Teaching kids about the 12 disciples (apostles) is tricky business. Of course, these followers of Jesus were very important people, but the Bible doesn’t actually give us too much detail when it comes to their personalities and preferences.
Recently, when the 12 disciples were on the schedule for our children’s church class, I pulled out my trusty Cool Bible Tools in order to shed a little more light on the subject. After reading through the main passages for the lesson (Matthew 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-34; John 1, and Luke 5:1-11), I pulled out my Bible Dictionary for Kids and Bible Atlapedia for any more clues about these faithful men.
After I had gathered the facts, I printed off a copy of this page (pictured below) and filled in the names of the disciples.
When it came time to teach the kids, I got out the dry erase markers and set to work drawing some really awful pictures (my specialty).
We started with Peter and Andrew in the boat. I placed the disciples onto the white board (sticky tac) as I told the story and drew in the details around them. For example,
“One day, Peter and Andrew were in a boat fishing. Jesus told them to throw their nets out into the water. Even though the fishermen had been hard at work all night, they obeyed Jesus and boy, were they surprised! Their nets were filled with fish! There were so many fish that they called over James and John to help them. The disciples knew this was a special man, so when Jesus told them to follow him, they immediately left their nets to be with Jesus”.
“Later, Jesus came upon a man named Matthew (Levi). He was a tax collector an enemy to the Jews. Even though this guy was bad, Jesus loved him and asked him to be one of his disciples.”
“Jesus also met a man named Philip and asked him to be a follower. Philip was so excited that he ran to tell his friend Nathaniel (also known as Bartholomew). Both these guys were from a town called Bethsaida, but they left everything to follow Jesus”
“Jesus continued to go about the land, meeting men who would become his disciples. Soon he had all 12 disciples. They were Simon (Peter), James son of Zebedee and his brother John (sons of thunder), Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot (Mark 3). “
Taking it Home
After we were done with lesson, I gave the kids each a copy of the 12 disciples coloring page and let them make their own set.
If you have computer capabilities in your classroom, you can find a fun Quiz and Memory Game over at Christian Clip Arts. This would be especially good for the older kids. If you have younger kids, I bet they would be delighted in recreating the story with costumes!