Shaping Little Hearts, Part 2 


If you’re just jumping into the Shaping Little Hearts Series, you can read the first post HERE.

First, let me begin by saying I’ve never been one of those moms that knows what to do in all situations. You know the ones that instinctively know how to put a baby on a schedule, perfectly potty train in a weekend, and make enough freezer meals in one day to last a month. It’s just not me. I pretty much feel like I’m stumbling through motherhood, trying to do the best I can, and relying heavily on the Holy Spirit to give me guidance and direction as I try to lead my children to Christ.

That’s why I’m so incredibly thankful for others’ brilliant minds that have created resources I can use to help lead my family into a deeper relationship with Jesus and resources I can use to help support me as a parent as I try to shepherd my children according to Biblical standards.

I”ll start with my favorite resource first:

Scripture Talk

Scripture Talk is what we use to memorize Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16). The DVD contains ten Bible passages for you and your kids to learn using hand motions to help you remember each verse. We recently memorized the first passage (Psalm 1:1-6). Each passage follows this format:

  • Introduction of the whole passage from the kids (who are adorable!)
  • A fun, engaging mini lesson from one of the teachers explaining the Scripture passage (the teachers are young and energetic, I think Kate, who created Scripture Talk, was 17 when they filmed the dvd).
  • Verse by Verse practice (The verse is stated again, then there are two chances to practice it again with hand motions taught by one of the teachers)
  • The last section of each passage is practicing the passage in its entirety.

I have always wanted to have more Bible verses memorized that I actually do. I can usually remember enough of familiar Bible verses to look them up on the internet, but I don’t have very many that I know word-for-word by heart.

The key for me personally is adding those hand motions and I think it’s been key for my kids as well.

We have used this DVD for months because I wanted to take my time through each passage and really give myself and the kids plenty of practice with each one before moving onto the next.

I don’t force either of my kids participate in the DVD unless they want to because I always get a little push back from one child who used to love doing it and now wants to see how much power he has to control his activities. Every day when I say, “Ok, I’m gonna go do Scripture Talk in the living room,” this child always says he doesn’t want to do it. So, I just reply, “I know, I said I’m going to go do it. You can join in if you like or just keep playing.” Lydia follows me happily into the living room and tries to do the hand motions and say the words with me. Somehow, despite not wanting to do it, Finn always wanders into the living room with his toys and either just plays and listens. Or he stops whatever he was doing before and watches Lydia and I practice. Both kids can repeat the verses we’ve learned so far once you get them started with the first set of hand motions, so my reluctant participant has learned them anyway.

The Bible in My Heart 

img_1565

via milestonebooks.com 

img_1566

I colored the pictures myself, but you could also use it as is in B&W. 

The next resource we use is actually a coloring book from Rod and Staff Publishers. Each page starts with a verse that begins with a specific letter of the alphabet. I simply read the verse, read the little story (which is always about a Biblical character trait), and then I’ll ask the questions at the end. It’s always very informal and I usually tie this resource into our Bible time. Right now, I’m using the Rod and Staff Bible Stories to Read as our Bible reader. I’ll talk more about using the actual Bible with small children in next week’s post, but for our Bible time for school right now I’m using the Bible reader and this coloring book. It’s short for those little attention spans, but very meaningful.

Little Jewel Books

img_1567

via milestonebooks.com 

The Little Jewel books are another great resource from Rod and Staff publishers (I adore them if you can’t tell). All the stories are very wholesome and entertaining, yet filled with great character lessons and reminders that God is always with us and we can turn to Him with any problem. For me personally, I am sometimes very quick to try to solve a problem without praying about it first or seeking Biblical wisdom, so these sweet little books both provide a reminder for me and lesson for the kids about trusting God.

The Child’s Training Bible

img_1562

You can find the Child’s Training Bible kit here

This resource is more for me than the kids at the moment, but it’s basically a really easy way to have a few Scriptures on hand for various issues or struggles you might have as a parent or your child might struggle with. For instance, if you’re child is afraid at night, all the verses on fear are highlighted in blue and tabbed in blue so you can find them quickly. You would then just read the verses to your child and talk about why they don’t have to fear anything. Or if you’re like me, I like to have it on hand for myself to know how to deal with certain behaviors my kids are exhibiting so that I know how to help them. Or in many cases, help myself overcome the same negative behavior like complaining or anger.

The kit only comes with the tabbing cards and detailed explanation for how to tab your Child’s Training Bible. You can purchase whatever Bible you like (in your preferred translation) but I would recommend you use a 9×13 Bible like they suggest so that the tab directory fits perfectly into the front of the Bible. You will also need to purchase some tabs and matching highlighters, but if you’re obsessed with office supplies like me, you may already have that stuff lying around the house.

So those are our current favorite things to use for shaping the little hearts for Christ at our house. If you have some favorites you’ve used with your family, feel free to share them below.

img_1494

~

img_1556

~

Join me again next week for more in the Shaping Little Hearts series.

img_1541

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6 

>>><<<

The Shaping Little Hearts series first appeared on the Little Paper Crown blog.

For more ideas on Biblical resources for your kids, visit the Little Paper Crown Youtube Channel.

 

Dear Lydia


dear lydia

Dear Lydia,

You’re just a little over two years old now, but you have the soul of an 80 year old woman. Ha ha. You’re wild about life and live every second to the fullest. You want to do everything Finn does or be like Mama, including wearing matching hairstyles and outfits. I hope you never outgrow that.

Favorite Color: Purple

Favorite Toy: Ariel doll, along with other babies. All of which must be wrapped up in blankets at all times.

Favorite Food: Cherry Tomatoes, you have “may-mays” with almost every meal.

Favorite Activities: Building pillow houses, climbing and jumping on the furniture, reading, pretending to write, dancing, playing outside

Here are a few other things we’ve noticed about you:

img_1401

You love your brother SO much! 

You are each other’s favorite playmates, but you argue like an old married couple. You’re often wagging your finger at him and saying, “No, Shin!” (you’re still working on the ‘f’ sound)

You have a fabulous sense of style and are quite particular about what you wear. You love a good accessory like hats, headbands, bracelets, and scarves. Your favorite is a pock-pock (pocketbook) and you’re still obsessed with shoes.

img_1325

Bringing back the 80’s 

img_1214

Cheesin’ it at Easter. Notice the toe nails. 

img_1404

The Rootin-est, Tootin-est cowgirl in all the land. 

img_1400

Fox hat, check. Tutu, check. PJ top, check. Flower sandals, ready to go! 

img_1233

Whenever you wear your sunglasses, you say you’re “soop-soop” cool (super cool). 

You’re very affectionate, always holding our hands while you sit on our laps. You often ask us to hold your feet too. You like to hold hands during naps, but if I’m not available to do so, you simply hold your own hand.

img_1237

Holding your own hand 

img_1403

You play well on your own and have a great imagination. 

img_1389

You’re a little mama to Finn, always making sure he’s ok. Here you were inspecting his ear. 

img_1360

You love to be silly, like wearing Dada’s shirt as a dress. 

img_1390

OR designing an Indiana Jones themed wedding look. 

img_1377

You’re very patient and go along with most anything we have planned. 

img_1240

You are our little foodie, always wanting to try anything we’re eating. 

img_1406

You love chocolate and will usually share with big brother. 

img_1402

You still love to play tuck-tuck, but now you want to play on the big bed. 

img_1271

You love it when Dada is silly with you and you love to be high up on his shoulders. 

img_1405

You love to read just like brother and will often look at books by yourself. 

img_1356-1

Barnes and Noble is one of your favorite hangouts. 

 

Other fun moments to remember:

  • Although you are super-girly and affectionate, you’re also tough as nails. One time, you were playing with a friend who’s twice your age at the Chick-fil-a playground. He picked up your purple socks, which you had thrown to the floor, and put them on. You chased him up the slide, pulled him down to you, removed the socks, and sauntered victoriously to the other side of the playground. Your friend thought it was funny, but I bet he won’t try that again.
  • You love to tell stories like your brother. Your first story was: “Once upon a time, a little deer came in Mama’s house and walked around. It ate Jazz (Mimi’s dog) and drank Jazz’s water. Then it said, “I love you.” The End.” A masterpiece!
  • If you can’t say the last syllable of a word, you simply double the first syllable. Our favorites are: tine-tine (tiny), Cap Cap Mer Mer (Captain America), bell-bell (belly).
  • You may become a nurse when you grow up. You always want me to put healing balm and a bandaid on any boo-boo you incur. And you tell us your bell-bell hurts and you need Digize (an oil for tummy issues).
  • You don’t miss anything in a conversation. Once, after Sunday school, we asked what you learned. You said you learned about Je-Je (Jesus). We asked what you learned about Him and you replied, “He ‘gives our sins.” (forgives) So, it seems you’d been paying close attention that morning.
  • You’re a great helper, often loading the dishwasher with me and helping me put groceries away.
  • You like to pretend to write and were writing a letter to me one day. You asked for help, so I said, “Well what do you want to write?” “‘Jus enny thang” (just anything) was your reply.
img_1398

You are a sweet and helpful little girl.

You are the sunshine in our days! We are so thankful for you and your brother and glad that God chose us to be your parents. We can’t wait to see even more of your dynamic personality in the months to come. We love you to pieces!

Love,

Mama

><<<

You can read the other letters to Lydia here.

Shaping Little Hearts, part 1


 

“But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.'” Matthew 19:1 (ESV)

img_1277There is nothing more important to us than our children’s salvation. We don’t care how successful they become, how much money they make, how many people they impress, or how famous they become. We want them to know the Lord. 

img_1251

We want them to love Him like we do. We want them to be able to enjoy a full and rich relationship with Christ on earth and spend eternity with Him in heaven.

And we want our children to choose Him for themselves.

Not because we’ve suggested it or because it would please us. Not because it’s how they were raised. Not because their friends in Sunday school are doing it. And not because we take them to church every Sunday and it’s just a tradition they feel they have to continue.

Our greatest prayer for our children is that they would find true faith in Jesus for themselves and desire a relationship with Him because they see how faithful God was to us as a family. That they realize that they are indeed sinners, like the rest of us, and need a perfect and holy Savior to take their place in the seat of judgement. And a Shepherd to help them overcome the trials and temptations of this ever-fading world.

The only way they will know that is if we show them.

Deuteronomy 6:5-7 offers us a simple, yet powerful command:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and all your might. And these words that I command to you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” img_1262-1

Recently, our pastor said, “Our faith is very personal, but it’s not private. We were meant to tell the world about it.”

Even when our world is small.

Every day is a new opportunity to demonstrate for our children the source of our peace, the desire to obey our Heavenly Father, and the desperate need for a forgiving, loving God.

Even in our mistakes, especially in our mistakes.

It is not weakness to show your children that when you’re wrong you ask forgiveness of those you’ve offended.

It is not simple-mindedness to obey commands that we know will benefit our lives (even in difficult circumstances). (John 14:15)

It is not naive to trust in a Savior who has time and time again proven Himself faithful in our lives.

I am not saying we have this all figured out. That we’re some kind of super spiritual parents who are always quoting the perfect Scripture for all situations, that we never lose our tempers, or overreact to something that’s not really a big deal. Or even that we have an answer for all the questions our kids have or will have about God as they mature and begin to search out faith for themselves.

But I can say this: We know that God will give us everything we need to shape these little hearts entrusted to us when we are seeking Him daily ourselves and depending solely on Him for wisdom and guidance before we react to each of the situations presented to us in parenting.

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be sharing some resources that have really helped support us as parents as we try to fulfill the command from Deuteronomy to teach our children diligently.

I’ll also be sharing some observations we’ve made and conversations we’ve had with our kids that have provided great opportunities to share the Gospel with them, even when they’re still too young to fully understand the implications of Jesus’ death on the cross.

img_1482

I’d love to hear what some of you guys do to share the Gospel with your kids or even demonstrate it to them in some cases. Please share below or share resources that have benefitted your family. See ya next week for more in this series.

>><<<

The post “Shaping Little Hearts” first appeared on Little Paper Crown.

I shared a couple of practical ways to share the Gospel with very young children a few months ago HERE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tops and Bottoms 



Happy Easter, Everyone! 

No blog post or YouTube video this week due to spring break, but a brand new Badger Hollow Story Guide is available for Tops and Bottoms by Janet Stevens in the shop. 

This charming little tale of a lazy bear and a clever and enterprising hare will create some wonderful discussions about diligence, ingenuity, and initiative. Pick up the Story Guide here

Check out other Story Guides here

Mini Review: Preschool Math at Home 


Math has never been a subject I’ve felt confident to teach, especially to a preschooler. When I stumbled across Kate Snow’s Preschool Math at Home and heard her explain how to build a strong foundation for math in the early years, I thought it sounded relatively easy and fun (my criteria for most of the activities that I attempt with my four year old).

img_1111

There were only a handful of reviews of the book on Amazon, all positive, but I wanted to see more of the inside of the book to know if it was what I needed for my child. The only thing I could find on Youtube (which is where I go anytime I want to see a peek inside a curriculum) was Kate demonstrating a few of the finger games from the book. I tried a few of them with Finn while waiting at the doctor’s office one day. He loved them and it provided me a gauge of his current number sense and things to work on.

I’m pretty picky about the books I spend my money on, so I was a little nervous to purchase this book based on the limited info I had about it. However, it was just inexpensive enough on Amazon that I thought it was worth a shot.

It was $12 well spent! The introduction was super helpful to explain the why behind the how of each activity that she provides in the book. There’s also an appendix at the back with copy and print activities related to some of the games in the book. You can see my full review and a demonstration of two of the activities from Chapter 1 HERE.

If you’re pressed for time, here’s my review in a nutshell:

Ages: It’s recommended for 4-5 year olds which I found to be completely accurate. Just note that this book is for the parent to use to teach. There is no student version.

Activities: 59 activities total, all easy to set up with things from around the house. Easily a year’s worth of math curriculum for preschool.

Learning Method: You complete each activity to mastery before you move onto the next.

Formats: I purchased my book from Amazon, but the Well-Trained Mind Press also has it in PDF form. (There’s a link on our book list page if you want to purchase on Amazon).

 

>><<<

A New Badger Hollow Story Guide for The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson is available in the shop!

More than Enough  


Almost every Sunday night as I prep for the week ahead—gathering all the books and supplies for the Letter of the Week—my heart is full of hope, there’s a sparkle in my eye, and my mind is exhilarated by the idea of teaching and/or learning something new.

By Tuesday, I’m getting tired and bored and wanting less activities and crafts and craving more books to read and time outside instead. Then, while I’m rocking Lydia for her nap, I’ll look through all these beautiful Instagram feeds and think, “Maybe, if I just used that curriculum, or played that music while my children watercolor paint an interpretation of the book we just read (we don’t do this by the way, but it looks like a cool idea), used those flashcards or that traceable alphabet chalkboard, or that math program”…the list could go on and on. Surely I can’t be the only one who does this, right?

img_0979

Building with corks

img_0982

This turned out to be such a simple, peaceful activity.

In my mind, I must be doing something wrong or there must be a more right way to do something to produce some sort of tangible results like all these other families seem to be doing. Some way to get the results that I think I should be getting based on the effort and work I’ve put into creating lessons. There’s only one problem with that sort of thinking…it’s not at all realistic. 

Every child is so different. Every homeschooling parent is so different. And many times it just doesn’t have to be that hard (as I learned last week).

Although I know the above to be true and have seen it time and time again as we have worked through what our homeschool looks like, it’s still a constant, almost-daily struggle to ignore all the voices in my head and perfectionist tendencies and maintain realistic expectations for my children’s education.

The other day, the kids and I were sitting together on the big swing in our front yard, watching cars go by and picking out the seeds from some pine cones Finn had found earlier. The week before, we had read A Seed is Sleepy for no other reason than to enjoy it and he wanted to see if there were any seeds in the pine cones. We were talking about how pine cone seeds grow pine trees. I could almost see a little light bulb go off in his head as he looked up at the big oaks in the front yard and said, “Hey, acorns grow trees, too!”

Now, we may have read that in A Seed is Sleepy, we may have talked about it back in the Letter A unit, or I may have read it in another book. Honestly, I don’t even remember, but it was just something he knew on his own and I think it even surprised him more than me that he knew it.

A few weeks ago, while running errands, he asked me what a vulture was. (I’m telling you, the questions you get sometimes…) Anyway, I told him they were like God’s clean-up crew for dead animals and that they ate the guts and leftovers from any dead animals just laying around (Sorry, you have to be literal with a 4 year old).  Without missing a beat, he said, “Oh, maybe that’s what happened to the dinosaurs.” I told him that was a great guess, but that I’d have to explain what happened to the dinosaurs later because it was too complicated. However, I did assure him that the vultures weren’t to blame.

In both those instances, Finn showed me that his mind is a little sponge that is constantly soaking up information and processing it all to figure out the world around him. It showed me that I don’t need tangible evidence of the things we are learning each day to know that he’s learning. He may not be doing it according to my timetable, but he is learning real things that matter and he will eventually learn things that I can cross off a lesson plan.

In the meantime, I need to stop stressing over the “right” way to do something and focus on the right way to do it for him. Trade in my specific expectations for the wonder and fun of watching someone grow into the specific person God wants them to be.

img_0964

She wanted Finn to be the baby and herself to be the mama here. 🙂

Because at the end of the day, it won’t matter if they’ve mastered a new skill, learned a new word, or even passed a standardized test if they have not become someone who loves to learn and grow and pursue things that make a difference.

That’s why I have to keep reminding myself of something. I’ll remind you too.

What we’re doing—pouring into our kids day in and day out, praying God shows us how to win their hearts, and trying to help them figure out how to make sense of this beautiful, crazy world (whether you homeschool or not)…

it’s enough…more than enough.

>><<<

Don’t forget to check out our latest Badger Hollow Story Guide, Bedtime for Frances, here.

Also, for more encouragement or ideas, visit the Little Paper Crown YouTube Channel.

 

 

 

 

It Doesn’t Have to Be Hard


This week we kept things simple because I knew I planned to do a lot outside. On Monday, we read An Egg is Quiet by Dianna Aston and Egg by Kevin Henkes. Then we did an easy math activity with some chicks and eggs (Video of this activity HERE).

img_0874

Counting chicks.

img_0883

Finishing the pattern.

Next, I took the kids to Lowe’s to pick up some potting soil and frost-hardy flowers. Finn chose some yellow pansies, Lydia chose purple, and I grabbed pink snapdragons for myself.

They love to pull things in the wagon, so I loaded it up with our pots of old dirt and let them pull it to the back end of the yard where we dump our old potting soil.

Then I got to observe the most interesting thing…

Finn started out pulling the wagon on his own.

Notice the car in his other hand. 

img_0890

Again, a car never leaves that boy’s hand.

Then Lydia (who loves to be my helper) jumped in and they both pulled the handle. I said nothing during the whole process because I was curious to see if they’d figure out it didn’t work to share the handle.

Without me saying a word, Finn suggested, “Hey Lids, you pull and I’ll push.” They solved a problem…on their own.

Lydia likes to add some sparkle to her work in those boots.

I was so happy for them I could’ve done a cartwheel in the yard. They were able to figure it out for themselves!

After we dumped the old soil, we…

img_0892

Studied some Roly-Polys that fell off the bottom of one pot.

img_0893

And pondered what sort of animal could’ve built this structure in the backyard.

We planted all the new flowers and then went inside for lunch and long nap (Praise the Lord).

As the kids were napping, I thought to myself that in just two hours, we’d completed our physical activity for the day, a problem-solving activity spontaneously occurred, and we’d had some real world mini-lessons in Entomology, Zoology, and Botany. And all I had to do was take them outside.

Then I thought, “Why do I make this so hard sometimes?”

Learning isn’t dependent on cool manipulatives, fancy printables, or the perfect curriculum.

The only two things required for learning to happen are opportunity and a curious mind.

It doesn’t have to be hard at all.

>><<<

New Badger Hollow Story Guide is up in the shop. A Bargain for Frances