Lesson 1: Fruit of the Spirit: Love 01/27/2023
Classroom: My Classroom
Galatians 5:22; Luke 15:11-32 Leader Guide for Ages 3-6

Teachers Dig In

 

Dig In to the Bible

  • Read: Galatians 5:22; Luke 15:11-32
  • In This Passage: Love is a fruit of the Spirit, and we can see God’s loving heart in a story Jesus tells about a father whose son leaves to live wildly. When the son returns home, the father welcomes him with open arms. In the same way, God loves us so much, and his love flows out of us to others!
  • Bible Point: Love is a fruit of the Spirit.
  • Summary Verse: “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” (Galatians 5:22-23).

 

Dig Deeper

  • You’ll Be Teaching: Love is a fruit of the Spirit. It’s tempting to teach kids to try to love better. But the fruit of the Spirit isn’t something we try to have; it’s something that grows naturally when we get closer to God. As kids understand God’s love for them, they’ll grow more love in their lives.
  • Think About: Describe God’s love for you. What’s your response?

 

Dig In to Prayer

  • Ask God to inspire your kids with ways to pass his love on.

 

Quick Tip

  • There are some kids who are just plain hard to love. But remember, love isn’t about your own efforts. Love is a fruit of the Spirit. If you’re struggling with hard-to-love kids, ask God to help you see them through his eyes. The more you pray for them, the more you’ll see the good in them. And the more you see the good in them, the more they’ll see the good in themselves.

This Lesson at a Glance

Opening

Preschoolers share about a topic related to the lesson.

Supplies

  • Bible
  • red paper hearts, no smaller than 4x5 inches (1 per child)
  • brown packing paper
  • pencils
  • tape

Easy Prep

  • Use brown packing paper to create a tree trunk and branches on your wall, large enough so each child will be able to add all 9 fruits of the Spirit. Leave the tree up throughout the 9 weeks that you cover the fruit of the Spirit so kids can add a new red paper heart each week.
  • Write the word “love” on each paper heart.

Music Video

Preschoolers sing songs of praise to God.

Supplies

  • “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus” (watch or download here)
  • “Monumental Love” (watch or download here)
  • “Forever God, Forever Love” (watch or download here)

Core Bible Discovery

Preschoolers act out the story and play a loving game.

Supplies

  • Bible
  • red washable marker (1 for every 5 to 6 kids)
  • stuffed animals (1 for every 5 to 6 kids)
  • brown construction paper
  • play money (at least 1 per child)
  • toys kids can carry (1 per child)

Easy Prep

  • Tear pieces of construction paper so the kids each have a few pieces to feed the stuffed animals.
  • If you don’t already have a play area, place all the toys kids can carry in one area.

Core Bible at Home

Only available in One Room class format.

 

Talk-About Video

Recommended for elementary kids.

Supplies

  • “The Lost Grape” teaching video (watch or download here)

Preschool Puppet Skit

Recommended for preschoolers.

Supplies

  • Theophilus the FaithRetriever™ Puppet (order here)
  • small backpack

Easy Prep

  • Place the backpack on Theo.

Object Lesson

Preschoolers roll toys up ramps and watch them return.

Supplies

  • wide pieces of cardboard or foam board (1 for every 5-6 kids)
  • masking tape
  • rolling objects like balls or toy cars

Easy Prep

  • Lean pieces of cardboard against a table, shelf, or stack of books to make a steep ramp for every 5-6 kids. Tape the cardboard in place so it’s stable.

Deeper Bible

Preschoolers use a scale to explore God’s unconditional love.

Supplies

  • hanger with notches (1 for every adult or teen helper)
  • 8-ounce paper cups (2 for every adult or teen helper)
  • hole punch
  • yarn (two 2-foot pieces per adult or teen helper)
  • large plastic coins (4 per child)
  • masking tape
  • paper
  • markers (1 for every adult or teen helper)

Easy Prep

  • Punch 2 holes in each paper cup, about 1 inch from the lip of the cup and directly across from one another. Draw a smiley face on half the cups and a frowning face on the other half. Thread a piece of yarn through both holes in each cup and tie the ends together in a loop. Hook each loop on a hanger notch so every hanger has 2 cups hanging from it, 1 smiley and 1 frowning. Draw an arrow on a small piece of paper, and tape it to the hanger above the frowning cup.

High-Energy Game

Preschoolers make cups overflow.

Supplies

  • 18-ounce plastic cups (1 for every 6 kids)
  • brightly colored cotton balls (about 10 per child)
  • buckets or bowls big enough to hold 50-60 cotton balls (1 for every 6 kids)
  • upbeat music (optional)
  • music player (optional)

Easy Prep

  • Place 50 to 60 cotton balls in each bucket.

Low-Energy Game

Preschoolers play I Spy.

 

Craft

Preschoolers make paper hugs.

Supplies

  • white bulletin board paper (1 foot per child)
  • washable markers
  • crayons
  • stickers

Easy Prep

  • Make a sample craft to show kids.
  • Cut a 1-foot-wide strip of bulletin board paper for each child. On each strip of paper, draw 2 parallel lines lengthwise across the center to create “arms.” Leave room at both ends to trace hands.

Life Application Wrap-Up

Preschoolers share about how they want to show love and then pray.

Supplies

  • red washable marker*

Take-Home

Preschoolers receive a take-home page about the lesson.

Supplies

  • this week’s “Dig In @ Home” handout (1 per child) (download here)

Easy Prep

  • Add your church announcements to the “Dig In @ Home” handout.

*Marked supplies can be reused from Core Bible Discovery

Let's keep kids safe! You can help by using supplies as instructed for only ages 3+, purchasing child-safe items, and being aware of allergy concerns.

Opening [5 min]

Welcome

Supplies

  • Bible
  • red paper hearts, no smaller than 4x5 inches (1 per child)
  • brown packing paper
  • pencils
  • tape

Easy Prep

  • Use brown packing paper to create a tree trunk and branches on your wall, large enough so each child will be able to add all 9 fruits of the Spirit. Leave the tree up throughout the 9 weeks that you cover the fruit of the Spirit so kids can add a new red paper heart each week.
  • Write the word “love” on each paper heart.

Welcome

  • Thank kids for coming.
  • Make announcements.
  • Introduce new kids.
  • Collect the offering.

 

Introduce the Lesson

  • Say: Over the next few weeks, we’ll be learning about something called the fruit of the Spirit. Invite kids to tell where fruit grows. One place fruit grows is on a tree. Point to the tree you made ahead of time. Since we’ll be learning about a new fruit of the Spirit every week, we’ll each get to add a new fruit to our tree every week.
  • Give each child a red paper heart.
  • Say: This week we’ll learn that love is a fruit of the Spirit. Hold up a heart, point out the word “love,” and read it aloud.
  • Say: Today we’ll find out about God’s great big love for us and how he helps us love others. Since God loves each of you, write your name on your heart, too. Preschoolers may flip their hearts to the side without “love” to write their names, as they may need the entire space. Have adult and teen helpers write for preschoolers who don’t yet know how to write their names.
  • Say: When I say love is a fruit of the Spirit, that means when we’re friends with God, he helps us show love to others. Let’s add our “love fruit” to the tree to remind us that love is a fruit of the Spirit. Lead kids to tape their fruit to the tree.

 

Share

  • Say: As we learn about love today, we’ll hear a story in the Bible about a boy who traveled far away from home. He was away for a while, so when he came back, he was very happy to see his family. Let’s talk about times we were happy to come home. Share about a time you were happy to come home. It might be after a long day at work, after a vacation, or when you were sick and you were looking forward to getting in bed.
  • In leader-led small groups, have preschoolers share about times they were happy to come home. They might tell about returning home after staying at Grandma’s house for a night. They might also share about being happy to come home after their first day at preschool or when they missed their parents.
  • After small groups have discussed, have adult or teen helpers share with the whole group what they talked about in their small groups.

 

Summarize

            Open a Bible, and say: Most of us are happy to come home every day. The boy we’ll read about in the Bible today was away from home for a long time, and when he came home, he learned how much his daddy loved him. The daddy showed his son so much love! Today we’ll learn more about how love is a fruit of the Spirit and how being friends with God helps us show love.

            Pray, thanking God that love is a fruit of the Spirit that God gives us to share with others.

Music Video [10 min]

I Have Decided to Follow Jesus

Supplies

  • “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus” (watch or download here)
  • “Monumental Love” (watch or download here)
  • “Forever God, Forever Love” (watch or download here)

Tip

  • Don’t have internet in your classroom? That’s okay! You can choose your own worship songs from our Best Of Dig In Music DVD here.

 

Sing Songs to God

            Sing the three songs in any order.

Core Bible Discovery [20 min]

Fruit of the Spirit: Love (Galatians 5:22; Luke 15:11-32)

Supplies

  • Bible
  • red washable marker (1 for every 5 to 6 kids)
  • stuffed animals (1 for every 5 to 6 kids)
  • brown construction paper
  • play money (at least 1 per child)
  • toys kids can carry (1 per child)

Easy Prep

  • Tear pieces of construction paper so the kids each have a few pieces to feed the stuffed animals.
  • If you don’t already have a play area, place all the toys kids can carry in one area.

Act It Out

            Gather all the children in one area of your room near toys that kids can carry along with them when they travel later in this activity. Say: Today we’ll find out what “Love is a fruit of the Spirit” means. We’ll hear a story Jesus told to help his friends understand how much God loves us and how we can love others, too.

            Have an adult or teen helper use the red washable markers to draw a red heart on the top of each child’s hand. Say: A heart is a picture that reminds us of love. Since we’re talking about love today, we’ll wear these hearts on our hands.

            Show a Bible. Say: Now let’s look in the Bible to hear the story Jesus told about God’s great big love. Read Luke 15:11b-12.

            Say: When the son asked for his share of the estate, he was asking his dad to give him all the money he’d get when the dad died. That might’ve made the dad feel sad or think his son didn’t love him very much. Maybe the dad thought his son cared more about money than about him. Give each child some play money.

            Say: The dad loved his son so much, and he did what his son asked. Have kids touch the hearts on their hands.

            Say: After the son got his money, he packed up all his things, and then he left home and traveled far, far away. Lead kids to each choose a toy from the area where they’re sitting to “pack up” and carry along with them as they travel. Then lead the kids on a long journey, having them carry their belongings and their money with them. Have them pretend to climb over hills and wade across rivers. Have them pretend to weave along winding roads and trudge through tall grass.

            Say: The dad must’ve been sad that his son traveled far, far away. But the dad still loved his son very much! Lead kids to touch the hearts on their hands.

            Say: The son moved far, far away, and he wasted all his money! The son bought silly things that he didn’t need, and he did things he knew were wrong. He lived like this until he had nothing left! Have adult and teen leaders collect all the children’s play money and toys and set them aside.

            Say: The dad didn’t know where his son was or that he was making bad choices, but even if he had known, the dad still loved his son very much. Lead kids to touch the hearts on their hands.

            Say: Where the son lived, there wasn’t enough food to eat. He got so hungry that he almost died! He decided to start working for a farmer. His job was to feed piggies. Let’s pretend we’re feeding animals. In small groups, have kids take turns “feeding” the stuffed animals using the brown construction paper pieces.

            Say: Feeding the pigs wasn’t a very important job. It was one of the ickiest jobs you could have! And the dad didn’t know the son was so hungry and working an icky job, but even if the dad had known, he still loved his son very much. Lead kids to touch the hearts on their hands.

            Say: Finally the son thought, “What am I doing here? I could be working for my dad and I wouldn’t be hungry! I’ll go home and tell my dad how sorry I am and ask him if I can work for him.” Read Luke 15:20.

            Have kids touch the hearts on their hands. Say: When the son went home, he thought his dad might be mad at him for leaving and taking his money. But the dad loved the son so much that he ran to his son and gave him a great big hug! Lead kids to turn and give a big hug to a neighbor.

            Say: The son said, “I’m so sorry, Dad! Please let me work for you.” But his dad didn’t want him to be a worker in his house. The dad loved him so much that he wanted his son to come back and live in his home. The dad still wanted to share all he had with his son. Lead kids to touch the hearts on their hands.

            Say: Then the dad threw a big party to celebrate! Lead kids to celebrate by cheering and jumping excitedly.

 

Talk About It

            Have kids touch the hearts on their hands. Say: All along, the dad’s love never, ever went away. God loves us like that, too. God wants us to be friends with him and to make good choices, but even when we make a mistake or do something wrong, God still loves us very much! The Bible says… Read Galatians 5:22 only until the word love. That means when we’re friends with God and we know that God loves us that much, it helps us love others, too. Our friendship with God makes us be great at loving!

            Share about someone you know who has the love fruit of the Spirit, and explain how you see that. For example, maybe another leader loves the kids so much that she’s always happy to see them at church.

            Ask: • Tell about someone you know who is great at loving you. Invite kids to share about people they know and what they do that’s loving. Maybe their mom takes care of them because she loves them so much. Maybe their dad gives them kisses and that’s how they know he loves them. Maybe their grandma gives them hugs and that’s how they know she loves them.

 

Play a Game

            Say: Love is a fruit of the Spirit, so when we’re friends with God, he helps us love others. Let’s play a game where we practice loving others. First we’ll have to learn a song to sing during our game. Lead kids in singing “Jesus Loves Me.”

            After kids have practiced singing the song, have all the children line up side by side on one end of the room and hold hands. Choose one child to stand on the opposite side of the room. Have all the kids sing the first verse of the song while swinging their hands. On the chorus, have the child on the opposite side of the room run to the other kids. The kids will quickly make a circle around that child and do a group hug as they sing the chorus.

            Repeat several times, having kids take turns being the child who is hugged. If you have a large group, have kids play this game in small groups.

            Say: A hug shows love, and a kiss does, too. And when we’re a good friend to someone, that shows love. When we play nicely with someone, that shows love. There are lots of ways to show love, and when we’re friends with God, he helps us show love because love is a fruit of the Spirit!

Core Bible at Home [20 min]

Not available for this age level.

To use this feature, please ask your DIG IN Director to create a One Room classroom. For instructions and tips on creating a classroom for at-home lessons, click here.

 

Talk-About Video [10 min]

The Lost Grape

Supplies

  • “The Lost Grape” teaching video (watch or download here)

Tips

  • Talk-About Videos may work for preschoolers, but they’re geared more toward elementary kids. If you find that the videos aren’t hitting the mark for your preschoolers, try using the Preschool Puppet Skit activity block instead.

  • Don’t have internet in your classroom? That’s okay! You can download the videos before class using the “download” button at the link provided, or purchase DVDs here

 

Discuss and Watch “The Lost Grape”

            Say: We’re learning that love is a fruit of the Spirit. We saw how the father in the story Jesus told showed love when his son ran away and then came home.

            Ask: • Tell about a time you knew your parents really loved you. Share your own story first.

            Say: Let’s see what happens when one of our fruit-basket friends heads off on his own.

            Watch “The Lost Grape.”

            Ask: • Why did the adventures the grape went after seem exciting at first?

            • Why weren’t the adventures as exciting as he expected?

            • Why is being safe in God’s love better than doing our own thing?

            Say: For the grape, the best place to be was in the fruit basket with his loving fruit family. For the son in Jesus’ story, the best place was home. Sometimes it can seem like following our own way will be more exciting, but the best thing in life is accepting God’s love! Then God will help us pass his love on, because love is a fruit of the Spirit.

Preschool Puppet Skit [10 min]

Theo Returns Home

Supplies

  • Theophilus the FaithRetriever™ Puppet (order here)
  • small backpack

Easy Prep

  • Place the backpack on Theo.

Tip

  • Before printing, turn on page numbering in Word to keep the pages in order (or simply hand-number each page after printing). You may also find it helpful to highlight your part and set the script on a music stand nearby during the skit.

 

Leader: It’s time for our puppy friend, Theo, to come for a visit. Let’s call him to our class with a “woof, woof.” Ready? (Leads kids to bark until Theo is brought into view.)

 

Theo: It’s good to see you! (Pants.) I really, really want a good scratch. Will you give me a scratch on the head? (Circulates among kids so each child can pet him.)

 

Leader: Thanks for giving a friendly welcome to Theo, kids!

 

Theo: I needed that today!

 

Leader: We’re glad to give you a scratch, Theo. I see you have a backpack with you today. Does that have anything to do with why you really needed an extra-special head scratch?

 

Theo: Yeah, I ran away from home this morning.

 

Leader: Oh no, Theo! Your parents must be so worried! Why did you run away from home?

 

Theo: My dad says I can’t go play with Becky Beagle tonight. He never lets me do what I want.

 

Leader: I’m sorry you’re disappointed, Theo. But your dad loves you very much and wants the best for you. Maybe he has a good reason.

 

Theo: Maybe, but Becky Beagle and I were going to play with Play-Doh tonight! (Looks to kids.) Say, do you like playing with Play-Doh? What do you like to make? (Encourages kids to talk about the kinds of things they like to do with Play-Doh and what they like to make.)

 

Leader: I can see how you’d be excited about that, Theo.

 

Theo: Yeah, and there’s nothing wrong with playing with Play-Doh, right?

 

Leader: No, I can’t think of anything wrong with that, but…

 

Theo: See, that’s why I ran away.

 

Leader: You know, Theo, today we’re learning about a son in the Bible who ran away from his dad.

 

Theo: Really? (Looks to kids.) Will you tell me what happened? (Responds to what kids share and asks them more questions to lead them to as many parts of the Bible story as possible.)

 

Leader: Great job, kids! (Looks to Theo.) Theo, is there any part of that story that makes you think of your day today?

 

Theo: Well… (Looks as if he’s pondering for about 10 seconds.) I think my dad probably misses me a lot, like the dad in the story.

 

Leader: I think your dad does, Theo!

 

Theo: (Looks down for a few seconds and then back up at the kids.) Maybe I shouldn’t have run away. My dad does love me. Maybe he really did have a good reason. Do you think I should go back home? (Invites each child to share an answer and responds to kids.)

 

Leader: I think if you go home now, your dad will be really happy like the dad in the story.

 

Theo: Really? Why would he be happy when I did something wrong?

 

Leader: You’re right that it’s not good to run away. You could get hurt! But your dad loves you. He wants you with him! That’s why he’d be happy—because of his love. Today we’re learning that love is a fruit of the Spirit.

 

Theo: Fruit?

 

Leader: Love is a fruit of the Spirit” means that God helps us show love, like the dad did in the Bible story. The dad forgave his son and showed him love when he came home.

 

Theo: So I can show love, too?

 

Leader: God helps all his friends show love because love is a fruit of the Spirit.

 

Theo: (Looks to kids.) I bet that’s why all of you show so much love to me! (Gives each child a hug, and then hugs the leader.)

 

Leader: Thanks, Theo!

 

Theo: You’re welcome! But now I think it’s time for me to go show my dad some love. Maybe I’ll tell him about the dad in the Bible, too!

 

Leader: Great idea, Theo! Friends, let’s give Theo a big “woof, woof, goodbye”! (Leads kids to say “woof, woof, goodbye,” and then places Theo out of sight.)

Object Lesson [10 min]

Come Back

Supplies

  • wide pieces of cardboard or foam board (1 for every 5-6 kids)
  • masking tape
  • rolling objects like balls or toy cars

Easy Prep

  • Lean pieces of cardboard against a table, shelf, or stack of books to make a steep ramp for every 5-6 kids. Tape the cardboard in place so it’s stable.

Roll Objects Up the Ramp

            Say: In our Bible story, the dad loved his son very much. He was so happy when the son came back home! Let’s see if our toys will come back to us!

  • Form small groups of five to six kids, and have each group sit near one of the ramps.
  • Give each group several rolling objects.
  • Have adult or teen helpers demonstrate how to gently roll an object up the ramp so it comes back down again.
  • Have the kids in each group take turns rolling the object up the ramp so it comes back again.
  • Allow kids to experiment with different objects. You can even reposition the ramps to make them more or less steep. Celebrate every time an object rolls back to the child.

 

Talk About It

            Ask: • How are our rolling toys like the younger son in our Bible story?

            Say: Even though we rolled the toys away from us, they came back! And even though the younger son went away from his dad, he came back! The dad loved his son so much that he celebrated when his son came home, just like we celebrated when our toys rolled back to us.

            Tell about a time you celebrated when someone returned to you. Perhaps you celebrated a family member returning from a vacation or a semester at college.

            Ask: • When have you celebrated and showed love to someone who came back? Preschoolers might share about a time a sibling went away to camp for a week or a time a parent went on a business trip.

            Say: We celebrate when people we love come back. Love is a fruit of the Spirit, and love comes from God! God will always love us and welcome us back. And we can love and welcome others, too!

Deeper Bible [15 min]

Unchanging Love

Supplies

  • hanger with notches (1 for every adult or teen helper)
  • 8-ounce paper cups (2 for every adult or teen helper)
  • hole punch
  • yarn (two 2-foot pieces per adult or teen helper)
  • large plastic coins (4 per child)
  • masking tape
  • paper
  • markers (1 for every adult or teen helper)

Easy Prep

  • Punch 2 holes in each paper cup, about 1 inch from the lip of the cup and directly across from one another. Draw a smiley face on half the cups and a frowning face on the other half. Thread a piece of yarn through both holes in each cup and tie the ends together in a loop. Hook each loop on a hanger notch so every hanger has 2 cups hanging from it, 1 smiley and 1 frowning. Draw an arrow on a small piece of paper, and tape it to the hanger above the frowning cup.

Add Coins to the Happy Cup

            Form groups so each adult and teen helper has about the same number of children. Give each helper four coins per child and a scale you made ahead of time.

            Say: In Jesus’ story, the dad had a great big love for his son. Have adult or teen helpers draw a large heart at the top of a piece of paper.

            Say: But the son asked for all the money his dad was going to give him when he died. Have leaders hand each child four coins.

            Say: This probably really hurt his dad’s feelings. So when the son decided to come back home, he thought he’d done too many bad things for his dad to still love him. Maybe he hoped the dad would love him a little. Have adult or teen helpers draw a small heart at the bottom of the same page on which they drew the big heart.

            Say: Sometimes we feel the same way about God. We feel like we’ve done so many wrong things that God may not love us very much. Let’s look at something to help us think about that.

            Have each adult or teen helper hook the hanger over a finger and hold the scale out in front of the kids. Helpers can hold the papers with the hearts in their other hands, beside the scales, so that the arrow will be pointing between the two hearts before any coins are added.

 

 

            Say: When we do good things, God is happy.

            Share about something good you’ve done to please God. It may be that you helped a friend, told the truth, or took care of someone who was sick. Invite one child in each group to add a coin to the cup with the smile.

            Ask: • What’s something good you’ve done? Kids may say obey Mom, share with a friend, or be kind to a neighbor. Have each child add a coin to the cup with the smile as he or she shares.

            Say: Look—the scales are pointing to the big hearts. That means God loves us a lot. Have adult and teen helpers show kids that the arrow is pointing to the large heart.

 

Add Coins to the Sad Cup

            Say: But what if we have a day when we’re crabby? What if we yell at Mom and hit our sister?

            Share about something unkind you’ve done. Maybe you yelled at your kids, told a lie, or said something unkind. Have a child in each group add a coin to the cup with the frown.

            Ask: • What’s a wrong thing you’ve done? Kids may share about fighting with a sibling, not sharing toys, or disobeying Mom. Have them each add the rest of their coins to their group’s frowning cup.

            Say: Uh-oh! The arrow is now pointing to the smaller heart. When we do bad things, we may think, like the son in the story, that God loves us less. Have adult or teen helpers show kids that the arrow is now pointing to the small heart.

            Say: But remember, the dad’s great big love for his son never changed, even after the son did a lot of bad things. Have each adult or teen helper draw a second large heart on another sheet of paper and tape it over the arrow on his or her scale.

            Say: The dad’s love was always big, and God’s love never changes either. God has a great big love for you on your very best days and on your very worst days. Have adult or teen helpers show kids that the big heart is always there, whether or not the cup with the frown is full.

            Say: God is happy to see us make good choices, but it doesn’t make him love us more. And God doesn’t want us to make wrong choices, but he still loves when we do. God’s love is bigger than anything we can ever imagine. And when we’re friends with God, he helps us love others no matter what, too. Love is a fruit of the Spirit. That means God’s with us, showing us how to love others!

High-Energy Game [10 min]

Overflowing Love

Supplies

  • 18-ounce plastic cups (1 for every 6 kids)
  • brightly colored cotton balls (about 10 per child)
  • buckets or bowls big enough to hold 50-60 cotton balls (1 for every 6 kids)
  • upbeat music (optional)
  • music player (optional)

Easy Prep

  • Place 50 to 60 cotton balls in each bucket.

Tip

  • You can purchase downloadable music and other items to enhance your DIG IN program here

 

Make the Love Overflow

            Say: In Jesus’ story, we learned about a dad whose love was bigger than anything his son could ever do. God’s love is bigger than we can ever imagine. It’s bigger than our hearts can hold! If we let God’s love into our hearts, it overflows out of us onto others! Let’s pretend these cotton balls are God’s love and those cups are our hearts. Can we make God’s love overflow in our hearts right now?

  • Form teams of six kids. Have each child pick a partner within the team. If teams have uneven numbers, one child can run with an adult or teen helper.
  • Place a bucket of cotton balls for each team on one side of the room. Have kids line up behind their team’s bucket, with partners standing side by side.
  • Put one cup for each team on the opposite side of the room.
  • On your cue, pairs will put their hands together like a high-five and place one cotton ball between their palms. Kids may take only one cotton ball at a time.
  • They’ll run and drop the cotton ball into the cup, run back, and send the next pair.
  • Play continues, relay style, until all the cups overflow.
  • If you’d like, play upbeat music while kids play.

            After all teams have overflowing cups, say: Look—you still have plenty of cotton balls left over, even though you filled your cups. God’s love is like that. Even when we’re full and overflowing with his love, he still has plenty of love left to give.

            Return cotton balls to the buckets, and allow kids to play again as time allows. If you would like, have them run to the cup in different ways (hop like a bunny, run backward, and so on).

           

Talk About It

            Say: God shows his love to us in so many ways, and his love for us never runs out.

            Tell how God shows his love to you. It may be providing for you, comforting you when you’re sad, or giving you people in your life who love you.

            Ask: • How does God show his love to you? Younger preschoolers will have a harder time thinking of their own ideas. Help kids as needed by making suggestions like giving them a parent to take care of them, sending them a good friend, or helping them make good choices.

            Say: God always loves us, and he’s always showing us his love. Because so much love is coming into our hearts, his love can overflow from us to others. That’s what “love is a fruit of the Spirit” means—God’s great big love in our hearts helps us share love with others, too.

Low-Energy Game [10 min]

Keep Looking

Play I Spy

            Say: In Jesus’ story, the son took his father’s money and went far away, but the father never stopped loving his son. Even when the son was still far from home, the father saw his son returning home. Let’s play I Spy to see what we can see far away.

  • If you have windows in your classroom, gather kids in front of the windows. Pick something far off to describe. If you don’t have windows, pick something in the classroom.
  • Say: I spy something… and then use one word to describe what you picked.
  • Allow kids to take turns guessing what you spied. If after several tries they haven’t guessed it, give them another clue.
  • After kids guess what you described, invite a willing child to pick something to describe. If needed, help kids with their descriptions and their guesses.
  • Continue as time allows.

           

Talk About It

            Say: When we’re excited about something, we often watch for it, like the dad was watching for his son.

            Share about something you’ve watched for. It might be your husband coming home from work on a special day, a friend from out of town coming for a visit, or a special package you were waiting to have delivered.

            Ask: • What’s something you were excited about and watched for? Kids might say Dad coming home from work, Grandma coming to visit, or a friend coming over to play.

            Say: The father saw his son coming from a long way away. Even though the son had done wrong things, his dad still loved him and was excited to see him coming home. God loves us like that. And because God’s love is in us, we can love others the same way. God’s love overflows out of us into others because love is a fruit of the Spirit.

Craft [20 min]

Loving Hug

Supplies

  • white bulletin board paper (1 foot per child)
  • washable markers
  • crayons
  • stickers

Easy Prep

  • Make a sample craft to show kids.
  • Cut a 1-foot-wide strip of bulletin board paper for each child. On each strip of paper, draw 2 parallel lines lengthwise across the center to create “arms.” Leave room at both ends to trace hands.

 

Make Special Arms

            Say: In our Bible story today, the dad gave his son a great big hug to show he still loved him. God loves us the same way—no matter what. Because God puts so much of his love into our hearts, we can love others that way, too. Love is a fruit of the Spirit. We can give each other hugs today to show that we have God’s love in our hearts, but let’s do it in a special way. Use the sample craft to give a hug to a couple of kids.

  • Help kids use dark-colored markers to trace their hands on each end of the arms you drew ahead of time.
  • Have kids use crayons to color their paper hands and arms.
  • Give kids stickers to decorate their paper hands and arms.

 

Give Special Hugs

            Say: We can show love to one another because we have God’s love in our hearts and love is a fruit of the Spirit. Let’s practice showing love to our friends right now. Encourage kids to give each other hugs using their special arms.

            After kids have given hugs to several friends, gather them and say: A hug is a great way to show love, but there are all kinds of ways we can show people we love them.

            Share about some fun ways you like to show love. Maybe you like to surprise people with gifts, tell them how much you appreciate them, or do something nice to help them.

            Ask: • What are some ways you can show love? Kids may say kissing Mom, saying nice things to a sibling, or giving a gift.

            Say: Those are some great ways to show people you love them. We can use the hugs we just made for that, too. No matter how we show love, we can love others with God’s love because love is a fruit of the Spirit.

Life Application Wrap-Up [5 min]

Show Me the Love

Supplies

  • red washable marker*

Play a Love Game

            Refresh any red marker hearts on kids’ hands as needed. Sit with kids in a circle. Say: Today we learned that love is a fruit of the Spirit and that God helps us show love to others. Lead kids to touch the hearts on their hands.

            Say: Let’s play a game. We’ll try to think of people we can show love to—as many as we can. You’ll each have a turn to share. On your turn, touch the heart on your hand and name one person. You might say someone in your family, or you might say someone you don’t even know, like the cashier at the grocery story, a police officer, or a cook at a restaurant. Demonstrate to start, then have the child sitting to your left in the circle share. Guide each child to share, one after the other, encouraging them to speak quickly. Continue around the circle more than once and until kids run out of ideas or as time allows.

 

Pray

            Say: Wow! There are so many people we can show love to—from our families to our neighbors to our church and school. Since God is the one who helps us show love—love is a fruit of the Spirit—let’s ask God to help us love these people we named this week.

            Lead children in a brief prayer, asking for God’s help and mentioning as many kinds of people as you can remember from what kids shared in the game.

            Say: I love that you were here today to learn about love! I hope you’ll show love to everyone you see this week, and remember that God will help you show love because love is a fruit of the Spirit. I hope you’ll come back next week to tell me all about it!

Take-Home [0 min]

Dig In @ Home

Supplies

  • this week’s “Dig In @ Home” handout (1 per child) (download here)

Easy Prep

  • Add your church announcements to the “Dig In @ Home” handout.

            Distribute a copy of the “Dig In @ Home” handout to kids as they leave, or email it to parents during the week.