This lesson plan is copyrighted and belongs to the Kirk of Kildaire Presbyterian,

Cary North Carolina. It may be used for non-profit uses only.




The Prodigal Son is just one of the many parables that Jesus used in his teaching. A parable is a story that Jesus told to teach people something about God or about how God wants us to live.   This parable may also be called the “Parable of the Loving Father”.






Scripture:     Luke 15:11-32 with emphasis on verses 25-32.



·          God does not want us to be jealous, even when things don’t seem fair.

·          God wants us to be thankful for what we have.                           


Objectives:   This workshop will focus on the older brother in this parable.  Children will think about the older brother’s jealousy and the father’s response to that feeling.  They will then consider how they might respond when they feel jealous. 




Welcome and Introductions:

1.      Greet the children and introduce yourself.  Remember you are interacting with a different group of students each week that may not know you. Wear you name-tag.

2.      Tell the children that today they will use the puppets to explore the feeling of jealousy and to learn more about the parable of The Prodigal Son. 


Bible Story:

1.      Begin with a brief review of the parable of The Prodigal Son.  In the early weeks of the rotation, the children will need help with this review.  As the rotation progresses, they should be able to retell most of the story without your help.  Be sure they have a basic understanding of the story—the younger brother’s actions, his return home, and the father’s welcome. 

2.      Ask the children to find Luke 15:25-32 in their Bibles.  This is the end of the parable and is the focus for this workshop.  Read these verses for the younger children or ask the older children to take turns reading to the class. 

3.      Discuss how the older brother responded--why he was angry, what emotion he felt, whether they can understand how he felt, if they think he had a good reason to feel as he did, whether he was being treated “fairly”.  If the children do not mention “jealousy” be sure they know this describes the brother’s reaction. 

4.      Change the focus of the discussion to the father.  Ask the children how the father responded and what he said to the older brother.  If they do not know, refer to verses 31-32.  Help them to see that the father was telling the older brother to be thankful for what he had and not to be jealous for what he didn’t have.  Ask if the children agree with what the father said and if they think the older brother felt better after hearing his father. 

5.      Suggest to the children that the father is God’s example to us of how we should think when we are jealous—that God wants us to be glad for what we have and not angry when it seems someone has more than we do. 

6.      Also tell the children this is not an easy thing to do and is not only a problem for children.  Even as adults we often want what someone else has—a new car, a bigger house, a job that pays more money.




Older Children:  (3rd-5th grades)

1.      Divide the children into groups of eight.  There will be four puppeteers and four readers in each group. NOTE:  I realize the numbers may not work out exactly.  Just be creative to give everyone an opportunity to either manipulate a puppet or to read a part.  Maybe you could read the narrator part, or there could be two narrators.  Perhaps there could be some extra members of the family (puppets) who watch the action even though they have no voice part—just whatever seems to work best. 

2.      Pass out four puppets to each group and pass out enough scripts so that everyone has one.  It is helpful for the puppeteers to have a script so they know what action they are to demonstrate.   It is also best for each reader to have an individual script. You might highlight the scripts so that it is easier for a reader to find their parts. 

3.      Allow the groups several minutes to read through and practice their skit. 

4.      Ask one group to come to the puppet stage to perform the play for the other group. Switch audience and participants so that everyone has a chance to be in front of the class.

5.      Depending on time, either discuss an ending to the play or ask each group to work out an ending.  Ask them to imagine what Joe might have done next--how his attitude might or might not have changed.  Since the Bible does not tell us how the older brother responded, there is not an example from that story to follow.  At a minimum this needs a few minutes of discussion, but could be expanded to allowing each group to perform their new ending.


Younger Children (1st and 2nd grades) 

1.      To begin this part of the lesson, have all the children sit as an audience while the workshop leader, shepherd(s), and/or workshop assistant perform the play below. 

2.      Have a brief discussion of the play to assure that the children understood most of the story and what happened in Joe’s family.  If they really seem confused, continue the discussion or perform it again, although they will hear it two more times before the end of the workshop. 

3.      Pass out eight puppets to eight children.  Have them come to the stage as two different groups of four.  There will be two “Joes” two “Dads”, etc.  Have the two sets of puppets at two different locations on the stage.  Workshop leader, shepherd(s), etc read through the play again, this time allowing the children to act it out with their puppets.

4.      Ask the performers to pass their puppets to the remaining children so they can act out the story while you read it again.   As above, the numbers may not work out evenly so just be creative about what to do. 

5.      This will probably not take the entire lesson time.  At this point you may ask the children to break into groups of three or four and demonstrate other situations where brothers and sisters might be angry with each other similar to the Bible story and the puppet play or allow the children to change parts and act out the play again. 



1.      End the plays in time to allow discussion. Ask the children to return the puppets to their storage location and to sit down quietly.


2.      Spend several minutes in discussion so the children can understand Joe was feeling jealous of his sister and wanted what she had.  Do they think that Joe should be happy for the money he will get rather than being mad about what Mary gets to do?  How is Joe like the older brother in the Bible story.  What did he have (always being with his father) that he should have been thankful for, rather than being angry about what his younger brother got? 


3.      Suggest to the children that when they feel jealous of what someone else has, they can thank God for what they have.  Admit this is not easy to do—that it is easier just to feel jealous--but that it is a better way to handle the situation. 


Reflection Time:


1.      Ask the shepherds to pass out the journals and pencils/markers.  Ask all the children to write a list of things they are thankful for.  The younger children should have at least 5 items on their list and the older ones should have 10 items.  Suggest to the children that they can remember this list when they begin to feel jealous of their friend, sister, brother, classmate or neighbor. 

2.      Ask the students to close their journals and sit quietly for prayer.





Prayer: End with a simple prayer asking God to help us when we feel jealous.  Ask God to help us remember that we have many good things even when it seems someone else has more than we do.  



Tidy and Dismissal: Ask children to help clean up as they wait for their parents to arrive.  Put pillows behind stage area. Put away boom box, workshop bin, etc.





Teacher preparation in advance:

1.      Read the scripture passages and attend the Faith Quest Leaders Bible Study

2.      Prepare an opening/closing prayer.

3.      Write your key scripture verse on the white board.

4.      Check out the room before your first Sunday workshop so that you know where everything is located. Bring a CD or tapes music for background music while you are gathering, meditative music for reflection time.


Puppet warm-up exercises:


You may wish you begin the puppet work in your lesson with some of these warm-up exercises:

1.      Tell the children that they will each receive a puppet and will practice moving their puppet in ways that help the audience understand what the puppet is doing.  You will give them guidance on what to do with their puppets. 

2.      Ask the children to divide into pairs. If there is an odd number, a group of three will be fine. 

3.      Pass out the puppets to one child in each pair.  It does not matter which puppet goes to which child.

4.      Have one of the pair do the action or emotion that you suggest and the other person watch.  Instruct the “watchers” to make any needed suggestions such as, “make bigger movements with the puppet” “do not turn the puppet’s head so much” etc. Examples of things you can practice with the puppets are:                                               

·          “Show how your puppet looks when it is speaking quietly.”                          

·          “Show how your puppet looks when it is speaking loudly”                      

·          “Show what your puppet does when it is listening.”                                

·          “Show your puppet praying.”

·          “Show your puppet looking surprised.”

·          “Show your puppet looking afraid.”





NARRATOR:  This is a story about a boy named Joe, his sister, Mary and his dad.  Let’s listen to what happens. 


DAD:  “Joe, how would you like to earn some money today?”


JOE:  “Sure dad!  What can I do?  How much can I earn?  When do I start?”


DAD:  “Hang on, not so fast.  I need help cleaning the garage.  It’s a big job and you will have to stick with it until it is done.  We have to pick up all the stuff, put it away, sweep up the bird seed, hang up the tools,  . . .”


JOE:  “Yea, yea, dad, I can do that in a flash.  How much do I get paid?” 


DAD:  “When the job is all finished--and you have stuck with it--I will pay you $10.00”


JOE:  “That sounds great!  You never pay me that much!  I have a hundred things I can use that money for!  Thanks!  Let’s get started.”


NARRATOR: Joe starts working very hard.  He is moving quickly and working back and forth with a lot of energy.  Just then, Mary comes in.


MARY:  “Bye Dad!  Mom just gave me my allowance and I'm going to the mall.  I’ll be home about lunch time!”


DAD:  “Have fun!”


NARRATOR:  Joe keeps on working but he is moving slower now.  Let’s see what is wrong. 


JOE:  “I’m getting tired.  This is hard work.  Can I quit?”


DAD:  “No, son, you agreed to help me until the job was done.  Now let’s work together and see if that is better than working so fast.” 


NARRATOR:  Joe and his dad work together at a steady pace—not so fast that they get tired, but not too slow either.  This doesn’t seem so bad to Joe.  


DAD: “You’re doing a great job now, Joe.  Let’s stop for lunch and we’ll finish after we eat.”


JOE:  “Great idea, Dad!  I’m hungry.”


MARY:  “Hi, Dad!  I’m home!”  


DAD:  "Did you have fun?"


MARY:  "Not really.  And I spent all my allowance playing video games and came home with nothing." 

              “Joe, the neighbors asked if we could try their new trampoline right now.  What do you think?”


JOE:  “Sure, I’ll be right there.”

DAD:  “Wait a minute, Joe.  You have to stay here until the garage is clean.  Then you can go with Mary.”


JOE: “But Dad, that’s not fair!  Mary’s been gone to the mall and I’ve been working all morning—and now you say she can try the trampoline and I can’t!  That’s just not fair!  I’m so mad!”


DAD:  “Joe, you chose to help me.  Mary chose to go to the mall and to the neighbors’.  You will have $10.00 plus your allowance if you stick with me.  Mary will not have any money at the end of the day.  I hope you can be glad for what you have even if you don’t get to jump on the trampoline.”