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Related Bible reading(s): John 12.1-8

For very young children

 Play, and explore Mary wiping Jesus’ feet.

Play materials: play food and a tea-set.

Gathering prayers

Young children love repetition. Using the same prayer to start your session each time you meet will create a sense of familiarity and expectation.

Suggestion 1: God loves me

From the top of my head
(Touch head)

to the tips of my toes;
(Touch toes)

from the lobes of my ears
(Touch ear lobes)

to the end of my nose;
(Touch nose)

from my back, to my front
(Turn round)

to my wiggly fingers,
(stretch out arms and wiggle fingers)

God loves me!
(jump up and down)

Suggestion 2: God loves...

Leader: God loves
Child 1: (say name)

Leader: and God loves
Child 2: (say name)

Go round the circle until all the children have been named (the leader or accompanying adult can say the name of pre-verbal or shy children)

All: Thanks be to God!



Pass round a story bag and invite the children to dip their hands in and choose an object (in italics) to help you tell the story.

Jesus arrived in Bethany and went to visit Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha.
(people figures)

Lazarus sat down for dinner with Jesus and their guests, and Martha served the food she had prepared specially for Jesus.
(play food)

Then Mary brought in an expensive jar of perfumed oil. She poured it on Jesus’ feet, and wiped his feet with her hair.
(‘perfume’ bottle)

Judas said, ‘What a waste of money!
(person figure)

That perfume could have been sold and the money given to the poor.’
(purse containing coins)

Jesus said, ‘Leave her alone. She was helping me to get ready. The poor will always be here, but you will not always have me.’


Give the children cushions, cloths, Bible storybooks and symbolic objects, and invite them to set up a special place to pray and be with Jesus.


Give each child an organza bag and invite them to fill it with different scented items, e.g. lavender, rose petals, pot-pourri, cinnamon sticks, cloves, star anise, as a reminder of the story.


Provide a selection of resources, e.g. musical instruments, flags, streamers, a parachute, a bubble machine, and ask the children how they would like to worship Jesus today.


Invite the children to anoint each other by rubbing scented hand cream (or talcum powder) onto each other’s hands.
Say together:

Lord, you care for us.
You let Mary care for you.
Help us to care for each other.


Jesus, Jesus, here I am (JU, KS)
When I needed a neighbour


Colouring sheets
English version
Welsh version


A sending out prayer

Young children love repetition. Using the same prayer to end your session each time you meet will create a sense of familiarity and expectation.

God bless you,
(Point to others)

and God bless me.
(Point to self)

Amen. (Wave arms)

Leader: Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
Children and parents: In the name of Christ, Amen.


Additional activities

These activities are from this week's Explore & respond and can be adapted for Under 5s:

Treasure pot                       10 minsS

A container for valuable things

You will need: air-drying clay/play dough, paint and paintbrushes, beads, sequins, etc.

  • Mary anointed Jesus’ feet with very valuable oil. Invite each child to shape a special pot to store their precious things in, e.g. notes from friends, toys, money.
  • They can personalise their pots with paint and decorations. Leave them to dry.

Sensory prayer                     5 minsS

Think about Jesus using all five senses

You will need: an incense stick or oil burner containing an essential oil, a clay pot/holding cross, some bread, a picture of Jesus, gentle music, e.g. ‘Alabaster Box’ by Julie Meyer (see Listen on the Young People page). (Note: be aware of anyone who is coeliac or suffers from asthma.)

  • Lay out all the items on a rug or table as a focal point and play the music quietly.
  • Encourage the children to spend some time smelling, touching, tasting, looking, listening and thinking about Jesus.


Spiritual styles abbreviations
W Word E Emotion S Symbol A Action
Read our Spiritual Styles articles 

The materials above are specially written to enable the youngest members of our church community to hear Bible stories and respond to them through a range of creative play activities, prayers and songs. They can be printed off and used as they are, or you can make your own selection to suit your situation e.g. a crêche during a service; separate pre-school group; or a toddler group that meets during the week.

If you prefer to make your own selection, please see Very young children support for advice and guidance on setting up and running groups or a crèche for very young children. You will also need to include a copyright acknowledgement as follows:
© ROOTS for Churches Ltd. Reproduced with permission.

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