Teaching Preschoolers About Mary & Martha

Preschool girl acting out the part of Martha.
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Luke 10: 38-42 tells the story of Mary and Martha, two sisters who invited Jesus over for dinner. During the dinner, Martha does all the work while Mary spends time with Jesus. When Martha becomes upset about this, Jesus tells her that what Mary is doing (spending time with him) is more important. There are lots of great ways to use this story to teach preschoolers the importance of spending time with Jesus.

1 Act It Out

Preschoolers love to play dress up and act out stories. Get some toy food, cookware (real or plastic) and some old bedsheets to use as robes. Give one child a white "robe" and have him act the part of Jesus. Give two others colorful "robes" and have them act out the parts of Mary and Martha while you read the story in Luke 10:38-42. If you have a larger group of preschoolers, you can act the story out several times so everyone gets a chance to participate.

2 Distractions

Have one adult give the children an art or coloring project to do. Allow some of them to work on the project unhindered, but have another adult or older child try to distract the others by trying to play ball with them, talking to them, offering them a snack or using other creative ways to wrest their attention from the art activity. When the kids who were not distracted finish, stop the kids and ask them who finished their project and who didn't. Read the story of Mary and Martha and explain that when Martha allowed things to distract her, she missed out on spending time with Jesus, which was more important (and probably more fun).

3 What's More Important?

Tell your preschoolers that you're going to play a game called "What's more important?" Tell them that you're going to tell them two things and they need to decide which is more important. Instruct them to clap their hands if they think the first one is more important or to jump up and down if the second one is more important. List off several pairs (Example: Is it more important to eat your dinner or eat candy). After the activity, read the story and explain that Mary and Martha were both doing good things, but Mary was doing the one that was most important -- spending time with Jesus.

4 Special Guest

Ask the kids who they would like to meet more than anyone and what they would do with him if he came over their house. Be ready for some creative answers. Ask them how they think their special guest would feel if they had him over but didn't spend any time with him. Read the story and explain that, as Christians, Jesus is the most special friend they have. Finally, explain how we spend time with Jesus -- by praying, worshiping and listening to stories about him from the Bible.

Dell Markey is a full-time journalist. When he isn't writing business spotlights for local community papers, he writes and has owned and operated a small business.