Try this lesson plan with your Sunday School or Children’s Church this Christmas seasons. It is part 2 of a 3-part series about the Christmas Story. This lesson teaches about the details of the Shepherds visiting the baby Jesus. This children’s church lesson plan was first written for children age 5 – 11. Be sure to consider your own ministry context and modify it as needed. Please leave any feedback or suggestions for improvement in the comment box at the bottom of this page.
Bible Story: The Birth of Christ – The Stable – Luke 2:8-20
Learning Objectives: After this lesson, the children will demonstrate an understanding of the visit of the shepherds by telling a neighbor the story.
Target Age: Kindergarten – 5th
- Bible: Luke 2:8-20. There is a detailed explanation below to help bring out some of the important parts of the story.
- “The Angel’s Announcement to the Shepherds – PDF” Activity Sheet per child, pencils
- Whiteboard, whiteboard markers, index cards (or cut paper), markers
- ½ paper plate per child, construction paper, scissors, glue, markers, stapler, cotton balls
- 1 of the following per child: The Candy Cane Poem, a miniature candy cane, a large candy cane
- Optional Christmas Coloring Pages for Kids
Worship: Use Christmas Songs (extra print out) to lead the children to sing before the Bible lesson.
Teaching Plan: The Shepherds Christmas Lesson
Welcome activities are things to have out for the children to do as they are arriving for class. These activities will get them engaged as soon as they arrive and will help the transition from their parents.
“The Angel’s Announcement to the Shepherds” Activity Sheet
Worship: Christmas Songs
Bible Lesson Introduction
- Ask the children what words they can think off when you say, “Christmas” (try to guide them to Biblical ideas)
- Write those words on the white board
- When you have at least 20 different words, write (or have the children write) the words from the white board onto the index cards
- Split the children into 2 groups
- Give each group 10 cards
- Each group needs to make a story using their words…have them try to make it as Biblical as possible
Bible Lesson: Use the following notes as a guide, but be sure to tell the Bible story in your own words. If possible memorize your key points and just teach as you read the relevant verses directly out of the Bible.
Have the children open their Bibles to Luke 2:8-20. To help them find it, use the following questions. Answers are in italics.
- Which part of the Bible is Luke in? New Testament
- What book of the New Testament is Luke? #2
Read Luke 2:8-20 (NIV) aloud to the children.
There were shepherds living out in the fields nearby. It was night, and they were looking after their sheep. An angel of the Lord appeared to them. And the glory of the Lord shone around them. They were terrified.
- It was like any other night for these shepherds. They were minding their own business, watching their sheep, when all of a sudden an angel appears.
- The angel doesn’t just appear. The “glory of the Lord shown around them”. I don’t know exactly what the “glory of the Lord” looks like, but it has got to be bright.
- Of course they were terrified! It was dark (because it was at night) and this happens!
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy. It is for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord. Here is how you will know I am telling you the truth. You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger.”
- Notice the first thing that the angel said to the shepherds. “Do not be afraid.” God knows that fear would be the first emotion that the shepherds would have felt. He wanted to make sure that the angels reassured them that this was a good visit.
- The lowliest of careers – shepherds – heard the news of Jesus’ birth directly from angels! God doesn’t care about your earthly position – he cares about your heart!
- The angel told them many things in their short speech:
1) The Good News was for ALL PEOPLE
2) He was born in Bethlehem (the town of David)
3) The Savior (the Christ or Messiah) had already been born that night – so the Savior is a BABY?
4) Here’s proof so that you will be able to tell others (because who’s going to believe a bunch of lowly shepherds that they saw angels in the sky?)
5) The Savior of the world will be wrapped in strips of cloth and in a manger (an animal’s feeding trough)
Suddenly a large group of angels from heaven also appeared. They were praising God. They said,
“May glory be given to God in the highest heaven!
And may peace be given to those he is pleased with on earth!”
Not only was there one angel, now there was a large group of angels praising God. That must have been quite a show!
The angels left and went into heaven. Then the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem. Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
The angels go back to heaven – which also must have been a sight!
The shepherds leave for Bethlehem to find the baby Messiah
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph and the baby. The baby was lying in the manger. After the shepherds had seen him, they told everyone. They reported what the angel had said about this child. All who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.
The shepherds must have found the right stable, because the Bible says that they found Mary, Joseph and the baby.
The baby was lying in a manger – just like the angels said. He was probably the only baby lying in a manger around those parts. Most babies would have been in a crib or bassinette-type bed.
After they saw the baby, they went and told everyone. These were the first human evangelists. The first people to tell about Jesus.
But Mary kept all these things like a secret treasure in her heart. She thought about them over and over.
Mary is a proud mom! She loves her baby and treasured everything that was happening to her son – the Son of God.
The shepherds returned. They gave glory and praise to God. Everything they had seen and heard was just as they had been told.
The shepherds came back, after they told everyone the Good News, so they could worship Him.
Discuss Bible Lesson
Talk with the children about the story. Ask them questions like the following:
- What would it have been like to be Mary?
- What would it have been like to be Joseph?
- What would it have been like to see an angel?
~ If you have time, reenact the story.
Bible Lesson Activities
Use the following activities to reinforce the learning goals. If time is short, move on to the evaluation portion of the lesson plan.
Activity: “Cone Angel”
“What was our Bible Story about today? (allow for responses) Yes, our story today was about the shepherds finding out about the birth of Jesus. Who told the shepherds about Jesus? (allow for responses) Right, an angel. Wouldn’t it be cool to see an angel? It would be so exciting and maybe a little bit scary too. At first the shepherds were scared, but then they were ok.
We are going to make an angel today to help us remember who told the shepherds about Jesus.”
With a partner, have the children roll their ½ paper plate into a cone and then staple.
With a partner, have the children trace each other’s hands out of the construction paper.
Have the children cut out the hands and glue them onto their cone for the angel’s wings.
Have the children finish their angel:
- Cut a face out of construction paper and glue it onto their cone
- Glue the yellow yarn as the halo
- Stretch the cotton balls and glue them onto the angel
- Decorate their angel as they would like
Activity: Bible Verse Memorization
“There were shepherds living out in the fields nearby. An angel of the Lord appeared to them. They were terrified.” Luke 2:8&9 (NIRV)
Have the children do the following hand motions along with repeating the words after you, to help them learn the Bible Verse:
There were shepherds: act like you are holding up a shepherd’s staff
Living out in the fields nearby: sweep arms in front of you as though you are showing the ground
An angel of the Lord: hold arms up as in surprise
Appeared to the: close eyes and then open eyes
They were terrified: have a scared look on your face
Luke 2: hold up 2 fingers
8 & 9: hold up 8 fingers and then 9 fingers
Do this a few times with the children. Make it fun for them to do the motions and say the words. Involving them in active learning is essential for memorization.
Activity: The Legend of the Candy Cane
Hold up the candy cane and show the parts as you talk about them
Give each child a mini candy cane to eat while you are talking about the candy cane.
“We are going to talk about what this candy cane has to do with our Bible Verse. (hold the candy cane right side up) What does this look like? (allow for responses) If I was a shepherd, I would need a crook. A crook would help me to guide my sheep where they needed to go. This looks like a crook. This candy cane also has things about Jesus. If I hold it upside down, it looks like a “J” which is the first letter of Jesus’ name. The candy cane is white with red stripes. The white is for how pure we are with Jesus in our life and the red stands for Jesus’ blood that He shed for us on the cross. Also, if you look closely, you will see 3 red stripes on this candy cane. These stand for the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. Wow! This yummy candy has such a great meaning that we should share with our families. (hold up the poem) You all will be bringing this home so that we can share the Good News with your family.
Have the children attach a large candy cane to their poem to take home.
Evaluation: Split the children into pairs. Have them tell the Bible story in their own words.
Need More Help? Browse all our Christmas Ideas and Christmas Sunday School lessons for children or find the right Craft Idea for Christmas
1 thought on “The Birth of Christ #2 – The Shepherds (Children’s Church Lesson)”
I’ve been using this 3 week series for my pre-schoolers this year and really appreciate it. Instead of the suggested crafts, we are building a peg doll nativity set over the 3 week period.
I do think, though, that the explanation for Luke 2:20 is off.
“And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.”
Scholars agree that it wasn’t back to the Bethlehem stable that the shepherds returned, but back to their flocks. It’s a good reminder to us that when we encounter Jesus, we don’t return to our lives the same, we live our lives glorifying and praising God for all we’ve heard and seen.