Bible Skills and Games Lessons, Ideas, Activities, and Resources for the Prodigal Son

Post your Sunday School bible skills and games lessons, ideas, activities, and resources for the Prodigal Son here.

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Including: Prodigal son, Lost son, Older brother, Father, Lost and Found, Luke 15:11-32, etc.

Bible lessons and ideas about the Prodigal Son -with Games, Bible memory, Games that teach the Bible, Bible Activities, Bible Books, etc.

Original Post

Prodigal Son - Preschool 

Non-reader Games Workshop

 

Summary of Lesson Activities:

Games are "stations" in the room which children progress through as a group. The final action is "coming back home". A good example of marrying ACTION/MOVEMENT to the story's various actions:  son leaving, son turning around in repentance, father waiting/running. 

 

Editor's Note:  While not provided in the lesson, a SHARP TEACHER could easily convert these game stations for OLDER CHILDREN.


Materials:

  • Signs for "Home Sweet Home", "The City", and the "Pig Farm" 
  • Small drawstring bag with 10 pennies each
  • Basket to collect pennies
  • Playground area
  • Feast for return to Home Sweet Home (used biscuits and jam)
  • "Welcome Home! We love you!" signs to put in drawstring bags.

Leader Preparations:

  • Read the story ahead of time.
  • Gather the materials.


 

Presentation

 

Opening - Welcome and Lesson Introduction:

Welcomed Children and tell them what we are doing today.

 

Open with a prayer.

 

Dig - Main Content and Reflection:

 

  1. Reviewed what a parable was.
  2. Paraphrased story of the Prodigal Son. Used Preschool Bible Story book to read story.
  3. Reviewed basic concepts. Most of the children were younger siblings, we talked about how sometimes things happen that aren't fair and what it was like to have siblings.
  4. Each child then received their inheritance from me: little gold drawstring bags (purchased from local rock/art store, but could easily have been made) filled with 10 pennies each.
  5. We then said goodbye to everyone and ventured to "The City" (outside in our playground) where we had to eat after the long journey (collected one penny from each child into basket), pretended to give them all food, collected one penny for dessert, two pennies for lodging, pretended to go to sleep).
  6. Next morning we were ready to take on all the fun things in the city (namely hopscotch and hide and go seek, each game cost 1 penny each time to play, this age of children were happy to have the adults do the seeking which worked well since the father would want to seek his "lost" son).
  7. On top of the games, the children had to pay to eat more food. When they were out of money they had to go to pig farm to work. Explained to children that the birdseed in the paper cups was pig food and that we scattered to imaginary pigs (all of them loved saying, "here piggy piggy and seweyyyyyy!!!).
  8. After that they were tired and wanted dinner or to play more games. Since they had no money they decided that maybe they better go home, apologize to their father, and asked to work for him.
  9. We then we marched home and were welcomed by the father (one of the assistants)! All children feasted on biscuits and jam, were given their 10 pennies and the "Welcome Home! We love you" little signs that went into each bag for them to take home.

Closing:

End with a prayer.

 


 

 Suggestions: for improvements

  • Provide resource idea for the paraphrase of the story.  Read Aloud Bible Stories vol. 2 by Ella K. Lindvall has a great retelling of this story for preschoolers.  Big pictures, simple words and very preschool friendly.
  • Suggest station changes/ideas for bullets 6-9.
  • Not all churches have a playground. Set up a variety of stations and pretend they are the city.  Take a long walk to the city (even if it means leaving the classroom and returning).  Act out being tired and collect money for pretend food and to enter station #1(HOTEL): cushions/pillows/carpet tiles
  • Have several stations set up for children to spend their money at.  Games may include bean bag/ring toss, candy station, sticker/false tattoo store (how's that for rebellion?!), bowling, etc. 
  • Have one work station set up where children could work to make more money.  Maybe this could be a water or feed relay station.  Children have to transport water or feed (dry seeds/beans) from one bin to another.  I like the idea of the kids shouting "Here piggy piggy and swewyyyy!!"  - too funny.  Talk about how tiring it would be to work so hard for money.  Possibly limit the number of times a child can visit the work station for more money so that kids actually run out of money.
  • Announce that the pig farm is closed and children should now spend all their money.  Once all the money is spent head back to the hotel station.  Ask for them to pay you to enter.  When they realize they have no money then they better decide to go home and apologize to their father
  • Make the same journey as you did earlier in the lesson and "return" home.  Love the idea of a snack waiting for the kids and an assistant there to welcome them back.
  • A teaching point to include would be that God/Jesus is always excited to spend time with us.  He is always waiting to give us special treasures of love, joy, peace, etc.
  • Extension idea - Send home the penny bags with the lesson outline so that parents can re-play the lesson with their kids at home.

 


 

 
A lesson by Carol Linder from: Presbyterian Church
Las Vegas, New Mexico
 

A representative of Rotation.org reformatted this post to improve readability.

 

The Prodigal Son

Bible Games Workshop

Summary of Lesson Activities:

There are  two sets of Bible questions preserved in this lesson post, one of which is a simplified version. Either could form the core of many other types of games/quizzes in this workshop.

The Prodigal Son is just one of the many parables that Jesus used in his teaching. A parable is a story that Jesus told to teach people something about God or about how God wants us to live This parable may also be called the “Parable of the Loving Father”.

Scripture Reference: 

Luke 15: 11-32

Key Verse for this lesson:

"Dear friends, since God loved us this much, we must love each other” -- I John 4:11

Concepts: 

  1. God loves us even when we do wrong things.
  2. When we are truly sorry God forgives us.
  3. Making bad choices can hurt yourself and others.
  4. God doesn’t want us to be jealous even when things don’t seem fair.
  5. God wants us to be thankful for what we have.

Lesson Objectives: 
Children will:

  1. Find the story of the Prodigal Son in their Bibles.
  2. Know the story in detail.
  3. Be able to define a parable as a story told by Jesus to teach his listeners something.
  4. Understand that the Prodigal Son is a parable told by Jesus to teach his listeners about God’s love and forgiveness. 

Materials: 

  • Timer
  • Dry-erase marker
  • A hat or other container for game questions.
  • Game questions, cut apart and folded.

Leader Preparation:

  • Read the scripture ahead of time.
  • Gather the materials.


Presentation

Opening - Welcome and Introductions: 
Introduce yourself and tell the children they’re going to play a game in which they’ll need to know the story of the Prodigal Son in detail.

Open with a brief prayer, thanking God for the day and asking for help in learning.

Dig - Main Content and Reflection:

Scripture/Bible Story:
1. Be sure to call this the story of the Prodigal Son. The kids need to recognize the name when they hear the story referred to elsewhere. Be prepared to define “prodigal” if anyone asks. 

2. If necessary, review the organization of the Bible: The Bible is divided into two big parts, the Old and New Testaments. Each part is made up of books, which are divided into chapters and verses. Have them figure out whether Luke is in the Old or the New Testament (about Jesus so it’s NT). Show them that if they open their Bible in the middle, they’ll usually land in the book of Psalms in the OT. Point out that the book name is at the top of each page. After finding Psalms, if they then take the pages on the right side and divide them in half, they’ll land somewhere in one of the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) first four books of the New Testament. From that point they can find Luke. (Some of the older children should know the books of the Bible. Encourage everyone to learn them.) 

After they’ve found Luke, help them find chapter 15, then verse 32. Write on the board, “Luke 15:32.” Some of the children will confuse chapters and verses. Show them that chapter numbers are the big ones, and also are at top of every page. 

3. Emphasize that this is a parable – a story told by Jesus to teach people something about God or about how he wants us to live. 

For grades 1-4, read the story to them, or tell it in your own words. You might let them help you tell the story if they are familiar with it. For grade 5, you might let the children take turns reading the story. Remind them they need to pay close attention to the details in order to be able to play the game. (If you can draw recognizable pictures, here’s a suggestion for helping first- and second-graders remember the details: While telling the story, hold up single-picture flash cards – a pig when the son feeds the pigs, a ring when the father gives the son a ring, etc.) 

Older children: If you have time and they are attentive, here are a few points you might include when reviewing the story. Some of the questions in the game refer to these items; so if you don’t talk about them in the session you might skip those questions in the game: 

  • Luke 15: 1-2) Jesus is telling the parable to Pharisees and scribes – Jews who obeyed all the laws (like the older brother) but disapproved of Jesus associating with tax collectors and sinners who were outcasts from decent society.
  •  Under the Jewish inheritance laws, the younger son would be entitled to 1/3 of his father’s property; the older son would get 2/3. The property would be mostly in the form of land, not money, so the father might have had to split up the family farm in order to give the younger son his share. This might have caused hardship for the family.
  • Feeding pigs would be the lowest, most despicable job for a Jew. Pigs were considered unclean under Jewish law.
  • The robe was symbol of honor.
  • The ring was a symbol of power of attorney. Wearing his father’s ring, the son could act legally in his father’s name.

Discuss the meaning of the story. At least be sure they all understand that the father represents God and the sons represent people. Also that Jesus is telling the story and is not a character in the story. Analogies are not easy for the younger kids to grasp. If you have time, you might use these questions for discussion:

  • Who is the father in the story like?
  • How is the father like God?
  • The younger son in the story thought he didn’t need his father, and went his own way. Do we ever act that way toward God? What are some things we do when we wander away from God?
  • What does God want us to do when we do something wrong?
  • Why was the older brother upset? Do you ever feel that things aren’t fair, because somebody else is getting something that you deserve more? Suppose you know somebody you think has been living a very bad life, and they feel sorry and ask God for forgiveness. How does God want us to treat that person?
  • What should the Pharisees have learned from this story?


Application: 

Break the class into several teams of three to five players (you might call the Scribes, the Pharisees, the Prodigals, the Older Brothers, or whatever else you can come up with). Line the teams up. The teams will take turns spinning the game wheel, then choosing a question from the hat. Let the first person in line for the team spin while another team member draws the question and hands it to you without unfolding it, because the answer is also on the paper (if you’re in a hurry, draw the questions yourself). Give the player about 1 minute to answer the question. He can ask his team for help, but he is the only one who can give the answer. Keep score on the white board. If the player answers the question alone, his team gets the number of points he spun for. If the team helps him, they get half the points. No points for wrong answer.(If they are taking too long to answer, give them a one-minute limit and get the shepherd to time the game using the timer in the supply bin. Adjust the time limit if it turns out to be too short/too long). After the team’s turn, the player who spun goes to the end of his team’s line. 

Alternatives:

  • Let the rest of the team, but not the spinner, use their Bibles during the game. As above, award ½ points if the team helps answer the question.
  • Instead of drawing questions at random, just use the sheet of questions and call them out in order. The point is for them to learn the story, and their knowledge might be reinforced better if the questions follow the sequence of events (especially for the younger children, and for everybody in the earlier workshops). Take note of how much they seem to understand the story, and use your judgment for the game.
  • For grades 3-5, you might add some open-ended questions that don’t have a right or wrong answer: What better decision could the younger son have made? Who in the story is your favorite character and why? Etc. Award points for any answer. 


Two sets of questions are at the end of the lesson plan. They are basically the same questions but the easier format is multiple choice. Have both sets ready and be prepared to switch from one set to the other, depending on how well the children are doing in the game. A few questions, especially those near the end of the list, are fairly difficult or else involve interpretation. 

Note: The questions were written using the New Revised Standard Version. 

Wrap-up: 
Recite the Bible memory verse. "Dear friends, since God loved us this much, we must love each other." -- I John 4:11 
Ask the children how they think the verse relates to the story of the prodigal son.

Reflection Time: 
Have the shepherds pass out the journals. Ask the children to write or draw anything they want to about what they’ve done in the workshop. If they need help, suggest that they write what they think Jesus was trying to teach when he told the story. 

Closing:
Prayer – Ask for prayer concerns. Close with prayer, including any concerns mentioned and expressing thanks for God’s love and forgiveness.


Questions for game 

  • In the parable, how many sons did the man have? (2)
  • Which son (older or younger) went away? (younger)
  • Before he went away, what did the son ask his father to do? (Give him his inheritance)
  • After the son got his share of his father’s property, where did he go? (To a faraway country)
  • What did the son do with his inheritance money? (wasted it )
  • What happened to make food scarce where the younger son was? (famine)
  • After he ran out of money, what job did the younger son take? (feeding pigs)
  • What was the pigs’ food? (pods)
  • What was so terrible about a young Jewish boy tending pigs? (they were considered unclean, eating them was forbidden under Jewish law.)
  • Why did the son decide to return home? (he was starving)
  • What did the son plan to say to his father when he returned home? (I have sinned; I am not worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your servants --- accept any reasonable answer)
  • When the father saw the son coming home, what did he do (ran to meet him, hugged and kissed him)
  • This question occurs three times; require a different answer each time: Name ONE thing that the father gave the youngest son to wear when he returned home. (a robe, a ring or shoes)
  • This question occurs three times; require a different answer each time: Name ONE thing that the father gave the youngest son to wear when he returned home. (a robe, a ring or shoes)
  • This question occurs three times; require a different answer each time: Name ONE thing that the father gave the youngest son to wear when he returned home. (a robe, a ring or shoes)
  • What animal was killed to prepare a feast for the returning son? (a fatted calf)
  • Where was the older son when his brother came home? (out in the field)
  • What was the first clue the older brother had that his brother had come home? (he heard music and dancing)
  • What did the older brother do when he heard music and dancing? (asked a servant what was going on)
  • How did the older son react to the return of his brother? (angry, jealous – accept any reasonable answer)
  • How did the older son react to the celebration feast? (refused to go inside)
  • What did the father do when he saw that the older son refused to come inside? (Went out to talk to him)
  • What did the older son say he had been doing the years while his brother was away? (serving his father, never disobeying his father)
  • What animal did the elder son wish he had been given to share with his friends? (a kid)
  • What did the father say ABOUT the older brother? (You are always with me, and all that I have is yours.)
  • What did the father say ABOUT the younger brother? (My son was dead and is alive again, he was lost and is found – accept anything close)
  • Who told this story? (Jesus)
  • To whom was Jesus talking when he told this story? (scribes and Pharisees)
  • What is a parable? (a story that teaches something about God)
  • Whom does the father represent? (God)
  • Jesus told this story to a group of Pharisees. Which person in the story was most like the Pharisees? (The older brother)
  • What book of the Bible tells the story of the Prodigal Son? (Luke)
  • Is the story of the prodigal son in the Old or the New Testament? (New)
  • What is the Bible memory verse you learned in the Great Hall? ("Dear friends, since God loved us this much, we must love each other." -- I John 4:11 )


Questions for game (simplified version)

  • In the parable, how many sons did the man have? (2)
  • Which son (older or younger) went away? (younger)
  • Before he went away, what did the son ask his father to do? 

A. Give him a ring and a robe
B. Give him his inheritance
C. Throw him a party

  • After the son got his share of his father’s property, where did he go? 

A. To a faraway country
B. To Jerusalem
C. To Babylon

  • What did the son do with his inheritance money? 

A. Bought himself a farm.
B. Gave it all to the poor.
C. Wasted it.

  • What happened to make food scarce where the younger son was? 

A. There was a shortage of pigs 
B. There was a famine
C. The king took all the food for himself

  • After he ran out of money, what job did the younger son take? 

A. feeding pigs
B. feeding sheep
C. feeding lions

  • What was the pigs’ food? 

A. Purina pig chow
B. pods
C. table scraps

  • What was so terrible about a young Jewish man tending pigs? 

A. Jews thought pigs were too ugly to touch. 
B. Jews thought pigs were too tacky to talk about. 
C. Jews considered pigs to be unclean, eating them was forbidden under Jewish law

  • Why did the son decide to return home? 

A. He was homesick and missed his brother. 
B. He was starving.
C. He wanted to be there for his father’s birthday party.

  • What did the son plan to say to his father when he returned home? 

A. I am not worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your servants
B. I am not worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your fatted calves
C. I am not worthy to be called your son; treat me like my older brother

  • When the father saw the son coming home, what did he do 

A. got on his horse and rode to meet him.
B. ran to meet him, hugged and kissed him
C. called the boy’s mother to come and see him. 

  • Which of these things did the father give the son when he returned home?

A. a clean shirt
B. a gold watch
C. a robe

  • Which of these things did the father give the son when he returned home?

A. a medallion to hang around his neck
B. a ring
C. a silk scarf

  • Which of these things did the father give the son when he returned home?

A. shoes
B. money to replace what the son had wasted
C. a gold cross necklace

  • What animal was killed to prepare a feast for the returning son? 

A. a pig
B. a fatted calf)
C. a kid

  • Where was the older son when his brother came home? 

A. in the house
B. at his friend’s house
C. out in the field

  • What was the first clue the older son had that his brother had come home? 

A. he heard his father yelling
B. he heard music and dancing
C. he saw his father running to meet his brother

  • What did the older brother do when he heard music and dancing? 

A. asked a servant what was going on.
B. went in the house to find out what was going on.
C. asked his father what was going on.

  • How did the older son react to the return of his brother? 

A. he was happy and wanted to celebrate
B. he was angry and jealous
C. he wasn’t interested

  • How did the older son react to the celebration feast? 

A. he ran to help cook the fatted calf
B. he ran to join the party
C. he refused to go inside

  • What did the father do when he saw that the older son refused to come inside? 

A. Shrugged and said, “Too bad.”
B. Went out to talk to him
C. Told him to come inside or else.

  • What did the older son say he had been doing the years while his brother was away? 

A. serving and obeying his father
B. spending his own inheritance wisely
C. taking good care of his mother.

  • What animal did the elder son wish he had been given to share with his friends? 

A. a pig
B. a kid
C. a lamb

  • What did the father say ABOUT the older brother? 

A. I love your brother the most.
B. I love you the most
C. You are always with me, and all that I have is yours.

  • What did the father say ABOUT the younger brother? 

A. Your problems are your own fault. 
B. My son was dead and is alive again, he was lost and is found 
C. I love you more than your brother.

  • Who told this story? 

A. Jesus
B. A Pharisee
C. The older brother

  • To whom was Jesus talking when he told this story? 

A. his disciples
B. some scribes and Pharisees
C. the two brothers

  • What is a parable? 

A. a story that teaches something about God
B. a story with a happy ending
C. a story with a surprise ending

  • Which person in the story is like God?

A. The older brother
B. The father
C. The servant

  • Jesus told this story to a group of Pharisees. Who in the story was most like the Pharisees? 

A. The father
B. The younger brother
C. The older brother

  • What book of the Bible tells the story of the Prodigal Son?

A. Matthew
B. Mark
C. Luke

  • Is the story of the prodigal son in the Old or the New Testament? (New)
  • What is the Bible memory verse you learned in this lesson? 

A. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want"
B. “Dear friends, since God loved us this much, we must love each other." 
C. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son...”


 

A lesson originally posted by Catherine from: Kirk of Kildaire Presbyterian Church
Cary, NC

A representative of Rotation.org reformatted this post to improve readability.

 

 The Prodigal Son

Games Workshop

Summary of Lesson Activity: 

This Games lesson uses two games to illustrate the concepts of "discovery" and "confession" that helps the son participate in the "restoration" of his relationship between him and the father. The first game is a team-based "hide and then find" activity that highlights the "discovery" and "confession" concepts. The second activity involves the writing of one's name, and then getting dizzy and writing one's name again to help demonstrate the concept of "restoration." 

For the full lesson and needed supplies, download the attached Word doc at the bottom of this post. Note that the first three pages of the document are "background" and that the actual lesson starts on page 4 (which is also where you will find the supply list). 

From that attached lesson, here are the games with some of the teaching comments (in first person) included.


 
Presentation

Opening - Welcome and Lesson Introduction:

Greet the children and introduce yourself.

Open with a prayer.

Tell:  We’re going to read a story that Jesus tells to others. This type of story is called a parable. A parable is a teaching tool used to help people think about a certain idea. This particular parable is often called, “The Prodigal Son.”  Prodigal means “really really wasteful.” But the story isn’t just about the son.  It’s also about the father. Listen for what the father says to his both his younger and older son.

Dig - Main Content and Reflection:

Read Luke 15:11-32

Ask:  (answers in parentheses)

o  At the beginning of the story, what does the younger son ask for? (his inheritance)
o  What is an inheritance (its usually means the things your parents want you to have after they die)  
o  Did the father give the inheritance to his younger son? (yes)o  Did the father try to talk his son out of the inheritance? (no)
o  What did the son do with his inheritance? (spent it all)
o  Then what was the son doing? (eating what the pigs were eating)
o  So what did the son decide to do? (go home)
o  How did his dad receive him? (With joy and open arms – threw him a party!)

Tell: In this story, the father is a lot like God and we are a lot like the son. We have been given a lot by God, but yet we want more. And God gives it to us, like the father gave the inheritance to his son. But when we mess-up and lose (or misuse) what we’re given, then, if we come back to God, God welcomes us back with open arms.  

Explain:  The younger son has to learn something about himself before he can appreciate and like the life he has with his father:  He has to discover what life is like without his father. We’re going to play a game of discovery now. 

(Refer to the attached Word doc for game instructions on page 6.)

Then, Ask:

o  When playing the game, what clues did you use to figure out who had the coin?
o  So even though there were clues, and you suspected who had the coin, how did you actually find out who had the coin? (you had to see it for yourself – you had to discover it)


Tell:  This type of discovery is often what happens for us.  We hear how life with God is better, but sometimes we have to go see for ourselves what life without God is like. Very often, that doesn’t end so well. But if we choose to come back to God and live life God’s way, God welcomes us back with love, joy and open arms. In the story, when the son returns to his father, he shares how he separated himself from his father. When we share something that we did wrong that is called a confession. The younger son confessed to his dad how he had messed up. His father is very happy and excited to have his son home and their relationship is restored. To restore a relationship is to make it right. We’re going to do an activity that demonstrates what restoration looks like.

Explain Activity:

  • Let’s line up and make the lines as equal in number as possible.
  • I have a two big sheets of paper here on two easels very close to the start of each line.
  • I want the person in the front of each line to write their name on the paper in front of them in the upper left hand corner.
  • Once you do that, go to the back of the line.
  • The next person, I want you to write your name under the first person’s name, but leave some room so that you could write the first person’s name in-between your name and that person’s name.
  • (Repeat process through until everyone’s name in the line is on the sheet)
  • Now, each line gets one tennis racket.
  • Each person in line has to put the top of the racket on the ground and then put their forehead on the bottom of the handle and spin around 10 times. After you do that, you need to write your name right under where you wrote it the first time.
  • First line done, wins. So don’t take too long on your spins.
  • On your mark, get set, Go!
  • Note: For younger students who may not be able to write, have them draw a square or a stick figure instead. 


Do Spinning game:

  • When comparing your two signatures, what one looks better? (the first one…hopefully!)
  • Now let’s pretend that your first signature is what your signature usually looks like so that after you’re done being dizzy, and you wrote your name, it’d look like the first signature.
  • Does anyone think they can write their name like they did the first time? Or are you still too dizzy? (Let them all try…one more time through the line!)
  • Ah-ha! You’re mind and body has been restored, has been made right. It got a little off-course when you got dizzy, but now that you are restored, your signature looks like it did in the beginning.
  • And this is what happened with the father/son relationship in the story.
  • The relationship was good, but then the son went away and lived his own way. This made the relationship not work at all, just like your second signature didn’t work very well.
  • But then the son realized that the first way was better and came back. And then, like your third signature, the relationship between father and son was restored.
  • This is how it can be with us and God as well.
  • Jesus tells us this story so that we can remember that when we get dizzy and make some silly decisions, we can come to God and confess the mistakes we made, ask for help and then experience God welcoming us back with joy and love.
  • And that’s the good news for today!

 If you like this lesson, and are interested in more, visit 
www.rfour.org/curriculum.html.

A lesson written by Nathaneal (rfour.com)

A representative of Rotation.org reformatted this post to improve readability.

Attachments

This idea was shared by Luanne Payne from Hampton United Church in Hampton, Ontario, Canada in the March 2009 Rotation.org Email Newsletter. If you are a Registered Member or a Supporting Member of rotation.org, then you are automatically subscribed to this newsletter. Haven't received one recently? Check to make sure your email is correct in your profile. Add alerts@hoop.la to your address book.


Prodigal Son

Jeopardy Style Quiz Review Game

Summary of Lesson Activity 

Review Quiz using a Jeopardy like game, with battery operated pigs as game pieces.

Key Bible Verse:

“But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found. Luke 15:32 (NIV)

Lesson Objectives: 

To review the Prodigal Son parable in a fun, memorable way for all ages.


 
Materials:Pocket%20Chart%20Sample

  • Jeopardy Game Cards Holder (use a Essential Pocket Chart - pictured on the right - 10 rows of clear pockets. Can purchase through any educational local store or on-line.
  • Jeopardy Cards for the Prodigal Son (see attachments)
  • Mini-White Boards & White Board Markers (OR simply make up two sets of A,B,C cards, each attached to a wood craft stick - so each team can select and hold up their answer choice at the same time.)
  • Paper Towels
  • White Board & Markers – Showing teams (for keeping score)
  • 2 Battery Operated Pigs
  • Wide Green Painters Tape to mark floor (see diagram & instructions below)
  • Straw Farmer’s Hat (Optional)
  • Bibles or Bible Storybook (depending on age you are teaching).

attachments at the bottom

   ATTACHED TO THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST are the PRINTABLE QUESTIOCARDS. Look for the files list, as shown in the photo on the right.

 

Advance Preparation: 

  • Decide how your going to set-up your quiz cards (see resources for what I used).

Preparation:

  1. Put cards in Jeopardy Game Holder and hang up.
  2. On floor (using the wide green painters tape), where you meet with the children, mark off a start line and a finish line.  On the finish line you may want to write HOME SWEET HOME using a marker (that won’t bleed through tape).    Then place a tape line down the center to separate each pigs route.
  3. Line stools along sides, one side fore each team, so they can cheer on their pig!
  4. Have your white board and markers to one side for the host (if host is wearing farm hat - set it here).


 
Presentation

Opening - Welcome and Lesson Introduction: 

Greet the children and introduce yourself. Open with a prayer.

Dig - Main Content and Reflection:

  1. Read the story to the children first (younger) or have them look-up the story in their bible (older) and take turns reading verses.  If this is in later weeks have them tell you what they remember.
  2. Give each team an Angel White Board.  Tell them they will be writing the answer to their question on the white side of the angel (do not write on the other side as it will not wipe off). Give each team a crayon and a paper towel.  Team members can take turns writing answer or operating pig game piece.
  3. Teacher or older student becomes the host.  They can wear a farm hat!

Game Play:  Jeopardy Game Style - I use the Jeopardy board game set-up, but my questions are questions with 3 answers (in general) to choose from.  This makes it easier to do it with a multi-age group and for new comers or visitors.

  1. Each team throws a dice to see who goes first.
  2. Team that wins highest dice picks the first question - BOTH teams choose the answer they think is correct and write it down - A, B, or C and wait for the host to confirm both teams are ready and then they at the same time display their answer.
  3. In choosing the answer, you can have the team work as a group or individually answer a question (I like them working as a team).
  4. Points are added to teams score.
  5. Each question the team uses the next person in line to hold the ABC cards and another person in charge of moving the pig game piece.  So that everyone gets a turn with each!
  6. Use battery operated pigs for game pieces.  Each time a team gets a correct answer a member from there team can move the pig forward until he oinks.  First pig across the finish line wins.

Life Application:
1.  Tell the students that you want them to think about who in the parable they are most like – the son who left and returned, the son who stayed but wasn’t happy or the father who forgave. Ask if anyone would like to share their answer and tell why they think they are like that person.

2.  Who represents God in this story?

Closing: 
End with a prayer:  Thank you God for the gifts of forgiveness and love.  Thank you Jesus for the wonderful parables you have shared with us in the Bible - stories that help us understand God's love for us.  Help us to learn from our mistakes as the prodigal son learned from his.  In Jesus' name.  Amen


 
Resources:

  1.  PIGS for Game Pieces
     Use a battery-operated pig. A hoot in Drama and for Games.
    mr bacon pig 10 inch tall
    Do an internet search for "battery operated toy pig" or "Mr. Bacon Pig".  They come in two sizes 5" & 10".  I have the 10" and the kids love them!

    They come in different colours, mine are pink and when you press the button at the end of a cord the pig moves forward a few steps, stops, wiggles his tail and oinks.

  2. Jeopardy Question Card Holder - I use the teacher chart called "Original Pocket Chart - Yellow).

  3. Game questions from “The Prodigal Son Antioch Arcade Games.” Rotation.org. 2006. Web.

 
List of Attachments:

  • Questions/Answers Sheet - for the teacher.
  • Questions & Headers:  these are set-up to print on "Avery - Name Badge Inserts # 05392 (4 x 3 inch)". These are perforated - so it's quick and easy.
    Note:  You will need the Question/Answer Sheet - in order to put your questions in the correct order, under the correct heading - before applying the points they are worth on the back.  Then write on the question side # A: 1 thru 7, B: 1 thru 7, etc.
  • Front and Backs: these are set-up to be printed onto regular mail labels - "Avery White Mailing Labels #5160 or #8160 (1" x 2 5/8"). 
    These give the $ amounts $100 - $200 - etc. that you just stick on back of the questions.

 

A lesson written for Hampton United Church by Luanne Payne

Photo: Bible Jeopardy, Property of Hampton United Church.

A representative of Rotation.org reformatted this post to improve readability.

Attachments

Note: This is very similar to the above lesson, however I’m posting it because we used a different set of “Reverse Jeopardy” game questions. Our game card holder uses only 5 columns and 6 rows. Our questions add more life-application to the game and also add additional discussion questions - which can be very useful for digging in deeper in later weeks of the Rotation.



Prodigal Son

Games Workshop

Summary of Lesson Activity:
Play a quiz game of “reverse” Jeopardy. (Instead of coming up with the question when given an answer, come up with the answers to questions!) A team obtaining enough correct answers gets to also play “Move Along Piggy.” (The first squeaking-pig-toy across the finish line gets extra points!)

Scripture Reference:  Luke 15:1-3, 11-32

Key Verse:  “See what amazing love the Father has given us! Because of it, we are called children of God.” 1 John 3:1a,b (NIrV)

Workshop ObjectivesAfter completing this Rotation, participants will be able to:

  • Name that the story is found in the New Testament. Identify the book of Luke as one of the Gospels.
  • For 3rd grade and up: Locate the story in the Bible.
  • Retell the story of the Prodigal Son in his/her own words.
  • Define and summarize the concepts of repentance, grace and forgiveness.
  • Recognize that God provides us with grace and forgiveness. Explore how we can respond to God’s grace.


Leader Preparation:
Read Bible Background and scripture.

Materials List:

  • Whiteboard easel; Two colors of whiteboard marker
  • Masking tape (enough to make start & finish lines)
  • Bibles
  • A paraphrase to use to tell the story to 2nd graders (see end of lesson)
  • Battery operated pigs (one for each team); extra batteries
  • Pocket chart (blue with clear plastic sleeves)
  • Jeopardy category and point cards (refer to page 1 of attachment at the end of this lesson)
  • Jeopardy game questions (refer to attachment at the end of this lesson)
  • Scratch paper
  • Markers and a clipboard (or a lap desk) – one set per team


Advanced Preparation Requirements:

  • Write the key Bible verse on the easel. Above it, write the word “grace.”
  • Make sure that the category and point cards are loaded into the pocket chart per the diagram on page 1 of the attached game questions file.
  • Create start and finish lines for the piggy race, using the masking tape applied to the carpet on opposite ends of the room.
  • Test out the operation of the pigs, and then hide them so as not to distract students.
  • When 3rd grade and up visits, lay out Bibles in a circle on the carpet.
  • When 1st and 2nd grade visits, place the paraphrase into a Bible at Luke 15.



Presentation:

Opening - Welcome and Lesson Introduction
Greet your students warmly, welcoming them to the Games Workshop. Introduce yourself and have the Shepherds introduce themselves. Ask the Shepherd to take attendance and write name tags while you start the lesson.

Ask: What was your absolute, number-one favorite Christmas gift? (allow a few replies)
Did someone you know get something that you would have really loved to have gotten, but you didn’t receive that gift?
Did you find yourself thinking: “That is so not fair!” Have you ever had the feeling that something wasn’t fair – something other than a Christmas gift?

Do: Be prepared to perhaps share your own story to “prime the pump.”

Ask: How do your parents and teachers respond when you say: It’s not fair!
Say: Today we will be hearing a Bible story where one of the characters – a young boy – was stamping his feet, and throwing a fit about the unfairness of it all!

Ask (rhetorically – pause briefly after each of the next questions):
Hmm… I wonder if this boy in our story acts like us?
I wonder how this boy’s father will respond?
I am wondering if the way the father acts in our story will surprise you?

Say: Let’s start off by talking to God in prayer.

Ask for any prayer requests. [Language you may want to try: “What shall we pray for today?” “How would you say that in a prayer?” It is ok to write down requests.]
Say: Towards the end of the prayer, I will allow a time when you can pray silently for a need you have, and for one thing for which you are thankful to God. Then we’ll use the Lord’s Prayer as the ending to our prayer time.

A prayer suggestion: Gracious God, we are so thankful for your love. We need help Lord, for we make mistakes. Thank you for the forgiveness you so readily offer us. Then pray for requests. Lord, now you will hear each of us praying silently, sharing our needs and our thankfuls… (Don’t rush the silence!) End with the Lord’s Prayer. Amen.

Dig: Main content and Reflection
Ask:  Where in the Bible would we read about something that Jesus said? (in the New Testament)
What are the names of the first four books of the New Testament?
What do we call those first four books? (the Gospels)
Does anyone know what the word “gospel” means?

Say:  The word “gospel” means “good news.” The four gospels tell stories of Jesus teaching the good news of God’s love.  But, what is really good news about God’s love is that God loves us no matter what we do! God forgives our mistakes, no matter how bad they are! God gives us this gift we call “grace.”

Do:  Refer to the word “grace” on the easel. Using the other colored marker, circle the words “amazing love” from the key verse and draw an arrow to the word “grace.”

Say:  Grace is God’s gift of amazing love. It’s a free gift; it doesn’t cost us anything. And we get it even though we don’t deserve it! Let’s read our story. It will help us to understand about grace when we see it applied to the boy who was stomping his feet and his brother, who used his feet to leave town. They both needed grace.

For 1st and 2nd grade:
Do:  Holding the copy of the story (see attached paraphrase) in a Bible open to Luke 15, read the story. (It is suggested that you hold your papers inside a Bible so that kids understand that you are reading the Bible.)
For 3rd grade and up:
Do: Make sure everyone has access to a Bible.
Have everyone find the story in Luke 15:1. Make sure everyone remembers the quick way to find the New Testament – dividing the Bible in half gets them near Psalms. Dividing the back half in half again gets them near the New Testament.]

Ask: What heading do you read at the top of chapter 15? (the Parable of the Lost Sheep)
What is the next heading on that page? (the Parable of the Lost Coin)
When you turn to verse 11, what is the next heading? (the Parable of the Lost Son)

Say: These are three parables that Jesus taught about something or someone who was “lost.” A parable is a story that taught a hidden meaning. We are going to take turns reading our story. Here is my hint of the day: when you are reading the Bible, use your pointer finger! As the words are read, move your pointer finger across the page. That way, if you decide you need to lift up your head and ask a question, you can instantly return to the place where you left off!

Do: Randomly ask students to read Luke 15:1-3, 11-32. (See note below when it is a later week in the Rotation.)
Teacher hint: Random-ness is key! It keeps everyone on his or her toes! (A child may pass if desired.) Choose a child to read, and stop them randomly as well! That way you can limit the amount read if a child seems to be struggling and because you are being random, no one is the wiser.
For 3rd grade and up when visiting later in the Rotation:
Do:  Follow the instructions above except add this additional question and this way of "telling" the story...

Ask: What hidden meaning do we find in our parable? (allow a few replies without making any comment)
In the parable that we are studying, who was lost? (accept a few replies)
Say: I’m thinking that both sons in our parable were lost.

Ask: What can you tell me about this story?

Do: Have students tell you the story. Have them check their Bibles for accuracy.


For all students: Introduce the Game:

Say: We are going to play a game called “Reverse Jeopardy.” If you have ever watched the TV game show, Jeopardy, you’ll know that the contestants are given an answer and they come up with the question. In our game we’ll hear questions and hopefully come up with answers! As we play the game we’ll have time to talk more about the story.

Do: Ask the Shepherd to form two or three teams. For 3rd grade and up, supply each team with Bibles. Ask the Shepherd to keep score. Explain the general idea of the game.

  • A team will choose a category (any category) and a point value.
  • The workshop leader reads the question in the category/point value chosen. The card in that category – for those points – is then turned over in the chart, to indicate that it has been chosen and is now out of play.
  • All team members confer and secretly write their answer on the scratch paper. (Third grade and up may use Bibles.)
  • When the leader calls time, each team shows their answer.
  • If correct, each team receives those points. For every 400 points earned, a team has a chance to make their pig race! (Introduce the piggies.) When a team’s pig crosses the finish line, it is worth an extra 500 points. [There will be no extra pig racing for the 500 points of crossing the finish line!]
  • Each team will take turns among members for writing/showing the team’s answer, making the pig move, and choosing the next category/point value.


Play the Game:

  • Start the game with 100 points for “On the Road Again” just to give everyone a sense of how the game works.
  • On the next round give whomever’s birthday is closest to today, the chance to choose the next category (any point value). For 1st and 2nd graders, suggest selecting only category & start at the lowest available point value.) Strongly encourage these grades to go from low to high points.
  • Continue play until all questions have been answered or you run out of time. (Allow 3 minutes for the closing.) The team with the most points wins. (But don’t put too much emphasis on winning.)
Important Leader Notes for Game Playing:
o  Competitive games should be played as a team so that infrequent attendees or visitors are not made to feel pressured or uncomfortable.
o  Make sure all players confer with their team before answering!
o  Take all opportunities for teaching moments! (Make use of the Bible Overview materials.)  Ask the supplemental questions to spur further discussion.


Closing
Say: The Prodigal Son is a parable told by Jesus to teach his listeners about God’s love and forgiveness. May you take this story home, and hold it in your heart and apply it’s teaching to your life, remembering that God loves you!


If you have extra time:

Ask one more tie-breaker question: Does the older brother join the party? Have each group write their own ending to the parable.

Sources
Derden, Jaymie. “The Prodigal Son: Ideas for Discussion.” State Street United Methodist Church. 2000. Print.
MacQueen, Neil. “Outline and Study Guide to Sunday Software’s Prodigal Son CD.” Sunday Software. 2002. Web.
Payne, Luanne. “Prodigal Son: Jeopardy Style Quiz Review Game.” Rotation.org. 2013. Web.
Workman, Stephanie Arnold, et al. “The Prodigal Son Antioch Arcade Games.” Rotation.org. 2006. Web.

Blog buttonOther resources: Visit Carol's blog – where we encourage parents to continue the learning at home.

(Conflict of Interest Disclosure: None, Carol does not make any money from her blog. Any ads you may see are placed by Wordpress.com.)

 

 



If you use this material, even in a modified form, please include the following reference:
Hulbert, Carol  "The Prodigal Son: Games Lesson." Rotation.org. 2015. Web. Place URL where lesson found inside angle brackets<>.


 
A lesson written by Carol Hulbert from First United Methodist Church, Ann Arbor, MI
Printed from https://www.rotation.org

Attachments

PRODIGAL SON OBSTACLE COURSE

a game for reviewing the story

Supplies:

  • sidewalk chalk;
  • big plastic garbage bag loosely stuffed with newspaper (bag of money);
  • orange cones (or plastic flower pots or whatever you can find for slalom);
  • hula hoop;
  • timer or stopwatch;
  • bucket decorated to look like a pig (give it pink ears and nose);
  • smallish balls (8 or so) and a basket to hold the balls;
  • bathrobe and big sandals (or fuzzy slippers);
  • water and cups.

 

Setup:

Use chalk to outline the path the “son” must follow (or use masking tape if indoors):

The “big bag of money” should be at the starting line (and a junior helper can return it there after each person trades it for a hula hoop).

Outline a slalom sort of path between the cones from the starting line to the “far away” hula hoop party area.

A helper with the timer and the hula hoop should be at the end of the slalom path.

Draw a short path to the ball and bucket tossing area. Another helper should be in this area to put the balls back into the “food basket” after the “pig” (bucket) has been fed. The “pig” should be far enough away to make this a little bit frustrating.

More cones and a chalk line should mark another slalom sort of path to where the “father” (teacher) is watching and waiting. The robe and sandals are here.

The path leads on to the water and cups.

One more short path takes the “son” to the finish line, where he removes the robe and slippers and gives them back to the teacher and then sits down to wait for everyone else.

 


Game instructions: 

Tell the children that they will be reviewing the Parable of the Prodigal Son today. Show them the obstacle course and review the story. Tell them that they will each get a chance to be the younger son and go through the story.

  1. Son is given “big bag of money.”
  2. Son travels to far away land (weaving around cones).
  3. Son spends all of his money for food and fun (gives big bag to helper, and hula hoops for 1 minute).
  4. Son is penniless and has to feed the pigs (toss balls into a bucket – if any miss, pick them up and keep trying).
  5. Son realizes his father’s servants lived a better life, so he decides to go home and ask for forgiveness (crawl along path to “Father”).
  6. Give Father (teacher) a big hug and put on a robe and sandals.
  7. Run to the party. Pour and drink a cup of water.
  8. Then take off robe and sandals and give them to the teacher (or a helper who returns them to teacher). Sit at the finish line and wait and cheer for the others in the tribe as they go through the course.

 

Have the children go one at a time through the course. This is not a race, but they will need to start with enough space between them so they don’t get all bunched up.

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