Lesson 2: Fruit of the Spirit: Joy  01/27/2023
Classroom: My Classroom
Galatians 5:22; Nehemiah 8:1-3, 10-12 Large Group Leader Guide

Teachers Dig In

 

Dig In to the Bible

  • Read: Galatians 5:22; Nehemiah 8:1-3, 10-12
  • In This Passage: After they finish rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem, Nehemiah and his friends read from God’s Word. They’re sad to realize they haven’t been obeying God, but Nehemiah tells them to celebrate because the joy of the Lord is our strength.
  • Bible Point: Joy is a fruit of the Spirit.
  • Summary Verse: “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” (Galatians 5:22-23).

 

Dig Deeper

  • You’ll Be Teaching: Joy is a fruit of the Spirit. Sometimes Christians mistakenly portray the message that if you love God, you’ll never be sad or go through a hard time. Sadness is a normal human emotion, and it’s what the Israelites felt in today’s story! But joy isn’t rooted in our circumstances. Help kids see that even when sad things happen, the joy of the Lord is their strength.
  • Think About: What brings you joy?

 

Dig In to Prayer

  • Ask God to fill your kids with so much joy, it bubbles over in their lives.

 

Quick Tip

  • There will be times your kids display attitudes that are anything but joyful. From a preschooler’s temper tantrum to a preteen’s obstinance, you’ll face challenges with all ages. Instead of scolding kids or forcing them to go along with things they don’t want to do, use these moments as teachable moments. Help kids see they can have joy from the Holy Spirit even when things don’t go their way.

This Lesson at a Glance

Opening

Kids share about a topic related to the lesson.

Supplies

  • Bible
  • paper tree from Week 1
  • paper circles
  • pens
  • tape

Easy Prep

  • Ensure your brown paper tree from last week is still intact with the “love” hearts on it.

Music Video

Kids sing songs of praise to God.

Supplies

  • “I'm All In” (watch or download here)
  • “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” (watch or download here)
  • “To God Be the Glory” (watch or download here)

Core Bible Discovery

Kids set up a party and celebrate together.

Supplies

  • Bibles
  • inflated balloons
  • permanent markers
  • construction paper
  • scissors
  • streamers
  • bulletin board paper or newsprint
  • markers
  • upbeat music
  • music player
  • food (optional)

Talk-About Video

Kids watch a video and discuss the Bible point.

Supplies

  • “Joy in Africa” teaching video (watch or download here)

Object Lesson

Kids repurpose and experiment with straws.

Supplies

  • jumbo smoothie straws (1 or 2 per child)
  • plastic drinking straws (1 or 2 per child)
  • child-safe scissors (1 per child)

Easy Prep

  • Place a variety of straws within reach of kids so they can each select 2-3 straws.

High-Energy Game

Kids play a version of Tag.

Supplies

  • spray bottles of water (use mist setting) (1 for every 10 kids)
  • box of tissues
  • upbeat music (optional)
  • music player (optional)

*Marked supplies can be reused from Core Bible Discovery

Let's keep kids safe! You can help by using supplies as instructed for only ages 3+, purchasing child-safe items, and being aware of allergy concerns.

Opening [5 min]

Welcome

Supplies

  • Bible
  • paper tree from Week 1
  • paper circles
  • pens
  • tape

Easy Prep

  • Ensure your brown paper tree from last week is still intact with the “love” hearts on it.

Welcome

  • Thank kids for coming.
  • Make announcements.
  • Introduce new kids.
  • Collect the offering.

 

Introduce the Lesson

            Say: Today we’re going to learn that joy is a fruit of the Spirit. Let’s celebrate that God’s joy grows in us! Point to the tree on the wall. Imagine this tree is us. The roots are our friendship with God. And fruit is what grows in our lives because of our friendship with God! That includes joy!

  • Distribute paper circles and pens.
  • Have each child draw a smiley face and then write “joy” and his or her name on the circle.
  • Have kids tape their circles to the tree.
  • You’ll continue to add to this tree for the next several weeks, so leave it up!

 

Share

  • Tell kids about a book you like to read.
  • Have kids form pairs. Ask kids to share about books they like to read or have read to them.
  • After partners have shared, ask two or three kids to share with the whole group.

 

Summarize

            Open a Bible to Nehemiah 8, and say: In our Bible story, we’ll see what happened when God’s people heard the words of the Bible for the first time in a while and how they found joy. The Bible isn’t an ordinary book; it’s God’s special book. The Bible is one way God brings us joy. God is here right now, ready to talk to you. Let’s hear what he has to say as we pray.

            Pray, thanking God for the fruit of the Spirit of joy.

Music Video [10 min]

I'm All In

Supplies

  • “I'm All In” (watch or download here)
  • “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” (watch or download here)
  • “To God Be the Glory” (watch or download here)

Tip

  • Don’t have internet in your classroom? That’s okay! You can choose your own worship songs from our Best Of Dig In Music DVD here.

 

Sing Songs to God

          Sing the three songs in any order.

Core Bible Discovery [20 min]

Fruit of the Spirit: Joy (Galatians 5:22; Nehemiah 8:1-3, 10-12)

Supplies

  • Bibles
  • inflated balloons
  • permanent markers
  • construction paper
  • scissors
  • streamers
  • bulletin board paper or newsprint
  • markers
  • upbeat music
  • music player
  • food (optional)

Tip

  • You can purchase downloadable music and other items to enhance your DIG IN program here.

 

Be Happy and Sad

          Have kids move their hands up and down in front of their faces: When they move their hands upward over their mouths, they’ll reveal smiles. When they move their hands down over their mouths, their smiles will change to frowns. Have kids move their hands up and down several times.

          Say: The people in our Bible story today went from happy to sad to joyful. We’re going to learn that joy is a fruit of the Spirit, but that doesn’t mean sad things will never happen to us.

          The people’s story started out pretty great; they’d just been able to rebuild walls around their old city and move back home. That made them happy!

          Ask: • Tell about a time you were happy. Share your own story first, and then have kids share in their small groups.

          Say: God’s people were happy to be home. They were happy to hear from the Bible, too.

          Ask: • Call out the name of someone who reads the Bible to you.

          Say: The people heard some things from God’s Word that they’d forgotten. They realized they’d been disobeying God, and that made them sad. They loved God and wanted to show it!

          Ask: • Tell about a time you felt like you failed or let someone down. Share your own story first, and then have kids share in their small groups.

          Say: The people in the Bible were sad—but check out what Nehemiah said. He’s the guy who’d been in charge of rebuilding the wall around their city.

          Read Nehemiah 8:10-11.

          Say: When things in life make us sad, we can find strength in God’s joy! Life will sometimes make us happy and sometimes make us sad, but God’s joy is always there to give us strength. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit.

 

Set Up a Party

          Say: The Israelites took Nehemiah’s words to heart. They decided to find strength in God’s joy and throw a party, even though they felt sad. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit, and God brought them joy. So let’s throw our own party to show that the joy of the Lord is our strength!

          Have kids set up for a party using the supplies provided. Here are some ideas of how to decorate, but let kids be creative and come up with their own ideas! Encourage kids not just to find joy, but specifically to find it in what God has done for them.

  • use permanent markers to write on inflated balloons some ways God has brought joy
  • cut the construction paper into confetti (later, they can throw it as they shout praises to God)
  • hang streamers
  • draw emojis that show how God’s joy looks
  • make banners that say “The joy of the Lord is our strength!”

 

Have a Party

          Say: Joy is a fruit of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit brings joy into our lives, whether times are happy or sad. So let’s celebrate with joy!

          Play music, and have kids enjoy a party together. If you brought food, set it out for kids to enjoy.

          Have each small group read one of the following psalms. (It’s okay if you don’t cover them all.) Have groups read their verses aloud for everyone and cheer, shout with joy, put them to tunes so they can sing them, or jump up and down with joy as they read God’s Word.

  • Psalm 9:1-2
  • Psalm 16:9-11
  • Psalm 28:6-7
  • Psalm 30:11-12
  • Psalm 33:1-3
  • Psalm 47:1-2
  • Psalm 63:2-5
  • Psalm 71:22-24
  • Psalm 92:4-5
  • Psalm 98:4-6

          Say: Joy is a fruit of the Spirit. God’s joy flows out of our lives when we’re friends with him! When we focus on all God has done for us, like we did by decorating our balloons and reading the verses in Psalms, we’ll find strength in his joy—no matter what’s happening in our lives!

Talk-About Video [10 min]

Joy in Africa

Supplies

  • “Joy in Africa” teaching video (watch or download here)

Tip

  • Don’t have internet in your classroom? That’s okay! You can download the videos before class using the “download” button at the link provided, or purchase DVDs here

 

Discuss and Watch “Joy in Africa”

          Say: We’re learning that joy is a fruit of the Spirit.

          Ask: • Tell about something that makes you really happy. Share your own story first.

          Say: Usually we associate being happy with having everything we want. But joy is a little different! Let’s see how God brought joy to a school in Africa…even when the kids didn’t have everything we might think makes us happy.

          Watch “Joy in Africa.”

          Ask: • Which of the things that we said make us happy were in the video?

          • What were some things the kids experienced that seemed really hard?

          • How do you think the kids in the orphanage were able to have joy even though they had hard lives?

          • After watching this video, how would you describe the difference between happiness and joy?

          Say: We don’t need to have everything we want to have joy. That’s because joy doesn’t come from what we have. Joy comes from God, because joy is a fruit of the Spirit.

Object Lesson [10 min]

Joyful Straws

Supplies

  • jumbo smoothie straws (1 or 2 per child)
  • plastic drinking straws (1 or 2 per child)
  • child-safe scissors (1 per child)

Easy Prep

  • Place a variety of straws within reach of kids so they can each select 2-3 straws.

Demonstrate Cutting and Blowing Into the Straw

            Hold up a jumbo smoothie straw for kids to see.

            Say: This may look like an ordinary straw, but we can transform it into a gadget that brings joy! First, watch as I show you what to do.     

  • Use child-safe scissors to cut the straw. Starting at one end, cut at a 45-degree angle in a spiral pattern, stopping about halfway up the straw.
  • Once the cut is made, take a deep breath and blow into the other end of the straw. The force of your breath will make the spiral cut wiggle and wobble.
  • Continue the spiral cut so only an inch of uncut straw remains.
  • Take a deep breath and blow forcefully into the straw again. Notice the wiggle is even wobblier! 

 

Cut and Blow Into Straws

            Have small-group leaders set out piles of straws for their kids to choose from.

            Say: Now it’s your turn to experiment! Choose three different straws from the pile to cut. Which straws do you think will wobble the most? You can make your spiral cut as long or short or as thick or thin as you’d like. Be sure to observe the difference in your straws. I expect to hear lots of laughter and joy as we experiment. Let’s go!    

  • Have kids choose straws to cut.
  • Assist kids as needed as they make their spiral cuts.
  • Encourage and respond to kids as they blow into their straws and observe what happens.

 

Talk About It

            Have small groups discuss these questions.

            Ask: • Which straws and spiral techniques worked the best?

            • What’s joyful about the way we used these straws?

            • Imagine that your breath in the straw is like God’s joy in your life. How are the straws like you?

            Say: I heard a lot of joy and laughter in our room as we experimented with these straws. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit. Like our breath flowed through the straws to make joyful wiggles, God’s joy can flow through our lives when we’re friends with him!

High-Energy Game [10 min]

Tagged With Joy

Supplies

  • spray bottles of water (use mist setting) (1 for every 10 kids)
  • box of tissues
  • upbeat music (optional)
  • music player (optional)

Tip

  • You can purchase downloadable music and other items to enhance your DIG IN program here

 

Play a Version of Tag

            Say: Today we’re learning that joy is a fruit of the Spirit. That means the Spirit can help us have joy no matter what’s going on in our lives. We can also help others find that joy—we can spread joy when others are feeling sad. Let’s see what that’s like with a fun game!

  • Invite two willing people out of every 10 to be the Taggers and the Joy-Givers.
  • The Taggers will be trying to tag everyone by misting others with a spray bottle. When a person is misted, he or she will freeze and pretend to cry.
  • The Joy-Givers will each hold a tissue, and when they spot people who are “crying,” the Joy-Givers will unfreeze them by tagging them with a tissue—to symbolize drying their tears. Then those people are free to run again and will shout with joy.
  • Play a few rounds, allowing new people to be the Taggers and Joy-Givers.
  • If you’d like, play upbeat music while kids play.

           

Talk About It

            Have small groups discuss these questions.

            Ask: • What was it like when you were stuck being sad and someone freed you to run and play with joy again?

             • What was it like to unfreeze people and help them go from sadness to joy?

            Say: You were only pretending to be sad and cry in the game, but we’ve all had times in real life when we’ve been sad. It’s a relief when we shake off the sadness and find joy again.

            Ask: • Tell about a time someone helped bring you joy when you were sad. Have small-group leaders share first, and then have kids share in their small groups.

            Say: Joy is a fruit of the Spirit, and it does our hearts and our lives so much good. Joy frees us from sadness, and when we have joy, we can share it with others so they’re not stuck in sadness, either.  

Galatians 5:22; Nehemiah 8:1-3, 10-12 Small Group Leader Guide

Teachers Dig In

 

Dig In to the Bible

  • Read: Galatians 5:22; Nehemiah 8:1-3, 10-12
  • In This Passage: After they finish rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem, Nehemiah and his friends read from God’s Word. They’re sad to realize they haven’t been obeying God, but Nehemiah tells them to celebrate because the joy of the Lord is our strength.
  • Bible Point: Joy is a fruit of the Spirit.
  • Summary Verse: “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” (Galatians 5:22-23).

 

Dig Deeper

  • You’ll Be Teaching: Joy is a fruit of the Spirit. Sometimes Christians mistakenly portray the message that if you love God, you’ll never be sad or go through a hard time. Sadness is a normal human emotion, and it’s what the Israelites felt in today’s story! But joy isn’t rooted in our circumstances. Help kids see that even when sad things happen, the joy of the Lord is their strength.
  • Think About: What brings you joy?

 

Dig In to Prayer

  • Ask God to fill your kids with so much joy, it bubbles over in their lives.

 

Quick Tip

  • There will be times your kids display attitudes that are anything but joyful. From a preschooler’s temper tantrum to a preteen’s obstinance, you’ll face challenges with all ages. Instead of scolding kids or forcing them to go along with things they don’t want to do, use these moments as teachable moments. Help kids see they can have joy from the Holy Spirit even when things don’t go their way.

This Lesson at a Glance

Core Bible at Home

Only available in One Room class format.

 

Preschool Puppet Skit

Recommended for preschoolers.

 

Deeper Bible

Kids see how joy can change their focus during hard times.

Supplies

  • Bibles
  • large bowls of ice (1 for every 3 or 4 kids)
  • timer
  • “I’ve Got the Joy” handout (1 per child) (download here)
  • lollipops (2 per child)
  • duct tape
  • fine-tipped permanent markers

Low-Energy Game

Kids stack and unstack cups in specific ways.

Supplies

  • large disposable cups (paper or plastic) (4 per child)
  • long tables (1 for every 6 kids)
  • upbeat music (optional)
  • music player (optional)

Easy Prep

  • Make a stack of 12 cups for every group of 3 kids.

Craft

Kids make instruments that can be used as both maracas and drums.

Supplies

  • 8- or 9-ounce clear plastic cups
  • permanent markers
  • uninflated balloons (1 per child)
  • scissors
  • uncooked rice (about ¼ cup per child)

Easy Prep

  • Make a sample craft to show kids.

Life Application Wrap-Up

Kids jump up and down as they pray.

 

Take-Home

Kids receive a take-home page about the lesson.

Supplies

  • this week’s “Dig In @ Home” handout (1 per child) (download here)

Easy Prep

  • Add your church announcements to the “Dig In @ Home” handout.

*Marked supplies can be reused from Core Bible Discovery

Let's keep kids safe! You can help by using supplies as instructed for only ages 3+, purchasing child-safe items, and being aware of allergy concerns.

Core Bible at Home [20 min]

Not available for this age level.

To use this feature, please ask your DIG IN Director to create a One Room classroom. For instructions and tips on creating a classroom for at-home lessons, click here.

Preschool Puppet Skit [10 min]

Preschool Puppet Skit

Not available for this age level.

Deeper Bible [15 min]

How Does Joy Make Me Strong?

Supplies

  • Bibles
  • large bowls of ice (1 for every 3 or 4 kids)
  • timer
  • “I’ve Got the Joy” handout (1 per child) (download here)
  • lollipops (2 per child)
  • duct tape
  • fine-tipped permanent markers

Set It Up

          Say: We’re learning that joy is a fruit of the Spirit. Nehemiah even said the joy of the Lord is our strength. Joy is great, but we don’t always pair it with being strong.

          Ask: • What are words you think of when you think about strength? Words might include power, brave, courage, or big.

          Say: Even though most people wouldn’t think of joy and strength as words that necessarily go together, Nehemiah put them together. So how does joy make us strong? Let’s dig in to that.

 

Ice Hands

          Say: I have a challenge for you. It will be hard! I want to see how long you can hold your hand in a bowl of ice.

          Have kids gather around bowls of ice. If the bowls are big enough for multiple kids to put their hands in without touching hands, they can all go at once. Otherwise, have kids take turns. Watch a timer, and make note of how long each child is able to keep a hand in the ice.

          When all the kids have their hands out of the ice, let them blow on their hands to warm them up as you discuss these questions.

          Ask: • Finish this sentence: I had to pull my hand out because…

          Say: When the ice surrounded your hand for so long, your hand started hurting! Think about hard things that surround your life—things that make your heart or spirit hurt.

          Ask: • What are some of those things?

          Say: Back to our ice challenge! Let’s see if you can keep your hand in the ice longer with a little trick. This time, we’ll sing “I’ve Got the Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy Down in My Heart” as we do it.

          Have kids try again, but this time, lead kids in singing the song. Your adult or teen helper can note the times. Most kids will be able to keep their hands in the ice longer; scientifically, the distraction of singing will minimize the discomfort caused by the ice.

          When all the kids have their hands out of the ice, let them warm their hands as you discuss this question.

          Ask: • What made this round different? Why?

          Say: When you’re focused on the pain caused by the ice, it hurts more. But when you distract yourself by singing, it changes your focus. That helps you endure discomfort longer! It’s not that the ice was any less cold the second time; it was that your focus changed.

          Ask: • Think of something that makes life hard or takes away your joy. What is one specific way you can change your focus to get through that time?

          Say: Our focus during hard times can change the way we perceive what we’re experiencing. When we focus on joy from God, we can make it through the hard time. That’s because Nehemiah is right: The joy of the Lord is our strength!

          Jesus used this exact principle when he had to die on the cross. Listen to what he was focused on—and what we can focus on.

          Read Hebrews 12:2.

          Ask: • What joy do you think Jesus focused on when he was dying on the cross?

          Say: Joy is a fruit of the Spirit. That doesn’t mean we’ll never face hard times; it means God can help us through hard times by filling us with his joy! And one way to focus on his joy is by reading the Bible.

 

Dig Deeper

          Give each child an “I’ve Got the Joy” handout and two lollipops. Tell kids not to eat the lollipops.

          Say: On your handout, you can read several Bible verses about joy. Choose one that means the most to you. Allow time for kids to read and select their verses.

          Say: Now let’s make dumbbells to remind us of how joy brings strength.

          Lead kids in the following steps to make dumbbells.

  • Tape the stems of two lollipops together, with the heads pointing opposite directions. Wrap the tape around the stems several times.
  • On the tape, write the Scripture reference of the verse you chose.
  • Practice weightlifting as you read the verse from your handout several times.

          Say: Joy is a fruit of the Spirit. What an amazing gift from God and a great way to be strong no matter what life brings our way!

Low-Energy Game [10 min]

Stack-ability

Supplies

  • large disposable cups (paper or plastic) (4 per child)
  • long tables (1 for every 6 kids)
  • upbeat music (optional)
  • music player (optional)

Easy Prep

  • Make a stack of 12 cups for every group of 3 kids.

Tip

  • You can purchase downloadable music and other items to enhance your DIG IN program here

 

Quickly Unstack and Restack Cups

            Say: Today we heard about when the Israelites celebrated with a big banquet—that’s a big party with food and fun. Let’s pretend we’re setting a table for a fun party, but we’ll make an awesome game out of it!

  • Form teams of three, and have each team line up along a long side of a table.
  • Give each team a stack of cups to place upside down on the table in front of the first team member in line. This person will be the Stacker.  
  • Tucking one hand behind his or her back, the Stacker will use only one hand to unstack the cups as quickly as possible along the table’s edge without knocking any off the table.
  • The Stacker will quickly restack the cups, again being careful not to knock any off the table.
  • Then the Stacker will pass the stack of cups to the next person on the team to repeat the unstacking and restacking.
  • Any cups that fall to the floor are forfeited. The team’s goal is to move as quickly as possible through turns while keeping all the cups on the table.
  • Cue the teams to begin. If you’d like, play upbeat music while kids play.
  • For additional rounds, try challenges such as stacking 10 cups into a pyramid and then back into a single stack or making two pyramids of six cups each.

           

Talk About It

            Ask: • What made this more fun than just setting some cups out on the table for a party?

            Say: There was fun in making a game out of cup-stacking and setting a table. Fun is a part of celebrating, and celebrating brings us joy.

            Ask: • What are other things you’ve celebrated, maybe even with a fun party? Share an example of your own, such as a graduation or accomplishment at school or work. Kids will likely share about birthdays, holidays, or fun events at school.

            Say: We celebrate for all kinds of reasons, and one thing you’ll find at every celebration is joy. But joy is a fruit of the Spirit, and that means we can have joy every day, whether it’s a celebration day, a regular day, or even a not-so-good day.  

Craft [20 min]

Joyful Noisemakers

Supplies

  • 8- or 9-ounce clear plastic cups
  • permanent markers
  • uninflated balloons (1 per child)
  • scissors
  • uncooked rice (about ¼ cup per child)

Easy Prep

  • Make a sample craft to show kids.

Tip

  • If you do this block before Core Bible Discovery, consider using these noisemakers during the party.

 

Make Joyful Noisemakers

            Show kids the sample craft you made. Give each child a cup and a balloon. Set out the remaining supplies to share, and have kids follow these directions to make joyful noisemakers.

  • Pour about ¼ cup of rice into your plastic cup. (No need to measure—you can just fill the cup about ¼ full.)
  • Cut the bottom (the opening) off a balloon.
  • Stretch the top of the balloon tight over the top of the cup.
  • Use permanent markers to decorate the cup and balloon. Write the word “joy” at least once.

 

Make a Joyful Noise

  • Have kids make a joyful noise by playing their instruments.
  • Their noisemakers are two instruments in one! First, kids can shake the cups like maracas.
  • Kids can also take turns using two permanent markers as drumsticks to beat a rhythm on the balloons.
  • Have kids work in groups as bands and play songs together, setting a beat and working together to make a joyful song.

 

Talk About It

            Ask: • What kind of music do you think is the most joyful? Why?

            • What are other ways you like to express joy?

            Say: Joy is a fruit of the Spirit. Sometimes people think of God as boring or stern, like a judge sitting on a throne and scowling. But God loves to give us joy! Being a friend of Jesus is fun because God gives us so much joy to celebrate and share with others.

            Have kids take their Joyful Noisemakers home and spread joy to their friends and families.

Life Application Wrap-Up [5 min]

Jump for Joy!

Jump and Pray

          Say: Joy is a fruit of the Spirit. That means prayer doesn’t always have to be a boring, kneeling-with-your-eyes-closed kind of thing. Sometimes we can jump for joy as we pray!

  • Have kids jump up and down as they thank God for things he’s given them.
  • Have kids continue to jump up and down as they praise God by describing what he’s like.

 

Wrap Up

          Pray: Spirit, thank you for bringing us joy! Fill us with your joy this week. In Jesus’ name, amen.

          Thank kids for coming, and encourage them to come back next week.

Take-Home [0 min]

Dig In @ Home

Supplies

  • this week’s “Dig In @ Home” handout (1 per child) (download here)

Easy Prep

  • Add your church announcements to the “Dig In @ Home” handout.

    Distribute a copy of the “Dig In @ Home” handout to kids as they leave, or email it to parents during the week.