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ART workshop lesson plans, ideas and resources for the story of Jesus' presentation in the Temple; Simeon and Anna.

Scripture reference: Luke 2:21-40

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Jesus' Birth Through the Eyes of Simeon & Anna
An Art Workshop Lesson


In "Creation Cove" students will decorate baby-food jars for scented candles to be used at the family's Advent Table meals (The word "Messiah" suggests the meaning "One Who Smells Pleasing to God").

Bible Background: Who were Simeon and Anna?

Scripture References:

Luke 2:21–39 and others as cited in “Biblical Explanation and Background for Teaching”

Memory verse: “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” II Corinthians 9:15

Theme: God leads a prepared Simeon, and a prepare Anna and US to know his son, Jesus, when we prepare to know him and seek Him in obedient faith.

Lesson Objectives:

  1. Children will become familiar with the faith stories of Simeon and Anna in relationship to Jesus’ birth.
  2. Children will learn that God reveals himself to those who prepare and seek him in obedient faith, just as Jesus, God’s Son, our Savior, was revealed to Simeon and Anna.
  3. Children will thank God for sending Jesus as their Savior from sin, just as Simeon and Anna did.

Leader Preparations:

  • Read the scripture and bible background ahead of time
  • Gather the Materials


  • Graters
  • Scented votive candles
  • Old crayons
  • Glitter
  • White glue
  • Shallow trays
  • Warming tray covered with aluminum foil
  • Baby food jars
  • Permanent marking pen (for child’s name on the bottom of each jar)

Opening- Welcome and Lesson Introduction

Greet the children and introduce yourself and any helpers that you have.

Dig- Main Content and Reflection

Art Project: Scented candles
The good scent reminds us of Jesus, God’s Son, Israel’s Messiah, who became a perfect or “sweet-scented” sacrifice to God when he died on the cross for our sins. Remember to teach that Christmas celebrates Jesus’ birth, and also instruct the children about candle safety, such as “only an adult should light your candle”.

Note: It is suggested that the candle be given as a GIFT to the family or as a dinner table centerpiece so as to keep the candle from being used without adult supervision.

Editor's Note: The Hebrew word "Messiah" suggests the idea of "one who smells pleasing, is acceptable to God/" Sin was sometimes thought of as an evil smell. It was no doubt associated with the concept of being "clean" and cleanliness, about which there were many religious laws. Anointing Oil was scented. The "showbread" in the Temple was scented with frankincense, and frankincense was burned in the Temple where Simeon spent a great deal of time. Kids will certainly relate to the concept of how some attitudes and actions "stink". The actual smells of this workshop will reinforce this on an olfactory level within the brain. Smell memories are deeply wired in the brain and quickly retrieved.

Frankincense oil or incense can be found in stores and online, and could be included in this workshop so that it doesn't stink!

Be sure you make a newspaper “placemat” for each child to work on this time. Pass out the graters; children will probably need to share them. Then pass out used crayons. Ask the children to peel any paper off the crayons. You may be able to teach the lesson while children are grating the crayons. They won’t need a huge amount of crayons. They will spread the crayon bits on the covered, heated warming tray and let them begin to melt. Each child should have a turn to roll a votive candle in the colored crayon on the warming tray so that it’s covered with a colorful layer of wax. You could also experiment with adding glitter to the wax. They can also roll the baby food jars in thinned white glue in a shallow tray and then roll them in glitter in another shallow tray. Alternatively, a child could draw a design in glue with a Q-tip on their jar and then roll it in the glitter. Let the glue dry while you conclude the lesson; the candles will harden quickly.

It would be nice if we could light our candles as we conclude the lesson today. (Check fire regulations and church rules.)  In addition to the scent reminding us of the meaning of the word, “Messiah”, a burning candle also reminds us that Jesus said “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12) and “let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) Simeon said Jesus would be “a light for revelation to the Gentiles” (Luke 2:32). That meant that the Gentiles, the non-Jewish people who previously had no knowledge of God and of salvation, would find out that Jesus died for their sins too. Most of us are Gentiles who have benefited from the faithfulness of believers who lived before us and faithfully passed on to us the good news about Jesus Christ. God also compares our sinfulness without Jesus Christ to “darkness”, so a candle shining in a dark place reminds us of how the Holy Spirit reveals our sin. (See I John 1:5 – 10 for more background on this.)

Additional Idea: You can also decorate the jar on the outside by gluing glass beads to the glass creating a "stained glass" jar for the candle. Do not use paper or plastic as these may melt if the candle is left to burn. You can glue strips of colored tissue or cellophane to a small plate to go UNDER the glass jar. The Bible verse can then be included on the project.

Discussion questions:

  1. Who helped Simeon find Jesus, God’s Son, in the Temple? (ANS: The Holy Spirit guided Simeon to the Temple and showed him who Jesus was.)
  2. How did Simeon and Anna know what to say about baby Jesus? (ANS: Each one spoke out of faith in God after having spent their lives studying God’s word and living close to God by praying often.)
  3. What did Mary and Joseph think of the things Simeon said to them about Jesus? (ANS: They “marveled at what was said about him”, Luke 2:33.)

Draw or write about what Mary and Joseph looked like and thought about as Simeon and Anna spoke to them about baby Jesus.


Close with a circle of prayer. Light one or all candles (if permitted). Pray as the Holy Spirit leads, allowing all who want to pray have a turn to pray. Remind children to bring their Bible and a friend next week for their next workshop so that they too can find the Christ Child.

This lesson contributed by Silverdale UMC
It is based on lessons ideas previously posted at and additional presentation ideas were contributed by Neil MacQueen.


Images (1)
  • Simeon-Jesus
Last edited by Neil MacQueen
Original Post

Simeon & Anna

Art Workshop

Summary of Lesson Activities:

In this workshop, the learners will learn how ‘special’ they are and what their ‘special’ gifts are. As we hear in our Bible story, Simeon and Anna knew how ‘special’ baby Jesus was well before many others. In this workshop, the students will take a good look at themselves, then with either hand drawings or magazine pictures, compose a picture of themselves and what ‘special’ things they have to offer.

Leader Preparation:

  • Read the scripture ahead of time.
  • Gather the following materials:
    • Children’s Holy Bible (Contemporary English Version
    • Various Bibles with pictures of Simeon and Anna
    • Construction paper (white/large size)
    • Markers, crayons
    • Scissors
    • Magazines (age appropriate) to cut pictures from
    • Glue
    • Several hand-held mirrors
    • Polaroid Instant Camera with film
    • Sample of an “Inside and Outside” picture
    • Pencils.

Opening- Welcome and introductions:
Greet the children and introduce yourself. Remember that you are interacting with a different group of students each week—some may not know you. Wear your nametag and make sure that the children are wearing theirs.

Dig- Main Content and Reflection

1. Have the students sit where you would like them to during the reading of the story from the Bible. The teacher will read the story, using the ABS Children’s Bible. Read the story beginning with “Simeon Praises the Lord” through “Anna Speaks about the Child Jesus” on page 1228. Various Bibles will be provided for you that have pictures of Simeon and Anna. Please share these with the class. Either during or after reading the Bible story, the following points need to be made:

  • As you read about Simeon, remind the children that he had been waiting day after day for a very long time, in hopes of seeing the Messiah, as God had promised him he would before he died. He was looking for something ‘special’ about one of the babies that came to the temple.
  • Simeon listened closely as parents entered the temple area to offer their proper sacrifices for their firstborn. He was listening to see if the parents and child matched the prophecies and the Law . . . the something ‘special’ that God spoke to him about.
  • Simeon listened carefully to hear what tribe the parents came from. Did the parent’s family history go back through the house of David? (Yes, Joseph is descended from the line of David—see Matthew1:1-17 if necessary.) Was the child born in Bethlehem? (Where was Jesus born?)
  • Anna prayed daily for her people to be freed from their suffering. God blessed Anna that day in allowing her to see the Messiah (Jesus), the ‘special’ baby that would grow into a man who would heal her people. Until Anna’s death, she would speak of seeing this ‘special’ baby.

2. Tell the students that today they are going to make a self-portrait. It is called “Inside and Outside.” On the outside of their portrait, they can draw a picture of themselves. If they need help, hand mirrors will be provided. (Or see step 3 below for an alternative to drawing.) They can use pencils, crayons, markers, etc. The paper they use will be folded, so that when it opens, you can look at the inside. (An example will be provided). On the inside paper, the students can either draw pictures or cut pictures from magazines, that represent what is ‘special’ about themselves . . . what they like to do, what is important to them, how they can help others. Examples: they can sing; like to read or hike; they are gymnasts, football players, tennis or soccer players; they can paint; play music; pray; they want to be teachers, builders, doctors, etc. Please make sure each child writes their name on the front of their picture. Please keep the pictures so that we can display them in the Sunday school wing.

3. If you prefer, or if some of the children find it easier, a Polaroid Instant camera will be provided. An actual picture of the child could be on the front of their paper, with the inside done as directed above.

Bring the children back together as a group. Let them share with each other their portraits and what they think is ‘special’ about themselves. Remind them that in God’s eyes we are all special. We are God’s children and God loves each and every one of us.

Closing prayer:
Close the class with a prayer of your own, or use the following:
Dear God, thank you for the ‘special’ gifts that you have given each and every one of us. Help us to use our ‘special’ gifts to help others. Amen.

Journal Time:
Help the shepherd pass out the journals. Have them answer the following:
"My special gift is . . ."

Written by Jan Marshall from Brenthaven Cumberland Presbyterian Church
Brentwood, TN

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