Activities for Children


God has given to parents the vital and awesome task of helping their children to grow in Christlike character. It is a vital responsibility because children will generally learn what they are taught by parents and any others with whom they have contact. It is an awesome assignment since parents may either mold their children in righteousness or lead them to wickedness and worldli-ness. Children will be eternally blessed with God one day or they will be everlastingly separated from Him–and parents have something to do with both outcomes!

Paul the apostle speaks of this weighty parental responsibility: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). If you are a parent, are you diligently seeking to obey this divine instruction? Do you remember Paul’s reference to Timothy’s childhood and training? He wrote of the “sincere faith” of Timothy’s grandmother Lois and mother Eunice (2 Tim. 1:5). How did these two women manifest their faith? By teaching and training Timothy. Paul could write, “From childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:15). Timothy had been taught the Scriptures from childhood from a mother and grandmother who were women of faith. God calls upon faithful parents in our day to teach and train their children in this same way.

God’s concern that a father and mother bring their children up to love and fear Him is found from the beginning. The Lord said of Abraham, “I have chosen him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice” (Gen. 18:19). Abraham had a responsibility–and parents today also have the responsibility to direct their children and household in the ways of the Lord.

God’s command to fathers (and parents) in Israel was just as clear. Moses states why God gave the Law: “. . . so that you and your son and your grandson might fear the LORD your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments” (Deut. 6:2). How was this to be implemented? Moses answers: “You shall love the LORD your God with all heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up” (vv. 5-7; cf. Psalm 78:5-8). God knew how important it was that children be raised in an atmosphere of love and faith toward God and obedience to His will. He knew that parents were to be involved in their task of training from the time the child awakes in the morning until the child goes to sleep at night. Child-training is a full-time occupation!

Parents of this generation have widely violated Scriptural principles of child-training. Since the majority of parents are part of the world, we can understand why they bring up their children according to the fallen, perverse, and destructive ways of the world. In contrast to this, God’s people have been called out of the world and are not to be part of this world system (cf. John 15:19; 17:14; 18:36). Paul admonishes us, “Do not be conformed to this world” (Rom. 12:2). James says we are to be “unstained by the world” (James 1:27) and are not to have “friendship with the world” (4:4). John adds, “Do not love the world, nor the things in the world” (1 John 2:15; cf. vv. 16-17). Christ, in fact, died “that He might deliver us out of this present evil age” (Gal. 1:4). Since we have been rescued from this present evil world and are “aliens and strangers” in it (1 Pet. 2:11), we can see that our entire lifestyle is different from the lifestyle of those around us. This will be reflected in the way Christian parents teach, train, nurture, and bring up the children that God has committed to them.

Christian families live in a “foreign” environment that is guided by alien principles and is influenced by the power of the enemy–Satan (cf. Eph. 2:1-3; 4:17-20; Rom. 1:24-32). We can understand, therefore, that fathers and mothers who love and fear God will want to protect their children from the fallen and wicked influences that are all around us. Just as responsible parents will protect their children from physical illness, mal-nutrition, bodily injury, criminals, and poisonous chemicals, so they must protect them from every spiritual, moral, and social enemy that could harm their hearts, minds and bodies.

What are some of the dangers in our world? In fact, what are some of the “enemies” that you, as a parent, can bring into your children’s lives that would harm them? What are some of the factors that may compromise their spiritual growth? Consider several of them:

  • Irresponsible fathers (Col. 3:21; 1 Sam. 3:13-14)
  • Working mothers (1 Tim. 5:14; Titus 2:4-5)
  • Broken homes (Matt. 19:4-6; Eph. 6:1-3; Prov. 1:8)
  • Humanistic, carnal schools (Col. 2:8; Rom. 12:1-2; Prov. 14:7)
  • Worldly music (Mark 4:24; 1 John 2:15-17; 1 Pet. 4:2-4)
  • Television (Psalm 101:3; 119:37; Phil. 4:8; Matt. 5:29)
  • Videos, movies, foolish computer games (Phil. 4:8)
  • Worldly toys (James 1:27; 4:4; 1 John 2:15-17)
  • Sinful amusements and recreation (1 Pet. 1:14)
  • Worldly sports involvements (Eph. 5:15-16; 1 Cor. 4:7; 9:24-27)
  • Immodesty in dress (1 Tim. 2:9-10; Matt. 5:27-28; 1 Pet. 3:2-4)
  • Compromising false churches (Matt. 15:13-14)
  • Worldly playmates and friends (1 Cor. 15:33; Prov. 13:20)
  • Worldly, deceptive, ungodly literature (Phil. 4:8; Psa. 119:37)

As we notice this list (and you could add more negative influences of your own), we can see the formidable task of bringing up children in truth and godliness in our day. The Christian father and mother must beware of these numerous dangers and protect their children from them. But, if this is all that concerns parents, they have only eliminated the negative. They must also add the positive. They must not only “depart from evil,” but also “do good” (Psalm 34:14; cf. Isaiah 1:16b-17a). They must “abhor what is evil” and “cling to what is good” (Rom. 12:9; cf. Heb. 1:9a). They must actively pursue the good, upbuilding, and constructive factors that will help their children to grow in knowledge, faith and virtue. This is the primary purpose of this little booklet that you are now reading. We wish to help devoted parents to responsibly teach and train their children in the ways of God.

Preliminary Suggestions

What are some of the preliminary suggestions that we would offer to you? Let us notice several of them very briefly:

(1) Make sure that you are truly Christians yourself. “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves!” (2 Cor. 13:5a). If you are unsure of your own relationship with God, you need to settle this before you can adequately and rightly teach your children. (See our little booklet, Shipwreck to Salvation, and the questionnaire, Are You Going to Heaven?)

(2) Live fully for the Lord Jesus Christ. “They who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf” (2 Cor. 5:15). Allow no compromises in your life. Live a life of true devotion, prayer, worship, love, and faith (1 Thess. 1:3; Col. 3:1-4). Jesus must be living in you first if you want God to bless your efforts in training your children.

(3) If possible, make sure you are in fellowship with other devoted and committed Christian families who have truly been saved from sin and who are living for Jesus now. This fellowship will provide additional help in bringing up your children in the ways of God (Acts 2:42-47; 1 Cor. 12:13-27; Eph. 4:11-16). (A helpful booklet for you to read would be Come Out and Come Together.)

(4) Eliminate the sinful and negative influences from your children’s life. (We have noticed some of them above.) Although we are still in the world and have contact with the world (John 17:11,18; 1 Cor. 5:9-10), we must minimize the detrimental influence of the world upon our children (Matt. 6:13; 26:41; 1 Thess. 5:22).

(5) Seek to add as many positive and godly influences in your children’s life as possible. This booklet will offer a variety of suggestions, but you can think of more yourself. For example, not only eliminate the worldly music, but add good, wholesome, and spiritual music. Not only eliminate the evil and questionable literature, but provide good books for your children to read. Not only eliminate worldly toys, but provide interesting and constructive activities for your children.

(6) Use much godly discernment in what you restrict your child from doing and what you permit or encourage your child to do (Heb. 5:14). Both aspects are very important and you must use good judgment as you evaluate all things in light of Scripture. Make no mistake, for many parents go wrong at this very point. Our booklet, Making Responsible Decisions, may be of help in making these choices.

(7) Make your home a refuge from the world, the flesh, and the devil. Although we cannot eliminate evil in the world (1 John 5:19), we can at least make our house a place of peace, joy, love, warmth and righteousness. There are advantages to living in the country, away from much of the obvious carnality and blatant wickedness of the urban areas. But if you must live in the city, you can at least make your home a haven of godliness.

(8) Provide a Christian education for your children. Consider home schooling. If you allow the world to teach and influence your children for six or seven hours a day, you will be tearing down what you are trying to do in your home. The only alternative that will work is that of personally training your own children in your home–or, perhaps, having responsible persons in the community of believers help to teach your children in a private school where thoroughly righteous principles are taught (see our booklet, What About the Public State Schools?).

(9) Bring your children to the Lord Jesus. We do not refer here to trying to bring your three- or four-year-old to some “salvation experience” (as certain “child evangelism” advocates may promote), but we do believe that parents should pray and work for their children’s salvation. Always bear in mind that you should want your own sons and daughters to come to a place in their lives of personally responding to Christ Jesus through faith and baptism (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38-41; 22:16). The godly influences and environment that we are encouraging you to develop will provide the kind of background for their personal decision for Christ.

(10) Lest we only focus upon ourselves and our own needs, Christian families should pray for and practically help others in need. Much of our discussion in this booklet assumes that a father and mother are truly Christians and godly in attitude and lifestyle. Yet not every child has the benefit of parents united in the faith. Consider the single parent who comes to Christ and has several children. She has worked long hours–and must work to support the family. What is she to do? What if she becomes your sister in the Lord? Consider the person who turns to Christ but the spouse is not at all interested in the ways of God. How will the believing father train his children if his wife is not saved, will not home educate the children, or will not implement the ideas in this booklet? How will a believing mother train her children at home and carry out many of these ideas if the father is opposed to the ways of Christ–or perhaps is a loyal member of a religious organization that considers such ways too radical or even cultic?

We should have much tender compassion for people such as these who may see the ideal of bringing up the children in godliness but who have numerous and almost overwhelming hindrances to carrying it out. Let us pray for them, help them, and support them. Let the community of Christ offer all of the support needed to help parents like this.

Your need to raise children who love and obey God is great indeed. It is one of the most important facets of your life! There is a need for (1) respectful, obedient children; (2) godly and Christ-centered homes; (3) the community of saints, composed of both singles as well as godly families with children. What you do with your children will influence you, your children, and the community of saints as a whole. Not only this, but the way you raise your children will make an impact upon the world around us that is desperately in need of a Savior from sin!

This booklet has been prepared with you and your children in mind. Some time ago, forms were mailed to many professing Christian families. Virtually all of them educate their children at home or have other Christian schooling. More than twenty (20) of these families responded to the letter. They all listed a variety of wholesome activities and projects for children. This writer has added many further activities to the list. A number of suggestions were similar, thus some were combined to offer more complete descriptions of certain projects.

Some of the activities are simple, requiring minimal amounts of supervision; others are more complex, thus would need parental guidance. Some may be done by children alone; others are activities for the entire family. Some may be done with one child; others would be easier to carry out with a large family. Some of them require no financial cost; others do require some expenditure of money. Some may be added to the schooling projects of the children; others are activities that can be carried on at non-school times. This booklet, therefore, offers an interesting assortment of activities and projects for your children. They are alternatives to the worldly and sinful activities in which most children participate.

We considered trying to categorize the suggested projects, but this did not seem feasible since so many of them overlap with one another. The activities are often very practical. They encourage the child to do something or make something. Many of them teach a moral or spiritual lesson. Many of them not only help the child to learn something, but they may give the child the opportunity to help and bless others. Some may be directly spiritual in nature, but others may simply help the child to learn a skill, try a new procedure, or make something that can be used or worn. You will see that some of the activities can be improvised to meet your own specific need. We have tried to emphasize the good and eliminate the bad.

Ideally, several conditions are needed in order to carry out these projects: (1) The family should be united in their desire to love, honor, and serve God and Jesus Christ; (2) The father should be the head of the home and able to devote some time to guide the children in these activities; (3) The mother should be a full-time homemaker and have time to devote to the children; (4) The children should be involved in Christian education. If these conditions prevail, the activities listed will have a natural place in the home. If one or more of the conditions do not exist, there will be some lack in the home.

Please pay special attention to and have compassion on those families that are not ideal. Perhaps the husband is not saved–or may be missing. Perhaps the mother is not a Christian. Perhaps one or more of the children are not interested in the ways of God. Perhaps there is poverty and the family has no money for any project. In such situations, do what you can to encourage good, wholesome activities as much as you can.

Finally, would you be willing to help further? Please send in any other wholesome projects and activities that come to your mind as you read through the ones listed in this booklet. (Use the address at the end.) They may be used in a revised and expanded edition in the future.

Activities for Children

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Collect used calendars with scenic pictures or pictures of animals. Mount the pictures on sheets (by pasting them) or you may use plastic page protectors (buy in an office supply company). Print or type (on labels or cards) appropriate scriptures for each scene. Place the pages in a binder and share the completed notebook with visitors to your home, with the elderly, or with anyone else!

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As a variation of the project above, find wholesome pictures in magazines, on calendars, on greeting cards, or elsewhere. Mount them in a scrapbook. Include poems, quotations, and Bible verses–and mount these also on the pages. Your children can give this as a gift to a person or family–or they can “loan” it out to the various Christian families you know.

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Make a community project of the idea above. Each child or young person in a fellowship of Christians can prepare one or two pages of a scrapbook (as above). When completed, collect all of the pages and place them in a binder. Give this to an older person as a gift, to a family moving away, or to a sick loved one!

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Animals can be interesting and exciting for children. Even in the city, a child can keep a dog or a cat. Other animals or pets may also be chosen in somewhat confined quarters: rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, mice, lizards, canaries, or parakeets. Choose a book for the child to read that explains how to clean, feed, bathe, and care for the pet. Discover whether the Bible mentions the particular animal or animals the child keeps.

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Life in the country can broaden the kinds of animals available for a child: chickens, ducks, geese, a goat, a cow, or sheep. Animals can be fun–bathing a dog, bottle-feeding a goat, racing a dog around the yard. Caring for an animal can teach a child responsibility and teach him that the welfare of another is dependent on him. Most of these animals can be useful as well–a dog will keep predators from the farm, a cat will rid the area of mice, chickens may be used for food. (Caution: Beware of paying much to buy or maintain a pet in light of the desperate financial needs in the kingdom of God! Consider also that it only costs $20 a month to feed a starving child. With this in mind, be careful about allowing a pet to become costly!)

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Make a terrarium. Place soil in the bottom and plant many different plants in it. Choose the best vegetation for this limited environment. Let the child prepare the terrarium, water the plants, and care for them. Have the child look up the plants in a book so he or she knows how to keep the plant life in good condition.

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Place animal life in the terrarium (above). Consider a chameleon or other lizards, a small snake (non-poisonous!), a mouse, or other living creatures. This can be an interesting and educational project for even little ones.

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Obtain an aquarium and stock it with a variety of tropical fish–or simply several common gold fish. The child should be responsible for cleaning the tank and feeding the fish. (Beware of over-feeding.) An aquarium should be inexpensive to maintain yet offer an interesting diversion for your children and their friends.

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Let your child learn about indoor plants. There are simple books available which identify the chief varieties and describe how to maintain them. (Call a nursery for suggestions.) Allow your child to choose several inexpensive plants to care for. (Warning: generally, they need very little water!) Children will enjoy seeing greenery through the year and knowing that they are maintaining the life of the plants.

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Teach your child how to plant a vegetable garden. Show him or her how to cultivate and prepare the soil, fertilize it, plant the seeds, pull the weeds, deal with the insects, and harvest the vegetables. Show how to develop and use compost (using kitchen scraps, grass clippings, leaves, etc.). Finally, they can help prepare the corn, beans, peas, and other vegetables for the family’s eating.

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If the garden (above) yields much produce (more than you need), your child may be able to sell some of it at a roadside stand or some other suitable lo-cation. Use this oppor-tunity to teach responsible money management.

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A child will enjoy planting a personal flower garden. Explain the rudiments of garden growing, then let the child choose the seeds, plant them, weed them, and water the growing plants. He or she can then have the blessing of giving a flower bouquet to bless the lives of others! “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Such flowers may also add color and aroma to your own kitchen.

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Visit a zoo and see the hundreds of animals. Actually take time to observe them! Before you go or after you get home, look up some of the particular animal names in an illustrated book. Learn about their home country and typical habitat. You may also later talk about the spiritual lessons you can learn by looking at animals. (It may be better to avoid the summer months because of the gross immodesty in public places like this.)

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Place a birdhouse, birdbath, or bird feeder in the yard–or even near a window. Your child may even build a simple style of birdhouse or bird feeder. The library has books that describe how to construct them. (Here is one project: Spread peanut butter over the empty cardboard portion of toilet paper rolls. Roll them over sunflower seeds or bird feed. Put a string through the hole and hang them outside on a tree in the winter for the birds!) Hearing and seeing the birds will be a thrill for the whole family. They will be the topic of conversation and you can even learn spiritual lessons from watching them. Remember that Jesus said, “Look at the birds of the air” (Matt. 6:26a). Children will learn to care for God’s little creatures–and you may find fewer insects in your yard and garden!

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Visit a local, state, or national park and go on a prepared “nature walk.” On the other hand, you need not go to a developed location or government-owned land. Simply get permission from the owner of the property you have in mind, find a trail, and walk! Observe the wildlife (chipmunks, squirrels, ground hogs, etc.) as well as the unique plant life. Try to identify the birds. Identify any animal tracks in the ground. Collect whatever the children find fascinating: Stones, rocks, seeds, cones, flowers, bark, moss, ferns, mushrooms, and insects. You can look up some of these items, identify them, and learn of them if you have helpful pictorial books. You can also go on such a “nature walk” and try to bring home items on a pre-planned basis. (Beware of poison ivy and poisonous snakes!)

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Visit a brook, stream, river, pond, lake, or ocean. Walk along the shore in the sand or on the rocks. See or collect stones or shells. Wade in the water. Look under the rocks. You may even see a fish in a stream. Listen to the sounds of running water and waves. Feel the breezes in your hair. If it is warm, let the children get wet (fully clothed). (Do this where others are not swimming with their immodest clothing. One respondent says her family goes to the shore before 9 am.)

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Make a family project of memorizing old or new songs and hymns. The father could read through each verse and explain the difficult words. Note also the allusions to Scripture used by the hymn writer. You may want to read the history of its composition. Try to memorize the hymn in a week or a month. Then sing the song from time to time to retain it in memory. Along with thanking God for your food at mealtimes, sing a song you have memorized (or use a hymn book). Sing in the car as you travel. Sing as you work around the house or as you take a walk. (Select hymns that are Scripturally sound. Eliminate or alter the songs containing unscriptural thoughts and words. Note also that not all hymns and songs are appropriate for children who have not yet come to Christ in salvation. For example, note the words of “Amazing Grace.”)

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Not only sing as a family (as above), but gather with other Christian families on the Lord’s day (after the believers have finished the noon meal), or during the week for a time of singing of songs and hymns. Several families may sing in nursing homes or retirement homes. Sing with older saints in their homes. Sing in the parks or on the streets with other Christians. Children will join enthusiastically–and even help choose the songs. As they see your interest in this activity, your children will come to love singing.

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Work around the house, in the yard, or in the garden as a family. Rake the leaves, mow the grass, paint a fence, fix up an old house, build a shed, or do anything that needs some work outside. Talk with each other as you work. Sing with each other. This is an ideal occasion to get close to your children, learn of them, and instruct them.

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Go to the woods or to a farm. Take along paper (on a clop board) and a pencil or pen. (You may also want to use a compass.) Spend a morning or afternoon walking the circumference of the land and walking through the land (in the woods, follow the trails and the creeks; on a farm, follow the fences also). Along with your child, try to draw a map of the entire area. Get some idea of the perspective and the number of acres. Place the ponds and creeks on the paper. Draw in the fences. Draw the large stands of trees. Mark the hills and cliffs. Try to make it as accurate as possible. If the farmer has a map of the property, you could later check your map with his “official” one to see how accurate yours turns out.

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The project above can be altered in an interesting way. If you live in a town, you could take a long walk in your neighbor-hood one Saturday morning. Take along your paper and pencil (as above). Walk up and down the streets and roads, taking note of the street names. Have your child try to draw all of these on the paper. You could place prominent locations on the map (large houses, groups of trees, a stream, stores, a bridge, etc.). This could a real help to your child in becoming acquainted with the neighborhood. The project could be combined with learning how to read a map in your child’s home education.

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Play table-top games as a family. This could be a board game–such as Ungame, Reunion, Bible “trivia” games, word games–or a game that you have made up! Some of these games may be appropriate for family guests. There is also benefit in having different ages involved in the activity. (Avoid the popular competitive games or ones that have no constructive purpose. Most worldly and objectionable games are simply meant for pleasure and excitement.)

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Help surprise a needy family by baking a nutritious treat or sewing for them. Work in their yard. If they live at a distance, prepare a package for them and mail it. Through your enthusiasm, children will learn to love to shop for others and even give their own toys away to bless them. Pray for the family before you visit or as you send your package.

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Have a short story time each night before bedtime. Children nurtured without television and other ungodly influences will especially love this! Not only the parents but an older child may be able to read to the little ones. Ask questions on what is read or encourage the children to ask questions. Discuss the contents.

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Another valuable bedtime activity with great potential for good is to simply sit on the bed when you “tuck your child in” for the night. Have a simple and short, but significant, time to share with your child. Let your child open his heart with you and speak about any concern he may have. You could also call this the “question time.” Allow your child to ask one question and try to answer it for him. Your child will look forward to this time and you will find a more free communication between you.

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Subscribe to a monthly publication for your child. (The issues can also be shared with other Christian families and you can borrow theirs.) Several conservative ones are available. (See the appendix at the end for suggestions of sources. Among the better are conservative Anabaptist ones.) Children will await their issues in the mail! This will stimulate their reading abilities and will provide wholesome instruction. (Sometimes a parent will need to give guidance if there is any false teaching communicated in a given issue.)

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Go for a walk together as a family. Walk in the neighbor-hood; walk at a place of historical interest; walk in the city park; walk along a country road. Walking is good exercise and also encourages open communication among the participants. All you need are good walking shoes!

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Go for a picnic. Have your children prepare the food you will eat and wrap it for traveling. Take a blanket–but be careful not to lay it on an ant hill! Choose a location where there generally will not be others immodestly clothed. Enjoy the natural surroundings–the trees, the brook nearby, the sounds of birds.

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Your son or daughter can frame a mural. Visit the wall paper store and ask to see the catalog of murals. These are large pictures of beautiful natural scenes (green woodlands, snow-covered mountains, picturesque lakes, palm-lined island beaches, etc., of standard size–2 by 3 feet, 3 by 4 feet, or 5 by 6 feet). Order one of these of your choice. Spread special paste on the back of the mural and on a piece of plywood or masonite of the correct dimensions, then smooth the mural down on the board, using a sponge (to prevent bubbles from forming). Your child can then cut simple molding (from a lumber yard or housing site) to the correct dimensions, and nail (or glue) this along the edges as a picture frame. He or she can then obtain small vinyl letters at an office supply and apply these on the picture (such as on the sky or other open area) to form a verse of Scripture, with reference. This can be a simple, beautiful, and God-glorifying wall hanging!

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Your child can build a model of your house. Your son (or daughter) can measure the dimensions of your home–and its various rooms. Then he should scale this down to manageable size (perhaps a half inch per foot). The child can use poster board or the sides of a corrugated box for construction material. He can make doors, windows, and the chimney. The roof could be removable, to reveal the rooms inside (each with their own walls and doors). This would be a worthy learning experience for your son or daughter.

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The next time your family plans to travel to another state by car, prepare beforehand. Your child can make a special project by learning something of the geography of the state–and perhaps of those other states through which you will drive. Then, when you actually drive to your destination, your child can follow along on the state maps—noting the towns, mountains, tunnels, rivers, farmlands, valleys, and forests. This is an excellent way to learn the topography of our country and to learn how to “read” a map.

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Teach your child the importance of good nutrition! A child can learn the rudiments of nutrition and its relationship to health. First, share with your son or daughter the basis of good health by looking up verses on treating the human body with respect (such as 1 Cor. 6:19-20; 10:31; and Romans 12:1). Second, help your child to determine what his or her nutritional intake should be per day. Third, use the charts in a nutritional book to show how a given portion of food (a banana, a glass of skim milk, a cup of beans, a cup of whole rice, etc.) supplies a certain amount of the desired nutrients. Fourth, have your son or daughter figure out the total nutrients he or she consumes by adding up the vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in all of the portions of food eaten in a typical day. A young person of twelve (and maybe younger) can easily learn to be nutrition conscious by considering the most nutritious foods to prepare for your meals and for snacks. This activity will help your child reap better health all through his life!

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Plant a tree! Show your child how to select and plant a tree–or several of them. Choose whatever is suitable for your area (considering the soil and climate). The tree may be a maple, oak, or another kind. Your child may choose a fruit tree (again, depending on your location)—apple, orange, peach, pear, or another. In several years, your child’s project could help to supply fresh fruit for the family’s table! The child may also plant a tree on a special day or for a special occasion, as a memorial (such as a birthday).

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Collect leaves. Show your child how to collect leaves from trees. Carry a small illustrated book to identify the tree names. At home, tape each leaf sample on a page in a scrapbook and print (or type) the name of each tree variety from which you picked each leaf. This project may help your son or daughter to appreciate the variety of trees God has created. You can make a game from this project. Just go through the scrapbook with someone, covering the name of the tree variety. See whether the person can identify the leaf.

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Go camping for a day or two with your children. Plan this event beforehand so you can prepare for it and so your child can anticipate it. Collect all of the supplies that you will need (sleeping bags, tent, cooking items, food, etc.). You can pitch a tent in the backyard–but also consider a more remote location at a state park or a friend’s farm. You can get to know your child better at a campfire or lying in a sleeping bag in the dark of night. Have some good talks. Listen to the crickets and night sounds. Pray together.

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Make your own greeting cards. Use colored construction paper, pictures from calendars or used cards, paste, scissors, markers, pens, and a ruler. Use Bible verses or compose your own message or verse. You can also collect flowers, press them, and dry them. Then tape a flower to the folded card (using construction paper). Children like to make things and these “home-made” cards can bless others! They can even address and sign these cards when they are mailed to family, friends, relatives, or others.

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Little children enjoy “playing” grown-ups. Little girls will play with their baby dolls and get them ready for meetings. (They are “in training” to be mothers when they grow up!) Little boys will “teach” and “preach” and “lead” in the meetings. (They have observed the men take the lead in the gatherings.) We can learn where their hearts are by observing what they “pretend” to do in such activities. (Just as children in the world “play” according to what they have been exposed to in worldly literature and television or in the public schools, your children’s “play” should reflect what they have been exposed to in life.)

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Most children love to color pictures. Some conservative Bible-oriented or nature coloring books are available. (Check Rod and Staff Publishers, with address in the Appendix.) Make sure children actually color in the books and don’t just waste them. (You might want your children to use washable crayons or markers.) One mother writes that she plays Bible story tapes while the children are involved in this activity.

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Painting is another creative activity. Your children may use water colors in coloring books–or simply paint their own pictures on blank paper. Regular paints would be appropriate for older children. Your children can also develop their skills through “paint by number” pictures. These can be displayed on the wall. (If handled properly, an unholy pride of accomplishment need not be stimulated in this project and similar ones.)

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It would be good for your children to learn how to draw. If you know of a fellow-believer who has some skill in this, you may be able to have him or her give several lessons to the children. Books are also available to instruct how to draw shapes, teach perspective, and other principles. (Make sure you find a wholesome book on this subject since many of them use unclothed figures to teach drawing of shapes.) Hopefully, as you observe what your children draw, you will see what fills their mind (cf. Phil. 4:8).

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Woodworking is an interesting and exciting activity for boys–and sometimes even girls. They can measure dimensions, saw boards, hammer nails, and use screwdrivers. They can sand the finished object. They can make a variety of useful items–such as a birdhouse or a bird feeder or a stool. Another suggestion would be a little bookcase or a wooden tract rack for the house. Dozens of different objects made with wood are valuable. After they are completed with their project, they may also paint it or stain it.

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Boys may profit in pursuing mechanical activities that would have future benefit. One father writes, “Boys who are mechanically inclined may enjoy evenings by disassembling a small worn out electric motor or gasoline engine. Eventually they figure out what makes them run and how to repair them. Every home that has boys should have a small shop, be it a small out building or a corner of the garage.”

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Little girls can learn quite young how to cook and bake. They can help prepare meals and set the table. They can learn how to follow a recipe. Eventually, they can prepare a meal from start to finish. Girls can also help with the preservation of food from your garden–canning, drying, freezing. If you offer genuine appreciation, they will be eager to please.

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You can make meal clean-up times a family project. One family member can clean off the table, another can wash, another one or two can dry the dishes and put them away. Talk to each other. Sing spiritual songs as you work with each other. Make this needed project a time of family togetherness.

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Children like to sing. Provide cassette tapes with children’s songs recorded on them. Their playing the tapes will teach them the words and the tune. You may also compile a family song book, consisting of the songs your children like to sing. What they hear and sing will become part of their hearts and lives.

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Record or obtain cassette tapes with Bible stories. Children often like to listen to them (even while going to sleep at nap time or bedtime)–and they will be edified by the contents. What we put into children’s minds when they are young can have a profound influence upon them in the following years (Prov. 4:23). One father began to play Bible story tapes when his child was only months old! (A selection of Old Testament and New Testament Bible story tapes for children are available. These are mentioned in the end.)

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Scripture tapes may also be appropriate. While the children lie down, color pictures, or work around the house, let them listen to Scripture readings! They will begin to remember words and phrases as they listen to the same reading again and again. This is an excellent time to instill Biblical verses in their little hearts.

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Bike-riding can be a wholesome and healthful activity, particularly if you live in the country and away from the danger of traffic. A country lane can be ideal. There are possibilities even in town. Little ones can ride their tricycles in the yard. Older ones can venture up the street or in the neighborhood. If there are enough bicycles for the entire family, riding can be a family activity in the evening or on Saturday.

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Little girls can learn to sew even when they are young. They will learn the rudiments at first but become experts by their teen years. Although in society this seems to be a vanishing skill, it definitely is something that Christian women need to learn and use. They will probably need to make their own clothes since modest apparel is rare in the world. A sewing machine is a wise investment! Teach your children while they are young. They can begin with something simple (a pillow case, an apron, a blanket, doll clothes) and progress to the more complex patterns (dresses, shirts, etc.). If you know a sister in the Lord who has these skills, she may be willing to help your children (and you) learn!

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Let children begin to write letters to a “pen pal” or to their friends and relatives who live at a distance. They may also write to an older person or any adult who shows an interest in them. They could write to a different person each week or month. If they know someone overseas, this would offer the opportunity to the child to reach out to a different country and culture. The letters should be edifying and positive, and they may include Scripture verses. They may also include a wide variety of items of interest to the child. They could include a picture they have drawn or one they have colored. Parents may read outgoing and incoming letters to assure that they are wholesome and proper. The child may want to read letters with the family. This activity of writing will be training for a lifetime of writing encouraging, edifying, and even teaching letters to others (something that many adults have not mastered). This skill will be worth the cost of a stamp! It will be a thrill for the children to receive a card or letter in return.

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As you are teaching your children, you can supplement this with projects to learn more than the textbooks recommend. Study a person or place or event. Then, take a “field trip” to a business, historical location, a store, a dairy farm, a chicken farm, a textile mill, an airport, a pottery company, the water department, or any one of dozens of different interesting places connected with what your child has studied. Your children can learn “first hand” what happens in these locations and ask questions of the person who takes you on a tour. This could help with your home schooling–or could simply be an educational adventure. Have your children write reports (in a special event book) about what they have seen and learned. Have them illustrate these with pictures they draw, photographs, or brochures you gather. The child can write a letter to an owner, manager, or worker to receive more information by means of a letter or literature. You could take several other Christian families (or non-Christian families) on such an outing. Help your child develop his curiosity and thirst for godly wisdom by this activity.

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Visit the nursing home or retirement home and allow the children to talk to the men and women residents. Let them take gifts of food they have prepared, pictures they have drawn, or poems they have written. Your children will grow in wisdom as they relate to older people. They will learn compassion as they respond to those in need. They will learn the value of time and the need to use their early years well and for God’s glory (Eccles. 12:1-7). Have the elderly person recall the experiences of his or her youth. Take a photo album or scrapbook to share with the person or patient. Instruct your children to speak loudly for the benefit of those who are hard of hearing. A visit like this should enrich your children and be a blessing to others.

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Invite another family with children over for an afternoon of science experiments. This will help to reinforce what you teach your children in “science class” in their schooling. Several “Christian” oriented books are available to help you with this activity. If you know of someone who is knowledgeable in this field of knowledge, perhaps he or she could share something of value with the children.

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Have your children draw a map of the United States, North America, or the Bible Lands (find the latter in a Bible dictionary, Bible atlas, or in the back of your Bible). Your children could color the map (the various states or countries). Perhaps you could even make a topographical map. Use a piece of plywood for the base. Spread metal screen over it and nail it to the wood. Form mountains, valleys, rivers, and the like by manipulating (raising or lowering) the screen. Then apply a coat of plaster of Paris over the screen and allow it to dry. Now your child can paint all of the features on the map (boundaries, rivers, forests, deserts, dots for cities, etc.). This is an opportunity for you to work with your children on an interesting and educational project.

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In the summer look for caterpillars. Put them in a jar along with enough vegetation for them to eat until they make their chrysalis (cocoon). You can also buy the caterpillar’s cocoon or find one in the woods. Wait for them to emerge from their “house.” Make sure that you do not miss the butterfly’s entrance into this new form of life–for it can happen quickly! This project will illustrate metamorphosis–and there are spiritual applications you can make with this: A sinner transformed into a saint (2 Cor. 5:17)!

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Collect different kinds of flowers. Examine the petals and other portions of the blossoms. (Use a microscope if you have one.) Marvel at the intricate beauty that God has made. Then mount the flowers on scrapbook pages and identify them. The dried flowers will not be as beautiful as the newly-picked ones, but you will still be able to identify them in the future.

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Obtain a detailed map of the state in which you live. Let your children try to find all the cities, towns, and villages that have Biblical names. They might try this using the map alone at first, then allow them to use a Bible dictionary or concordance. This could also be done with a map of the entire United States. It will be interesting for them to learn that people who settled in a location and named the community must have had Biblical reasons for their choice! (Examples: Bethlehem, PA; Palestine, TX; Bethany, WV; Ephrata, PA; Salem, OH.)

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Make a model of the tabernacle. This special tent, along with its “furniture,” is described in Exodus 25-40. You may purchase (or order) the parts for this project at a religious book store, or (if you feel capable) you may actually build and sew the parts on your own (which is somewhat more difficult). As you help your children to make this model, you could read appropriate Biblical references on its construction, discuss the sacrifices offered at the tabernacle, and show how Christ fulfills the whole sacrificial system (see especially the book of Hebrews).

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Study the main religions of the world. Using a source that will describe the various religions (e.g., Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Shintoism, Animism, and modern Judaism), learn something of their history, their devotees, their leading tenets, their rituals, and their strength in various geographical areas. Especially note how they differ from the way of salvation through Christ Jesus.

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Help your sons and daughters construct a model of the ark. Let them read the account of Noah and the flood in Genesis 6-9, then help them build the model from cardboard (or even wood). Make sure that you note the proper dimensions and make the ark to proper scale. Perhaps it will even float! (The Institute for Creation Research, listed in the Appendix, offers a number of books on Noah and the flood.) This project will offer an excellent occasion to discuss God’s wrath upon sin and His gracious provision of deliverance to Noah and his family.

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Help your children learn the books of the Bible while they are still young! Since they will be using the Bible all of their lives and should begin to read it soon after they can read, they should learn all 66 books as early as possible. Have your children practice saying the books regularly. (The books can even be sung in a song!) In order to retain the books once they are memorized, you can test the children with a “sword drill” (simply call out the book and have your children hunt it up as quickly as possible). If this degenerates into rivalry, you can test each child separately.

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Write a poem together, choosing the best words to rhyme. You will need to agree on a suitable theme, determine the number of “feet” per line and pattern. (A rhyming dictionary is available if you cannot think of appropriate words.) You can write a poem for a relative, a person who is sick, or anyone you wish to bless. You may be able to put your poem to music and sing it as a song! When your children learn how to compose a verse, they can easily do this project alone.

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Have your children make grape juice from grapes, apple juice from apples, orange juice from oranges, and tomato juice from tomatoes. Do this by hand or use a juicer. This will be a refreshing and nutritious drink for the family. You can also preserve some for the winter.

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Work your way through the book of Proverbs, reading each verse. Have the children draw simple pictures that illustrate favorite proverbs or those proverbs that lend themselves to this kind of activity. The sheets of pictures could be placed in a binder to look at in the future. This activity will help to fix the meaning of the Proverbs more readily in the mind.

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Build houses and other buildings with Lincoln Logs or Lego blocks. Stress the logical construction of them. Your children can occupy themselves for some time with these simple, constructive toys. As parents, you should beware of destructive behavior that can manifest itself with this kind of “building” project.

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Have your older children make blocks for your younger children. Obtain the appropriate size of boards (about 2´ 2 or 1´ 2) at a lumber yard, or you may be able to find some at a construction site or from a carpenter. Saw the boards into small pieces of uniform lengths and sizes. Sand the edges down before use. The blocks do not need to be painted. Your children are now prepared for their own construction projects!

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Along with the blocks (mentioned above), your children may enjoy small rubber or plastic barnyard animals, wild animals, fences, trucks, and other models. They are realistic and wholesome–far different from the worldly toys sold in stores. You may need to hunt for these little animal figures, but they can be found. Of course, the popular “monster” toys or “sport car” toys so prevalent today should not be purchased.

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Baby-sit for a mother when she needs to go somewhere. Have your children help clean a busy mother’s house and dishes. They can wash, dry, and fold her clothes. Make sure that your own younger children do not touch or get into things! This project will help your children learn the quality of servanthood.

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Take your young daughter to the cloth store when you go shopping. Help her to understand why you chose certain modest patterns and shades of cloth rather than immodest ones. Allow her to make a selection for herself or someone else. You can combine this with the earlier suggestion of having your daughter learn how to sew.

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Have a “meal preparation day.” Books are available to show how to prepare meals weeks or a month in advance to save time. (The meals are then frozen for future use.) Children can peal potatoes and tomatoes, cut produce, open cans, and do a wide range of helpful activities on such an occasion. Make the day a happy time of “togetherness” in the kitchen. Perhaps even another mother and children could be involved in this workday. It may be tiring, but it can be fulfilling.

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Play “What If” in the car while traveling or at the dinner table. Example: “What if you were standing in line for a drink and someone cut in front of you. . . . What should you do?” Another example: “What if a playmate says, ‘Promise you won’t tell your parents. . . .’ What should you do?” This is a great learning tool. You will learn how your children are thinking and whether they are personally applying the principles of Scripture to everyday situations. You will also have an opportunity to guide their thinking into the right channels.

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Learn to make wall mottoes. Make them with the use of decoupage: Cut and sand a piece of wood to the size you need. Glue a picture on the wood (using special glue). Then paint over the picture with liquid plastic or prepared decoupage material. Use pictures from greeting cards or calendars. Learn calligraphy so you can print scriptures, sayings, or questions to be used on the item you are making. Even apart from decoupage, your children could simply print the message on a piece of white or colored poster board, cut to the proper size. Perhaps the girls could use cross stitching to make such scripture or picture wall hangings. (Always beware of ungodly pride as your children make these items.) Wall mottoes make excellent gifts for others!

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Obtain a butterfly net and go to the open fields. Try to scoop up insects and place them in jars. Then, at home, open a pictorial insect book and try to identify the ones you have caught. Discuss whether the insect is helpful or harmful.

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Girls can make their own paper dolls. These can be made out of cardboard. Simply draw the shapes of the figures and cut them out. Draw and color clothes on white paper or use construction paper to make the clothes, then cut them out. Mothers can teach much about modesty in this activity.

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On a rainy day, your children may play “house” in the living room. Drape a couple of sheets over the furniture to make “houses.” Bring a tray of treats for them to eat.

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Let your children prepare an entire meal as a gift for another family (fellow saints, a neighbor family, etc.). It need not be elaborate. Major on basics. Call ahead so the family will not already have their dinner prepared! This will foster a “giving” attitude in your children and will give them the joy of helping others. “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).

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Make your own home-made puzzle. Your child can paste a calendar picture on cardboard. Then he or she can draw the shapes of the pieces on the back and cut it all apart. The child should then turn the pieces over and try to put them together again. The pieces can be cut large, for easier assembly, or smaller, for more difficult assembly.

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Your child can build a bridge from scrap wood (or branches from trees) over a ditch or small creek. He will need a saw, hatchet, ax, hammer, and other tools. This could be a useful project for the benefit of others who would use the little bridge. It can also teach helpful woodworking skills.

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Build a doghouse for your dog. Your son may be able to draw the plans for the project (with your help and suggestions). Then let him tackle the job if he is capable. If he is too young, allow him to help as you take the lead. This will not only benefit Rover or Spotty, but it will help your son to learn building skills for life.

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Read a short book about a country overseas. Look up the country on a map; study its topographical features; eat a meal of food common to the area; learn of its resources and religions. Talk to someone who has visited there. Pray that God would send the gospel to this country.

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If you live near a university, you may be able to locate a foreign student from the country you have studied (simply call the appropriate office). Invite the student to your house for a meal and visit. He or she may even bring photographs to show you and your children. You will also be able to listen to the native language the student speaks. Have your children ask questions of the student, then let your children give the student a small gift they have made.

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Your child can learn something about foraging–from a knowledgeable adult or from a book. Then, learn how to cook and eat what you discover in the woods and in the fields. Make sure that you know what you are eating–for some plants are poisonous!

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Teach obedience training to your dog. A child can patiently teach his pet how to do something, using the incentive of praise and reward. Teach the dog for about 15 minutes each day, for dogs tire easily when being trained. This project can also be used as an object lesson to teach a child the importance of obedience in his own life.

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Make a swing of rope and tie this to a strong branch of a tree in your yard. Use a piece of wood for the seat. Instruct your child how to use this in a safe manner. Make sure there is sufficient drainage so a puddle and mud does not form under the swing.

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Your child can catch lightning bugs (fire flies) at night in the warm summer months. They can be placed in a jar. Marvel at how God has created various insects.

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In the winter, try to identify the tracks of animals in the snow. In the summer, you can do this by looking in the mud or soil. You can see tracks along a creek as well. An experienced adult can teach this or animal books can also show the tracks of various animals (raccoon, squirrel, opossum, skunk, rabbit, fox, ground hog, armadillo, deer, etc.). Your child could also mix plaster of Paris, place it in the tracks, and try to obtain a permanent record of his or her discovery.

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Have your child read the account of a person or incident in the Bible (e.g., Jacob’s departure for Haran, Joseph’s experiences with his brothers, Moses’ confrontation with Pharaoh, Elijah on Mt. Carmel, the miracles of Jesus, Paul’s travels in Acts, etc.). Then, during the daily family Bible time or devotions, let the child tell (in his or her own words) the story he personally read. Discuss lessons you can learn from the story.

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Your child can collect small animals (guinea pig, hamster, turtle, snake, chipmunk, mouse, lizard, etc.) and learn of them. Don’t be bitten by an animal—especially a wild one! Catch the wild animals in a trap that does not harm them. Keep such wild animals in a cage–then release them after a week of observation.

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Children can participate in the activities of Christian families. Consider a general “work day” for the saints. Children can help cut firewood, haul hay, collect brush, stack wood, pick and husk corn, dig potatoes, cut lawns, and pile grass clippings. They can be an important member of the work team. Wives and mothers can also help directly with the project–or prepare meals.

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At night, after sundown, take your children to the backyard or some dark location. (Those in the city may want to drive to the country area.) Spend time gazing into the sky. (Use a telescope if you can obtain one.) Try to identify the Big Dipper, Little Dipper, Venus, and other prominent heavenly bodies. Notice the Milky Way. You can be prepared for this beforehand by reading a book on stars, the moon, and the sun. (Beware, however, since most astronomy books are filled with Godless evolutionary falsehood.) Spend some time glorifying God and thinking about His wisdom and power displayed in the sky. Look up passages of Scripture that refer to creation and the heavenly bodies (cf. Psalm 8:3-6; 19:1-2; Job 9:9; etc.).

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Attend a house or farm auction. Teach your children how to have discernment as they examine the items for sale. Teach them whether to bid or not bid on a needed and useful object. (Beware of the danger of becoming antique conscious.)

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Help your children make positive, useful, and constructive handicrafts. There are dozens of different types. Children love to make and do things. Guard against making items that are simply decorative and useless, that simply produce clutter and serve no worthwhile purpose. Perhaps this could develop skills that would result in a home business.

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Your child may collect stamps and paste them in a scrap book. (Be careful of getting into expensive collecting or spending much time with this project.) A child can learn something of the history and geography of the nations of the world by collecting stamps from various countries. The child could look up the country in a reference work to learn something of its culture, products, and history.

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Your child may be able to wash or paint the house, garage, storage building, or farm buildings. Be reason-able and cautious here; do not encourage any activity that would be dangerous (climbing too high, etc.). Parental supervision is important for some of these projects. A child also could paint the interior of the house–one room at a time.

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Teach your daughter how to have a task of her own in the home. For example, teach her how to bake good, nutritious bread–and let her have this as her own responsibility. (She could even have the responsibility of grinding the grain to produce nutritious, fresh flour.) Other household tasks are also feasible (laundry, cleaning floors, washing dishes, cleaning windows, cleaning the bathroom, etc.).

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Your child may start a “Rock Box.” This need not be too difficult or formal. Simply collect interesting, attractive, colorful, and different types of rocks in the special box. Beyond this, your son or daughter could discover what the Bible says about stones and rocks. (Many of these references would use rock in a metaphorical sense to refer to God.)

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Have a project to read and study what the book of Proverbs says about our speech. You could make this a family activity or it could be something that one or more of your children do. Encourage each other, especially as you converse together, to apply what you learn from this project. Teach your children to “put a guard” over their lips–yet use their mouth to bless others.

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Take an single, older, or lonely person on a family picnic. Or you may take such a person on a nature walk or go camping overnight. This will help your children to show an interest in others (especially those alone)–and they will enjoy the opportunity this provides them to bless others.

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Your family can take an interest in the children of a single-parent household. Go on an outing with the children and the single parent (e.g., a picnic, a trip to the zoo, camping, etc.). Help your children to understand that we should have much concern and compassion for “orphans,” “widows,” and others without a full family.

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Have the children memorize all of the countries in a continent (e.g., South America or Europe) or portion of a continent (e.g., South Africa or West Africa). Use a globe or world atlas to locate each country. Especially have them find and learn the location of countries where your acquaintances live.

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Draw a map of the Bible lands of the Old Testament or New Testament (see the maps in a Bible atlas or the maps in the back of your Bible), but omit the names of cities, rivers, and countries. Give this blank map to your child and have him or her “fill it in” with the appropriate names (which can be found on the original map that you used). This will help your son or daughter to become familiar with the geography of the lands of the Bible (and this will help in understanding the text of Scripture).

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Your child can buy or build an “ant farm” (two panes of glass or pieces of plastic in a wooden frame that holds the panes about an inch or two apart with loose soil between). Place ants inside and supply “ant food” (bread, cereal, sweets, etc.) through a “door” at the top. Observe them as they build their tunnels, construct their nests, and collect their food. (Take note of Proverbs 6:6!) (One of these may be purchased in a local “hobby shop” or from Nature’s Workshop, listed in the Appendix.)

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Take the children to distribute tracts. Go up and down the streets in your neighborhood, knock on the door, and have your children hand the person an appropriate tract (one which presents Jesus and the way of salvation). You can also go into town where people walk on the sidewalks, and have your children give a tract to all who pass by. You may also go to a park and give tracts to the walkers, joggers, and bicyclers. Or simply move from group to group, distributing tracts. Most people will not close their hearts to a child who earnestly and sincerely offers them something to read. This is excellent training! It could result in reaching some “honest and good” hearts for Christ!

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Develop a “cottage industry” to help with the family finances (greenhouse growing, breadmaking, etc.) Children can have a helpful part in such an effort and it may help to build family togetherness. If God blesses the effort, the father may be able to stay at home with the family all day long!

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Children can learn to make rag rugs for family use, for the use of friends, or to sell to outsiders. All they need is a loom, a supply of clean rags, and a little know-how (which they may gain from someone who already knows how to make the rugs or through a “how to” book).

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A child’s mind is a fertile field that must be planted with wholesome seed! A child should be encouraged to memorize verses of Scripture. You can make this a family project or just limit it to the children. They may begin by memorizing just one or two verses a week. Then, this could increase to several verses a week or even one verse a day. They would need to devote time for review in order to retain what they have learned. The more they memorize, the more they will be able to memorize. (The mind is strengthened through use.) This project will reap a harvest of righteousness all of their lives!

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You can interest your son or daughter to begin writing a daily or weekly journal. This may include not only current events in his or her life, but also prayers to God, personal commitments to do God’s will, and plans for the immediate and long-range future. Regular writing in such a journal will stimulate thinking and encourage literary abilities. When they grow to become adults, they will not be hampered by an inability to express themselves in writing (as is a problem with many grown-ups).

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A child can begin to edit and produce a little weekly or monthly paper to be mailed to relatives and friends. It may include typed stories, poems, Bible verses, Scripture quizzes, or news items. After the originals are typed by the child, they may be copied wherever this can be done most economically in your community. This project can be spiritually rewarding to the child (or all of your children) and would be encouraging to other families.

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Encourage your child to read godly, educational, and edifying books. (Reading is one of the most important skills you can teach your children when they are young.) Buy story books that inspire character growth. Children of all ages may also enjoy and learn by looking through picture books. Some may be of animals, birds, insects, fish, or reptiles. Other books may be on the sky, the earth, the heavenly bodies, the rivers, and the oceans. Still others describe how mechanical items work, how to do certain tasks, how to construct things. Yet, in all of the reading that your child does, always make sure that his or her priority is the Bible itself as well as related books that will help the child to understand and apply the Scriptures in a practical way.

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Some helpful secular books may be purchased for your children at used book sales, but beware of any objectionable contents. (Most have violence, warfare, nationalism, immodest clothing, evolution, and ungodly attitudes portrayed in the books.). There is a great need to censor such books before the child reads and looks at them. An idea: Make your own stock of books available to other parents and children. Hopefully, you will be able to borrow (censored) books from other discerning Christian families. Another idea: The community of believers can have a library of quality books for children (and adults) to borrow!

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An older child (adolescent) can stay with another (trusted) Christian family for a week or two (to help a mother after the birth of a child) or a person after surgery in the hospital. Parents can keep in daily contact with the child by telephone or visits. This would express and develop a servant spirit in your daughter, and give valuable experience for her own life.

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Allow your mature child to “sit in” on a meeting of adults in which serious issues are being discussed. Your child can learn the importance of knowing the Scriptures well and keeping a Christlike attitude in conversations. He or she will be motivated to learn and grow to be able to interact with others just as you do.

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Take your child to distant places with you. As you travel, discuss the significance of what you observe and experience. Teach your child how to think, how to reason, how to make choices between two or more alternatives (Heb. 5:12). Use such a time to develop good conversational skills. Ask questions that will encourage your child to answer in a wise and godly way.

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Teach your child how to encounter a new activity or subject and master it. First, choose a particular subject (e.g., how to raise rabbits). Show him or her how to read books and do research, how to talk to others about it (interview people who already know the subject), how to learn by trial and error, how to learn from the mistakes, how to solve problems, how to overcome obstacles, as your son or daughter pursues a mastery of the activity. This should be excellent training for your children’s future way of life.

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Your young person can show a loving and helpful attitude by taking an interest in the older people in your neighborhood. For instance, your son could regularly mow the lawn for a local widow. Your daughter could bake some healthful cookies (yes, there are some healthful ones!) or bread for an older neighbor.

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During the summer months, your teen sons or daughters can gather the neighborhood children together in the mornings for an informal “vacation Bible school.” They can sing songs, tell or read Bible stories, draw pictures, do crafts, and other activities with the children to communicate the gospel of Christ and Biblical teaching. (They would need to obtain parental permission before they do this.) Materials specifically prepared for this kind of project are also available—but they may also prepare their own “original” materials.

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When taking a trip with your children, let them look around the country-side (or city) and name the numerous blessings for which they are thankful to God. One child may say, “I’m thankful to God for evergreen trees!” Another may say, “I’m glad for ears of corn!” A third may remark, “I’m thankful that we have mailboxes to receive and send mail.” This will encourage them to have a grateful heart. (Items are almost endless: sidewalks, sewers, silos, chickens, paved roads, clouds, stores, etc.)

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Older and experienced children can be responsible for a family photo album. They should collect the pictures, find out the dates and occasions for each picture, and carefully print (or type) the captions or running descriptions of the views. They will get a perspective of history with this project (as they view photos of grandmother or great-grandfather). They will also feel that they are contributing something to the family’s togetherness.

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A young person can make a special project of learning something about a given denomination. He or she can learn the origin, founder, and history of the sect through the years. The child can learn the main tenets and practices of the group–as well as Scriptural verses that would show the errors of them (if they actually are in error). Then the child can collect pictures or articles dealing with the group. All of this would help the child to feel more confident in understanding the religious world in which we live, and well as in contending for the truth and refuting error in various sectarian groups.

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Interest your child in preparing a taped “letter” for the benefit of a friend or family who has moved away. He or she would use a tape recorder and take it (with cassette tape) to various ones who know the family. Each person would record a special “hello,” a more lengthy message, or share a verse on the tape. The child would then send the tape to the friend as a surprise! (One cassette tape generally weighs about 2 ounces–and requires two stamps.) This project adds a special personal feature that the recipients will greatly appreciate.

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Your child can write a special “character sketch” of a leading personality in the Bible. First, the child will check a concordance for all the instances of the name. Then the child can read the major portions in the Bible dealing with the personality. Perhaps he or she can also consult a Bible dictionary. Then let your child write a short (1- to 3-page) survey of the personality, noting the person’s character qualities and weaknesses. (Suggestions: Noah, Abraham, Samuel, Elijah, Josiah, Jeremiah, Mary of Bethany, Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, Peter, John, Timothy, Paul.)

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Special days can be set aside from time to time (such as a Saturday) for your growing child to devote the entire day to God. Teach the young person how he or she can read the Bible, pray, memorize verses, read a spiritually uplifting book, and sing songs in devotion to the Lord during this time. Your son or daughter could even fast for the day. Stimulate a spiritual hunger in your children so that they will grow to become strong and mature men and women for God.

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You can have special days of remembrance with your children. These can be yearly occasions in which you give special thanks to God for blessings that He has granted. For example, you could remember the “new birthday” of your older children (the day your son or daughter was born again). You may have a special day of remembrance for certain happy events or certain crises that your family has faced. These would be times that your children would look forward to and occasions when they would be especially aware of God’s mercy and loving providence.

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Teach your child how to study the Bible. A child of eight can learn how to use a concordance. A young person can learn the Greek alphabet and use the Greek to look up words. Children can make word studies, compare translations, check references, and use a Bible dictionary. Things that you teach your pre-puberty and adolescent son or daughter will be valuable (and essential) as they grow through their teen years and beyond!

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You may be able to make your own family games. Use some ingenuity, use paper and cardboard, pictures and designs, paste and tape–and you may discover something that works! One parent explains, “We manufactured a ‘homemade’ game of ‘Memory’ that we would spread out on the living room floor especially in the winter evening time in front of the wood stove. Everyone, including the very young children, would enjoy playing. Firm and tested, developed memory skills!”

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Visit other families who have children and those who do not have children. Visit older couples and singles. Teach your children how to behave in the presence of others their age and how to be respectful in the presence of those who are older. They should be properly controlled and supervised at such times. Visiting is something that your children will do the remainder of their lives and this will be valuable in their own outreach for the Lord Jesus.

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Take your children on visits that will give them a perspective on life, time, people, and suffering. They could visit a city mission, a hospital, a rehab center, a clinic, an orphanage, a nursing home, a home for the mentally retarded, a housing project, a library, a university, and other places and institutions. Discuss their feelings and thoughts on the experience and any people they meet. Discuss the spiritual impact that the visit has upon them.

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Take a walk in a cemetery. Observe the monuments. Especially read the names, dates, and other inscriptions on the gravestones. (Older markers may have short verses and Bible passages but, regretfully, they may also be hard to read because of weather exposure.) Discuss the significance of life and death with your children. Let them express their emotions and thoughts as they think about the people (even children) buried in the cemetery. Help them to see the importance of living for Jesus and eternity while they are still young. Read appropriate passages to them (e.g., Eccles. 12:1-7; Psalm 39:4-5; 23:1-6; 73:23-24).

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Have your children look up the language source and meaning of their first and second given names. Use a “baby book” or complete dictionary for these meanings. (Examples: John means “Yahweh is gracious” from the Hebrew; Daniel means “God is my judge” from the Hebrew; Kathy or Kathleen mans “pure” from the Greek; Monica means “advisor” from Latin; and David means “beloved” from the Hebrew.) Next, have them think of a character quality (or some spiritual significance) that could be connected to the name. (Example: David could be “beloved of God and lover of God; Kathy could be “pure before the Lord.”) Then have your children find a verse or several verses from the Bible that would relate to this meaning. (For David, one could choose 1 John 3:1-2 or Ephesians 2:4; for Kathy, one could decide on Matthew 5:8 or 1 Timothy 1:5.) Next, have the children memorize their chosen verses. Finally, have them write a statement of motivation in light of what they have learned. (Examples: David: “I am thankful for God’s great love of me and I will love God and others with all of my heart.” Kathy: “God has made me pure through Christ and I will be pure in thought, word, and deed for Him.”) Your child may even want to type up these findings on “parchment” paper, frame the sheet, and hang it on the wall as a source of inspiration.

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Your child should be able to construct an elementary “family tree” which diagrams his ancestry. He should list the names, birthdates, and death dates (if they have died) of his grandparents, great grandparents, uncles and aunts, great uncles and aunts, cousins, and second cousins (as well as his relatives through marriage). These relationships may be arranged in the form of a “tree” on a large sheet of paper or poster board. It would be helpful if he could interview his oldest forebears (grandparents? great grandparents?) to obtain some of this information. This will give your child an understanding of who he is and will help him to understand family relationships. (Be careful that this exercise does not become too involved, lest it lose its true value.)

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Have your children find in the Bible as many names, titles, and positions for Jesus as they can. Let them make a list of these, along with one or two supporting scriptures for each one. During family times, the father could discuss the significance of each word the children found. (There are dozens of different names and positions your children may locate. Examples: Son of God, Lamb, Prince of Peace, Word of God, etc.) You can do this not only with Jesus but also with God the Father.

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One of the most important activities for children will be connected with the special time of “family devotions” (or Bible instruction time) you spend with them each day. Whether you have this in the morning (before or after breakfast), at supper time, or in the evening (before bedtime), it should be done each day or nearly each day (some have had it twice–morning and evening). What can you do at this time? You can read the Bible (in an accurate translation the children can understand.) You can read or tell Bible stories. Ask questions about Bible stories you read or have read in the past. You can memorize and review verses. Learn and sing songs and hymns. Pray together. A number of other activities for children we discuss in this booklet could be carried on at this time. (Without the stimulation of television and other worldly activities, your children should be more able to sit still and enjoy this activity–and even look forward to it!)

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Have your children make a list of all the qualities or virtues described in the Bible (e.g., love, compassion, courage, order, diligence, patience, etc.). Let them write a definition of each one, write an example for each, and memorize a verse that either mentions or describes the quality. Talk about these at the dinner table as a family and encourage the children to apply these to their life.

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Similar to the above exercise, have your children list all of the negative traits (or sins) mentioned in the Bible. Define them, give examples of them, and memorize a verse for each one. Discuss each one as a family and pray that the negative traits may be rooted out of each heart. (A list of virtues and sins is available upon request.)

Concerns to Keep in Mind

As you seek to carry out the suggestions in this booklet, remember to bear in mind what was shared with you in the introduction. The activities listed here presuppose an entire family life that is centered on the Lord Jesus Christ and His purposes in this world. They assume that you, as parents, truly know God through Jesus Christ, that you are directing your lives according to the will of God revealed in holy Scripture, and that you are determined to have a truly Christian home–unmixed with worldly and carnal influences. Apart from this comprehensive approach to the Christian life and family relationships, the wholesome activities suggested will be less than effective in leading your children in the ways of righteousness.

Keep in mind the following points as you consider how to implement the activities suggested. First, be willing to do some of these activities as a family. However, some of them require more personal attention to a specific son or daughter. Other activities can almost wholly be carried on by the child himself or herself. Your time as parents is limited, so it is important that your child take the lead in doing many of these activities–with your supervision.

Second, remember where your priorities lie. Christ Jesus must always be given first place (Col. 1:18)–before your children (Matt. 10:37; cf. Gen. 22:2,12) and even before your spouse (Luke 14:26-27; 18:29). Therefore, although your family must be given much attention and interest, you must give priority to Christ by continuing in prayer (Eph. 6:18), Scripture study (Acts 17:11), worship (John 4:23-24), and other spiritual pursuits. Family life can absorb great amounts of time, but you must not allow this to drown out your own devotion to the Lord and His service.

Third, do not try to do too many activities all at once. It is possible to become overwhelmed if a dozen suggestions are being worked on at the same time. Instead, try several and see how these work. Then go on to several more. You may check off the particular activities that you have completed or tried (in the boxes provided). You may also want to date the given activity for future reference.

Fourth, take special care that you do not encourage your children in a way that would promote pride and ungodly boasting. Many of their accomplishments–while good in themselves–may be used of the enemy to develop ungodly prideful attitudes. Consider the “award” mentality fostered by the Boy Scouts and the public schools, an emphasis that fosters pride in performance and accomplishment. Rather, encourage your children to make something or do something to please God, to please you, and to use their talents as good stewards of God (1 Cor. 4:2,7). Monitor their attitudes and reactions as they display their projects to others.

Fifth, it is generally better for your children to make something or do something that has value than for them to simply occupy their time and attention. There is a place for the latter, as an occasional diversion or recreation, but their emphasis should be on the former. Encourage them in that which is positive, constructive, and worthwhile, that which benefits the family or others, and that which contributes to their spiritual growth.

Sixth, your children’s reading materials should probably be previewed (surveyed) by you or a trusted fellow-saint before your children read or look at them. Worldly and humanistic concepts are so prevalent today that most literature is tainted, thus it should be carefully edited (for quality control!). Even religious error is found in some literature, and this too should be examined lest your children be influenced spiritually by the false doctrine. We know one conservative private school in which all literature (including the secular encyclopedia) is extensively censored–with pictures and portions cut out or pasted over to eliminate immodesty, evolution, and other false or evil parts.

Seventh, be careful where you go with your children. Sometimes you will need to give careful explanation before or after a trip to deal with the error (such as a visit to a museum). Sometimes you will need to avoid certain places at certain times (such as a beach in the summer or a public place, such as a zoo, in the warm months) to avoid gross immodesty. Paul wrote, “I want you to be wise in what is good, and innocent in what is evil” (Rom. 16:19b; cf. 1 Cor. 14:20). Let your children be innocent and naive regarding the perversity in “this present evil age” (Gal. 1:4).

Eighth, evaluate all of the projects in this booklet and any others in light of the word of God. Like Paul, we must always ask, “What does the Scripture say?” (Rom. 4:3). All Scripture is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). If any project is in harmony with the revelation of God, feel free to lead your children in it. If it falls short of God’s word in any way, do not participate in it.

Ninth, consider the positive and negative aspects of any activity for your children in light of Paul’s words: “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things” (Phil. 4:8). Test your children’s activities and projects–and test your own in light of this counsel.

Conclusion

Have you found any suggestions in this booklet that you can use with your children? Hopefully, you have found many of them and that you will begin some of them immediately. This booklet can become a future source of help as you seek interesting, wholesome, constructive, and positive activities for the sons and daughters God has given to you. Take the initiative in bringing educational, stimulating, and spiritually-oriented experiences into the life of your children.

Seek God’s wisdom in training your children. “Bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). Use every means at your disposal to carry out this divine mandate. Seek every help you can find to carry out your responsibility in guiding your children in the ways of God and the path of righteousness. Let this study be a help as you carry out this blessed privilege!

Sources of Information and Literature

There are not many sources for good children’s literature. Yet quality, accurate, and character-building reading materials can offer many positive influences for your sons and daughters. The following list of publishers may offer helpful titles. While we cannot endorse all of their respective materials, at least some is worth owning and using in your home. Write for information from the addresses below:

  • Rod and Staff Publishers, Inc.

Crockett, KY 41413

  • Institute for Creation Research

P.O. Box 2667, El Cajon, CA 92021-0667

  • Pathway Bookstore

2580 N 250 W, LaGrange, IN 46761

  • Nature’s Workshop

P.O. Box 73, Goshen, IN 46526

  • Answers in Genesis

P.O. Box 6330, Florence, KY 41022

  • Whole Heart Catalogue

P.O. Box 228, Route 1, Box 617A, Walnut Springs, TX 76690

  • Apologetics Press, Inc.

230 Landmark Drive, Montgomery, AL 36117

  • Christian Light Publications, Inc.

Harrisonburg, VA 22801

  • Creation Science Ministries

P.O. Box 26225, Colorado Springs, CO 80936

  • W.R.P. Books and Publishing

P.O. Box 1018, Lubbock, TX 79408

  • Christian Courier

P.O. Box 55265, Stockton, CA 95205

  • Institute in Basic Life Principles

Box One, Oak Brook, IL 60522-3001

  • Timberdoodle Company

E 1510 Spencer Lake Road, Shelton, WA 98584

  • The Elijah Company

Rt. 2, Box 100-B, Crossville, TN 38555

  • Green Leaf Press

1570 Old LaGuardo Road, Lebanon, TN 37087

(Compiled by Richard Hollerman, with the help of interested persons)

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