The following topics have bunches of ideas, images, and links to resources around the concepts of thanksgiving and stewardship. Please add yours! If you have a specific Bible story in mind that teaches thankfulness, gratitude, or stewardship, look it up in our Bible Story Lesson Forums. Here are three of the most popular stories: Parable of the Talents, The Thankful Leper, and Widow's Mite 

Need help with a lesson idea? Post your question in our Teachers Lounge.


Here is a collection of ideas for teaching about Stewardship and Gratitude posted by our members. Post yours!

You will find more ideas in the Bible story topics that relate to stewardship and giving, such as the Parable of the Talents and Widow's Mite.

Take a look at our collection of "Thanksgiving" ideas and lesson too.



Here's an interesting stewardship video published for free on YouTube from Worship House Media.

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When we did the Stewardship unit we made giving-saving-spending banks out of the small pringles potato chip cans. We decorated each can with paper cut to fit the can, then glued the new can covers on the cans and put a coin slot in the plastic lid. We hot glued the cans to each other using a rubberband to hold them in place while the hot glue set.



Update: In this day and age of debit cards and electronic payments, "loose change" isn't as easy to find in each home as it once was. But you can still use these banks to help spur discussion about "what to give" (and where to give it) by going on a "LOOSE CHANGE SCAVENGER HUNT" in the family car, purses, and all the places where parents toss their coins. To help make an impact, suggest parents convert dollars to coins and award for "doing chores" which their kids can then "spend-save-give" from.

To spur thinking about "what to give" and "how much" will be needed to give it, come up with a list of suggested "gifts" such as baby diapers and wipes, a case of ramen soup, a new pair of shoes, and hygiene supplies like soap and a toothbrush. 

You can also take your student to the store and buy these things, then place them on the family table with a large price tag, and put a "GIVE" can next to it -- into which kids can put coins they have earned by doing various chores.

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A Thanksgiving Meal in the Kingdom of God

In the Kingdom of God, we pay attention to each other's needs. Serve one another as I have served you.

Galatians 5:13  "serve one another humbly in love"

John 13: 14-16  I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

This is an old youth group idea from way back that kids still love to participate in. Lots of ways to modify it and draw out talking points.

It goes something like this: 

  • A group sits down to a breakfast table on which you have placed a variety of appealing breakfast foods and drinks.
  • Each place has a plate, fork, cup with a straw, and napkin.

There are just two rules:

  1. You can't talk or make any noise.
  2. You can't feed yourself.

The people around you have to take care of your needs. 

Let's eat!

A few things to ask about:

  • Did you notice when you started to "tune in" to other people's needs?
  • How did it make you feel meeting another's needs?
  • How did it make you feel when others took care of you?
  • Did you pick up any clues about serving others by watching what other people did?
  • How is this meal like... your family, your church, God's Kingdom?  (what lessons can you draw from it?)

In one version of this meal, after eating for a while, we LABELED all the food bowls, cups, and plates with "things we need others to feed us" to nourish our spirit.

  • Friendship
  • Forgiveness
  • Empathy/Caring
  • Being Helpful
  • Praying for
  • Going the Extra Mile
  • etc.

Then after a while, we asked the kids what all those labels were about.

Always wondered how we could set a place at the table, but leave it empty, and then discuss WHO and HOW we could invite those people. And what are we inviting them to?  A meal of friendship, forgiveness, empathy, helpful, prayer, extra mile, etc etc. It's a visual parable.

An idea originally posted by Neil MacQueen




In a "similar vein" there's an interesting video on YouTube for OLDER kids called the Allegory of the Long Spoons. It may or may not be worth adding to this parable-meal. The animation style is a bit creepy.   https://youtu.be/7mGVOekKMRs

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Some Video Suggestions: 

MMB: posted

Videos that would be good for teaching stewardship concepts:

VeggieTales: Madam Blueberry has to do with how we accumulate stuff.

Also, try the story of Flibber-O-Loo (not sure which tape it's on) to talk about using our time and talents to help those in need.  [Moderator update -  this is found on the VeggieTales DVD "Are You My Neighbor" and they renamed Flibber-O-Loo to "Tale of Two Cities".]


Neil posted:

How about "Stewardship Commercials" ? 

"Don't be like this man who buried his talents in the ground..." 

"Gifts that God really wants" that begins with "things God doesn't need."


Barb posted

We used "The Lorax" for Stewardship. It was perfect!


Lisa M. posted 

A video we've used for money type issues with kids is "Do the Right Thing" from the McGee & Me series. A young boy is deciding how to spend money he's earned.

Here are a couple of resources that I have used for stewardship teaching:

  • The Quiltmaker's Gift by Jeff Brumbeau Scholastic Press isbn 0-439-30910-7 (NOTE: this is not a “Christian” book per se, but is a wonderful story about selfishness, unconditional love, and giving)
  • Teaching kids to care and share Abingdon Press isbn 0-6870-8428-8
  • The Big Book of Presbyterian Stewardship by Elaine Barnett published by Geneva Press isbn 0-664-50157-5
  • Hands-On Service Ideas for Children’s Ministry published by Group isbn 0-7644-2040-2
  • Family Serve Volunteer Opportunities for Families by Mary Thoele published by Quality Life Resources isbn 1-931380-01-5
  • Giving Together A Stewardship Guide for Families by Carol Wehrheim available from Westminster John Knox Press isbn 0-664-22689-2
  • The Table Where Rich People Sit Byrd Baylor isbn 0-689-82008-9
  • The Doggy Dung Disaster and Other True Stories Garth Sundeen isbn 13-978-1-57542-9

Youtube video from Central Films:  "God's Pie" 

A man serves up pie to all his needs and leaves nothing for God.

Gets the point across in a clever and humorous way.

http://youtu.be/upmyrinWq64

Can be downloaded (see note below the video on youtube.)

What I'd do with this video is this:  after showing it and discussing it, I'd have the KIDS make their own "God's Pie" video.  Instead of "mortgage" and "car" -what would kids say they spend God's pie on? I'd also have the kids make a second version showing the "right way" to divide up their pie. God first? 

Veggie Tales:  Madame Blueberry

Considered one of the better DVDs in the series, Madame Blueberry learns a lesson about greed and "stuff."

She isn't happy and thinks it's because she doesn't have enough stuff. Then, a Stuff-Mart opens up down the road. Through Madame Blueberry's quest for more stuff she realizes that all the stuff in the world won't make her happy.

What she wants is a happy and thankful heart. She realizes this a little too late and loses her treehouse. -but is still thankful for the lesson she learned.  (yes, children, spending on stuff can cost you!)   In this age of "gotta have it all," this is a great way to show kids that having a lot of "stuff" won't buy happiness. 

The Thankful Leper, Luke 17:11-19

Animated video short for kids.

Go to our Thankful Leper lesson forum:

Jesus Heals Ten Lepers, The One Thankful Leper

Go to the Writing Team's Thankful Leper lesson set:

Writing Team Lesson Set: Jesus Heals the Ten Lepers

Some thoughts about what stewardship is and isn't...

Feel free to add yours.

Seven Signs You Are Not Serious About Teaching Stewardship

  1. You make it primarily about collecting and giving money. 
  2. You make it primarily about what the church is doing.  
  3. Your church and classroom do not practice good stewardship of resources.
  4. You do not address all facets of a person's life as places where stewardship can be exercised.
  5. You are not teaching money and time management disciplines.
  6. You teach stewardship as a seasonal lesson instead of a year-round daily lifestyle.
  7. Your own life is sorely lacking in examples of good stewardship.


Stewardship of what?

  1. Stewardship of your faith -- building your response to the world on rock rather than sand.
  2. Stewardship of Creation, ...environment, Creation-friendly practices, advocating, 
  3. Stewardship of our bodies, ...health as a gift to be cared for, what you fill your mind with.
  4. Stewardship of our talents and spiritual gifts, identifying, nurturing, channeling.
  5. Stewardship of your time and priorities, n...ot wasting time, rest, work, play, service
  6. Stewardship of our relationships with other people, ...caring, empathy, justice
  7. Stewardship of money and possessions, ...the purpose of work and sharing of rewards.
  8. Stewardship of ________________.


What is Stewardship?


Stewardship = Responding to God's love by caring for what God has given us

Stewardship = A heart of selflessness and generosity.

Stewardship = A hopeful, optimistic faith that looks to solve the world's problems rather than retreat from them.

Stewardship = Leading an exemplary life that encourages others to do the same.

Stewardship = Recognizing how you are contributing to problems and making changes.

Stewardship = ______________________.

The "Sand, Pebble, Rock" Stewardship Demonstration

The "Sand, Pebble, Rock" demonstration has been around for a long time. It is often used in a secular way to demonstrate how we can manage our time. It has also been used to visually demonstrate organizing your priorities



There are several versions on YouTube. The following is a children's sermon version.

Main Point: Stewardship of priorities -- making sure you're taking care of the most important things first.

Lesson Suggestion: After you do the basic demonstration, read Matthew 6:33 "Seek first," and ask "What are "the most important" things?"  Suggest that the students decide what some of the big rocks are, write on them. Then invite pairs of students to do the demonstration themselves as you videorecord them with your cellphone. 

Scripture: "Seek First the Kingdom of God, and then all these (other) things are possible. Matthew 6:33



One negative is that the visual suggests you can "have it all," when in fact, there are things we that do and want that we should probably NOT do and want. I think the metaphor and demonstration could be adjusted to force students to consider "which things" they need to STOP making a priority, or filling up the space of the lives with.



"Empty" Space is also not a bad thing, rest, contemplation, etc. You could represent that by using clear glass marbles (or by simply NOT filling the jar to the top).  In fact, you could use various types of colored rocks to represent different categories. 

Playing with the metaphor is something older kids, youth and adults can easily grapple with. For younger children, keep the metaphor simple and make sure they understand what the various rocks represent.

A stewardship game

The Colander Game

(which is really an object lesson disguised as a game)

Probably a good idea to play this one outside. 

First set up the demonstration as a relay race. Give each team a plastic colander. They try to fill it as fast as they can from one bucket (using a ladle or cup) and move the colander of water to another bucket three feet away. Of course, the water will pour through the colander!  (this is the first teaching point).

Now label the first bucket "money" and take one of the collanders and begin labeling the holes in the colander as "things to spend money on."  [Purchase plastic colanders at the dollar store so you can write on them with a sharpie to label the holes with all the things people spend their money on.]   Once labeled, have the kids 'demonstrate' how their ladles of money keep going through all the holes back into the bucket. (Talk through the meaning of this.)

Now switch the colander and water metaphor to "TIME," and on the second colander begin writing "things we spend time on" based on what the kids tell you. Some of them are wasteful for sure. Have them demonstrate the water pouring through this colander once again.

Ask.... In our game, how do we get time and money (the water) over into this second bucket?? The answer is to start covering up the "holes" that cause us to waste time and money.  

Give each team some paper towel (which they will soon use to line their colander with). Ask them what the "paper towel" represents...  i.e. what can a person do to STOP WASTING time and money and get it to God's bucket.  Write some of these things on the paper towels and then place them in the collander. Sprinkle with water to get the paper towel to conform to inside of the colander where it will seal the holes and allow the colander to hold water.

Then label the second bucket "GOD'S PRIORITIES" and have the students come up with suggestions for what they think God's priorities are. Look at Matthew 6:33, Seek First the Kingdom, and discuss what Jesus' priorities probably were. 

Finally, now that you have everything labeled (colanders, papertowel, buckets), play the game one last time to see who can get the most water into God's bucket within 1 minute.

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The Hot Potato Stewardship Game

Stewardship includes taking responsibility for problems and trying to solve them instead of just ignoring them or "passing them along" to someone else.

Using a real potato, begin innocuously enough by playing "hot potato" with your kids (passing a potato until the music or timer stops).  Play this two or three times.  (You can use your cellphone to play a song and hit the 'pause' button to stop the potato passing.)

Now hold up the potato and ask students to describe some of the most pressing problems in our world today.  (climate, poverty, homelessness, hunger, health, etc). WRITE these things on the potato (or on multiple potatoes) using a sharpie and play 'hot potato' again for a couple of times. Ask them to tell you what they think THE POINT is (we pass problems to others without taking responsibility for them, or without trying to problem solve). 

[You may write different problems on different potatoes. You may have more than one potato being passed around... which will be fun.]

Ask:  How do we stop the game of "passing problems to other?"  How do we take responsibility for making God's world a better place....  etc etc.

Introduce the Parable of the Good Samaritan which the students may be familiar with. Discuss it as a "parable of stewardship" -- not passing by the problem but stopping to do something to help. You might even write "person in need" on a potato and pass it around in a quick game of hot potato. 

Finally, give each student their own potato and a sharpie. After a brainstorming session of "things that STEWARDS need to care for, solve, stop/start doing," have the students pick several that mean the most to them and write them on their potato.

This potato goes home with them.  Invite them to cook up their potato at home with a parent's help, and share it with a family member to remember and think about the lesson today.

That's the basic idea. You fill in the details and connections as you see fit. 

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MISC STEWARDSHIP IDEAS

Submitted by our members and moved here. Add yours by clicking "reply" at the end of this topic.



JaneJane  and Julie Burton both posted:

Parents, Kids and Money Matters "workshop" kit you can get for free. It's in the educational resources section, workshop kits at https://www.thrivent.com/works...s/workshop-kits.html

"Money Matters for Kids" by Larry Burkett, from TV's "Money Matters."  He also wrote a book by that name for kids that has Biblical principles, jokes and examples in it. We used it with our stewardship rotation and the kids loved it.  If you don't see it on Amazon, try Christianbooks.com

moneymatters




Cynthia posted:

I'm focusing on the Widow's Mite this year, last year it was the Parable of the Talents.

For drama, we are using the Kirk of Kildaire drama skits on the Lessons Exchange and then discussing them. 

For computer, we are using Cal and Marty's Scripture Memory CD (from Sunday Software) and adding a lot of verses on giving. 

Awesome Bible Stories software (from Sunday Software) includes the Parable of the Talents, with a built-in church Stewardship game the kids can play.


julie burton posted:

The "All My Stuff Belongs to God" Children's Ministries website has a great blog post with stewardship lesson ideas for preschool and childrenhttp://cogop.org/children/all-...tewardship-for-kids/


JanS posted:

There is a wonderful book called The Table Where Rich People Sit by Byrd Baylor, Aladin Publishing, 1998, 9780689820083, that would provide a great basis for a stewardship lesson! 

Note: As of 2018 it is still for sale on Amazon, which tells you it's a good one.

Someone has posted a pre and post book reading discussion guide for families at https://www.bctf.ca/uploadedFi...ereRichPeopleSit.pdf

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"Gratitude Pictionary"

an opening activity

To open your lesson and prime their thinking pumps, play a game of "Pictionary" where the kids step forward to draw something they are grateful for. 

As in Pictionary, you'll have "categories," only in your version they will be categories of things the player is grateful for. Feel free to discuss the categories (this is a discussion starter, after all).

Print these on slips of paper -- two copies for each category (so that each category gets used twice), then pass out the slips to the group in advance. When the player is called to come forward, they announce the category and begin to draw. 

  1. Something in the natural world that I am grateful for.
  2. A human being in my life that I am grateful for.
  3. Something about our church.
  4. An activity that I am grateful for.
  5. Something nice that somebody does for me.
  6. Something about myself that I'm grateful for.
  7. Something about God I am grateful for.

You can add or subtract categories. 

"Time" the drawing to one minute (or two, it doesn't really matter). 

Split into two teams. Each team can guess the other team's drawing. 

Allow the player to "stop the clock" to ask the teacher or a friend for help.

The point of this game is to get students thinking and sharing, and to give the teacher plenty of "teachable moments" as students talk about what they are grateful for. 

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Source: Washington Post, Braden Bell

Good for older kids, youth, and parents. Why not suggest parents print the list, cut it into slips, and place it in a basket on the table for the next time the family sits down together.

25 Questions for Youth and Parents
that will help them think about what they are grateful for

These are great questions that could easily be pared down (if needed) and turned into a self-assessment. After they fill it out, invite them to share their responses to various questions.

The questions are posed by the parent to the youth, and should also be answered by the adult.  I've highlighted the ones I especially like. For use between students and student-to-teacher, simply rephrase the questions.



  1. Who is the most important person in your life that I know?
  2. Who is the most important person in your life that I don't know?
  3. Tell me why your favorite person is your favorite person.
  4. What person has had the biggest influence on you thus far?
  5. What person trusts you the most?
  6. What person do you trust the most?
  7. What person knows you the very best?
  8. Of all the people who know you well, who do you think is closest to liking you as you are today — giving you unconditional love?
  9. What peer do you admire most? Why?
  10. What adult in your life do you admire most? Why?
  11. Have you ever told those people how important they are to you? Do you think they have any idea?
  12. What activity has had the biggest influence on you so far?
  13. If we moved tomorrow whom would you miss most (make it clear you are not moving!)?
  14. If we moved tomorrow what activity would you miss most?
  15. Phone aside, what appliance /modern invention would you miss the most if we lost electricity?
  16. What’s your favorite song? Can you help me understand what you like about?
  17. What’s your favorite movie of all time? What do you like about it?
  18. What show do you like to binge watch? Why?
  19. What book have you read that you liked most?
  20. What brings you the most joy in life?
  21. What experience are you really glad you had?
  22. What experience are you glad is over?
  23. What experience are you really glad you had that you are glad is over?
  24. What is something you didn’t like but you are glad happened?
  25. If you had to list five things you are most grateful for, what would be #1?

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