A free lesson set from Neil MacQueen, Sunday Software
Click the CREATE PDF link at the bottom of this page to save this lesson as a PDF.
Overview of the Four Workshops on this page:
The four lessons on this page each feature a different teaching method and media, and are to be used 3 to 4 weeks in a row to really drive home this important story. I have written these four lessons with Workshop Rotation Model Sunday School in mind, but you can certainly use them in a traditional program as well.
- Computer Workshop: Use 5 Loaves ~ 2 Fishes CD
- Video Workshop: Use Nest’s Bread of Heaven DVD
- Drama Workshop: The “Day After” Skits
- Bible Skills & Game Workshop: Game Stations, Comparing the Gospels.
Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-15.
As discussed in the CD’s guide, and is suitable for all lessons, the story of the Feeding of the 5000 is NOT primarily a story about “sharing what you have.” Rather, Jesus uses the opportunity to share WHO HE IS with the crowd and his disciples, –that he is The One sent by God to save the people. His revelation to us requires a response, and that is why many of the following lessons address the “what now” of the story.
Suffice to say, the accounts largely agree, all though notably, only John has the small boy offering his food. Thus, his presence in the miracle should not be overstated as to shadow the centrality of the miracle as a sign pointing to Jesus. In the Bible Skills and Games Workshop, the children will compare the versions.
- Children will understand that Jesus is The One sent by God. He is the Savior, and he waits for their faithful response.
- Children will understand that they must learn from Jesus in order to know him and get close.
- Children will see the story as an example of Jesus’ compassion for the people and desire to multiply our gifts to help those in need.
Students watch Nest’s “Bread of Heaven” DVD.
- Click here to order the DVD directly from Nest’s website. The DVD combines the Feeding of the 5000 (where Jesus signals who he really is to the crowd) with Jesus’ declaration of his identity as “The Bread of Heaven”.
- Email Neil to receive a free copy of the Bread of Heaven DVD Activity Book. This free Nest resource has coloring pages and puzzles about the story for younger and older children. It is used as the follow-up activity for this lesson.
The Lesson Plan
1. Prior to Showing the DVD:
- Remind everyone that the story of Jonas in this story is fictional. The rest is true!
- Pass around some pieces of bread and ask the children for things that have bread in them (hamburgers, etc). Explain the meaning of “bread” as a basic food for our bodies, and “Jesus is going to teach us that he is like basic food for our souls. We are called to believe in him, and allow his words to be like bread that makes our faith strong.”
- Older Children: Distribute and quickly read the questions from the “Bread From Heaven Questions” page from the DVD’s downloadable activity book you can request from us. Tell them they will be answering these questions after they watch the video.
3. After Showing the DVD:
- Younger Children: Distribute the puzzle page of your choice from the downloadable activity book.
- Older Children: Answer the questions in the Bread From Heave Questions” you passed out before the video. Then, distribute the “Who Am I?” puzzle from the older kids section of the downloadable activity book.
- Pass out stick pretzels and softwhite bread. Have students make an edible bread Jesus. Discuss the image of “Jesus as the Bread of Heaven”. Remind the students that we are called to BELIEVE in this bread! …and to help others to believe in him and find nourishment for their lives and faith. Remind the kids of the connection to Communion. Eat your bread Jesus! …and make another couple of them and put in baggies to give to parents/siblings. Conclude with a prayer for Jesus to be our Daily Bread.
Computer Workshop/Class: 5 Loaves ~ 2 Fishes CD
- Students meet Peter and travel with him to Bethsaida as if they are the young boy.
- Once in the village, the players find their Uncle and must convince him to take the time to go listen to Jesus.
- When they find the bread and fish, and meet Jesus, they hear from him, and become part of the miracle.
- Afterwards, the boy and his Uncle go fishing and answer some questions about the story.
- Then they view a great music video that reflects on the meaning of the story.
Print the teacher’s outline to this CD at http://www.sundaysoftware.com/tips/5000-guide.pdf. It includes “cheats” to play the game 🙂
The software really is the lesson plan. It has Open, Dig, Reflect content and teaches the whole story. Your job as teacher is to go along and make sure the kids are learning the content and reflecting on it with you. The graphics on this page come from the CD.
Bible Skills & Game Workshop/Class: GAME STATIONS
Comparing the Gospels.
Your Bible Study will be in the format of an Olympic Game. You’ll create various “Game Stations” for teams to go and accomplish certain tasks before moving on. Some stations require/teach Bible Skills, and will cover basic content in the Feeding of the 5000 story.
You can have 2 or more students per team. Be careful that certain students don’t dominate the activity. At the end of these “Olympics” you will draw everyone together for final Bible study and reflection.
Divide into teams and then go over the instructions. Prizes will be at your discretion, but certainly giving candies is not ungodly! At the end of the games, MULTIPLY all the candies just as Jesus did…. piling together the prizes and then demonstrably ADDING your own stash of candy to their pile. Make sure there is “candy left over” for them to give to their parents.
Assign helper/referees to each station. Give each referee a scorecard to write down each team’s score. Compile scores when all teams have finished so nobody knows which team is really winning. Adapt the stations for your class sizes and needs. TEAMS ROTATE BETWEEN STATIONS until all have completed.
You can have teams rotate together one station at a time, or split up the teams to different stations. Depends on your size and setup.
Game Station One: Bible Story Shuffle
–ALL TEAMS BEGIN HERE–
Prepare ahead of time a set of Feeding of the 5000 “Verse Pages” using the following verse sections from John 6. Give each team a set of these verses, and explain the game. Instructions: After hearing the teacher read the scripture, when you say “go”, they turn over their verse sets and assemble the story in the correct order. Have a helper (who knows the correct order) announce when the team has put them in the right order. Award 50 points for 1st place, 30 for 2nd Place, 15 for 3rd Place, and 10 for 4th. Now have them turn their pages upside down and shuffle them. Read the story again and time them again for more points.
6 Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), 2 and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. 3 Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. 4 The Jewish Passover Festival was near.
5 When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” 6 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
7 Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”
8 Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, 9 “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”
10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). 11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.
12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.
14 After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” 15 Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.
Game Station Two: The Fishin’ Game
Teams use a fishing pole that has a magnet on the end of the line. They cast into a pond to retrieve discussion questions that have both a point value just for ‘catching’ the question, plus 10 bonus points for answering the question correctly (to the satisfaction of the teacher). Each team can only make 5 casts, so you’ll need about 10 possible questions to cast for. Tape a small piece of metal to fish shaped paper that have questions written on them. Spread the questions from each other so that they only “catch” one when retrieving their magnet lure.
Here are four starter questions, add three more of your own, and label three others as “super bonus point” fish that don’t require an answer because they have no question! (A “Grace” fish)
- 20 pts: It’s not like they were going to starve! What was Jesus trying to show people that day?
- 20 pts: The people had been listening to Jesus all day. What does that tell you about Jesus?
- 20 pts: After the people left that day filled up, what do you think they went home and told others about Jesus?
- 20 pts: If you had been that small boy, what would you have wanted to do after that day to follow Jesus?
Game Station Three: Read and Compare All Four Gospels
Students will write Down as many differences or unique things found in the Gospel as they can find. Suggest they divide up the Bibles, open to all four Gospels, and have someone read Matthew aloud. Stop at the end of each verse to see if the other Gospels have something different. Have a team leader write down the differences as kids say them. (A teacher may need to facilitate this). For early-readers, use different Bible storybooks, or eliminate/substitute this station with something else. Provide Bibles, flipchart, and markers. Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-15. Award 50 points for 5 or more “significant differences”, 25 points for 3 or more significant differences, and 10 for 2 or more significant differences. You may decide what constitutes “significant”. See Neil’s Bible Background doc for suggestions, but differences include: Where did it happen? What town? Who was there? What did Jesus say? What happened afterwards? Who said what?
Game Station Four: Collect the Bread into the Baskets!
Place three lines on the floor at 5, 10 and 20 feet away from a rather large basket (closer for younger students). Have several “loaves of Bread” (large sponges or bricks of dense squoosh foam). Each student gets THREE TOSSES. They can choose to toss the bread into the basket from one of the three lines. From the 5 foot line they get 10 points. From the 10 foot line they get 20 points. From the 20 foot line they get 50 points. Depending on age group and size of your basket, you can adjust “# of throws”. They are throwing for total team score.
Now here’s the kicker: to receive a loaf of Bread to throw, the student has to answer one of three questions which you have conveniently posted on a poster board: #1: Tell us part of the story of the Feeding of the 5000. #2: Tell us something about Jesus Christ that’s important. -or #3: Tell us something we can do that helps us learn more about Jesus and serve him. …and… They cannot repeat what other students have already said. Have a helper make note of some of the things the kids say, and use these in the closing.
Closing Reflection: Walk to each station with all the teams and ask the Helpers to mention something unique they learned there from the students. When you get to the “Station Three: Compare the Gospels”, point out why we have four slightly different versions of the Gospel. Ask “Why do you think all four writers would remember this story? What was so important to remember?”
If you have time, have each student cut out a fish and give them a sticky magnet to put on it for their home frig. Have them write a fun saying on the fish, such as, “Feed Me Jesus!” and “Soul Fish from Jesus” and “Hooked by the Lord”.
Drama Workshop/Class: “The Day After”
–3 imagined versions of “Small Boy” at home “the day after” he met Jesus.
The following “different kind of skits” harken back to a style of skits we used to do in youth group. They’re a great way to free kids up from reading scripts, and engaging the audience. I would expect you to expand on them, as they have a bit if “improv” to them.
Read John 6: 1-15 with your class. Use a storybook for younger children. Pull out a “disciple costume” and a “small boy with a fish” costume. Hand them to various children to quickly put on, then ask them one of these questions. Pass the costumes around to designate who’s “turn” it is to answer the next question you have. Here are the questions you might ask:
Questions for the Disciple:
What were you thinking when Jesus told YOU to feed all these people?
What were you thinking when Jesus said the 5 loaves and 2 fish would be enough? Did you think he was off his rocker?
What were you thinking about Jesus when the baskets came back FULL after everyone had enough to eat?
Several times later you would DOUBT Jesus again. In the boat during the storm, and when he was arrested, for example. Why is it hard to believe in Jesus?
Questions for the Small Boy:
Why were you there that day ?
When Jesus asked for your lunch, what first went through your mind?
After the miracle, when you got home, what did you tell your Dad about Jesus?
How has your life been different since meeting and learning from Jesus and seeing this miracle?
Ask the children if they know what the phrase “talk the talk and walk the walk” means. Explain it to them. Jesus wants us to say that we believe, and ACT like we believe. Say: Jesus’ miracle was meant to reveal WHO HE REALLY WAS to the crowd and to his disciples. He wants us to BELIEVE in him as the Savior, the Christ, so that we can do more than just TALK about following him, but have the strength of belief to ACT like him.
How do we ACT like Jesus? (caring, kindness, healing, forgiving, teaching and learning God’s Word, praying, worshipping).
Jesus did this miracle because he wants us to BELIEVE in him, and go home from the crowd that day and tell others, and lead holy lives. What happens AFTER you go to church, what happens THE DAY AFTER you say you believe, is important. It’s walking the walk, and not just talking the talk.
Overview of “The Day After” Skits
In this skit concept, the kids will split up into groups of 2, and come forward to draw a “skit slip situation” out of a bowl. They must read the skit slip TITLE out loud and get ready to act it out. The teacher has the script that corresponds with the skit slip, they do the voices while the actors act out saying what the narrator says, and DOING the motions which the narrator says. (Feel free to playfully add things for them to do). Tell them that “the best actors” will receive awards! If you have more than six kids, either add a skit of your own making, or put the skit slips back in the bowl and do some twice. It will be fun. The success of these skits will in large part depend on YOU the READER taking your time, pausing and prompting. Copy these texts into your own wordprocessing document and enhance.
Skit Slip One: Lord, I wanna join your band.
Small boy picks up the phone and calls Jesus, dialing the numbers outloud. Jesus answers “hello”. Hello you’ve reached the Lord Jesus’ voicemail. Press 1 if you want to follow me. Press Zero if you don’t. Small boy presses 1, and Jesus picked up the phone. Finally! someone wants to follow me, Jesus said doing a little victory dance. It’s me, smallboy, he said breathlessly like he was really out of breath, and I wanna join your band Jesus. My band? Jesus asked…you mean my rock band? or my disciple’s band? Uh, there’s a difference?, said small boy looking really unsure, and kind of lost. Not really, said Jesus, excitedly talking with his hands. Both bands ROCK, said Jesus as he played his electric guitar. Louder. And they are both kind of the same. Oh? said a confused small boy, hitting his forehead as he tried to figure out what Jesus meant. Yeah, said Jesus striking a rockstar pose. Both my rockband and my disciples band follow me, the leader. We practice together, he said, doing a rockstar yell O Yeah! We go on the road together, he said walking around in circles. We do a lot of singing, Jesus said as he started to sing a song of praise. I only play the guitar, said small boy as he pretended to air guitar, down on one knee. That’s okay said Jesus, excitedly gesturing with his hands, and feet. When you join my band, you bring whatever gifts you have, and put them in with everyone else’s, and my Father in Heaven blesses them so that we sound GREAT together, he said pumping his fist in the air. Awesome Dude! said small boy. I mean, uh, How nice Lord Jesus. No it is AWESOME DUDE, said Jesus, striking a rockstar pose, flipping his hair. So how to I get started said small boy. Well, said Jesus, pointing his finger in the air, my band practices every Sunday morning, said Jesus looking strongly over his phone at small boy who he could see across the phoneline because he was the Lord, every Sunday morning at your local church. Shall I expect you? To which small boy, jumping with joy, kicking up his feet, and landing in a rockstar pose said, “Yes Dude! …I mean Lord. See you then.
Skit Slip Two: Get Out of Bed!
It’s 8 am on Sunday morning and Small girl is still snoring in bed. Her alarm clock sounds. She hits the alarm clock. It sounds again, and she hits it again, and starts snoring again. Her mom yells up the stairs, Time to go to church Small girl! Small girl snores louder. Mom walks loudly up the stairs yelling again. Come on….you yourself said you believe in Jesus Christ, so it’s up to you to get out of bed and go learn about him and worship him. Small girl pulled the covers up over her head, and mumbled. Look! said her mother as she tore the sheets off small girl’s bed. Small girl cringed because all she had on was her My Little Pony underwear. MOM! I’m tired! shouted small girl as she sat up, then started jumping on the bed. Well, you’re up now, dear, get ready for church. But Mom, I got to bed late, said small girl as she stomped her feet, and gritted her teeth, and flipped her long flowing hair, while putting on a shirt. That’s tough small girl. But when you make a choice to believe in Jesus, you make a commitment to go learn from him too. Now here, take your fish, and your bread, and put on this dress. And here, let me help you put on your shoes. Why is this shoe stuck? I should push harder. MOM! There, now I’ll meet you in the car, she said as she skipped back down the stairs. But Mom! said small girl as she threw herself on the floor…I’m so tired, Jesus will understand, won’t he? …she said as she stomped down the stairs. then realized she had stomped all the way to the basement, and stomped back upstairs to the garage. Get in the car dear, if you’re going to “talk the talk” of faith, then you’ve got to walk the walk of faith. And they drove off to church, in their noisy car, a little too fast.
Skit Slip Three: Carry me Daddy?
It was 9 am Sunday morning, and everyone was just waking up at the small boy’s home. Small boy was yawning. And rubbing his eyes. And scratching his bum. And small boy’s dad was getting up, yawning, rubbing his eyes, shaving his face, gargling mouthwash, and sipping coffee. Dad? Said small boy, I want to go to church this morning. What? said dad as he spit up his coffee. You want to go to church? It’s boring! he said as he threw down his newspaper. Yeah, I know it’s boring sometimes dad, said small boy as he picked up the paper, and gave it back to his dad, and shook his finger at him for his terrible attitude. Dad, it’s Jesus, I met him yesterday and he’s The One! See my finger signaling that? Number 1, Dad, Number 1. See my toes signaling that? He’s the Messiah Dad. the Messiah? said dad, scratching his head, and fluffing his hair. You think he might be the one sent by God, huh? said the Dad while he brushed his teeth and mumble something with frothy toothpaste coming out of his mouth. Yeah, said the small boy as he started to brush his teeth and frothing at the mouth. And if that’s true Dad, we own him our attention and our worship and our service. WHAT? said the dad frothing at the mouth. I don’t understand you? I said, said the small boy still brushing his teeth and spitting, I said he’s the Son of God DAD! I know it, I saw it, I feeeeeel it, say the small boy rubbing his hands all through his hair to show how much he was feeling it. And wiggling his body Well, Okay, said the dad, but remember, your legs don’t work sometimes, and it sure looks like your legs are all wobbly this morning. Really wobbly, so here, let me give you a piggy back ride to church, because if Jesus in the One, then we BOTH need to go learn from him. And the Dad gave a piggyback ride to the small boy, and they went to church. And they went up hill, and downhill, and around a curve, and the small boy waved at his friends as they passed by. Come to church with us, he shouted, Jesus in the One, come one! And the children all ran and joined in the piggyback ride to church on the Dad. Because that’s what makes Jesus happy… people like Dad and small boy, and other kids coming to learn from him, and learn that he is their Lord. Amen!
I hope you recognize and enjoy this type of skit. It was made popular on the TV show “Who’s Line Is It Anyway”. This type of skit is a really great way to free up kids from having to read scripts, and instead, just REACT to the narration. The audience really loves it too. Consider videotaping the skits for fun.
Offer donut holes and swedish fish and juice to your actors. Say that Jesus wants us to BELIEVE in him, LEARN from him, ENJOY being together with him. Let’s pray for those things.
Learn more about our Five Loaves ~ 2 Fishes CD