This Zacchaeus Theme page is based on Luke 19:1-10. Jesus loves all of His people and encourages all of us who seek Him to meet Him where we are at! He was a chief tax collector. He was, based on the reaction of the people in Jericho that day, despised. He was in an undesirable and dishonest occupation, as tax collectors were notorious for charging people more than was due for their share of taxes. In addition, he was a Jew who chose to work for the Romans and therefore considered somewhat of a traitor by his fellow Jews.
He was curious to meet the Lord he had heard so much about. He did not let his small stature stop him! He climbed a tree to hear him speak. Jesus called him by name to meet with him!
His response was one of immediate transformation! He not only met with Jesus, but repented of his sin and made amends to those he had cheated......with interest.
This passage serves as the opportunity to teach our children much about the nature of God. He loves all his children. He knows us all by name and loves us all. He knows in our humanity that we make mistakes; we sin. He is there for us to come to him where we are at and confess and repent of our sin and live our lives in a way honorable to Him.
This page includes preschool lesson plans, activities and Interest Learning Center ideas for your Preschool Classroom!
Let the Theme planning begin!
You can either scroll down through this page to see all of the preschool activities for your theme or click the link below to go to specific preschool activity types you are looking for.
Zachaeus Theme Art
Collage Tree and Branches
Materials Needed: brown construction paper, green construction paper (multiple shades), glue or glue sticks, white construction paper cut into 4 quarters, scissors
The children cut the brown paper into their own tree trunk shape and cut out branches. Don't instruct them on cutting them a specific way! The cutting skills here are the most important! Some trunks will be wide and some will be thin, it's okay!
They glue their trunks and branches on.
The children then cut different shaped leaves and glue them on the branches.
Give each child a quarter of the white paper and crayons to draw a person and glue him on the tree!
Encourage your children to print their own name the best they can on the paper.
A Map of Jericho
Give the children a large piece of construction paper and markers or crayons.
Encourage them to draw a map that includes roads, the tree and Zacchaeus' house!
Provide many magazines, scissors, glue, paper plates and crayons.
Have the children color their paper plates. Tell them it is the world.
The children find and cut out people from the magazines and glue them all over the paper plate.
Remind the children that Jesus loves ALL His children! Perhaps have a small pre-printed note for them to glue on that reads: Jesus Loves Us All
Provide either paper plates or white circle papers (or paper with circles drawn on them for the children to cut out on their own and practice those cutting skills!); yarn, crayons, googly eyes, glue, large craft sticks, strong tape
The children make a happy face on one side and a sad face on the other side. They should use the yarn for hair, crayons to color the face, googly eyes, etc.
Tape the large craft stick on.
Use these when retelling the story or to ask questions at an end of the day circle time: How did Zacchaeus feel when he couldn't see through the crowd? When the people seemed angry that Jesus was going to meet with him? When Jesus called him by name?
A Visit With Jesus
Provide paper, markers and crayons.
Ask the children what they would do with Jesus if He visited their house. Write their stories on the back!
Zacchaeus Theme Block Center Ideas
Provide small, plastic trees, people and houses to your block area for this theme.
Zacchaeus Theme Circle Time Ideas
Circle Time is such a great time for children to learn the social skills of being together as a large group AND to learn more about your theme!
Make flannel board pieces for this story and give pieces to the children to add on as you read the story. You may need to read the story more than once so everyone gets a turn.
Jesus knew our story character by name though he had never met Jesus before! Jesus knows us all by name!
Play a name game! Clap out the syllables of each child's name together with the group. Include our character's name, Jesus' name and your own name as well!
Where Are You?
This is a variation of the Little Mouse, Little Mouse Where is Your House game that I love so much!
In advance, create trees that are each a different color and laminate them.
Create a little man that will fit under the tree without being seen and laminate.
Place all the trees on the floor at Circle time. Hide the little man under one of the trees without the children seeing.
Let each child have a turn guessing where he is. You could use this chant:
Zacchaeus, where are you?
The child says "the red tree".
The group says "Are you under the red tree?"
Lift up the red tree.
Continue until found. Continue playing until all children have had a turn.
EXTENSION: Place this game in your math center for use during center time!
Using a puppet, tell the story in your own words, with excitement! You could tell it from the perspective of our Bible character of from the perspective of the tree! You decide!
Include information not told in the children's version of the story such as: Tax collectors were not very well liked. They cheated and stole money from others and they were rich, rich, rich.
The people could NOT believe Jesus was going to my house! They thought I was too bad of a person and that nobody, especially our Savior, should spend time with me. But that is the great mercy and love of God! Jesus loves ALL his people, even when we do things wrong!
Go with this story line! You can do it!
Snack Recipe Ideas to Cook Up for Your Theme!
Cooking with children helps develop their math skills and helps them to learn how to follow directions. It also allows for some great conversation! Ask many questions while cooking with your children to encourage conversation! Be sure to ask specific themed questions while making these fun snacks!
The Bible states the tree climbed was a sycamore-fig (NIV version). It is believed that the type of Sycamore Tree in Jericho produce a fruit that is similar to figs.
Provide figs for the children to touch, smell and taste if they like!
Also, provide Fig Newton Cookies (they have fruit flavored now as well!).
Wee Little Fruit
Do you have a dehydrator?! Have the children help you to slice fruit such as strawberries and bananas with plastic knives and dehydrate them.
Have the children measure the size when they cut them.
The next day, compare the size and have a treat!
Celery Tree Snack
Why not?!! Have the children help you to spread either cream cheese or other spread into celery for a snack!
Wee Little Fruit Salad
What types of foods would we consider "wee"? Ask for the children's suggests and then provide some for snack.
Suggestions: blueberries, quartered grapes, mandarin oranges, kiwi
Zacchaeus Theme Ideas to Transform Your Dramatic Play Area
Welcome to My House
Set up your dramatic play area to represent the Bible times. Place pillows and place mats on the floor and remove the tables and chairs. Provide play food in a basket. Provide large shirts and fabric for headpieces for the children to wear.
Create (or have your children help to create) a tree to hang "outside" the dramatic play area out of brown paper and add leaves.
EXTENSION: Have a leaf cutting station in your classroom for the children to cut out leaves and glue on the tree!
Zacchaeus Theme Ideas for your Easel--
More Than Just Painting (Although that is always THE favorite in our classroom!)
My Sycamore-Fig Tree
Provide a variety of brown and green shades of paint for the children to create their own tree.
Zacchaeus Theme Large Group Games
that help build their muscles while they have fun together
Pin Zacchaeus To A Tree
Like Pin the Tail on the Donkey!
A Wee, Little Man!
The song says he was a "wee, little man". We are all different heights. Let's measure!
Provide rulers, tape measures, etc. for the children to measure their friends!
A child lays down on the floor and another child measures. "You are 10 blocks long!" "You are 3 rulers tall!"
List their results on a chart with each child's name!
Outside, provide a low step stool next to a tree or next to the climbing structure as a place for them to act out this story outside!
Zacchaeus Theme Ideas for Your Library and Literacy Activities for your Preschool Classroom
Color copy pictures from this story. Include 6 scenes:
Tall crowd of people
Zacchaeus in a tree
Jesus calling him down
Zacchaeus and Jesus outside his house
Zacchaeus repenting and smiling
Laminate the pictures.
The children put them in order.
EXTENSION: Before laminating, number the pictures in order on the back, 1-6, to make this self correcting.
Book Suggestions for the Library
Multiple versions of children's and toddler's Bibles.
Multiple versions of the story of Zacchaeus.
If Jesus Came To My House by Joan Gale Thomas
Zacchaeus Theme Activities to help your Preschoolers develop those small muscles in their hands!
Climbing the Tree
Materials needed: brown and green paper, white paper and markers, scissors, yarn, tape, hole punch
Provide green and brown paper and scissors for the children to cut out a tree with leaves on it. Tape the leaves to the trunk.
Provide markers and a small piece of white paper for the children to draw a person as best they can.
Hole punch a hole in the greenery of the tree.
Lace a long piece of yarn through the hole and tie a knot on the back side so the yarn does not fit through the hole but can slide easily.
Tape the other piece of yarn to the back of their person.
They can now lift him into the tree by pulling the yarn!
Provide modeling clay for the children to make people, houses, a tree, etc. with. This is great for the muscle development and for their imagination!
I'm Coming To Your House Today Board Game
In advance, create a simple board game! It can be as simple or creative as you want!
At the top left corner, draw or glue a picture of Jesus. At the lower, right corner draw an house.
In the middle, draw a tree.
Now, create a path (perhaps one that looks like a dirt road) that goes from Jesus to the tree and then to the house. Draw squares on the path for markers/playing pieces to fit on.
Provide playing pieces (perhaps people from CandyLand or your own made pieces or simply teddy bear counters, chips, whatever you have!) and a numbered or dot die/dice.
The children roll and move that many spaces.
Discuss where their person is going during this.
This game provides practice for many skills such as: Counting, rational counting, eye-hand coordination, number recognition, dot counting, story recall, etc.
Story Matching Game
Color copy scenes from one of the books. Make two copies of each scene. Laminate.
Children use this at the math/manipulatives station. It could be used as a concentration/memory game; matching game or story retelling game.
Provide a bowl of change and many small cups. The children will sort by different attributes such as color and size.
Zacchaeus Theme Music and Movement Activities and Ideas to get your Preschoolers Movin' and Groovin'!
The Song, of Course!
Zacchaeus was a wee, little man and a wee little man was he.
He climbed up in a Sycamore tree for the Lord he wanted to see.
And when the Savior passed that way, He looked up in the tree.
And said, "Zacchaeus! You come down! For I'm going to your house today! I'm going to your house today!"
Zacchaeus was a wee, little man but a happy man was he.
For he had seen the Lord that day and a happy mane was he;
A very happy man was he.
Act It Out
Provide dress up clothes and an artifical tree if you have one and have the children act it out!
Group Song Acting
Rather than having each child play a part, have the class follow your directions as you clap out each part.
After each line, clap either 3 or four times and act out such as "...he climbed up in a sycamore tree" Let's pretend to climb a tree: CLAP CLAP CLAP. "...for the Lord he wanted to see" Let's look for the Lord..hand over eyebrows, ready? CLAP CLAP CLAP.
Materials Needed: Small paper plates (2 for each child), markers or crayons, coins, stapler, CD of song (optional)
Have the children decorate the bottoms of 2 small paper plates while you teach them or play the songs.
As they finish, staple the plates around the edges leaving a small opening.
Have each child count a specific number of coins into the plates and staple the opening.
Have the dance using their paper maracas while singing or playing the song.
VARIATION: Use plastic eggs to place coins in!
Zacchaeus Theme Activities for the Senses!
Add plastic trees or twigs/branches from outside, people, houses, etc. to your sand table. The children may want to build roads and create stories. They may also reenact the Bible story.
Zacchaeus Theme Science Activities--for your Preschool Scientists in Training!
If you can, plant a geographically appropriate tree in your yard!
If not, purchase some started plants and help the children to plant one to take home.
Writing Activity Ideas for Your Zacchaeus Theme!
He Knows Us By Name
Create a name recognition and practice center. Print each child's name on a piece of paper. Add a photo of them. Laminate.
Provide dry erase markers for them to practice tracing their names. Not only will they begin to recognize and print their own names, but their friends' names as well!