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Teaching littles: Family devotions with many activities

When I first got pregnant with our oldest child, I started praying that our babies would know how loved they are by my husband and me, but also by their heavenly Father. 

I also prayed that they would learn to love God, his word, and those in the world around them. And it was with that prayer I started doing baby devotions. 

Lessons taught and caught 

Some lessons are taught and some lessons are caught. Children learn how God loves them by how we love them. 

They learn the importance of prayer and loving others by watching us do those things. Those are lessons caught and so important—I daresay the most important. 

However, there are also lessons taught where we actually sit down and teach our children how to pray, read a Bible story to them, or sing a song about God’s love. 

Oftentimes, it’s so easy just to leave the teaching to Sunday school and hope something sticks. But I figure if reading my Bible outside of church is what I need to grow throughout the week, why wouldn’t it be the same for them?

So we started dusting off the Baby Bible and reading it every day. Then that evolved into creating some hands-on activities (ahem—sanity savers) that tied into our lesson. 

What we actually do 

Every week we tackle a new Bible story, and though I’m sure most of what we talk about goes over their heads, my hope is that a foundation is being built for deeper learning later on. 

Most of the activities we do are with items we already have on hand and take less than five minutes to prep. Each week we: 

  1. Read the story every day. We choose to read the story during breakfast because waffles always help keep my kiddo calm enough to actually listen. We’re a bilingual family and trying to raise bilingual babies, so we use Pequeña Biblia para Bebés, but really any Baby Bible should work.  
  2. Do a sensory activity. Babies love sensory activities, or activities that let them experience and explore new things using their senses (e.g., playing with plastic animals in water for Noah’s Ark or playing with slimy blue Jello when Moses parted the Red Sea). So I attempt to find something each week that will engage at least one of their senses and let them experience the story.  
  3. Create arts and crafts. My baby girl loves crafts, so we will probably find ourselves coloring, painting, or gluing macaroni to something at some point in the day anyway—we might as well make it tie into our story.  
  4. Eat snacks. OK, to be honest, this one doesn’t always happen every week. I mean, it’s pretty easy to grab some goldfish for Jonah or talk about how God made grapes during Creation Week. But let’s be real—I have no idea how to tie a toddler-friendly snack into David and Goliath. If you do, let me know! 
  5. Watch media. We are not a TV-free family. I know the rule: no TV until 2. I also know I have two under two, and in that craziness the toddler sometimes refuses to nap, or the flu hits, or some other calamity occurs to where the only thing that will calm her down is Dora the Explorer.

    Also, I’ve been surprised at how much my kiddo has actually picked up from the TV (ironically, I think 90 percent of the English words she knows are from Dora). That being said, we incorporate media in our week, whether that be the VeggieTales version of our story for the week or a fun song I found on YouTube.

    Again, we are a bilingual family, so I usually try to make our media in Spanish, but at least 75 percent of the resources we use have an English version, too. 

The parenting journey

After friend upon friend encouraged me to start sharing our baby devotions on the World Wide Web, I’m finally here. We’re all on this crazy parenting journey together, and I figure if what we’re doing in our home can help someone else, then why not share! 

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