The Good Shepherd Bible Lessons 

The Twenty-Third Psalm "Psalm 23" for K-5th Grade

sheep in pasture, Good Shepherd lessons

Includes five complimentary lessons that span 10-12 one-hour Bible sessions with crafts, games, and song time suggestions. 

Scripture memorization needs to be at the heart of children's ministry!

Lesson 1: The Lord Is My Shepherd Overview
Lesson 2: My Sheep Know My Voice
Lesson 3: The Lost Sheep
Lesson 4: The Shepherd and the Gate
Lesson 5: The Sheep and Goats

Introduction To Teacher 
Children can memorize just about anything without even trying. When my children were very young they loved to watch the same video programs over and over again. Before long they knew most of the dialogue word for word. The same can be done with Scripture memorization. Let us take advantage of this innate ability and plant God's Word into their hearts and minds as soon as we can! 

One of my earliest childhood memories is of the Twenty-Third Psalm. When my mom would tuck me in at night she would say the Twenty-Third Psalm, then pray with me. Eventually I could say it with her. I was only four years old at the time, yet I had memorized the entire passage just by hearing it repeated! If God's Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path, then Scripture memorization should be at the forefront of children's ministry. After all, we are instructed to hide God's Word in our hearts so that we don't sin against him.

Over the next several days (or weeks if you teach the series once a week) we will learn about Jesus, our Good Shepherd. We will also memorize the Twenty-third Psalm. I hope you find this series to be a blessing to you and the children you teach!

Your webservant,
Sarah A. Keith <><

P.S. Two great resources to read before presenting these lessons are: A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23, and A Child's Look At the Twenty-third Psalm, written by W. Phillip Keller. You can find them listed in our affiliate Christian Bookstore by typing the titles into the search engine.

Letter To Parents 
(Print out the following letter for children to take home to their parents.)

Dear Parents,
During the next five days (or several weeks, if you teach the series once a week) we will be learning about Jesus, our Good Shepherd, and memorizing the 23rd Psalm. Our goal is to memorize the Psalm by the end of this series. This is where you come in, because children learn and memorize by repetition we need your help. We ask that each day, before one meal, you simply read the Psalm or have your child read it and do the same before bedtime. If you want to read it more often, that is great! At the end of our series the children who have memorized Psalm 23 will receive a reward for their efforts. Please help us to hide God's Word into the heart of your child!

Your Children's Ministry Team


LESSON ONE: The Lord Is My Shepherd 

Introduction To Students 

In the Old Testament, the part of the Bible written before Jesus came to earth, there is a collection of 150 prayer and praise poems called "Psalms." The Psalms were used to worship and sing to God, and still are today. The Twenty-Third Psalm is probably one of the most loved and read passages of the Psalms. It was written a long time ago by a young man named David, when he was a shepherd. 

What is a shepherd? (A shepherd is someone who takes care of sheep.) David eventually grew up to become one of the greatest kings in Israel. 

Do you know that the Bible refers to Jesus, our King, as the Good Shepherd? Over the next several lessons we are going to learn how Jesus is our Good Shepherd, and we'll memorize the Twenty-Third Psalm. During each session we will do some fun activities to help us learn about this great Psalm, and how to follow Jesus, our Shepherd.

Song Time Suggestions 
The Lord is My Shepherd (For a fun variation, sing in rounds a cappella. Begin singing softly, and then gradually get louder with each additional round.) Listen to the Lord is my Shepherd tune.

The Lord is my Shepherd, I'll walk with Him always
He leads me by still waters, I'll walk with Him always
Always, always, I'll walk with Him always.
Always, always, I'll walk with Him always.

We Like Sheep song by Kathie Hill from the children's musical. (Type the title and songwriter into our affiliate bookstore search to locate it.)
Savior Like A Shepherd Lead Us (first verse of this classic hymn)

Begin Memorizing Psalm 23 
(Copy the text below to your word processor, then print it out on an overhead projector sheet or project it on the wall using your favorite digital device. Present the Psalm to the class on the overhead. To help children memorize more quickly, make up hand motions to coincide with one or two words from each line. Say the Psalm with the class. I have chosen the King James Version because of its classic, poetic sound. The underlined words are for the "Memory Muscle Word Hunt Game" of Lesson One, described below.)

The Twenty-Third Psalm 

"The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; 
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul; 

He leadeth me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, 
I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; 
thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; 
thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; 
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever."

Psalm 23 was written as if a sheep were telling his friends about his great and loving shepherd and how he faithfully cares for him. The Bible often refers to God's people as sheep. This is usually not a compliment, because sheep can be quite dumb. But a smart sheep knows the voice of its shepherd and follows him. The Bible says that Jesus is the Good Shepherd of those who follow him. He knows his sheep and the sheep know him. A good shepherd cares for his sheep. He will even risk his own life to protect them. Jesus, our Good Shepherd, gave up his life to protect us from eternal death (John 10:11-18). 

Craft: Psalm 23 Keepsake Wall Hanging 
The "Psalm 23 Keepsake Wall Hanging," which accompanies these free lessons, requires a small, one-time download fee per class. Purchase the Psalm 23 Keepsake pattern.

Psalm 23 Bible Craft

Copyright 2005 - S.A. Keith - All Rights Reserved

23rd Psalm Craft

What You Need: Psalm 23 Keepsake pattern, Coloring pencils, scissors, burlap (9" x 12"), jute, Tacky glue, yarn, stapler, stick or branch (1/4" D x 14" L). When ordering the pattern make sure to click the "Finalize Your Order" button at the end of your sale. 

Make a sample before class (see close up, above). Before beginning the craft time show children the Psalm 23 Keepsake Wall Hanging and discuss the following: 

1) The picture depicts Jesus with three special sheep. The sheep that is being carried by Jesus reminds us that during difficult times we need to be carried through them by Jesus. At other times we need a bit of reminding that he cares for us in a personal or special way, as in the picture where the shepherd is petting the sheep. And at other times we just need to keep looking to Jesus for help, and wait patiently for him to answer us, as pictured by the third sheep. Pretend you are one of them, which one are you? Allow children to explain their reasons. 

Read Psalm 23 again, and then ask:
2) What part of this Psalm-poem do you like? (Receive answers.)
3) Have you ever lain down in a green pasture or field? How did it feel?
4) Is there a part of the Psalm that scares you? Why? (Writer's note, the phrase "the valley of the shadow of death," sounded scary when I was a young child. Yet at the same time I found it comforting, because it was a promise from Jesus that he would be with me even in death.)
5) Is there a part that you find comforting? Why?

What You Do: Color the pattern of Jesus with his sheep. Cut out the picture along the dotted lines. Staple the top of the burlap to the stick. Glue pattern to the center of the burlap. Decorate the burlap with yarn (you can draw on the sides of the burlap using the tip of the glue bottle, then lay the yarn into the glue). Tie ends of stick with jute to hang.

LESSON ONE REVIEW: The Lord Is My Shepherd 

Song Time
Review Session One

Play Vanishing Words
Write sections of the Psalm on the board. Say the phrase, and then erase two words and underline the blank space. Say the phrase again. Your "minds eye" will still see the word. Continue this process of saying the phrase and erasing two words until there are only a few words left in the phrase or none at all.

Game: Memory Muscle Word Hunt 

What You Need: Each team will need a poster with Psalm 23 written on it, but with the underlined words left blank. Write each of the missing words on colored cards. Each team will need a set of the missing words and should have their own color of cards. There should be 13 cards for each team. 

What You Do: Hide the colored cards. Divide players into teams. Place the posters of Psalm 23 at the start line. Tell the teams which color of cards they are to find. At the go tell the teams to find their colored cards. Once they've found all 13 cards they must come back to the start line to place them on the poster in the correct position. The first team to place them correctly wins! (You may want to give a roll of tape to each team so the cards will stay in place.) 

Say the Psalm with the class. (Save the posters and cards to be used again.)

Alternate Game Session: The Amazing "Psalm 23" Race 

Dear Jesus, thank you for being our Good Shepherd. Thank you for taking such good care of us. Help us to learn to be smart sheep that follow and obey you. Amen."

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LESSON TWO: My Sheep Know My Voice 

Song Time 

Memory Muscle Activity: Fill In The Blanks 
You will need one of the posters and sets of cards from Lesson One of the "Memory Muscle Word Hunt Game." 

Place the 23rd Psalm on the overhead projector. Say it with class. Turn off the overhead. Distribute the cards to the children. If you have less than 13 children, give more than one card to a child. Have children come up and tape the cards to the poster to fill in the blanks. If cards are placed incorrectly have them try again. Once completed, shuffle the cards and redistribute them. 
You might decide to do this several times. (If you have children in your class who cannot read, pair them up with a child who can read.)

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; 
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul; 

sheep in pasture, Good Shepherd lessons

Show pictures of sheep in a pasture and discuss the following: The sheep in Psalm 23 is well-cared for by its shepherd. He lacks no good thing. He lives in green pastures, where there's plenty to eat, and drinks from calm, still waters, which are clean and safe to drink. A good shepherd spends a lot of time and money making sure his sheep live healthy and strong lives. He cares deeply for his sheep. They are important to him and he is important to the sheep. Sheep are easily frightened by loud noises and other animals. The only way sheep can defend themselves is by running away. When sheep are in danger it is important for them to see their shepherd and hear his voice to know they are safe. Only then are sheep able to lie down and rest, restoring themselves, because they know their shepherd will protect them from danger and will care for them. 

1) Why do you suppose it is important for sheep to be in green pastures and drink from still waters? (Sheep eat grass. If left to themselves they will graze in the same place until all the grass is gone. A good shepherd leads them to the best places to graze to keep them healthy. It is also important for sheep to drink from still, clean water. If sheep drink from dirty water or water that is turbulent and muddy, the sheep can become ill. And, because sheep scare so easily, calm waters put them at ease.)

2) How is Jesus like the Good Shepherd in this part of Psalm 23? (Jesus cares for us. He leads us to the best places in life. It is in our best interest to stay close to Jesus, because he loves and protects us. The Bible says, "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand" (John 10:27-28). And, Jesus said, "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love" (John 15:9). Learn how we are like Bummer Lambs.

3) How has Jesus, Our Good Shepherd, protected us from danger? (Many things in life are scary for us. When we look to Jesus and realize he gave his life for us, we can know he has our best interest at heart. He died on the cross to save us from the punishment of going to hell, of being eternally separated from God, for sinning against him. Jesus gives us eternal life, beginning now and in the New Heaven and Earth to come. Jesus said, "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep . . . I know my sheep and my sheep know me" (John 10:11-14).

4) Are you one of Jesus' sheep? If you're not sure, you can repeat this short prayer with me and ask him to be your Good Shepherd too: "Dear Jesus, thank you for loving and caring for me. Thank you for laying down your life to give me eternal life with God. Thank you for being my Good Shepherd. Help me to be a smart sheep who always follows you. Amen."

Craft: Green Pastures
This craft reminds us that our Good Shepherd provides all we need.


What You Need: Small clay pots (3"-4"), good potting soil, quick sprouting grass seed, Tacky glue, cotton balls, small wiggly eyes, and the following part of Psalm 23 printed onto strips of paper (fit to size of pot): "The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures . . ." Psalm 23:1-2.

What You Do: Write child's name on bottom of pot. Fill pot with soil to within one inch from the top. Evenly spread grass seed over top of soil. Place a half inch of soil over seeds. Water thoroughly. Glue Bible verse to outside of pot. Glue cotton balls to the rim of the pot (sheep in the pasture). Glue small wiggle eyes onto the cotton balls. Place in class window. Over the next several days or weeks keep soil moist so the grass will sprout for kids to take home at the end of the series.

LESSON TWO REVIEW: My Sheep Know My Voice 

Song Time
Lesson Review
Play Vanishing Words
(Rules, above.)

Game: Shepherd's Voice

Set Up: Establish a wide obstacle course. Divide players into teams of two. Each team needs a blindfold, such as a wide elastic headband. Designate one player from each team to begin as the shepherd, the other as the sheep. The sheep begins with the blindfold on.

How To Play: Teams line up at the start position. The shepherds walk. The sheep crawl. At the go the shepherds must call their sheep to follow them. The sheep must listen to the voice of his or her shepherd to go in the right direction. The shepherd cannot touch his or her sheep. Once the shepherd and sheep reach the opposite end of the course, players switch positions and head back to the start line. The first team to make it back to the start line wins.

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LESSON THREE: The Lost Sheep 

Song Time 

Memory Muscle Go-Round 
Display and say Psalm 23. Divide class into 3-4 sections. Number off the sections. Teacher begins by saying the first word (or line) in the Psalm, first section says the next word (or line), the next section says the next, and so on until the entire Psalm is spoken. Alternately, have children sit in a circle and say the Psalm one word at a time around the circle.

He leadeth me in paths of righteousness  . . . 

This part of Psalm 23 speaks of being led in paths of righteousness. What do you think this means? (Receive answers.) Listen to the root word when I say it (say righteousness again, emphasizing "RIGHT" when you say it.) This means the Good Shepherd leads his flock in the RIGHT paths. He knows the best way to go. A good shepherd leads his flock along paths that are safe to travel. He takes them to the best pastures and leads them to the safest places to drink. 

Sometimes sheep wander away from the flock. I mentioned before that sheep are known for being dumb. It's hard to understand how a sheep that is well-cared for would want to leave its shepherd, but they do from time to time. When a sheep wanders away from the protection of the shepherd it can be very dangerous for it. God's children sometimes behave the same way. They can decide not to follow God, to do what they want to do, not what God wants them to do, and can find themselves in trouble. The Bible says, "We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way . . . " (Isaiah 53:6). To go astray, means we wander away from God. But God sent his only Son, Jesus, to be our Good Shepherd, to die for us, so that we could be saved from God's punishment, and live with him for eternity.

How do we learn what God wants us to do? (By reading or listening to his Word)

Read Matthew 18:12-14 from a child-friendly Bible.

This is a wonderful story! Jesus loves us even when we wander away. But don't do it! Don't wander away from our Loving Shepherd. Jesus loves you and wants you to follow him, because if you wander away, you can get hurt. 

. . . for his name's sake.

What does "reputation" mean? (Receive answers) Reputation refers to the qualities of someone, their distinctive nature and character, how they behave and react towards others. Why is it important to have a good reputation? (Receive answers) People will trust you to do what you say and will expect you to treat them with respect and care.

When we think of God, what qualities or characteristics come to mind? (Receive answers)

This part of the Psalm tells us that God leads us for his name's sake. God's reputation—his character—is at stake to do what he promises for those he loves, for his sheep. The LORD can be trusted to be our Good Shepherd who leads us safely home!

Is the LORD your Shepherd? If not, he can be your Shepherd today! The Bible says, "Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved" Romans 10:13. (See also the Roman Road.)

Craft: Paths of Righteousness 

What You Need: Finger paint, large sturdy paper plates or plastic trays, paper towels, white cardstock paper with the following part of Psalm 23 printed at the bottom: 

"He leadeth me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake" Psalm 23:3.

What You Do: Pour finger paint into paper plates or trays. Children place their feet into the paint, then print the paper with their feet. Children may need to lightly blot paint from their feet before making their print. 

Alternately, children make a fist and dip the sides of their fist (pinkie side down) into the paint and then press onto the paper. It looks like a footprint. Then dip a finger tip into paint to paint "toe marks" above "footprint." 

Variation: Have children dip their feet into paint and walk on a long sheet of butcher paper. Write the Bible verse across the bottom. Hang in your room.


Song Time
Lesson Review
Play Vanishing Words
(Rules, above.)

Choose one or more of the following Sheep and Shepherd games:

Game: Lost Sheep 

Played like hide and seek. Players divide into teams with one player from each team being the "Lost Sheep." All the "Lost Sheep" from each team must hide together in the same place. At the go, teams look for their "Lost Sheep." Once found, the "Lost Sheep" switches with a player on his or her team. Play continues like this until all the players have had a chance being the "Lost Sheep."

Teach and play a variation of the Lost Sheep game.

Game: Follow The Shepherd 

Set Up: Establish a large playing area with a start line at one end. Divide players into teams (preferably 3-4 players per team, lined up one behind the other). Choose one player from each team to be the shepherd. 

How To Play: Teams line up at the start line behind their shepherds. Tell the sheep they are to follow their shepherd by jumping the fences that are in front of them (the fences are the other players in their team). At the go shepherds begin walking towards the opposite side of the playing field. The sheep must leap over the fences (the backs of the other players in their team, leap frog style) to follow their shepherd. The shepherds may wind and wander around the playing area to get to the other side. When the teams reach the opposite side of the playing area, players rotate giving another player a chance to be the shepherd. Play continues like this until all the players have had a chance being the shepherd.

Variation: Teacher is the shepherd and stands at one end of the playing area. Players are the sheep. The sheep divide into teams of 3-4 players and line up at the opposite side of the playing area. When the shepherd calls the sheep to "come," the sheep-teams must move across the playing area by jumping the "fences" (the backs of the other players in their team, leap frog style) to get to the other side. The first team to reach the other side wins.

"Dear Jesus, Thank you for leading us in right paths. Help us to follow you and never wander away. Amen."

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LESSON FOUR: The Shepherd & The Gate 

Song Time 
Memory Muscle Activity 
Play the Memory Muscle Activity from Lesson Two or Play Vanishing Words.

Read the following passage from John 10:7-14, but ask the questions first, see below, so the children can listen for the answers. After you've read the passage, ask the questions again, receive answers, and then discuss the meaning:

"Jesus said, 'I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep . . . whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. . . I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. When he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me . . .'"

Discussion Questions

1) What two names does Jesus call himself in this passage? (A shepherd and a gate)
2) How do you suppose Jesus is both a shepherd and a gate? (Before explaining, you might also illustrate the answer by setting up a circle of chairs with an entrance. Have children enter the circle and lie down. The teacher/shepherd then lies across the entrance to become the "gate.") In Bible times, a shepherd would place his sheep into a pen. These pens were stone walls, open to the sky, with only one way in and one way out. The pen kept the sheep safe. It kept them from wandering away from the shepherd, and kept wild animals from attacking them while they slept. The shepherd would lie across the entrance of the pen so that his sheep couldn't get out, and wild animals, or thieves, couldn't go in without the shepherd knowing about it. In other words, the shepherd was using his own body as the gate to the pen to protect his sheep. In the same way, Jesus is both our Shepherd and the Gate of our lives. We must go through this Gate for our salvation and protection.)
3) What does Jesus say happens when you enter through the Gate? (You are saved)
4) Who doesn't care for the sheep in this story? (The person tending the sheep, the hired hand)
5) Who protects the sheep? (The Good Shepherd)
6) How does he protect the sheep? (He lays down his life for them)

Listen now to the part of Psalm 23 we will learn about today.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, 
I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; 
thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, 
Ask children, "What do you think this means?" (Receive answers.) 

The valley of the shadow of death represents the sorrows and dark times of suffering that we go through in life. But it's important to remember the verses before it, which says our Good Shepherd leads us; he walks with us. We will never go through anything in this life that Jesus hasn't experienced or that he doesn't understand. He experienced joys and sorrows. Isn't this wonderful to know that even in our sorrows, Jesus will be right there to comfort and guide us? But take note, Jesus walks us through it. He doesn't keep us in our suffering. 

You might wonder, though, why must we go through suffering? The Bible tells us that all of creation is affected by our disobedience against God (Gen. 3; Ro. 8:22). So what did God do to set things right? He came down in the form of a man—the Son of God (John 1:1-14). Jesus experienced the deepest sorrows and suffering on the cross when he died for our sins. The Bible tells us that Jesus learned obedience through his suffering (Hebrews 5:8), which means we can learn more about God and learn to trust him through difficult times too. We also learn that Jesus died for the joy set before him (Hebrews 12:2). 

Why do you suppose Jesus could find joy in going to the cross? (Receive answers.) He knew there was no other way to bring us, his sheep, into the fold, that is, into God's eternal Kingdom. Jesus died in our place to save us. He loves us that much! 

Jesus is our Good Shepherd, but he is also the True Light

(Cast a shadow of an object for the children to see.) Ask and explain, "How is that shadow created? The light is blocked, which creates a dark shape or shadow of the real thing."

Jesus is called our Good Shepherd. But did you know he is also called the True Light? We will have many joys in our lives, but we will also experience many sorrows; some of us more than others. During these dark times, God's children can wonder, Where is God? Does he care? Why doesn't he do something to make it right? We might mistakenly think the Light of our Good Shepherd has gone out, and feel lost in the shadow. But once Jesus brings us through it, his joyful light will remove our dark suffering. 

I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.

A rod was used by shepherds to defend his sheep against wild animal attacks, and the staff was used to gently guide the sheep, or to rescue them from danger when they fell. The staff was also used to pull a sheep near to the shepherd to be comforted by him. Likewise, our Good Shepherd, Jesus, laid down his life to defend his sheep, his children, against sin and death, and to guide us through the trials and troubles of life. 

Our Good Shepherd has given each of us a Rod too—the Bible—it teaches us how to defend ourselves from Satan's attacks. And the Holy Spirit, is our Staff. He guides us and pull us closer to God as we live on this earth. When we have difficult times, God promises to never leave us, we need not fear, he is with us and will comfort us. Our joys and sorrows are never wasted; he can and will use them for good and to comfort others when they are suffering (2 Corinthians 1:4).

When we face the deaths of those we love, or our own deaths, the Holy Spirit promises to lead and guide us through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. But remember, this is a shadow. Our physical bodies will die, but our real selves, our souls, will live forever, either with God or apart from him. When God's Holy Spirit lives inside our souls, he will lead his children safely into God the Father's eternal Kingdom. The Bible says, "He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life" (1 John 5:12).

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; 

When we find ourselves in the midst of our enemies, Jesus will provide for us, take care of us, and protect us. In fact,  Jesus commanded us to love our enemies. This is unnatural in our world. But with God's help, and because he shows us love and mercy, we can show love to even those who hate us. 

Ask, "How might we show love to those who are not friendly toward us, even to our enemies?" (Receive answers.) 

Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

In Bible-time days, when you were invited to someone's home and the host applied oil to your forehead, that meant you were an honored guest in that home. This part of Psalm 23 tells us that we are Jesus' honored guests in his fold, in his Kingdom. Our Good Shepherd provides for all of our needs, yes, even more than we need; our lives overflow with the goodness of God.

Food Devotion: Sheep Treat 

Sheep cookie treat, Psalm 23

What You Need: Each child will need: 1 T. Marshmallow Fluff; 2-3 T. Plain Rice Crispy cereal; 1-2 T. shredded coconut; 4 thin pretzel sticks; blueberry (or malted milk ball candy). Be mindful of children with food allergies when choosing your ingredients.

What You Do: In a small bowl, blend Marshmallow Fluff, cereal, and coconut flakes until the Marshmallow Fluff is well coated with cereal and coconut flakes. Pour mixture onto a piece of wax paper and shape the "dough" into an oval to form a sheep. Push pretzels into the sheep for its legs and a blueberry for its face. 

You can eat your cookie right away, but it's easier to handle if you first place it in a freezer for 5-10 minutes. Keep sheep on it's back with pretzels sticking up while in the freezer. Shorter pretzel sticks are better for standing up if you don't freeze it. 

Food Devotion: Shepherd's Rod Treat 

What You Need: 1/2 of a peeled banana placed on a Popsicle stick then frozen, your choice of Hershey's Shell topping, finely chopped cookie crumbs, such as Vanilla Wafers. (Be mindful of children with food allergies when choosing your ingredients.)

What You Do: Dip banana into Shell topping, roll in cookie crumbs. Allow topping to harden a few seconds. Eat and enjoy! 

REVIEW: The Shepherd & The Gate 

Song Time
Lesson Review
Play Vanishing Words
(Rules, above.)

Game: The Valley of the Shadow of Death

Set Up: Establish a "life" obstacle course. Create stations for children to guide their "sheep" through. For example, to illustrate this part of the Psalm, you might use the following items: a portable play tunnel or create a tunnel using chairs and blankets to illustrate the Valley of the Shadow of Death; dozens of pit balls to represent sheep; Hoola-hoops for sheep pens; cones to create paths for players to move their sheep in, out, and through the paths; the rod and staff can be the players legs, or use plastic bats, golf clubs, or small brooms; a small table with a pitcher of water and small drinking cups to represent a table prepared in the presence of enemies; and olive oil to anoint children's heads.

How to Play: Players can play individually or in teams. Explain the "life" course and the stations to the players. The teacher stands at the end of the course. The players begin at the opposite end of the course next to the pit balls.  At the go, children pick up a sheep (a pit ball), tuck it under their chin, and race to the tunnel to crawl through it. If using plastic bats, clubs, or brooms, players take one before racing. Players take turns crawling through the tunnel according to who gets to the tunnel first.  As they move through the tunnel they must say, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me." Once they come out the other end, they place their sheep on the ground and use their two feet as their rod and staff, (or the bat, golf club, or broom) to gently maneuver the ball along the pathway, in and around the cones or obstacles, until they reach the table. At the table, players sit down to drink a cup of water (have helper pour water for the players). Players continue moving their sheep along the course to the sheep pen (the Hoola-hoop). Players return to the start to go again. Play continues until all the sheep are in the pen. 

Alternate play, players (or teams) have their own pen. The player or team with the most sheep in the pen wins.

Have players sit down to pray over them. Teacher touches each child's forehead with the oil, reminding them of God love for them, and as his children, they are welcomed into the Good Shepherd's kingdom—here and in the life to come.

Game: Shepherds & Wolves 

Set Up: Establish a goal area on one end of your playing field. You will need various sizes of balls (the sheep) and small brooms (the staffs). Divide players into two teams (the shepherds versus the wolves). 

How To Play: Tell the players they are to guide their sheep into the pen by using their brooms (their staffs) to push their balls (the sheep) into the goal area. The wolves must block the balls from getting into the pen using only their feet. Once all the sheep are in the pen, players switch positions. To make sure the shepherds do not accidentally hit the wolves, establish a line in between the pens for both teams to stay behind.

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LESSON FIVE: The Sheep & Goats 

Song Time 

Memory Muscle Go-Round 
Have children and teacher's stand in a circle. Teacher begins by saying the first word in the Psalm. Proceed around the circle with the next person saying the next word, then the next and so on. If someone says the wrong word or forgets a word, he or she must sit in the center of the circle (including teachers). 

You might decide to allow players back in when everyone has had a chance to say a word or continue the elimination until only a few players are left (hopefully all are left standing). If you'd rather not play with an elimination, then skip the elimination and go to the next person in the circle when someone forgets a word. 

Lesson & Game: Sheep & Goats 
This portion of the lesson and game is found in another section of, click the title above. Return here for the rest of this lesson. You can play the game in next week's review time or play it now instead of making today's craft or art project.

"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever."

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.

What do you think it means to have goodness and mercy following you? (Receive answers.) 

Goodness is God-like character, his good and loving actions. Mercy is God's love towards us, even though we deserve to be punished. 

We might get the idea that God's goodness and mercy will gently tag along behind us throughout our lives like a little puppy. But this is not the image that should come to mind. The word for "follow" in Hebrew, the language the Psalm was written in, is "radaph." It means to pursue, hunt down, chase after, to persecute or hound. The Bible tells us that our adversary, the Devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). But when Jesus is our Good Shepherd, this part of the Psalm tells us that God's goodness and mercy will hunt us down, he will pursue us like a hound dog, even when we go astray! God will do whatever it takes to bring his children into his sheep fold, his eternal Kingdom.

When you live your life following the Good Shepherd and obeying him, a wonderful thing happens: you become more and more like Jesus! Then wherever you go, you too will show the love of God by doing good things for others, spreading goodness and mercy to those you meet.

I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

To have the right to dwell in God's house, we must be sure that we are Jesus' sheep (and not a goat). The Bible says, "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts" (Hebrews 3:15). Ask Jesus to be your Shepherd. The Bible says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him (trusts and follows him) shall not perish but have eternal life"( John 3:16). Here's a promise from God: "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved" (Romans 10:13).

"Dear Jesus, Thank you for not punishing me for my sins, even though I deserve it. Thank you for chasing after me with goodness and mercy. Thank you for dying in my place to give me eternal life. Help me to live a life listening to your voice and obeying you. Help me to love others as you have loved me. Amen."

Art Project 

What You Need: Colored pencils, drawing paper, Psalm 23 projected on wall. 

What You Do: Project Psalm 23 on the wall. Tell children to draw themselves with the Good Shepherd from their favorite part of the Psalm. Then have them draw a picture of themselves showing goodness and mercy to someone they know (maybe even someone they don't even particularly like). Give children the opportunity to show and tell to the rest of the class.

Craft: Lil' Lamb 

What You Need: White nylon hosiery socks, white polyester fiberfill, scissors, permanent black marker.

What You Do: Starting at the toe-end of the hosiery, cut off about 7". Stuff fiberfill into stocking to puff it up. Tie off end into a small, tight knot. Cut off excess nylon material to make a sheep's tail. Mold the fiberfill to form a sheep shape (see picture). Draw eyes, nose, mouth, ears and hooves with the marker. Children write their names on the bottom. 

For added fun, hide the Lil' Lambs, then have children find their own sheep. If children find someone else's sheep, they must put it back and continue looking for their own sheep.

LESSON FIVE REVIEW: The Sheep & Goats 

Song Time
Lesson Review of 
Play Vanishing Words
(Rules, above.)

Play the game from the Sheep & Goat Lesson or make the craft from this lesson.

Review Series

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