How to portray grace by bending wire

Child with wire sculpture creationprodigal son art sculpture

In the Art Workshop for our current Rotation, kids are creating grace poses.


After hearing the Parable of the Prodigal Son, they are sculpting with wire or pipe cleaners, a picture of forgiveness and grace in action.

Because that is what the father offered his wayward son: grace.

Surprising isn’t it?

Exhibited behavior by the son has deeply wounded his father.

The father could have replied with rub-it-in-your-face contempt: I knew you’d amount to nothing. I told you so!
He could have displayed disgust: You’re back? Don’t expect a handout from me.
He could have shown a stiff shoulder: Who are you and what do you want?

But instead, he shows love and forgiveness; he grants grace.

This Art Workshop lesson gives kids a chance to visualize and express what it is that grace looks like. I saw hugging, arms out-stretched and bended knees.

What is grace?

Grace is God’s unconditional love that forgives us even when we mess up.
We deserve the worst, but we are offered an escape route. A do-over.
And it’s a free gift!

Explore this concept further in your family unit. When your child brings home their wire sculpture, ask them if you can play with it. (You may need to remove the staples holding the figures in their current pose.) Reread the story in Luke 15:11-32 with your child and pause to shape the figures…

  • Read Luke 15:11-13. Show the scene of the son leaving home. How do you suppose the father looks? What about the older brother?
  • Read Luke 15:14-19. What would the ah-ha moment look like when the son came to his senses? How do you suppose the presumably waiting and watching father is looking?
  • Read Luke 15:20-24. Shape a scene of grace.
  • Read Luke 15:25-32. How does the angry older brother look?
  • Jesus didn’t provide an ending to this story! Do you suppose the older brother goes to the party? Shape an ending scene to the story the way you think it happened.

Photo credits: from my archives.

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Come, watch, hear, see, follow, and… learn to fish?

Updated to add all of the fish prints in the slide show below!

Have you seen them on display around the church?


We hear a lot about disciples. Every time someone is baptized in church we all say together: “We will pray for them that they may be true disciples…” And every Sunday (at the 9:30 service) we sing the kids on their way to Sunday’s Cool: “Go ye, go ye into the world, and make disciples of all the nations…”

So what’s a disciple? How does one get to be a “disciple?”

  • The word “disciple” means “student” or “learner.”
  • A teacher has students/disciples.
  • A student/disciple watches his teacher very closely, listening intently to everything he says. A student/disciple will even watch how his teacher ties his sandals!
  • A student/disciple tries to emulate their teacher; their desire is to follow in his footsteps.

In Jesus’ day the cream-of-the-crop students could pursue their education by asking a scholarly teacher, known as a rabbi: “Could I please be one of your students?” I picture ambitious eager beavers literally burning the midnight oil memorizing the Jewish Bible (our Old Testament) to achieve entrance into just the right group. Only the brightest were chosen to be the disciples of a particular rabbi. (The run-of-the-mills took up a trade such as carpentry.)

Jesus followed a different path. The teacher Jesus, the rabbi Jesus, invited people to be his disciples. We say that he “called” them.

A fish print done by a 5th grader

At least four of the people Jesus called, had made a living catching fish. In fact he told them…

Open quote markCome, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!
Matthew 4:19

Jesus was asking lowly fishermen to be his students?

It proves you don’t have to be somebody important to be a disciple of Jesus.

You don’t have to be perfect.
You don’t have to be worthy-enough.
Or get straight A’s. Or live in a big house.
No midnight oil required.

A fish print done by a 4th grader

In our Art Workshop for our current Rotation at FUMC in Ann Arbor, MI, we are making fish prints using an ancient Japanese process called Gyotaku (pronounced gee-oh-TAH-koo). Long ago Gyotaku was a way of making a record of the size of a fish one caught.

A fish print made by a 5th grader

Why make fish prints? It turns out that fishing has a lot of similarities to being a disciple.

  • You need to have the right training and some basic supplies.
  • It takes persistent practice.
  • Sometimes you don’t catch anything. Yet you cast again and again.
  • At times, being quiet helps.

Enjoy the slide show of the fish prints.

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Photo credits:
Photos are from my archives.

Want to see the lesson we used? Visit here.

Next Sunday, go on a “field trip”

students self-potraits

'Now when he (Jesus) saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him.   Matthew 5:1


6th graders tack up people at the Sermon on the MountThis Sunday you are invited to have your children escort you to the bulletin board outside of the nursery, where they will proudly show you their self-portrait (in the crowd) at our rendition of the Sermon on the Mount.

(Okay, so since this was published 7 years ago, don’t be looking for anything this Sunday!)

Kids in grades one through six have been using their imaginations on Sunday mornings at FUMC in Ann Arbor, MI. The students have all visited the Art Workshop, creating pictures for our mural.

The unique feature?

They have climbed the mountain and have placed themselves in attendance, hearing Jesus speak.

Ask them what they’ve learned about the Beatitudes.

What about you?
What are you learning as you hear Jesus’ words?

I told the sixth graders (pictured, above right) as they helped to put up the self-portraits, that there was something wrong with this mural. And they knew what it was!

Do you? (Hint: Look at the top photo and read Matthew 5:1)


Photo credits:
Photos are from my archives.