This children’s church or Sunday school lesson plan on the Exodus story explores the topic of migration. In this lesson, you’ll read the story of the Exodus together and then follow a “pillar of cloud” on a journey of your own in a follow-the-leader-style game. Along the way, reflection questions will invite children to imagine what it is like to go on a migration journey and consider how they can show God’s love to their own migrant neighbors. You could use this in a kids worship or Sunday school setting to invite children to reflect on migration in the Bible and today. Kristin Brouwer, family ministry director at Trinity Reformed Church in Orange City, Iowa, developed the lesson plan.
The Exodus: A Migration Journey Lesson Plan
- A children’s version of the Exodus story (our recommendation is the version from Young Children and Worship)
- “Pillar of cloud” (you could cut a cloud shape out of construction paper, use a pillow, or even simulate a cloud with dry ice)
Suggested age range: 4-7 years old
Preparations: Entering into worship
Purpose: We approach God ready to worship and learn.
Leader: Where we are is a very special place to be with God. We walk more slowly. We speak more softly. We greet one another.
Leader: “The Lord be with you.”
Children: “And also with you.”
We talk to God.
Sing a few worship songs and/or pray together.
Suggested song: “I Will Sing unto the Lord” (based on Exodus 15)
We also worship God with our offerings.
Take an offering.
Today we’re going to hear a story about people who left their homes to go on a journey.
How many of you have ever traveled away from home before? What was it like? (Take time to let each child share.)
Scripture: The story of the Exodus
Purpose: We proclaim God’s Word.
Read Exodus 15:1-2:
Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord:
“I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously;
horse and rider he has thrown into the sea.
The Lord is my strength and my might,
and he has become my salvation;
this is my God, and I will praise him,
my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
Tell the story of the Exodus. We really like the Young Children and Worship version of the story. But another retelling of the story for children would also work.
Response activity: Following the cloud game
Purpose: We understand God’s Word.
Leader: A cloud guided the children of Israel during the day and a pillar of fire guided the children at night in the desert. What do you think it would have been like to follow a cloud and see a pillar of fire at night?
We are going to play a follow the leader game where we follow a cloud on our own little journey. I will hold the cloud. When the cloud moves, everyone moves. When the cloud stops, everyone stops.
Questions to ask on your journey:
When you stop, ask some reflection questions (suggestions below) before you continue walking. At the places you stop, you could pick up items to carry in a bag with you to represent things you might need on a migration journey. This might make the journey more memorable, particularly if the items you pick up connect to the question you ask on a stop.
- Imagine that we just left our home where our family lived for the last 400 years (Egypt). How would you feel?
- What do you think you would eat on the journey? I wonder what it feels to be hungry and not have any food?
- I wonder what it felt like for God to lead them through the water to freedom.
- Why do you think the children of Israel were leaving Egypt?
- Where were they going? Do you think they knew anyone there?
- If you were in the Israelites’ situation, what do you think you would say? What would you do? Would you have stayed in Egypt? Why or why not?
- What would you ask God?
Reflecting on the Exodus story: Migration then and now
Purpose: We apply God’s Word in our lives.
Leader: Did you know that people like the Israelites are still moving from one place to another. That is what migration means: moving from one place to another. A person who migrates from one place to another is called an immigrant.
We just used our imaginations to go on a journey, but many people today go on journeys like we just did for real. They don’t always know how they will get food, where they will sleep, or even where they will be going. That can be scary or hard.
God tells us how to treat people who move to where we live from other places in Leviticus 19:34:
The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God (NIV).
Do you know where you were born? What about your parents or grandparents? Take time to let children share.
No matter where we live and where we come from, God is with us and God is with our families.
Read Mark 12:30-31:
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.
What is God asking us to do? Allow children to respond. If they need a nudge, you can point out how much these verses talk about love.
How do you think we could love our neighbors? Allow time for children to respond.
Those are good ideas! Here are some things you might not have thought of. We could treat them like we want to be treated, be kind to them, be helpful in times of trouble, be their friends, etc.
Additional activity ideas
- Read a children’s book about refugees or immigration.
- Write cards to people in detention centers.
- Show a video and discuss it.
- Make pillars of fire or pillars of clouds: paint, draw, or get creative with construction paper and empty paper towel rolls. Then encourage children to put their pillar somewhere where they’ll see it each day as a reminder of those who are migrating today like the Israelites did.
Leader: What is one thing you’ll remember from our time together today? Give children a chance to respond.
Close in prayer.
We thank you God for the opportunity to be able to hear your Word and learn from it. We pray that we can love people well. We pray for those we know who have migrated. We pray for those we don’t know who are migrating. We pray for safety. We pray that, just as you were with the Israelites in the desert, you will be with those moving, migrating, and traveling today. May they feel, know, and experience your love. We pray that when others see us, they see Jesus in our lives. Amen.