Welcome to heaven!

(Acts 10)

Wait… what? Yes, that’s right, I said, "Welcome to heaven!"

The scripture today is one I have never seen as a Sunday school lesson before… until now. I love this uncharted territory! That means the internet is not full of pre-made puzzles, coloring pages, or materials of any kind on the topic, as far as I know. That also means I have no preconceived ideas as to how to handle the story on a child’s level, and for some weird reason, that is when my imagination is at its best. 

Since the children probably have not ever heard the story, the challenge will be to make this first experience stick with them. Thankfully, I think the following activity accomplishes that. 

I usually do not retell bible stories on the blog, but since this is not a common lesson, I’ll run through the high points so you’ll be able to clearly see the connections with the activity.

Acts 10 tells of the meeting of Cornelius and Peter (previously known as Simon). Each man has a vision. Cornelius, a Gentile, is told by an angel to seek out Peter, a Jew, whom he does not know. Peter has a vision of a sheet that flows down from heaven carrying animals of various types. God tells him to kill and eat the animals. Peter replies that some of the animals are unclean and therefore forbidden. God tells Peter not to reject what He was made clean. Peter does not understand the vision until he meets Cornelius. Once he meets Cornelius he realizes that God was telling him that everyone who accepts Him as their savior is welcome in heaven. Peter then baptizes the Gentiles (the people he previously thought were not worthy of heaven).

Since winter has retreated and the scrumptious days of spring are here, I thought a make-believe journey to heaven would be a memorable way to communicate this story. The first objective is to make the children feel overwhelmingly welcome, the way all who believe in Christ will surely feel when they get to heaven.


Hawaiian leis
Picnic blanket
Animal Crackers
Small cooler filled with drinks

*Additional activity at the end if time allows: parachute & ball.


As the children arrive, greet them with a lei, repeating the word welcome. “Welcome! Welcome! Welcome to heaven” They will be curious about the leis and perhaps confused by the “…to heaven” part. Do not go into detail just yet. Let them wonder what’s up while everyone enters the classroom. The lei, of course, has nothing to do with the lesson directly. The purpose is to set a festive tone. Most kids will recognize the Hawaiian tradition as a welcoming gesture. It will also subliminally reinforce the idea of going on a trip (in our case, to heaven!)

After everyone has arrived, lead them outside to a safe and secure grassy area. Make a big production about spreading out a picnic blanket. Ask each child to hold onto the blanket edges, tossing the center into the air and letting it float slowly to the ground. Do this several times in order to create a strong visual for the children so when you later tell them of the sheet in Peter’s vision, they will immediately be able to draw on that visual memory.

Next, ask the children to find a comfy spot on the blanket. Allow them to remove their shoes if they want. Comment on what a glorious day it is: the sun is warm, the sky is so blue, the breeze is nice, the grass is cool, etc. Have the children close their eyes and listen to sounds of nature that surrounds them. Take deep breathes together. What do they smell? Finally, ask the children what they think heaven will be like. Will it be sunny & warm, like today? Will there be cool, soft, green grass? Will it smell like sunshine? 

After each child has had an opportunity to briefly describe their idea of heaven, move into explaining how in the times of Cornelius and Peter, Jews believed only they would be allowed into heaven. Next, tell about the visions Cornelius and Peter had, and about Peter’s revelation that God will accept any person into heaven who loves and worships Him. Isn't heaven going to be wonderful?! 

Open the bag of animal cookies and allow the kids to help themselves as you tell the part about the sheet being filled with animals. (Don’t forget to wash them down with a yummy beverage.) Talk about which animals were considered clean and unclean (you may need to do a little extra research for this. Pigs & catfish, for instance, were unclean). Let the conversation move naturally and freely touching on various parts life during Cornelius and Peter’s time that will help the children understand what an oddity it was for a Jew to visit a Gentile, especially in his home. Dig into the story as much, or as little, as you feel is appropriate for your age group.

*We ended up having a few extra minutes at the end, so I broke out a parachute & small ball that I keep in my car for just such instances. It was fortunate that today’s lesson went along with it so well. The kids had a blast tossing the ball up and down on the parachute while trying to keep it from bouncing to the ground. We even put a few of the animal cookies on it and let them fly about to re-enact Peter’s vision – a little more widely than I imagine it actually happened, though. LOL

This lesson is a fairly significant story when you get into it and by using all the visual aids, the kids really did get it. I was tickled when I overheard several of them returning to their parents with excited voices explaining, “We visited heaven today!” Definitely a happy teacher moment. J

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