Reading the Bible is a challenge for many adults, never mind for young children. But if faith is an important element of your family’s life, you can introduce your little one to the Bible at an early age. Start by teaching the stories of well-known Biblical characters. Bring them to life for your toddler by reading stories, attending classes and singing songs about the characters.
Familiar Bible Stories
Occasionally replace your normal bedtime stories with Bible stories. Buy or borrow from your local library a colorful picture storybook to introduce your kids to familiar Bible characters. Toddlers will delight in hearing about all the animals in the ark with Noah, for example. Engage them in the story by naming the animals, talking about what happens when it rains a lot, and miming Noah’s actions when he was building the ark.
At this age, little kids typically enjoy music, especially if they can sing and dance along. Religious bookstores, online book and music outlets, and commercial retailers offer a wide variety of CDs and songbooks for kids of all ages. You may also be able to borrow some from the local library or your house of worship. Teach your toddlers the familiar songs about Joshua, Noah and Father Abraham. Your tots will learn about the characters while singing upbeat, fun songs with accompanying hand motions or whole body movements. But be prepared: You’ll likely end up singing and dancing to these songs with your toddler over and over and over again.
Regular children’s classes, parents’ morning out or preschool programs at your house of worship provide safe, structured opportunities for your toddler to interact with other children her age while learning Bible rhymes, stories and songs. The youngsters can act out the story of David and Goliath, dress up in a brightly colored coat like Joseph did, and lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt like Moses did through the parted waters of the Red Sea.
Toddlers and preschoolers learn by doing, so hands-on Bible-story crafts and activities are an effective way to teach them about famous people in the Bible. Use paper plates, markers and some yarn to make lion masks to illustrate the story of Daniel in the lion’s den. Color a small paper lunch sack and stuff it with old newspaper to teach the story of Jonah and the whale. Cut tablets out of card stock and let your little one “write” his own version of the 10 commandments given to Moses by God. Turn an old knit glove into finger puppets to tell stories about other famous Bible characters.