How Do You Teach Children the Bible?

Savannah shamed me last night. Lent is the time for confession, and I can see no way of avoiding this and there’s no point in trying to make myself look good on the blog. Last night, as I closed the curtains in the lounge, Savannah asked, ‘Is it dark?’

‘Yes,’ I replied.

‘We don’t do Advent any more,’ she said a little sadly. ‘Not even the blue Advent.’

I felt a pain in my heart. I mean gut-wrenching experience. The background to this story is that we bought an Advent Calendar that a scene of Bethlehem, a package of stickers, and a devotional. Each day of December had a scripture verse, a devotion (too long for a 3-year old, but that was OK), and a sticker to place on the background scene. The devotion itself was mostly really good, but two or three days of appalling (e.g., the census was on obeying good laws – WHAT?). What captured Savannah’s imagination was the stickers – she loves stickers. But, here she could only do one a day and had to put it in the proper place. It was a learning experience for her. Then we would read her ‘red Advent‘ book (as she called it) – it was just a very short, simple reading around themes of Advent (almost all VERY excellent).

Savannah fell very easily into the rhythm and loved it so much that each day she would say, ‘I want to do Advent,’ or ask is it time. Our response came, ‘When it’s dark.’ This became our own Advent Afternoon Liturgy. I have no idea why we said this rather than after dinner or when mummy gets home. I guess the theme of darkness seemed to fit well with Advent. [That’s the story of why darkness connects to Savannah with Advent.] The week after the 30 days finished, April and I desperately tried to find something in the same vein (church publishers have A LOT on Advent – not so much the rest of the 11 months of the year). Whatever we tried was never as good as what she had experienced. We do have a Lent version of ‘red Advent’ (it’s purple, which sometimes Savannah confuses with ‘blue’, hence the ‘blue Advent’) that we started, but got crazy with visitors and simply dropped.

Now, my daughter is asking to do an evening prayer practice, and we have nothing. Have any of you found a good way to teach children the bible, but even more so, what pattern do you set to do it? At the moment, we generally reserve it for bed where we sing (generally short songs with ‘And Can It Be’ mixed in with Bob the Builder and Balamory and Baa Baa Black Sheep), a bible story from the children’s bible, and then prayers. But, Savannah connects this more to her bedtime ritual than any family prayer time. And April and I want to expand it. Any suggestions?

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4 thoughts on “How Do You Teach Children the Bible?

  1. what do you mean when you say that “my daughter is asking to do an evening prayer practice, and we have nothing”?

    i think your daughter is awesome btw…

    what kind of prayers do you guys do? are they set out prayers like the our father or are they more personal? maybe you can help her to speak to Jesus from her heart: what she hopes for, how she’s feeling and why, what she might want to know about him…

    then if theres something specific that shes curious about then maybe you guys can do a topic research together??

  2. I will echo littlelamblx on Savannah’s awesomeness! And this story is yet another example of that – how wonderful that she misses devotional time – and how lucky for her that she has a Daddy who listens to her so carefully.

    In our family, we have a nightly “hymn time” – of course, it helps that Brian plays piano! And it is true that she sometimes requests that he play “Pink Panther”! But we always play a number of hymns – enough for us each to get to pick at least one – and I sing (and Hannah does, too, the ones she has learned, like “Guide My Feet” and “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” and “When the Storms of Life are Raging” and “Jesus Loves Me,” etc.)

    Sometimes Hannah doesn’t feel like singing, and she wants to bebop around the room, so we will dance or march to the hymn. And the only children’s books I have in the room are ones I can somehow connect to God and prayer time. She really likes the illustrated Nicene Creed book that we have, and will spontaneously recite bits of it randomly during the day.

    That said, I am still looking for age appropriate books based on the scriptures, which is not super easy. (As per my blog entry some months ago.) And I don’t have a lot of experience with non-musically based devotional time at home. I really want to change that, myself.

    One thing I could suggest – I had a great deal of success when I was a pastor with “children’s bulletins” – you can subscribe to them over the internet. But that might be better in a couple of years, since they have so many games and puzzles that might be a little advanced right now.

    But you can also find lots of free resources for Bible story coloring sheets. Maybe you could have a devotional coloring / art time, where you and Savannah sit at the kitchen table each night and color a Bible story, or you draw little stick figures re-enacting a bit of church history, and tell her the story. And then you could have a prayer together where you thank God for acting in that instance, and for continuing to act in our lives. And later that could grow into a time where you do puzzles and games based on a story each night, compliments of the children’s bulletins. What do you think?

  3. Don’t you worry too much about your daughter. As long as you raise her to be God fearing, there’s nothing to be bothered about. Regarding teaching her about the Bible, take it easy. There are a lot of Children’s bible stories available. Teaching her about the Bible is like forming a habit. Take everything one step at a time.

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