Psalm 23 is often recited at funerals, but it is much more than a song about death; it is a prayer for the living. It's author, King David, wrote about how God cared for him, comparing it to his experience as a shepherd tending his flock. Teach this important lesson to students through crafts, songs, games and worksheets.
Create a Shepherd and a Lamb
Young children or middle school students can create a shepherd from an empty cardboard toilet paper roll. Use a printout of a shepherd's head and a lamb. Paint the roll to look like a shepherd’s robe and use hot glue to attach the shepherd’s head to the top of the roll and a lamb to the side-front of the roll. Cotton balls and paper lambs also make a great project for young kids. Draw a lamb onto a page or print one. Use white glue to attach cotton balls to the lamb. High school students can also make crafts. Help them make an elaborate pastoral scene diorama display. Encourage the students to display their artwork for other church members to see.
Memorizing the Verses
Create a six-page flip book to help young students learn Psalm 23. Place a picture for each verse onto the top of every page. Encourage students to write each consecutive verse below its picture. Writing the verses will help students memorize the psalm. Use index cards instead of a flip book to help older children memorize the verses. Have the students write a verse on each card and study them one at a time. As the students memorize the verses, reward them with a piece of candy, or a small token. Incorporate singing into your lesson as a memorization aid. The traditional song, “The Lord is My Shepherd I’ll Not Want,” is written using the actual verses from Psalm 23:1-6. Sing it to the tune of “Amazing Grace.”
Pin the Tail on the Sheep
Younger students can play pin the tail on the sheep. Create a large game board for the wall. Either draw a large sheep onto a poster board or purchase a sheep picture from a Bible craft store. Create several sheep tails from felt or construction paper. Blindfold the students and have them pin the tail to the sheep. The student who gets the tail closest to where it belongs wins. Or, get the students moving to reinforce the Psalm 23 lesson -- that it's important to help each other to work toward a common goal. Create a relay race with paper cups and marbles. Have the students form two lines. Each line is a team. The object of the game is to completely fill each team’s paper cup with marbles. Students race to the opposite sides of the room carrying a marble in a spoon. The first team to completely fill its cup wins the race.
Psalm 23 Worksheets
Class worksheets are great for any child who can read. Fill-in-the-blank sheets, word finds and simple crossword puzzles work well for younger children. For example, the psalm starts out: "The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, ..." Find a way to use the "L" in "Lord" and the "l" in lie to start the crossword puzzle. Or use the beginning "s" in shepherd for an across word and the final "s" in pastures for the corresponding "down" word. Using key words such as these from the psalm will help students remember them. Worksheets for young children should not be overly complicated. Use simple words or pictograms for kindergarten through fifth grade. Create more complex worksheets for children in junior high and high school.