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The lesson plans, ideas, and resources in this "General" forum about Jesus' Birth tend to cover the "entire" story of Jesus' birth, rather than focusing on individual parts or persons in it. Check our other Advent story forums for lessons that are more specific to particular persons or episodes, such as angels, Mary, shepherds, Magi, etc. Don't forget the Writing Team's extra creative Advent lesson sets too!

This topic is for collecting Cooking & Food related lessons and ideas for teaching about the Birth of Jesus.  "Multi-story" in the title refers to this particular thread's emphasis on covering MORE THAN ONE EPISODE of the Birth story.


For example, other lesson threads in this Advent Forum Focus on "Shepherds and Angels," or "Magi".  This particular forum (the one you are in now) is for lessons/ideas with a slightly broader Birth story coverage, perhaps even attempting to cover the entire Birth narrative in one rotation lesson set.


The Cooking Workshop seeks to engage kids in a hands-on cooking activities where the PREPARATION PROCESS and ingredients are related to ideas and concepts in the story.  In other words, we're looking for something BETTER and more TEACHABLE than candy canes and  "donkey shaped" cookies.


Last edited by Lesson Forma-teer
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Jesus' Birth- General Lessons

Cooking Workshop

Baking the Meaning of Jesus Birth

Key Idea: Ingredients = Symbols for Important Ideas About the Meaning of Jesus' Birth
Summary of Lesson Activities:

You will be talking about the "reason" for Jesus coming into our world as you lead the students through a recipe, assembling and baking a Shepherd's Pie. You'll be connecting your points to ingredients in the recipe in your "Shepherd's Pie Patter" .  The Pie and its ingredients help your students learn the message, and give them a pie they can take home and explain to their family as they share it together.

Kid-Friendly "Shepherd's Pie" in America is basically "Hamburger Pie" with mashed potato topping.

Leader Preparation:

  • Brown the meat and boil the potatoes in advance

Materials List:

  • 1 1/2 lbs ground round beef   (pre-brown to save time)
  • 1 onion chopped 
  • 1-2 cups vegetables - chopped carrots, corn, peas   (have cooked for younger children. Keep peas separate as some kids won't like them, and the point is to get them to eat & remember, not gag.)
  • 1 1/2 - 2 lbs potatoes (3 big ones)   (have boiled but not mashed to save time)
  • 8 tablespoons butter (1 stick)
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt, pepper, other seasonings of choice



Opening- Welcome and Lesson Introduction

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


Dig- Main Content and Reflection

Because "cooking time" is an issue in all cooking workshops, you'll need to prepare a few things in advance, and do your study activity in the MIDDLE of the lesson while things cook.  I suggest browning the meat and boiling the potatoes in advance.

The idea is that each student can take home a shepherd's pie to share with their family. Depending on your schedule, you may have time to let them cool, or not so much. Think through those details ahead of time. You may also want to make extras for some special people in your congregation. Remember to send home a list of ingredients with your pie, with their 'meanings' described. (If time, have your students write this out at the end of the workshop to aid their memory.)

Suggestion: Make one LARGE pie for all to sample/eat before class is over. And have them also make individual small pies to go home. 

My "patter" (story) while introducing the ingredients is certainly open to improvement and adjustments!   "Meat" isn't a great metaphor for Jesus in the recipe, but as a main ingredient, what/who else could it be!  Age-adapt your language.

The point is not "which idea is best for butter" ...but rather, making your remarks and connections memorable, and perhaps even entertaining! to the kids so that they REMEMBER YOUR STORY and can RETELL IT.

This lesson outline assumes the kids somewhat know the story. If they don't, then use this lesson AFTER you have done a different lesson overviewing the Birth Story.

You are welcome to try any Shepherd's Pie recipe you want. Just keep in mind what the kids will eat, and how long it takes to bake. (FTR: I will be keeping peas out of my pie!)

Here's the basic recipe and cooking instructions.
Below that is my "Shepherd's Pie Patter" (story).

Shepherd's Advent Pie

The following ingredients list will serve FOUR in a 9 x 12 baking dish. It is recommended that you make ONE Batch per every 3 children so they have plenty to take home and share.  The nice thing about this recipe is you can freeze extra.

OPTION:  You could bake it all in a 9 x 12 and send it home split-up in Tupperware. OR preferably, you could have the students assemble the ingredients into their own foil baking dish. Cover with foil to go home. They could bake at church or home. If you send home to bake, bake one large pie for the class to taste. Make sure the foil dish is large enough for more than a single serving so kids can share with family.


OPTION:   Sautéing the onions and veggies in front of the children (and allowing older ones to help) is a good opportunity to talk about "transformation."


•1 1/2 lbs ground round beef   (pre-brown to save time)
•1 onion chopped 
•1-2 cups vegetables - chopped carrots, corn, peas   (have cooked for younger children. Keep peas separate as some kids won't like them, and the point is to get them to eat & remember, not gag.)
•1 1/2 - 2 lbs potatoes (3 big ones)   (have boiled but not mashed to save time)
•8 tablespoons butter (1 stick)
•1/2 cup beef broth
•1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
•Salt, pepper, other seasonings of choice

(Makes 4 individual servings. Increase so children have plenty to go home and share.)

1. Peel and quarter potatoes, boil in salted water until tender (about 20 minutes).  Suggestion: Have these cooked in advance to save time, but let the kids participate in the mashing.

2. While the potatoes are cooking, melt 4 Tablespoons butter (1/2 a stick) in large frying pan.

3. Sauté onions in butter until tender over medium heat (10 mins). If you are adding vegetables, add them according to cooking time. Put any carrots in with the onions. Add corn or peas either at the end of the cooking of the onions, or after the meat has initially cooked.

4. Add pre-cooked ground beef and sauté for 2 minutes. Add salt and pepper. Add worcesterchire sauce. Add half a cup of beef broth and cook, uncovered, over low heat for 10 minutes, adding more beef broth as necessary to keep moist.

5. Mash potatoes in bowl with remainder of butter, season to taste.

6. Place beef and onions in baking dish. Distribute mashed potatoes on top of the pie. Rough up with a fork so that there are peaks that will brown nicely. You can use the fork to make some designs in the potatoes as well.

7. Cook in 400 degree oven until bubbling and brown (about 20 minutes). Broil for last few minutes if necessary to brown.


Shepherd's Pie Patter

(the gist of the conversation which the teacher shares while cooking with the kids)

  • Who can tell me what the Shepherds are doing in the story of Jesus birth.
  • What were the Shepherds doing when the angels announced Jesus' birth to them?
  • What did the Shepherds do next?  (Went to see Jesus).
  • What did the Shepherds do after that? Throw a party? Go shopping?  (went to tell others).
  • After we're done celebrating Jesus birth, what are WE supposed to do? Party? Shop? Forget?  (No, like those shepherds, we have a job to do... to remind others of the importance of Jesus' coming into our world, and to prepare people to follow him.)
  • Today, we're going to be thinking about the story of Jesus' Birth while we make and bake a Shepherd's Pie. Who is the pie for?  It's for help us remember what our job tell others. It's our food for thought, and energy for our bodies so that we can continue to be good disciples of Jesus --telling others about him.

    Anybody know what's in Shepherd's Pie? Who likes hamburger? Mashed potatoes? onions and...?

As we mix all these ingredients, I'm going to tell you what they mean. Be listening, because just like the shepherds were asked to REPEAT what they had seen and heard, I'm going to ask you to REPEAT BACK TO ME what I tell you. Ready?

See these chopped onions? Taste one. Bitter?  God looked at the world and saw that it needed his help. So he started mixing in ingredients. Butter, veggies. Good things we needed to grow strong in love, patience, kindness. After cooking for a while, notice what's happening to the onions!  They are becoming clear and sweet. God is like that. He can change things. He can change you into something the world needs and finds tasty.

TIP: Don't give away all your ingredients. Save some aside so that you can point to them later and have students tell you what they meant in your story.

Distribute the sautéed veggies into everyone's dishes. AS you do, run down the list of good things God gives us: scripture, heroes like David, prayer, the good earth, families, etc. Let them add to your list.  Do you think that's all we people needed? No, we hungered for God to be made real to us. We hunger to be led and fed by God.  All these other things (in our bowl) are good, but God wanted us to become stronger. God want us to grow up and do great things in his name. So he added something more. Actually, he added a PERSON. Know who I'm talking about?

That's right, Jesus. (Distribute the meat into each dish.) He sent Jesus to tell us that our sins were forgiven, and that God was ready to turn us into his super disciples!  Strong meaty food indeed!  Build us up good!  .... But why did he come as a weak baby?  (God wanted to show us that he was about love, not fear. Can you think of anything less scary than a baby? God wanted to show us that he understood us and cared about us.)

Next, God added the church to help us (broth). His church retells the story over and over just like the shepherds did (pour, pour again). And then God gave us more scripture --do you know what part of the Bible I'm talking about? Yep, the New Testament, the story is not just for us to read, it's for us to share!   (worchestershire, taste a bit, it's concentrated but make the whole dish flavorful).  

Then he gave us Sunday School to learn his story really well, and add some spice and flavor to being his disciples (salt and pepper, taste a little bit of it before mixing it in). Mix it all up good!  It all tastes better when you have ALL the ingredients together. (Sunday School without Jesus or scripture, not good!   Veggies without Jesus or salt, bland!)

Finally, after his birth into our world, his death, and his resurrection, God RETURNED/STAYED with us as the Holy Spirit, to help us accept his love, feel his presence, and have the strength to follow him and tell others the Good News. (Distribute the boiled potatoes on small plates and have the kids mash them with a fork. Add a little splash of milk to smooth it out.)   God's Holy Spirit is always around us. It protects and shields, and hold us together, just like these taters.
Spread yours on top of your shepherd's pie. Fluff it up with some peaks!

Do you think we're done?
Nope, we have to cook it all together!   You can say you have all these things: the Bible, knowing the Christmas story, going to Sunday School, believing in the Holy Spirit, but you got to put them altogether and give them time to bake. Yes!

You need time to bake too !   All these ingredients are being poured into you so that you will become a tasty blessing to the world.  Was Jesus born an adult? No. Even Jesus had to grow. What if he had quit believing in God when he was 10?  What if you QUIT NOW?  What if you stop praying to God? What if the shepherds decided NOT to be out standing in their field that night?  What if they decided "Ho Hum, I'm not interested in a little baby."  ??   You need time.  Is the church like an oven?  Isn't that an interesting idea!  Not a bad heat, though!

Baking Time:

While your pies are baking, distribute the recipe and pass out the ingredients. See if the kids can RECREATE your Shepherd's Pie Patter.  This will be a good time to ADD TO your comments.

Read the story of the shepherds and angels, Luke 2: 8-20.
Ask: "What was the Good News they went out to share?"

Eating Time:
Take the pies out of the oven, and serve one up so that it begins to cool. Have some ketchup ready for those who need it!  Finish by preparing the dishes to go home.

Include a CARD with a summary of your ingredients, and two or three sentences from your "patter" about the meaning of the pie.


Have the children assist with the cleanup and then close with a prayer.

A lesson written by Neil MacQueen

Venice, FL


A representative of reformatted this post to improve readability.

This is a concept lesson based on a similar cooking project I did a few years ago. It borrows from some other cooking workshop lessons at this site that I admire. 

Would appreciate your suggested improvements!

Last edited by Lesson Forma-teer

We don't know who posted this lesson outline, but it has potential! ...especially for younger children. The teacher takes on the role of "the angel" in the story as they lead the children through the cookie pie construction. Each ingredient/level represents an idea in the story.

You can pick a different recipe, just remember to create memory links to each ingredient. You may also want to link something in the story to "how" you are assembling the ingredients (mixing and baking takes time = "time to prepare, contemplate what Christ (the cookie) will taste like").

Your Angels Bake a Very Special Christmas "Cookie Pie" that teaches the story of Jesus' Birth

Scripture Reference:

Luke 1:11 - Luke 2:11

Lesson Objectives:

  1. Learn the story of Christ's conception and Birth
  2. Find it in the bible
  3. Learn the symbols of Advent that represent the story
  4. Children create a take-home snack to share the story with others (that's what angels do!)

Leader Preparation:

  • Read the Scripture ahead of time
  • Gather the Materials
  • Find a cookie recipe

Materials List:

Lesson plan outline:

Telling the story:

You will be telling the story from the angels perspective. Gather the children around a large table. Have all your ingredients hidden in bags to increase a sense of anticipation. Wash and sanitize hands. Dress everyone as angels with aprons and maybe some garland in the hair.

Give each angel a pie tin to hold their ingredients. They will make the cookies as you tell the Angels version of the story.

I am an angel. Do I look like an angel? (even if you don't dress this is a good question to ask) Well what do angels look like? (Discuss this for a bit giving everyone a chance)I am here to tell you about the season of Advent. To help you remember the story a little we are going to make something together that we can share with others...because that's what angels do: announce what's going to happen and prepare people to see God's activity in their world. We are also going to learn to sing some songs.
etc etc

Read the Bible passage out loud.

Now walk through the story as you build a 7 layer cookie pie

1. Melted butter: Symbolizes the Holy Spirit that flows through everything and gives it a base. Connection: Elizabeth because she was allowed to have children past the age for having children and Mary who had a baby from the Holy Spirit. Zacharias was made mute when he didn't believe until he could speak his son name John. They were all visited by angels.

2. Graham Cracker crumbs: Symbolize the rough land that had to be traveled over. All the way from Exodus...through a thousand years of waiting, and now to Bethlehem.
Connection: Joseph was visited by an angel and told to marry Mary and they traveled to Bethlehem for the census.

Have the children crumble and pulverize their graham crackers in baggies and pour into your large bowl. Add butter, have them help you mix it, then redistribute into their pie tins.

3. Chocolate Chips: Look like little kisses and represent the love, the love of Joseph for Mary and not wanting her to be stoned, the love of Mary for her baby.

4. Butterscotch chips: Symbolize the stones on the path they traveled over to Bethlehem. What kind of troubles did Mary have? What were her worries? God watched over them as he does each one of us.

5. Coconut: Symbolized the hay in the stable. If children do not like coconut, substitute sprinkles. Why did the end up in a stable? What does this humble beginning tell you about God/Christ?

6. White Chocolate Chips: represent the stars in heaven and the angelic hosts to came to the shepherds. What was their message and song?

7. Finally pour just enough sweetened condensed milk over it to bind it together. Press into the pie tin.

Connection: God holds it all together. Without his grand plan of salvation, this would all be just some interesting parts of some crazy story.

Bake at 350 Degrees about 30 minutes.

While it is baking...

Sing some Christmas songs and prepare to give away some of their cookie.

When done baking.... cut it into slices and wrap some in foil to give away.
Have students write out the meaning of the ingredients on a card and attach it to their cookie package with ribbon.



Have the children assist with the cleanup.

Close with a prayer over the baked goods that each of us might be the angel God needs to reach someone with the good news of God's love come down at Christmas.

Last edited by Neil MacQueen

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