Our Favorite Bible Study

The longer I teach, the more I learn.  And forget.  And learn all over again.

The thing I have relearned lately:  learning is a simple thing.

If I remember that and don’t complicate, learning is also effortless and fun – for me and for my kids.

Lately, we’ve been starting our school day with Bible study.  All of us sitting around the kitchen table, quietly reading and writing for 30 minutes, 5 mornings a week.

I wonder if and hope that our morning times will be a fond memory and impact the faith of my children.  Corrie Ten Boom recalled her family’s regular Bible study around their kitchen table with great affection and her faith certainly withstood horrors most of us will never face.I.

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We generally start our day with family school, all together, before all four children disperse to their individual assignments.  Though I sense that my 2 eldest are beginning to silently chafe at this imposition on their time, I keep at it.  I understand their desire to be about their day and get their work out of the way.  But I am determined to push back demands and intrusions and create a quiet spot in our mornings, thirty minutes of silence and a slow pace of reading, writing, thinking.

I set the timer and we all sit at the table with our Bibles and moleskine notebooks, pens and colored pencils.  We are copying the book of Mark.  The only rules — copy scripture as carefully and neatly as possible on the right side.  The left side is for drawings, notes, questions about the section of scripture copied that day.

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When our timer rings, we close our Bibles and share observations, questions or artwork.

That is it.

No lectures from me.  The kids do as much or more talking than I do.

And I learn what is on their hearts when I shut up and listen.  It is too, too easy for me to stay in constant teacher/parent mode – talking, instructing, rebuking, making a teaching moment out of every blasted thing.  My kids are quite capable of making their own teaching moments, when I back off and let them.

I know this well, so it is particularly embarrassing when I catch myself over-teaching.  It is easily recognizable by the glazed look in the kids’ eyes.

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Through their Bible journals, I see their struggles.

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I see their unique interpretations.

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I see what captures their attention.  My eldest is not prone to illustrations nor writing his thoughts as much as his siblings.   In fact, almost every left page of his journal is blank.  He spends his 30 minutes copying a section and then studying footnotes or reading ahead.

However, the story of the demon-possessed man whom Jesus freed by sending the evil spirits into thousands of pigs —- well, that story intrigued him enough to  draw little stick piggies.  And we wondered . . . why did the demons prefer to be sent into pigs rather than be cast out?  Did they know know the pigs would dive over the cliff?  Did the demons purposely send the pigs over the cliff themselves in an attempt to draw negative attention to Jesus?

The text is ambiguous, leaving us free to speculate on the motives of both the demons and Jesus.  And speculate we did after we got over laughing at his stick piggies and sharks in the Sea of Galilee.  Learning is always best when accompanied by laughter.

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I also see applications.  My youngest made a heart chart of the world.  According to her chart, there are more black-hearted people in the world (12 to be exact) than red- or Jesus-hearted people (only 10).  We got to chat about how people are not all black-hearted or Jesus-hearted.  We all have a bit of black in our hearts.

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I am learning so much.  After all these years of teaching and studying the Bible different ways with my kids, this is definitely my favorite way of doing Bible Study with them.

Word Whimsy

We are having such fun with our vocabulary studies that I may create a whole new category labeled Word Whimsies.

I outlined our vocabulary study in an earlier post.  Friday’s family school has a slightly different format and includes a vocabulary test.  I have been varying their test each week — sometimes the kids write out the definition and a sentence or the synonyms and antonyms.  A few times, I gave them 10 minutes to write a poem using that week’s vocab words.  Their favorite test thus far —– begin a story, using that week’s vocab words.  They do not have to complete the whole story, just begin the story.

Then comes the best part —– we read the stories aloud with much drama and giggling.

I love this method as much as the kids.  It serves multiple purposes.  The kids must grasp the definition to use the words correctly, but they are also freed to play with language, to have fun and take chances with their writing.  Sid believes that learning is more likely to happen when humor is involved.  I suspect he is right, and there is definitely a lot of laughter during vocabulary study.

Last week’s vocabulary words were imbue, hallowed, propensity, vestige and trite.  Rachel stole the show with her short story and her original use of the word trite.

I should explain that we have an odd little rhetorical question that our family says when someone asks a question to which the answer is obviously yes.  It goes like this . . .

“Would you like a cookie?”  I ask.

Sid responds, “Do dogs have fur?”

That ridiculous response/question should be interpreted, “YES, I want a cookie!  What kind of ridiculous question is that?”

Rachel employs our little family rhetoric with a twist.

And now, Rachel’s story . . . . .

Once upon a time lived a boy named James.  One day, James was walking on the sidewalk.  He looked down and saw a baby flamingo that was imbued with blue dye.

“What the heck?!!? said James.

“Squawk.”

“Are you lost?”

“Yep,” said the flamingo.

“One question — have you read the hallowed Bible?” said James.

“Do dogs have propensities?” said the flamingo.

“Uh . . .I don’t know,” said James.  

“Anyway, my name is Vester,” said the flamingo.  “And I am trying to find a vestige of Mom.”

“I will help you find your Mom,” said James.

“Right,” said Vester.  “Let’s not go around triting.”

“Hey, is that your mom?”

“No.”

“Is that your mom?”

“No.”

“Is that your mom?”

“No,” said Vester.  “Please stop triting.”

“Oops,” said James.

“Ah, there’s my mom,” said Vester.

Rachel’s vocabulary test has now given our family a new phrase — “hey, stop triting!”