Toddler-Friendly Scripture Study


Our nighttime routine isn’t hard to get through with Tate. For the most part, he is happy and willing to clean up, change his diaper, get PJs on, brush teeth and read stories. However, the minute we finish that last picture book and say, “Okay, time to read scriptures!” is the minute Tate is no longer happy and no longer willing.

To be honest, I can’t really blame him. I’m all about teaching our kids to sit quietly and listen for a period of time. I used to be a teacher and this is something that children need to learn to do in order to survive in school. But Tate is two. And sometimes I can’t even focus on what I’m reading in the scriptures and I’m a grown woman. I know he isn’t getting much out of sitting and listening while we read, but we do it every night anyway to at least establish the habit.

I have been thinking for a long time how I can make scripture study something that is actually meaningful for him. Instead of him dreading family study, I want him to be happy. Some day I want it to be a part of the evening that he actually looks forward to. Sitting and listening to us read is not going to make that happen, at least not for now while he is unable to read and understand things for himself.

I combined a variety of resources and came up with a plan that compliments Book of Mormon Stories. Basically what I want to do is study a single chapter over the course of several days. Repetition is vital in gospel learning and is essential when teaching young children. Rather than just read the chapter over and over again, I want to incorporate a variety of teaching methods that are not only fun, but also meet pre-K standards. Skill building and gospel learning all in one? Yes please.

I will explain my plan piece by piece. It’s not fancy or genius. I’m sure there are much better methods out there, but this is what I feel will engage my toddler and actually teach him the scripture stories that I know and love. I don’t want scripture study to be a battle anymore. I’m hoping this will solve that!

Chapter 1: How We Got the Book of Mormon

This beginning chunk lays out a few activities that will be incorporated in the mini study sessions. I love the primary songs and can never find the time to teach them, so I figured this would be a perfect opportunity. Feel free to teach the songs in whatever fun ways you can think of – incorporate instruments, movement, rhythm and beat, etc. For this song, I chose to teach through hand actions.

Also, one of my goals with Tate’s pre-K learning is to give him the chance to practice writing skills every day. Coloring, painting, play-doh, etc. will help him work on his fine motor skills, which is why I will be including them.

Song: This Is My Beloved Son, p. 76, verse 3
Joseph saw two glorious beings (hold up two fingers)
Shining brighter than the sun (close hands and open quickly, like a light turning on)
God again presented Jesus: (sign “Jesus” by touching middle finger of one hand to opposite palm, repeat with other finger/palm)
“This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!” (hold hand out like presenting something, then hold hand to ear)

Activity Verse:
Joseph knelt among the trees, (hold arms up like trees)
And said a special prayer. (fold arms)
He saw the Father and the Son (look up, shading eyes with hand)
And listened to Them there. (cup hand around ear)

Number one represents day one. I would write “day” in front of each number, but depending on how your study time goes, one day could actually stretch out to be two or three days. My plan is for each day to consist of 5-10 minutes of scripture study, but take as long as you need to study the chapter with whatever works for your child.

1. Preview the chapter with a picture walk. Look at each picture one at a time and talk about what you see. Ask child what they think is going on in each one. Name each person in the pictures and help child practice saying their names. Preview the song by listening to it at least one time. Ask the child to listen for words, phrases, names, etc. that they saw in the pictures. Point to the pictures as you hear them in the song.

2. Read through the chapter from the Book of Mormon Stories manual. Ask your child questions about what you read and take time to look at the pictures. Take as many days as needed to read the whole chapter.  End each day by listening to/singing the song.

3.  Have your child color the coloring page quietly while you read sections of the story from the actual scriptures. (Prep: Find the passages you feel are most important to share and highlight them beforehand for an easier read.) If needed, summarize between passages to make up for any disconnect. Take as many days as needed to read through the passages. (For older toddlers, give them the opportunity to read a verse or two by repeating after you in small phrases.) End each day by listening to/singing the song.

Passages/Sections I highlighted:
JSH 1:10 – “I often said…I know it?”
11 – “I was one day reading…be given him.”
13 – “I came to the… ‘ask of God,’”
14 – “I retired to… hundred and twenty.”
15 – “finding myself…sudden destruction.”
16 – “But exerting…myself to destruction.”; “I saw a pillar… fell upon me.”
17 – whole verse
18 – “I asked the… sects was right”
19 – “I was answered… all wrong”
25 – “I had actually… could not deny it.”
29 – “on the evening… Almighty God.”
30 – whole verse
32 – “Not only… like lightning.”
33 – “He called me… Moroni”
34 – whole verse
44 – whole verse
45 – “He commenced…lease variation.”; “Having related…done before.”
46 – “But what was my surprise…would try to tempt me”
47 – “After this third… just experienced”
48 – “I shortly after… go home.”; “my strength… on the ground.”
49 – “I looked up…I had received.”
50 – “I obeyed… were deposited;”
52 – “Having removed… by the messenger.”
53 – whole verse
54 – whole verse
59 – “On the twenty-second… them up to me”

4. Teach the activity verse and do it a couple times. Try to see if your child can do it on his/her own. Then, while they color the finger puppets, read a few of your favorite verses from the scripture passages. Cut/tape finger puppets to prepare for following day.

5. Watch the scripture story video for this chapter. Have your child put finger puppets on fingers during the appropriate parts of the story.

6. Have children retell the story by singing the song, using the finger puppets, or doing the activity verse. (Celebrate their efforts, especially if they are able to do it all on their own!) Ask what their favorite part of the story was. Tell your favorite part and then read another favorite verse from scripture passages. Bear your testimony about what this chapter means to you (personal application). End by singing the song together.

I have only done the first chapter but plan on doing all 54 chapters in the book. If other moms are interested, I will make sure to include as much detail as possible, like I did in this post. But it would helpful for me to know beforehand if I'm writing for others or just for myself (much less detail if it's just for me!)

Please comment or Facebook me to let me know if this is something you feel will benefit your family. Even if I can help just one other mom, it would be worth it! 


Tiffani Bailey said...

Danielle. You are incredible! I would love to incorporate this into our routine. I do feel a little guilty just taking it.. But really, how are awesome is this!?

Kaori said...

Love this! Especially the song and the hand motions. absolutely teaching Wilson. I was feeling bad about only reading the Book of Mormon reader to him and had been wanting to do more. This is perfect. I'll use anything you're willing to share

Jennie Newbold said...

I have been at a total loss on how to get my 2 year old involved in scripture study with us, this is such a great idea!!! Thank you for sharing, I hope you will post more!!

Sarah Bhattarai said...

This is great and I definitely would love to see what you plan for the other chapters. I actually think this would make a great FHE lesson! It's perfect because I've been struggling to come up with something for FHE for my two year old.

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