Monday, December 16, 2013

Kindness Elves

      I have never had the desire to do the Elf on the Shelf. Mainly because my boys do not need any inspiration in the world of mischief, but also because I find the idea of purposefully making messes stressful. I know, I am a little crazy. After reading this article (, I found that I agreed that 1- Elf on the shelf looks creepy, and 2- My goal is to encourage positive actions, not negative. That being said, I do not mind if others do the Elf on the Shelf. I might laugh when I read on facebook about the trouble of cleaning up after him, but that is because it's not my problem.:)
       When I read the idea of the kindness elves (,  I was smitten. We still get to enjoy the magic of Christmas without worrying about the elf telling Santa if we are naughty or nice! Yeah, I don't like that part of the Elf on the shelf either.  What I didn't expect was how wonderful it would be to start the day, every day, in December in such a positive thinking-of-others way. After enjoying the kindness elves for just a couple days, my 5 year old made his AND HIS BROTHERS beds without being asked! That. is. HUGE! My boys have been constantly giving each other their toys and wanting to make cards for others since the elves have been giving us encouragement. Here are some of the ideas we have done:

The elves greeted the boys on day 1, and the boys named them "Snowflake" and "Frosty" 
(these are Oriental Trading Co elves)

The next day we were going to a Christmas party where there were other kids that did not speak English very well, so the elves met Dusty the squirrel. It says "He doesn't even speak our language, but we can still smile and play with toys together...". This worked wonders. My shy 5 year old was all about meeting new kids by the time we were ready to go the party.

They didn't help with the laundry like I hoped, but this was the day Tobin made his and his brother's bed without being asked:

My wonderful friend Jess gave me the idea of "The Warm Fuzzy Jar" awhile back. Whenever the boys do something kind and unexpected (they can't ask for this), I put a "warm fuzzy" (aka cotton ball ) in the jar. When they fill it, we will go to Chuck E Cheese! The elf was putting one in for Tobin being so kind and helpful the day before.

 Singing with the choir before the Children's Christmas program sunday morning! This one is my favorite. 
My 5 year old gets stage fright, but this encouraged him to sing "Go tell him on the mountain" and give his best for Jesus.

I didn't share all the ideas, but you can find lots of ideas on their facebook page where I got the idea

I love starting the day thinking about how we can be kind to others. We also end the day reading The Jesus Storybook Bible, which points to Jesus at the end of each Bible story. If you read a chapter a day in December, the story of Jesus' birth is on Dec. 24th. Here is a list of the advent reading schedule:

I believe that starting and ending our day this way has made the Christmas spirit in our home both joyful and loving instead of selfish and ungrateful. I do believe we have some new traditions to continue each year. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

U is for Us...Learning about our 5 Senses

I have saved sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo many pinterest pins on sensory play that I had yet to venture into. I am chicken when it comes to sticky messes, and rightly so....

I mean wow. That was supposed to be a dough. It was the biggest mess ever. 
The boys, of course, LOVED IT!!! Still, never again.

Then I pulled out my trusty My Father's World book and obeyed their ideas.

We sang "Oh Be Careful Little Eyes what you see.. Oh Be Careful Little Ears what you hear... Oh be careful little tongue what you say.... Oh be careful little hands what you do...".
I had to explain that we don't have to sing "Oh be careful little nose what you smell" as that does not get us into trouble. (Yes, he asked. - I love his questions).

We did our worksheets each day....

We read lots of library books on our senses. 
Sid the Science kid and Magic School Bus were added for fun. 

Each day we focused on a different sense. First Day was touch.
Our touch activity was to put a variety of textured items in a bag and feel them one at a time. The child then tries to identify the item before looking at it. 

They had so much fun, that they found their own items for each other to guess.

We also did, as our book suggested, and tickled each other to make them laugh. Then try to tickle yourself. It doesn't work! (my kind of science experiment)

For hearing activities, I played sound effects on the computer and Tobin guessed what they were (closing door, crumpling paper, dog barking, baby crying,etc....).

 We then made maracas and the boys enjoyed beating on different size pots to make music.

Sight Activity:
I put ten objects in front of the kids. I had them say out loud what each item was, then he closed his eyes and tried to remember the items. They could only remember two or three items. We need our eyes! 
We talked about how hard it would be to be blind, and we looked at Braille. 
We also talked about things that we cannot see, like angels!
Smell Activity:
I put different cooking/food items in little medicine cups for the boys to smell and identify (Lemon juice, orange juice, cinnamon, pepper, garlic, coffee, nutmeg).

Taste Activity:
I used the same little cups and had them taste different things with their eyes closed. (sugar, salt, lemon, orange, pickle, chocolate powder ). They made some pretty awesome facial expressions, but I didn't take any pictures of that.
Then I said (from book) "Did you know that God says His laws are sweeter than honey? (Ps 19:7-11)
(Tobin made the *you are absolutely insane* facial expression.)
"We can't really taste God's rules or laws, But God says that his laws are so good, that they are better than honey. Honey is sweet and good, but God says his law is better. When we obey God, we are greatly rewarded." 
Tobin then got a spoonful of honey:). That is his *I am in heaven* facial expression:

The words to remember for this unit are "God made us WONDERFUL!" We read Genesis about God making the first people, and also talked about how God made us wonderful before we were even born (Psalm 139).  What a special and important message for each and everyone to know. We watched the ultrasound video of when Tobin was 20 weeks unborn, and laughed that he had hiccups and was waving to the camera. BEFORE HE WAS BORN!!! Still amazes me that such a wonderful human being grew inside of me. The miracle of life is just that...a. miracle!

My wonderful boys...

We ended the unit with a sensory dough that turned out great! (we even did some measuring math)

Apple Cider Playdough SMELLS awesome!

Making the dough, and playing with it required a lot of our touch senses.
Especially when we added these awesome antique stamps from their Great-Grandpa:

Listening to the boys talk about each step of making it, laughing as they played, and reading the words out loud that they made turned this into a hearing activity too.

Oh, and we can't leave out taste:

We learned that just because something smells good, does not mean it tastes good. It had lots of salt!
Hope that wasn't sensory overload to anyone who read this far! This was a unit with endless possibilites, and it was difficult to stop. Tobin actually wanted to read and see the pictures inside our ears and eyes, and I can see that he is drawn to all things science. Jonah is all about making a mess, so he loved the activities too. So thankful that God makes messy things beautiful!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

T for Turtle

T is for Tuck the Turtle... and Tobin too! 
Here is our pet turtle, Tuck, that will probably out live all of us.

Obviously turtles are not a new thing around here. Tobin has found several in our backyard that we convince him to let go to their families. He loves turtles. He loves all animals, from little rolie-polies to elephants. That is another reason My Father's World is perfect for us.Ant hill, butterfly garden, dinos, elephants, goats, cows.....that all equals Tobin heaven! (No seriously... after hearing the "Heaven is for Real" story, he is so excited about petting the lions, bunnies, and colorful horses).

 I didn't take many pictures of this unit as we mainly read books and filled out worksheets. The boys loved looking at pictures of different turtles and other reptiles. They learned that turtles, snakes, and lizards are reptiles while frogs and salamanders are amphibians.  

Here is the culinary masterpiece I whipped together:) - 

and the only art project we accomplished:
(Tortoise and Hare finger puppets)

The best part of this unit was learning "I do not quit! I persevere!!!"
My THREE year old can tell you that a turtle is a reptile, and.... "I do not quit! I persevere!" 
We read The Tortoise and the Hare, and learned the importance of never giving up. The following exercise made this stick in their minds sooooo well. -
On your mark, get set....

The boys (and dog) ran three laps around the tree and back to me! (I timed them but of course do not remember the time)

Now run with a heavy shield and cowboy hat...
Tobin did not finish as he was annoyed by his hat. Jonah (three year old) finished laughing. I said (very loudly) "WOW! You Persevered! I am so glad you didn't quit, even when it was so hard! You did great, just like the tortoise, AND you had soooo much fun too!"
I then told them the next race was even HARDER, and that they would really have to persevere to win.
All this got Tobin's attention really well, so....
Now run wearing Daddy's heavy, big coats....

They both finished the race, and laughed the whole time. I timed them all three rounds, and told them that they ran sooo much faster when they didn't have heavy things holding them down.  

   Here is exactly what My Father's World told me to say (THIS IS GOOD STUFF PEOPLE): 
"All those things I added made it harder, didn't they? God says that sin is like that. If we let sin entangle us, life becomes much harder. If you get angry and yell at your brother, that is a sin that entangles you. But when you apologize to your brother and to God, you are free! (take off one heavy thing the child is wearing).
 "If I ask you to clean your room and you complain, that is a sin that entangles you. But when you apologize to God and Mom, and clean your room with a good attitude, the weight of the sin goes away." (take off remaining heavy objects from the child.)
"God wants you to be free of any yucky stuff that slows you down and wears you out. He talks about that in the Bible: "'So let us throw off everything that stands in our way. Let us throw off any sin that holds on to us so tightly. Let us keep on running the race marked out for us. (Heb 12:1b) "
"Ready? Now that you got rid of the sin that was slowing you down, and tangling you up- race again! GO!"
Tobin ran faster than his first time! 
This was a huge A - HAH! moment for Tobin. This is when he understood what "persevere" really means, and he started to grasp the sin and need for forgiveness concept too. HUGE. I am so grateful for this curriculum and unit. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

L for Leaf

"I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers."
 - L M Montgomery

L for Leaf = we got to spend a lot of glorious time enjoying God's beautiful world!!!!

This is the 3rd unit in My Father's World Kindergarten, and I sorta wish they had made this unit #1.  I am glad that we started "L" for leaf back in the winter, because:
 (1) it made me focus on my sons"L" lisp (which is adorable, but time he outgrows it)
(2) It upped his writing confidence. "L,l" is easy to write, while"S" and "M" (unit #1 and unit #2) ARE NOT.

We hit the pause button on this unit back in early March, and now that the leaves are turning....
it's time to start anew!

Day #2 instructions in our manual was to "go on a leaf hunt." We went on one every day for a week:).

I love that even the dead leaves are worthy of collecting in my 3 year old's mind.
Of course, the yellow ones are his favorites (he is yellow obsessed).

(we did have a time-out from the leaf hunt to release the enormous frog Grandpa brought us)

We pressed the leaves, and then put them in order by size.

Of course, we had to do some leaf rubbings, and use the leaf stickers I had been hiding for this unit.

We actually haven't hit the peak color yet, but you never know around here if and when that will happen. I am hoping that our family photos will occur on the magic tree day.

Oh, back to school - Teacher Mom has her head in the clouds again. I wonder how long it will take for my kids to pick up on the fact that I cannot resist a beautiful day outside and use that info against boring school days?

The words to remember for this unit are "I will live and grow in Jesus." My five year old really held on to the fact that we are the branches and Jesus is the big vine. The boys both loved learning the song "Read your Bible, pray every day, and you'll grow,grow,grow...". I had forgotten  about that gem.
 I love My Father's World. Yes, my son is beyond counting to three beans at this point. No biggie. We just count 3+3+3+3. I rather feel like we are ahead of the game then feel pressured to push my child to work too hard. He is just 5! Oh my goodness he is smart, and I want to kindle the flame. This curriculum is perfect for us. I can't wait for "T" for turtle, and learning about our 5 senses with "u" for us, and then "D" for dinosaurs (my three year old keeps asking when we are going to talk about dinosaurs). As we add vowels, we also add actual words and reading, and Tobin is ready!

Friday, October 18, 2013

N is for Nest

N is for Nest - unit 6 in My Father's World Kindergarten Curriculum

All of a sudden, writing is coming easily, or naturally, to Tobin. What he used to complain about, he now does without hesitation. He wrote a dozen "N"s and "n"s without blinking an eye. Instead of complaining when he had to come up with items that started with a letter of the alphabet, he colored the items and he actually wanted to write the whole word! 

I didn't make him write "lobster" as that would just confuse him, but I love that he came up with something so unique. Nike for "N" is my favorite. I asked if he could think of a world that started with both "S" and then "a", and he immediately thought "sad"! I think we had our first big kindergarten "Ah - HAH!" moment!!!! That, my friends, is what makes my job awesome.

Of course we made nests. We shredded the shredded wheat for our grass, and used chow mein noodles for twigs. Melted chocolate and peanut butter was our very yummy mud.  (MFW idea)

 And of course, the jellybeans are the little eggs. My blue obsessed boy was SOOOOO excited when he learned that robins actually lay blue eggs:).

We shared our nests with our neighbor (another "N" word that I did point out for learning purposes:))

I got this idea on pinterest of course. I didn't follow exactly, but we got about the same result.

Yet another pinterest idea. I love this lady's website. She has so many wonderful ideas.
Tobin is wearing his badge that we made with our My Father's World curriculum. We learned "God takes good care of me." I love the character-building focus that goes with each topic. 

 I wrote our memory phrase on the eggs. Hey, I had an original idea! Take that pinterest!!! I have a love/hate relationship with pinterest. 

My yellow obsessed 3 year old stole and lost the yellow egg soon after,  
so I am glad I got this picture in time.

We also read one of our favorites: "Are you My Mother?"

Tobin made his own version of the book that included an octopus, but the book has magically disappeared,so... Sorry, no pictures.

This was a gentle, much needed lesson for my always worrying 5 year old. I am so glad we could talk about how God takes care of us just like a mother bird takes care of her eggs. I think it really got the point across in a way that my animal loving son could understand.