Free Sunday School Lessons for Children
The Prodigal Son
The following Sunday School lesson for children is a free sample Sunday School lesson. There are many more Sunday School lessons available on The Resource Room.
This is a great lesson to teach for Father's Day. Children today need to know more than ever that they have a Father in heaven that they can always depend on, who will always be there for them no matter what happens or what they do. So many children today come from broken homes. They often only get to see their fathers on the weekends or a couple of times a month. Fathers today are busier than ever. I have heard statistics that the average time a father spends with his children is only two to three minutes a day.
Memory Verse: Psalm 86:5
Scripture References: Luke 15:11-31
Teaching Concept: Children learn that God is a loving and forgiving God.
Early Arrivers Activities
1. Color Pigs to be Used for the Activity
Hand out pig pictures for the children to color (See the activity section for printouts.). Tell them that they will be used for a game they will be playing later.
2. Help the Prodigal Son find His Way Home Activity Sheet
Work on the "Help the Prodigal Son Find His Way Home" Sheet
Read the "Parable of the Lost Son" from Luke 15:11-31
Our story today is about a father who had two sons. For some reason the younger son was not happy at home with his family. Our story doesn't tell us why he wasn't happy, only that he wanted to leave. Does anyone have any ideas why the younger son might not have wanted to stay home with his father and older brother? (Let the children give their ideas.) He had everything he needed. His father provided for all his needs. He had food, clothes, and servants. Maybe he was bored at home. Or maybe he felt like he couldn't be good enough. Maybe his big brother was always doing things better than him. Maybe he wanted to prove to himself that he could make it on his own, that he didn't need anyone to depend on for his clothes and food. Maybe he was tired of doing things his father's way and wanted to do things his own way. Maybe he thought his father made him work too hard.
It doesn't really matter why he wanted to leave, we only know that he did. One day he went to his father and persuaded him to give him his inheritance now instead of waiting for him to die. His father divided up his land and all the possessions he had worked for all his life between the two brothers and gave each half.
The younger son sold everything he had been given and left his family. He bought himself the best clothes he could find. Everyone wanted to be his friend. Everybody liked him because he threw wild parties with lots of food and drinking and dancing. He thought only about what he wanted and how he could please himself.
After awhile though his money began to run out and he found that the people he thought were his friends only liked him for his money.
About that time there was a famine in the land. There wasn't much food to go around and jobs were hard to find. He went everywhere looking for a job, but no one wanted to hire him. Finally he persuaded a local farmer to hire him to feed his pigs. The son was so hungry that the pigs food began to look good to him. Does anyone know what pigs eat? They are fed the parts of the plants that aren't very edible to humans. The pods that are left over after collecting the beans or the husks and cobs lift over after eating the corn and other things like that.
By this time this poor son was in pretty bad condition. Can you image what he looked like? What he smelled like? What do you think he was thinking at this point in his life? He had everything he wanted when he lived with his father. Now he was living with the pigs and eating their food. He began to realize that he had made a big mistake. This was not at all what he wanted to do with his life. He had no friends, or family, or even food.
He knew that his father was kind and made sure that the people who worked for him had plenty to eat. He thought to himself, "I have sinned against God in heaven and my father. I have wasted all the money my father worked so hard to save for my future. I don't deserve to be called his son. I will go back home and ask him to hire me as one of his servants so that at least I won't starve to death.
The younger son picked himself up and headed back to his father's house. When he was still a long way off his father had seen him and felt sorry for him. He ran to his son and hugged and kissed him and held him in his arms. The son told his father how he felt -- that he didn't deserve to be his son anymore. He just wanted to work for him so that he would not starve. But his father wasn't listening. He was so excited to see his son. He had been waiting and praying a long time for his safe return. He had been worried and was constantly watching and waiting for the moment he would appear over the horizon.
The young man's father didn't yell at him, or reject him. He didn't tell him how stupid and wasteful he had been. Instead he had his servants bring his son the best clothes he had and put them on him. He put a ring on his finger symbolizing that his father had forgiven him and accepted him back into the family. He prepared a big party and invited everyone he knew to celebrate the return of his son. He celebrated as if his son had been dead and had now come back to life.
The father in this story was a great father wasn't he? We don't always get this response from our own fathers when we make mistakes, do we? Sometimes they yell at us and tell us that we didn't make a very good choice or weren't being very smart. Sometimes they give us a lecture about what we should have done. Sometimes we even get punished. But our fathers don't do these things because they want to hurt us, they do them because they want the best for us. They punish us because they love us and want us to do the right thing.
The father in this story knew that his son had learned his lesson. He knew that he was sorry for what he had done. He probably thought that his son had been punished and shamed enough. He didn't have to tell him he was so stupid and wasteful; the young man already knew it.
When Jesus was telling this story, he wasn't talking about our fathers here on earth, he was talking about our Father in Heaven. He was trying to show us how God loves us unconditionally. He loves us no matter what we do. He is sad when we do wrong and turn away from him, but he never rejects us and anxiously waits for our return. David said it perfectly when he wrote in Psalms 86:5, "You are kind and forgiving, O Lord, abounding (overflowing) in love to all who call you.
Copyright Notice-Even though this is a free lesson it is still copyrighted. It is for personal use only. It may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, except for local church, school, or home use. It is illegal to copy this material and publish it on another web site even if you include the copyright notice. You must have permission to copy the material. To request permission to copy this material for any other use contact me by email.
How to Print or Copy these instructions.
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Father, we thank you for your loving kindness. We thank you that we can come to you whenever we have a problem and that you will always be there for us. We know that you are quick to forgive us when mess up and will always welcome us back when we return to you. Amen
What to do:
Before class print out the 8 pig sheets and cut out loosely around the pigs. Pig Sheet 1Pattern, Pig Sheet 2 Pattern, Pig Sheet 3 Pattern, Pig Sheet 4 Pattern, Pig Sheet 5 Pattern, Pig Sheet 6 Pattern, Pig Sheet 7 Pattern, Pig Sheet 8 Pattern
If you have younger children, you may only want to use part of the verse so you won't have to print out as many pigs. You may want to print them all out to use as an opening activity for the children to color and then you can just use as many as you need for the game. You will have to print out one sheet twice if you are going to use the whole memory verse for this game. You need one pig for each word of the verse. Print out the pea pod card sheet and make copies onto light green paper, and cut out the pea pods. Write one word of the verse on each pea pod.
How to play:
Before class write the memory verse up on the board. As the children finish coloring their pigs place a pig above each word. Have the children say the verse with you as you point to each word. Erase some of the words and then go over the verse again. Keep doing this until all the words are erased.
Now mix up the pea pods cards and have the children take turns picking a card. When a child picks a card he tries to "feed a pig" by placing the appropriate card in front of a pig to make the memory verse. If the card is put in the wrong place, the card goes back into the deck and the cards are shuffled again. Keep playing this way until all the pigs are fed and the memory verse is complete.
2. Play a Pig Snorting Game
Here is a fun game to play although it may not be appropriate for Sunday morning Sunday school.
The object of this game is to pass a snort around the circle as fast as you can without laughing. Have the children sit in a circle. Start by snorting at the children to your right. That child then snorts to the person on his right. Have the children keep going until someone laughs when they are snorting or receiving a snort. If a child laughs while someone is snorting at him or he is snorting, he is out of the game. He can laugh at all other times. If a child does not want to snort he can say "oink" The object of the game is to get the person you are snorting at to laugh so making faces while snorting or acting silly is okay. Keep up the snorting until there is only one child left.
Before the lesson collect some play money, sandals, a play ring, some food scraps in a plastic bag or bowl, a toy pig, a toy cow or picture of a cow, a party invitation or balloon, a Bible, and some binoculars. Show your child the items, one at a time, and see if they can guess how they relate to the story. You could also see who can find the passage in Luke first that relates to the object:
Money - 12 - "give me my share of the estate."
Sandals - 22 - "and sandals on his feet.
Ring - 22 - "Put a ring on his finger"
Food Scraps - 16 - "He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating"
Pig - 15 - "sent him to his fields to feed pigs."
Cow - 23 - "Bring the fattened calf and kill it."
Party Invitation or balloon - 23 - "Let's have a feast and celebrate. "
Binoculars - 20 - "But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him"
How to Print or Copy these instructions.
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What you will need: Small paper plates, pink and peach fun foam or construction paper, crayons or markers, scissors, yarn or jute string, raffia or ribbon for a bow, hole punch, glue and stapler.
What to do:
1. Before class print out the Pig Pattern. You can print it out on pink card stock or print it out on white card stock and have the children color the pigs. You could also use the pattern to cut pigs from pink fun foam.
2. Cut the snout from a different shade of pink so that it will stand out.
3. Cut the small paper plates in half. Print the Bible verse on the front of each paper plate half. Have the children color the paper plates.
4. When they are finished, staple them together to form a basket. Punch holes in the sides and tie string or yarn to form a handle. You can tie raffia or ribbon on top of the handle to form a bow.
5. Glue the pig face and hoofs onto the front of the basket so that it looks like the pig is hanging out.
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Danielle's Place of Crafts and Activities
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We would love to hear your comments about this lesson. If you have done this lesson with your class we would love to hear how it went, if you changed anything, added anything, what age you taught and was it appropriate. Any comments that would help other teachers would be greatly appreciated and posted here for everyone to read
I just got back from teaching Sunday School and I wanted to tell you how TERRIFIC the lesson went thanks to Danielle's Place. We did the lesson of the Prodigal son. We played both games......the snorting one, (which was a BIG success) and the memory Bible verse feeding the pigs. They enjoyed working as a team on thistle We then made pigs in a basket and I really left feeling good. The kids and I both enjoyed our Sunday. I always recommend Danielle's Place to all the teachers. Sincerely, Joni Wilson
When the son finally returned home, his father gave him a robe, new sandals, and a ring. I used costumes from our supply closet, bought rings (a party pack) and we made sandals. I devised a pattern by tracing around my granddaughter's sneaker. Then I cut a felt piece which had sides attached to the foot, much like a butterfly. I punched three holes in each side. Then I cut another felt piece and a cardboard piece of just the sole. In class we glued the cardboard, for stability, onto the sandal and covered the cardboard with the felt sole to hide it. Then the students laced their sandals using yarn. I put glue on the ends to make the yarn stiff and easier to thread. The kids really liked this project. Jane Chubb
Also Halloween is the perfect time to get little things for the kids. I found musical batons at party city. They had them called "Groaning Sticks". I bought one for each of our kids and used them in our lesson of the Prodigal Son. They fit right in for a boy who wasn't happy at home and probably groaned a lot about his life. All of them groaning at once makes a great sound. They were 69 cents each. Kandy
Last night I did the prodigal son lesson, and the story was great. I had them thinking about how they would have felt, and they were riveted when I was talking (it was one of the first times!). I teach 1-5th grades, and even the 5th graders enjoyed "feeding" the pigs. I went a little farther with the "pig" theme and served pigs in a blanket (prepared ahead of time -- I put them in the oven just as I started the lesson. Take a refrigerated biscuit (I used Grands.) and roll it out to the length of a hot dog, place a slice of cheese and hot dog on it and roll it up. I made them at home and individually wrapped them in plastic wrap. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes. It was a good change from cookies and juice. Thanks!! Cheryl Gross
Copyright Notice -Even though this is a free lesson it is still copyrighted. It is for personal use only. It may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, except for local church, school, or home use. It is illegal to copy this material and publish it on another web site even if you include the copyright notice. You must have permission to copy the material. To request permission to copy this material for any other use contact me by email.
For more Sample Sunday school lessons go to the Sample Sunday School Lessons Page.