with the talents He gave us. He doesn't want us to try to be the leader if He didn't choose us to be the leader.

Game: Pyramid Race – Students divide into teams to build a human pyramid as quickly possible. Point out that the person on top of the pyramid looks like the leader. But they couldn't be on top of the pyramid if their other teammates hadn't helped them. The main leader needs other leaders to help them, just like Moses needed other leaders to help him.

Mix up the teams and play again.

Closing Prayer: Father, You gave us all of us talents and You chose all of us to do different things in life. Help us to know what You want each one of us to do so that we can serve You in the best possible way. In Jesus' name we pray, amen.

Follow this collection of lessons with Entering the Promised Land .

Patreon supporters can print these lessons out as Word documents. You can also get them for your Kindle app or in paperback in Slaves to Conquerors: Children's Sunday School Lessons for Exodus – Joshua .

May God's Spirit be with your spirit as you prepare and teach this week! - Steve

About the Author

Steve and Mindy

Steve has a Master's of Divinity and has served as an associate pastor for about 7 years. Steve is passionate about passing on his devotion and does so in a variety of ways. Check out his Patreon or the About page to find out how you can help support his efforts.


  • Ministry to Children
    Sunday School Lessons

    How to build your children’s ministry with free resources for your children’s ministry or family time. Includes children’s Sunday School lessons and children’s sermons on the entire Bible!

Recent Articles


  • Ministry to Children
    Sunday School Lessons

    How to build your children’s ministry with free resources for your children’s ministry or family time. Includes children’s Sunday School lessons and children’s sermons on the entire Bible!

Recent Posts