As we continue our series on Bible journaling, read our ideas for journaling for youth. See how even young children can learn to journal, whether in their Bible or a notebook. We’re sharing resources for Bible journaling for kids.
I pulled out my kids’ Bible study book and settled in on the carpet beside the bed.
My little guy jumped in my lap and asked, “Can we do the coloring today?” It was his favourite Bible study activity, even more beloved than acting out the story.
While I read Luke 5:1-11, he drew his version of Jesus helping the disciples catch more fish than their boats could hold.
How we normally approach teaching kids the Bible:
I feel like there’s a common misconception among parents that children need to sit quietly while we read the Bible with them. “Sit still and listen to this important book,” we tell them, and when they fidget we assume they are disinterested.
The truth is that many people, especially children, focus better when doing something with their hands. This is the premise of a good children’s ministry, where teachers use hands-on object lessons and skits and crafts to make the Bible come alive for kids.
Why it doesn’t work for every family
However, doing all these activities for Bible journaling for children can feel overwhelming to a busy parent who doesn’t have time to prepare object lessons or crafts.
The simplest fallback is to pick up the Bible at mealtimes and start reading. This might work for some kids, but as you might have noticed, most kids struggle to do traditional Bible study, especially really young kids.
So if a simple Bible reading is boring and frustrating for your kids, and you don’t have time for complex activities and devotions, what’s a busy Christian mom to do?
There are many ways to study the Bible aside from the traditional.
This poster shows 9 different ways you can help your kids interact with Scripture, none of which require any preparations. You don’t need to prepare a craft or a lesson. You simply need to pick up the Bible and choose a method. Bible journaling for young children can be fun and easy to do.
The one used above is a variation of the “Draw it” and “Write it” styles, both of which are components of traditional Bible journaling.
Why Bible journaling works:
Either drawing a Bible passage or writing down key words can help our kids because art itself has incredible brain advantages.
1) Drawing helps improve your memory. A 2016 study done at Yale University showed that “illustrating a word’s meaning always leads to the highest levels of memory recall.” So if we want our kids to remember what we’ve read to them (or what they’ve read for themselves), having them draw it out is the best way to do so!
2) Drawing helps improve concentration. A 2009 study done at John Hopkins University showed that practicing an art form (of any type) helps a child improve their attention and cognitive levels in everyday life. This means that learning to focus on drawing a picture can help our kids general brain ability!
Because of these general cognitive benefits, Bible journaling helps your child focus on a Bible passage, understand its meaning, and remember it.
How to do Bible Journaling for Kids:
With older kids, Bible journaling can become a practice they do on their own. But with pre-readers or early readers, you will want to do this together. The best habits are built by modelling them at home!
When you’re ready to start Bible journaling with kids, pick a passage that they will understand. Typically, I stick with straightforward Bible stories at this age, particularly stories of Jesus.
AGE 2/3: If your child is really young (age 2/3), give her something specific and simple to draw as you read. For example, I might ask a child to draw a river, a fire, the sky, or the sun. Each of those are very easy for a little child to draw.
AGE 3/4: If your child is age 3/4, you can give her something specific to draw that is a little more complex, like people or shapes (hearts and stars come up a lot).
AGE 4+: Around age 4/5, you can ask her to draw what they hear as you read.
What if my child doesn’t like Bible journaling?
Not every child will love Bible journaling, and it’s important to remember that this technique, like any other, is just one tool in the toolbox.
If your child doesn’t like to draw, you can go back to my poster and choose one of the other methods to try. If you prefer a more guided method, my book “Wise For Salvation” for ages 2-6 contains 5 simple activities for each Bible story. Essentially, it is guided interactive sensory Bible study for young children. Activities range from simple Bible journaling to acting out stories, no-prep object lessons and specific prayer prompts.
Have you tried Bible journaling with young kids or Bible Journaling for youth? Let me know how you have done this in your own home or ministry!
Christie Thomas was the Children’s Ministry Director at her church for over 10 years, and now ministers at home with her 3 boys and online at christiethomaswriter.com. She is the author of Wise For Salvation, Quinn’s Promise Rock, and Quinn Says Goodbye.