Today, you get the pleasure of hearing from my amazing sister about a neat idea she had. It's not exactly for Bible Class, but it would work there, too. Check it out:
I'm a mom of a 4 year old and a 1 year old. And they're amazing. I mean, they play together so well. They're constantly helping each other. They always say please, thank you, yes ma'am, no sir, excuse me, etc. They eat all of their vegetables and regularly tell people they really don't need that candy because they've had a lot of sugar this week. They prefer reading books to watching tv. And they always go to bed when we tell them to. Always.
Seriously, in my daughter's head, I'm pretty sure that's all true. I'm pretty sure if you asked her, she would say, "yep, that sounds very accurate." In real life, if she knows the word "accurate," it's because Peppa Pig said it, and she might use it without even knowing what it means.
So, in the real world...well, let's just say there's a lot of "behavior correcting" happening in our house. And Mama gets sick of having to say things like "stop that," "you cannot do that," and "did you really think that was a good idea???" As a former teacher (and a person who does a lot of late night internet reading when babies won't sleep), I know that positive reinforcement is POWERFUL. And I've seen it work with my daughter with charts for things like pottying before worship services so we don't have to get up three times during the sermon, and, the most dreaded of all behaviors to break, thumb sucking.
So what behaviors do you chart to make your children well-rounded and perfect? We went straight to Galatians 5. Part of our reason for this choice is that our daughter LOVES the song about the Fruit of the Spirit. And we've used it against her in the past. There have been times on long road trips where we were dealing with her own unique take on "are we there yet?" and we've talked about what it means to be patient and how patience is one of the fruits of the spirit...and then we sing the song with every fruit we can think of until she's in a happier mood. So far, it's worked really well.
Now we're taking this idea and applying it to more than just car rides. We made a magnetic chart out of a cheap cookie sheet. It's painted to look like a tree with symbols to represent each of the fruits of the spirit. Then we purchased some fruit magnets from Amazon (where else?). Whenever we catch her "doing" one of the fruits of the spirit, she gets to put a fruit on the tree. She loves putting the magnets on, and we always make a huge deal about what a good behavior that was! Bonus, when she gets all fifteen magnets on the tree, she gets to make a fruity treat (banana pudding, blueberry pancakes, pineapple-upside down cake, apple pie, etc.). She loves to help me cook, and who doesn't love to eat a fruity treat?
A couple weeks ago, she earned her first treat and chose apple pie. I have special knives she can use, so she got to cut the apples, measure the ingredients for the crust and roll it out, sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar on the apples, and crimp the crust with a fork. And then, of course, we all made a big deal about how delicious the pie was and how special it was that we got to eat it as a family and how wonderful that she had earned it and made it for us. She's already planning her next treat!
So what does she earn magnets for? When she offered to come pray with me when I had the flu, she earned one for faithfulness. When she didn't pitch a fit in the grocery store when she was told she couldn't get a donut, she earned one for self-control. When she didn't whine on the long car ride to Tennessee, she earned one for patience. When she helps her brother put on his super-hero cape and includes him in her games, she earns one for kindness. Sometimes they're a little bit of a stretch, but whenever we see her behaving in a way we want her to behave, we find a way to tie it back to the fruit of the spirit! And, although we never take magnets away, we do make a point of explaining how she's not showing the fruit of the spirit when she's behaving in ways we want her to change.
Better behavior, cute charts, and delicious treats? So far, our whole family is winning with this activity!
Ellen Anderson is a wife and mommy of two. When she's not rooting for Alabama football, she can be found planning adventures with her family, busy with church activities, or snuggling her babies.
I am one of those Bible class teachers who can't stand to just present the lesson and then hand out a worksheet. I want whatever I do in class to stick with the kids, reinforce the lesson, and really make them understand that this isn't just a story ... it's something that really happened. I want to include some of the ideas I've come up with here so that I can hopefully help some of you who want the same thing. I'd love to hear your ideas, too!