Small treats: something students will like and want – candy or stickers or small toys. It will depend on the age of the students in your group. I used Hershey kisses.
4-5 gift bags with junk gifts in them – a piece of mulch, a weed, a ball of tin foil, a piece of tissue paper. One junky item in each bag. Do not let the students see what is in the bags.
First hand out one of the good treats to each student. If giving out candy, tell them not to eat it yet.
Next, ask the students if they would like to trade their treat for something in one of the gift bags. Swap out the treats with those students volunteering to trade.
Have the students look inside their new gift bag to reveal the junk treat. Ask them if that trade was worth it. Was that an equal trade?
Read the story of The Golden Calf from Exodus 32.
Explain to students that the Israelites asked Aaron to make them a god to worship while Moses was up on the mountain for so long. Aaron used their gold and jewelry and personal items to melt down and form a golden calf. This, of course, made God very angry.
They were trading out their one true God for a fake statue that could do nothing for them. They were looking for something or someone they could see and touch. They lost their focus on the one true God who provided and guided them.
Explain to students that the golden calf was just like the junk treats in the bags. No good and brings no joy.