different but equal object lesson

Children will actually get to see how equality works in this object lesson where they make a scale and see how different things are needed to make all things equal.


• Two plastic coat hangers
• Yarn
• Scissors
• Two plastic buckets, the same size
• Objects of various weights and sizes (they must be able to fit inside the cups or buckets)
• Tape
• Crayons


1. Cut yarn into two long strings about a foot in length.

2. Tie one end to the bucket and one end to the hanger. Try to be sure the yarn attaching both buckets are the same length.

3. When you have both buckets on evenly, secure the string with tape around the handle.


Hold up your scales.

Today, we are going to talk about equality. What does it mean when two things are equal? It means they weigh the same or are very similar in personality traits, or look totally the same.

When we talk about equality, does that mean two people weigh the same and look the same? No. It means they have equal rights.

Jesus taught that all people are equal. Did you know that? Probably they didn’t or don’t know how.

Take up your scales. Have your assistant hold it by the hook of the second hanger, held upside down, if you do not have a hook available.

Let’s pretend that these buckets stand for certain types of people who are in Jesus’ stories. Let’s talk first about the Samaritan woman he met at the well. According to John 4:

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?”

The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)

The Samaritan woman was bringing up a tricky situation. For hundreds of years, there had been a bitter divide. The Jews thought the Samaritans worshipped wrong and married wrong.

Drop a crayon into one cup or bucket. Watch the scale tip sideways. Drop another in. Watch it tip farther.

Point to the higher bucket.

The Jews thought they were way above the Samaritans. The woman at the well was referring to this when Jesus spoke to her.

Drop a crayon into the other bucket.

Jesus told her he was the Messiah.

Drop a second crayon in so that the buckets are equal again.

He told her things about herself that no one could know unless he was the Messiah. He sent her on her way believing in him and feeling very much equal to the Jewish rivals who always made her feel less equal!

Another time, Jesus met with the religious leaders of the day. They loved that people saw them as powerful.

Add a crayon to one bucket.

They loved when people gave them the best seats at banquets.

Add one crayon to the same bucket.

They loved to look so holy in their robes. Point to the imbalance. According to the religious leaders of the day, they were way up here and the common people were way down there. But!

Jesus pointed out that the religious leaders hardly ever prayed for real.

Add a crayon to the opposite bucket.

He pointed out that they took homes from widows and made the widows move out and did all sorts of hypocritical things.

Add a crayon to that second bucket so they are equal.

Jesus pointed out that everyone is equal in God’s eyes, and that the religious leaders had better quit their bad behavior if they wanted to go to heaven.

Finally, there was the situation with the disciples and Mary Magdalene. People were saying she couldn’t be a disciple because she was a woman and women were of less value.

Add a crayon to the first bucket.

They said a woman caused the first sin, and so a woman could never be as spiritually valuable as a man.

Add a crayon to the first bucket.

But Jesus fixed it so that Mary Magdalene was the first to see him after the resurrection. Add a crayon to the second bucket. And she got to be the one to tell the apostles he was alive.

Add a crayon to the second bucket.

Wherever Jesus went, he found people who were trying to be better than everybody.

Add a crayon to the first bucket. And another and another.

And he kept telling people, if you want to be great, be the greatest servant. Add a crayon to the second bucket. He said the only people who are better are the ones who love more.

Add a couple crayons to that second bucket.

Take all the crayons out. Start to put the small objects in the buckets, some on each side, so that sometimes one bucket is lower, then the other…

The great thing about Jesus’ love is that it is the same for all of us, even though we are all different. He makes us large, small, dark, light, creative, scientific, musical, athletic. But we are all the same in his eyes — and that includes women and men!

Allow children to put your different items in the buckets and see how different the contents can be — and yet both sides are still equal.

Explain to them that we are all different, as are the contents of two balanced buckets, and all have different callings. But God sees us as equal, no matter what we are made of.