Memorial Day is May 27, 2019 in the United States. It’s the unofficial start of Summer and typically opening weekend for youth baseball and public swimming pools. It’s also a major camping or long weekend for families. So many of your regular kids may be missing (and a few out of town family visitors may show up). It makes sense to deviate from your normal curriculum series and offer something special Sunday.
Memorial Day (in the USA) is set aside to specifically honor & remember those who died in military service. This is different than Veterans Day (November 11th) which honors all former service members.
This lesson was created to be used on Memorial Day weekend. It is based on the story from the book of Joshua when God instructs a man from each of the twelve tribes to take a stone from the Jordan River as a memorial of how God led them to the Promised Land. The children will paint and take home their own memorial stone as a reminder of Christ’s work on the cross. This lesson would also work well as a Memorial Day Sunday School Lesson.
Bible Passage: Joshua 4:1-20
Bible Story Title: Memorial Stones
Target Age Group: K – 5th grade
Target Time Frame:30 minutes (lesson + craft) It may take longer for the paint to dry on the stones.
Original Teaching Context: Children’s Church or Sunday School
Learning Objective: The children will learn how the Israelites used special stones to remember God’s faithfulness and make their own stone to remember Christ’s sacrifice for them.
Materials Needed: One clean stone per student, one small paintbrush per student, one color acrylic paint
Bonus Materials: Our easy print lesson download above includes this lesson plan, craft idea, stepping stones game, and Joshua 4:1-20 scripture reference. We’ve also included several coloring pages to make sure you have plenty of extra content: I is for Israel, Book of Joshua, and Crossing the Jordan River.
The following website also have lesson plans for memorial day. We’re including them here to make sure you have everything you need for this weekend.
- Download our printable “Thank You Card” for veterans.
- Sermons 4 Kids has a memorial day children’s sermon and military themed coloring page
- Train Up the Child has some great ideas for kids and memorial day
- Children’s Ministry Magazine has a preteen lesson for this weekend
- We have “everyday hero” coloring pages for Firefighters, Police, and Pastors
Memorial Day Sunday School Lesson
- “Our country is celebrating a special holiday tomorrow! Does anyone know what it is called?” (Memorial Day)
- “Why do we celebrate Memorial Day?” (Because we are remembering soldiers who died in battle. They gave a great sacrifice to protect freedom.)
- Write the word Memorial on the front board. “See how the word memorial is like the word memory. On Memorial Day, we remember the fallen soldiers.”
- In the Old Testament of our Bibles God’s people also had a time of memorial to remember what God had done for them.
- “Open your Bibles to Joshua 4. Before we read let’s talk about what happened before Joshua 4. Remember God’s people had been in slavery in Egypt and God used Moses to lead his people out of slavery and across the Red Sea. Then, God led them to wander through the wilderness for forty years, but every day He was faithful to give them the quail and manna they needed. Then God finally led the Israelites to the land He had promised them when He led them out of Egypt. That brings us to today’s story.”
- “Let’s read Joshua 4:1-20” Tip: For younger children you may prefer to read this from a storybook Bible or children’s Bible.
- “This is the story of how God led His people across the Jordan River on dry ground and into the Promised Land. God wanted a man from each of the twelve tribes to pick up a stone as they crossed the Jordan.”
- “Why were these twelve stones important?” Ask for input from the children.
- “The Israelites were to keep the twelve stones as a way to remember how God led them safely across the Jordan River. When they looked at the stones they could remember God’s faithfulness in Egypt, through the wilderness, and now in the Promised Land.”
- “These were memorial stones!”
- “God wanted them to have something to look at so they would not forget how He had taken care of them.”
- “What are some good things God has done for you that you want to remember?” Ask for input from the children.
- “The most important thing God has done for us is given his son Jesus. Jesus came to earth to live a perfect life and die on the cross to take the punishment for our sins. This is the best thing God could have done for you and for me, so that we are no longer separated from Him by our sin. We need to always remember how God gave us Jesus.”
- “Today you are going to paint your own memorial stone as a reminder to you of how God gave us Jesus. When you look at your stone you can remember how Jesus died on the cross for your sins and you can thank God sending His Son Jesus to die in your place.”
Memorial Day Craft – Memorial Stones
Craft Objective: To be used with lesson on Joshua 4 as a way for the children to remember God’s sacrifice of His Son Jesus.
- One clean, dry stone for each child
- One paintbrush for each child
- One paper plate or pie tin for each child to use as a paint palette
- One color acrylic paint. The amount of paint needed depends upon the number of children.
- Masking tape
- Sharpie marker
- Pass out one stone, one paintbrush, and one empty paint palette to each child.
- Show a stone which is already completed.
- The children will choose which side of their stone will be the top.
- Squeeze a small amount of paint onto each child’s palette.
- The children will paint a cross on the top of their stone.
- The adult helpers will write each child’s name on a piece of masking tape and stick it to the bottom of the stone.
- Set the stones aside and allow to dry.
- For youngest children, you could forego the paintbrushes and have the children use their finger to make the cross.
- The stones must be scrubbed clean and be completely dry for the paint to stick to the surface. I recommend you wash the stones a few days in advance and set them outside to dry.
- If due to time or budget constraints you do not want to paint the stones, the lesson can be just as effective if the children simply bring home a plain stone. The teacher can bring in a collection of stones to choose from or if available you could take the class for a walk to choose a small stone from the grounds of your church campus.