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The parable of the lost sheep and parable of the Good Shepherd teach an important Bible truth: Jesus loves and cares for each one of us. In this easy to teach lesson, children learn this familiar parable by listening to a story and participating in a variety of multi-sensory activities.
This is an easy lesson to teach, but the message is powerful and important for children to learn. Jesus loves us, cares for us, and will search for us until He finds us.
This lesson is for elementary students who read independently; modify it for older preschoolers by reading the scripture instead of expecting the kids to read. Use a toy lamb as a prop to bring the story to life if reading the story aloud. If the class reads the story, hide the lamb before class, and let them look for it after they finish reading the verses
Many times, adults forget that words that are familiar to them – like parable – are unfamiliar to children, and they do not understand the terminology. Use this simple example to help them understand what a parable is:
Jesus told stories while He was teaching because the stories helped people understand what He was saying. Jesus told a simple story about a shepherd and a lost sheep to explain that God is like a shepherd taking care of his sheep. The shepherd makes sure the sheep have lots of good food and water and protects them from wild animals. Just like a shepherd, God cares for and protects each of us.
The text for this lesson of the parable of the lost sheep and parable of the Good shepherd is found in Luke 15:3-7 and John 10:27. Have the children to get their Bibles and find the scriptures. Be available to help if needed.
It is important to have them read the scriptures to make the connection between the story and the Bible, and to realize that Bible stories are true rather than being made-up stories like fairy tales. Let them take turns reading the verses. Since this is a short story, you may need to let them read it twice to give everyone a turn.
Try these discussion questions to get the kids thinking about the story’s meaning:
- What would you do if your favorite toy were lost?
- How would you feel when you found it?
- The shepherd in the story had 100 sheep. How did he know that one was missing?
- What did it matter that the one little sheep was lost?
- How do you think I feel when one of you is missing from class?
If time allows, let the kids spend a few minutes in pretend play-acting out the story. One child can be the shepherd, while another is the lost sheep, and the rest of the students are the flock. Encourage them to take turns. Alternatively, let them hide the toy lamb and pretend to be Jesus looking for his lost sheep.
Bible Craft Connection
This edible craft reinforces the concept that Jesus loves us and cares for us. You will need:
- One piece of bread for each child
- Kraft Easy Cheese (aerosol can)
- Several heart cookie cutters
- Pretzel sticks
- Wilton FoodWriter Edible Color Markers
- Paper plates
Give each child a napkin and piece of bread. Let them take turns pressing the cookie cutter lightly on the bread to make a heart outline. Invite them to use the other ingredients to draw a cross in the middle of the heart or decorate the heart. Kids are more interested in the final product than the process required to create it, so be prepared for some awesome creations as they express their creativity.
Ask them something like this, “What does the heart remind us of? “ (Jesus cares for us.) “What does the cross represented?” (Jesus loves us and died for us.) Invite them to eat their snack.
Bible Memory Verse
Make learning scripture fun and easy using the piggyback method; sing unfamiliar words, like Bible verses, to the tune of familiar songs. Because the kids already know the music, they need only learn the words. Try the verse found in John 10:27 (My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me) to the tune of “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” The words need some repetition to fit the tune, but it does not change the meaning of the verse.
- My sheep hear my voice, my voice. Hear my voice, hear my voice.
- My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me.
Sing several times until they feel comfortable with the words and tune, and then invite them to march around the room while singing. This adds a gross motor activity and enriches the learning experience.
Try this quick, inexpensive lesson extension for a take-home project. Parents love take-homes because it helps them know what their children are learning.
You will need:
- Blank index cards
- Markers or colored pencils
- Sheep stickers
Give each child a blank index card. Have them write down two ways they can know that Jesus loves and cares for them (teachers will need to help younger students.) Offer them some sheep stickers and let them decorate the cards. Send the cards home and encourage parents to display the cards on the refrigerator at home, as a visual reminder to the kids that Jesus loves them just as a shepherd loves his sheep.
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References and Source Materials
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, KING JAMES VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by the International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
Author’s own experience as a Christian educator and lay children’s minister.
What are some other ways to bring this story to life for kids?
Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on October 01, 2011:
Let me suggest a book for you...I hope you will read it. It's called More Than a Carpenter and the author is Josh McDowell.
The reason I suggest that book is because it is in line with what I believe. You see, all the evidence (in my opinion), points to the fact that there was a man who walked the face of the Earth whose name was Jesus.
And when I say evidence, I mean everything from recent geological finds, observations of nature, and a close examination of the ancient writings.
So, having said all that, it really all comes down to this man called Jesus. Who was he? Did He tell the truth?
If He was a liar or a lunatic, then my belief is useless, pointless, and frivolous. On the other hand, if He was telling the truth, it has to be true for everybody.
For you see, He said, "I am the way, the truth and the life." He did not say "I am one of the ways." Based on the overwhelming evidence, I believe He was who He said He was and He did what He said He would do. I think we have a responsibility to teach our children the truth.
For me to "not indoctrinate" my child or other children would be the same as sending them into a pit of poisonous vipers without warning them of the danger.
While I appreciate your point of view, it seems we must agree to disagree.
Craig Suits from Florida on October 01, 2011:
It seems we come from two different schools of thought. Don't get me wrong, I have all the respect in the world for your religious opinions. I simply wish to make one point here.
One: Hundreds, if not thousands of different religions exist today with thousands more from the past that have come and gone with the wind.
Two: Only one, of all the past and presant religious beliefs can be correct keeping in mind that all of the past and presant religious beliefs could very well be wrong. I don't know, nor does anyone else.
Three: In my opinion, to teach a child anyone's religion at all is to ingrain that belief system in the childs mind that will most likely never be able to be corrected or changed is a major travisty to any childs yet undeveloped ability to reason and seek the truth as an adult if he or she chooses.
I would suggest, we don't teach our children anything at all about our personal religious beliefs (which no doubt came from our own adolesent indoctronation) and wait till they becaome capable of serious thought so they can choose for themselves rather than be oblidged to carry on a belief and way of life (that is most probably fantasy to begin with) of the parents, or any other local mentor's.
The long term negative spin-off of religious child indoctrination is obvious and as deadly as all our natural disasters and plagues put together. War! Oppossing religious groups have been killing our young by the billions for tens of thousands of years.
I think It's time we put a stop to that insanity don't you? But how?
That's simple. Don't indoctrinate, solidify, and secularize them in the first place.
This is not my personal opinion. Look around you, who's fighting who these days and why. Then go back ten thousand years in your history books and you'll find the very same causalities. Religious secularism.
When are we going to stop sending our children out to be murdered in the name of God, or whatever fairy tale anyone happens to believe in at the time. That my friend and fellow Hubber, is a REAL SIN...