On your marks
The account of Jesus giving his friends breakfast on the beach after his resurrection is a great one to look at with children – there’s so much in it: lots of feelings, lots of drama, lots of Jesus showing how much he cares, and of course, lots of food.
You’ll need cardboard fish, at least one per child, a blue sheet, chairs, something to be a fishing net – a camouflage net or sheet or even a shopping bag if times are hard, small squares of bread, red tissue paper, crayons.
1 Tell the story from John 21 in your own words and encourage the children to use their hands to ‘act out’ the story as you tell it – they can put their face in their hands to look as glum as Peter felt with all these strange things going on around him and his guilt at betraying Jesus still on his mind; they can row the boat out; throw nets out; look glum again; go to sleep; point to the sunrise and to the figure on the shore and so on as you recount the story.
2 Reflect on it briefly, perhaps asking the children an open-ended question like: I wonder what this story tells us about Jesus? Or I wonder how Peter felt?
3 Say that you’re going to act it out together. You need a boat: they should use chairs and any other furniture or props you have handy to build a boat together. Set the scene: they should lay out the blue sheet to be the lake and sprinkle the fish in the water. A fire should be made out of the red tissue paper and the bread placed well out of anyone’s reach for the time being.
Designate parts: the disciples are actually listed in John 21, so you can get a child to read out the names and they can choose who they want to be. It’s possible that the unnamed ones may have been women (not worthy a mention!), so they could be Mary or Susannah or Joanna or similar.
Now tell the story and get the children to act it out with you – you’ll be surprised how much of the direct speech they remember.
4 End up around the ‘fire’, passing round the bread squares (check for wheat allergies of course) and no doubt some chewing on the cardboard fish (but this is not encouraged!)
5 Invite them to respond to God by drawing or writing on the fish in prayer: if you want to give a little guidance you could ask them to draw/write someone they would like Jesus to be friendly to this week; or something they’ve done wrong like Peter that they’d like Jesus to forgive; or committing themselves to a way of looking after Jesus’ people, like Jesus asked Peter to do.