Kelly Ramke Lardin is the author of the children's books Josiah and Julia Go to Church, and Let's Count From 1 to 20 (bilingual counting books in French and Spanish). She holds degrees in French from The University of the South and Tulane University and studied translation at SUNY-Binghamton. She has always enjoyed writing and loves studying languages. She converted to Orthodoxy shortly after marrying her husband, who is also a convert to Orthodoxy. Her journey to the faith was fraught with struggle, but she wouldn't trade it for anything. Together she and her husband are raising their two daughters in the Orthodox faith. This continuing journey still has its moments of struggle but is also a joy. Visit her at kellylardin.com for more information on her books and to read short stories and other writings. She also blogs about her faith, family, and life in Chicago at A Day's Journey. She is available for speaking engagements through the Orthodox Speakers Bureau.
I realized the other day that I’ve never sat down with my children and taught them about the Ten Commandments. Oh, we’ve talked about the Golden Rule – Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. We’ve made family rules – no hitting, no name calling, etc. But we’ve never actually stopped to talk about God’s rules. Having realized this, and seeing some problem behaviors beginning to develop, I put together this short lesson for teaching kids about the Ten Commandments.
Step 1: Read Exodus 20. (I have to say this because I’m not the best role model for daily scripture reading. I’m working on this, though…)
Step 2: Have your children rephrase each of the commandments in their own words. For example, “Honor thy father and thy mother” becomes something like, “Be respectful to your parents and listen to them.” Talk about what God tells us to do or not do, discuss the order the commandments are given. What is the significance of that (Commandments about our relationship with God are first…)? Ask for examples of behaviors that might break the commandments (when I say my sister ate the candy that I really ate, I am bearing false witness). And answer any questions your kids have.
Step 3: Make and play a game (This is the part that most intrigued my kids.). I created a lift-the-flap Ten Commandments activity. For younger children, the commandments would already be inserted under the flaps, and they could lift the flaps for you to read the rule. For older children, the commandments could be removed and mixed up, so they could then put them in order under the appropriate flap (see the picture).
Instructions to create your own (the kids can help, too):
- On poster board (or other heavy paper) draw two large stone tablets.
- On index cards (or card stock paper) write the numbers 1-10. Make a fold line near the top of each card, and glue them to the poster above the fold line.
- Print out the attached template of the commandments, and cut out each individually. (I’ve made this a Word document so you can change the paraphrases or remove them altogether.) For a sturdier game, put these on index cards or laminate.
Ways to play:
- Mix up the commandment cards, and time each child to see who can put them in order first.
- Let each child draw a card and place it in the right spot until all cards are placed. Whoever puts the most in the right spot wins.
- Insert the cards under the proper numbers. Pick a number, and whoever says the commandment first gets the card. The person with the most cards at the end wins.
Step 4: End with some worksheets for review. I like some of the options here.