One of the things I love about being a mom is teaching my children from and about the scriptures. We have done some sort of daily scripture study as a family for years now. Of course, there have been frustrations and times when it felt like it wasn’t working. But it has been worth the effort.
One of the things that has amazed me is how much children really can understand when they are young. At first, we used picture scripture story books published by the Church. We also used the movies that went along with the books. But early on, we also felt that it was important to give our children experience directly with the scriptures themselves. I can’t remember who helped us make the connection between the ability of children to learn different languages when they are young and learning scripture language, but that was a significant a-ha moment for us. It’s been wonderful to see how my children are much more comfortable with the scriptures than I ever was, as a child and maybe even as a teenager.
But much of the time, we don’t just read straight through. I have found that even for me it’s all too easy to “zone out” when someone else is reading out loud. So we use a variety of methods to try to make scripture study interesting and fun.
One of our favorite ways to keep scripture study as a positive experience is to discuss what we are reading. I love seeing the kinds of connections and questions that come from our children. We read topically a lot, either a specific chapter with a certain focus, or verses here and there — to show how the different standard works work together and how important themes are woven throughout the scriptures. We do this often relating our study to something in our own lives at the time. Sometimes we will start in the index or Topical Guide and read some verses on a topic that way. The Bible Dictionary is also a great resource.
We’ve done other things to try make the scriptures come alive. For example, for one Family Home Evening, I created a life-size rod of iron (made of aluminum foil) and a “tree of life” with white “fruit” — and I had them act out some of what happens in the account of Lehi’s dream in the Book of Mormon.
Other things we will do to try to keep scripture study time from becoming dull is to read in different places in the home — sometimes it’s at the dinner table, sometimes on the floor in the hall, sometimes on beds or couches (cuddling is a bonus!). We have been known to read in the car on the way home from a family party or activity. We’ll sometimes read while they are enjoying a treat, like hot chocolate. And, of course, it helps to include the children as readers so they can feel a part of the process. It probably goes without saying that they all have their own scriptures, which can help make the experience special, too.
Other things we like to do include the following:
– My children love it when my husband reads a chapter and leaves out words, allowing the children to fill in the blanks.
– We will sometimes take turns picking scriptures randomly from The Book of Mormon, and inviting other family members to guess where the verse is. This is a great way to become more familiar with both the stories and where different doctrinal teachings are located in the scriptures.
– Sometimes we’ll let the children pull out paper and pen, or chalk and chalkboard, to draw pictures of what we are reading. I think we have let them work with clay before, too. (If not, we should!)
– We have a video that shows the text of The Book of Mormon as it is being read. Especially as our children were learning to read, this was a great tool. We still use it once in a while because it’s different, and having the words on the screen helps keep the children engaged.
– We have played “guess the scripture story” charades games. Usually, once someone guesses which story is being acted out, we’ll read that story.
– Recently, we had a different twist on the charades game. I pulled out our Lego-like building blocks. We divided into two teams, and created representations of a scripture story for the other team to guess. We had a good time.
(Story found in Helaman 7, 8, 9 in The Book of Mormon)
Story of Noah and the ark
Another Lehi’s Dream representation
What do you do to help your children learn from and learn to love the scriptures?
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Thank you for sharing all of these ideas! If I can implement just a few of them my children will be more participatory in our scripture reading.
All such great ideas for scripture reading. I’ve not been very consistant with any scripture reading program that I’ve attempted with my kids. Lately, I’ve been reading a few verses while the kids are eating breakfast or a special verse at dinner. Thanks for all the great ideas!
A teacher once told me that reading the scriptures with your children helps them learn to read because the Spirit teaches them. I’ve seen it happen.
An extra blessing 🙂
I should have mentioned that one simple goal we have had is at least a verse a day. There have been plenty of days when we have done that…sometimes even a verse that we have memorized together, or work on memorizing together. That is one of the things that has kept it going for us. FWIW.
And Heather, I agree that reading the scriptures can help children learn to read. I know it helped me learn to read in a foreign language when I was a missionary.