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Paul and Silas in Jail Sunday School Lesson
The craft needs to be made prior to class for this interactive lesson on Paul and Silas in jail. Making the craft and teaching the lesson takes about 45 minutes. Teaching tips for dramatizing the story are included.
The children wear paper chains in remembrance of the handcuffs Paul and Silas wore. Elementary aged children should be able to cut and glue the strips with little or no adult supervision, but younger students will need some assistance.
This lesson is age appropriate for the lower elementary grades, but it can be modified for preschoolers by omitting or simplifying the discussion questions.
After making the pretend chains, the children participate in acting out the Bible story. If the classroom has a dramatic play area with costumes, invite the kids to dress-up in biblical style.
Here's What You Need
To make the craft section of the lesson flow faster, prepare the paper before class as follows. Using the length of the paper (the eleven inch side) and a piece of white chalk, divide the paper into one and one-half inch sections.
Each child needs ten strips for the craft (5 paper loops is about the right length for a child), so the total number of strips needed depends on individual class sizes.
- 8 ½ x 11” black construction paper
- White chalk
- Kid friendly scissors
- Blanket or towel
- A Bible or a copy of the text of Acts 16:22-40
This craft is fun and simple, but the impact on the children is tremendous. After cutting the strips apart, the children use tape or staples to make paper rings and join them to make a short chain. Let each child make two sets of chains: one to be used during the story and one to take home.
Dramatize the Lesson
Spread the blanket on the floor and invite the children to be seated. Explain that Paul and Silas did not have a blanket or any means of getting comfortable in prison. They had been hurt and were sore and uncomfortable.
Hold up a set of the pretend handcuffs and chains made from paper and show the children how to slide their hands into them. (Teachers wear a set of handcuffs during the story just like the class.) Tell the children the purpose of the chains is to help them understand what prison was like for Paul and Silas.
Here's What to Do:
- Dim the lights in the room (the prison was dark), and start telling the story.
- At the point in the story where the two men are singing and praising God, stop and lead the children in singing “Jesus Loves Me.”
- Remind them the men were also praying and lead them in a simple prayer like: "Thank you, God, for taking care of me all the time."
- Talk about praising God no matter what is happening, and then continue the story.
- When it is time for the earthquake to shake the jail, stand, clap your hands sharply, and say in a loud voice “Earthquake!”
- Model to the children swaying from side to side as if being shaken in an earthquake.
- Turn on the lights and break free from the handcuffs while encouraging the children to break free.
- Finish the story and emphasize the fact the prisoners did not try to escape.
- The jailor found all of them there when he came to investigate.
- Because of the miracle, the jailor believed in God and was saved.
Discussion Questions and Life Application
This simple dramatization of the story of Paul and Silas’ rescue from prison makes the Bible come alive for the children as they take part in the drama.
This type of storytelling and recreating of familiar Bible stories reinforces prior learning and provides links to deeper learning and understanding.
Here are some suggested discussion questions:
- Why were Paul and Silas in prison?
- Instead of being unhappy, they were singing and praising God - why?
- How do you act when bad things happen to you?
- How did Paul and Silas get their freedom?
By the end of this Sunday school lesson plan, the children know and understand the following concepts:
- God takes care of us wherever we are.
- God answers prayer.
- Trust in God is rewarded.
Following a structured plan helps teachers cover all the key points of lesson and introduce multisensory learning opportunities. The children hear the story, imitate the actions, and internalize the message.
References and Resources
The author writes from her classroom experience as a Christian educator.