3 Lesson Plans for Teaching the Story of Cain & Abel
from Neil MacQueen, Sunday Software, www.sundaysoftware.com
I wrote this as an 3-week “anti-bully-ing” lesson set for grades 1-6. It deals with anger/jealousy, and ends with a neat art lesson and applying the “Mark of Abel” to our students (a cross as a reminder).
- Neil’s Commentary on teaching Cain and Abel to children and youth
- Opening Bible Study question for use in each lesson
- Computer Lab Lesson about Anger/Jealousy
- Video Lesson about Bullying
- Art Lesson “The Mark of Cain” versus “The Mark of Abel”
This lesson ‘set’ was created by Neil MacQueen for Sunday Software. For additional free Cain and Abel lesson suggestions, visit the Genesis forum at www.rotation.org. These lessons can be used in Sunday School, but also make a great lesson for children and youth fellowship groups.
1. Neil’s Comments about Cain and Abel
The story of “the first murder” …Cain slaying Abel, is often overlooked because of its violence. Yet, throughout faith history, this story has been used to explain the origin of humanity’s blood-lust. Worse, it happened between the very first children, which is Genesis’ way of telling us that sibling rivalry is as old as humanity itself, and can spin out of control.
Cain was the first person to be “born”, and Abel became the first person to die. You can take this literally, but the figurative point is much greater… Cain & Abel merely kicked off this important “truth about us” and the rest of the Bible CONTINUES IT in story after story: Jacob & Esau, Joseph and his Brothers, …right down to Jesus Christ and his Judas. Human beings need God’s law to restrain our worst impulses, and there are consequences for sin. We all have “the Mark of Cain”.
Unfortunately, this is subject to which children and youth can easily relate. The family is often where our jealousies, anger, and murderous impulses are first experienced. Often, it is where “bullying” starts. And sadly, “murder by family member” is a real statistic.
The subject of “bullying by peers” is a hot subject in schools and churches. Cain and Abel, and many of the Bible verses in the following lessons help bring an important Christian perspective to the subject. We don’t know if Cain was a bully, but the result is the same.
For most children, “murdering” is something they do BY WORD, and as Jesus noted in his sermon on the mount with regards to even THINKING about lust, murdering in your heart was just as SINFUL as murdering in others forms (Hard to equate them, I know. I think Jesus was speaking figuratively for effect, but also presciently, –realizing that small sins can beget BIG sins, and often do.)
The story results in the mysterious “Mark of Cain” …a metaphor if there ever was one. It’s on us, all around us, and in our souls. We’ll work on the idea of “the Mark of Cain” in the art/photography workshop.
What this particular story doesn’t tell us, is what to do about Cain, bullying or “the mark”. It only hints at that solution when God punishes Cain. In fact, you could say that THE ENTIRE REST OF THE BIBLE is about “how not to be Cain.” So we learn another important truth about Cain and Abel: like most Bible stories, it’s only setting the table for God’s complete message.
Ultimately, God comes to those who have the mark of Cain (us) –sending Christ to take it upon himself and set us free from the punishment we deserve. Christ’s spirit dwells within “Cain”….working to make us new creatures, new creations. In so many ways: Jesus makes us Abel.
So much else to say! …but let’s get on with the lessons
WEEK ONE: SOFTWARE LESSON for CAIN AND ABEL
Note: Items 1, 2, 3 and 4 here will be used for each of the following lessons
1) Tell me what you know about the Story of Cain and Abel.
2) Let’s Read the story of Cain and Abel together. Look for it in Genesis 4, and be ready to tell me what stories come before it and after it. (provides context)
3) Somebody summarize what we just read.
4) BIBLE STUDY QUESTIONS
Since we’re doing a three week set on Cain and Abel, my questions will progress each week….
a. WEEK ONE QUESTIONS: How many other “done ’em wrong duos” can you name in scripture? See what they come up with, add a few of your own, and only briefly review details about the stories.
Jacob and Esau
Joseph and his brothers
Saul and David
Ahab/Jezebel and Elijah
Pilate/Judas and Jesus
Jailer and Paul
b. WEEK TWO QUESTIONS:
Here in the second week of teaching the story, see if they can duplicate the list and of “duos” and fill out MORE details of each story. You might ask: “What happened to turn their relationship bad?” “If you had been there, how would you have stepped in to make peace between these two people?”
c. WEEK THREE QUESTIONS:
Complete this sentence…. We kill others everyday, little by little by saying or doing _________________.
You may need to work in small groups. You may need to offer starter answers, like “We kill each other little by little by ignoring their requests for help.”
(negativity, bad words, actions, inactions, taking, gossiping, ignoring, bullying, dishonesty, lying, evil looks)
5) Question for OLDER children and youth:
Ask them to recall news stories of anger that resulted in murder. This should include infamous school shooting which have occurred. Don’t be afraid to ask this question. It has probably already been discussed in their school.
6) Discuss how small things can build up in a person’s life and trigger negative and unintended consequences. Ask the kids if they know anybody who tends to let thing build up then blow.
Note that in real life, CAIN is often an ABEL who has been pushed to the breaking point.
But also note that the Bible says that EACH of us has something of CAIN inside us. The murderous instinct was considered to be part of our “original sin” …passed from generation to generation. (Which is a great Biblical metaphor for describing how parents literally “raise Cain.”)
Draw this out visually like an equation in a person’s life.
Example: CAIN has parental trouble + low self esteem + negative peers = what?
7) Make a list of “things a person can do” to not let things build up …inside themselves, inside their friends.
Ask what things could be applied to certain parts of the equation (parental problems for example) that might help CAIN.
Ask what things the church does or could be doing to help Cain. And to help Abel.
Ask what things each student could do to step into the problem and help Cain. And to help Abel.
8) Learning What the Bible says about Anger and Jealousy
Say: The Bible talks a lot about murder, anger and jealousy. Anger is not considered evil in and of itself. Being angry about being mistreated can be a good thing, if it leads you to righting a wrong and turns into peace. It’s what you DO with the anger, …what you DO with the person who wrongs you, that matters.
Sometimes, we are angry about selfish things. This is when anger turns into jealousy. Like Cain, we might be angry because we think a parent doesn’t love us as much as our brother, or we may be jealous that we were not treated the same, or given the same thing that someone else was given. That kind of anger-jealousy leads to murderous thoughts and deeds. The Bible give us HELP to deal with our anger so that it does not lead us to sin.
The Computer Software Activity
–remembering important verses using Cal & Marty’s Scripture Memory Game CD
Assign one of the following Bible verses to a small group seated in front of their computer. The small group is to read the verse, then EDIT IT INTO Cal and Marty’s Scripture Memory Game CD using the Verse Editing module. (www.sundaysoftware.com/luther-calvin) Have one child read, one type, and another proofread.
Have them also add the study notes of their own making in that box within the editor, and add three quiz questions about the verse in that section of the verse editing process. The study note and quiz will appear after the verse is played.
After everyone is done editing-in their verse, have them play it. Then, have them switch computers to go play the OTHER verses created by the other groups.
Alternate software for young children: Play and Learn Children’s Bible CD has the Cain and Abel story in it briefly.
9) CLOSING: Gather together and pray for strength to follow the advice in the three verses, and ask for forgiveness for anyone we may have wronged.
HERE ARE SUGGESTED “ANGER” and JEALOUSY VERSES for Cal and Marty’s Scripture Memory Game CD
You may wish to look for others.
James 1:20 NIV: A person’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.
Proverbs 29:11 NLT: A fool gives full vent to anger, but a wise person quietly holds it back.
Ephesians 4:26 NLT: In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.
Proverbs 15:1 NLT: A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.
Proverbs 14:30 NLT: A peaceful heart gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.
WEEK 2: VIDEO LESSON for Cain and Abel
a lesson from Neil MacQueen, www.sundaysoftware.com
1) Begin with the Bible study found in the computer software lesson.
2) Show/Review the following videos…
For older children and teens…
You’re going to go to the NOBullying website and review the top videos submitted by kids and schools in the national NOBullying competition. http://nobull.votigo.com/nobullchallenge. Many of these videos have already gone viral. Preview them first, but know that most were supervised creations and have been vetted by the Nobullying campaign (which sponsored this national competition).
You will need a computer with an internet connection and an LCD projector for the group to see the videos.
Give each student a SCORECARD and pencil, and have them ‘rate’ the videos you watch based NOT on the production quality but on the message. Have them use: “Poor, Fair, Good, Great”. After viewing each, have them write their review. Compare reviews after you have watched several.
For younger children or all children…
Watch the Veggie Tales video “God Wants Me to Forgive Them?” It’s about 30 minutes long.
How does forgiveness help people deal with their feelings of jealousy and anger?
Have the students sign a Promise which the teacher writes on a posterboard to “Practice Forgiveness and Stand Up for Others.” After everyone has signed, have them all place their hands on it and repeat after me”: (along the lines of…)
“God, with your Spirit helping me, I promise to try and forgive others and stand up for others who are being bullied.”
WEEK 3: ART LESSON for Cain and Abel
a lesson from Neil MacQueen www.sundaysoftware.com
“The Mark of Cain” Collage …and “the Mark of Abel”
1. Use the Bible study found at the beginning of the Computer lesson in this set.
2. The Mark of Cain Collage
This lesson will use a familiar art project –the collage, to make a display for the church which will prominently illustrate “The Mark of Cain” ..which are images and words depicting Cain-like behavior in our world. Depending on your number of students and the amount of time you have after the Bible study, you may want to break up the collage work into several teams, …assigning some to “Cain” images and some to the Good images, etc.
a. Tape together several pieces of poster board and cover them with newspaper using spray adhesive. Give prominent treatment to headlines which illustrate PROBLEMS in our world.
b. Next, click colorful pictures from magazine which illustrate ANGER, JEALOUSY, GREED. Be selective. “The Mark of Cain” should not be represented by sportscars and models! This is why you will really need a good collection of NEWS magazines, not Glamour and Parenting. Use spray adhesive to fix these images ON TOP OF the newspaper.
c. Now look for images and symbols of GOOD THINGS that help remove the “Stain of Cain”. Glue those onto their OWN pieces of bright construction paper and LABEL THEM with words that describe their goodness. Two people embracing, for example. These you may find in magazines such as People and Parenting. But… I strongly suggest you collect your DENOMINATION’s magazine and publications. For example, the mission packets they send to local churches. Ask your church office/pastor for these. CALL THESE “THE MARK OF ABEL”.
d. Create and adhere Christian symbols representing peace, comfort, resolution. A dove, a cross, a peace sign.
e. Finally, have some students work on writing out some of the memory verses about anger and jealousy from the computer workshop lesson in this set. Adhere those to the collage and display the collage in a prominent location within the church.
IN CLOSING: Giving “the Mark of Abel”
Circle around and tell the children you are going to “give them the Mark of Abel” –the one who pleased God and did not do evil. Pull out a blue permanent sharpie and draw a cross on their shoulder or top of their hand. Don’t worry, it will eventually wear off! Close with a prayer that Jesus will be with us to remind us to do and say the right things, and treat others as we ourselves would like to be treated.