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Elementary kids at a table creating paper bag pinatas.
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3 Ready-To-Go Substitute Survival Kits

When an absence calls for a sub, we’ve got you covered with these full lessons based on the song Jesus Loves Me.


Emergencies happen. Volunteers call in sick. Lessons fall through. Instead of scrambling, prep this emergency lesson kit for use at any time in your children’s ministry. These full lessons, based on the classic song, “Jesus Loves Me,” are a great reminder of God’s love for kids any time of year.

Test reading, "Jesus Loves Me! This I know; For the Bible tells me so; Little ones to him belong; They are weak, but he is strong."

Preschool: Little ones to him belong

Supplies
  • a box or bag to hold all the supplies
  • the Preschool lesson
  • a Bible
  • egg cartons
  • markers
  • child-safe scissors
  • chenille wire
  • glue dots
  • “Robot Parts”
  • spray bottle of water
  • a broom
  • items you’ve prepped ahead of time
  • any other information or supplies
  • specific to your ministry. For example, you might include a music CD, a list of standard practices or rules, a list of kids’ names, and snacks.
Children’s Directors Pre-Setup

Craft: cut apart the egg cartons so you have at least one egg-caddie per child. Print one copy of the “Robot Parts” handout per child.

Preschool Opener

Introduce preschoolers to the “Jesus Loves Me” song.

Say: Today we’ll learn about Jesus’ love for you and me! Sing the first verse of “Jesus Loves Me” with preschoolers. Sing it with them several times, using these motions:

Jesus Loves Me! This I know; (hug self)
For the Bible tells me so; (make book with hands)
Little ones to him belong; (point to each other)
They are weak, but he is strong. (wiggle arms, then make muscles)

Preschool Craft

You’ll need:

Three preschools building craft robots.

Say: Jesus made you! Read Psalm 139:13. That means Jesus made each part of you. Point out ways God creatively made every child in your group special. If you’ve just met the children, share things you can see or remember from your short time together. For example, “You have a nice smile.” “I could tell Erin was a great listener because she sat down right on time.” “Ramon is a good helper because he helped his friends during clean-up time.”

Say: Let’s create our own special friends. Help children use the egg caddie to creatively decorate their special robot friends.

Have kids give their robots names. Have kids tell about the different parts of their special robot friends and what their special robot friends can do.

Say: You made your special robot friend special; it belongs to you. Jesus made you like that— you were specially made. You belong to him. He loves you so much!

Preschool Game

You’ll need:

  • a spray bottle of water,
  • a broom,
  • and kids’ special robot friends.

Say: We belong to Jesus. He takes care of us and protects us. The Bible says nothing can keep us from him or take us away from him. (Romans 8:38-39)

Two preschoolers crawling around protecting their craft robots from a broom.

Have children stand along one wall with their special robot friends. Say: Let’s play a game where we crawl as quickly as we can to safety. Point to the opposite wall. It’s your job to protect your robot friend along the way. There could be water or other dangers. Protect your robots! Show kids how they can shelter their robots as they crawl to safety. Begin the game and spray water over kids as they crawl.

Afterward, ask:

  • How did you protect your special friend?

Say: Jesus does whatever he needs to protect you. He won’t let anything keep us from him. Play a second round where you use the broom to try to sweep the robots away from kids.

Ask:

  • What did you do this time to protect your special friend?

Say: Jesus doesn’t like it when anything tries to separate you from him. Thankfully, he’s very strong and nothing can take you from him. You belong to Jesus!

Quickly create more obstacles by placing random objects in kids’ way across the room. If kids are still interested, play a third round, using both the water and a broom.

Afterward, ask:

  • What were you thinking or feeling this time?

Say: Sometimes it can feel like a lot of things are coming at us. But we can remember that we belong to Jesus, and no matter what, he’ll protect us.

Preschool Devotion

Say: You made your special robots, kind of like Jesus made you. You gave your robot [name characteristics of kids’ robots]. Your robot belongs to you and you protected it. Jesus made you and loves you even more than that. You belong to him; so nothing can keep you from him.

Have children stand in circles with their small groups with their arms around each other’s backs. Invite one child to stand in the middle of each circle. Say: We’re making a strong wall around our friend to remind us that nothing can get through Jesus’ strong arms or keep us from him. Lead kids in singing the first verse of “Je-sus Loves Me,” replacing “me” with the child’s name in the center. Repeat for every child.

Say: Jesus made you just how he wanted you and nothing can take you away from your friend Jesus. Lead the children in shouting, “We belong to Jesus!” together.

Elementary: For the Bible Tells Me So

Supplies
  • a box or bag to hold all the supplies
  • the Elementary lesson
  • a Bible
  • one paper lunch bag per child
  • tape
  • hole punch
  • yarn
  • tissue paper in several colors
  • scissors
  • glue sticks
  • handouts
  • one chair per child
  • bulletin board paper
  • sticky notes
  • a marker
  • pencils
  • any other information or supplies specific to your ministry
Children’s Directors Pre-Setup

Craft: Copy and cut apart the verses on the first page of the handout so each child will have one. Fold the verses and place them inside the paper lunch bags. Fold over and tape the top of each bag closed. Also, premake a paper bag piñata for the leader to show kids at the beginning of the activity.

Prayer: draw a heart, about three feet by three feet, on the bulletin board paper. Make a few copies of the Bible verses on the handout for kids to share.

Elementary Opener

Introduce the topic of Jesus’ love.

Say: I’ll hum a tune, and you try to put words to it. Hum a couple different, well-known tunes and see if kids catch onto them, such as “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” and “Old MacDonald.” Reveal each song after about a minute.

Hum “Jesus Loves Me,” and encourage children to sing the entire first verse. Sing it for them if they don’t know it.

Ask:

  • Which parts of “Jesus Loves Me” are easiest for you to believe?Why

Quickly repeat the words of the song. Say: The Bible says that Jesus loves us. He said this: Read John 15:9. Say: Today, we’ll think about the song’s line “for the Bible tells me so.”

Elementary Craft

You’ll need:

  • one paper lunch bag per child
  • tape
  • hole punch
  • yarn
  • tissue paper in several colors
  • scissors
  • glue sticks
  • handouts

Show the completed craft. Say: Piñatas have exciting surprises in them. Invite kids to tell about their experiences with piñatas, if they’ve had them.

Say: The Bible is like that. It might seem like just an old book, but when we read it, God talks to us. God surprises us by speaking to our hearts. The “Jesus Loves Me” song even says the Bible is proof of Jesus’ love. Explain that kids will be making piñatas that are filled with verses from the Bible that can encourage them to remember Jesus’ love.

Elementary kids at a table creating paper bag pinatas.

Give each child a prepared small paper lunch bag. Have them use the tissue paper to cut small pieces and glue them all over the paper bags, except the bottom and the top where it’s taped closed. They can cut squares, pinch them and glue them to the bag, or they can overlay strips of tissue paper, starting from the bottom and working up. Help them make two hole punches across the top of each bag and thread yarn through so they can hang their bags in their rooms.

Say: There are verses already in your bags, you can pull them out anytime you need a reminder that Jesus loves you.

Elementary Game

You’ll need one chair per child.

Have kids sit in a circle in chairs, and have one child stand in the center. The child in the center will try to get a seat by getting another child to smile. The child in the center will act silly and say, “Honey, if you love me, will you please, please smile?” or other kind and loving words. When a child smiles, he or she gives up the seat and becomes the new child in the center. Play for about 10 minutes, or until kids tire of the game.

Say: What words or actions in the game made you smile most? What kind words do people use that show you their love for you?

Say: In our game, the more loving words that were said, the harder it was to not smile. The Bible is filled with words about Jesus’ love, and the more we dig into Jesus’ love the more that love can spill over to others.

Ask:

  • What do you know about Jesus’ love?
  • Tell about a time Jesus’ love spilled over from you to another person.
Elementary Prayer

You’ll need:

  • bulletin board paper
  • sticky notes
  • a marker
  • pencils

Give each child four sticky notes and a pencil.

Kids placing post-it-notes on a large purple paper heart.

Say: We can be sure of Jesus’ love for us. Write or draw a prayer, asking Jesus to show you his love clearly. Allow time, and help kids if needed. They might ask Jesus to help them see his love by the way he provides or his love by the way people love them. When kids finish, let them place their sticky notes on the heart.

Say: Jesus hears you and he’ll always take care of you because he loves you so much. Let’s thank Jesus for his love. Have kids write or draw a thankful prayer to Jesus, then have them add their sticky notes to the heart.

Say: The Bible tells us how much Jesus loves us. Let’s ask Jesus to remind us of his love through the Bible. Have kids choose their favorite verse from the handout and write it on a sticky note, then have them add their sticky notes to the heart.

Say: When we experience Je- sus’ great big love, it can spill over into how we love others. Let’s ask Jesus to help us love others well. Read 1 John 4:19. Have kids write or draw a prayer, then have them add their sticky notes to the heart. Close in prayer and end with a group hug.

Preteen: They are weak, but he is strong

Supplies
  • a box or bag to hold all the supplies
  • the Preteen lesson
  • a Bible
  • safety pins
  • a 1-foot piece of red yarn, 1-foot piece of yellow yarn, 1-foot piece of blue yarn, and 1-foot piece of green yarn per child
  • the handout
  • 6 paper cups
  • 1 rubber band
  • 4 two-foot pieces of yarn for every 4 kids
  • 2 equal-size cups
  • construction paper
  • coins
  • items you’ve prepped ahead of time
  • any other information or supplies specific to your ministry
Supplies

Craft: print one handout per child. Also, mark a Bible with Romans 5:8, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Philippians 4:13.

Preteen Craft

You’ll need:

  • safety pins
  • a 1-foot piece of red yarn, 1-foot piece of yellow yarn, 1-foot piece of blue yarn, and 1-foot piece of green yarn per child
  • the handout

Recite the first verse of “Jesus Loves Me.”

Ask:

  • What do you think of this song?

Say: Some of us might think it’s only for little kids. But the words help us remember four really important truths. Let’s make something while we think about that. Lead kids through the first two steps on the “Four-Way Braid” handout.

Four strings of colorful yarn being braided by a child.

Then have them stop. Ask:
  • How do you know Jesus loves you? If you aren’t sure, talk about why.

Say: As we get to know Jesus, our trust in his love becomes stronger. Here’s one way he showed us his love: Read Romans 5:8.

Ask:

  • How does this verse show that Jesus loves you?

Have kids follow Step 3. Then have them stop. Ask:

  • Why do you think we can trust the Bible to tell us about Jesus’ love?

Read 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

Have kids follow Step 4.

Then have them stop. Ask:

  • What does it mean to belong to Jesus?

Say: God created you; so you belong to him. Have kids follow Step 5.

Say: The last line of the song reminds us that Jesus’ love gives us strength. Help kids follow Steps 6-10.

Have kids pull on the ends to feel how strong they are with all four pieces woven together. Say: The four truths in the song tell us about Jesus’ great big love. Today we’ll explore how Jesus’ love brings strength to us. Help kids put on their bracelets.

Preteen Object Lesson

You’ll need:

  • 2 equal-size cups
  • construction paper
  • coins

Ask: Tell about at time you felt weak.

Place the two cups upside down and side-by-side, about an inch apart. Put the one sheet of construction paper over them, creating a flat bridge.

Say: Sometimes we might feel weak because of our size or our age. We might feel like we can’t handle something. Place a coin on the center of the paper, and point out how it collapses.

Replace the paper. Say: Without Jesus many things are impossible. Like when Jesus died for us, Satan thought he had won. Satan thought he’d crushed Jesus. Place a handful of coins on the paper.

Say: But nothing could take Jesus down. He showed he was strong, even when people thought he was weak. When we believe in Jesus. Make one 1-inch fold in the paper. When we get to know him. Make another fold in the opposite direction. (You’re making accordion folds.) When we trust Jesus to take care of us like David did. Accordion fold the rest of the paper, then place it “upright” on the cups with the fold lines facing up and down. Say: We may be weak, but he is strong. Let each preteen add a coin to the new bridge.

Say: Silently tell God about an area where you feel weak in your life, and ask him to help you trust him. After praying, lead kids in saying “When we are weak, he is strong.”

Preteen Game

You’ll need:

  • 6 paper cups
  • 1 rubber band
  • 4 two-foot pieces of yarn for every 4 kids

Rubber band being pulled by kids using yarn strings. The kids are trying to grab a paper cup.

Have kids sit in groups of four with their supplies. Have each group tie the ends of each piece of yarn to their rubber band so the knots are evenly spaced around the rubber band.

Say: Let’s see if your team can stack your cups. Use the string and rubber bands to stack the cups. You may not touch the cups with anything else. Allow time. If needed, explain that all players stand at an equal distance and hold a string. When kids pull on the string, they can expand the rubber band and get it around the cups to pick them up.

Let kids play several times.

Kids using the yarn and rubber band set up to stack the paper cups.

Ask:
  • What did you do to make this work?

Say: This only worked when we worked with our teams. That reminds me of how we need Jesus’ help in our lives. Read Philippians 4:13.

Ask:

  • Tell about a time you relied on Jesus.

Share an example from your life and then let the children share. Tell about a time you relied on your own strength. Share an example from your life and then let the children share.

Ask:

  • How can you rely on Jesus?

Share an example from your life and then let the children share.

Preteen Prayer

You’ll need the braided bracelets kids made in the craft activity.

Say: “Jesus Loves Me” isn’t just a song for little kids. It’s for all of us—to remind us that we’re completely loved and we belong to Jesus. We have strength through our friendship with Jesus.

Point to a bracelet. Say: Our bracelets can remind us. When the four truths of this song are woven into our lives, we have strength from Jesus.

Have kids place their hands over the bracelets on their other wrists. Invite kids to pray, using the truths from the song.

Ask:

  • You can say these truths to Jesus anytime.
  • When are times you could remember to say it as a prayer?

Say: Through our friendship with Jesus, we can have strength, hope, and courage to face anything.

Jessica Sausto headshot

Jessica Sausto is an editor in Group’s children’s ministry department and a key leader in the preschool program at Flatirons Community Church in Lafayette, Colorado.

For more great ideas like this in every issue, subscribe today to Children’s Ministry Magazine!


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3 Ready-To-Go Substitute Survival Kits

Get free weekly resources from us!
Get free weekly resources from us!
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