In the Old Testament, the priest Ezra came on to the scene in the 4th century B.C., under the reign of Artaxerxes, the king of Persia. The king, impressed with Ezra's knowledge of Scripture, allowed him to take volunteering Israelites back to Jerusalem to help teach God's law. Children can learn to apply similar biblical principles in their own lives through crafts and activities about Ezra.
Elementary school-aged children have a knack for memorisation. Type Bible verses from the book of Ezra on a sheet of paper. Leave key words blank for the children to fill in after they hear the story read from the Bible. For example, from Ezra 7:15, "You are to take with you the ____ and __ that the king and his advisers have freely given to the God of Israel." Put the answers "silver" and "gold" upside down at the bottom of the page.
Create a series of questions and fill in part of the sentence with two words in parenthesis. Tell the children to circle the correct word. In the following example, children can circle the correct answer. "Ezra was allowed to go to Jerusalem to teach Scripture and God's law to the (Israelites/Egyptians). Reiterating the information will help a child remember the stories.
Felt Board Stories
Young children love felt board stories. They can participate in the story by taking turns placing the characters on the felt board. Begin reading the Scripture and instruct the kids to add the felt background that matches the story. For example, Ezra may start out in the palace asking permission from King Artaxerxes to go to his homeland. Children can change the setting to a river or valley as the Israelites travel to Jerusalem. Seeing characters on a board is a helpful way to remember the story. Backgrounds of rivers, Jerusalem, a palace and ships are available to purchase online from different retailers.
Crossword puzzles are a fun way to learn about the priest Ezra. Pick 10 to 20 verses out of the book of Ezra and make a puzzle using words from each verse. For example, "Scripture," "king," "priest," "silver," "gold" and "advisers" could be used as key words. Programs are available to create the questions and the coinciding boxes that go down and across. Larger letters and smaller puzzles can be used for younger children, while more letters make it a challenge for older kids.
Taking home a paper book gives children an opportunity to share the stories they have learnt with parents and siblings. Give each child a few sheets of blank paper. Read the story of Ezra and pick specific key scenes for the children to illustrate on their clean sheets. Write some Bible verses at the bottom of the page to correspond with the pictures. Direct the children to fold the piece of construction paper in half. Place the colouring sheets on the inside of the folded construction paper and staple along the side. Children can keep the book and look at it again.