Monday, September 9, 2013

5 Ways to Incorporate Bible Stories into Homeschool Lessons

incorporate, Bible stories, scripture, homeschool, field trips, creative, fun, daniel, moses, good samaritan, noah's ark
Image derived from photo by photo boy via flickr

It's not all reading, writing, and arithmetic, but the freedom to teach our children the most important lessons-- the lessons about our Heavenly Father. And also, you get to go on all the fieldtrips.

The first way most of us begin to teach our children about our faith is in the form of Bible stories. We buy My First Bibles with cute rhyming summations of stories like David & Goliath, and even the Christmas story. Some of us tell stories of Moses for bedtime stories or on long trips in the car.

The really cool thing is incorporating lessons about history, literature, science, and all the rest with those Bible stories. My child needs to know that my faith in Jesus pervades everything I do, that I hold a Biblical worldview, and all the ideas I hear, and books I read, and even the conversations I have are filtered through the scope of my faith. He needs to know that my prayer for him is that the same will be true for him, and in an even greater sense than for me.

So, here's a peek into how I put things together:

Daniel & the Lions' Den

Scripture: Daniel 6
Summary: Daniel is thrown into a den of lions, basically a death sentence, for continuing to pray to God. God delivers Daniel from being killed by lions, and Daniel emerges unharmed because he trusts God.
Connect: Children around age 4 & 5 will enjoy trips to the zoo or a wildlife preserve to see real-life lions. Talk about how God created lions, and point out different parts such the tail, the mane, and the sharp teeth and claws that God gave lions to hunt and eat with. Explain why we can't pet lions-- how wild animals like lions are dangerous to us. Tell the story of Daniel-- helping your child understand what a miracle it was that the lions did not harm Daniel!
As children grow older, you can revisit this teaching method as you begin to teach biological classification (species, class, etc.), anatomy of animals, and ecosystems (how lions are predators).
Act it out!: Take a fieldtrip to the zoo or wildlife preserve.

Moses in the Reeds

Scripture: Exodus 2
Summary: Moses' mother hides baby Moses among reeds in a basket to keep him from the Pharaoh who wants to hurt people like Moses. Moses is found by Pharaoh's daughter, and he is raised as part of Pharaoh's household. He grows up to play a big part in God's plan to free His people.
Connect: This story can be used when exploring water plants like reeds, or for older children, ecosystems. It's also a good story to illustrate social science themes like adoption and families, and for much older children, political science & history of slavery,  or genocide. Children of all ages will enjoy learning about Egypt, including architecture, art, climate, history, & archaeology.
Act it out!: Travel to Egypt (just kidding!) Visit a museum that has Egyptian artifacts on exhibit. Go play in a pond or near a stream to find reeds.
Bonus: Have your little ones write something that they want to trust to God on a rock, stick, or leaf (something biodegradable, please!) Leave it in the reeds!

The Burning Bush

Scripture: Exodus 3
Summary: God speaks to Moses through a bush that is on fire, but doesn't burn. He calls Moses to speak to Pharaoh about releasing the Israelites from Egypt.
Connect: This another great story for introducing science such as heat, fire, conversion of mass, & phases of matter (gas, solid, liquid). By demonstrating that when we set a bush on fire, it burns-- you'll again help your child understand that this "burning bush" is a miraculous event. This story is also a good illustration of why our sanctuaries and churches are treated with special respect (think "Take off your shoes, Moses.") Also, don't neglect to use this story when teaching kids about how our differences (speech impediments, autism, eye-glasses, Down syndrome, any number of special needs, red hair) make us special, and how God uses the things about us that are special and unique to glorify Him.
Act it out!: Set something on fire! (And then put it out...)

Noah's Ark

Scripture: Genesis 5:32-10:1
Summary: After seeing that men were becoming wicked, God tells Noah to build an ark & sends a flood over all the Earth. In the end, God protects Noah & his family, and all the animals with them, because Noah obeyed God. God makes a promise never to flood the Earth again.
Connect: I use this one even with our toddler to help him identify animals. Some other ways to connect this story include: prisms & rainbows, weather, and topography (think: sending out of the dove.)
Act it out!: Use prisms, or the sprinkler, to make rainbows. Bubbles work too. Go in search of a rainbow after a rain shower. Pull up and examine topographic maps. Some libraries and museums have touch-and-feel maps of various terrain. Go for a hike and talk about elevation.

The Good Samaritan

Scripture: Luke 10:25-37
Summary: Jesus tells the parable of a Jewish man who is robbed and beaten on the road. The man is cared for by a the Good Samaritan.
Connect: This story is an excellent way to teach children to be kind and to have empathy. But for older children (think 13+), it's an important illustration of political science/current events (Israel & Palestine, Syria) and civil rights.
Act it out!: Visit the a civil rights museum. More importantly, put the parable to action by finding a way to help someone else.


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