Friday, December 4, 2009

Capitol Christmas Tree

Arizona K - 12 students were chosen to adorn the 85-foot spruce Capitol Christmas Tree, also known as The People's Tree, in Washington, D.C. Their 5,000 handmade ornaments will depict the theme of the project, "Arizona's Gift from the Grand Canyon State."
The spruce tree was selected from the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests in the White Mountains of eastern Arizona, according to the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service.
An additional 1,000 handcrafted ornaments are also being made for 80 companion trees that will be displayed in federal offices and buildings throughout the Capitol Complex.
The ornaments are being made from donated and found materials from school storage and Treasures4Teachers in Tempe, which offers donated materials to classroom teachers for a small fee. The foam was donated by Ikea, and the wire hangers were pulled from spiral notebooks. The students are so proud of the fact that they get to provide ornaments for the tree.
If you visit the website you can view additional pictures, history lessons and stories about the Capitol Christmas tree.
I never knew that each year the Capitol Christmas tree was selected from a chosen state and the students were able to provide the ornaments for it. It makes the season that much richer.

Enjoy the stories and pictures and perhaps your State will be chosen next year.

Happy Holidays!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Don't Flush the Goldfish Down the Toilet

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Matthew 5:4

I know that the subject of death with young children is a contraversial issue; but it is also a great opportunity for an open discussion and lesson to help them gain a little understanding of death. Knowing in advance about how to address the issue will help you to provide children comfort in the event of the loss of a pet, friend or family member.

I attended a conference many years ago titled “Don’t Flush the Goldfish down the Toilet.”
It was a real eye opener for me and I hope that you can also take away something from what I learned.

The workshop presenter explained how most parents and teachers who have fish as pets for their children or students flush the fish down the toilet when they die. However, she explained that this is a really great opportunity to teach children about death, to embrace it and to show respect to the goldfish by providing it a proper burial. It is important to let the child say goodbye in his or her own way. Saying goodbye to a pet, friend or family member might involve having the child write a letter, poem or song, and, of course, saying a prayer. If the child is too young to write, he can dictate to you so that you can write it.

The following selection of ten children’s picture books all have as their basic subject the death of a pet. These books have the potential to provide comfort to 3-12-year-old children and their families. Through sensitive texts and complementary illustrations, the authors and illustrators of these children’s picture books pay homage to the enduring love between a pet and a child and a pet and a family. Sharing a children's picture book about the death of a pet can provide an opportunity for children to express their feelings.

1. Goodbye Mousie
This is an excellent picture book for 3-5-year-olds. First with denial, then a mixture of anger and sadness, a little boy reacts to the death of his pet. With sensitivity and love, his parents help him prepare to bury Mousie. He finds comfort in painting the box Mousie is to be buried in and also in filling the box with things the mouse would enjoy. This reassuring story by Robie H. Harris is beautifully illustrated with muted watercolor and black pencil artwork by Jan Omerod. (Aladdin, 2004. ISBN: 9780689871344)

2. The Tenth Good Thing about Barney
This children’s picture book by Judith Viorst is a classic. A boy grieves about the death of his cat, Barney. His mother suggests he think of ten good things to remember about Barney. His friend Annie thinks Barney is in heaven, but the boy and his father aren’t sure. Remembering Barney as brave, smart, funny, and more is a comfort, but the boy can’t think of the tenth thing. Then he realizes that “Barney’s in the ground and he’s helping grow flowers.” (Atheneum, 1971. ISBN: 0689206887)

3. Jasper’s Day
“Jasper's Day,” by Marjorie Blain Parker, is a poignant, yet wonderfully comforting, picture book about a beloved dying dog's special day before he is "euthanized" by the vet. Having been through the experience several times, the book really moved me. Janet Wilson’s chalk pastels beautifully illustrate a little boy's love for his dog and the whole family's sadness as they say goodbye by giving Jasper a last day filled with his favorite activities. (Kids Can Press, 2002. ISBN: 9781550749571)

4. Lifetimes: The Beautiful Way to Explain Death to Children
This is an excellent book to use to introduce death as part of the cycle of life in nature. It starts, "There is a beginning and ending for everything that is alive. In between is living." The artwork for that text is a full-page painting of a bird's nest with two eggs nestled in it. The text and illustrations include animals, flowers, plants, and people. This picture book is perfect for introducing young children to the concept of death without scaring them. (Bantam, 1983. ISBN: 9780553344028)

5. Toby
This children’s picture book for 6-12-year-olds provides a realistic look at the different ways siblings may react to the impending death of a beloved pet. Toby has always been Sara’s dog. Now, at 14, Sara’s age, Toby is nearing death. Sara’s response is anger and rejection of Toby. Her younger brothers, furious at her response, lavish attention on Toby. The boys remain angry at Sara until something happens to convince them Sara still loves Toby. (Ticknor & Fields, 1994. ISBN: 9780395670248)

6. Saying Goodbye to Lulu
When a little girl’s dog slows down because of old age, she is very sad and says, “I don’t want another dog. I want Lulu back the way she used to be.” When Lulu dies, the girl is grief stricken. All winter she misses Lulu and grieves for her dog. In the spring, the family plants a cherry tree near Lulu’s grave. As the months pass, the little girl becomes ready to accept and love a new pet, a puppy, while still remembering Lulu with affection. (Little, Brown and Company, 2004. ISBN: 9780316702782)

7. Murphy and Kate
This story of a girl, her dog, and their 14 years together is a good one for 7-12-year-olds. Murphy joined her family when Kate was a baby and immediately became her lifelong playmate. As the two grow older, Kate has less time for Murphy, but her love for the dog remains strong. Deeply saddened at Murphy’s death, Kate is comforted by her memories and knows that she will never forget Murphy. Oil paintings by Mark Graham enhance the text by Ellen Howard. (Simon & Schuster, 1995. ISBN: 0671797751)

8. Dog Heaven
This affectionate and joyous look at what heaven must be like for dogs can be a great comfort for both children and adults who believe in a heaven where dogs go. When our dog died, I bought this children's picture book by Cynthia Rylant for my husband, and it helped to ease his grief. With text and full page acrylic paintings, Rylant shows a heaven filled with dogs’ favorite things. (Scholastic, 1995. ISBN: 9780590417013)

9. Jim’s Dog Muffins
When his dog dies after being hit by a truck, Jim is distraught. His classmates write a letter of sympathy to Jim. When he returns to school, Jim doesn’t want to participate in any of the activities. He responds angrily when a classmate tells him, “It doesn’t do any good to be sad.” His teacher wisely tells the class that Jim may need to spend some time feeling sad. By the end of the day, his friends’ sympathy has Jim feeling better. (Greenwillow,1984. ISBN: 0440411246)

10. Cat Heaven
Like the book “Dog Heaven,” this children's picture book was written and illustrated by Cynthia Rylant. However, heaven for cats is quite different from heaven for dogs. Cat heaven is custom designed for cats, with all of their favorite things and activities. Rylant’s full-page acrylic paintings provide a joyous and childlike view of cat heaven. (Blue Sky Press, 1997. ISBN: 9780590100540)

So, don’t flush the goldfish down the toilet. Instead, use that moment as an opportunity to talk with your students or your child about death. With your comforting support, the child will begin to know and accept that it is all right to feel this kind of sadness and how to express those feelings.

If you plan a lesson on death, always inform the families in advance that you will be teaching this lesson and how you will be addressing it. The family may be able to provide you with important information about the child’s personal experience to which you may need to be sensitive. The families may also ask you questions so that they can be prepared should their child want to discuss the subject further. The lessons that bring home and school together for the child are the very best kind, especially on a topic like this one.

Peace and Joy,

Friday, October 16, 2009

Be Kind to Our Earth

Be Kind to Our Earth

“You shall not pollute the land in which you live”
Numbers 35:33

It is back to school time and that means time to set up the classroom, and welcome a new class of students. One of the most popular centers in my classroom is “The Collection Station.” It is bubbling with an assortment of materials that came from the student’s homes during a 2 day lesson called “Be Kind to Our Earth.”

At the beginning of each year I speak with the students about “Being Kind to Our Earth” and what that means to them. The majority of them will respond by saying they recycle and they don’t litter.

I would like to guide you through the 2 day lesson that I do with the students to set up a “Collection Station” that can be used all year long while at the same time teaching the students how to be good stewards of our earth every day.

There are several different books to bring out the curiosity and wonder in the students to help them understand the concept of collecting the items for their “Collection Station.”

Here are a few of my favorites:

Ø I Like Things by Margaret Hillert
Ø The Treasures of Trash by Linda Mandel and Hedi Mandel
Ø Hannah’s Collections by Marthe Jocelyn
Ø Michael Recycle by Ellie Bethel

After reading one of the stories give each student a lunch sized paper bag with their name on it. Explain to the students that they will be taking the bags home to collect their treasures in. These will be treasures that can be donated and used in the “Collection Station.”

On each bag there will be the following poem attached to it:

“I look. I search. I hope to see something that appeals to me. Something unique or maybe not, buttons, milk caps, straws the lot. A blue-green shape just caught my eye; I don’t think I can pass it by. Whatever it is, it makes me glad, and so, I’ll put it in my bag!” Ruth Harris, teacher

A letter can also be sent home with each student explaining to their parents about the kinds of items you will be collecting.

Here is a short list of some items you can include:

Broken Jewelry
Old Keys
Bottle Caps
Clear containers

In the letter or attached to the list of suggested items always include a safety memo like this:

Safety Note:
Please use great care and good judgment when collecting materials with your child. Carefully determine that materials are clean and not sharp, toxic or potentially harmful before allowing your child to put them in their bag.

The following day as the students come to class have a designated table for them to display their bags on. (Have a couple of extra bags filled with treasures for the students that may have forgotten theirs.)

At circle time have each student bring their bag to the circle for the “Grand Opening” of the bags.

One at a time ask each student to empty their bag into a big pile in the center of the circle.

These will be the treasures to start your “Collection Station.”

Provide clear containers for the students and have them sort the treasures into like items. In the classroom have 2 or 3 low shelves for the students to display the materials on. Through the year the students and classroom can replenish the “Collection Station” with materials that are brought in from home or found at school. You can also add items to help with the creation process like, Liquid Watercolor, Biocolor, crayons, markers, glue, pom poms, pipe cleaners, craft sticks and other items they may ask for.

Have fun with this lesson, I know I always do.

Peace and Joy,

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Treasure Box Lesson

"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also"
Luke 12:34

Oh Boy! Do children love that magical work "treasure!" Why do you suppose that is? I think because we are all intrigued by treasures of any kind and we know that just by the simple word "TREASURE" something good is going to come out of it.

The Webster Dictionary states the meaning of the word TREASURE as, " a collection of precious things"

Luke 12:34 states "for where your treasures is, there your heart will be also". I love to connect the two in a way that children can see the simple tangible treasures they can carry in their hearts and simple treasures they have at home. Just mentioning the "Treasure Box Lesson" gets them excited and giddy with the thought of the tangible treasures that they are going to get to put in their boxes.

The day of the lesson, I have treasure shaped boxes ready for them to embellish and decorate. You can purchase these from Discount School Supply, use shoe boxes or any other small boxes. Provide jewels, beads, seashells, small rocks, glitter paint, glue and markers.

At circle time I asked the children what they think the word "treasure" means to them and I chart the words for them to see. Here is a list that they provided for me:
  • Money
  • Jewels
  • Gold Coins
  • Necklaces
  • Rings
  • Bracelets
  • Earrings
  • Shiny Things (this was a great response)
After we are done charting I tell the children that they are going to make treasure boxes today to take home and fill with treasure. I tell them that they can't fill their boxes with the treasures they said, but they can fill them with other treasures that I will explain to them after the story.

I read the book, "The Greatest Treasure" by Arcadio Lobato; The books is a story about one of the most valuable treasure, on that money can't buy - friendship. After the story we discuss other treasures that the children can put in their treasure boxes that come from their heart or simple treasures from home, that money can't buy. I give each child the bible verse "for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also", Luke 12:34 printed on gold paper. The verse can be glued on the outside of their treasure box or simply put into their box.

We decorated our boxes as a group project so that we can discuss what other treasures they can put into their boxes from home.

Here are some of the treasures they said they wanted to put in their boxes after our discussion:

  • Pictures of their families
  • Pictures of their pets
  • One child said he would put in his favorite book
  • A kiss (how sweet)
  • A hug (another sweet gesture)
  • A pretty rock
  • A leaf
  • A key that mom gave him to play with
  • My love
It always amazes me how they are able to comprehend this lesson into the non-tangible treasure or simple treasures instead of their original understanding of the word "treasure".

The boxes turned out beautiful and most importantly they left class that day eager to fill their boxes with treasures from their hearts and simple treasures from their homes.

I would love to hear your experience with this lesson and the treasure your children brought from home


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Cows, Eggs and Families

Families come in all shapes and sizes. When teaching about families, one of the concepts I like to begin with is that not every family is exactly the same. As a class we talk about how all of us in our families are special in our own way and we each bring something special to our family. We talk about how we are all of God's children and we are all family in His eyes, and we are special in our own way.

I let the kids describe their own families, and then we discuss that no matter what defines our “family,” it’s important to be loving and kind to our family members and remember that each of us in turn are unique and important to our family, who loves us very much. One of the books we like to read in our class of 3- and 4-year olds is about a cow and an egg, aptly named The Cow That Laid An Egg, by Andy Cutbill.

The story surrounds a farm where a cow named Marjorie feels very ordinary. The chickens on the farm decide to play a joke on her and make her think she’s laid an egg. But when it hatches what will it be? Certainly not a baby cow… And, sure enough, a chick eventually pops out of the egg. However, when it makes its first sound, it’s clear that Marjorie is the rightful mom after all, for the chick lets out a resounding MOO!

I bring in hard-boiled eggs for the kids to decorate. I usually bring one pre-decorated to have black cow spots on it, like the one in the book, and I let the kids take turns holding it during the story, if they can do so without being too distracted. After the story the children decorate their own eggs (with markers, glitter glue, crayons, stickers) any way they want. Then we look at all the different eggs and talk once again about how, just like each of us and our families, each egg is special and beautiful in its own way.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Elephants and Safaris

One of my favorite lessons with the 3- and 4-year-olds is the “I am Thankful for Animals” lesson. The kids love to talk about their favorite animals and we have fun discussions about all the differences/similarities between the animals, which helps expand the educational value of the lesson.

One of our favorite songs to sing and act out is the Elephant on a Spider Web song, which I’m pretty sure is a Raffi song. We make a “web” on the floor with string or masking tape, and then we sing the following verses as we balance on the web. Each new “elephant” becomes the one to invite another “elephant” to join him/her on the web.

One elephant went out to play
Upon a spider’s web one day
They had such enormous fun
That they called for another one to come
Two elephants went out to play…

(Continue counting up after each verse until all children are on the web.)

As the teacher I usually demonstrate how I enjoy walking like an elephant with one of my arms as a trunk and one arm as a tail, but I tell the children they might be a different kind of elephant. Kids can decide if they want to be a tip-toe elephant or a stomping elephant, if they want to walk on two feet or crawl on all four… I let my preschoolers get creative. Once all the kids are on the web, we do usually link up tail-to-trunk to have an elephant parade. The young children love this activity and it adds some active play and movement into the Sunday school lesson. It can be stretched to multiple rounds, or verses changed to feature a different animal.

As a creative arts piece to the lesson, we make our own “safari picture” where children take a piece of paper and draw on, stamp or sticker it with any animals (real or imaginary) that they think they would want to see on a safari. We talk about how thankful we are to have so many wonderful animals to include and how we should be kind to all of God’s creatures.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Random Acts of Kindness

What a great day we had learning and being kind to each other. The children truly embraced and understood the meaning of Random Acts of Kindness.

As each child entered the classroom I gave them a big hug, told them how nice it was to see them and said something nice about what they were wearing, how they looked, smiled, laughed or talked.

Ephesians 4:32 says:
"Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you."

If you haven’t picked up the book “Sharing, How Kindness Grows”, by Fran Shaw (ISBN 0794411436) it is a must read to children, they really enjoyed it.

After our story time, I asked the children if they experienced anyone being kind to them today. The responses I received were wonderful:

“My mommy kissed me and said she loves me”

“Daddy put on my shoes”

“Mommy made me cereal for breakfast”

“Miss Barb gave me a hug at the door”, then there was a chorus of “me too!” a whole bunch of times.

“My brother shared his toys with me”

“My big sister brushed my hair and helped me get dressed”

Before class I had put out several different centers to inspire the children to make kindness gifts for others.

· One table had blank cards, envelopes, markers, stickers, and real postage stamps
(one for each child)

· I set up easels with large paper, paint and brushes

· There was a center set up with string, beads and jewels

· The last center was set up with collage material, a wooden plank for the base, glue,
glue brushes and paint

I explained to the children that they get to create kindness gifts for whoever they wanted and could chose one or all of the centers to create from.

By the end of class we had an abundance of gifts and the children were giddy about giving their gifts away. The children that made the cards were so excited that I was going to mail them. I encouraged them to keep it a secret from whomever they wrote the card to, but I am guessing this will be a hard request for a 3 year old J

There was one little girl that wanted to make a gift from each station for a different person. In addition, she made a painting for her dog, Barney.

Before the parents arrived, I asked the children how it felt about making kindness gifts and they said it was so much fun and could they do it again tomorrow? I explained that they could do kind things every day and that it didn’t just have to be gifts. I shared they could be kind by:

· Picking up their toys

· Putting their clothes in the hamper

· Making sure their dog or cat had water and food

· Sharing with their brothers, sisters and friends

· Saying their prayers and praying for the poor, sick and elderly

I think we sometimes forget to be kind to others in our busy lives. But, I truly believe that when we practice random acts of kindness it is contagious and others want to do the same. What better way to start it than with 3 and 4 year old children?

Next week I will be writing about one of my favorite and passionate lessons. “Be Kind to Our Earth”, I know you will enjoy it.

Have a peaceful, joyful and kind week!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Memory Verse Placemat

Teaching children bible verses can be a challenge, however there is a great way that I teach the children to memorize the verse without memorizing it word for word.

I recently had the children create a “memory verse placemat” to teach them the following bible verse:
Genesis 1:20And God said, "Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky."

We started the lesson with a few questions. I like to write the words on chart paper as the children are telling me. I believe this action really adds richness to their development when they can hear the word and see it in writing.

Some of the questions I asked them were:

Q: “Can you tell me what creatures are in the water that God created?”
A: “Sharks, fish, turtles, dolphins, snakes, BIG whales”

Q:“What is the earth?”
A: “It is round”, “We live in it”, “God made it for us”, “It is HOT” (We live in Arizona, I wasn’t surprised to hear that answer )

Q:“What kinds of birds are in the sky?”
A: “Birds, owls, eagles, angels, parakeets, more birds”

After this activity, I read the bible verse to the children directly from the bible as if I was reading from a storybook. I showed them the bible, opened it to book and verse and showed them where in the bible the verse is.

After our bible lesson time, the real fun begins.

The children begin using stencils and stamps of birds, sea creatures, markers and Liquid Water Color to create their picture of the bible verse. I already had the verse printed on the paper. After their placemats have dried I laminated them to keep in the classroom. The children use them at snack time, with playdough or clay, to define their space or play a fun “Who’s Placemat is This?” game. Almost all of the children wanted to make a placemat to have at home too!

Let me know if you try this lesson with your children and what some of the outcomes and funny stories you have to share.

Do you need some ideas on teaching lessons to children? Feel free to post your requests and I would be happy to share.

Next week look for my lesson teaching children “RAK’s” (Random Acts of Kindness) and some of the heartwarming stories that came from this lesson.

Have a great week!

Peace and Joy,

Thursday, May 21, 2009


On the Seventh Day, after God had finished all the work of creating the World, God rested. Because of that, we too rest on the Seventh Day, and we call it the Sabbath. As part of our celebration of Shabbat we light candles, say Kiddush, and eat Hallah. The children created the background for our Shabbat board by painting a poster board with green, yellow and white paint and then rubbing a second poster board over the painted surface. They made the candlesticks by cutting up silver paper and gluing it on cut out candlestick shapes. Several children used gold paint to paint the Kiddush cup; others cut up shiny purple paper and glued it on the cup to “fill” it with grape juice. Some of the children braided pieces of fabric to create the Hallot.
In preparation for the Shabbat, each week in school we have Kabbalat Shabbat in the chapel. We then have a Shabbat Party complete with lighting candles, saying Kiddush and eating Hallah.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Day 6
On the Sixth Day of Creation God made people and animals. We learned that the name of the first man that God created was Adam and the name of the first woman was Eve. We also talked about how even though different people have different colored skin, inside we are all the same.

We were working on our Day 6 board at the time of Martin Luther King’s Birthday and we incorporated a discussion of his dreams and accomplishments into this discussion of multi-cultural tolerance. The children decorated multi-toned people cut-outs with fabric, hair, eyes and “global village” paper to represent clothing.

The children created 2 “animal representations” for our Day 6 Board. First they cut up paper that looks like different kinds of animal skin. They then glued the paper, collage style, on to large animal-like shapes.

Finally, they created the background for our Day 6 board by spreading different colored foam paint all over the poster boards – it was messy but we loved how mushy and soft it felt!

Join Us Next Time for the Seventh Day of Creation

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Day Five of the Seven Days of Creation!!

Day 5:

On the Fifth Day God created animals that live in the ocean, like fish and other sea animals and animals that fly in the sky like birds and butterflies.

First we created a sky and an ocean. In order to create the ocean, the children spooned dark blue powder paint all over a poster board. We then put it outside in the rain. After it had been outside for a while we observed that as the powder got wet from the rain it covered the board with a thick, textured blue paint. On another rainy day the children spooned light blue powder paint on a poster board and, after it was out in the rain we suddenly had a sky for our birds!

We read The Rainbow Fish and the Big Blue Whale and then the children made their own rainbow fish by first painting cut out fish and then gluing sequins and metallic “scales” and eyes on them. The children also created other ocean animals by first coloring them with oil pastels and then painting with watercolors.

We read Inch by Inch about an inchworm that measures all different kinds of birds. We also read Waiting for Wings, which is about the life cycle of butterflies. To make the birds and butterflies the children first used bright watercolor paints to paint the cut out animals; after the paint dried, the children glued multi-colored feathers on them. They also painted a big bird which is “flying” from the ceiling in front of our Creation Boards.
The children went “fishing” as they searched for fish hiding in a mixture of cornmeal and corn kernels. They also examined toy insects with magnifying glasses....


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Day Four of the Seven Days of Creation

Day 4: On the Fourth Day God created the bright, golden sun to shine in the sky during the daytime and the moon and stars to shine in the sky during the night. We talked about how the sky at night is very dark blue, sometimes it even looks black. In order to make the nighttime sky the children used big brushes to mix blue and black paint and spread it all over the poster board. They made the moon and stars by painting special paper, which was white on one side and silver on the other, with silver paint. We decided to make the moon a crescent moon. We made a huge mobile of lots and lots of stars to hang from the ceiling in front of the boards. Finally, the children had a wonderful time covering the night sky with multicolored “twinkle” stars.

We were inspired by the sun in Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar as we created our sun. First the children used different kinds of sponges to cover a poster board with yellow paint. After it was all covered in yellow, we added some red paint and as the children blended the two colors together they observed that they were creating orange. The teachers then cut out the sun and the children helped cut out the rays and glue them on to the sun.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Day Three of the Seven Days of Creation..

Day 3
On the Third Day God moved some of the water that covered the whole earth and created mountains and valleys all over the land. God also created all kinds of plants and trees.
First the children used bath “poufs” to cover a poster board with brown and red paint in order to depict the land. Then they used big house painting brushes to mix blue and white paint all over another poster board. They observed that when they mixed the dark blue paint with the white paint it made light blue paint. After they painted one board, they then painted another piece of poster board. We then put the two posters together and the children helped rub them hard. When we separated the two posters we saw that we had created a beautifully textured sky!

Next, we engaged the whole group of children in a discussion about what kinds of trees or plants they wanted to add to our board. We decided that we would have a “fall tree” so the children took a big piece of real tree bark and broke it up into little pieces which they glued on to poster board branches. They then glued real fall leaves on to the branches. The children also created grass and plants by cutting up pieces of paper towel they’d painted with green watercolor and they crumpled up multicolored tissue paper to create a garden of flowers.

The children had several opportunities to play with dirt in the sensory table and to “create” mountains and valleys. They have also been busy making mountains in the sandyard.

Everyone planted a green bean seed in a planter, and flower seeds as well, so we can grow things just like on the 3rd Day of Creation. We discussed what the seeds will need to grow – sunlight and water – and we can’t wait to see what happens!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Seven Days of Creation

The world that God created is filled with all kinds of wondrous sights, sounds and textures.

How great is it to help children appreciate this world and learn about the Biblical story of Creation?

This project can also be used to teach children about taking care of nature, animals and respecting one another – and you can do it all by capturing the colors and images of Creation through children’s art! This Creation project involves creating a large panel (made of two pieces of poster board) to depict the world before Creation, as well as each of the days of Creation; the panels are hung side by side across a large wall or bulletin board so that the children can appreciate the way in which the sequence of Creation unfolded.

Creation...Day One and Day Two

In the Beginning, there was nothing at all in the world. Everything was “unformed and void” a mixed up, upside down, dark “Mishkababble.” To depict the world before Creation the children used different colors of paints and different kinds of painting implements to spread the paint all over the board. Many of them used circular motions because they wanted to replicate the round world they had seen in some pictures in a book about Creation.
Day 1:
It was also very, very dark. We closed our eyes really, really tight until we couldn’t see anything at all; that’s how dark it was. Then God said, “The world needs light” and there was light. God called the light “Day” and the darkness “Night” and that was the First Day. To depict the night the children first painted the board with black paint and then glued pieces of different black fabric all over it. To depict the light and daytime the children first cut different kinds of white paper and then glued them all over the board. They especially loved the pieces of iridescent paper.

Day 2:
On the Second Day God separated the waters that covered the earth and made the blue sky and the clouds. To make the sky the children first cut little pieces of light and dark blue tissue paper. They then covered the board with the tissue paper and, finally, sprayed water all over the tissue paper. They had a great time (though we did find that we had to move children out of the “Splash Zone”!) and enjoyed watching the dye “bleed” out of the tissue paper. After it was dry we took the tissue paper off and saw the beautiful blue design that was left behind.

In order to make the water that covered the earth the children used spray bottles to spray different shades of blue paint all over a poster board. They were very excited about this activity and waited very patiently to have their turn to do the spray painting. We also glued soft cotton on cloud shapes so we could have fluffy, white clouds in our sky.

Some of our activities related to clouds: After showing the children a diagram of the water cycle and talking about what a cycle is (we discovered the word cycle in a familiar word: bicycle) we did an “experiment.” First we had a dry cotton ball, which represented a cloud. We observed that it was light and soft. We then dipped it in water until it became saturated (and much heavier). When we then held the cotton ball up over the pan, even without squeezing it at all, the children observed that it was “raining.” The wide-eyed, open mouth expression on each of the children sitting in the circle was heartwarming and delicious. They were absolutely enthralled. Of course their favorite moment came next, when they each had the opportunity to fill their own cloud with water and then watch as it rained back down into the ocean (this explains the drenched clothing that resulted for some)!
We observed the clouds in the sky and discussed what they looked like. With all the rain we had at the beginning of the week it was a great time to look at clouds.

We also read two books about clouds: Little Cloud by Eric Carle and It Looked Like Spilt Milk by Charles G. Shaw. Those books inspired paintings of clouds which the children created using thick white paint and sponges.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Helping Hands

We shared the story of the Good Samaritan in our preschool class this week. We had the children act it out as we read a very simplified version. (Their favorite part, by the way, was paying money to the "innkeeper." We used real coins and that was a hit!) Then we talked about ways we can all help people. I wrote down the answers because, in a class of 3- and 4-year-old children, they're always classic.

Me: What's something you can do to help someone?

Them: "Ride a horse."

"Clean blood." (This, I think, was derived from the part of the story where we talked about the man laying injured on the side of the road.)

"Help my mom and dad."

"Drive a car."

"Pennies!" (This little one was holding the jar of coins used to pay the innkeeper.)

"Go to the place... at the roller coaster place."
CLASSIC preschooler answers. Love them!
After talking about other ways we can help people, we made our "Helping Hands" by decorating hand-shaped cut-outs and writing ways we can help others on the back. Then, we strung the hands on ribbon to make a "Helping Hands" necklace. The more things the children could think of to help someone, the more helping hands they collected and strung on their own necklace.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Lessons on Love

Valentine's Day is a great time to talk about love and how we show love for one another. To discuss love as a concept in a lesson, our class of preschool children will talk about people and things we love. I'll often bring pictures of popular kinds of foods, of diverse families, animals, beautiful scenery, etc. The children can take turns talking about who/what they love. (Sometimes the answers get silly, as was the case last week with a 4-year-old naming "purple polka dots" as something she loved, and it brings a smile to everyone's face.)
If time allows, the children can draw a picture of something they love. Then we will move on to things we can do to show love for others. For younger children I'll typically give some ideas and have them stand up/sit down if an action is something that shows love or not. The young children in my class usually also enjoy acting out scenarios, so when we talk about showing love, we will do a dramatic play activity with puppets or dolls to illustrate helping a family member with something, forgiving a younger sibling for breaking a toy, remembering to take special care of a pet, etc.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I Have a Body

When teaching my class of 3- and 4-year-olds about having a physical body, I like to use hand puppets. These are a nice, large size, made of sturdy canvas, and the kids can decorate them with all sorts of fun materials. I write on the back in permanent marker, "I have a body created in the image of God," so that the children can remember what the lesson was about outside of class just by asking a parent or older child to read what their puppet says. We also like to use the puppets to roll-play different scenarios such as telling the truth, being kind to someone, saying sorry, etc. for various other lessons throughout the year.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Many Faiths, One Goal

Welcome to the NEW faith-based teaching blog dedicated to teachers of young children in faith-based programs. This blog is authored by people of many faiths, but all of us have one goal: serving the little ones with whom we work by teaching themes of faith in developmentally-appropriate ways. We hope this blog will be a resource for other teachers and parents of young children, a sounding board for the issues you may face in faith-based teaching today and a forum for great ideas.