Fun fact: our 5-year-old would rather sit in the main sanctuary on any given Sunday than go to kids' church. Upon quickly (and dramatically) realizing this, it was up to me to figure out how to break down a Sunday sermon into a kid-friendly lesson so he could understand and and apply what he was soaking in on the pew each week. Here's the method I use to get the week's lesson and activities planned out while the kids nap on Sunday afternoon:
Start with scripture
I pull out a key verse from Sunday's message and use it as our memory verse for the week. Each morning during our devotion time we review our memory verse. I'll state the reference, read the verse through, then let the kids repeat the reference and learn the verse phrase by phrase (1-3 words at a time, depending on syllables and complexity).
Choose a word of the week
I select a keyword out of the memory verse that represents the focus of the verse and the sermon. After explaining what the word means, I teach them what the word is in Spanish and French (Totally optional, but it's a lot of fun! Use Google translate if you need it!)
Focus on a letter of the week
Usually this is just the first letter of the word of the week. We review the letter sound(s) and name. We listen for that letter sound when reading and, with our oldest, sometimes we play I-spy style games to find the letter in the house or out and about. We may also do creative activities using various materials to form the letter shape.
Plan the worship set
I scroll through my music library or Apple Music to find worship songs that capture the message or use the keyword we're learning. These are the songs I'll play in the background during activity time, in the car, or as "Mommy's choice" during worship time. I get the last song pick, so it transitions us nicely into our learning time and activity.
Bring the message to their level
This part usually happens on the fly, since we always start by letting the kids tell us what they remember. It's surprising what they retain when it looks like they're just coloring! I expound on their summaries bringing in our memory verse and word of the week, trying to make it as concise and interactive as possible. I'll wrap up with one key takeaway from our discussion that we can focus on for the day.
Highlight attributes or actions
What's one thing we learned about God, or about ourselves, from this week's message? Is there something we can focus on doing, or doing differently, based on what we learned? These attributes and actions lead to dynamic conversations about how God fits into our everyday lives, and how we can remain mindful of Him outside of church.
Choose fun books
Once the kids are up from their nap, I head to their rooms (and everywhere else their books are) and scour the shelves for titles that relate to the sermon theme. Picture books that retell specific Bible stories are always great but may be hard to come by. I try to look for stories with characters who demonstrate attributes or actions we want to highlight, or that explain related topics from a more academic perspective. For example, to reinforce a sermon about having faith the size of a mustard seed, you could read A Seed is Sleepy to learn about the characteristics of seeds and how they grow.
Get it done for you
Another fun fact: This is the same process I use to develop the Compass Box studies! The learning orientation cards feature verses, words and letters that capture the theme of each box. The Grownup Field Guide has devotions and dozens of activity prompts to bring the concepts and message to life. And each month, subscribers receive email roundups of book recommendations, encouraging tips and links to themed playlists accessible on Apple Music and Spotify.
This is just one way how to turn a Sunday sermon into a kids' lesson. As you listen to your children, what stands out to them from their church experience, the questions they have and the stories they want to read over and over again, you'll get a feel for how best to plan studies and activities that will resonate. And if you need reinforcements, Compass Box might be just what you're looking for.