Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas Thoughts

Do you have a real live manger scene to visit this season? Maybe at your own church. Maybe at a neighboring church?

How about a barn full of farm animals with all the smells and textures, out in the cold...

If the sky is clear this week, look up into the sky after dark and check out the stars...

If you live near a desert or a big salt lake, check out the moon, if it's still in the sky...

Do you wander from house to house singing Christmas carols? Does it make you think of the angels?

Do folks sleeping on the street make you think of shepherds?

Do unwed mothers remind you of Mary?

Do new babies remind you of Jesus?

Do you find yourself without something that you think you need to celebrate the season, like a place to spend the night?

Break away from traditional thought. Ponder the stories.

Think about the folks who were there when Christ Jesus arrived on this earth, who do they make you think about today: city folk, country folk, animals, rich, poor, celestial, the impatient, the generous...anybody else?

Venite adoramus! 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Yes, it's a dog article! But the way I see it, God made us and our children. God gave us the amazing animals we've come to know as companion dogs. We are stewards.

This article is from the Bark magazine. Included is how much daily exercise time is recommended for different age groups, including children - with or without a dog. ;-)

Monday, September 02, 2013

Taking an idea back to the scriptures

A couple of articles I've read recently, written for parents but for teachers, too. These aren't specifically Christian but worth reading. Consider an approach like this...

"Collaborating with a 4-year old"  about parenting and art.

Can  you find stories in scripture where parents and children collaborated in childhood? As adults?  How about stories of God collaborating with Man? (Talk about a difference in skill and maturity!) Find the stories or the verses in context.

Don't tell kids how smart they are! 

Compliment their work, their effort, their ability to collaborate, their ability to find a solution for the problem. .. but is that what scripture says? Did you ever look?

Did God compliment His Son? Does God compliment Man? Find the stories or the verses in context. Did He? How much? When? To whom? What did God say?

How can you apply what you discover to your interaction with children?

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Abstract Words We Take Granted

This morning at breakfast, my dad (a faithful Protestant church-goer for 85 years) asked,"what's the difference between grace and mercy? Are they the same? Both my parents have been active in their churches for their entire lives. So we looked up the meanings in my sister's AMERICAN DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE Noah Webster 1828.

When we read "mercy" - "tenderness" I got thinking about this blog and the early posts about giving kids "concrete" understanding of some of the words we take for granted, words that we need to have first hand experience with if we're to understand the scriptures (sheep, grape vines, stars...). Such nouns are multiple-sensory concrete words - multi-sensory associations if we've interacted with the real thing.

What about words like "grace" and "mercy"? Where in life, outside of church, will a child ever hear or use those words? How do we give them concrete meaning and association? Where are the stories of scripture that give them meaning? (Moses-humility, David-man after God's heart). Where are the pictures of what those "religious" words mean?

First, look up the definition. Read the stories of scripture that use those words. Then watch for them in real life! Did you ever see a child express mercy to another child? A kitten? A parent? Did you ever see "grace"? What other words do we rarely see in the "real" world?

Dogs aren't kids, kids aren't dogs but we teach a dog what a word means by attaching the word to the doing of the word. When you see it, name it! It's not about Suzie or Johnny doing this wonderful deed. Did you see grace when Will forgave Chloe for hitting him and invited her to his birthday party? Did you see mercy when Jamie brought us the first aid kit and held Ty's hand while we doctored his cut?

Pick one of those essential-to-the-faith-because-it-is-the-nature-of-God words and go looking for it. When you see it, name it and show it to a child.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

I've been thinking about this every time I sit and play gin rummy with my mom, a devout Presbyterian. She doesn't gamble - doesn't believe in it and I understand that the very concept of card playing is controversial but bear with me.

You are dealt a hand, given resources. Then you are offered more resources. You get to pick and choose whether or not you use them, save them, or get rid of them. Sometimes you work with a partner. As you do this, you may find that different combinations are worth more or less to you, depending on what the other folks use up, save, or discard...

Just a teachable moment that I'd never really thought about. My mom loves board games. Though it's gotten harder for her to focus, she still plays one card game. My kids love to play either... Me, not so much. When we 're small we learn about life through pretending and the games we play as well as our real life experiences...As we get older, play takes different forms. An odd way to think about stewardship, but I was thinking about stewardship.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The blog of a godly play trainer, parent, teacher, art education person

Check it out!!

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Stories of Scripture: Adding to the Experience

I've posted about this before.

As you read the stories of scripture and passages to remember consider that people were day-to-day familiar with the natural images and analogies you find. It added to their understanding of the story - a teaching and learning tool in God's hand.

If you aren't already familiar with those natural images find a way! Look ahead at the stories you'll cover this season. Make a list. What pre-story scouting can you do to add to the sensory experience for your kids and ultimately to their understanding of who God is.

Maybe your kids are more familiar day-to-day with some of the images than you are. Give them opportunities to share.

Ask your kids: "What do you know about lilies in a field?" A sparrow? Sheep?

Grape vines

Rain on a farmers field

Waves on great lakes

a desert

dry seasons


We know God by all the names He gives us in the scriptures but, especially as children, we learn to know God as Creator.

We don't even have to over-explain and understand all the ins and outs. Sometimes it's enough to just stand in awe of Him and all that His hands have done. Sometimes it's enough to just say "Wow!"

Sunday, May 19, 2013

grapevine! (Some of you have asked for more photos!)

Looks like I need to go back and take pictures!!

Grape Vines

We took my youngest daughter out to eat for her 24th birthday in the middle of Finger Lakes wine country.

Thought about you guys as I stared out the window at a field of grape vines. Sorry. Forgot my camera. The trunks were noticeably old and thick. The leaves small, tender, new.  These are fairly young wineries.

The vinier had surely cut out all the dead wood that didn't bear any fruit and pruned back the branches that did. Someone who went to college in wine country on Lake Erie once told us how the smell of the grapes in the fields before harvest hung heavy in the air.

They'll be picking lots of ripe grapes in the fall and crushing the grapes and letting the juice mellow and age ...

Made me think of old traditions and new ideas, old folks and children, good fruit, bad fruit, crushed fruit and dead wood...

Went back and read John 15 .

If you're driving through wine country use the opportunity to ponder God's thoughts about vines and grapes and vineyards and wine...aged wine... Take a tour. Go back and read John 15.

Behind the restaurant was an abandoned field of grapevines, unpruned, unkept, obscured by all the other plant life left to take over the field...The vines are still there. They just won't bear the quality or quantity of fruit that the other field will.

Lots to ponder...

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

I don't know this person or anything about her views but what a neat concept!

Here's the link!

How can kids take pain or hate and (literally) turn it into blessing?

Friday, February 22, 2013

Monday, February 18, 2013


Sitting with my parents at their church Sunday. They were looking for nursery volunteers promising "no crying babies". That part was intended as a joke.

So I got thinking, of course: When we care for infants, some people seem to just have the "touch." They're better at calming them than others. Maybe skill or technique. Maybe it's the age and experience of the caregiver. Maybe a baby just "knows me" or "likes me!"

But I got thinking about visual, auditory, kinesthetic learners and I'm wondering if a child's preference for visual, auditory, kinesthetic/tactile, olfactory stimuli show up before they're even pre-schoolers when they're still infants. Beyond the comfort of the familiar, I wonder if some babies find smiles or mobiles more calming than sounds and singing or visa versa. Or whether some babies find touch, fleece, or smells more soothing than sights and sounds.

Maybe there's research out there, I haven't looked. Just wondering if, when trying to calm a crying baby - after we've exhausted the familiar (and the possibility of colic) - if babies have sensory preferences.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Did you ever find that you really identify with a particular Bible character? How about the kids in your class?

When you read a Bible story, are there ways to help kids identify with the characters in the story?

"How do you think ____ felt? Did you ever feel like that?"

"Did you ever do something like that? Do you know someone who did?" Not just the major characters but the other characters in the stories, too.

I know of someone who makes me think of Esther . . .

I know someone who makes me think of Jonah...

I know someone who makes me think of Noah's mother...

How about you?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

I'm working very hard this year not to make excuses. Don't let your kids practice the habit of making excuses.

Here's a study for you. Take a look at Bible characters. Who made excuses? Who didn't? Take a look at their stories. I'm not saying any story only has one theme. Who made excuses?

Don't go in with preconceived ideas about what this means, what that means. Make observations*. Who made excuses? Where did it get them? Who could have made excuses but didn't? What role did God play? What was His response?

Take a group of older kids (who probably think they already know all they need to know about Bible stories.) Pick a topic like this or an issue they're having. Make them think. Make them search the Word. Let them look for applications. Let them challenge each other and defend why they think that story applies. You might need a hose to put out fires but you'll have a good time!

*I say, "Make observations" but it means "Let the Story teach you," as opposed to making it say what you or (or someone else) want it to say.