By: Michelle Thomas-Bush
Year after year, young people entered Confirmation without a vocabulary to talk about faith. It is not unusual. At the first meeting, I would empower the parents to have deeper faith conversations. Like most good educators, I would give them questions on card stock to place on their dinner table. At the parents’ meeting a few years ago, the blank looks on parents’ faces indicated a lack of their own faith vocabulary. I knew if I made flash cards on card stock, they would last for a few weeks before ending up in the trash. I began to look for something that parents would recognize, know how to use and could be fun for the family.
Word Teasers did all three. I knew that if this table game could help build an SAT vocabulary, we could adapt it to build a faith vocabulary. After some negotiation, the company gave us free range to choose all 150 words, write the definitions, and choose the question for each faith word. Then we had to begin writing! It was fun to choose which words would make the final cut and I am grateful that I chose two great educators to work on the project with me. Now I give each confirmation family their own box at the beginning of the year. Another church gave them out during their third-grade Bible workshop. I recently got an order for end-of-the-year gifts for Sunday school teachers.
What I love most about Word Teasers, is that it invites families to play together. Play is the brain’s favorite way of learning. Word Teasers sit on the dinner table, ready to ignite faith conversations. When we go out to eat, we pick a card so we can play the game wherever we are. It allows us to play, but it is also a resource that can help the family, youth group or friends grow together in faith.
According to a Washington Post article, researchers found that, for young children, dinnertime conversation boosts their vocabulary by 1,000 significant words. Compare that to reading books aloud, which only builds their vocabulary by 143 words. We have known that everything we worry about as parents and youth leaders — from drugs to alcohol, promiscuity, to obesity and academic achievement—can all be improved by the simple act of eating together. Eating and talking. Regular mealtime, regardless of the meal or the type of family, is a more powerful predictor of high achievement scores than time spent at school, doing homework, playing sports or creating art. It turns out that sitting down for a nightly meal is great for the brain, the body, and the spirit. Why not help your families build a faith vocabulary during those dinner conversations?
Michelle Thomas-Bush is Associate Pastor of Youth and Their Families at Myers Park Presbyterian Church, Charlotte, NC. Michelle created Word Teasers, the Faith Edition, along with Julie Hester and Sonia Lee. More information is available at www.bigideasym.com
For the next few weeks, the Advocate will be sharing the work of educators who are literally making the future of Christian Education. They have taken a great idea for a resource they couldn’t find, and made it happen themselves. Look for articles about card games, curriculum, puzzles, illustrated worship resources, and more.