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Jesus Calls Disciples

Cooking Workshop

Summary of Lesson Activities:

Students will make “fish-shaped pizza” to recall the significance of fishing in the calling of the disciples. Learn more about being a disciple and Jesus’ calling of the disciples. [Note: 1st – 3rd graders visited this workshop.]

For scripture and objectives, see above.

Leader Preparation:

  • Read the scripture for this lesson.
  • Read and reflect on the overview material provided for this lesson.
  • Learn the simple signs for the Key Verse in American Sign Language. (There are numerous YouTube videos - search for the key verse in ASL.)
  • Gather the following materials:

Supply List

  • Items in the kitchen -
    • Cookie sheets
    • Parchment paper
    • Spoons
    • Measuring cups (1/2 cup size)
    • Mixing bowls (one for each box of pizza dough mix)
    • Dish towels (one for each box of pizza dough mix)
    • Pizza cutter or sharp knife
    • Clean-up supplies

  • Items in pantry closet - Napkins, cups, plates

  • Items in refrigerator -
    • Mozzarella cheese, shredded
    • Black olives

  • The cooking “cart” with…

• A piece of paper with an Ichthys symbol 
• Aprons
• Story Bible – Read With Me Bible
• Pizza crust mix (Jiffy® brand recommended), 1 box for every 4 students  [Note: Allergy alert: Jiffy brand contains milk but no eggs.]
• Flour
• Pizza sauce, canned or jarred
• Pencils
• Kitchen timer
• Plastic food storage bags – sandwich-sized

On the day of class:

  • Write the key Bible verse with the scripture reference on the easel.
  • Become familiar with the use of the oven.
  • Prepare a pitcher of ice water for children to drink.
  • Wash the work table.
  • Have the mixing bowls, the boxes of pizza crust mix, spoons, and dish towels in the Social Hall. Also, have handy one of the wheeled carts.
  • In the Adventure Bible, bookmark Mathew 4:18 and Matthew 9:9.
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Lesson Plan: Opening

Ichthys symbolDo:  Greet your students warmly, welcoming them to the Cooking Workshop. Introduce yourself and any other adults. Show the Ichthys symbol.

Ask: Can anyone tell me what this is? (accept a few responses)
Has anyone seen this on a car bumper?

Say:  This fish symbol has been used for almost 2000 years to identify someone who believed in Jesus.
Ask:  Why do you suppose it’s appropriate that a fish is a symbol of someone who follows Jesus?

Say:  Some of the original disciples of Jesus were fishermen. Even to this day, people use this sign of a fish when they want to show that they are Christians – such as on a car bumper sticker. Today we are going to work together, just as Jesus’ disciples did, while we make fish-shaped pizzas! We will be talking about how Jesus asked some fishermen to come and be his disciples.

[Note: The class will mix up the pizza crust first, and read the Bible story while the dough is "standing." Then the class will finish making their pizzas, followed by more discussion and eating!]

Dig-Main Content and Reflection:
Say:  First we will mix up some pizza crust dough.

Do:  Distribute mixing bowls and boxes of Jiffy mix. (Use one box for every 4 students.)
Mix each box separately so it’s easier to distribute to the students. Ask a couple of students to open the boxes and put the mix into a bowl. Add ½ cup of hot tap water for each bowl.
Take turns mixing the dough.

Do:  After the dough is mixed, cover each bowl with a dish towel. Place the bowls on the metal cart and ask the Shepherd to wheel them into the kitchen to park it by the stove. Explain that the dough needs to rise in a warm place for a few minutes. While waiting, read the Bible story.

Ask:  If we want to read something that Jesus did, where would we find it – in the Old Testament or the New Testament of the Bible? (in the New Testament)

Say:  We find stories about what Jesus did in the New Testament in a section we call the Gospels. The word “Gospel” means “good news.” Jesus teaches us the good news about God’s love for us. Today we will be reading a story from the Gospel of Matthew.

For 3rd graders (and up):

Distribute Bibles. Have the students find Matthew 4:18. Teach them the quick way to find the New Testament. When everyone has found the passage, ask them to close the Bibles. Read to them Mathew 4:18-22 and Matthew 9:9.

For 1st and 2nd graders:

Do:  Show them the pictures as you read pages 290-294 of the Read With Me Bible.
Point out the Ichthys symbol on pages 290 and 291.

For all students:
Say: When we are done reading our Bible story we are going to say what is said in church after the scripture is read. Be ready to say “thanks be to God!”... For the Word of God in scripture, for the Word of God among us, for the Word of God within us,
The class says: Thanks be to God!

Say: Let’s go to the kitchen to make some fish shaped pizza.

In the Kitchen:
Wash your hands first, and then have everyone else wash their hands. Offer aprons.

Do:  Give each pair of students a piece of parchment, about eight inches long. Ask them to use the pencils to write their names on the edge of the parchment.

Distribute to each pair of students one-third of a batch of dough. Have the students work together to shape their dough (on the parchment) into a fish shape. The easiest way will be to press the dough into the shape of a fish using their fingers. (Offer flour if things get sticky.) The final shape should be similar to the Christian fish symbol, but with a wider connection between the body and tail sections.

Have each pair spread pizza sauce over their fish, using the back of a spoon.
Sprinkle shredded mozzarella over the pizza sauce. Add a black olive slice for the eye, and a sliver of black olive for the mouth.

Put the parchment with their pizzas on cookie sheets. Bake according to pizza crust directions -- 18-20 minutes at 425 degrees -- for the Jiffy® brand. Ask the Shepherd to watch the pizzas. They may cook faster with the convection oven and because they are smaller in size.

Have students wash their hands and return to the Social Hall.

Say:  Let’s talk more about the story we heard while our pizzas are cooking.
[Note: Be sure to set the timer! Once the pizzas are cooked, the children can eat their creations while the group finishes this discussion, with each pair of children sharing & eating the pizza that they made. Cut each fish pizza lengthwise into two halves and enjoy.]

Ask:  Who can tell me what the story was about?  (This is a chance for the children to tell the story in their own words - a few children may want to chime in with thoughts. Here are some questions that you can ask the children to trigger their retelling of the story...)

  • Where did this story take place? (By the sea, or by the Sea of Galilee)
  • What were the men doing when Jesus walked by? (working at fishing or being a tax collector)
  • What does Jesus say to them? (Come, follow me)
  • What did all of them do when Jesus asked them to follow him? (left what they were doing to follow Jesus)

  Does it seem like these men thought about Jesus’ request? To Jesus’ request to follow him did they say, “I’ll let you know?”

Say:  No, they left their nets and their boats and got up and followed Jesus! They had probably heard of Jesus or knew about him, but still they left behind everything to be a disciple of Jesus.

Ask:  What does it mean to be a disciple?

Say:  A disciple is a follower, or a learner. Jesus was asking them to join him so that he could teach him. A “call” is how Jesus asked them to come be with him. Jesus called 12 ordinary people from many, many followers to be his 12 special disciples. These are the 12 disciples that we sometimes hear about. Jesus had many other followers too, men and women, who were also his disciples.

Ask:  What do you think Jesus and his disciples did together? 

Say:  Jesus spent a lot of time together with his disciples – they were special to him, just like our families are to us. They did things that we do with our families – they ate together, had fun together, talked, prayed, and learned, like we learn from our parents and teachers. Jesus gave his disciples special training – he taught them lots about God and what God is like - so they could go out and share the Good News of God’s love with others. One way they did that was to help people and to be kind to them, because one of the best ways that we can show God’s love to the world is to love other people, even when it is hard to do.

Ask:  In what ways can we be Jesus’ disciples today? (Accept all sorts of responses – such as: help people, pray, pick up litter, learn from our teachers)

Say:  We are Jesus’ disciples when we…

  • Learn about Jesus and God
  • Help others and treat people the way they would want to be treated
  • Show God our love and respect for him by worshiping, like at church
  • Read the Bible and other stories about Jesus and God
  • Pray
  • Take good care of the earth

Do you remember what the disciples left behind when they went to follow Jesus? (4 of the disciples left fishing, of whom 2 – James and John - left their father; 1 disciple left tax collecting)

Say:  Sometimes when we choose to follow Jesus’ call to be a disciple, we have to make hard choices. It must have been hard for James and John to leave their father. They probably didn’t know when they would see him again. They knew that Jesus would be traveling all over and might not come back the same way again, because that’s what he did as a teacher. They had to leave behind their jobs, and at least in the case of James and John, their family.

Ask:  What are ways that it’s hard for us to be disciples today? (Do we treat other people nicely, even when they are mean to us? Do we choose to pray to God or do we choose to do whatever we want? Those are a couple of hard choices that we as disciples will have to deal with. What will we choose to do?)


Do:  Gather the students together to close in prayer.
Ask for any prayer requests. Ask if anyone would like to lead the group in prayer. Be prepared to say a prayer yourself, working in prayer requests. Use the Lord’s Prayer as the ending. A suggestion: “Dear God, thank you that Jesus takes me and loves me just as I am. When I walk with Jesus and try to be like him, I am one of his disciples. Jesus teaches all of his disciples to pray the Lord’s Prayer…(end with everyone joining in on the Lord’s Prayer.) Amen.

If you have extra time: Work on learning the Key Bible Verse.
Tell the children that we will be learning the verse using sign language. Read the verse to the children once, then slowly while using American Sign Language.

Show them the verse with the hand signs a couple of times, then ask them to join you in saying the verse with the signs.


Read With Me Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1993.

A lesson written by Lynne Pauer and Carol Hulbert for First United Methodist Church, Ann Arbor, MI

Photo of Ichthys symbol from Wikimedia Commons (in the Public Domain).

Copyright 2008 First United Methodist Church, Ann Arbor, MI. 
Permission to copy materials granted for non-commercial use provided credit is given and all cited references remain with this material 

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