Fun Cure for Summer Boredom

As excited as kids are for summer vacation to begin, they eventually reach a point where everything they could do with their time just seems boring. The kind of boredom that has caused more than one parent to suggest handing out extra chores to relieve it!

There is actually a fun activity your kids can do that should relieve their boredom and serve someone else in the process. Gather your bored children. Explain that the Bible talks about doing good things for others in secret. Their mission….should they choose to accept it…is to do as many acts of service for others as they can without getting caught.

The average child loves books like Harriet the Spy and the Boxcar Children. There’s just not much call for children who solve mysteries in your average community. So the idea that they can sneak around and do some sleuthing and service will sound like an adventure if it is presented to them with enthusiasm.

Set whatever limits for safety and expenses you wish. Decide the time period over which the service projects should be executed. Encourage your kids to do some sleuthing to find out the ways they can best serve the people they choose without giving away the secret that they hope to do those things for that person. The age and maturity of your children will impact how involved you need to be in the process. The more they control the service projects though, the more fun they will have and the more they will learn.

Make sure to create some reflection time later. Talk about what they learned from the experience. What went well? What would they do differently next time? What did they learn about serving others and sharing their faith? Who knows? This could be an annual summer tradition for your family!

8 Fun Service Projects for Preschoolers

Want to serve others and share your faith as a family, but have young children? Many organizations don’t allow preschoolers and toddlers to participate in the service projects they may sponsor. It’s unfortunate, because starting kids serving others when they are young means it is more likely to be natural for them as they grow older.

Thankfully, there are some fun service projects that are just right for preschooler and in some cases, toddlers. Here are a few of our favorites.

  1. Canned food drives. Little hands can safely handle a can of food and place it in a grocery bag to be donated. Of course, the more food your family is donating, the more fun this will be.
  2. Growing food for others. Many who provide food to those who are food insecure don’t have access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Little hands are more than able with adult supervision to plant and water seeds and plants and pick produce to share with others.
  3. Making cookies. With adult supervision, preschoolers can begin measuring and adding ingredients and shaping the raw dough into cookies. Decorating them might be a bit much if you want perfection, but those who could benefit from some cookies might also appreciate that children decorated them.
  4. Artwork. Nothing cheers someone like the art of a child. For really young ones, you can take their scribbles or finger painting smears and cut them into the shape of a heart for the recipient.
  5. Goodie bags. Preschoolers can help stuff goodie bags if the items are organized to make it easier for them. Think about goodies to thank servant leaders or community helpers, diaper changing sets for people who ask ministries for help or fun activity bags for pediatric patients or foster children.
  6. Decorate collection bags. Sponsoring a church wide, ministry wide or neighborhood collection of food or clothing? Have little ones decorate paper grocery bags to give possible participants to serve as colorful reminders of the need for donations.
  7. ASL. Many babies learn a few signs before they can speak. Although their motor skills are still developing, preschoolers learn languages quickly. Start teaching them some ASL signs and even a church song or two in ASL.
  8. Cheering at Special Olympics. You don’t even have to sign up in advance. Check your local Special Olympics website for the time and location of their local games. Little ones love to cheer and Special Olympians love to be cheered as they compete.

Don’t wait until your kids are older to have them start serving others. Make it so much a part of their lives that they serve others naturally for their entire lives.

5 Habits for Raising Generous Kids

One of the basic tenants of Christianity is doing good works. The New Testament Christians weren’t know for just donating a portion of their excess to the poor and others….they shared everything they had – generously. That attitude is easier to have if you were raised in such a way that generosity is part of your identity.

Teaching your kids Bible stories like the Good Samaritan and the Widow’s Mite as well as the many scriptures about giving and serving will give them a strong foundation. There are some habits you can establish as a family that will also encourage your kids to have a generous heart and think of others before themselves.

  • Seasonal clothing. Kids grow overnight it seems. Often families have a habit of sorting through clothing at the end of every season. Get in the habit of donating the outgrown clothing to others. Have your children help launder and repair items so they are in top condition. Let them choose the ministry or charity to whom they donate. Want to up your game? Work together to earn the money to buy a couple of brand new seasonal items to donate as well.
  • Toys. Our family for several generations has had the rule that when new toys come into the home on birthdays and Christmas, old ones had to leave. Once again, have your children clean and repair toys. Let them choose the ministry or charity to which they donate the items (Check first as some only take new items.). I’m not a fan of making kids give up all of their birthday presents for charity, as I think it can backfire and cause resentment. There are always one or two gifts that are received that aren’t particularly popular with the recipient. Or they may get too many items. It can be one way to introduce the concept of tithing – giving a percentage of everything received back to God. Choosing one or two new items to donate from their birthday or Christmas “haul” may be a great way to encourage giving while not asking them to sacrifice every single present.
  • Food. If you’ve ever asked children to participate in a canned food drive, you are well aware you get boxes filled with canned beets and other unpopular foods! Why not encourage food sharing by letting your kids grow food and donate some or all of it? Many places that provide groceries to those who are food insecure don’t have access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Even a little will be welcomed. If you don’t have a yard, look into container gardening. You can grow quite a bit of produce in pots.
  • Time. It is a rare family that intentionally sets aside a certain number of hours that is the minimum time they will spend serving others each week. Doing so, however, can help your kids learn to be observant of the needs of others and encourage them to create margin in their schedules so they have the time to help those who need it. Find different ways to use that service time….sometimes serving your church and other times, the community or on a mission trip. Encourage your kids to suggest ways to use your service time each week….they may just surprise you!
  • Talents. Your kids may just be discovering and developing the gifts God gave them to serve others. They can still use them now in service – even if it is only helping someone with a similar gift work on a project. If you and your spouse don’t have a similar gift, find an adult in your church who would welcome the extra help and be willing to mentor your child who is similarly gifted by God.

Making these five things family habits that are repeated year after year for your kids’ entire childhood, will make them firmly engrained habits. They will become as much a part of their identity as their last name or your other family traditions. And what better family traditions and legacy to have?!

Your Kids’ Second Language Can Serve God (And Fun Ways to Start Language Learning at Home)

Ask any one who does ministry in multiple countries about their biggest need and their answer will often be “translator”. It’s not surprising that on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit gave the Apostles the ability to speak in languages they hadn’t studied. Because it happened on a major Jewish holiday, people from all over the world had traveled to Jerusalem. In order to understand the Gospel message, they needed to hear it in a language they could understand.

The internet is a wonderful way for ministries to help people all over the world. In order to do that though, they need resources available in multiple languages. And as much as translation apps have improved, they still aren’t accurate enough to trust with important ministry documents. Speakers and teachers who travel to other countries often need local translators.

There are other second language needs in ministry. One of the largest underserved people groups in the world is people who are deaf. The vast majority will never be able to read or hear the Gospel. The Church desperately needs people who can sign in one of the many sign languages of the world.

There are people groups in the world who still do not have access to the Bible. Special ministries look for people willing to move to these places, learn one of these obscure languages and then help translate the Bible into that language.

To be fluent enough to be helpful in translating for speakers and written materials, it is helpful if the language is learned in childhood. The younger the child is, the more easily they can make unique sounds and mimic appropriate accents. Young people also often find it easier to remember new words as they are already in that process in their first language.

Have children interested in learning other languages? Encourage it! God may have given your kids the talent and passion for easily learning other languages. There are many fun ways to help your kids explore other languages.

  • Children’s books. Our local public library has books for kids in Spanish, German, Hindi and other languages. You can also find them online.
  • Children’s programming. Did you know Sesame Street is produced in multiple languages? Many countries even have their own unique muppets. You can find episodes on cable or on places like YouTube. Many languages have other children’s programming and because the shows are made for kids, the language is often easier to understand.
  • Language learning apps, videos, etc. There are so many choices today. Some are free, while others require some financial outlay.
  • Local language classes and play groups. It’s common in large cities to find language classes and play groups for toddlers and older. Those taught by native speakers will help your kids speak more like someone born into a family that speaks that language.

Have fun with it. If your kids develop a passion for a particular language, encourage it. Don’t forget to explore other cultures while you are learning through music, art, food, travel and other ways to encourage their language learning. You may be raising kids who can help spread the Gospel faster because of their ability to translate.

Fun Service Project That Teaches Your Kids

When you think of serving others while sharing your faith as a family, you are probably focused on deciding on the type of project you will do or deciding which people most need your help. What would happen if you considered the ways your own kids could grow spiritually while working on the project, too?

If you keep in mind the ways you want your kids to grow while working on the project together, you will be more intentional about the conversations you have with them. You may change responsibilities or make other choices that will give your kids more practice in the areas of focus. You will spend time together reflecting after the project and helping your kids think of other things they can do to keep growing spiritually in those areas.

Here’s a fun service project that will give you a great example. Let’s say you want your kids to have more patience and perseverance and to be more responsible. You are also concerned about some sad or lonely neighbors who might love some pretty flowers, or providing fresh vegetables for people you know who are food insecure. What is a project you can do to help your kids and the people who need to be served and encouraged?

Why not grow some pretty flowers or vegetables? Have your kids help plan what to plant. Remember, certain plants take longer to germinate and produce the desired outcome for your service project. The longer it takes, the more patience and perseverance your kids will need to complete the project. It should be balanced though, with how quickly the people you want to serve need help. You may choose to do something more quickly and then do the growing project for a long term, sustainable solution.

Explain to your kids not only whom you have decided to help and the type of help they need, but what you want them to learn or practice during the project. Ask them to think of ways they can participate in the project that will help them learn or practice those skills. If they decide taking ownership of a portion of the project will help them grow, ask them how they will hold themselves accountable to follow through. Remind them, if they fail to do their part, the people who need the help may not get it. They may even want to decide what consequences they will receive if they don’t do what they promised.

Once everything is decided, it is crucial that you allow them to take on their responsibilities. Don’t do their part for them. Stick to the agreed upon accountability measures and consequences. Otherwise, your kids will learn they can remain immature spiritually and someone else will take care of things for them.

Have fun with the project. Encourage your kids. Point out when you see them grow. When the project is completed, take some time to reflect on everything that happened and the lessons they learned in the process. Discuss ways they can continue to grow and other ways your family can continue to serve these people or others who need help. It takes extra time and effort, but you will see more lasting spiritual growth in your kids when you do service projects while more intentionally focusing on your kids’ spiritual growth, too.