The Story of Joseph in the Bible: Free Lesson Plan for Elementary Students

Updated on January 30, 2019
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Joseph being sold into slavery by his jealous brothers.
Joseph being sold into slavery by his jealous brothers. | Source

This Bible lesson about the story of Joseph and his jealous brothers is designed for elementary students who read, write, and create original sentences with little adult supervision. This lesson plan takes about 45 minutes to complete and requires a minimal amount of pre-class preparation and inexpensive Sunday school materials and supplies.

Kids will learn about God's faithfulness to Joseph. The three key themes of this lesson are:

  1. God protected Joseph from his brothers.
  2. God promoted him to a place of honor in Egypt.
  3. God rescued him from prison when he was accused falsely of a crime.

This is an easy way for teachers, parents, or home educators to teach the Bible story of Joseph.

Teaching Joseph’s Story

Read or tell the story of Joseph, which is found in Genesis 37, and his jealous brothers. Here are some suggestions for discussion questions to get the kids to think deeper about the story.

  1. What was Joseph’s position in the family? Answer: favorite son
  2. How do you feel when your parents give a brother or sister a special gift but do not give you something? Answer: Jealous, sad, unhappy, etc.
  3. Why were the brothers wrong to sell Joseph? Answer: People are not property to be bought and sold.
  4. What would have been a better way to handle their jealousy? Answer: Talk to their father and Joseph about their feelings

Use these questions before, during, or after the story to encourage the students to talk about the lesson. Inviting the class to retell the story in their own words is a great way to test reader recall and comprehension.

Reader Recall Worksheet

To prepare each activity worksheet, copy and paste the italicized text shown below into a word processing program. Use the text as presented here or modify it to suit a particular Sunday school program or curriculum.

Read each question below, and then write your answer. Use your reader recall of the story for clues.

  1. What gift did Jacob give his son Joseph?
  2. Why did Jacob give Joseph a special gift?
  3. What happened when Joseph’s brothers saw his present?
  4. How did his brothers get rid of Joseph?
  5. Who bought Joseph as a slave?
  6. Why did Joseph get into trouble with his master?
  7. How did Joseph help Pharaoh?
  8. How did Pharaoh reward Joseph for his help?
  9. What terrible event happened in Egypt?
  10. How did Joseph save his family and the Egyptians from death?

Teacher answer key (these are suggested answers, but others may be acceptable):

A special coat, Joseph was his favorite, they were jealous, they sold him as a slave, Potiphar, he was accused of a crime, he told Pharaoh what his dreams meant, he made him a ruler of Egypt, famine, stored food

Vocabulary Worksheet for the Story of Joseph

Match each vocabulary word below to the best definition. Write the letter of the definition in the blank in front of the vocabulary word.

_______ heir

_______ slave

_______ jailer

_______ ruler

_______ prison

_______ famine

_______ starvation

A – weaken or die because of lack of food

B – the person in authority

C – the person who gets another’s property when that person dies

D – lack of food

E – a person who is the property of another person

F – a place where people are held against their will

G – the person who takes care of the jail and prisoners

Teacher answer key: C, E, G, B, F, D, A

The Story of Joseph Name Scramble Worksheet

Bible Name Scramble

Can you unscramble these names from the Bible story of Joseph? Write each name on the line.

_______ ehjsop

_______ ptporhai

_______ aocjb

_______ nbreeu

_______ aaphhor

Teacher answer key: Joseph, Potiphar, Jacob, Reuben, Pharaoh

Piggyback Song for the Memory Verse

Teach children to memorize scripture by using the piggybacking method. This technique is based on using a familiar song tune such as “London Bridge” to help children learn unfamiliar material such as scriptures Since they need only learn the words, not the melody, memorization is easy and fun.

This scripture from Genesis 45:5 reads “And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.”

Here is an easy way to create a piggyback song. Just space the wording to the tune as shown below:

Sing to the tune of “London Bridge.”

Do not be distressed or angry/ with yourselves, with yourselves/ because it was to save our lives/ that God sent me before you.

After the children are comfortable with singing the memory verse, let them march around the room as they sing. The movement exercises their large muscles, develops gross motor skills, and makes them willing to sit down for crafts, Bible activities, or snack. If time permits, allow the students independent pretend playtime prior to the end of class.

Lesson Extension

Extend this lesson by using other vocabulary exercises, or reading related books. Here is a suggested synonym matching activity:

Choose a word from the word bank that is a good synonym for the words listed below. Synonyms are words that mean the same, or nearly the same thing, as another word.

Word bank: inheritor, captive, guard, master, dungeon, scarcity

_______ famine

_______ heir

_______ jail

_______ slave

_______ ruler

_______ jailer


The KJV Kids' Study Bible, The Zondervan Corporation, 1991

Author's experience as a children's ministry educator

© 2011 Donna Cosmato


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