Having a grateful heart and thanking God regularly for His many blessings can help your kids be more appreciative and generous. It doesn’t come naturally to many children – especially as they grow older. How can you encourage them to be more aware of their blessings and that they all come from God? This fun family devotional is a good starting point.
Grab a Bible, some plain paper and art supplies like markers, crayons or even paints. Before starting, you may want to draw a large heart on a sheet of paper for each of your younger children. (You can have older children draw their own hearts on their paper before doing the activity.)
Read the story of the Ten Lepers found in Luke 17:11-19. Focus especially on the gratitude of the last leper who returned to thank Jesus. Ask your kids why they think one leper came back to thank Jesus. Have them share why they think the others did not return to thank Jesus.
Remind your children that God expects us to be grateful for everything He has given us. Ask them why our gratitude or thankfulness is important to God. (You may have to ask them to think about how they would feel if they gave someone a very special present and the person opened their gift, shrugged and walked away.)
Give your kids the sheets of paper with the hearts drawn on them. Explain to them that God gives us many gifts because He loves us. Tell them you want them to illustrate as many things on their drawings as they can of things for which they should thank God. Encourage them to put personal things, as well as things everyone would have in common.
Once your kids have completed their artwork, have them share what they drew. Encourage them to add new items to their drawings if they wish. Ask your children to think of ways they can thank God for His gifts. (Make sure taking good care of them – stewardship – is mentioned as part of the discussion.) Encourage them to use their drawings this week as they pray, to help them remember to thank God for the many blessings He has given them.
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands” (Psalm 19:1 NIV) Your kids need to be able to “see” God as one of the very basic parts of their faith foundation. The Bible tells us one of the best ways to see God is in His creation.
There’s a fun way to have a family Bible study time, enjoy God’s creation and teach your kids to see God in it. Grab your Bibles, a phone with camera capabilities or some of those disposable cameras or the newer “instant” cameras (similar to the old Polaroid cameras).
You can do this in your back yard, a local park or in a more dramatic National Park. Gather your family and review the story of creation in Genesis 1 and 2. Share with them Psalm 19:1. Explain that although we can’t see God himself until we get to Heaven, God has created things to remind us of Him when we see them. Tell your children each of them may notice God in His creation in slightly different ways.
Give each child a camera. (If you want to do this in a low tech way, you can give them drawing paper and coloring pencils, crayons or markers.) Tell them you want them to capture the best images they can of things they see that make them think of God. Give them the time and encouragement to be truly creative and capture multiple images.
How you share the results of their efforts will depend upon the type of camera you chose. When you can see the photos, have your kids share why they chose those particular things as something that reminded them of God. Ask them to think of other things that remind them of God, but may not have been in the place you explored. You may want to also encourage them to say a quick prayer of thanksgiving and praise every time something reminds them of God. It’s a great way to teach your kids to see God for the rest of their lives.
Yes, it’s October and 95* in Atlanta, but colder weather will eventually come – even to the Southern U.S. You can do a fun Fall family service project, while also teaching your kids things God wants them to know.
Grab your kids and a Bible. Share with them the story of Joseph and his coat of many colors found in Genesis 37. Explain to your children that Israel can get cold in the winter months. Some places even get a few days of light snow. Joseph’s coat may have been to keep him warm as well as a way for Jacob to show him love.
Explain that many children in your area don’t have enough warm clothes like, sweaters, coats, hats, gloves and thick socks. Some families can’t afford to keep their homes warm during the winter and their kids may need to wear heavy clothing indoors.
If your children are older, get them to help research places in your area that will help you get warm clothing to children who need it. You may want to try churches, shelters, foster care agencies and orphanages. Some public schools may also be interested in receiving donations.
Once you have determined who will receive the warm clothing, it’s time to plan how much you will try to gather and how you will do that. Many families with young children often realize their kids have outgrown the previous year’s winter clothing when it begins getting chilly. It’s a great time to offer to collect any outgrown clothing in good condition.
There are other ways to gather donations. Your family may have things in good condition you no longer wear. Or perhaps your kids want to earn extra money and use it to buy socks or gloves. It could also grow to become a project for your church. This project can be as big or as little as you wish.
As you work on the project, have conversations with your kids about topics like empathy, serving others, faith sharing and more. Make sure your kids go with you to deliver the donations. The experience can give them a better appreciation for the need to serve others. You may even want to make it an annual family tradition.
Remember the story of the Good Samaritan? A man was robbed, beaten and left to die on the side of the road. The religious people who should have helped him, walked on by, too busy to help. The Samaritan, who culturally would have hated the victim, stopped and took the time to serve him.
That story should open our eyes to how important it is to God that we stop and help those He places in our path who have needs. Unfortunately, some of us are so obsessed with our own lives that we don’t even notice the people around us who need our help.
There’s a great way to teach your kids how to be more observant of those around them who need to be served. If you have the time, it’s also a great way to teach them how to use their gifts to serve others and to share their faith while serving.
Grab a Bible and read the story of the Good Samaritan to your kids. (Luke 10:25-37) Explain to your children that as sad as it was that those first people refused to help the victim, it’s even sadder when we are so self-absorbed we don’t even notice someone needs to be served.
Tell your kids you are going on a family service walk. It can be in your neighborhood or in a public place like a mall. As you walk, tell your kids you want them to be really observant and notice people that might need someone to help them in some way. With younger children you may have to give them clues like, “Look for people who look sad” or “Look for people who look like they could use an extra pair of hands to help them.”
Your kids can write down what they notice or just try and remember the things. (With young children, if they share in the moment, you may run the risk of hurting someone’s feelings.) After your walk, talk about what they noticed. Are there things they or your family can do to help those people or people like them? With older children, you can begin having discussions about discernment and how God wants us to use our resources to know the best ways to help people.
Doing this activity regularly can train your kids to be more observant of the needs of others. If your family follows up by actually serving some of the people you see, you will make an even deeper impression on your children. You may even want to encourage other families to do the same thing and then share with each other the needs you see in your community. It’s a great way to strengthen the faith foundation of your children and help them grow to their godly potential.
You know you should be spending more time together as a family, but when you are together…Well, things seem to not go so smoothly. Everyone is in different rooms. Or maybe in the same room, but engrossed in their personal devices. Or everyone starts getting on each others’ nerves and you spend more time separating your kids than bonding with them and teaching them.
If you’ve gone to the trouble to clear your schedules a bit to create some intentional quality family time, taking a few extra minutes to plan can help things go more smoothly. Your family is used to entertaining themselves, doing whatever it is they personally want to do – it’s no longer necessary to negotiate the sharing of the one tv in the house.
Not having to compromise, means entertainment has become a bit selfish. What everyone else wants to do with their time is of little consequence. No wonder conflicts can erupt when suddenly a family who can usually do whatever they want for entertainment is now forced to agree on something and do it together for a period of time.
No worries though! A few well planned, fun, family activities will keep your children engaged and asking for more family time. Not everything has to be overtly religious. It’s amazing how many opportunities you will have for teaching your kids about what God wants them to do in the course of something simple like playing a board game together.
There are a million things you can do together as a family, that give you plenty of opportunities to bond, teach and model. Here are some of the things our family loved to do when our daughter was younger.
Family Game Night – Kids love playing board games with their parents. Library book sales and yard sales often have board games for sale for a couple of dollars. Our Five Below store even has a lot of fun games for $5 or less.
International Night. This was a huge hit for a variety of reasons in our house. I cooked several recipes from the “mystery” country. They were easy to find on the internet or you can buy many types of cuisine already prepared in many areas. The rest of the family tried to guess the country as we ate their most famous dishes. Often we would also listen to their music, try a few words of their language or participate in a few other things from the culture. It’s also a great way to introduce missions to your kids.
After dinner family walks. Recently, I was in Ukraine. It seemed like every family in my neighborhoods in two different cities went for family walks after dinner. Along the way, they were talking and playing with their children. They even continued their post dinner walks when school started.
Family projects. Whether it’s making a tarp into a car track for an orphanage or cleaning the garage, working together on a project is great. Often, these are things you normally do, but separately. So instead of everyone being assigned a different room to clean, for example, everyone works together on the same room.
Making cookies. This is a classic for a reason! What’s more fun than baking cookies together? Sugar cookies that you can also decorate are always great. They don’t have to be Christmas cookies either. After enjoying a few of your creations, take the rest to someone who could use a little cheer and company – as a family.
Exploring. Whether it’s geocaching or visiting a new area of town (or a new town), exploring can be a great bonding experience. Let your kids help plan the adventure for even more quality family time.
Picnics. Take a blanket and take-out if you don’t want to cook and hit the road. Picnics are great conversation starters. Don’t forget to take a frisbee for more family fun after you finish eating. (When the weather is bad, indoor picnics and “camping” are usually a huge hit with kids.)
So grab your kids and start spending time together. Having fun as a family is great. It strengthens family bonds and gives you chances to slip in little bits of God’s wisdom from time to time. It also gives you a chance to model godly behaviors for your kids and chances to see your kids’ hearts more clearly. Plus, you are creating wonderful memories you will all cherish for years to come.