Jesus is God s greatest gift.

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1 Foreign Visitors Worship Jesus Lesson 3 Bible Point Jesus is God s greatest gift. Bible Verse Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens (James 1:17a). Growing Closer to Jesus Students will n learn that Jesus is God s greatest gift, n discover how the wise men honored God, and n thank God for his gifts. Teacher Enrichment Bible Basis n Foreign visitors worship Jesus. Matthew 2:1-12 Apparently it was widely thought that a great king who would usher in a period of peace would soon be born in Judea. When the Magi saw the unusual star, their curiosity got the best of them, and they set out for Jerusalem, the Judean capital, to see if the star actually signaled the birth of this great king. When the Magi s report reached King Herod, he was disturbed at the prospect of a rival to his throne. So when his advisers told him of the prophecy placing the birth of the Messiah in Bethlehem, he passed that information on to the Magi on the assumption that they would report their findings to him, as he had requested. In this way, he would be able to find the child and deal with him. Herod s proclaimed desire to worship the new king was a deception intended to reassure the Magi and encourage them to return with the information he wanted. The Magi followed the star to Bethlehem, where their predictions were confirmed. Indeed a miraculous birth had taken place, and the Magi worshipped the new king joyfully and presented him with precious gifts. God had revealed to these non-jewish seekers of truth the one who would bring peace and salvation to all who believe in him. It is clear from their response to God s warning that they were more concerned about doing what was right before God than about obeying Herod, who could have had them executed for defying him. Matthew s report of this story demonstrates that Jesus came for all people who place their trust in him. Prayer Read Psalm 143:8. The Magi trusted God to guide them. In what areas of your life do you need to trust God more? Why is it important for the children in your care to trust God? Pray: Lord, give me guidance and help me to put my trust in you as I Hands-On Bible Curriculum Grades 3 & 4 31

2 Lesson 3 Before the Lesson n Collect the necessary items for the activities you plan to use, referring to the Classroom Supplies and Learning Lab Supplies listed on the chart. n Make photocopies of the Hands-On Fun at Home handout (at the end of this lesson) to send home with your children. n Pray for your students and for God s direction as you teach the lesson. This Lesson at a Glance Attention Grabber Bible Exploration & Application What Children Will Do Classroom Supplies Learning Lab Supplies Untold Value Choose an item that represents a Christmas gift, build towers from different materials, and discuss what makes a good gift. The Greatest Gift Read Matthew 2:1-12, and search for items to create a scene to remind kids of the wise men s journey. Bibles, Journey to Jesus handout (p. 40), 3x5 index card, marker, paper bags, scissors, pens or pencils Unusual Treasure Read Matthew 2:11, and search for a treasure in a bowl of goo. Bible, bowl, water, paper towels Gift Box Read James 1:17, and create a special box to remind kids that Jesus is God s greatest gift. Bibles, Gift Box handout (p. 41), tape, markers, pencils, scissors, slips of paper Closing Follow the Star Follow a star path to a special treat, read James 1:17, and consider God s greatest gift. Star Burst Form human stars, and thank God for his gifts. Bibles, snacks, plate, construction paper, newsprint, marker, scissors, glue stick, pencils CD player 32 Hands-On Bible Curriculum Grades 3 & 4

3 Foreign Visitors Worship Jesus Welcome As kids arrive, ask them how they put what they learned last week into action. Ask questions such as How did it feel to trust God s plans last week? and What worries did you see God take care of? Tell kids that whenever you ring the bell, they are to stop talking, raise their hands, and focus on you. Explain that it s important to respond to this signal quickly so the class can do as many fun activities as possible. Attention Grabber n Untold Value SUPPLIES: none Before this activity, use the garland to make a circle on the floor. Inside the circle place the cedar hearts and the $100 bills. As kids arrive, have them sit in a circle around the garland. Say: Today we ll be talking about gifts. During the Christmas season, people think a lot about gifts, don t they? Without saying anything, think of the best Christmas gift you ve ever received. Then decide if that gift is better represented by one of these $100 bills or one of these cedar hearts. For example, you might choose a $100 bill if your best gift cost a lot of money. Or you might choose a cedar heart if your best gift was a present of the heart, such as something special someone did for you. We ll go around the circle, and you ll each choose either a $100 bill or a cedar heart. Ready? Let s go. Let kids take turns choosing either a $100 bill or a cedar heart. Then say: Now turn to a partner, and tell what your best gift was and why you chose what you did from inside the circle. Give kids a few minutes to talk with their partners, and ask several volunteers to share their answers with the class. Then ask: What made your favorite gift so special? (It was expensive and I really wanted it; my mom made it herself; it made me feel loved.) After several kids respond, have kids form two groups, with all the kids who chose the hearts in one group and all the kids who chose the bills in the other group. Say: Work together in your group to create the strongest tower possible from your items. If you re in the paper money group, be careful not to fold, bend, or crumple the money. You ll have one minute. Ready? Go! If almost all of your children chose the money, build a tower from the hearts yourself. Call time after one minute, and let kids compare the towers. Ask: Which tower is higher? Why? (The hearts made a higher tower; the hearts are sturdier; the hearts are thicker than the paper money.) Say: In our activity, the money and hearts represented gifts. Ask: Which do you think builds stronger relationships in real life, gifts If you have a large class, cut out paper hearts and dollar bills and add them to the circle. Most kids have about a sevenminute attention span. That means you need to be ready to move on to the next activity before kids get bored with the current one. Hands-On Bible Curriculum Grades 3 & 4 33

4 Lesson 3 that cost lots of money or gifts from the heart? Explain. (Gifts that cost money, because they show how much someone is willing to spend on you; gifts from the heart, because they show love.) Say: Gifts from the heart the kind of gifts people give when they do something special for us often are the best gifts of all. Expensive toys and games can break or bore us after a while, but gifts from the heart are special forever. The best Christmas gift ever came from God s heart. Jesus is God s greatest gift. Today s Bible story is about gift-giving and some men who found out about God s greatest gift. Let s see who they were. Bible Verse Connection Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God the Father, who created all the lights in the heavens (James 1:17a). Kids are bombarded with enticing advertisements for new toys and games, especially at this time of year. Use this Bible verse to gain equal time for Jesus, the greatest gift of all. Teach kids that just as they ll say thank you for all their other Christmas gifts, this great gift from God deserves thanks, too. Bible Exploration & Application n The Greatest Gift SUPPLIES: Bibles, Journey to Jesus handout (p. 40), 3x5 index card or piece of construction paper, paper bags, marker, scissors, pens or pencils Before class, place the paper straw in a paper bag marked Cap n Crunch, and place the gold hoop in a paper bag marked Cocoa Puffs. Place a 3x5 index card or a piece of construction paper in a paper bag marked Frosted Flakes, and place the garland in a paper bag marked Apple Jacks. Hide these bags around the room. Photocopy the Journey to Jesus handout, and cut it into four sections. Say: The Bible tells us about some men who lived around the time Jesus was born. They were called Magi, or wise men. Some people even think the Magi were kings. When these wise men saw a new star in the sky, they knew that it meant something special had happened. They followed the star to find Jesus. Their journey to see Jesus was long and tiring, but the wise men knew that this child was a king! Form four groups. Assign each group one of the following names: Cap n Crunch, Cocoa Puffs, Frosted Flakes, and Apple Jacks. Be sure that each group has a Bible as well as a pen or pencil. Have groups select a Reader to read the verses and questions, a Writer to write down the answers, a Reporter to report back to the large group, and an Encourager to keep the ideas flowing. Smaller groups can double up on some of these roles. Larger groups can have more than one Encourager. Say: Have you ever searched through a box of cereal to find the prize inside? Well, we re going to search the Bible and find a prize of a story inside! While I hand out your questions, have your Reader turn to Matthew 2:1-12. Distribute one of the Journey to Jesus sections to each group. Give groups a few minutes to read the Scripture passages and work through their answers. Then ring the bell, and say: Readers, you can read your verses; then Reporters, you can tell how your groups answered your questions. Let s start with the group that focused on Matthew 2:1-3. After all the groups have shared, say: We have a puzzle to solve, just as the wise men did. Somewhere in the room, I ve hidden bags containing clues 34 Hands-On Bible Curriculum Grades 3 & 4

5 Foreign Visitors Worship Jesus to the puzzle. Each bag has one group s name on it. Search for your bags, bring them back here, and sit in a circle. Allow time for groups to find their bags. Then have each group lay out the contents of its bag in the center of the circle. Hmm. This is a puzzle. We have a strange assortment of items in front of us. What do you think we re going to do with them? Have kids form pairs. Choose one pair to carry out each of the following instructions: Set up the paper straw in the center of the circle. Fold the index card in half. Place the folded card over the paper straw to form a roof. Hold the gold hoop as another child wraps the garland around the ring in a star pattern. Hold the gold hoop star over the stable. If kids can t figure out the puzzle, show them the margin illustration or demonstrate the solution. Say: When the Magi solved their puzzle, they found Jesus although probably not in a stable, but in a house where his family lived by that time. This little scene that we ve created can remind us of the incredible gift from God they found in Jesus. Ask: What did the wise men do when they found Jesus? (Gave him gifts; worshipped him.) Why do you think they gave him gifts? (To show respect; to show honor.) Why do we give gifts at Christmastime? (To show love; because it s a tradition.) When you give a gift, how do you want the person who receives it to react? (I want that person to like the gift; I want that person to be happy or feel special.) Say: Often when we give gifts, we get something in return that we can t see or touch. We get a great feeling from giving. The wise men came to give gifts to Jesus. They got something back that was more than they could see or touch. They received the best gift of all. They met Jesus. Jesus is God s greatest gift. n Unusual Treasure SUPPLIES: Bible, bowl, water, paper towels Several hours before class, pour all but about a teaspoon of the grow crystals into a bowl. Add several cups of water, and let the mixture sit for several hours. The grow crystals will absorb water and grow to several times their original size. Just before class, hide the gold coins in the grow crystals. Read Matthew 2:11. Say: The Magi brought expensive gifts to Jesus, and the gifts were described as treasures. Bring out the bowl of prepared grow crystals. There are treasures hidden in this bowl of wet and gooey grow crystals. Are any of you willing to stick your hands in here to find them? Let children stick their hands into the grow crystals and squish their fingers around in it to find the coins. Provide paper towels so that children can wipe their hands after Hands-On Bible Curriculum Grades 3 & 4 35

6 Lesson 3 The grow crystals can be prepared the night before your class. After you add the water, cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a lid, and set it aside until morning. For added fun, hide small plastic toys in the gooey grow crystals. Let children who find them keep the trinkets. squishing in the grow crystals. Use paper towels to clean the gold coins. When children have found all the gold coins, set the gold coins and grow crystals aside. Ask: How did you feel about putting your hands into the grow crystals to find the treasures? (I didn t want to get all messy; I wanted to find the treasures, so I didn t care; I thought it would be fun!) How do you think the wise men felt going on such a long journey to find Jesus? (They might have thought it was a fun adventure; they might have been scared to be so far from home.) Give each child one or two of the solid grow crystals you set aside earlier. Let them compare the size and consistency of the crystals that have been in water and those that have not. Then ask: How did water change these crystals? (It made them mushy; it made them grow.) How are these changes similar to the changes that happen in our lives when we have a relationship with Jesus? (Our hearts might be softer toward others; a relationship with Jesus makes us grow.) The treasures we found in the grow crystals were just plastic toys. What treasure would you have liked to find there? (Real money; a video game; a gift certificate.) How is a friendship with Jesus a treasure? (Jesus is a true friend, and that s worth more than money; Jesus loves us no matter what; we can talk to Jesus about anything.) Collect the grow crystals from the children, and return them to the Learning Lab. Say: The wise men knew that Jesus is God s greatest gift. A relationship with Jesus is the greatest treasure we could ever have. Let s take time right now to thank God for Jesus. If any of the children would like to pray, let them do so. Then pray: Dear God, thank you for giving us the greatest gift of all, Jesus. We re thankful for the love you ve shown us through this gift. Amen. Put the gold coins back into the Learning Lab. n Gift Box SUPPLIES: Bibles, Gift Box handout (p. 41), tape, markers, pencils, scissors, slips of paper Before class, make a photocopy of the Gift Box handout for each student. Make a sample box before class so kids see how the folded box looks. Help kids find James 1:17a in their Bibles. Have a volunteer read the verse aloud: Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. Ask: What does this verse tell us about God s gifts? (God s gifts are good; perfect things come from God.) 36 Hands-On Bible Curriculum Grades 3 & 4

7 Foreign Visitors Worship Jesus What is God s greatest gift to us? (Jesus; having Jesus die on the cross.) Have kids form two lines facing each other. Say: The person facing you is now your partner. Tell your partner one of Jesus qualities you re especially thankful for. After kids have shared, indicate one line and say: Everyone in this line move one position to the left. Everyone tell your new partner one way you can thank God for his gift of Jesus. Maybe you could tell someone else about Jesus, or you could do something nice for someone as a way of showing them Jesus love. If you re at the left end of this line (indicate the line that moved), go around to the other end to find your new partner. Give kids a few moments to talk. Then say: Good thinking! Now let s make a gift box to remind us of God s greatest gift. Set out the photocopies of the Gift Box handout, scissors, slips of paper, pencils, tape, and markers. Say: This is a pattern for a gift box. Here s what a finished gift box looks like. Hold up the sample box you made. Think of one person you d like to tell about God s greatest gift this week. On a slip of paper, write that person s name. When you finish writing, decorate your box any way you d like to. Then follow the instructions on the handout to cut, fold, and tape your box. Then put your paper slip inside the box. Give kids up to five minutes to finish their boxes. Then ring the bell, wait for kids to respond, and have kids help you clean up. Say: You ve done a great job making these boxes! Remember to tell the person you thought of that Jesus is God s greatest gift. Then you can use your box to store things that remind you of God s gifts. For example, you could keep a special Bible verse inside the box or a picture of your family or best friend. It s important to say the Bible Point just as it s written in each activity. Repeating the Bible Point over and over will help kids remember it and apply it to their lives. HANDS-ON BIBLE Say: The wise men worshipped Jesus and gave him gifts. Worship itself is a gift we can give God. Let s open our Hands-On Bibles to 1 Peter 3:15 and read what it says. Read the verse together, and then have children find the Have a Plan activity near 1 Peter 3. Have them form pairs, and provide paper so they can brainstorm ideas about sharing their faith. When children have discussed their ideas, let pairs share ways to tell others about Jesus. Ask: How is telling others about Jesus a gift to others? (It lets them know about the friendship they can have with Jesus; it shows them love.) How is this a gift to Jesus? (It spreads Jesus love; it brings others to a relationship with Jesus.) Encourage children to take their Hands-On Bibles home and follow through with one way to tell others about Jesus. Be creative in your use of classroom space. Move your table aside so kids can move around freely and work in groups. Have chairs available, but be willing to sit on the floor as well. Chairs can be a distraction, and moving them around slows down your lesson. Hands-On Bible Curriculum Grades 3 & 4 37

8 Lesson 3 If the path to your snack is heavily traveled, tape the paper squares to the wall just above the floor line. If you tape squares to the wall, make sure to have extra paper squares available back in your classroom. Any treat will work for this activity, but it s fun to have a star-shaped treat. You can use a star-shaped cookie cutter to turn sandwiches, cheese slices, or gelatin into a fun, starry snack. n Follow the Star SUPPLIES: Bibles, snacks, plate, construction paper, newsprint, marker, scissors, glue stick, pencils Before class, draw a star on a large sheet of newsprint. Place the star over a covered plate of snacks in a low-traffic area outside your room. Cut a number of 3x3-inch squares from different-colored construction paper. Scatter the squares so they form a path kids can follow from the classroom to the star and snack. Say: The wise men traveled a long way following a star. We re going to do some traveling, too. When you came to class, you probably noticed some colorful papers leading away from the room. Let s follow the path and find a gift. Choose a volunteer to lead the group. Ask kids to walk quietly so they won t disturb other classes. When the kids find the star, let them uncover the snack. Have two students carry the star and the snack back to the classroom while the rest of the students pick up the construction paper squares on the way. Save the squares for later. When you reach your classroom, have kids form a circle on the floor. Place the star in the center of the circle, and pass the plate of snacks so kids can help themselves. Also distribute Bibles and pencils. Ask: What did you think you d find at the end of the path? (Food; something good; a treat.) Say: I said we d follow a star to find a gift, so you were probably expecting something good. But do you know who all good gifts really come from? Let s look at James 1:17 to find out. Help kids find James 1:17 in their Bibles. Have a volunteer read the verse aloud as the kids follow along. Then ask: How would you put this verse in your own words? (Good things come from God; God doesn t change; God is the Father of light.) What are some of the good gifts God gives us? (Jesus; food; families; love; homes.) Say: Because God created the sun, moon, stars, and our earth, everything we have in our world is a gift from God. God also gives us eternal life when we have a relationship with Jesus. Jesus is God s greatest gift. Right now, let s brainstorm about other gifts God gives us and write them on the paper squares we brought back from our search. Use a separate square for each gift. Concentrate on gifts you re especially thankful to God for. Make sure each child has at least three or four squares of colored paper. Kids might write responses such as peace, happiness, a house, family, friendship, healthy minds and spirits, Jesus, answers to prayer, love, food, or clothing. Be sure to have extra paper squares available in case kids think of more gifts. As children are working, write, Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens (James 1:17a) on the newsprint below the star you drew. After each child has written on three or four paper squares, ring the bell, and wait for kids to respond. Ask: Why does God give us gifts? (Because he loves us; because he wants us to feel special; because he wants to take care of us.) Do we deserve God s gifts? Why or why not? (No, because God is perfect and we re not; no, because God doesn t owe us anything.) 38 Hands-On Bible Curriculum Grades 3 & 4

9 Foreign Visitors Worship Jesus When has God given you a special gift, such as answering a prayer or providing something just when you needed it? (God provided a job for my mom when she needed one; God healed my friend when he was sick.) Say: Let s cover the large star with the gifts that we ve written down. When it s your turn, read aloud the gifts you wrote down, rub the glue stick on the back of your paper squares, and glue them on the star. Let s have the person wearing the most red and green begin; then we ll go left around our circle. After kids have attached their papers to the star, you may want to display the star on a wall of your classroom. Then say: These are all important gifts, but there s one gift from God that s more important than anything else. Jesus is God s greatest gift. At this time of year, we re thankful for the gifts we receive. Let s remember to be especially thankful for Jesus. You may wish to have children clean their hands with baby wipes or at a nearby sink before they handle or eat their snacks. Closing n Star Burst SUPPLIES: CD player track 8 Before class, cue the CD to We Three Kings (track 8). Have the kids form trios or foursomes. Then ask them to turn their backs to each other within each group and extend their arms and touch fingertips with their neighbors to form points of a star. Say: You look like stars! Hold your star shape, and close your eyes for prayer. As I play soft music, silently thank God for several gifts he s given you. Maybe you d like to thank him for giving you a special family or for the beauty he created outdoors or for helping you get good grades in school. Play We Three Kings (track 8) on the CD. When the music stops, close the prayer time by saying: Thank you, God, for all your gifts. Most of all, we thank you for letting us know that Jesus is your greatest gift. In his name we pray, amen. Let s all thank him together by shouting Thank you, God! Have kids hold their hands up and shout, Thank you, God! Return the CD to the Learning Lab for later use. Growing closer to Jesus extends beyond the classroom. Photocopy the Hands-On Fun at Home handout (at the end of this lesson) for this week, and send it home with your kids. Encourage kids and parents to use the handout to spark meaningful discussion on this week s topic. Hands-On Bible Curriculum Grades 3 & 4 39

10 Journey to Jesus Read Matthew 2:1-3. If you were one of the wise men, why would you want to worship Jesus? How would you worship him? Read Matthew 2:4-6. If you were Herod, how would you feel about the baby Jesus? Read Matthew 2:7-9. If you were one of the wise men, what would you do? Would you believe Herod? Why or why not? Read Matthew 2: You are the wise men. You ve found Jesus and you re worshipping him. How does it feel to look at God s Son? What gift would you bring him? Explain. 40 Permission to photocopy this handout from Group s Hands-On Bible Curriculum Grades 3 & 4 granted for local church use. Copyright Group Publishing, Inc., 1515 Cascade Avenue, Loveland, CO group.com

11 top fold Gift Box Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens (James 1:17a). top fold fold cut cut fold fold fold bottom fold bottom fold fold fold fold cut cut fold 1. Cut out the box on the solid lines. Use markers to decorate the box on the blank side. 2. Make four small cuts on the solid lines between the pairs of dots. 3. Fold all the sides of the box up on the dotted lines. 4. Tuck the corner flaps to the inside, and fold the curved flaps over them. Tape the curved flaps in place. Permission to photocopy this handout from Group s Hands-On Bible Curriculum Grades 3 & 4 granted for local church use. Copyright Group Publishing, Inc., 1515 Cascade Avenue, Loveland, CO group.com 41

12 LESSON 3 Jesus is God s greatest gift. Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens (James 1:17a). Discuss these questions during a meal this week. What gift would delight you most this Christmas? What gift could you give that would delight someone in our family? How can our actions to each other be gifts? etc. To help decorate your house for Christmas, ask permission to Read Matthew 2:11. If the wise men lived in our time, what gifts do you think they would give to Jesus? Read James 1:17. Can you think of a time someone served your family and his or her service felt like a gift from God? draw stars on the windows with a bar of soap. For each star you draw, thank God for someone in your family grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins as well as immediate family members. After Christmas, you can rub off the stars with a damp cloth. Make a silly wise-owl mask from a paper plate. Fold the plate in half. Use a pencil to mark eyeholes and a beak. Cut out eyeholes, and fringe the edges of the eyes. Make one cut for the beak. Unfold the plate. Lift up the beak to make it stick out. Curl the fringes around the eyes outward; then paint or color the owl with markers. Take turns putting on the mask and telling how to give good advice. For example, you might say, With a smile, Only when you re asked, or Only when you know a good answer to give. Read 2 Peter 1:3. What talents or abilities has Jesus given you that help you serve others? Make your meals at Christmastime special with the help of a star-shaped cookie cutter. Try the cookie cutter on cinnamon toast, cheese slices, butter and jelly sandwiches, or luncheon meat slices. Be sure to use the cutaway scraps, too. 42 Permission to photocopy this handout from Group s Hands-On Bible Curriculum Grades 3 & 4 granted for local church use. Copyright Group Publishing, Inc., 1515 Cascade Avenue, Loveland, CO group.com

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