Thank you to the incomparable Iris Hartness for writing this lesson! Please note the Creative Commons License at the bottom.
The key to forgiveness? Confession!
Free Time/Organized Play – you can allot up to 15 minutes for free time while children are making their way into the classroom. This is also a good time to get bathroom breaks out of the way.
Howzitgoin? – use this time to capture each child’s week in review. Use the dry erase board to illustrate a scale of 1-10. 1 being horrible and 10 being fantastic.
Activity #1—I Confess! (Telephone game)
Say: Today, we’re going to talk about confessing. Who knows what it means to confess? When you confess, it means that you admit you are wrong. Before we get started today, I’m going to confess something to one of you, and we’ll see if what I can confess makes it all the way around the group correctly.
The group sits in a large circle. One person starts the game by whispering a short message into the ear of the person sitter to the right of them. The message is whispered once, then the new messenger passes the message on to the next person, so on and so on. When the message reaches the person to the left of the person that started the game final the message is announced out loud and the first person can announce the original message.
At the end, say: some of the things I confessed were silly. But, later today, we’re going to talk about something pretty important–confessing to God. But, before we do that, let’s get up and moving with a worship song!
Worship – Shout Praises Kids: Promises – One Way
Activity #2 – Flying Fish Frenzy
Preparation: markers, blue and red construction paper, scissors, bandanas or other eye covering, art paper, tape
Hand out markers, construction paper and scissors to the kids. Show them how to draw a fish like this: Have the kids cut out their fish and make equal piles of blue and red fish. You will also need a long piece of art paper on the wall, on which waves are drawn and clouds and sun for sky. Have kids put a rolled piece of tape on the back of each fish.
Split group into red and blue teams. When it is the blue team’s turn, they will watch and cheer on red and vice versa. Like Pin the Tail on the Donkey, have team members attempt to put their team’s fish on the paper blindfolded. In the end, the team with the most fish in the ocean wins.
Afterwards, say: can a bird live in the ocean? Can a fish live in the sky? No! It’s not in their nature. What would happen if a bird decided to live in a pineapple on the bottom of the ocean? He would drown! What would happen if a fish tried to build a nest and live in a tree? He wouldn’t last long, right? That’s because it’s in a bird’s nature to fly and breathe the air. It’s in a fish’s nature to swim and breathe underwater.
Now, let’s think about God. It is in God’s nature to be pure and clean. In fact, He is perfectly pure. No one else can say that! And, just like it’s against a fish’s nature to live in the sky, it is against God’s nature to live around things that aren’t pure like Him. So, what happens if someone’s heart is not perfectly pure and clean like God? Can he be a friend with someone like that? Let’s sit down and talk about it.
Preparation: two large ‘clean’ hearts, on one written “God”, one large ‘dirty’ heart, a cross, “sin” words (can be drawn on the board or pre-cut)
In the beginning when God first made the world, people had a close friendship with God. People used to have hearts like God’s heart. 1 John 1:5b tells us that “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” God’s heart is pure. People’s hearts were pure too. (Show the ‘clean’ hearts).
But, when the people disobeyed God, their hearts changed. They were no longer pure and clean like God. Sin kept their hearts from being clean (Exchange the ‘clean’ heart for the ‘dirty’ heart). From then on, everyone was born with a dark heart.
Having dark hearts leads to doing and thinking dark things. We call that sin. Sin is when you ignore God and try to make yourself happy. We sin when we do or believe whatever we want and ignore God and the people who He puts in charge of us. Earlier, we talked about God’s nature—how He can only be with things that are pure and clean like Him. The sinful hearts separated people from God. Their sinful behavior and thoughts was a constant reminder that they needed God to make them clean. But, the sin created a gap between God and man that neither could get over.
Some people try to fix the gap and fix their hearts by being extra good, going to church and trying to always be nice. Other people try to make their hearts feel better by disrespecting other people or themselves. None of these things can help fill in the gap sin created. If this is where the story ended, it would be very sad! But 1 John 1:7b gives us the good news “the blood of Jesus, (God’s) Son, purifies us from all sin.” (Place the cross between the dirty hearts and clean God heart)
Jesus is the only one who could pay for sin. Jesus is perfect; He never ever sinned, so He was the only one who could take the dark hearts and lives, the ugliness of all the sin in the world to the cross. Jesus took the sin in his hands, and when he was nailed to the cross, the sin was nailed there too. His blood washed the people’s sin away and made a way for them to have pure, clean hearts again.
Jesus died for our sin too. If we admit that we have a dark heart, and that we are trying to live our lives without God as our King, God will give us a clean, pure heart too! 1 John 1:9 says, “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Our sin and dark hearts were nailed to the cross and died with Jesus. When Jesus came alive on Easter Sunday, he showed us that we could have new life and clean hearts. (Replace black heart with white again)
Do you have a pure heart from God? Have you asked God to be your forever friend and give you a new, clean heart? Why don’t we pray and talk to God about that now.
Pray with your children. You may use this as a template: Father, I know there is nothing I can do to fill in the gap that sin makes between me and you. Thank you for sending Jesus to pay for my sin so that you and I can grow in friendship together. The Bible tells me that if I confess my sin to you, you will cleanse me. I ask you to speak to me by your Spirit and show me where I am ignoring you. Please show me how I am trying to make myself happy instead of listening to you. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Worship – Shout Praises Kids: Living For You – All Because of Jesus
Small Groups – Split your class to mirror the # of adults. Typically, there are two volunteers and so the recommended division is K-2nd graders and 3rd-5th graders. Have each group answer these questions:
- When God first made people, what were their hearts like? (like God’s—pure)
- What pushed God away from people and created a gap that couldn’t be crossed? (sin)
- What things can you do on your own to fill in the gap sin makes between you and God? (nothing)
- What had to happen to bridge the gap sin created between God and man? (Jesus had to die)
- Have you asked God to cleanse your heart?
- If so, how do you show other people that you have a new heart from God?
Activity #3 – Walk in the Light
Summary: Simple circle game, in which the person in the middle has to find a hidden object.
Goal: Don’t end up in the middle of the circle.
Preparation: A small object (marble, ring, coin)
How to play walk in the light:
1. Have all the kids create a circle, facing inwards. Choose one person to be The Guesser. The person needs to stand in the middle of the circle.
2. Explain the rules: The object will be passed from person to person behind their backs. Everyone in the circle needs to say “Walk in the light as He is in the light” while pretending to pass the coin behind their backs to the next person’s hand, to try and fool the Guesser. The coin can be passed in different directions. The Guesser will have to guess who has the object.
3. Ask The Guesser to close his/her eyes. Spin The Guesser around in circles. Have the kids start chanting and passing the object. After a few seconds, tell The Guesser to open his/her eyes and try to guess who has the coin.
4. The game continues until The Guesser guesses the correct person with the coin. The person with the coin gets to be the next person in the middle.
After playing, say: How difficult was it to hide the object from The Guesser? What would make this game easier for The Guesser to win? (X-ray vision, read people’s thoughts, etc) It’s fun in a game to try to hide something from someone, but have you ever tried to hide something from God? Do you think you could ever hide a thought or a feeling from God?
Receiving a pure, clean heart doesn’t mean that you will never make a mistake. It’s easy to forget that you have a pure heart and act like you used to when your heart was dark. But, God forgives our mistakes, if we’re honest with Him and talk to Him about it. Remember 1 John 1:9: Instead of hiding from God, if we confess our sin to Him, he will forgive us. We don’t have to be afraid of being honest with God because He loves us and sharing our thoughts, feelings, and even mistakes with Him, helps us know Him better.
Game – Big Wind Blows
To set up the game, arrange several chairs facing inward into a medium sized circle. There should be one chair for each player, minus one.
One person starts as the “Big Wind” in the center of the circle, with everyone else seated. The Big Wind raises both arms and spins around, while saying the following: “The Big Wind blows _____”. The blank must be filled with a true statement about himself or herself, such as “The Big Wind blows everyone who has been to Canada” or any other true fact. At this point, any of the players who share this characteristic (including the person who is currently the Big Wind) must stand up and quickly find a new seat. For each statement, no player is allowed to sit in the same seat or a seat directly adjacent to his or her previous seat. One person will be left without a seat. This person becomes the new “Big Wind” for the next round.
This game is especially interesting when players use unique, unexpected, or funny statements. For example, a player can say embarrassing statements such as, “Big Wind blows those who have gone without a shower for three days.” Have fun and remember the objective of the group game: to get to know each other better.
Close w/ The Apostle’s Creed
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.
Free Time/Organized Play/Clean Up – If you have any trash lying on the floor or on tables, use this time to clean up prior to letting free time commence.
lovesick_an elementary curriculum_part two by Iris Hartness is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at spitandmud.com.
- love sick_an elementary curriculum_part one. (spitandmud.com)