Jesus' Precious Little Lambs

A Charlotte Mason Christian Home School: Preschool – 3rd Grade :)

Its a quiet month of slowing down here, which we do every January, to mentally and spiritually gear up for 2016. I hope you are enjoying a quiet January drawing close to the Lord . . . . .

 

IMG_0010

Sweet Little Friends at the Christmas Tree Farm

IMG_0020

Love You Daniel

IMG_0075IMG_0102

IMG_0178

You are so funny Faithy (first batch of cookies, a remarkable event)

IMG_0209

The Jewelry Artisan Booth in the Live Nativity’s Bethlehem Marketplace (note the gold bracelet on his wrist, HA!)

IMG_0227

Reading and Reading

IMG_0241

Nutcracker Art

IMG_0244

And Reading Some More

IMG_0267

Our New Kids Choir Singing Christmas at a Care Home was Sweet Incense

IMG_0285

The Elderly Ladies Were So Precious Too

IMG_0290

Noah Just Melts My Heart

IMG_0297

The Lady with a Teddy Bear Companion and Her Admirers

IMG_0345

Mary and Joseph and Daniel (AKA Sheepy Boy) in the Stable

IMG_0356

Traveling to Bethlehem

IMG_0367

Pregnant Mary

IMG_0373

A Mommy and Me Portrait

IMG_0312

Makin’ Music, Daniel’s Passion

IMG_0416

The Kids Were so Excited for Caroling in the Neighborhood and Sang Their Hearts Out This Year. Praise God!

IMG_0434

For Our Garden Girl with Gardening Dreams

IMG_0486

Christmas Morning

IMG_0505

Let me Help You Daniel

IMG_0536

Getting So Big

IMG_0541

So So Excited

IMG_0584

Special Christmas Gift: Daddy’s Old Tools and Some New Ones Too All His Own for Those Building Dreams and Plans

We found a birds nest in our Christmas tree

We found a birds nest in our Christmas tree.

IMG_0600

A Dynamic Duo

IMG_0607

Together at Long Last

IMG_0691

The Tool Bag Quickly Called into Use When Daniel Shoved His Fork Down the Register

Happy 7th Birthday Noah!

Happy 7th Birthday Noah!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This penguin loved Faith

This penguin loved Faith!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cousins in a Clam

Cousins in a clam

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daniel and Whisper having a great time in the rain puddle

Daniel and Whisper having a blast in a rain puddle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Noah loved the snow

Noah loved the snow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_0288

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Faith liked the snow for a few minutes

Faith liked the snow for a few minutes

Daniel hated the snow

Daniel hated the snow

Leave a comment »

Just Imagine It!

Christmas Gifts for Imagination

My heart swells when I think of these early years with my children, full of wonderful active imagining. The beauty of childhood– the playfulness, the youthfulness, the imagination–is such a wonder, and truly a time in life to treasure. I feel more impressed all the time to make choices for our children that treasure this time of wonder and imagination. When choosing toys, I have always held the opinion that they should serve to heighten imagination, rather than just entertain. God unexpectedly used my Christmas shopping this year to show me a whole lot more about His heart for imagination.
.
My husband and I just finished some Christmas shopping for our kids, and finding toys to “grow their God given imaginations” was our driving desire. Interestingly, and without planning it, after selecting our children’s gifts, a theme appeared in our choices for each child. I sensed God’s participation in our Christmas shopping efforts. Like handwriting on the wall, Noah’s gift theme appeared as: “Knight in Shining Armor,” and Faith’s appeared as: “Little Mommy.” When I think of how much these “themes” speak to their futures, my heart swells to sense the calling of God on their lives, and to realize that somehow God is allowing our simple Christmas gifts, in participation with His gift of imagination, to actually form their destinies. Yes, I know toys “forming their destinies” may sound a bit exaggerated, but I shall explain.
.
When we as Christians sit with God during a morning devotional, or whenever we meet with Him, He gives us ideas on how to proceed in the upcoming day, or up ahead in life, through His gift of imagination. For example, when we pray about an idea or problem, then get quiet to “listen” for His voice, our thoughts are usually chewing on the topic, and through divine overshadowing of this time of chewing, answers come. This is how God “speaks.” He often sends His answers like a thought, like a picture in our minds eye, like a new creative idea–in other words, through imagination. Pastor Kerry Kirkwood explains how imagination is an important spiritual exercise that guides us into our destinies. He says, “Imagination simply allows us to see what the Father has already made available for us. Ephesians 1:18 tells us that the eyes of our hearts will be enlightened so that we might know the hope of our calling. Enlightened is translated as ‘photizo’ from which we get the word photograph. Imagination is allowing the Holy Spirit to develop a photograph upon our hearts of our potential destinies. The devil wants us to be blind to what God has thought and determined for us.” Wow, since children often have the strongest imaginations of all, what a glorious time to capitalize on their liberty to release the images and thoughts of their imaginations without constraint. And us grown ups can learn from our children and their unrestrained imaginations, because Jesus said to “come to Me like little children.” God enlightens the eyes of our hearts and wonderful things begin to happen.
.
Mothering, teaching, and drafting up lesson plans are all things in my life that rely on me hearing God’s voice through a creative ability to imagine. One creative thought that arises in God’s presence is more fruitful than a whole day of thinking on my own. Everything that has been created by mankind: skyscrapers, skis, cars, computers, buildings, boulevards, coffee cups, cotton balls and even things immaterial such as concepts and philosophies all began in the mind of someone before they became reality. Our accomplishments, and who we are, begin as imaginations. What would God have our children imagine while they are young, so that they may live it when they are old? I venture to say that the toys we put before them, playing a significant role in their imaginary life, will certainly influence who they become. (Now, no pressure when you go Christmas shopping for your kids.) 🙂
.
So what toys would fuel Godly imagination AND won’t end up collecting dust? How about historical toys that match the time period/people you are currently studying and have already studied  in homeschool? We have some Indians (last years study), some Egyptians (this years study), and now Noah is really hoping for some knights (we study the medieval period in a few years from now). Three reasons for historical toys: one, history is full of noble exemplars for our kids; two, history is God’s story (“His-story”) and stories are perfect for re-enactmenting (narration!); and three, living history books full of interesting mind food give toys a brand new life/potential with each new reading. I absolutely love that homeschool kids can get caught up in a life of true hero emulation rather than caught up in all the junky “dark” play figures marketed to kids, especially boys. What we admire, we tend to become. While many kids grow up admiring Pokemon or dark comic book characters, thank God, some are being preserved in wise Godly homes, and guided towards other heroes such as noble warriors or selfless missionaries, from the past or present.
.
When we study one time period, or one hero, for an extended time, the whole stage of our children’s imagination becomes filled by the inspiring cause or person. Ultimately, as we read heroes, think heroes, play heroes, and pray to be heroes, the beautiful result is that we become more capable of displaying the same large hearted actions of these “mighty men” we study. God is calling our boys to become the next “mighty men”, our girls the next “mighty women”, and it all begins in the precious imagination of a little child.
 .
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened (that you may imagine!), so that you will know what is the hope of His calling,
what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints
(Ephesians 1:18)
,

~Noah~

Rescuer, Defender, Protector

God’s “Knight in Shining Armor”

Our Hero

Here’s a hand to Noah who has courage
To do what he knows to be right;
When he falls in the way of temptation,
He has a hard battle to fight.
Who strives against self and his comrades
Will find a most powerful foe.
All honor to him if he conquers.
A cheer for our boy who says “NO!”

There’s many a battle fought daily
The world knows nothing about;
There’s many a brave little soldier
Whose strength puts a legion to rout.
And he who fights sin single handed
Is more of a hero, I say,
Than he who leads soldiers to battle
And conquers by arms in the fray.

Be steadfast, my boy, when you’re tempted,
To do what you know to be right.
Stand firm by the colors of manhood,
And you will o’ercome in the fight.

“The right,” be your battle cry forever
In waging the warfare of life,
And God, who knows who are the heroes,
Will give you the strength for the strife.

.

~Faith~

Nurturer, Heart of Mary, Giver

God’s “Little Mommy”

A Heart Just like Mine

God please give me a heart of a mother, that Faith would want one just like mine
Loving unconditionally, no matter what, no matter who.

God give me courage, that Faith will want to be courageous too
Very brave, that she also may be unafraid.

God give me wisdom, that Faith will want to be wise too
Knowing what to do, big and small, to help her through it all.

God give me strength, that Faith will want to be strong too
Knocked down, yet standing strong for another round.

God give me beauty, that Faith will want to be beautiful too
When I smile it would give her the feeling that everything will be okay,
and all her problems disappear for awhile….

God give me generosity, that Faith will want to be generous too
Helping the helpless, never thinking of ourselves and being un-selfish….

God please give me a heart of a mother, that Faith would want one just like mine

 

Noah’s Christmas Gifts

Melissa and Doug’s fold out play castle.

Knights by Schleich are beautiful hand painted toys. The Griffin knights in blue, white, and gold are my absolute favorite. Noah LOVES gold.

Schleich Griffin Knight King

A special coin to remind our son of his spiritual armor.

Armor of God Coin

A Christian allegory illustrating the importance of guarding his heart from evil.

“How to train and joust, ride off on adventure into battle, use and care for a knight’s weapons, and live by the code of chivalry–here is everything a knight-to-be could want to know. Girded with pops, flaps, booklets, and even a squire’s board game, this magnificently illustrated book, dressed in a shining foiled cover, gives courageous young squires a chance to fulfill their destiny.”

“When a little boy asks a powerful king, “Why do we have shadows?” the ruler doesn’t know—and neither do his wise men. But then the king hears about somebody who’s so great that he’s only light, with no darkness—and no shadow! A wonderful story about the holiness of God for your 4- to 8-year-olds!”

The King Without a Shadow

“This book is rife with opportunities to discuss difficult Christian concepts with children. An allegorical adaptation of the story of the cross, this piece covers such concepts as: the fall, the hard-heartedness of all humanity, the cost of sin, the necessity of the Son’s sacrifice, redemption, God’s goodness even when things seem bad, and Christ’s resurrection, just to name a few.”

Armor of God costume

  • Helmet of Salvation
  • Breastplate of Righteousness
  • “Shin Guards” of Peace
  • Belt of Truth
  • Spirit-of-the-Word Sword
  • Shield of Faith
  • Faith Parenting Guide with suggested activities and Scriptures

A poster to remind our little knight that he serves Jesus, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, and the precious Lamb of God.

Noah’s Birthday Gifts for January

American Indian Figures (fave ones by Schleich) paired with good living storybooks about Indians makes for endless imaginative play opportunities (and narration!)

Holling C. Holling wrote The Book of Indians, published in 1935. Holling and his wife, Mrs. Holling, lived with the Indians. “In the northern forests we paddled their birch-bark canoes, and slept in their wickiups. We rode our horses beside theirs across the great plains and camped in their teepees in the mountains. In the desert they made us feel at home in their pueblos. We have fished with them in the surf of the Pacific Ocean. This book is the result of some of that hunting, riding, camping and research.” This is an awesome living book on Indians for young children!!

The Book of Indians Holling 1935 with dust jacket

Faith’s Christmas Gifts

An ergo baby doll carrier just like mommy’s!

A really nice Costco find. I’ve always wanted a pram for Faithy.

Faith’s new doll highchair from Etsy, and red, of course.

Bright Red Vintage Wooden Doll Highchair

A sweet doll blanket from Etsy.

Ready To Ship -  Mini Quilt

A handmade baby doll cradle from Etsy.

Doll Furniture-Small Wooden Cradle

Our Fun, Silly, and Somewhat Scientific Stocking Stuffers

Space man bubble gun

https://i1.wp.com/www.houseofmarbles.com/uktrade/images/products/222010.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 ,

,

.

.

Insta Snow by Steve Spangler

Wacky sand that sticks together and oozes through your fingers.

Putty that you can bounce, bend, tear, stretch, snap, pop. Magnetic and color changing too.

 

Leave a comment »

December Lesson Plans

2014-2015 Kindergarten and Preschool

Its time for Christmas bells to ring and proclaim throughout the earth that Christ the King of heaven is born! Our family is delighted that Christmas season has arrived and that God will continue to use the holiday to reveal Christ incarnate in our home and hearts. Last Christmas, we prayed for that very thing to happen in our children, and our 3 year old Faith fell so in love with baby Jesus. It was a sweet dream come true. Hearts falling more in love with Jesus is why a hungry anticipation fills each of our Christmas festivities, whether they be spiritual or very natural.

Christmas is a teaching opportunity in every home. In scripture, God ordained holidays to be times of recollection and teaching, when families bring back to mind the wonderful works of God and explain them to our children. Melanie Young, author of Raising Real Men, points out that holidays give us the opportunity “to draw the attention of our children, our family, our friends and our acquaintances to the truth of God’s Word in a winsome way. We rejoice in the Christmas season like the people around us, but with a difference!” How would we approach the holiday differently if we primarily thought of Christmas as a teaching opportunity?

The December character study in our Precious Lambs school is obedience, which may be considered the foundation of all other character traits. As much as Christmas time seems like its all about love and joy, scripture reminds us that true love must be accompanied by obedience. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey me.” Its only through obedience that we can show love.

Discipline is important in training children in obedience, but a loving relationship is a prerequisite if discipline is to be effective. In child rearing we must aim to win our children’s hearts (Proverbs 23:26; Malachi 4:6). If we discipline without having our children’s hearts then we are actually sowing the seeds of bitterness and rebellion. The more we have of our children’s hearts, the less we will need to discipline, and the journey towards obedience will be easier.

Charlotte Mason helps us to remember the importance of consistency in forming the habit of obedience. She states, “The mother’s great stronghold is in the habit of obedience. If she begin by requiring that her children always obey her, why, they will always do so as a matter of course; but let them once get the thin end of the wedge in, let them discover that they can do otherwise than obey, and a woeful struggle begins, which commonly ends in the children doing that which is right in their own eyes.” She reminds us that obedience means children respond right away, with a good attitude, and with thorough effort–anything less becomes a constant source of irritation. She says, “…..the mother will insist from the first on an obedience which is prompt, cheerful, and lasting–save for lapses of memory on the child’s part. Tardy, unwilling, occasional obedience is hardly worth the having….” How true!

I invite you to join our Jesus’ Precious Little Lambs school by following along with our lesson plans at home! You are welcome to homeschool with us! To better understand how we use these lesson plans below, and get the “full picture”, please see our curriculum overview for the whole school year, and our daily schedule. To let you know where our plans come from, we purchase Simply Charlotte Mason’s lesson plan handbooks for History/Bible, Geography, and Nature Study. We use SCM’s free curriculum guide, book finder, and suggestions from the discussion forum to help us select books for other subjects (no lesson plan books needed). Living books, being the emphasis of a Charlotte Mason education, means that most of our curriculum is purchased from Abebooks.com, or comes free from the library. School for us is just a big stack of carefully chosen living books, and narration; no textbooks, workbooks, or scripted lesson plans. We love how Charlotte Mason methods are easy, delightful, and a beautifully rich feast for the mind!

.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

.Fun Theme: Christmas

Seasonal Theme: Winter

Character/Habit: Obedience

Bible: Joseph and Hebrews in Egypt (Genesis and Exodus)

History/Geography: Ancient Egypt, Africa

Nature Study: Trees and Goldenrod

Parent Study:

  • Continue learning about creationism vs. evolution and young earth vs. old earth
  • Continue my own prayer journal and nature journal along with Noah.
  • Learn more about Ancient Egyptian life to be able to share with kids conversationally as interest and relevant opportunity arises.
  • Listen to/read classic AW Tozer books for better understanding and experience of worship, the purpose of man.

Art, Music, and Poetry Study:

All Things Bright and Beautiful Blog

  • Poetry: Various selections from Favorite Poems Old and New
  • Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach— selections, biographies, and other suggestions from All Things Bright (Remind children that we already know and love these songs by Bach: Suite #1 in G, Orchestral Suite #3, Double Concerto in D minor, Suite for Solo Cello #1)
  • Artist: Thomas Cole, Christian American landscape artist, paintings speak volumes. Pictured here is ‘Youth’, a painting in a series called ‘The Voyage of Life’ (a series of paintings which represents an interesting allegory of the four stages of human life: childhood, youth, manhood, and old age):

Character/Habit Development:

Read one story a month from Storytime with the Millers.

Storytime with the Millers

Circle Time/Family Time:

Promise and Blessing Time:

Stand on Ephesians 6:1, “Children obey your parents,”  for ourselves and any other children who come to mind. Take time to speak a blessing, celebrate progress, and encourage more of the same behavior by speaking over our children:

  • ________ is such an obedient boy/girl.
  • I really appreciate how quickly you obey, ________.
  • God is pleased with such immediate obedience, ________.
  • Thank you for remembering my instructions, ________ . They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.
  • Thank you for obeying, ________; it sure makes life easier for all of us when we obey.

(With each bullet above, try to include specific examples of obedience observed of each child as well)

Prayer and Discussion Time:

  • Ask God to search our hearts for areas of disobedience, acknowledge when and how we are/were disobedient. Thank God for ways we have been obedient. Ask God for our obedience and our siblings.
  • Use Instructions in Righteousness to help identify areas of persistant sin/disobedience, and its suggestions for rewards and pumishments.
  • Do some obedience drills with multi-step instructions (please wash your hands, get a baby cup and fill it with water, choose a snack for the baby and cut it up, then leave it all at his highchair). Assess promptness, attitude, and thoroughness.
  • Create an obstacle course, blindold children, and lead them through using only your voice of instruction.
  • Tangibly reward obedience to poignantly illustrate our memory verse Eph. 6:1-3; most of all pray that that God will reward their obedience and that our children will have eyes to see His rewards
  • Take an obedience test several times during the month
  • Slowly savor thoughtful ideas, poems, and stories about obedience; read and discuss one a day:

Bible:

Read Joseph (Genesis) and Hebrews in Egypt (Exodus) stories in the Children’s story Bible by Catherine Vos, and/or my ESV Study Bible.

Memory Verses:

  • Ephesians 6:1-3 “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’ – which is the first commandment with a promise – ‘That it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on
    earth.’ ”
  • Review December verses from previous years:
    • “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” James 4:8
    • “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
    • “For unto us a child is born , unto us a son is given : and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor , The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. ”  Isaiah 9:6
  • Learn memory verse for our “Short Term Savings” coin bank (a gift store bank): “There is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up.” Proverbs 21:20
  • Review previous coin bank verses:
    • “Tithing” coin bank (a church bank): “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” Malachi 3:10
    • “Long Term Savings/Future Dreams Bank” (a rocket shaped bank): “The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.” Proverbs 22:7
    • “Charity and Missions” Coin bank verse (a lighthouse bank): “ If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?” James 2:15

Hymns:

Lovely hymns are full of more truth than many sermons (2nd and 3rd verses are often especially theologically deep), and can imprint precious truths on our hearts.

Joy to the World

MP3

Sheet Music

Silent Night

MP3

Sheet Music Here

O Come All Ye Faithful

MP3

Sheet Music Here

Poetry Recitation:

The Friendly Beasts

Jesus our brother, kind and good
Was humbly born in a stable rude
And the friendly beasts around Him stood,
Jesus our brother, kind and good.

“I,” said the donkey, shaggy and brown,
“I carried His mother up hill and down;
I carried her safely to Bethlehem town.”

“I,” said the donkey, shaggy and brown.

“I,” said the cow all white and red
“I gave Him my manger for His bed;
I gave him my hay to pillow his head.”
“I,” said the cow all white and red.
 
“I,” said the sheep with curly horn,
“I gave Him my wool for His blanket warm;
He wore my coat on Christmas morn.”
“I,” said the sheep with curly horn.
 
“I,” said the dove from the rafters high,
“I cooed Him to sleep so He would not cry;
We cooed him to sleep, my mate and I.”
“I,” said the dove from the rafters high.
 
Thus every beast by some good spell,
In the stable dark was glad to tell
Of the gift he gave Immanuel,
The gift he gave Immanuel.

Handwriting:

Written letters, notes of encouragement, Christmas and birthday cards, thank you cards, shopping lists, nature journal entries, prayer journal entries, poem or memory verse.

Reading:

First Steps, Preprimer | Main photo (Cover)

Word Building:

Preschooler Faith will sound out 3 and 4 letter phonetic words, and spell them out with letters (word build). Kindergartener Noah will build review sight words (non phonetic words) that he learned to read last year, practice building sight words from this years reader, as well as sound out and build an occasional phonetic word for phonics review (especially words with blends and digraphs).

.

Literature Read Alouds:

 

 

 

 

History and Geography:

  • One lesson a day from SCM’s Genesis-Deuteronomy & Ancient Egypt lesson plan book; living books that are suggested in the lesson plans

Math:

All lessons from Kathy Richardson’s “Developing Number Concepts” math books.

Noah’s Lessons:

Ongoing Review: Spend a few minutes a day practicing instant recognition of number combinations. Use homemade “flashcards” with arrangements of items that can be counted (like toothpicks or buttons that can be grouped into two numbers upon closer inspection in order to quickly find the total). Hold up a card and say, “Tell me fast. How many?” Ask, “How did you know?” (Cause there is a four and a three, and that’s seven) When recognizing groups of more than five easily, child will have to mentally combine the smaller groups that make up the larger ones.

The Hiding Assessment (p 29) An assessment to see what children know about number combinations already. This will help determine the appropriate size number to give a child during math lessons who is working with number combinations. Starting with five counters, hide some behind your back and display the remaining counters. Ask, “how many are hiding?” Still with five counters, try hiding different amounts behind your back and asking, “how many are hiding?” See if children can say the missing number quickly and confidently, if they need time to figure it out, or if they are unsuccessful. Try larger numbers of counters if successful. Try smaller ones if unsuccessful.

Complex Addition and Subtraction Stories (p32) Have children act out equalizing, missing addend, and comparative addition and subtraction stories.

  • Equalizing–Mark has six bowls, Carrie has 4. How many more will Carrie have to make to have the same number as Mark.
  • Missing Addend–Mark has six bowls. He needs 10. How many more does he need to get? OR Mark has 8 bowls now because he got 2 for his birthday. How many did he have before his birthday?
  • Comparative Subtraction–Mark has 6 bowls and Carrie has 4. How many more does Mark have than Carrie?

Number Shapes (p 65) Number shapes are distinctive arrangements of squares representing numbers four through ten. They can be filled with manipulatives in various ways to show number combinations. For addition use two different color counters and say, “Put three red and three blue counters on your six shape. This shows that three and three equals six. Can you find another way to arrange those counters? And another? How did you arrange them this time.” Then do 4 and 2, and other combinations of 6. For subtraction use one color of counters and say, “Fill up your shape with blue counters. Take one off. Can you tell what you did?” When children can use number shapes to find combinations independently, have them record their work with crayons or colored pencils on worksheets with predrawn number shapes. They can also write out equations to describe their combinations.

Number Arrangements Using Cubes (p78) Have children make cube arrangements (into a simple design) for the number of the day, and talk about what number combinations they see in the arrangement. Pose some questions for an extra challenge such as: “How can you arrange cubes so that their full sides are touching?,” “What designs can you make that have corners kissing?,” or “Can you make a square with your number?” Have children record their arrangements on paper by gluing down small squares of paper to represent their cube arrangements.

Describing a Number By Its Parts (p 56) You and your child both make a cube train of a specified length (pick the right size number for your child). Give the signal “snap”, and both of you break your train into two parts any way you like. Take turns determining the number combination in each others hands (“3 and 2″ or “1 and 4″ for a train of 5 for example). For numbers greater than 6, say how many cubes to break off, give child time to determine the combination, and then ask, “How many?” The next level to this activity is for each person to keep one hand behind his/herback, and have your partner predict how many cubes are hidden. Then check predictions.

Plus and Minus Train (p 35) Make 2 gameboards with the outline of cube train 2o cubes long. Each player puts 20 cubes on a gameboard. The goal is to be the first to completely clear his or her board. Each player rolls a 1-6 number cube (dice) and spins a spinner with minus sign on one side and plus sign on the other to see how many cubes to add or take off. Players lose a turn if they have to add more cubes than there are spaces available.

Faith’s Lessons:

Week 1 Pattern Blocks

Use pattern block mats to build Christmas patterns (from Prekinders.com)–if building on top is easy, build next to.

Week 2 Sorting Toothpick Number Sets

(p. 144 in Developing Math Concepts in Pre-Kindergarten)

Have children place number sets (such as toothpicks pictured below; or stickers, coins, beans, paperclips, etc. mounted on cards) on the correct sections of a butcher paper number line.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.
Week 3 Spin and Peek

(p. 150 in Developing Math Concepts in Pre-Kindergarten)

Materials: Counters, eight or nine bowls, more/less spinner (use a spinner you already own, cover one half with paper labeled “More” and one half with paper labeled “Less”) Lesson: Played like concentration. Lift a bowl, count the counters, spin the more/less spinner to see if he or she should look for a bowl with more counters or less counters than the first bowl. If he or she finds it, take those two bowls out of the game. Play until all bowls are out of the game.

Nature Study:

Videos:

Show children how the Kingdom of God IS advancing around the world. “Dispatches from the Front” is a thoughtful, moving, understated, and ultimately convicting series of videos depicting the work of the gospel in some of the most challenging corners of the world.” – D. A. Carson

19 science DVDs on creation

God of Wonders

Awesome Science is a high quality DVD series produced by a family that homeschools and works on the series together. Noah is the field guide and host for all 13 episodes which explore the globe to discover evidence of the accuracy of the Bible. Noah contends that the earth is NOT millions of years old and the dinosaurs did not die from a meteor. These videos provide excellent science content as well as a theological perspective. They are an effective way to challenge evolutionary assumptions with scientific evidence while providing a very visual science education.

6 Episodes all compliment study of the account of the flood in Genesis.

.

Library series on ancient civilizations:

Book Jacket for: Ancient Mesopotamia [videorecording]Book Jacket for: Ancient China [videorecording]

 

Ancient Evidence - Mysteries of the Old Testament

Traditions, Fun Friday Projects, and Other Ideas:

Pick out a Christmas Gift to give together from Samaritan’s Purse Catalog.

Shepherds Pouches can provide a meaningful way to help kids earn money for the chosen Samaritans Purse gift.

Have a Happy Birthday Baby Jesus Pajama Party!

IMG_4236

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Decorate Faithy’s Dollhouse for Christmas.

Sylvanian family Christmas Decorated house / manor - FULLY furnished AND figs! | eBay

Build a manger for our baby doll Jesus from collected sticks.

Baby doll wrapped in white blanket lying on hay-lined wooden manger, nativity play prop, side view. : Stock Photo

Caroling around the neighborhood gives children an opportunity to spread the gospel. We will sing this song and and pass out goodies.

Melanie Young says, “Christmas is the only time of year that it is not only socially acceptable, but considered a gift to knock on stranger’s doors and sing hymns full of gospel truth to them! We don’t want this tradition to ever die out, so every year we invite like minded families to come caroling with us.”

Find or make an ornament that depicts what God has done in the past year for the family, or for each individual (so kids have their own set to take when grown)

Nature excursions can provide opportunity to collect leaves, evergreen boughs, pine cones, and berries to decorate home. (and sticks for the manger above and star ornaments below)

Nature-Inspired Front Door Christmas Garland

Make baby Jesus a blanket

Make a Christmas Wish List to Keep

Have friends and neighbors over for Christmas tea

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Simple Homemade Ornaments to Gift

Fieldtrips:

See a live performance of The Nutcracker

Go to a Live Nativity in Santa Clara

IMG_4137

Leave a comment »

December Lesson Plans

2013-2014

I invite you to join our Jesus’ Precious Little Lambs school by following along with our lesson plans at home! You are welcome to homeschool with us! Please take a look at Welcome Back to School & Fabulous Fours and Fives for a basic explanation of each area of study that you see here in this monthly lesson plan (bold blue headings), as well as a description of the beauty of Charlotte Mason education methods. To preview our monthly themes planned for the year, also see our 2013 masterplan. If you would like to call your school Little Lambs as well, see my post Founding Message of Jesus’ Precious Little Lambs, a sweet Bible lesson I presented during one of our very first circle times that you might want to use with your kids too!

Bible Truth Theme:  I will worship JESUS 

Preschool Fun Theme: Christmas (happy birthday baby Jesus, nativity, snow, candy canes, etc.)

Mother Study:

Before teaching your children, enrich yourself with Charles Spurgeon’s sermon The Incarnation and Birth Christ.

Special Events:

December 10th–COMMUNITY OUTREACH Pass out candy canes and The Legend of the Candy Cane in the neighborhood.

December 12th–PAJAMA PARTY Come to school dressed in your jammas for a “Happy Birthday Baby Jesus” party!

December 16th-January 17th–NO SCHOOL Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! (We will continue Bible and reading lessons)

Bible Stories:

Week 1 Numbers 26, 32; Deuteronomy 3, 31, 33, 34; Joshua 1-9

The Child’s Story Bible chapters 52-55

Week 2 Joshua10-11, 13-24; Judges 1-5

The Child’s Story Bible chapters 56-59

Week 3 & Week 4 Christmas Story in Matthew 1-2, Luke 1-2

The Children’s Story Bible chapters 1-5 (New Testament section), & the Christmas Story from lots of other Children’s Bibles

Memory Verse:

Review prior years verses: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

“Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” James 4:8

Learn new verse: For unto us a child is born , unto us a son is given : and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor , The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. ”  Isaiah 9:6

Hymns:

Silent Night

MP3

Sheet Music Here

O Come All Ye Faithful

MP3

Sheet Music Here

Poetry for memorization:

My Gift

What can I give Him
Poor as I am;
If I were a shepherd,
I would give Him a lamb.
If I were a wise man,
I would do my part.
But what can I give Him?
I will give my heart.

~ Christina Rossetti

Handwriting:

The children will practice printing:

Jesus is the Son of God.

and all the words from the fable in the reading lesson below.

Reading:

Materials:  printed fable, loose letters, word cards for “began to tear it in pieces with their teeth. A fox, seeing them, said'”

.

The Dogs and the Fox

By Aesop 

Some dogs, finding the skin of a lion, began to tear it in pieces with their teeth. A Fox, seeing them, said, “If this lion were alive, you would soon find out that his claws were stronger than your teeth.”

Moral: It is easy to kick a man that is down.


Reading Lessons:
“began to tear it in pieces with their teeth. A fox, seeing them, said'”

1. Write one word from the poem on the board

2. Discuss the word

3. Study it closely, then erase

4. Find the word card from a small pile of cards, then hide the card

5. Spell the word with loose letters (from memory if possible)

6. Find the word in the printed poem

7. Repeat steps 1-6 with each word

8. Do a review of all the words listed up on the board

Word Building Lessons (spelling):

Using loose letters, build words that rhyme with each of the words assigned for this month (ex: tear–wear, fear, near, gear, smear, clear etc.).

(Lessons 5-8 in Delightful Reading by Simply Charlotte Mason)

History Books:

Literature:

Math:

After completing each of the following lessons, and the children feel comfortable with them, make the materials available during independent work time/free play for the children to practice the activities on their own.

Week 1 Pattern Blocks

Use pattern block mats to build Christmas patterns (from Prekinders.com)–if building on top is easy, build next to.

Week 2 Sorting Toothpick Number Sets

(p. 144 in Developing Math Concepts in Pre-Kindergarten)

Have children place number sets (such as toothpicks pictured below; or stickers, coins, beans, paperclips, etc. mounted on cards) on the correct sections of a butcher paper number line.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Fun Group Projects:

Do a Jesse Tree/Advent using Anne Voskamps Christmas Devotionals

Look into the lineage of Jesus Christ and show young children how the birth of Christ was planned and prepared through the ages through God’s people. Color or make ornaments that represent the story of the day.

Through various Scripture readings, the Jesse Tree takes the first 25 days of December to explain the lineage (or ancestry) of Jesus Christ. Stories that are key throughout the Old Testament are explained in a way that shows even very young children how the birth of Christ was planned and prepared, through God’s people, across the ages. Children can make or color ornaments that represent each story and then hang them on a Jesse Advent calendar tree.
Read more at http://faithfulprovisions.com/2012/12/09/what-is-an-advent-jesse-tree/#pmFDk2Mx0dveJOlT.99
Through various Scripture readings, the Jesse Tree takes the first 25 days of December to explain the lineage (or ancestry) of Jesus Christ. Stories that are key throughout the Old Testament are explained in a way that shows even very young children how the birth of Christ was planned and prepared, through God’s people, across the ages. Children can make or color ornaments that represent each story and then hang them on a Jesse Advent calendar tree.
Read more at http://faithfulprovisions.com/2012/12/09/what-is-an-advent-jesse-tree/#pmFDk2Mx0dveJOlT.99
Through various Scripture readings, the Jesse Tree takes the first 25 days of December to explain the lineage (or ancestry) of Jesus Christ. Stories that are key throughout the Old Testament are explained in a way that shows even very young children how the birth of Christ was planned and prepared, through God’s people, across the ages. Children can make or color ornaments that represent each story and then hang them on a Jesse Advent calendar tree.
Read more at http://faithfulprovisions.com/2012/12/09/what-is-an-advent-jesse-tree/#pmFDk2Mx0dveJOlT.99

A Handwriting Keepsake

Alternative: write your list with others in mind–“make a list of things you would love to give or do for others you know”

Spread Christmas Cheer and Share the Gospel: Pass Out Candy Canes to Your Neighbors and Attach This Candy Cane Message

Go to a Live Nativity

A Fun Fruit Snack Tree

……………….

Send a Christmas Letter to Our Operation Child From Last Year

IMG_0395

Movie Night: Watch Some Old Home Videos or Classic Christmas Movies Together as a Family

Make Christmas Cookies for Friends and Loved Ones

Have a Happy Birthday Jesus Party  in Pajamas

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Teach Your Kids How to Tie Knots and Make a No Sew Blanket for Baby Jesus (Baby Doll)

Pick Out a Gift to Give to a Family in Need

 

Make a Polymer Clay Nativity

Nature Study:

Winter is a great time for a bird study since they are easier to spot in leafless trees.

All good things are inspired by God! We share freely here to be a blessing to you with all that He has given us. Thank you for sharing what you have been given with others too. “Freely you have received, freely give.” Matthew 10:8

Leave a comment »

Christmas Gifts for Kiddies

And Putting Some Dreams Back On Your List

Its Christmas shopping time already, and this year for the first time, our 3 and 4 year olds have lists and requests, as well as an awareness of “a lot” and “a little” (and that a lot is a lot better). As a mom, I struggle to know how to make sure that I don’t spoil them, while at the same time, I want to bless their little socks off because its Christmas and I love them!!!  A lot of homeschoolers buy their children mostly books, science kits, art tools, etc. for Christmas and birthdays. I get it……..I dislike materialism as well, and so we buy used clothes, we don’t do video games or TV, we gift educational stuff and often opt for useful things over entertaining things, we rarely visit the toy store, we try not to do a lot of shopping in general, and we even raise some of our own food (and then buy the rest at Whole Paycheck –ha!). That’s us, we splurge in some areas but are pretty minimalist in others. I have a hard time not wanting to splurge on Christmas gifts for my kids. I mean we make them wait all year to get new toys. Every time they ask for something, I say, “I’ll put it on your Christmas list,” then I type the item into a list on my phone–matter closed. Its great because I have peace of mind since all I have to do is keep the list up, and because my kids are truly happy with this arrangement! In their mind, Christmas just is when you finally get what you want. So for these reasons, its hard to decide how much to “spoil” the kids. Thankfully, hubby comes up with a budget that reigns me in and takes all the fun confusion out of it. 🙂

Sometimes it seems like Noah never stops dreaming up things that he wants, or items that according to him, our family could use (little things– like a two story house, or a camping trailor). How could someone so little want so much?? At least when we reached out this month to an Operation Christmas Child and a local homeless person, Noah was dreaming of buying houses and cars for someone else. Boy can little people dream. Its annoying when all our kids dreams seem to center around toys, right? But when that ability to dream suddenly turns its attention towards something righteous and amazingly Godly, aren’t we thrilled that they have that power to dream? I don’t want to squash Noah’s dreams, nor do I want to make poor financial confessions, and so you won’t catch me answering “we can’t afford it”. How much did our parents always saying “we can’t afford it” when we were young effect how we view money as adults? Many of us don’t live in poverty, but many of us still have a “poverty mindset”, and it holds us back. The Bible says ‘the love of money is the root of all evil’, not ‘money is the root of all evil’. I want my kids to keep dreaming big dreams as they grow up, even if those dreams cost a lot of money, and not to have an ever increasing dose of “reality” diminish those lofty dreams into something smaller and smaller as they grow.  Thats just it, little people believe, don’t they? At Christmas time, we see this is apparent, perhaps more than any other time of year. And perhaps this is one of those little heart lessons we as parents are to pay attention to this season as we watch our little ones hearts dreaming away. Are our own hearts still dreaming away? Maybe the question isn’t, how could someone so little want so much, but rather, how could someone so big want so little? Let’s give our diminished dreams to God this Christmas and pray that He would enlarge them once again.

Want to see some of my ideas for the kids this Christmas? Oh, and I added a few things for myself (those “things” always seems to sneak their way in, don’t they?).

The Kids’ List

Check out JM Cremps Adventure Store for lots of good ideas for boys. Its an awesome Christian family owned store selling “adventure supplies” with the premise that the character of a man depends a great deal on the adventures and experiences a boy enjoys in his youth.

A Spring Swing–Swings and Bounces

A Quality Bow and Arrow for 4-7 Year Olds

Bear Cheeks Pajamas With Trap Door–Cute Christmas Jammies

Hatley Rainboots and Umbrella

Thinking Putty–Bounces, Stretches, Shatters, and Changes Color

A Pocket Microscope (100x)–Only $15

DK Stickers

Reading Lessons with A Talking Dog Pen

A Game that Teaches Numbers (Zingo also has a sight word version)

A Game that Teaches Reading

Number Balance that Teaches Number Relationships, Addition, and Subtraction

Beeswax Crayons that Bring Coloring to a New Level

Huggums– A Pretty Baby Doll

Mom, the Teacher’s List

How do you get kids that can’t tell time to hurry up? With a time timer! A timer that shows how much time is left. I would love to have a time timer for chores, lessons, and especially clean up time. Not dawdling is a big habit we are working on around here and I feel like a broken record with my, “come on,” “let’s go,” “stop dawdling,” “your time is almost up,” type of comments. I loathe my own nagging some days. I think this little timer may release me from my torture and help teach my children responsibility as they monitor their own time.

This is cool! Make your own learning centers/resources/worksheets/tests with your own supply of hot dots and talking pen. Instead of buying boxed Hot Dot lessons like the one above, you can make your own lessons  customized to what your child needs to know, apply the “hot” and “cool” dots, and hand your child the interactive pen. Any surface can become a learning activity (like during a Spanish lesson, stick a hot dot to the kitchen sink, several cool dots to various other items in the kitchen, and then ask your child to go find the “lavabo” by touching the pen to different dots for instant feedback).

Click to insert.

See last years Christmas Gift Suggestions

Hanging Out at the Nature Park

IMG_3283

King of the Forest

IMG_3289Laying Out Straw for the Chickens

IMG_3354

Counting  Dots on the Dot Cube

IMG_3389

Writing in My Word Book

IMG_3393

Morning Lessons

IMG_3411

Cool Turtle Garrett!

IMG_3413

Sentence Building with Lamb

IMG_3421

Love You Brother

IMG_3480

IMG_3512

Messiest Tree in the Neighborhood, but so Much Fun

IMG_3515

Turkey Pumpkins and Our Thankful Tree

IMG_3535

A Beautiful Fall at the Nature Park

IMG_3549

IMG_3557

An Easy Leaf Garland

Made After a Day at the Nature Park

IMG_3579

Daniel and Pug Dog

IMG_3589

Pattern Work with Mamama

IMG_3618

Working on Beginning Sounds, Yay Faith!

IMG_3619

Our Favorite Project of the Month: Stone Soup

IMG_3625

Noah  Loves Using The Food Chopper

IMG_3632

Praying Over Our Soup

IMG_3640

Sharing our Soup

IMG_3642

Showing Our Soup Being Made

IMG_3646

Great Handwriting Kiddos!

IMG_3675

Adding to Our Thankful Tree All Month Long Was Awesome

IMG_3693

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Leave a comment »

Merry Christmas!

Just a short and sweet Christmas greeting for you today friends. I wish I could send each one of you a handmade Christmas gift just for being a reader of my blog! I really am humbled to think that anyone would spend their time here and ponder over my musings. Know that you are in my prayers as I do pray for all my readers. May your Christmas abound with joy!

My 3 Year Old’s Christmas Lights Song:

Christmas lights, Christmas lights.

Christmas lights what are you doing?

Christmas lights, hallelujah praising the Lord Christmas lights.

Bible. Bible. Bible.

Christmas lights what are you doing?……..

I like how this song reveals that even the Christmas lights serve to praise the Lord in the eyes of my little one! Let Jesus be in Christmas everywhere we look too!

Christmas Craft Central Here….Beautiful Doily Angels.

IMG_8068

IMG_8086

Tiny Animal Christmas Party (Polymer Clay)

IMG_7880

Adorning Jars of Hot Cocoa and Marshmallows

IMG_7904

Lambie

IMG_7966

Cuddles

IMG_7975

Sassy Bear

IMG_7970

The Lone Dude

IMG_7973

Baby Jesus, the Centerpiece of our Home

IMG_7936

Faith Likes to Hold “Baby Jesus”

IMG_7930

Gran Jojo, Tayler’s Great Grandma, Came to School and Helped Us Make Salt Dough Ornaments

IMG_7945

IMG_7950

December Handwriting

IMG_7874

IMG_7876

Happy Birthday Baby Jesus Play Dough Cookies

IMG_7952

Getting Ready to Go Christmas Caroling in the Neighborhood

IMG_8019

IMG_8024

Singing Carols Takes Courage, but We Have Such Gracious Neighbors!

IMG_8049

At the Christmas Tree Farm with my Cutie

IMG_7771

.

Forgive me because Dean and I don’t mail out many Christmas cards, although we do hand some out to those whom we see during the season. I know an e-card is not the same as receiving a card in the mail, and so I sheepishly offer you my Christmas card. It happens to be another pic of my kids! Not like you haven’t seen that before on my blog! 🙂

1 Comment »

The Scoop on Santa

Parents go to great lengths to help their children believe in Santa Clause, don’t we?! So I never knew people sent their children postcards from Santa on his vacation, or birthday cards from Santa on their child’s birthday. All to remind their kids that they are in Santa’s heart all year long, and to keep their kids belief high throughout the year. And don’t forget how some put reindeer poop on the lawn, make Santa Clause tracks on their carpet, or mail a “nice list” certificate to their child. Why wouldn’t children believe?! Let’s review some of the awesome WikiHow advice regarding Santa Clause. How to deal with the “Is Santa Clause Real?” question: Tell your child that Santa is real, and that if he/she does not believe in him, then perhaps no presents will come on Christmas. Remember: the belief in Santa Claus is the final frontier of innocence, and to deny them that is to rob them of a childhood. Also remember, that when you tell your child that there is no Santa, your child will very likely tell his classmates that there is no Santa, thus destroying their belief when their parents would not have it so. Expect many calls from angry parents demanding answers as to why your child told theirs that no Santa Claus existed. So first, WikiHow advises us to threaten our children to believe, then equates not giving children Santa Clause to robbing children of childhood, and finally, plays on our fear of conflict lest we deviate from the norm. This is just some of the nonsensical wisdom I find on raising our children to believe in Santa. As you know me by now friends, you can probably guess that Santa Clause stuff doesn’t sit so well with me, and I am all too eager to share why. 🙂

I never really understood why I felt uncomfortable with the idea of Santa Clause so this week I decided to get to the bottom of this feeling. Here is what I found on my search.

Pro Santa

The only worthy argument for Santa that I found was stated by one well meaning parent as such,” Some stories, such as fables and parables, are not empirically true, but they are true in that they point to realities about God’s world and the human condition.” Fine, except that there are lots of other stories that can do the same–oh, and what about the fact that the modern day Santa only gives materialistic gifts based on merit of whether or not you’re “good enough”. One wise parent said, “We do not want them to fall prey to a works mentality. We’ve all heard it–“Stop that or else Santa will put you on the naughty list!” We don’t want our children to think that blessings depend solely on whether they have been good or bad. We want them to understand what grace is–God’s unmerited favor, kindness from God that we don’t deserve. There is nothing we have done or can ever do to earn this favor. The classic lesson that “being bad” may put them on the “naughty list,” translating into less presents or a lump of coal could really hinder their understanding of grace.”

Ok, sorry my pro was not very pro. Feel welcome to leave me some pro Santa comments in the comment section below, other than “I was raised on Santa, and I turned out ok”. 😉

Anti Santa

Here are some arguments against Santa posed by parents:

“You teach your kids not to lie and yet we lie to them right away about Santa and the Easter Bunny.”

“The precious faith of a child is used for entertainment.”

“We don’t actively teach our children to  believe in fairytales, but we actively teach our children to believe in Santa.”

“The truth is some kids get nothing for Christmas, because there really is no Santa and some parents cannot scrape up the extra dough. The child that gets told Santa loves and gives to everybody will wonder what is wrong with them.”

“It seems ungrateful to give all the glory to a pretend provider.”

“We buy their presents, and it is to us that they should express their gratitude – not to someone that has an endless supply of money and grants their every material wish. We believe that this does not create an atmosphere of gratitude. I can honestly say that my children are very grateful people and do not have the sense of entitlement that I see in our culture.”

“Santa Claus is given attributes that belong to God and God alone. He can be all over the world at one time – omnipresence. He knows who is good or bad – omniscience. He can give everyone what they want in spite of the cost or the situation – omnipotence.”

“NOTHING should be done to take away our mind’s attention or heart’s affection from Christ during Christmas. We’re celebrating a time that God Almighty broke through time and space to invade our world for the one purpose of redeeming us for eternity. There should be nothing that competes with this time to honor Christ. It boggles me that Christianity is the only religion I know that has a secular equivalent celebration during our time of deepest remembrance. Santa Claus at Christmas and the Easter Bunny at Easter.”

“I never want my children to have this existential monologue in junior high: “Daddy told me about a six day creation, virgin birth, Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, angels, and fairies. Then he said he was only joking about half the stuff. I felt gullible for falling for it.”

“Kids should be able to come to their parents for the truth IN ALL THINGS. Not ask innocent questions when their little minds are SOOOO impressionable and be told a lie. If we lie to them about Santa how are they then to believe us about God? We should never do anything that would lead a child astray and this could very well be the difference in them accepting Christ and not accepting Christ.”

Little children take their Santa very seriously. They often believe and love him with all their hearts to the point of worshiping him. Their eyes light up at just the mention of his name and they squeal in delight when they know he is on his way. Doesn’t it seem sad that this Christmas Eve millions and millions of little children will climb into their beds “looking for their blessed hope and the glorious appearing” of Santa Claus more than, or instead of, the Lord Jesus Christ? Our children’s faith, misdirected and stolen at such a fruitful time of life for growing in faith. The younger years are by far the most spiritually fruitful in the life-cycle of an individual. Research shows that if a person if not saved by age 13, they probably never will be. To what lengths are you going in order to help your child believe in Jesus? Give your kids the gift of a Christmas obsessed with Jesus – and no other – when they are little, and it will be their truth all their lives. Talk about Jesus’ impending birthday like it is the most precious, thrilling, miraculous moment you have ever heard of in your life.

Assessment Time: Is There Anything that Might be Pushing Jesus Out of Your Christmas?

Santa may or may not be a distraction in your home, but what is? “You better watch out, you better not cry….” radio tunes inundating the senses, doing too much Christmas tree chopping and house decorating to find time for devotions, letting shopping for gifts taking precedence, sleeping in again, letting that same ole worship and prayer done year round be “harmlessly” substituted by some extra festive fun this season…….These are examples of recent regrettable decisions and attitudes in my own household that threaten to push Jesus out. Not out altogether, just enough to keep us numb enough that our hearts aren’t quite ready to prepare the way for the glorious incarnate King of Kings. Can you identify with me? Santa may not be the problem at your house either, but there is always something, shiny and alluring, sent to seek and distract us from the humble, simple meditation of a Savior born in a manger. What is your distraction, and how does it effect your children’s interpretation of Christmas? The other night when Dean called us all together for family devotions after what happened to be a full weekend of house decorating and tree trimming, Noah’s response was, “but not at Christmas!” My heart sunk at the prospect that two parents have wasted a weekend prioritizing frivolity, and sending the message that Christmas and devotions don’t pair. I confess that even a weekend without Him unravels me, and causes a risky  trade of eternal things for temporal things. The peace we crave so much during the Christmas season, like the peace we sense while singing Silent Night, blissfully settles in every home that puts Jesus first. I need Him!

Have you ever wished that your little ones would squeal in delight over baby Jesus rather than the Christmas lights, Christmas trees, or the thought of Santa Clause coming to town? Our children’s interests are tell tale signs of where we have spent our time, energy, and enthusiasm. I know I don’t want to have the typical American (even Christian) Christmas–the same ole family get together, the typical focus on opening gifts, kids clamoring for their stuff, singing corny jingles, everyone over-indulging in baked goodies, perhaps even gathering to hear a somber reading of the Biblical account of the birth of Jesus……but nothing more. I want to forsake whatever traditions make it a Merry Xmas rather than a Holy Incarnation Day. I endeavor to make our every Christmas’ center around Jesus. Our kids know almost nothing of Santa, they hear “what do you want to give for Christmas?” instead of “what do you want for Christmas?”, and they usually love cuddling up by the tree to sing Christmas hymns and read the Christmas story nightly…….But every year I crave to know what else Lord?? What else will bring my kids to closer to the heart of Christmas and send the true message? After my little boy said, “I don’t need anything for Christmas. I have enough.”, I found a similar story written on another mom’s blog. A child shall lead them……. I pray to be led. If you aspire to a more holy CHRISTmas for your family, I encourage you to read her story.

A Holy Christmas

The whole universe was breathless with anticipation of the coming Messiah on that first Christmas, and yet the holy night slipped by largely unnoticed by most of the world except for those few who stood around the manger. Be careful not to let this Christmas slip by without taking notice of Him. The profound but quiet treasures of Christmas, as subtle as a still whisper, can become utterly lost in translation due to distractions that degrade a very holy thing into a very common thing. Prepare the way for the King of Glory until you are breathless with anticipation. May our prayer and worship be a moment of incarnation – God with us.

You are loved!

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

“Infinite, and yet an infant.  Eternal, and yet born of a woman.  Almighty, and yet hanging on a woman’s breast.  Supporting a universe, and yet needing to be carried in a mother’s arms.   King of angels, and yet the reputed son of Joseph.  Heir of all things, and yet the carpenter’s despised son.”

Charles Spurgeon

“The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God.”

“He will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into a god or goddess, dazzling, radiant, immortal creature, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine, a bright stainless mirror which reflects back to God perfectly (though, of course, on a smaller scale) His own boundless power and delight and goodness. The process will be long and in parts very painful; but that is what we are in for. Nothing less. He meant what He said.”

C.S. Lewis
 
Article/Post and quotes used for this post from:
Why Santa Belongs in Your Kids Christmas (Christianity Today)
Christmas Conundrum (Jen Hatmaker)
 

Too Cute!

IMG_7724
 

J is for Jesus Art Project (from Totally Tots)

IMG_7738

Faith, and Her First Ever Gluing Project, Felt Incredibly Powerful With a Glue Bottle In Her Hand

IMG_7740
 

Making Paleo Apple Vanilla Cupcakes with Miss Sheila

If you make this recipe, don’t expect cupcake as you know it, expect iced cornbread like muffin (we actually skipped making the icing to keep it less sweet for the kids). Not bad if used as a base for adding apples or raisins or cranberries into–next time!

IMG_7842
 

Our Pouring Center Was a Favorite Among All

This is the only center Noah has said he LOVES and he does it at every chance throughout the day.

IMG_7873

Tayler’s Anxious Face Cracked Me Up

IMG_7851

I Love the Way this Branch Brightens Up My Kitchen!

I picked a branch off a tree, picked most of the leaves off, and had the kids glue wads of tissue paper to the branch to look like fall leaves changing color.

I put it in water several weeks ago and the leaves are still healthy. Now I am going to hang little ball ornaments from it! Thank you Miss Mary for the idea!!!

IMG_7581

Packing Bags to Pass Out to the Homeless

This was an awesome idea of Miss Sheila’s!!! We take the bags around with us in the truck when we go out to eat or something as a family, and when we spot a homeless person while driving by, Dean whips the truck around and I run over to deliver a care package (with hot soup if possible too). Its an adrenaline pumping experience as you never know what the homeless person’s response will be! Its drive by outreach!

IMG_7595

Faithy said, “Its a Heart Mommy!” Mommy is Proud.

IMG_7692

Tender Moments with Lambie

Go see the pic on my very first post. Now you know why we are Little Lambs Preschool.

IMG_7742

Sometimes Lamb Needs to Be Rocked

IMG_7685
Leave a comment »

Christmas Gifts for Little Kids

What is Wrong with This Picture?

Someday I need to get on my soapbox and write a full post on the ludicrously segregated marketing of girl toys for girls and boy toys for boys. For now, I will start with a paragraph. Do you ever wonder why aren’t there more shared toys for girls and boys anymore like when we were kids?? Why do girls need a pink airplane when a white one would suffice? Well, toy companies found that they can make a better profit if brothers and sisters don’t share their toys. Marketing sends powerful messages, and according to the Toys r Us ads and toy aisles, girls only like variegating shades of pink and play solely with dolls, clothes, make-up, and princesses. In contrast, boys, surrounded by blue, are future scientists, architects, and construction workers. This never bothered me so much until I had my own little girl, went shopping for her at Toys r Us, and left empty handed racking my brain as why girls toys are so lame. Princess toys are not the problem, but the lack of alternatives is. It feels now days that “princess” is synonymous with “girl”. We now have a “princess culture” — the entire bubblegum wash of glitter, sparkles, rapid materialism, and cult-like following that Disney and Barbie have no intentions of slowing down. Don’t get me wrong, I will be buying Faith the prettiest doll pram, baby doll, and other “girl” toys, but I am also happy that she plays with trucks and trains……..And that Noah plays with our play kitchen, cares for a baby doll, and enjoys our dollhouse. Domestic imaginative play is equally important for future mommies as well daddies! Consider crossing over the gender stereotypes this Christmas, buy what your little girl is interested in even if its not in the pink aisle, and buy from private toy stores like Five Little Monkeys in Walnut Creek where gender neutral is more the norm still.

Less is More

Here is my other soapbox of the day–being a minimalist at times, I feel that less is more when it comes to toys. Having less toys can actually be better because it protects children from spoiled ways. I know most of us would agree that we don’t want our child crying in the toy store aisle for more toys, or having no comprehension of how much stuff he has compared to the rest of the kids in the world, or thinking that Christmas is only about getting new toys. We know too much of a good thing is a bad thing. Excessive amounts of toys can actually be a hindrance to a child’s development. Fewer toys allows children to love books, music, writing, coloring, and painting. Kids getting everything they want leads to the unhealthy belief that they can have everything they want. Kids who have less toys play outside in nature more. Kids with less toys often value what toys they have more, and thus learn to take better care of what they have. Too many toys prevents imaginative play; less toys forces kids to be more creative. Kids with less toys can develop longer attention spans by playing with the same toy for longer periods of time. Kids that have too many toys sometimes live in a constant fantasy world and they do not participate and learn from doing real things, real work, in real life. For all these reasons and more, I try my best to keep my kids from toy land mania, and have them focus on giving to others–especially during times of the year like right now when all thoughts are on me, me, me, and what I want for Christmas.

I haven’t really been able to think of anything that Noah, my 3 year old, needs for Christmas anyway because he is still so happy and engaged with all the toys he has. Then the other day, Noah declared the sweetest thing ………”Mommy, some boys are selfish and keep all the gifts to themselves. I already have a lot of toys, so I don’t need any Christmas presents this year. Maybe just two next year.” I hugged him tight for saying that, marveling since he has been daydreaming and talking about his Christmas presents for months now. Now what do I do? How do I encourage that good heart in him, perhaps even allowing his beneficent wish to come true, while still wanting to lavish on my boy who waits all year for the special traditions of Christmas morn? This is something I will have to ponder and get back to you on…….In the meantime, I want to help some of you who are still celebrating Christmas :), to wisely choose the gifts your buy for your kids this year this year!

Toys that Teach Make Great Gifts

I love open ended educational toys that are recommended for a wide age range. Toys that have multiple levels of use become more and more interesting to children as their thinking becomes more complex. I love how I get my money’s worth out of these long lived toys and how I don’t need to replace them as often. If the toy can challenge me, while still being accessible to my preschoolers, I know its a good non-expiring toy and my kids will be able to use it for a long time.  I find that usually these type of toys are educational (like blocks) rather than entertaining (like a light up Buz Light Year on rolling wheels).

Since math manipulatives were pretty non-existant in schools before the ’90s, I think parents often overlook these type of beneficial toys because we were raised only knowing pencil and paper math. When I tell Noah to pull out some “math” before school starts, he views it as time to play because he sees his math materials as toys. Preschoolers are not ready for pencil and paper math (even elementary student readiness is arguable), and so math work is simply playing or manipulating objects that once explored deeply enough, reveal the foundations of fractions, geometry, number sense, symmetry, etc. This type of hands on learning provides a more sure mathematical foundation for paper and pencil math later. And since kids see these “manipulatives” as toys, why not gift them as such at Christmas, thus making play time at your house this coming year more educational? I am including a list of our own favorite math toys here to help you get started.

I have also included our one can’t-do-without language toy. Having several math toys is beneficial, but I feel only one language toy is really necessary because most language learning for young children comes from listening, speaking, and being read to. Well written books are always a wise gift choice for our children, and so I will also provide you a hand selected book list of some of our family favorites that we own (some soon to be owned), with an emphasis on Christmas literature.

Our Favorite Toys:

 Rainbow Resource is a Christian Homeschool Supply Company that offers very competitive prices on educational toys. It is possible to shop somewhere besides Amazon! 🙂 And you can support a Christian business with your purchases!

Old Fashioned Blocks

Standard Unit blocks teach math because the dimensions of each block shape in a set of unit blocks is a multiple or a fraction of the size of the piece defined as the “unit”. The “unit” is a rectangular piece of maple measuring 5 1/2” in Length by 2 3/4” in width by 1 3/8” in height or thickness. The name of each basic rectangular block shape in a set is based on its size as compared to the length of the “unit”, e.g., the Unit Block is 5 1/2“ long while the Half Unit Block is 2 3/4” long, the Double Unit Block is 11” long and the Quad Unit Block is 22” long. The dimensions of all other block shapes, including the columns, the pillars, the triangles, the curves, etc., are proportional to the length, width and height dimensions of the “unit”. This is the source of the term, “Standard Unit Blocks”.

Unit Blocks are an essential for basic math concepts, imaginative play, organizational skills, physical development, sequential skills, social interaction, spatial relations, structural design and creativity!

Melissa and Doug’s Standard Unit Block set is a good quality starter set (FYI, I believe the price on amazon is much better at other times of year like last summer when I bought mine because I don’t remember paying $50!)

If you have the basic set already, you could order some additional blocks item by item since the Melissa and Doug set doesn’t include items like the 22″ Quad block or the Double Unit Pillar block for example.

This page in our math book, Developing Math Concepts in Pre-Kindergarten, showed me how time spent playing with blocks will develop the complexity of how kids play with them and thus making it a much more interesting toy. Noah mostly likes to do rows so I know he has a ways to go before he outgrows this toy. 🙂

Pattern Blocks

The art loving side of me is drawn to pattern blocks because they make math beautiful. Pattern blocks are geometic shapes that make wonderful mosaic deisgns. In the primary grades we can use them to sort, pattern, to explore transformations, symmetry and congruency as well as compose and decompose shapes.  Kids need to learn that patterns are not always in a straight line like ABABAB, but can expand out in every direction. In the upper grades we can use them to explore, add & subtract fractions as well as do angle work. You can use pattern blocks to teach number sense (counting, fractions, estimation), statistics (graphing) and probability, as well as geometry and algebra.

This Melissa and Doug pattern block set is a good starter set if you feel like you want some initial structure for using the pattern blocks, but eventually its great for kids to make their own patterns. Plus, you don’t need pattern boards because you can always find plenty of templates to print off online. So in that case, you could get way more blocks for the same price if you forego the pattern boards and just buy a big set of pattern blocks (you will probably need more pattern blocks than the set Melissa and Doug offers anyway in order to make complex patterns later).

And look what your preschooler can make (even without a template)!

Marble Run

A Marble run is fun and challenging to little and big minds alike as you design, build, and test your runs. This was definitely a favorite toy at the preschool where I used to teach!

Gears

The beginning principles of mechanics and physics of motion make gears an educational toy. We have had gears for a year now, and it is not collecting dust at our house!

Other examples of good math “toys” to buy would be unifix cubes, geoboards, and a large die.

Lauri Alphabet Puzzle

We use this puzzle almost everyday!! We don’t just use it as a puzzle, but as a word building tool too (I wrote a whole post on this puzzle. Kids who can work with larger words should buy a moveable alphabet instead–read about it here). You may feel that you don’t need another alphabet puzzle if you already have one, but I just think this Lauri version is the perfect one for many reasons! Its lowercase, its crepe rubber and the pieces stay put, the phonics mat behind serves as a reminder of each letter sound, and its very inexpensive. There is something about the feel of pushing the crepe rubber letters in and pulling them out that is so gratifying to the senses, even for me. LOVE it!!

Our Favorite Books:

Christianbook.com has free shipping through December 6th! Its a great alternative to Amazon because you are supporting a Christian company!

Charlotte Mason-esque Literature

Ambleside Online has a booklist of Charlotte Mason type literature for all ages, and the age 0-6 booklist is my priority for what my kids “need” this Christmas. Stories that have the noble, beautiful, inspiring kind of living ideas that CM espoused, including “the great human relationships, relationships of love and service, of authority and obedience, of reverence and pity and neighborly kindness; relationships to kin and friend and neighbor, to ’cause’ and country and kind, to the past and the present”. The text of the books we expose ages 0-6 to should be literary in order to prepare children for the challenging books they’ll be using throughout their education. And they should be well illustrated too! (Amblesideonline.org)

Christian Mother Goose

Its a strange feeling that the cast of characters in Christian Mother Goose has become part of our family because they are so loveable. The poems can be a bit eccentric, but we love it, and the concepts are so beautifully deep that it is definitely a book to grow with. Look up the “Big Book” to get all three volumes in one.

Click on this map that shows where all the characters live! You will see how the author put her heart and soul into this book.

God Gave Us Christmas

In the midst of all the Christmas preparations, curious Little Cub asks one day, “Who invented Christmas?” Mama’s answer only leads to more questions, like: “Is God more important than Santa?” So Mama decides to take Little Cub on an expedition to discover how God gave them Christmas. As their journey unfolds, the pair finds signs that God is at work all around them. Mama’s gentle guidance helps Little Cub discover that Jesus is the best present of all! I like this book for offering kids proper perspective on Santa’s role in Christmas.

The Christmas Angels

A sweet story from 1933 with dear vintage illustrations about 10 angels who quietly go about doing good on Christmas Eve. It inspires my little helpers at home.

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey

Jonathan Toomey is the best woodcarver in the valley, but he is always alone and never smiles. No one knows about the mementos of his lost wife and child that he keeps in an unopened drawer. But one early winter’s day, a widow and her young son approach him with a gentle request that leads to a joyful miracle. The moving, lyrical tale, gloriously illustrated by P.J. Lynch, has been widely hailed as a true Christmas classic.

One Wintry Night

One Wintry Night is much more than the nativity story, its the Christmas story told from creation to the ressurection. (Written for an elementary age audience)

Also, any of the books listed in my December Lesson Plans would be a great choice for Christmas books!

I Hope this Makes your Holiday Shopping a Little Easier! Happy Shopping Friends!

…….So what are your children’s favorite toys, and your personal Christmas wishlist for this year?

(I am asking for a guitar, and I hear music lessons are in the works too! Yeah!!! This is something I have always wanted.)

4 Comments »