Scripture: Luke 15: 11 – 32 or pages 416 – 417 in The Golden Children’s Bible
Target Age Group: 1st through 6th grade
Welcome the children to the classroom and chat with them about their week as they gather around the table.
Pray and ask God to teach the children not just head knowledge, but also heart knowledge.
Have the children open their Bibles to Luke 15: 11 – 32 or pages 416 – 417 in The Golden Children’s Bible.
(Read the story to the children because at this age some of the children do not read smoothly, which hinders comprehension for the whole class.)
- Jesus told this story just after he told the story of the lost sheep and the lost coin. Do you remember those stories? What point was Jesus trying to make with those stories? That every one of us is valuable to him. And he rejoices when any one of us is saved.
- This story is a bout a father and his two sons.
- What did the younger son ask for? His inheritance.
- Why is that a strange request? Usually you don’t get the money until your parents die. It was pretty rude of the son to ask for the money when his father was still alive, wasn’t it.
- What did the son do when he got the money? He went off to a foreign country and spent all the money on wild living.
- The Bible says that he “squandered his wealth”. What does that mean? He didn’t buy things that he really needed. He spent it on silly things that he didn’t need – like parties and entertainment. (In fact that’s what it means to be prodigal. That’s someone who recklessly wastes money.)
- What happened after he spent all of the money? There was a famine in the country and he soon had nothing to eat.
- He needed a job to buy food, didn’t he. So, what job did he find? Feeding a farmers’ pigs.
- He was so hungry that he wanted to eat the pigs’ food. Have you ever been so hungry that you thought you would want to eat pigs’ food? Yuck!
- Why didn’t he just go home? Because he knew that he had done wrong when he asked for his inheritance early. Even worse, he had wasted it all. He didn’t think that his father would want him back.
- Finally, what did he think of? His fathers’ hired servants weren’t starving. They had more food than they needed. Maybe he should ask his father if he could work as his servant.
- He thought that his dad was going to chew him out. But, what did his father do when he saw him coming down the road? He ran and threw his arms around him and kissed him.
- The son said, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ Did the father say, yes you were really pretty bad, we’ll have to put you to work with the servants? No.
- What did the father do? He called the servants to bring him a robe and a ring and sandals for his feet. Then they were to kill a fattened calf to make a feast for a celebration.
- Why did the father do that? He thought that he had lost his son forever – but now he was home again, and he was so glad to know that he was alive! He said, ‘this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’
- What did the older brother think when he got home from the field and saw the party that was going on for his brother? He was angry and wouldn’t even go into the house.
- Would you have been mad, too? It would have seemed like his brother was being rewarded for being bad, wouldn’t it.
- When his dad came out to talk to him, what did he say? ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property…comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
- What did his father say to that? You’ve been here with me the whole time, and everything that I have is yours. But, we thought that your brother was dead. He was lost, but now he’s been found.
- This story is a parable. Do you know what a parable is? It’s an earthly story with a heavenly meaning.
- Who do you think the father really is? God!
- Who are the sons? We are. We’re God’s children.
- Some of us are more obedient than others, aren’t we.
- If we sin, can we still come back to God and ask to be his son again? Yes! God is always glad to have us back because he loves us so much!
- Should we ever be angry that someone who we think is really, really bad is welcomed back by the Lord? No. We should be glad even when the worst person is repentant and comes back to God.
- The Pharisees thought that God should love them the most because they tried so hard to follow God’s laws. And they got angry that Jesus spent time with people that they considered “sinners”. But, Jesus loves all of us and he wants all of us to be saved, doesn’t he.
- Let’s pray and thank Jesus for taking us back and loving us – even when we’ve been really bad, and let’s ask him to help us to rejoice over everyone the way that he does…
During the remaining class time do activities that help to reinforce what the children have learned. Here are some suggestions…
Memorize the verse.
Luke 15:24 “For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”
Have the children use colors or pastels to draw their own vision of the story on a sketch pad page. Or have them color a color page related to the story.
There are a couple of color pages here at the e Bible Teacher.
An excellent color page book is “Through-the-Bible Coloring Pages For Ages 4-8” by Janet Skiles. The pages are reproducible.
Share a video of this story:
Video #1 from Crossroads Kids Club
Video #2 from Worship House Media
Video #3 from Worship House Kids
Video #4 Nemo version
Video #5 Kids act out the story by Hannah and Henry Holtgeerts. This is darling.
Video #6 by Alex Mienert
Video #7 Lego version by Milan Harrison
Video #9 Song “Prodigal”
For the teacher:
Video #8 Prodigal by Casting Crowns
Video #12 “Prodigal Son’s Prayer” by Dierks Bentley
Share this children’s sermon from sermons4kids. Don’t forget the activities at the bottom of the page!
Have the children do a sequencing craft from Ministry to Children.
Have the children fill out these worksheets and color page from Calvary Curriculum.
Have the children make the booklet “The Lost Son Comes Home” by Lambsongs. (Scroll Down)
Play the Prodigal Son file folder game from The Catholic Tool Box. There are several other ideas here.
This lesson from Kids Bible Lessons has a great intro idea as well as a color page.
Mission Bible Class also has a great introduction idea.
Use these flannel graph figures by David Miles to tell the story.
Have the children make this Prodigal Son door nob hanger from Sunday School Crafts.
This lesson from the Church of God has some worksheets also.
This lesson from Mission Arlington also has some worksheets.
Younger children would enjoy this craft from the Church House Collection. There is also a snack idea here.
Here is a creative way to tell the story from Children’s Ministry.
Share this object lesson from Children’s Ministry.
Serve Corn Husks and Mud for snack time.
Evaluate what the children have learned. While they are coloring or crafting ask each one what they learned today.
Send each child’s parent an e-mail (or a hard copy) of the Parents’ Page.