This lesson is the first lesson in a series of five that explore the Lenten theme “Walk His Ways” using a parable Bible story. Lent is the period of the liturgical calendar leading up to Easter. It is more popular with mainline denominations, but many Christian groups embrace the traditions of the Lenten season.
Lent is a 40 day journey (not counting Sundays!) to focus on God and prepare to remember and celebrate Jesus dying on the cross and rising from the grave to save each of us. Many people decide to “give up” things for Lent to help them remember that Jesus gave his life for us, but you can also “take on” doing good things, just like Jesus did. Through the exploration of parable Bible stories, the “Walk His Ways” Lent lessons help children discover how we can attempt to live and serve as Jesus did in the kind of kingdom he envisioned. Each of the five lessons addresses “walking his ways” with a different parable and theme. This lesson explores home and family with the story of The Parable of the Two Sons.
Bible Story: The Parable of the Two Sons
Scripture: Matthew 21:28-32
Target Age Group: Age 3 – 12 (U.S. preschool – 6th Grade)
Time: 45 Minutes
Learning Context: Children’s Church
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Learning Objectives: Children will experience the Parable of the Two Sons story, discussing the difference between saying you’ll do something and actually doing it and begin exploring how we can serve Jesus and each other by “walking his ways”.
- Shoe picture on heavy paper
- Hole Punch
- Yarn or String
- Puppets (2 female/1 male)
- Garbage Bag
- Pink Balloon
- Puppet Curtain/Stage (optional)
- Walk His Ways Kids’ Guide PDF (inspired by www.livelent.net)
Introduction: Begin by inviting each child to create a shoe nametag. Provide the outline of a shoe on heavy paper or cardstock. Instruct children to decorate, cut out, and write their name on the shoe. The shoe nametags may be hung around the child’s neck by adding holes with a hole punch and tying on a piece of yarn or string. Discuss these questions: What shape is your nametag? What do we need shoes for? “Walk His Ways” is our Lent theme. Who is “his” talking about? What are some things we can do to “Walk His Ways”?
Game: “Shoe Are You?” Each child removes one shoe and they are tossed into a big pile. Everyone picks a shoe that is not their own, finds the owner, learns their name, and shares the answer to a question given by the leader like, “What’s your favorite color?” or “What grade are you in?” etc. Several rounds may be played. After last round, have children sit in a circle and put the shoes in a pile again. The object this time is for everyone to find their own shoe and put it back on, but they CANNOT TOUCH their own shoe. Debrief/discuss.
Story: The parable story is taught in this lesson using the following puppet script. You may also want to read Matthew 21:28-32 from the Bible. Use these follow-up discussion questions after the puppet show: What happened? Which daughter did the right thing? Is it better to say you’ll do something or to actually do it? I wonder how the father felt? Do you ever say you will do things and not do it? What do you do to help your family? How do you feel when you’re helping others?
Parable Puppet Show: The Two Daughters
Materials: two female/one male puppet, puppet curtain, trash bag, gum or balloon, tack
Dad: (holding garbage) uh. Ugh UGH!?!?!? This garbage smells horrible and it weighs a ton! Did something crawl in here and die? P.U.!!!! Jenna? Julie? GIRLS! Where are you?
Jenna: Here I am, Dad! Wanna hear my new song? (sings obnoxiously and loud, something like “Tomorrow” from Annie or another song…)
Dad: (interrupts the singing) Jenna, Jenna, JENNA!??!?! Your song is um…ah…..beautiful honey, but I need your help.
Jenna: Help? What is it, Dad?
Dad: I’m running late for my meeting, but we have to get this garbage out of here before our whole house starts smelling like a toxic waste dump. Could you just take the bag out to the garbage can in the backyard?
Jenna: What are you, crazy? Future singing stars don’t do garbage, Dad. Ewww! What would that do for my image? I can’t touch that smelly stuff. No way! Besides, I can’t take even a second away from my practice, not even a second! (begins singing again and goes behind curtain)
Dad: OH for crying out loud! Julie, Julie, JULIE!??! Get in here please! Where are you?
Julie: (pops up with a big bubble, either gum or a balloon, and we can’t understand her words because of her bubble) sdakjkdffl;aksdfjakl!
Julie: (still can’t understand here) arfjdlskafjsdklfj
Dad: (pops the bubble) Enough nonsense! I need your help. I’m super late for my meeting, this garbage smells just horrible, and your sister is too wrapped up in her silly singing to be helpful, so would you please just take this outside for me? I have to go!
Julie: No prob, Bob! I mean…Dad! Get outta here. I’ll take that smelly stuff to the garbage can. You can count on me.
Dad: Thanks, Dear! You’re the best! I’ll leave the bag by the door. (goes behind curtain) Seeya later!
Julie: Whatever…Now where was I? I have to top the world’s largest bubble record. I just have to! (makes blowing noises, as she disappears behind the curtain)
Jenna: (returns, carrying garbage) Ewwww! What is this still doing in here? Maybe I can sing and take care of this smelly garbage at the same time. Garbage can, here I come! (sings song about garbage maybe? and moves behind curtain).
Art Activity: Help children write and draw coupons to give to family members, redeemable for caring, helpful things like: a hug, setting the table, folding laundry, reading a story, etc. It may be helpful to brainstorm ideas for the coupons as a group before you begin the project. While working on the project, discuss how these coupons could be walking his ways. Ask whether the children think it’s more important to give someone a coupon or to actually fulfill what the coupon offers.
Prayer: Consider using a “repeat after me prayer” to close each of the Lent lessons. Pause between every few words, allowing the children to echo what you have said. Dear Jesus,/You are/so good./Help us/to walk/your ways/and serve others/as you would serve./Amen.
This lesson is by contributing writer, Nicole VanderMeulen, Children’s Ministry Coordinator at St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church in Renton, Washington.