For a preschooler, following Jesus means simple obedience. (Actually it is as simple as that for us too, we just make it more complicated.) Children who learn to obey their parents and their teachers, will have a much easier time learning to obey God as they grow into their own personal relationship with Him. In these young formative years, we are tilling the soil, and laying the groundwork of faith in their little hearts. One of the critical pieces of the foundation is obedience.
There is a clear element of soul-winning and evangelism in this story, and that it is typically the context in which this story is used. Jesus calls the fishermen to leave their nets, follow Him, and become fishers of men. However, before Peter, Andrew, James and John could become fishers of men, they had to act in obedience. They obeyed the first time when Jesus told them to let down their nets, after they had been fishing all night and caught nothing. As I teach this lesson, I make a really big deal of the fact that Jesus did an amazing miracle for then when they obeyed Him! The fishermen obeyed again when Jesus told them to leave their nets and follow Him.
These are the moments in the story that I highlight for my preschoolers. Obedience and the blessing that follows, are truths that they can grasp and live out in their own life today, as they learn to follow Jesus! Now let's get into the lesson, shall we?!
Bible Truth: Jesus teaches me to follow Him.
Bible Story: Jesus calls four fishermen to follow Him.
Bible Study: Matthew 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-20; Luke 5:1-11
bring it to life
Songs and visuals are the dynamic duo of any effective lesson for young children. Any time I can combine these two elements, I know I have a winning lesson! I gathered up some toys and such to bring this story to life. Improvise with whatever you have on hand to help illustrate this story. I used:
- a small kiddie pool filled with water
- a toy boat
- disciple figurines
- a laundry bag
- a Jesus visual
|Peter, Andrew, James and John were fishermen. There job was to catch fish with big nets.|
|One night, they were out fishing all night, but they didn't catch even one fish.|
|Jesus came into Peter's boat and told him to let his net down into the deep water one more time.|
(My Jesus visual is WAY out of proportion, haha!)
I discovered this visual aid, via Pinterest, using an egg carton to introduce Jesus' twelve disciples. I don't use the song accompanying this visual, because my focus for this lesson is following Jesus, rather than teaching three and four year olds the names of all the disciples. The egg carton visual is a unique way to package and present the disciples. It helps the kids quantify the number twelve in their minds, and they understand who I am speaking of when we talk about the disciples in the coming weeks.
Peter, James and John in a Sailboat/Fishers of Men is the duo part of this lesson! After telling the story, I like to review it with this song. I love the way Veggie Tales combines these two songs into a medley on their "25 Favorite Sunday School Songs" album. As we listen to the song, and sing along, I reenact the story with the visuals.
follow the leader
A simple game to play with this lesson is "Follow the Leader." Say to the children, "When we follow Jesus, we learn to do what Jesus does, just like His disciples. Let's practice follow Jesus by playing 'Follow the Leader.'" Invite the children to follow you in a line around the room as you hop, "fly", tip-toe, etc. You could even set up a little obstacle course for them to follow!
"Jesus Says" is played just like "Simon Says," I suggest that when playing this game with young children, don't try to trick them by doing the action yourself even when you don't say, "Jesus says." This only confuses and frustrates them. Depending on the age and maturity of the children in your class, you may also not want to have sit down and be "out" if they do the action when "Jesus didn't say." At this age, the appeal of games is the action and participation rather than the competition. This is intended to be a fun and enjoyable activity for them!
net full of fish
For this craftivity you will need:
- this activity sheet
- bright colored paper
- craft sticks
- burlap ribbon (Found in the floral section of craft stores. I found mine for 50% off at Hobby Lobby.)
To prepare, print out this activity sheet. Use the triangle patterns to cut out the sail from bright colored paper. Cut out several fish shapes for each child, and cut the burlap ribbon to the preferred size.
In class, provide crayons for the children to color the activity sheet. Help them glue a colorful sail and a craft stick as a mast to the page. Give them fish to place onto the page, but don't worry about gluing these down.
Help them apply glue around the burlap ribbon, and attach it to the page with the fish inside.
Here is a simple coloring page to which the children could easily add fish stickers, fish cut outs, or gold fish crackers.
Trace the children's feet, cut them out, and provides supplies for them to paint and/or decorate them. Put the decorated feet up on a wall in your classroom with the heading, "We Are Following Jesus!"