S8 E10 | Ways to Incorporate Scripture into Your Child's Days (Shiela Catanzarite)
From the beginning, it was God’s design that His words permeate the lives of His people. Charlotte Mason had a lot to say about the priority of Scripture in the home. She understood that God’s word is living and that it will prove effectual in the lives of our children as we impart it to them. More than ever, our children need to hear God speak. The homeschool lifestyle affords a myriad of opportunities to impart God's word to them. In this podcast Shiela shares practical ideas and insights for incorporating Scripture into your children's day.
Shiela Catanzarite is an author, speaker, editor, and communication coach. She's a 20-year Charlotte Mason veteran homeschooler and has worked as Jeannie Fulbright’s editor and designer for 20 years helping develop Jeannie’s award-winning Apologia science curriculum and most recently her Charlotte Mason products published through Jeannie Fulbright Press. Shiela is the author of the newly published Living Verse Language Arts in Poetry and is finishing up her second book in the series Living Verse Language Arts in Scripture, to be released spring 2024.
Earning a bachelor’s degree in Special Education and a master’s degree in Christian Education from Dallas Theological Seminary, Shiela has been teaching language arts in some capacity for 40+ years. Her passion remains helping students understand the elements of language and how to use these elements artfully to communicate effectively. Shiela is currently a language communication coach, working one-on-one with students who have language learning and communication challenges. She also writes curriculum for her private middle and high school English language communication classes that focus on writing and speaking.
Both of Shiela's and her husband Bruce’s daughters attended private universities on scholarship and went on to pursue graduate studies in medicine and global business. She attributes their love for learning and academic achievement to homeschooling with Charlotte Mason’s philosophy and methodology.
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Shiela Catanzarite Welcome to the Charlotte Mason Show, a show that discusses Charlotte Mason's philosophy, principles, and methods. I'm your host, Shiela Catanzarite, author of the newly published Living Verse Language Arts in Poetry, and soon to be published, Living Verse Language Arts in Scripture. I'm so thankful you joined me today, and I pray this episode deeply encourages you as you learn more of Charlotte Mason's life-giving methodologies and how to implement them to bring greater freedom, confidence, and joy to your homeschool days.
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Shiela Catanzarite Well, hello. I'm so excited you joined me today on the Charlotte Mason Show. I pray that this episode deeply encourages you and inspires you and strengthens you to continue engaging with your homeschool in an enriching and joyful way. And today, we are going to talk about ways to incorporate scripture into your children's lives and into your homeschool days. And from the beginning, it was God's design that his words permeate the lives of his people. After giving God's commandments to the Israelites, Moses told them, "And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you were sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise." Moses instructed God's people to prioritize God's words. He wanted them to keep them front and center in their daily lives. God wanted his people to know him, to remember him, and most of all, to understand how to live as his people and experience his blessing, and God especially wanted the children to come to know his character and his ways. And more than ever, our children need to understand God in his ways. They need to know that God is powerful and is sovereignly in control and that there's no reason to fear. But our children also need to know that God is a loving, heavenly Father who created them, who loves them, and who longs to speak to them. And a pastor I once had described the scriptures as God's breath on a page, and I thought that was so beautiful and it's actually true because God's word is living. And what a beautiful way to think of it. And we want our children to experience God in this way. We want them to encounter the wisdom, the strength, the instruction, the guidance, and the comfort that God offers in his living word.
Shiela Catanzarite And Charlotte Mason actually had a lot to say about the priority of scripture in the home. She understood that God's Word is living and that it would prove effectual in the life of the child as the parents imparted God's word to them. Speaking of the word, she says, "The Word is full of vital force, capable of applying itself. A seed, light as a thistledown, wafted into the child's soul will take root downwards and bear fruit upwards. What is required of us is that we should implant a love of the Word." She goes on, speaking of the parent, to say, "It is his part to deposit, so to speak, within reach of the soul of the child some fruitful idea of God; the immature soul makes no effort towards that idea, but the living word reaches down, touches the soul,—and there is life; growth and beauty, flower and fruit." Wow. We want to see that growth and fruit and our children, don't we? And we want to see it in ourselves. And homeschoolers usually began the day with devotions or Bible curriculum. I think most homeschoolers are just committed to putting God's word first in the day, which is wonderful and so important. And I remember doing Leading Little Ones to God when our our daughters were preschoolers and we did various children's Bibles that had lessons and different curriculum. And so I think it's so important that we start off our day with God's Word, but we don't want to treat the Bible as just one of the subjects in the homeschool day. We don't want to just begin with it and then have our quiet time together and move on into the rest of our academic day. We don't want to leave the scripture behind, we want to take it with us all throughout the day. We want to talk about it with our children. We want to think about it. We want to incorporate it into our moments and our hours and all throughout our day.
Shiela Catanzarite And so how do we do that? How can we incorporate scripture into our days so it has opportunity to reach down, to touch our children's souls and to produce the fruit that we longed to see and that God wants to see? Well, I came up with the list of ways that we can do that. And I created a PDF and I want to actually offer it to you for free. If you go to my website ShielaCatanzarite.com, you'll see at the bottom of the home page an area where you can send a form, fill out a contact form with your email address, and if you put your email address and put on the form that you want to receive the scripture PDF, they will alert me with your form and then I will email it to you. And so all you have to do is give me your email address and I will send that right to you and I hope that it will be a blessing to you. So how do we incorporate scripture? What are some creative and unique ways that we can continue to incorporate God's Word throughout the day in our homeschool? And the first thing I would say is to keep a scripture notebook. So if you have a Bible notebook for your formal lessons, keep that just for the Bible lessons and find another notebook that you can use or purchase a notebook that you can use just for scripture. And of course, we want to be able to incorporate all of our wonderful Charlotte Mason tenets like copywork, and visual and written narration, dictations, all the things that we love about notebooking. I would recommend having a separate scripture notebook for each of your children. So whenever you engage with scripture in a unique way, you will be able to have one place where it's all recorded and preserved. And I would also plan for creative expression. When we're thinking about scripture and learning lessons that God has for us and that God has for our children, we want them to be able to express their learning. So plan to incorporate handicrafts, maybe cooking and baking, art, drama, arts and crafts, different ways that your children can express their learning. And so when we're looking at scripture, we don't want to just be reading and memorizing, although that's that's the starting point, we want to give our children the opportunity to express their learning in all the fun, Charlotte Mason-inspired ways.
Shiela Catanzarite So I would say to begin, when you're planning for how to incorporate scripture into your children's homeschool year, capitalize on the natural rhythms of the year, specifically the seasons and the holidays. The seasons are wonderful ways that you can naturally incorporate God's Word into the lessons. So if you think about spring, when spring comes and you have the birds coming in, maybe your children create bird feeders every year, or maybe you do the backyard bird count, or maybe you're looking for the first time you see the Rose-breasted Grosbeak at the feeder—if you're a family who recognizes the birds and studies the birds, you can easily incorporate Matthew 6: "Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather in the barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?" You can create a bird feeder and your children can paint or write the scripture on the feeder. You can do the backyard bird count and comment with your children and have a conversation about how, wow! we're feeding all these beautiful birds and God is using us to provide for them. Do you know that you're more valuable than they? What does God say about that? And you can bring that scripture in and talk about it and you can write it in your scripture notebook and do an illustration of the favorite bird. Things like that. You can also talk about the flowers. There are lots of scriptures about different things blooming and sprouting and sowing and reaping, and so find scriptures that relate to the season that you're in and see if you can do a hands-on activity related to that.
Shiela Catanzarite Maybe you're in summer and your family's decided to watch the night sky and you take a blanket up on a hill and you lay down and you look at the stars on a clear night, you could bring in Isaiah 40—"Lift up your eyes on high and see: who has created these stars, the One who leads forth their host by number, he calls them all by name; because of the greatness of his might and the strength of his power, not one of them is missing." This would be a beautiful way to remind your children and your family that God is the one who put the stars up in the sky. You can recite the passage, you can study it beforehand and memorize it and recite it as a family out on the blanket, you can have someone read it, you can go home and draw a picture of the night sky that you observed and copy the passage there in the notebook. Many different ways that you can incorporate this. There are so many scriptures on the night sky, so you can look up and find one that you think would be really good for your family to interact with.
Shiela Catanzarite Maybe you're in the fall season and you're planting your fall garden, or you're at the end of the summer and you're harvesting your summer vegetables. Galatians 6—"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." This is such an important scripture for us as moms as well, but for our children when we're teaching the habit of diligence or work ethic or working hard. This is a great scripture to pull in around hands-on gardening—the sowing and the reaping and how that applies to us in our lives and the work that we do. So that's a great one for fall. I also think of the verse that talks about how the grass withers and the flower face, but the word of God does not fade. It lasts forever. That would be a great one to bring in to compare how at the proper time the different aspects of creation might die off in the fall and the winter—they're going to come back in the spring, but God's word will never, ever, ever fade. So that would be a great way to bring that scripture in.
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Shiela Catanzarite In winter you might pull in Isaiah 55: "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, 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." Again, you've got the metaphor of how the snow and how the rain comes down and water the earth and how God's word waters our souls and our hearts. And so you can pull that in if it's a snowy day or a rainy day in the winter. And there are other passages that you can look up that have to do with a season, that speak to a season in creation, and pull that in. Think of creative ways that you can take advantage of the weather that you're experiencing or the season that you're experiencing, and try and tie in God's Word with a creative activity that might illustrate the truth, and then put that in your scripture notebook. Find a way to creatively express it.
Shiela Catanzarite Also, the holidays. There's so much that we can do with the holidays, and I'm sure you already do a lot of this, but one of the ideas I had was at Thanksgiving, you can do a biblical word study on the word thankful. Look at all the different ways that the Bible expresses thankfulness, gratefulness, grateful. Have the whole family pitch in and maybe look up and share one verse that they've found with the word thankful in it. Create a page in the scripture notebook with all the different words and synonyms for thankfulness in the Bible and the scripture references. Or write all the scriptures out. Decorate it in a Thanksgiving theme. You could create place cards at the Thanksgiving table. Each person has a different scripture about thankfulness that you found as a family. Celebrate it that way, share your scriptures. You can also at Christmastime look at the different Christmas hymns, Christmas carols, and find the ones that are based on scripture or that have parts of scripture actually in the words. Look at the history. Who wrote The Christmas Carol and what was the history and why did they write it? What is the scripture that it's based on? Look it up and write the scripture out. That's a wonderful way to see how scripture is tied into the Christmas holiday. Of course, everything surrounding the Nativity. There's so many different things you can do to tie in the scripture and the biblical themes of Christmas.
Shiela Catanzarite Also, we have Easter, lots of verses on the resurrection. I remember one year, I think we did the Resurrection Garden—you create a little garden, like the tomb is open, and you can go to Pinterest and find tutorials on that. But you could do something like that, a little hands on activity, and then they can write a scripture about the resurrection. So again, with all of these hands-on activities, you want to make sure to keep the scripture at the very center of it. So always make sure that your child is writing the scripture with the activity so that you see that the Word of God is first, the truth is first, and then the activity is just an illustration honoring that truth. I would say cooking during the Easter holiday, we did these little resurrection cookies and they were hollow in the middle. And I think that we made them and overnight they became hollow when we got up in the morning. It kind of...they looked like the empty tomb. So there are lots of ideas like that around the holidays. And again, you want to make sure you talk about the scripture and how the activity illustrates the truth that God is communicating to your child. So if you go to Pinterest, there are many, many different types of activities that you can do and you can get more ideas.
Shiela Catanzarite Another idea is to study the metaphors for Jesus. This is a fun one. Go to the Gospels and choose a few. For instance, the Light of the world, Jesus is the good Shepherd, the bread of life. You could take the light of the world and talk about how important light is. Maybe sit down for dinner as a family and have it dark and then light a candle or a lantern and discuss with your children what happens when the light comes on, What do you see? And then maybe blow the candle out. What happens when the light goes out? And then go ahead and talk about how Jesus is the light of the world and how he said, "You are the light of the world" and how we are his light shining for him on Earth. So you could bring in a personal application. You could do the Good Shepherd. Go to a farm that has sheep, talk to the owner of the farm about how they care for the sheep, or maybe interview a real shepherd. See if you can find a real shepherd and observe him doing his caring for the sheep, how he cares for the sheep. Bring in Psalm 23 and talk about it. Illustrate it in the scripture notebook. Do some drawing of sheep out in the pasture and copy the passage Psalms 23. That would be a fun idea. You could also do Jesus is the bread of Life. Make bread and talk about how important it is for life. Lots of different ways that you can illustrate Jesus and the metaphors that the scripture uses to help us understand Him.
Shiela Catanzarite You can also just study scripture related to a field trip or nature walk that you have planned. Think about what you're going to do, where you're going to go, and how there may be a passage of scripture that illustrates what you're going to study. There may be a spiritual lesson tucked in there. So really think about that. Ask God to show you if there's something in His word that he has spoken to and spoken about related to what you're going to do. We talked about doing a biblical word study on the word thankful at Thanksgiving, you could also do a biblical word study on wisdom or obedience or faith. You can tie it to the habit that you're working on. So if you're working on the habit of faith with your children, find the verses on faith and write them down. Create in your scripture notebook maybe a page for each habit that you're working on and have your children do some copywork of the scriptures that speak to that habit. That would be a fun way to incorporate scripture.
Shiela Catanzarite Also studying a master painting of a familiar Bible narrative. There are so many beautiful works of art—I've been working on my my next volume of Living Verse Language Arts, and it's language arts and scripture, and I've been looking at all of these paintings and researching these beautiful biblical narrative paintings that were done so many years ago, and it would be wonderful to choose a few of those maybe that illustrate any of the, you know, the Bible narratives that you want to, you know, highlight for your children. Choose one of the paintings and talk about it. Ask questions, and then read it in the scripture and then go back to the painting and see if you can identify aspects of truth that the scripture talks about in the paintings. So there's a lot that you can do with that. You can have your children look at the painting and write about it. Lots of ideas.
Shiela Catanzarite You can also read poetry based on scripture, which I'm passionate about poetry. It's so important for your children to be reading poetry and studying poetry. There are a lot of older poems that are rooted in scripture. Find some of those, read the poetry, and go back and find the passage of scripture that the poetry was based on and compare them side by side. That would be a wonderful way to incorporate scripture.
Shiela Catanzarite Also read missionary stories. We read so many missionary stories when our girls were young to illustrate what it looks like to obey the Great Commission. When Jesus said to go out into all the world and preach the gospel, we studied the lives of men and women who have given up everything to go take the gospel to the nations. And those are wonderful ways to illustrate obedience and faithfulness and stewardship of your spiritual gifts for the Gospel Ministry. So choose some missionaries. I recommend doing that all the way through the homeschool. You know, even when they're in the high school years, studying Jim Elliott and some of those great heroes of the faith that gave up so much for the salvation of the nations.
Shiela Catanzarite Another idea is to create traditions around your favorite scripture passages. I know one family who, actually several families, who they gave only three gifts at Christmas time to illustrate the gifts of the three wise men. And so they have that tradition based upon the scripture, the Nativity scripture. And so things like that that you can, that your family can create a tradition around, do that together. Choose a passage and see if you can create a tradition that you celebrate every single year that people look forward to.
Shiela Catanzarite Another idea is to read the legends that are based on scripture and biblical themes, like the legend of the candy cane or the legend of the three trees. They are not from scripture, but many of those legends are based on scripture. And so if you Google them, sometimes the legends will be written from a secular point of view, but many times you'll find them with the scripture included, and it'll have a history of why it's written, and it will illustrate an important biblical truth or an important theological truth that you want your children to know. So you can research those and include those.
Shiela Catanzarite You can make a notebook page with every extended family member's favorite scripture. So that would be really fun to do. Have your children contact the grandparents and the aunts and uncles—what's your favorite scripture? And they can write them on a notebook page and decorate it and, you know, write whose this one is and whose, you know, favorite scripture is this one. And make it a fun page in the notebook.
Shiela Catanzarite Also play scripture songs during morning time, throughout the day. We had songs when the girls were growing up that I played during this homeschool day, and they were just purely psalms and proverbs. And I know there are many resources like that out there, especially when they're young, it's just good for scripture memory to have them put to music. So that's a fun thing to do.
Shiela Catanzarite Another idea is to listen to scripture when you're riding in the car on a trip. Maybe you're going down to Florida for a beach vacation and you want to listen to the book of Philippians or the book of 1 Peter. Talk about it as a family. Maybe there's a theme in your homeschool that keeps coming up that you need to hear God's Word speak to, and you can just decide as a family, we want to hear the book of James. We want to hear what God has to say about trials and the tongue and wisdom. Talk about it as a family and then listen to the Bible book while you're driving and then maybe stop and talk about it and everyone share their insights and pray for each other. That's an idea.
Shiela Catanzarite You can play scripture memory games. One fun idea is to have the whole family memorize a verse and then each person says the next word. So for-God-so-loved-the-world and someone says "for", the next person says "God", the next person says "so". And you recite the whole scripture, but everyone in the family takes a turn with the word. There are a lot of different scripture memory games that you can incorporate into the family fun night, and I would recommend that.
Shiela Catanzarite Design scripture greeting cards. This would be such a fun idea. Buy some blank cards, maybe at Michael's or on Amazon, you can buy them...they're folded over and they have envelopes. We used to do this with our girls. And have your children pick out a few verses that are verses of encouragement, a few verses that relate to maybe sympathy, a few for congratulations, maybe a few birthday type scriptures that would speak to someone, you know, Psalm 139 about being made special, and have them create some cards or write the verse on the front and decorate them and just have them available. The next time that someone needs to be encouraged and reminded that God is a God of hope, you can pull one of those cards out, write a note and send it. But what they're doing is the scriptures that they've learned, they're actually taking them and sharing them with other people, passing God's word on to others. And so I think if you had a day where you just created a lot of cards and put them aside, on those moments when you want to send a word to somebody to celebrate them some way or recognize their birthday, you have those ready and you're actually sending God's living word to them.
Shiela Catanzarite Of course, there are different documentaries, there are different movies based upon missionaries, different autobiographies and biographies that you could read, but what we want to begin to do is think about how God's word can be incorporated throughout our days, throughout our seasons, throughout the years. So we want to think about in Deuteronomy where Moses instructed the people to talk about God's words when you sit down, when you rise up, when you lie down, we want to get in the mindset of that with our children so that they understand that God's word is living. It is always speaking to me and it's always available for me. God is waiting to speak to the need of my heart. He wants to encourage me. He wants to instruct me. God wants to show me the right decisions to make. He wants to show me how to live in a way to receive his blessing. So when our children leave our home, there won't be very many people teaching them the Word of God. Maybe if they go to a Christian school or they have a mentor in their life, hopefully they will and you can pray for that, but you as a mom and a dad have the opportunity to incorporate God's word into your children's lives every day, all throughout the day. And I would encourage you, this is an opportunity that is not going to last forever. For the time that you have them up close in your home, don't miss the opportunity to immerse your children in the Word of God.
Shiela Catanzarite I would encourage you when you do your planning for the year or for the month or however you plan, even if it's just for the week, go before the Lord and ask Him: God, what are the scriptures that you want me to impart to my child? What do you want to say to us in our homeschool this week? What do you want to communicate to us? What are the truths that we need to hear? What are the promises that we need to hold on to right now? Because God knows what's in our future. He knows what's coming and he knows what we're going to need from him and from his word in the future. So ask God to put these scriptures on your heart and write them down. Write down the words of God that He gives you. And then when you're planning for your homeschool activities or for your field trips or family outings, think about what can we do that would illustrate this scripture. Find a certain passage for each season, find a scripture for each holiday, find a scripture for the field trips you're wanting to take, and ask God for creative ways and activities that you can incorporate those into those activities, and not only incorporate the words, but express them. Because Charlotte Mason was really adamant about the child expressing his learning through his writing, through his narrations, through all of his artwork. Any way that the child can create from his learning, he's going to remember it, it's going to become his own possession. And we want the Word of God to become the primary possession that our children leave our home with because God's Word says that it's more precious than silver, that the wisdom of God, the Word of God is a treasure. And we want to offer that to our children. We want to keep it as the priority. We want it to permeate our homes through the days. And if you will take some time to plan and be intentional about seeking God and seeking his Word and planning to incorporate the scripture into your days, you will see an incredible amount of fruit in your child's life and you will begin to see that there will be growth and beauty, and flower and fruit like Charlotte Mason told us about.
Shiela Catanzarite So I hope that you've gotten some fun ideas as you think about incorporating scripture into your days beyond the devotion and the Bible lesson that we have in our mornings. I pray you have a vision of how God's Word can permeate your days. And if you go to my website, I'm really excited just to offer my PDF. It's a list of some of the things that I talked about, and I'd love to give it to you for free so that you could keep it and maybe when you go to do your planning you can reference it and come up with some ideas. But go to my website ShielaCatanzarite.com and fill out the content form at the bottom of the home page and just let me know that you want that and I would be so happy to send it to you. So thank you so much for being with me. I hope this was a blessing and I look forward to being with you next time. Have a great day.
Shiela Catanzarite Thank you for tuning in to the Charlotte Mason Show. If you want to learn more about Charlotte Mason and discover a beautiful Language Arts curriculum that uses her methodologies, go to my website at ShielaCatanzarite.com. There you can find my new blog where I discuss Charlotte Mason's principles for Language Arts, and how to implement her philosophy in your homeschool. Please enjoy my free resource on how to mark a poem. Simply provide your email address and I'll send you the free PDF that teaches a simple, hands-on, Charlotte-Mason-inspired way to bring poetry into your homeschool. If you haven't already, please subscribe to the podcast. And while you're there, leave us a review. Tell us what you love about the show. This will help other homeschooling parents like you get connected to our community. And finally, tag us on Instagram @HomeschoolingDotMom to let us know what you thought of today's episode.
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Shiela Catanzarite Have you joined us at one of the Great Homeschool Conventions? The Great Homeschool Conventions are the homeschooling events of the year offering outstanding speakers, hundreds of workshops covering today's top parenting and homeschooling topics and the largest homeschool curriculum exhibit halls in the U.S.. Find out more at GreatHomeschoolConventions.com. I hope to see you there. Have a wonderful week. I look forward to being with you next time.