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A Sunday School Lesson About Paul and Silas in Jail

Donna is a retired Christian educator who writes creative lesson plans for Sunday school, children's ministry, and home education.

An Interactive Bible Lesson

The craft needs to be set up prior to class for this interactive lesson on Paul and Silas in jail. Making the craft and teaching the lesson takes about 45 minutes. Teaching tips for dramatizing the story are included.

The children wear paper chains in remembrance of the handcuffs Paul and Silas wore. Elementary-aged children should be able to cut and glue the strips with little or no adult supervision, but younger students will need some assistance.

This lesson is age-appropriate for the lower elementary grades, but it can be modified for preschoolers by omitting or simplifying the discussion questions.

After making the pretend chains, the children participate in acting out the Bible story. If the classroom has a dramatic play area with costumes, invite the kids to dress up in biblical style.

Here's What You Need

To make the craft section of the lesson flow faster, prepare the paper before class as follows. Using the length of the paper (the eleven-inch side) and a piece of white chalk, divide the paper into one and one-half-inch sections.

Each child needs ten strips for the craft (five paper loops are about the right length for a child), so the total number of strips needed depends on individual class sizes.

  • 8 ½ x 11” black construction paper
  • Stapler
  • Tape
  • White chalk
  • Kid-friendly scissors
  • Blanket or towel
  • A Bible or a copy of the text of Acts 16:22-40

This craft is fun and simple, but the impact on the children is tremendous. After cutting the strips apart, the children use tape or staples to make paper rings and join them to make a short-chain. Let each child make two sets of chains: one to be used during the story and one to take home.

Dramatize the Lesson

Spread the blanket on the floor and invite the children to be seated. Explain that Paul and Silas did not have a blanket or any means of getting comfortable in prison. They had been hurt and were sore and uncomfortable.

Hold up a set of the pretend handcuffs and chains made from paper and show the children how to slide their hands into them. (Teachers wear a set of handcuffs during the story just like the class.) Tell the children the purpose of the chains is to help them understand what prison was like for Paul and Silas.

Here's What to Do:

  1. Dim the lights in the room (the prison was dark), and start telling the story.
  2. At the point in the story where the two men are singing and praising God, stop and lead the children in singing “Jesus Loves Me.”
  3. Remind them the men were also praying and lead them in a simple prayer like: "Thank you, God, for taking care of me all the time."
  4. Talk about praising God no matter what is happening, and then continue the story.
  5. When it is time for the earthquake to shake the jail, stand, clap your hands sharply, and say in a loud voice “Earthquake!”
  6. Model to the children swaying from side to side as if being shaken in an earthquake.
  7. Turn on the lights and break free from the handcuffs while encouraging the children to break free.
  8. Finish the story and emphasize the fact the prisoners did not try to escape.
  9. The jailor found all of them there when he came to investigate.
  10. Because of the miracle, the jailer believed in God and was saved.

Discussion Questions and Life Application

This simple dramatization of the story of Paul and Silas’ rescue from prison makes the Bible come alive for the children as they take part in the drama.

This type of storytelling and recreating of familiar Bible stories reinforce prior learning and provides links to deeper learning and understanding.

Here are some suggested discussion questions:

  • Why were Paul and Silas in prison?
  • Instead of being unhappy, they were singing and praising God - why?
  • How do you act when bad things happen to you?
  • How did Paul and Silas get their freedom?

By the end of this Sunday school lesson plan, the children know and understand the following concepts:

  • God takes care of us wherever we are.
  • God answers prayer.
  • Trust in God is rewarded.

Following a structured plan helps teachers cover all the key points of the lesson and introduce multisensory learning opportunities. The children hear the story, imitate the actions, and internalize the message.

Share Your Thoughts Below!

Steven from Uganda on November 01, 2019:

Donna thanks for this great and awesome lesson plan- just had to use it on Sunday service with children.

Its a present story that transforms the life of our children

Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on April 28, 2013:

Thanks cheryl22 - I'm glad this tutorial on Paul and Silas in jail inspired you! I appreciate your taking time to leave me your feedback.

cheryl on April 27, 2013:

What a great way to present this lesson. I was searching for extra teaching ideas and came across your lesson. It was a wonderful, new way to present the story.

Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on October 30, 2011:

Thank you, ktrapp, for taking time to read and comment on this hub. I value feedback from my Hubpages peers :)

Kristin Trapp from Illinois on October 30, 2011:

This is a terrific idea Donna - so simple and creative, yet truly effective. I always enjoyed the Sunday School classes where there was a craft involved and the idea of incorporating the craft into the lesson is terrific.

Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on October 25, 2011:

Thank you for that thought, Donna. I'm making a note to incorporate that feature on future lessons:)

Donna Sundblad from Georgia on October 25, 2011:

One of the things I like is that you offer suggestions for how to make it work for more than one age group. That is very useful.

Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on October 25, 2011:

Thank you for taking time to read and to comment on this, Donna! I appreciate your feedback and hope others will find it useful as well:)

Donna Sundblad from Georgia on October 25, 2011:

Donna this is a great Bible lesson plan with a reminder many adults can use. It is so easy to fall into complaining and self pity when life gets rough. You include everything a teacher needs to bring the lesson home. Voted this hub up and useful.