5 Fun Ways to Teach Your Toddler the Bible
Teaching our kids to hide His word in their hearts can seem overwhelming when first starting out. I remember not knowing where to start after we had our first child, I was overwhelmed. I wanted to do all of the things for her! I finally just picked a few things and through trial and error ( + many moments of feeling like I just wasn't getting through because trying to read for 10+ minutes to a 2.5-year-old just isn't going to happen - haha ). I have found that these are our kid's favorite ways to learn about the Bible.
1. Read it - Keep it short & direct.
Toddler Bibles are a great resource ( we use this one: *The Beginner's Bible ). We mainly use it as a tool to introduce the kids to stories in the Bible. The pictures are also great for engaging and for visual learners. Our kids stay focused and are able to grasp the concepts of the stories because this book keeps them short and to the point. We do our best to read this daily.
In addition to the toddler Bible, we also read the "big Bible" ( as our girls call it ). We do this to keep memory verses in context.. but ( again ) we keep it short & sweet - this is key for toddlers. Our girls don't usually engage much when we read from the "big Bible" - and that is ok! Remember the goal is to plant seeds right now. We also want to teach the importance of staying in context. I would not expect them to sit and listen to an entire chapter then talk about it in deep conversation... that is not a realistic expectation ( for our kids at least ). Also, we highlight the key scripture we are memorizing - the kids get overenthusiastic about this - it is hilarious. We try to do this weekly or every two weeks. Frequency varies depending on the verse we are memorizing and how memorization/application is going ( more on that later ).
Also, just noting, we also use the Bible App for Kids! It has great ratings and the girl's love it. Matt goes through it with them every evening.
2. LISTEN TO it - then Dance & Sing, loud & proud.
One of my absolute favorite resources for teaching our toddlers God's word is through music - specifically Seeds Family Worship. This is a fun and easy way for anyone to memorize the word, because every song is 100% scripture! To be honest, I've memorized more scripture from just listening to Seeds throughout the years than any other method. I find myself singing the songs even without the kids around. I'll shamelessly throw out the fact that I also jam out to these songs when the kids aren't even around ( I mean, why not? ).. The songs aren't cheesy, they are catchy and fun to dance to, just ask my girls! ( Ok - Matt & I dance to them, too - haha ). There are so many benefits to incorporating music into learning. There was a study done by Lutz Jäncke ( 2008 ) that stated "listening to music (even when we listen passively) activates many psychological functions (emotion, memory, attention, imagery and so on) located in a distributed, overlapping brain network". Not only does this help with memorizing scripture, but also teaches our kids about worship - double win!
3. Watch it - Grab popcorn & snuggle.
For times you just want to chill and relax this is a great way to still have fun and learn about the Bible with your kids. There are a ton of shows out there but our current favorite show is Owlegories! Once again, not cheesy, the animation doesn't feel amateur or dated or so bright you feel like you're at a circus or will go blind after one episode. Our 2 year old even enjoys a full episode every now and then! Not only is this gospel-centered but the kids get to learn about nature and science! Another double win. ( Available on Amazon Prime and *JellyTelly ).
4. Play it - Use the imagination & Get Creative
Do skits, grab a coloring sheet, do a fun lesson, or teach them fun hand motions. We just started doing skits with Emm ( Ade, at the age of 2 doesn't really get it quite yet but she sure enjoys playing with her sister! Photo below of them playing out Noah's Ark ). Coloring sheets are also fun, you can do a Pinterest search or create your own over in Canva. We created one over in this blog post about the Fruit of the Spirit if you'd like to take a peek. We really enjoyed these hand motions my sweet friend over at Taming the Frizz shared for teaching kids the 10 commandments.
5. Apply it: Walk your talk
Ok, so this may not be the most "fun" way to teach toddlers the Bible.. However, it is the most important. We can teach our children about the Bible all day all week, but if we don't teach them to apply it or live it... we are missing the point. Here are a few ways to do this:
1. Live by example. Yes, walk what you talk. Kids will - I repeat they will grow to see the disconnect if you don't. I'm not saying live a perfect life ( that is impossible ). I'm just saying even in the times of trial - teach them verses to cling to. If anxiety hits you - teach them where to run and pray together... chances are they've picked up on it anyway. Give it a name and teach them how to handle it. When we fall short and end up losing our temper learn to say sorry, teach forgiveness and the difference between walking in flesh vs. spirit.
2. Anchor to a memory verse through the day/week. Look for opportunities to bring in the memory verse - don't stop at the cute curated lesson / coloring sheet / quick debrief after Sunday School. If your verse is Ephesians 4:32 about being kind and your kids are fighting - that would be a great time to redirect them to the memory verse and talk about it. Another time would be when you notice in a playgroup one kid looks left out - go to your child, remind them of the verse and encourage them to go try and invite the other kid to play. If it is about the Fruit of the Spirit, ask them if they are reflecting God's [ insert characteristic of fruit ] and patiently recite the verse with them.
3. Look at discipline moments as disciple-ing moments. These are the moments where we should be teaching our children - not dismissing them due to our own pride. If we approach them with a, "How DARE you..." attitude and sending them off to their rooms immediately ( because, I mean, how dare they disobey... YOU. Right? Nooo - that attitude is all wrong. Just remember the grace He gives and time He takes to guide and direct, to convict.. and lets think for a minute before we are quick to pride and anger ). So, if we continuously dismiss our kids and try to focus only the behavior at hand rather than the heart of the situation ( aka what I call the "root" of the problem ) with redirecting or guiding - we have missed a very valuable teachable moment. Sure, we don't always have time to bend down and give a long talk. I get that! I do, and honestly, there are situations where children should also learn to trust their parents and have faith ( again - like we should have with the Father ). Just be on the lookout to not miss some valuable teaching moments, when the kids act up. You'd be surprised!
I hope these come as a help to those parents who feel overwhelmed and not sure where to start. You aren't alone - we have all been there. What are some fun ways you teach ( or taught ) your kids the Bible?
Jäncke, L. (2008). Music, memory and emotion. Journal of Biology, 7(6), 21. doi:10.1186/jbiol82
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