The Bible describes how Jesus fed more than 5,000 people with only two fish and five loaves of bread. This story is rich in lessons for children. Reinforce these teachings with crafts that represent the major objects in the story: the two fish, the five loaves and the baskets used to carry the food. After children make the crafts, reenact the story using the props or ask them to write on their crafts ways in which they can help others or share their belongings.
Make an expandable fish to illustrate how the fish miraculously multiplied. Fold a piece of paper accordion-style. Draw the outline of a fish and cut it out, ensuring to cut through each layer of folded paper but leaving the fish uncut on the folded sides. When finished, unfold the paper to reveal a long string of connected fish. Kids can make fish from small paper plates. Simply cut a triangle out of the side of the plate to make the fish’s mouth and glue the triangle to the opposite side of the fish to represent a tail. Kids can color, paint or glue tissue paper squares to the fish. For a simple craft, let children glue goldfish crackers or fish-shaped fruit snacks to a coloring page.
You can illustrate the multiplication of the loaves by having kids make accordion-style expandable loaves of bread from folded construction paper. Children can also make a three-dimensional loaf from a brown paper lunch bag. Fold the corners of the bag’s bottom inward and tape them down. Fill the bag with crumpled newspaper or paper towels. Seal the bag by folding the corners of the bag’s open end inward and taping them down. Kids can also make realistic-looking loaves from brown clay or play dough. Let kids glue pretzel sticks or square cereal to a coloring page to represent the loaves.
The Bible tells us that the disciples collected 12 baskets of leftover food after the meal. Make simple paper baskets by using a brown paper bag or paper cup. Simply cut a long strip of construction paper and glue both ends to either side of the bag or cup. Kids can also make baskets from a paper plate. Cut the paper plate in half and punch holes along the curved ends. Let kids weave yarn through the holes to connect the two plate halves.
You can further illustrate this lesson with group crafts that require a contribution from each child. Tell children why it’s important to donate food to those who are hungry and kick off a food drive by decorating a large cardboard box for a donation bin. Another idea is to make a craft that shows children how much 5,000 really is. Tell each child to make 100 dots on a piece of paper with a marker. Have 10 students stand up in front of the class holding their papers. Say, “There are only 1,000 dots here. Jesus fed five times as many people as are represented by these dots.” Challenge your class to make 5,000 dots and line up the papers as a border around the classroom walls.
Michelle Watson has been an editor and freelance writer since 2010. She has edited hospital magazines around the United States and written on a variety of health-care topics. Watson is also a licensed high school English teacher. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and a teaching credential.