Over the next several weeks we are introducing the children to Jesus through His miracles. A simple definition of a miracle is something that only Jesus can do! We will emphasize that point each week to help the kids develop an understanding of the power that Jesus has to care for them and protect them.
Bible Story: Jesus feeds 5,000 people with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish.
Bible Study: John 6:1-14; Philippians 4:19
In addition to pictures from a children's Bible story book, or flannel graph characters, a few other items help bring this story to life.
5,000 grains of rice
Understanding the miracle of this story requires a sense of numbers that young preschoolers are still developing. According to my Google search, one cup of rice contains 6,000-7,000 grains of uncooked rice. Therefore, a heaping 3/4 cup of uncooked rice is approximately 5,000 grains of rice. Place this amount of rice in a baggie to help the kiddos understand how large a crowd of 5,000 people really is.
Before I start the story, I like to get my class thinking about numbers of people with this comparison visual. I say, "Let's count how many people are in our classroom right now!" Then I count out that many grains of rice and hold them in my hand. "This is how many people are in our classroom right now. Our story today is about FIVE THOUSAND people." I hold up the baggie of rice in my other hand, and hold my hands side by side. "That is A LOT of people! In our Bible story today, there were five thousand people that came to listen to Jesus."
If the weather permits, take the children outside to experience this story! Lay a blanket or sheet in the grass for the kids to sit on as you tell the story with your basket of bread and fish. If going outside is not an option, lay down a blanket or sheet in your classroom, and imagine with the children that you are outside.
basket of bread and fish
The little boy with his basket is the shining supporting character in this story that the children can relate to. He was very kind to share his lunch with Jesus. I bring out a basket with 5 rolls of bread and two frozen fish fillets (sealed in their packages), covered with a cloth. The rolls are aromatic, and add a nice sensory element to the lesson. Before I remove the cloth, I allow the children to smell the basket, and guess what they think is in the basket. This is a simple way to keep them engaged and interested in the lesson.
We count the bread and the fish together. I pause here, hold up my bag of rice again, and ask, "Is this enough food to feed all of these people? No it's not! There is a little bit of food in the basket. Maybe enough for everyone in your family to eat, but not enough to feed ALL of these people." I lift the basket up to pray just as Jesus did.
At the conclusion of the story I say to my class, "Only Jesus could feed all those people with a little bit of food. You can't do that. I can't do that. Your mommy and daddy can't do that. Our pastor can't do that. Only Jesus can do that! It's a miracle!" Lead the children in a prayer to thank Jesus for His miracle, and thank Him for always taking care of them. Break the bread rolls into pieces to share with the children, and serve them Goldfish crackers from your basket.
- One Basket by The Donut Man has a great song to accompany this lesson. This could be a puppet song, or you could point to the pictures and objects used in the lesson, as the kids sing along. It's also fun to let it play in the background as the children are coloring or working on their craft.
- My God is So Big is one of the all time favorite songs to sing during worship time in my classroom! It goes perfectly with the our series of lessons about miracles, so it will be on repeat over the next couple weeks.
pick up quick
After all the people ate, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftover pieces of bread! Here is a fun and simple game to help emphasize this part of the story. You will need:
- disposable bowls (as baskets)
- a bag of cotton balls (as bread fragments)
- a bell
Give each child a disposable bowl, and invite them to line up, facing a wall in your classroom. Quickly distribute the cotton balls randomly on the floor of the classroom. Instruct the children that when you say go, they are to turn around, and pick up as many cotton balls, as fast as they, can to fill their bowl. You are going to count out loud to twelve, and then ring your bell. When they hear the bell they should stop collecting cotton balls, and sit down right where they are. Say, "Wow! Jesus did an amazing miracle! After He fed 5,000 people with only five loaves and two fish, there was still all these baskets of bread leftover!" Invite the kids to dump out their bowls, and line up against the wall to play the game over and over again as time allows.
the little boy's basket
For this craft you will need:
- this activity page
- Swedish Fish
- markers and/or stickers
Sing "One Basket." Invite the children point to the basket, bread and fish as they are referenced in the song.
Kids love to have their very own basket to take home, to remember and reenact the story. For this craft you will need:
- this label
- brown paper bags
- card stock
- Swedish Fish or Goldfish crackers
To prepare, print out the labels and cut along the lines. Cut the brown paper bags at the natural fold line. (Save the tops of the bags for a future craft.) Cut card stock into 8 1/2" x 1" strips.
In class, provide crayons for the children to color their label. Glue the label to the side of the bag. Open up the bag and staple strip of card stock to either side of the bag as a handle. Put five crackers, and two Swedish Fish candies (or Goldfish crackers if you prefer to skip the sweets) in each child's bag. You can either eat them in class as for your picnic, or let the children take them home to eat.
This craft really reinforces the number aspects of this lesson, and gives preschoolers an opportunity to work on their fine motor skills. You will need:
- pipe cleaners
- uncooked mostaccioli pasta
- foamie sheets
- hole punch
In class, show the children how to lace five penne noodles and two fish onto a pipe cleaner.
After the children have laced them, twist the ends of the pipe cleaner together. Ask the children to count the bread and fish as you review the story.
See this post for more activities to do with your child at home this week to reinforce this lesson!