Friday, March 29, 2013

Building a cross with Daddy

We knew this year that, above all else, we wanted our kids to know the reason of the Lenten/Easter season, and NOT that it is about a rabbit giving gifts or getting candy in eggs.  That's just our opinion, but we feel like there is too much richness, too many great opportunities for deep spiritual traditions to dilute them with other things--we're choosing the BEST over the GOOD.  We'll still do some of the "springy" things--and may even paint eggs, etc., but AFTER the Easter season.  We want to keep our kids focused.  Especially on Easter morning.

However this year has looked a little different for us--Matt and I will be out of town at a sibling's wedding this weekend, so we'll spend Easter apart from the kids--who are hanging out with relatives.  So that made some of our Easter traditions non-applicable this year...however we've rolled with those punches and I think we've adapted our Easter season to a way that fits us in this time of life perfectly. 

Above all I want to be MORE INTENTIONAL in developing my children's spiritual development during this Lenten/Easter season that worrying about clothes or eggs or baskets or dinners, etc.  And that hasn't always been the case for me, so this is a growth point for sure.  I want my kids to look back on Easters past and see straight to the cross. 

A tradition that came about on its own this year is building a cross with Daddy.  There was a new, beautiful cross made out of simple 4X4's hanging up at church this month and Quinn asked Daddy if he could build her one, too.  We happened to have some scraps around that Daddy and the kids fashioned into a cross, over the course of 2 evenings. 

Here they are nailing the pieces of wood together.  Daddy predrilled the holes and got big nails for the kids to work with.  Real nails, real hammer.  They were eating this up. 

Then it was time to put the nails in the places where Jesus' hands and feet went.  I took a minute to show Q the nail in detail and explain to her how it went through his hand and how it held him up there.  I know my daughter and I knew that she was ready for this and she could handle this.  Obviously it depends on the kid when this kind of imformation should be shared.  She was stunned and very sober as she put it all together in her mind.  She's referred back to the nails and the holes many times over the past few days. 

Each kid nailed in a nail where Jesus' hands would have gone.  I plan to save the cross and re-nail the hand nails as part of our Easter tradition through the years.  As the kids mature we may nail written or symbolic things to the cross as we think about what the cross really means to us. 

We shrouded it in purple, the color of the Easter season, so that we remember that Jesus is the King of Kings.  Today I spent time with some of my favorite kiddos in a Good Friday time and we talked about our King--a king who was so very different from what was expected of a king.  I'll share those photos soon.  Our cross marked the entry way at the park where we held our ceremony today. 
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9 of the 10 plagues of Egypt (from Exodus)

Here's our Godly Play set-up for the first 9 plagues:

We revisited our characters from the past sessions--starting with Moses and Aaron visiting Pharoah and asking him to let the Israelites go.

Here's Aaron with his pipecleaner staff....

that turns into a snake:

And you know what Pharoah now for the plagues.

Water to blood--I set up our river scene just like from Baby Moses and we put a piece of red tulle over the water to make it look "bloody."

Next is frogs--I just raided our plastic creatures and got some frogs to spread around--you'll also note we set up the "working scene, " from the Exodus Playset.

You could also fold origami frogs--that would be so cute and they are not too hard to fold.

The next plague is lice--I just tied some pieces of black embroidery floss into knots and left little "wings" on the side.  

We put them all over the people.

And flies--I happened to have some little ones.  You could also use little scraps of black paper, felt, or flannel.  

And pestilence--death of the livestock.  I raided our Nativity scene for the livestock to use.  

And boils--I used a holepunch to make red circles and then this tape/glue pen to make em sticky.  We are storing all the plague materials in an empty oatmeal canister, so the lid was the perfect place for storing the boils.  Don't look at the sticky spots on my kitchen table that show up in the next photo, okay?

And locusts.  We have locust cases all over here in Texas.  So I rounded them up outside.  You might want to keep your eyes open for some to save this summer and have em ready for next spring!  You could also just use little balls of brown paper or anything brown if you are squeamish about bugs or don't have any.  :)  My kids LOVE the real thing!

Talk about how the plagues EVEN affected Pharaoh and his household.....

And hail--black-eyed peas or any white bean.  Even plastic pearl beads would work.   
 And darkness--we used a black cloth napkin over everything.   

And the last plague--death of the firstborn--and Passover--will come in another post!
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On Godly Play

Read this on a blog this week:
"...but I always love to see the interacting with the Biblical story and their here-and-now play; melding the sacred and their daily life.  Yes, when the story has been played with and even added too, I am glad; scripture is not fragile and they are discovering that these stories are for them.  And I am discovering that these stories are indeed forming their imaginations and that makes a mama's heart very grateful indeed! "
-Watkins Every Flavor Beans

I love the way she puts it and that is exactly the power I see in Godly play for my children....the knowledge that "scripture is not fragile and the stories are for them." 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Bunny Song

Little bunny Hop goes through the clover top, looking for a breakfast in the morning.  Nibbly, Nibbly, Nibbly! 

Hosanna-- Celebrating the Triumphal Entry with toddlers and preschoolers

Sunday was a busy day for us.  I'd been out of town over the weekend shooting a wedding, we had church, Matt and I had an evening "errand date" and it just wasn't a good day to do our Hosanna activities.  So we started out with them on Monday morning.

First we got everything ready.  We borrowed some rocks from our neighbors' flowerbed and made a road.  It was important to have the rocks because they come into the story later, but it also made the perfect road and let the kids help with the set-up.  Quinn got the broom to sweep all the pollen and pine needles and leaves off the path to get everything ready for Jesus.  (Which is the exact picture of the Lenten season, right? Sweeping our hearts and lives clear to be ready to open our hearts to the message of the crucifixtion and resurrection?)

Sunday night we saw a huge stack of palm branches in a neighbor's trash.  PERFECTO!  Matt even threw it in reverse so I could load them onto the top of the car because they were too big to fit in.  I was so excited to have the perfect props!  If you don't live where there are palm branches there are still lots of choices--use other branches (pine, etc.), cut palm branches from paper or felt or fabric.....the palm part isn't important.
Notice our very spiritual cat overlooking the Bible story.

Then we threw our coats down.  Which was interesting, because when I told the kids to grab their coats Quinn knew the story well enough to know what we were going to do with the coats.  "I am going to get an old coat because I don't want my favorite one on the ground."  We stopped and had a talk about sacrificial giving and what it tells Jesus when we choose him over our things--especially our favorite things.  Mama needs that lesson, too.......

Then I wanted to write the part of the verse "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord" in chalk near our "road," so while I did that, Q chose to draw a person praising God with a palm branch saying, "Hosanna."

(Q's person)
And our donkey:  Q's bike, with some grey fabric and Q's coat under "Jesus," a boy doll we happen to have.  Try not to notice that Jesus is entering Jerusalem in his footie PJ's, okay?  
(additional sidenote--older kids could be put to the task of making a sign that says, "Jerusalem" on it for the area....writing, simple woodworking could be involved....)
The donkey's head was saved from LAST YEARS' Hosanna project.  
 We just taped the head on the bike with masking tape.
We read the story from Luke to make sure we had everything set up right.  The tape was my paperweight as it was windy and kept blowing away my notes!
Then we acted out the scene.  We waved our palm branches (also--I used some garden shears to cut the pokey parts off the stalks so they wouldn't cut our hands) and Beck wanted to wave a stick, which was fine. We sang "Hosanna" and we said "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord."  

Then I pretended to be a Pharisee and Q pretended to be Jesus.  I said, "Jesus, tell your disciples to stop this!  They are saying things that are untrue!"  And Jesus (Q) replied, "If they don't praise me the rocks will cry out!"  Then Jesus (Q) got to the end of the road and turned to weep over Jerusalem.

 And of course Little Man needed a turn to be Jesus, too, so we reinacted it lots of times, and we still have it set up because they want Daddy to do it with us some evening this week.  
 So the important parts of teaching a Bible story--
*spend time preparing
*take the kids to the actual scriptures in the Bible and what it says in the scriptures
*let the kids help you set up and talk about why you are using the objects you've chosen
*tactile, hands-on materials
*repeat as many times as children are interested
*let them respond through play with the materials
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Tuesday, March 19, 2013


My good friend, E stepped up to my outdoor challenge and headed to "Sally's" (Salvation Army) to replenish her outdoor toys.  She says:
"$2.33, I'm super impressed!  The plastic spatula is because I didn't see any metal on this trip:)  Cheese knife, 3 wooden spoons, 1 metal spoon, 1 spatula, 1 tongs, 1 grater."

Five stars for her and these great finds!!  Who's next?  Email me your pics and I'll post em!

PS) Another great thing about these outdoor toys--they are wonderful vocabulary builders--tongs, grater, spatula....all words a child will learn as they play with these items!
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Monday, March 18, 2013

Rabbit Footprints

Today we made some rabbit footprint stamps.  I looked up the shape on the internet, cut them out of paper, then Q traced them on cardboard and I cut them out.  We hotglued them onto a base and used spools for handles.  We headed outside with purple paint and I stamped the rabbit prints on the patio.  They turned out less cool than I had hoped--there weren't super clear lines and you couldn't see the toes that well.  But Q liked em, and that's all that mattered.  Then we got her feet painty, which she LOVED, and we put her footprints next to them. 

And then she labeled her footprints and the rabbit footprints--she sounded out most of "rabbit" herself-I just helped with the double "bb" part.  Then we talked a bit about some similarities/differences and I wrote down our observations.  Then she played in the paint and made footprints and handprints all over the sidewalk--this was a huge hit--and it was washable paint, so I was happy to indulge her!  After her painting frenzy we washed her off with the hose and left the prints for Daddy to see.