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The Greatest Commandment

Games Workshop

Summary of Lesson Activities:

Play a variety of games to learn the story concepts, especially about loving God with all you’ve got. [Note: 4th – 6th graders visited this workshop.]

For scripture, objectives, and background- see above.

Leader Preparation:

  • Read the scripture for this lesson.
  • Read and reflect on the overview material provided for this lesson.
  • Gather the materials.

Supplies List:

  • A large piece of construction paper; a marker
  • Masking tape
  • Yarn
  • Scissors
  • Bibles
  • Bible dictionary/concordances – use available copies of KidCordance
  • Easel with paper; appropriate marker
  • Blindfolds (two)

Before Start of Class:

  • Make “Love Note Scrolls” - Draw a large heart on a piece of construction paper. Write the key Bible verse on the heart, covering as much of the heart as possible. Include the Bible reference. Cut the heart into 10 pieces so it becomes like a puzzle.
  • Roll each of the pieces into a scroll and tie with yarn. Hide the scrolls around the room before kids arrive. [The room is pretty empty, so obvious and in the open is ok. The hunt isn’t what’s important.]
  • Write the key Bible verse on the easel.


Opening-Welcome and Lesson Introduction: 

Greet your students warmly, welcoming them to the Games Workshop. Introduce yourself and any other adults.

[Note: The Shepherd will be taking care of attendance while you are starting your lesson.]

Say: Let’s start with prayer.
Ask for any prayer requests. Ask if anyone would like to lead the group in prayer. Use the Lord’s Prayer as the ending. A suggestion: Lord, we are so thankful for your love for us. Help us to always remember to love you back, not half-heartedly but with all of our heart, and with all of our soul, and with all of our mind. (End with the Lord’s Prayer) Amen.”

Dig-Main Content and Reflection:

  • Ask: Have you ever received a letter in the mail from someone special?

Was it signed “Love” and then the name of the person it was from? (like “love, Grandma").

Hold up a Bible.
Say: The Bible is like a letter God has sent to us. At the end it doesn’t say, “Love God” but the whole Bible is like a love letter from God. That’s because the Bible tells us stories of how much God loves us.

Say: Today, we use the Bible in the form of a book but when the Bible was first written a long time ago, it was written on scrolls. See if you can find any little scrolls hidden in the room. When you find one scroll, bring it back here and place it on the table and sit down.
[There will be 10 scrolls.]

Allow kids to search for scrolls.
When all the pieces have been found, gather kids together again.

  • Ask: What does your scroll say?

Say: These scrolls look like pieces of a puzzle. Let’s see if by putting them together, they make sense.
Have kids put the pieces together to form the heart. (You may need to tape them to the table with loops of masking tape.)

When the puzzle is complete read the verse and reference aloud with the students.

  • Ask: Where would we find this verse in our Bibles? (in the book of Matthew)
  • Is that in the Old Testament or the New Testament? (1st book of New Testament)
  • What are the first four books of the New Testament (matthew, mark, luke, john)

Have kids find the Bible verse in their Bibles.
Check to make sure that kids know how to interpret the reference written on the heart puzzle – Matthew 22:37-39 – that the number before the colon is the chapter number and the numbers after the colon are the verses.

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!”

Have kids take turns reading verses 34-40.
In later weeks of the Rotation, ask the students to tell you the story. Have them check their Bibles for accuracy.

Say: 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!

  • Ask: At the beginning in verse 34 there are two unusual words, does anyone know what these words mean: “Pharisees” and “Sadducees”? (allow all answers)
  • Ask: When you come across words in your Bible and you don’t know what they mean, what can you do?

Say: One resource you can use is a Bible dictionary. It works just like a regular dictionary except it has words found in the Bible.

  • Ask: If you brought your own Bible, do you know if it has a Bible dictionary in it?

Have kids look in the back of their Bible to see if it includes a dictionary. (Some may include a concordance or a dictionary/concordance.)

If their Bibles have a dictionary, have some look up Pharisee and some look up Sadducee. Give out copies of KidCordance to those without a Bible dictionary.

Using these resources, discuss the definitions of Pharisee and Sadducee.

Say: The Pharisees and Sadducees were groups of Jewish people who did not accept Jesus’ teachings. In fact they argued with Jesus. In our story today, a Pharisee who is identified as a lawyer, is trying to trick Jesus by asking a tough question.

  • Ask: What question did he ask Jesus? (verse 36)

Say: So the Pharisees were testing Jesus because they weren’t happy with what Jesus was teaching. They actually felt threatened by Jesus. They were trying to challenge Jesus in hopes that he would make a mistake and then people wouldn’t follow him anymore.

  • Ask: How did Jesus answer the question? (verses 37-39)

Say: Let’s play a game that will help us think about Jesus’ answer, especially about the first part of his answer.

Verse Relay game:

Break the class into two teams. Move to the open portion of the room. Have the teams line up at one end of the room, and you and the Shepherd at other end of room. (Have the easel set up by your end of room.)

Say: We’ll have three different relay races, in each one you come from your end of the room over to our end, say the Bible verse, and go back to your team. Then the next person can come over. Each leg of the relay will be slightly different. In the first leg, you will hop on one foot over to this side of the room, recite the key verse, and hop on one foot back.

Run this leg of the relay. Don’t dwell too much on which team wins.

Say: For this second leg of the relay, you’ll put on a blindfold, find your way over to us, recite the verse as best you can, take the blindfold off and run back to your team.

Run the second leg. (You may guide students by giving verbal directions).

Say: For this last leg of the relay, run over to our side, recite the verse and run back.

Run the third leg. Have everyone sit down when done.

  • Ask: Which relay was the hardest?
  • Which was the easiest?
  • Why?

Say: We do our best at a game like this when we can use all our body parts; using both legs or being able to see. That way we can give it our all.

  • Ask: Do you suppose that is what Jesus meant in our story today when he said, “love God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind?

Spend some time discussing this idea of loving God with “all you’ve got.”

  • Ask: What does this mean for us today?
  • What would it look like if we only loved God with half of our heart?
  • Ask: What would happen if other things got a bigger part of our heart than God?
  • What do you suppose would happen if other things got a bigger portion of our mind than God?

Shoe Mix-up

Break the class into two different teams, but this time make one team much larger than the other. Have all the kids take off their shoes and mix them up in a pile across the room.

Say: We’re going to do another relay race. This time the object is to get over here, find your shoes, put them on and go back. The object is to see which team gets the most kids through the relay in 3 minutes time .

Ignore the probable protest that the teams aren’t fairly divided.
Say: Oh yes, the rules are that this team (point to bigger team) must use only one hand and they must hop back and forth on one foot.

Run the relay.

  • Ask: What happened in this race? (the team with fewer kids got more kids through the relay because they were using everything they had to accomplish the task)
  • Ask: How is running a race with one foot or putting on shoes with one hand like serving God using only part of yourself?
  • Do you suppose we could accomplish more for God if we used all of ourselves?


Say: God loves you. God wants you, (God wants all of us) to love him with EVERYTHING we’ve got. This week think about loving God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind.

If you have extra time:
Do “glads and sads” – go around the room and each student tells one good thing that happened to them this past week and one bad thing.


  • Devins, Catherine. Posting at “The Greatest Commandment Ideas.” November 20, 2002 (game relays).
  • Martin, Lisa. “The Greatest Commandment: Cooking Lesson.” 2004.
  • Osborne, Rick, et al. Kidcordance: Big Ideas from the Bible and Where to Find Them. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1999.


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

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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