Using Animals to Teach Your Kids About God

Family fun trips are great times to reinforce what your kids have been learning about God. Zoos, aquariums, nature preserves and even farms are usually full of animals and other creatures God created. (Our suburban yard has even been host to deer, foxes, possums, rabbits and more!) You can use the animals you see as ways to teach or remind your kids of some important biblical principles.

The great news is that you don’t have to preach a sermon to your kids. You don’t have to memorize a lesson plan or a bunch of scriptures. You can just make casual comments as you go. Often these comments are best made in response to something your child has said. Hopefully, some of them will come out of your mouth spontaneously. And of course, you can say other things while you are enjoying God’s creation, just sprinkle in the comments from time to time.

Use your own words, but try saying some of these things to your kids the next time you visit the zoo or aquarium.

  • “God must really love us to have created such an amazing variety for us to enjoy!”
  • ”God is so creative! Did you know God made you in His image, which means He made you to be creative, too?!”
  • ”God is amazing!”
  • ”How awesome is that! God created the (insert creature name) so that (insert interesting fact about animal you just learned). Did you know that the extreme intricacy in God’s creation is what is leading many scientists – even some atheists – to admit that the idea that all of this was created by chance is impossible?”
  • ”Oh! That’s a donkey like the one in the Bible that Jesus rode.”
  • ”I wonder if this animal would have been clean or unclean when Noah was loading the ark?”
  • ”How interesting that all of these different types of (insert name of animal grouping) are related. Noah didn’t have to take one of each variety of these on the ark, just one of each kind, or group of animals. He probably took baby animals so they would have longer to breed after the flood and would have taken up less space and eaten less food on the ark.”
  • ”I wonder what day of creation these were created on?”
  • ”God told Adam humans were supposed to take care of everything He created (have dominion over). How do you think He would want us to take care of all of these animals/fish? What is one thing we can do to help?”
  • ”God sure did bless us by giving us so many beautiful things to see while we are on Earth!”
  • ”Why do you think God created (insert name of creature) so that (insert characteristic)?”
  • ”How many animals did we see today that you think are mentioned by name in the Bible?” (Provides a great excuse for teaching your kids how to use Bible resources to find information.)
  • ”What are some things we saw today that we should thank God for the next time we pray?”
  • ”God is amazing!”

You won’t use all of these every time you go to a zoo or a nature preserve. Some you will word differently because of the personalities and interests of your kids. There are probably dozens of more things you could say, but these should get you started. Have fun with it. Use every chance you have for a teaching moment that points your kids to God.

Great Way to Answer Your Kids’ Questions About God

It’s fairly accepted in ministry now that doubts and questions about faith don’t cause faith to crumble on their own. It’s the act of not helping young people find the answers they are seeking, and allowing Satan to provide his false answers that will pull them away from God.

Even though most in ministry are aware of these studies, it is the rare church that provides regular opportunities for kids and teens to ask questions and express their doubts. Which means, parents have to take a more intentional role in uncovering and answering their kids’ questions and doubts about God, scripture, the church, etc.

Before we go any farther, it’s important to emphasize that you personally don’t have to know all of the answers. Sometimes, you will, especially with younger children. Sometimes, there isn’t an answer, other than that God hasn’t explained it to us thoroughly yet and we will understand better when we are in Heaven. Many times though, you will need to research the answer yourself and that’s actually great. Why? Because you can teach your kids how to find and use reliable resources to answer any questions they may have when they are older. If you don’t know any reliable resources, ask your minister for a few. (Apologetics books often cover a lot of very common questions.)

It’s critical that you don’t just make up answers to avoid looking ignorant. An inaccurate answer, an answer with faulty logic or other weak responses can also be used by Satan later to undermine anything that was true in the answer. If you need a little extra time for research, say so. Or you can ask your kids to give you their questions a few days in advance so you can make sure you are giving solid answers.

Give each child a special notebook or journal. If your kids have a phone, encourage them to set up a special section in the Notes app. Explain that you want them to jot down any questions that they think of….things they don’t understand (which is how kids often express doubts) about God, the Bible, Christianity, etc. Encourage them to take their notebooks to church and jot down questions that come to mind during the sermon or class. Ask them to jot down questions that might come up during the school day or during free time, too.

Then have regularly scheduled question times, where you sit down as a family and discuss everyone’s most recent questions. How often this is will vary depending upon your kids. It needs to be consistent enough though, that your kids believe you really will address their questions, so they will continue to jot them down.

Obviously, this all takes time and intentionality, but you and your kids will benefit from discussing their questions and doubts rather than having others answer them later in ways that will pull your kids away from God.

Fun Ways to Help Your Kids Make Bible Connections

Your kids are probably learning a lot of different Bible stories at church and at home. What they may not realize is that each of those stories is a piece of a puzzle that when put together reveals God’s plan. There’s a fun ongoing activity you can do with your kids to help them begin to understand how things in scripture fit together.

Give each child a large piece of plain paper. You may want to invest in one of those paper rolls if you can afford it. You’ll also want to give them crayons, markers, colored pencils or paint. Have them title their paper “God’s Plan Is A Work of Art” or something similar.

Every time your kids hear or read a Bible story at church, home, or for some school, have them pull out their paper. What symbols or simple drawing best represents the Bible story? Where does it belong in relation to other Bible stories already in the drawing? For example, let’s say they just heard the story of Ruth. They might want to draw grain or a sandal or some other object from the story. Later when they hear a story about David, they may want to place the symbols for that story near the symbols from the story of Ruth, since she was David’s great grandmother. Or if they already have stories near Ruth, they can use arrows or other symbols to illustrate stories that are connected in some way to other Bible stories.

Over time, their artwork should grow larger and larger. Periodically, examine the entire piece together, reminding each other of the stories the symbols represent and the connections to other stories. If you want to spend a little extra, have your kids transfer the completed piece of art to a blank jigsaw puzzle. Then break it apart and see how well they can put it back together.

This activity takes time, but it’s a great way to help your kids better understand how everything in the Bible connects. In so doing, they will also get a better understanding of God’s overarching plan.

Fun Ways to Engrave Scripture on Your Kids’ Hearts

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.

Family, Faith and Fun Challenge Day 14

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

Interesting Facts: 

  • 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.