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.





Scripture:  Psalm 23:1-6 (A psalm by David).   The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul.  He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake.  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff ­ they comfort me.  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (New Revised Standard Version, with just a touch of King James!)  (A poster of this should be on display in the room.)


 Concepts:      God takes care of us like shepherd takes care of sheep.

                                    God is with us even when we are scared.

                                    God’s love and kindness are always with us.

                                    God guides us to make good choices.         


1.      The students will hear a first hand account of what a shepherd’s job is like.

2.      The students will gain a better understanding of what sheep are like.

3.      The students will participate in active storytelling which will help them to be able to memorize the 23rd Psalm and create lasting images/connections to this scripture.



Welcome and Introductions:

1.  Welcome the kids and introduce yourself.  Wear your name tag.  Make sure that everyone is in the right classroom!  Kids will either already have name tags on, or will get a name tag from their shepherd.  Make sure that you know everyone’s name and greet the students individually.  Remember you are interacting with a different group of students each week that may not know you.


2. Start the “lesson time” with prayer.  Ask for volunteers, but plan on praying yourself.  You might want to read a verse from another psalm as a prayer to start the lesson.  Hebrews 13:20 would be good to use.  It talks about Jesus as the Great Shepherd.
Bible Story:

1.      If this is the first week of the rotation, have the kids locate the 23rd Psalm in their Bibles and read through it together.  You can either have the kids read it together, read it verse by verse taking turns reading, or you can read it to them. 


2.      Practice one of the memorization activities. See the handout describing these activities. Tell the children that because the words of Psalm 23 are helpful in many situations, they will be memorizing it.  They will be doing this same activity in each workshop throughout the rotation.


3.      Because you are going to be telling the story from the persona of a shepherd, I recommend that you not be in costume/role when the kids begin the workshop.  Make a big deal of the fact you are becoming someone else.  Perhaps you could excuse yourself for a minute from the room and return in costume with the props you will need.  Or even allow the kids to watch to “become” the shepherd. This helps the kids (especially the younger ones) “get into” the story and builds a little suspense ­ a good thing for storytelling!



1.  Tell the story!  Attached to this lesson plan is a ‘rough’ script that could be used as a starting point for your story.  Included in the script are facts about sheep and some facts about what a shepherd’s job was like.  You will need to elaborate and make the story your own.


2.  Use props!  You will need a rod and a staff.  You might also want to gather some stuffed sheep for your flock, you might want to have a ‘shepherds pack’ that includes your bedroll, a few dishes for food and not much else!  Will you be out in the field, at camp, back in the village after being out all day or a season? 


3. How can you involve the kids in the storytelling?  Do you want them to answer questions you ask during the storytelling?  Do you want them to make sound effects for your story?  Do you want them to be the sheep?  (should they have sheep costumes (cotton ball ears to tie on….paper plate sheep masks?)).


4. Be sure to include some examples of things you have had to do for the sheep.  For example:

“Why, one time I remember I had to pull one little lamb out a deep hole that it fell into.  I used my crook and was able to gently lift if under its belly up out of the hole.  It had a few cuts and bruises, but it was okay.  When we got back to the sheepfold, I put some ointment on the poor little lamb’s cuts so they wouldn’t get sore and infected.  Sheep can get very sick if they get cuts and scrapes that don’t heal.  Many people say that a ‘sick sheep will soon be a dead sheep.’”


5. Make sure you tell stories about your job and the sheep that reflect the Lesson concepts referenced at the beginning of this lesson.  Tell a story that reflects the idea of making good choices (what had you had to do as a shepherd to help the sheep make good choices?)  What happens when sheep get scared? 


6. Include some references about your faith as a shepherd.  What does it mean to you when you hear that God takes care of us like a shepherd?


Reflection Time: 

Shepherds will pass out the journals and pencils/markers.  The children should spend a few minutes reflecting upon the morning’s lesson ­Would they like to have been a shepherd?  What was something they learned about how sheep act/behave.  What is something they do that is ‘sheep-like’ behavior?  Who are some of the shepherds in their lives? 



The closing is to be a worship experience for you and the children.  The workshop as a whole is modeled after a large corporate worship service.  We praise and pray together in the Great Hall, the children are “preached to” in the Bible Story and Application part of the lesson, reflection time provides a chance for the children to “connect” with the lesson and a chance for confession, and the closing is the place for corporate prayer, praise, lifting up and dismissal.  PLEASE DO NOT SKIP A CLOSING!


1.      To close this workshop you could recite the 23rd Psalm together, either from memory or from a printed poster/sheet.  This would be especially good if you haven’t spent much time on the scripture at the beginning of the lesson.


2.      Another closing activity might be to pass around the shepherd’s crook you used in your storytelling and have each child say a verse of the 23rd Psalm.  They wouldn’t have to say the verses in order, just say the one they like best.  You could also have everyone say “The Lord is my Shepherd” out loud when they receive the crook, but to think to themselves what that now means to them, having heard about what a shepherd does and how sheep act.  This could be done very reverently making it a powerful worship experience for the kids.


3.      Close with prayer.  You can ask if anyone would like to pray, or you can plan to pray yourself.  Thank God for loving us, leading us and keeping us safe.  Ask God to help us be better ‘sheep’!


Teacher preparation in advance:

1.      Read the scripture passages

2.      Look at the script ideas attached to this lesson plan and the ideas contained within the lesson plan.  Write your script or outline your story.  Include some means for ‘audience’ participation in your storytelling presentation.

3.      Gather any props and costumes you will need.  Do you want any particular backdrop or scenery?  Check out the room and decide if you need to make any changes.  Sheets hung as a backdrop are quick, easy and usually quite effective.

4.      Plan your closing.  Decide which activity you would like to use.  A song would also be a good way to close.  Prepare a closing prayer.

5.  Look for any further information on shepherds or sheep that you might want to include in            your storytelling experience.  




A poster with the revised version of Psalm 23


Props as determined by storyteller

Shepherd’s crook and rod (straight club-like stick used to protect sheep and self)

Copies of 23rd Psalm if you plan to have kids read it as part of closing


Handout of the activities for Memorizing Psalm 23



“Year One Lesson Sets from St. Elmo’s Choir”, Shepherds and Angels

Jerome F.D. Creach, Psalms, Geneva Press, Interpretation Bible Studies

Keller, W. Phillip, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, Zondervan Publishing House




These facts are not to be used in isolation or read off as a list.  They are to be used as a basis for a story ­ preferably told in the first person.  The storyteller will assume the persona of the shepherd.  As storyteller, you can choose to be a shepherd from ancient times or a modern shepherd.  The important things to remember when composing your story are the concepts that this workshop is focusing on:  God takes care of use like a shepherd takes care of sheep.

                                                                 God is with us even when we are scared.

                                                                God’s love and kindness are always with us.

                                                                God guides us to make good choices.


Your story will give the children further insight into what a shepherd does, what sheep are like, scary things might happen and how you react, how you guide the sheep to get them where you want them (good choices!).  A more difficult concept that you will need to address in your story is that of God as shepherd.  You might want to relate as the shepherd how you ‘suddenly’ understand what the Psalmist meant when he wrote “The Lord is my shepherd.” 


Make the story your own.  Use examples and facts that enhance your story ­ don’t just list them!  The story will need to be approximately 20 minutes long.




Were not wealthy

Worked long hard hours

Lived in the fields with the sheep

Spent all their time outdoors, rain or shine

Were sometimes old and sometimes young

Protected their sheep from wild animals

Made sure their sheep had enough food and water.

Used oil on the sheep’s wounds to keep them from getting infected.

Used a rod to protect the sheep and to discipline the sheep (prod and nudge to get them going the right way!)

Used the staff to lift, pull, grab hold of the sheep.

Had to account for their efforts in defending the sheep (see Amos 3:12)




Will aimlessly wander anywhere ­ don’t really watch where they are going

Need to be led to food and water

Will drink anything ­ even bad/brackish water or other toxic liquids if thirsty

Are very vulnerable to attack from wild animals ­ don’t have means to defend themselves

Farmers have a saying, “A sick sheep is a dead sheep.”  Sheep need to have cuts, injuries taken care of as infection seems to set in and easily kill the sheep.  Sheep are not as hardy as other farm animals.



Below are some references that you might find useful in gathering additional information for your storytelling experience:


A Shepherd Looks at the Psalm 23, W. Phillip Keller, Zondervan Gifts  ISBN 0310977762.

Harper’s Encyclopedia of Bible Life, 3d rev. ed. (New York: Harper and Row 1978)