Loaves and Fishes
Summary of Lesson Activities:
Using materials that fit into one laundry basket, the children will make loaves and fishes that overflow many baskets. They will then use these objects to play a game about blessings.
- Children can define a miracle.
- Children can sequence the story of the loaves and fishes.
- Older children are able to notice differences between the gospel versions
- Children are able to articulate ways that God has blessed them.
- Laundry baskets (borrow a lot. Identical, round are needed for the game, any kind for the craft/counting part of the activity)
- Lots of newspaper
- Plastic trash bags (smaller white kitchen bags)
- Paper Grocery sacks
- Construction Paper
- Masking or duct tape
- Balloons labeled 1-12
- Content questions (to insert into balloons)
- Read Bible background notes to be familiar with the story.
- Assemble all necessary items so that everything fits in ONE basket.
- Number balloons 1-12 and place appropriate content question in each. (below)
Opening - Welcome and Lesson Introduction:
As children enter, ask them for a definition of or examples of a miracle. Come up with a working definition for your group.
Open with a prayer.
Dig - Main Content and Reflection:
Find Luke 9:10
Pre-readers – put finger on starting verse while you retell the story in your own words or using The Family Story Bible by Ralph Milton. You may also choose to tell the story in first person as someone who was there at the miracle.
Elementary – Read together Luke 9:10-17
Youth and older elementary -- Divide into four groups and find Luke 9:10, Mark 6:30, Matthew 14:13, and John 6:1. Have each group read the story as found in their gospel. As you ask questions, keep track of the different answers by writing responses in four columns.
Answer Content Questions (below):
Sit in a circle. The first person pops the first balloon and asks the question. The person to their left has the first chance to answer. Everyone can look in their Bibles, and can give the person hints, but not direct answers, if they get stuck. After the question is answered, the person on the left pops balloon 2, etc.
Answer Reflection Questions:
- This story takes place right as Jesus found out about John the Baptist’s death. I wonder how Jesus was feeling as the story begins?
- I wonder how Jesus felt after he had preached to and healed so many people?
- I wonder why none of the people left, even though night was coming.
- How many people do you think you could feed using five normal loaves of bread and two normal fish? Using multiplication figure out how many loaves and fish you would need to feed 5000?
- What does Jesus blessing and breaking the loaves and fish remind you of?
- Why is it important that there were 12 full baskets left over?
- Do you think the people knew that they were being fed through a miracle, or did they just think the disciples had a lot of food?
Make loaves and fish
Call attention to the fact that all the supplies you need fit in one basket.
Divide children into two groups to make either loaves or fish. Make as many as you can with the time/resources available.
To make the fish:
- Crumple newspaper loosely and stuff in the bag.
- Leaving about 12 inches for the tail and tie it off.
- Tape corners underneath to make a fish shape
- Decorate with construction paper eyes and fins attached with tape.
To make loaves
- Crumple newspaper to fill paper bag about half full.
- Take opening closed
- Fold the bag long ways and tape in the corners to make a bread-like oval
- Decorate with brown slash marks on top.
When you are done, or when time is up, see how many baskets you can fill up with your loaves and fish. You may ask children to estimate.
Say: When we started, everything fit in one basket. Now we have __ baskets full of loaves and fish.
- How is this like the Bible story?
- How is it different?
Ask children to retell the story back to you.
Divide children into teams, with each team having its own basket.
Ask each child in turn to name a miracle or blessing (don’t allow repeats). When they have named a blessing or a miracle they can pick up a loaf or fish and place it in their basket. Once it is in the basket, it cannot be touched or rearranged by the next child.
Continue filling the baskets until one of the baskets topples over, or the food slides off. What is the record for filling the baskets?
How does this game remind you of the miracle of the loaves and fish?
Is it true that God provides us with more than enough? Explain.
How God has blessed me…
End with a prayer.
To take home:
Give children a loaf or a fish (or two) to take home with them. Encourage them to retell the story to their families today at dinner, and to create a new game with loaves and fish. [IMPORTANT: Don’t give plastic bag fish to children with siblings under 3 as this “toy” could be a suffocation hazard.]
Adjustments for age levels and abilities:
Select fewer content questions for younger groups and focus on “I wonder” questions for reflection. You may want to have the youngest group in a later rotation so you can take advantage of leftover fish and loaves from previous groups.
If you have extra time:
Look at a communion passage and blessing and breaking bread.
Look at Psalm 23 about “cup overflows”
How do these passages fit in with the loaves and fishes story?
Make up a nice basket of the best loaves and fish to be placed in the sanctuary on the next communion Sunday.
If time runs short…Keep a close eye on the loaf and fish making. Be sure that they form them first and decorate them later or you may run out of time.
To speed up the opening discussion, pop all 12 balloons at once.
Got a better idea for making giant loaves and fish? Go for it!
Content Questions: (answers given for Luke passage only)
- Where did this take place? (Bethsaida)
- What was Jesus doing with the crowd? (welcomed them, spoke to them about the kingdom of God, healed those who needed to be cured.)
- What did the disciples tell Jesus to do? (send the people into the surrounding villages so they could get food and lodging)
- What were the disciples reasons for sending the people away? (this is a deserted place)
- What did Jesus say back to the disciples? (you feed them)
- How much food did the disciples have? (five loaves and two fish)
- What do you think the people thought/said about all the food left over?
- What might they have said later to their friends who weren't there?
- Why do you suppose Jesus performed that miracle? What was he trying to show them? (other than just making fish and bread appear)
- Do you think that seeing the miracle might make people remember that day better? Why?
A lesson written by Rev. Lisa Martin from: Trinity United Church of Christ,
If you would like a better formatted copy of this lesson and handouts you can contact us through Trinity Reformed United Church of Christ in Pottstown, PA: www.trinityuccpottstown.org
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