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Lesson Prep

Background Scripture (read 2-3 times during the week)

John 6:5-15

Story Summary

(This story can also be found in Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:31-44, Luke 9:10-17. This is the only miracle, other than the resurrection, that occurs in all four gospels. We strongly recommend you read all accounts of this story to get a full perspective on it.)

This miracle occurs directly after John the Baptist was beheaded (we learn this in the Matthew and Mark versions of the story). You can use your discretion on whether to tell this part of the story to your students. Jesus' plan was to take his disciples away to a desolate place to recover from this very disturbing development. But at this point in his ministry, Jesus was very popular because of the miracles he was performing. Even though Jesus was trying to get alone with his disciples, Mark 6:34 tells us, "When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things." This shows us the incredible patience and compassion Jesus has for us!

So Jesus was teaching and the day wore on. It was getting late and the crowd was getting hungry. Jesus was trying to get to a desolate place, so they weren't anywhere near a source of food for 5,000 men (and uncounted women and children). When they began talking about how to solve this problem, Jesus challenged his disciples to figure it out. They were stumped. They suggested Jesus just send them home since it would take more than 200 days' wages to feed them. They only had 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish from a boy in the crowd. Surely it wouldn't even be worth giving that out. It would probably just start a riot!

But Jesus told them to have everyone sit down. They had enough faith to obey him, and they started distributing food. We don't know exactly how the miracle occurred, but we know that when they were done distributing food and eating, they gathered up 12 baskets full of bread left over.

The people were amazed at this miracle, and Jesus knew that they planned to try and make him King of Israel by force. That wasn't his plan, so he withdrew to a mountain to be alone - this time where no one could find him...

What You Will Need

Resource Sheet

Jesus Feeds the 5000 Coloring Sheet

This coloring sheet depicts the disciples' response to the amazing miracle Jesus performed

Lesson

1. Warm Up

get your kids talking and engaged

What is your favorite meal? What would you do if you came to church and you were fed bread and fish for a snack? 

(Consider doing the "Bread and Sardines Picnic" reinforcement activity below now)

Today, we're going to learn about a time when Jesus and his disciples had to feed over 5000 people, and the only food they had was 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish.

2. Teach the Story

teach a holistic story

Read story from a Children's storybook Bible for younger children.

For older children, read the story from an age-appropriate Children's storybook Bible or read directly from the Bible.

3. Bible Mastery

give them basic Bible skills

Scripture for Kids to Read Aloud: John 6:5-15

4. Comprehension Questions

make sure they understand the story

First, ask the children if they have any questions about the story. What to do if you don't know the answer?

  • What happened just before this miracle happened? (Jesus and the disciples found out that John the Baptist had been killed by Herod)
  • Where was Jesus going when the crowd followed him? (he was trying to get away to a desolate place with his disciples)
  • What did he do when he saw the crowd? (he had compassion on them and began teaching them)
  • Why did Jesus and the disciples have to feed the crowd? (they were in a remote place and it was getting late in the day, so there wasn't a source of food available)
  • How much did the disciples say it would cost to feed the crowd? (200 days of pay)
  • Who provided the food Jesus multiplied, and how much did he give? (a boy gave 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish)
  • How did the bread and fish get multiplied as the disciples were handing it out? (we don't know, use your imagination!)
  • How much was left over after they were done eating? (12 basketfuls of bread)
  • What did the people want to do after Jesus fed them? (make him King of Israel)
  • What did Jesus do instead (he snuck away to a solitary place)

5. Faith Questions

help them apply the story to their lives and open up a conversation about faith and the gospel; close with prayer
  • In this story, we learn that Jesus provided for a great crowd of people who were hungry. But instead of just making the food appear, he used the small amount of food a boy had.
  • How do you think the boy felt when he gave up his only food?
  • What do you have that God could use to provide for someone else?

6. Memory Verse

hide God's Word in their heart
Don’t worry about anything. Instead, tell God about everything. Ask and pray. Give thanks to him. Philippians 4:6

Reinforcement Activities

Making Baskets

Scripture So they gathered what was left over from the five barley loaves. They filled 12 baskets with the pieces left by those who had eaten. John 6:13

Supplies supplies depend on which basket you choose, bread, swedish fish candy or goldfish

  • Follow directions to weave a basket.
  • Place 5 small pieces of bread 2 swedish fish in the basket.

Bread and Sardines Picnic

Heads up! Be aware of fish allergies!

Scripture Here is a boy with five small loaves of barley bread. He also has two small fish. But how far will that go in such a large crowd? John 6:9

Supplies large loaf of bread or saltine crackers, sardines

  • Take students outside for a picnic, if possible. If not, have an indoor picnic.
  • Give each child several crackers or break of a piece of bread.
  • Pass around sardines to go on them. (Most won't want these, but encourage them to at least smell them).

Elephant Toothpaste Actvity

Scripture Then Jesus took the loaves and gave thanks. He handed out the bread to those who were seated. He gave them as much as they wanted. And he did the same with the fish. When all of them had enough to eat, Jesus spoke to his disciples. “Gather the leftover pieces,” he said. “Don’t waste anything.” So they gathered what was left over from the five barley loaves. They filled 12 baskets with the pieces left by those who had eaten. John 6:11-13

Supplies Large soda bottle, 1/2 cup 20-volume hydrogen peroxide (20-volume is 6% solution, purchased from a beauty supply store), squirt of Dawn dish detergent, 1 teaspoon yeast , 2 tablespoons very warm water, funnel, aluminum foil pan

  • This activity is to represent something that multiplies, like Jesus multiplied the bread and fish.
  • Dissolve yeast in 2 Tbsp very warm water.
  • Stand the bottle up in the center of the cake pan.
  • Put the funnel in the opening.
  • Pour the peroxide through the funnel into the bottle .
  • Add the Dawn detergent to the peroxide in the bottle.
  • Pour the yeast mixture into the bottle and quickly remove the funnel.

Price is Right Game

Scripture Philip answered him, “Eight months’ pay would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” John 6:7

Supplies Food items from your pantry (see below for ideas), index cards, candy or some prize for winning team

  • Provide different items from your pantry that would be familiar to the kids (ex: cereal, cans of soup, mac & cheese, bag of chip, loaf of bread, can of tuna)
  • Divide class into two teams (or more depending on class size).
  • Place items on a table.
  • There are two ways you can play this game

Option 1: Guess the Price

  • Write the actual price on an index card and place the card face down in front of the item.
  • For each item, each team guesses the price.
  • The team with the closest price, without going over gets a point.

Option 2: Higher or Lower (better for younger students)

  • On the front of an index card, write an incorrect price for the item. On the other side, write the correct price. You will want to label which side is which.
  • Prop the index cards up on the items with the incorrect price showing.
  • Each team takes turns guessing whether the actual price is higher or lower than the incorrect price shown on the front of the index card.
  • The team gets a point for guessing correctly.


  • At the end of the game, the team with the highest number of points wins.
  • Give candy or some prize to the team that wins.

Fish and Bread Craft

Heads up! You will need a lot of glue for this activity. It is messy, but kids love to glue!

Scripture Then Jesus took the loaves and gave thanks. He handed out the bread to those who were seated. He gave them as much as they wanted. And he did the same with the fish. When all of them had enough to eat, Jesus spoke to his disciples. “Gather the leftover pieces,” he said. “Don’t waste anything.” So they gathered what was left over from the five barley loaves. They filled 12 baskets with the pieces left by those who had eaten. John 6:11-13

Supplies Craft printout, bread (broken into small pieces), goldfish crackers

  • Print out a basket craft printout for each student.
  • Give each child a small pile of bread pieces and goldfish.
  • Have children glue bread and goldfish in the baskets.

Fish Prints

Heads up! Be aare of fish allergies! This would be a good actvity to be done outside to reduce the odor indoors.

Scripture Here is a boy with five small loaves of barley bread. He also has two small fish. But how far will that go in such a large crowd? John 6:9

Supplies dead blue gill or other fish with large scales, paint, newspaper, paper, paint brush

  • Fish printing dates back to Japan over 100 years ago. Anglers made fish prints to record their catches and to save information on fish biology. The Japanese term for fish printing is“gyotaku” (pronounced ghio-ta-koo).
  • Clean fish gently and pat dry. Place on newspaper.
  • Paint entire fish. Don't make the paint too thick.
  • Press paper down onto the fish. Make sure all of the paper makes contact.
  • Peel paper off gently.