Zacchaeus Lesson Set
There are 6 workshops in this Zacchaeus unit:
- Art: Children will not be afraid of paint mess and will create a finger paint picture of Zacchaeus up in a tree looking down at Jesus who is calling to him.
- Games: play a game based on cheating and discuss real-life cheating in relation to Zacchaeus.
- Drama (below): retell the story using clothespin characters and scenery.
- Newsroom: children interview Zacchaeus himself.
- Puppets: contemporary puppet skits (scripts included) to help children reflect on life application of story.
- Video: view the video “Treasures in Heaven.” Children will learn the memory verse in a weaving activity.
See the flyer for this lesson and the complete set of Faith Quest lessons .
Summary of Lesson Activities:
The class will retell the story using clothespin characters and scenery.
- Jesus came to save the lost.
- When we are sorry we want to make up for the things we have done wrong.
- When we choose to follow Jesus, God changes our whole life.
- Children will find the story of Zacchaeus in the Bible and hear/read the story in a group.
- The class will retell the story using clothespin characters and scenery.
- The children will begin to understand that Jesus can help us change our lives.
- Read the scripture ahead of time.
- Gather the materials.
- Make a sample clothes pin.
- Clothes pins
- Glue, scissors, markers
- Pipe cleaners
- Cloth scraps, yarn
- Cardboard for “stage”
- Shoe boxes for Zacchaeus’s house
- Small squares of cloth filled & tied to resemble $ bags
- Twigs for trees
- Play dough to hold up trees
- Tables (optional)
Opening - Welcome and Introductions:
1. Greet the children and introduce yourself. Wear your nametag.
2. Explain the purpose of this workshop. In this workshop we will learn about Zacchaeus and Jesus. Jesus’ love changed Zacchaeus’s life and helped him become a better person. The story says that Zacchaeus was a short man so today we are going to make little men to help us tell the story (show clothes pin man).
Dig - Main Content and Reflection:
Read the Bible story to the class or have older children take turns reading. Encourage the children to use their bibles in looking up verses and help those that are having trouble. Discuss the story. At the beginning of the rotation and to younger classes you will need to do more explaining of some terms (what are taxes, etc.). Later in the rotation children will understand concepts better and will probably volunteer more answers when you ask questions. Some examples of questions and answers follow; you may think of more questions or different answers.
*Why did people think Zacchaeus was a sinner?
Zacchaeus was a tax collector. Tax collectors were thought to be sinful because they often collected more money then what they should and they kept the extra money for themselves. As a result, the tax collectors became rich and the other people became poor. People resented having too much money taken from them.
*Why do you think Jesus went home with Zacchaeus, who people thought was a sinner, rather than going home with one of his friends?
Jesus seems to know that staying with Zacchaeus is part of God’s plan for him. When Jesus comes into town he calls Zacchaeus by name, tells him to hurry down from the tree because Jesus will stay at his house. Many times in the Bible we see stories of how Jesus helps the poor or sinful people that others have turned away from. Jesus shows us that God’s love is for everyone.
*How would you feel if you were in the crowd waiting to see Jesus and he picks someone, who you knew had done bad things, to have a meal with? Would you feel jealous or angry?
No correct answer, sometimes it is hard when you try to do all the right things and behave well but someone who misbehaves seem to be rewarded for doing bad things: but Zacchaeus needed Jesus’ love and teaching to help him change.
*How did Zacchaeus change?
Zacchaeus said that he would give half of his property to the poor and would pay back anyone he cheated four times what he owed them.
*Was Jesus happy about what Zacchaeus said?
Yes, he said that Zacchaeus and his family have been saved!
*What does it mean when we say Jesus saves people who are lost?
Jesus teaches everyone (especially those who don’t know God or who have forgotten about God’s love) how to be good Christians. Jesus changes our lives through love. When Zacchaeus understands God’s love he changes his life and fixes his mistakes. His life becomes better with Jesus than it was with all the money he had gotten from tax collecting.
1. Before acting out story make clothes pin men. (See directions following lesson.) Set out carpet squares and work on the floor or have tables already set up.
2. Group children in small groups 2 to 3 per group. Supply each group with mini-props for their stage set up. Cardboard platform with road drawn/painted on, small twig trees held up right with playdough, shoe box decorated as Zacchaeus’ house, small bags of “money” in Zacchaeus’s house etc.
3. Explain that they can act out the story using their props and people. Emphasize the many actions in the story that make it wonderful for drama:
Jesus was going through Jericho.
Zacchaeus ran ahead and climbed a tree.
Jesus looked up.
He said, “Hurry Down!”
Zacchaeus glady welcomed Jesus.
Zacchaeus will give half his property away.
He will pay back those he cheated.
Zacchaeus and his family are saved!
Jesus saves people who are lost.
4. Allow time for each group to set up their scenery. Encourage the children to add detail and actions to their dramas and allow them to practice their mini dramas. Allow them to switch roles if they desire.
5. After practicing allow children to present their mini-dramas for one another.
Older children: Several options are available:
1. Try video recording the mini dramas and watching them on tape.
2. If the class doesn’t want to do mini dramas allow them to act out their own version of Zacchaeus on stage using costumes, etc.
3. If some want to do mini dramas and others want to act on stage, have them prepare their dramas, then watch each other’s shows.
Ask the shepherds to pass out the journals and pencils/markers. Suggestion: You may wish to give the children a sticker or some memento to paste in their journal as a reminder of the story or activity.
Prompts for journal writing: The story of Zacchaeus has a lot of action words (verbs) in it like run, climb, save, grumbled. The story shows us how when we choose to follow Jesus like Zacchaeus did, our whole life is changed. Let’s think of some action words (verbs) that show how we can choose to follow Jesus (take suggestions… pray, help, learn, give, change, apologize, understand, love….). Pick one or two words and draw a picture of yourself in action following Jesus. Older children can write a summary of their actions along with the picture.
Prayer: Prepare a prayer such as: Thank you God for sending Jesus to help save the lost. Help us to choose to follow Jesus and to put our love for Jesus into action. Amen
Preparing Clothes pin characters:
Materials: old fashioned clothes pins, pipe cleaners, cloth scraps, yarn, markers, scissors, glue.
- Arms: Cut pipe cleaner in half, only half is needed for each person. Slide pipe cleaner through the clothes pin slot with a little more sticking out the front. Bend longer piece around to the back, twist with other end of pipe cleaner to secure, then bend the arms to the side of the clothespin to look like arms. Curl the tips down to look like hands.
- Clothes: Cut cloth (or use pre-cut cloth) using pattern (a 2 ¾ inch by 2 ½ inch rectangle with slits for armholes). Dress character and tie with an ~ 3-4 inch piece of yarn for belt.
- Add face: Use markers (thin tips work best) to draw a simple face.
- Add hair: Use snips of yarn for hair and a beard (Gel glue or tacky glue works well).
A lesson from Kirk of Kildaire Presbyterian Church
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