Friday, December 10, 2010

Teaching Children About Praying

This time of year is so appropriate to teach children about praying.

Last week I asked each child to bring a shoe box or similar sized box to class because we were going to do something very special with it. I also made sure I had extra boxes for the children that forgot their box or didn’t have one.

We read the story “This Little Prayer of Mine” by Anthony DeStefano. Anthony explains this "It just shows children that prayer is simply conversation with God. It's as simple as that, it's just talking to God -- children telling God their fears, their hopes, their concerns. It involves humorous, funny pictures. I think it's just a very inviting kind of a book that parents and children will like very much." I couldn’t agree with him more. The children really enjoyed the story and it really helped to convey the message of praying.

We had a great discussion about praying and how it is just isn’t about asking God for “things”. We talked about praying for peace, health, friendship and love.

I told the children that we were going to make a “Prayer Box” to put our prayers in it and so that others in our family could do the same.

I put out lots of
jewels, sequins, glue , markers, crayons and colored pencils and let the children decorate away. While they were decorating their boxes I cut a slit in each of their lids.

We made special prayer cards using index cards, colored pencils and stickers. Each child dictated to me what their first prayer would be to God. I wrote it on their special card and let them insert it into the slit on the lid.

It was so much fun and believe it or not they didn’t ask for “things.” Many of them asked for God to watch over them, love them, their family and to feed the poor and hungry 

I made one too. I think the children really like it when we participate in the activity as well.

Have fun and Happy Holidays!

P.S. These would also make a great gift for the children to make for their family if you are looking for a gift for them to make in class.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Bottle Cap Bracelets

I love reusing items in the classroom for lessons, and bottle caps are one of the most reused items that we take advantage of almost on a daily basis. They can be reused for counting, sorting, game pieces, art and craft projects and so much more.

We made “I LOVE GOD” bracelets with bottle caps and they came out great! The children even made extra ones to give to their parents, siblings and friends.

Ahead of time I printed out the words “I” “LOVE” “GOD” onto paper and cut them into circles to fit inside of the bottle caps.

I set out
pipe cleaners, straws, beads, scissors and bottle caps with holes already poked in them before the children arrived.

The tables looked like so much fun and I just knew the children would be anxious to get to work on their bracelets.

At circle time we talked about how much we love God and all of the wonderful things that we love about him. In my usual way I charted the children’s responses of the reasons they loved God. Some of their responses were the following:

He gives me food to eat
I live in a house
I have a bed to sleep in
He gave me my mom and dad
He loves me
He takes care of me

After circle time the children went right to work on their bracelets. They cut up straws to string on their pipe cleaners along with beads and the bottle caps. Inside each cap they glued each word to spell out “I LOVE GOD” on their bracelet.

I always like to connect a bible verse with our lesson so I found this one that fit perfectly:

I love you, O LORD, my strength
Psalm 18:1

The children had so much fun making the bracelets and even more fun giving one to their parents and siblings when they were picked up.

I hope you decide to make these with your children.

As always, peace and joy,

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Responsibility Cards

"Few things help an individual more than to place responsibility upon him, and to let him know that you trust him." --Booker T. Washington

I read the story “Berenstain Bears and the Messy Room.” I asked the children if their rooms at home were a mess and many of them said they were. We talked about how they needed to be responsible for cleaning up their mess at home.

I made responsibility cards ahead of time (each card had a responsibility written on it with a corresponding picture.) Each child picked a card from the bag. I explained that they would have to take on that responsibility for the rest of the day. They were very excited about picking their cards and to find out their responsibility for the day.

The following is a list of responsibilities I wrote on each card,

• Sweep
• Wash tables
• Tuck in chairs
• Set table for snack
• Pick up trash
• Wash out paint cups
• Pick up books
• Put markers away
• Put paper away
• Clean up after snack
• Say prayer before snack
• Wash out paintbrushes
• Pick up loose toys

It was amazing to see how excited they were to take on their responsibility. It was also a bit challenging because some of them had to wait until the time came for them to complete their responsibility.

At the end of the day I asked them if they wanted to pick responsibility cards again tomorrow and of course they said yes. I had each of them put their cards back in the bag so that they could pick a new one tomorrow. If they get the same one I will have them choose again unless they are happy having the same responsibility a second day. Who knows, maybe this will be something we do every day.

Tell me how your responsibility cards turn out.

Peace and Joy,

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Rules Are Not Made To Be Broken

With the beginning of the school year upon us this is a great time to have a lesson on fairness and to create new rules or revisit the old rules.

I came up with the idea to make a big book of our classroom rules. We did this as a large group project. I also let each child make a small book of the classroom rules if they wanted to.

I put out 6 large sheets of white poster board. Each sheet would represent a rule that we all agreed on and one sheet would be the cover of the book called “Our Rule Book.”

Rule #1 ~ Take Turns
Rule #2 ~ Play Fair
Rule #3 ~ Be Nice
Rule #4 ~ Clean Up
Rule #5 ~ Wash Hands

On the
poster board I wrote in pencil (very lightly) the rule and what it was so that the children could trace over the words with markers, crayons, or colored pencils. I then encouraged them to draw pictures, glue pictures from magazines or put stickers onto the poster board that related to that rule.

After we were all done, I stapled the 6 sheets together in book style. We read the book together and then we placed the book in the book shelf with all of the other books to be read anytime the children wanted to.

Perhaps you will make a big book of rules with your class? Let me know if you do, I would love to hear how it went.

As always, peach and joy,

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I Will Not Tell a Lie

During circle time we read the story “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.”

This book is a perfect example of honesty and what can happen if you don’t tell the truth.

I asked the children if they have ever lied. Surprisingly many of them admitted that they had. I asked them about some of the things they had lied about and what the consequences were when they got caught in a lie.

Some of the things they lied about was hitting a brother or sister or taking away their toy, breaking something, spilling milk or water, tearing a book, coloring on the wall.

When I asked them what happened when they got caught in a lie they talked about being put in time out, saying they were sorry or cleaning up their mess. It was a really rich conversation and I could see the remorse in their faces and hear it in their voices. I encourage you to have conversations like this with your children because it is a great way for them to learn and hear from each other.

I had a big piece of
chart paper taped to the wall and asked them what honesty meant to them.

Here is what they said,

• Tell the truth
• Don’t steal
• Don’t lie
• Don’t tell on someone else
• Don’t make up stories

I had brought in all kinds of props to act out “The Boy Who Cried Wolf,” we had stuffed sheep, a wolf and large sticks that would be their staff.

Below is the story in case you don’t have the book.
There once was a shepherd boy who was bored as he sat on the hillside watching the village sheep. To amuse himself he took a great breath and sang out, "Wolf! Wolf! The Wolf is chasing the sheep!" The villagers came running up the hill to help the boy drive the wolf away. But when they arrived at the top of the hill, they found no wolf. The boy laughed at the sight of their angry faces. "Don't cry 'wolf', shepherd boy," said the villagers, "when there's no wolf!" They went grumbling back down the hill. Later, the boy sang out again, "Wolf! Wolf! The wolf is chasing the sheep!" To his naughty delight, he watched the villagers run up the hill to help him drive the wolf away. When the villagers saw no wolf they sternly said, "Save your frightened song for when there is really something wrong! Don't cry 'wolf' when there is NO wolf!" But the boy just grinned and watched them go grumbling down the hill once more. Later, he saw a REAL wolf prowling about his flock. Alarmed, he leaped to his feet and sang out as loudly as he could, "Wolf! Wolf!" But the villagers thought he was trying to fool them again, and so they didn't come.
At sunset, everyone wondered why the shepherd boy hadn't returned to the village with their sheep. They went up the hill to find the boy. They found him weeping. "There really was a wolf here! The flock has scattered! I cried out, "Wolf!" Why didn't you come?" An old man tried to comfort the boy as they walked back to the village. "We'll help you look for the lost sheep in the morning," he said, putting his arm around the youth, "Nobody believes a liar...even when he is telling the truth!"

I hope if you do this with your class you have a great time and the children learn about not telling a lie and the importance of being honest.
Peace and Joy,

Monday, August 2, 2010

Caring Coupons

Over the next few weeks I will be focusing on character education. I believe that character education is a beautiful compliment to the teachings in the Bible and how God wants us to behave.

The first core virtue of character education we focused on was caring.

During circle time the children and I discussed what caring looks like or means to them.

Here is the list we came up with:

• Be nice to others
• Be compassionate
• Show you care
• Express gratitude
• Forgive others
• Help and take care of people in need
• Think good thoughts towards others
• Be generous with kind words and actions

I told the children we were going to make “Caring Coupons” for others. They were very excited about this and couldn’t wait to get started.

On the tables I had stapled together 5 coupon-shaped pieces of
paper into a booklet. In pencil (very lightly) I wrote “Caring Coupon Book” so that each child could trace over the words with a marker or crayon of their choice.

I put out stickers and pictures from magazine of cats, dogs, clothes, food, books, newspapers, gardens, flowers and other pictures that would represent something a child could do to show they cared.

The children glued the pictures into their books and dictated what they would do with that coupon to show they cared. For example, Andy glued a picture of a dog and said that he would take care of his dog and make sure he had food and water. Sarah glued a picture of flowers and said she would help her mom water the flowers in the garden.

It was so exciting because each book was unique to the individual child and they really seemed to grasp the concept of caring for others.

If you try this with the children in your class, there are many ways to make it appropriate for children of different abilities. For example, instead of magazine pictures the children could draw pictures on their own; the shapes of the coupons could be preprinted and children can practice cutting them out; or have the children cut the coupons out to make any shape they want.

As always, peace and joy,

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

It's All About The Sheep

Did you know that there are over 600 references to sheep, lamb, shepherds and ewe in the Bible? Sheep are consistently used throughout scripture to teach biblical truths.

I wanted to do a large group activity with the children because I believe it really teaches them teamwork, sharing, respect while at the same time having fun.

I made a huge cutout of a sheep and had it on the floor in the middle of our circle time as the children arrived.

I had them sit around the sheep and read them the bible verse John 10:7-16. I explained to the children that sheep are so important to God that he talks about them over 600 times in the bible. I asked them if they knew what a sheep sounds like and if they do can they make the sound. Of course, I heard a lot of “baaaas.”

After we talked about sheep I ask them if they know what a shepherd is. Many of them said Jesus and some said a man with a cane and others had no idea. I explained that a shepherd takes care of the sheep and uses a “staff” that looks like a cane to direct them.

I taught them a song that went like this…

“One Little Two Little Three Little Sheep”
(to the tune of “Ten Little Indians”)
One little, two little, three little sheep
Four little, five little, six little sheep
Seven little, eight little, nine little sheep
Ten sheep loved by the Shepherd

Then I told them that we were going to make our paper sheep nice and fluffy. I put out cottonballs of all different colors and told them they could put any color cottonball they wanted on their sheep. (To make colorful cottonballs you take powder tempera paint , put in a bag with some cottonballs and shake it.)

The children worked together beautifully and even color coordinated some of the cottonballs. I had individual sheep ready for them if they finished early and wanted to make their own sheep to take home as a reminder of our lesson. Most of them did this activity as well.

Let me know how your sheep lesson turns out.

As always, peace and joy,

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Joseph's Coat of Many Colors

Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colors.
Genesis 37:3

It was a very colorful day in class. Ahead of time I cut out paper bag vests for each child. They are simple to do, just cut open the middle of the front side of the bag. Cut a hole in the top for the neck. Cut a hole on each side of the bag for arm holes.

I always like to give the children lots of choices so I had paint, markers, crayons, tissue paper, fabric, glue and even chalk out on the tables.

At circle time we talked about Joseph and all of the reasons his father gave him a coat of many colors. The responses are always so cute and some were even funny. Some of the responses from them were:

“Joseph’s father gave him the coat because he was cold.”

“He gave him the coat because he wanted him to be pretty.” (my personal favorite)

“He wanted everyone to know that his coat was special.”

“He wanted to share.”

I asked them if they wanted to make a coat of many colors and they couldn’t get to the tables fast enough.

They colored, painted and glued fabric on their coats. Of course no two of them were alike. I made one along with them as we talked about how Joseph’s coat was probably made. Most of them thought it was sewed together by his father.

After the coats were completed we decided to have a parade through the school to show them off. It was so much fun as I let each child lead the parade for a little while.

I hope you will make Joseph’s coat of many colors with your students and have as much fun as I did.

As always, peace and joy,

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Prayer Lap Book

Have you ever made a lap book with your students? They are great fun and can be very interactive.

Today we made a “Prayer Lap Book.”

Before we started I put out the following items:

File Folders
Print outs of people praying
glue stick

I read them the story, “I Can Pray” by Happy Day Series.

We talked about praying, how we can kneel when we pray, fold our hands/arms and close our eyes.

We started creating our lap books. The children could choose from a variety of pictures, magazine cut outs or even color the outside cover to assemble their prayer lap book. I had them write with markers the words “My Prayer Lap Book” on the cover of their folder.

On the inside cover, I asked them to put pictures of what it looks like when people pray. They could draw or color pictures, or glue on the pictures that were already out on the table of people praying.

On the opposite cover I asked them to dictate to myself or my aide the things they pray about and perhaps a prayer they would like us to write down.

On the back cover they could do whatever they wanted.

Each book came out unique and colorful. I hope you will consider creating a lap book with your children.

As always, peace and joy,

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Rainbow Promise

Who doesn’t love a rainbow? I always enjoy doing a rainbow lesson with the children so that they are reminded of God’s promise to us. Here is something we did recently:

As the children arrived in the classroom they saw the following items out on the tables:

Cups of colored milk
Brand new, clean paintbrushes
Paper plates
Plastic knives

They were so excited because they knew they were going to get to eat.

We gathered in a circle so that I could read them the story “Let's Paint a Rainbow” by Eric Carle.

After the story we talked about rainbows, and I asked how many of them had ever seen a rainbow in the sky? They all raised their hands, so I figured if they hadn’t seen a rainbow in the sky they at least knew what a rainbow was.

We then discussed God’s promise to us from the passage in the Bible, Genesis 9:8-17. I replaced the word covenant with promise so that the children could understand it better. I explained to them that when they see a rainbow in the sky it reminds us of God’s promise and how much he loves us.

After the discussion we sang “Oh Rainbow.”

Oh Rainbow
Tune: O Christmas Tree
Oh rainbow, oh rainbow,
How lovely are your colors.
Oh rainbow, oh rainbow,
How lovely are your colors.
Purple, red and orange, too,
Yellow, green and blue so true.
Oh rainbow, oh rainbow,
How lovely are your colors.

After we were done singing it was off to make rainbow toast.

The children were allowed to “paint” any colors of the rainbow on their bread using the colored milk and what fun they had!

Before they ate their toast, Emily said a prayer, “Thank you God for this rainbow toast. Amen.”

As always, peace and joy,

Don't Be A Litter Bug - Earth Day Lesson

Earth day is fast approaching and I wanted to give you an activity idea to use with your children.

One lesson we use this time of year is to teach that God wants us to protect our earth, take good care of it and honor it. One way to get the message across to young children is to teach them not to be a “litter bug.”

Take some newspaper, scrap paper, clean bottle caps, clean string and other items that resemble litter. Go outside to the playground or outdoor setting and toss the “litter” all over before the children arrive, (yes, you read that correctly, make a mess and spread the litter).

As soon as all of the children have arrived tell them that something happened on the playground that you want to show them. Be prepared to answer questions about why there is litter all over the playground. Take garbage bags with your when you go outside or have them out there ahead of time.

Ask the children how God would feel if he knew that someone had spread litter outside. Most likely you will get answers like sad, mad, upset and not happy. Take a moment to sit outside with them and ask them if they know what a litter bug is and if they have ever been a litter bug.

Suggest to the children that we need to pick up the litter from the playground or outdoor area and once we pick it up we are going to go inside and make “litter bugs” with it. Explain that this litter is actually items you brought from home to help them practice picking up litter, and that the items are clean and OK to use for a craft project. Litter that they find on the ground in other settings should be disposed of properly.

In advance have
glue, scissors and crayons ready for the children to create their litter bugs.
One way to start is to show them how they can crumble the newspaper into balls and glue the bottle caps, string and other litter to the newspaper to create their bugs. This can be a creative, unguided project where the end results can be anything the children imagine.

Have little signs made up ahead of time that say “Don’t be a litter bug!” The children can attach these signs with a craft stick, straw or twig for their litter bugs/creatures to hold. Remind children when they see litter outdoors they can help keep the earth beautiful by picking it up and disposing of it properly.

At the end of class you can read a story about the earth. One of my favorites is “Dear Children of the Earth” by Schim Schimmel.

I hope you have great fun with this activity and let me know how it went.

As always, peace and joy,

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Easter and Eggs Can Go Together

Easter is fast approaching, I thought I would give you a great idea of how to incorporate dying eggs and the meaning of Easter together in an activity.

Before the activity, discuss with the children what the meaning of Easter is to them and read the story "Easter is for Me" by Christine Tangvald or another appropriate Easter story that you love.

Children know that we always dye eggs for Easter, but do we ever tie the activity to the real meaning of the season? Well, if you haven’t before, here is a fun way to approach this activity for the children in your classroom or home:

Each color can symbolize something about Easter. Set up stations of the following colors of Colorations® Liquid Watercolor or food coloring: YELLOW, RED, PURPLE, GREEN, BLACK, WHITE. (You can add your own colors and symbolization as well.)

After the stations are set up with the colors and tools to dye the eggs add a word on a tent card next to the following colors:

YELLOW ~ Sunshine
RED ~ Blood
PURPLE ~ Royalty
GREEN ~ Life
WHITE ~ Purity

As the children dye their eggs, go around to the stations and talk with them about the meaning of the color and the word and how it ties to Jesus and Easter.

You might say, “Did you know that Jesus died for our mistakes/sins?” and then explain that the black egg represents sin, or you might say, “Did you know that Jesus never sinned?” and then explain that the white egg represents his purity.

You can also take a white crayon and write the word on each egg before you dye it, or have the children do so. Once the egg is submerged in the dye, the color won’t adhere to the waxy word and colored eggs can be removed with the word still in tact.

I would love to hear some of the other activities that you do around Easter time.

Peace and Joy,

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Journal Activity for Kids, "The Golden Rule"

“The Golden Rule”
Matthew 7-12
“Treat others as you want to be treated”

This week we talked about “The Golden Rule.” Most of the children had no idea what “The Golden Rule” was or what it meant.

I read the story “The Golden Rule” by Jane Dippold, it starts like this…

Jesus gave us the Golden Rule and it works at home and it works at school.
Treat your friends and the whole world too, the way you wish they treated you.

After the story we talked about the ways that we would like others to treat us. Many of them said they wish that their brothers or sisters would share with them. Since sharing seemed like a common theme between the children I thought that “sharing” would be a great theme for our journal activity.

Before class I assembled stick journals for each child. These are very simple to make.

Stick Journals
(5) 4x6” pieces of cardstock
1 craft stick
1 rubber band
1 hole punch

Punch two holes on the edge of the 5 pieces so that they are about 2 inches apart.
Thread the rubber band through the top hole and back through the bottom hole. Run the craft stick through the top loop of the rubber band and the bottom loop of the rubber band so that the stick and rubber band are holding the pages together.

I gave each child a journal and said that we would call them our “Sharing Journals.”

I put stickers, markers, crayons, colored pencils (my preschool children love colored pencils) on the table. I also turned on the music to Raffi’s “The Sharing Song” as we worked.

Many of them went right to work, coloring and drawing and singing. We talked about what kinds of things they would like to share with others as they were drawing. They drew pictures of their toys, balls, cats, dogs and a couple of children were even bold enough to say they would share their mom or dad.

One practice that I have always used when working with preschool children is to have more than enough of something in case they want to do another one. I put out enough stick journals for each child to have an extra one or two. Many of them took the extras home to make a journal with their family. We talked about them sharing one with their brother or sister, and I encouraged them to bring them back to share with the class.

As always, peace and joy,

Thursday, February 25, 2010

"This is the Day the Lord has Made" an Activity Designed to Teach Kids How to Show Thanks

This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalm 118:24

Let’s have a party!

I decorated the classroom before the children arrived with balloons, streamers, confetti and posters.

On the posters I put the bible verse “This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24.

Why have a party for no reason, because the Lord said to “rejoice and be glad in it” and what better reason?

As the children arrived I gave them all party hats and bottles of bubbles. They wanted to know why we were having a party and if it was someone’s birthday.

I told them that we were having a party because the Lord told us to “rejoice and be glad in the day he made” while I showed them the posters where it said that.

We danced and sang and blew bubbles for quite some time. After we were done celebrating I asked them all to sit in a circle so that we could pray.

I started the prayer by thanking our Lord for giving us such a beautiful and wonderful day and for letting us celebrate in this glorious day. I asked each child to go around and thank our Lord for something too. The following are some of their responses:

“Thank you Lord for the bubbles, they were a lot of fun!”

“Thank you for today.”

“Thank you for our party.”

“Thank you for my mom and dad.”

“Thank you for my toys.”

“Thank you for Roxy (dog).”

“Thank you for the music; I like to dance.”

After we prayed, I brought out cupcake ice cream cones for each child to enjoy, and boy did they ever!

I know that we can’t have a party everyday and this might have been a bit over the top; however, sometimes not only do the children need to have fun while learning a verse from the bible, but teachers do too, and I sure love cupcake ice cream cones and bubbles!

As always, peace and joy,

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Sending God a Valentine!

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and what better way to celebrate it than to send God a Valentine?

1 Cornithians 13:4 says;
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

I have not done this lesson with the students yet but wanted to share with you what I plan to do to perhaps inspire you to do something similar.

As you may know, I love to chart what the children say and dictate their words onto cards, letters or other work they do.

In beginning the lesson I will ask the children what Valentine’s Day means to them and I will chart it as they speak. I am certain the word “love” will come out of the exercise, and then I will ask them if they would like to make a Valentine for God to tell him how much they love him.

We will make this a large group project and make a HUGE Valentine for God.

Some of the supplies we will use are the following:
Foam Shaped Heart Pieces
HUGE piece of Poster Board (cut it into the shape of a heart)

Each child will be given the opportunity to write, color, paint or draw on the card. For the students who can’t yet write, I will dictate what they say. I know that what they say on the Valentine card to God will be heartwarming and touching.

When everyone has had a chance to write on the card and it is finished, I will pull them into a circle and share what everyone said, colored, painted and drew.

We will end the lesson with reading the story:
My Valentine Story: Giving My Heart to God by Crystal Bowman

As the parents pick up their children, I will encourage them to look at the card with their child.

I hope this inspires you and would love to hear your thoughts.

As always, peace and joy,