How to Teach Attributes of God in Creative Ways

Omni-present. Faithful. Omniscient. $10 words describing God. Easy words for your kiddos to understand? Not always. Imagine this: “Moooom, why is there a rock, a band-aid and a night light in that jar on the table?” I’m not donating these items to Goodwill and my second born knows it. They’re in a pretty glass jar and now he’s got a riddle to solve. “Good question kiddo! They’re in our display jar to remind us about God and different “super powers” or “nick-names” He has. Boom. Want to spur more organic God-centered conversations in your house? Or guide your kids to pray more than rote prayers during meals or bedtime? Teaching attributes of God through hands-on props and snapshot flashcards has been a great way to get our family started . . . but before going into the “how-to” and “which attributes” let me explain the what and why . . .

Teaching attributes of God through props and  title roles kids can draw make our invisible God tangible.

Pictionary challenge: adjective or noun?

If you’ve grown-up in western culture, you likely use adjectives like “loving”, “patient” or “mighty” more often than nouns to describe attributes of God to your kids. I mean, what kid doesn’t love the little jingle “My God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do!”?!

While I have nothing against adjectives, drawing the prompt card “patience” or “gracious” during a Pictionary match doesn’t make me or my five-year cry out “I’ve got this!!” with reckless enthusiasm. Can I puuulse throw the card at the wall and beg for pity to draw a new challenge?! 😘 Protip: If a an attribute of God is hard to illustrate with stick figures, might it also be harder for your younger kids to grasp? Don’t misunderstand me: I’m not saying stop teaching your kids theological words like “unconditional” or “omni-present”; rather first lay the foundational truths about who God is with draw-able terms. Consider shifting your primary vocabulary to a Middle-Eastern mindset: nouns (a person, place or thing) vs. an adjective to initially describe God to your littles.

In reality, when Jesus taught he used parables aka stories and pictures to show his disciples God’s character and relationship to us. For example: The Parable of the Talents (Matthew 15:14-30) showed God’s ultimate role as judge and ruler, while the story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) show God’s extravagant love and forgiveness. God’s self-sacrifice/unconditional love is demonstrated through The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37).

Picture book or dictionary?

Perhaps the easiest way to see Attributes of God through this Middle-Eastern focus is by examining the Gospel of John. Jesus described himself with 7 notable “I am” statements:

  • Bread of Life
  • Light of the World
  • Gate & Door
  • Shepherd
  • Resurrection & Life
  • Way, Truth and the Life
  • The Vine

What if these terms and other nouns (a person, place or thing) were the way you first started “drawing” a picture of God for your kids? What title you most often use to when referring to God. Reflect and note your tendency. Is it Jesus? Heavenly Father? Holy God? Challenge yourself to use different titles of God than you normally do when you pray or talk about him-to expand your kids’ framework of God and yourself 🙂

To make this super simple, I’ve created a set of FREE Attributes Flashcards aka “Nick Names of God” you can share with your kiddos, along with tips for success for family devotion or prayer building below . . .

Free Printable: Names of God

Anxiety about Habit Building . . .

Can I level with you? As a recovering perfectionist I’m constantly reminding my parent-self to not freak out when we miss a corporate family devotional time or I haven’t read a lengthy Bible story to my kids before tucking them in at night. I’d like to say we recite Bible verses at each meal but we don’t. As a former valedictorian, I can create huge expectations of myself and my kids daily routine: treating discipleship like a hard-core cross-fit work out that I need to pump out 12-hours a day with no breaks. Do you water your garden, then start yelling “GROW! GROW! GROW!!!” to your flower, to only quickly crumple into the fetal position when no blossoms explode in your face 30 seconds later?!

Ridiculous? Yes. But this is the kind of pressure you and I can put on ourselves about nurturing faith in kids. Then Satan just let’s you waddle in despair, defeatism and inaction. Don’t make yourself the “it” factor.

Parenting, discipling our kids is a long-term journey. God cares more about your kids than you do. He can shape them into HIS disciples through less than ideal circumstances:

  • Daniel grew up in captivity in Babylon without his parents.
  • Samuel, the prophet who anointed David as future king of Israel, was mentored as a child by high priest, Eli, who (ahem!) enabled his sons to sleep with temple prostitutes!
  • Rahab came to revere God as a foreign prostitute unfamiliar with any Levitical law.

Try, try again and hold on to HIS promises

God can pursue and turn our kids’ hearts toward him despite our shortcomings. Nevertheless that doesn’t mean you should abandon all efforts to make prayer and devotional time part of your family’s DNA. Hold on to these promises:

“Slow and Steady win the race”. Think the Tortoise and the Hare!

As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
    without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
    so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

Isaiah 55: 9, 10

Whew! So with that said let’s dive in . . .

Practical Steps

1. Identify the trigger activity 📺 🚗🍴

If having a family devotional time has been a struggle, “habit stacking”, a term coined in Atomic Habits by James Clear can be a good springboard into creating a faith building time as a family. Clear proposes, begin a new habit by adding it before an action you already consistently do. For families this could be meal time prayers, waiting in carpool line every morning or collectively watching America’s Funniest Home Videos (AFV) every Sunday night. Whatever it is, lead as mom and dad by agreeing to review 1-5 attribute of God before your rote activity. It might look something like this:

  • Before we pray at dinner, each family member will read one Attribute Flashcard outloud
  • Before my kids leave the carpool drop-off, one kid will pick an attribute flashcard and I will pray a quick prayer over them, using that title
  • Before we watch (insert family favorite show here–do we have any AFV regulars? American Ninja Warriors, Chopped, Treehouse Masters or Alone fans in the house??!), we will review 5 props from the display tray as a family.

🌟🌟PROTIP: Do you have one kid who always reminds everyone to buckle up, water the plants or not miss a favorite TV show every Thursday night? Make them feel big by asking them to help you remember what your trigger habit will be. Decide on a small reward (a small piece of candy, extra video game time or 5 extra minutes before bedtime) ahead of time you will offer if they help you remember to implement your habit.

**Attribute props?? What are those?! Visuals to remind us of the “super powers” God holds! I’ll cover some examples shortly . . .

2. Create intrigue ☝️🌟🥸

Purchase a special glass jar, tiered-appetizer tray or treasure box you can rotate household props on/into to spur fresh God conversations about His character. Place it in place your family regularly gathers. This may be breakfast table. But if you spend a lot of time in the car as a family it might be special container you always place on the drivers seat, in a mug holder or one prop you hang from your rearview mirror. This is your family! What rhythm works for you?

3. Prep the Attribute Props and Flashcards! 🎨

Below are prop suggestions to get your creativity going, spark some curiosity and conversation:

Attribute of GodHousehold Props
1. Artist, Author & CreatorTied Bundle of Paint brushes, Colored pencils
2. Bread of LifeSlice of Bread in a Ziplock
3. Counselor, ComforterDryer Sheet, Mini Pillow, or Travel Tissue Pack
4. Gate & DoorOld Key, Garage Door, Old Door Knob
5. DefenderAction figure with weapon, famous Hero book cover or picture of friend/family member in the Armed Forces, shield or nerf gun
6. Healerband-aid, ace bandage
7. Righteous Judge whistle (referees call the shot), graded homework or spelling test, copy of speeding or parking ticket (gulp)!
8. Shepherdcandy cane or sheep figurine from farm toy set
9. Light of the Worldglowsticks, candle, flashlight or headlamp
10. King of kingscrown, scepter
11. Strong TowerLegos, mega bocks, Jenga blocks
12. Refuge & ShelterTent Stake, Emergency Blanket
13. RockPolished stones or memorable rock your child chooses from a walk
14. RefreshmentMint, Stick of Gum, A special glass or cup
15. Prince of PeaceA drawing of the peace symbol, a picture of memorable place that was peaceful
16. Vinea fake bunch of grapes, a drawing of a vine, or green and purple pipe cleaner molded into a vine

4. Start simple and have FUN!!

Ever started a huge, exciting project to only piddle out because you don’t all the perfect supplies? I struggle with a lot of perfectionism procrastination. I’ll avoid starting a new habit or completing a task because I want to do it 100% by the book and not miss any details. All or none. Family pictures I should have hung a year ago remain under my bed because I haven’t found the ideal art accent to finish my photo collage wall. 🤦‍♀️😘 Let’s not step into that rut anymore!

Teach your kids who God is now. It’s better than waiting for some Pinterest worthy moment six months from now! If you can’t find all the props, start with what props you can and print the flashcards today. In the end, you and I are imperfect teachers anyway. But as one mentor used to remind me “It’s easier to turn a car in motion, than one at a complete standstill.”

Break free from perfection paralysis. Just do it.

Remember to have fun as you teach your kids who God is. Your spirit will be reflected in their face.

Games and discussion ideas . . .

As you gather props and use the Attribute Flashcards, play Pictionary or hide-and-go-seek stashing props in one room and naming the attribute as they are discovered.

Let’s take the nightlight/glowstick prop. Hide a handful of glowsticks around the house and see who can find the most. Intro one of Jesus’ special names is “Light of the World.” Sample questions:

  • Jesus said He is the Light of World. When He lived on earth, electricity didn’t exist. No light switches or lightbulbs. Do you think Jesus wants us to think of him more like a light from a lightbulb, candle or glowstick?
  • Where do we use night lights? Do you like having a nightlight in your room? Why?
  • How are nightlights helpful?
  • Imagine you’re sleeping in a new place, do you want a night light? Why or why not?
  • Sometimes as people get older they say they don’t need a nightlight. Why could it be wise to still have one? Any bad reasons? Some people don’t believe or follow God. It means they’re stumbling around without God’s guidance. What problems could this create?
Family Discussion Ideas for Attributes of God

Discussion Ideas for Any God Attribute

  1. What Bible story or personal story do you first think of when you hear the word “X”? (if you have time, read Bible story or let kids share personal stories)
  2. When you hear the word “x” what are 5 other words you think of?
  3. Do you know any songs or verses that go with this title or part of the title? (For older kids . . .) Do the words reflect God in any way?
  4. Read the Bible verse attached to the card.
  5. Closing Prayer:
    • God thanks for being (the Light of the World) . . .
    • I sometimes forget you are . . . when I am . . .
    • Remind us this week of you being . . . and give me opportunities to show others you are . . .

Further Resources and Closing Tips

As you teach Attributes or “Nicknames of God” as I affectionately call them, you’ll probably find certain titles stir more discussion than others. Embrace it. Expand on those moments. Maybe you teach one attribute a week and then find a hymn or contemporary song highlighting that title. Your “lesson” the following week might simply be replaying the song over and over and discussing snippets of the song as you work and play. When we talk about God being an Artist and Creator I love singing “This is my Father’s World.” It becomes my bedtime lullaby song for each of my kids. Here’s some resources I use to color in attributes of God for my kids:

In the end have an adventure. If you’re excited about the learning your kids will be too!

What attribute did you camp out on as a family? Were these flashcards helpful? What resources/tips do you need as Christian mom? I’m a research nerd and creative teacher at heart who’d love help!

Let me know below or drop me an email . . . let’s keep trekking this parenting path together! Hiking alone isn’t safe or good for the soul.

Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

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