Our 24 Family Ways + New Scripture Set Bundle!

When my oldest children were preschool age, I incorporated Bible lessons and scripture memory into our Morning Time. At that point, we primarily read from The Jesus Storybook Bible and I dabbled in the devotions from Leading Little Ones to God. We also memorized short passages of scripture that I hand-picked. While I loved both of those resources and still use them now, I wanted something we could do as a family that would focus more on character training and Biblical application. 

My husband and I decided that it was time to prioritize a time in our daily rhythm that he could lead the family in devotions and prayer. I was about to have our fourth child and I knew that fitting everything in our days with a new baby and a toddler was going to be challenging. We didn’t want this area of discipleship and biblical instruction to fall through the cracks, so we looked at our rhythm and decided to try family devotions over breakfast time on the weekdays. My husband shifted his work schedule a bit so he could be home most mornings to lead this time. We have been gathering for family devotions now each weekday morning over breakfast for about 8 months and it has been so great for our family.

After much searching, I decided on the family devotional, Our 24 Family Ways by Clay Clarkson. The devotional’s premise is that you are creating a culture in your home of how your family thinks and acts.  Based on the idea that we are called to “train up a child in the way he should go”, Clarkson maps out 24 ways which you can use to teach and instruct your children. I loved this idea because I felt like it was giving clarity and verbiage to the character traits I desire to see in my children. We refer to the 24 ways given in this book all the time now, even after finishing the devotional, to redirect heart attitudes and behaviors. 

The devotional’s layout is simple. It is set up to be used for 24 weeks, one week per Family Way. The 24 weeks are broken into 6 sections. 

The six sections are:

  1. Concerning authorities in our family: these ways address love and obedience to God, parents, and other people of authority. 
  2. Concerning relationships in our family: these ways address having a heart of love, service, encouragement, and forgiveness towards others. 
  3. Concerning possessions in our family-: these ways address thankfulness, contentment, generosity, and stewardship of belongings.
  4. Concerning work in our family: these ways address diligence, taking initiative, working cooperatively, and taking personal responsibility for cleanliness.
  5. Concerning attitudes in our family: these ways address choosing joy, being a peacemaker, patience, and showing grace to others.
  6. Concerning choices in our family: these ways address making right choices in the midst of peer pressure, self-control, and truthfulness.

Each section has 4 Family Ways and each Family way includes a picture with a story starter for discussion, and 5 days of questions, scripture readings, discussion prompts, and prayer ideas. Each day is presented using the acronym ARTS.

A – Ask a Question

This section gives the leader questions to get the children chatting before reading the bible passage.

R – Read the Bible

Bible passages or stories that are applicable to each day’s topic are listed here with a short summary. My kids loved to use their own Bibles to look up these passages and take turns reading aloud to the family. 

T – Talk about it

Here, questions are given that relate to the passage as well as open up discussion for life application.

S – Speak to God

In this section, prayer prompts are offered as suggestions. 

In addition to that, each week has one passage of scripture intended for memorization, some commentary, and a character trait highlight. Our family devotional time is about 30 minutes. We could easily fit everything in each day, as well as take a few minutes for reviewing previous weeks’ verses that we had memorized.

Here are the reasons we loved using Our 24 Family Ways:

It was engaging for children of all ages

We used this devotional when my oldest children were 5 and 7 years old and most of the content was perfectly suited for their age, but could absolutely be used for children older as well. We did skip over some questions and adjust the wording of some things to make it easier for them to grasp, but for the most part it was a great fit. 

It was easy to open and use with no preparation

Each morning my husband would open the book, glance over the topic and was able to jump in and lead without missing a beat. 

It set us up for life application and practical training

The verbiage of the ways gave my husband I language to use that my children knew from devotional time as we addressed situations in our home. I found this super helpful for training and discipline and plan to continue to use these ways in our home for years.

It encouraged the children to think and discuss

Each day’s devotional is based on scripture and the prompt questions get the children thinking and talking, rather than the parent reading long passages and telling the children what to think. I loved watching my children’s cognitive and language skills develop over the time we used this devotional.

It is designed to bring your family closer to God and each other

I loved the idea that each Family Way that we taught was empowering the children to take a step nearer to God and to us as a family unit as we talked about it being something that we all collectively do in our family.

Each week I wrote the Family Way and the passage for memorization on our chalkboard that hangs behind our dining room table. I would also write each person’s initial and 4 boxes for each person to check off as we recited the scripture we were memorizing that week. On Monday’s we introduced the verse by reading and reciting it together a few times. The rest of the days we each got a chance to recite it from memory and check off a box if we were able to say it without looking. 

In addition to using the devotional, I created the Scripture Sets as a tool to use during our school lessons to give the kids extra practice with the passages presented in the book for weekly scripture memory. I tried to think of short activities that my children could do each day of the week to reinforce memorization and application of the passage. I designed each passage with a standard and shortened version so that younger learners can participate too.

You can find these sets for all 24 Family Ways in my shop. Whether or not you choose to use this devotional with your family, this 24 week Scripture Set curriculum can be used to help memorize excellent selections of passages of scripture. You can purchase each set individually or save $40 when you buy them as a bundle.

Here is what I included in each Scripture Set:

  • Tracing: Children trace the verses to help practice letter formation as well as reinforce the memory work as they write.
  • Journaling: Children apply the scripture and practice creative writing by finishing the sentence. They can then illustrate their journal entry in the blank space provided.
  • Cut and Paste: Children cut out each phrase or word and then paste them in the correct order on the lines. 
  • Fill in the Blank: Children can practice copying, memory work, and letter formation by filling in the missing words.
  • Copy Work: Children will copy the selection to using proper spacing, punctuation, and capitalization to create a “perfect copy.” This activity will improve your student’s penmanship, grammar, and punctuation skills.

You can watch my igtv about Our 24 Family Ways and Scripture Sets here.

Helping Kids Handle Big Emotions: Feelings Wheel & Calm Down Cards

Feelings Wheel for Kids and Calm Down Cards

Picture this. I am standing over the stove stirring dinner while holding the fussy infant, and my toddler sneaks in behind me, bringing a scoop of dirt in the house and pours it on the rug. Simultaneously, my five-year-old is wailing because her big brother allegedly took the toy she was playing with from her hand and scratched her in the meantime. The big brother is stomping up the stairs shouting angrily that she is lying and he didn’t do anything. I can feel my face getting hot as the chaos and emotions are swirling around the room–and most of them, inside of myself. 

As an adult I have learned to identify what I am feeling in that moment and usually how to control my impulses, but even as a 35-year old woman with years and years of practice, I still have moments where the big feelings get the best of me and I react poorly. If that is true for us as adults, how much harder is it for children who haven’t had nearly as much education or practice?

This is just a quick snapshot of how quickly things can turn from peace to disorder in so many of my days and probably yours too. I wish I could just snap my fingers and all the big emotions in all of us could just settle down in moments like that. Since that isn’t possible, it is important for me to model to my children what healthy emotion regulation looks like. For me, in that moment, I may take a deep breath and ask my older children to go outside for a minute so I can handle one issue at a time and calm down before addressing their spat. I have learned what triggers me and certain strategies to use in those situations to help myself practice self-control.

This is not a skill we are born with, but rather it has to be taught, modeled, and practiced. As their parents, it is one of the most important things we can teach our children. A child’s capacity to identify and regulate their emotions affects their family and peer relationships, attention skills, and long-term mental health. A child who cannot self-regulate and throws tantrums constantly puts a strain on all the relationships in the household. Kids who don’t have the ability to control their feelings or behavior can have a harder time making or keeping friends. The inability to self-regulate emotions can lead to traits like anger, aggression, withdrawal, or anxiety. I have already seen glimpses of this in one of my young children, so I am on a journey to be more intentional in this area.

After multiple messy situations that arose where I found myself trying to sort out emotions with my children and talk through how they could manage those emotions differently, I decided I needed to be more intentional in teaching them and having a plan before the situation arose. I knew I needed something fun and visual. I decided it was time to have a go-to tool, so I created The Feelings Wheel For Kids and Calm Down Cards. 

Feelings Wheel

The Feelings Wheel

As you can see on the wheel, the emotions I used are separated into 4 colors. This is known as the Four Zones of Regulation and is often used in classrooms and in occupational therapy. I simplified the feelings and created simple visuals for each one. Here is a quick summary about the four zones. 

The Green Zone

The green zone is used to describe when your child is in a calm state and ready to talk, listen, and learn. The emotions in this zone are calm, happy, and focused. This is the “goal zone”. If you are trying to read or do schoolwork and your child seems distracted, you could talk with your child about their feelings and how to get back to this zone before continuing lessons.

The Yellow Zone

The yellow zone is a place where the child typically still has some control, but they aren’t in the ideal zone for learning and relating. In this zone I have put anxious, silly, and confused.

The Red Zone

The red zone describes a heightened state of intense emotions. When a child is in the red zone, they usually really struggle to control their reactions. This is the zone kids are in during meltdowns. Here I have put angry, frustrated, and scared.

The Blue Zone

When a child is in the blue zone they are usually still in control, as you are in the yellow zone, but with low energy emotions. Here I have put tired, sad, and bored.

I share below some different ways you can use the wheel to teach about feelings and help your child through big emotions.

Calm Down Cards

The Calm Down cards are simply that–strategies put on cards, so that in the heat of a moment, your child can choose a card to help them calm down and “get back to the green zone”. My thought is that, by having the cards as options for the child, they will feel in control and empowered while making a decision on how to regulate their emotions. Ultimately, the goal is for them to do this without prompts or visual support, but the cards are a great tool for the “in-between”. I recommend looking through the cards and choosing a few to offer your child as appropriate options, rather than all of them at once.

How to Help Kids Handle Big Emotions

Identify

It’s common for kids to struggle with identifying their feelings. Recently we went to my sister’s house for a playdate and my son helped me pack peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch beforehand. The kids swam and played and when lunchtime came, my sister offered to cook for everyone, so I left the sandwiches in my lunch box and we served the kids spaghetti instead. My son started to cry and wanted to be alone. He kept saying he was too embarrassed to go sit and eat with his cousins. I was wondering why he was embarrassed so I could help him through it. I asked the cousins and his siblings if something happened before I came out to serve lunch. When I finally got him to talk about his feelings he said, “Mom, I just feel so embarrassed about having spaghetti for lunch. We always have that for dinner, not lunch! We packed sandwiches, remember? I really wanted to have the sandwich I made.” What he was really feeling was disappointed, not embarrassed. 

Helping our child understand what they are feeling is really important. If they don’t know, then often we can’t help them through it. One way we can teach them is by taking time to teach the words for different emotions while they are not in the middle of the emotion. This is especially effective while reading stories to them. It can be any story because every story has situations where emotions are felt and expressed! You can pause reading and chat about what the characters may be feeling. I have been keeping our Feelings Wheel nearby during read-alouds so the kids can use it to visually identify and label emotions.

Another way is to model it! You can use the Feelings Wheel to talk about things that made you angry or excited and spin the arrow to those emotions. Then, encourage them to talk to you about their day and come alongside them in identifying their own feelings. 

You can also play a charades-type game, pretending to feel a certain emotion and have your child spin the arrow to their guess. Talk about how your body looks and physically feels when you pretend to be each emotion on the wheel. For example, “I was pretending to be frustrated. Did you see that my mouth turned down, my forehead crinkled, and my teeth and fists clenched? If I was actually frustrated, my face might feel hot too.”

Express and Regulate

The next step to helping children handle their big emotions is to teach them how to appropriately express them. The first step to expressing their emotions is communicating them. The Feelings Wheel is so helpful for this because children are so visual and they can point or turn the spinner to the appropriate emotion that they are experiencing. 

Take some time to help your child come up with appropriate ways of expressing their emotions, before the big emotion hits! You can do this by looking over the calm down cards and talking about which ones would help them in certain situations. You can also brainstorm new strategies your child can use the next time they feel a certain way and write them on the blank cards provided. 

For example, you may say, “Remember when you got so frustrated when you couldn’t put on your helmet and so you threw it across the yard and stomped? What could you have done instead that would have calmed you down and helped the situation?” It might be one of the options on the cards or a combination of them. 

In daily life, encourage your child to express their emotion and praise them when they do it in appropriate ways. Make sure to point out the specifics. For example, you might say, “I know you were anxious when you were playing that game but I love how you took big, deep breaths instead of quitting when your sister was winning.”

Use Scripture

One thing I like to include in training my children in this area is what God says about our emotions. For starters, I remind my children that self-control is a fruit of the Spirit and that without God’s help, we will fail. We need his heart-changing love to help us choose kindness and gentleness in hard situations. They have seen me sing or pray the name of Jesus in a moment when I am tempted to scream. They may giggle or roll their eyes when I belt that out, but deep down I hope they remember who I turn to. We have also memorized scripture that has directly targeted some of those negative reactions, and I remind them of those passages as we talk through this. I pray with them in those big-feelings moments and ask God to help them identify what they feel and give us ideas to work out those feelings.

Here are a few of our go to passages. 

“He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city.” Proverbs 16:32

“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.” Titus 2:11-12

“A [shortsighted] fool always loses his temper and displays his anger, But a wise man [uses self-control and] holds it back.” Proverbs 29:11 AMP

So far, I have been using the Feelings Wheel and Calm Down Cards with my children and they have proved to be helpful in so many situations! I hope it is a helpful tool for your family as well. I would love to see photos of your family using it. If you share them, tag me @treehouse_schoolhouse.