Through a game of Simon Says, Leah McKenna shows her toddler how Jesus’ disciples followed him and obeyed his commands. A game of Snap, using a joker as an all-mighty trump card, helps her toddler to understand that Jesus is more powerful and important than anything else. Playing hide and seek together reinforces the big idea of the lost sheep and shows how God sends Jesus to search for us.
These are just a few of the games and activities Mrs McKenna shares on her Instagram account, Raising Disciples, where she documents how she teaches Bible truths to her young children. As Instagram is a popular platform for users to share pictures and videos, it’s a great way for Mrs McKenna to visually share her ideas with other mums.
And she’s certainly aware of the need because, when she looked for ideas for her own preschoolers, she found plenty of resources for primary-aged children, but not many for pre-readers. She also knows life is busy and time is often tight – so, in creating resources for her family, she keeps the teaching materials simple.
"today I can teach him one thing about Jesus, and tomorrow I can teach him one more thing about Jesus.”
“My goal was to make it easy because if you have to prepare too much you’ll never do it,” she says with a laugh. “I always chose activities that had no prep involved. Playing Simon Says isn’t that creative, but if you tie it to the big idea of a passage you can teach something concrete.”
Mrs McKenna is no stranger to writing programs and teaching biblical concepts to young ones, having worked in children’s ministry at Northmead Anglican for several years. When she became a stay-at-home mother almost five years ago, she wanted to make teaching the Bible to her kids a priority. Then she decided to share what she had created to help other mums.
Small people can understand big concepts
She says young children are capable of more than we think – they just need to be shown and taught. “We [sometimes] think that kids couldn’t learn Bible verses off by heart, but then they know 10 dinosuar names off by heart! Why can they do that, but not the Bible?”
Mrs McKenna hopes her two children, as well as the children of other believing parents, will grow to be adults who love Jesus and actively serve his kingdom. This is the goal in mind as she works out what to teach.
“The goal with this age group is a lot of memorisation and instruction,” she says. “We’re laying a foundation. If you know where you’re going, it helps you to know what to do today. Do you want your 20 year old to come to church? Then bring your four year old! If you have an 18-year goal to have your kids love Jesus, know the gospel, share the gospel, obey God, how are we going to get there?
“Parents can be at a loss because no one knows what they’re doing. But today I can teach him one thing about Jesus, and tomorrow I can teach him one more thing about Jesus.”