The Beatitudes are a wonderful study for children, as they are simple, poetic, and short.
The Beatitudes help children understand how life will be in God’s kingdom, and how he wants us to treat each other right now.
This article will give you an easy way to explain the Beatitudes for kids and will teach a simple method to help children remember all eight Beatitudes.
Beatitudes In The Bible – Matthew 5 verses 2-12
The Beatitudes are found in Matthew 5 verses 2-12.
Beatitudes were shared by Jesus in a well-known sermon that he taught called The Sermon on the Mount. The Beatitudes show us how people will live in the kingdom of God.
Each beatitude starts with a description of a person who seems unfortunate at first, but Jesus says, no, actually, they are fortunate.
Each “attitude” is accompanied by a promise that if you are in this situation, you are blessed.
Blessed means you will have favor from God. It’s not as simple as a feeling of happiness; you may not feel happy all the time, but you can feel safe and content knowing God is pleased with you.
If we can develop these attitudes, we participate in the kingdom of God!
If you are teaching the Beatitudes to children, begin by asking the children to pray, “Let these attitudes be in me.”
The Beatitudes for Kids with Activities
1. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
This verse does not mean that we should be sad. It means we should understand our need for God.
Think about a young child who wants to tie his shoelaces, but he doesn’t know how. He might insist, “I can do it myself!” But he can’t.
He is “poor in spirit” as far as tying his own shoes. He really needs someone else to do it for him.
Another way to think about this is to consider a sheep who belongs to the Good Shepherd. The sheep can’t survive by themselves. That seems unfortunate at first.
That’s how we are spiritually. It might seem unfortunate that we can’t save ourselves, but if we realize we can’t save ourselves, we are blessed. We will inherit the kingdom of heaven.
The Good Shepherd’s sheep are fortunate as long as they understand that they need the Good Shepherd.
Activity: Throughout this lesson, we will teach the children simple hand motions for each of the Beatitudes for kids. By the end of this lesson, they will be able to use hand motions to recite all eight Beatitudes for kids.
- Hold up one finger and tell the children that this represents the first beatitude for kids.
- Say, “Blessed are the poor…” and point your finger down.
- Say, “In spirit…” and point your finger at your heart.
- Say, “For theirs is the kingdom of heaven” and point your finger up.
Have the children repeat this until they can remember the first beatitude for kids.
2. Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Everybody is sad sometimes. It seems unfortunate to be sad, but Jesus tells us that those who are sad are actually blessed.
The Good Shepherd is there to comfort us. He will hold us in his arms and carry us through the hard times.
- Ask the children what kinds of things make them sad.
- Ask the children, “What is the main thing that makes God sad?”
- Encourage them to understand that the main thing that makes God sad is sin.
- Ask the children why they think sin makes God sad.
- Encourage the children to understand that sin makes God sad because it hurts us. God loves us and doesn’t want us to be hurt.
- Hold up two fingers and tell the children that this represents the second beatitude for kids.
- Say “Blessed are they that mourn…” and drag your two fingers down your face like tears.
- Say, “For they shall be comforted.” Keeping two fingers held up, cross your hands over your chest in a comforting hug.
Have the children repeat this until they can remember the second beatitude for kids.
3. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Meekness means not showing off. It can also mean not showing all our feelings in an angry way. We may have a lot of angry feelings, but we don’t have to kick somebody or break something.
You might be the strongest kid in your class, but you choose not to be a bully or frighten other children with your strength. You might be the smartest kid in your class, but you choose not to make the other children feel dumb.
Ask the children to remember Jesus coming into Jerusalem riding on a donkey (Palm Sunday). He could have come into Jerusalem on a magic carpet surrounded by angels tossing diamonds in front of him.
After all, he was God and had all that power. Instead, he chose to ride a dusty, slow little donkey. That is meekness.
- Hold up three fingers with your left hand. Tell the children this is the hand motion for the third beatitude for kids.
- Point those fingers down, and point out to the children that your fingers form the letter M.
- Say, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit…” Point out the M for meek.
- Turn your M sideways so that it now forms the letter E. Say, “…the earth.” Point out the E for earth.
Have the children repeat this until they can remember the third beatitude for kids.
4. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.
We may not always do the right things, but we want to. We may not always remember God, but we want to.
The sheep who belong to the Good Shepherd want to be with him. They want to please him.
They always try to keep him in sight no matter where they wander. They miss him when they are apart, and they look forward to being with him again. They listen for his voice so that if he calls, they can come running to him.
It may seem unfortunate at first to be “hungry and thirsty,” but when we are hungry and thirsty for God, he notices that and loves it. He promises that our longing will be filled.
- Hold up four fingers. Tell the children this is the hand motion for the fourth beatitude for kids.
- Say “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness…” Lift your four fingers to your mouth to indicate hunger.
- Say, “For they shall be satisfied.” Move your four fingers to your stomach and rub indicating satisfaction.
Have the children repeat this until they can remember the fourth beatitude for kids.
5. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Mercy sometimes means being kind to people who don’t deserve it. It is the opposite of demanding your rights, getting even, or taking revenge.
Tell the children this story:
Oliver had spent his allowance on a candy bar, and he was looking forward to eating it for a special treat. But when he looked for his candy bar, it was gone!
“Sarah!” He screamed his sister’s name. “Did you take my candy bar?”
“No,” she said with a smirk that hinted that she had. He could also see chocolate around her mouth.
“You stole my candy bar!” Oliver accused.
“Well, so what if I did?” Sarah responded. “What are you going to do about it?”
Oliver was just about to yell, “I’m going to make you regret it!” because she really did deserve to be punished for stealing. Instead, he paused and chose mercy even though he was very disappointed.
“It’s OK,” Oliver said.
Then Sarah felt sad. “I’m sorry, Oliver. I shouldn’t have taken your candy bar. I’ll get you another one tomorrow, OK?”
Some people might say that Oliver was dumb or weak to not take revenge on his sister.
In this story, Sarah agreed to make up for her wrongdoing. But she might not have. Some people would say that the situation was unfortunate.
But not God. God sees Oliver’s mercy and says, “Good for you. I appreciate that. Sometime when you need mercy, I’ll remember that.”
Mercy is also having a tender heart for others, like in this story:
Mia was playing inside one hot summer day when she noticed construction workers were outside working hard. “How can they stand the heat?” she wondered. “They must be thirsty!”
She asked her mom if they could take water bottles out to the construction workers. Her mom agreed and said, “Let’s also slice up some fruit for them.”
Mia and her mother took the food and water out to the hungry workers who were so glad to have a drink of cold water and a bite of refreshing fruit.
- Hold up five fingers. Tell the children that this is the hand motion for the fifth beatitude.
- Say, “Blessed are the merciful…” Reach your hand forward as if giving someone a gift (of mercy).
- Say, “For they shall obtain mercy.” Bring your hand back across your chest as if you are grateful to receive mercy.
Have the children repeat this until they can remember the fifth beatitude for kids.
6. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Pure in heart means your heart is honest toward God.
If the Good Shepherd tells the sheep not to go into a dangerous canyon, his sheep don’t make a plan to sneak off to the canyon. They don’t make up a story so he won’t know where they went. They don’t think angry thoughts at the shepherd for not letting them go to the dangerous canyon.
It might seem unfortunate at first that the sheep aren’t allowed to go into the dangerous canyon, but they are blessed to have a shepherd who wants to keep them where he can see them and where they can see him.
People who are pure in heart don’t fill their hearts with a lot of mean thoughts. The more bad thoughts we keep in our hearts, the harder it is to see God.
We all have bad thoughts, but we don’t have to concentrate on them. There’s an old saying that you can’t help it if a bird lands on your head, but you don’t have to let him make a nest in your hair!
- Tell the children, this is the hand motion to remember the sixth beatitude for kids.
- Make the “OK” symbol with both hands. This leaves six fingers in the air.
- Say, “Blessed are the pure in heart,” Bring your two index fingers together and your two thumbs together, making the shape of a heart.
- Say, “For they shall see God.” Make your fingers back into the “OK” symbol with both hands, then put the circles (of your thumbs and index fingers) around your eyes to make goggles to better see God.
7. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.
God wants us to do what we can to keep peace. We don’t have to argue, and we don’t have to win every argument. If we see others mad at each other, we do what we can to help them forgive each other.
Tell the children this story:
Matt is playing at the park with a friend when another boy runs past him and knocks him down. He doesn’t know whether it was an accident or on purpose. It seems like an unfortunate situation.
His friend calls out, “Get him!”
Matt knows it will impress his friend if he can knock down the boy who just knocked him down. But he knows it won’t impress God.
“No,” Matt replied as he got back up. “Let him go. Let’s just finish what we were doing.”
“But this is our chance to get him!” insists Matt’s friend. “He’s a real jerk! Do you know what else he did? I heard he…”
“No,” Matt interrupted. “Let’s not fight.”
If you can avoid a fight or an argument, God notices that. He loves peace among his people, and when he sees you being peaceful, he calls you his own child. Instead of trying to win fights, try to end fights.
- Hold up seven fingers. Tell the children this will be the hand motion for the seventh beatitude for kids.
- Say, “Blessed are the peacemakers…” Emphasize the peace sign in your hand that is holding up two fingers.
- Say, “For they shall be called the children of God.” Dance your fingers around like little children.
Have the children repeat this until they can remember the seventh beatitude for kids.
8. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
It could happen that someone would make fun of you or even hurt you for your belief in God. If that happens, God takes notice and considers you a hero.
Tell the children this story:
Emma reaches into her lunch and pulls out her sandwich. She normally loves peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch, but today she notices that the bread is not regular bread. It’s her mom’s special homemade bread.
Suddenly Emma feels so loved and happy that she instinctively bows her head and prays silently, “Thank you, Jesus, for my sweet mommy.”
Emma was interrupted by a sneering voice, “Are you praying?” It was the meanest boy in class.
“Well, I was,” she responded.
“Are you stupid?” He demanded.
“No.” Emma was embarrassed and didn’t know what to say.
“Who are you praying to? God?”
“Well, yes,” Emma said.
“You don’t even know God exists! Can you prove God exists? Have you ever seen him?”
“Well, no,” Emma said. “But…”
“Ha! Of course you haven’t! You can’t prove there’s a God, but you pray to him anyway! You’re stupid!
Some people just like to pick on other people, and that seems unfortunate. But Jesus tells us that if someone picks on you because of him, you might as well rejoice because Jesus will remember that, and you are blessed.
- Hold up eight fingers.
- Say, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake…” Pretend the three fingers in one hand is a trident and ram it into the palm of your other hand.
- Say, “For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Lift your hands toward heaven.
Have the children repeat this until they can remember the eighth beatitude for kids.
Jesus used the Beatitudes to show us what life would be like in his kingdom. We can try to live like this every day.