Lesson Title: The Parable of the Prodigal Son for Kids
Bible Reference: Luke 15:11-32
Target Age Group: Preschool
Learning Context: Children’s Church or Sunday School
Target Time Frame: 1 ½ hour
Gospel Connection: The story of the Prodigal Son teaches us that God’s ways are clearly not our own. When the young son returns home begging for a job as a servant we expect the father to be angry with him. That is human nature and how we would react. But instead the father welcomes his son home and celebrates his return. He lovingly accepts his son and forgives him just like God forgives us. Through this lesson children will learn that God will always forgive them.
Learning Aim: God will always forgive us.
- Dixie cups
- Small toy people and pigs
- Large bag of coins
- Construction Paper
- Free Prodigal Son Coloring Pages (pictured above)
You say the Italicized words. Non-italicized words are directions.
Bible Story for Kids
You will use m&m’s to teach this lesson. Place about 5 m&m’s in a dixie cup. Each child will get two cups (with about 5 m&m’s in each cup).
Say, Today our lesson is from Luke 15:11-32. There was a man who had 2 sons. Each son was going to get an inheritance from their father. An inheritance means that they would get part of their father’s money and land. One day the youngest son came to his father and said, “Father I want my inheritance now!” So the father gave it to him and the younger son took his inheritance and spent it all.
Now give the kids the first cup of m&m’s.
This cup of m&m’s was the younger son’s inheritance. He spent all of his inheritance immediately so I want you to eat all of your m&m’s right now. You can’t save them for later when you are hungry. You have to eat them all right now! Make sure they eat all of their m&m’s and talk about how happy you are to eat them immediately because they are so good.
The younger son had a great time spending his inheritance. But just like your m&m’s they were gone very quickly. Once his money was gone the younger son started to get hungry. Look at how all of these cups are empty. The younger son started to think that maybe he should have saved some of his money for later instead of wasting it all at once. Meanwhile, the older son still had his inheritance.
Give each child their second dixie cup with m&m’s in it and instruct them to eat them slowly or save a portion for later like the older son.
The older son didn’t run out of his inheritance and get hungry because he saved his money and land and only used it when he needed it.
Meanwhile, the younger son kept getting hungrier and hungrier! Then he remembered that his father had servants that his father paid. He knew his dad would be really mad at him if he tried to go home, but he thought maybe his father would let him at least be a servant and take care of the pigs or something. At this point he was so hungry that he would have even be willing to eat the pig’s food!
Finally the big day came. The younger son went to see his father to ask if he could be a servant and take care of the pigs or something like that.
The younger son walked through the gate and something amazing happened! The father wasn’t mad! Instead he gave his son a hug, a ring, and sandals to wear. He throw a big party because he was so happy to have his son home.
When the older son saw the party he was mad. He thought his brother should have been punished for spending all of his inheritance. But his father said, “you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”
You can let the kids eat their second cup of m&m’s or just take them home for later.
- What did the younger son do that was wrong? Wasted all of his money/inheritance.
- Like your m&m’s, he didn’t save anything for when he needed it. How did you feel when you were eating your m&m’s? Happy, but sad later when you didn’t have any more.
- What did the older son do? Save his inheritance for when he needed it.
- What did the father do when the younger son came home? Celebrated because his son was home.
- Why did the father celebrate his son coming home, even though he wasted his inheritance? The son was lost and now he was found. The father was happy to have him back and forgave him.
Say, Even though we make mistakes sometimes Jesus will always love us and welcome us back home. God will always forgive us.
Fixing Mistakes Activity for Sunday School
Ask the class to work together to build the home of the father and two sons with blocks. Provide action figures for the people, pigs for the pig sty, and coins for the inherence. When you are almost finished building their home make a ‘mistake.’ Accidently knock over some of the blocks. Then talk, while you are rebuilding the home (fixing your mistake) talk about how you made a mistake but it is ok because you are fixing it.
Say: The younger son made a big mistake whenever he left his father’s house and spent all of his inheritance money. But when he went back home his father forgave him and celebrated his return. Jesus does that too. If you ever make a mistake, like I did when I knocked over the blocks, Jesus will forgive you and welcome you back. He will always forgive you.
Coin Sort Game
Dump a bag of coins on the table. Work together to sort the coins (dimes, quarters, etc.). Ask the kids to share what they would like to buy if they had an inheritance. Explain that it would be fun to have what we want right now but better to save our inheritance for when we need it.
Going Home Tag
You will need to play this game in a gym or another large open area. Have the teacher stand at the end of the gym. They are ‘home.’ Whenever a children reaches ‘home’ the teacher should celebrate with them. Have another teacher or child be ‘it.’ The rest of the kids will stand at the end of the gym and try to get home before ‘it’ tags them. If a child is tagged then they must freeze until someone un-freezes them.
Say, In this game you had to get back home. In our story the lost son had to go home as well. In your game and in the story it was hard to get home. The important thing to remember is that you can always go home and you will always be forgiven.
Party Hat Craft
Roll construction paper into a cone shape like a party hat. Staple the edges together. Let the kids color or decorate their hat with stickers and wear it home.
Say, The younger son was afraid that his dad would be mad when he went home but instead his father threw him a party. Why do you think his father did that? Let the kids discuss this. My answer would be because he loves his son and forgave him, just like Jesus always loves and forgives us.