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.

7 Tips to Teach Scripture Memory

Image courtesy of Little Minds Creative

Practicing the skill of memory work is great for children (and adults). Memorizing things like poetry, hymns, and scripture helps train the brain to be receptive to remembering things, boosts confidence, and gives the memorizer a gift they can keep within their hearts far past the time of doing the hard work of memorizing. I have found that my children are much more quick to memorize than my husband or me;  they are always amazing us with the amount they can memorize in a short period of time!

We started scripture memory work when my children were around 3 years old. I would choose short passages of scripture, pair them with some made-up hand motions or a little tune and repeat it every day until they were saying it with confidence. Now, at ages 5 and 7, they love memorizing scripture and have many, many passages hidden in their hearts. It’s one of the best gifts I feel can give them!

Image courtesy of Jen Polletti

Here are 7 tips I have found that are helpful in teaching scripture memory:

1. Choose passages that mean something to you and your child.

We currently choose our passages to memorize from the family devotional that we are using. Each week, we work on one passage of scripture, and each morning we discuss different elements of what the passage means and how we apply it to our lives. In the past, though, I just chose verses that spoke to me or that addressed a certain heart attitude or area of interest for my child. Talk about the scripture in applicable situations that come up throughout the day and make it real to their lives. Make sure they understand the concepts in the scripture that they are memorizing. 

2. Choose passages that are age-appropriate.

For younger children, try using the NIrV (New International Reader’s Version) and choose scriptures that are 1-2 sentences. If you have multiple ages of children who are memorizing together, you could easily choose one passage and offer a shortened version to the younger ones. In the Scripture Sets I have created, I offer both a full and shortened version for this reason. 

3. Designate a certain time of day to work on scripture memory.

I recommend doing this at least 5 days a week. It only takes a few minutes and the consistency is really the key to long-term memory. For our family, we do this in the morning over breakfast Mondays through Fridays. 

4. Sing the scripture.

Make up a catchy tune to go with the scripture you are learning or have your child do it. If you aren’t sure where to start, try memorizing verses that are already put to songs from artists like Steve Green or Seeds Family Worship.

5. Put hand motions to the scripture.

This doesn’t have to be super planned out or creative, just ask your child to help create motions for the main words in the passage when you first introduce it. If they help create the motions, they are more likely to recall it. 

6. Use a review system and be consistent.

Honestly, without constantly reviewing the verses I have found that all the effort put into memorizing in the first place is wasted. I found an incredible, easy review system about 6 months ago through Simply Charlotte Mason and it has worked so well for us. All you need is an index card holder, dividers, index cards, and a few minutes a day. Here is a link to the YouTube video explaining how it’s done. 

Include the passages in their schoolwork.

I created the Scripture Sets so we can have tools that we can use during our school time to give the kids extra practice with the passages. I tried to think of short activities that children could do each day of the week to reinforce memorization and application of the passage. Here is what is included in each Scripture Set:

  • Tracing: Your students can trace the verses to help practice letter formation as well as reinforce the memory work as they write.
  • Journaling: On this page, your student will 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: Your student can cut out each phrase or word and then paste them in the correct order on the lines below. If you are using the shortened version of the verse, you can simply remove some of the words before they paste them.
  • Fill in the Blank: Your student can practice copying, memory work, and letter formation by filling in the missing words on this sheet.
  • Cutting and Gross Motor Skills: After your student cuts out the words or phrases on these sheets, you can use them in various ways to encourage gross motor skills. A few ideas are:
    • Hide the words for your student to find and put in the correct order
    • Scatter the words on the floor, and have your student to hop to each word/phrase in the correct order
    • Create a relay race where the student grabs the words/phrases throughout the course and puts them in the correct order

Happy memorizing! 

Advent Calendar Activity Ideas & Bible Reading Plan

Okay, so before you read this post thinking I am the Advent-pro, I must admit to you first that I have never once participated (and especially planned and led) this tradition. But oh, how Pinterest and Instagram have led me into new and beautiful things. I started seeing all these creative ideas, adorable calendars, and lists galore of things to include in Advent. So with less than a week before December 1st, I scrambled to put this advent calendar together. It is not a finished product, as I know myself too well to know I couldn’t plan an entire month of activities without things changing. I think I have a solid plan though that is simple, meaningful, and fun so I wanted to share!

First off, I turned our dining room chalkboard into a paper sack calendar. My hubby and I made this chalkboard a few months ago, but this could work right on the wall as well. I ordered these mini paper sacks and these mini red clothespins from Amazon. My garland was a Hobby Lobby find a few years ago in the regular greenery section, and I stuck some berries in it to make the red clothespins pop. I just hot glued some twine behind the frame of the chalkboard and strung it across to make my paper sack “clothes lines”.

Next, I made a list of activities I wanted to do with the kids throughout the month of December. I scouted out all the free or inexpensive events happening in our town and included some of those. I also included some activities centered around giving and serving. I wanted to keep them simple. I wanted to have the ability to pick one each morning and pop it in the bag before the kids wake up depending on which one made sense for our schedule, the weather, and let’s be honest, the one I wanted to do that day. I typed them into a table so I could print them on cardstock and cut them into cards to put into the bags. Here is my list of Advent activities:

  1. Make cinnamon applesauce ornaments for the Christmas tree

  2. Drive around with hot cocoa looking at Christmas lights

  3. Help wrap presents

  4. Make gingerbread houses

  5. Get bundled up and go for a wintery hike

  6. Have pancakes with Santa (local event)

  7. Bake cookies to share with neighbors

  8. Make caramel popcorn and watch a Christmas movie

  9. String popcorn and dried oranges for the Christmas tree

  10. Throw a birthday party for Jesus

  11. Go to the train museum to see the Christmas train (local event)

  12. Buy gifts for our cousins at the Dollar store

  13. Go to Holiday storytime at the library

  14. Go see the animals at the live Nativity (local event)

  15. Be in the Christmas play at church

  16. Buy coats for children who don’t have any (local charity)

  17. Draw pictures in Christmas cards for Operation Shoebox

  18. Go to Gingerbread Lane (local event)

  19. Read Christmas stories by the Christmas tree

  20. Walk through the garden to see the Christmas lights (local event)

  21. Pass out candycanes to people on the Greenway (local hiking trail)

  22. Go to the Christmas Village (local event)

  23. Make presents for homemade gift exchange (This is an extended family tradition)

  24. Go to Grammy’s house and open presents (Christmas Eve)

  25. Go to Auntie’s house for Christmas dinner (Christmas Day)

I decided I wanted to add a biblical emphasis to our advent and we LOVE The Jesus Storybook Bible, so when I stumbled across their Advent Reading plan I was thrilled. You can see the plan and download the cards I used for free here. I printed them double-sided on cardstock, cut them out, laminated them, and put them in the bags with the activity cards. I have a feeling we will be using these again so I wanted them to last.

That’s it! My plan is to open the bag in the morning during our “Together Time” and read the activity for the day and the correlating Bible story. Then, we will sometimes do a simple ornament craft that represents the story we read and we will put them on our Christmas tree. Keep an eye out on my Instagram to see our activities and crafts in action!