Faith is formed in life together. Those of us who will be spending time at home with our kids while they are off school next week will have an opportunity to connect with them in ways that our schedules don’t typically afford us. Rather than facing the week with a shallow sense of optimism, or worse, dread, why not take a few intentional steps to engage your kids on issues of faith?
Here are some ideas of activities with the potential to form faith that you can do with your kids for little or no dough.
Make a trip to a cemetery
Spend some time exploring together. Instruct your kids like you would if leading children’s worship: “Walk slowly and carefully. Talk quietly because someone might be talking to God, and we don’t want to disturb them.” Allow your kids to do gravestone rubbings, to take photos of headstones or flowers, and talk about history together. This can be a great opportunity for your kids to share what they have learned about in school recently, or for you to talk about the history of your family. If you visit a cemetery where family members or friends are buried, bring a flower or a flag for your kids to put on a grave as appropriate.
Some cemeteries offer great resources for self-guided walking tours, like this one in Kitchener, Ontario. This resource from PBS is designed for teachers, but is great for families to use as well. Since it is Lent, you can use this time to talk about the hope we have in Christ, that death is not the end of the story. Pointing out the Scripture verses on headstones can be a helpful way to do this.
Host coffee time
Give everyone a mug of something (coffee, milk, juice, horchata, whatever). Sit around the table and ask each other questions. You can find a list online, come up with your own, or just have each person come up with a question for everyone to answer. You can do this as a family or invite friends or neighbors to join you. Since Palm Sunday will be coming up, read and reflect on Luke 19:28-44 or Matthew 21:1-11. Here are some additional ideas for connecting with the Palm Sunday story.
Take a photo scavenger hunt
Use phone, cell phones, that old digital camera you have lying around. Invite a friend or two to join you. Take the kids to a public place like a park, a downtown area, or a mall. There are lots of ideas for photo scavenger hunts online, like this one on Pinterest. Talk with your kids afterward about seeing and observing. Read 1 Corinthians 13 together, highlighting verse 12. The Message version of this passage is especially good to use with kids.
Play library detectives
Go to the library prepared to research a topic, a person in your family tree, or your community. Let your kids show you what they can do with the library search engines. Have fun searching together. Read Psalm 139 together afterward. Tell your kids about what it means to you that God knows you. Ask them how it makes them feel to be known by God.
Have family story time
Explain to your children that before everyone had cell phones, the internet, and television, people used to read books together! Commit to reading together during spring break. There are lots of ways to do this: read one book together throughout the week, read one children’s book together a day (pick one from your shelves or get some from the library), read books all by the same author or with the same theme, like sun shine or pets. Maybe have everyone in the family make or plan a meal together related to one of the books you read.
Make cards and send letters
Use the free time during spring break to make cards or write letters to the missionaries that your church supports, prisoners, or shut-ins. Read Hebrews 13:1-3 together, and talk about what kinds of hospitality you appreciate receiving how you you might extend hospitality to others.
Plan family worship
Encourage your kids to plan a short worship service for your family at home. It’s a great way to teach your children about the elements of a worship service (here are the elements that one Christian Reformed congregation highlights on it’s website. Maybe on the first day of break, pick a theme verse or story or passage for the week as a family. Use that passage for your family worship. Spend time planning, learning, and rehearsing together.
Regardless of what you choose to do with your kids during spring break, take the time to let them know that they are loved—loved by you and loved by God. Your kids will appreciate it—if not today, then someday when they are old enough to look back and recognize what a great parent you were!