I thought the idea of the kitty litter was pretty hilarious and know that kids would never forget this lesson but wondered about expanding the conversation beyond simply the outer appearance message. There are themes of yuckiness and sweet surprises through the entire story of Jesus healing the lepers. I've attempted writing a lesson that walks through a potential conversation to have with children while assembling this crazy snack. Hope it helps turn this great idea into a full workshop.
Jesus Healing the Lepers
Summary of Lesson Activities:
Be prepared for a crazy lesson that kids will likely never forget. Children will be making a recipe called Kitty Litter Cake. The cake doesn’t look so good but tastes great and is a fun recipe to use while teaching the story of Jesus healing the lepers. Children will get to explore the Bible story in a fun new way as they discover both the not so great moments and the sweet surprises that happen during this miracle account.
Luke 17: 11-19
- Gather the materials.
- Make the cakes.
- Read the story ahead of time.
Each class requires enough for one recipe:
- 1 white cake**
- 4 snack-size containers vanilla pudding
- 1 package vanilla sandwich cookies
- 1 package tootsie rolls
- Kitty Litter Box (NEW!!)
- Parchment paper to line box
- Kitty Litter Scooper (NEW!!)
- Disposable plates
- Sandwich bags
Note about cakes: Cake can be made from a box mix prior to class and even frozen in advance as long as enough time is given to defrost cakes prior to class time. Alternatively, pre-made cupcakes could be used for the recipe as well and frosting could be substituted for the pudding.
Opening-Welcome and Lesson Introduction:
Greet the children and introduce yourself.
Open with a prayer.
Dig-Main Content and Reflection:
Say: Today we will be making a recipe as we hear a story from the Bible. This recipe is going to make some food that you will probably never forget.
SAY: We’re learning about the story of Jesus healing the lepers. The Bible doesn’t tell us very much about the lepers but sometimes it can help us to learn about the story if we imagine more details that aren’t written in the Bible. We don’t know how these people got leprosy or how old they were but we can probably assume that they hadn’t always had leprosy. I bet that they were once healthy people enjoying their daily lives.
ASK: What sorts of things might they have spent their time doing when they were healthy? (spend time with friends/family, go to school, have a job, get married, go to church, go shopping in the market, play, go fishing, etc.)
RECIPE INSTRUCTION: Pull out the unfrosted cake or cupcakes for the class to see.
SAY: Life was probably pretty normal for each of the 10 Lepers. But everything changed for them when they got leprosy.
Note: If this is early in the rotation, students may not know what leprosy is and a description will be required. If you are teaching later in the rotation then students may be able to answer the next question without the description.
Leprosy is a skin disease that caused ugly and painful sores. Sometimes it got so bad that people would actually loose their fingers, arms or legs. Leprosy is also contagious which means that if you were around someone with leprosy you could also catch it. Today there is medicine that can cure Leprosy but in Jesus’ day there was not.
RECIPE INSTRUCTION: Set one slice/cupcake onto a plate for each students and explain to the students that they should not take a bite. Give each student a fork.
SAY: I want each of you to think of one way that life would have changed for the 10 men who had leprosy. How would life have become more difficult once they were diagnosed with this terrible disease? After you have shared your thought, I want you to use your fork and smash up your cake/cupcake into broken pieces on your plate. Be careful to not make a big mess or to take a bite because we need all the cake for our recipe!
Take turns sharing how leprosy would have changed or ruined lives and allow children to smash their cake/cupcakes into pieces.
SAY: Look at your plates - you once had perfectly normal cake/cupcakes but now they are all ruined and broken into pieces. I bet that’s how the lepers felt. They once had normal lives but now that they had leprosy - everything was ruined! They couldn’t get a job, they couldn’t be with their families, they couldn’t go to the temple to worship and they were in pain because of their terrible sores! Life was all broken up and ruined.
RECIPE INSTRUCTION: Pull out the Kitty Litter container with the parchment paper lining and set it in front of you. Some children might know what the container is and make comments. Let children laugh and talk if they realize what the container is but make no comments about the kitty litter container
Have students dump their smashed cake into the container. Add any additional cake to the container and smash it into pieces as well.
SAY: It would have been a very sad day to find out you had leprosy. Because there was no medicine, there was very little hope that you would ever get better or ever be able to have a normal life back again. But one day, the lepers heard that someone very special was travelling near by. Let’s read about it in the Bible.
Read Luke 17: 11
RECIPE INSTRUCTION: Hand out equal amounts of vanilla sandwich cookies to each student. Place cookies into sealed sandwich bags. Explain to students that they are going to crush the cookies into crumbs and these crumbs will represent the sandy road that Jesus travelled on.
While students are crushing their cookies, add the vanilla pudding or icing to the crushed cake (until slightly moist) and stir it up. Lightly press the moist cake into the kitty litter container so that it is flat on top.
SAY: Jesus was walking along the border between Samaria and Galilee. Samaria was the place that the Samaritans lived. Does anyone know anything about Samaritans? (See if students can tell you about Samaritans. If they can’t, help them with the following information: Samaritans were outsiders of the Jewish community. The Jews were God’s people and they followed rules written in the Old Testament. Samaritans believed in God but didn’t follow the same laws as the Jews. The Jews did not like the Samaritans and they tried to stay as far away from them as they could - even travelling through rivers instead of passing through their communities. If you were Jewish you would have disliked Samaritans very much! Jews would have thought that Samaritans weren’t as good, didn’t follow God the right way and were contaminated with wrong ways of living.)
SAY: Its important for us to know where Jesus was walking in this story! We know that if he was walking along the border that he wasn’t in a town or city. Lepers weren’t allowed to be near any people in case they got others sick. It’s also important to know that Jesus was walking near Samaria. Because he was close to Samaria, it wasn’t surprising that there was a samaritan in the story. You wouldn’t find a Samaritan in Galillee or Judea!
You’ve probably all crushed your cookies now and they are ready for making our path.
RECIPE INSTRUCTION: Have students dump the contents of their bag on top of the moist cake. Be sure that they spread out their cookie crumbs very well to cover the entire cake.
SAY: Ok - we’ve got our path made but now we need some people to tell the rest of our story.
RECIPE INSTRUCTION: Hand out 10 tootsie rolls (if you have more than 10 students, add in some extra tootsie rolls to play the part of Jesus and some disciples). Have students unwrap the tootsie rolls and then place them on a microwaveable plate. Microwave the tootsie rolls for just a few seconds until they are slightly malleable. Hand the soft rolls back to the students and explain that they need to shape the tootsie rolls into blobs. They don’t need to make the rolls look like people - just blobs. Once the blobs are finished, have students hand them back to you and set them back on the plate.
Note: It is likely that at this point in the recipe you will begin to hear laughter and chuckles as students realize that the tootsie rolls look like Kitty poop. That’s ok - it’s part of the fun. Let the children get a good laugh and when the laughter begins to settle, continue with the rest of the story.
SAY: The Bible tells us that there were 10 lepers, outside of their village. (Set ten of the tootsie roll pieces onto the crumble covered cake and display it to the children).
This doesn’t look to good does it?! Can anyone tell me what it looks like?! The recipe we just made is called Kitty Litter Cake! Kitty litter is something we all throw out. Well our Bible story isn’t so different. The ten lepers were thrown out of their communities. They stayed there until one day when they heard a very special person was coming near.
Read Luke 17: 12-13
ASK: If we brought this cake to someone out in the hallway, what do you think they would say? Would they want to eat it? Would they think it looked delicious?!
SAY: Anyone who walked by a group of lepers would want nothing to do with them, they would think they looked terrible! They would think that if they got close to them they might get sick. Perhaps people might think that if they ate this cake they would get sick too!
Well, Jesus didn’t look at the lepers and think they were disgusting. In fact, he looked at the lepers with love and mercy. He knew that their lives were ruined by their terrible disease but inside of each leper was still a person just like you and me. He wanted to make their lives good again - he wanted to take away their pain and let them go home. He didn’t turn away from the lepers because they looked terrible - he stopped and helped them by healing them. Let’s read about it.
Read Luke 17: 14
SAY: What a wonderful blessing! Lives that were ruined were made good. The sores were gone and the lepers could go back to living their lives. But the story doesn’t end there. There is a special surprise that happens.
Read Luke 17: 15-19
SAY/ASK: After all 10 men were healed - only one came back to say thank you. The man who came back was the Samaritan. Why was it so surprising that only the Samaritan came back to say thank you? (Refer to the description of the Samaritans. If anyone should have said thank you and recognized the work of God it should have been the Jews - they were supposed to know and worship God better than anyone. In this story, however, it was the Samaritan who was truly thankful for God’s blessing in His life!)
SAY: All 10 men were healed of the leprosy but something sweeter happened for the Samaritan. The Samaritan realized that it was Jesus’ power that made him better. Inside of the Samaritan - the one who was despised by the Jews and once covered in the ugliness of leprosy - was something beautiful: a heart of thanksgiving and a recognition that Jesus was worthy of our praise. Out of something yucky came something beautiful and perfect. As Jesus said, the Samaritan became well - even more well than the other lepers.
ASK: Remember when we talked about what others might say if they saw our cake for the first time? What would they say if they actually took a bite?
SAY: It might be a surprise to find out that the cake actually tastes quite good!
ASK: What parts of our story might have looked terrible? (The lepers, the samaritan, the 9 other lepers that didn’t show thankfulness to Jesus.)
ASK: What were the good surprises in our story? (The lepers were healed, Jesus stopped to help the lepers, the Samaritan was thankful and received spiritual healing.)
RECIPE INSTRUCTION: If children are brave enough to try your surprising treat, use the kitty litter scoop to serve some dessert to each child. Pray together as a class before enjoying the snack. Some things you might pray for are: thanking God that he can transform terrible situations into beautiful ones, thank God that he demonstrated His love and healing power through this story, ask that God would develop in us hearts of thanksgiving and eyes that see His good gifts.
Encourage students to keep the cooking lesson a secret from other children so that they too can experience this fun surprise!
End with a prayer.
A lesson from Zion Baptist Community Church
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