12 Fun Activities to Do This Summer

Summer is a time for fun, playing outdoors, and enjoying the beautiful sunshine. And the best part is that there is NO SCHOOL! Although summer is the best time of the year, it always seems to go by so quickly. Creating a "Summer Bucket List" is a great way to make sure that the family does activities together during the craziness that this season brings. So we created a few fun activities for your kiddos to do outside, inside, and around Rochester! Happy Summer!

1. Water Balloon Baseball

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Want to cool down on a hot summer day? Water Balloon Baseball will do just that! It is the perfect combination of having fun and getting wet. Plus it is SUPER simple! All you need is a baseball bat, water balloons, and friends. 

2. Paint Rocks

Painting rocks is an easy and fun project. First, gather rocks from the backyard. Then paint! Your children can let their creativeness come to life by creating bugs, flowers, or their own creation to keep for a long time. 

3. Color Scavenger Hunt

Use your own backyard to create a scavenger hunt! Who doesn't love these? This is great for younger children. Start off by creating a color palette from markers or crayons. Then your child will have to find things in nature that match those colors. Not only is it a fun activity, but it works on developing important skills. For the older kids, you can do the same concept, but a "nature scavenger hunt" so they can get out and explore!

4. Tic Tac Toe Frisbee

Duct tape (or chalk) and frisbees are all you need. Then follow the beloved game of tic tac toe.  (If you don't have many frisbees, you can use one to throw and use another object to distinguish whose boxes are whose).

5. Drip Drip Drop

Do you know how to play Duck duck goose? If you do, then you know how to play Drip drip drop! First, you gather in a circle and have one person tap heads on the outside of the circle. The TWIST is instead of just simply saying "goose" for the person who has to chase the counter, they have to dump a bucket of water on them! 

6. Taco in a bag

When I think of summer, I think of nighttime bonfires with delicious s'mores. Before you break out the s'mores, why don't you have tacos for dinner at the bonfire!? You heard me right... tacos. How do you make tacos over a bonfire? Great Question! All you need is aluminum foil, meat, taco seasoning, and the toppings that you enjoy the most. Put the taco meat in the foil with cheese and other toppings then you wrap it up and stick it in the fire. Wait for the meat to fully cook, then it is ready to eat! You can even do it with a twist by doing taco in a bag (recipe here).

Things to do on a rainy day:

7. Homemade play dough

Kids love play dough! So why not make it from scratch? Two activities in one will keep the fun going for a long time. It is SO simple and I love to add vanilla or cinnamon (or both) to make it smell good. (recipe here)

8. Balloon Tennis

Have you ever played the famous game of "don't let the balloon touch the ground"? Now you can take it a step further by playing balloon tennis. It is such a blast, plus it allows you to get the energy out when it is rainy outside. (You can also use fly swatters if you don't have the materials).

9. Make a Bird Feeder

Simple ingredients and your family can enjoy the benefits. Making a bird feeder is something for the whole family to enjoy. You can also be creative with it by changing the shape so that everyone can add their special touch (recipe here).

Don't forget the things to do in Rochester!

10. Altitude/ Sky Zone

Who does not want to visit a trampoline park? Better yet, what parent doesn't want to get all their children's energy out during the summertime? This is a perfect place for kids to play, jump, and have fun. It is always a hit for everyone in the family. 

11. Red Wings Game

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Put on your baseball cap and buy some peanuts and cracker jacks with the family. Make sure to be on the look out for special promotions such as fireworks nights, Batman night, $1 hot dog Wednesdays and much more!. Get tickets here.

12. The Strong Museum

This is a great place to spend a day of fun as a family. They have a variety of exhibits such as a Toys Hall of Fame, Wegman's Super Kids Market, the DanceLab, and a Butterfly Conservatory.

 **Special thanks to Rachel Daellenbach for writing this post! Rachel has been working as an intern with Kids Min this Summer and will resume her final year at Roberts Wesleyan College this fall. Be on the lookout for chances to connect with her before her summer at Northridge is complete! 

**Special thanks to Rachel Daellenbach for writing this post! Rachel has been working as an intern with Kids Min this Summer and will resume her final year at Roberts Wesleyan College this fall. Be on the lookout for chances to connect with her before her summer at Northridge is complete! 

Favorite Music for Families

Fortunately for those of us who are currently in the midst of parenting, the music of the Wiggles is long gone. However, what culture has replaced the Wiggles with can sometimes be alarming to little and big ears alike. As parents, it's not a necessity that we only listen to worship or Christian music, but we should remember that our children's eyes and ears are the gateways to their hearts. What we allow them to watch and listen to will have a direct impact on their thoughts and actions (Proverbs 4:23). 

With all that aside, the point of this blog is not to argue about what type of music you should listen to, but to share what WE are listening to at Northridge Kids. Here's a list of our favorite music for families to listen to: 

1. SPOTIFY

The power of Spotify is found not only in creating a mix of your own favorite music but also in the ease of snagging the best playlists from others. If you'd like a pre-assembled music mix of Northridge Kids favorites, including songs we sing on Sunday, then you can find a ready to listen to a playlist for HighPoint, Hot Spot and the Ark. Listen to these tunes for FREE or purchase a Premium plan to take your music with you everywhere you go.  

2. ORANGE MUSIC

We love the variety of modern lyrics and tunes coming from Think Orange. Besides the variety, our favorite part of their music is that Orange Music's lyrics connect closely with our monthly life apps for HighPoint (elementary) and bottom lines for Ark/Hot Spot (preschool environments). You can listen to these fun albums on Spotify, purchase through iTunes or the Amber Sky Record site. 

3. SADDLEBACK KIDS WORSHIP

Coming out of Southern California, Saddleback Kids Worship's album Brave has songs that contain a nice balance of worship and biblical application. This album filled with moving music is one you'll hear as the background music in Northridge Kids hallways and elementary environments nearly every Sunday. Listen HERE. If you're into videos, you can find a number of their Bible verse based preschool songs on YouTube

4. AUSTIN STONE WORSHIP: KIDS

The NEW Only Jesus album produced by Austin Stone Church is a worship album focused on the priority of Jesus in our life. In addition to the excellent Christ-focused music included on the album are the blogs discussing the theology behind each song and the devotional guide provided for parents to help their kids apply the song's biblical truth to life. 

5. RAIN FOR ROOTS

Much of what causes adults to rebel against the very music preschoolers love and crave is the endless repetition. Rain for Roots provides lyrics from the Bible, sung in repetition, with music that won't drive a parent crazy. Their artful combination of lyrics and music allows little ears to hear and enjoy as well as little minds to remember and sing. Your soul will be encouraged by the songs as much as your heart will be when your kids sing along to Rain for Roots. Find their albums HERE

OTHER FAVS

There are a number of other ministries creating engaging music and music videos for kids, so don't be afraid to explore some of our other favorites as you discover what your family likes best: North Point Kids, Elevation Church Kids, KidSpring, LifeWay Kids Worship and Bethel Music Kids.

Did we miss anything musicians you love? If so, let us know! We love keeping our playlists filled with fresh content. 

Safe Spaces

We currently live within the largest global crisis in human history. 

In recent years, more than twenty million people worldwide have been forcibly displaced from their homes in an attempt to escape ethnic and religious persecution. More than half (eleven million) of those displaced are children.* Yet most of us are only vaguely aware of the atrocities facing refugees. In order to best figure out how we can help, we must know the answers to two questions: 

1. What is a refugee?  

A refugee is someone who has fled one's home country and cannot return because of well-founded fear of persecution based on religion, race, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. This is a categorically different group from immigrants or economic migrants who leave their country as fleeing poverty, but not necessarily persecution. 

A refugee is someone who has fled one’s home country and cannot return because of well-founded fear of persecution...

None of us within Northridge Kids claim to know why God has allowed this persecution to take place, but we believe He has a sovereign purpose, even in the midst of horrendous suffering, and as a result, we want to join God in what He is doing in this unique time in history. 

2. How should we respond? 

  • COMPASSION

Compassion, simply defined is our feelings of sorrow for those caught in hurting. According to Jesus, a simple standard for compassion is exemplified by the way we treat ourselves. Jesus said:

  • "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no greater commandment than these." (Mark 12:30-31) 

We should care for people in a way that exceeds the care we provide for ourselves! This means, compassion is only an initial feeling and our response should not end there. Compassion should lead us to action, particularly an attempt to alleviate the suffering refugees are experiencing.

  • HOSPITALITY

According to our biblical faith, we are compelled to respond to the plight of refugees with hospitality. We are to welcome and to treat kindly those who are new to our land. In Leviticus, the Law commands Israel to welcome foreigners in this way: 

  • "When a foreigner resides among your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself... " (Leviticus 19:33-34)

Our love for Christ is best demonstrated when we love others and treat them with kindness, especially those who are most different from us. We are called to love our neighbors, even if it costs us something. The ways that we can best show love includes praying and meeting needs. 

The refugee issue is important because real lives are at stake and our witness in this world is being broken through making decisions based on fear.
— Ed Stetzer
  • MEETING NEEDS

While there are many refugees who have relocated to our own Greater Rochester area, and there are practical ways to meet their needs, the majority of the world's refugees live in the Middle East. So, how can we help them. 

  • "...love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." (Matthew 5:44)

  • "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. (Romans 12:20)

Throughout the year, Northridge Kids participates in several giving projects. The goal of our giving projects is to make God's love known through kids helping kids. We focus on projects both locally (Pack-a-Pack & Tons of Love Food Drive) and globally (Operation Christmas Child Shoe Boxes & Advent Conspiracy).

For the next month in HighPoint, we're going to partner with our friends World Relief by praying for refugee children and by raising $225 to support one child for the year in a Child Friendly Space located in the Middle East. 

This weekend in HighPoint your kids will come home with a brochure about Safe Spaces, as well as a wallet they can use to save money to bring back on Sundays between May 28 and June 11. Use these tools as discussion pieces to help your kids understand how they can demonstrate compassion, love and faith by helping to meet the practical needs of children who have been displaced from their homes. 

In the meantime, if you'd like to know more about the refugee crisis please take a look at any or all of these recommended resources:

Kids and Generosity

Who wouldn't love swimming in a pool full of money?

One of my favorite shows as an elementary kid was Duck Tales. In the show, the main character Scrooge McDuck would frequently be attacked by the villain Magica De Spell and her goons, the Beagle Boys. Episode after episode, Scrooge was put in scenarios where he had to decide between the love of his money and the love of his nephews. Scrooge's love of money affected the decisions he made. 

Like Scrooge McDuck, money affects the way each of us lives. It is an important tool for living and navigating life.

Fortunately, the Bible has much to say about money including its ability to control our decisions and its use as an indication of where we are in our faith journey. Because of the importance the Bible places on money and our duty to motivate each other toward love and good works (Hebrews 10:24), we think it's necessary to help kids begin thinking about how they use money while they are young. 

At Northridge Kids, we think there are three ways kids can practice making wise decisions now, in order to help set them in the right direction for the future. 

1. SAVE

Saving is simply the practice of putting money aside for future goals, needs and wants. The Bible tells us when we save, even just a little bit at a time, it will eventually turn into much for a time of want or need at a later day (Proverbs 13:11).

We encourage kids to find or, yes, buy a piggy bank (isn't funny you sometimes have to spend money to save money) in order to create a rhythm of putting the money they receive aside for another day. As a parent, helping your kids set goals for what their money should go toward is one way you can help encourage this skill in their life.      

2. SHARE  

We don't think that you should give ALL of your money away, but that by giving some of it away you're demonstrating your trust in God. Sharing allows us to be a part of what God is doing our church and show his love to others by meeting needs. 

Money is more than giving, it’s a tool for loving.

At Northridge Kids, we encourage kids to share regularly as a recognition of our thankfulness to God for his provision. However, we also encourage kids to share through our giving projects that take place throughout the year. Our goal is to show God's love by meeting needs to other kids in our church, community and even around the world. For example, our current project is called A Ton of Love and our goal is to collect one ton (2000 pounds) of food in order to help fill the emergency food pantry of Cameron Community Ministries. Check out this video for more info and don't forget to bring in food before February 26! 

As a parent, you can teach your kids the value of sharing by helping them save with sharing in mind. You can also practice sharing by encouraging them to give away something that's theirs. That could include giving a portion of money they've earned or received, or donating something that's of value to them to someone in need.  

We don't expect kids to give everything, but we encourage them to give something. 

3. SPEND   

Money and our ability to enjoy it is a gift from God. That's exactly what the Bible calls it (Ecclesiastes 5:19). It's OK to spend the money we have to buy something that we want or need.

When we talk about spending in HighPoint, we... 

  • Warn them not to spend more than we have or we'll end up owing people that we can't pay back.
  • Talk about being careful that spending money doesn't become a way we try to make ourselves happy. We remind them that only God creates joy in our lives.
  • Encourage them to thank God for what they buy because it should remind them that God cares for them and provides for them. 

It's just a reality that kids pattern what they see in their parents. So as parents, one way to demonstrate wise spending is to take a moment and thank God for something your family purchases as a gift from God that helps us see he loves us and provides for us. 

While few of us will ever be able to swim in a bin full of money like Scrooge McDuck, each of us as leaders of our home can talk to our kids about how money affects their lives. By emphasizing these three actions: save, share and spend, we think that you'll provide a good framework for how your kids will relate to money and use it as a tool in their lives.   

Favorite Apps for Families

In 2010 the word "app" burst onto the world's scene earning the title Word of the Year as awarded by the American Dialect Society. An app is merely a program that more effectively allows it's user to accomplish a function. They help us navigate life, especially within a digital world. 

Apps are an every day reality for productivity at work, social connection, entertainment and let's be honest, perhaps most significantly fun. Who doesn't play Madden while waiting in line at the doctors office, grocery store or DMV? 

As parents, its our job to teach and talk with our kids about the role that technology plays in their lives. But until they get their own devices, kids will use our mobile devices as much as they can. So here are some of the apps the Northridge Kids team utilizes with our own kids in order to discuss life and faith. Consider deleting some pics and adding these to your phone.   

1. The Bible App for Kids

Whether you're on the go or getting ready for bed, The Bible App for Kids is a fantastic tool to read or listen to Bible stories with your kids. The kid-friendly animations and interactive adventures they can discover as you use it will create a sense of fun and excitement around stories that point us to God. This app is excellent for infants through first grade. 

               Download for  FREE . 

              Download for FREE

2. Superbook Kid's Bible

For those with kids second grade or older, the next step for digging deeper into the Bible can be found in the Superbook Kid's Bible. Containing multiple versions of the Bible, images, story videos and interactive games, this app will help you talk about the Bible in a fun and engaging way. Another feature that we love is the answers to common questions asked by kids. Even if you use this for reference before connecting with you kids on a issue of life or theology, this app will help you talk to your kids about faith. 

               Download for  FREE . 

              Download for FREE

3. Parent Cue

As parents, our job is to inspire faith in the next generation. We are to share our faith with our kids. The way Deuteronomy 6 instructs us to do that is by talking about faith throughout our weekly rhythm. At Northridge Kids, we send home monthly Cues, share discussion questions via text blasts and even have these Cues posted on our website (Ark/Hot Spot & HighPoint). But one way that you may more effectively be reminded to talk about what they are learning on Sundays in Northridge Kids is by having their lessons delivered to your phone. Use the videos, activities and questions as discussion starters with your kids throughout the week.

              Download for  FREE . 

             Download for FREE

4. Q Wunder 

While not as popular as IQ, the term EQ is quickly gaining ground. Emotional Quotient (EQ) is the ability to identify and manage your emotions in order to empathize, diffuse conflict or in any way act appropriate in a given social scenario.

The folks at EQtainment have created an app that with shows, songs, games and questions to help you talk through scenarios that might otherwise stump your kids. While options for additional content are available, the free base version is worth the download and regular use with your family. 

              Download for  FREE . 

             Download for FREE

5. Legacy Countdown

Are you losing your marbles?

Even if you think you aren't, in reality, you are.

In our Parental Guidance Required series, we were introduced to the reality that the average parent has 932 weeks from the time their child is born until they leave the home. As a reminder to make the most of our greatest time of influence on our children's lives (Ps. 90:12) we encouraged parent use marbles as visual cue. If you're more in-tuned to an electronic visual then the Legacy Countdown app will calculate and keep a running timer of your child's timeline in the home. 

                Download for  FREE . 

               Download for FREE

While most of don't have the space on our phones for each of these apps, we think that adding at least one of these apps will help you become more intentional in implementing faith discussions in your home.

Finally, for those of us who still don't like living in the digital world, check out our post on the BOOKS we recommend for families of Northridge. We think these resources will be a help as you parent with your child's faith in mind. 

Favorite Books for Families

A simple search on Amazon.com for books on parenting produces pages of overwhelming options. Titles vary from Parenting from Love and Logic to Screamfree Parenting. I'm sure most parents would agree we'd rather be a loving parent than a screaming parent even without reading one of these titles, but with options so vast in approach or philosophy, what are selections Northridge would say are the best bang for your buck?

Below are our team's five favorite resources, most of which you can find at your campus' Resource Center. 

1. Parenting Beyond Your Capacity by Reggie Joiner & Carey Nieuwhof

Parenting Beyond Your Capacity is an enjoyable and practical read that introduces the reader to the one important idea: parents are the biggest influence on their child's faith.

Our favorite part about this book is that it is not a "How To" book that promises your children will look like __ as a result of doing __. Having first removed an unrealistic picture of parenting, the authors encourage parents to inspire faith in their children through values which include: establishing strategic relationships and priorities, creating a family rhythm for faith discussions and modeling a consistent (not perfect) personal faith journey.

This book is a perfect read for someone who is preparing for the birth of a child or one who finds themselves in the beginning stages of parenting. Perfect for Northridge families as the authors reinforce Northridge Kids' philosophy in which our team is at it's best when we are partners with parents in the job of faith inspiration. 

2. Gospel-Powered Parenting by William P. Farley or Shepherding A Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp

Of the two books we recommend in the number two spot, we suggest that you pick ONE to read. Tripp and Farley's books both get into the nitty gritty of parenting in the daily grind. As a result, you will likely have to take your time to read and digest the concepts that confront and correct motivations, goals and methods that can go wrong in parenting. In both books, the authors attempt to re-focus our parenting on gospel priority in order to be an effective parent and faith-filled influence on our children.

While these books can be read by those preparing for childhood, they typically make a better read for those who are in or preparing to enter the toddler, preschool and elementary years of parenting. 

3. Three Big Questions of a Frantic Family by Patrick Lencioni

Many parents lead successful organizations during their working hours and yet fail to lead successful home lives. Consultant and author Patrick Lencioni has discovered the biggest reason for this disparity is that few families have spent time thinking, strategizing and meeting about how to run their lives. As a result, families live reactively, which causes stress to lives of each family member that ultimately leads to frayed relationships.

While this is not a gospel-oriented book, Lencioni's book is a perfect read for families who feel stuck in the pace of their lives and want to take control again. You can also watch the Northridge Equip workshop on Frantic Family HERE.  

4. Big Truths for Young Hearts by Bruce Ware

If everyone was a pastor-theologian then teaching your kids about the Bible might not feel like such a challenge. For the rest of us, Bruce Ware has written a book that parents can utilize to read and discuss doctrine (statements of belief) with their children in one chapter a day format.

This book will serve as a great introduction to biblical beliefs for your child, and it can also serve as a helpful introduction or review of doctrine for parents. Recommended as reading and discussion resource for parents of upper elementary kids (3rd - 5th grade).  

5. Where in the World by Holly Crawshaw

Each of the books on our favorite list is designed with parents in mind, except this one. Where in the World is a devotional that you can use to introduce your kids to the life of Jesus and the difference he can make in their life and faith journey. It can also be used to get your elementary-aged child interested in reading the Bible for themselves on a regular basis. Activities within help create interest and reinforce life-application of their daily reading. 

BONUS: Teaching Your Children Healthy Sexuality by Jim Burns

While this book puts us over the advertised five favorites, we think Burns' work is an important book to have in your home due to the emotional baggage that is created by an improper view of human sexuality. The author, Jim Burns suggests, and we would agree, that it's never too early to begin a conversation with your children about sexual integrity. As a result, this book is a great resource to utilize for guidelines regarding the when and how to dialogue with your kids about sex and sexuality beginning in their childhood years.   

Value #7: Fun

My kids have never begged me to take them to the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. 

However, my kids regularly beg me for a trip to Chuck E. Cheese. And let me tell you, it's not because the pizza is awesome. The reason they want to go back is because THEY have fun! 

The lights. The sounds. The games. The caffeine. The prizes. 

Fun is a motivation my kids use determine where they go.

Oh, the headaches.

In 2009 car maker Volkswagen set out to prove that the idea of fun is the easiest way to improve people's behavior. The company created and filmed several scenarios that tested their theory. In each scenario, VW created a fun way to perform a task to see if more people would do the fun task as opposed to the ordinary task. Below is one experiment they conducted on taking the stairs. 

By the time this experiment ended, 66% more people took the stairs! Even though taking the stairs is harder work, the VW experiment revealed that fun changes the way we behave. We are more likely to perform tasks we may typically resent if they can be done in a way that creates joy.  

Fun is a motivation that determines what we do. 

We have fun because we are serious about the mission.
— Joe McAlpine

When your kids show up to Northridge Kids, we want them to see that God is a God of fun. After all, God gives us gifts such as money (1 Tim. 6:17) and food (Ecc. 2:24-25) to enjoy in his presence. God wants us to enjoy his gifts, which include learning, with joy out of thanks to him.

How do we have fun at Northridge Kids?

Environments

Every environment at Northridge consists of an appealing place and engaging presentation. We've talked before how our environments and teachings are constructed with your child's stage of life in mind. But our environments are also designed with bright colors and themes that create a sense of wonder. This wonder helps awaken their physical and spiritual senses to better learn through our creative stories, songs and activities.  

We think the place your kids gather on Sunday morning are ones that they'll love coming to and will even help them interact with their friends (adult and kids) in order to get the most out of the Bible teaching each week. 

When you child has fun in our environments, they have a greater attention span as well as a greater ability to retain information. Fun is powerful. 

We like to create fun environments because we're serious about the Gospel. 

Volunteers

For better or worse, kids are great copycats. If your kids can talk, you've likely been surprised by something they've said. To be honest, they probably heard it from you. Our words from their mouths, don't sound the same. 

Kids are always on the lookout for social cues. From the time our children are infants until about the age of thirteen, kids are constantly matching their emotions and behaviors they observe in other people. Because of this, our volunteers bring the fun with them on Sunday morning. 

You'll consistently find our volunteers are excited and ready to engage with your kids. Each volunteer works to connect with your kids. Our team uses activities and conversations to learn about your child's passions and interests.

We like to have fun because we're serious about relationships. 

Kids don’t learn from people who don’t like them. And they will never feel like you like them if you don’t know them.
— Reggie Joiner & Kristen Ivy

 

Fun is a leading motivator of nearly every action we take as people. Therefore, we want your kids to enjoy their time in our environments and with our volunteers so much that they want to be back at Northridge Kids as soon as possible.

How do you know if we're succeeding at fun? 

If your kid is dragging you to church on Sunday morning...we think we've succeeded. 

Just remember, you should still be the one who drives to church.

 

 

Value #6: Relevance

Conversations with your kids about God and the Bible likely take place in your home on a regular basis. After all, that's the pattern that God established and the one that Northridge Kids tries to reinforce as the best strategy for parents to inspire faith in their children (Deuteronomy 6:4-9). 

But, have you ever talked your pre-schooler about the Nephilim in Genesis 6? 

No?! Hmm.

Have you ever talked to your third grade daughter about unwed Ruth sneaking into Boaz's room at night in Ruth 3? Don't worry, nothing really sketchy happened. However, it's still pretty confusing, huh? 

Did you give your fifth grade son a pop quiz on the Israelite Census in Numbers 1?  

Of course you haven't!!

Why not? Is it because these stories don't matter?

Absolutely not. 

These stories do matter. Each one has a specific place in the Bible and role in our life because they are inspired and therefore significant. Read more about our understanding of the Bible HERE.  

There could be a number of reasons that you haven't introduced your children to giant/angel/alien controversy of Genesis 6, Ruth sneaking into pronounce her desire for Boaz's hand in marriage or memorizing the number of Israelites per tribe. Whatever your reasons, I bet at the top of your list is the idea that it is either confusing, inappropriate or doesn't seem to impact your child's stage of life. 

Exactly.

One pastor says it this way, 

All Scripture is equally inspired, but not all Scripture is equally applicable or relevant to every stage of life.
— Andy Stanley

Our goal is to maximize the 40 hours a year we have with your child in order to teach them the parts of the Bible that matter most in their current stage of life.

Because at Northridge Kids, we think that if we show how the Bible is relevant to them as kids, it will motivate them to know how the Bible relates to them as adults. 

We measure whether or not we are relevant in two ways: age-appropriate stories and real-life application. We'd love to describe what we mean by those phrases. 

1. Age-Appropriate Stories

Based on a child's stage of life (phase), they have different needs, physical abilities and mental capabilities. As a result we won't teach preschoolers the same thing, in the same way, we would to a fifth grader. 

For our Pre K environments (Ark and Hot Spot) we create a safe and clean environment with consistent leaders, songs, snacks and short teaching time in order to emphasize God as our loving creator. By the time a child outgrows these environments, we want them to be familiar with our three Basic Truths: 

God made me

God loves me

Jesus wants to be my friend forever

Each story, craft and activity that a preschooler participates in while in this phase emphasizes one of these three big ideas of the Bible. Our goal is to lay a foundation of trust, so that each child understands that God can be trusted.  

The best way to help a kid mature in their relationship with God at every phase is to help them relate to God in their present phase.
— Reggie Joiner & Kristen Ivy

In our Elementary environment (HighPoint) our team creates fun and engaging environments, which we leverage to teach Biblical stories to emphasize God's character. We want each story to help kids become more like Him. We also utilize age specific Small Groups which allow leaders to take the Bible stories presented in the Large Group setting, and through targeted activities and discussion, help kids understand and relate the Bible to their own lives. By the time an elementary student moves on to Northridge Youth Ministry, they've learned that: 

I can trust God no matter what

I need to make the wise choice

I should treat others the way I want to be treated

During this elementary phase, kids in HighPoint hear one story each week with one bottom line they can remember that gives them a specific application to practice throughout the week. Some of our recent topics (Life Apps) have included: obedience, teamwork, perseverance and faith. 

 

2. Real-Life Application

As an adult who grew up in the church, attended Bible summer camps, Bible college and seminary, I've heard no less than 6500 sermons in my life. That's a lot of information about the Bible!

While I've heard many life-changing sermons (and could tell you about those), it's unfortunate that I don't remember 6400 of those sermons.

Why?

It's NOT because they weren't great talks.

I don't remember most of them because these talks, though filled with great information, failed to connect truth with real life. The pastors and teachers I sat under were more concerned with me knowing what the Bible says than they were with me doing what the Bible says. Pastor Larry Osborne says, "Bible knowledge and theology...don't equal pleasing God." Instead he says, "the greatest sign of God's work in our life is...wanting what God wants - then going out and doing it." 

It is critical that our children grow up in our ministries or homes seeing how specific truths of Scripture apply to their lives and relationships.
— Reggie Joiner

Kids at Northridge find out what God wants through the stories of the Bible and they are challenged by leaders and other kids to obey God by putting the Bible into practice in their life. Knowing what God wants them to do and putting it into practice on a consistent basis, that's real-life application. 

When kids hear the Bible in a way that makes sense to them and are able to practice it in a way that fits into their life, they will be more likely to not only obey God as a kid, but pursue a life-long faith journey. 

Value #5: Engagement

Kids eat with their eyes. 

 

If their pizza doesn't come in the right shape, it's rejected.

If their mac and cheese is the wrong color, it's refused. 

If their portion of pasta is too large, it's rubbish. 

 

When food doesn't look the way it's supposed to look, we get suspicious. Some even get sick.  

It's the exact same food. It has the exact same taste. 

It just has a different presentation. 

For example...

Did you know that carrots come in colors other than orange?

I didn't. 

At least not until one of my friends posted the above picture on his social accounts last summer.

My mind was blown. 

Then later that summer, I read that orange carrots didn't even exist until the 17th Century. Shocker! A group of Dutch farmers honored their king, William of Orange by developing carrots in their country's color...orange.*

That's true patriotism! 

I thought I was doing good by buying an Old Navy flag tee once a year. I guess I was wrong. 

Presentation matters not only in the food preparation but also when it comes to teaching kids the Bible.

Because...

How you say what you say is as important as what you say!
— Andy Stanley, Communicating for a Change

A purple carrot tastes exactly the same as an orange carrot. Nothing about the carrot has changed except it's appearance or in another term, it's presentation. 

At Northridge Kids, we are in the presentation business. Not presentation for the sake of presentation itself, but presentation in order to engage the heart and mind of kids and motivate them to acting out the truths of the Bible. This is what we refer to as life change.  

We don't think we've done our job when we've merely presented truth. Content by itself is not enough. 

Americans live in a culture that's flooded with content. The average elementary student spends an average of 35 hours a week ingesting content from technology on TVs, iPads and gaming devices. 

The church has to cut through the cultural clutter by presenting content, biblical truth, that is accurate, clear and compelling. This type of content captures the attention of everyone. Including kids. 

Cutting through the cultural clutter is what Disney has been able to do with its princess story lines in movies like Cinderella, Brave and The Little Mermaid. My daughter will sit and watch those movies on repeat all day. Then she'll go and pretend that she is one of those characters. That's engagement! Disney, captures our attention and moves our imagination to action. And they even provide tools that help us engage our imaginations...toys.  

While Northridge Kids may never produce a full-length animated movie, we want to tell the stories of the Bible in such a way that kids hear, understand, and are moved to take action on what they hear. We want kids to want to come back every Sunday because they're hearing something unique, the story of God, being told in a unique way. 

We want to capture kids' attention in order to tell God's story. And when we do, we call it: engagement. 

There are three ways we seek to engage your kids each week. 

1. STORIES

We think it's a sin to bore kids with the Bible. 

Northridge Kids' hosts and storytellers work hard, investing literally hours, to accurately and creatively teach the Bible using technology, illustrations and applications that best makes sense with each kid's stage of life. 

When we get this right, kids are able to pay attention to what we're teaching in order to best hear what God is saying. 

2. ACTIVITIES

Every week, the leaders of each of environment selects activities (such as games, role play or crafts) that further illustrate and reinforce the story that was presented. 

While we try not to overwhelm parents with too many papers (or popsicle sticks) on any given Sunday, when we do send home a paper or project, please remember that it is a tool that was used in your child's environment to reinforce the story. That craft wasn't merely used to fill the time allotment for that Sunday. These projects, whatever their level of artistic value, can be one more tool you can utilize in your family's weekly rhythm to discuss with you what they learned that week, especially for the preK kids in your house.  

3. DISCUSSIONS

When our volunteers and Small Group Leaders talk with the kids in their environments, they are reinforcing the lesson by interacting with and asking questions of each kid. These interactions help: gauge what each child learned, hear how it is impacting them, encourage them to take the next steps and even to pray for courage for your child to obey God.

If you have any questions about what conversations are taking place in your child's environment, ask them, "what did you learn today," on your drive home. Or feel free to ask a volunteer serving in your child's environment at pick up.  This connection is one more way we love to demonstrate that we are partners with you, the parent. 

Storytelling is...searching for the best way to frame and communicate an idea.
— Ed Catmull, Creativity, Inc.

Who knows? I may never have the courage to eat purple carrots. The presentation is just too weird for my brain. 

Plums are purple. Grapes are purple. Eggplants are purple. 

Carrots are orange. 

Regardless of what I eat, our commitment to parents at Northridge, our partners, is that we will work as hard as we can to tell the most important story, in the most engaging way possible. And as we prepare, we'll be praying that God will use us to motivate your kids to faith in action. 

Presentation matters. 

 

*Orange Essentials by Reggie Joiner, 30.

Value #4: Relationships

My love for winning drives my distaste for group projects. 

As an adult, working on projects with others on my team, at least in my profession, isn't so bad. My teammates make me better. They help me get my vision out of the clouds and into the dirt where the ideas can take root and ultimately produce. Without their help, I'd just be a think tank. 

But such productivity was the not the norm for group projects in high school, college or even seminary. These group projects usually had one of two outcomes.

1. The most likely scenario was that every group member did their specific task separately. Until the day leading up the project when these separate parts were united into the group's project.

The outcome. Hooray!! We worked as a team. 

2. The other likely scenario went something like this.  One person performed the majority of the research and actually produced the product so that they wouldn't have their grade reduced by the three other students who only show up at the end of the project and put their name on the assignment.  

The outcome. Boo!! I hate everyone on this team. 

Based on my hatred for group projects, you can probably guess which of those outcomes was my most common experience. However, neither of those outcomes express how we try to partner with parents.  Because even if successful, both outcomes of a group project neglect relationships and leave me feeling like ultimately we all lost in spite of our grade.  

As a parent and a ministry, each one of us could pursue inspiring faith in the next generation alone, but there is greater influence when we partner together. 

Two combined influences will make a greater impact than just two influences.
— Reggie Joiner, Parenting Beyond Your Capacity

When we work in relationship with one another, there is greater encouragement, satisfaction and level of accomplishment (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).  Therefore at Northridge Kids we value...

We think life change and faith inspiration happen best within the context of relationships. Therefore, we seek to prioritize relationships with parents, relationships between leaders and kids, and the relationships between each kid who attends Northridge Kids. Our value of relationships is revealed by: 

LEVERAGING PARENTS

On average Northridge Kids has 40 hours with your children. Compare that to more than 3,000 hours the average parent has with their child. While our staff and volunteer invest countless hours to make sure we get the most out of our 40, we also invest a significant amount of time and energy into helping you get the most out of your 3,000 by working to cue faith conversations within your family's rhythm. How do we do that? 

  • PARENT CUE - This monthly resource highlights the Bible Stories and Bottom Lines for each week of the month. Parents can utilize the Parent Cue throughout the month in order to synchronize their faith discussions as a way to amplify what is already taking place at Northridge Kids. You can also find that information online for both HighPoint and our Pre K environments. 

  • CELEBRATIONS - We seek to connect faith to life by celebrating both annual (holidays) and milestone events (Parent & Child Dedication for newborns and Next Level Event for 5th Graders moving into Middle School) recognizing faith is a part of life, not apart from life. These events are our ways of trying to help you make the most of these special occasions within the spiritual journey of your child. 

  • SOCIAL - We want to connect with you each Sunday when you pick up and drop off your child. We understand that even a short, simple conversation goes a long way. We also want to connect throughout the week. Let us know about special events in your kids lives that we can participate with you. Finally, join in the conversation taking place on Facebook and Twitter. Use the best of what we offer in your family's rhythm. 

LOVING LEADERS

Our volunteers (whether leaders in Pre K or SGLs in HighPoint) strive to engage with kids as uniquely and specifically as possible through their consistent presence and ability to create a safe and accepting environment. When our leaders succeed at creating this community, they are able to engage in faith conversations that help kids apply the Bible to their life and encourage them take their next faith steps. 

LIFE-LONG FRIENDS

While we can't manufacture relationships, Northridge Kids does our best to develop environments which are conducive for relationships. By creating a safe place where kids are known, accepted and heard by adults and other kids, they become more open to connecting with those with whom they have fun, share faith and show and receive care. By developing strong relationships with others in their group, kids in turn experience a positive peer pressure to help them make wise choices from elementary to High School and throughout one's faith journey.