Scripture Reference: Genesis 6:1-7:16
Suggested Emphasis or Theme: Noah followed God’s instructions and was saved. We should also follow God’s instructions today.
As time went by, people became more and more evil. Only Noah was obedient and pleased God. God commanded Noah to build a huge ark to exact specifications. Noah worked on the ark for one hundred and twenty years (preaching and trying to teach others about God while he was working). God then caused a pair of every type of creature (and seven pairs of each kind of bird and of the animals used for food or sacrifices) to come to the ark so that Noah could load them inside. After Noah followed God’s instructions to bring his wife, three sons, and three daughters-in-law onto the ark, it rained for forty days. God destroyed everything on the earth through floods.
Noah loved God and obeyed Him; the rest of the world followed after evil. So God chose to destroy the corruption that had spread throughout the earth.
When God told Noah to build an ark, Noah’s obedience continued: he built an ark! The ark was likely a flat-bottomed, box-shaped barge made of cypress wood. No navigation was required; all the ark had to do was to float and remain upright.
Assuming the box-like shape, the ark—which was 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet tall—would have had nearly the capacity of a modern ocean freighter. But a barge that size, was needed to hold seven pairs of every kind of clean animal and bird, and one pair of every unclean animal. An 18-inch air vent surrounded the ark beneath the roof to allow for ventilation (Genesis 6:16).
When the ark was finished, God invited Noah and his house to enter. This included: Noah’s wife, his three sons (Ham, Shem, and Japheth) and their wives. Only eight people were on the ark.
The entrance of the animals into the ark was precise and orderly. The exact basis upon which the distinction between the clean and unclean was made in this early period is not clear. Apparently the distinction was well-known to Noah and he needed no further instruction on the subject. The extra number would provide animals for sacrifice after the Flood, some food (milk, for instance) during the Flood, and would facilitate rapid reproduction of the clean animals after the flood.
Children often ask how all of the animals (even dinosaurs!) could have fit in the ark. One explanation is that some of the larger animals may not have been adult when they were put into the ark.
These instructions were given to Noah seven days before the beginning of the forty days of rain. The implication is that it took Noah a week just to load the passengers on the ark. Perhaps grain and other foodstuffs had already been placed on board.
To assure Noah and his family that they would be safe God established a covenant with Noah—the first of many covenants God made with people. He promised that throughout the disaster to come He would keep them safe. Noah and his family probably clung tightly to this reassuring promise in the midst of the great storm and the days of floating and waiting that followed.
Noah and his family were the chosen in keeping with Noah’s obedience to God. Noah’s obedience resulted in a blessing to all people.
For more about what happened to Noah refer to the story: The Flood and God’s Promise.
- What happened before this story?
- What happens after this story?
- List of all Bible stories and themes on this website.
Way to Introduce the Story:
Bring a large bowl and a number of household items to class today. Give the items to the children and let them predict whether or not each item will float. Be sure and include some items that are difficult to guess (an egg, for instance). One of the last items you could try is a block of wood. “In today’s story we are going to learn about a time when the whole earth was covered with water. God told a man how to build a big floating ark out of wood. The story is recorded in the first book of the bible. Who knows what book that is?”
After Cain and Abel, Adam and Eve went on to have many more children. These children had families of their own, and soon the world was full of people.
The people who lived on the earth now had forgotten about God. Instead they chose to reject God and live wicked lives. This made God very sad and He became very sorry He made people. God decided He would send a flood so He could start over.
At that time there was one man who had not forgotten God. His name was Noah. Noah was a good man who loved God.
God said to Noah, “People are doing wicked things, I am sorry I made them. I will be sending a flood to destroy the world, so I can start over.”
God gave Noah instructions to build an Ark. The Ark was a large boat to be made of Cypress wood and coated with tar inside and out. It had to be a certain height, width and length. It would have rooms, a roof and a door. (For the specific measurements see Genesis 6:14-16.)
God told Noah to put two of every unclean animal and seven pairs of every clean animal on to the Ark and enough food to feed Noah, his family, and all the animals.
The instructions God gave Noah must have seemed so strange to him, but he didn’t question it. Other people must have mocked Noah, he would have looked silly building a great big boat when there had never been a flood on the earth before. (Genesis 2:5-6). But Noah trusted God and obeyed Him.
When Noah had finished building the Ark, he loaded in all the food, all the animals, and his own family. There were only eight people on the ark, Noah, his wife and their three sons Shem, Ham and Japheth and their wives.Then God shut the door and the rain began to fall.
(Thanks to Kayla Robinson for these story words.)
Ways to Tell the Story:
This story can be told using a variety of methods. Always remain true to the facts found in the Bible but help children connect to its meaning by using drama, visual aids, voice inflection, student interaction and/or emotion.
Click here for visual aids and story-telling methods.
Click here to download these illustrations and slideshow. Be selective. Each teacher is unique so only use the illustrations that best relate to the way YOU are telling the story in THIS lesson. Too many illustrations can be confusing so eliminate any that cover other stories or details you do not wish to emphasise in this lesson.
- When everyone else on the earth was evil, who was the one person who pleased God? Noah
- What did God tell Noah to build? An ark
- When the flood came, how many people were on the ark and who were they? 8- Noah and wife, Noah’s 3 sons (Shem Ham, and Japheth) and their wives.
- How many of each kind of animal did God tell Noah to put into the ark? Two of every kind (a male and a female), and seven pairs of each kind of clean animal (animals that could be eaten) and seven pairs of each kind of bird.
- When everyone was in the ark, who shut the door? God
- What would have happened to Noah and his family if he had not obeyed God? They would have drowned in the flood.
- God Told Noah
- Rise and Shine
- Oh Be Careful
- Refer to the Song Page on this website for more options.
Learning Activities and Crafts:
- Go outside and pace off the measurements of the ark.
- Younger children could use hammers, saws, and nails on wood.
- Snack: Before class put 1/2 sugar in a plastic bag. Add a few drops of blue food colouring and then shake the bag until you have blue sugar. In class help children tear bread in the shape of an ark. Use icing or butter to “glue” animal crackers on the ark. Now use the blue sugar to make it rain! Instead of bread you could make a cake or cookies in the shape of an ark.
- Have the children stand in a circle. One child holds a ball. The child says the name of an animal and then throws the ball to someone in the circle. (The ball must bounce once.) The next child catches the ball and immediately makes the sound of the animal which was named. The child makes the sound of a new animal and then bounces the ball to another player. That player catches the ball, says the animal, and then names a new animal and bounces the ball to the next player. This continues in a rhythm. If a person breaks the rhythm then they are out of the circle.
- Retell the story of the ark and let the children make sound effects as you tell the story (building sounds, walking up a plank into the ark, all of the animal sounds, etc.
- Sing “Good Old Noah” or “Rise and Shine”
- Use stickers or cut animal pictures out of magazines and glue to a picture of the ark.
- Paint pictures of the flood and the ark.
For more about Noah see the lesson: The Flood and God’s Promise
Check the Teaching Ideas page on this website for ideas that are adaptable to any lesson.
Other Online Resources:
- Activities for Noah Builds the Ark (Cavalry Curriculum)
- Activities for God Sends a Great Flood (Calvary Curriculum)
- Colouring page for the Flood (Christian Answers)
- Colouring page for Noah’s Ark (Christian Answers)
- “Did Noah take dinosaurs on the Ark?” (Christian Answers)
- Animals, rain, storms, etc. (Christian Answers)
- Article about Noah’s Ark (Christian Answers)
- Names of male and female in various species of animals (Oxford Dictionaries)
- Worksheets and Puzzles (Sunday School Resources)
- Handprint crow & raven (DLTK)
- Bird crafts for children (Danielle’s Place)
- Paper bag crow or raven (DLTK)
- Simple animal cracker ark (DLTK)
- Noah’s ark using a paper plate. (DLTK)
- Old Testament worksheets (HubPages)