Giving Your Kids a Heart for Missions

I want my kids to know they are not the center of the universe.  I want them to have a knowledge of other peoples and cultures and to desire them to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus.  Giving my kids a heart for missions (locally and globally) is a priority in our home.

Here are some things we do to encourage a heart for missions and other cultures:

Read Books about other Cultures

One reason I choose to use Sonlight for our homeschool curriculum is the wide variety of cultural diversity in the books it has us read.  Some of our favorites are:

Thrift Books is a great place to order books (new and used).  Their free shipping minimum is low and you earn reward points with each purchase.  Use this link for 15% off your first order.  (affiliate link, thank you!)

Help your kids develop a heart for missions and other cultures.

Read Books and Listen to Stories about Missionaries

We have greatly enjoyed reading books about missionaries.  The series Christian Heroes Then and Now is excellent!  Engaging stories and appropriate for elementary aged children and older.  The Hidden Heroes series is also similar.

The book Missionary Stories with the Millers is a great introduction to missions for children because each chapter is about a different missionary in a different time and place.  This one is fun for all ages.

Torchlighters Heros of Faith DVD series includes some missionary stories.  The Gladys Aylward Story and The Amy Carmichael Story are two we’ve enjoyed.  FYI: Some of these stories are a bit graphic and I would recommend for ages 10 and older.  Please preview these before sharing them with your children.   

We’ve also enjoyed listening to the Brinkmann Family Adventures audio dramas.

Help your kids develop a heart for missions and other cultures.

Listen to Missionaries Talk about their Lives and Ministries

We are blessed to have a church that welcomes and supports missionaries.  Our children often have the opportunity to here missionaries share their lives and ministries.  We also support missionaries through our church and as a family.

Make it a priority to have your children listen to and interact with missionaries who visit your church.

Help your kids develop a heart for missions and other cultures.

Give Children Opportunites to Interact with Other Cultures.

This can be as simple as dining in an authentic Mexican, Chinese, Thai, etc. restaurant or as complex as traveling to another country!

Short-term mission trips are excellent experiences for high school and college-aged students.  I was blessed to travel to Venezuela once and China twice during my high school and college years.  Our church has taken groups to serve on Indian reservations and inner-city minority neighborhoods.  These are life-changing experiences that broaden our worldview.

Serve Others in Your Community

A great way to broaden the worldview of your children is to serve others in your community together as a family.  Whether to people of the same ethnic background as your family or a different background, serving others causes us to see them as individuals with individual stories.  It also teaches our children that it is important to serve others.  We help out at a local non-profit thrift store.  We help with sorting donations, pricing, and stocking.  The kids and I help out for a couple hours a couple times a month.

Memorize Scripture

Finally, memorizing scripture about God’s love for the world is a great way to give your kids a heart for missions.  Verses like Matthew 28:18-20 and Romans 10:13-17 emphasize our responsibility to tell others, in our communities and around the world.

Were you exposed to other cultures as a child?  What other ways do you help your children have a global worldview?

Why I Don’t Do Crafts With My Kids

I consider myself a fairly crafty person.  I sew and knit.  I’ve made personal care products.  I DIY cleaning supplies and natural remedies for my home and family.  But one thing I DON’T do is crafts with my kids.

If you search Pinterest for “crafts for kids” you will get TONS of suggestions.  Some will be easy to execute, some will be difficult.  Some will use stuff you have around the house and some will require a trip to the craft store before you can begin.  IF you commit to a craft with your kids, you may or may not end up with something worth keeping, but of course, your kids will want to keep it forever.

However, if you LOVE crafting with your kids, keep it up!  I’m sure your kids love it and as long as it is a joy and not a burden, that is all that matters!

I cook with my kids, I color with my kids, I do play dough with my kids and once or twice a year I may help them with a useful crafty project to give as a gift (bath bombs, dish towels with handprints, etc).  But most of the time, I just encourage creativity.

I don't craft with my kids; I encourage creativity!

Encouraging Creativity

We have crayons, colored pencils, watercolor pencils, markers, paints, glitter glue, lots of paper, scissors, tape and more glue easily accessible and available for use at pretty much any time.  I’ve found that my kids would rather create their own pictures than color a pre-printed page.

I encourage them to be creative and draw, paint, cut and glue to their hearts’ content.  Some of these creations we display for a time, some they throw away the same day, but most get a picture taken of them sometime.  This way we get to keep the memories without keeping the actual creation.  Each of our children also has a bulletin board in their rooms that they can use to display special creations.

I don't craft with my kids; I encourage creativity!

Learning Actual Crafts

By the time a child reaches second or third grade, they usually have the focus and the fine motor skills to be able to learn a craft like sewing, cross stitch, knitting, crocheting, etc.  Wait until there is an actual desire to learn a particular skill; then start slowly and don’t force it.  Enjoy the process.  This is also a great opportunity to encourage some one-on-one time with you or with a special friend or relative.  My mother-in-law has taught my eldest basic sewing skills.  It was great one-on-one time for them!

As a child’s desire to learn a particular skill grows, there are many resources available.  From YouTube videos and Craftsy classes to How to Draw books and various homeschool art curriculum.

I don't craft with my kids; I encourage creativity!

My Favorite Creative Supplies to Have on Hand

This is not a sponsored post.  These are actually what we buy, love and use!

Markers

The regular “fat” markers as well as the fine point (or thin line).  I like getting a few sets in different color collections (classic, tropical, pastel, bright, etc).  The Crayola Washable markers are by far the best at washing out of clothes and off of surfaces.

Crayons

My kids only use crayons occasionally so I only keep a box of 24 on hand.  Again, I think Crayola is the nicest to use.

Colored Pencils

We like to have a basic set of colored pencils, and don’t forget a sharpener!  Crayola and Pentel make nice colored pencils

Paints

We keep watercolor paints with 16 colors on hand at all times.  Washable finger paints are fun but still a bit messy.  Watercolor pencils are fun for older kids.  Crayola has a basic and inexpensive set of watercolor pencils to try and see if you like them.

An inexpensive set of paint brushes of various sizes and with various brush styles is also fun to create different effects.

Chalk

Fun inside on a chalkboard (be prepared for the dust).  Great to use outside to create large-scale drawings!  Just don’t leave it out in the rain.

Scissors

Fiskars makes nice safety scissors for young children as well as scissors with a pointed end that can make detailed cuts but still work for small hands.  I like to have one pair of scissors per child.

Glue

White or clear “school glue” and glue sticks are nice to have.  Elmers is an inexpensive brand that works great.

Tape

Masking tape and clear/transparent tape work well for almost anything.  3M Scotch brand is the best: it sticks the best and the dispenser and tear strip work the best.

Fun washi tape or other decorative tape or stickers are fun embellishments for kids too.

Glitter

Kids love glitter but it can be such a mess!  Whoever created glitter glue is a genius!  Works like glue, comes in fun colors, but cleans up with water just like glue.  No more vacuuming glitter up for days!  Sequins or other larger sparkles can be glued on individually and cleaned up much more easily than glitter also!

Paper

Large packs of basic white printer paper and construction paper can be found very inexpensively.  We also asked our church secretary to save any papers that are only printed on one side that she would otherwise recycle.  The kids create on the unused side and then we recycle when finished!

Those are our favorite supplies to keep on hand to encourage creativity in our children, do you have any favorites?  Please share in the comments!

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Our Favorite Books to Give

Books are a great gift for anyone!  With so many different types of books, you can easily find one to appeal to almost anyone!

Books make great gifts!

FOR BABIES AND TODDLERS

Sandra Boynton board books are our favorites!  You can never have too many; kids love them and parents don’t mind reading them over and over and over!

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt is a classic!  All of my kids have loved this one!

These first words books have great pictures and toddlers love them!

These Sing a Story books are fun and catchy: CreationNoah’s ArkBattle of JerichoCalming the Storm

The Big Picture Story Bible is our favorite bible for little ones.

FOR PRESCHOOLERS

Classic stories like Beatrix Potter, Curious GeorgeWinnie the Pooh and Little Golden Books are always fun choices.

Guess How Much I Love You & You’re All My Favorites are such sweet stories and great to read before bed.

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie (and other books in the series) are fun and silly!

Baa-Choo is a great book to read and re-read.  Don’t be surprised if your kids can quote the entire thing before long!

Dr. Seuss books are classics that you (mostly) won’t mind reading over and over!

Arnold Lobel’s Frog and ToadMouse Tales and Owl at Home have been some of our favorites.

Amelia Bedila books are fun; we prefer the classic stories to the new ones.

The Francis books are fun and sweet and who doesn’t love a story about a badger?

FOR ELEMENTARY AGES

Some of these books can be read by elementary aged children and some are longer “picture books” with story lines for older kids.

R.C. Sproul takes difficult theological topics and makes them understandable through stories.  Great for adults and kids!

The Magic School Bus and Ms. Frizzle makes science come alive.  Fun and quirky.

The Boxcar Children are fun chapter books for young readers.

So many great stories in the Three Cousins Detective Club and each also teaches a spiritual truth.  These are early chapter books.

The American Girls stories have been around since I was a kid and are still loved by girls.  Choose the classics like FelicityKirstenSamantha and Molly for a bit of history too!

Cam Jansen are good first chapter books.  Easy to read and large print.

In the Encyclopedia Brown books the reader gets to try to solve the mystery too!

We read these books (Adventures with WafflesThe Great Turkey Walk and By the Great Horned Spoon) as a part of our home school curriculum this year.  They are so fun, we had to share! (We’re giving them as gifts too!)

FOR ADULTS

Cookbooks make great gifts for adults who like to cook/bake, and with so many choices out there, you are bound to find one they love!

National Geographic Books are beautiful to relax and flip through!

Endurance, Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage is a true story of amazing courage and perseverance.

Francine Rivers writes amazing stories.  I’ve gifted this set and this set.  This series is also wonderful.

Ted Dekker, while not for everyone, writes spiritually thoughtful fantasy books.  FYI, some get a bit weird.

For the crafter in you life, try a sewing book or a gift certificate for sewing patterns or a quilting book.

Gifting people books in Kindle format or in MP3 is great for tech savvy recipients and those who don’t like “stuff”.

This is a great collection of Kindle books at a great price.  I’ve read them all and they are fun, suspenseful and clean! (My aunt is one of the authors!)

Anyone wanting to simplify life yet remain sane in the process will love our book Everyday Simple!

Affiliate Disclosure: I’ve linked all my suggestions to Amazon because it is easy for most anyone to order most anything from Amazon.  For any items purchased through Turn2theSimple links, Amazon will give a small percentage of the sale.  This helps us to make Turn2theSimple possible. Thank you!  

If your budget is tight, consider ordering used books from Thrift Books.  This is my favorite way to buy used books, low minimum to get free shipping and you earn points for every dollar you spend so you can buy more books!

What are your favorite books to gift?