This game teaches the Christmas story through the game of Bingo.
Matthew 1:18-25, 2:1-23
Luke 1:5-67, 2:1-20
- Copies of the eight different bingo cards (See the filed called, “Christmas Story Bingo Cards” on the “Lesson and Material Downloads” page of http://www.teachthem.wordpress.com.) Each card has all the same pictures, but they have different placements. You can choose whether or not you reveal this information to the children.
- Something to act as blotters. You can use coins, torn pieces of paper, poker chips… You will need enough for all the children to use. (I use candy and tell the kids that they get to keep the candy whenever they make a Bingo.)
- Copy of the Christmas story at the end of this lesson.
- Optional – Prizes for getting bingos.
- Practice the script.
- Print copies of the eight different bingo cards.
- Distribute them randomly to the children so that each child has one.
Use the following script (or modify to suit your needs):
- “We’re going to play a game to tell the story of Christmas.”
- “Each of you has received a ‘Christmas Story’ bingo sheet. On it, you will see pictures that represent some of the events from the Christmas story.”
- “I’m going to read the Christmas story out loud.”
- “You have also received some blotters that you can use to put on the pictures as you hear me mention them in the story.”
- “If you see a picture that represents something I mention in the story, put a blotter on top of that name.”
- “The center space is marked, ‘G.R.A.C.E. Space.’ This one is free – like grace; you can put a blotter on it now. It’s to remind you of God’s grace to us. Grace is something that you get but didn’t earn, and the letters in the word stand for ‘God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.’”
- “You see, we have all the wonderful blessings that God wants us to have, because Jesus paid for them on the cross. We have God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.”
- “So, make sure you have a blotter on that center space, because it is already paid for.”
- “Now, if you get five boxes in a row, in a column or in a diagonal marked, you have a bingo, and you should shout out, ‘BINGO!’”
- “If you get a BINGO, you can keep playing and see how many BINGOs you can make.”
- “Does anyone have any questions about how to play?” (Answer questions.)
- “Okay, let’s play!” (Begin telling the story. Be sure to emphasize the picture words as you reach them. They are emphasized in the text below in bold and enlarged font. Several pictures will be mentioned more than once, so the kids have multiple chances of finding them. (However, the words are not emphasized in the text the second time they are mentioned.) All Scriptures are taken from The Message, because it is more lyrical. I’ve skipped some passages in order to shorten the game for children with shorter attention spans, and I’ve changed a few words to make them more understandable for young ears. Chapters and verses are noted, and both the books of Matthew and Luke are used in order to give a more complete picture of the story.)
- (Optional Follow-Up: Ask the kids to take their Bingo cards home and to try to retell the story to their parents, siblings or friends using the pictures.)
THE CHRISTMAS STORY
A Childless Couple Becomes Pregnant
During the rule of Herod, King of Judea, there was a priest named Zachariah. His wife’s name was Elizabeth. Together they lived honorably before God, careful in keeping to the ways of the commandments and enjoying a clear conscience before God. But they were childless because Elizabeth could never have children, and now they were quite old.
It so happened that as Zachariah was carrying out his priestly duties before God, it came his one turn in life to enter the sanctuary of God and burn incense.
The congregation was gathered and praying outside the Temple at the hour of the incense offering. Unannounced, an angel of God appeared just to the right of the altar of incense. Zachariah was paralyzed in fear.
But the angel reassured him, “Don’t fear, Zachariah. Your prayer has been heard. Elizabeth, your wife, will bear a son by you. You are to name him John. You’re going to leap like a gazelle for joy, and not only you—many will delight in his birth. He’ll achieve great things for God.
“He’ll drink neither wine nor beer. He’ll be filled with the Holy Spirit from the moment he leaves his mother’s womb. He will turn many sons and daughters of Israel back to their God. He will announce God’s arrival in the style and strength of Elijah, soften the hearts of parents to children, and lead even hardened skeptics to believe—he’ll get the people ready for God.”
Zachariah said to the angel, “Do you expect me to believe this? I’m an old man and my wife is an old woman.”
But the angel said, “I am Gabriel, the messenger of God, sent especially to bring you this glad news. But because you won’t believe me, you’ll be unable to say a word until the day of your son’s birth. Every word I’ve spoken to you will come true in God’s time.”
Meanwhile, the congregation waiting for Zachariah was getting restless, wondering what was keeping him so long in the sanctuary. When he came out and couldn’t speak, they knew he had seen a vision. He continued speechless and had to use sign language with the people.
When the course of his priestly assignment was completed, he went back home. It wasn’t long before his wife, Elizabeth, became pregnant. She went off by herself for five months, relishing her pregnancy. “So, this is how God acts to remedy my unfortunate condition!” she said.
A Virgin Becomes Pregnant
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to the Galilean village of Nazareth to a virgin engaged to be married to a man descended from David. His name was Joseph, and the virgin’s name, Mary. Upon entering, Gabriel greeted her:
“Good morning! You’re beautiful with God’s beauty, Beautiful inside and out! God be with you.”
Mary was thoroughly shaken, wondering what was behind a greeting like that. But the angel assured her, “Mary, you have nothing to fear. God has a surprise for you: You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus.
“He will be great, be called ‘Son of the Highest.’ The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David; He will rule Jacob’s house forever— no end, ever, to his kingdom.”
Mary said to the angel, “But how? I’ve never had a husband.”
The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, the power of the Highest hover over you; Therefore, the child you bring to birth will be called Holy, Son of God.
“And did you know that your cousin Elizabeth is going to give birth to a son, old as she is? Everyone called her barren, and here she is six months pregnant! Nothing, you see, is impossible with God.”
And Mary said, “Yes, I see it all now: I’m the Lord’s maid, ready to serve. Let it be with me just as you say.” Then the angel left her.
Mary didn’t waste a minute. She got up and traveled to a town in Judah in the hill country, straight to Zachariah’s house, and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby in her womb leaped. She was filled with the Holy Spirit, and sang out exuberantly…
Mary stayed with Elizabeth for three months and then went back to her own home.
The Birth of John
When Elizabeth was full-term in her pregnancy, she bore a son. Her neighbors and relatives, seeing that God had overwhelmed her with mercy, celebrated with her.
On the eighth day, they came to circumcise the child and were calling him Zachariah after his father. But his mother intervened: “No. He is to be called John.”
“But,” they said, “no one in your family is named that.” They used sign language to ask Zachariah what he wanted him named.
Asking for a tablet, Zachariah wrote, “His name is to be John.” That took everyone by surprise. Surprise followed surprise—Zachariah’s mouth was now open, his tongue loose, and he was talking, praising God!
A deep, reverential fear settled over the neighborhood, and in all that Judean hill country people talked about nothing else. Everyone who heard about it took it to heart, wondering, “What will become of this child? Clearly, God has his hand in this.”
Then Zachariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied…
Before they were married, Joseph discovered that Mary was pregnant. (It was by the Holy Spirit, but he didn’t know that.) Joseph, embarrassed but noble, determined to take care of things quietly so Mary would not be disgraced.
While he was trying to figure a way out, he had a dream. God’s angel spoke in the dream: “Joseph, son of David, don’t hesitate to get married. Mary’s pregnancy is from the Holy Spirit-conceived. God’s Holy Spirit has made her pregnant. She will bring a son to birth, and when she does, you, Joseph, will name him Jesus—’God saves’—because he will save his people from their sins.” This will fulfill what the prophet said:
‘Watch for this—a virgin will get pregnant and bear a son;
They will name him Immanuel (Hebrew for “God is with us”).’
Then Joseph woke up. He did exactly what God’s angel commanded in the dream: He married Mary. But they didn’t act like husband and wife until she had the baby. He named the baby Jesus.
The Birth of Jesus
About that time, Caesar Augustus ordered a census (count of the people) to be taken throughout the Empire. This was the first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for. So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David’s town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiancée, who was pregnant.
While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the inn.
An Event for Everyone
There were shepherds camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.”
At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises: “Glory to God in the heavenly heights, Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.”
As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the shepherds talked it over. “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.”
They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the shepherds were impressed.
Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The shepherds returned and let loose, glorifying and praising the Lord for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they’d been told!
Scholars from the East
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem village, a band of scholars (wise men) arrived in Jerusalem from the East. They asked around, “Where can we find and pay homage to the newborn King of the Jews? We observed a star in the eastern sky that signaled his birth. We’re on pilgrimage to worship him.”
When word of their inquiry got to King Herod, he was terrified—and not Herod alone, but most of Jerusalem as well. Herod lost no time. He gathered all the high priests and religion scholars in the city together and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?”
They told him, “Bethlehem, Judah territory. The prophet Micah wrote it plainly:
“It’s you, Bethlehem, in Judah’s land, no longer bringing up the rear.
From you will come the leader who will shepherd-rule my people, my Israel.”
Herod then arranged a secret meeting with the scholars from the East. Pretending to be as devout as they were, he got them to tell him exactly when the birth-announcement star appeared. Then he told them the prophecy about Bethlehem, and said, “Go find this child. Leave no stone unturned. As soon as you find him, send word and I’ll join you at once in your worship.”
Instructed by the king, they set off. Then the star appeared again, the same star they had seen in the eastern skies. It led them on until it hovered over the place of the child. They could hardly contain themselves: They were in the right place! They had arrived at the right time!
They entered the house and saw the child in the arms of Mary, his mother. Overcome, they kneeled and worshiped him. Then they opened their luggage and presented gifts: gold, frankincense, myrrh.
In a dream, they were warned not to report back to Herod. So they worked out another route, left the territory without being seen, and returned to their own country.
After the scholars were gone, God’s angel showed up again in Joseph’s dream and commanded, “Get up. Take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt. Stay until further notice. Herod is on the hunt for this child, and wants to kill him.”
Joseph obeyed. He got up, took the child and his mother under cover of darkness. They were out of town and well on their way by daylight. They lived in Egypt until Herod’s death. This Egyptian exile fulfilled what Hosea had preached: “I called my son out of Egypt.”
Herod, when he realized that the scholars had tricked him, flew into a rage. He commanded the murder of every little boy two years old and under who lived in Bethlehem and its surrounding hills. (He determined that age from information he’d gotten from the scholars.)
Later, when Herod died, God’s angel appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt: “Up, take the child and his mother and return to Israel. All those out to murder the child are dead.”
Joseph obeyed. He got up, took the child and his mother, and reentered Israel. When he heard, though, that Archelaus had succeeded his father, Herod, as king in Judea, he was afraid to go there. But then Joseph was directed in a dream to go to the hills of Galilee.
On arrival, he settled in the village of Nazareth. This move was a fulfillment of the prophetic words, “He shall be called a Nazarene.”