Here is a lesson plan on the Bible verse that says children obey your parents. I wrote it for a chapel service at our Christian school. There were about 40 kids from preschool to 5th grade in the room. Because the children have a strong background of Bible knowledge I wanted to focus on heart application. The whole lesson is build around an extended object lesson about obeying your parents.
About 7 years ago, I read about the circle of blessing concept in Ted Tripp’s Shepherding a Child’s Heart. I worked the idea into a family devotion and my oldest son still remembers the demonstration. This lesson plan would be ideal for a children’s church or Sunday School setting. Families could also use it at home in devotions. Like all our resources, you are free to print it out and use it as you like.
Bible Point: Children Obey Your Parents
Scripture: Ephesians 6:1-3
Target Age Group: Age 4 – 11 (U.S. K4 – 5th Grade)
Learning Context: Children’s Church
Target Time Frame: 40 minutes
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- After this lesson, children will demonstrate an understanding of the “circle of blessing” concept by responding to agree/disagree questions as a group.
- After this lesson, children will demonstrate a new desire to obey their parents, by picking one action they can do differently.
- Circle of about 3ft diameter. I used a piece of rope attached to the floor with masking tape. A large hula-hoop would also work.
- Squirt-gun or plastic spray bottle. You could use a sports whistle to add optional emphasis.
- Optional props: stuffed animal horse, play money, hand held video game, math book, and posters to display the listening questions
Gospel Connection: Both kids and adults fall short of this command. Our hearts have not always given the honor and love to our parents. The grace of Jesus allows us to return to the circle of blessing through repentance and faith. Jesus took the punishment for our sins and can grant forgiveness for our former disobedience. Kids (and parents) must trust in the goodness of Jesus in our place – that’s the ultimate circle of blessing.
Optional: Download our free obedience coloring page to use with this lesson.
Obey Your Parents Teaching Plan
Getting Attention: Set up the circle and a few of the props while the children are watching. Do not make any comments except to say how excited you are about today’s lesson. The children will build interest and excitement to match your own.
Active Listening: Before you read the Bible verse, ask the children to listen carefully for the answer to these question. “What can I do to make my life better? What could I do to make my life worse?” For added emphasis you could display these questions on a marker board or poster board. I chose red colored for the negative and yellow for the positive question.
Then carefully read the key Bible verse:
Ephesians 6:1-3 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”
Ask the children if they can answer those two questions. Introduce the lesson by saying: That’s what we’re learning about today. I have a special name for this I call the “Circle of Blessing.” Can you repeat that with me? “Circle of Blessing.”
Let’s Talk about that Bible Verse: Ask for volunteers to explain tricky parts to you. Use their answers as jumping off points to briefly clarify the meaning of this passage. Here are some parts that I chose for elaboration:
- honor your Father and mother (what does that mean?) it’s more than just obeying but treating them like important people with love & respect
- commandment with a promise (what does that mean?) it’s the first of the 10 Commandments that comes with a specific promise from God, there is a reward if you do this right
- go well with you (what does that mean?) that God will help your life work out better, not perfect but much better than it would be if you did not obey
- live long in the land (what does that mean?) when God first said this it was talking about the promised land, but for Christians the promised land is mainly about heaven, if your parents teach you about Jesus you can have eternal life in heaven
- what if they tell me to do bad things? because of sin, parents have sometimes asked their children to do things that are wrong (i.e. abuse or lying to hide abuse). In children are unsure, teach them to ask other trusted adults for help in knowing what to do.
Circle of Blessing Object Lesson: Invite a child to come up to the front of the room. Have them stand inside an imaginary circle of about 3ft diameter. Then say:
This is the circle of blessing. It’s a way to imagine the way obedience keeps us out of danger. Just like our Bible verse says, God will watch over us while we obey our parents. To move outside the circle is like disobeying. Moving outside the circle brings danger.
At this point surprise the child by showing them a squirt-gun (or water bottle that sprays a mist) that you previously had hidden. Tell them as long as they are in the circle they are safe, but outside the circle they are in danger. Demonstrate by shooting a jet of water outside the circle. Then ask the child to step outside the circle to the spot you just shot. Then give them a short blast of water. Then say:
When we obey our parents it’s like staying inside the circle, God will keep us safe. But when we disobey it is like stepping outside the circle. When we do that we cause bad things to happen to our lives.
Circle of Blessing Case Stories: Ask for a series of volunteers to model the following scenarios using the circle of blessing. Have the child stand in the middle of the circle while you tell the story. Move them outside the circle as the character in the story clearly disobeys their parents. Pretend like you are talking about the child who has volunteered. At the marked parts in the story ask the class to respond if the person is still in the circle or not. After each repeat the main concept that obedience brings safety.
Hint: Be sure to pick children who won’t be upset by getting a little wet. I even ask the volunteer if they will cry when they get sprayed. Obviously, this should be a silly activity and fun for all the children involved.
Kristy’s Story: [optional stuff-animal horse prop] Kristy is a nice little girl in the second grade. She loves horses. She loves them so much she has big posters of horses in her room. Down the road from her house there is a farm that has horses, but her parents don’t know the owner so she’s never seen them up close. Her mom says that it would be wrong to try to pet those horses without the owners permission. [is she still in the circle?] One day, when Kristy is playing outside in her front yard she decided to walk down to see the horses – she knows her mom will say “NO” so she doesn’t bother to ask. [is she still in the circle?] Kristy walks down the road and gets very close the horse fence. She thinks about turning back and running home. She feels like God wants her to do the right thing and run home, but instead she decided to get close to the horses. [is she still in the circle?]
What do you think might happen next? Allow a few responses from the children. After each answer give her a little squirt from the water. This should be funny when it happens. Some possible answers: The horse could bite, or the owner could be mad, or she could be hurt by a car driving too fast down the road.
Then say: all these things are bad things, but Kristy could have avoided them by showing obedience to her parents. What could she have done better? Move her back into the center of the circle as they tell you.
Bobby’s Story: [optional hand held video game and math book props] Bobby doesn’t like his math class. For some reason it just seems too hard for him to do all that work. Everyday he comes home from school and his parents have him do his math homework before he gets to play his video games. On one Tuesday after school, his friend Joey comes over to play for a few hours. [is he still in the circle?] He knows he needs to do his homework, but really wants Joey to help him beat the new level on his video game. His parents might let him save his math work for after dinner, but Bobby doesn’t want to take chances. He decided to leave his math book at school and pretend that the teacher did not give out any homework. When the get back to his house he looks his dad in the face and lies about it. [is he still in the circle?]
What do you think might happen next? Allow a few responses from the children. After each answer give her a little squirt from the water. Some possible answers: He will get ground, he will get a bad grade on his report card, he will not be able to get into college, he will always over tip at restaurants, he will get away with the lie and it will become a habit he can’t stop. After each answer give her a little squirt from the water.
Then say: all these things are bad things, but Bobby could have stayed safe by obeying his parents. How could he have shown obedience? Move him back into the circle to visualize obeying your parents.
Joey’s Story: Joey loves it when people pay attention to him. His favorite thing is to tell a funny story at Recess when kids gather around to listen. It makes him feel important. [is he still in the circle?] One day he started telling a funny story about his dog. Everyone laughed and asked him to tell another one. He couldn’t think of any, but he did remember something embarrassing about his grandfather. His grandfather had been sick and sometimes had accidents using the bathroom. He knew is was something his parents wouldn’t want him to spread around, but as he told it the kids kept laughing more and more. [is he still in the circle?]
What do you think will happen next? Allow a few responses from the children. After each answer give her a little squirt from the water. Some possible answers: The kids would laugh at his grandfather when they saw him at church, his parents would be hurt that he was making fun of their grandfathers suffering, his friends might think it’s ok to make fun of older people, he might get into the habbit of mocking people.
Then say: all these things are bad things, but what should Joey have done to make his life better. Move the him back into the circle as the children tell you what the obedient action would have been.
Sara’s Story: [optional play money prop] Sara is so excited that her new school has a vending machine. The best part is that it has her favorite snacks that her mom never buys at the grocery store. As soon as she discovered it she spent all her allowance money in one day. [is she still in the circle?] That night she asked her mom for more money, maybe even an advanced payment of next week’s allowance. Her mom said no and reminded Sara to be more careful about how quickly she was spending her money. The next morning she found some money layout out beside her dad’s favorite chair. She was certain it had fallen out of his pocket the night before. Without asking, she took this money so she could have more snacks the next day. [is she still in the circle?]
What do you think will happen next? Allow a few responses from the children. After each answer give her a little squirt from the water. Some possible answers: It was her dad’s lunch money for the next day, she could get sick, her mom would find out and she could get grounded, she would get into the habit of sneaking & stealing.
Then say: Those are terrible consequences that she could have avoided by obeying her parents. What should she have done. As they tell you the right choices move the child back inside the circle.
Agree / Disagree [understanding test]: Have the children respond as a group to the following questions. If the statement is right they should stand up, if wrong they should stay seated and cross their arms.
- Disobeying is okay if you know your parents will say NO [disagree]
- Since your parents put the school in charge of you, to honor your parents means to obey your teacher too [agree]
- If you always obey your parents, your life will always be perfect [disagree]
- Once you disobey, you can’t get back inside the circle [disagree]
- When Jesus was a child, he always obeyed his human parents [agree]
- God doesn’t care if we have a bad attitude when we obey [disagree]
- God promised a better life for those who obey [agree]
- It’s not really disobeying if you parents didn’t actually say NO [disagree]
- When Jesus was a grown-up, he always obeyed his “Father in Heaven” [agree]
New Ways To Honor & Obey [new attitude test]: Ask the children to think of one way they could obey their parents better, tell them if they have a really good example you will let the act it out with the circle & the squirt-gun. If they have trouble, offer this example: “When I whine about dinner I am outside the circle of blessing [say this part out side the circle then squirt], from now on I can be thankful even when my parents don’t cook my favorite food. [move inside the circle on don't squirt]”
Closing: Lead the children in prayer thanking God for our parents. Ask for new hearts that help them obey.
One reader took this object lesson and used it as part of his sermon on the 5th commandment. I love the way he connects this teaching moment with the Gospel message. You can watch a video of this below.