Focus on the Family Posts

14 New Activities for Your Next Summer Road Trip

Tyndale Kids

van-in-parking-lotThis summer, we asked the Tyndale Kids Team about their favorite summer road-trip activities. These fabulous ideas are sure to result in endless hours of road-tripping fun, this summer and beyond. Enjoy!

From Teri McKinley (Coauthor of Do Baby Bears Have Mommies? and Does God Take Naps?):

  • Pictionary Alphabet Game. While in the car, give each passenger some paper and a pencil. As you travel, draw pictures of things you see that start with each letter of the alphabet. For example, for the letter A, draw an armadillo you see on the side of the road; for B, draw a bumper sticker you see on the back of a car. The first person to draw pictures for all twenty-six letters of the alphabet wins! Consider giving the winner a prize, such as choosing where you will eat or picking a treat at the gas station.coloring-drawing-markers-activities

From Kathryn O’Brien (Author of the “My First Bible Memory” board books):

  • Endless Coloring. Let your kids draw and color to their hearts’ content without ever running out of paper! Here’s how: Check the dollar store for an eight-by-ten-inch picture frame. Cut a piece of white construction paper to size, slip it into the photo slot, and replace the back of the frame. Buy a package of dry-erase markers, bring along an old sock for an eraser, and voila! You have a do-it-yourself mini-whiteboard. The easy wipe-off boards can also be used for games like Tic-Tac-Toe, Hangman, Pictionary, or Dots and Boxes.

From Sarah Jean Collins (Author of God Made the World ):

  • Person, Place, or Thing. One game we always played as a family while growing up was Person, Place, or Thing. It’s basically the same as Twenty Questions, but without the limit on the number of questions. One person picks something that is either a person, place, or thing, and everyone guesses what it is by asking yes or no questions. When we play this game with our four-year-old daughter, we let her be on a team with either me or her dad. It’s a simple game, but it can get competitive; and our daughter’s contributions are always entertaining.


From Linda Howard, Associate Publisher for Tyndale Kids:

  • Family Karaoke. When my daughter was young and our family took road trips together, we would create a playlist of favorite songs to listen to while we were on the road. We’d sing together at the top of our lungs and make up silly choreography to go along with the lyrics. My husband, my daughter, and I still talk about the fun we had while traveling together!
  • Scattergories for Little People. Another game that my grandkids love to play on long road trips resembles the game of Scattergories. Someone in the car picks a letter of the alphabet, and the whole car then works together to come up with as many words as they can that begin with that letter. You’d be amazed at the hours of entertainment this simple game provides for little ones!


From Jesse Doogan, Tyndale Kids Acquisitions Editor:

  • Can’t Talk until You See. I was in my midtwenties before I realized that not everyone plays Can’t Talk until You See. It’s basically I Spy, but it has the added benefit of competitive quietness. The person who is “it” chooses an object, such as a red mailbox, and everyone else has to find that object. While the players are searching, no one is allowed to talk—not even the person who is “it.” (This rule was added as soon as we kids were old enough to figure out loopholes! Around that same time, we also learned that mom is always allowed to talk and cannot lose the game.) When one of the searchers finds the item, they yell “there it is!” That person becomes “it” and chooses the next object.

From Tim Wolf, Tyndale Kids Buyer:

  • The Name Game. This road-trip game is perfect for your slightly older travelers. To start the game, decide on a theme for the first round, such as “Movie Titles.” The first player comes up with a word or phrase that fits that theme. The second player must use the last letter of the first player’s word or phrase as the starting letter in their own response. Keep the list going until a player is stumped by a specific letter.


From Emily Bonga, Publishing and Marketing Coordinator:

  • The State License Plate Game. Work together as a family to find as many different state license plates as possible throughout your trip. Each time you find a new one, brainstorm the different things you know about that state. For example, identify the state’s major cities, popular sports teams, climate, etc. If anyone in the car has visited the state, invite that person to share favorite memories from their trip.

From Kristi Gravemann, Tyndale Kids Marketing Manager:

  • The Shared Story Game. One person in the car starts by telling a story. It can be something as simple as a sentence or two, just to get the story going. Then, another passenger pipes in, providing an additional sentence or so to continue the narrative. Keep alternating, with each person adding a bit to the story when it’s their turn. This game is a fun way to practice teamwork and to use imagination at the same time!
  • The Imagination Game. My daughters love to look around at our fellow travelers and imagine where they are going. These can be people in an overhead airplane or driving in the next lane on the highway. Give each traveler a backstory, answering questions such as, Where are they coming from? and Where are they headed? This game is a fun way to spark creativity in your kids during a long drive.


From Crystal Bowman (Coauthor of Do Baby Bears Have Mommies? and Does God Take Naps?):

  • ABC Bible Characters. For every letter of the alphabet, think of as many names as possible from the Bible. For example, A: Adam, Abel, Aaron, Abigail, Anna. Write the names on a piece of paper and see which letter has the most names. Try to do this without using your Bible, but some letters might be challenging, so if you need a little help, open it up and see what you can find.

Krom Kelsey O’Kelley, Tyndale Kids Production Assistant:

  • Road Trip Trivia. When my family went on road trips, we took along a pack of United States Trivia cards. We left the game board behind and brought only the cards and a pad of paper. The paper was used to keep track of points for correctly answered questions. I highly recommend bringing cards from your favorite trivia game on your next road trip.

From Sarah Rubio, Tyndale Kids Editor:

  • The “I’m Going on a Trip” Alphabet Game. One game that I loved growing up was the “I’m Going on a Trip” alphabet game. The first person says, “I’m going on a trip, and I’m bringing [something that starts with the letter A].” The next person repeats the first person’s item and adds something that starts with the letter B. This continues until the last person is required to repeat the entire alphabet of items.
  • I also love audiobooks for road trips! We’ve listened to some Focus on the Family Radio Theater albums as a family, such as this Ultimate Road Trip Family Vacation Collection, which I definitely recommend.


Here’s to an eventful, fun-filled family road trip this summer!
Did you try out any of these road-trip ideas? If so, we’d love to hear from you! Drop us a comment below and let us know about your experience.


5 Devotionals Your Family Will Love

Begin the new year with a devotional for your family! Browse the list below for the prefect gift for your family, or see the complete list on Save 30% through February 4, 2018. May the Lord bless the coming year for you and your loved ones!


Kingdom Family Devotional: 52 Weeks of Growing Together by Tony Evans and Jonathan Evans

This new devotional from Dr. Tony Evans and his son Jonathan Evans will provide both single and married parents with a resource tool to maximize those family devotional times, such as the dinner hour or bedtime. The family virtues–based devotional provides 52 separate topics, one for each week of the year, and five devotionals within each topic that will guide devotional times Monday through Friday. This is a wonderful way to build a spiritually strong family week by week, day after day—a perfect way to head into the weekend. Learn More HERE>>




He Holds My Hand: Experiencing God’s Presence and Protection by Carol Kent

When Carol Kent’s son was sentenced to life in prison without parole, Carol was consumed with grief, sadness, and despair. In the middle of her sorrow, Carol turned to the place where she had always gone for comfort—the Bible. She was desperate to hear God’s voice. She soon discovered that the best way for her to “listen” to His voice was to meditate on Scripture and then write out what she believed He was saying. She wrote it as if it was His prayer over her life, and it comforted her. It was as if He took her by the hand, as a father would guide a child, and He gently led her in the direction of unconditional love, renewed hope, and fresh faith. He Holds My Hand is a page-per-day 365-day devotional. Based on Scripture, this devotional is written as if God the Father is speaking His words of comfort and protection directly over you. Listen to God’s voice and put your hand in His. Learn More HERE>>

Written by the Adventures in Odyssey team, 90 Devotions for Kids provides fun, Bible-based devotions for families and will encourage children to spend time learning more about God. There are no better mentors than Whit and the folks from Odyssey to partner with parents as they teach their children about God’s Word and make the truths of the Bible accessible to their kids. Parents will find the tools they need to help start children on a path toward regular time alone with God, and families will be encouraged to spend time together as they share the daily readings. Learn More HERE>>




Packaging365 Pocket Prayers by Ronald A. Beers

Each year of life brings seasons of loneliness, doubt, joy, confusion, fear, reasons for celebration, and occasions for grieving. 365 Pocket Prayers lets you grow closer to God with each passing day. With this convenient, easy-to-carry, quick-access prayer guide you will be able to express your hopes and heartaches to the God who listens in times both good and bad. Look for other books in the Pocket Prayers series from Tyndale. Learn More HERE>>


PackagingLife Application Study Bible Devotional Daily Wisdom from the Life of Jesus by Tyndale, Livingstone, and David R. Veerman

Readers of the Life Application Study Bible—the #1 bestselling study Bible—will welcome the arrival of the new Life Application Study Bible Devotional. Let the life of Jesus sink into your mind and heart with 312 readings from the gospels—one for each weekday and one for the weekend. In the Life Application Study Bible Devotional: Daily Wisdom from Jesus, each week focuses on a different event in Jesus’ life—drawing out daily wisdom from his parables, teachings, conversations, miracles, and interactions with people. You’ll learn important biblical principles, become inspired to put God’s Word into practical action, and be forever changed by a year spent going deeper with your Savior. Learn More HERE>>

DIY Fall Craft: Paper Bag Scarecrow



My favorite crafting kid is at it again—this time showing us how to make an adorable scarecrow that is the perfect fall decoration for any home. All you need are a few supplies and a little bit of time.




Step 1:

Crumple up the newspaper/tissue paper and stuff it into the paper bag.


Step 2:

Tie the raffia around the neck of the bag. This represents the scarecrow’s straw stuffing.


Step 3:

Use the markers to draw a face on your scarecrow.


Step 4:

Cut out a hat for your scarecrow out of yellow paper. Olivia’s looks a bit like an octopus.


Step 5:

Decorate your hat with leaf stickers. Glue the hat on the scarecrow.


This craft was inspired by Amie Carlson, Product & Marketing Manager of Focus on the Family Kids/Media and Faith That Sticks. 

Car Activities for Road Trips with a Spiritual Connection By Karen Whiting

SubaruChildren spend lots of time in cars between vacations and being driven to activities. Make the most of the time and let it be an opportunity to build their faith.

Devotions On the Go
Let your child read a devotion or a Bible verse. Talk about it. Turn it into a scavenger hunt by thinking of items related to the Bible passage to find while you travel.

Twisty Bible Figures and Creatures
(need chenille stems, scissors or nail clippers, and a pencil)
Pass out a package of chenille stems for children to create creatures and figures from the Bible. Make the feet or stand by folding a chenille stem in half. The remaining folded part of the stem is the basis for the body, tree trunk, etc. Twirl both ends into small circles and twist up to be standing feet. Twirl another stem or half stem around a pencil, slide off, and slide onto the body. Add other twisted stems to shape the design.

Crosses on a Trip
See how many crosses children can find on a road trip. Four-way intersections, crosses on churches, t’s on signs, etc.

Christian Symbol I Spy
Look for church steeples, God’s creation, light, and various symbols related to God and the Bible. Let each person guess the object, and then someone needs to tell a related Bible story or Scripture.

Magnetic Bible Map
Print out a map of a Bible area and glue it to an old metal cookie sheet. Make some magnetic place markers shaped like feet and let children travel around the Bible area.

Road tripMagnetic Books of the Bible
Cut small, magnetic rectangles for book spines. Write the name of one book of the Bible on each spine. Have children use a metal cookie sheet to arrange the books in order. As they grow, ask them to name a Bible story or verse from each book.

Magnetic Bible Puzzles
Buy a Bible jigsaw puzzle or cut up a Bible picture to make a puzzle. Put a piece of adhesive magnetic strip on the back of each puzzle piece. Let children put the puzzle together on a cookie sheet.

Bible Numbers
Place one or two dice in a clear container with a lid. Shake it to roll. Look at the number rolled and spy for that number as you ride. Then name some group of that number in the Bible (two of each animal in the ark, the Ten Commandments, etc.).

I Spy Story Jars
Find tiny objects that represent parts of a Bible story, like a small boat, tiny people, and animals for Noah’s ark. Put them with rice in a plastic jar and seal the lid. Have children find the hidden objects and talk about the Bible story.

Scriptures That Stick
Learn Scripture with stickers (colored circle dots) and index cards.
Write each word of a Scripture verse on a colored dot in a scrambled order. Have children put the dots onto an index card in the correct order and read it. Use different colors for different verses.

Creation Sightings
Let everyone look for signs of God’s creation. Make it tougher by focusing on one thing at a time, like water (lakes, rivers, ocean, rain, drinks) or land (mountains, valleys, grassy land, dirt).

Foil Armor
Read Ephesians 6:10-18 and let children use foil to make the armor. Make sure to include praying hands for the last verse as a reminder that even with the armor, we need to pray.

Karen WhitingKaren Whiting is an author and speaker with thirteen published books, and hundreds of articles and short pieces for over four dozen publishers including Focus on the Family Magazine and Christian Parenting Today. She was a contributing writer for Focus on Your Child 2008-2009, writes a quarterly article for Enrichment Journal for pastors and leaders of the Assemblies of God, a quarterly column for Discipleship Ideasmagazine, and writes a family page for a monthly denominational newspaper. Whiting has also been the community producer and host of the television series, Puppets On Parade, for Miami educational TV.

Whiting has a heart for families and encourages families to connect and live more fully for God. She is a mother of five, and a grandmother.

5 Reliable Reading Strategies For Your Kids


Getting your kids to read can be a challenge these days with all the distractions! Wondering what your approach should be? Join us as author Kathryn O’Brien discusses some tried and true reading strategies for kids!

Long before Dr. Seuss put a cat in a hat or invited kids to hop on Pop, parents have been concerned with improving their children’s reading skills.

Every decade or so, a new idea in education sweeps the nation. During the 1950’s, Dick and Jane ushered in the “Look and Say” approach, which was replaced ten years later with direct phonics instruction. Whole-language dominated the 1980’s, prompting a sharp return to phonics toward the end of the millennium. Currently, of course, the hot-button issue is deeper-thinking Common Core State Standards. With each trendy philosophy, teachers either cheer or complain. Administrators defend or dismiss. Politicians advocate or denounce. And parents are left wondering whether their kids will be helped or hindered by the latest and greatest approach.

As a former primary teacher and current Director of Instruction in a Christian elementary school, I regularly encourage parents and teachers to disregard the most recent frenzy and opt for tried and true, common sense strategies when it comes to enriching reading aptitude. Here are a few suggestions to get started.


#1 Fun Counts– It’s a simple formula: kids who enjoy reading equals kids who become better readers. Investing time to find books that are tailored to fit your child’s interests, hobbies, curiosities and funny bones, will result in improved reading. A National Research Council study from a few years back maintains that one major cause of low reading ability is a lack of motivation (Snow et al., 1998). So if your child just can’t wait to dive into a comic book, let her! If your kid doesn’t want to put down a book about ogres, don’t force him to. From lizards to Legos, baseball to ballet, find books that excite, inspire and enthuse your child’s unique personality.


#2 Get’em Hooked– Unfortunately, one book won’t last forever. A major key to fueling the reading fire is finding a series that makes your child want more. I recommend trying The Imagination Station series by Marianne Hering and Paul McCusker to share God’s truths in a fun and creative way. For an exciting historical context, give Bible KidVentures Stories a try. For kids who loves all things silly, check out Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants with 70 million copies sold or the Bad Kitty series by Nick Bruel. Just like you and me, finding a favorite series is a surefire way to keep the pages turning.


#3 Let’s Get Together – Millions of adults join book clubs each year for one simple reason; sharing a great story makes the experience even better. So why not try book club at home? Set aside time each week to read a book together. Choose a title your child enjoys and purchase your own copy. Partner-read by alternating pages. Struggling readers can take turns with paragraphs or even sentences. Kids benefit greatly from hearing one-on-one modeling of correct pacing, expression, tone and pronunciation of new vocabulary.

Magnifying- Glass

#4 No Question About It– Whether your child is partner-reading or reading independently, be sure to stop frequently for inquiries. Start with the basics: who, where, when, what? But don’t quit there. Delve deeper by asking the biggies: how and why. Questions that start with how and why introduce children to a more sophisticated set of comprehension skills (inference, prediction, categorization) and important critical thinking relationships between ideas (compare and contrast, cause and effect). Don’t allow kids to simply guess and move on; invite them to become Reading Detectives by searching for evidence in the text that supports their answers.


#5 See the Big Picture– As your child reads, ask him to visualize the story in his mind. Encourage her to describe the details she sees. Keep crayons and markers on hand to illustrate, making a valuable concrete image. Graphic organizers, like “Word Webs,” are another great way to create a solid picture of written words. Simply write the main idea or main character from a story in the middle of a page, then surround it with related details. “Story Maps” make good graphic tools as well; just sketch the main events of a story in the sequence in which they occur. Any way that children are able to diagram, chart, frame, illustrate, or graph a text is a reliable way to ensure comprehension.

If these strategies feel a bit overwhelming, choose one and give it a shot. Add more activities as you feel comfortable. Don’t get bogged down by pressure from politicians, academia or the PTA; simply share with your children the reading strategies that have stood the test of time.

My-First -Bible-Memory-Books-Be-Still-Give-Thanks-I-Can

Kathryn O’Brien writes books for kids and has a heart for moms. She’s published several children’s picture books, including her most recent series, My First Bible Memory, and serves as a contributor for several publications. When she’s not writing or enjoying her day job as a Christian School administrator, Kathryn can usually be found texting her three grown children, hanging on the front porch with her husband, or hiking the canyons near her home in Southern California.

Need more suggestions on books to get your child in the habit of reading? Check out these titles!