St. Nicholas

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Show God's Love: St. Nicholas of Myra in Lycia
Level: Pre-K—Kindergarten

by the Department of Christian Education, Orthodox Church in America

Lesson Plan: The Nativity Season, Session 2

Byzntine Bishop in miter
Saint Nicholas, Bishop of Myra
Russian icon, ca 1910
St Nicholas Center Collection

The life of St. Nicholas illustrates how we can help others thereby showing God’s love for all. We also can associate the acts of charity with the real St. Nicholas and help students not to confuse him with the more familiar "Santa Claus." Understanding the true nature of St. Nicholas in Myra in Lycia helps us to prepare for to meet the Lord, setting the birth of Christ within the context of God’s family.


By the end of this session students should be able to:

  • Recognize what (or who) a bishop is
  • Identify St. Nicholas as a bishop and identify our own bishop
  • Tell a story about an event in St. Nicholas’ life and how he helped others
  • Demonstrate an understanding of how to do good for others by helping in a charitable project


  • Icon of the Nativity of Christ (use throughout Nativity unit)
  • Icon of St. Nicholas
  • Life of St. Nicholas
  • Notes for parents
  • Boxes to decorate for charity collection
  • Crayons
  • Glue
  • Stickers, etc.


  • Icons from The Icon Book by John Matusiak, Basil Essey and James McLuckie, Department of Christian Education, Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese, 1981 out-of-print
  • Liturgical hymns
  • The Miracle of Saint Nicholas by Gloria Whelan, Bethlehem Books, 1997


• Opening Prayer Sung/Recited together (1 minute)

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Thy nativity, O Christ our God,
Has shown to the world the light of wisdom.
For by it, those who worshipped the stars
Were taught by a star to adore Thee,
The Sun of Righteousness,
And to know Thee, the Orient from on high.
O Lord, glory to Thee!

• Discussion Starter (10 minutes)

Begin by asking the following:

St. Nicholas was a great bishop. What is a bishop?
Who is our bishop and why is a bishop an important part of our Parish family?
Can you recall a time when the bishop visited our parish?

• Activity: Story of Nicholas


Read St. Nicholas’ life. Pause often to emphasize his good deeds, kindness and generosity. Discuss how St. Nicholas often gave gifts to others and no one knew who gave them. Ask students to "say something" in response to key points in the story, marked ahead of time. Pause often to ask students to make "text-to-self" connections for times in their life when they helped someone or did acts of kindness and generosity.

Saint Nicholas, the Wonderworker, Archbishop of Myra in Lycia is famed as a great saint pleasing unto God. He was born in the city of Patara in the region of Lycia (on the south coast of the Asia Minor peninsula), and was the only son of pious parents Theophanes and Nonna, who had vowed to dedicate him to God. Since Nicholas was a small child, he always studied Scripture; during the day, he would not leave church, and by night he prayed and read books, making himself truly a friend of God.

St. Nicholas was known for the many good things he did. One time, there was a man with three daughters who needed money so he could buy food. The saint, learning of the man’s poverty secretly visited him one night and threw a sack of gold through the window. Since there was so much money, the man was able to buy food and give his daughters the money they would need when they grew up. However, St. Nicholas always strove to keep his good acts a secret.

Another time, St. Nicholas was going to go on a long trip on a huge boat. Shortly after he left, he had a feeling that a storm would come and sink the ship, and sure enough, the sky grew dark and cloudy and the ocean waters began to crash against the sides of the boat. Everybody was very scared, but St. Nicholas prayed to God, and the waves stopped beating the boat, and the sun came out from behind the clouds. His prayer was so strong that even one of the sailors who had fallen during the storm and was badly hurt, was made better.

St. Nicholas was a very gentle priest who was very caring to those who needed him. Soon, he was made a bishop of his area, Lycia, and did everything he could to correct those who held wrong beliefs about the church. And while he was a bishop, he continued to help those he could. He worked many other miracles and struggled many long years at his work. Through the prayers of the saint, soldiers were helped, and the city of Myra was rescued from a terrible food shortage.

Having reached old age, St. Nicholas peacefully fell asleep in the Lord. When he died, his body had a very sweet smell, and the myrrh which flowed from his body helped heal sick people. The name of the great saint of God, the hierarch and wonderworker Nicholas, a quick helper for all who call on him, is famed in every corner of the earth, in many lands, and among many peoples. All over the world, there are many churches named after him. There is, perhaps, not a single city without a church named after him.

St. Nicholas, the bishop of Lycia, is the patron of travelers, and we pray to him for help from floods, poverty, or any misfortunes. He has promised to help those who remember his parents, Theophanes and Nonna.

Or use A Man Named Nicholas by Ann Marie Gidus-Mecera, a simple story for pre-schoolers

• Activity: Charity Box

Materials needed for a charitable project include an explanatory note for the children to take home. Each child will make a box or basket for donations. Several smaller ones could be scattered in several locations, in the church, at home, etc.


Icon of St. Nicholas
Notes to take home
Boxes to decorate
Stickers, etc.


Decorate boxes with bright colors to attract attention, or decorate with holiday stickers. Use these collection boxes throughout the Nativity Fast to collect coins to donate or use towards a greater parish-wide charitable donation.

• Extra Activity: Shoes

Some cultures leave shoes out for St. Nicholas to fill with treats. This could be done outside the classroom door during class for a wonderful surprise. Or it could be done on the exact day of St. Nicholas’s commemoration, the eve of December 6th. Consider holding a festival for children close to this feast day, when the children could leave shoes out at the beginning of the session on a Saturday morning. During the festival, children could make banners of St. Nicholas to be used for the Festal Liturgy in a children's procession before the Little Entrance.

If the bishop is coming for a visit soon, children could learn to sing the greeting hymn for the bishop (see Orthodox Hymns for Children, Vol. 1, pg. 29).

• Wrap-Up (1-2 minutes)

As students are cleaning up and preparing for closing prayer, ask the following:
  • Who is our bishop?
  • Why is the bishop important?
  • Use teaching pictures set for a bishop's picture and get a picture of your own bishop from the Orthodox Church in America web site
  • What is one thing that Bishop Nicholas of Myra did to help others?

Closing Prayer Sung/Recited together (1 minute)

Kontakion of the Nativity (Tone 3)

Today the virgin gives birth to the transcendent one,
And the earth offers a cave to the unapproachable one.
Angels, with shepherds, glorify Him.
The wise men journey with the star,
Since for our sake the eternal God was born as a little child!
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Teachers' Notes

St. Nicholas the Wonderworker and Archbishop of Myra in Lycia

Troparian - Tone 4

In truth you were revealed to your flock as a rule of faith,
an image of humility and a teacher of abstinence;
your humility exalted you;
your poverty enriched you.
Hierarch Father Nicholas,
entreat Christ our God
that our souls may be saved.

Kontakion - Tone 3

You revealed yourself, O saint, in Myra as a priest,
For you fulfilled the Gospel of Christ
By giving up your soul for your people,
And saving the innocent from death.
Therefore you are blessed as one become wise in the grace of God.

Printable Resources

Introduction to Nativity Season Unit
Materials on St. Nicholas of Myra in Lycia from Orthodox Church in America web site
Icon of St. Nicholas from OCA web site
Good background web site
Wikipedia Entry


The Miracle of Saint Nicholas
by Gloria Whelan, Golden Key Books, 1997
Ages: 4-8
tory set in Russia tells of the enduring faith of a small village as a young boy's dream for the church evokes a miracle.
Purchase from, or

The Real Santa Claus
by Marianna Mayer, Phyllis Fogelman Books, 2001
Ages: 9-12 (and adults)
Long before "A Visit from St. Nicholas" was written, stories of the beloved saint's extraordinary generosity and countless acts of kindness were legendary . . . .
Purchase from, or

Wonderworker: The True Story of How St. Nicholas Became Santa Claus
by Msgr. Vincent A. Yzermans, ACTA Publications, 2004 (1994)
Ages: 12 and up
Many good stories begin with "Once upon a time . . . .
Purchase from, or

The Icon Book
by John Matusiak, Basil Essey and James McLuckie, Department of Christian Education, Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese, 1981

Lesson plans for Pre-K-Kindergarten, Junior, Intermediate, Senior High, and Adult

From the Department of Christian Education, Orthodox Church in America. Copyright © 1999–2006. Used by permission.

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