Crafting a town from Bible times can help make a Bible story come alive. I found a website, mylittlehouse.org, that has free, downloadable templates for crafting a variety of buildings, people, animals, and accessories from Bible times. All that is needed is a printer to print out the templates, scissors to cut out the items, and glue to put them together. The pdf downloads provide easy to follow instructions. One thing to note is that this website is not run by Jehovah’s Witnesses and does contain some content related to the holidays, so you will want to be selective in what you may choose to download.
There is a great resource on JW.org for parents with younger children that you might have missed. It can be found on JW.org by going to Bible Teachings > Children > Family Worship Projects. While the content is not new, it does provide a new way to pull it all together for family worship. It provides a collection of great family worship projects that center on a common theme. Each is a collection of various activities on JW.org designed for children such as: Illustrated Bible Stories, Picture Activities, Study Activities, and Collect and Learn cards. The best part is that each project includes a Parent’s Guide with suggestions on how to use the activities during family worship.
For example, in the God Sends Moses to Egypt project it curates the illustrated bible story “God Sends Moses to Egypt” along with a coloring page of three of the ten plagues, a Who Said It? study activity where you match the picture up with who said the quote, and a bible character card for Aaron. The associated parent’s guide outlines the various bible verses that can be read with each activity along with additional suggestions on how to to use them. This does a great job of pulling all of the activities together for a family worship evening.
Scavenger hunts are always a fun activity to do with a group of people. There use to be a feature in the back of the Awake! magazine called Children’s Picture Search. It would have three pictures that were from the magazine The goal was to find each picture and then describe what was happening. We have taken this idea and created two activities for different age groups using the publications.
The first is a picture search for children using the book Lessons you can learn from the Bible. The PDF file Picture Search – Lessons.pdf , downloadable below, contains 30 pictures that can be found in the book. Like the Awake! feature, the pictures are just small portions of larger pictures so it may take some careful looking to find them. See who can find each picture and then describe what is happening in the story. There is an answer sheet on the last page if you get stumped.
The second is a scavenger hunt using the Watchtower Online Library. The PDF file WOL Scavenger Hunt.pdf, downloadable below, has a list of 20 things to find pictures of in one of the publications found in the Watchtower Online Library. This one is a little more advanced and is designed for older children and adults alike. There is no answer sheet provided as there is no one specific picture for each item, although every item has been confirmed as having a picture that can be found. Any picture that meets the description counts. This activity will help all get better equipped at using the Online Library. Try using different methods to find the picture such as searching for a key word or topic, using the Research Guide, or looking through a specific publication that you know contains the subjects mentioned. Who can find all 20 first?
There is a family who maintains a website JWPrintables.com. They have all kinds of printable projects that are great options to make part of family worship. One awesome project is to build a model of the Bethel World Headquarters at Warwick. They have a free downloadable PDF file that you can print out on your printer. All it requires is cutting out the various pieces and glueing them together to create the model pictured. This would fit in well with a review of the 2017 Yearbook section about the branch relocation along with the many videos showing the progress of it’s construction:
I recently saw this picture from a family in Spain (Instagram @johnnyguitarrinchi) who built a model of the Ark of the Covenant. It looks like they used a box, some gold wrapping paper and made some cardboard cut-outs for the angels. Very creative!. This looks like a fun and easy project for a family. While it does not show the contents, I suspect they also made some things to represent the various items contained inside the ark. This could be nicely incorporated into a discussion of Chapter 25, A Tabernacle for Worship, in the book Lessons You Can Learn From the Bible.
Have you wanted to expand your family worship by inviting others to join you? Are there older ones, single ones, or single parent families in your congregation? Inviting such ones to join your family worship can truly result in an “interchange of encouragement” (Romans 1:12). The October 2017 L&MM Workbook offered this suggestion: “Interview a publisher who has been serving Jehovah for many years, perhaps in the full-time service. What sacrifices has he made to give his best to Jehovah? How has Jehovah blessed him?“. Plan ahead as a family. Discuss who you would like to invite and let them know you will be interviewing them. Then as a family, come up with questions that you would to like ask the brother or sister. Perhaps each family member could take turns asking different questions. Even if you are not able to invite someone, you can still enjoy hearing the encouraging interviews of others by using the additional suggestion in the workbook: “Go to JW Broadcasting, and look under INTERVIEWS AND EXPERIENCES. You will see and hear the expressions of joy of many who have spent a lifetime in various avenues of sacred service.”
This idea came from another family’s family worship this past week. They watched the video “With Jehovah, I Can Do Almost Anything” about the encouraging experience of a sister in Panama, Sabina Hernández. What is amazing is that she auxiallary pioneers in spite of a severe handicap she has had from birth. Her handicap has left her with very limited use of her hands and she has adapted by using her mouth instead for things like turning the pages of her Bible. Her joy and zeal are infectious.
One part of the video shows Sabina signing her name on an auxiliary pioneer application. She does it with precision and grace. The family decided to try the same activity. Each person tried to write their name using only a pen held in their mouth. Doing this helped them appreciate the challenges she has overcome and the efforts she makes in serving Jehovah. This provides an opportunity to discuss what challenges each of us may face and how we can continually improve our service to Jehovah.
A nice option for Family Worship is to read the Bible together as a family. Of course, at first your family might feel this is boring, but it doesn’t have to be. There are lots of ways to make the reading enjoyable, to bring the scriptures alive. The April, 2009 Awake! article Young People Ask – How Can I Make Bible Reading Enjoyable? has a many great ideas that can be used when reading the Bible for family worship. Here are some of the suggestions:
- Convert lists of names into family trees.
- Create diagrams. For instance, as you read about a faithful character, connect that person’s qualities and acts with the blessings he or she received.
- Draw pictures to illustrate the account.
- Draw a storyboard, a series of simple pictures to illustrate a sequence of events. Describe what’s happening in each scene.
- Build a scale model of structures, such as Noah’s ark.—For example, see Awake! of January 2007, page 22.
- Read aloud — Assign one person to read the narration. Others can take on character parts.
- Select an account, and turn it into a news story. Report the event from several perspectives by including “interviews” with the main characters and eyewitnesses.
- Take an account in which a character made an unwise decision and imagine a different ending! For example, consider Peter’s denial of Jesus. (Mark 14:66-72) How could Peter have better responded to the pressure?
- Watch or listen to recordings of Bible dramas. Dramatic Bible Readings and Bible Dramas can be found on JW.org.
- Write your own drama. Include lessons that can be learned from the account.—Perform this drama with a small group of your friends.
The article also provides several ideas on digging deeper into an account. This might be especially helpful for older children or even couples. Here are some of the ideas suggested:
- Consider the setting. Examine the timing, location, and circumstances surrounding a passage.
- Example: Read Ezekiel 14:14. About what age may Daniel have been when Jehovah mentioned him as a good example alongside Noah and Job?
- Clue: Ezekiel chapter 14 was recorded just five years after Daniel was exiled to Babylon—likely as a teenager.
- The hidden gem: Was Daniel too young for Jehovah to notice his faithfulness? What good decisions led to blessings for him? (Daniel 1:8-17) How can Daniel’s example help you to make good decisions?
- Analyze details. Sometimes just a word or two is significant.
- Example: Compare Matthew 28:7 with Mark 16:7. Why did Mark include the detail that Jesus would soon appear to the disciples “and Peter”?
- Clue: Mark was not an eyewitness of these events; evidently, he got his information from Peter.
- The hidden gem: Why must Peter have felt reassured to hear that Jesus wanted to see him again? (Mark 14:66-72) How did Jesus prove himself a real friend to Peter? How can you imitate Jesus and be a real friend to others?
- Do further research. Consult Bible literature for explanations.
- Example: Read Matthew 2:7-15. When did the astrologers visit Jesus?
- Clue: See The Watchtower of January 1, 2008, page 31
- The hidden gem: How, evidently, did Jehovah provide materially for Jesus’ family while they were in Egypt? How can trust in God help you to cope with stressful circumstances?—Matthew 6:33, 34.
An important skill in life is learning how to manage your time. Philippians 1:10 says, “Make sure of the more important things“. Teaching children this at a young age will help them immensely as they grow older. A good starting point is teaching them to balance the time they spend enjoying recreation with caring for their responsibilities.
JW.org has a great Balancing Recreation and Responsibility worksheet to help teach this principle. You can find it under the Bible Teachings – Teenagers – Worksheets section. The worksheet uses an effective illustration that compares recreation to sand, responsibilities to rocks, and a bucket to represent time. The order in which you put the sand and rocks into the bucket will determine if you can make them all fit. The illustration teaches the point that by putting your responsibilities first (the rocks) and then filling the time left with recreation (the sand) one can make the best use of their time (the bucket) and fit everything in. The worksheet then goes on to have each person analyze their personal recreation and responsibilities and see how best they can balance them in their lives.
We used this worksheet as a basis for a discussion during our family worship. We started by having each child perform the illustration themselves. Instead of sand, rocks, and a bucket we used sugar, corks and a cup. These were things we had readily around our home. (Yes, we had plenty of extra corks at home!) They did it twice, once putting the sugar (sand) in first and the second time putting the corks (rocks) in first. This helped make the illustration stand out and be memorable.
Our children’s generation is a video generation. They enjoy watching amateur videos via YouTube, Instagram and other like sites much more than traditional TV that we grew up watching. They also enjoy making videos of t
heir own and are very good at using the variety of powerful yet simple video editing software available today. With this in mind we decided to do a video project for family worship.
The goal was to create a video about a Bible character. We didn’t want to be to rigid on how to do it but instead wanted to encourage our children to be creative and have fun. We outlined that the video should include background abo
ut the person and their family, details about the major event(s) in their life, and what we can learn and/or imitate from their example. We did this over two weeks. Week one we picked the person and began researching information about them. They worked on their videos throughout the week and during our next family worship evening we watched and discussed their final video projects.
The video could include pictures of the person, events, maps, etc. They could also include music along with other video and audio clips. Sources might include Bible Character Cards, Illustrated Bible Stories, audio from Dramatic Bible Readings and Dramas and videos on JW.org. We also encouraged them to use publications like My Book of Bible Stories, Imitate Their Faith and Jesus The Way. They also used various magazine articles, the Insight Volumes and other information found on JW.org.
The end result was great, as our children created video projects that exceed our expectations. They not only learned more about their Bible character but also learned more about how to do research using the variety of tools provided. They put in a lot of effort and really enjoyed the process. Our daughter created a video about Rahab using various pictures, video clips and a home made video she created using her dolls. Our son created a video trivia game about Noah doing all of the programming and research himself. We were surprised at how well it turned out and how much they got out of the exercise. Attached below for download are the Rahab video and the Noah trivia game (for both Mac and Windows) that our children created. Enjoy!