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Lesson Prep

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

Matthew 2

Story Summary

The wise men were also known as Magi or kings from the East.

It is not clear where they came from exactly - the Bible just says from the east. Some believe they came from Persia (modern day Iran), others from Arabia and others Babylon, since they were noted astronomers. 

The Bible is clear that three different gifts were brought to Jesus, but it never says there were only three wise men. It is possible that there were many more.

Again, angels are key to this story, as they appeared to Joseph to warn him that they were not safe in Israel because of King Herod. Because of this dream, Joseph, Mary, and Jesus fled to Egypt.  

Herod became enraged that he had been tricked by the wise men, and ordered that all baby boys under 2 years old be killed (this is why it is commonly accepted that Jesus was between 1 and 2 years old when the wise men visited, not in the manger scene).

After some time, an angel appeared to Joseph to tell him that it was safe to return to Nazareth from Egypt.

Notice the parallels and contrasts in this story and the story of the Israelite exodus from Egypt:

  • In the Old Testament, Jacob's family went to Egypt to escape a famine. In the New Testament, Joseph led his family to Egypt to escape King Herod.
  • In the Old Testament, all the baby boys in Egypt were killed in the last plague. Only the Israelite boys were spared. In the New Testament, all the baby boys in Israel were killed due to King Herod's jealousy. Jesus was spared.
  • In the Old Testament, the Isrealites stayed in Egypt for hundreds of years. In the New Testament, Joseph's family only stayed in Egypt for a couple years (it is not specified, but it is not long)
  • In the Old Testament, Moses led his people to the promised land back into Israel - a journey that took over 40 years. In the New Testament, Joseph led his family back into Israel - a journey that did not take very long.

What You Will Need

Snack Suggestion
Any snack that can be cut into the shape of stars (crackers, finger jello, etc)

Resource Sheets

Star sheet

Use this star sheet for the "Make Your Own Constellation" activity below

Connect the Dots Sheet

Use this connect the dots sheet for the "Connect the Dots Star" activity below

Wise Men Worship Jesus Coloring Sheet

This coloring sheet depicts the wise men visiting Jesus as a toddler

Lesson

1. Warm Up

get your kids talking and engaged

Do you like looking at the stars at night? Have you ever seen a constellation? Have you ever noticed that some stars are brighter than others? Today, we're going to learn about an incredibly special star, and some men who were expert star watchers.

2. Teach the Story

teach a holistic story

Older students can be read directly from the Bible, since the story is short. 

The youngest students can be told the story from a children's storybook Bible.

3. Bible Mastery

give them basic Bible skills

Scripture for Kids to Read Aloud: Matthew 2:1-12

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?

  • Who came and brought gifts for Jesus? (The wise men)
  • How did the Wise Men find Jesus? (They followed a very bright star.)
  • Why was King Herod jealous and upset? (The wise men said that a new king of the Jews had been born)
  • After they found Jesus, what did the wise men do? (They went home a different way, and did not return to Herod)
  • Who told Joseph to take Mary and Jesus to Egypt? (An angel)
  • Why did they need to go to Egypt? (King Herod was jealous and was ordering all Jewish boys to be killed to try and kill Jesus)
  • Who told Joseph to return with his family to Isreal? (An angel)
  • When King Herod died where did Joseph take Mary and Jesus? (To live in Nazereth)

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, the wise men brought gifts to Jesus because they recognized that he was a very special baby.
  • What gifts can you give Jesus this Christmas season?

6. Memory Verse

hide God's Word in their heart
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:11

Reinforcement Activities

Popsicle star

Scripture They asked, “Where is the child who has been born to be king of the Jews? When we were in the east, we saw his star. Now we have come to worship him.” Matthew 2:2

Supplies 4 popsicle sticks per child, glue (or glue gun), markers, glitter glue or glitter, ribbon

  • Glue two popsicle sticks to form an x.
  • Glue two more and form another x.
  • Attach two x's together to make a star shape.
  • Decorate stars with markers and glitter
  • Attach ribbon, if desired, to create an ornament

Hot and Cold Wise Men Game

Scripture After Jesus’ birth, Wise Men from the east came to Jerusalem. 2 They asked, “Where is the child who has been born to be king of the Jews? When we were in the east, we saw his star. Now we have come to worship him. Matthew 2:2

Supplies small baby doll

  • This is a spin-off from the game of hot or cold (hot if close to object, cold if far away)
  • One person is chosen to be the wise man.
  • Ask the wise man to leave the room while the rest of the class hides the baby doll (baby Jesus).
  • The wise man comes back into room.
  • The wise man must find baby Jesus.
  • As the wise man gets closer to baby Jesus, instead of saying "you're getting warmer", the class should say "the star is getting brighter". And instead of saying "you're getting colder", the class should say "the star is getting dimmer".

Follow the Star

Heads up! This activity works best in a room without windows that can be darkened during the day

Scripture After the Wise Men had listened to the king, they went on their way. The star they had seen when they were in the east went ahead of them. It finally stopped over the place where the child was. Matthew 2:9

Supplies Flashlight, star cut out of paper

  • Attach a star to the end of a flashlight
  • Have students follow the star, as you shine it around the room.
  • Make them climb over a chair, walk in zig zags, etc.

Connect the Dots Star

Scripture After the Wise Men had listened to the king, they went on their way. The star they had seen when they were in the east went ahead of them. It finally stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy. Matthew 2:9-10

Supplies connect the dots resource sheet (see above)

  • Connect the dots on the resource sheet to create a star.

About the gifts

Scripture The Wise Men went to the house. There they saw the child with his mother Mary. They bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures. They gave him gold, incense and myrrh. Matthew 2:11

Supplies samples of gold, frankincense nd Myrrh

  • You can purchase examples of frankincense and myrrh online (see the link below). Or you can show pictures on a laptop or tablet.
  • Frankincense is a milky white resin extracted from Boswellia trees, which thrive in arid, cool areas of the Arabian Peninsula, East Africa and India.
  • In a time before daily bathing, people would use the sweet smoke from the resin to make themselves smell better. Egyptian women utilized the ash of frankincense for personal use as well, mixing it into their eye shadow. This substance was also widely used in religious ceremonies and burials.
  • Myrrh is an expensive spice, used for making perfume, incense, medicine, and for anointing the dead.
  • Myrrh comes from a small bushy tree, cultivated in ancient times in the Arabian peninsula. The grower made a small cut in the bark, where the resin would leak out. It was then collected and stored for about three months until it hardened into fragrant globules. Myrrh was used raw or crushed and mixed with oil to make a perfume. It was also used medicinally to reduce swelling and stop pain.
  • Gold is a soft, yellow, corrosion-resistant element, the most malleable metal, recovered by mining or by panning. Is often used for jewelry and decoration.

Star Origami

Scripture They asked, “Where is the child who has been born to be king of the Jews? When we were in the east, we saw his star. Now we have come to worship him.” Matthew 2:2

Supplies paper

  • Follow directions to make an origami star

Presenting your gift

Scripture On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. Matthew 2:11

Supplies gift bags, tissue paper or wrapping paper, index cards

  • Discuss what gifts we can give to Jesus (ourselves through salvation, monetary giving, reaching out to a peer that could use a friend, etc)
  • Give each student an index card.
  • Ask them to take a few moments to write on the card what they would like to give Jesus for his birthday.
  • Wrap card in wrapping paper or gift bag.
  • Allow students to share their gift, if they would like.
  • Instruct each student to take their present home and place it under the Christmas tree.
  • On Christmas morning, they should unwrap the gift and remember their gift to Jesus.

Standing Star

Scripture They asked, "Where is the child who has been born to be king of the Jews? When we were in the east, we saw his star. Now we have come to worship him." Matthew 2:2

Supplies Cardstock, markers (yellow preferably), scissors

  • Cut out two star shapes.
  • Color and decorate, if desired.
  • Cut a slit through both stars.
  • Slide one on top on another.
Standing Star Example

Egg Carton Camel

Scripture After Jesus’ birth, Wise Men from the east came to Jerusalem. Matthew 2:1

Supplies egg cartons (need 2 sections per student), 2 pipe cleaners per student, tape or glue

  • Cut out two sections of an egg carton.
  • Cut a pipe cleaner in half and fold for legs.
  • Attach legs with glue or tape to the underside of the egg carton.
  • Fold one end of another pipe cleaner for the camel head.
  • Attach on underside of one end to make the head and neck
Egg Carton Camel Example

Sifting for Gold

Heads up! Fools gold can be purchased online at Amazon.com

Scripture The Wise Men went to the house. There they saw the child with his mother Mary. They gave him gold. Matthew 2:11

Supplies iron pyrite (fools gold), bucket, dirt, sifter

  • Place fools gold and dirt in the bucket
  • Have students take turns and sift for the fools gold
  • Would they be excited to receive this as a gift?
  • Help them understand how valuable gold is. You could look up current prices, but about $1,500 per ounce is a safe number.

Make Your Own Constellation

Scripture Wise Men from the east came to Jerusalem. They asked, "Where is the child who has been born to be king of the Jews? When we were in the east, we saw his star. Now we have come to worship him." Matthew 2:1-2

Supplies Star sheet, printed for each student (see resource sheets above), pencils

  • Have students create their own constellation using the star sheet provided.
  • Encourage them to be creative in the shapes they create.
  • Have students name their constellation.
  • The wise men were experts in the stars, which is why they knew that this new star was special, and they were able to track the star to Bethlehem.

Star Ornament

Supplies carboard, colorful yarn, glue

  • Cut start shape out of cardboard, wrap middle with yard and glue end down, wrap each point of star individually and glue ends down.