Donna is a retired Christian educator who writes creative lesson plans for Sunday school, children's ministry, and home education.
What You Need
This is a fun, easy lesson to present to classes of any age, but it suits older elementary students particularly well because they can participate interactively.
For instance, they can act out the story in their own words or even make their own simple costumes and props.
You'll need the following supplies to teach this familiar Bible story about the tax collector Zacchaeus.
- Bible story found in Luke 19:1-10
- Copies of Jesus Saves Zacchaeus mini book for each child
- Two twin size sheets (white) or comparable sized pieces of fabric
- Pinking shears
- Art media: fabric or other markers, crayons, colored pencils and so forth
- Rubber cement or glue
- Cereal shaped like an "O" or small snacks such as fish shaped crackers
Teacher's note: Check student records for individuals with food allergies. You can find other Zacchaeus coloring pages by doing a quick Internet search or by searching on Hubpages for other options.
Dramatize the Bible Story
Use these suggestions for props to dramatize this lesson and help the kids visualize the story. Take your laptop to class with you and play the short video below about the story of Zacchaeus and Jesus and then let the students act out the story in their own way while using the props.
Any time you can engage more of the student's five senses by techniques such as these you create a stronger learning environment where children internalize the lesson quicker and remember it longer.
- Create a robe like Jesus might have worn with a white twin size sheet. Fold it to the appropriate size and use pinking shears to cut a neck hole.
- Drape the garment over the smallest child in the class, and cut it to a safe length. Use yarn or a braided cord to fasten it tunic-style.
- Make one robe each for Zacchaeus and Jesus, and let the children take turns retelling the story in their own words.
if you don't have a laptop or you prefer to tell the Bible story in storyteller fashion rather than simply reading it, then here is a short version to use. Use words and hand motions such as these:
- Jesus was walking to town (point index and second fingers downward. Wiggle them as if walking.)
- Zacchaeus, the tax collector, wanted to see Jesus. (Put hand on brow. Pretend to be looking for someone.)
- He was too short (Hold hands with palms up and close together to demonstrate "short.:)
- He ran into town. (Point fingers down and wiggle them quickly.)
- He climbed up into a sycamore tree. (Pantomime tree climbing motions.)
- Jesus stopped beneath that very tree and looked up into the branches. (Place a hand on your brow and look upward.)
- Jesus said: "Come down from the tree, Zacchaeus! I want to eat a meal with you."
- Zacchaeus climbed down from the tree quickly. (Pantomime climbing down.)
- He said: "Jesus, I'm so sorry I cheated the people. I will repay all the money I stole."
- Jesus said, "Zacchaeus, I forgive you."
- The two men walked together to Zacchaeus' house. (Point the index and second fingers of both hands downwards. Wiggle the fingers in a walking motion.)
Although toddlers may not have the hand and eye coordination to mimic these movements, older students do. They enjoy doing finger plays and it helps them retain the lesson material.
Reinforce the Lesson With a Snack
Serve a simple snack like cereal pieces or snack crackers and water. If you have students with food allergies or you just want to be cautious, you may want to choose a non-allergenic food.
Here is some suggested verbiage to use at snacktime: "Zacchaeus fixed Jesus a meal and they ate together. People like to share food and eat together because it is a good way to show love. Let’s share our snack and our love.”
Lead the children in a simple prayer of thanksgiving: “Dear Jesus, thank you for teaching us about forgiveness and your love. Thank you for our snack, and please bless it. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.”
Take Home Craft
Before class starts, you may want to doing any of the necessary cutting of the printable activity sheets if you are teaching younger students such as toddlers. You can simply make the first cut to help older students get the project started.
Provide the students with lots of crayons, colored pencils and other art media. Invite them to decorate the coloring pages however they like. When they finish, help them glue the edges of the two sheets together, and then encourage them to fold back the windows and find Zacchaeus.
These take home sheets reinforce the lesson and give parents a guide for discussing the Sunday school lesson at home with their children.
By the end of this Zacchaeus Sunday school lesson, students know the story of how Jesus changed Zacchaeus' life. They retell the story in their own words, participate in an interactive pretend play session, and complete a hands-on project.
Helpful Sunday School Resources
- KJV Version Sunday School Lessons: Fruit of the Spirit Elementary Lesson Ideas for Children
Are you looking for interactive ways to teach elementary students about the fruits of the Holy Spirit? Use this clever memory technique to help them learn more about this topic.
- The Story of Joseph in the Bible: Free Lesson Plan for Elementary Students
This lesson teaches about God's faithfulness and Joseph's obedience and trust in God. Students learn why Joseph's brothers sold him into slavery. A variety of free printable activities and worksheets are included for the teacher’s convenience.
- Two Fun Daniel and the Lion's Den Crafts Kids Will Love to Make
Daniel and the lion's den crafts are an interactive, hands-on way to expand on lessons on the story of Daniel. Here are two fun crafts that require simple, inexpensive supplies and can be completed by most children with minimal adult supervision.
- Nehemiah Rebuilds the Walls of Jerusalem: Free Sunday School Lesson for Kids
Are you looking for different ways to teach the story of Nehemiah rebuilding Jerusalem's walls? Try this free lesson and see how much fun the kids have learning this Old Testament Bible story.
The author is a retired Christian educator who served as the assistant headmistress at Vinton Christian Academy.
© 2011 Donna Cosmato