7 Object Lessons for Your Favorite Parables

You can easily find object lessons on Faith, God’s love, Salvation, Forgiveness…and many other subjects. However, when it comes to object lessons for parables, it’s like searching for a sesame seed in a barrel of rice! So, I’m going to make things easier for you– I’ve compiled 7 object lessons for some of my favorite parables right here in this post. Here are the parables I’ve included: the Parable of the Sower, the Parable of the Weeds, the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant, the Parable of the Good Samaritan, the Parable of the Lost Sheep, the Parable of the Prodigal Son, and the Parable of the Talents.

What’s a parable?

A parable is a story that Jesus taught in order to help his followers understand important truths.  When you teach them in your Sunday School class, you can help kids learn and remember them better by using object lessons!

1. The Parable of the Sower

You can find this parable in three different Bible passages: Matthew 13:1-23, Mark 4:1-20, and Luke 8:4-15. Jesus told it to a crowd while he sat in a boat on a lake, in order to teach them about the effects of God’s Word on our hearts.

In this parable, a farmer scatters seed in four places: on a path, in rocky places, among thorns, and on good soil. The only place that the seed could grow was in the good soil. After Jesus finished telling the story about the farmer, he explained the meaning. Seeds that fall on a path and are eaten by birds represent people who hear God’s Word, but do not understand it, and the devil snatches the seeds away. The ones that fall on rocky ground represent those who hear God’s message, but it doesn’t take root in them, and they abandon it when troubles come. Seeds that fall on thorns represent when the Word is choked out by worries and wealth. Finally, the seed that falls on good soil grows, representing a person who hears the Word, understands it, and accepts it.

Object Lesson on the Parable of the Sower

You can use this object lesson at any time during your lesson, but it may be most effective when you explain verse 23: “But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” (NIV)

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Instant snow powder, or the “stuffing” inside of a diaper (they are both made from similar materials)
  • Soil
  • A glass container
  • Water

What to do:

Put some soil into the glass container. Explain the properties of good soil to the kids (it must be deep enough for seeds, moist, weed/thorn/rock free, etc.

Add the “seeds” to the soil (the instant snow powder). “Nurture” the seed by pouring water over it to make it grow. The instant snow will expand to thirty or more times its original size, just like a crop would.

Explain:

If the Word of God has been “sown” in us, how can we produce “fruit”? We can do that by sharing God’s Word with others. Think about: one person shares the gospel with one person. That person shares the gospel with five other people. Those five people each share it with ten others. That’s a lot of fruit from just one seed!

2. The Parable of the Weeds

This one is found in Matthew 13:24-29. Jesus told the story of a man who planted some wheat seeds in his field, but his enemy came and planted some weed seeds among the wheat ones! The two seed types may have been close in name, but once they grew a bit, they were definitely different. The farmer’s servants saw the weeds and asked their master if they should pull them up. He told them that it would be better to let them be, since some good wheat might be uprooted in the process. He let them both grow together until the harvest. Finally, the wheat was collected to be used, but the weeds were plucked up to be burned.

This parable illustrates the fact that God allows believers and non-believers to live together on the earth. It may seem unfair for Christians to see non-believers seemingly “get away” with sinful lifestyles. However, they will receive fair judgment in the “harvest” (the judgment day). Right now, it’s not easy to tell who is “wheat” and who is a “weed”.

Object Lesson on the Parable of the Weeds

Separate cork from sand in this science-themed object lesson! You can perform it at any time, but it’s probably best to save it for after you’ve explained your parable.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • chopped pieces of cork
  • sand
  • a paper plate
  • one transparent container with water
  • one container without water
  • a spoon

What to do:

Mix the cork and sand together on a paper plate. Then, dump them both into the container with water. The cork will float, but the sand will sink. Use a spoon to remove the cork. You can also use a coffee filter to strain the sand from the water if you wish.

Explain:

Just like we separated the cork from the sand, one day God will separate those who follow Him from those who do not.

Check out this video to see how it’s done (minute 3:12):

3. The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant

Found in Matthew 18: 21-35, this parable is the story of a king who asked his servants to pay back what they owed him. One servant in particular owed a great deal of money, but could not pay it. The king ordered that he and his family be sold in order to pay the debt. When the servant begged him not to do so, the king took pity on him and canceled his debt. However, that same servant was not so merciful with his own servant, who owed him a much smaller amount of money. When the king found out what his servant had done, he threw him into prison. Jesus used this parable to teach us that if we want God to forgive us, we must forgive others.

Object Lesson on the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant

This lesson also uses science to show how important it is for us to forgive others. Perform it after you tell the parable.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 small bowls
  • water
  • black pepper
  • dishwashing liquid

What to do:

Fill all three bowls with water. Sprinkle black pepper in the first one as you explain how our hearts can be filled with hurt when someone wrongs us. Add dishwashing liquid to the bowl and watch the black pepper scatter. When we forgive others, we remove hurt and bitterness from our own hearts. Sprinkle another bowl with black pepper, but do not add dishwashing liquid. Add more pepper as you explain how bitterness from holding things against others can fill our own hearts with pain and sadness.

4. The Parable of the Good Samaritan

This parable, found in Luke 10: 25-37, teaches us that God wants us to be kind to all human beings, regardless of their race, status, or physical characteristics. In addition, real kindness isn’t shown with fancy words, but by doing jobs that most people don’t want to do. Jesus told the story of a man who was attacked by robbers while traveling. When they left him for dead by the side of the road, neither a priest nor a Levite stopped to help him. It was a Samaritan, a person often shunned by Jews, who took pity on him and brought him to an inn to take care of him.

Object Lesson on the Parable of the Good Samaritan

For this parable, you’ll repot a plant to show how love is all about “getting your hands dirty”.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • a young plant (perhaps in its original packaging from a nursery)
  • a small pot
  • soil

What to do:

Before (or after) telling the story of the good samaritan, show the small plant to the class. Explain that the plant must be moved into a larger pot, otherwise it cannot survive. Ask for a volunteer who is willing to get their hands dirty to replant it. If no one volunteers, do it yourself. Place new soil in the pot, and remove the plant from its packaging. Place it in the pot, and use your hands to put more soil over its roots. You may also water the plant a bit once it has been planted.

Explain:

Kindness is all about “getting our hands dirty”. The best way to show people we love them is by being willing to help them, even if it means that we have to be “inconvenienced”. The priest and the Levite both preached about love, but they didn’t take the opportunity to show it. Only the Samaritan was willing to use his time and money to help the man. It probably wasn’t pleasant to dress the man’s wounds, and maybe he arrived later to his destination because he helped him, but the Samaritan did those things anyway. In return, he had the satisfaction of knowing he helped someone, and God surely would have rewards for him in heaven as well.

Gardening often involves a lot of hard work, and sticking our hands into some dirt! However, it’s worth it once we see the beautiful flowers, or tasty fruits and vegetables growing in our gardens.

5. The Parable of the Lost Sheep

This parable appears both in Matthew 18:12-14 and Luke 15:3-7. Jesus told it to a group of Pharisees and teachers who accused him of welcoming and eating with sinners. He told his listeners to imagine that they had one hundred sheep, but one went missing. Who wouldn’t go and look for it, and rejoice when he found it? After telling the story to his shocked audience, Jesus said, “there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” (vs. 7, NIV).

Object Lesson on the Parable of the Lost Sheep

This active object lesson is especially effective when performed before you tell the parable, since you can refer to it while you explain the parable.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Wrapped candy
  • A larger wrapped candy

What to do:

Give each of your students several pieces of candy. Tell them that there is a larger piece of wrapped candy hidden somewhere in the room, and give them the opportunity to search for it. The person who finds it gets to keep it.

Explain:

Just like the kid who found the candy was super excited about finding it, God rejoices when a “lost” sinner is “found”. In fact, he rejoices much more than we could ever rejoice over candy! The candies on the desk (representing those who don’t need to repent) are exciting too, just like it’s fun to spend time with other Christians. However, we can’t ignore those who are unsaved. The Pharisees thought it was wrong for Jesus to spend time with sinners, so they criticized him. We need to welcome unbelievers so that they can get a glimpse of God’s love, and hopefully they’ll become believers, too!

6. The Parable of the Prodigal Son

The Parable of the prodigal son is the tale of a man who takes his father’s inheritance and squanders it, only to become poor and destitute. After he ends up feeding pigs for a living and eating what the pigs ate, he decides to return to his father’s house to become his servant. However, his father welcomes him with open arms, forgiving him and accepting him as his son again. You can find this parable in Luke 15:11-32.

Object Lesson on the Parable of the Prodigal Son

With this object lesson, you’ll show kids that God’s forgiveness is big enough to cover any amount of sin.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Acetone liquid (nail polish remover)
  • Packing peanuts
  • A glass jar

What to do:

Pour some acetone into the glass jar. Add a few packing peanuts and watch them dissolve. Continue to add more packing peanuts to illustrate the fact that God’s forgiveness is enough to cleanse all our sin.

Explain:

Although the prodigal son thought that it was too late, and that his father would never forgive him, this couldn’t have been further from the truth. His father welcomed him back into his household and even celebrated his arrival with a feast! God rejoices when we repent, too! There is no sin “too big” for God’s forgiveness.

Watch this video for inspiration!

7. The Parable of the Talents

The parable of the talents is the story of a man who entrusts his servants with his property while he goes on a journey. He gives them each different amounts of money. When he returns, he finds that all but one worked and made profits from what they were given. One wicked servant simply hid the money. You can read this story in Luke 19:12-27 and Matthew 25:14-30.

Object Lesson on the Parable of the Talents

Here’s an exciting experiment to help kids become enthusiastic about using the gifts God has given them. You’ll be making a kid-friendly version of the traditional “elephant toothpaste” science experiment.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 liter plastic bottle
  • 12% hydrogen peroxide (you can find it on Amazon.com)
  • dishwashing liquid
  • food coloring
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 3 Tbsp warm water
  • a plastic cup

What to do:

Measure 4 ounces of hydrogen peroxide and pour it into the bottle. Add a few drops of food coloring and a squirt of dishwashing liquid. Mix the ingredients. Next, mix the water with the yeast in a separate plastic cup. Lastly, pour the yeast mixture into the bottle and observe the fun reaction!

Explain:

God has given us all different abilities and gifts. It’s up to us to use them to help others and bring God glory. Some people would rather keep those gifts for themselves, or are too afraid to use their gifts, like the servant who buried the money. If we don’t use our gifts, they are like the mixture that sits in the bottle. Nothing happens until you make it happen! When we pour in the yeast, we get a colorful surprise!

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