Lesson Prep

Background Scripture (read 2-3 times during the week)

Exodus 25:1-22; 35:30-35; 36

Story Summary

While Moses was on Mount Sinai, God gave him the 10 Commandments and he gave him specific instructions for all sorts of things. Two of the instructions he gave to Moses were for the people to build the Ark of the Covenant and the Tabernacle. 

Tabernacle means “tent,” “place of dwelling” or “sanctuary.” It was a sacred place where God chose to meet His people, the Israelites, during the 40 years they wandered in the desert under Moses’ leadership. It was the place where the leaders and people came together to worship and offer sacrifices.

God gave very specific instructions to Moses on Mount Sinai regarding how the tabernacle was to be built. 

You can see an artist's rendering of the tabernacle at http://www.3dtabernacle.com/images/TabernacleComplete1a.jpg

The tabernacle was first erected in the wilderness exactly one year after the Passover when the Israelites were freed from their Egyptian slavery.  It was a mobile tent with portable furniture that the people traveled with and set up wherever they pitched camp. The tabernacle would be in the center of the camp, and the 12 tribes of Israel would set up their tents around it according to tribe. The instruction on how to build the tabernacle was first given to Moses in the wilderness, who then gave the orders to the Israelites.

God dwelled among His people in the tabernacle in the wilderness. He appeared as a pillar of cloud over the tabernacle by day and a pillar of fire by night in the sight of all Israel. When the cloud moved, the people packed up and moved. 

Inside the tabernacle was the ark of the covenant. The word ark means chest.  It was a box of wood that was covered with pure gold.  Inside the box, Moses was commanded to place the Tables of Law, the actual stone tablets on which the Ten Commandments were engraved. These are the stone tablets God gave Moses to replace the tablets he broke.

God gave Moses instructions for many other parts of the tabernacle (the table for bread, the gold lampstand, the altar, the courtyard, the oil for the lampstand, the clothes for the priests, washing basin, etc). You can feel free to mention these other things that were to be placed in the Tabernacle.

God specifically chose two men to lead the building project. One was named Bezalel and the other was named Oholiab. These men had two special qualities. 1) They were filled with the Spirit of God 2) They were very skillful with their hands and the ability to build things.

What You Will Need

EZ-up or pop-up tent/canopy (if desired)
A paint stick with a picture of a cloud taped to it

Video Option

The Ark and the Tabernacle

From Faith Kids

Resource Sheet

Tabernacle & Ark Coloring Sheet

This coloring sheet depicts the instructions given to build the tabernacle and the ark of the covenant. You can encourage the children to draw their own renditions of each.


1. Warm Up get your kids talking and engaged

Have you ever slept in a tent before? Where were you? Do you like camping out?

Today we are going to learn about a very big and very special tent God had the Israelites make for the time they were wandering in the desert.

2. Teach the Story teach a holistic story

Read story from a Children's storybook Bible for younger children.

For older children, read story from an age-appropriate Children's storybook Bible or tell the story yourself.

If desired, you can teach the lesson from underneath an EZ-up tent or canopy.  

Give the paint stick with the cloud attached to it to one of your students. Halfway through the lesson, tell that student to lift the stick above their head, and move to another part of the room.  Then take the canopy down and move it to another part of the room. (this illustrates Exodus 13:21 and Exodus 40:36-37).

For the reinforcement activity, we strongly encourage you to use the "Cardboard Box Ark of the Covenant" activity as this will be used in several future lessons.

3. Bible Mastery give them basic Bible skills

Scripture for Kids to Read Aloud Exodus 25:8-16,22; 35:30-35; 36:8-13

4. Comprehension Questions make sure they understand the story

First, ask the children if they have any questions about the story. What to do if you don't know the answer?

  • What was the Ark of the Covenant?
  • A special box that held the tablets with the 10 commandments inscribed on them
  • Where was the Ark of the Covenant to be kept?
  • In the tabernacle
  • What was the tabernacle?
  • A portable tent the Israelites built
  • Why was the tabernacle portable?
  • Because the Israelites were wandering in the desert, and they needed to be able to quickly take it apart and reassemble it as they moved
  • Who gave the supplies needed to build the Ark of the Covenant and the Tabernacle?
  • The Israelites
  • Who were the leaders of the building project?
  • Bezalel and Oholiab
  • Why were they chosen to be the leaders?
  • They were filled with the Spirit of God and they were very skilled tradesmen

5. Faith Questions open up a conversation about faith and the gospel; close with prayer

  • While the Israelites were in the desert, they worshiped God in the tabernacle.
  • Where can we worship God?

6. Memory Verse hide God's Word in their heart

Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Do not depend on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5

Reinforcement Activities

Cardboard box Ark of the Covenant

Heads up! This craft will be used to help teach future lessons
Scripture Exodus 25:10-22
Supplies cardboard box, 2 long sticks
  • Decorate box
  • Make holes in bottom of box to put sticks through.
  • Place clay tablets (made in lesson 19) inside box.
  • Save this craft to use in future lessons.

Craft box Ark of the Covenant

Heads up! Craft boxes can be painted gold prior to class
Scripture Exodus 25:10-22
Supplies small wooden craft boxes, one per student; gold pain; gold lace trim; angel printouts
  • Paint craft boxes gold.
  • Attach a strip of gold trim around top with fabric glue.
  • Print 2 gold angels outlines onto card stock
  • Place them facing toward each other, on top of box by making a crease in bottom of card stock to create a stand.

Craft Stick Ark of the Covenant

Scripture Exodus 25:10-22
Supplies craft sticks, glue, paper, gold trim
  • Follow directions of webpage to make an ark of the covenant out of craft sticks.

Woodworking Project

Heads up! If you have a woodworker in your church, invite them into your class as a special guest
Scripture The Lord has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work. They carve things and make patterns. They sew skillfully with blue, purple and bright red yarn and on fine linen. They use thread to make beautiful cloth. They have the skill to work in all kinds of crafts.
Supplies birdhouse kit or the like, or popsicle sticks and glue
  • Give the children some sort of woodworking project. Here are some ideas:
  • Invite a woodworker in your church to design a project, pre-cut the wood, and come to your class to give instructions to the children.
  • If you have the means, you could purchase kits from a craft store for things like birdhouses, bird feeders, rain gauges, etc
  • You can always provide them with lots of popsicle sticks and glue and have them be creative.

Learning 10 commandments- commandment #3

Scripture Do not misuse the name of the Lord your God. Exodus 20:7
Supplies colored beads, leather, string
  • Teach the third commandment.
  • When the child can tell you each commandment correctly, without assistance, they are given a bead for a bracelet.
  • Keep the bracelet in the classroom and when they have learned all 10 commandments, they get to take it home.
  • To help them remember the commandments, you can separate them into 2 groups for the children.
  • The first four commandments are concerning our relationship with God.
  • The last six are concerning our relationship with others.

Ark of the Covenant Shell Game

Heads up! Do the Craft Box Ark of the Covenant activity first and use those boxes for this activity
Scripture Exodus 25:10-22
Supplies 3 Ark of the Covenant boxes, small clay or paper "stone tablets" to represent the 10 Commandments
  • Take the 3 (or more) Ark of the Covenant boxes
  • Place the stone tablets inside one box as the students watch
  • Rearrange the boxes quickly to mix them up and confuse your students
  • Have them take turns guessing which Ark of the Covenant contains the stone tablets
  • You can provide small prizes (like candy) to those who guess correctly

Build a tent

Scripture Have them make a sacred tent for me. I will live among them. Exodus 25:8
Supplies fort building supplies-sheets, clothes pins, discovery kids fort kit is great!
  • Use the classrooms table and chairs, or a fort building kit, as the support for the 'tabernacle' and then cover the structure with sheets pinning them together with clothes pins, or adults can pin with safety pins, where needed.

Rice Krispy Ark of the Covenant

Heads up! Be aware of food allergies!
Scripture Exodus 25:10-22
Supplies rice krispy treats, pretzel sticks, icing, Bugles snacks for the angels
  • Cut rice krispy treats into rectangles. If they are thin, stack 2 on top of each other and stick together with icing.
  • Put a dot of icing on each side to use as glue for the pretzel sticks.
  • Put 2 Bugles on top for the angels. Attach with icing.

Build your own tabernacle

Heads up! Prepare the items in advance of the class
Scripture Have them make a sacred tent for me. I will live among them. Exodus 25:8
Supplies thin paper, printer
  • Make a model of the tabernacle according to the instructions below.

Sewing Project

Scripture The Lord has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work. They carve things and make patterns. They sew skillfully with blue, purple and bright red yarn and on fine linen. They use thread to make beautiful cloth. They have the skill to work in all kinds of crafts. Exodus 35:35
Supplies Sewing supplies (needles, thread, etc), fabric, batting (if doing a pillow)
  • If you have a smaller class, have the children work together to make a valance for your classroom or some other room in the church.
  • You can break larger classes into groups and make multiple valances.
  • If you have a larger class or want to have the children do an individual project, you can have them make a small pillow.
  • Be creative!