How to Explain the Trinity to Kids

What is the Trinity? I’ve seen many illustrations and analogies that attempt to answers this question by using apples, eggs, shamrocks, the three phases of water, human relationships, and other concepts to try to explain the triune nature of God. In the past, I used some of these illustrations in my own well-meaning attempts to help kids understand the Trinity, but I no longer use or recommend any of them because they all fall short in one way or another. (I won’t delve into the specifics of how they each fall short, but if you want to know more you can watch the humorous video at the end of this article.) Why do all our analogies and illustrations fall short? Because there is no way for humans to fully explain or understand the mind-blowing concept of the Trinity. This shouldn’t surprise us. God says,

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV)

God is infinite. He is far greater and grander than we can comprehend. I can’t even understand the Trinity for myself – let alone explain the Trinity to kids – and neither can you. This is probably an odd way to start an article entitled, “How to Explain the Trinity to Kids”, but embracing this truth has actually made it simpler for me to teach kids about the triune nature of God.

In 20 years of teaching kids, my focus has shifted from trying to get kids to understand the Trinity with clever yet insufficient illustrations to simply telling them what the Bible says about it and marveling along with them that God is more epically awesome than our minds can imagine.

I’ve used several interactive methods to do this and I want to share them with you below. You can use several of these activities together or use all of them at once to prepare an entire lesson about the Trinity for Kids. In fact, I’ve already prepared an entire leader’s guide, “What is the Trinity?” that you can download absolutely FREE on our resource page to help you teach kids about the Trinity. Now, without further ado, here are some ways that I teach kids about the Trinity. (And I’m sure you’ll be shocked to discover that the first idea involves a dinosaur.)

What is the Trinity? – Introduction

How many horns does a triceratops have? Have many wheels are on a tricycle? How many sides does a triangle have? (Show pictures of these things.) All these words begin with “tri” because “tri” means “three.”

Another word that begins this way is triune. “Tri” means three and “unity” means oneness. Triune means God is three in one. God the Father is God (see John 6:27). God the Son, Jesus, is God (see John 1:1). God the Holy Spirit is God (see 1 Cor. 3:16). But he is only one God, not three different gods (see 1 Tim. 2:5). This is called the Trinity. Three different persons are all one God together. God is three in one! Hold up three fingers and say, “God is three persons in one God!”

Our human brains can’t fully understand how God can be three in one, but it’s how God reveals himself to us in the Bible. God the Father, Son, and Spirit are all equal as God, but they each have specific ways they work in our lives. God the Father loved us and sent God the Son (Jesus). God the Son died and rose again to save us from sin and then sent God the Holy Spirit to help us follow God. It’s too awesome for us to understand, but he is three equal persons in one God. We should worship God for being so incredibly awesome and for loving us enough to save us from sin so we can know and enjoy him forever!

What is the Trinity? – Memory Verse

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” – 2 Corinthians 13:14

Read the verse from the Bible with the children. Explain that this verse mentions each person of the Trinity. Practice the verse by saying it phrase by phrase as you do a simple motion for each person of the Trinity. For phrase 1, point at the center of each hand to signify God the Son’s nail-scarred hands. For phrase 2, point up toward Heaven to signify God the Father. For phrase 3, point at your heart to signify God the Spirit who lives in all believers. For phrase 4, point at the people around you. Start slowly and gradually say the verse faster each time you repeat it.

What is the Trinity? – Scripture Reading

Read Luke 1:26-37 and Matthew 3:13-17 while children listen for how the different persons of the Trinity were involved in the birth and baptism of Jesus. Explain that God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one God together. It’s impossible for us to fully understand, but the Bible is clear that God is triune.

What is the Trinity? – Discussion Questions

Use these discussion questions to reinforce and review the truths you’ve already taught about the Trinity. If desired, you could have the kids decorate a coloring page about the Trinity while you talk. Where can you find a coloring page like this? How about our new “What is the Trinity?” lesson for kids!?

  • What does it mean that God is triune? What is the Trinity? (God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three persons in one God.)
  • How many gods are there? (There is only one true God. He is three persons in one God.)
  • Who is God the Father? What has he done? (God loves me and sent his Son to save me from sin.)
  • Who is God the Son? What has he done for you? (Jesus is God the Son. He died on the cross and rose again to save people from sin.)
  • Who is God the Spirit? What does he do? (God the Spirit is the Holy Spirit who is sent by Jesus to help Christians obey God and tell others about Jesus. He lives in every person whom Jesus saves from sin.)

What is the Trinity? – Play & Pray Time

Have children use pieces of dry cereal to form the number 3 on a paper plate while you read Matthew 3:13-17 and other verses that reveal God’s triune nature like John 3:16, Matthew 28:19, Mark 12:29, and John 10:30. (Older children may enjoy doing “Bible drills” by racing to find each verse.). Help them say the three persons of the Trinity together (God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit). Next have them form the number 1 with their cereal pieces and remind them there is only one God. Pray together to thank God for being greater than we can understand. If time permits, the children could also form the letters “F” (for Father), “J” (for Jesus, the Son), and “S” (for Spirit) with their cereal as you talk about each person of the Trinity. Afterward, you can let them eat their cereal.

What is the Trinity? – Song Suggestions

These are my favorite songs to use when I’m teaching kids about the Trinity. These songs are available on YouTube and Spotify for family use. For group/classroom use, follow the website link provided with each song to obtain permission for group use.

You can teach kids about the Trinity!

None of us can fully explain how God is one God in three persons, but I’ve found that using ideas like these is a simple way to help kids learn what God’s Word says about his triune nature. I hope you can use some of these ideas with the kids in your own home, church, or ministry. If you’d like to have all of these ideas grouped together in an easy-to-follow lesson plan with printable visuals and a coloring page, I’d love to give you a free digital download of our lesson, “What is the Trinity?” Just click the picture below to learn more. God bless!

If you’re interested in learning more about how various illustrations and analogies for understanding the Trinity are theologically problematic, I recommend this humorous video about St. Patrick. St. Patrick is often credited with teaching Irish pagans about the Trinity by using the three leaves of the shamrock and this tongue-in-cheek video explains how analogies like this can inadvertently misrepresent the Biblical teaching on the Trinity.

Nathan Hamilton
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