Tea time is every child’s favorite time of day at our house…and mine, too! Whenever I talk or post about it online, I receive lots of excited feedback and questions about the ins and outs of our tea time routine, so hopefully this post will provide more details and resources that will help you start this practice in your home (or find new ideas or resources to add to your existing tea time)! I’ll answer several of the questions I generally get below.
What is it?
Tea time is our family gathering each day in which we focus on goodness, truth, and beauty in our reading and discussions, specifically with an emphasis on faith formation. It’s basically our catechesis time of day, though we often throw in other subjects and learning, too (a current read-aloud, poetry, music or art study…sometimes [pleasurable] things we hadn’t finished earlier in our homeschool day [so, in our home, that generally means no math during team time]). When my dear friend Meg and I started First Faith Treasury Books years ago, we had a mission to form little disciples, and tea time is another incredible gift our family has uncovered that has also helped us in this beautiful discipleship formation process.
When is it?
We have tea time in the middle of the afternoon, right after “rest time” (which is the time of day when the kids are spending independent time either napping, reading, or listening to an audiobook while drawing or occupying their hands quietly). I think that the alone time preceding the family tea time actually makes the whole experience that much smoother, more enjoyable, and peaceful. Everyone is in a good mood and tea time actually gives the little kids a great energy boost to get through the rest of the day without the moodiness that sometimes sets in late afternoon!
Tea time doesn’t have to just be a Monday through Friday thing, though (and in our house, it’s not a guaranteed 5 day a week practice, as we sometimes have afternoon activities that shorten or shift tea time reading to a different part of the day). If you aren’t homeschooling, do tea time on the weekends (both parents can join then, too!). Honestly, even a once-a-week tea time is worthwhile and will create lasting memories made through shared conversation, stories, and faith.
What do you do?
Tea time always starts with Bible reading. I read one or two chapters/stories (the length depends on the Bible) and over a period of several months (go at whatever pace works for your family!), we read from cover to cover in whichever children’s Bible or study Bible we are using. Then we pick up another and start again. (I included some of our favorite Bibles in this list.) Last year, the two bigger kids drew pictures of the stories we had read — not necessarily daily, but at least once a week — and those pictures, along with a written narration of the story, were added to their own “Bible storybooks.” This year, they are orally narrating the story back to me each time after reading, and then we discuss/ask questions/apply the story and lessons to our lives! We are also enjoying Through the Year with Jesus to unpack the Sunday readings.
After Bible reading there is usually some sort of additional catechesis and learning. I listed some ideas below.
(PLEASE NOTE: We don’t do all of these things every day! If you’re just getting started, I recommend Bible reading + a Catholic picture book or some sort of additional catechesis + one more thing. That’s it. Build from there. We rotate through some of the things below every few weeks, and we also do some of these things at other times of day — family prayer times, meal times, morning lessons — but they all fit perfectly into tea time, too.)
Tea Time Resources
- Bible study
- Engaging religious picture books (a First Faith Treasury book or one from among the recommendations I have in my Amazon store – I still need to build this list as there are so many great ones to add; I simple can’t keep up!)
- Catechism study ( Lego Catechism of the Seven Sacraments [can’t recommend this enough!] or First Communion Catechism, for example. Kiddie Cat is best for the toddler crowd.)
- Saint study (again, I have some favorites in this list; we’re currently reading our way through this series!).
- Virtue study (I love these virtue cards!)
- Scripture memorization and recitation (this was the first set of verses we memorized)
- Devotional stories (these [book 1 and book 2] are our favorites!)
- Apologetics or other special topics (we use the What Is God Like books, McKeegan’s Old & New series, William Bennett books (like the Children’s Book of Virtue), the Treasure Box series (we have set 1 and set 2), Fr. Lovasik books, select stories from Angel Food for Boys and Girls, and others that I listed in the Amazon store to guide our learning and discussion).
- Mass part cards!
- Liturgical living! Tea time is the perfect time to incorporate liturgical living into your routine! This is often the time of day when we usually do some sort of craft, activity, game, or reading for a specific feast day or solemnity we are celebrating. Catholic Family Crate is my favorite resource for incorporating this into our tea time, along with these free Treasure Box emails.
- ***IF you have a religion curriculum you are following through your parish or as part of your homeschool, make this the content of your team time!
The goal here is to make learning and discussing the faith together as a family something enjoyable, memorable…an experience that everyone can look forward to, creating those positive associations between family togetherness and our beautiful faith.
Do you only read religious books at tea time?
We sometimes expand tea time into other subjects and topics (we’re all together and enjoying tea and good company — why not?!): maybe a novel/chapter book read-aloud (ideas here), poetry, music and art, science readers, manners study (my kids love these cards and the similar versions!), body safety and theology of the body conversations, and more. We are currently exploring our way through the Julia Rothman collection . Some of the added subjects make tea time more like “morning time” or “morning basket” which you can learn more about here.
If you are trying to incorporate a family prayer routine and don’t already have an established habit of morning, evening, or daytime prayer, tea time is a great time to pray together, too! I recommend starting tea time with Listening for God: Silence Practice for Little Ones – a great way to get the wiggles out and then focus on a brief silence and prayer time before launching into the rest of tea time. Tea time in our home usually encompasses part of the 3 o’clock hour, so I’d like us to incorporate the Divine Mercy chaplet more too, since it’s the hour of mercy! We are preparing for Marian Consecration with this beautiful book right now, too.
Where do you do tea time and what do you eat/drink?
We do tea time around the kitchen table. I try to keep the ambience enjoyable with a nicely set table/runner/centerpiece/seasonal or liturgical decor. In the Spring, we’ll cut flowers from around the yard so we have fresh florals and greens at the table. Sometimes I’ll light a candle. (I love CORDA candles as they have beautiful scents and great faith-theming! I also buy candles locally from The Zona Co.) But you don’t have to do this in a fancy way to make it enjoyable for you and the kids! It just adds a little extra.
We do, actually, drink tea! I buy herbal (non-caffeinated), fruity blends like these. I LOVE our tea maker and our Japanese cast iron tea set (I can’t find our exact model but these are all similar and kind of make me swoon for a new set!). The cast iron is so durable, which is helpful when I’ve got a three year old who may or may not tip the teacup on a regular basis. If you have a really little one and want to go with something more beginner-ish/tiny hands friendly, this set may be ideal. A fun drink in a unique cup really makes the tea time over here. My kids love it and feel so classy. If you aren’t going to drink tea, serve a drink that’s unique to tea time: lemonade, sparkling water, hot cocoa, etc.
We also have an afternoon snack with our tea. You can still have a healthy tea time! Cookies and scones are not a tea time staple here, but we do elevate the usual tea time snack (apple slices and nut butter, cheese and olives, veggies/almond flour crackers and hummus) to a tea time treat (these cookies are favorites, but I love to bake so the sweet treat is usually changing) on solemnities and special feasts (baptism days, family saint days)!
How long is tea time? How do you keep the little kids’ attention for the whole tea time?
The length of tea time varies widely here. It can last anywhere from twenty minutes to more than an hour. As you know with little ones (my kids are currently 7, 5, 3, and nearing 1 as I write this post), flexibility is a necessity! The tea and snack help keep the children’s attention for the first part of tea time, and then we bring out quiet activities to keep little hands occupied: coloring books (religious ones would be perfect for the faith-themed tea time like this one by Adelee Hude, the Brother Francis series, but my kids also do nature, art, or other interest- themed coloring books during tea time), sticker mosaics, molding clay, water beads , how to draw books, etc. I have more activities, ideas, and art supplies listed in my Amazon store lists. These activities are usually helpful if tea time goes beyond the faith formation/discussion time into read-aloud time and other learning, as mentioned above.
Where can I buy my resources for tea time?
For ease of access and simplicity of compiling lists, I share a lot of our tea time resources in my Amazon storefront via affiliate links throughout the article – BUT – GOOD NEWS! Bookshop is one of my favorite places to support and they have an ever-growing selection Christian and family-friendly literature. I like that I can buy from them without having to vet for faith-safe content. You can also buy many of these books and resources straight from the publishers (a lot of these books mentioned, for example, are from our own publisher, TAN Books.)
Can you give me some very simple, doable advice to start our tea time routine?
- Grab a children’s Bible and a few great Catholic children’s books!
- Gather the kids and sit around a kitchen or a coffee table with a cup of something unique to tea time.
- Read, talk, pray, and be together. Tea time is about connection and relationship, learning and growing in faith together…and making memories. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or lengthy or complicated. Just do it, and let me know if you start seeing the fruits.
Don’t forget to invite friends and family to tea time, too (especially fun to do on feast days)!
Before You Go…
I am always adding to my favorite resources for tea time and faith formation, so the best way to keep in touch about what I’m loving (and what I’m publishing … I have some super exciting new First Faith Treasury titles coming down the pipeline in a few months that will all make perfect tea time reads!) is to sign up for my email list in the boxes below (if you haven’t entered the giveaway).
You can also find me on Facebook and on Instagram, and I would LOVE for you to send me a message or tag me in a post letting me know if this guide has been helpful to you…or what you’d like me to add or unpack next!
Can I share this in my parish’s e-newsletter or bulletin?
I know I have a lot of priests and parish staff who read and use the resources from this site (I am so glad it is helpful to you!). Please feel free to use the intro blurb and link to this article in your bulletin, on your parish website, or through your diocesan/parish/ministry email list. No need to reach out for permission – this is it! I’d love to see this tea time practice reach more families! It has been so transformative to ours.