The focus of this scripture is about being prepared. When talking with children I prefer the version from Ralph Milton’s Lectionary Story Bible-Year A pg 236. This version turns the story into being prepared for a wedding party (all the village is invited and asked to bring food to share. Some prepare their food early and others wait. When it’s time for the wedding those that prepared are ready to go, those that aren’t have to hurry and fix their food. But by the time they get to the wedding, the party is over and they missed it). I think this version of the scripture is easier for children to understand than the idea of virgins trimming their lamps. If you choose to use the traditional scripture I would substitute the word women for virgins so that you don’t get sidetracked onto a whole different discussion about what virgins are!
Ask the children if they have ever missed out on something because they weren’t prepared. Then share an example you have of a time where someone experienced that. My example would be a story about my oldest son. Each week my boys are expected to put their laundry away on Monday afternoon. My oldest son comes home from school, gets a snack, does his homework, practices piano and then puts away his laundry. Usually these tasks can be done fairly quickly, but this particular Monday he was being pokey. He was playing around and not completing his jobs. After dinner he still wasn’t done with his laundry. At that point his friends were all outside playing and he REALLY wanted to go too, but his laundry had to be completed first. By the time he was done it had grown dark and his friends had gone inside. He was very sad that he had missed playing with his friends.
Tell the children that Jesus told us a story in the book of Matthew about being prepared. Read Matthew 25:1-13 (adapt as needed to make it appropriate for children). When you finish reading the scripture ask the children if they can think of times they have to get prepared (for school, before a test, packing for a trip, before cooking, etc).
Close by reminding the children how important it is to think ahead and be prepared for what you are doing.