Children's Activities for Jesus Washing Disciples' Feet

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On Maundy Thursday during supper, Jesus got up from the table and exchanged his clothing for that of a servant and washed the disciples’ feet. The lesson for the disciples, according to Jesus (John 13:12-16), included the physical demonstration that they were to be servants of each other just as he was their servant. Children’s activities for this lesson reinforce how they can offer loving service to others.

1 Washing Feet

Read John 13:3-17. Select three students in the class and give them a soft cloth that they may use to wipe the feet or shoes of classmates. Children can take off their shoes or leave them on, as they are comfortable. Group the children so that each foot washer has approximately the same number of children. Once the foot washer wipes the feet of a child, he hands the cloth to the child and that child wipes the feet of the next child in line. The last child wipes the feet of the first foot washer, so every child has the experience of being served and serving another. The activity is suitable for ages 4 through 12.

2 Servant’s Garb

Each child receives an inexpensive hand towel and two 18-inch strands of ribbon. Prior to class, place a hole one inch of the top and side edge of the towel’s longest side. Thread one ribbon through each hole for ties. On paper or plastic-covered tabletops, allow the children to decorate the fabric with inked stamps, fabric markers or tempera paint. While the aprons dry, tell the foot-washing story. Ask the children to list ways they can serve others in their new aprons. The activity is suitable for ages 4 through 12.

3 Bath Salts

Tell the foot-washing story to the students. Servants in Jesus’ time washed guests’ feet because people walked on dusty roads. Talk about how it feels to be clean. This craft reminds them of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. In a large metal bowl, mix 4 cups of Epsom salts, 2 cups of coarse sea salt, 1 cup of baking soda, 1 cup of crushed lavender flowers or 10 drops of lavender essential oil. Mix well. Allow the students to spoon mixture into baby food jars and cap securely. Decorate with stickers and ribbon. The activity is suitable for ages 5 through 12.

4 Service Coupons

Prepare quarter sheet coupons that say, “I pledge to serve you with my love and my compassion. On a day of our choosing, I will perform (lines for describing the pledged service).” Read and discuss the foot-washing story in John 13. Discuss ways each student could render a service, such as taking out the trash, picking up trash on the lawn or folding laundry. After each student decides on specific acts of service she would render, give her a sheet of coupons to use with family and friends. The activity is suitable for ages 6 through 12.

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.