Try this lesson plan based on the story of Ruth and Naomi to teach children about kindness. It would work in any children’s ministry setting but is designed for kids church or Sunday School. Please leave your feedback in the comment section at the end of this lesson.
Objectives: To define kindness through the book of Ruth. To develop students who display kindness in their personal lives. This lesson is geared towards a children’s church classroom setting of 1st -5th graders.
Bible Basis: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” – Colossians 3:12
Bible Lesson: Kindness in the Book of Ruth
Invite the students to listen for the words “kind, kindness, or kindly” throughout the lesson today. When they hear those words, they are to put their finger on their nose (not in their nose!) Read the following synopsis of the chapters to the students. If you have flannel graph pieces for the story, utilize them to provide for visual learners.
Chapter 1: The Kindness of Ruth and Naomi
Once upon a time, there was a woman named Naomi. Naomi was married to Elimelech (say that three times fast!) and they had two sons, Mahlon and Kilion. They lived in Bethlehem. (Who else was born there?) But they had to move because of a famine (no food in the land.) So they packed their bags and went to live in a foreign land called Moab.
A few years after the move, Elimelech died. Naomi was so sad, but she had to keep living life. Her two sons got married to Ruth and Orpah (not Oprah.) For ten years, things seemed good, until both her sons died. Her life seemed to have one funeral after another. Now she was all alone in a foreign land.
Since her daughters in law were so young, she told them to go back to their homes. “Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May the Lord show kindness to you, as you have shown to your dead and to me.” (Ruth 1:8) So she waved goodbye to them and everyone cried. Orpah went away, but Ruth hugged Naomi and said, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go, I will go, and where you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.” (Ruth 1:16)
Ruth showed kindness to Naomi by staying with her, maybe because Naomi first showed kindness to her. So together, they packed their bags and took the long and dusty journey to Bethlehem, Naomi’s first home. No one could believe that Naomi was back! Everyone said, “Is this really her, Naomi?” Naomi said, “Don’t call me Naomi, call me Mara.” Naomi felt like God had made her life bitter. Almost everything had been taken away from her.
Chapter 2: The Kindness of Boaz
Naomi had this one relative, on Elimelech’s side of the family, whose name was Boaz. Boaz was very wealthy and had large fields. Now it was the custom of the day that after the harvesters went through the field, poor people were allowed to take whatever was left. Ruth was one of those poor people who gathered grain one day. When Boaz asked who she was, his foreman told him.
Boaz had heard of the kindness of Ruth towards Naomi, so he said to her, “Don’t go and glean in another field and don’t go away from here… Stay here with my servant girls…I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law…May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord….” (Ruth 2:8, 11-12)
Not only did Boaz speak kindly to Ruth, but he also invited her for lunch! Boaz even gave orders to his men to leave extra grain for her, which they did. That night, when she came home to Naomi, she had leftovers from lunch and nearly a bushel of grain! That was a lot! Ruth was so surprised at his kindness. Naomi was too! She said, “May the Lord bless him! He has not stopped showing kindness to the living and the dead!” (Ruth 2:20)
The Rest of the Story: The Kindness of God
The story of Ruth, which starts out with a lot of death and sadness, ends up with a whole lot of joy. Boaz ends up asking Ruth to marry him. They become husband and wife and have a son named Obed. Years later, Obed becomes the grandfather of King David. And the great-great-great-great…. grandfather of Jesus. In fact, Matthew Chapter 1 talks about the family tree of Jesus. And in that family tree, in verse 5, are the names of both Boaz and Ruth. They are listed in the family tree of the Savior of the world!
How did our story turn out to have a happy ending? God wrote a beautiful story for Ruth and Boaz, but their lives were not always easy. How was life hard for Ruth? How did she respond to her hard life? Was she angry and mean about everything or was she kind and grateful? Ruth lived a life of kindness, even when she probably didn’t feel like it. Remember that her husband died, she was poor, and she was living in a foreign land (Bethlehem.) But she chose to be kind, despite her circumstances. Even before Boaz met her, he knew who she was because people had been talking about her kindness! Wow!
In our story today, Naomi showed kindness to Ruth. Ruth showed kindness to Naomi and Boaz. Boaz showed kindness to Ruth and his workers. This is a story of kindness! But even greater than the kindness showed by Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz is the kindness showed by God! God has chosen to show us kindness through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus. None of us deserve God’s kindness because of our sin, but He shows it anyway.
In Titus 3:3-5, it says that, “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived, and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy…”
Application and Prayer: (Thank the students for their good listening in our story today. Mention that they no longer have to put their fingers on their noses! Have the students close their eyes.) Think for a moment about your sin. How have you hurt the heart of God today? This week? This year? Now think about God. God sent His only son to die on the cross, in your place – for your sin. Because of the death of Jesus, we can be forgiven for our sin. We can live with Jesus forever in Heaven. And we can be kind to others because God has been kind to us.
In Romans 2:4, it says that, “God’s kindness leads you toward repentance.” Repentance means being forgiven of your sin. This is not a question to answer out loud, but have you ever asked for forgiveness for your sin? Have you invited Jesus into your heart? If not, I want to invite you to do that today.
For those of you who have invited Christ into your heart, are you living out kindness every day? Are you kind to your parents, your brothers or sisters, your friends? Are you kind only when things are going well for you? Or are you like Ruth and are kind no matter what? I want to invite you to have Jesus help you be kind to others all of the time.
Close in prayer and talk with any students as needed.
Memory Verse Game: The Big Clothing Relay
Materials: Colossians 3:12 on construction paper or written on chalkboard/whiteboard, outer wear items with masking tape words stuck on (compassion on a coat, kindness on a hat, humility on a scarf, gentleness on mittens, patience on boots)
- Read Colossians 3:12 with the children. Give them a chance to repeat verse several times before the game.
- Divide into two teams.
- Place all clothes in two piles across the room from each of the teams.
- On “go”, have one member from each team walk quickly to the pile and place all of the outer wear items on top of their clothes. As each item is placed on, they are to say the character trait on it. Once all items are put on, have the students return to their team.
- The team should repeat the memory verse before the first student removes outer wear.
- Once outer wear is removed, the next student goes and the relay continues until each member has had a turn.
- The winning team should sit down when finished to communicate that they are done.
Art Project: Kindness T’s
Materials: (pre-washed) t-shirts, non-toxic fabric paint, pieces of cardboard (1 for each shirt), paper plates, carrots for stamping (or any other stamping implement like potatoes, apples, pencil eraser tips, or shaped stamps), tape, an example of a finished Kindness T, cardboard stencils of the letters in “Kindness” or “Be Kind”, pencils
* To cut costs on this art project, have the children bring in any plain t- shirt from home. Have extra t-shirts on hand, in the event that a student may have forgotten theirs.
1. Ahead of time, set out the fabric paints on the paper plates. Also, cut the stamping implement to size. You will want the stamp to be small and shaped either like a circle, square, or triangle.
2. Place the cardboard pieces inside each of the t-shirts. Stretch out the shirt and tape the sleeves to the back of the cardboard, ensuring that the t-shirt is stretched tightly. The students will be decorating the front of the t-shirt.
3. Show the students an example of what they will make today. Tell them that God wants us to be clothed in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. That means that we are to wear those qualities like clothes so that people see Jesus inside of us. Today we’re going to make kindness T-shirts, to remind ourselves to live out kindness to others.
4. Distribute the stencils. Have children trace the cardboard letters with a pencil.
5. Once the word “Kindness” or “Be Kind” is penciled out on the t-shirts, have the children stamp inside each of the letters to look like a mosaic. Each letter may want to be a different color so that it is clearly recognizable.
6. Follow instructions on the fabric paint as to setting the paint.