Pentecost in percussion


The aim of this activity is to tell the story of Pentecost in sound.


You will need:

  • a good set of various percussion instruments, suited into ‘sets’ and preferably kept in different trays – shakers, tambourines, wooden with beaters, drums, and so on


Seat the children in three groups where they can all see you and give out the instruments:

Group 1 – drums and other things that clatter
Group 2 – shakers
Group 3 – metal shakers, tambourines

Before giving your pupils a short period to see what different sounds they can make, teach them your silence signal (at which, they should all put their instruments down, fold their arms and listen). Then, teach them how to greet each other in at least three different languages, adding gestures as appropriate.

Begin by telling the story.

Jesus had disappeared. He’d said: Go back to the big city and wait for my Father to send you a special present. He’s going to send you his Spirit – that’s God living inside you.

So, when he left, the disciples returned to the city and waited to see what would happen. They met together to pray and worship God, but they were scared and nervous. So many strange things had happened in the past few days, and they had lots of enemies in the city. It wasn’t a safe place to be a friend of Jesus.

Then, one morning, when the disciples had gathered in secret to pray together in an upstairs room at someone’s house near the marketplace, something happened:

  • An earthquake began shaking the place – Group 1, make a rumbling sound, sound effects of things falling off shelves, then stop
  • Then, a powerful wind blasted through the windows, knocking things over – Group 2, sound effects, then stop
  • And then something else seemed to spark around the room, going from person to person like flames in a fire – Group 3, sound effects, then stop
  • Then, they all started speaking to each other in different languages – All, greet each other in different languages
  • It was the Holy Spirit sent by God, and it was all happening now at once – All, play together loudly, then stop

Simon Peter, who led the group, became excited:

It’s happening, it’s really happening! he cried out – All, repeat the words

The Holy Spirit is here! Wow! – All, repeat the words

and then they all said:

We’ve got to tell somebody! – All, repeat the words

So, they all dashed downstairs out into the marketplace – but this was full of pilgrims, people who had come to the city from all over the Roman world to worship the Jewish God, as well as those shaken by the earthquake. And then, full of excitement, Jesus’ disciples started telling the crowds what had just happened. And the crowd understood them!

People started reacting. Some of them saw how excited the disciples were and started saying to each other:

What’s going on? What’s going on? – Group 1, repeat the words while knocking out a rhythm, then stop

But others said:

You’ve been drinking! You’ve been drinking! – Group 2, repeat the words while knocking out a rhythm, then stop

But Simon Peter stood up in front of the whole crowd and said:

We’re not drunk – it’s only 9 in the morning! This is God’s Holy Spirit at work and it’s all thanks to Jesus! Jesus came to teach people about the Kingdom of God and the love of God. He healed people and made friends with the lonely. Then, he was murdered – but God brought him back! And this has all been in God’s plan from the beginning! And you can be part of it too!

As he spoke to the crowd, some people said:

Tell me more! Tell me more! – Group 3, repeat the words while knocking out a rhythm, then stop

And so the sounds of that day all came together – All three groups, repeat their words and rhythms altogether (possibly starting quietly, then building up to a crescendo)

And that’s how the stories of Jesus started spreading around the world. It’s where the Church really started to grow, and it all happened at the feast of Pentecost.

Finish with all three groups playing the earthquake/wind/fire sound effects… starting quietly and building up to a crescendo, at which time everybody shouts Pentecost! Wow!

Photo by Paulo Infante on Unsplash