Inside: Understanding the Holy Spirit can help us all in our walk with the Lord, but this mystery can be especially hard to convey to kids. Use the wind (and a lovely picture book) to teach kids to notice and respond to the Holy Spirit.
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We have seen lots of windy days lately, and it has been fun to notice the many things our invisible friend can do. It also has presented a great opportunity to teach my kids about the Holy Spirit.
But first, why teach our kids about the Holy Spirit?
The Holy Spirit: God’s gift to us
When Jesus was here on earth, he told his followers he would send the Holy Spirit to be with them always to:
Comfort, instruction, and guidance: I definitely need more of that in my life right now! My kids do too.
Kids begin to learn about God and the stories of Jesus at a pretty early age. The mystery of the Holy Spirit seems a bit more daunting concept to convey. Yet, learning to notice and respond to the Spirit’s work in their lives is an essential part of kids’ spiritual development.
I want to help my kids start learning about the Holy Spirit now, so leaning on Jesus’ analogy in John 3, I am helping them focus on the wind as a symbol of the Spirit’s movement. And I found the perfect picture book to help!
The Wind: A picture of the Holy Spirit
What do a windy day and learning about the Holy Spirit have in common? Well, Jesus compares life in the Spirit to the mystery and power of the wind (Jonn 3). In fact, in Greek (the language of the New Testament) “wind” and “Spirit” are the same word!
Looking at the wind can be just the thing our little concrete thinkers need to begin to understand the Holy Spirit. For example:
- We can’t see the wind, but we can:
- see leaves swirling
- feel water spraying
- hear trees rustling
- Similarly, we cannot see the Spirit, but we witness the effects of the Spirit’s work:
- reminding us of God’s care
- prompting us to show love
- helping us in our time of need
A book to teach kids to respond to the Holy Spirit
When the Wind Blows (Linda Booth Sweeney, Jana Christy) beautifully illustrates how the wind interacts with nature and people. The lyrical words and vibrant pictures will make you want to slow down and explore all the windy-day adventures of a boy and his grandma.
I love this book as an illustration of the Holy Spirit’s work because not only do we see what the wind does directly, we see what the characters do in response. This is key when learning about the Holy Spirit. Not only do we need to notice the Spirit’s work in our hearts. We need to respond.
For example, when the wind makes the “windows rattle…and chimes sing,” the characters “peek” out the window and then “fly” outside to enjoy the excitement.
In the same way, when the Holy Spirit moves inside or around us, we get to choose how we respond. The added beauty here is that the very one who calls us to respond is also willing to empower us to respond. God is good.
Respond with action
When we see a friend in need and think “I want to help,” that may be the Holy Spirit prompting us to reach out to them. When we ask how they’re doing and show empathy, we are responding to the Spirit’s guidance.
Respond with a teachable heart
Though many times it will be, our response to the Holy Spirit isn’t always doing something. When I read this book with my kids and discussed responding to the Holy Spirit, 9-year-old G had this insight: “When God teaches us something, we ponder.” Taking the time to soak up what God is teaching us is a beautiful response to the Holy Spirit’s movement.
Respond with wonder and tell about it
Another way we can respond to the Holy Spirit is by celebrating and sharing.
Part of the inspiration for When the Wind Blows was this Mary Oliver poem. (For more background, check out the teacher’s guide created by Marcie Colleen and posted on the author’s website.)
Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.
We’ve already discussed some responses to God’s movement in and around us: help someone in need and ponder God’s teaching. This poem reminds me of two more:
- Be astonished: Cultivating a sense of wonder is an important part of spiritual health
- Tell about it: Sharing with others how the Holy Spirit is teaching you helps you grow and may be a source of encouragement for them as well. We need each other.
You can teach kids about the Holy Spirit now
Even if you can’t get your hands on this great book right away, you can create a teachable moment in less than three minutes while you enjoy nature with your kids. It can go something like this.
“Hey guys, look at what the wind is doing? We can’t see the wind itself, but we can see what it does.”
(Discuss what you see.)
“Watching the wind blow the branches around (or whatever you see) reminds me of the Holy Spirit. After Jesus rose again, he sent the Holy Spirit to help and guide us. Just like we can’t see the wind, we can’t see the Holy Spirit. BUT when we pay attention, we can learn to sense how the Holy Spirit is teaching our minds and comforting our hearts–just like we are noticing how the wind moves the branches.”
That’s it! Easy breezy. (Should I draw attention to every pun or just let some blow by?)
Take it a step further
As you go about your week, reflect out loud to your kids how you sense the Holy Spirit working and how you are responding:
- I feel the Holy Spirit comforting me and reminding me God is with us when we hurt. My response is trust.
- I hear the Holy Spirit speaking to my heart through this song on the radio. My response is wonder.
- I see the Holy Spirit working in you–prompting you to share with your sister. And I see you responding in obedience and love. My response is joy!
You could also reflect on times when the Holy Spirit is calling you to serve others, give to the poor, speak his truth, or connect with a friend needing encouragement. The more we look for God’s work, the more we’ll see it. And the more we can help our kids make those connections, too.
How have you felt the wind of the Holy Spirit in your life this week? How have you helped your kids learn about or respond to the Holy Spirit? We are eager to learn from you, so drop us a comment below!
More Ways to Teach KIDS WITH BOOKS
- 20+ Christian Children’s Books Perfect for Giving (or Keeping)
- Help Kids Practice Gratitude: Picture Books and Bible Verses
- How to Help Kids Face the Unknown: Stories and Scripture
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