Prodigal Part 1, Skit
Golden Rule Game

Noe et l'arc en ciel
par Marc Chagall

Click here for: Overview * Background Notes * In the arts * Questions for Discussion * Workshops * Revu, Activities from Noah 1

Workshops include: Arts * Games * Kitchen * Beat Box * Computer * Drama.




Perennial favourite Bible story featuring lots of animals, a big boat and a rainbow.


May Year C


ARTS – make bar of soap sculptures; pom pom animals; pipe cleaner animals.

BEAT BOX – create a rhythm routine based on key elements of the story

DRAMA – short play based on the story

KITCHEN – Fish & chips

GAME – Animal Crackers (like Fruit Salad); Noah's Ark board game

COMPUTER – Where's Noah (comes with Fall of Jericho CD from Sunday Software)


Genesis 6.9 - 9.17.



Gen. 9: 13:
"I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth" (NRSV).

After story time in church, all will meet in central Sunday school area for gathering time, brief review, then to scheduled workshops.


"Primeval history"

The story of intrepid Noah and his incredible ark is found in the opening chapters of the book of Genesis.

Introductory notes on Genesis in the New Oxford Annotated Bible (NOAB)/NRSV call the flood and creation stories 'primeval' history. Stories under this heading focus on "all of humanity," whereas other Genesis stories deal with "ancestral history," meaning about Abraham and his descendants.

Is it really history?

Genesis is the first book of the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, also referred to as the Torah (NOAB). This edition's introductory notes on the Pentateuch offer some good perspective on the question in our subheading:

"...in contrast to modern editing, which is fundamentally interested in articulating a single viewpoint, the redaction [fancy word for editing] of the Torah, like the editing of other ancient works, was not interested in creating a purely consistent, singular perspective but incorporated a variety of voices and perspectives.

"The ultimate result of this redaction, which most likely took place during the Babylonian exile (586 - 538 BCE) or soon thereafter in the early Persian period, was the creation of a very long book, narrating what must have been felt to be the formative period of Israel from the period of the creation of the world through the death of Moses."

Big happy family of flood stories

Lots has been written on the similarities between the tale of Noah's ark and other ancient stories of a deluge. The NOAB notes for example, that "the Mesopotamian Atrahasis epic [a precursor of the epic of Gilgamesh] was written hundreds of years before chs 1 - 11, yet it parallels numerous particulars of the biblical narrative as it describes the creation of the world, a flood, and the vow of the gods (here plural) not to destroy life with a flood again."

For more detail on the Gilgamesh and related ancient near eastern deluge stories, click here.

The NOAB's footnotes at Gen 7.17 point out that "flood imagery seems to have been a powerful image of chaos worldwide. Though many world traditions speak of floods, there is no geological evidence of a global flood of the sort described here."

Great, but how does Noah fit into the Christian story?

To answer this, we have to look at the body of images (or metaphors) and story cycles (or 'myths' in the Frye-esque sense of basic narratives) shared by the story of Noah and the rest of the Bible. And for that, we need look no further than The Great Code, by Canadian writer and scholar Northrop Frye.

The dual nature of water imagery

"The Deluge itself is either a demonic image, in the sense of being an image of divine wrath and vengeance, or an image of salvation, depending on whether we look at it from the point of view of Noah and his family or from the point of view of everyone else...in one aspect of the symbolism we are all fish in a symbolically submarine world of illusion," Frye writes.

"Hence both Noah's flood (I Peter 3: 21) and the Red Sea crossing (I Corinthians 10:2) are regarded in the New Testament as types [sort of like prototypes] of the sacrament of baptism, where the one being baptized is symbolically drowned in the old world and awakens to a new world on the opposite shore."

Where there's water, there's fish

Frye adds, "We can now, perhaps, understand why there should be so much fishing in the Gospels, and why Jesus himself should be so often associated in later legend with a fish or dolphin... "

What about all those cute little animals?

Writes Frye, "Two versions of the Nativity are given in Matthew and in Luke: tradition has never had any difficulty in adding Matthew's wise men to Luke's shepherd, but has adopted Luke's "manger" in preference to Matthew's "house " (2:11)... The manger, with its fertility overtones, contains a vestige of Noah's ark in the animals inhabiting it."

What about the big boat?

Frye explains: "Noah's ark, floating on a drowned world and coming to rest on top of a mountain, a gigantic seed of a new world with all the future of human and animal life in it, completes the first great cycle of human existence."

How about that pretty rainbow

According to the footnotes in the NOAB at the end of Noah's voyage at Gen. 9:13: "This is the first 'covenant' explicitly described as such in the Bible, and it encompasses all of humanity [as well as the animal world and the earth]. A "covenant" is a formal agreement, often between a superior and inferior party... This agreement is often sealed through ceremonies. In this case, God sets his weapon, the bow (Ps 7.12 - 13; Hab 3.9 - 11), in the sky facing away from humanity as a sign of God's commitment not to flood the earth again."

Awesome art

Lots of wonderful images from our friends at Biblical Art on the WWW. A couple of my favourites are:

* this Phillip Ratner sculpture

* this piece by Marc Chagall.

Water music

Okay. There's absolutely no link between GF Handel's famous Water Music and the Noah story. Except for H20. And I happen to really like this piece. Here are a few minutes of the Hornpipe from Handel's Water Music. Look down to the 'Hear the Music' section and click the underlined text for Water Music. Enjoy!

Fine poetry.

Time for a little Can-con. I'm still stuck on Montreal poet AM Klein. Test your Biblical allusion skills with this piece, "A Psalm or Prayer — Praying His Portion with Beasts" from Poems, 1944:

The better to understand Thy ways,
Divinity I would divine,
Let me companion all my days
The more-than-human beasts of Thine;
The sheep whose little woolly throat
Taught the child Isaac sacrifice;
The dove returning to Noah's boat,
Sprigless, and with tearful eyes;
The ass instructing Balaam
The discourse of inspired minds;
And David's lost and bleating lamb,
And Solomon's fleet lovely hinds;
Enfold me in their fold, and let
Me learn their mystic parables —
Of food that desert ravens set,
And of the lion's honeyed fells.
Above all, teach me blessedness
Of him, Azazel, that dear goat,
Sent forth into the wilderness
To hallow it with one sad note.

[There's a great clue, I think, to the key point of this poem from the author of 'Portrait of the Poet as Landscape' in 'The Scholar,' in Hath Not a Jew from 1940. Both poems can be found in AM Klein, Selected Poems (Toronto: U of T Press, 1997).]


1. What does the flood represent?

2. How can it be seen as a destructive image?

3. Have you ever felt pressured in a wrong direction by forces beyond your own control? How did you deal with this or keep your bearings?

4. How can the flood be seen as a symbol of baptism?

5. What does the rainbow represent?

6. What is a covenant?

7. Have your ever had to make an important deal with someone. What was it. What was your end of the deal. Was it hard to keep your promise?

8. Name some Bible stories with lots of water (or large rivers) in them. [Creation, Garden of Eden, Job, Jonah, Calling the Disciples/Galilee, Revelation 22/New Jerusalem/river of the water of life.]

9. Name some Bible stories with boats in them. [Jonah, Moses' reed basket, Calling of Disciples/fishing boat, preaching from boat, revelation to disciples at John 21/more fishing boat , Acts 27/ Paul gets shipwrecked.]

10. Name other Bible stories that feature animals. [David, Garden of Eden, 23rd Psalm, Christmas story.]

11. Name some Bible stories where the protagonist goes through rough times, then bounces back again. [Prodigal Son, Job, Ruth, Jesus].


Please find below suggested workshops for this unit. For each one, when you are in real time with the children:

1. Quickly review or recap the story with them before starting activity. Each week, see how much more detail each group of kids can supply on the story they've been studying.

2. Link or explain your activity to the current story.

Arts 1 -- bar of soap carvings.

Why: I figure those passengers on the ark with opposable thumbs who could whittle would need something to do to pass the time. How about whittling. Revisit this great old art form to get the kids to sculpt an image of hope or trust in God that would sustain them through a long dark voyage.

Materials: cheap bars of soap (3 for $1 at dollar store), kitchen knives of varying sharpness depending on the age of the kids.

Arts 2 -- pom pom animals.

Make pairs of animals using pom poms, googly eyes, cut out extras from paper scraps.

Instructions easily found by searching through Google on internet.

Material: bag of mixed size pom poms, googly eyes, white glue (or glue gun).

Arts 3 -- make pipe cleaner animals.

I love pipe cleaners. They are so bendy and stick together well without much glue being needed often times.

Instructions also available by searching thru Google on internet.

Materials: chenille stems (lots, various colours), scissors to trim some stems, glue, eye.

Kitchen -- Fish and chips

Well, what else are you likely to whip up when spending 40 days and night on the water.

To make this activity more interesting than plunking frozen chunks on a baking sheet, you could try:

- rolling fish pieces in crumb mixture and then baking.

- wash, peel and cut potatoes into slices, wedges or normal ff shapes (find one of those cool ff cutters!) and bake on a baking sheet.

Turn this into a fellowship opportunity by serving Noah's 40-day Fish & Chips after church.

Computer -- Where's Noah

This game comes with Fall of Jericho from Sunday Software. A Where's Waldo type concept. Has timer and level of difficulty dimensions, I believe. It's fun.

Game 1 -- Animal Crackers.

Like the game 'Fruit Salad.' Have the kids form a circle. Number the kids off in 2s, 3s, or 4s -- whatever fits. Tell them 1s are giraffes, 2s are lions, etc. (or let them define.) A caller says, Giraffes hop on one foot. Giraffes go around circle on one foot. You can combine, so 'Lions and bears do crab walk.' When you call 'Animal Crackers,' all the cabin fevered animals on the boat go zoo-ey and run around the circle showing what they would do when they found dry land.

Game 2 -- Design your own Noah board game.

On a large piece of poster board, sketch a race track style oval. Draw an inside edge for the oval. Mark off in approx 1 inch squares. (You can try a more complex shape like figure 8 or wobbly circle if you feel more adventurous. Colour in the squares (or save this for the kids to do).

Make instruction card for centre of board. These are the cards players will pick up when they roll the dice. You will write simple instructions on recipe cards. Or you can type and print off. Short strips would be fine.

Here's the text for 14 sample game cards:

* God sends flood to make a fresh start on earth. Move ahead 2 spaces.

* God finds Noah, a good man, who will build a large ark and take care of all the animals. Move ahead 5 spaces.

* Building ark is pretty complex and tricky. Move ahead 3.

* Collecting 2 of every kind of animal is a big job. Move ahead 3.

* Rain falls for 40 long days and nights. Move ahead 1.

* But at least you've got a seat on the ark. Move ahead 4.

* You're getting just a bit weary of feeding hungry animals and smelly hay. Move back 1.

* Those cows are really starting to smell. Move back 1.

* Dogs are chasing cats and it's raining cats and dogs. Move back 2.

* But those baby lambs are pretty cute. Move ahead 2.

* You have moments of doubt, worrying if the rain will ever stop and if the boat will ever land. Move back 4.

* Raven keeps coming back (that means it can't find a tree to land on). Move back 2.

* Dove comes back with an olive branch in its beak. Hurray, dry land is out there somewhere! Move ahead 4.

* God sets a rainbow in the sky as a sign of promise that from this moment on, God will protect all humans and animals in the whole world. Move ahead 10!

Once you get your cards made, you can decorate your game board with lots of colour. YOu will need counters (little plastic animals?!) and a die or spinner. If you have a lot of kids, think about making 2 game sets.

Beat Box -- make up rhythm routine to go with story.

Divide class into 4 groups. Brainstorm with 4 movement and voice parts to go with 4 key point of story. Practice parts one at a time. Try parts together in a round for full routine. Have older class perform for younger or during worship if you just gotta share!

Ideas for 4 parts.

1. Say, 'Build the boat, build the boat,' 2x. Make hammering, paint/pitch sealing, board sawing motions.

2. Drip drop, drip drop (4x, increase in intensity, slap hands on tops of thighs).

3. Coo coo coo coo (4x). Make wings flying motion, twig in beak(?)

4. Rainbow, ahh, rainbow ahh (2x). Raise arms straight up over head, pull arms down to shoulders on each side to draw rainbow.

** You could easily expand the number of animal sounds in this routine.


Act out 1-act play, "Noah, a man who walked with God, and a few of his new best friends."

Click here for the script.

Review, Activities from Noah 1

* Arts 1/plasticine animals

* Arts 2/papier mache boats

* Kitchen/banana boats

* Computer/digital photo album of the trip

All original text 2004 - 2014, LD McKenzie

For a brief site ed's bio, click here:


Components of these lesson sets may be used for non-profit educational purposes, citing this author and site.

free web counter