Tag Archives: Bible

Read-Pray-Connect: An Introduction

Does your life ever feel overwhelming? Do I even need to ask? I’m guessing the answer is yes!

Sometimes, it seems my life is an ever-growing list of expectations and things I should be doing – be a “good” Christian with a growing faith, participate in a fulfilling marriage, teach my children to be functional human beings, be a good friend, take care of my own physical and emotional health, serve other people, keep our house from descending into a pit of laundry and dishes… it’s never-ending.

And when it comes to passing faith down to my children, it seems no different… I’m supposed to help them memorize Scripture, go to church, do family devotions, volunteer at church, play worship music, take them to Sunday school, do service projects…

I just don’t know how to do it all! And I’m not sure that we should be doing it all.

I want to get back to the basics of faith-building, and I want to invite you to join me! Rather than having a list of expectations that can never possibly be fulfilled, I want to choose just a few simple things to do consistently to focus on Christ in our home.

Today I’m beginning a monthly challenge to simplify our daily faith-building to just three things:

  1. Read the Bible.
  2. Pray for each other.
  3. Connect together.

Read Pray Connect - a monthly challenge

How It Works:

You commit to trying to read the Bible, pray, and connect with the young people in your life each day. That’s it.

No other expectations, except as they fit into that framework. (Read below to see how church fits in, since I do believe participating in church is important!)

It’s not that there’s anything wrong with all those other faith-building things… it’s just that I’d rather do a few things well, rather than try to do 10 things, and not do any of them because it’s too overwhelming.

Each month I’ll share a post about Read-Pray-Connect… in the future, I’ll post before the 1st of the month (not nine days into the month, like today!) See? Life is overwhelming!

You’ll be able to download a calendar for the month with spots to check off Read-Pray-Connect each day. There will also be a reminder image that you can use as a phone lock screen, or print out and tuck in your planner, refrigerator, or car dashboard.

 

What do these three terms mean?

Read = Read the Bible aloud with your children/teenagers.

You can choose a children’s Bible story book or the “real” Bible.  You can read one verse or an entire chapter… whatever works for you! You can even listen to an audio Bible together.

The only stipulations…

  • do the Bible reading with your children (not just a personal devotion time for you).
  • read aloud. There is value, even for adults and teenagers, in reading aloud together. If you really, really, really can’t do it aloud, you could read your own Bible silently side-by-side your older children/teenagers.

Pray = Pray for each other, together, aloud.

You can say the whole prayer, or your young people can pray too. (If you are saying the whole prayer, go ahead and pray for your own needs for yourself).

The length or time of day doesn’t matter. This can be a short two-sentence prayer before dinner, or a lengthy prayer time at the beginning of the day.

You can ask your children for requests, pray a general blessing over them, or use a prayer guide for a new topic each day. Here’s a free printable How to Pray for Your Children calendar from Inspired to Action, if you want some ideas.

Alternatively, The Power of a Praying Parent by Stormie Omartian has daily prayers on 31 different topics, and the prayers are already all typed and ready to go, so you don’t even really have to think about it… just read the prayers. (There are even fill-in-the-blank spots for your child’s name.)

It may feel awkward praying aloud… it certainly feels that way to me sometimes. I encourage you to just go for it!

I find that praying before meals or at bedtime seems more natural/easier for me than just saying, “Okay, we’re going to pray now!!” I can take the mealtime prayer, thank God for our food, then pray for a few moments for each member of my family, and it doesn’t seem so weird. So you might try one of those time slots first.

november on refrigerator

Connect = Connect together with your children in a meaningful way.

Sometimes I get to the end of the day and realize that while I spent much of my day with my children, we didn’t really connect much. The day can fill up with activities, running errands, doing chores, or watching TV, and there’s not much connection time.

I want to spend at least a few minutes every day “connecting” with my kids in some meaningful way… but I know it doesn’t need to be complicated, doesn’t necessarily require any advanced planning, and doesn’t have to cost money or take up much time.

Here are some ideas for ways to connect:

  • Read a book together.
  • Play a board game.
  • Sit down together and have an after-school snack.
  • Print out a “grown-up coloring page” and color alongside your child.
  • Bake brownies together.
  • Go on a walk around the neighborhood after dinner.
  • Linger for awhile longer than usual at bedtime, talking, scratching backs, or reading stories.
  • Enjoy a family movie night together (though I do encourage you not just to default to TV/movie time as your “connecting time” every day… it’s so tempting!)
  • Go to church together.
  • Play catch with a football or baseball.
  • Respond with “yes” when your child says, “Will you play with me?”
  • Get out art supplies and make a craft together.
  • Take your teenager out for a coffee shop drink or a smoothie.
  • Participate in a service project together.
  • Attend an event together, whether a church activity, library storytime, or an art show at school. Stick with your child and participate together.
  • Go play at the park together.
  • As you are doing jobs around the house, teach your child to do the chore with you.
  • Eat a leisurely dinner together as a family.
  • Tell your child, “I’d like to spend some time with you tonight. What would you like to do?”

If you have more than one child, your connection time may happen individually (like reading a book with one particular child) or it may happen as a family (like playing Frisbee in the backyard all together.) If you are married, your spouse can certainly join you, or not… anything works!

November lock screen on phone

Questions?

What if my child refuses to participate in Read-Pray-Connect? 

If you’re feeling discouraged because your child refuses to read the Bible with you or doesn’t want to spend time together… I’m so sorry.

I want you to know that it’s normal for children and teenagers to feel contrary to whatever we want to do! Also, sometimes when we set out to do God’s purposes, and encounter resistance, there are spiritual forces at play, trying to prevent us from serving Him.

If you’re encountering trouble with your children participating, here are some ideas:

  • Keep going. Don’t be swayed just because one day he didn’t want to play with you, or because your baby screamed through your whole bedtime prayer yesterday. I encourage you to try to Read-Pray-Connect every day for a month. I wouldn’t be surprised if by the end of the month, it’s much easier as you’ve established a habit.
  • Explain your motivation to your child. Share why you want to Read-Pray-Connect with them. Explain your heart.
  • If your older child is not interested in Jesus, emphasize the “connect” part first. You may just want to focus on “connecting” before trying to do the other two steps.
  • Pray for your child silently. If your child is resistant to being prayed for, just commit to praying each day on your own.

What if I don’t Read-Pray-Connect every day?

Of course, there are going to be unusual days where Read-Pray-Connect doesn’t happen… that’s totally normal. Don’t be discouraged! Just cross that day off the calendar and start fresh the next day.

I do want to encourage you to be creative, though!

  • On a business trip? “Connect” via FaceTime or send a greeting card in the mail (or by email).
  • Busy day of soccer practice and piano lessons? Pray together as you drive in the car.
  • House is a mess and you can’t find your kids’ Bible? Tell your own version of the story of David and Goliath instead.
  • Does your teenager have tons of homework to do? Make some hot cocoa for both of you and spread out on the dining room table together… while he does his homework, you can work on a project too. Pray for him silently as he works.

What if I’m an adult mentor, not a parent?

If you’re an adult mentor – perhaps a youth ministry volunteer, a grandparent, or a family friend – I encourage you to adapt Read-Pray-Connect for your own situation!

I suggest that you commit to Read-Pray-Connect only on days when you see your young person.

  • Are you a teacher at a Christian school? Commit to read the Bible, pray as a class, and connect personally with some of your students… but only on school days. Obviously, it would be too tricky to do this on the weekends.
  • Do you lead a weekly small group for high school girls? Commit to Read-Pray-Connect just on Wednesday nights when you get together. Perhaps it seems obvious that you would do these three things at your small group meeting, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there are times when small groups get together and don’t read the Bible or pray… so make a commitment to do it every time!
  • Are you a grandparent? Whenever you see your grandchildren, make an effort to Read-Pray-Connect with them. You could read the Bible together during an after-school snack, play a game together to connect, and then pray for them before they leave your home.

November RPC goals

This seems pretty basic… I already do these 3 things every day.

Great! Perhaps, then, this challenge just isn’t for you.

Or, perhaps, you’d like to grow in these particular areas.

For example, in our family, we do actually pray before practically every meal, and usually that includes at least a brief mention of each other’s needs. So, technically, I’m already doing “Pray” each day. But, I realized I’d like to either download that prayer calendar or get the Power of a Praying Parent book, and be more specific with my prayers beyond just, “Help Elle obey and help Ava sleep well today!” 🙂

Perhaps you already read the Bible together each day, but you’d like to read it more systematically (like a Bible in a Year plan), or you want to not just read it but discuss it afterwards.

Or, maybe you play lots with your kids (Connect), but you want to read aloud more together, too.

As you can see in the photo above, at the top of each Read-Pray-Connect calendar, there will always be a little section to record your goals for the month, so if you want to “increase” your goal, you can write it down there (if you print it out).

Didn’t you just spend the past month telling us we need to do global missions with our kids? How does that fit in? And what about all the other things… memorizing Scripture, going to church, family devotions, singing worship music, taking them to youth group or Sunday school, doing service projects… that I’m supposed to do with my kids?

I did! In fact, writing the Global Missions with Kids series is one of the things that inspired me to simplify part of my Faith Passed Down message. Because, yes, I think Global Missions with Kids is absolutely vital!

But, I don’t think it’s going to happen if we’re frazzled or have exceptionally high expectations of our family faith-building. Plus, the concepts of “Read-Pray-Connect” are pretty foundational before we can do any of the other stuff.

As far as Global Missions with Kids, I encourage you to see how that fits into Read-Pray-Connect. As you read a Bible story, talk about how it shows God’s love for the world. Or as you pray for your own family, pray for your sponsored children as well. As you consider a connect time for the weekend, keep in mind a project like packing an Operation Christmas Child box.

As for the other activities, first, see how they fit in to Read-Pray-Connect. For example, going to church can easily be a “connect” time as a family for that day. 

Then, consider whether those activities stress you out or not, and if they’re worth trying to continue.

For a long time, I had this vision of doing a weekly family worship night after dinner, with songs, Bible reading, prayers, and activities. However, it rarely happened. It just didn’t work with our schedule and it wasn’t very meaningful when we did do it.

Instead, I switched to just doing a morning Bible reading with my kids (Morning Time). We can do it anytime during the morning, rather than trying to squeeze it into a small, stressful window between dinner and bedtime.

If you have too high of expectations, they’re never going to happen, and you’ll just feel discouraged. If you’re having trouble getting all the faith-building time you hoped, I encourage you to step back and focus on Read-Pray-Connect for a month or two, then see how you can fit in some of those other activities.

Read-Pray-Connect Downloads

Nov RPC calendar

Click here to download the November Read Pray Connect calendar.

Click on the image below to download a lock screen for your phone or print and tuck into your planner, stick on your refrigerator, set on your car dashboard...

November lock screen

Will you join me to Read-Pray-Connect?

Leave a comment below if you want to participate.

Also, I would love to see photos of you participating in Read-Pray-Connect. Share a photo of you reading the Bible with your kids, praying, or connecting in a fun way and use #ReadPrayConnect. Next month I’ll share your photo in the December Read-Pray-Connect post!

My Favorite Bible Translations for Kids and Teenagers

Many editions of the Bible exist in English. Here's a rundown of the best Bible translations for kids and teenagers. A Little Explanation of Bible Translations

Because the Bible was originally written in Hebrew and Greek (with a little Aramaic, too), our English Bibles are translations of these original languages. Over the years, many different people and groups have translated the Bible into English from incredibly accurate Hebrew and Greek texts.

Some translation efforts have focused on writing a very literal and accurate word-for-word translation. Some of them have focused on making the Bible very readable in our modern language by paraphrasing the words. Many translations fall somewhere in the middle, aiming for a balance of accuracy and readability – we usually call these “dynamic” translations (or “thought-for-thought.”)

Note: This is not a sponsored post – I’m just a fan of these particular Bible translations! 

(Don’t see a particular translation above? Click here for a chart including even more versions.)

There are many English versions of the Bible today – Bible Gateway lists over 50! I believe that each of these versions can be read as the Word of God and each is “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).

You probably have already chosen a couple versions of the Bible for your own personal use. The New International Version is very common, or you may like the extra-readability of the New Living Translation (my current favorite) or the Message.

Many people enjoy the English Standard Version, a relatively new edition that is highly focused on accuracy, while still being readable. On the other hand, you may enjoy the New American Bible or New Revised Standard Version.

Here is an article that explains more about Bible translations, if you are interested.

Many editions of the Bible exist in English. Here's a rundown of the best Bible translations for kids and teenagers.Bible Translations for Kids

My goal when choosing a Bible translation for any age is to select one that accurately conveys God’s Word while enabling a person to understand and enthusiastically read His Word.

Because of their different reading levels and different levels of understanding, children, especially young readers, would probably prefer to read a different version than adults.

For example, many people enjoy reading The Message paraphrase of the Bible, written by Eugene Peterson. It puts the Bible into very modern language, easy for adults to understand in a new way.

However, I actually don’t think The Message is very appropriate for children, because it’s filled with vague, abstract language. Until age 12, children have a hard time thinking abstractly, and The Message could be very confusing to a young child.

On the flip side, some of the more literal, high-on-accuracy versions like the English Standard Version may contain complex words that are difficult for a young child to understand.

Many editions of the Bible exist in English. Here's a rundown of the best Bible translations for kids and teenagers.

My Favorite Bible Translation for Children

The New International Reader’s Version (NIrV) is my favorite translation for children. The writers of the NIrV took the popular New International Version and made it even easier to read by using shorter words and easy-to-understand language. The result is a Bible translation that reads at about a 3rd grade level.

Most children begin listening to Bible storybooks, where an author has taken the actual words of Scripture and written a shorter, easier-to-read version of the story.

The New International Reader’s Version is a great stepping stone from this point into a “real” Bible. It borders on the “paraphrase” category, where it’s not a perfect word-for-word translation of Scripture, but it is closer to an exact translation of the Hebrew and Greek text than just a Bible storybook.

We’ve chosen to use the NIrV for our kids’ first “real” Bibles.

Here is the NIrV Adventure Bible that we own, but these other options look good too: a kids’ study Bible, this Discover’s Bible that appears to have illustrations of some Bible stories according to this page (but it’s cheaper on the first link), and finally another study Bible.

On a side note, the NIrV is also a great version for teenagers and adults whose first language is not English!

Many editions of the Bible exist in English. Here's a rundown of the best Bible translations for kids and teenagers.My Favorite Bible Translations for Teenagers

As a child reaches the “tween” years, around 5th or 6th grade, I would imagine they’ll be ready for a new, more grown-up translation.

There are a few options:

I would consider the New International Version or the New Living Translation for these ages. Between the two, the NIV is more focused on word-for-word accuracy, while the NLT is more focused on readability and usually sounds more “beautiful.” (I am so touched by the lovely phrasing of some NLT passages).

The English Standard Version is also great for advanced readers as they hit their later teen years. Many of my pastor friends prefer the ESV as an accurate, precise version of the Bible, while still being pretty readable.

Here's a rundown of the best Bible translations for children and teenagers.

What about memorizing Scripture?

One question you may have is: Shouldn’t we keep reading the same translation throughout their lives so they can have verses accurately memorized?

Personally, I think the answer is: No, I don’t think you need to worry about this. Here’s my personal story to illustrate why:

I memorized a lot of Bible verses as a child. I had weekly memory verses throughout my years at a Lutheran elementary school, and attended Christian camps where we memorized Scripture too.  Nearly every verse was memorized in the New International Version, and I still remember them today.

But guess what! The NIV was updated a few years ago. So now when I open up a current edition of the NIV Bible, the wording is a little different than the verses I learned as a child. Meanwhile, for the past several years, I’ve been using an NLT Bible out of personal preference, so the verses are a little different anyway.

Choose the translation that works for your children to memorize right now, without worrying about the future. We memorize mostly in NIrV at the moment with our kids. It’s not worth keeping a heavy attachment to one translation simply for the sake of memorizing Scripture.

One possible exception, though: You may choose to have them “grow into” the passages they are memorizing. It is so much easier to memorize as a child than as an adult. So, I could see you encouraging your kids to memorize a Bible verse in say, the ESV or the King James Version, which is not fully understandable to little kids.

But, as they get older, the verse will take on more meaning, years after it’s already memorized. It’s kind of the same idea as reading Shakespeare to your kids, even though it’s likely over their heads. I personally haven’t done that, but if that’s your motivation, go for it!

Many editions of the Bible exist in English. Here's a rundown of the best Bible translations for kids and teenagers.

**What Bible translation(s) do you use personally? With your kids? At church?

 

all about God’s Little Explorers for preschoolers

In the past few months, I’ve been having so much fun with my three-year old daughter, Elle. We’ve set up a tent and eaten pretend s’mores, gone on nature walks, made crafts, baked an apple pie, acted out the 10 plagues of Egypt, made flowers and butterflies out of fruit, and read lots and lots of books.

Because I’m such an awesome mother? Not quite!! Left to my own devices, our playtime would probably be pretty boring.

Tips and tricks for God's Little Explorers, a free Christian homeschool preschool curriculum from Motherhood on a Dime. Includes a free hymn book download!

This is all thanks to a little gem of a program  that I found a few months ago for 3 and 4-year olds called “God’s Little Explorers.” Though it’s called a homeschool curriculum, I think it works for all parents to use, not just homeschool parents – I’ll explain this more below. We’ve been using it for a couple months and I am delighted by the quality time, learning, and focus on the Bible that has come out of it!

Today’s post is an extra-full one, chock-full of info about God’s Little Explorers. I’d like to…

  • introduce God’s Little Explorers, in case you’re not familiar with it
  • tell you why I love this curriculum so much
  • provide ideas for how to adapt if you’re not a homeschool parent
  • share some tips and tricks for doing God’s Little Explorers
  • offer some encouragement to not seek perfection in God’s Little Explorers

Don’t have any young children in your life? This post probably won’t apply much to you… but you might enjoy this “Day in the Life” of a parent of teenagers post that I read this week – the author has some good tips!

Tips and tricks for God's Little Explorers, a free Christian homeschool preschool curriculum from Motherhood on a Dime. Includes a free hymn book download!

WHAT IS GOD’S LITTLE EXPLORERS?

free preschool curriculum written by Stacie Nelson from MotherhoodOnADime.com. There is also an option to purchase an easier-to-print version of the curriculum for $17 (all proceeds go to support a charity in India, which is nice!)

There are 28 weeks, covering the 26 letters of the alphabet (plus a couple review weeks, too). Each letter corresponds to a Bible story, and the Bible stories go in chronological order, which I love. Along with the Bible story, there is a theme for each week, offering fun activities.

For example, week 2 is the story of Creation (G is for Garden). We read the story of Creation and made a Creation book, then did some activities connected to gardens and flowers. They all sync together since the Creation story involves the Garden of Eden. Then the fall of man (A is for Apple), then Noah’s Ark, (Z is for Zoo), and so on.

Tips and tricks for God's Little Explorers, a free Christian homeschool preschool curriculum from Motherhood on a Dime. Includes a free hymn book download!
This week we’re learning about “Q is for Quail,” with the parting of the Red Sea and God’s provision of manna and quail for the Israelites.

The curriculum is designed to be done for about 45 minutes a day, four days a week. We aim for this, but sometimes don’t do it four days a week, in which case we might just skip activities, or might spend two weeks on one lesson.

Keep reading for adaptations for parents who do NOT stay home/homeschool during the day!

Please note – I’m not connected to God’s Little Explorers in any way – just a fan!

Tips and tricks for God's Little Explorers, a free Christian homeschool preschool curriculum from Motherhood on a Dime. Includes a free hymn book download!

10 REASONS I LOVE GOD’S LITTLE EXPLORERS:

1. It supports intentional time with my 3-year old. Without an intentional plan, it would be easy for her to play for quite awhile by herself while I do chores or my own projects. While that’s okay occasionally, I also want to enjoy some quality time with her every day. (We try to do God’s Little Explorers while my younger daughter takes a morning nap.)

2. We are reading through Bible stories chronologically and “studying” them together. In the past, it has been tricky for us to read through her children’s Bible systematically. Even if we start with Creation, we get sidetracked after a few days, or lose the bookmark, or she requests one of Jesus’ miracles, or whatever, and there are stories we’ve never read. Plus, even if we do read systematically, we’re just spending a couple minutes a day reading the Bible storybook.

Going through God’s Little Explorers has helped us focus on these stories in an age-appropriate way. Elle is learning about faith heroes like Noah, Abraham, and Moses. She can identify a picture of Joseph in his colorful coat. I love this, and it’s totally thanks to God teaching us through God’s Little Explorers!

3. It’s flexible and easy to customize. I have seen other kids’ programs out there that are expensive or the structure is very rigid. I find God’s Little Explorers to be a great balance of providing ideas, but not being overwhelming. I don’t feel like a failure if we skip a few activities (in fact, the author encourages adapting as needed!)

And I don’t find that there is a lot of prep work or materials to prepare. We are already reading books together – they may as well fit with the theme! And we are already looking for something to play… it may as well be a fun activity that teaches the Bible or just life in general!

4. It’s free! (or VERY reasonable for the easier-to-print version)

Tips and tricks for God's Little Explorers, a free Christian homeschool preschool curriculum from Motherhood on a Dime. Includes a free hymn book download!
an art project from the story of Abraham – T is for Tent

5. It encourages us to do creative, fun activities together. I totally believe in giving kids some free time to play however they want. However, it’s also fun to do some new activities, rather than defaulting to our typical blocks-Legos-princesses-coloring routine.

6. The themes and activities are not a stretch. The themes (i.e. colors) and Bible stories (i.e. Joseph and the coat of many colors) really connect well. Everything makes sense and is very thoughtful. There is a strong correlation between each Bible story and the theme for the week. Also, the themes are pretty typical of preschoolers: food, water, camping, colors, desert, birds, etc. These are nice concrete things for kids to explore.

7. It uses supplies I already have or can access easily. 

8. The activities are simple and hardly require any preparation – often the only prep I’ve done ahead of time is printing off the lesson and perhaps reserving some books at the library (which is optional). For some activities, it might be helpful to pick up a few extra supplies at the store or prepare the components of a craft ahead of time.

Tips and tricks for God's Little Explorers, a free Christian homeschool preschool curriculum from Motherhood on a Dime. Includes a free hymn book download!
hard at work studying the 10 plagues – also, just want to show our “real life,” with dollhouse out, unmade bed… we are not striving for perfection here! 🙂

9. There are sections for life skills and a service project. We don’t do these every week, but we have a few times. One of my favorite life skills activities was getting out different seasonal clothing and asking Elle to choose what she would wear when it’s cold, or raining, or hot.

10. The activities are really simple. This is normal, old-fashioned fun with my kid. There is nothing glamorous or picture-perfect about these activities. We’re not doing anything super high-tech or ultra-educational… just playing and helping her learn a little!

Tips and tricks for God's Little Explorers, a free Christian homeschool preschool curriculum from Motherhood on a Dime. Includes a free hymn book download!

ADAPTATIONS IF YOU’RE NOT A HOMESCHOOLING PARENT

I stay home with my girls during the day, and my daughter doesn’t go to preschool, so we typically do God’s Little Explorers on weekday mornings while my husband is at work.

BUT, I think you can do it even if your child typically is in preschool or day care!

I would guess most Christian parents are looking for quality time and a simple way to teach the Bible to their children, and God’s Little Explorers offers that!

While it will certainly take some intentionality, I think you could easily find a couple hours a week to do this with your preschool-age child, even if you are not home during the day with your child.

Tips and tricks for God's Little Explorers, a free Christian homeschool preschool curriculum from Motherhood on a Dime. Includes a free hymn book download!
making strawberry butterflies for “I is for Insect”

Activities to Choose

First, when you look at the lesson (click here to see week one for an example), realize that if you are trying to do this as a working parent or if your child is at outside-the-home preschool all day, you probably are not going to get everything done (simply because of the amount of time in the day). That is okay! (We skip quite a bit, too, even though we are home).

If your goal is quality, spiritual time with your kids, I would focus on the sections of the curriculum labeled: Bible, Theme, and Life Skills. Then if you have extra time, you could choose a fun activity from ABC & 123 and from the Book Bag section.

For time sake, I would recommend skipping the “extra” activities in the right sidebar, like the musician and artist studies. If your child is already going to an academic preschool, you also could just skip the letter/number/shape activities, unless one of them looks really fun.

Also, the Learning Bags ideas are totally lovely, and might afford you some time to make dinner or something, because they are mostly for independent play. But, they do require some extra materials and preparation. So that is your choice. (So far, we have skipped making these).

Tips and tricks for God's Little Explorers, a free Christian homeschool preschool curriculum from Motherhood on a Dime. Includes a free hymn book download!

When to Do God’s Little Explorers

Then, consider when you would have some time to devote to doing God’s Little Explorers with your child. Here are some possibilities:

late afternoon

Do you have any time in the evening after preschool? Perhaps there is a window of time in the late afternoon before dinner, or between dinner and bedtime? I could see a family coming home from preschool around 3-4 pm, having a snack (could even be a suggested snack from the curriculum), then doing 30-60 minutes of reading, play, and crafts from God’s Little Explorers, then preparing dinner.

bedtime

Or, you could read the Bible story and sing the song at the dinner table, then do one or two of the activities before getting ready for bed. There are usually several suggested books to read together – these could become bathtime or bedtime stories.

weekends

Or, do you have any time over the weekend? Maybe Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon? Even just two solid blocks of time would be enough to get much of the God’s Little Explorer lesson completed, and then during the week, you could still read the Bible story, sing the songs, and read books as part of your normal routine.

Tips and tricks for God's Little Explorers, a free Christian homeschool preschool curriculum from Motherhood on a Dime. Includes a free hymn book download!
our treasure map – each week we add a new letter to remind us of our studies

adult mentors

Adult Mentors – are you a grandparent or another adult mentor to a preschool-age child? You could certainly use this curriculum with the child! Do you see them once a week?

Just pick and choose your favorite activities to do together for an hour or so!

at church

There is a special edition of the curriculum that is a little more expensive ($35 right now) that allows you to use it for a group…  I think this would be usable as a Sunday school curriculum with a little tweaking!

Tips and tricks for God's Little Explorers, a free Christian homeschool preschool curriculum from Motherhood on a Dime. Includes a free hymn book download!

TIPS AND TRICKS FOR GOD’S LITTLE EXPLORERS

As I’ve gotten started with God’s Little Explorers, here are some tips that have made things easier for me.

How to Prepare at the Start of the Program:

  1. Print out the lessons. You can access them for free through this link, but it is pretty time-consuming to open each individual file. If you purchase the curriculum, I believe it downloads as one file, which would be much faster!
  2. Gather the lessons together in a 3 ring binder or accordian folder. I keep them in a 3 ring binder, with a post-it note stuck to the current lesson so I can find it easily. HELPFUL HINT –> if you hole-punch the first page of each lesson plan on the “wrong” side (the right side of the page), it will allow you to see a spread of the entire lesson plan for the week at one glance (see example in photo above).
  3. Gather your supplies. During week 1, you will put together an Explorer’s Kit (a box to hold crayons, scissors, glue, etc.) and a Treasure Box (a box to collect completed artwork and pages). There’s also a time to create a treasure map for the wall to remember each letter each week.
  4.  Optional:
    1. You could go through each lesson and highlight any special supplies needed, or books to put on hold at the library. (I keep meaning to do this, but we haven’t done it yet.)
    2. Make a schedule for the year. If you start the lessons in the next couple weeks (September), and do one lesson a week, you’ll get to the story of Jesus’ birth around Christmastime, which would be fun. We started in June but have not done a lesson every single week… up until now I just was moving on to the next lesson as we felt like it. I just recently made a schedule to take us through next spring.

Tips and tricks for God's Little Explorers, a free Christian homeschool preschool curriculum from Motherhood on a Dime. Includes a free hymn book download!

Preparation for Each Lesson:

Like I mentioned, sometimes I do zero prep for the week ahead, but of course, it works out a little better if I do.

Usually the night before, I look at the printed lesson and circle a few of the activities I want to do the next day. That might just be all the Day One activities, but sometimes we are missing a supply for a Day One activity, or I’d just prefer to do a different one. Circling the activity makes it easy to reference in the moment. Then after we’re done, I cross it off so by the end of the week, I can see what we have and have not done yet.

I put together a hymn book of all the recommended hymns so those words are accessible to us. You can print the hymn book here: Hymn Book – God’s Explorers  We usually sing during our Morning Time.

Stacie Nelson (the author of God’s Little Explorers) has a blog post for each lesson, with photos. I try to look at this blog post for inspiration, and there are easy links to the directions for the activities. Sometimes I look through it with my daughter, and she helps decide which crafts we should do, based on the pictures. For example, this week looking at the picture of eggs in a nest inspired us to make that for snack.

Ideally, I’d look ahead a week or two and put books on hold at the library for a week or two ahead. In the beginning, I was doing this a lot. Lately, I’ve been behind the curve, which is unfortunate, because it is really nice to have those books at the right time.

Tips and tricks for God's Little Explorers, a free Christian homeschool preschool curriculum from Motherhood on a Dime. Includes a free hymn book download!

Imperfection is okay!

Finally, I just want to encourage you that sometimes it’s better to just start doing something, like God’s Little Explorers (or any activity with your child), rather than seeking perfection.

In my house, if I looked for the perfect moment, where I could 100% focus on my daughter, and the house was clean, and I had done all the prep work for the lesson ahead of time, and all the books were checked out from the library… we would never actually do God’s Little Explorers.

So I’ve been trying to just do it anyway. I try to put the baby down for her morning nap, then immediately start God’s Little Explorers… even if there are breakfast dishes on the counter, or I’m still in my PJs, or I’d really rather use the computer for a few minutes while Elle played by herself. (Of course, there’s still a day or two every week when I give in to my own desires to tidy up or get ready right away).

This is the only way that God’s Little Explorers is actually happening – my choosing to do it even though it’s not perfect.

Sometimes I’m throwing together the next activity while Elle finishes up the current one.

Sometimes we don’t have all the right supplies so we have to improvise.

Sometimes I’m looking at the lesson for the first time with Elle next to me (like I mentioned, looking at the pictures online with her is kind of helpful because then she can choose what we do!)

A good reminder that sometimes the only way good things happen is by my choosing to do it even though it's not going to be perfect.

The other day I snapped this picture to show what the rest of the house looked like while we did the 10 Plagues activity. It was a mess! (Though I do promise that is clean laundry, at least!)

And frankly, after we finished doing God’s Explorers for the morning, I felt like I spent the entire afternoon cleaning up the house (and was pretty cranky by the end of it!)

But when Elle requested “the new Moses story” as her bedtime story a couple nights later, and was so excited to read about God’s power and the plagues, I felt like it was worth it.

Tips and tricks for God's Little Explorers, a free Christian homeschool preschool curriculum from Motherhood on a Dime. Includes a free hymn book download!

I hope you will check out God’s Little Explorers! Please comment below if you have questions or thoughts!

**What are your favorite activities to do with your preschooler? Leave a comment below.

You’ll find me linking up with Mom 2 Mom Monday, Mama Moments Mondays, and  Modest Mondays.

Times and Places to Read the Bible with Kids

 

Do you want to read the Bible with your children, but can't find the time? This list of ideas from Faith Passed Down for times and places to read the Bible offers many ideas for making it happen!In Deuteronomy 6, Moses talks to the people of Israel about sharing God’s commands with their children. He says: “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deuteronomy 6:7). 

In other words, throughout your day and in different places!

Here are some ideas for times and places to read and discuss God’s Word.

(Please note: although it would be wonderful to do all of these, I certainly don’t read the Bible with my family during all of these times. For starters, I would aim for once or twice during your day.)

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first thing in the morning – Do you have an early riser in your family? Have her join you on the couch while you read the Bible together… and while you enjoy a cup of coffee to perk up, too! 🙂

at breakfast

in the car on the way to school – Keep a Bible in your car, and while you drive, have your passengers take turns reading aloud. You could also listen to an audio version of the Bible through your car stereo system.

in the doctor’s office waiting room. I am always excited for a chance to read a magazine at the doctor’s, and usually am pretty disappointed – somehow reading recipes or entertainment news from last December isn’t so fun in the middle of summer! I am sure the Bible would be much more rewarding. 🙂

in line at the grocery store – If you have a Bible app on your phone, you can share a verse or two while you wait at the grocery store (or anywhere else, for that matter –  the gas station, the bank, Target, or waiting for public transportation).

at lunch 

during afternoon rest time

in the car on the way home from school

Do you want to read the Bible with your children, but can't find the time? This list of ideas from Faith Passed Down for times and places to read the Bible offers many ideas for making it happen!

in the car while waiting for after-school activities to begin – If you ever have downtime while waiting for your next activity – maybe picking up a child in the carpool line, or waiting for 10 minutes until soccer practice begins… then keep a Bible in your car (or get out your phone) and read for a few minutes together.

while a sibling does after-school activities – Do you find yourselves sitting on the sidelines of soccer practice with one child while his big brother practices? Pull out a Bible app on your phone and share a brief story or memory verse with the child.

during afternoon snack time/tea time – in my dream world, every day we would enjoy an afternoon tea time with home-baked cookies and vegetable sticks spread out on fine china and doilies. We would sit and read Scripture and poetry together and my children would proclaim what a perfect mother I am. 😉 In reality… most days I throw some goldfish crackers into a plastic bowl and hand it to my daughter while I sneak a bite of raw cookie dough myself. But  I can dream, right? In any case, I am sure a Bible story goes just as well with goldfish crackers as it does a perfect tea time spread. 🙂

during homework/read-aloud time – Many children have a designated amount of time to read every night (like 20 minutes a night) or a certain number of books to read. Don’t forget to include Bible reading in this time!

If your child has a certain amount of books to read… depending on your child’s age and the type of Bible you’re reading (a storybook or the “real” thing), you could count either an individual story (like “Noah’s Ark” in a storybook Bible) or a book of the Bible (like Matthew, Ephesians, Proverbs) as a “book.” I don’t personally think reading through the entire 1000+ page Bible should only count as one book. 🙂

Older children may need to do book reports or research projects. Encourage your child to select a Bible story, Scripture passage, or Christian book for a reading time or book report.

Do you want to read the Bible with your children, but can't find the time? This list of ideas from Faith Passed Down for times and places to read the Bible offers many ideas for making it happen!

at a coffee shop – An older child or teenager may enjoy going to a coffee shop or out for a special treat with you for a periodic “Bible study” time. You could order drinks or go out for ice cream, then spend a few minutes together reading the Bible and talking.

at dinner

during bathtime – If you have young children, you probably find yourself supervising their bathtime. Keep a children’s Bible in the bathroom and read a Bible story while they play in the tub. For older children and teenagers, they (understandably!) would probably prefer privacy while bathing or showering, but you could help them set up an audio version of the Bible for them to listen to during this time, if they are interested.

at bedtime – Reading a portion of the Bible is a great way to end the day!

Do you want to read the Bible with your children, but can't find the time? This list of ideas from Faith Passed Down for times and places to read the Bible offers many ideas for making it happen!

For adult mentors: If you are mentoring a child who doesn’t live in your home, you won’t have all these times available, but some of them probably still apply. Consider the suggestions below through your lens:

  • Are you a grandparent who picks up your grandchildren from school if their parents have to work late?
  • Or are you mentoring a teenager who would be happy to go out for dessert once a week with you to talk and read the Bible?
  • Maybe you are a private tutor and could offer an easy-to-read version of the Bible as a read-aloud options to your students.

Do you want to read the Bible with your children, but can't find the time? This list of ideas from Faith Passed Down for times and places to read the Bible offers many ideas for making it happen!

Whether you choose a consistent time and place for reading Scripture every day, or whether you choose to use random opportunities as they arise, I hope you are able to find a time to share Scripture with the young people in your life!

**When is your favorite time or place to read the Bible with your children?

I’m linking up each week with Mama Moments and Modest Mondays