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I am so excited to welcome Liz Millay from Steadfast Family to Happy Home Fairy today! I found Liz about a year ago when I was searching for ideas on how to teach young children about the Bible. I absolutely LOVED all of her ideas! God has given Liz special creative insight into shepherding her kids’ hearts about God’s Word! I know you will love her and the great wisdom she is sharing with us today. Take it away, Liz!
If you’re like me, you want to get your child started reading God’s word as soon as possible. Maybe you even started reading to your peanut while he or she was still in the womb. Then, you read to that squishy newborn as you rocked and snuggled. However, along the way something happened. That little babe you used to hold in your arms, who would be captivated just by the sound of your voice, grew up.
Sitting still is a thing of the past now – you have a toddler.
So, how do you get a squirmy toddler to sit still long enough to have a daily Bible story time? Today, I’d like to share six ways I’ve learned as I’ve tried to introduce my son to reading the Bible. Hopefully, some of them will help as you impart God’s Word to your little one.
Make it a routine
Toddlers thrive on routine. Although we’re not always as consistent as I’d like to be, we normally read my son’s Bible story during breakfast. Once we were able to get that routine established, every breakfast time (and often at lunch as well) he would be begging for story time to start. The routine helps build the anticipation and also gets them started on making Bible reading a daily habit.
Choose a good children’s Bible
There are seriously TONS of Bibles for kids out there. Some are good. Some are not so good. There are also some that are great, but are above the level a toddler is able to understand. I can’t speak for all the Bibles out there (if you don’t have a Bible you already like, I’d recommend looking through Amazon reviews or heading to the local Christian bookstore to page through the options), but here are a few that we do have experience with (affiliate links for your convenience):
- The Beginners Bible— Someone gifted this Bible to my son, K, at his baby dedication just before he turned one. We read from it for a long time. The only problem I have with this children’s Bible is that, personally, I feel like it’s a little boring. With that said, it’s still a popular choice, it has a lot of stories in it, and it works for a lot of people.
- The Beginner’s Bible for Toddlers – This is a board book version of The Beginner’s Bible, with less and shorter stories. While we do read from this one occasionally, it would not be a good choice if it is the only Bible you have because it skips two very important stories – the fall of mankind and the death of Jesus!
- The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones – This Bible is really great. We have read stories from it from time to time, however, it is above the level of a toddler. We will probably use this Bible as a transition to a real Bible once K is a little older.
- The Rhyme Bible Storybook by LJ Sattgast – This is our favorite Bible for toddlers. I have used this one with children other than my son and it always does a great job of grabbing their attention. Something about the sing-song of the rhymes just works with toddlers. I highly recommend this Bible. It can be purchased very cheaply on Amazon.
- The Rhyme Bible Storybook for Toddlers by LJ Sattgast – The original Rhyme Bible Storybook has worked great for us, but I wanted something a little more simplified for us to use for some of the more complicated stories. This version has been great! The stories are super simple and great for even the youngest toddlers.
*Find more GREAT kid Bible suggestions HERE.
Read the story with some drama
I am probably one of the worst actors ever, but when I read Bible stories to my son, I try my best to use tone, inflection, and excitement to bring the story to life. When the story says God was sad, slow down your speech and talk with a sad voice, frowning. When things are getting exciting, pick up the pace, talk a little louder. Use hand motions, too. When the story talks about God creating the sky big and wide, point to the sky and motion how big it is. Your excitement will naturally be contagious.
Read the same story multiple times in a row
I’m sure by now you’ve noticed that toddlers love repetition. They want to eat the same foods, wear the same clothes, play with the same toys, and read the same books over and over again. Use this to your advantage and read the same story every day for a week. It may seem boring from an adult’s perspective, but toddlers love reading things they are already familiar with. It really helps them learn the story and remember the details better.
Take some time to discuss what you are reading
For us, I ask that my son try not to interrupt while I’m reading, but after I’ve read the page we often pause so he can ask questions or point out things on the pages that interest him. We will also often flip back through the entire story after reading to look at the pictures again while we summarize what happened. I will also ask him questions to see what he can remember. During the first few times we’ve read the story, I usually try to keep to simple questions that require “yes or no” answers or ask him what the character’s names are. The more we’ve read the story, the more I see what he can remember.
Add an element of play
Young children learn best through play, so it’s a great idea to add that into your story time. It’s very easy to do as well! Just take an element of the story and make it into a game or act it out. When you play through a story, you have a great opportunity to reinforce themes and vocabulary from what you just read. For example, the other day K and I read the Noah story. Afterwards, I grabbed a laundry basket and some stuffed animals and K pretended to be Noah. He piled all his stuffed animals into his “Ark” basket and jumped in with them, having a blast. The whole time we did this I called him Noah, cementing into his brain through play the name of the person God told to built a boat. We also talked about obeying God as he put the animals in the ark and pretended together that his boat was in the stormy flood. He had tons of fun and was learning God’s truths all at the same time!
Now, here’s some exciting news…
Did you like our Noah and the laundry basket example? Are you looking for MORE ways to help your toddler begin to learn basic biblical truths? Then you are going to love my series on my blog called Play Through the Bible!
Play Through the Bible takes tots and preschoolers through an entire children’s Bible, covering 25 of the major stories of the Bible. It meets tots right where they are with super simple crafts, hands-on activities, and kid friendly discussions.
Here’s a sneak peek at how The Series is set up:
- It is designed with busy parents in mind.
- Each lesson is simple, easy to prepare, doesn’t require tons of crazy craft supplies, and doesn’t have to take a ton of time to do. All while being set up perfectly for how toddlers learn best!
- The series walks through an entire children’s Bible, following God’ story from beginning to end.
I knew I wanted to create this study because, although there are a ton of great resources out there, I was having a hard time finding something that was designed specifically for toddlers being taught at home by their parents. There are a lot of great resources for individual stories, or church preschool curriculum, but not a lot that would take a toddler through the entire Bible, without requiring me to take little bits from here and there around the internet.
So, if you’ve found yourself in a similar spot, wondering which way is the best to go with regard to imparting basic biblical truths to your littlest learner, this study is for you.
Be sure to click HERE to find the entire series!
I would be honored to have you and your toddler join us on this journey through the Bible!
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Thanks, Liz, for joining us today!
I love providing resources to help you mamas build a happy home with easy and fun Christ-centered ideas! I hope you were inspired to open God’s Word with your kiddos. You are doing an amazing job, mama!