Saturday, February 28, 2015

Jesus Changed Zacchaeus Heart

Zacchaeus is a real-life example of the power that Jesus has to change our hearts.  The goal in this lesson is for the children to feel the darkness and ugliness of sin, and then experience the joy and miracle of forgiveness when Zacchaeus meets Jesus!

Bible Truth: Jesus has the power to forgives my sin.
Bible Story: Jesus changes Zacchaeus' heart.
Bible Study: Luke 19:1-10; I Corinthians 5:7



To tell the story of Zacchaeus "hands-on" style gather up these items:
  • children's picture Bible, or flannel graph scenery and characters
  • a small bag or coin pouch
  • loose change
  • a cut-out of a black heart and a white heart
Peak your class's interest in your lesson by shaking the bag, and letting them guess what is inside.  They will probably easily guess that you have money in your bag!  Pass out a coin for each child to hold throughout the lesson.  (Remind them that they should never put coins in their mouths!) Read the story of Zacchaeus from a children's picture Bible, or tell it in your own words with visuals, such as flannel graph.

Introduce Zacchaeus as a short man, who was a tax collector.  His job was to collect money that people had to pay to the king.  But Zacchaeus took more money from people than he was supposed to. If someone was supposed to pay one coin to the king, Zaccahaeus made them pay two coins, and he would keep one of the coins for himself.  That is called stealing.  Zacchaeus was rich and had lots of money, but nobody wanted to be his friend because he stole money from them.  He had a dark sinful heart.

Hold up the dark heart as you describe Zacchaeus' dark and sinful heart.

Go on to tell the rest of the story of Zacchaeus meeting Jesus, as you show pictures from the children's Bible or manipulate flannel graph characters.

At the conclusion of the story, talk about how amazing it is that Jesus changed Zacchaeus' heart!  He used to be a man that stole people's money, but now he gives his money away to people!  Jesus did a miracle! Only Jesus has the power to take a dirty, sinful heart and give us a new clean heart! Zacchaeus repented, he turned away from his sin, and followed Jesus!

Hold up the white heart as you describe how Jesus changed Zacchaeus' heart.

Lead the class in a prayer, asking Jesus to forgive their sin, and change their hearts so they can follow Jesus like Zacchaeus.  After you pray, collect the coins from the children.  Tell them that they are giving the money back just like Zacchaeus did after he repented.



  • Zacchaeus (was a wee little man) is a Sunday School classic, and the perfect song to reinforce the story they just heard.  Be sure to do some actions with the song!

  • The Repent Song is the same song we learned along with the story of John the Baptist, so it's great review and repetition.  Follow the link for the lyrics and actions.

  • The Bath Song is a great song about how Jesus washes away our sin with "super soap."  The "call back" format makes it really easy to sing along!


color & paste

Here is a coloring sheet from Sermons 4 Kids of Jesus talking to Zacchaeus in the tree.  Cut pieces of green paper, or green tissue paper into leaves for the children to glue onto the tree.

zacchaeus meets Jesus

A good craft is one that helps children retell the story that they learned.  This craft does exactly that!  You will need:
  • this print out in (black & white) or (color)
  • card stock
  • scissors
  • hole punch
  • yarn
  • green tissue paper
  • glue
  • clear tape
  • crayons (optional)
To prepare, print the print out page onto card stock.  Cut on the dotted line, and cut out Zacchaeus.  Punch a hole at the top and bottom of the tree.  Cut out approximately 1" x 1" squares of green tissue paper. Cut yarn into 16" lengths.

In class, provide glue for the children to attach the squares of tissue paper to the tree as leaves.  Lace the yarn throught the holes and tie it behind the tree.  If using the black and white version, provide crayons for the children to color Jesus and Zacchaeus.  

Tip: Tie the yarn near the top of the page, and attach Zacchaeus to the bottom of  the page.
It is easier for the kids, if you let them glue on the leaves before you add the yarn.

Use clear tape to attach Zacchaeus to the yarn.  

Tip: Set the clear tape under the yarn, sticky side up, and then press Zacchaeus onto the tape.

Move Zacchaeus up and down the tree to retell the story!

up and down the tree

For this craft you will need:
  • this tree pattern
  • this Zacchaeus pattern
  • green construction paper
  • jumbo craft sticks
  • yarn
  • scissors
  • hole punch
  • crayons
  • glue
  • tape
To prepare, cut out the top, leaf portion of the tree pattern, and use it to trace onto green construction paper. Cut out tree and Zacchaeus figures.  Punch a hole near the top of the trees.  Cut yarn into approximately 7" lengths.

In class, provide crayons for the children to color Zacchaeus, and the jumbo craft stick.  Help them attach the tree to the craft stick with glue.  Tape Zacchaeus to the yarn, thread the yarn through the hole in the tree, and tie the yarn off in the back to move Zacchaeus up and down the tree.

Find more ideas and for teaching your child at home about Zacchaeus and his encounter with Jesus, here!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Jesus Blesses Little Children: Home Ideas

With a little empathy, one can imagine the painful sting of rejection the young children felt as the disciples harshly turned them away from seeing Jesus.  In the next moment, they were overwhelmed with the sweetness of acceptance, as Jesus intervened, rebuking the disciples, and inviting the children to come to Him. 

Quite likely, your child has experienced this sort of rejection when they are told that they are too young, or too little to do something, or go somewhere.  Or perhaps we ourselves, busy and distracted, miss something that our children or students are trying to communicate is important to them.  It is comforting for children to know that they are not too young or too little to come to Jesus.  He is never too busy to listen and respond to their prayers.  This week, assure your child of Jesus' love for them.  Just as the parents in this story, bring your child to Jesus.  As they identify with the children, pray that they come to know the pure joy and peace of a loving touch from Jesus.  Here are some ideas to help you do just that!

  • Read the story of Jesus blessing the little children together in your child's Bible.  Talk about the love of Jesus for His children.  Pray together, and thank God for showing us in the Bible that Jesus loves them.
  • Along with your child, form play dough figures of Jesus and the children, even the parents and disciples.  Encourage your child to retell the story in their own words, using the figures.
  • 'J' is for Jesus!  Show your child how to form the letter 'J' with play dough.  Talk and about the sound of the letter 'J'.  
  • As you are preparing snacks this week, think about including things you can serve that start with the letter 'J', such as juice, jelly, Jell-o, etc.  Ask your child to identify what they are eating that starts with the letter 'J'.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Jesus Blesses Little Children

I view the story of Jesus blessing the little children as a template for my ministry.  Let me explain. The children were not going to Jesus on their own, people were bringing them to HimTo me, the parents, grandparents and teachers who brought the children to Jesus, are the heroes of this story.  They recognized the importance of bringing the children to Jesus, and they were willing to face adversity for this cause.  Precious children received the incredible love and touch of the Savior because of the faith and perseverance of those who loved and cared for them.  

Our calling as teachers is to lead the children in our care to Jesus, so that He might "take them up in His arms, put His hands on them and bless them."  That is the ultimate goal of every interaction, lesson, story, song, game and craft in my classroom.  A touch from Jesus is what will make the difference in a child's heart and life.  I simply want to be one that brings the children to Him, and if you are reading this, I'm sure that you do too.   Join me this week as we lead our children to know and experience the indescribable love of Jesus!

Bible Truth: Jesus loves me all the time.
Bible Story: Jesus blesses little children.
Bible Study: Mark 10:13-16; Luke 18:15-17



interactive story-telling 

For an interactive way to tell the story of Jesus blessing the children, print out these visuals onto card stock. Cut them out and attach each one to a craft stick.

Gather enough child-like figurines (such as dolls from a dollhouse, or Lego people) for each child to hold during the lesson.

As you tell the story, have your Bible open your lap, hold up the Jesus figure.  Invite the children to move their figurines towards Jesus.  Hold up the stop sign to stop them, as you explain that the disciples thought Jesus was too busy with other important people, and didn't have time to be bothered by children.

But Jesus said, "Let the little children come to Me."  Hold up the happy heart as you motion for the children to move their figurines to Jesus.  Show a picture of Jesus, with the children in His lap, as you explain that Jesus loves them, and always has time for them.

power point visual

Here is a power point slideshow of the story that could be shown from a laptop or tablet as you tell the story.  The slideshow is part of a beautiful collection of 100 Bible story power points, which can be purchased here for $39.99.  With accurate depictions, at less than a dollar per story, I think this is a worthwhile investment for your ministry!


Two of the ultimate classics in children's songs are great to sing for this lesson.  

This is fun way to emphasize that we know Jesus loves us because the Bible tells us so.  Before singing "Jesus Loves Me" say to the children, "Let's sing Jesus loves me this I know for Spiderman tells me so.  Is that right?"  Assuming the children know the song they will say no, and try to correct you.  Say, "Oh! Oh! Ok.  Jesus loves me this I know for Frozen tells me so!"  The children will stop and correct you again.  You can use other characters or movies that your children find appealing.  Say, "I'm so glad that God gave us the Bible to tell us how much Jesus loves us!"  By substituting the word Bible in the first line of the song with other characters or movies that are appealing to the children, you are reinforcing the idea that they may enjoy these things, but the Bible is special and different, because it tells us that Jesus loves us.  (This is a clever little trick that I learned years ago from Cheryon Unruh, who pioneered the preschool ministry in our church.)




Jesus loves me pass

This is a game similar to the concept of "Hot Potato."  It's a simple game to reinforce the love of Jesus for each child in your class.  For this version of the game in this lesson you will need:
  • a heart-shaped object such as a pillow or candy box
  • music such as one of the songs listed above 
The children sit in a circle and pass around the heart-shaped object while music is playing.  When you stop the music, whoever is holding the heart stands up.  Say to the class, "Does Jesus love ___________ (child's name)?"  The class responds, "Yes!  Jesus loves ____________ (child's name)!"  Cheer for the child as they sit down.  Start the music and continue passing the heart until each child has a had a turn.  Instead of a heart-shaped object, you could pass around a Bible, reminding children the children that we know Jesus loves us because the Bible tells us so.



Jesus loves me watches

Kids love having their own watches to wear!  For this craft you will need:
To prepare, print out the watch faces onto card stock, and cut one out for each child.  Cut Foamies into approximately 1" x 6" strips.

In class, provide crayons or markers for kids to color their watch faces.  It would be fun to a little red glitter to the heart if you are so inclined.  Help the children glue the watch face to a Foamie strip, and attach Velcro to each end of the strip as the fastener.

Now they can wear their watches to remember today's lesson and Jesus' love for them!

tracing fun 

Here is a tracing worksheet that I created for children to color and work on basic writing skills as they trace the lines leading the children to Jesus.  This activity would be a little easier and more fun to do with markers!


Jesus loves me paper dolls

Here is the link to these cute and simple paper dolls.  She has costumes for them too, but for our purposes, I will just use the black and white versions of boy and girl as they are.  Print them onto cards stock, and cut them out.  Children could color them, and/or glue small pieces of fabric to them as clothes.  Attach a "Jesus Loves Me" sticker to each paper doll.  If no such sticker is available, cut out small hearts, write "Jesus Loves Me" on them, and glue them to each paper doll.

Find more ideas for teaching your child about Jesus love for them at home this week here!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Jesus is My Shepherd: Home Ideas

This week we are discovering the love of Jesus as we come to know Him as the Good Shepherd.  Stories are such a powerful way to teach a truth or message.  Jesus knew the power of storytelling, and used parables to teach us about the Kingdom of Heaven.  I have always found that young children are captivated by animal stories.  Enter, The Parable of the Lost Sheep.  Jesus teaches us about His unconditional love for us, even we go astray, using characters and a story line that appeal to little ones.  It is the love and the care of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, that compels us and our children, His sheep, to follow Him.  
  • Read The Parable of The Lost Sheep together in your child's Bible.
  • Pray together for family or friends that your child knows who do not know and follow Jesus.  They are the lost sheep that Jesus loves so much.
  • Use stuffed animals as sheep and create a sheepfold for them with boxes, chairs, or couch cushions.  Let your child be the shepherd and count how many sheep are in their fold.  While they are pretending to sleep, take one of the "sheep" and hide it.  Wake up your child and ask them which "sheep" is missing?  They can be like the Good Shepherd.  Go look for the lost sheep and bring it back to the fold.
  • The shepherd in the parable counted his sheep, so here's a counting sheep challenge for your child.  Creating groups of ten is a foundational math skill.  Give your child 100 cotton balls and 10 small containers.  Ask them to put 10 cotton balls in each container.  For younger preschoolers, this will be enough of a challenge.  Older preschoolers may be ready to count all the cotton balls in each container up to 100, while others may be able to learn to count by 10's to 100.
  •  Write the numbers 1-10 in large font on half sheets of paper or index cards.  Allow your child to glue cotton balls to the numbers to help them develop a sense of the shape of each number.  Also add stickers corresponding to each number to each page.  Display the numbers where you and your child can refer to them.  (This maybe a project that you work on over several days.)

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Jesus is My Shepherd

The parables of the Good Shepherd and the Lost Sheep are such vivid, loving pictures of Jesus' care for us as His sheep.  The imagery Jesus uses in these stories is perfect for showing children the love of Jesus, which leads to the desire to follow and obey Him.  I set about on a way to make this lesson tangible and interactive, and I am so excited to share it with you!  As usual, I used items that  I found around my house and classroom.  I am sure that with a little digging and creativity, you can come up with similar items to tell this story in the same way.

Bible Truth: Jesus is my Shepherd
Bible Story: The parable of the lost sheep.
Bible Study: Luke 15:1-7; John 10:1-15, Psalms 23



 Here is a list of the items that I am using:
  • green cloth
  • blocks
  • blue ribbon
  • rocks
  • cotton balls
  • shepherd (from Little People Nativity Set) 
Gather with the children around a table, or in a circle on the floor, with the green cloth laid in front of you. Open your Bible and tell the children that today you are going to tell them a parable, a story that Jesus told to teach us something He wants us to know.  As you describe the good shepherd, and his care for his sheep, setup the rest of the objects to set the scene for the story.

To make the story more personal, give each child a cotton ball with their initials on it.  The Bible says that the Good Shepherd knows his sheep by name.  Throughout the story, use the names of the children as the names of the sheep, and direct the children move their sheep around the scene.

Here is a visual outline of the story with captions.

The Good Shepherd takes good care of his sheep.  He watches over them and knows each one by name.

The sheep follow the Good Shepherd and they know His voice.

The Good Shepherd leads His sheep to green pastures to eat and play, and beside still water to drink.

The Good Shepherd leads His sheep through the door, into the sheepfold, where they are safe.

If there is a sheep missing, the Good Shepherd leaves the others to search for it until he finds it.

When the Shepherd finds his lost sheep, He carries it home on his shoulders, and calls His family and friends to celebrate.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd and we are His sheep.  We follow Him and he takes good care of us.
He rejoices when even one of His lost sheep is found!

Find a picture in a children's Bible story book of the shepherd with the sheep on his shoulders to show to the children.  Jesus said that heaven rejoices when a sinner repents.  Conclude the story by celebrating like the shepherd.  Give the children party blowers or noise makers, or have a special snack in celebration!


  • The Lord is My Shepherd is a traditional song to help seal this truth in the hearts of your students.  Here are the lyrics & actions that I recommend for this song.
  • Skip Behind the Shepherd is another really good song by The Donut Man (remember him?!)  It's fun for little ones to skip around the room to this song, and then end by lying in green pastures.



hide and go sheep

Hide sheep (cotton balls) around the room.  Send the children to be good shepherds, and find the lost sheep.  Rejoice when they do!

shepherd, shepherd where's your sheep?

This game is a modified version of "Doggie, Doggie Where's Your Bone?" in case you are already familiar with that.  For this game you will need a sheep of some sort.  Possibly a stuffed animal, sheep figurine, or one from the craft below.  The children sit in a circle.  Choose one child to be the shepherd.  The shepherd goes to "sleep" (closing and covering their eyes) in the middle of the circle with the sheep next to them.  Tap a child on the shoulder, indicating that they may go take the sheep from the shepherd, and hide it behind their back.  Everyone puts their hands behind their back, pretending that they are the one who took the sheep, and "wakes up" the shepherd with this rhyme:

Shepherd, shepherd where's you sheep?
Somebody took it while you were asleep.
Guess who, it might be you,
Or maybe wolf howling, "Ow-oooo!"

The shepherd has three chances to guess who took their sheep.  The child who took the sheep then has a turn as the shepherd.  Continue playing the game until everyone has a turn to be the shepherd, and take the sheep.


A simple search for "sheep mask template" or "paper bag sheep puppet" will point you to lots of cute sheep craft ideas.  I have opted to share a craft with you specifically for this parable.
I really wanted a craft depicting the shepherd rescuing the lost sheep, and laying it on his shoulders.  I used this coloring sheet from as my starting point.  I did some digital magic to remove the sheep from the original to make it work the way I was visualizing.  It took a bit of reworking, but here it is!

You will need:
  • these printouts (I suggest printing the lambs on card stock for greater durability)
  • an Exacto knife
  • scissors
  • cotton balls
  • brown paper
  • glue 
To prepare, use the Exacto knife to cut around the shepherd's head, from shoulder to shoulder.  Cut out the lambs.  (For this to work as shown, you must cut out the spaces between the lamb's legs.)  Cut brown paper to resemble a rock, and crumple it for texture.

In class, have the children color the page.  Help them glue a small bottom section of the rock to the coloring page.  Give each child half of a cotton ball.  Help them spread the cotton apart and glue it to the lamb.  Review and retell the story together as children move the lamb from behind the rock, to the shepherd's shoulders.


Monday, February 9, 2015

Jesus Teaches Me to Love Others: Home Ideas

No doubt, kindness, sharing and loving others are values that you are trying to instill in your child's character.  As you are reading the story of the Good Samaritan, and doing these activities with your child this week, emphasize that this is the way Jesus taught us to treat others.  We are following Jesus when we share His love with others.
  • Read the story of the Good Samaritan in your child's Bible together.
  • Children learn and process their learning through play.  Use stuffed animals or dolls to act out the story of the Good Samaritan.  Allow your child to use band-aids or gauze, blankets, etc. to be the Good Samaritan and care for the "injured traveler." 
  • Bake cookies together and bring them to a neighbor, or someone you know who may be lonely and/or in need of encouragement.
  • "L" is for Love.  Be sure your child knows the letter "L."  Then throughout the week make a game out of finding the letter "L" in books you read, on cereal boxes, signs, license plates, etc.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Jesus Teaches Me to Love Others

Loving others by showing kindness, sharing, and being helpful are lessons that speak to preschoolers right where they live!

Bible Truth: Jesus teaches me to love others.
Bible Story: The parable of the Good Samaritan.
Bible Study: Luke 10:25-37; 1 John 4:7-8

Find the tutorial for marbled hearts at the end of this post!


flannel graph-ooh!

I like to use our flannel graph set to tell this story.  We purchased the small deluxe Bible set years ago from Little Folk Visuals.  It was a costly investment, but it has lasted for over fifteen years, and is used across all our children's ministry classes.  Little Folk Visuals also has smaller Bible sets that provide the characters for a limited number of stories as another option.

For a more economical option, I suggest purchasing a child's Bible with nice, simple pictures.  Cut out the characters and any other accessories you like, and attach felt to the back of the cutouts.  Cover a board with felt as your story board, and now you have a nice flannel graph set for a fraction of the cost!

A great tip is to tuck the flannel graph pieces into your Bible, and pull them out of your Bible to place onto the board.  To get the children more involved with the story, you could give individual children a felt character or object to hold.  Then at each appropriate time in the story, invite the children to place them on the storyboard.


God's special rule

This Happy Day Book teaches kids very practical ways to show love to others.  You will likely find this book in your local Christian bookstore.  You can also order it here from Christian Book Distributors, or here from Amazon.  These are relatively inexpensive booklets, with attractive illustrations, to supplement your lessons.  I would also suggest checking your own book shelf or your local library for any books related to sharing, friendship, or showing kindness.  Please use discernment, but if any one of these is the central theme of a book or story, you may use it to demonstrate the practical application of loving others.


Here are a couple great songs to download for this lesson.
I think both of those songs are best served as puppet songs, songs to play in the background while kids are working on their crafts, or to play the games listed below.


scripture pass

This is a game similar to the concept of "Hot Potato."
For this version of the game in this lesson you will need:
  • a heart-shaped object such as a pillow or candy box
  • music such as one of the songs listed above 
The children sit in a circle and pass around the heart-shaped object while music is playing.  When you stop the music, whoever is holding the object stands up and repeats after you, "I John 4:7, Let us love one another."  After playing several rounds, many of the children will be able to say the verse with little help, or with no help at all.

share the love

Add a little variation, and "love in action" to the game.  Whoever is holding the object when the music stops, may also do something kind for another child.  Suggestions are:
  • give a compliment to another child
  • give a hug,  handshake or high five to another child
  • choose a small treat (toy or candy) to give to another child


good samaritan craftivity

 I found the coloring page for this activity here.  For this activity you will need:
Allow the children to dab the wounded man with red paint, and then cover the wounds with strips of gauze you have cut out for them.  Then give them a heart sticker, or paper cut-out to affix to the Good Samaritan who showed love to his neighbor.

deco heart art

This is a simple, open-ended art project with minimal prep involved.  You may purchase precut foam hearts, or cut out your.  You will need:
  • hearts (foamie or paper)
  • these labels
  • stickers, sequins and/or other small craft items
  • hole punch
  • ribbon
  • glue
Glue the labels to the hearts, and then allow the children to decorate the hearts with stickers, sequins and/or other small craft items.  Hole punch a hole at the top, and tie a piece of ribbon through the hole.

marbled hearts

This is a fun, sensory kind of art project that I found here via Pinterest, and put my own spin on it.  You will need:
  • paper plates
  • shaving cream
  • washable tempra paint
  • paint brushes
  • hearts cut out of card stock (pattern here)
  • paper towels or wipes (for cleaning hands)
Begin by dispensing shaving cream, and then paint, onto a paper plate.  (I decided that when I do this with the kids I will use about half as much shaving cream as I show in this picture.)

  Allow the children to mix the paint and shaving cream with a paint brush.

Help each child place a paper heart over the mixture of paint and shaving cream, gently press, and then lift the heart off.

The result is a cool, marbled effect.  These could be displayed in your classroom with a "Let us love one another" banner.

Read this post for more ideas about teaching your child these concepts, while practicing preschool skills at home this week!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Jesus Teaches Me to be Wise: Home Ideas

The parable of the Wise and Foolish Builders is a great story to teach your preschooler about wise and foolish choices. In this parable Jesus teaches us that we are like the wise man when we hear His word and act in obedience.  We are like the foolish man when we hear His word and do not do as He says.  Ephesians 6:1 instructs children to obey their parents in the Lord.  Since God's word to children is to obey their parents, you can explain to your child that they are like the wise man when they listen to you and obey.  In contrast, they are like the foolish man when they hear you and choose to disobey you.  Introduce God's Word to your child as the authority, and as the foundation for teaching your child obedience.  Obedience is a lesson parents are always teaching, and truthfully, always learning.

There are several YouTube links this week.  They were just too good, so I had to share them with you!  In balance, though, I also have lots of suggestion for "hands-on, digging-in-the-dirt" fun. :)
  • Read the story of the wise man and the foolish man together in your child's Bible.
  • In your backyard, or at the park, build a sand castle, and then build a house out of rocks.  Pour water over the houses.  Observe and discuss what happens.
  • After watching all those Lego movies, build and re-enact your own story of the Wise and Foolish Builders.  As you are building, talk about how Jesus says we are like the wise man when we obey, and we are like the foolish man when we disobey.
  • Outside, arrange small rocks into various shapes and letters for your child to identify and re-create on their own.  You could also draw shapes and letters in the sand.