WORMY NOTE:
This thread is a complete set of workshop lessons.
During our 2013 renovation of this forum, reviewers recommended that this set be kept together, rather than separated into our Workshop threads, because the lessons strongly complement each other.


 
Lost & Found: The Prodigal Son

Lesson Set

Overview of all workshops in this Rotation:
--for 4th-6th grade:

  • Art - Create wire sculptures of father & son posed at the moment of forgiveness. Examine emotions in the story.
  • Cooking – make a fruit salad saving the rinds, etc. as pig slop. Discuss forgiveness.
  • Games - Play a game of Bible bowling that helps students learn story details.

--for 1st- 3rd grade:

  • Drama - Enact the story while learning story details.
  • Photography - Create scenes from the story and photograph them. Discuss emotions.
  • Video - Watch an animated video "The Prodigal Son" (Nest Series). Learn critical viewing skills. Discuss whom the characters represent.

Note: These workshops were written for 1st through 6th graders though not all grades visit all workshops due to our schedule and particular activities in certain workshops.

Scripture References:  Luke 15:11-32

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)

Rotation Objectives--at the end of the Rotation, kids should be able to:

  • (Older students) Locate the story in the Bible; (Younger students) Name that the story is found in the New Testament in the Gospels.
  • Re-tell in his/her own words the story of the Prodigal Son.
  • Define a parable as a story told by Jesus to teach his listeners something.
  • Discover that God’s forgiveness is always available for the one who repents and asks for forgiveness. There is cause for celebration when we confess our sin & return to God.
  • Examine the emotions and feelings of the characters; relate those feelings to their own lives.
  • Question whom the characters represent in the story – does the father represent God, the one who is always seeking us, waiting patiently for us to come to our senses and return to him.

 

Main Points of the Story:

  • A man had two sons; the younger son wanted his inheritance, which the father gave him.
  • This son left home, went to a distant country and spent all his money foolishly.
  • There was a famine where he was and since he was hungry, he took a job feeding pigs.
  • This son is miserable working with pigs. He realizes how foolish he has been; He decides to go back home and ask his father for forgiveness.
  • The “prodigal” son goes home.
  • His father sees him coming, runs out & welcomes him, even ordering a feast in his honor.
  • Meanwhile the older son comes in from the fields & hears a party. He asks the servants what’s going on. He is angry & refuses to join the celebration.
  • The father explains to his older son why they must celebrate.


Story Background:

Jesus often taught using parables. Parables are stories that use examples from everyday life. They are stories told by Jesus to teach his listeners something. The intent is for ordinary people to understand God. This isn’t always easy. Don’t forget that in the Bible we see instances of the disciples not understanding Jesus’ parables. We can take this to mean that it’s ok for us to ask questions, and re-read or retell the story in order to find it’s deeper meaning. We can encourage this same activity with our kids.

In our story, Jesus tells the parable of a once wayward son reunited with his father and family after having squandered all his possessions. Like so many impatient people today, the younger son wanted to be free of parental restraints and have his father’s inheritance to spend as he chose. After losing it all, he comes to his senses, and realizes how good his ‘former’ life was. He resolves to go home and confess his unworthiness to be called his father’s son.

His father welcomes him home with compassion and love, and wants to celebrate, for “his son who was dead, is alive again; he was lost and has now been found” (paraphrase of Luke 15:24). Through this parable, Jesus illustrates the overwhelming love encompassing someone who returns to God after having repented of his foolish ways.

This story is one of the most well known of Jesus’ parables and is called “The Prodigal Son.” The word “prodigal” means reckless or wasteful. While this aptly describes the young son in this parable, our story could also be titled “Our Loving Father.” Though the focus is on the reckless son, the outcome of everything in the story depends on how the father reacts to his wayward son. The father could have refused to even see his son again after he left home and wasted his money. Upon his return, the father could have hired him back as a servant for the rest of his life to teach him a lesson. Instead, we see a compassionate father that waits for his son to come to his senses, realize his mistake, and come home again.

In our previous Rotation we studied God’s Covenant with Abraham. God promised to make Abraham the father of a great nation. Abraham’s descendants would be like the stars in the sky and the sands of the sea – too numerous to count! God would continue his covenant with these descendants. God was telling people: he wanted to have a relationship and he’d prepared an inheritance for his children. Unfortunately, reading further in the Bible, we see how his children often reject this offer and run away from God. But God is always looking for and waiting for his children to come home.

Throughout history God keeps offering the way for us to come back home. He made covenants with Adam and Eve, with Noah, with Abraham, and finally, he sent his very own son from heaven as a messenger of his love. In all of these covenants God was saying, “Come back home. I still love you. I want to treat you like my child.” The father in the parable of the Prodigal Son symbolizes our heavenly Father who loves his children, even when we turn away from him. As did the father in the story, when we stray, God’s heart yearns for us to return. We have all sinned, or been disobedient to God. Does God hold grudges against us? No. We may stumble and stumble again, but as long as we keep our face toward him, he will forgive. When we make mistakes, we need to turn away from our sins and come back home to God. He delights when we come alive again spiritually and he “welcomes” us back home into fellowship with him.



Resources:

  • Mays, James L. ed. Harper’s Bible Commentary. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1988.


This overview was originally written in 2001 by Carol Hulbert, who at the time didn’t keep good notes on where she’d gotten materials from. Surely some of this comes from other material; Unfortunately I don’t know which ones. Updated for November 2007. Some lesson ideas here gleaned and improved from previously posted materials at Rotation.org.

Scripture quoted is taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

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.)


 
A Complete Lesson Set written by folks from: First United Methodist Church
Ann Arbor, MI 

Copyright 2007 First United Methodist Church, Ann Arbor, MI. Permission to copy materials granted for non-commercial use provided credit is given and all cited references remain with this material

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

Original Post

The Prodigal Son

Wire_ScupltureArt Workshop

Summary of Lesson Activity: 

Make wire sculptures of father and son posed at the moment of forgiveness. Note: 4th, 5th, and 6th graders visited this workshop, however all ages can do this workshop with some adjustment.


Scripture Reference & Key Bible Verse & Objectives:

 Refer to first post in this lesson set.


 
Leader Preparation: 

  • Read Bible Background and scripture.
  • Gather the materials. 


Materials List:

  • Easel with appropriate markers in two different colors
  • Bibles
  • One Adventure Bible with tabs (Law, History, etc.)
  • Bible tab writing kit: tabs, fine-line Sharpie pen
  • A paraphrase for Luke 15:25-32 (attached)
  • Flexible wire that is bendable yet strong enough to stand up. Use 24-gauge if purchased from craft store, or use old telephone wire (the multi-colored stuff). We have some short pieces of wire – use these as fill-in (refer to lesson).
  • Material to use as a base for the sculpture and a way to attach the sculpture to the base (example: if wood base, then heavy-duty stapler). Plywood holds staples the best and gives the art project a base to stand on when taken home.
  • A method to label sculpture with child’s name & with a title (pens & labels)
  • Heavy-duty scissors to cut wire.

Advanced Preparation Requirements:

  • Write the key Bible verse on the easel. Using a different colored marker write, “The Prodigal Son – Moment of Forgiveness.” [Or write them on two different pages of the paper.]
  • Precut wire into 36” lengths. Take 2 strands of wire and twist ends together well, to form a loop. Twisting them together eliminates dangerous, waving wire ends!
  • Practice making a wire figure so you know how to explain it to the students.
  • Place the paraphrase inside the Adventure Bible with tabs, to bookmark the story.



 
Presentation:

Opening- Welcome and Lesson Introduction

Greet your students warmly, welcoming them to the Art Workshop. Introduce yourself and any other adults.
[Note: The Shepherd will be taking care of attendance while you are starting your lesson.]

Say: Let’s start with prayer.
Ask for any prayer requests. Ask if anyone would like to lead the group in prayer. Use the Lord’s Prayer as the ending. A suggestion: Thank you God for your gift of forgiveness and love. Thank you for sending us Jesus and for the wonderful parables that he told that help us understand your love for us. (End with the Lord’s Prayer) Amen.”
 
Dig - Main Content and Reflection:

Say: Today we’ll be learning about a parable Jesus told, called “the Prodigal Son.”
[In later weeks of the Rotation ask the class what story we are studying.]

Ask:  Who can tell me what a parable is?
Say: A parable is a story that teaches something.

Ask:  Does anyone know what this parable teaches? (In the 1st week the kids aren’t likely to know; that’s ok, ask anyway as an introduction to what it does teach.)
Say: This parable is called the “Prodigal Son.” It is also sometimes called “The Parable of the Lost Son” or the “Parable of the Loving Father.” It teaches us that God offers us unearned love; we call this “grace.” Perhaps if you were in art in September for the story of Noah’s Ark, you recall talking about grace and that you made prints that showed examples of grace. Our art activity today will be to make sculptures from wire, sculptures that illustrate grace. Let’s start by finding our story in the Bible.

Ask:  This is a parable that Jesus told. Where in the Bible would we read about it? (in the New Testament)
Ask:
  • What are the first four books of the New Testament?
  • What do we call those first four books? (the Gospels)
Say: The word Gospel means “good news.” If you have your own Bible today, you may receive a tab for the Gospels section of your Bible.
[Show the classroom Bible with tabs. Have the Shepherd do tabs for students who bring their Bibles. Use the classroom Bible with tabs as an example.]

Ask:  In what Gospel do we find our story? (Luke)
Distribute Bibles. Have everyone find Luke, chapter 15, verse 11.
Ask students to pay attention to how people may be feeling in this story.
Have students take turns reading verses 11-19.
Say: So he got up and went to his father.

Ask:
  • How do you suppose the father felt when his youngest son left home?
  • How do you suppose this son felt when he first left home?
  • How do you suppose he felt when he’d spent all his money?
  • How do you suppose he felt having to care for pigs?
Say: Our art project today will be to shape wire sculptures of people that reflect the emotions in the father and his son. Before we start our creations, let’s talk a little about what’s called “body language.”

Ask:
  • How does your body look if you are happy? [Get kids to get up and demonstrate.]
  • How about if you are sad? (and you are out of money)
  • How about if you don’t want someone in your space? (like a pig!)
Say: Because we have beautiful artwork represented in our Bible timeline mural, I want us to go out and look at the pictures, looking for emotions in the depictions of people. I have certain pictures I want you to look at to notice emotions. 

Head out to the time line:
Remind students not to touch the art work.

Have them notice:
  • The scene of Joseph’s brother’s selling him into slavery – the brother who is sad
  • Moses at the burning bush
  • Jesus washing his disciples feet
  • Followers of Jesus receiving the Holy Spirit 
Back in the classroom
Say: We are going to make wire sculptures representing the father and his son in our story. I will give each of you some wire, and then we can go over together the process for making a person out of wire.

Give each student the wire that has been formed into a loop. Have them do each of the following steps for making a wire person.
  1. Hold the point of attachment (where the wire is twisted) in one hand and, with the other hand, stretch the wires so that is forms a double-strand line.
  2. Next, twist the end opposite the point of attachment into a loop about the size of a nickel (this will form the head, the twists of this loop will form the neck).
  3. Now lift the point of attachment end over and behind the neck, and twist below the head so two twisted areas both form the neck. They now should have one small loop (head) and two larger loops.
  4. Each of the larger loops will form an arm and a leg by taking the outermost part of each loop and pressing it toward the neck. This divides the loop into the two parts, which are to be well twisted into arms and legs.
The students will now have a basic figure.

Once they are finished, have them attach the feet of the sculpture to the base. [If using plywood, then you should do the stapling.] Have the students create another smaller sculpture of the son. Don’t attach him yet.

When everyone is ready, hold open a Bible…
Say: So far in our story the younger son had left his home with money in his pockets.
Ask:  How do you suppose you’d position the figures at this point in the story? (allow them to do so if desired)
Say: Then the younger son runs out of money and is forced to get a job feeding pigs.
 
Ask:  Who can tell me why a job working with pigs was despicable to a Jewish person?
Say: Jesus was Jewish and he was telling this story to other people who were Jewish. Jews considered pigs an “unclean” animal, which meant that they could not be eaten.

Ask:  What happened next in our story?
Say: That’s right, he came to his senses! He thought, “I’ll go back home to my father. Because of my poor choices, I don’t deserve to be called his son. But maybe my father will let me be a servant, to earn money for food.”

Ask:
  • How would your younger son figure (the one that’s not attached) look at this point in our story?
  • Is he expecting his father to be happy to see him?
Say: He probably expected that his father would say something like, “you’re a bad son. You’ve wasted all your money. You’re not welcome in this family anymore!”

Read Luke 15:20b-24 to the students using the purple Adventure Bible.

Ask:
  • How did the father react when he saw his son coming home?
  • How would you position your father sculpture (the one attached to the base) now?
  • The father was offering forgiveness. How does forgiveness look?
  • How do you show humility?
Once the kids have positioned their sculptures hand out the shorter pieces of wire, which can be used to wrap around and embellish their sculpture. Ask the Shepherd to attach their second sculpture to their base when they’re ready – placing it opposite the “father.” 

Discussion: (while the students are working)
Ask:  
  • Do you suppose it was easy for the son to come back home?
  • Think of a time when you felt like the Prodigal Son – you did something wrong – you needed forgiveness – how did you feel?
  • Has someone ever acted towards you like the father acted? Have you experienced forgiveness? How did it feel?

Say: Recall that a parable is a story that teaches us something.
Ask:  What is the reason that Jesus told this parable? What was his message?
Say: Verse 20 says, “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him.” This tells us that this father was waiting and watching for his son. Just like this father, God waits and watches for us when we turn away from him. Your sculptures show grace in action. God offers us grace – forgiveness even when we don’t deserve it.

Say: There is more to this parable. Remember that this father had two sons. There is an older son who has an opinion about what his father does. Listen.

Hold a copy of the paraphrase in an open Bible while you read the rest of the story. (It is suggested that you hold your papers inside a Bible so that kids understand that you are reading the words from the Bible.)

Ask:
  • How does the older brother feel about his younger brother?
  • Would you be able to accept the younger brother – to offer forgiveness?
  • Who is someone around you who needs forgiveness?
  • If a friend does something wrong and asks for your forgiveness, do you suppose you could be forgiving and be friends again?
Have everyone read together the key Bible verse.

Say: God is willing to forgive. All of heaven celebrates when we ask for forgiveness. The question is, are we willing to forgive others as God forgives us?
When you take your wire figures home, show others in your family and share the story of grace and forgiveness.
 

Closing:
Have them label their sculpture with their name and a title such as “The Prodigal Son – Moment of Forgiveness” or include the key Bible verse.


Paraphrase for Luke 15:25-32
When the older son returned from working in the field, he learned that his father had ordered a feast to celebrate the return of his brother. He was angry! Celebrate? This was the brother who had thrown away all his money!
The older brother complained to his father, saying that he had followed all the rules and worked without ever getting a reward.
The father answered that the older son would get everything that belonged to the father. He said…
[Refer to the key verse written on the easel.]
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.
 


Resources:
  • Lesson ideas gleaned from Kirk of Kildaire's Rotation lessons, and from an Art workshop sculpture idea originally by Neil MacQueen.
  • Carol Hulbert originally wrote this workshop in 2001. Drastically updated for November 2007.

Addendum from Luanne Payne, Hampton United, Ontario Canada
Here are some rough diagrams and a couple pictures of completed projects done by our own kids. Thanks Neil and Carol for the great idea and lesson.

Wire_Sculpture_1

Wire_Sculpture_2

Wire_Sculpture_3

Wire_Sculpture_4

Use a STAPLE GUN or screws to fasten the sculptures to the base.

You can wrap additional wire around the torso and legs of the characters to add dimension. 

Some students can make multiple characters, including "The Pose of the Older Brother".

Additionally, you can have "kid models" hold a pose in front of class to show forgiveness or "looking for your son" to the class who then shapes their figure.  

Wire Sculpture example


A lesson written by Carol Hulbert from:
First United Methodist Church
Ann Arbor, MI. 2001, 2007 

If you use this material, even in a modified form, please include the following reference:
Hulbert,Carol. "Lost & Found: The Prodigal Son – Art Workshop." Nov. 2007. Place URL where lesson found inside angle brackets<>.

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

Printed from https://www.rotation.org

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Lost & Found: The Prodigal Son

Cooking Workshop:

Summary of Lesson Activities:

Make a fruit salad saving the rinds, etc. as pig slop. Discuss forgiveness. Note: 4th, 5th, and 6th graders visited this workshop.

 

For scripture, objectives, and background - see above.


Leader Preparation:

  • Read the scripture for this lesson.
  • Read and reflect on the overview material provided for this lesson.
  • Gather the materials.

Supplies List:

  • Items in kitchen: Clean-up supplies, Knifes, cutting boards, spoons, serving spoon, A composting bucket, partly filled with disgusting stuff!
  • Items in pantry closet: Napkins, Bowls, large glass serving bowl
  • Items in refrigerator: Variety of fruit – oranges, bananas, etc.
  • The cooking “cart” with: Aprons, purple Adventure Bibles, 12 packets of ”money” (copied from a board game such as Monopoly), and a chopping device


Before Start of Class:

  • Wash the metal tables.
  • Lay out supplies: fruits, chopper, cutting utensils, and cutting boards, Larger glass serving bowl, spoons and bowls from pantry


Presentation

Opening - Welcome and Lesson Introduction:
Gather everyone around the tables in the Social Hall. Greet your students warmly, welcoming them to the Cooking Workshop. Introduce yourself and any other adults. Remind everyone to be on the lookout for the Giving Tree.

[Note: The Shepherd will quietly take attendance, etc. while you are starting your lesson.]

Say: Today we’ll be learning about the parable of the Prodigal Son and how God loves us always, no matter what we do. Let’s begin with prayer.
Ask for any prayer requests. Ask if anyone would like to lead the group in prayer. Be prepared to say a prayer yourself, working in prayer requests. Use the Lord’s Prayer as the ending. A suggestion: “Dear Jesus, Thank you for giving us the story about the prodigal son who made bad choices but was forgiven by his father. Help us to see your love for us in this story. Forgive us when we make mistakes. (End with the Lord’s Prayer) Amen.”

Dig - Main Content and Reflection:

Ask:

  • If your brother or sister received $20,000 from your parents and spent it on wild living, and wanted to come back home, how would your parents act?
  • How would you act when they came back home?

Say: We will be talking today about the Parable of the Prodigal Son, a story where this situation occurs.


Ask:

  • What if you had $800 to spend on anything you would like, how would you spend it? 

Pass out fake money as you ask this.
As kids give their answers, take back the money until they have nothing left.

Ask:

  • Now what are you going to do? You have no money and can’t get any more!
  • How will you pay for you food and living?

Ask:

  • Who can tell me what the word “prodigal” means? (wasteful, or reckless) 

[You might get kids that start to tell you the whole story. This is ok, but get them back on track by telling them the word prodigal describes how the son acted while he had money to spend.]

Distribute Bibles.
Say: This parable about the prodigal son is a parable that Jesus told.

 

Ask:

  • Who can tell me what a parable is? (a story told by Jesus to teach his listeners something) 

[If needed, have kids look up the word parable in the back of the purple Adventure Bibles. ]

Ask:

  • Where in the Bible would we read about our story? (in the New Testament)
  • What are the first four books of the New Testament?
  • What do we call those first four books? (the Gospels)

Say: The word Gospel means “good news.”

 

Ask:

  • What is the good news of the Gospels? (accept a few answers)
  • In what Gospel do we find our story? (Luke)

Have everyone find Luke 15:11-32.
Remind them of the quick way to find the New Testament: Opening the Bible in middle lands you usually in Psalms. Taking just the back half and finding middle of that, gets you to beginning of NT.

[Note: After the first week of the Rotation the students will become more familiar with the story. Have them locate the scripture in their Bibles. Then ask them to tell you the story. Fill in any missing details by using their Bibles.]
OR

  • Have someone read verses 11-12. 

Say: 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.

  • Have someone read verses 13-16. 

Say: Pigs were considered unclean under Jewish law, so feeding pigs would be the lowest, most despicable job for a Jew.

  • Have someone read verses 17-19.
  • Have someone read verses 20-21.
  • Have someone read verses 22-24.

Say: 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.

  • Have someone read verses 25-27.
  • Have someone read verses 28-30.
  • Have someone read verses 31-32.


Cooking Project:
Say: I’ll tell you what – you may earn your keep. I need help making a yummy fruit.

Have everyone put on aprons, wash their hands, and gather around the metal table in the kitchen. Pass out knives, cutters, etc. along with the fruit. Point out the slop bucket to put the scraps in; say that maybe pigs would like to eat this food.

 

Talk about:

  • How the younger son felt having to spend time with pigs.
  • How hungry he must have been.
  • How the scraps, skins, etc. can be compared to our sins – God forgives us and we can discard our sins.

Prepare fruit salad and place in a pretty glass bowl. Return to the Social Hall.

Offer a prayer before eating: “Dear God, Thank you for sending Jesus to teach us your forgiving spirit. Help us to remember this, as we are tempted make mistakes, want our own way, and wander away from you. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Leave some fruit salad to share with Connections Time (coffee hour).

Discussion:

 

Ask:

  • What lesson was Jesus teaching in the parable of the Prodigal Son? 

Say: The father in this story loved his son very much. He welcomed him home and forgave him for spending all of his money. Jesus told this story to show us just how much God loves us and how God forgives us.

Ask:

  • Have you ever been forgiven for something you did wrong?
  • How did that make you feel?

[You may need to offer your own example to get discussion going.]
Ask: What does God want us to do when we do something wrong? (confess, ask for forgiveness)

Say: The father in this story actually has a “secret identity”.

 

Ask:

  • Who do you think Jesus meant for the father to be like?
  • How is the father’s forgiveness of the son in the parable an example of God’s forgiveness of us? 

Say: The son came to his senses and returned to his father, asking for forgiveness. God is forgiving just like the father in the story.


Ask:

  • How about the two sons, who do they represent? (us)
  • In what ways might we be a bit like the Prodigal Son or how might we be like the older brother? (we make mistakes, we want things our way, we wander away from God) 


Closing:
Say: God forgives us when we confess and ask for forgiveness.
Ask: How did the father feel when the son came home and gave up his wasteful living? How do you think God feels when we admit our mistakes and plan to do better?
Say: Just like the father in the story wanted to have a celebration when his son returned home, God also celebrates when we return to God.


Resources:

  • MacQueen, Neil. “The Prodigal Son: Computer Workshop.” 2001.

  • Mays, James L. ed. Harper’s Bible Commentary. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1988.
  • Scripture quoted is taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

 

Written by Dianne McLaren-Brighton, Ellen Lewis, and Carol Hulbert for First United Methodist Church
Ann Arbor, MI 

Copyright 2007 First United Methodist Church, Ann Arbor, MI. 
Permission to copy materials granted for non-commercial use provided credit is given and all cited references remain with this material 

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

 

Lost & Found: The Prodigal Son

Games Workshop

Summary of Lesson Activities:

Play a game of Bible bowling to learn the story of the Prodigal Son. Note: 4th, 5th, and 6th graders visited this workshop.

For scripture, objectives, and background - see above.


Leader Preparation:

  • Read the scripture for this lesson.
  • Read and reflect on the overview material provided for this lesson.
  • Gather the materials.

Supplies List:

  • A variety of Bibles: NRSV, CEV, NIV, TEV, and The Message
  • Story paraphrase (attached)
  • Game questions (see attached)
  • Whiteboard and appropriate marker
  • Ten plastic 2-liter bottles (empty & clean) or a set of bowling pins
  • Two Balls
  • Masking tape
  • Index cards; Marker; Pocket chart

Before Start of Class:

  • Create a short masking tape line on the carpet at least six feet from where bottles will be. Set up bottles in the manner of a “ten-pin” game of bowling.
  • With a marker, write the key Bible verse on index cards; load in the pocket chart.
  • Write on the white board the scoring guidelines, the words “Paraphrase” and “Translation” and “Parable of the Prodigal Son.”


Presentation

Opening - Welcome and Lesson Introduction:
Greet your students warmly, welcoming them to the Games Workshop. Introduce yourself and any other adults. Remind everyone to be on the lookout for the Giving Tree.

[Note: The Shepherd will be taking care of attendance while you are starting your lesson.]

Say: Let’s start with prayer.
Ask for any prayer requests. Ask if anyone would like to lead the group in prayer. Use the Lord’s Prayer as the ending. A suggestion: God, thank you for your love and forgiveness. Help us to live, as you would want us to live, and to recognize our mistakes when we stray, and to return to your loving arms. (End with the Lord’s Prayer) Amen.”

Dig - Main Content and Reflection:
Say: Today we’ll be testing our knowledge of the parable of the Prodigal Son by playing a game called Bible bowling. Let’s start by reviewing our story from the Bible.

Distribute Bibles. [Make sure that students have different versions of Bibles – at least one person with a CEV, one with an NIV, etc. These letters are usually found on the spine and indicate different versions or translations of the Bible.]

Review the organization of the Bible:
Say: The Bible is divided into two 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.

Ask:

  • What books of the Bible make up the Gospels? (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John)

Say: The Gospels are the first four books of the New Testament.

Help them find Luke chapter 15, verse 11.
Say: Our Bible story today is most often called the “Parable of the Prodigal Son”. It is one of the many parables that Jesus used in his teaching.

Ask:

  • What is a parable? (a story told by Jesus to teach his listeners something)
  • Are there words in your Bible right above verse 11, sort of like a title?

(TEV: The Lost Son; NRSV: The Parable of the Prodigal & his brother; The Message: The Story of the Lost Son; NIV & NLT: Parable of the Lost Son; CEV: Two Sons.)
Say: On purpose, I have passed out Bibles that are different versions. I did this so that you could discover that there are different versions of the Bible.

Point out how they can tell what version they have – by looking for the letters on the spine. (They can also read it inside on the title page.)

Say: Some versions of the Bible (like NRSV & NIV) are translations written to stick as closely as possible to the original Hebrew and Greek words. (Those are the languages that the Bible was originally written in.) Other translations (like TEV & CEV) stay close to the ideas expressed but don’t always follow the exact original wording or word order. Paraphrases (like the Message) reword scripture into everyday language with a goal of ease of understanding. To avoid any confusion I will read you the story from a paraphrase.

Read the story from the attached paraphrase. [Note: After the second week of the Rotation, ask the students to tell you the story. Fill in any missing details.]

Divide the kids into teams of 3 to 5 players (you might call them the Prodigals, the Older Brothers, the Oinkers, etc.) Each team answers a question (team members may collaborate). If they get it right (from memory), one person from that team gets two chances to knock down the pins. If they get it right with help of a Bible, they get one chance to knock down the pins. If they get it wrong - no chances. If it is a “strike” and they have two chances to knock down the pins, set up all 10 pins again for their second chance. If they knock down 9 or less, the second attempt is with the remaining pins. Use all chances to add discussion to these questions! To save time have team member reset the pins while the next team answers their question.

Leave time for closing (4 minutes).

Scoring: (Ask the Shepherd to keep score on the white board.) Remind students that the point is not who has the biggest score but how much fun everyone has learning the story.
10 points for each correct answer without a reference (from memory).
5 points for correct answers with a reference.
One point for every bowling pin knocked down.

Closing:
Using the key verse written on the pocket chart, have everyone read the key verse. Then ask a student to remove one card. Then have everyone read the verse filling in the missing word(s). Have students take turns removing cards each time reading the verse aloud as a group. You may consider that each time you read the verse you say it in a different way – whispering, while standing on one foot, slowly, quickly, etc.

Say: Celebrate every time you ask God for forgiveness because you know that he will grant it. Be ready to learn from our parable. Be ready to act as God wants us to act. Be willing to ask for forgiveness this week, whether from God or from a friend or family member. In turn, be ready to act as the father did in our story and forgive someone else this week.


Paraphrase for the Prodigal Son

Jesus told this story: A man had two sons. The older son worked on his father’s farm but the younger son had other plans. He said to his father, “I want my share of your inheritance now, before you die.”

Ask: Do you know what an inheritance is? (money or property that would be passed on to the sons upon the father’s death)

So his father agreed to divide his wealth. A few days later this younger son packed up and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living.

About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and soon, he had nothing to eat. He was so hungry that he took the only work he could find - a job feeding pigs! He wished he could eat some of the pods the pigs ate, but no one gave him anything to eat. He was very, very hungry and all alone.

Then one day he said to himself, “Here I am starving and yet my father’s hired help has food to eat. I want to go back to my father. I will tell him that I have made poor choices. I will offer to be his servant. Maybe my father will just let me work on his farm and have some food to eat.” And so this son started home.

When he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. He ran out, hugged his son, and kissed him. The son started speaking, “Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned against you; I don’t deserve to be called your son ever again.”

But the father wasn’t listening. He was calling his servants. “Bring a clean set of clothes; put the family ring on his finger and sandals on his feet! Get the best calf and prepare it. We’re going to feast! This son of mine was lost but is now found!

Now the older son had been out in the fields. When he returned from working, he heard the noise of partying. The servants told him his brother was home and everyone was celebrating. The older brother was upset and would not go in to the party, so the father came outside to talk to him.

The older brother told his father that he was upset because he had worked hard all these years and never had his father even given him a little party. Now this son who had squandered away his money got a huge celebration.

The father told him, “You are with me all the time, and everything that is mine is yours. 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.”


Questions for game
Poster's note: These questions are repeats from the material posted on this site under Kirk of Kildaire Presbyterian. They have been repeated here becuase these questions include Biblical references.

Note: if you are short on time, skip the easy questions. Mixing up the order of the questions makes the game harder and is suggested for later weeks of the Rotation.
* Question to use as a tiebreaker.

  • Is the story of the prodigal son in the Old or the New Testament? (New)
  • In the parable, how many sons did the man have? (two; Luke 15:11)
  • Which son (older or younger) went away? (younger; Luke 15:13)
  • Before he went away, what did the son ask his father to do? (Give him his inheritance; Luke 15:12)
  • After the son got his share of his father’s property, where did he go? (To a faraway or distant or foreign country; Luke 15:13)
  • How did the father feel when his son went away? (accept any reasonable answer; ask if anyone else has ever felt that way)
  • What did the son do with his inheritance money? (wasted it; Luke 15:13; the word “prodigal” means spending recklessly)
  • How did the son feel after he’d spent all his money? (accept any reasonable answer; ask if anyone else has ever felt that way)
  • What happened to make food scarce where the younger son was? (a famine; Luke 15:14)
  • After he ran out of money, what job did the younger son take? (feeding pigs; Luke 15:15)
  • What was the pigs’ food? (pods; Luke 15:16) [Note that the CEV Bible has this info in a footnote; The Message says that he would have “eaten the corncobs in the pig slop.” If someone looks up the answer in this Bible use this as an example of how this paraphrase was written – to make it easy to understand not necessarily following the original language.]
  • Why did the son decide to return home? (he was starving, came to a realization about his situation; Luke 15:17)
  • What did the son plan to say to his father when he returned home? (“Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.” Luke 15:18b-19; accept anything reasonably close)
  • When the father saw the son coming home, what did he do? (ran to meet him, hugged and kissed him, Luke 15:20b)
  • True or false: the son asked his father if he could be hired as his servant. (False)
  • Name something that the father gave the youngest son to wear when he returned home. (a robe or clothes, a ring, sandals; Luke 15:22) [Could ask this question three times; require a different answer each time.]
  • What animal was killed to prepare a feast for the returning son? (a calf; Luke 15:23)
  • Where was the older son when his younger brother came home? (in the fields; Luke 15:25)
  • How did the older son react to the return of his brother? (angry, jealous, pouted – accept any reasonable answer; Luke 15:28; ask if anyone else has ever felt that way)
  • What was the older son angry about? (he was angry at his father’s kindness; Luke 15:29)
  • What did the father do when he saw that the older son refused to come inside? (went out to talk to him; Luke 15:28)
  • What did the older son say he had been doing these years while his brother was away? (serving his father, never disobeying his father; Luke 15:29)
  • hat did the father say ABOUT the older brother? (You are always with me, and everything I have is yours.” Luke 15:31)
  • What did the father say ABOUT the younger brother? (“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) [Point this out as the key Bible verse.]
  • Do you think the older brother felt better after hearing his father? (accept any reasonable answer; we don’t know whether he ever decided to join the feast)
  • Who told this story? (Jesus)
  • What is a parable? (a story told by Jesus to teach his listeners something)
  • What book of the Bible tells the story of the Prodigal Son? (Luke)
  • How is God like the father in the story? (accept any reasonable answer)
  • Who are we in the parable? (one of the sons, perhaps?)
  • Why did Jesus tell this story? (accept any reasonable answer)
  • Why does God forgive us? (because God loves us; Point out that this is what the father has done for his son, forgiven his actions)

* Use this question as a tiebreaker: What was so terrible about a young Jewish boy tending pigs? (they were considered unclean; eating them was forbidden under Jewish law)


Resources:


A lesson written by Carol Hulbert for First United Methodist Church
Ann Arbor, MI 


Copyright 2007 First United Methodist Church, Ann Arbor, MI.
Permission to copy materials granted for non-commercial use provided credit is given and all cited references remain with this material

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

Lost & Found: The Prodigal Son

Drama Workshop

Summary of Lesson Activities:

Enact the story while learning story details. Note: 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders visited this workshop.

 

For scripture, objectives, and background - see above.


Leader Preparation:

  • Read the scripture for this lesson.
  • Read and reflect on the overview material provided for this lesson.
  • Gather the materials.

Supplies List:

  • Easel with appropriate marker
  • For 3rd graders: Bibles; One purple Adventure Bible with tabs (Law, History, etc.), Bible tab writing kit: tabs, fine-line Sharpie pen
  • Storybook for 1st & 2nd graders: A Child’s Book of Parables
  • Story backdrop (will be hanging in the room)
  • Costumes (optional)
  • Scene clapper


Before Start of Class:
On the easel draw six stick figures with faces that express the following emotions: standing & sad, standing & happy, standing & angry, on knees & unhappy, standing & sorry, standing & happy & arms out to hug.



Presentation

Opening - Welcome and Lesson Introduction:
Greet your students warmly, welcoming them to the Drama Workshop. Introduce yourself and any other adults. Remind everyone to be on the watch for the Giving Tree.
[Note: The Shepherd will quietly take attendance, etc. while you are starting your lesson.]
Say: We are learning (continuing to learn) about the parable of the prodigal son – it’s a story with lots of potential for drama. There’s living wildly while spending money, and there’s forgiveness; we’ll get to act out what happens. First, let’s begin with prayer.

Ask for any prayer requests. Ask if anyone would like to lead the group in prayer. Be prepared to say a prayer yourself, working in prayer requests. Use the Lord’s Prayer as the ending. A suggestion: God, thank you for your love and forgiveness. Help us to live, as you would want us to live, and to recognize our mistakes when we stray, and to return to your loving arms. (End with the Lord’s Prayer) Amen.”

Dig - Main Content and Reflection:
Ask:

  • Who can tell me what that line means in the Lord’s Prayer: “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” What does that mean?

Say: It is asking God to “forgive my sins, and help me forgive anyone whom I need to forgive.”


Ask:

  • Is asking for forgiveness easy?
  • Is forgiving someone easy?

Say: Jesus once told a story about a farmer with two sons. The younger son made some choices that got him in trouble. He needed to apologize to his father; he needed forgiveness from his father. Let’s read the story in the Bible and see what happened.

Hold a Bible and review its organization:
Say: The Bible is divided into two sections, the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament is stories that Jesus learned as a child. They are old, old stories. The New Testament tells us the story of Jesus’ life and about the start of the church after Jesus’ death and resurrection.


Ask:

  • So in which part of the Bible would we find a story about Jesus? (NT)

Say: Besides being divided into two testaments, the Bible is further divided into books. There are 66 books in the Bible. Our Bible story today is one of the many parables that Jesus used in his teaching.
Ask: What is a parable? (a story told by Jesus to teach his listeners something)

For 1st and 2nd grade:
Say: Our Bible story today is found in the book of Luke. Luke is one of the Gospels. The Gospels are what we call the first four books of the New Testament. The word “gospel” means good news. Jesus teaches us the good news about God’s love for us.
Ask: Can anyone tell me the names of the first four books of the New Testament?
Read pages 17 - 19 in A Child’s Book of Parables. Show pictures as you read.

For 3rd grade:
Distribute Bibles. Help them find Luke chapter 15, verse 11.
[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.]
Say: The first four books of the New Testament are called “the Gospels.”


Ask:

  • What books of the Bible make up the four Gospels? (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John)

Say: If you have your own Bible today, you may receive a tab for the Gospels section of your Bible.
[Show the classroom Bible with tabs. Have the Shepherd do tabs for students who bring their Bibles. Use the classroom Bible with tabs as an example.]


Ask:

  • Are there words in your Bible right above verse 11, sort of like a title?

Say: That title can give us a clue about what the story is about.


Ask:

  • What does the word “prodigal” mean? (describes someone who is wasteful)

Say: This is where our story starts.
Point out verse 32. Tell them this is where the story ends. Encourage everyone to read this story at home. Have them close the Bibles and listen as you read the story.
Read pages 17 - 19 in A Child’s Book of Parables. Show pictures as you read.

For all students:
Say: Let’s act out our story. To act out our story we are going to use a technique called “Freezing-Feeling Bible story.”

Enact the story
Break the class into two groups. One group will start off as the actors who will “freeze” in place when you say, “freeze.” The other group will be the feelings group. They will be the audience and will explain the characters feelings at the point of freezing. Have the actors quickly choose costumes (optional).

Say: If we have time we’ll do this twice so that you can switch places so that the “freeze folks” will be “feeling folks” and the “feeling folks” will be the “freeze folks.” I want all the “freeze folks” to come up onto the “stage” (in front of the backdrop). I want the “feeling folks” to move chairs over facing the stage.

[While the feeling folks are moving chairs. Quickly choose students to be each of the following roles: Father, Younger Son, and Older Son. The rest of the students can be servants in this first scene. Explain that they can take other parts in later scenes. Move the easel so that everyone can see it.]

Say: I will read the Bible story of the Prodigal Son. The “freeze folks” on the stage will act out what is happening in the story. Make sure you pay special attention to how the Bible characters are feeling and show those feelings REALLY BIG on your faces. During the story, if I say, “Freeze” the “freeze folks” must freeze in place and not move again until I tell you to “Thaw.” While you are frozen, I will ask the “feeling folks” to tell me how they think the different characters are feeling at that time in the story.

[Leader’s note: You may consider planning the following freeze points so that half of them are accomplished with one group on stage and half are when the other group is on stage. Or just plan on doing the freezing points very quickly with the second group on stage.]

Say: This is the Parable of the Prodigal Son, from Luke 15. (Adapted from the Little Kids Adventure Bible.)
Jesus told this parable: There was a man who had two sons. The younger son spoke to his father. He said, “Father, give me my share of the family property.” So the father divided his property between his two sons. Not long after that, the younger son packed up all he had and left for a country far away.

Allow the actors to enact this portion of the story as they see fit. Then…
Say: FREEZE

Ask: (the Feeling folks) –

  • Which picture would tell me how the father is feeling when his son moves away? How do you think the younger son feels when he moves away?


[Instruct the actors that the people who were servants may now play new parts; maybe they’d like to be the farmer or pigs in this next scene. Encourage ad-libbing.]

Say: THAW. There, in this far away country, the younger son wasted his money on wild living. He spent everything he had. Then the whole country ran low on food. So the son didn’t have what he needed. He went to work for someone who lived in that country, who sent him to the fields to feed the pigs.

Allow the actors to enact this portion of the story as they see fit. Then…
Say: FREEZE

Ask: (the Feeling folks) –

  • Which picture would tell me how the son felt when he had to feed pigs?


Say: THAW. The son wanted to fill his stomach with the food the pigs were eating. But no one gave him anything. Then he began to think clearly. He said to himself, “How many of my father’s hired workers have plenty of food! But here I am dying from hunger! I will go back to my father. I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned. I am no longer fit to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired workers.” So he got up and started back home.

Allow the actors to enact this portion of the story as they see fit. Then…
Say: FREEZE

Ask: (the Feeling folks) –

  • Which picture would tell me how the son felt when he decided to say, “I’m sorry?” How do you suppose the son thought his father would feel when he came home? 


Say: THAW. While the son was still a long way off, his father saw him. He was filled with love for his son. He ran to him. He threw his arms around him and kissed him.

Allow the actors to enact this portion of the story as they see fit. Then
Say: FREEZE

Ask: (the Feeling folks) –

  • Which picture would tell me how the father felt when he hugged and kissed his son?


[Make sure that students are prepared to be servants in this next scene.]

Say: THAW. The son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer fit to be called your son.” But the father said to his servants, “Quick, bring me the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattest calf and kill it. Let’s have a big dinner and celebrate. This son of mine was dead. And now he is alive again. He was lost and now he is found. So they began to celebrate.

Allow the actors to enact this portion of the story as they see fit. Then…
Say: FREEZE

Ask: (the Feeling folks) –

  • Which picture would tell me how the son felt when he expected his father to be angry with him, but instead his father forgave him and threw a party?


If time allows add this part…
Say: THAW. The older brother has a part in this next scene. The older son was in the fields. When he came near the house that night, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants. He asked him what was going on. “Your brother has come home,” the servant replied. Your father is having a party because your brother is back safe and sound.”

Allow the actors to enact this portion of the story as they see fit. Then…
Say: FREEZE

Ask: (the Feeling folks) –

  • Which picture would tell me how the brother who stayed at home felt when he heard his brother was home?

Say: THAW. The older brother became angry. He refused to go in. So his father went out and begged him. But he answered his father, “Look! All these years I have always obeyed your orders. You never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But this son of yours wasted your money! Now he comes home. And for him you kill the fattest calf!” “My son,” the father said, “you are always with me. Everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad. This brother of yours was dead. And now he is alive again. He was lost. And now he is found.”

Allow the actors to enact this portion of the story as they see fit. Then…
Say: FREEZE

Ask: (the Feeling folks) –

  • Which picture would tell me how your parents would feel if you ran away from home for a long, long time and then came back again?


[Repeat the acting/feeling a second time freezing at different points or just quickly reiterating the feelings or just run through the drama without freezing… May wish to have Discussion before repeating the drama the second time.]

Discussion:
Ask:

  • Do you suppose the father had to stop and think about whether or not to be mad at his son when he saw him coming home?
  • Do you suppose that God has to stop and think about whether or not to forgive us when we go to him and tell him we are sorry and that we have learned from our mistake? (no)
  • How is the father in this story like God? (God readily forgive us when we ask)

Say: The youngest son came to his senses and returned to his father, asking for forgiveness. We can do likewise with God.

Ask:

  • How about the two sons, who do they represent? (us)
  • In what ways might we be a bit like the Prodigal Son or how might we be like the older brother? (we make mistakes, we want things our way, and we wander away from God) 


Closing:
Say: We all mess up sometimes. When we are truly sorry we can ask God for forgiveness and receive it. Then there can be celebration: we have returned to God!
Be willing to ask for forgiveness this week, whether from God or from a friend or family member. In turn, be ready to act as the father did in our story and forgive someone else this week.

Close in prayer. A suggestion: Dear Holy God, we thank you for the wonderful stories you put in the Bible to help us to think about what you are teaching us. We are sorry for the times we act selfish like the younger brother, or jealous like the older brother. We are so glad that when we decide to obey you, you greet us with wide-open arms and a big hug. Help us to live the way you want us to live so that we may be an example to others. In Jesus name, Amen.


Resources:

  • G.R.E.A.T. Adventure Dream Team at State Street United Methodist Church, Bristol, VA. “The Prodigal Son: Drama Workshop.”
  • Moroney, Trace. A Child’s Book of Parables. Cincinnati: Standard Publishing, 2003.
  • Richards, Lawrence O. Little Kids Adventure Bible. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2000.
  • Scripture quoted is taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

 

A lesson written by Carol Hulbert for First United Methodist Church with the vast assistance of Jaymie Derden of State Street United Methodist Church

Bristol, VA.

Copyright 2007 First United Methodist Church, Ann Arbor, MI. 
Permission to copy materials granted for non-commercial use provided credit is given and all cited references remain with this material 

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

 

Lost & Found: The Prodigal Son

Photography Workshop

Summary of Lesson Activities:

Hear the story of the Prodigal Son and create a tableau (a still picture) of each portion of the story. Note: 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders visited this workshop.

 

For scripture, objectives, and background - see above.


Leader Preparation:

  • Read the scripture for this lesson.
  • Read and reflect on the overview material provided for this lesson.
  • Gather the materials. 

Supplies:

  • Easel with appropriate marker
  • Bibles (for 3rd grade and up)
  • One purple Adventure Bible with tabs (Law, History, etc.)
  • Bible tab writing kit: tabs, fine-line Sharpie pen (for 3rd grade)
  • A paraphrase for Luke 15:25-32 (See the paraphrase at the bottom of the Art Workshop)
  • A copy of the Read with Me Bible
  • Digital camera (provided by photographer)
  • Tripod (optional)
  • Popsicle sticks (at least 20)
  • A pen
  • Costumes
  • Props (optional): baskets, traveling sacks, money bag with coins, broom, low table, fabric to cover, dishes, cups, play food, towel, play food (corn), pods from a locust tree, a wooden box to use as a pig trough, pig noses (bought from a costume place)

 

Before Start of Class:

  • Write the key Bible verse on the easel.
  • Place the paraphrase inside the purple Adventure Bible with tabs, to bookmark the story.
  • Label the Popsicle sticks: Father, Younger Son, Older Son, Servant – write 3x, Party-attendee – write 3x, Restaurant owner, Pig – write 4x.
  • Decide where in the room to photograph each event. Place the appropriate props near each event:
    Leaving home – traveling sacks, money bag with coins, baskets, broom
    Wasting his money at a restaurant– low table, fabric to cover, dishes, cups, play food, towel
    Feeding pigs – play food (corn), pods from locust tree, wooden box as a pig trough, pig noses
    Returning home – traveling sacks
    Welcoming feast – same as restaurant scene

 



Presentation

 

Opening - Welcome and Lesson Introduction:
Have the students sit in the tent area. Greet your students warmly, welcoming them to the Photography Workshop. Introduce yourself and any other adults. Remind everyone to be on the watch for the Giving Tree.

[Note: The Shepherd will be taking care of attendance while you are starting your lesson.]

Say: This is the photography workshop and that means that our photographer will be taking some pictures. The photos will be all of you acting out our Bible story. We are going to take pictures of important things that happened so that we could make a sort of a scrapbook. The pictures won’t be printed today but you will have access to them on-line.
Let’s start with prayer.

Ask for any prayer requests. Ask if anyone would like to lead the group in prayer. Use the Lord’s Prayer as the ending. A suggestion: Thank you God for your gift of forgiveness and love. Thank you for sending us Jesus and for the wonderful parables that he told, that help us to understand your love for us. Join with me now as we say the Lord’s Prayer (say the Lord’s prayer). Amen.”

Dig - Main Content and Reflection:
Say: Today we’ll be learning about a parable Jesus told, which is called “the Parable of the Prodigal Son.” [From the 2nd week on, ask the class what story we are studying.]

Ask:

  • Who can tell me what a parable is? (a story that teaches something)
  • Does anyone know what this parable teaches? (In the 1st week the kids aren’t likely to know; that’s ok, ask anyway as an introduction to what it does teach.)
  • Who can tell me what the word “prodigal” means?

Say: The word “prodigal” means wasteful. In our story there is a father and two sons. The youngest son does not make good choices when it comes to money. He ends up wasting his money. This parable is called the “Parable of the Prodigal Son” – a story about a wasteful son. It is also sometimes called “The Parable of the Loving Father.” That refers to how the father in our story treats his wasteful son. He loves him in spite of his bad choices! Since a parable is a story that teaches something, this parable teaches us that God loves us, even when we make mistakes.

 

For 1st and 2nd graders:

Ask:

  • Since Jesus told this parable, where in the Bible would we read about it, in the New Testament or the Old Testament? (new testament)
  • What do we call the first four books of the New Testament? (the Gospels)

Say: The word gospel means “good news”. These first four books of the New Testament tell the story of the good news that Jesus told us about God’s love. The four Gospels are Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. They are named after their authors. Our story can be found in the Gospel of Luke. Listen while I tell our Bible story. As I read, think about how the characters are feeling.

 

For 3rd grade and up:


Ask:

  • Where in the Bible would we read about Jesus telling a parable? (in NT)
  • What are the first four books of the New Testament?
  • What do we call those first four books? (the Gospels)

Say: The word Gospel means “good news”. In telling parables Jesus was teaching us good news. The good news is that God loves us. If you have your own Bible today, you may receive a tab for the Gospels section of your Bible.
[Show the classroom Bible with tabs. Have the Shepherd do a Gospel tab for students who bring their Bibles. Use the classroom Bible with tabs as an example.]

 

Ask:

  • In what Gospel do we find our story? (Luke)

Distribute Bibles. Have everyone find Luke, chapter 15, verse 11.
Remind them of the quick way to find the New Testament: Opening the Bible in middle lands you usually in Psalms. Taking just the back half and finding middle of that, gets you to beginning of NT.
Point out that this is where our story starts.
Say: I am going to read to you this story from this Bible storybook. Pay attention to how people may be feeling in this story.

 

For all students:
Read pages 344 - 347 in the Read with Me Bible. Show the pictures as you read.
Ask:

  • How do you suppose the father felt when his youngest son left home? (sad)
  • How do you suppose this son felt when he first left home? (happy)
  • How do you suppose he felt when he’d spent all his money? (sad)
  • How do you suppose he felt having to care for pigs? (really sad)

Say: Remember these emotions when we take pictures of these scenes.

 

Ask:

  • Who can tell me why a job working with pigs was awful for a Jewish person?

Say: Jesus was Jewish and he was telling this story to other people who were Jewish. Jewish people considered pigs an “unclean” animal, which meant that they could not be eaten. Even touching a pig was bad. Let’s see what happens when the younger son returns home to his father.

Read pages 348 - 349 in the Read with Me Bible. Show the pictures as you read.

Ask:

  • How did the father react when he saw his son coming home?
  • Do you suppose the younger son was expecting his father to be happy to see him?

Say: He probably expected that his father would say something like, “you’re a bad son. You’ve wasted all your money. You’re not welcome in this family anymore!”

Ask:

  • What was the father offering his son? (love, forgiveness)
  • Do you suppose it was easy for the son to come back home? (no)
  • Think of a time when you felt like the Prodigal Son – you did something wrong – you needed forgiveness – how did you feel?
  • Has someone ever acted towards you like the father acted?
  • Have you experienced forgiveness? How did it feel?

Create tableaux:

Notes about the process:

  • Start off by picking characters: if necessary, take out or add Popsicle sticks to the written supply so that you have a number equal to the number of students. Take the Popsicle sticks in your hand with the written part hidden in your palm. Have students each draw a stick. If a character is not needed in a scene then that student can watch. Yes, one character gets to be in every shot; it’s the way the popsicle sticks were drawn.
  • As photos are staged remind students to be creative and to think about the emotions in the story – be sure to show those emotions on their faces and with their body expressions.


Say: We will be taking photographs of each scene we re-create from this story – we are going to be Bible-times characters in these events. So let’s start by putting on costumes.
Have them quickly choose costumes. Give them a two-minute time limit.

Say: Now we will take our photos. Each group will create a scene and then “freeze” so the scene can be photographed.

As each scene is created. Ask the students what happened in this part of the story. Get them to re-tell the story. Remind them of the emotions of the characters in the story.

  1. Leaving home with his share of money – 
    Characters: Father, Eldest Son, Youngest Son, & Servants.
    Give the servants the baskets & the broom.
  2. Wasting his money – 
    Characters: Youngest Son, Party-attendees, & Restaurant owner.
    Ask kids how to show that the son is spending money.
    Give the restaurant owner the towel.
  3. Feeding pigs –
    Characters: Youngest Son & Pigs.
    Have the pigs put on the pig noses.
  4. Returning home – 
    Characters: Father, Youngest Son, & Servants.
  5. Final Scene to Photograph: (if time)
    Photograph the Welcoming Feast. Gather everyone in this final scene; use everyone as partygoers/servants with the Younger Son. Show the father off to the side talking to an upset Eldest Son.


Discussion:
[Have the bookmarked copy of the purple Adventure Bible handy.]
Ask: What is the reason that Jesus told this parable? What was his message?

Read to the students Luke 15:20b.

Say: This tells us that this father was waiting and watching for his son. Just like this father, God waits and watches for us when we turn away from him. We can get turned away from God when we get busy with our lives. Yet God offers us forgiveness even when we don’t deserve it.

Say: There is more to this parable. Remember that this father had two sons. There is an older son who has an opinion about what his father does. Listen.
Hold a copy of the paraphrase in an open Bible while you read. [It is suggested that you hold your papers inside a Bible so that kids understand that you are reading the words from the Bible.]

Ask:

  • How does the older brother feel about his younger brother?
  • Would you be able to accept the younger brother – to offer forgiveness?
  • If a friend does something wrong and asks for your forgiveness, do you suppose you could be forgiving and be friends again?

Have everyone read together the key Bible verse.

Say: God is willing to forgive. All of heaven celebrates when we ask for forgiveness.


Resources:

  • Read with Me Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1993.
  • Visit our collection of photos taken for this workshop at: http://good-times.webshots.com/album/561405725lEJqJn
  • Scripture quoted is taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

 

Written by Carol Hulbert for First United Methodist Church
120 S. State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Copyright 2007 First United Methodist Church, Ann Arbor, MI.
Permission to copy materials granted for non-commercial use provided credit is given and all cited references remain with this material.

 

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

Lost & Found: The Prodigal Son

Video Workshop

Summary of Lesson Activities:

Watch an animated video of the story, The Prodigal Son from Nest Entertainment. Learn critical viewing skills. Discuss whom the characters represent. Note: 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders visited this workshop.

[Poster's note: lots of lessons on this site make use of this video. This lesson is slightly different than others in that it has different pause points. There is a new Veggie Tales video out (in October 2007) but I didn't have time to review it. It's called "The Wonderful Wizard of Ha's.]

 

Video Reference:

The Prodigal Son, The Animated Stories from the New Testament, distributed by Nest Family Entertainment. Viewing time about 21½ minutes. (the total viewing time of this video is longer.)

 

For scripture, objectives, and background - see above. 


 

Leader Preparation:

  • Read the scripture for this lesson.
  • Read and reflect on the overview material provided for this lesson.
  • Gather the materials.

Supplies List:

  • The video listed above.
  • TV/VCR
  • Snack items: goldfish crackers, paper cups, napkins, water pitcher
  • Easel and appropriate marker
  • Bibles (for 3rd graders)
  • Story Bible for 1st and 2nd grade – The Young Reader’s Bible
  • Activity Book (also from Nest Entertainment)
  • Masking tape
  • Movie tickets to pass out (have scripture reference printed on them)


Before Start of Class:

  • Copy from the Activity Book (that came with the video from Nest Entertainment) pages 9, 11, 15, 25, 28, and 36. Make these into six sequencing cards. Copy (and enlarge) pages 5 and 7. Make them into pictures of Jesus, the father, the older brother and the younger brother.
  • On the easel write the words: “Parable of the Prodigal Son.” Also make a “Things to watch for” list. Include these items: Jesus, the father, the older brother, and the younger brother. Next to each of these items, put up the appropriate pictures with masking tape.
  • Prepare snack.
  • Make sure you know how to use the TV/VCR. Cue the Video to start at the beginning where Jesus is teaching (just after the credits with music ends).


 

Presentation


Opening - Welcome and Lesson Introduction:
Greet your students warmly, welcoming them to the video workshop. Introduce yourself and any other adults. Remind everyone to be on the watch for the Giving Tree.

[Note: The Shepherd will quietly take attendance, etc. while you are starting your lesson.]

Say: Let’s begin with prayer. Ask for any prayer requests. Ask if anyone would like to lead the group in prayer. Be prepared to say a prayer yourself, working in prayer requests. Use the Lord’s Prayer as the ending. A suggestion: “Dear Jesus, Thank you for giving us the story about the prodigal son who made bad choices but was forgiven by his father. Help us to see your love for us in this story. Forgive us when we make mistakes. (End with the Lord’s Prayer) Amen.”


Dig - Main Content and Reflection:
Say: Today’s video depicts our story from the New Testament. [Starting with the 2nd week of the Rotation, ask students where we would find our story.] Our story from the Bible is about a story told by Jesus. Jesus often told stories called parables.

Ask:

  • Who can tell me what a parable is? (a story told by Jesus to teach his listeners something)

Say: We will be watching a video about the “Parable of the Prodigal Son.” [Refer to easel]

Ask:

  • Who can tell me what the word “prodigal” means? (wasteful, someone who doesn’t make good choices when it comes to money)

Say: Let’s read from the Bible to see what Jesus is trying to teach us.

For 1st and 2nd graders:
Say: We find our story in the Gospel of Luke.
Read them the story on pages 328– 332 of The Young Reader’s Bible. Show the pictures as you read the story.

For 3rd grade: (who visit the last week in this Rotation)
Distribute Bibles.

 

Ask:

  • What are the first four books of the New Testament called? (the Gospels)

Say: The word Gospel means “good news”. These first four books of the New Testament tell the story of the good news about Jesus. We have learned about God’s covenants with Noah and with Abraham and Sarah. Jesus brought us a new covenant.

 

Ask:

  • In which Gospel do we find our story? (Luke)

Have everyone find Luke, chapter 15, verse 11 in the Bible.
Remind them of the quick way to find the New Testament: Opening the Bible in middle lands you usually in Psalms. Taking just the back half and finding middle of that, gets you to beginning of NT.
Ask the students to tell you the story. For fun (if they seem to know the story well) tell the story back to them with inaccuracies and let them correct you. For example: the younger son spent his money wisely…

For all students:
Have the Shepherd distribute the snack.

Say: Let’s take a look at what we are going to see in our video.
Refer to the “Things to watch for” poster. Introduce the characters in the video.

Say: Jesus was telling stories to a crowd of people. There was also what we would call “church leaders” listening in. These leaders did not like that Jesus was so popular with the crowds. Jesus tells these leaders that they would be wise to learn from his stories. We would all be wise to learn from Jesus’ stories!

Show the Video:
START the video at the designated place.
POINT OUT Jesus. [Don’t stop the action, just point out the character.]
VIEW scene of about 2 minutes 15 seconds.

PAUSE after the younger son says, “By then it will be too late.”
[The PAUSE button is one of the most powerful tools in your workshop. Don’t be afraid to use it!]

Ask:

  • How much of the share of what the father has, does the father say his son would receive? (one half)

If students didn’t catch it, REWIND to where the father stands up from sheep shearing, and VIEW the scene to pause point above. Re-ask the question.
[Rewinding and re-watching are also powerful tools to learning.]

Say: From what we know about customs in Bible times, what the video said is actually incorrect. In this case the older son would get two-thirds of his father’s property, and the youngest would get one third. Sometimes videos can give incorrect information. It is important to listen carefully and to question what we hear. [Source: Harper’s Bible Commentary.]

HIT PLAY
VIEW scene of about 1 minute 50 seconds.

PAUSE after the father says, “Oh Lord, just bring him back to me.”

 

Ask:

  • Were you surprised that the father gave in to his son’s request?
  • Why do you suppose he gave the son his money?
  • When the youngest son was leaving home, how do you suppose he felt?
  • How about the father, how do you suppose he felt?
  • How about the older brother?

[If necessary REWIND to when they are all outside and VIEW the scene again.]

Ask:

  • Have you noticed that this video has given the younger son a name?

Say: Sometimes videos are made with extra parts in them that are not from the Bible. Jesus doesn’t tell us the names of the sons. It is good for us to notice when a video adds something to our Bible story. We can still enjoy this video.

HIT PLAY
VIEW scene of about 3 minutes and 15 seconds.

PAUSE as Jacob leaves the fortuneteller.
Ask: What do you think of the son’s spending, is he spending wisely?
Say: You can see why he is called a prodigal son.
Ask: What did the word “prodigal” mean again? (wasteful)

HIT PLAY
VIEW scene of about 4 minutes and 50 seconds.

PAUSE as Jacob’s friend says, “This is the life.”
Ask: Does the Bible tell us all of these ways that the son spent his money? (no)
Say: There’s the video adding to our story again. It does help us to understand him as a prodigal son.
Ask: Have you wasted money on foolish things?
How did you feel about that?

Say: I am going to fast-forward through some of this video, so that we have time to watch it all. We’re going to pick up the story at a point a month later, when the son realizes he’s spent all of his money.

FAST FORWARD to where Jacob is walking dejectedly by himself under the archway.

HIT PLAY.
VIEW scene of about 3 minutes and 7 seconds.

PAUSE when Jacob knocks on a door.
Ask: How is the son doing now that he’s out of money? (not very well, he’s really hungry)
Say: There’s one word that’s coming up that I want to be sure you understand…
Ask: What is a famine? (a shortage of food, everyone is hungry)

HIT PLAY.
VIEW scene of about 2 minutes.

PAUSE after Jacob says, “I’ll go to my father and beg him to hire me.”
Ask: What made the son decide to return home?

HIT PLAY.
VIEW scene of about 4 minutes.
POINT OUT the older brother when he is walking towards the house at night.
STOP when the video ends.

Discussion:
Ask:

  • What lesson was Jesus teaching in the parable of the Prodigal Son?

Say: The father in this story loved his son very much. He welcomed him home and forgave him for spending all of his money. Jesus told this story to show us just how much God loves us and how God forgives us.

Ask:

  • Have you ever been forgiven for something you did wrong?
  • How did that make you feel?

[You may need to offer your own example to get discussion going.]

 

Ask:

  • What does God want us to do when we do something wrong? (confess, ask for forgiveness)
  • How about forgiveness from people who are hurt by our actions? (we say sorry, we explain why it won’t happen again, we try to correct our mistakes)
  • How do we ask for forgiveness from God? (we pray to God for forgiveness and ask for help in doing better)

Say: The father in this story actually has a “secret identity”.

 

Ask:

  • Whom do we know acts just like the father in this story acted? [If they need a hint: who is someone who forgives us no matter what we do?] (the father represents God; God is forgiving just like the father in the story.)
  • How is the father’s forgiveness of his son in the parable an example of God’s forgiveness of us? (the son came to his senses & returned to his father, asking forgiveness; we can do likewise with God)
  • How about the two sons, who do they represent? (us)
  • In what ways might we be a bit like the Prodigal Son or how might we be like the older brother? (we make mistakes, we want things our way, we wander away from God)

Say: God forgives us when we confess and ask for forgiveness.

 

Ask:

  • How did the father feel when the son came home and gave up his wasteful living? How do you think God feels when we admit our mistakes and plan to do better?

Say: Just like the father in the story wanted to have a celebration when his son returned home, God also celebrates when we return to God.

Mix up the sequencing cards and put them on the table. Ask the students to put them in the correct order. If you have extra time you could form teams and have them take turns timing themselves at putting the cards in the correct order.

Closing:
Say: I have a movie ticket to give each of you. On this ticket is printed the Bible verse where our story is found. This week, have an adult read you this story from the Bible.
Share with your family what Jesus has taught you.

Distribute the movie tickets.


Resources:

  • Bruno, Bonnie and Carol Reinsma. The Young Reader’s Bible. Cincinnati, OH: Standard Publishing, 1998.
  • MacQueen, Neil. "Teaching with Video, A Manual.” (free) http://sundaysoftware.com/site/teaching-with-video/
  • Mays, James L. ed. Harper’s Bible Commentary. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1988.
  • Scripture quoted is taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

 

Written by Carol Hulbert for First United Methodist Church
120 S. State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Copyright 2007 First United Methodist Church, Ann Arbor, MI.
Permission to copy materials granted for non-commercial use provided credit is given and all cited references remain with this material

 

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


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