Free Elementary Sunday School Lesson: Daniel 5 (Handwriting on the Wall)
This lesson from Daniel 5—the handwriting on the wall—is designed for older students (suggested third grade and up) who read and write independently. The objectives are to learn about obedience and to develop a humble spirit.
Fun Facts About Daniel’s Life in Babylon
Use these fun facts to set the stage for the story of the handwriting on the wall and Daniel. This helps the kids understand more about the king and why his actions were sinful.
- Three kings ruled Babylon during Daniel’s lifetime: Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, and Darius.
- King Belshazzar was the king during this time, but God took his kingdom away and gave it to Darius the Median. King Darius is the ruler who had Daniel arrested and thrown into the lion’s den.
- The gold and silver cups used by King Belshazzar and his guests were stolen from God’s temple. God was insulted when they used His cups to drink wine. Giving praise and worship to false gods was sinful.
- Belshazzar died the same night that the handwriting mysteriously appeared on the wall at his party.
- Of all the wise men and magicians in Babylon, only Daniel was able to read and interpret the handwriting because God gave him the meaning.
- In simple language, the message on the wall said: Your kingship is over. You were judged and did not meet God’s standards. The Medes and Persians will get your kingdom.
Daniel 5: The Handwriting on the Wall Lesson
Tell the class to turn to Daniel chapter five in their Bibles. Let them take turns reading the story of the handwriting on the king’s wall. Here are some suggested discussion questions to encourage them to dig deeper for some nuggets of truth:
- Why was what King Belshazzar did wrong?
- Why couldn’t the wise men translate the message on the wall?
- Who told the king that Daniel could tell him the meaning of the writing?
- What did King Belshazzar offer Daniel for reading the message?
- How did the writing get on the wall?
- What was the message on the wall?
These questions can also be used as a worksheet activity by copying and pasting the text above into a word processing program. Print copies for each student’s use.
You will need:
- White construction paper (8 1/2 inches by 11 inches)
- Tempera paint (or any water-based paint) in assorted colors
- Masking tape
- Dry erase marker
- Three- or five-ounce disposable cups
- Painting smocks or shirts
- Write the following words on the whiteboard with the dry erase marker: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. (Teacher’s note: These are the words from the KJV version. Other Bibles may use the word parsin or peres for the last word. Use the appropriate wording from the Bible of your choice.)
- Give the students a paint smock and invite them to take a piece of construction paper and use a strip of masking tape to tape it to the wall.
- Give them several sheets of newspaper and encourage them to spread it on the floor to protect it in case some of the paint drips off the paper.
- Let them choose a paint color, and help them pour a small quantity of paint into a disposable cup.
- Using a finger, the children can copy the words from the board onto their paper however they choose.
- Leave the papers to air dry and have the class wash their hands. Send the papers home as a reminder of the lesson.
- The KJV Kids’ Study Bible, Zondervan, 1991
- “The Great Bible Question & Answer Book,” Creative Child Press
- Author’s experience in the classroom
© 2011 Donna Cosmato