Have you ever wondered how to make family devotions engaging for your kids? Keep reading for 8 practical tips!
EPISODE 004 INTRO
“Hey kids! Tonight we’re going to have a picnic! Did you know that Jesus had a picnic with his followers and there were 5,000 people who came to the picnic! Can you imagine that many people! Here, let’s spread out our picnic cloth here on the floor… Well of course I brought food along for our picnic! Here… I have 5 crackers and two small gummy fish… but you’ll have to divide this food between all four of you. … What, you don’t think there will be enough? Well, in our story today, Jesus fed a huge crowd of 5,000 people with only 5 loaves of bread and two fish! Let’s find out what happened…”
Welcome to episode #004 of The Family Bible Connection Podcast with Laurie Christine!
Hey Momma, do you ever feel inadequate to teach your kids about God? Do they have questions about the Bible that you don’t know how to answer? Do you want to have family devotions, but you’re just not sure where to start? Are you tired of pretending that your kids are perfect and that you have it all together?
You’re in the right place. Welcome to The Family Bible Connection – A community of moms who desperately need Jesus for every step of our parenting journey.
We want our kids to KNOW the Bible and GROW in their love for God & others. We want to prepare your kids to GO into the world as passionate followers of Jesus. I’m your host, Laurie Christine. Through devotional resources, family routines, and Bible study, I will teach you how to create a Christ-centered culture in your home.
In episode 001, we talked about WHY it’s important to spend time in God’s Word together as a family.
In episode 002, we talked about WHAT it looks like to have family devotional time in your home, and we also talked about what to do if you feel like you’ve failed in this area. (Episode 002)
Episode 003 was the first in a two-part episode where we talked about HOW to make family devotions engaging for your kids. Using my background as a public-school elementary teacher, more than twelve years of experience as an elementary Bible teacher at my church, and ten years (so far) of Christian motherhood, I have created a collection of eight practical ways parents can engage their kids in family devotions and Bible study.
HOW TO MAKE FAMILY DEVOTIONS ENGAGING FOR YOUR KIDS
In the last episode we covered four tips to make family devotions engaging:
- Be Passionate
- Take a Picture Walk
- Connect to Prior Knowledge
- Model Your Thought Process Out Loud
This week we’re going to talk about 4 more ways that you can engage your kids in family Bible times and make it more fun for them.
5. OBJECT LESSONS
You would need to spend some time beforehand to prepare your materials, but using physical objects can be a very effective strategy to help your kids stay focused during the Bible story.
The more senses you stimulate throughout the Bible lesson, the more impactful the story will be. Think about how you could include taste, touch, smell, sight and sound in your lesson. I have provided some examples below, but you can be creative!
- Jesus feeds five thousand people — have a picnic on the ground and eat crackers and Swedish fish while you read the story. (I gave an example at beginning of this post).
- Jesus is the light of the world — turn off all the lights and light a candle.
- God created the world — give everyone a lump of play-dough to create something while you read.
- Tower of Babel — hand out building blocks and see who can build the tallest tower.
- Daniel in the lions den — look up a video on YouTube of real lions.
6. USE TOTAL PARTICIPATION TECHNIQUES
The concept of Total Participation Techniques (TPT’s) was developed by educators Persida and William Himmele. TPT’s are methods that engage both the mind and body and encourage active learning. (affiliate link).
These methods were designed to help teachers in a classroom engage all their students at once, rather than just calling on one student at a time. These techniques can easily be adapted to use in your home as well! The following are just a few examples that can be used during family devotions:
- “Put your hand on your head if…”
- “Give me a thumbs up or thumbs down…”
- “Let’s all whisper the answer together…”
- “Everybody write down one word in your journal…”
- “Whisper your answer to your brother/sister…”
- “Let’s all say the answer as loud as we can…”
7. LEARN TO ASK GREAT QUESTIONS THAT INSPIRE DISCUSSION
I have found that there are few children’s devotional books or Bible story books that include thoughtful questions to help children process what they have heard and apply it to their lives. I often need to improvise with my own questions.
For younger children, it’s okay to ask more concrete questions that have a specific answer found in the story. (“Who was Jesus talking to? What did Adam and Eve do?” etc.) But for older children, your questions should be more open-ended. Help your kids imagine themselves in the shoes of one of the characters in the story. Help them to think more deeply about the meaning of the story, and ask them if there’s a lesson that needs to be applied in their own lives.
The following are some sample questions that could be applied to any story:
- How do you think that character was feeling when that happened?
- How would you feel in that situation?
- Why do you think the character responded in that way?
- What did God mean when he said….
- What can we learn about God from this story or scripture passage?
- Is there a lesson we can learn from this story?
- Is there a promise that we can hold on to?
- Is there something I need to do or some way I need to change?
8. USE JOURNALS FOR PERSONAL REFLECTION TIME
Giving your children something to do while you read will help them to stay focused on the Bible story. Provide kids with a journal and colored pencils. While you are reading, allow kids to draw or write whatever comes to mind. This helps them keep their hands busy and allows their minds to focus. At the end, allow kids to share their pictures with the family.
You can also use journals at the end of the story for a personal reflection time. This is a great opportunity to teach your kids how to develop a personal relationship with God, but within the structure of family time. Explain to kids that this is their own time to spend with God. With their journal and a pencil, ask them to find a quiet spot where they won’t be distracted. Set the timer for 2-5 minutes (depending on the age of your children). You could choose one of the questions I mentioned before (in part seven) or use a simple structure like this:
- God, I praise you because you are __________________________________.
- Thank you for __________________________________.
- Forgive me for __________________________________.
- Please help me to __________________________________.
CLOSE IN PRAYER
Close your family devotional time in prayer. Praise God for who he is and for his character qualities that you learned about in the story. Allow your kids to pray out loud, if they feel comfortable doing so.
BONUS: TIPS FOR KEEPING IT FRESH
- Choose different types of content: Select a Bible story book, devotional books, or read straight from the Bible.
- Choose a different location: Make a fort in the living room, sit on the back patio, snuggle up on mom & dad’s bed, or pull up lawn chairs by the campfire.
- Choose a different time of day: In my family, we’ve recently started having our devotion times in the morning after breakfast, instead of right before bed. My kids are much calmer and more focused in the morning! And it makes bedtime much less crazy as well.
- Choose a hands-busy, mind-focused activity: Allow kids to quietly color or draw or build with Legos while you read and discuss the Bible.
Here’s my challenge for you this week to help you make family devotions engaging for your kids:
Choose one of these 4 practical tips we talked about today:
- Object Lesson
- Total Participation Technique
- Ask Great Questions
- Keep it fresh
Don’t feel overwhelmed… you don’t have to try all these things all at once! Just try to implement ONE of these tips this week to help engage your kids and get them excited about digging into God’s Word.
CLOSING BIBLE VERSE
Philippians 2:13 (NLT) “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.”
I’d like to close each episode in prayer. I’m praying in the first person so that you can make this a prayer for yourself and your own children. You can find a copy of the prayer in the show notes.
“God, I trust that you are working in me and in the hearts of my kids. Please give me the desire and the power to do what pleases you. I trust that you will do the same in the hearts of my precious children. Help me to be faithful in passing on your truth to them, and modeling your perfect love. Amen.”
I’d like to tell you about a free book that I have available for you to download. It’s called “How to Engage Your Kids in Family Devotions.” If you need some fresh inspiration to help your kids engage with family Bible times, this is a practical resource to help you get started. Everything we’ve been talking about in the past few episodes can be found in this book! You can find the free ebook on my website: FamilyBibleConnection.com. Click on the bar at the top that says “Free Ebook”.
Thank you so much for joining me for Episode #004 of The Family Bible Connection with Laurie Christine, where together as moms, we will cling tightly to Jesus as we create a Christ-centered culture in our homes.
If you found value in this episode, I would love for you to subscribe to the show, leave a written review in i-tunes, and then share this episode with a friend!
If you would like to download free resources to help you create a Christ-centered culture in your home, go to FamilyBibleConnection.com.