For this kick-off craft, you’ll help your children each make a shepherd’s rod and discuss how a shepherd uses his rod to care for his sheep. If you prefer not to use a sapling or length of dowel for each child, you could instead unscrew a broom handle and decorate it with temporary decorations.
You will need the following supplies:
a stick (a freshly-cut sapling or a length of dowel 50-60 cm [20-24″] long and 1.5-2 cm [½-¾”] in diameter)
an old kitchen knife or dull blade
a small handsaw
ribbon or leather cording.
While each child is decorating their rod, tell them how a real shepherd used their rod and staff in Bible times. Here’s some suggested dialogue to help start your discussion:
When shepherds took their sheep out to graze, it was like being on a very long hike. The shepherds did not want to carry a heavy load, so they took only what they needed. One of the most important items they carried was a rod or a staff. The shepherds used the rod to protect their sheep from harm. If a fierce wild animal came to drag a sheep away, the shepherd could use the rod to protect their sheep. In Bible times, there were no fences to keep the sheep in one place; the shepherd and his sheep ranged all over the countryside. The shepherds used their staff to discipline sheep that were wandering away from the flock.
Have each child use their rod to care for and “herd” their stuffed animals. Choose one stuffed animal to be a bear or wolf that is preying on the other animals. Let your children “protect” their sheep by gently using their rod. Whenever a child plays with their rod, use the opportunity to review the “inscribed” memory verse with them.
“I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”
“ ‘Because he loves Me,’ says the Lord, ‘I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges My name.’ ”
“He tends His flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young.”