This is the second lesson plan in our series for preschoolers about knowing God. Each lesson is based on a passage from Isaiah 40 and will help younger children grow in their knowledge and love for God. Be sure to read the series introduction for teaching tips and explanation of the lesson format.
This lesson is targeted for older preschool children, age 4 and age 5 years old. It would serve well as a preschool Sunday School lesson. You could also adapted this lesson plan for other ministry settings. You may also our enjoy our lessons for older children on knowing God.
Bible Passage: Isaiah40:11; Psalm 23
Bible Lesson Title: God Is Our Shepherd
Target Age Group: 4-5 years old (U.S. preschool & Kindergarten)
Target Time Frame: 30 minutes
Original Teaching Context: Preschool Sunday School
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Lesson Two: God is Our Shepherd (Time: 35 minutes)
Exegetical Idea: God is like a shepherd and will care for His people as a shepherd cares for his flock.
Pedagogical Idea: God is our Shepherd and will care for us as His sheep.
Cognitive Aim: Preschoolers will learn and understand that God is our Shepherd and we are His sheep.
Affective Aim: Preschoolers will find comfort and joy in the fact that God will care for us as a shepherd cares for his sheep.
Behavioral Aim: Preschoolers will memorize Psalm 23:1
Memory Verse: Psalm 23:1, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”
- Kindle Curiosity (5 minutes) Description: Preschoolers will be introduced to the shepherd/sheep concept by pretending to be sheep. Supplies: Shepherd staff & costume (opt.); green pastures, a pond, valley of death made from construction paper; sheep costume (can be very simple, like ears from white paper); and real snacks and water
- God Revealed (10 minutes) Description: Preschoolers will discover the connection between their pretend play and who God is through following you as their pretend shepherd and hearing verses from Isaiah 40:11 and Psalm 23. Supplies: Same as step one, along with your Bible to read or notecards with the verses written down for you to read (See this explained further in the “Before Class” note below).
- Personal Pursuit (10 minutes) Description: Make sheep, reflect on God as our Shepherd. Supplies: Cotton balls, white cardstock or cardboard, clothespins (construct one beforehand in order to make sure your supplies are adequate)
- Daily Knowing (10 minutes) Description: Review memory verse from last week and memorize Psalm 23:1 with body motions. Supplies: Notecards for parents with Psalm 23:1 written down, sheep made during the personal pursuit to take home
**Before Class: Prepare a blue pond shape, green spots of pasture, and a black area as the valley of death out of construction paper or any materials you think would work. Tape these in various places in your classroom. The following verses correspond to each place:
Green pastures: Psalm 23:2a; Pond: Psalm 23:2b; Valley of Death: Psalm 23:4
Have these verses taped nearby each corresponding spot or have them memorized or have them with you. Also, have Isaiah 40:11 ready to read or recite as well. **
1. Kindle Curiosity (5 minutes)
Prepare yourself with a staff and shepherd costume (a staff is sufficient, but be as creative as you would like) to greet the preschoolers as they come in. Allow them to ask questions, but keep your identity a mystery until everyone has arrived.
- Say: Does anyone know who I am? (Allow time for response). I am a shepherd today, and I would like all of you to be my sheep! Does everyone know what a shepherd is? (Explain this thoroughly if they are unsure)
- Pass out sheep “costumes” to each child (use your own creativity here!)
- Let me hear the voices of my sheep! Our classroom is now going to become pastures for us to journey through together. You will have to use your listening ears in order to hear my voice. There are dangerous places we may have to go through together, and if you are not listening to my voice, I will not be able to protect you and keep you safe. There are also wonderful places we will go, but if are not listening, you may get lost and not get to enjoy these wonderful places. Also, what we are doing will help us to know God deeply, so turn your ears up as high as they will go! Are you ready to follow your shepherd?!
2. God Revealed (10 minutes)
- As you begin the journey, read aloud Isaiah 40:11, “Like a shepherd, God will tend His flock. In His arms, God will gather the lambs (sheep) and carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes.”
- Call each child by name to follow you, especially when they seem to be distracted. As you are walking around the classroom (you could take this around the church as well or outside), turn around and count them ever so often to make sure none have gotten lost.
- First, walk through the “green pastures,” and as you do, say aloud Psalm 23:1-2a, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures.” Encourage your sheep to take a rest in the green pastures by lying down or just sitting for a few moments. While they are sitting, provide them with a snack.
- After walking for a little while longer (calling them by name and counting as you go), lead them to the blue water. As you do say aloud Psalm 23:2b-3a, “God, as my shepherd, leads me beside waters of rest. He restores my soul.” As they sit again, provide them with water to drink.
- Say: Now we are about to go through the dangerous part of journey, the Valley of Death. It is dark and scary there. (Point to the black places and use voice inflection). You will not be hurt if you stay close to me and listen to my voice. I am going to turn out the lights and take you through this dark place. Do not be afraid, because I am your shepherd, and I will keep you safe.
- After turning out the lights, instruct them to hold hands. As the shepherd, you hold the hands of the closest child to you. Say aloud Psalm 23:4 as you guide them through the Valley of Death, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for God, you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.” Call out their names to make sure everyone is present and following. Once you have made it through the valley, turn on the lights and count everyone again.
- Give every sheep a hug as you say aloud Isaiah 40:11 once more, “Like a shepherd, God will tend His flock. In His arms, God will gather the lambs (sheep) and carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes.”
- Have a time to pray to God, our Shepherd, emphasizing the aspects of Him brought out as they followed you. Encourage the children to say their own prayers on their knees with their faces turned upwards. (Allow children to express their prayers to God creatively, wondrously, and however they would like!)
3. Personal Pursuit (10 minutes)
- Lead them all to the table where there are ovals of white cardstock or cardboard, cotton balls, clothespins, and glue prepared to make sheep. Show them how to use the glue carefully to glue the cotton balls to the paper and pinch the clothespins to attach them to the paper as legs (two clothespins per sheep).
- As they are working on their sheep, get out your Bible. Say: This is the Bible. It is God’s Word. He wrote it, so we know everything in it is true. Today I wanted you to see how God is our Shepherd by pretending to be your shepherd! Remember, we are learning who God is through Isaiah 40 (show them the book and chapter number). In verse 11 (point), it says, “Like a shepherd, God will tend His flock. In His arms, God will gather the lambs (sheep) and carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes” (explainwhat a ewe is)
- Just as I led you, God leads us. What things did I do as your shepherd? (called us, counted us, led us, protected us, fed us, etc.) Prompt them if they have trouble recalling.
- God is our Shepherd and we, even me, are His sheep. God says this in the Bible over and over again. It’s kind of silly to think of ourselves as sheep, but God wants us to know that He calls our names and we have to listen to His voice in order to stay on the right paths just as a shepherd does to their sheep. He protects us through the dark valleys or hard times we go through and never leaves us, just as I did as your pretend shepherd. He provides us with strength and cares for our needs, like hunger and thirst, just as I gave you food to eat, water to drink, and time to rest. God wants us to know Him more by understand that He is our Shepherd and we are His sheep.
- After they are done with their sheep, have a moment of reflection by encouraging the children to close their eyes, be silent, and, in their heads, think about this question: How does it make you feel to know God is your Shepherd? Emphasize the silent thinking part because preschoolers will automatically begin sharing. Do not be afraid to sit and be silent before the Lord for more than 10 seconds. Draw it out and think on God yourself. You will find the silence is difficult, but it something lacking in many ministries today. We have forgotten how to just sit and think on God.
4. Daily Knowing (10 minutes)
- Review the memory verse from last week using body motions as prompts, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of the Lord lasts forever.”
- Say: Remember that it is so important to know God’s word because that is how we come to know Him. Today we are going to use body motions again to help us learn God’s word in Isaiah!
- Read Psalm 23:1, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” Explain that “I shall not want” means that God will take care of all of our needs. Allow the preschoolers to think up motions to help them memorize this verse.
- When you have several motions, repeat the verse and motions until they seem to have it. Make sure you review with them the next week or when you have encounters during the week one-on-one.
- Encourage them to share this verse with their parents when they pick them up so their parents will be able to help them practice at home. Provide each parent with a notecard that has Psalm 23:1 written on it*.
- As the children leave, give them their sheep and say, “Take this home and put it in a special place that you can see everyday. This sheep will remind you that God is our Shepherd and He loves His sheep (you!) deeply!”
*If some children do not have parents who are believers, make a special effort to encourage them in every time you see them in their scripture memorization and pursuit of God.