The Apostle Paul helped lay the foundations of the Christian church. His missionary zeal and commitment to God’s truths are a shining example for all Christians. To help you celebrate the Apostle Paul’s teachings and life, we asked Children’s Ministry Magazine readers to give us the best ideas they’ve used to teach about Paul.
You’ll find environments, snacks, crafts, and Bible activities that’ll help your kids grow as they learn about the Apostle Paul.
Four Environments of Apostle Paul
To help children better understand the world of Paul and the places he went, set up these environments in separate rooms for children to travel through. Have the leaders in each room dress in appropriate costumes as well.
1. Lydia’s House
Decorate the room with nice furnishings, including lots of purple cloth and Bible-time vases and pitchers. Have a woman tell the story as a monologue from Acts 16:14-15. Part of the monologue can include showing kids how to dye cloth purple and illustrating the importance of being good hosts and hostesses.
Give each child fabric crayons and a piece of purple fabric. Have them draw pictures on their fabric. Then gather the pieces and make a wall hanging.
Dip square sponges into brown paint and stamp them onto newsprint to create “bricks.” Cover the room walls with these bricks. Put a menorah on a table and a large scroll on a lectern. Have children leave their shoes at the door. Give children prayer shawls to cover their heads as they enter. Then have them kneel on mats during the teaching time. (If possible, research Hebrew traditions or interview a rabbi so you’ll be prepared to answer children’s questions.)
Provide sandboxes and a poster of the Hebrew alphabet so children can practice writing in Hebrew (check out this helpful website). Children can also make small scrolls as a craft to remind them of the Scriptures that were read in the synagogue.
3. Jail Room
Stuff large paper grocery bags with newspaper and tape them shut. Stack the stuffed bags on each other to create the “stone” walls of the jail, but don’t tape them together. Lay black plastic on the floor of the jail. Spread out shredded raffia and plastic rats and bugs on the floor. Glow-in-the-dark bugs with black lights are even better! “Chain” high-school prisoners to the jail walls. Make your storyteller a jailer who takes the kids back in time for the story from Acts 16:22-40. When the earthquake hits, push the “stones” onto the children so they can experience the earthquake as Paul did.
To help tell this story, use The Great Escape video from The Visual Bible for Kids Series (Tommy Nelson).
4. Shipwreck Room
To simulate the belly of a ship, unroll a 20-foot roll of black plastic. Use duct tape to connect the long edges on the outside, keeping the short edges open to make a tube. Set a box fan at one of the ends of the plastic, and tape the edges closed around the fan’s edges (not behind the fan). Turn on the fan, and the plastic will inflate. Put sand and driftwood next to the ship, and paint a sky backdrop on the wall behind the ship.
Have kids crawl through the opening in the other end to enter the ship’s inner cavity. Mist children with water from spray bottles, and play sound effects of the beach and storm as you tell the story of Paul and the shipwreck from Acts 27:14-44.
Have children use nails to make tin punches of the Ichthus symbol in aluminum pie plates. Explain that this “fish” symbol was important in Paul’s life because after Jesus died, it was dangerous for a person to be a Christian. To tell others that they were Christians in Paul’s day, people would draw this symbol in the sand. As Christians today, we can also use this Ichthus symbol to tell others that we believe in Jesus.
Two Special Delivery Ideas
The Apostle Paul’s ministry was immortalized in his letters that became the bulk of the New Testament. Understanding Paul’s letter-writing ministry can help children learn more about Paul.
1. Paul’s Letters
Have children make paper. This activity works well with children as young as 4. Children can use the small round paper to write love notes to family members or to Jesus.
- a 34.5-ounce coffee can;
- a 11.5-ounce coffee can with the top and bottom removed;
- one 8×8-inch piece of plastic needlepoint canvas (available at sewing or craft stores);
- two 8×8-inch pieces of window screening (available at hardware stores);
- one plastic tub;
- newspaper (minus the slick ads);
- warm water (coffee carafes work great to keep the water warm);
- paper towels;
- marigold seeds,
- dried flower petals, or glitter;
- and old stamps, printed Bible verses, or small newspaper cartoons.
For each child, you’ll need:
- a plastic jar with a lid such as a peanut butter jar.
Paper-Making Station Setup
One paper-making station for every five to seven children is most helpful.
Set the plastic tub on a flat surface at child-reachable height. Then place the larger coffee can in the center of the tub. Next, place the following items on top of the larger can in this order: plastic needlepoint canvas, one sheet of window screening, and the smaller coffee can. Make sure to have the second piece of window screening and paper towels available.
Tell kids to tear the newspaper into dime-sized pieces, and place the pieces into your plastic jar. Then add marigold seeds, dried flower petals, or glitter as desired. Fill your plastic jar two-thirds full with hot water and close the lid. Cover the lid with a paper towel to catch dribbles. Then shake for five to 10 minutes to make paper pulp the consistency of runny oatmeal.
When the newspaper has turned to pulp, move to the Paper-Making Station and swiftly dump the paper pulp into the smaller coffee can. Allow the water to drain through the screen and plastic needlepoint canvas into the larger can. Carefully remove the smaller can and set it aside. Then place old stamps, Bible verses, or cartoons on top of the paper pulp as desired.
Place the second piece of window screening on top of the paper pulp and blot it with paper towels. Remove the top piece of window screening. Lay a paper towel on the paper, flip it over, and remove the back window screening. Cover the paper with more paper towels and press to absorb water. Carefully remove the paper creation and lay it flat on a fresh paper towel to dry overnight. When your paper is completely dry, use a fine-point Sharpie pen to write your name and message.
2. Pen Pals
We wanted our children to understand the importance of Paul’s letters in encouraging, loving, and instructing the early churches. To do this, we placed our children in groups named after the early churches: Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians. We gave each group a real mailbox that we purchased from a local hardware store. Each group decorated its mailbox with its name. Then we assigned each child a pen pal in one of the other groups. Over the course of a three-month period, the kids sent letters of encouragement to their pen pals each week. Our adult volunteers delivered the letters to the mailboxes.
It was so much fun for the children to come in each week and check their mailboxes. At the conclusion of our unit, the kids each identified themselves to their pen pal and new friend.
Paul’s teachings: 4 Children’s Messages
by Sheila Halasz
Not only was Paul prolific in his letter-writing, but every word was God-breathed. Help children understand Paul’s teachings with these activities
1. Paul the Writer
- pencils or pens,
- and tape or push pins.
Say: Paul was a writer. He wrote 13 books of the Bible with God’s help. He wrote more books in the Bible than anyone else.
Pass out the paper and pencils. Tell children to write 13 things they know about God. If you have a younger group, kids can work together to make one list of 13 things.
- When the children are finished, ask:
- Was it easy or difficult to write 13 things you know about God?
- How many of you asked God to help you?
- Do you think Paul wanted to write God’s words? Why or why not?
- Do you think it was easy or difficult for Paul to write 13 entire books? Explain.
Say: Paul had very special help from God, and Paul wrote exactly what God told him to write.
Read aloud 2 Timothy 3:16-17.
- What can we do to make sure people read what we wrote?
If no one suggests it, tell kids they could put up their lists in places around the church for others to read.
Say: It pleases God when others read about him. Choose where you’d like to post your writings. Make sure kids only hang their lists where your church allows things to be hung.
- Why is it important for people to read what Paul wrote?
- What can we do to encourage people to read God’s Word?
2. The Mystery of Christ
- white crayons,
- watercolor paints,
- white paper,
- and a children’s Bible.
Read aloud Ephesians 3:3-5 from the children’s Bible. Then say: God told Paul his secret plan. This secret was something that people who lived in other times didn’t know. We each have secrets too, and we’re going to create secret messages.
Say: Think of something good about yourself that you would like to share with a friend that your friend may not know. Maybe you like to eat broccoli, or you play hockey, or you’re really good at spelling. Use a white crayon to write a word or draw a picture on a white sheet of paper that tells about your secret. When you’re done, exchange papers with a friend. Have your friend try to guess what your secret is.
After everyone has had a chance to guess, ask:
- Do you think God knows your secret?
- Now pretend you’re the Apostle Paul. How would it feel to have God share his secret with you?
Read aloud Ephesians 3:6-7. Say: Paul found out God’s secret that Jews and non-Jews can be part of the same body and can share together in God’s plan for his people. The even bigger secret is that all people can be part of God’s family if they believe in Jesus as their Savior.
Have kids use the watercolor paint to paint their friend’s picture to see what the secret is. Let children share the secrets they discovered.
- How did you feel when you discovered a secret about a friend?
- What do you think Paul felt about knowing the greatest secret ever?
- How did Paul share God’s secret with others?
- Who could you share God’s secret with this week?
3. Milk for Babes
- half a banana for each person,
- and napkins.
Form pairs. Give each pair two banana halves, spoons, bowls, and napkins. Have the kids mash the bananas in the bowl to make “baby food.”
- Why do babies eat baby food?
Say: You’re going to take turns with your partner, feeding him or her baby food—a mashed banana. We’ll race to see who can do this the fastest-and neatest. Ready, go!
After this activity, ask:
- How did it feel to feed your baby partner?
- How did it feel to be the baby?
- What would it feel like if you were always treated like a baby here at church? Explain.
Read aloud 1 Corinthians 3:1-2. Ask:
- What kind of food did Paul say he was feeding these people?
- What does that mean?
Read aloud 1 Corinthians 3:3-4. Ask:
- What were these people doing that made them seem like babies?
- What do people do when they’re jealous of each other?
Read aloud 1 Corinthians 3:5-9. Ask:
- According to these verses, what’s the solution for people acting like babies?
- When have you ever seen people acting like this before?
- What’s the solution for all of us to be united instead of divided?
4. Speak It
- a piece of candy for each person,
- a lemon slice for each person,
- unsweetened Kool-Aid soft drink,
- salty crackers,
- and water.
Read aloud Philippians 2:9-11. Have each child eat a piece of candy and say, “Jesus Christ is Lord.” Then have each child suck on a lemon piece and say, “Jesus Christ is Lord.” Then have each child eat a salty cracker and again say, “Jesus Christ is Lord.” Lastly, have them try to wash down the crackers with the unsweetened Kool-Aid soft drink as they say, “Jesus Christ is Lord.”
Say: There are times when it’s hard for our tongues to keep telling others about Jesus Christ being the Lord.
- What can we do when we just don’t want to keep telling others about Jesus?
- How can God help us?
Pass out cups of water to the children.
Food for Thought: Four Bible Snacks
Use these snacks to extend lessons about the Apostle Paul.
1. Paul the Tentmaker
To help kids remember that Paul’s ministry was telling others about Jesus, but his job was making tents, have them make tents.
Each child will need:
- a paper plate,
- two graham crackers,
- icing or peanut butter
- and two pretzel sticks to make tents.
Have kids each work on a paper plate. Kids will spread icing or peanut butter on one edge of a graham cracker and then lean the other piece of graham cracker to form a tent. The pretzel sticks serve as tent poles to hold up the tent.
Candler, North Carolina
2. Jail Cells
To remind children of the story of God delivering Paul and Silas from jail, have them make jail cells.
- graham crackers,
- 3-inch licorice laces,
- and marshmallow cream
Give each child a graham cracker and several 3-inch licorice laces. Spread marshmallow cream on the graham cracker, then lay licorice laces across the marshmallow cream to make the bars of the jail cell.
3. Ships Ahoy!
Paul’s missionary travels took him on sailing ships quite often. To help children remember this, have them make mini ships.
- small individual pie crusts,
- pudding or custard filling,
- Fruit Roll-Ups fruit snacks,
- and cookie sticks.
Have children each fill a pie crust with pudding or custard filling. Then have them each unroll a fruit snack, lay it flat, and cut it diagonally into fourths. Have each child weave a cookie stick through the center of their fruit snack triangles and insert one end of the cookie stick in the filling to create the mast and sail of the ship.
4. Venomous Viper
In Acts 28, while Paul was putting wood on the fire, a viper bit him. He shook off the snake and suffered no ill effects. As you talk about God’s protection of Paul, have kids make this snack.
- Mini bagels,
- cream cheese,
- Red Hots candies,
- and Fruit by the Foot fruit snacks
Have each child cut two mini bagels in half and arrange them in a slithery pattern. They can use cream cheese to stick them together. Help kids carve a little off the sides of one end for a nose. Add Red Hots candies for eyes and Fruit by the Foot fruit snack tongue.
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