As Christian parents, sometimes we wonder how we can introduce Bible stories or biblical truths into our little ones’ lives. Making their meal or part of it as scenes from the Bible opens up a wonderful channel for conversations about the story or passage, and the experiential learning helps them to remember what they have learnt. Here are some of my ideas :).
Most of these food art pieces do not require special kitchen tools. A good small knife, regular kitchen/ tableware (e.g. chopsticks, toothpick, small cups), nimble fingers, whatever food you have at home and some imagination are all you need. A kind friend gave me a set of tools for making food look cute at the end of last year, so I had the benefit of using them in my recent creations.
But if you don’t have them, you can still improvise and make do with a knife. Feel free to come up with your own versions using what I came up with as a guide. I may add on to this post if God provides more inspiration in the future 🙂
Introducing Jesus’ birth
Bible passage: Luke 2:1-20
Tell the story of Jesus’ birth with baby Jesus in a manger and/or the angel who brought the good news to the shepherds in the fields. Incidentally, a food bowl was used to hold the ‘baby Jesus’, which is essentially what a manger is to the animals in the stable 🙂
This food art piece can be used as a visual for telling the story of Jesus’ birth, as well as for the song “Hark the herald angels sing”. The angel was made with sliced cheese (cheddar and mozzarella) and pieces of bread cut out using a butter knife (a small paring knife will do too). The wings and hair of the angel were cut using the octopus-shaped and tomato-shaped food cutters that my friend gave. The tiniest blueberry in a batch of blueberries was chosen, halved and used for the eyes. A teeny piece of strawberry was used for the mouth. You could use a small dab of strawberry jam for the mouth too.
A small round biscuit ( I used 旺仔小馒头, also known as Wang Zai ball cake) was used for baby Jesus’ head. The biscuit was placed in a small square slice of bread that was rolled up into the shape of a swaddle to make the baby. Semi-crushed Weet-Bix cereal was the hay that ‘baby Jesus’ slept on.
Jesus’ death and resurrection
The Gospel message
Bible passage: 1 Corinthians 15:3-4
“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures”
A cross with the words ‘Jesus’ on the horizontal arm and ‘My sins’ on the vertical part of the cross is a useful visual aid for telling the Gospel that everyone needs to hear. Slices of cheese were placed on top of bread and then cut and laid in the shape of the cross. Strips of sausages or ham can be used to form the words on the cross and the whole thing can be toasted if you prefer it that way. I used sausages here.
Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection
Bible passages: Matthew 27:31-44, Mark 15:20-32, Luke 23:26-43, John 19:17-27
Although the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection is usually told during the Easter season, it can be told at any time of the year as a reminder of God’s salvation plan fulfilled.
This simple food art piece with three crosses is a good visual aid for telling the story about Jesus’ crucifixion with two criminals. Strips of bread crust were cut from the ends of a loaf of bread, toasted to make them stiffer and stuck together using peanut butter to make the crosses. Half an avocado was used as the base for the crosses. A knife was used to make three rectangular holes in the avocado to anchor the crosses.
The story is not complete without another visual reminder of Jesus’ resurrection ;). This empty tomb was simply made from bread with peanut butter spread . The round stone covering the tomb was made by using a medicine cup to cut out a round piece of bread. You can use round cookie cutters if you happen to have, or any other things in the kitchen that has a round edge. If you don’t have anything suitable, a knife will do although the circle may not be perfectly round. A slice of bread with the crusts cut off was shaped using my fingers such that the ‘stone’ nicely covers the cavity. Cut some sliced cheese or avocado into the shape of grass for decoration if you would like something more fanciful.
Jesus’ ministry/ parables
The feeding of five thousand men
Bible passages: Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:30-44, Luke 9:10-17, John 6:1-14
The famous story of Jesus feeding five thousand men with five loaves of bread and two small fish is often told to show that Jesus can perform miracles. It would be a good idea to remind the children that the purpose of Jesus performing miracles was to show that He was the Son of God, and that by believing we may have life in His name (John 20:30-31).
The base of the basket was made by first using the open end of a larger cup to cut out a round piece of bread, and then pressing the bread against the flat base and sides of a smaller cup. Alternatively, you could cut out a round piece of bread using cookie cutter or a knife, and then press it against a muffin pan to form it into the shape of a basket. A strip of bread crust was cut and the ends firmly pressed against the side of the base to form the handle of the basket. We happened to have some goldfish crackers by Pepperidge Farm and Wang Zai ball cakes that could be used as the ‘loaves’ and ‘fish’ that were placed in the basket at the time that I made this.
Jesus’ discourse on Himself as the bread of life
Bible passage: John 6:22-58
The key verse is verse 48 – I am the bread of life.
Most young children are concrete thinkers and may benefit from an object lesson when learning from a Bible passage that uses metaphors. They know how bread nourishes our bodies when we eat of it from personal experience and how God nourished the Israelites by providing them with manna from the Bible. The words “I am the bread of life” is referring to belief in Jesus that leads to eternal life, just as we eat bread to be sustained physically.
I was cooking chicken soup with vegetables and alphabet pasta one day and suddenly had this idea of putting the words that Jesus said on the bread that we ate with the soup. Trying to pick out the alphabets that were needed from a batch of cooked pasta required some time and patience. So if you would like a more convenient alternative, you could use icing/ cream/ chocolate from a tube or piping bag to form the words.
Parable of the wise man and the foolish man
Bible passage: Matthew 7:24-27
Children growing up in Christian homes easily become too familiar with Bible stories that they have heard many times over. This parable is a good reminder for us and our little ones to put into practice what we have heard if we want to stand firm in our faith in Jesus, who is our firm foundation. The alternative of not doing so will mean we have to face dire consequences, like the foolish man. You can sing the song “The wise man built his house upon the rock” as you tell this story, along with the food art visual aid to help your little ones internalize the message.
The houses were made from pieces of bread with bread crust as the roof. Peanut butter was applied with a toothpick to draw the windows and door of the house. I didn’t have time to pretty up this food art piece, so if you have time and cake decorating tools, you could use them to draw the features of the house. The wise man’s house was placed on a mini bun and the foolish man’s house was placed on a small heap of bread crumbs, which looks like sand. You may wonder how I made the houses ‘stand up’ since the structure is unstable. I used a toothpick to anchor the house onto the bun for the wise man and some pieces of bread to prop up the house of the foolish man.
The way of the righteous and the wicked
Bible passage: Psalm 1:1-6
The key verse is verse 3 – He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
This food art piece was originally used to remind my younger son about the song “I’m gonna be like a tree” that he learnt from Sunday school. But it can also be used for this Bible passage in Psalm 1.
My dad brought some purple sweet potatoes for us one day and I decided to make use of it to form the trunk of the tree and the waves that represented the streams of water. If you don’t have purple sweet potatoes, you can substitute it with other types of food like cheese, bread or fruits and vegetables that can be easily cut into large sections. Slices of avocado were used to form the foliage of the tree and pomegranate seeds were the fruits of the tree. The other fruits were added to form the ground on which the tree was planted and also to add colour to the whole picture.