October 1, 2011

Scripture Journaling with Children: Our Journey

Today I thought I’d give you a walk-through of our scripture journaling experience thus far.   If you scripture journal with your children, I hope you’ll share some of your experiences in the comments.  Feel free to leave a link, if you have one to share.

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This year I am working on Scripture Journaling with my children.  My goal is to establish in them the habit of daily, JOYFUL, personal scripture study, not just a reading of a few verses but to include pondering, likening the scriptures, and recording the things learned.  I want it to include marking of their scriptures and making them their own.  Notice my goal does not include things like perfect spelling, handwriting and deep theological discussions on every page.  It also does not include a certain amount of writing each day. ☺

Sometimes I get sidetracked in all the possibilities so I try to remind myself of this goal often.  It helps keep me focused.  I realize this is a process that will improve with time.

The most challenging part and yet most simple for me was choosing a focus.  It was the most challenging because there are so many things we could focus on.  We could work on Scripture Mastery verses, study characters from the scriptures, dissect favorite verses, do a comparison study, a timeline study, focus on a specific standard work, topic, etc.  The lessons to be learned from the scriptures are unlimited and I want to learn them all. I want my children to learn them all.  It can really be challenging sometimes to narrow down the focus.   However, it ended up being so simple once I came across this talk by Neil L. Andersen from April 2010 General Conference titled “Tell Me the Stories of Jesus”.

Says Elder Andersen:

We hold in our arms the rising generation. They come to this earth with important responsibilities and great spiritual capacities. We cannot be casual in how we prepare them. Our challenge as parents and teachers is not to create a spiritual core in their souls but rather to fan the flame of their spiritual core already aglow with the fire of their premortal faith.

This afternoon I wish to emphasize the plea of a child from a Primary song:

Tell me the stories of Jesus I love to hear, Things I would ask him to tell me if he were here. 6

In our world today, each child, each young man and young woman needs his or her own conversion to the truth. Each needs his or her own light, his or her own “steadfast and immovable” 7 faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, independent of parents, youth leaders, and supportive friends.

The stories of Jesus can be like a rushing wind across the embers of faith in the hearts of our children. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” 8

The stories of Jesus shared over and over bring faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and strength to the foundation of testimony. Can you think of a more valuable gift for our children?

Are the life and teachings of Jesus Christ embedded in the minds and souls of our children? Do they think about the Savior’s life when they wonder what to do in their own lives? This will be more and more important in the years ahead.

Have our children visualized the premortal council, 9 where Jesus—the greatest of all—declared, “Here am I, send me”? 10 Do they see their own willingness to serve as following His example?

Do they think about His humble birth, 11 the Savior of the world lying in a manger? 12 Do His circumstances help them better understand the proper place of material possessions?

Do they know that Jesus often taught, “Ask, and ye shall receive”? 13 Do His prayers of thankfulness 14 and His pleadings to His Father 15 flow through our children’s minds as they kneel in prayer with their own concerns?

Have we told them of the love Jesus has for children, how He held them in His arms, prayed for them, and wept? 16 Do our children know that Jesus stands ready “with open arms to receive [them]”? 17

Do they take strength in the stories of Jesus fasting 18 —as we teach them the law of the fast?

In their own loneliness, do our children know the loneliness the Savior felt as His friends deserted Him and as He asked His Apostles, “Will ye also go away?” 19

Have our children felt the power of the Savior’s miracles? Jesus healed the leper, 20 gave sight to the blind. 21 He fed the 5,000, 22 calmed the sea, 23and raised Lazarus from the dead. 24 Do our children believe that “it is by faith that miracles are wrought,” 25 and do they pray for miracles in their own lives?

Have our children taken courage from the Savior’s words to the ruler of the synagogue: “Be not afraid, only believe”? 26

Do our children know about His perfect life, 27 His selfless ministry, His betrayal and cruel Crucifixion? 28 Have we testified to them of the certainty of His Resurrection, 29 of His visit to the Nephites in the Americas, 30 of His appearance to the Prophet Joseph Smith in the Sacred Grove? 31

Do they anticipate His majestic return, when all will be made right and every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ? 32

Do our children say, “Tell me the stories of Jesus I love to hear”? 33

NTS Bookmark

After rereading Elder Anderson’s words,  I decided we would study the New Testament and become immersed in the life of Christ.

Because my children love the Scripture Stories and have read through them all except the New Testament reader, it seemed a logical choice to use that as our guide.  As with other readers, I made them a bookmark that they could use to chart their progress.

In addition to the New Testament Stories,  their materials include a set of scriptures, and a scripture journal. 

Of course we needed some sprinkles, so we have journal prompt stickers* and a container full of pencils, pens, and brightly colored pencils.

I imagine that when my children are seminary age, they will use their seminary manual as their guide. Eventually they will do their own thing all together.

My daughter previously made a scripture journal binder.  IMG_2366She is using the plain lined page  (found in the SJ Pages) for her New Testament study. My youngest son is using a composition notebook for his journal.  Their journals have been decorated and ownership has been established. ☺  It’s amazing what fun things like stickers, scrapbook paper, ribbon, markers, etc. can do for us.   This picture to the right is of my daughter’s  Scripture Journal.

Our 1st lesson was on the Plan of Salvation, We used these great graphics for that.   This lesson was not in the book, but the Plan of Salvation makes it very clear how important Jesus Christ is and why we should study his life.  We felt it was a good starting place.  This would make a great FHE to have before you begin scripture journaling.

The first few days of scripture journaling I worked side-by-side with my children.  Together we marked the verses listed under each picture of the New Testament Stories.  We then wrote the title of that chapter in the margin of their scriptures for easy reference. 

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We read the scripture verses we had marked, and then followed up with the chapter in the New Testament Stories.  They used their journal prompt stickers and I helped them by asking questions, and having them narrate things they read.  Sometimes, I even did the writing part for them.  Initially they chose to borrow phrases from the NTS to put down as their answers.  We completed one chapter each day.

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By the end of the first week, both of my children were working independently.  It has become common place to hear  “Hey Mom, listen to this!”  I love to see their joy as they discover treasures in their scripture reading.  This has been a fun process to watch.  I can’t wait to see how this progresses over time.

If you are interested in the sprinkles we used, you can get them here:

Have you tried Scripture Journaling Lately?  Find more information here:

NAN buttonDana can be found enjoying her life surrounded by chickens and good ole’ country air.  She is helping her family establish the habit of Scripture Journaling.  I’m certain she is enjoying every moment of General Conference this weekend.  How about you?  You can follow their homeschool endeavors at Noggins & Nonsense.

Let the Holy Spirit Guide(I love that song.)

29 comments - Add a comment below -:

Suzuki Mom said...

THANK YOU!

This was exactly what I needed... I have downloaded your stickers etc, and this looks like exactly what I was looking for to do with my children!

(hm - I'd love a bookmark and journal prompts for the Old Testament though.... as that was going to be our focus this year...)

Sundy said...

I am homeschooling for the first time this year. And I decided to do a similar thing with my middle-school aged daughters. We read a chapter or two a day. They come up with a question about the chapter or something that they thought or reflected on. I recommend finding three things. We journal about them and then share our thoughts afterwards together! It' the highlight of our day!
I do blog about our "adventures in homeschooling" at www.sunshine-setiments.blogspot.com

Marcina said...

Thank you Dana!!! Just this week I listened to Elder Andersen's talk again, and was pondering how to better teach the stories of Jesus to my children. I think your ideas will work very well for us. I love the scripture journal prompts you made, and I think that will help get them excited about journaling. Thank you for sharing!

Mike and Wendy said...

My kids are all still too young to write so I just have them draw pictures of what we read about. I LOVE seeing what my oldest comes up with. I always include the reference to what we were reading (i.e. - 2 Ne. 9:7-9) and have my son explain what his pictures mean. I then write a brief explanation next to each picture.

Karyn said...

What a fabulous idea! Thanks for the sticker download. Love it!

Tristan said...

Fun idea and one that comes at a good time for us. We've just finished studying the last conference as a family and need to move back into scriptures somewhere. I think we'll be doing Old Testament . . .

JRoberts said...

THANK YOU for the sticker download! What a great thing for my boys as we study this year.

I really have to buy photoshop so I can take this example and go and do the other books. Thank you so much for sharing your talents and hard work.

Dana ♥ said...

Thanks so much for all the kind comments and ideas shared thus far.

Jaime, I used the Avery Template for the labels in Microsoft Word to make the stickers. I just added an image from the New Testament Stories and a text box for the journal prompt on each label space. It wasn't difficult but it did take some time, since there are 64 chapters.

Dana ♥ said...

I will say, after General Conference today, I'm thinking of having the kids revisit the Book of Mormon next. Wow! Such a powerful book!

Liz said...

Like someone else already mentioned, my kids are also too young to write about our scripture study. So, we read a chapter in the illustrated Book of Mormon and then they pick a picture from it to try to draw in their scripture journals. Sometimes I also have them color a page from the Living Scripture activity and coloring books that come with our DVDs. They love those. Thanks so much for sharing your ideas and resources with the rest of us! These are fantastic!

Heather@Women in the Scriptures said...

Oh, I LOVE this. I'd never thought about starting a scripture journal with young kids, but what a great habit to teach them young. And to be able to show them how to do it! Thanks for the inspiration.

Robyn said...

I really love this idea! I have been trying to find something that would work for my young children (6,6,4,3). This will be perfect, the older ones can write, the younger ones can draw, and we will all be happy! Did you come up with all the questions for the journal prompts or did you find those somewhere? I want to focus on the Book of Mormon, so I want to put some together for that.

Dana ♥ said...

Hi Robyn, I came up with the journal prompts as I read each chapter in the New Testament Stories. As I mentioned in an earlier comment, it wasn't difficult just a bit time consuming. I am working on the Book of Mormon Stories prompts now.

lybbertgirl said...

I have struggled with scripture study, both personally and with my children, for awhile now. Thank you for your post today! It gave me such great ideas and now I have a place to start. Thank you for sharing.

Becca said...

My mom helped us "journal" even before we could write (she would give us prompts, and then write down what we said - I still have those notebooks of my words written in my mom's handwriting). I have started this process with my 4 and 2 year old (journaling "with" them), and we talk about the scripture stories all the time (using the Gospel Art Book - they pick a picture, and I tell them the story, we try to do one a day). I am now seeing that I could combine the two and when I ask them questions about the story (I always do) I can write down their answers in a scripture journal for them! I think they would love it! Thank you for this amazing suggestion! I am so grateful for other mom-bloggers around the world who share their mothering wonderful-ness with the world so we can grow from each other! Thank you!

C Dawn's bucket said...

Thank you so much for this! We started the Book of Mormon reader and Scripture Journal with my family today. I am so excited to see my boys engaging in and thinking about the scriptures and not just reading over the words.

I am just writing the thought questions in their journals as I am not tricky enough to come up with stickers and I think it will be a bit more prep work for me but will work just fine.

Jeri Dawn said...

I hopped on here from Heather's Women in the Scriptures Blog--love your ideas. Please do share those Book of Mormon stickers too! I am in the process of preparing Book's of Mormon with stories highlighted for young kids for family for Christmas. Your prompts would make the perfect addition. God bless!

niki said...

Hi Dana! I love this idea! I worked on for a few days, copies, cutting,etc..so we could start on it for FHE. The only thing I didn't have was the New Testament Book. So I had them watch the video online...which seemed to be the only place I could find that book listed on the Church website. (under home media) anyway, just wondering if we should order the book. I know thejournal prompts come from that, but is it possible to or more work to skip around in the actual New Testament to find the correct chapter and book that the prompts apply to? what are your thoughts?

Dana ♥ said...

Hi Niki, I would buy the book. It is awesome! It has been newly formatted and is wonderful! You can also view the pdf of the book online, just click the New Testament Stories link in the post. Scroll down past the video and you will see each chapter listed. Click on the PDF (which is the first option) The scripture references are found in the book and PDF version as well. I hope this helps! :)

Amber P. said...

This post has stuck with me since I first read it. We finished going through the New Testament scripture reader shortly after I first read this post. Instead of moving on, we decided to read the New Testament again and this time to add in passages from the New Testament itself along with the scripture reader. I'm impressed with how much I can read from the scriptures themselves before my girls (5 and 3) get restless. After reading the chapter and the verses we talk about our favorite part or something interesting and then the girls draw pictures to help them remember. Three days after reading about Zacharias the 5 yo was able to retell his whole story including his name. She so impressed her daddy! This is my favorite part of our breakfast routine.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dana,
I love your journal prompts and ideas! They are very inspiring! I was just wondering if you had the Book of Mormon prompts available yet? That is what we are studying this year in our home and they would be very helpful!
Thank You!
Em

Dana ♥ said...

My plan is to get my desktop computer hooked back up within the next few days. The BOM journal prompts should be up by the end of next week. I'll post when I put them up. :)

Anonymous said...

Dana,
Thanks so much for sharing your talents, time, and inspiration! You are awesome! I really look forward to the Book of Mormon prompts! Thank You!!!

Dana ♥ said...

Book of Mormon Stories Journal Prompts have been posted. Enjoy!

Anonymous said...

YOU ROCK! THANK YOU!!!

Valerie said...

Thank you Dana! I loved your idea so much that I adapted it for my 7 year-old daughter. We don't homeschool, but we are using a journal, the scripture readers, and a few videos. Check out my post here
http://preparedldsfamily.blogspot.com/2012/08/lds-scripture-study-journal-for-children.html

Thank you, thank you!

Hydi said...

This is such a great idea! My boys and I have enjoyed our 1st week with your scripture journaling idea. I appreciate all the hard work you have done to create the scripture questions for each lesson! I was just wondering if you had any others done in addition to you Book of Mormon ones?

Amy said...

Dana you always have the greatest ideas! You continually amaze me ...

Anonymous said...

We will finish the Book of Mormon this week! It has been a special time for me and my boys. Thank you!