I mentioned a little while ago that I was going to start a unit on the fruit of the Spirit with my kids. I wanted to do this because rather than always trying to “correct” bad behavior, I want to give them something to strive for; characteristics to aim to BE instead of how not to act. My parents were good about encouraging us to memorize scripture verses as kids, and I want to do that with my children, as well. I want God’s Word to really be written on their hearts.
So we’re studying the fruit of the Spirit and this is not a part of our homeschool curriculum, it is completely separate. People often think that you have to homeschool your kids in order to do things like this with them. Sure, homeschooling does mean we’re already in the “education” mode at home most of the time and it does allow us more time at home during the day for this sort of thing; but impressing God’s Word on our children’s hearts does not have to be an elaborate craft project or unit. And as parents, we should always be taking the time to intentionally teach our kids what we want them to learn, especially things they aren’t being taught in public school. So if you’re looking for ideas, feel free to use these! (They’re not all mine, I got the idea for the unit as a whole from a blog I follow, but I’ve incorporated some of my own stuff.) Some of the ideas are on the crafty side, but you can skip those things and simply focus on the Bible passages, discussions, and memorization. I like using projects with my young kids because I believe it helps them remember. And if they experience the Bible in a unique way rather than just hear it, it’s more likely to stick with them.
I introduced the “unit” (verse/ Bible study–whatever you want to call it) by showing them the verse that I had written out on a poster board. I left each “fruit” in bubble letters so they can be colored in with the color chosen to represent that fruit. We talked about how trees bear fruit and recalled how last year we learned that Jesus is like our “tree” and we are the “branches” and if we have Him in our lives and hearts, we will bear fruit like listed in this scripture. I told them that each word would be represented by a real fruit and we were going to talk about them during the next several weeks. I made them each a paper with the real fruits drawn on them that they could paint. An idea I loved from the blog’s unit was using scented paint for the fruit–what better way to make things stick with our kids than to incorporate as many of their senses as possible?! So we painted with sugar-free flavored gelatin! It was really neat and they loved it! The next week we repeated the verse and focused on LOVE with our projects. I’ll save that for another post. 😉
You know, Randy and I once heard some really great advice that we’re trying to adhere to as our kids grow and want to become involved in more things outside the home (or, we think we want them more involved). We were told to sit down together (just he and I) and come up with a family “mission statement” and to set goals for our family. Then, when any new activity (whether it’s a one-time thing, or on-going) comes about, see if it fits under the umbrella of our mission statement. If it doesn’t, don’t do it. If it does, then ask if it’s necessary–if it fills the gap of something missing, or if we’re already doing something similar and we don’t need a new activity to add to it. There are so many great ideas and options out there of activities to do with our children! And we can easily feel pressured to do them all! But we don’t have to. Randy and I have decided (along with many of our friends) that the most important thing for us is to raise our children to know Christ. The second thing is family togetherness and unity. We want to be unified as a family, and we want to want to spend time together. Keeping these things in the forefront does actually mean saying “no” to a lot of really good stuff–even church stuff, if it cuts into our family time that week. We want the time to be able to talk to our kids about the Bible, what they’re learning in school, and how they are feeling. And we want the time to make great memories together! We’re very fortunate to be able to homeschool, and I know that’s not the case for everyone. I wasn’t homeschooled as a child and I still have the best memories of my family being together, playing games, eating dinner together every night, and talking about (and being quizzed on) the Bible! I guess I hope I’m creating some similar memories with my own kids…