Book Review: "God Loves Me More Than That"

I recently had the opportunity to review the book, God Loves Me More Than That, by Dandi Daley Mackall. The book was provided for me by Waterbook Press in exchange for blogging my thoughts about it! So here goes:

The book's stated purpose is to " your children grasp the great love God through comparisons and descriptions they can easily understand." Did it? I had mixed thoughts. First, let's hear from the other critics.

My review panel included 5yo Happiness and 4yo Sweetness. They were both extremely interested in our new book and eagerly sat down with me to read. Once I finished it, I turned to each of them and asked for opinions.

Happiness: "It's got nice pictures. I like it."

Sweetness: "I like the pictures too, especially the one with the sneezing cat. But I thought it was boring."

As the third member of the review panel, I had to agree with both my budding literary critics. The pictures WERE wonderful!  Lively, engaging illustration perfectly complemented the text. I loved some of the unusual angles at which the artist chose to depict the scenes, such as looking up from deep inside a wishing well as a little boy drops coins down towards you.

As to the text, I had mixed emotions. The author used poetic, gentle cadence to communicate the truth of God's love. Her choice of verbiage is colorful and interesting, ie Wider than a prairie where cowboys ride. God loves me wider than that!

But I found some of the comparisons to be too abstract and strange for my more literal children. Talking about how much the Lord's love weighed or how loud God's care for us is seemed too, well, unclear. I can see how you could use some of these more abstruse thoughts to springboard into a discussion of the "softness" or "heaviness" of God's love, but for just a casual read, I would have preferred more concrete, Biblical terms.

Also, we did find the book a little bit boring, but I think we approached it more with a "storytime" attitude than gearing ourselves for a devotional book. I think this book's perfect usage would be in family devotions with little ones, affording plenty of opportunity to talk more about God's amazing love for us.

An advent failure...

So. I was planning on doing an in-depth, fun advent devotion every day with my kids and then posting it here. Has it happened? Nope. Between being sick and life, advent has fallen by the wayside. We're doing devos about every other day, but posting on here hasn't happened. Every year, I plan on sharing my advent plans and every year it doesn't happen. I guess this falls under the category of having lots of little children and not enough time. Sorry about that for anyone who wanted to do advent along with us! Maybe we'll try again next year...

Advent Devotions, Lesson 1

Day One: The Advent Calendar
  • Memory:Begin memorzing Isa. 9:6
  • Read 1 Peter 1:10-12 in NLT
  • Talk about how the prophets were eagerly awaiting Jesus’ birth because of how special it was!
  • We are eagerly awaiting Christmas too, so we’ll make a Christmas countdown calendar using rings and number!
  • Make a Christmas Countdown Chain together!

Firm Foundations 9:4

Theme: Because of sin, we are God's enemies

Scripture Memory: Review Romans 6:23.

Scripture memorization tip from Central Presbyterian: Make flash cards with Scripture on one side and the book, chapter, and verse on the other. If your child is too young to read still use the card to help yourself and for future review. Take the cards with you when you go out so that you can review the verse at different times of the day (in the car while you are at a light, waiting in line at the grocery store, etc.). You can put a sticker on the card when the child has successfully memorized the verse. He/she will be encouraged by the accumulated cards. - Read more tips from Central Presbyterian Church on helping your children memorize the Bible.

Catechism Q&A: Q. What did God require of Adam? A. To obey Him perfectly.

Enemy Combatants: Read Ephesians 2:1-3. Without Christ, we are God's enemies, opposing His will and ruining His creation. Write down a list with some of you and your children's failings.  Next, read Revelation 20:11-15. Someday God will sit as Judge, and will give us what we deserve for our actions. Bring up your list and talk about what kind of punishment should be received for each one. Then point out that the punishment God says we'll receive is to be separated from Him forever in the lake of fire.  But wait! There's someone to rescue you!

Depending on your children's interest level and reaction, this might be a great time to give a simple Gospel presentation, such as the bridge illustration.

Notebook: Use one of the pictures from the bridge illustration to remind your children of how we are separated from God because of our sins.

Firm Foundations 9:3

Theme: We can obey God with confidence, for He always knows what's best
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your path straight." (Prov. 3:5-6)

Scripture Memory: Review Romans 3:23

Catechism Q&A: Q. What did God require Adam to do? To obey the Lord perfectly.

Trust and Obey, part 1: Read Isaiah 40:11-15, 22-26. Before reading, tell your children to listen for: 1)What God measures and 2)Where He sits. This passage gives us a picture of God's awesome knowledge and power.
Take some measuring cups, a scale and a ruler outside. Tell your children that you are going to measure how much dirt is in your yard. After spending some time digging and measuring, tell them the job feels too big. Do they agree? Even though it would take your family a very long time to measure all your dirt, God knows not just the amount of dirt in your yard but also the amount of dirt in the entire world! Emphasize that God knows everything. Tomorrow, we'll talk more about how His omniscience enables us to obey with confidence.

Notebook: Mix some dirt with glue and then smear it onto the scale picture for today's notebooking page

Firm Foundation 9:2

Theme: God gave Adam 1 rule
"And the LORD God commanded the man, 'You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.'" (Gen. 2:16-17)

Scripture Memory: Review Romans 3:23

Catechism Q&A: Q. What covenant did God make with Adam? A. The covenant of works.
Q. What was Adam bound to do by the covenant of works? A. To obey God perfectly.

Making Rules: Do your children understand rules? If they're like mine, they probably have a fuzzy idea but couldn't define the word clearly. Before reading today's Scripture passage, play this fun "make your own rule" ball game.

Gather some balls and baskets or boxes beforehand. When it's time for the game, ask your children what a rule is. Talk about their definitions, then give one of your own: A rule is a command that must be obeyed consistently. What sorts of rules do you have in your house? Name some of the rules. Then tell them that they get to make the rules for this game! They can make rules for the following 4 areas:
  1. What is the playing field?
  2. How do you move the balls around?
  3. When do you get points?
  4. Is there anything you CAN'T do during game play?
Spend 10 minutes or so playing their game together! When the game is done, sit down and read Genesis 2:8-17. What was the one rule that God gave Adam? Shouldn't be too hard, should it?

Notebook: Make a mini book using one of these lapbook templates and record some of your family's rules. You can either have your children illustrate the book or find clipart using Google Image.

Kindergarten Geography: Africa

The last 2 weeks we stopped some of our normal studies and took a whirlwind trip around the globe, familiarizing ourselves with the 7 continents. Our unit study was very fun - lots of reading and play. I think Africa was one of the most enjoyable continents to study, so I thought I'd share our lesson with you:

  • We read  "Why Mosquitos Buzz in People’s Ears" and "Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters"
  • We had our own safari.! To explore some of the amazing animals in Africa, I downloaded Discovering God's Animals from Confessions of a Homeschooler. Using the included animal pics, I hid animals all over our living room and dining room. Then my kiddos went on an animal hunt! They loved the search process. Afterwards, we looked at the pics and discussed them.
  • We located Africa on a map.
  • Finally, we explored some of the interesting women in Africa carry objects & babies! First, my girls wrapped themselves in large swaths of cloth. They then took their baby dolls and placed the babies in wraps on their backs. Quite fun! Second, we practiced carrying things on our heads, inspired by watching this video:

Firm Foundations 9:1

Theme: God created everything! Therefore, He makes the rules
"In God's hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him." (Psalm 95:4)

Scripture Memory: Over the next several weeks,  our memory focus will be the Romans Road, a selection of verses in Romans that clearly present the Gospel. This week we'll begin with Romans 3:23: "For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." Here are a couple options for learning the verse:
  • Download Romans 3:23 set to song.
  • Steve Green's Romans 3:23 song from Hide 'em in Your Heart
  • And of course, make up actions for the verse. We're going to do the Steve Green version, so I'm not going to post actions here. If someone else wants to come up with some, send them my way and I'll post them here.
Catechism Q&A: The wording for this week's catechism questions and answers is a bit too technical sounding for me. I'm going to reword it to make it more understandable for my children.
Here's the original wording:
  • Q. What covenant did God make with Adam? A. The covenant of works.
  • Q. What was Adam bound to do by the covenant of works? A. To obey God perfectly.
Here's my wording:
  • Q. What did God require Adam to do? To obey the Lord perfectly.
Owner's Rights: Provide your children with  a) some paper dolls,  dress shapes, glitter and stickers. Tell them to color and decorate however they wish; or if you have a boy that's not so hot on paper dolls b) Some playdoh, buttons, pipe cleaners and pom poms. Tell them to create anything they want out of those objects. Set the timer for 5-10 minutes and allow your children's inner artists to come loose!

When they're done, pick up the doll or sculpture and pretend to talk for it. Have the created item tell your child it really wants to be different, that it would prefer to be a skydiver and so it needs a parachute and airplane. Or that it wants to be a firefighter and needs a jacket, hose and hat. Isn't it silly for the toy to tell its owner what it should be and do? The owner makes the rules, not the toy!

Read Psalm 95:1-7a. God is our owner, as well as the owner of everything in the world. Doesn't He have the right to tell us what to do and to make us the way He wants us? Compare our situation to their creations. Then read the Psalm again and rejoice in our great Creator!

Notebook: Snap a picture of their creation. Put the picture in today's Notebook square as a reminder that the creator makes the rules!

Firm Foundations 8:2 - Holiness

Theme: Sin ruins happiness
"The Israelites became greedy for food and tested you there in the desert. So you gave them what they wanted, but later you destroyed them with a horrible disease." (Psalm 106:14-15 CEV)

Scripture Memory: Review Psalm 119:9-11. Do you remember all the actions?

Catechism Q&A: Q. In what condition did God make Adam and Eve? A. He made them holy and happy.

The Unfortunate Events: Do your children remember what "holiness" is? Pure goodness, all the way through! Even if they don't remember the word, I'm sure they remember the candy bar...Just as the candy bar was yummy and wonderful, the world that Adam and Eve lived in was wonderful too. That is, until sin entered the world.

Read selections from Psalm 106. Talk about how the Israelites' sin always got them into trouble. It always ended up making them unhappy. Show your kids another candy bar. What they don't know about this one is that you scraped out some of the insides and inserted garlic and onion seasonings instead. Let them take a bite - Ewww! It's pretty disgusting. That's what happened when sin entered the perfect world. It ruined God's wonderful creation, including ruining Adam and Eve.

Do your kids like yelling? What about when a friend is mean? How about when a sibling hits them? All those things make us sad, all those things are sin. Some sin looks good on the outside, just like the candy bar did. But once we get involved in it, it will turn out to be yucky and to hurt us.

Notebook: Smear some of the chocolate from the candy bar on to the square. Have your child draw an unhappy face saying, "Ewwww!"

Around the World in 8 Meetings: Our Geography Co-op

I've wanted to join some type of PreK co-op for a while, but there's it's hard to find one. Most groups are already established, or have so many older children that the those of us with only younger kiddos can't really find a spot to fit in. And then someone suggested that I put my own co-op together. Voila! So a friend and I got together and started a geography co-op geared towards children spanning from 3-8. A bit of a big range, so most activities are geared somewhere towards the middle. 

We've only had one meeting so far, but it was fun! I wish I could post pictures, but alas, I didn't have a camera at this time (I sat on ours and broke it...) For those of you who would like to do some simple, play based geography lessons, maybe our plans will help you out:

Monthly Plan 1:
Theme: Maps and Continents
  • Reading: As the Crow Flies - First Book of Maps
    ABCs of Geography
  • Craft: Make a Passport
  • Activity: Make a Map - Provide an outlined map of backyard. Children will fill out the map with backyard destinations, gluing pictures of the destinations in the appropriate places.
  • Activity: Grocery Bag Globes - Take larger size brown bags from the grocery store and stuff with newspaper until full. Tape closed and push corners from the bottom of the bag down to make as round as possible. It won't be perfectly round but fairly close. Color blue. Then glue continents on.
  • Music: Wee Sing Around the World, Song #1
  • Game: North South East West!
And that's it! We're going to be studying South America next week, and now I have a camera so unless it ends up under me again, there should be pictures for the next post.

Firm Foundations 7:1

Theme: God created the first family - Adam & Eve
"And He answered and said, "Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female..." (Matt. 19:4)

Scripture Memory: Review Psalm 119:9-10. Check out this great post from the North American Mission Board on fun Scripture review games. There's a lot to choose from!

Catechism Q&A: Q.  Who were our first parents? A. Adam and Eve. (Use some of the review ideas from the above link for the Catechism as well)

Thee I do Wed: Marriage's foundations are found in the account of God's creation of Adam and Eve. Read Genesis 2:15-24. Then create a Paper People Chain with your children. Talk about how God created marriage to just one man and just one woman for life. Decorate the paper people in the middle as a man and woman, and cut away the other connected people in the chain. Once we're married, we stay married to that man or that woman and don't get married to anyone else.

Pull out your wedding photos and/or video. Look at them together and talk about how special your wedding day was. Again, emphasize how you are married to your spouse for life.

Notebook: Paste your paper people on day 1 of this week's notebooking page.

Composer Study for Homeschoolers

Immersing my children in the arts is extremely important to me during our homeschool journey. We've started on artist study using Artistic Pursuits as our guide. But I haven't done much in the way of composer study so far. Jamie's post over at Simple Homeschool is worth a read if you've been wanting to delve into music more with your students. I'm especially looking forward to getting my hands on Beethoven's Wig! Sounds quite fun!

Firm Foundations 6:4

Theme: Memorize Scripture so you'll remember what God says!
"Thy word have I hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against Thee." (Psalm 119:11)

Scripture Memory: Review Ps. 119:9. Then begin on verse 10:
  • "I seek you (Cup hand over eyes as though searching for something)
  • With all my heart (Draw heart with both fingers)
  • Do not let me stray (Shake head while doing the ASL sign for "lost")
  • From your commands (Put hands together in a book shape)."
Catechism Q&A: Review Q&A 14 - Q. Where do you learn how to love and obey God? A. In the Bible alone.

Pass a Message: Read Psalm 1. The psalmist points out several blessings for the person who loves and mediates on God's word. When something is very important to us, we memorize it so we won't forget it.
Play a version of "Telephone" where you whisper a message to one of your children. They must either run to another child and whisper the message, or pass it on to their other parent or a grandparent. Is it hard to remember the messages? If so, have them repeat it back to you several times before delivering it. Talk about how important it is to repeat Scripture over and over in order to memorize it, just like they've been doing with the Bible memory passages.

Read Along: We read this book during the Proverbs Project lessons, but it's such a fun one that we're going to read it again. Don't Forget the Bacon recounts the hiliarious escapades of a boy trying to remember the shopping list his mother verbally gave to him that morning.

Children's Introduction to the Orchestra...and other amazing free recordings!

I just discovered the coolest site while trying to locate an introduction to the orchestra for children. I found that and a WHOLE lot more here: Artsreformation's children's record collection. There are mp3s of the Talespinners for Children collection from the 50s, selectons from the Introduction to... series, as well as much, much more. Great resource! My only caveat is I have no idea how the copyright works on this case. Okay to download? Anyone have any knowledge of this?

Firm Foundations 6:3

Theme: The Bible warns us about dangers
"The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous...By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward". (Psalm 19:9b, 11)

Scripture Memory: Review Psalm 119:9. Tomorrow we'll start on verse 10.

Catechism Q&A: Q. Where do you learn how to love and obey God? A. In the Bible alone.

A"maze"ing Escape: Read Prov. 1:10, 18-19; Prov 4:14-15; Prov. 10:4, 13, 25. Help your children identify the dangers these verses warn against. Share with them how important it is to heed God's word so that they'll avoid the snares of the world, the flesh and the devil. Share a personal account from your life of a time you either obeyed or disobeyed Scripture and the resulting situation.

Have some fun with this lesson by playing "A'maze'ing Escape". This activity requires a good bit of preparation on your part, but it's quite enjoyable so that makes it worth it, right? When your children aren't around, draw a maze with chalk outside. Then put pictures of lions, bees, dragons, bears (anything that would count as "dangerous") underneath bowls that are scattered throughout the maze. But also put a treasure box or castle or something similar under just 1 bowl. Any bowl that's in the path your children have to pick it up and look at the contents. If it's something dangerous, then they lose a point.

Draw a map for your children to follow to make it safely through the maze without encountering any scary creatures. To the extent that they follow the map, they'll be safe. If they decide to go their own way, well, watch out! For added fun, let your children mix up the bowls and then guide YOU through the maze safely.

Notebook: Choose a preschool or kindergarten maze and glue it to day 3's notebook square.

2nd Month of Homeschooling: Accomplished!

It's October 1st! Time to celebrate, for we've just completed another month of educational adventures. Here's the highlights and the (gasp) lowlights:

The Good:
  • We've finally settled into a schedule that works, assisted by the fact that Mr. Moose decided to restart his morning naps. Why? I don't know. But it's quite nice to have him snoozing away in the other room while we read, count, discuss and engage in various other educational activities.
  • I've finally gotten on top of my chores! This is a huge one for me. Ever since #3 made his appearance, I've struggled to find a way to keep our house clean while simultaneously working, caring for children, cooking and homeschooling. In the last month, something finally clicked and I've discovered a schedule of house chores that allows me to get everything (ok, well, almost everything) done each week. Part of the success has come from this excellent post on homeschool time management.
  • My girls continue to love school. They're always excited to start and seem to enjoy every minute of it. 
  • My friend Jamie and I have started a geography co-op for a PreK-1st grade range. The first meeting was a lot of fun, and I'm really looking forward to our next world adventure. I'll hopefully post more about that later.
The Bad:
  • I'm unhappy with my preschool plans. They're just too easy for Sweetness. She is already familiar with her letters and their sounds and doesn't get excited about writing practice. I don't know what to do as she loves having the one on one time with me. I don't want to just engage in busywork that fills time. I want to create memorable learning experiences. But how? Any suggestions?
  • We've gone from not having enough time to finish to getting done in an hour with another hour left over! I want to fill this time with meaningful activites, not necessarily "school" but something other than always playing "Littlest Pet Shop" together (though I do want to have time to do that! But an hour of it is almost more than I can bear!) A potential solution is to create a rotating weekly plan, sort of like with Charisa at 1+1+1 is doing. 
Well, that's my monthly wrap-up! If you want to check out what some other of my blogging mom friends who are also doing PreK, Kindergarten or 1st Grade, you can read their blogs:

Firm Foundations 6:2

Theme: The Bible is like a map for life!

"How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to Your word..." (Psalm 119:9)

Scripture Memory: Review Psalm 119:9a, then learn the second half of the verse.
  • By living (ASL sign)
  • According to Your word (Put hands together like a book)
Catechism Q&A: Q. Where do you learn how to love and obey God? A. In the Bible alone.

Follow the Map: Hide a treasure box outside, filled with some special treat or cheap toy your children will enjoy. Prepare a page of instructions, ie "walk 5 steps from the front door" and "turn left, then skip till you reach the trash can". The instructions will lead them to the treasure box AND the Bible with today's reading marked. Hand them the instructions in an envelope, stating that it's a message from you. Help them read the message and follow the instructions to the hidden treats.
After recovering the treasure, sit down together and discuss how the instructions helped them successfully find the box. What would have happened if your kids wouldn't obey your message? God's Word also contains instructions for us. When we obey them, we'll successfully live life! Then read Daniel 1. Talk about how obedience to God's Word (and you might have to explain the special diet Jews were instructed to have) helped Daniel be successful in his job. God knows what's best, so you can't lose by obeying Him!
Notebook: Eat some sunflower seeds for a snack, then glue a few into your Notebook page as a reminder of the blessings of hearing and obeying!

Firm Foundations 6:1

Theme: The Bible is God's message to us
"All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness..." (2 Tim 3:16)

Scripture Memory: This week and next, we're going to learn Psalm 119:9-11. Psalm 119 is basically a love song about the Bible, and is a great read for when you're feeling unmotivated to open the Scriptures for daily devotions.  Today we'll work on verse 1a:
  • How (Put both arms up with palms out as though asking a question)
  • Can a young man keep (ASL sign)
  • His way pure (ASL sign)?
Catechism Q&A:
Q. Where do you learn how to love and obey God? A. In the Bible alone.

It's a Message:
Read 2 Peter 1:20-21. Gather 33 books and put them in a pile.  Show your children all those books and talk to them about how the Bible is not just one book - it is lots of books! You have 33 books in the pile, but the Bible is actually 66 books. Most of those books were written by different men over 1400 years. Yet even though the books have varying authors, they all have the same message and point to Jesus Christ.
To learn more, you choose one of these 2 DVDs to watch:
  1. The Amazing Book, a video from the 80s that's definitely dated but has lots of good stuff and cute songs
  2. What's in the Bible, created by Phil Vischer of Veggie Tales fame and has a great overview of who wrote the Bible, how many books make it up (even differentiating between the Catholic and Protestant Bibles), how inspiration works and how we came to have these particular books in Scriptural canon. It's a LOT of information, and will probably go over your 3-5 year olds heads.
Notebook: Choose one of the elements from Lapbook Lesson's Bible Lapbooks to go into lesson 1's square. We're going to use the Old Testament Minibook.

Firm Foundations 5:4

Theme: The God who knows the stars' names knows your name too!
"...the very hairs on your head are all numbered." (Matt. 10:30)

Scripture Memory: Review Psalm 139:1-4.  You can check out some of the actions I've used for this passage: verse 3

Catechism Review: Q.  Can you see God? A. No; I cannot see God, but he always sees me.
Q. Does God know all things? A. Yes; nothing can be hid from God.

Every Hair: First read Psalm 113:5-6 and Isa. 57:15. Talk about how God is so far above us! Review some of the things you've learned this week about God's greatness and power. Compare His care and watchfulness over us to our being concerned about an ant. We're so much bigger and more powerful than the ants just as God is so much  more bigger and powerful than us!

Next, read Matt. 10:29-31. Even though God is so great and powerful and amazing, yet He cares and watches over us, even knowing the number of hairs on our head. Try to count those hairs together! There's a lot of 'em, for sure. For this week's notebooking, create a face on their square. Talk about eye color, nose shape, freckles, eyebrow thickness - anything and everything that makes your child's face distinct. Finally, add the hair. Give your kids pieces of yarn to tape on the head of their self-portrait. After the yarn is on, count each "hair" together. Remind them that God has counted each of their hairs too!

Learning about F: Our Aquarium

Last week, Elisa and I explored different letter F themes, with a focus on Fish. Most of my ideas came from Walking by the Way's "Read to Me and ABC" program, but I did dig up this additional idea that was quite fun:

Make Your Own Aquarium (No Fish Needed): Make some seaweed and attach it to a 2 liter bottle filled about 3/4 with water. Add 1/2 cup baking soda and 1T vinegar. Put raisins (the fish) into the bottle and put the lid back on very tightly. After about 20 or 30 minutes the fish (raisins) were swimming around in the "tank".

Firm Foundation 5:3

Theme: All creation is under God's control
"...He who appoints the sun to shine by day, who decrees the moon and stars to shine by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar— the LORD Almighty is his name..." (Jer 31:35)

Scripture Memory: Review Psalm 139:1-3, then learn verse 4.
  • "Before a word is on my tongue (place a "word" on your tongue)
  • You know it completely (hold up hands toward heaven), O Lord."
Catechism Review: Q.  Does God know all things? A. Yes; nothing can be hid from God.

The Pattern of the Stars: Read Job 38:31-38 and Job 42:1,2. God's power and knowledge and control of creation is amazing and beyond what we can understand. Discuss the actions listed in the Job 38. Can your kids do those? Nope! Only God. Point out to your children the names of the constellations that Job lists in 38:31 & 32. God knows all the constellations too!

To learn more about constellations, check out some of these resources:

Firm Foundations 5:2

Theme: God can control nature, doing whatever He wants
"Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him." (Psalm 115:3)

Scripture Memory: Review Psalm 139:1-3. If the weather is nice, do today's Bible lesson outside and enjoy nature as you learn about God's power over nature.

Catechism Q&A: Q.  Can God do all things? A. Yes; God can do all his holy will.

Solar Power: Read Psalm 115:3 and 135:5-7. The Lord's power is truly great. Tell your children in your own words the story of how Joshua cried out to the Lord during a battle and God stopped the sun from moving. While you tell the story, have them illustrate the battle scene with a sun. When you're done, put the illustration in square #2 of this week's notebook page.

To underscore God's power, read some books about the Sun, such as The Sun is My Favorite Star and The Sun: Our Nearest Star. It's incredible to contemplate how God has such power as to stop a massive star as the sun in its tracks! Only our Creator.

Rocketing: For a fun go-along activity, try making this cool vinegar/baking soda rocket and blasting into, well, upper space!

Firm Foundations 5:1

Theme: God Knows – All of the World’s Knowledge
“Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.” (Psalm 147:5)
Scripture Memory: Time to learn verse 3 of Psalm 139!
  • You discern my going out and my lying down;
  • You are familiar (ASL Sign) with all my ways (ASL Sign).”
Catechism: Q. 12. Does God know all things? A. Yes; nothing can be hid from God.

Astronomy Unit Study, part 1: There’s nothing like the vastness of space to make us feel very small. The heavens truly do “declare the glory of God…” Throughout the week we’re going to explore some of the amazing aspects of our universe and discover more about the amazing God who created it all.

Read Psalm 147:4-5.God knows all the stars by name! To comprehend how much that is, cover a piece of construction paper with glue (you can use a paintbrush and a glue/water mix to keep the mess manageable). Then allow your children to sprinkle glitter all over the page. Once they’re done, ask them to count the glitter pieces. Can they? There are 200 billion stars just in the Milky Way galaxy. How many more in all of space? God knows EVERYTHING there is to know!

Notebook: Glue the glitter picture on to this week’s notebook page. Before you put it in, you might want to cover it in Saran Wrap so that the glitter doesn’t slowly fall on your floors every time the book is opened!

Read Along: The Magic School Bus Sees Stars or The Sky is Full of Stars

Firm Foundations 1:3

Review: Let your kids put YOUR memory to the test today! They ask you the catechism questions and you provide the answers. Is your memory as good as theirs? Take time to review Colossians 1:16 as well by singing it fast and and then singing it slow.

Creation Lesson 4:
  • Read Genesis 1:24-28 and Genesis 2:1-2.
  • Discuss how God made each animal according to it’s own kind. What does that mean? Using this animal matching game or your child’s collection of stuffed creatures, sort the animals in various ways, ie, by habitat, characteristics or species. On space #6, make a pocket to hold the animal matching cards.
  • Create the art for the final space on this week’s catechism notebook page. Color a picture of the earth, then glue a heart in the middle of it. Talk about how God was pleased with His creation – it was good! Everything God does is good and perfect.
  • Close Out this lesson with praise! Have each child think of one aspect of God’s creation they enjoy. Thank God for it together!

Game: Teaching Kindergartners about Coin Values

Passing this on from an idea presented on the Workboxes E-mail Loop:
Skills: Identifying coin values and coin equivalencies; addition; counting coin amounts.

Materials: Real or Play Money; at least 4 quarters, 2 nickels, 3 dimes and 5 pennies PER PLAYER. One or Two dice

Setup: Place all coins in a pile in the middle of the playing area (table, carpet, etc).

Play: Begin play with the youngest child and proceed in a clockwise manner. On a players turn, he rolls the die or dice and takes from the pile the amount of money indicated on the dice using the fewest coins possible. If the player already has coins in his own pile, he must determine if he can make an exchange: 5 pennies for 1 nickel from the pot; 2 nickels for one dime from the pot; 2 dimes and one nickle for a quarter from the pot. When all exchanges have been made, play passes to the next player.

Winning: The first player to reach $1.00 wins.

Play this game beginning with only pennies and nickles. Then graduate to pennies, nickles and dimes. Finally, you can add quarters to the mix. You can add half dollars and gold dollars and bills as well, but you'll have to increase the winning amount too.

Instead of using dice, you could use playing cards to determine the number of coins taken. Of you could use more than three dice to foster addition concepts.

Heart Check 5: The Wonder of Insignificance

"You are familiar with all my ways..." (Psalm 139:3)

This week I'm going to be teaching my children about God's omniscience and omnipotence. We'll explore some of the wonders of space in our quest to understand the awesomeness of our Creator. The number of the stars, the rotation of the planets, the cosmic enormity of our universe - all underscore His power.

But as I was meditating on the truths covered in these lessons, I was reminded that in the midst of the vastness and complexity of space, God has still taken time to know me. Me. What an incredible thought that He would even care about someone so small and seemingly insignificant. And yet He does. David's words in Psalm 139 paint a picture of the God who is here:

Before a word is on my tongue
       you know it completely, O LORD.

  You hem me in—behind and before;
       you have laid your hand upon me. 

We all face varied trials, heartaches, struggles that appear meaningless and more conducive to our ruin than to our good. But don't let appearances deceive you! God knows you. And the result of that deep, personal knowledge is the ability to use our trials to bring ultimate good. So trust. And rest. He knows and His way is best.

The Blessing of Drowning

I'm reading the first book in the 2-volume biography of Hudson Taylor, Growth of a Soul as one of my books of the month (trying to read 3 books each month). During his first several months in China, he was tried and tested in innumerable ways. He felt helpless, frustrated and discouraged, drowning in circumstances beyond his control and to which there was no apparent solution. Not exactly the victorious missionary life by any means!

The book's authors point out how necessary this season of trial was in preparing him for his life's work. Their insights were challenging to me, so I thought I'd share them:

That is how it has ever been, ever must be with the people of God. Until we are carried quite out of our depth, beyond all our own wisdom and resources, we are not more than beginners in the school of faith. Only as everything fails and we fail ourselves, finding out how poor and weak we really are, how ignorant and helpless, do we begin to draw upon abiding strength. "Blessed is the man whose strength is in Thee"; not partly in Thee and partly in himself. The devil often makes men strong, strong in themselves...the Lord on the contrary makes His servant weak, puts him in circumstances that will shew him his own nothingness, that he may lean upon the strength that is unfailing. It is a long lesson for most of us; but it cannot be passed over until deeply learned.

Words I need to hear concerning a lesson God wants me to learn. I would highly, highly recommend this book set. You can read Hudson Taylor: Growth of a Soul for free online or can order the books from Amazon.

Firm Foundations 4:3

Theme: God is invisible
"Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen." (1 Tim 1:17)

Catechism Review: Q. Can you see God? A. No; I cannot see God, but he always sees me.

Scripture Memory: We've done Psalm 139:1-2a, now it's time to add 2b:
  • "You perceive (ASL sign) my thoughts from afar (start with hands together, then spread them apart as far as possible)."
Invisibly Visible: Read 1 Tim 1:17, John 1:18, 6:46 A fun game that illustrates the power of the unseen can be played with a few small pieces of tissue paper and a fan! Use a floor fan, and turn it on high. Tilt it upwards so that it is blowing air towards the ceiling. Then get ready to play! Throw the tissue paper pieces into the air above the fan, and watch them float high into the air. At my house, we played this game for at least 20 minutes! In the future, this is going to be on my short list of  emergency fun activities!

The Fine Art of Homeschool Balancing

Great post over by Jessica at Simple Homeschool about the need to balance homeschooling's academic focus with character training. I was challenged, as I am VERY academically focused. It's easy for me to try and squelch bad behavior instead of taking the time to instruct and train. Along those lines, Jessica made this point:

Man cannot live on books alone. We need to develop quality relationships, enjoy one another’s company, and learn to get along with one another. Better that my sons be godly garbage collectors than arrogant men with initials at the end of their names.

So true, but so easy to forget. Needed that reminder!

Firm Foundations 4:2

Theme: No matter where I go, God is there!
“If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” (Psalm 139:9, 10)

Scripture Memory: Review Psalm 139:1-2. Look at Lesson 1 in this week’s series for memorization ideas.

Catechism Review: Q.  Where is God? A. God is everywhere.

Wherever I Go: It’s time for some Hide and Seek! First, read again the passage from yesterday, Psalm 139:5-12, in a different Bible version to help your kids hear it in a “new” way. Then start the game! As you play, remind them that even though you aren’t with them as they hide, God is with them. God will be wherever they go – no getting away from Him! They may be able to hide from you, but not from Him.

Notebook: No notebook page today! The lesson is similar enough to yesterday’s that I decided not to bother with it!

Heart Check 4: A Cure for Fear

  • Q.  Where is God? A. God is everywhere.
  • Q.  Can you see God? A. No; I cannot see God, but he always sees me.
  • Q. Does God know all things?A. Yes; nothing can be hid from God.
  • Q.  Can God do all things? A. Yes; God can do all his holy will.
As you prepare to teach your children this week’s collection of lessons, take some time to meditate on Psalm 139, the passage from which our memory verses are taken. It’s a wonderful thing to realize God’s surrounding and sustaining of us.

The verses which most stood out to me are 15 and 16:
“My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

As I write this, we’ve just celebrated the 2 year anniversary of the stillbirth of our 3rd daughter. Even now, the memories of that day are vivid and painful. But as much as I still grieve her death, there’s such comfort in knowing that God ordained her days. Even before she was conceived, He knew that she would only live a brief 8 months.

And it’s not just her life and death that are in His hands. My life, my husband’s, my other children – all of them are secure in Him until that day of their death comes. It won’t come before He ordains it. As a consummate worrier, I have a tendency to imagine worse case scenarios for everything. Every business trip I wonder if my husband will make it home. Swimming with my children, I fear for their safety. And since my daughter’s death, these morbid worries have increased.

But as I read Psalm 139, those fears are brought back in check. I cannot protect my family from everything. Danger, sickness and even death will someday befall them. Yet their days ARE ordained by God and until He calls them home, they are safe in His  keeping.

What about you? What lessons does Psalm 139 speak to your heart?

Finding meaning when life seems mundane

I've got to admit. My daily schedule is not the stuff of adventure, excitement or accomplishment. In fact, if I was to detail to you what last week looked like for us, you'd probably fall asleep! It's easy to feel drowned in the mundaness of everything. Some mornings I wake up and wonder what my life is really accomplishing in the seemingly never ending round of dirty diapers, dirty laundry and dirty, well, with little children almost everything seems to get dirty on a regular basis.

Back when I was in my early 20s, I had big dreams of what life would hold. The mission field, ministry to refugees, film production, inner city outreach - I had so many ideas, so many plans to change the world, to make a difference. And then the first baby came. And the next. And the next. Rather unwillingly, all those dreams and plans were slowly shelved, making room instead for a realm of ministry that involves a high level of routine, chores and baby babble. Not exactly what I'd imagined.

I've been struggling with the disparity between my past dreams and my current reality. While I'm confident that God has placed me exactly where I should be, I have had trouble finding meaning that's bigger than the daily grind. All the books I've read about the high calling of motherhood ring true to me, and yet their noble words somehow get lost under a pile of toys. Fighting discouragement, I've begun to pray, to ask God to give me a new vision and a new heart for service.

You want to hear the answer He gave me? "...set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things..." (Col. 3:2) As I've been meditating on that reply, God has directed my heart into three ways to make each day, each moment meaningful:
  1. Set His glory as my sole aim - all my dreams of great and life-changing ministry sounded noble and were backed by good intentions. But I've come to realize that unless God ordains them, these worthy pursuits are worthless. Now when the nagging feeling of dissatisfaction or the disquieting worries of another "wasted" day arise, I refocus. I lay my life once again on the altar of His glory and cast my cares upon the One who has a much bigger plan than I can ever imagine.
  2. Invest in worldwide outreach...through prayer - It's easy to forget that God is ultimately the One who brings the fruit, who causes the increase out of ministry labors. It's also easy to forget that He works through the agency of our prayers. I'm trying to keep these truths closer to my heart by making intercessory prayer a larger part of my day.

    I may not be able to serve in a Haitian orphanage, but I can pray for each of those precious children. I may not be able to take missions trips to far flung destinations, but I can pray for the inhabitants. I may not be able to smuggle Bibles into closed countries, but I can pray for those who do. As I've focused more on prayer, I have a sense of purpose and of partnership in ministry that provides a deep sense of fulfillment.
  3. View every hour of the day as a training opportunity - My little angels wear me out. It's quite common to reach a point where I just want them to stop! Stop the noise, stop the fighting, stop the bad attitudes, stop the mess making. Instead of using whatever the crisis du jour is as a platform for teaching, I just try to squelch the problem. Great example of what purposeful parenting is NOT! So I'm trying to change. Trying to view those irritating situations as opportunities to train and disciple my children and point them to the Savior. After all, the point of embracing the mundane life is with the end goal of training them in the discipline and instruction of the Lord! Don't want to miss the forest for the trees!
So what about you? How do you rise above the challenges of motherhood? Or of tedious work? Or of whatever wearing situation through which God is allowing you to pass? I'd love to hear what the Lord is doing in your life!

Kindergarten at Home: The First Month

Whew!  We survived our first month of homeschooling Kindergarten! Actually, "survived" is probably the wrong verb - "accomplished" provides a better fit for our experience. Some of the milestones reached during our school's germinal month include:
  • Happiness (5yo) becoming comfortable with reading (as opposed to resistant like she was in the spring)
  • Sweetness (4yo) loving her personalized alphabet adventures so much she asks for "more of my school, Mommy?"
  • My children LOVING science (we're studying the Human Body)
  • Daddy teaching the first art class about drawing details, which revolutionized my children's artwork
But less this listing of accomplishments make you think all was ease and comfort, let me list some of the challenges:
  • Mr. Moose (1yo) deciding to give up his morning nap. Bad because that naptime was to have provided us an uninterrupted schooltime
  • This revocation of naps has made school much more stressful for Mommy as she tries to fend off his grabbing (and eating) of books, papers and crafts; tries to balance holding him with phonics games and math books; and generally wears out from the whole experience
  • Mommy struggling with the increased workload of school and not having a good attitude about it. 
Those challenges have yet to be fully addressed, but I'm going to be evaluating things and seeing how I can modify my schedule to cutdown on weekly preparation and to somehow work around Mr. Moose's afternoon nap (a puzzle still, because I usually work on my freelance writing projects then).

When I was trying to plan our kindergarten year, I searched high and low for blogs that would give ideas and inspiration. There wasn't much. Instead, there was an overload of preschool sites and a plethora of older elementary blogs. But in the Kindergarten realm, I felt alone. So in case you're wanting to read more about how others are homeschooling their kindergartners, here's what we're using:
  • Firm Foundations: A Bible study based on the Catechism for Young Children (written by yours truly)
  • Artistic Pursuits, book 1: An excellent art curriculum geared towards PreK - 1st Grade
  • Little Otter's Science: A gentle, slow paced study of the human body. We're making a lapbook about the body as a go along. The girls enjoy looking at it and showing their Daddy any new additions to its content.
  • Singapore Math, Kindergarten: Great and thorough
  • Sing, Spell, Read & Write: I've heavily modified this curriculum to fit my daughters' needs and learning styles, but the backbone of the program is working well for us. I'll post more about my modifications some day in the future
  • Various unit studies: Every fifth week, we're taking a break from the regularly scheduled programming to pursue some type of unit study that the girls are interested in. Our first unit study adventure will be this coming week, and we'll be learning about birds and going bird watching.
So that's it! If you want to see my lesson plans in more detail, just let me know. Looking forward to the next four weeks of school and our learning adventures.
Theme: Show God love by telling others about Him
I will speak of your statutes before kings and will not be put to shame, for I delight in your commands because I love them.” (Psalm 119:46-47)

Scripture Memory: Review Psalm 100:1-3

Catechism Review: Q.  How can you glorify God? A. By loving him and doing what he commands.

On Mission: Read Psalm 145:3-12. What kinds of things does the Psalmist say we should tell others about? Discuss how we can show God love by telling others about him. Read a missions book or watch a movie about a missionary and discuss how their love for God motivated them to tell many others about Him.

Further Resources: My goal for my children at their current ages (5 & 3) is not to necessarily be out witnessing! Instead, I want to give them a vision for talking about God and then model that for them. To help with the former goal, we’ll read a biography about a Christian hero geared for young children. I’d recommend the Heroes for Young Readers series published by YWAM or Hero Tales by Dave and Neta Jackson. You can also download a pdf book, On African Roads from WMU.  Another fun resource is the Kids on Mission site from the Southern Baptist Mission Board. They’ve got great videos geared towards kids on mission related topics. Finally, check out Wycliffe’s Bright Ideas PreK and elementary curriculum to find some other fun, mission focused activities.

Firm Foundations 3:2

Theme: We show love to God by obeying Him

Scripture Memory: Review Psalm 100:1-2, then focus on memorizing verse 3a:
  • Know (Tap on your head with pointer finger)
  • that the LORD is God (Lift both hands upwards).
Catechism Review: Q.  How can you glorify God? A. By loving him and doing what he commands.
Love to Obey: Read John 14:15, 21. Before you read, tell your children to listen for what Jesus says we will do if we love Him. Illustrate the lesson by telling your children you’re going to draw a picture for them. My girls love princesses, so that’s what I’ll draw (or at least say that I’ll draw) for them. Ask for their input as you create the masterpiece, but DON’T follow their instructions. In fact, as much as possible, do the opposite of what they requested. When you finish, ask if they liked the way you drew for them. Talk about how following Christ’s instructions shows our love for Him.

Catechism Notebook: Glue your “disobedient masterpiece” on week 3′s notebook page. Give it the caption “Show God love by obeying Him”

Firm Foundations 3:1

Theme: We show love to God by seeking to learn more about Him
Scripture Memory: Review Psalm 100:1-2. Then begin memorizing verse 3: “Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.We’ll work on the first half of the verse today with the following actions:
  • Know (ASL Sign)
  • That the Lord is God (Pretend to put a crown on your head)
  • It is He who made us (Use hands to model imaginary clay)
  • And we are His. (Point at self, then point upwards)
Catechism Q&A: Q.  How can you glorify God? A. By loving him and doing what he commands.
If you’re memorizing the Q&A, go over it. If not, just ask the question to your children. In this week’s lessons, I’m going to focus on teaching my kids what it means to love God, as least in small part! I’ll probably simplify the wording even more by asking “How do we love God?” The answer for today is “By getting to know Him.”

Getting to Know You: When we love somebody, we care about what they like and dislike. I’m going to have my kids call up a favorite family member or friend and interview them. I’ll write down the answers as they dictate them to me, and we’ll use this interview sheet as part of our Week 3 Notebooking page.

When the interviews are over, I’ll read them Jeremiah 9:23-24. Getting to know God better is more important than being rich or having great strength or even being really smart! We want to know God better, and that’s why we have Bible time together every day. We want to know what God likes, what He dislikes, what’s important to Him and how He is at work in the world. It’s sort of like interviewing Him, just like they did with their friend on the phone. Pray and close out the lesson.

Lesson Add Along: Focus on phone ettiquete. Teach your kids how to properly answer the phone when it rings, what they should say (or not say!) and how to close out a conversation. Do some mock phone calls together. To memorize their phone number, draw it outside in chalk. Have them hop from number to number, saying each number out loud as they jump down the “path”.

Firm Foundations 2:4

Theme: Your purpose is to live for God
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." (Matt. 22:37)

Scripture Memory: Review Psalm 100:1 & 2

Catechism Q&A: Why did God make you and all things? For His glory.
A Purpose to Live By: Provide some fancy stickers, fun paper, glitter, etc. Let your children decorate a card or poster for someone special in their life. When they get done, talk about who their masterpiece was created for.

Next, read Colossians 1:16 together. Who are we created for? Read Matthew 22:34-40. What did Jesus say is the greatest thing we can do with our life? That is our purpose!

Notebooking: Glue two hearts and write "Love God, Love Others" as a reminder of our life purpose!

Firm Foundations 2:2

Theme: Learn what "purpose" means
"Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails." (Proverbs 19:21)

Scripture Memory: Review Psalm 100:1 - "Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth."

Catechism Q&A:  Q. Why did God create you and all things? A. For His glory.

Discovering Purpose: Read Proverbs 16:4 and discuss how God has a purpose in everything. Do your kids understand purpose? Help them by showing them an assortment of household items. Ask, "What do we use this for?" When they tell you what the object's primary usage is, explain how that job is the "purpose" of the item. After going through the pile of objects, point to them and ask, "What is your purpose?" Then refer back to the Catechism question - their purpose is God's glory!

Notebook: Draw a picture of 1 or 2 of the items discussed today and write its purpose under it. Then draw a picture of your child and write their purpose next to the portrait.

Firm Foundations 2:1

Theme: Because God created us, He owns us!
Scripture Memory: Over the next several weeks, we're going to memorize a chunk of Psalm 100. We'll start today on verses 1 & 2:
  • Shout (Cup hands around mouth and shout!)
  • for joy to the LORD  (Point upwards)
  • all the earth (Draw a large circle)
Catechism Q&A: Why did God create you and all things? For His glory.

Scripture: Read Psalm 100 together. Do they recognize the first two verses from today's memorization? Start memorizing verse 3, and draw attention to the phrase "...we are His..." That means God owns us!

Ownership: If your kids are anything  like mine, they mastered the concept of ownership early on. All it took was a sibling wanting to play with one of their toys. Suddenly that item they hardly noticed 5 minutes before became one of their most treasured possessions! While this protective ownership can be highly annoying, it can also help them understand God's ownership of us a little bit more.

Show your kids a selection of items from around the house. Have them sort the items into different piles by owner. Then pick up, say, one of Daddy's shoes and ask, "Can this shoe go to the park whenever it wants to?" Discuss how the object can't do its own has to obey the owner! Come up with some silly scenarios of toy dolls refusing to play or clothing items wanting to be worn upside down. It's crazy for the possession to make the rules! Instead, the owner makes the rules! In the same way, God makes the rules for our lives because He is the owner. He created us!

Notebook: Play this Preschool Animal Homes matching game. Have your children match each home to its animal owner. Store the game on your Notebook page in an envelope pocket.

Firm Foundations 1:3

Review: Let your kids put YOUR memory to the test today! They ask you the catechism questions and you provide the answers. Is your memory as good as theirs? Take time to review Colossians 1:16 as well by singing it fast and and then singing it slow.

Creation Lesson 3:
  • Read Genesis 1:24-28 and Genesis 2:1-2.
  • Discuss how God made each animal according to it’s own kind. What does that mean? Using this animal matching game or your child’s collection of stuffed creatures, sort the animals in various ways, ie, by habitat, characteristics or species. On space #6, make a pocket to hold the animal matching cards.
  • Create the art for the final space on this week’s catechism notebook page. Color a picture of the earth, then glue a heart in the middle of it. Talk about how God was pleased with His creation – it was good! Everything God does is good and perfect.
  • Close Out this lesson with praise! Have each child think of one aspect of God’s creation they enjoy. Thank God for it together!

Firm Foundations 1:2

  • Read Genesis 1:14-23.
  • Watch a multimedia slide show from kids4truth about the days of Creation.
  • Catechism Notebook:
    -Using stencils (which you can either make or buy), have your child trace stars, a circle for the sun and a crescent shape for the moon on space #4.
    -On space #5, color and paste pictures of fish underneath some blue cellophane, adding some bird stickers above it.
  • Snack:  Cut slices of cheese in star shapes. Lay them on top of  round crackers. Partake and enjoy!

Firm Foundations 1:1

Scripture: "For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth..." (Col. 1:16) - Memorize this verse to the tune of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat". Create your own actions to accompany the verse or use ours:
  • "For by Him" - Point up
  • "All things were created" - Pretend to hammer, making one hand a fist and banging it on the open palm of the other hand.
  • "Things in heaven and things on earth" - Hold hands up high, then shake them arcing downwards as though drawing a circle.
Catechism: Who made you? God.  What else did God make? God made all things.
Explain to your children that you are embarking on a project to memorize a list of questions and answers about God. Then practice this week's Q&A together.

Creation Lesson, #1:

  • Read the creation story, days 1-3
  • Start Catechism Notebook, Week 1 page:
    There are two options for your week 1 Notebook page.
    -Minibook: Use this minibook and just color the appropriate pages each day.
    -DIY: Make your own minibook which you'll add to throughout the week.  In the first space, glue a white circle on top of black construction paper.  For space#2, paint the bottom half blue, then glue cotton balls to the top half.  In space #3, glue sandpaper on the bottom for land. Then add a green handprint for a tree, along with flower stickers sprinkled throughout.
  • Snack: Eat Oreos (symbolizing dark & light) and grapes!

Heart Check: Firm Foundations Week 1

"By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth. He gathers the waters of the sea into jars; he puts the deep into storehouses. Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the people of the world revere him. For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm." (Psalm 33:6-9)

This week we'll be teaching our children about God as the Creator and the source of life. It's such a basic concept, foundational to Christian faith. Yet because of its very simplicity, I think we forget the implications of this truth. God created us. We exist because of and for Him. Thus our lives should be absolutely centered around Him. We should be quick to give Him the reverence and worship He is due.  "...For He spoke, and it came to be..." That's power!

In the midst of the trials, joys and mundanity awaiting you this week, remember that you are not here for yourself. You are here becuse you were created by and for God. It's His purposes that ultimately matter.

Introducing our 2010 Bible Curriculum: Firm Foundations

Big Theology for Little Minds.
I've only posted on my main blog a handful of times this summer, in case you haven't noticed. In part, that's because of the normal summer busyness as well as preparations for our first year of "real" homeschooling (started Kindergarten with Happiness).  But it's also because I've been writing lessons for our fall & winter Bible curriculum, Firm Foundations.

As I posted in May, I've had a burden to teach my kids God's Word in a deeper fashion. The Bible stories are great in their place and character training is important and needed in its place, but both leave a gaping hole. I believe that hole is the study of theology - the study of God. Knowing who God is provides a framework for the rest of life and a foundation (hence the name) upon which our children can grow in the "wisdom and instruction of the Lord".

Not being seminary trained or having much of a background in systematic theology, I wasn't sure where to start. But a friend referred me to the Catechism for Young Children and that proved to be the answer. Using the general structure of this catechism, as well as the Westminister Catechism, I've devised 16 weeks of lessons (with more to come). Throughout the lessons I focus on the Gospel, on our sinfulness and on our need for a Savior. I don't necessarily agree with all the theological lessons the Catechism teaches. Those Q&As that I wasn't comfortable with I just skipped or reworded. I'm also not covering every point that the Catechism covers. Instead, I'm focusing on the truths that I feel are foundational and needed for my children at this time.

Lesson structure looks like this:
  • Four lessons each week
  • Scripture Memory
  • Catechism Review (which I consider MUCH less important than the Scripture Memory. If my kids learn it, great. If they don't, I'm not worried.)
  • Hands-on lesson to teach the big truth of the day
  • Notebooking/lapbooking to allow us to review the lessons we've learned at a later date.
  • Every 4 weeks, we'll take a week break to review what we've learned so far.
To help me along in my study, I made extensive use of Training Hearts, Teaching Minds by Starr Meade. Loved this book and appreciated all the work she's put into turning the Westminister Catechism into a daily Bible study.

Each week I'll be posting the lessons, along with a supplies list and some thoughts on what that particular week's truths have meant to me. Hope you enjoy and that these lessons will be a tool you can use in the monumental task of raising children for the glory of God!
Copyright 2012 Little Lessons for Life:. All rights reserved.