Today I’m honored to feature Deborah’s story and her hands-on Christian Chinese Bible activities, printable lesson crafts, and teaching tips! I’m so thankful to God for the chance to learn with faith-fueled parents who are raising multilingual children, and I hope Deborah’s article blesses your family, too!
Deborah is a bilingual Cantonese-Australian mother who’s been teaching her son about the Bible in Chinese and English.
In this post, Deborah shares simple, doable ways that we can teach the Bible in Chinese with our kids everyday, even if Chinese is a minority language.
Interview with Deborah, Christian Cantonese-Australian mother
Hi! I’m Deb.
I was born in Hong Kong and my family moved to Sydney when I was 9. I can speak Cantonese and read Chinese to an early to mid-primary level but am somewhat rusty. My husband is only fluent in English.
I started generally speaking only Cantonese to my son after he was 2 years old. Before that it was a mixture of English and Cantonese. He is now 3.5 years old, speaks both Cantonese and English and can read around 80 Chinese characters.
As a family, we are part of a local English-speaking church. I started becoming interested in Bible-based Chinese activities in early 2019.
I was already preparing some Chinese activities and it was a good way to share with my son things from the Bible at the same time. It also meant I had more time to spend with God as some of the preparation time became time to think and dwell on God’s words.
My son resists reading the same book, and likes picking his own books and activities. This means reading any Bible story can be sporadic and when asked, he might resist and run off.
I have found that an activity that goes with a Bible story or verse helps engage him and keeps him interested. I could leave a Chinese Bible activity on his table and let him engage with it first, and then join him later to explain.
Since doing the activities, he has become more interested in Chinese Bible storybooks and Jesus in general.
Why do Chinese Bible activities with kids?
A) Child-led learning
Chinese Bible Activities can be a way to engage a child to learn about the Bible and Chinese. This means the learning becomes more child-led (or at least child-initiated).
B) Integrate bilingual biblical thinking into everyday life
As you and your child learn phrases and ideas from the Bible in Chinese, it helps integrate biblical thinking into everyday life as you have Chinese conversations together.
Some examples are:
- As you walk through a park, you can talk about how God helps trees and flowers to grow, and how our God also cares for us (Luke 12:27-28).
- Our Heavenly Father looks after the trees and flowers. Our Heavenly Father also looks after you and me.
- God knows everything about the world and us. He has counted all the stars and he has counted every single one of our hair. (Psalm 147:4-5 and Matthew 10:30).
- God knows everything about the world and us. God has counted the stars. Even our hair he has counted every single one.
C) Help kids expand Chinese vocabulary
Bible Activities can extend your child’s Chinese vocabulary in everyday ideas (eg, food, nature, animals, family), as well as more complex ideas (eg, love, grace, sin, sacrifice, forgiveness, mercy).
Some examples are:
- Parables of the Sower (Matthew 13:1-8) can be a story about plant needs and good/bad soils, as well as listening to God’s words and bearing fruit.
- 種子需要好土裡才能生長,結出果子。Seeds need good soil to grow and bear fruit.
- 我要結出好果子。我願聽天父話。I want to bear good fruit. I am willing to listen to God’s words.
- Jesus’ blood cleanses us from our sin. To help with understanding this concept, we used a foam heart with the word sin (罪) written in water-based marker, and then we used water with some red food colouring and a toothbrush to wash the heart clean.
他兒子耶穌的血也潔淨我們脫離一切罪。約翰壹書 1:7b, 9 (CNV)
The blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.1 John 1:7b-9
D) Bilingual Bible reading provides deeper learning about God
If English is your primary language, reading Chinese Bible verses as you prepare for activities means you are probably reading the verse slower and dwelling on it more.
The Chinese language also combines individual characters to form words and expresses certain things differently to English.
This can give you fresh eyes and help you discover new things about God.
How to plan Chinese Bible activities for kids?
Chinese Bible Activities can be planned around goals and themes in different ways:
A) Activities with a book or verse in the bible
Click on the links below to download the free printable heart bible verses in the following languages:
B) Activities with a Chinese Bible storybook
When we first got the Jesus Storybook Bible 故事聖經 by Sally-Lloyd, my son was not interested in the book at all for the first few months.
Then we started doing Chinese bible activities along with the book. My son started showing greater interest in the book and got to a stage that he would be happy to read from the book without activities.
C) Activities that goes with a Christian Chinese Song.
We love the Cantonese double album 童聲童心. The songs cover many bible stories and have a variety of good quality music. Spot of Sunshine also has a helpful list of Mandarin and Cantonese Chinese Christian albums.
D) A series to better understand a theme or concept.
We did a couple months of activities on Jesus’ miraculous healings as a lead up to Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Death and resurrection are big concepts for a toddler to comprehend.
I thought that by understanding Jesus’ power over sickness and death, it would make Jesus’ death less scary for a toddler and also help with understanding the resurrection concept.
We covered Jesus healing the blind man (John 9:1-7), Jesus healing the paralyzed man (Mark 2:1-12), Jesus healing Jairus’ daughter (Matthew 9:18-26) and Jesus raising Lazarus (John 11).
E) Activities for Easter and Christmas.
There are so many good things that happens during Easter and Christmas celebrations. It is important to focus back on Jesus and the bible message.
The above photo shows an example of an Easter activity with Chinese character matching.
Click on the links below to download this activity:
F) Tie in with Chinese learning themes
The Bible can be integrated with everyday learning, like nature, ocean, and love.
7 Types of Chinese Bible activities with kids
Different Chinese Bible Activities can include:
- Chinese character matching
- Category sorting with Chinese Characters
- Picture or action to highlight key words from story or verse
- Pretend play
- Retell a story or explain a concept using toys e.g. learning about objects floating and sinking to help with understanding Jesus’ miracles with walking on water and calming the storm.
- Learn Chinese numbers with story sequencing using pictures from story
- Homemade books for a short Bible story
Example: Chinese Bible crafts for teaching Creation to Kids
For Creation series, we did the following activities:
For light (光), we did torch light in the dark to look at flash cards with various light words e.g. star (星), sun (太陽), moon (月), light (燈), fire (火).
第一日, 神說要有光. On the first day, God said let there be light.
2. Category sorting by matching Chinese characters category with toys e.g. Sky (天), earth (地) and ocean (海).
你，唯獨你是耶和華，你造了天，天上的天和天軍，地和地上的萬物，海和海中的萬物，你使這一切生存，天軍也都敬拜你。尼希米記 9:6 (CNV)
You are the Lord, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you.Nehemiah 9:6 (ESV)
3. Animal sorting e.g. tall/short (高/矮), big/small (大/小).
4. Post-it Chinese characters on nature words.
5. Chinese character matching for the days of creation.
Click on the links below to download the free printable Creation teaching templates in the following languages:
6. Treasure hunt with a map to find pieces of paper with description of each day of creation hidden among things related to that day.
This is a fun activity for older kids!
- Day 1 was hidden somewhere dark (our toilet that has no windows) and a torch was given to assist.
- Day 2 was hidden near a window for sky.
- Day 3 was hidden near some plants.
- Day 4 was hidden near the Chinese characters day and night.
- Day 5 was hidden inside a chicken toy and near a fish toy.
- Day 6 was hidden inside a zebra ride-on toy.
- Day 7 was hidden near the bed.
Click on the links below to download the free scavenger hunt activity:
Final tips on teaching the Bible to children
A) Be flexible
Young kids are always growing and changing. Change things around if it’s not working.
My 3-year-old went through a phase when he didn’t like us praying together after a story or activity. Instead of closing my eyes, I made eye contact and said the prayer, and that seemed to work.
B) Start and keep going
There’ll be seasons when it’s a struggle to do Bible stories and activities whether it’s sickness, the tantrums, change in routine or whatever life brings. Focus on how to start or restart and keep going.
C) Share with a community
Learn with others to share ideas, resources and for accountability. Share with a friend, local Bible ministry, or join the Christian Parents Raising Bilingual Children in English & Chinese Facebook group.
D) Look after your own relationship with God
Some of the preparation can form part of devotion, but also have separate quiet times with God.
E) Learn as a child of God
Learn from your child, and seek God like a child in simplicity, humility and eagerness.
1那時，門徒前來問耶穌：“天國裡誰是最大的呢？”2耶穌叫了一個小孩子站在他們當中，說：3“我實在告訴你們，如果你們不回轉，變成像小孩子一樣，一定不能進天國。4所以，凡謙卑像這小孩子的，他在天國裡是最大的。馬太福音 18:1-4 (CNV)
At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.Matthew 18:1-4 (ESV)
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