A threadbare teddy bear is a treasured possession that brings a child enjoyment, security and comfort. Likewise, parents can use physical objects to help our young children treasure spiritual truth.
Our family made treasure boxes to help our five kids grasp the meaning of God's greatness, love, and care. Children love treasure boxes because they can hold them, open the lid, peek inside, and fill them with special items that jog positive memories.
Before giving the box to your child, attach a small, unbreakable mirror inside the lid or bottom of the box. Then help your child cut out pictures of God's creation to glue on the box. Look for pictures that relate to each day of creation, and use the box's lid, bottom, and four sides so you'll have a separate section to represent each day of creation.
Once the box is decorated, ask your child to name one aspect of creation that God especially loves. After several guesses, tell your child to look inside the box for the answer. He will be delighted to find his own reflection!
Discuss how God looked at all that he had made and saw that it was good (Gen. 1:31). Ask your child, "What do you think God said when he made you?" Make fingerprints on small pieces of paper and talk about how God made each of us unique. Then read Psalm 139:14.
Help your child think of treasures to place inside the box, including slips of paper containing Bible verses. A lock of my daughter's hair from her first haircut reminded her that God values her so much, he numbers her hairs.
My son found two pennies and a feather that he treasured because "God cares for me and the birds." The pennies carry the motto "In God We Trust," reminders of a caring God.
When God answers a prayer about hurt feelings, place an adhesive bandage in the box, because God heals us both inside and outside. Write down the answered prayer to remember later on.
A tiny eraser is a reminder that God forgives us and erases all memory of our sins. A postage stamp helps kids visualize that prayer is a way of sending messages to God.
When your child has trouble sleeping, use the treasure box to provide comfort. Place a tiny lamb or furry white pompom inside the box as a reminder that Jesus, the Good Shepherd, takes care of us.
Together make a cross of sticks and tie it with a red ribbon to symbolize Christ's blood shed for us. Tell your child, "Jesus died because he treasures you." When the cross is placed in the box, encourage your child to make room for Jesus in the best place of all--in his or her heart.
A treasure box helps children visualize how God works in their lives. It's a fun way to make spiritual concepts more concrete, which helps young children grasp God's truth and make it personal.
Karen Hartigan Whiting is a writer and mother of five children. Her latest book is The One Year My Princess Devotions: Preschool Edition (Tyndale House).
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