Teaching Bible class to children can be so rewarding, but also very stressful. I hear you! You want to make it a fun, interactive lesson that holds their attention but, most importantly, you want them to ACTUALLY LEARN SOMETHING. I hope I can help with this step-by-step lesson plan on the Prodigal Son found inLuke 15:11-32.
Each age group presents its own unqiue teaching challenges but this post is going to focus on ages 2-5 for no other reason than they are my favorite age to teach. They are still small enough to want to play and have fun, but big enough to have the ability to sit still and learn (or be bribed).
Before you even begin the lesson, I find it helpful to start out with a warm-up activity, preferrably something that gets them moving and engaging with you. (Omit this part if you don’t think you’ll have time.) For this activity, I give you two options: messy and non-messy so you can decide for yourself which you’d like to do.
Warm-Up Activity Messy Option #1: Making Muddy Pigs
You will need:
- Construction paper
- Brown craft paint
- Q-tips or cotton balls
- Paper plates
- Pig printout on pink copy paper
Print this piggy onto pink paper and then cut it out. (If you don’t have pink paper on hand, just print it on white and have the kids color it pink.) Have the children glue it onto a piece of construction paper (color of their choice). Pour a little of the brown craft paint onto a paper plate. Have the children paint their muddy piggy with q-tips or cotton balls and voila! It should look something like this.
Warm-Up Activity Clean Option #2: Toy Animal Free Play
You will need:
- Toy farm animals (preferrably with pigs and cows and a farmer or two)
Just let them play while you get things set up. Be sure to talk with them about the animals, what they eat, who feeds them, what sounds they make, etc.
Children love to sing and it’s great way to get them to interact. Allow them to give you requests too. Encourage them to stand up and use hand motions for the songs, because you will be doing a fair amount of sitting during the lesson.
After the warm-up activity and singing, now ask the children to please sit because you have a Bible story to share with them. I find it helpful to have some type of illustration for the story. I prefer to use a children’s storybook Bible, but anything that illustrates the story of the prodgial son will work: coloring pages, a children’s storybook, handheld diagrams/cut outs, the toys from the animal free play warm-up activity, etc.
Go over the story with them, pointing out things in the pictures as you go along. Make sure you answer the following questions, so they will have a chance to remember the answers after you tell the story.
After Bible Story Q & A
- Q. What is an inheritance?
A. It is money or possessions a father’s gives to his son, usually after he has passed away.
- Q. Who asked for his inheritance early?
A. The youngest son.
- Q. Where did the youngest son go?
A. To a faraway land.
- Q. What did he do there?
A. He wasted his inheritance with reckless living.
- Q. What was he doing when he decided to go back to his father’s house?
A. Feeding pigs. He was so hungry, he thought about eating the pigs’ food.
- Q. When the son was on his way back home, did he think his father would forgive him?
A. No. He hoped his father would let him be a servant.
- Q. What did the father do when he saw his son coming?
A. He ran and hugged and kissed him. He threw a party for him because he was so glad to have him back.
- Q. What did the oldest son think about the party?
A. He was upset that his father threw a party for the youngest son.
- Q. When his father came to talk to him, what did he say to the oldest son?
A. He told him he was always happy to have him, but that the youngest son was lost and now he is found so it makes him happy.
- Q. Does God feel the same way about us we when go away from him and come back?
A. Yes. God always loves us like this father in the story and wants us to stay close to Him and obey Him.
Print this worksheet and have them try to circle the correct answers about the story. Go over the correct answers with them.
Now it is time for a craft to help illustrate how happy the father was to see his son.
Open Hands Craft:
You will need:
- Construction Paper
- Pencil (for tracing hands)
- Face printout
Cut a strip of construction paper for each child measuring about 3″ x 11″, but it doesn’t have to be exact. Fold it in thirds. Next cut out the face/scripture printout found here. Glue the bottom part with the words on it to the middle of the construction paper strip. Next, help each child trace their hands onto a different colored piece of construction paper and then cut out. Glue one hand to each end of the original construction paper strip. Let the children color their face if they’d like. And voila you have a father who open his hands wide to greet his son and closes them to hug him. Your finished product should look something like this, minus the yarn and googly eyes because we did the version where the face was already drawn in.
For a more detailed description with step-by-step photos, see the original blog post how-to at Meaningful Mama
While you are cleaning up all the supplies from the activites, it is a good time to ask the Bible story review questions again. They can be found above. By now, your kiddos may be getting a little restless so that’s where the bribe comes in. Offer a snack for a correct answer (or just for an attempt to answer, making sure each kid gets one).
It is never too early to teach kids to pray. Ask them for any requests and offer a prayer to God, thanking Him for letting all the children come to learn about Him. Thanking Him for the story of the prodigal son and the Bible so we can learn more about Him. Ask God to help us remember this story and remember that He always wants us to be close to Him and will always forgive us if we ask. Ask for help for any prayer requests the children may have mentioned.
(If you find that after everything is cleaned up that you still have a few minutes,here’s an extra worksheet page to help the prodigal son find his way home.)
There you have it. A lesson plan for 2-5 year olds to learn the story of the prodigal son found in Luke 15:11-32. Please feel free to leave me any comments or suggestions below! I’d love to hear how this lesson plan worked for you or any tweaks you may have. This is the first lesson plan I’ve written for use by others so please let me know what you think! Have a blessed day!
*A special thank you to all of the wonderful people out there who create and upload documents for the rest of us to use!*