Daniel is one of the Bible’s most popular figures and it’s easy to see why. His story is filled with drama, excitement, suspense, and danger and features a heroic rescue orchestrated by our great and mighty God! Children love to hear about how Daniel’s three friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, survived the fiery furnace and about how Daniel emerged, unscathed, from the lions’ den.
Children often think Daniel’s story begins just before he’s thrown into the lions’ den, because they aren’t told much about Daniel’s early years. But Daniel’s story begins before his friends were forced into the furnace and long before he was sentenced to the lions’ den. Daniel’s early years are important and as we teach our children about Daniel, we don’t want to gloss over them.
In Daniel 1, we learn about those early years. We meet Daniel, a young, handsome, intelligent Hebrew who has been taken away from Jerusalem as part of the Babylonian captivity. Once in arrives in Babylon, he is selected to become a member of the king’s court.
But such a high position requires training and so Daniel spends time learning the new culture, gaining language fluency, reading prominent books, and studying subjects like math, astronomy, agriculture, and architecture. But Daniel’s training also dietary changes as well. Daniel was expected to eat the lavish delectable diet of the kingdom’s finest foods.
My activity, Daniel’s Diner, asks children to create a fun and colorful menu based on Daniel’s vegetarian diet. This activity is a great way for children to explore Daniel’s diet and a creative way to help them understand the diet’s restrictions. In addition, the activity includes a writing component that gives parents the opportunity to teach the proper use of adjectives, since meal descriptions should feature lots of detail to draw customers.
If you’d like your children to learn more about Daniel’s disciplined young life, have your children create their own unique menu for Daniel’s Diner. Here’s what you’ll need to complete the activity:
- 1 sheet of colored card stock
- crayons, markers, colored pencils
- computer (to type meal descriptions)
- glue sticks
Step 1: Read Daniel 1:1-17. Discuss why Daniel and his friends refused the king’s food. Though the Bible does not specifically say why, some have noted that the food served may be been deemed unclean according to the Jewish law. Others have speculated that Daniel and his friends did not want to eat such a rich diet when they knew others in captivity were not as well fed.
Clean and Unclean Foods in the Bible includes a great list for children to look at and discuss. You can also read Biblical descriptions of clean and unclean foods in Leviticus 11:1-31, Leviticus 20:24-26, and Deuteronomy 14:3-20.
Also discuss why children think Daniel and his friends looked better than the other young men at the end of the ten days. This is a great moment to discuss God’s intervention and also to talk about the importance of including ample vegetables in our own daily diets.
If you wish, you can explore common Babylonian foods using these links:
Step 2: Create a decorative menu cover. Encourage children to create decorative menu cover that will catch attention and offer pertinent information. This cover includes the restaurant’s name, hours of operation, and a few catch phrases to spark interest in the menu. We used cardstock for the cover because construction paper was too flimsy.
Step 3: Write a rough draft of meal descriptions using lots of detail. I had my girls create three selections for each meal (breakfast, lunch, and dinner), plus a dessert. You can decide, based on your child’s ability level, how many meal selections the menu should contain. Review the draft with your child to correct any errors.
Step 4: Create the final copy of the menu pages. These will include the meal descriptions, but could also include colorful drawings of every dish or just a few dishes. Menu pages could be limited to a two like mine, or include several pages with pictures. I typed the menu descriptions because I found it made the menu look more authentic, because I could sample different fonts, and because it was an easy way to ensure all the descriptions fit on the pages. However, you can have children handwrite the descriptions if you wish.
Step 5: Glue or staple the menu pages inside the cover.
Once completed, consider working together to create some of the fabulous dishes mentioned on the menu.
Bible exploration doesn’t have to be boring! We can talk about Biblical events and allow children to exercise creativity to help them better grasp Biblical happenings. We had a lot of fun creating the menu for Daniel’s Diner and I hope you’ll have fun too!
© 2015, Andrea Thorpe. All rights reserved.