Upper Elementary

Grumbles Be Gone

Lesson 6 


Fall 2019


By: Lea Vaverchak 


October 06, 2019

Lesson Focus:

Grumbling gets us nowhere.

Bible Basis:

Exodus 15:23—17:7; Numbers 20:1-13

Materials Needed:

Step 1:

  • Internet access

Summary & Links:

Students will discuss examples of grumbling and watch a video parody of a grumbling, complaining coach to help them explore how grumbling gets us nowhere.

Memory Verse:

Those who are wayward in spirit will gain understanding; those who complain will accept instruction.
—Isaiah 29:24

Step 1:

Students will discuss examples of grumbling and watch a video parody of a grumbling, complaining coach to help them explore how grumbling gets us nowhere.

Materials Needed:

  • Internet access

Grumbling means to complain under our breath or speak about something in an unhappy way. 

  • What are some other words you can think of to describe grumbling? (Some possible answers: Fuss; holler; moan; bellyache; whine, etc.)
  • What things do you grumble and complain about? (Answers might include: Doing homework; doing chores; having to go to bed early, etc.)

We can all say we’ve grumbled from time to time.  But complaining about our situation usually gets us nowhere.  If anything, it makes it worse, by putting everyone else around us in a bad mood, too, and sometimes getting us into trouble for our bad attitude.

Coach Drake from the Michigan Kalamazoo Growlers college baseball team is pretty good at complaining.  In fact, he wasn’t happy with a call by the umpire recently, and his grouchy response went viral.  Let’s watch his reaction.

Play the following clip [1:01]:
6-Year-Old Hysterically Throws Tantrum at Baseball Game

It’s fair to say Coach Drake may have taken complaining to a whole new level! Maybe it’s because he’s six?  His tantrum was in good fun and was used as entertainment to make the crowd laugh.  However, he was poking fun at how others have been known to act for real.   And, he ultimately got “thrown out of the game” for his behavior.

  • Have you ever gotten into trouble for complaining? (Students may acknowledge being sent to their room or losing privileges for their grumbling/complaining.)
  • What can we do instead of moaning about a situation? (Answers may include:  Ask for help; pray; take a break and come back later with a clear head, etc. Accept all reasonable answers.)

Grumbling and complaining will get us nowhere.  There are so many better ways to handle our problems!  Did you know there was grumbling and complaining in the Bible?  In fact, in today’s story we’re going to read about how God’s chosen people grumbled and complained a lot.  How do you think God felt about their attitudes?  What did He do when His people moaned and groaned?  Let’s find out.

Additional resources:

The story behind 6-year-old internet sensation, Coach Drake [3:47]

Looking for Steps 2, 3 & 4?

You can find Steps 2 and 3 in your teacher’s guide. To purchase a teacher’s guide, please visit: Bible-in-Life or Echoes.

Step 4:

Materials Needed:

  • Internet access
  • Balloons (1 per student; sturdy; be aware of latex allergies)
  • Cornstarch
  • Water
  • Measuring cups or plastic cups for water
  • Empty water bottles cut to make large-mouthed funnels
  • Plastic knife or fork
  • Permanent markers

Before class, familiarize yourself with the following video as preparation for today’s activity. Cut the tops off of empty water bottles to create large-mouthed funnels for your project (see tutorial).

DIY Best Stress Ball Ever!! [1:54]

 Earlier we saw how the Israelites often grumbled about their circumstances.  When they weren’t happy with something, everyone knew about it.  God, in His loving mercy, showed His people that He would take care of all of their needs over and over again.  He wanted them to know they could trust Him.

  • When someone is whining and complaining, do you still help them and show them kindness?   (Answers might include: No way, I can’t stand when others whine; no, I usually go play with someone else if they complain the whole time; I try to be patient when my little sister is moaning about her toys, but it’s really hard!) 
  • Why do we tend to choose to complain instead of choosing to ask God for His help? (Answers:  Complaining is easy to do; grumbling is a bad habit I have; trusting God can be scary because I don’t know what will happen, etc.)

We have to fight the urge to whine and moan when things don’t go our way.  It might be our natural instinct to act that way, but it doesn’t mean it’s the right reaction.   

  • Often God helps us through situations, but we’ve been so busy grumbling that we didn’t recognize His help. Can you tell about a time when this happened to you? (Allow students to respond; be prepared to share your own experience.)

Grumbling and complaining can sometimes be a terrible habit we’ve gotten ourselves into.  If a situation doesn’t go our way, or someone is bothering us, the grumbling just wells up inside of us, dying to bust out.  We have to break the habit and retrain our brains to think of going to God first.  We want it to be our first response.

Have a volunteer read Philippians 2:14: “Do everything without grumbling or arguing.” Today, we’re going to make stress balls.  They’re going to help us start training our minds to pray instead of complaining.  They’ll act as reminders.  When we’re feeling irritated about something and ready to grumble, we’ll squeeze the ball instead, which will trigger your brains to only allow prayers out of our mouths instead of complaints. 

Watch the following clip with your class, to show everyone how you’ll be making the stress balls [1:54]:
DIY Best Stress Ball Ever!!

You’ll need to assist your class in making the stress balls.  Students should blow up the balloon and stretch it out while waiting for you to help fill them.  If you have a few adult helpers or responsible students, you might want to allow them to assist you in filling the balloons with the water and cornstarch.

As their projects are being completed, have your preteens think of new names for the them. Instead of calling these stress balls, let’s think of new names for them. Examples might be: “Grumble no more!”  “Pray AWAY the Grumbles” or “Philippians 2:14.” Using a fine-tipped permanent marker, they should write the new name for their stress ball onto the balloon.

Moses went to God every time there was a problem and every time God took care of it.  Why are we any different than Moses?  God gives us this story in the Bible to show us how much He cares for us.  He teaches us that we can trust Him and He will provide for all of our needs.  Let’s not be like the Israelites.  Let’s learn from their mistakes and trust God right from the start.

Carry your stress ball around with you this week when you can—keep it in your locker or bedroom.  Squeeze it during frustrating situations and quietly pray through the situation instead of grumbling.  Begin to retrain your brain to go to God first.  At the end of the week, look back over your week and evaluate how it went.  Were you more at peace with circumstances you couldn’t control?  Did you trust God in those times? Did He answer?  Did praying instead of grumbling make a difference in your week? 

Begin to make this response a part of who you are and how you respond to the day-to-day responsibilities we all have.  Grumbling gets us nowhere.  But, trusting in God wins every time.

Pray to close.

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