Beans & Shapes – A Toddler Activity

I’m always on the lookout for new ways to keep my soon-to-be 3-year-old busy while the rest of us are doing school.  Otherwise, her many needs turn into interruptions and make it hard for us to get done all that we need to do in school.  I don’t want her growing up thinking she’s just a “need” to be met.   I want her to feel important, too.  I’ve decided to be a little more proactive in finding her some things to do that won’t be disruptive and that’s not sitting in front of a movie.  Today, I decided to pull out our pail of beans that I keep on hand for her to play with.  Sometimes, I just let her scoop them from one bucket to another bucket, but today, we decided to try something different.

I drew a shape on four different pieces of paper.  A circle, a square, a rectangle, and a triangle.  We talked about what each shape was and I asked her to use her beans to cover the lines, making the shapes out of the beans.  That worked for a little while to keep her busy and then, it got a little too tedious for her.  After that, she decided she wanted to fill each shape with the beans.  Either way worked pretty good.  One, of course, would be more time consuming than the other.

I’m always on the lookout for new activities to share with my toddler.  I’m thinking about doing a Preschool Activities in a Bag swap.  Would any of you be interested in doing that?  If you are, leave me a comment and we’ll see what we can pull together.

[If you're not familiar with activities in a bag, you would put together 20-25 bag activities or games of the same thing and then mail it to one person.  That person would then divide up the different bags and mail them all to each person.  Your cost would be the cost of the materials for the 20-25 bags, shipping to the swap coordinator and shipping back to you which you would send with your shipment to the swap coordinator.  The idea is to save time and money, but get a large variety of preschool activities for your little one.]


Training My Children’s Hearts

As many of you know, we homeschool our children.  One of the many reasons we choose to go this route in their formal education is so that we can direct their spiritual learning and disciplines.  We want them to be able to learn about Christ, all throughout their school day and we want Him intertwined in the different school subjects that they’re learning about.

One year, at a homeschool conference, I heard Voddie Bacham (a wonderful, inspiring speaker) tell about how they started their small kids with a catechism.  If you’re anything like I was, you’re thinking a cate-what?  I didn’t grow up in any churches that used catechisms (that I know of anyway) and frankly, if I had seen a book on it anywhere, I wouldn’t have picked it up, because I didn’t know what it was.  After the session that Mr. Bacham spoke in about catechisms, every homeschool convention vendor who carried them, sold out within the hour.  It was pretty funny to see the look of surprise on the vendors’ faces, wondering why their books on the catechism were suddenly selling like hotcakes!

I know that many of you, do know what a catechism is, but in all fairness to those who may not, here is the definition.

  1. cat·e·chism/ˈkatəˌkizəm/

    Noun:
    1. A summary of the principles of Christian religion in the form of questions and answers, used for the instruction of Christians.
    2. A series of fixed questions, answers, or precepts used for instruction in other situations.

In short, it is a book full of questions and answers on biblical doctrine.  They sell so many different kinds of catechisms, it can be overwhelming to know where to start.  They have really long, theological ones and really short ones made for kids.  The only thing I knew is that I wanted something that was easy for my children to understand, that wasn’t extremely boring.  And I have a wide age range of children!  They start at 14 and go all the way down to 7 months.  Of course, I also wanted something easy for me to teach.  And yes, I do realize that the 7 month old probably won’t be getting much out of it yet!  LOL

The reason, for teaching the children through catechism is so that we can catch them when they are young.  Teach them doctrine that they will not get through Bible stories.  It will give them a biblical worldview in which to base decisions in their lives upon.  It will give them a solid foundation of Biblical principles that they can sift new knowledge that they are obtaining over the years through.  

Well, fast forward a year, I still hadn’t purchased anything like that for them.  Finally, I ran across this book called Training Hearts, Teaching Minds by Starr Meade.  It is a book of family devotions based on the Shorter Catechism.  What I loved about it is that it breaks each Catechism question down into a week of 6 short little lessons.  You would do one a day for 6 days, reading the Scripture to go along with it.

For example:

Week 1
Q. 1.  What is Man’s Primary Purpose?
A.  Man’s primary purpose is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.

Then, Monday through Saturday, you read a short paragraph explaining that concept in a little more detail, along with a Scripture verse that helps to solidify it.  By the end of the week, they usually have the answer to that question memorized, as well as a week of repetitive explanation on exactly what it means to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

Just what I needed!  I’m telling you, I need things that are easy….or I just won’t do them.  This definitely falls into that category!  We recently started doing this devotional book again and I was really surprised to see what some of my children had retained after not doing it for a couple of months.  I’m excited to see what they learn in the coming months!

Some other resources that we have used to teach our children about being a Christian and their Biblical Worldview are:

  • Awana program at a local church – I’m really excited at the amount of Scripture in my children because of this program!
  • Light Bearers – my 14 year old is using this to help him think through his worldview.  It’s been a really neat program, helping him to think more Biblically.   
  • Bright Lights – this is a program specifically for girls to encourage one another to live Godly lives and to develop Godly disciplines of Bible reading, prayer and memorization.  
  • Who Is God? (And Can I Really Know Him?) - This is the first in a series on Biblical Worldview for ages 6-14.  They have really enjoyed using it!
What about you?  What are your favorite resources to teach your children to further their Christian walk?  Even if  you’re not a homeschooler, please share if you have a favorite!  Most of these resources are easily used, regardless of if the child is homeschooled or not.  

Home Made Mouse Valentine Cards

This is a really simple Valentine card that we made several years ago. My 12 year old daughter decided she didn’t want to give store bought Valentine’s away this year, so she made these up for her friends again.  It’s been several years since we made them, so I’m sure they don’t even remember them!

Here’s what you need:

Construction paper hearts, folded in half
Construction paper cut as mouse ears
Googly eyes (or you could draw them on)
Glue
yarn for the tale
Tape to tape it in (or could try glue)
Markers to draw nose on and to write a note on the inside.

The Mouse’s body is a heart folded in half.

Super cute and super easy!

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