Teaching the Ten Commandments to youth always starts with Moses. After climbing Mount Sinai to talk to God, 80-year-old Moses received the 10 Commandments, engraved on two stone tablets. This part is easy to understand, but teaching your young learners the importance of each Commandment might take more work.
If you are not sure how to teach your kids the Ten Commandments, keep reading for a child-friendly summary of each one.
1. Thou shalt not have strange Gods before me.
God is the only “real” God and should be the most important thing in a believer’s life. That is exactly what this Commandment addresses, that Christians should be loyal to God and trust in Him above all. Faith is more important than anything else, especially wealth or material possessions.
2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.
If too many representations of God are made, people will fall into the trap of worshiping these, not God Himself. Carvings and paintings of God are called idols, and they stop people from worshiping God in the proper way. To be genuine with your faith, you must honor the real Him.
3. Thou shall not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
Misusing the name of God, either as an insult, or a swear word, is a terrible thing called blasphemy. When people do this, they show that they don’t have proper faith in God, as they resort to insulting Him by dropping His name into a conversation where it doesn’t belong or misusing it with disrespect.
4. Remember to keep the Lord’s Day holy.
Ask your students if they have ever considered why we choose Sunday to go to church. It is due to this Commandment, as it instructs people to take the Sabbath day as a day of rest like God did in the story of creation. So, we dedicate our Sundays to spending time with God, depending on our faith while resting, both physically and mentally.
5. Honor thy father and thy mother.
We must show respect to our elders, especially our mothers and fathers. While the term “honor” might seem a bit old-school, teach your kids that this means we should be polite. We should be respectful to our parents or guardians, and adults in general. Refer back to Mother’s Day or Father’s Day to highlight that this is the rule that led to days like these.
6. Thou shalt not kill.
This is probably the most self-explanatory of the Commandments, but maybe the least relatable. When teaching the Ten Commandments for kids, it is important to put them into terms they can understand. Talk about managing emotions and how violence and hurting people is never the answer.
7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
Just like the previous, this one will have to be adapted to be relatable to kids. When teaching number seven of the Ten Commandments for children, relate it to being faithful. First, ask them if it's important to stick to the things you promise and to be true to your friends. Then, bring it back to their parents and the importance of marriage as a holy union.
8. Thou shalt not steal.
Explain to your young students that it is never acceptable to steal, whether from a shop, schoolmates, or siblings. This Commandment tells us that we must respect other people’s possessions by not stealing from them. Ask if anyone has ever had something stolen from them and how it made them feel.
9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
Literally, this Commandment demands that we don’t lie about our neighbors. As words to live by, it means that we must be honest at all times and live a life of truthfulness. Even if telling a small lie would benefit us, we cannot know what that small lie will lead to. Lying causes terrible situations and often leads to more lies, creating a web you can’t escape from.
10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods.
The final Commandment teaches us that we should be happy with what we have. If we always look at others' situations and feel as though the grass is greener, we will suffer from jealousy, a terrible emotion that can lead to sins like stealing. When we are grateful for what we have already, we are thankful for God and what He has given us.
When teaching the 10 Commandments for kids, highlight that there is an overlap between the law and the Ten Commandments. This means that Christian values are generally the same as secular values too! Explain to the kids – the 10 Commandments for children can simply be seen as a way to help people understand right and wrong.
We must live by these rules as Christians but also as members of society. Children’s Ten Commandments highlight the values we should live by to lead a Godly life and be good people. How to teach the Ten Commandments depends on the age of your kids and the size of your group. But, try some of these worksheets to help the message sink in deeply. Mixing them into a trivia game is a great way to help kids commit the Ten Commandments to memory.