Psalm 23 is one of the most well-known scriptures of the Bible. The verse describes the Lord as a shepherd and indicates how God watches over and cares for those who follow Him. If you are a Christian leader or parent, you need not wait until your children are older to teach the concepts of Psalm 23. However, lesson plans and stories can help.
Sheep Coloring Activity
A quick lesson on Psalm 23 involves printing off simple drawings of happy-looking sheep. Give each child present one drawing and some crayons. Let the children colour the sheep pictures as you talk about how God cares for people just as shepherds look over every sheep. If you like, you can use a scanner and a document editing program to add something like "God takes care of [blank] every day," where the child can write their name in the blank.
Sammy and His Shepherd by Susan Hunt
"Sammy and His Shepherd" is a children's story by Susan Hunt based on Psalm 23 of approximately 50 pages. The main character, a sheep named Sammy, befriends a sheep from a neighbouring pasture. Through their friendship, Sammy learns that harsh shepherds exist. Eventually, Sammy's loving shepherd buys Sammy's new friend. Read this story to children to explain how well God cares for people and how He tries to get us back into His own pasture. Chapters are very short; you can read and discuss just one chapter at a time if you want.
If you are teaching Psalm 23 to multiple children, have the children pretend to be sheep, as suggested by the Ministry-to-Children website. You may use costumes, but they aren't required. Have the children take turns being the shepherd and keeping the "sheep" safe from danger (e.g., another child or you playing a wolf). After the activity, talk about what it took to be a good shepherd in this exercise. Discuss how Psalm 23 demonstrates that God does a good job as a shepherd for faithful people.
Making sheep puppets is a good Psalm 23 lesson activity because puppets lend themselves well to creative play and can be taken home as keepsakes. Have each child bring one old or new white sock, or give each child one new sock. Have students glue craft eyes, felt ears and cotton ball "wool" to their socks to make sheep. Tell the children that God is the Good Shepherd and use Psalm 23 to explain what that means. If desired, you may have the children do an impromptu play with their new puppets centred around the psalm as well.
Recitation and Discussion
Children have the ability to memorise scripture just as they have the ability to memorise other facts. Give each child a laminated copy of Psalm 23 small enough to fit in a pocket. Have the children count off by sixes (adjust as needed to your group size), and then assign each child one verse of the psalm to memorise based on what number they got. At the end of the lesson time, or at the next meeting, have the children recite their verses in order, with all the children with the same verse reciting together. Between each verse, discuss what the verse means.
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