It is my pleasure to welcome Mary-Kate Warner as a guest at The Religion Teacher today. She writes for a website that shares Sunday School lessons, activities, and games mostly for Protestant churches. Although I think we should also focus on Saint Valentine on Valentines Day, I love the way Mary-Kate creatively and boldly shows us how we can help kids overcome their fears of rejection and find strength in the love of God. Here’s Mary-Kate:
Adults tend to think of Valentines Day as a time to pursue love interests or show spouses how romantic we are. Kids are not acclimated to romantic love, and consequently, Valentines Day tends to be little more than a chance to give out hearts and candy to friends. However, the holiday provides a great chance for kids to understand God in terms of the only love they are truly familiar with—that of trusted family members.
Children should know that loving God enables them to love others even more because of how he loves us. This Valentine’s Day lesson using peanut butter and jelly shows how, when we rely on Jesus, we love others more as well.
This lesson comes directly from the February KidMin Power Pack.
- Jar of peanut butter
- Jar of grape jelly
- Bread, enough for each student to have two slices
- 2 spreading knives
- knife sharp enough to cut bread into heart shapes
Note: If you have a student in your class with a peanut allergy, exchange peanut butter with marshmallow spread!
Cut the crusts off of bread and cut each slice into heart shapes.
Valentines Day Lesson Plan (Teaching Words in Bold)
Put some peanut butter on a spreading knife and hold it up for students to see. This peanut butter? It’s a little like I was before I began to love Jesus. I didn’t know where I belonged. Wipe just a tiny bit on your sleeve or your cuff. Is this the right place for me? No… How about here?? Wipe some on your thumb. Does peanut butter belong on your clothes? Or on your thumb? No. I didn’t belong in some of the crowds I was hanging out with. I felt useless…like I was trying to be something I wasn’t meant for. Sometimes, I would get very, very close to those people. Bring your thumb up close to your mouth. But people would get too close, and realize that something wasn’t right. Lick the peanut butter off your thumb and mush it around in your mouth before swallowing. Once I let people get close, it seemed like I was always getting hurt. I felt swallowed up in their ways! Or people would say stuff… “You stick to me too much!” “You’re a tough nut to swallow!” I just couldn’t figure out why I always felt like I didn’t fit in in this world. One day I cried out to God.
“God! Nobody loves me! I’m a terrible misfit! Help me, please!”
Put the heart shaped bread on the table. God came right away. “Well…hi, God. What are you doing here?” God told me…
Shake the bread slice a bit. “[Your name], the reason you don’t fit in the world is that you were born for a love relationship with me first. When you love me first, then you’ll have a better fit with others. I love you. I want you to try loving me!”
So for days…slowly spread the peanut butter on the bread…I talked to God. I thanked him for his friendship and all the stuff he gave me, like parents and a house. I listened for him. I wanted to hear what he would say. He always loved me and told me so.
Bring the bread toward your mouth. With God, I wasn’t so sticky. I didn’t cling to people. I didn’t say things that made me a ‘tough nut to swallow.’ Take a little tiny bite. I was still a little bit clingy and a little bit hard to swallow, what with my strong taste.
But I managed to attract a really nice friend. Her name was Lisa. I told Lisa about God and she listened.
Bring out another piece of heart-shaped bread. God showed up for Lisa. Pick up the jelly jar and put some on the knife. She told God that she felt never fit in either. She said people told her she was sickening sweet and had no backbone.
He told her that’s because she’s supposed to fit with him first. Spread the jelly on the other heart. She said she felt ‘spineless’ and drippy and was always shaping herself to fit others. He said, “Well, now that you know [your name], why don’t you guys love each other through me?” Together we can be strong…
Put the two pieces of bread together to make the peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
With my friend Lisa, I’m not a tough nut to swallow. She smoothes me out. With me, she knows she doesn’t have to be sickening sweet. I balance her out.
Turn the sandwich over and over. But the most important thing is…Lisa and I both love God. He keeps us together. He makes us strong and balanced. On Valentine’s Day, let’s remember that the most important person to love is God…who loves us…who gave us His son to die so that we could live forever with him. Let’s remember that He is what keeps friendships together, helps us find the right Valentines here on earth, and keeps us balanced and strong.
Mary-Kate Warner is a regular blogger at Christianity Cove. You can often find her writing about Christian Motherhood, Sunday School Teaching, and inspiring children to love God.