Jesus our Teacher: The Good Shepherd

Henry Ossawa Tanner, 1930

Objectives

(1.) Children will work with the image of the sheep and shepherd and describe their relationship.

(2.) Over the season of Lent, children will come to see Jesus as the Good Shepherd whose very life is given for the sheep.

Gather

Remind your class that we are observing the season of Lent. If you have selected a discipline for the season, work on that for a bit before moving into the lesson. Remember to look at the journal prompts at the end of this lesson.

Hear the Word

The Parable of the Good Shepherd is found in John 10: 1-5, 11-18. You can also tell this story from one of our children’s Bibles. I will put them out on Sunday in the commons area for your use.

Respond to the Word

(1.) Watercolor Sheep: Use the watercolor paper in the supply closet (we have multiple sizes, including 11×17). Ask your students to use white crayon and draw as many sheep as they would like on the water color paper. Writers may enjoy writing “I am the Good Shepherd” or “Jesus is my Shepherd” somewhere on the page. All of the children may enjoy coloring the sun or some landscape details. Once the coloring is complete, use water color to paint the grass and sky. Example here.

For our younger children who may not be quite ready to draw forms, you can cut out white circles while letting them paint the grass and sky. Once the paper is mostly dry, place the white circles on the poster and ask the children to color in sheep details.

If you do this activity, spend a couple of minutes showing the children how to use watercolor. You might like to demonstrate the way to get variations of color: more water for areas that you want to be lighter, and less water when you want the color to be darker. Here is an article about helping children be successful with watercolors.

(2.) Naming Sheep: Each child loves knowing that the Good Shepherd calls the sheep by name. When I told this story to some of our Holy Family children, it was their favorite part! Begin by having each student in your class make a small (about the size of a hand) paper sheep. Then, using the paper materials, tell the story of the good shepherd. When you finish, point to one of the sheep and wonder: “I wonder what name the Good Shepherd calls this sheep.” Invite the children to respond by giving each of the sheep a name. As you wrap up, put the sheep in a line, point to the first one again and say, “I wonder if the Good Shepherd calls this sheep [insert child’s name].” Some of the children have seen this happen at our Wednesday night Lent programs (about 15 of them), but they loved to name the sheep (we had some creative ones) and loved to hear that the sheep shared their own name. As each child leaves your classroom, encourage them to share all of their sheep names with their parents.

(3.) Reenact or Retell the story: Use materials created in class, from the Godly Play room, or from the supply closet (I have eight or nine yarn sheep that one class can borrow for this activity). After you have shared the story, wonder together about it (I wonder why the sheep wander, or I wonder why these sheep are so precious to the Good Shepherd). Afterwards, take turns letting the children tell the story with materials. Watch them tell the story and ask them to share why they told the story the way that they did. You may want to ask them a simpler question: What is your favorite part of the story?

Please let me know if you would like to do this so I can set aside some materials for you to choose from.

(4.) Active Games (same as the ones we used for the Parable of the Lost Sheep):

Hide and Go Sheep: Select one of your students to play shepherd,while the remainder of your class wanders and hides from him/her. The shepherd looks for each of the sheep and takes them to a designated sheepfold. When all of the sheep have been found, the game can start over with a different shepherd.

Sheepfold (like Sardines) Choose one student in your class to hide in the sheepfold. All of the other students look for the other student. Without a word, as each child finds the sheepfold, they join until the last sheep has found the sheepfold. (you may have success playing this game outside).

“Where are my Sheep?” (like Marco Polo): Choose one child to play the shepherd. Blind fold them and spin them around. The shepherd asks, “Where are my sheep?” and each time the other children should say “baaa.” Each sheep the shepherd tags is out and must go sit in the sheepfold.

Journal: Younger classes may like to add the sheep’s name to their journal page from last week. They may also enjoy drawing a shepherd, sheepfold, and several sheep. Children at writing age, may like to tell the story of the Good Shepherd in their own words. Our older students, may rewrite the story in their own words and then write why it is meaningful to them.

Alternatively, you may print off a poem or story from this blog post. Read and reflect on the selection together. Then, ask each student to paste a copy of the selection into their journal. Children may want to decorate around the selection or write what it means to them. Even if your students are not of reading or writing age, you may enjoy reading these selections. Parents may also like a copy of the poem or story.

Close in Prayer: Your students may enjoy this prayer from the Book of Common Prayer.

From the Venite (p. 32, Paragraph 3, from Psalm 95:6-7) reads: “Come let us bow down, and bend the knee, and kneel before the Lord our maker. For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand. Oh that today you would hearken to his voice!”

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