Life to Lessons: Think Aloud

Estimated Reading Time: 2 min. 23 sec.

Johnny’s mother is sitting with Johnny on the living room sofa.

She is holding a Bible in her lap, while Johnny looks at the picture on the printed Bible lesson in his hand. Johnny’s mother is trying to read the recommended verses out loud, but though her voice is full of enthusiasm and animation, Johnny keeps interrupting her with questions. “How did Adam pick names for all the animals? Why did God make fish before giraffes? Why did God make people with five fingers?”

Johnny’s mother, attempting to make it through the rest of the readings, shushes and dismisses his seemingly irrelevant questions. But as Johnny persistently repeats his questions, and his mother continues to ignore them and plow through the readings, both become more and more frustrated. What should Johnny’s mother do? Should she stop to answer Johnny’s random questions, or continue to struggle to keep him quiet while she reads the rest of the passages, or is there another possible solution?

Reading the Bible out loud should be more than an exercise in theatrical reading, and attentive listening. While there are times for children to sit and listen quietly, sharing the Bible with your child can be an excellent opportunity to allow them to “think aloud”. A tried and true strategy used by teachers around the world, the “Think Aloud” reading strategy creates a methodical and accessible approach to engage children in the content. To implement this strategy in your Bible reading lessons is simple! First, make sure you are stopping to think aloud as you read. Verbalizing your thoughts as you read out loud will give you the opportunity to guide your child’s understanding of the passage, to model types of questions which can be considered, and to keep your child engaged in the reading. Second, give your child the opportunity to verbalize their thoughts at appropriate times. Allowing them to do so will help you gauge what they are taking away from the passage, give you the opportunity to answer any questions they have (sometimes even questions which may not seem relevant, may be important to your child’s overall understanding of the passage), and give them important processing time that children need as they take in new material.

Think Aloud Example:

(modeling “Think Aloud” strategy): “Now the LORD said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country and from thy kindred”…that means family…“and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee”…Wow! Imagine! God told Abram to leave his home, his family, and to go somewhere else. He didn’t even tell him where his new home would be, but He said, “and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing”…God was saying, if Abram left his home and followed God, God was going to bless him greatly. 

Life to Lessons: Age Appropriate Reading

Estimated Reading Time: 1 min. 20 sec.

Let’s say you’re about to read from the book of Judges, and you just finished going through the story of Samson with your son and daughter. Flipping ahead you see in chapter 19 the story of the Levite’s Concubine. You knew it was coming, but you were hoping it wasn’t so soon! But now you have to make a decision as you look at the earnest, expectant faces of your innocent children looking up at you. Is now the time to share this graphic account with them? Would they even understand it?

This is a simple example of the type of dilemma you might run into as you read the Scripture to your little ones. We want to be honest and accurate with our children as we teach them about the Bible, but here is where we have to exercise a little Godly wisdom. Are your children, who have very little exposure to the evils of the world, really ready to hear such disturbing material? Also, what about those long lists of genealogies? You might ask, “Well, since it’s the Bible, doesn’t that mean its age appropriate?”.

We must take care not to use the Bible (God’s Word) as an excuse to destroy innocence or to ignore the youthful perspective of our children. We are trying to instill in their minds a deep admiration and love for God and the Bible. We should also be mindful that “there is a time for everything” (Eccl. 3), and “not everything is beneficial” (1 Cor. 10:23).

There will be a time when our children should be introduced to every section of Scripture, but it may be best to save the reading of some parts of the Bible until they are able to appreciate and understand the purpose of those sections. Let’s be careful to remember and appreciate the season of innocence as we read to those impressionable minds from God’s word.

Life to Lessons: Just Read it!

Estimated Reading Time: 1 min. 20 sec.

Ever feel overwhelmed by the amount of information you receive regarding ways to teach your children the Bible?

Many books, websites, blogs, and videos offer their advice, tips, and tools. There are many ideas out there, and many can be very useful and helpful. But don’t get caught up in the idea that having the perfect activities, or the best teaching style is going to be what trains your children to love the Bible.

It’s only been in the past few decades that people have had access to the activities, supplemental materials, and research in child psychology that is available today. Since many young people have grown up to love God and His inspired Word without these extra tools, they cannot not be the primary reason for it. So don’t over-complicate teaching God’s word.

Simply reading the Bible out loud to your children, just as it is written, is one of the best ways to ensure that your children are receiving God’s word in a wholesome way.

You don’t have to add a lot of activities or have access to the cutest Bible coloring pages. Just read the Bible as God wrote it. Reading it out loud to your children every day will help them build good habits of Bible study, and impress upon them that there is no substitution for God’s Book–which, quite honestly, is perfect just the way it is.

Life to Lessons: A Guided Approach to the Children’s Lessons

So, you printed the PDF, you’ve grabbed your kid to sit with you on the couch, you’ve got your Bible in hand, and you’re all set to begin the lesson. So what’s next?

Is this the part where you just start reading from the top of the printed Bible lesson, and begin plowing through the summary, the suggested readings, and the discussion questions, before you end with a quick review of the memory scripture? One brief session each Friday evening should be sufficient,  right? Well, not exactly.  The Children’s Bible Lessons have the potential to be so much more than a script that is read while your child sits and listens. 

Here’s a hint. Don’t just think of the Bible Lessons as  “lesson plans”. Lesson plans are detailed, organized scripts for teachers with every question, activity, and topic chosen keeping in mind the needs of the students, the goals of the lesson and the larger unit, and the specific allotment of time. The weekly Children’s Bible Lessons are designed to be different. These lessons are created to assist you, as a parent, as you review the major episodes in the Bible. 

The lessons are very flexible and must be tailored specifically for your children.  That being said, we want to share with you a general approach of one way the Children’s Lessons can be used. Again, this is not meant to be a script, but more of a guide for you as you plan specific lessons with your children.

1. Begin with the big picture in mind!

Think about your goals as a parent to teach your child about the Bible. Some questions to ask yourself might be…Why do I want to teach my children the Bible? What are some Biblical principles that would help me teach my child about God’s Word? What do I want them to gain from the experience of going through the Children’s Bible Lessons?

2. Make a long-term plan

Now that you have some main goals, determine how you will reach those goals long-term. You will need to answer questions like…When during the week will our family set aside time to go through the lessons? What time, each day, will we devote to Bible lessons? How much time can/should I commit to preparing for each lesson as a parent? How much of the Bible do we want to get through in a year, as a family? Will we do each lesson on a weekly cycle, or will we take more time on each lesson?

3. Build your lesson structure

While there is definitely something to be said for spontaneity and variety in lessons, having an organized layout for each lesson will give you a solid foundation for you to work with and develop to suit the needs of your children. Having structure in lessons is key in teaching children, and you will thank yourself later when your child adopts the lessons as habit. Children love structure as it gives them a comfortable place from where they can develop their mind. Less confusion, more peace…what more could a parent want?

4. Plan each lesson

Don’t get too overwhelmed just yet! When it comes to preparing for each lesson, simplicity is key. It doesn’t have to be a major, time-consuming project every time you sit down to prepare a lesson for your kids. Simply come up with one or two goals for the lesson. Ask yourself, what do I want my child to take away from this lesson? Use each topic overview that we provide to help you! You can choose one or two of the discussion questions, or perhaps pick one of the readings as your lesson focus. Just remember to keep the goal in mind!

5.  Add some fun!

The Bible is one of the most exciting, inspiring, adventure-filled pieces of literature in existence. Help bring it alive for your child! Try to read with passion, help your child act out the story, allow them to read aloud in character, or give them opportunities to describe in detail the scenes they are learning. You can also add related activities to each lesson topic such as crafts, songs, games, coloring pages, or other supplemental materials. Choose from our list of recommended activities and supplemental materials, or add your own! Remember, you create the experience for your child, so ask yourself, “What do I want my child to take away from it?”.

The key to teaching your children the Bible is being properly prepared. Keep in mind God’s principles for teaching your children. Here are two to get you started: 1. Teaching is a continuous process (Deuteronomy 6:6-7; 11:19). Teaching God’s way cannot be limited to a few scheduled lesson hours every week. It must be part of daily habits, example, and guidance. 2. Teaching the Bible should teach them to Love God. God is not boring, or impatient, or unenthusiastic about the way He teaches us. The way that parents teach their children the Bible can directly influence how children understand God. (Deuteronomy 11:1, 22-23). How does God want us to teach our children about Him? What is the impression we give our children about God when we talk about Him?