Zacchaeus and Reconciliation Lesson Plan for 2nd Grade

ThIs lesson reviews the story of Zacchaeus and uses it as a way to discuss the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Key Points

We all sin. Some sins are small (venial) and some sins are big (mortal).  Reconciliation helps us make peace when we sin.  Zacchaeus had sinned and Jesus forgave him.


  • Sin
  • Reconciliation
  • Venial sin
  • Mortal sin

Large Group Discussion: What is Sin? What is Reconciliation?

Facilitate a large group discuss with the following prompts using the white board to build the graphical summary seen below in the Google slide:

What is sin and what are typical sins?

What is a sin? ….. [When we turn away from God and from others]

What are some common sins for kid your age? Make a list on whiteboard as kids share their responses. Here are some possible answers:

  • lying
  • purposely not doing your chores, etc.
  • sneaking an extra snack
  • teasing someone in a hurtful way

Define VENIAL by writing VENIAL SINS (small sins) above this list that you created.

Then make a column entitled MORTAL SINS (big ones). Write under it some sins that are serious like the ones below.

  • murder
  • speaking ill of God
  • taking advantage of the poor

What is Reconciliation?

Explain how Reconciliation is making peace with God and with others. It is a special Sacrament in the Catholic Church. It helps us be truly sorry for our sins. Describe that we do the following in Reconciliation:

  • tell a priest our sins
  • ask for forgiveness
  • do a penance to show we are truly sorry

Art Print: Zacchaeus in the Sycamore Awaiting the Passage of Jesus by James Tissot

Show this artwork on a device for the whole class to see. Click on the slide to reveal the questions to ask the class.

Scripture: Zacchaeus Story

Explain that we will read or listen to the full story about the man in the tree. He was a sinner by the name of Zacchaeus.

  • As the story is read think about how important it is to know that Jesus will forgive us and accept us even if we have done bad things. But we must be truly sorry. How did Jesus know that Zacchaeus was truly sorry?
  • Also pay attention to WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHY and WHEN parts of the story we will play a game based on the story.

Read this slideshow out loud (preferred) or watch this animated video on the story of Zacchaeus

Reflect on the story by asking these prompts:

  • Why did Zacchaeus want to see Jesus?…… [He heard a lot about Jesus and his miracles]
  • Why did the crowd become angry?…… [Jesus was going to the home of a sinner]
  • What did Zacchaeus decide to do after meeting Jesus?…… [give half of everything to the poor and return 4 times as much money to those he had cheated]
  • What did Jesus tell Zacchaeus?…… [that he was “rescued”/”saved” that day]
  • How did Jesus know Zacchaeus was truly sorry?…… [he was willing to change his life]
  • Meeting Jesus changed Zacchaeus’ life.  How can Jesus change our lives?…… [by helping us be sorry for our sins and helping do better]
  • What would you do to be able to see Jesus in person?…..[pay a lot of money? walk 20 miles?]

Football Game:

Play this football game adapted from Sermon4Kids. Simply print out the game board and the footballs.

Directions are found on the print-off. If you don’t have a spinner, use a dice. The review questions are very good.

Closing Prayer: Throw Away your Sins

Introduce prayer

Just like Zacchaeus all of have sinned. Today we will do a quick closing prayer to ask for forgiveness of our sins.


  • slips of paper with the Act of Contrition made by printing out this free printable template and cutting into pieces
  • 1 trash can
  • 1 chair


  1. Give each child a slip of paper with the Act of Contrition on it.
  2. Have the children think of a recent time that they sinned, such as telling a lie about their homework, arguing with their parents, or a time they were disobedient, etc. 
  3. Next, have them think of how many times they sinned during the past week.  Remind them of all the things that may be considered a sin, and have them write the number down on the slip at the bottom. 
  4. Tell the children, “Let’s pretend that you made your confession to the priest.   Now we will say the Act of Contrition together.”
  5. Your sins are forgiven.  Crumple your paper.  Now let’s throw away your sins.
  6. Put a trashcan against a wall.  Have the children line up behind a chair (to keep them from getting too close to the basket).  One by one, have them throw their sins into a trash can that is a few feet away.   

Email to Families

Dear Families

This week the lesson is about sin and reconciliation.  We will read the story about Zacchaeus, the tax collector, who climbed a sycamore tree to be able to see Jesus.  He was sorry for his sins and promised to give his money to the poor and to those he had cheated.

Questions for the Car Ride Home

  • When you sin, how can you show you are truly sorry to others and to God?
  • Why does the church have the Sacrament of Reconciliation?

Thank you for the opportunity to teach your child.

Your Child’s Catechist

Spread the word
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