Book Review: Voices of the Faithful, Vol. 2

I was recently given the opportunity to review Voices of the Faithful: Book 2, a devotional by Kim Davis and Beth Moore. (And in case you're wondering, Thomas Nelson sent me the book to review but no other compensation changed hands!)

First Impressions:
The subtitle of this book is Inspiring Stories of Christians Serving Around the World. I absolutely love "inspiring stories" of any kind, so I was quite psyched to begin this book. Somehow I was imagining nail-biting stories of courage in the face of danger and breathtaking accounts of miraculous interventions. So when I started reading the first few entries, I was taken aback. The anecdotes were so, well, normal. The people I was reading about didn't seem that much different than me, other than that they were living in another cultural context. I started to be disappointed. And then I read more.

Second Impressions:
As I worked my way through account after account of prayers being answered, of hindrances turned to blessings and of wrong heart attitudes made right, I slowly began to realize that these stories WERE inspiring, but for different reasons than I expected. Instead of presenting out of the ordinary experiences, the authors focused on showing how God works in our day to day lives. And that very normality affected me deeply. I too could pray for my  neighbors and watch expectantly for God's work in their lives. I too could see that next trial as a vehicle for growth instead of an annoyance to be survived. I too could serve outside of my comfort zone and accept the "culture shock" that would inevitably follow as part of identifying with Christ.

Once my visions of grand stories was adjusted, I found this book to be encouraging and uplifting. A majority of the entries were thought-provoking and challenged me in small but important ways. I'm looking forward to sharing this book with my children as they get older. I think it will make a great family devotional and will help us to see that life as a missionary is really not so different from ours if we choose to learn to be all that God desires for us.

Geography Co-op: Europe!

Just completed our 3rd Geography co-op meeting today and it was fun. And crazy. And hopefully, somewhat educational. We learned about the pre-Renaissance artist Giotto by reading A Boy Named Giotto. We then attempted to paint frescos (and you can find the directions for that at Art Lessons for Kids), though not quite with the same technique as our featured artist.

We learned some facts about the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and then attempted to build our own architectural masterpieces with a varied assortment of blocks. Unfortunately for the tower designers, little siblings delighted in knocking down the resulting structures.

Finally, we learned about the Netherlands by reading The Hole in the Dike and then being taught some Dutch words by one of our talented Dutch speaking moms! (Oh, and I can't forget to mention the great treats she brought: Gouda cheese and some Dutch cookies whose name I can't remember.)

If you decide to try the fresco painting, e-mail me first. I can give you some good advice as to how NOT to do it! Also, if you want to get a look at what other moms have been doing with their Preschoolers, then head over to the Preschool Corner to see this week's lineup!

Tot Time: Spending Meaningful Time with my Toddler

Mr. Moose is a fast changing 1yo. He seems to develop both in personality and skill almost every day! One of those recent changes has been a growing social awareness (translation: he wants Mommy's time!) No longer content to throw balls and pull books off the bookcase, he is now insistent that I play with him, read to him and snuggle with him. With such an adorable face, who can resist that small hand motioning for me to join him?

But in seeking to spend more time with my little guy, I quickly ran into a problem: what to do? In his limited life experience, he really didn't offer many suggestions, but seemed to be looking to me to come up with activities. So, I pulled out a book that had been dormant on my bookshelf and one that I would recommend to every parent of little people. Slow and Steady, Get Me Ready by June Oberlander. I first heard about the book while reading The Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer 5 years ago, and it proved to be my entrance into the delightful world of purposeful play with my children.

Over the last several weeks, we've played with oatmeal and cups, dropped items into plastic bottles and experimented with putting different items into water to see what they do. As simple as these activities are, Mr. Moose absolutely loves doing them! I guess that's one of the great things about 1yo kids. The world is still so fresh and new to them that they love to explore even the simplest items. A great online resource for planning these types of purposeful play times is Letter of the Week. Look for the nursery curriculum on the sidebar.

What do you do with your young toddlers? I'd love to hear about other ideas and resources!

Geography Co-op: South America

In November, we had our second Geography co-op meeting. This time, we ventured into South America, exploring the jungles of the Amazon and the sunny skies of Mexico! For those of you that are interested, here's what we did in greater detail:

  • Read This is the Way We Go To School

  • Show large pictures of the different continents. Discuss the different ways students went to school in each country. Put pictures of the kids on the continents that they’re from.

  • Play “Continent Bingo” - each student gets a bingo board and matches colored continents on their board to the pictures held up by the instructor. (If you're interested in the Bingo board, e-mail me and I'll send it to you. I had to create my own as I couldn't find any!)

  • Read Over in the Jungle: A Rainforest Rhyme and do the actions

  • Divide into 2 teams and play “Who Am I?”charades with animals from the book

  • Talk about how the Amazon Rainforest is the largest on earth and the Amazon River is the second largest river in the world. Learn how to say “Bon Jia” and “Obrigado (a)” in Porteguese
  • Cycle through several craft stations: Thumbprint Monkeys and Mexican Bean Bracelets

  • Games: Play “Mexican Jumping Beans”:
    When the music is playing, everyone jumps up and down. But when the music stops, everyone must freeze! Anyone still moving is out.
  • Play “Red Pepper Relay”:
    Divide into two teams. Give each team a long red balloon. The teams will stand in a line and pass the balloon under the first player's legs, over the second player's head, under the third player's legs, etc, until the balloon reaches the end of the line. The very last player will run to the head of the line where the cycle will begin all over again. The first team to rotate through all its players wins!

  • Snack: We ate chocolate cupcakes in honor of the South American Cacoa bean!
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