Thursday, December 31, 2009


The year of our Lord 2010 is right around the corner.

May we continue to grow in wisdom and in the knowledge of God (Father, Son & Holy Spirit)
and of His Christ
through His Word,
and through His people
as we walk and work with Him
in this world of His that He loves.
Individually and collectively
May we learn to love the way He does.
Generations in Faith Together caught my eye. You may also find this interesting.

This is not the most recent post at KidMo! GrL but the characteristics of "progressive education" caught my eye.

scripture & art for kids

Scriptures and art projects for kids! Fun! (Use it with adults, too, if you want - why should kids have all the fun?)


- invite a resident teacher or art person who is part of your faith community or larger community to come and share a project idea to go with a story, a portion of scripture or a special holiday or event.

-once you know the story or passage you want to work with, spend some time in the library browsing the art & craft books in the children's room or in the adult section.

-use an arts/crafts book to pick a project to go with a specific topic, story, or verse. We think of paint and clay and drawing but you also have prints, 3-D (found materials or recyclables), crafts from nature, carving (soap/wax & plastic knives), cloth & fabric art, bookmaking, paper crafts, jewelry making, collage, assemblage, line designs, mosaic (with tissue paper, construction paper, tiles, etc), with appropriate supervision & instructions, punched hole designs in tin, woodworking, working with wire, woodburning, . . .

-Giving specific parameters for the project will often pull more from the artist: depending on the age of your kids, try
- a choice of materials, a specific story or passage, and specific guidelines
-one media or specific material, choice of story, and specific guidelines
-specific materials, specific story, no specific guidelines

This will take some research:

-imitate the style of an artist who loved God.

-Look at the different styles of Catholic artists, orthodox artists, protestant artists.

-Watch videos of artists or musicians wrestling with their faith.

-imitate the style of a particular time in art history. Look at the Biblical art from that time. What was happening in that country at that time to affect the artist and his art? an aside: I once took a college course where we went through both the art and music of western culture historically looking at similar elements.

-My mother-in-law taught art in an Episcopalian parochial elementary school in NYC so she had books of religious art depicting different Bible stories or passages. You can also do the same comparisons with a variety of Children's Bible story books if you don't want to go looking for old art. Look at different pictures, different styles for the same story.

-If you do want to go looking for old art created during different time periods. You
can choose art from the same historic time period but by different artists or look at different styles of the same scene from the same story from different historic time periods.

-If you can't find books with work like this in your local public library check university or art school libraries including Christian college or university libraries, Parochial school libraries, Catholic or orthodox church clergy or church libraries, Seminary libraries . . can always look online....

-Look at Bible story scenes from different stories by the same artist. Look at the same scene created by different artists. What do you see? What did the artist focus on? What did he/she see? Does it help you ponder the passage? What did the artist understand about God?

Whether you show your kids professional artwork first and then let them create or let them create and then show them professional artwork probably depends on your kids and your goals. As children share their artwork you're not critiquing their skill or technique (unless it's an art class) you're pondering with them. You're pondering what they see, how they see God and what God has done, how they see His story.

Artists and craftsmen will probably tell you that art and craft are not the same but that's a discussion for someone else. God is Creator, Artist and Craftsman...

My favorite books about faith and creativity are Madeline L'Engle's books: WALKING ON WATER and MADELINE L'ENGLE {HERSELF}. I'm sure there are more. Amazon has that neat feature "people who bought this book bought these..."

My 2 favorite books for doing art with kids:

by Marjorie Frank
Incentive Publications, 1976
Pencil, Pen, Crayon, Chalk, Paper, Paint, Print, Cloth, Yarn, String, Carve, Mold, Sculpt, Food, Crafts, Group Projects, Things to Do when you're Bored...a great resource but you can't be afraid of messes. This book includes recipes for clay, paste, etc & a bibliography.

DISCOVERING GREAT ARTISTS: Hands-On Art for Children in the Styles of the Great Masters
by MaryAnn F. Kohl & Kim Solga
Bright Idea for Learning/Bright Ring Publishing, 1996

There are endless art books for teachers and parents out there . . . endless . . . and the scriptures are filled with endless opportunity. Endless opportunity because each person grows older and more able to see and do and understand things we didn't last year. Endless materials, techniques and opportunity....He is the Alpha and Omega. He is Creator. We are created in His image.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Toddlers, Sharing, and the Christmas Story

The Christmas Story and sharing for toddlers...would it be theologically too-far-out-there to show God wrapping his baby son in a blanket from some high place in the clouds and handing it down to a young woman and her husband in a stable?


the Inn Keeper sharing a place for a baby to stay...

the animals sharing their space with a baby ...

the angels sharing their song about a baby ...

the shepherds sharing their work time- taking time out from their sheep - to visit a baby...

the kings sharing their gifts with a baby ...

Joseph and Mary sharing their lives with a baby ...

We grownups know that baby today as the Son of God, "God with us," God's gift to us - Savior of the world, King of Kings, Lord of Lords ...

but children, especially little children, see a baby, a very special baby ...

Every Christmas we made things to give to people at Christmastime. I've been quite happy that for my kids (ages 20-29), Christmas is still a time for some very thoughtful personal creative giving.

Maybe giving isn't the same as sharing. Buying a loaf of bread for someone isn't the same as breaking your last loaf in half and giving half of it away...or all of it away...

. . .more to ponder ...

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas story photos

The Nativity Story. Worth seeing! We watched it last night on TV. This is where the photos came from in the photo image booklet I have about the Christmas story (as mentioned in some earlier post). Nice historical/cultural context.

Friday, December 18, 2009

"bad kids"

Another search - bless the site meter...just kidding, although it's very nice when technical and mechanical things (like snow blowers) work the way they're supposed to . . . Thank you, Lord!

The search words: "Scriptures for bad kids"...hmmmmm. . . I'm not saying there aren't bad kids. Today the real definition for that is more profound than it used to be but let's put a different spin on it.

God had bad kids. Sometimes we are God's "bad kids" . . .

How about instead of looking for scriptures for "bad kids," we go looking for stories in scripture about God's "bad kids" & ponder God's response. Understand, as well that there were many different social and family-centered expectations and controls in the various Biblical cultures- very different than what we have today.

The stories that immediately spring to mind are the Prodigal Son, David, Jonah, Adam, Eve, Esau, Isaac, 2 out of 3 of Noah's sons, Joseph's brothers, Moses, Miriam, Aaron, Judah, Judas' daughters, Peter . . . Can you think of others?

Not that "bad kids" will want to hear stories about God's "bad kids" . . .

So we look at the scriptures for us: "pray without ceasing."

We entreat God for the grace and wisdom to demonstrate "the steadfast love of the Lord" that "never ceases". (Enjoy the cross references) We find solace in God's promises and the pictures He's given us that show us who He is and what He's capable of even if our faith is no bigger than a mustard seed.

Once a non-denominational charismatic evangelical, I can probably still rattle off a list of great books about prayer warriors. But more and more I find myself returning to the prayer Jesus taught His disciples when they asked Him to teach them to pray.

"Our Father . . . thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven . . ." That's what Jesus ultimately prayed in the Garden, though He seriously asked God for a different outcome.

Then you watch and wait and one day you look and realize that God answered that prayer and you say, wow - that was Your will. Bless Your Name, Lord God.

We throw around the word, "awesome." No, God is awesome. Never underestimate the power of God's love. Never underestimate the power and authority that Jesus had to forgive and to heal. Jesus said, "I and the Father are one." "That which I see My father doing, I do." How did He demonstrate that when He walked on this earth? Teacher, Healer. . . How do we model who He is and what He did (what He does) so even "bad kids" can see Father, Son & Holy Spirit working in and through us?

Artisan update

Artisan's 32 ft. of flannel around the sanctuary. Artisan's Facebook page and Twitter.
And don't forget Jerome Berryman's Godly Play (recommened for ages 3-10).

For toddlers? Bring toys, dolls, stuffed animals, safe props for the children to play with after you tell a story or sing a song or do a finger play.

You could, but you don't have to tell them how to play with the props or toys you provide.

What happens when they play?

What are you hoping will happen as they play?

How long do you have to stick with a new method before you begin to see something happen?

activites for the story

Regressing a little...activities, crafts for the story about John the Baptist for toddlers or young preschool. No matches. That's a joke. We burned incense, remember?

A quiet/no talking game.

A very simple angel craft. Our stereotypical visuals of angels aren't neccessarily true to scripture. You'll have to think about that and play with that a little but "angel" is a word they will hear alot during the Christmas season - a concrete vocabulary word, if you will providing you have a picture you're comfortable with.

In Bible times did they light the incense with a candle? Candle - another concrete vocab word for toddlers.

Someone who's going to have a baby.

I would probably go with some kind of simple angel to take home and or a quiet "I can't talk" game.

Angels will show up often in scripture - angels bringing messages from God. You could also play a message sending game. Invite a grown up for each child. Have short simple messages written on small pieces of paper for the kids to bring to their grown ups - a message like "Jesus loves you!" or "Jesus was a baby." If you dress them (the kids) up like angels you've got it made. Angels will be bringing other messages this season.

The whole side of concrete vocabulary with toddlers - what are the new Christmas words they will be hearing and seeing? Focus on those in your stories and with your activities.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

games & such

The newest Group Publishing e news (if you don't already get it) has some fun Christmas ideas. Scroll down.

From a TV commercial, make no bake rice krispie treat cookies & decorate to give away.

Nut mixes, dried fruit mixes. If each of the kids brings in a pound of something and you bring the zip loc bags - mix it all together, decorate the bags, bag the snack, and give it away.

Consider an assembly line project - cut felt shapes, add a Christmas tree hook, glue a picture, add glitter glue and then sequins. Assembly line projects are good for something you want to make lots of and you want them to look pretty much the same especially if you have a time limit.

Make snowflakes for the church windows assembly line for 20 minutes and then spend 10 minutes on individual snowflakes: Fold a paper in 1/4's, cut on fold lines (4 snowflakes), fold again, cut snowflakes, unfold/decorate with glitter glue. That's 5 jobs. Change jobs every 3-5 minutes and it will take about 15-20 minutes of actual work time. Keep the snowflake cutting part of the job only as long as it takes to do the other jobs. Ask the kids which they like better- assembly line or individual. Ask them why they liked or didn't like it.

For some other time of year: here's a decision-making relay for older kids. You need 2 or more teams or have any number of teams and let them race the clock for their best time. If you race the clock, each team will need a time keeper. For each team you will need a pile of hats or scarves(one for each member of the team), a pile of shirts (one for each member of the team- all T's or all button-down) and a pile of shoes (one pair for each member of the team). The first child in the team puts on a hat, then a shirt, then shoes and waits at the finish line. Then the next child goes until all teams are done. Have the kids change places in the line until each child gets to go in each spot. The next time you play the game make it more complicated: mix button down shirts and T shirts, tie shoes and slip-ons. After you play all the variations talk about the decision-making process. What was hard, what was easy. What did they like? What didn't they like? Did it get easier the more they played and practiced? How can you tie it into walking with God?

Have fun with it.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Toddler Stories from the Gospels

Sharing God's stories with the smallest - in some senses "the least."

In some ways God is an abstract not a concrete, although once a child's imagination kicks in God is probably more real to children than He is to us. Don't misunderstand what I'm saying here and take it out of context. (God is not another imaginary friend. He is God. He is very real)

And don't underestimate the significance of regularly picking up a Bible (or Bible story book) to tell one of God's stories. That's concrete. First thing in the morning? Bedtime? Naptime? Mealtime?

Does a little child follow a word for word read from that soft black book? Perhaps. But probably more importantly they know you are close. You are happy to be with them. You are making time for them. You are sharing a story with them. Sharing time with them, telling God's stories is important to you. You're building a foundation on a lot of different levels.

There are all kinds of children's Bibles and Bible storybooks on the market- probably more engaging than that tiny black and white text in a picture-less soft black book. Should I use a children's Bible or Bible storybook or should I read scripture verbatim? Beware of watering down the scriptures or changing what the scriptures say but if it's a fun way to understand God's truth, God's stories? 20 years ago I would have said absolutely - read it verbatim from that soft black book. Did my toddlers follow the story? Probably not. (I used Bible story books, too.) Would they eventually remember phrases they heard over and over year after year? Probably. I guess you'd have to ask them...

Let's use Luke. This is Advent. Let's take the story of John the Baptist because it's the first story - but it's a hard one.

Who are the key characters in the story? Who will show up later in the scriptures? Are there any objects I can use- tastes, smells, things to touch? Can I use pictures, puppets, faceless puppets, dolls? What are the words or images that would be familiar to this age group of children?

Here we go. . . A long long time ago in Bible times, there was an older man named Zechariah. He loved God very much. Elizabeth was his wife. They did what God told them to do. Zechariah went to work everyday to worship God in the temple. Today, it was his turn. He burned some incense. [burn some incense, turn the lights down]] The other workers stayed outside.

All of a sudden there was an angel standing near Zechariah.
Zechariah was soooooo afraid.

The angel said, "Don't be afraid, Zechariah. When you prayed, God was listening Elizabeth is going to have a baby boy. Name him John. He will be so much fun for you! Lots of people will be happy. He will grow up to be a great man but he will have special rules to follow. He will bring many people back to God and get people ready for Jesus.

But Zechariah said, "How can I be sure that what you're telling me is true?"

The angle Gabriel said, "I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God. He sent me to tell you this. If you don't believe me then you won't be able to talk until all these things that I've told you happen."

The people waiting outside began to wonder, "Why was it taking him so long?"
When Zechariah came out, he couldn't talk! Then the people knew he had seen a vision from God.

Zechariah and Elizabeth were pretty old. But they soon found out they were going to have a baby just like the angel told Zechariah.
["going to have a baby" is a familiar phrase to lots of toddlers & preschoolers. You could include a mom who is going to have a baby, a grandma, a grandpa in your audience. Maybe an older woman who is going to have a baby. "Elizabeth was an older lady like ____ but she was going to have a baby like ______." You get the idea. The rest of the story is in Luke 1:57. This might be way too much for young toddlers but not for preschool.

What will toddlers remember? How animated you were, how much fun they had listening to the story, the incense, the guests, maybe that this was a story about someone "having a baby", your props, the angel, maybe the old man, the old lady, maybe not being able to talk...maybe...

But each time they hear that story a little more of the story will make sense to them. They'll remember a little more.

During the Christmas season point out things in everyday life that the kids might hear in the Christmas story. Visit a live creche or a farm. Point out a donkey, a cow, straw, someone who is going to have a baby. Point to the stars. Bring them to worship so they can hear lots of singing. Go outside on a hillside at night.

Will they remember and connect these things to the story? Maybe, but again, you're building a foundation. Sit outside in the dark. Have someone turn on the car headlights. Isn't that similar to what the shepherds experienced but without electricity? Does a toddler know the difference between electricity or not? No, but they might remember the experience, the surprise, the light in the darkness.

Take a LONG walk - not as long as Mary & Joseph's but... you get the idea...

If you do things like that with kids before they hear the Bible story, they will have more to bring to the story when they hear it. Infants? Toddlers? Preschoolers? Everything you do or don't do is creating a foundation for what's to come - not just cognitive knowledge but emotional and kinethetic memories - something tangible they can associate with the words they hear in God's stories. It can't hurt.

Instead of thinking about the things little children don't understand, think about what they do understand. Every time you read or tell the story build on it just alittle. Build on their understanding of and knowledge of God and Christ Jesus. And never underestimate God's Holy Spirit or the power of His Word. John moved in his mother's womb in the presence of Mary and Jesus - both much younger than your toddlers ... anyway... more to ponder..

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Check these out

From Followers: Blogs I Follow...

podcast at - Julie Clawson's book EVERYDAY JUSTICE.

advent poetry blog. Anybody who loves Madeline L'Engle and George McDonald has my vote.
On a more serious note, someone was looking for scriptures for runaway children . . . Suggestions? Scriptures, links, books you like?

Rebus and beyond

I really like having a site meter.

Somebody was looking for a Christmas Rebus story. Rebus stories are a little tricky. The pictures are usually a character, place or thing ie. a noun. Not sure you can show action with a very simple repeatable picture. Maybe. Your describing words and prepositions, probably not.

Then all the words in between should be easy to read for new readers or in a context that would make them easy to figure out. Could be a fun project with power point or an easel with color copies of the pics you're using. You could use flannel, too.

It might also be fun to let the kids create their own Christmas rebus stories. Show them how to make a rebus and then turn them loose with paper and markers or copies of christmas scenes to cut and paste. Maybe you have cut out words to add between the pictures to paste in sequence. Or maybe you have pictures to paste in sequence with space to fill in (write) words.

Maybe you make it a very long Rebus that your class creates for a younger class to "read" & hang around their room.

And here is an idea from a writing class I took once. Using props to trigger a memory, write or draw a story about a Christmas from your past. Possible props: A smell (cinnamon or pine), an object (candle, ornament, pine bough), a sound (a jingle bell, a Christmas song,) something to touch or taste.

Put on your creative thinking cap and have fun with it.

I can never spell cinnamon...but guess what! Naamon in in there if you misspell Namon with one A - ha ha

Bulletin I finally remember because of "bullet" and "tin". Random, I know. But I spell it correctly more than I used to.

Friday, December 11, 2009

bible study tools online & random rambling

I was missing the Study Tools feature at Bible Gateway but I found one! interlinear Bibles, lexicons, and such. I was looking up "Counselor" in Isaiah 9 and "Counselor/Comforter" in John 14.

This is an aside: My daughter and I were just talking about the difference between working online and holding an old recipe or a cookbook in your hand. A few days earlier we were talking about kids, wondering what if they didn't have access to electricity or technology and how easy it would be to see tactile media (books, magazines, etc) disappear. I told her, if you ever have kids and I'm not around, make sure they know how to survive without electricity and technology. Sound far-fetched? Maybe. Maybe not.

We definately get to practice when there's a power outage but what if it all goes down globally? When the ATM's don't work and the power doors don't open? Did you ever go to a grocery store when the machines were down and have a cashier who didn't know how to make change or even know how to handle money? There are definately people working hard to make sure that doesn't happen but still . . .

Hopefully it will remain only a "what if" for science fiction writers. The more challenging sci fi prompt would be to put God in the story. I'm guessing He wouldn't be quick to turn the power on.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

another (random) activity for Jesus walking on the water

If you decide to use a little science for a scripture like the story of Jesus walking on the water (not to take away from the miracle of it) there is a book - a series of books to look at. When the kids were younger we found a book for making insects with moving parts and such. I THINK this is the book but I can't look inside so I don't know. If I remember correctly one of the insects was a water strider - the insect that walks on top of the water. It was a very cool hands-on book for kids (crafts and facts). If this is in fact the book, turns out there is a whole series of books like that.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Prince of Peace

During Advent I often think about Isaiah 9:6 .

When you consider the list of God's names, did you ever consider what He did, what He does, that reflect each specific name? Example: "Shepherd" aptly describes much of God's interaction with Israel and for some of us one of the ways we know God in our own lives..

At what point in the gospels does He reveal Himself to reflect the names in Isaiah 9:6?

We see Him as child. We see Him as son representing His heavenly Father all through the gospels.

Where do we see Him carrying government on His shoulders?

When does He reveal Himself the promised Wonderful Counselor? When He promises His Holy Spirit? Or before? Is that word someone who gives counsel like a therapist or someone like a lawyer or an advocate?

We see Him as God - "I and the Father are One." Mighty God - Where in the gospels does He reveal Himself as Mighty God? When He heals? When the sky turns dark and the curtain in the temple is torn? Can you think of any other times when Jesus is mighty?

When does He show Himself our Everlasting Father? When does He call the grown ups around Him, "children?"

Prince of Peace - That's where I started, in my thinking. Reconciliation? Peace between man and God or was He doing even more peacemaking day to day when He walked the earth? Where in the gospels do you see Jesus bringing peace to situations? Why is He a prince of peace and not a king of peace?

Wouldn't you hate to have me in your Sunday School class? :-)

So that's my Advent meditation this year. Jesus - Prince of making peace . . .

Thursday, December 03, 2009

ChurchWorldDirect shows up in my inbox often. Not sure why but you may find some useful resources here. They have some new animated DVD's about people like Gladys Aylsworth, Jim Elliot, William Tyndale . . .I haven't seen them but they're available.

Story photos and images

Someone was looking for an "angel and Cornelius photo." At first I laughed. Not because they were looking for a picture but a photo. But then I got to thinking why not? If and when you do skits or plays with adults (or children) why not stage photos that you can use later to tell the story? It's probably much harder and more time consuming than it sounds but it would make for an interesting approach to Bible storytelling. You also have Powerpoint. Some of you might think of the business possibilities but it's no small task to get the pictures the way you want them to tell the story.

It's the opposite of the approach I like from Young Children In Worship where the figures have no faces because it's a sacred story and faceless figures allow you to see with different eyes or use your imagination.

If you really want to play you could put your story photos on Photoshop and make them faceless photos. It might be eerie but it might work. I have no idea.

Just an idea to play with. If you decide to try it, let me know what happens.