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Cooking Lessons, Ideas, Activities, Recipes, and Resources for Teaching "Jesus' Birth Through the Eyes of the Wise Men" in Sunday School.

Post your Sunday School cooking lessons, ideas, activities, and resources for "Jesus' Birth Through the Eyes of the Wisemen, Magi" here. (Photos are much appreciated!)

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Jesus' Birth through the Eyes of the Wise men

Cooking Workshop

Summary of Lesson Activities:

Kitchen lesson where students use their "gifts" to complete an impossible task (making sandwiches and parfaits), based on the gift of the fourth wise man). This lesson draws on the Henry Van Dyke story of "The Other Wise Man." See this video lesson for more information on the story and videos you can share if you have time.

Scripture Reference:

Matthew 2:1-12

Leader Preparation:

  • Read the scripture ahead of time.
  • Gather the materials. (Be sure to check on allergies of your students and change the snack to be made and shared if necessary.)
  • Make up the bags and put them on a table in sight when the kids come into the room.
  • During the lesson you will choose a child who is good at “drama” for a "special assignment.” Explain privately in advance to your dramatic student the gist of the exercise and ask them to put on a good show of being upset that they have been given an impossible assignment.

Materials List:

  • Brown lunch bags with “gift” items in them- ingredients in the list below and also random objects - at least one bag per student:
    • some bread
    • plastic knife
    • small jar of peanut butter
    • small jar of jelly
    • paper towels
    • small plates
    • small plastic cups
    • granola
    • bananas
    • flavored yogurt
    • spoons
    • To each bag, add 3 or 4 random items that will not be needed to complete the assignment such as note paper, a silk flower, paper clips, bells, ribbons, candles, etc.
  • Small printed inventory forms. These can be simple lined paper with numbers for the kids to fill out.
  • Pencils or Pens
  • 1 paper with the “assignment” and instructions for making the sandwiches and parfaits.


Opening- Welcome and Lesson Introduction

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

Explain that today you will be exploring the story of the Wise Men and gifts -- not only the gifts of the Wise Men but also gifts that we can give to Jesus and others.

Dig- Main Content

Read the scripture. Wonder why the wise men wanted to bring wanted to bring gifts to someone they did not know.

Explain that there are stories people have made up about others who might have tried to bring gifts to the new king. Briefly share the story of "The Other Wise Man by Henry Van Dyke. Be sure to discuss Artaban’s saving of the child in Bethlehem. Talk about what his original plan for the ruby was and why he decided to give it to the Soldier instead of to Jesus.

Ask for a volunteer for a special project and choose your preselected child. Give him or her a piece of paper with the instructions for the snacks and tell the preselected "dramatic" child (so that the others can hear) that they must complete the assignment in a given time period or face the consequences (un-named). Send your dramatic student to the far side of the class to “work on their assignment.” (Their assignment will be to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and yogurt parfaits for the rest of the class.)

With the rest of the students, begin a class discussion. Give all of the other children a brown paper bag containing several "gifts." Pass out inventory sheets and have them make an inventory of the gifts they have in their bags and think about how they could use them to help other people.

While you are having that discussion, the student at the other end of the room should be whining and fussing loudly that their assignment is impossible. Eventually, call that student over and have them explain what they are whining about. Act annoyed with them and in an exasperated voice, ask if any of the children can help that student complete their task. Let the kids figure out that they all have a “gift” to offer that will complete the assignment. Allow them to work together to make the snacks.

Parfait Directions: In a plastic cup place a couple of spoons of granola. Top that with sliced bananas. Top the bananas with some yogurt. Top the yogurt with a sprinkling of the granola.

Sandwich directions: spread peanut butter on one slice of bread and jelly on another. Put the two together and then cut into smaller pieces for sharing.


While the kids enjoy their snacks, talk to them about what Jesus meant by loving your neighbor. Your neighbor is the person physically closest to you. You love them by finding out their needs and using your gifts to help them. Tell them that Jesus gives us all different gifts. We may not always have in our “inventory” what our neighbor needs but we must be aware of our gifts and be ready to use them in service to others when they are needed.

Let them brainstorm other “gifts” in their personal inventory that can be used as a Servant of Jesus. Suggest that their gifts might include:

  • Excellent eye sight to help mom or dad find something small that has fallen on the floor, like an earring back or a small screw.
  • The ability to run quickly to get something needed, like a diaper for a younger sibling or a pencil when mom is on the phone.
  • Make your siblings laugh or entertain them in the car so that your parents can concentrate on driving.
  • Time at the end of the day to help your teacher push the chairs in or tidy the class room.
  • Use your strength to hold the door for someone who has their hands full.


Have the children help one another to clean up after their snack.

Close with a sentence prayer having each child give thanks for one of their gifts.

A Sunday School lesson written by Snix, rotation member.


Images (1)
Last edited by Amy Crane
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Cinnamon Stars or Cinnamon Apple for Wise Men Story you cut an apple in slices horizontally the segments of the core form a star shape. If you want to emphasize the "star" portion of the story, you can slice the fruit this way, then sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. However, this method wastes a fair bit of the apple, since the top and bottom portions do not have the star centre.

Alternatively you can demonstrate the "hidden star" with one apple, and slice and core the rest of the apples more conventionally, arrange them on a serving plate, then sprinkle them with the spice mix.

Cinnamon sugar is simple to make, just remember that it requires very little cinnamon in relation to the sugar (perhaps one Tablespoon cinnamon to one cup of sugar).

Magi Spice Cake

You may only have time for children to decorate the cake. Use any favourite spice cake recipe. I use one having 1 cup applesauce that makes it very moist. The spices represent the gifts of the magi.

Preferably, bake the cake in a tube (ring-shaped) pan. Traditionally, the ring shape represents the crown of a king. It can also represent the circular journey the magi took (i.e. returning home by a different way).
In class, make a simple butter icing. You might want to use yellow food colouring to represent the gift of gold. The children can spread on the icing, then decorate with a variety of "jewels" fit for a king. Gold and silver balls, glace cherries, assorted sprinkles -- I've even found star-shaped sprinkles!

King's Cake

Another tradition is to hide trinkets in the cake, sometimes one, sometimes three. The person finding a trinket is "king for a day," or if you want to focus on wise men rather than kings, "blessed with wisdom!"

Traditionally, the trinkets were dried beans (e.g. white kidney beans), which can be inserted before or after baking. You could instead wrap coins in wax paper.

One church I know of had a tradition of wrapping a coin, a thimble, and a toy ring. All involved the idea of wisdom. The one finding the dollar coin was asked to invest it for a year and donate the proceeds (not a great task!). The person finding the ring was to make the cake for the following year (meaning they had to have a good memory!). The person finding the thimble had to make something for the church in the next year (e.g. a wall hanging, a floral arrangement, a shelf, or whatever).

(See more about King's Cake in a another post below and also in the Epiphany King Cake topic.)

WARNING: Avoid hiding anything that might break a tooth or be bad to swallow! Insert edible things (like different kinds of candy) from the bottom of the cake AFTER it is baked (so no one will know in advance which slice it will be in -- except the one cutting the cake should know where NOT to cut.) Not finding a "baby Jesus" or a "ring" may be less exciting, but they're not worth breaking a tooth either.

King's Crown Cake

Additional suggestion posted by MMB:

Make a "Kings Crown" Cake. Usually made in a Bundt pan or a round pan and frosted with yellow/gold icing, the kids can add triangular cookies to make the points and decorate with gumdrops/candy "jewels."


Images (2)
  • star.sprinkles
Last edited by Amy Crane

Jesus' Birth through the Eyes of the Wisemen

Cooking Workshop: Pomander Balls
Christ Seekers (Magi) – Loaves and Fishes Café

Orange-Pomander-Balls_lpin-512x1024Summary of Lesson Activities:

Children will make a scented gift – a clove decorated orange – which reinforces the star, the three gifts given Jesus, and the concept of gift giving.

Scripture Reference:

Matthew 2:1-2 and Matthew 2:9-11

Lesson Objectives

  1. Children can name all three gifts given by the magi.
  2. Children can describe frankincense and its uses.
  3. Children can describe myrrh and its uses.

Leader Preparation:

  • Read the scripture ahead of time.
  • Gather the materials.
  • Make a pomander so you are familiar with the process and how long it takes.

Materials List:

  • Catalogues for opening discussion (optional)
  • Pictures of gold and frankincense and myrrh (use any good search engine to find on the web)
  • Bibles

    Pomander Ball Ornaments
  • Oranges–purchase those w/ thick skin, preferably a golden color rather than bright orange (need one per child)
  • Whole cloves – a pound will cover a dozen oranges
  • Mix of ground spices: cinnamon, ginger, allspice
  • Ground orrisroot (if you can find it, it will help preserve the ball longer)
  • A paper bag for each child
  • Toothpicks
  • Paper towels
  • Ribbon
  • Plastic bags (to carry the balls home)

Advance Preparation Requirements:

  • Mix together the ground spices (and ground orrisroot if you could find it)


Opening- Welcome and Lesson Introduction

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

Ask children what they would like for Christmas. If you would like, you can bring catalogues or ads for children to look through.

Ask children if they have made or bought any gifts for anyone this Christmas.

Ask the children why we give gifts at Christmas. (1) God gave us the gift of Jesus; (2) The magi brought gifts for Jesus.

What gifts did the Magi give Jesus?
Read together Matthew 2:1-2, 9-11.

Ask the children what they know about gold, frankincense, and myrrh and explain what each of those things are and show the pictures of Gold and Frankincense.

Dig- Main Content and Reflection

Main Lesson
The pomander balls are gifts that remind us of the gifts of the magi. (You can search the web for more detailed instructions for making a pomander; we like these from first day of home.)

Let each child pick an orange.

The oranges remind us of GOLD.

Stick the orange all over with cloves, being sure to cover it evenly. The more cloves are in, the longer the pomander ball will last. It may be helpful to use a toothpick to poke holes in a pattern first.

The cloves we stick in remind us of MYRRH (which is thorny, and smells good, and was a preservative).

Allow the orange juice to drain some, then roll the ball in cinnamon and other spices in a paper bag. (NOTE: The original recipe recommends allowing the orange to drain 24 hours before rolling in cinnamon mixture.)

The cinnamon we roll them in reminds us of FRANKINCENSE (which made the temple smell good, just as this will make our homes smell good).

Tie the ball with a Ribbon so that it can be given to someone as a GIFT they can hang up.

Life Application:
Gold reminded people that Jesus is really important.
What sort of things might you give someone today to show the world that you think s/he is really important?

Frankincense reminded people of God’s presence.
What reminds you of God’s presence?

Myrrh was very expensive and valuable.
What is something you have that is expensive or valuable? Are you willing to give it up for Jesus?

Who will you give your orange pomander to?
What will you tell the recipient about Jesus and gifts that we give?

To take home:
Completed balls
Cinnamon spice mixture and instructions, if they’ll be completing the project at home.


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

Adjustments for age levels and abilities
Little fingers may get tired of sticking in the cloves. You can “pre-drill” some holes for them with a bamboo skewer. It will be easier for them to push into premade holes.

If you have extra time…
Make an extra pomander ball

If time runs short…
Give extra cloves for completing the project at home.

Be creative
How else can you connect this project with the story of Jesus’ birth?

A lesson written by Lisa Martin from: Trinity UCC, Pottstown, PA

A representative of reformatted this post to improve readability.


Images (1)
  • Orange-Pomander-Balls_lpin-512x1024
Last edited by Amy Crane

King's Cake


The "Kings' Cake" tradition in some French households is that the youngest person hides under the table and says who each piece of the cake will go to as it is cut (so the person cutting the cake, even if the "king" token becomes visible, does not choose the king). You could use the same technique to illustrate that the "unseen force" (God), not people, chose who would become king, although people (Magi) were still instrumental in identifying that king (just like the cake cutter is necessary to distribute the pieces).  The tradition continues with each king/queen choosing another person at the table to be their consort, which you could connect with Jesus choosing his disciples.

Last edited by Lesson Forma-teer

St. John Lutheran Church

Gift/Cooking Station

Station Summary

One of the Magi will tell the story from his point of view.  The children will then make a gift for their families:  brownie mix in a bag.

See the complete lesson at this link.

Last edited by Amy Crane

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