Teaching on the Prodigal Son? Check out this fun lesson plan that gets kids moving and thinking about some wild and crazy living!
What You Need:
- Pictures of fun stuff kids would like (leave me a comment and I’ll send you over my pictures), labeled with prices
- Fresh baked bread
- Sign advertising fresh baked bread
- Pig slop (just raid your fridge for leftovers, add a little water)
- Cupcakes or other treat
- Celebration music (optional)
What You Do:
Before the kids arrive, cut out the pictures (there should be at least 2 per child) and tape them to a nearby wall. Set the bread in a basket on another wall and the pig slop in a corner of the room.
Gather kids together and begin to tell the story.
Say: Today, we’re going to hear a parable from Jesus. A parable is a story about God and his Kingdom. In this story, there was a father and two sons. You guys are all going to go on a journey with me as we learn about the father and his sons.
Say: Now, this father had two sons and they all lived a pretty good life. One day, the younger son — we’ll call him Bob — decided he was tired of living at home and he wanted to set off on his own. So, he asked his father for his share of the inheritance. Now, an inheritance is the money that you get after your parents have passed away, so to ask for his inheritance early probably hurt his dad’s feelings. It was kind of like wishing that your dad was already dead. Yikes. However, the dad did give him his inheritance. We don’t know exactly how much it was, but we’re going to pretend it was about 5-10 coins.
Pass out between 5-10 coins to each child (don’t worry about counting — a rough estimate will do).
Say: After Bob got his inheritance, he set off for a distant land.
Have the kids follow you to the picture wall.
Say: Bob spent his inheritance on lots of fun stuff. The Bible tells us he did some wild and crazy living! Here are some things you might want to spend your “inheritance” on. Is there anything you’d like to buy?
Allow kids to look at the pictures and “spend” their coins on the things shown in the picture. When they “buy” something, hand them picture to hold.
Say: Things were pretty great at first for Bob. He was having a lot of fun, but then — a famine struck the land. There was no food and everyone ran out of money very quickly. Bob had to travel just to find something to eat, and he had to leave all his cool stuff behind.
Instruct kids to leave their “cool stuff” on the ground and travel with you to the bread station/wall.
Say: There was some food in the land, but it was very expensive. Does anyone have any money for food?
Kids probably won’t have any money for the bread. Lament over this misfortune and eat a tasty roll in front of them.
Say: Wow. It looks like you guys wasted all your money just like Bob did. Yikes. Pretty soon, Bob was so hungry, he would do just about anything for food. He found a job, but it wasn’t a really great one.
Instruct kids to follow you to the “pig slop” corner.
Say: Bob got a job feeding pigs. Do you know what pigs are fed? Basically, all the stuff people don’t want to eat. So here in this bucket, there is some old bread, last night’s dinner — you get the idea. Not exactly tasty. But the Bible tells us that the son was so hungry that he LONGED to eat what the pigs were eating. Gross.
Say: Well, it wasn’t long before Bob began thinking. And here’s what he said to himself:
How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father. (Luke 15:17-20)
Say: Now, you might think that that the younger son’s dad would be so mad at him for wasting all that money and leaving home. But here’s what the Bible tells us:
But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
Say: Instead of being angry, the Father rejoiced that his son was home. He threw a party.
Cue celebration music if you have it and pass out party treats to the kids to eat as you finish telling the story.
Say: The Father was overjoyed to have his son home. In the same way, God is always happy to see us. Even if we have done something wrong or wandered away from him. Even if we haven’t spent time reading the Bible or praying each day — God wants us to be close to him. He wants us to “come home” just like this younger son did.
Like this lesson? Check out more lessons like this in my newly released book, Top 50 Instant Bible Lessons for Elementary!