Enjoy this Christmas lesson plan, suitable for children in grades 1–3.
The children will be able to
express an understanding of why the Wise Men went to see Jesus.
explain how Jesus is God’s gift to us.
describe how they are gifts to others.
Student Handout A (Someone Special)
Student Handout B (Prayer Service)
Family Handout (The Birth of Jesus)
Paper, crayons, markers
Invite the children to sit comfortably and then close their eyes. Tell them that they are going on an imaginary trip. Ask them to picture someone special to them who lives far away. Say: Imagine that you have a chance to visit the person you are thinking of. How will you get there? Who will go with you? How long can you stay? Will you take a gift? What will it be? Pause for 15 seconds, allowing the children sufficient time for reflection. Ask them to open their eyes; then ask for volunteers to share their experience.
Relate the experience of visiting a special person with the journey of the Wise Men. Say: Today we’re going to learn about a trip that three men made to visit a very special person. Can you guess who they were, and whom they traveled to see? (the three Wise Men; Jesus) Why did the Wise Men want to visit Jesus? (to honor him)
Explain to the children that you are going to read aloud the story of the visit of the Magi, or the Wise Men, from Matthew 2:1–12. Read verses 1 and 2. Ask: Whom were the wise men looking for? (the newborn king of the Jews) What did they want to do when they found him? (honor him) How did they find him? (They saw a star and followed it.)
Read the rest of the story to the children. Ask: To what city did the star lead the Wise Men? (Bethlehem) Whom did they find when they arrived? (Jesus, Mary, and Joseph) What gifts did they bring for the newborn king? (gold, frankincense, and myrrh)
Say: We remember that Jesus was born on a special day. We call that day Christmas. We remember the visit of the three Wise Men on another special day called Epiphany.
Distribute Student Handout A, Someone Special. Guide the children in completing the handout. When they are finished, you might suggest that they send their cards to the people they traveled to see in the Centering activity.
Tell the children: The Wise Men brought special gifts to Jesus because they knew he was God’s Son, God’s gift to us. We can be like the Wise Men and share our gifts with others. We each have gifts we can offer that we don’t need money to buy. What are some of those gifts? (spending time with someone who is ill or lonely, playing with someone who has no friends, offering to help without being asked, reading a story to a younger brother or sister) When we do these things, we are being gifts to others. We tell them they are special through our actions.
Continue by discussing thankfulness. Say to the children: What do we say when we receive a gift? (thank you) Let’s spend a few moments in prayer together to thank God for giving us the best gift of all, Jesus. Lead the children in prayer using Student Handout B, Prayer Service.
Print out the Family Handout, The Birth of Jesus, and have the children take it home to share with their families.
Enriching the Faith Experience
Teach the children the song “We Three Kings.”
Acquaint the children with the Epiphany customs of different countries. If possible, invite someone from that country to come and share with the children.
Take the children to church to visit the crèche. Point out the figures of the Wise Men, and retell the story.