Joseph's story is recorded in Genesis 37:18-36 and Genesis 39-41. It is an exciting account that covers most of his life. His experiences include danger, betrayal, restoration and forgiveness. If you want to teach your preschooler about Joseph, it is important to convey the lessons that can be learned from his life along with basic biographical facts. Like most Biblical figures, Joseph wasn't perfect, but he loved God and tried to honor Him in everything he did. This is one of the most important things your child should remember from Joseph's life story. After hearing Joseph's fascinating story, your child will probably want to hear other stories from the Bible. Who knows? You may have a budding Bible scholar on your hands.
Read the story of Joseph from a children's Bible or retell it in language your child will understand. Preschoolers may be confused by the wording of the King James version of the Bible. Ask your child open-ended questions like "How would feel if you were Joseph?" or "Do you think you could forgive someone who told lies about you and caused you to get punished for things you didn't do?" (If she can, she's more mature than most adults!)
Explain the lessons your child can learn from Joseph's life. Since there are so many topics to choose from, focus on one or two at a time. Preschoolers enjoy hearing a story many times. Repetition actually boosts their comprehension, so you can explore different angles of the story each time. Begin with a lesson on forgiveness, explaining that Joseph was able to be reconciled with his brothers even though they had done very mean things to him. This is something your tot can apply to situations with family members or friends (even when he's older!). Other teaching points are blessings, protection and pride. A four- or five-year-old needs to learn that being a "know-it-all" will not endear her to others just as Joseph's boasting about his dreams did not set well with his brothers.
Make a craft about Joseph with your child. A popular -- and possibly messy one -- is Joseph's coat of many colors made from a coffee filter that your preschooler colors with markers, different colors of tissue paper or fabric scraps. Help him or allow him to glue the pieces to a Joseph paper doll, which can be homemade or found online. He may want to draw his own paper doll.
Reinforce knowledge about Joseph with supplemental activities. Coloring pages are preschooler favorites. You tell the story that the picture depicts as your child colors. Teach a Joseph rhyme with accompanying movements or make your own puppets for a puppet show. If you ever aspired to be an actor, you and your child can dramatize events from Joseph's life such as helping Joseph store food for the upcoming years of famine or seeing his brothers and father again when they travel to Egypt. (Stay away from the story of Potiphar's wife for obvious reasons!)