Whether you are having family Bible studies, your kids are reading the Bible independently, or both, if they don’t remember what they are exposed to, it can’t help them. Studies have found that drawing can help improve memory. Instead of pulling out all of your art supplies, why not teach your kids a fun little variation that only requires pen and paper?
Some kids naturally doodle when listening, while others will be new to the idea of doodling. It’s important to define doodles as little scribbles, so there isn’t any pressure to be an artist when doodling. Teach your kids to pick out a key verse or idea from a Bible passage they think would be helpful to remember. Then encourage them to jot it down and draw a doodle next to it.
The doodles need to mean something to the child, so each of your kids might draw something different for the same verse and that’s okay. Verses that don’t have something concrete in them may prove a more challenging doodle to create. If they struggle with how to doodle an abstract concept, talk about a doodle that might represent the idea, like a heart for love.
If they enjoy doodling scripture, they may get to the point where the doodles themselves have enough meaning that they don’t need to write down the words, too. They will also pick up speed over time. Encourage them to try doodling a sermon and see if they can capture the main ideas.
There is at least one doodling devotional journal you can purchase if you want a little more structure, The Devotional Doodle Journal by DaySpring. Personally, I don’t think it’s necessary, but if you want the extra structure it can help. Each two page spread is a scripture and a doodle prompt with space to create the doodle. The main downfall is since doodles are a bit personal, the one they chose for a particular scripture may not be as meaningful as something else to your child.
Have fun with it. See if you can guess the scripture by merely seeing their doodles…or if they can guess one you have done. Use it as a fun way to encourage independent Bible reading and memorizing or at least remembering the summary of scripture passages. Every child won’t find it helpful, but for those who do, it can make a huge positive difference in how they engage with scripture.
Christian parents can get stuck on what may seem like the little things. You know your kids should be exposed to the Bible at home, but what’s the best way to do it for the currents ages of your kids? While every child is different, these guidelines can at least give you a starting point.
Infants – baby Bible….few words, lots of engaging art work, interactive aspects to Bible like texture, tell simple Bible stories regularly
Toddler – toddler Bible …a few more words, still lots of pictures, basic questions about the story to help them remember it, tell simple Bible stories regularly and ask simple questions and/or explain parts which may be confusing
Preschool – Depending upon child, toddler Bible or children’s Bible, still need artwork, still summaries of the stories, exposure to a few verses from the “real” Bible with each story, questions and scripture memory work to help remember story, more formal family devotionals regularly including Bible story or scripture, prayer and songs or activity when time allows
Early elementary – begin transitioning to a simple translation of the Bible, like the NIrV. Children who aren’t strong readers may still need a children’s Bible for independent Bible reading…start child on independent Bible reading with discussion afterwards to clarify vocabulary, meaning, etc. Continue reading and telling Bible stories to the child…including more complex ones. Continue discussing what is read and encouraging reflection upon and memory of scripture
Late elementary – depending upon reading level of available translations of Bible and reading ability of child – may continue mix of children’s and adult Bible reading or transition entirely to adult Bible (still NIrV translation if possible). Should be able to retell numerous Bible stories from memory, have several scriptures memorized and be able to summarize many others. Should be moving towards independent Bible study more comfortably, although still needs parents to read or tell complex Bible stories and explain them. Able to read and discuss Bible passages that don’t involve a story
Teens – should be moving towards independent daily Bible study…still need help understanding complex passages, should be exposed to the majority of the stories in the Bible and many passages not connected to stories…should show the beginning of being able to use the Bible to teach others about Jesus/God. Should have either memorized or be able to summarize a wide variety of key Bible verses
The specific baby and children’s Bibles you choose are largely a matter of the preferences of you and your child. We prefer ones that follow the actual Bible story as accurately as possible without a lot of added details. For readers, we prefer the NIrV version in English. We chose it because it is a translation and not a paraphrase and is written on a third grade reading level. You can now find them in more “grown up” covers and with study aids included.
Teens who do well in school, may prefer a slightly more accurate version than the NIrV, but watch reading levels carefully. If they choose a version with a reading level much higher than their current reading level (ask their school teacher if you don’t know their reading level), they may become frustrated and not want to read the Bible because it is “too hard”. (This link gives the reading levels of many popular versions of the Bible. https://www.biblegateway.com/blog/2016/06/bible-translation-reading-levels/
Taking the time to introduce and/or expose your kids to the Bible in age appropriate ways can make it much more likely they will understand it and learn to enjoy reading it regularly themselves.
There’s a hard truth many older Christians have already figured out. If you don’t have God’s Words engraved on your heart, it isn’t very helpful. Why? Because most decisions are made in fractions of a second. If your brain doesn’t automatically know what God wants you to do in a particular situation in that second, you may very well make a sinful choice.
Your kids are no different. In fact, because the decision making areas of the brain aren’t fully developed, they need to have those helpful verses come to mind even more quickly.
But, you are thinking, my kids hate to memorize anything. If I force them to memorize scripture, we will be in constant conflict and they will learn to hate the Bible. The good news is that there are fun ways you can engrave those words on your kids’ hearts. – even if they hate memorizing things. Here are some of our favorites.
Teach them fun songs. If your kids are young, you probably are playing Kidz Bop or Disney music on constant repeat. Why not add some fun scripture songs in the mix? There are songs specifically recorded to help kids memorize scriptures with those tunes young kids enjoy. Of course a lot of worship music also has scripture embedded in it, too. By singing along or hearing it played millions of times, those verses will be engraved in their hearts as well.
Use scripture art. Have your kids create works of art around important scriptures and display it prominently around your house. Don’t forget, they can make pillows and other decorative items with scripture as well. Older kids and teens may also enjoy Bible journaling. (Note: They can do it in a spiral notebook as easily as they can in an expensive wide margin Bible.)
Develop favorite sayings. You probably already have sayings you use over and over again that you probably got from a parent or grandparent. Why not be purposeful about it and find some pithy verses to use as some of your repeated sayings? If you say them often enough, your kids will groan, but join in repeating the scripture just like they do your other sayings. Chances are, they will repeat them to their kids, too.
Have a family contest. Some kids thrive on competition. They already think you are becoming old and forgetful. Why not challenge them to scripture memory contests? You can work together to choose scriptures and what winners will get as prizes. Don’t forget, for kids, getting to choose what you cook for dinner or getting to go to bed fifteen minutes later can be as exciting as a new purchased item.
Have fun with it, but make sure your kids have key scriptures engraved on their hearts. It will make it so much easier for them to know what God wants them to do and to make good choices.
We hope your family has grown closer to each other and God over the last two weeks. For today’s challenge you will need large, lightly colored stones or you can draw “stones” on paper and use those.
Saturday, January 2, Day 14
Bible Reading: Matthew 28:16-20
Memory Verse: “So you must go and make disciples of all nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 28:19
Although Christianity soon split from Judaism, at this point the followers of Jesus were using some of the meeting rooms at the Temple to wait for what would come next.
Sources outside of the Bible record that the disciples and other early Christians traveled and taught about Jesus at least as far as England, France (Gaul), Ethiopia, Egypt, Libya, India, Iran (Persia), Armenia, and many more countries.
Thoughts to Share: After Jesus rose from the dead, he spent a few more weeks on Earth before he went back to Heaven. He probably spent a lot of that time preparing the Apostles and others for their mission after he went back to Heaven. What was this mission? It is the same mission God has for Christians today, to tell as many people as we possibly can the story of Jesus and how they can have their sins forgiven and spend forever in Heaven with God.
Did you know that the stories we have studied these last two weeks are some of the stories you can tell other people to help them learn about Jesus? You can practice telling these stories to each other. Then when you want to tell the stories about Jesus to someone else, it will be easier.
Family Fun Instructions: Find or make some large white stones. Use the markers to draw a symbol on each stone to help each of you remember an important part of the story of Jesus to tell to others. Think of simple symbols that remind your family of important Bible stories. Once you have made the stones, take turns telling the story of Jesus to each other.
Parenting Tips: Here are instructions for helping your kids learn how to share their faith. Helping them practice telling the stories will help them remember it and make it easier for them to tell the stories to other people. For teens, you may want to discuss several of the sheets on this page. We also have a free baptism study if one or more of your children is ready for that conversation.
Happy New Year! Time to reinforce some great spiritual habits.
Friday, January 1, Day 13
Bible Reading: Luke 24:1-49
Memory Verse: “They were saying, ‘It’s true! The Lord has risen. He’s appeared to Simon.’” Luke 24:34
Stones in front of tombs at this time fit into a groove once they were in place. They would have been easy to put in place, but very hard to remove.
The stone in front of the grave could have weighed several thousand pounds.
Thoughts to Share: How do you think Mary, Joanna, the Apostles and other people felt as they realized Jesus had risen from the dead? They felt joy! Joy is understanding the story of Jesus. Joy is understanding Jesus died for our sins and was raised from the dead. Joy is knowing that when we are baptized to become a Christian, our sins are forgiven and we will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Joy is knowing we can spend forever with God in Heaven.
Family Fun Instructions: Today is the first day of a New Year! Find or make items to help you celebrate. New Year’s Day is also a great time to set goals for the coming year. You can make goals for yourself and goals for your family. This worksheet will help you set goals that will be a little easier to keep. Each of you may want to use one of the blank books in the box to write down your goals and keep track of how you are doing. Spend some time celebrating the New Year and setting goals.
Parenting Tips: Here, you will find tips for helping your kids set and accomplish goals. Teaching your children how to set and keep goals will make it easier for them to do well in school, in a job, in a relationship and especially as a Christian.