“Making Pennies Clean” Bible Object Lesson for Kids

bible object lesson with penniesThis is a simple Bible object lesson that includes an element of science. It can be used to illustrate how Christ makes us clean through salvation.

If you’re brave you can even introduce the term ‘sanctification’ as the process where Jesus changes our behaviors to match our new heart. Alternately, you could use it to talk about how God transforms our service/offerings into something pure by his grace.

Click here to leave a comment. I’d love to hear what you think of this illustration. You can also make suggestions that will help other readers.

Bible Reference: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10 ESV

Target Age: This object lesson will work for almost any age group. Older children may appreciate the symbolism better, but younger kids will certainly understand.

Materials:

  • 4 tablespoons of white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoons of ionized salt
  • several small mason jars or clear drinking glasses
  • enough dirty old pennies for each child, on shiny new penny for explanation
  • paper towels
  • either wooden spoon, salad tongs, or latex gloves to keep the vinegar off your fingers

Procedure: As the children come to class hand them each a dirty old penny–the more discolored the better. Then display the shinny new penny. You can talk about how hard it would be to make those old coins as clean as the new penny. Explain that those old pennies are like us before Jesus changes our lives. He is able to transform us very quickly back into what he first made us to be.

Display the vinegar and salt solution. Have the children gently drop their coins into the liquid. Allow for about a minute for the solution to work. Carefully remove the pennies and dry with paper towels. Then restate the meaning of the object lesson.

Hints: If kids are worried about getting the same penny back, just have them remember the date that was on each coin. If possible, use a vented room to minimize the stinky vinegar smell.

If time allows, ask follow-up questions to make sure the children personalize the Bible point. Here are some examples:

  • Why do you think it’s easier for God to change us than to do it on our own?
  • What happens we keep sinning and get our lives dirty again?
  • Is there any person too dirty for God to make clean?

You can close the object talk by escalating the meaning of the lesson. Say something like this. “This was a fun experiment, but it doesn’t tell the whole story about how God changes us. If we wanted to show what God really does we would need to change those old pennies into gold. Not only that, God would change them from the inside out. Wow, God’s love really is amazing. Let’s pray.”

Alternate: I’ve seen similar effects using lemon juice and salt in place of the vinegar. The chemistry is about the same as the new acidic solution dissolves the oxidized layer and other deposits from the coins surface. Here is a detailed instruction that focuses on the science of this activity.

Update: I just ran across a video on YouTube where using taco sauce can make pennies clean also. If you went that route you could play on the symbolism of the blood of Jesus. That’s just fyi…


Comments

  1. DEANNA MARIE says

    Tony you have helped me a great deal for Sunday School lessons because I’m using it on the older people as well! I’m an adult with Autism and raised many children myself, they still come to me. I am a author an illustrator. This time I wrote a book called, THE GIFT OF FRIENDSHIP! I Praise God a give Him all the glory! Amen & Amen.

  2. Ashley says

    So cool, i reference your site alot and will be using this lesson plan soon. Our kids theme is Fresh and clean, new Starts!!!

  3. Alethea says

    I would suggest you use pastel crayons or colored chalk. You don’t have to worry about the moister then. Pastel crayons can be smeared to look like paint.

  4. Emma Raven says

    to stop children drinking fizzy drinks place dirty coins in to coca-cola do not over lap and leave a few days. empty in to a sive and rinse throw with water to remove the stickyness. explain if it can clean coins imagin what can happen to thier tummys

  5. Marilyn Crawford says

    Thank you more than I can express for this amazing resource! I’ve been a Christian school teacher and Sunday school teacher most of my life and your resources are better than any I’ve seen anywhere! Our little church is poor and we have few resources and workers. Your concise, yet thorough lesson plans have enriched our CE program as well as my 2nd grade Bible curriculum. Thank you and God bless you!
    In His service,
    Marilyn Crawford

  6. Patsy Cowey says

    Thanks so much for all your help in teaching children in Children’s Church. I frequently refer to your wonderful lessons for my teaching in Children’s Church as well as my classroom at the the private Christian school where I teach. Your object lessons are a tremendous help to those of us with the love of children but very limited resources to buy things for the classroom. The “Making Pennies Clean” was one of my favorites I used for both.

  7. Sherry Duda says

    this lesson is awesome it can be 3 in one. you can also put holes
    in each penny 1-dirty and 1-clean make a necklace and put a red
    heart bead in between them to represent the love and blood of christ and what we look loike before then after. you could also use the 3 stages of a butterfly to represent our own transformations when we except christ. you can also use this to teach baptisim.

  8. Aurtherine Armstead says

    Will be using this message with the children in our children’s church on next month. thanks so much for your ideas.

  9. rachel says

    Dear Pastor Tony,

    Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

    Thank you for your new post letter, I pray that I can Perform it to my class for tomorrow, when i watch it I was amazed and getting excited to do it.

    By the way our topic for this month is Salvation, your post help me a lot.

    Thanks again and have a wonderful week end.

    Your Friend,
    Rachel(“,)

  10. Doug says

    I’ve used this idea with the kids during different classes that I’ve taught. The taco sauce does a good job but you have to let it set for a while if the penny is very dirty. Great discussion starter with the kids.

  11. Sharon says

    Thanks, very needed topic. I feel a real need of teaching the kids about the consequences of sin. They have no examples in real life of the consequences of–lying, disregarding marriage vows, etc.

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