Violadiva is a new mommy to 4-month old baby Maestro, wife to Pianoman, Sister (in-law) to Cali, violin teacher to many, and friend to all. She lives in the greater Los Angeles area and occasionally muses about music, motherhood and whatever strikes her fancy on her blog StarvingMusicians. This is her first guest post on B.O.E.
As parents, one of our responsibilities to our children is to teach them about the values and morals we believe to be most important. Some of these values are obviously tangible: being kind to others (no hitting, no biting), being honest (telling the truth, paying for things at the store), while some values are more abstract and intangible, like Faith. We learn from the book of Hebrews that “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” How can we teach our little ones about something they cannot see?
One way for children to understand an invisible concept, like Faith, is to use an object, analogy or metaphor from everyday life. Here is a little lesson and activity you can do with your children and family to teach this value. This lesson uses a combination of pictures, written quotes, songs and an act-out activity to cover a variety of teaching methods to hold the attention of even the busiest bodies.
Print off the picture of this dude, or find your own shot of a very muscular body builder. (I picked this guy because he looks “nice”, has a pleasant expression and isn’t over the top bulgy and oily.)
Show your child the picture and ask, “What do you notice about this person?”
They will probably say things like “He’s strong!” and “He has big muscles!” Validate their answers and ask some follow up questions like: “What do you think he did to get so strong?” They might say things like “He exercises.” or “He eats healthy food” (Remember how many times you’ve told them to eat their vegetables so they grow up big and strong?) Older kids might have more specific ideas like: “He lifts weights.” Smarmy teenagers might add that “he uses steroids” so be ready to diffuse that one. Direct the conversation around to how the body builder must exercise to make his muscles strong.
Then transition the muscle/exercise conversation over to Faith by using this quote:
“Faith is like the muscle of my arm. If I use it, if I nurture it, it grows strong; it will do many things. But if I put it in a sling and do nothing with it, it will grow weak and useless.”
Discuss the comparison of faith being like the muscle of your arm that strengthens as you use it and weakens if you neglect it. If your children are of reading age, make the quote available for them to see and read, either on a poster or bookmark.
There is a charming little
, Faith, that has very descriptive and accurate definitions of what Faith IS. You can sing or listen to this song together using the interactive player.
Before going on to the activity of the lesson, emphasize the last line of the second verse, “Faith is strengthened, I feel it grow whenever I obey.”
Now it’s time to pull out your Faith muscles and tie the whole lesson together.
Before the lesson, use a Sharpie to write a nice, big FAITH across the front of some swim floaties. I bought these little yellow ones for a couple bucks at Wal-Mart. Though my model is only showing one arm, the effect is even better if you use both floaties. If you have more than one child who wants to wear the Faith muscles, you can play the game several times or get a set of floaties for each kiddo.
When you put the loose, flabby floatie on your child’s skinny little arm, it will probably flop and dangle. You can say “It looks like your faith muscle is a little weak! We’d better do some faith exercises to strengthen it!” Ask them: “What can we do to strengthen our faith muscle?”
Hint: sing the last line of that song over and over and over. That’s the take-home message.
Once they figure out that they need to “obey” to strengthen their faith muscle, you can cater the activity to whatever it is you would like your child to obey (instructions from mom and dad, school or church teachers, safety laws, library rules, and especially God’s laws and commandments.) One at a time, give them little tasks or hypothetical commandments/laws to obey. After they role-play, act out or legitimately do whatever task they were asked, blow a little puff of air into their floatie muscle. After every puff of air, sing together “Faith is strengthened, I feel it grow whenever I obey!” You’ll get sick of singing it every time, but the message will be deeply embedded! The Faith muscles will get stronger and more defined by each commandment they obey.
Here are some role-play ideas:
Practice obeying mom and dad by doing jobs around the house: clear dishes, vacuum, fold and put away clothes, pick up toys, brush teeth, get dressed, sibling relations, etc.
Practice obeying safety laws: crossing the street safely, stranger safety, car safety and seat belts, fire safety, etc.
Practice obeying God’s laws and commandments: being kind to others, using clean language, paying church donations, Sabbath day worship, study the scriptures, praying, fasting, serve others, etc.
By the time their floaties are completely inflated, they will have done several little tasks or role-plays and sung the little message many times. You can close the lesson by explaining that we either strengthen or weaken our faith muscles on the inside every day by how we act and live. Tell them that you’ll be watching for ways they obey and strengthen their faith muscles during the week (and then be sure to acknowledge them when you see it!).