Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Paper Construction: Paper Punk Toy Review

It is amazing what you can do with paper.

You can write on it.
You can buy things with it.
You can write a love letter on it.
You can hang it on a wall to advertise your business.
You can make it into a paper airplane, fly it at a teacher, and get a detention.

You can make it into a city and a robot, among many other things.

Enter: Paper Punk.

Debuting 9 kits, Paper Punk is a beautiful, innovate way of using paper to build in 3D.  We've got to play with 2 of the kids: the Urban City (24.95) as well as the Robot (15.95). The recommended ages are 6+, but younger siblings will have creating the shapes for sure.

Monday, May 25, 2015

School Year Placemats

This post comes from my good friend, Jackie. Jackie is the momma of 3 super sweet kids ages 11, 9 and 4. Thanks, Jackie, for sharing your idea with us! 

One way to keep up with scrapbooking with three kids is to keep it simple! The summer after each school year we print out our favorite pictures from the school year & make a year in review picture placemat, including all kinds of pictures, with their school picture front & center.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Catherine and William Booth {May Missionary series}

Poverty, violence, drunkenness, despair.

It's not really topics we want our kids to know about, huh?

The story of William and Catherine Booth has everything to do with these topics. They were missionaries to London's East End, a neighborhood filled with families trapped in poverty due to generations of abuse of alcohol, violence, incarceration, and plain old despair.

William and Catherine came from fairly well off communities, William's dad eventually lost his job and the family ended up in poverty. He came to Christ  but felt called by God to go to "where the people need us the most." They weren't supported by the church but felt the call of God so strongly that they could not do anything but go.

When the Booths saw the poverty, violence, and godlessness of London's East End, they were shocked. But instead of feeling like running away after the rude sneers, hard-heartedness, and even getting beat up, they continued to feel a deep overwhelming love, compassion, and commitment to share the gospel with this group of people.

Little by little, people began to give their lives to Jesus and turn their lives around. The Booths set up training centers so that people could learn skills to help them get employment. You may know something like this that exists even to this day-- The Salvation Army.

The Salvation Army was named such because they were raging war on sin. Instead of being armed with fists and guns, they were using God's choice weapons of prayer, love, compassion, and Scripture. Early on they were committed to nonviolence, even in the midst of dangerous situations and neighborhoods.

I chose William and Catherine Booth because our country needs more Williams and more Catherines to minister to neighborhoods who are stuck in cycles of poverty and despair. They desperately need the hope of the gospel, skills, and opportunities that will help them to reach beyond their current state. To do the long hard work. To suffer the jeers, threats, and even physical violence that may come with the territory.

Growing up, William eventually experienced the poverty. I'm sure this was a part of why he felt such compassion for those in poverty, even after he was no longer in poverty.

Growing up, Catherine was a serious girl who very early on felt a burden for the vice of alcoholism. Even as a young girl, she was a writer and activist in temperance groups.

Together, William and Catherine could do as a team what perhaps they wouldn't have been able to do on their own. It's in situations like this that you can see the hand of God preparing them for their ministry, and the essentialness of both William and Catherine to this great ministry. It's a beautiful picture of a marriage that significantly advanced the Kingdom of God.

Okay, so onto the recommended resources and activities:

For adults:

For kids:

  • Puzzles, games and coloring pages about William and Catherine Booth
  • A book for elementary kids: William Booth: Soup, Soap, and Salvation (Christian Heroes: Then & Now)
  • Kidnapped by River Rats: William and Catherine Booth - another chapter book for elementary kids, but from a different perspective. 
  • Christianity Today has a church history for kids section on their website. Here's an article for kids to read with a few questions at the end. 
  • Take your kids to your local Salvation Army. If it's a store, shop there and talk about how the money goes to people who are in need of financial assistance, and how some of the jobs are given to people who are trying to turn their lives around. If it's a soup kitchen, volunteer there!
  • Go through your house and have you and your child each choose 5 things to give to the Salvation Army. Talk about how your donations will go to the store, and the money they get when they sell them will help families like the ones in the video. 
  • Sign up with your child to ring the bell at the Red Kettles during the Christmas season. 
If you want to teach your child about more missionaries, past and present, check out some of the other posts we've done!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Tortilla Soup with Black Beans: An easy gift for your child's teacher!

The end of the school year is quickly approaching, and everyone is searching for the perfect teacher gift.  Christina posted about a sweet "Thank Your for Helping Us Grow" teacher gift from her son, and I made one a few years ago from the whole class.  This year though, I did something a little different.

Spring is a SUPER busy time of year for parents and teachers alike.  I decided to send home a simple homemade meal for my kids' teachers to enjoy, and I made a big batch so we could have some for dinner too!  I emailed the kids' teachers on a Friday and told them that in appreciation of all they do and in recognition of what a busy time of year it is, I wanted to make them dinner.   I told them what I had in mind - clarified that there weren't any allergies I was not aware of - and asked them to reply with how many people the meal should serve.  Then I dropped it off the following Thursday morning with enough time before school started so that they could come up and grab it from the office and put it in the fridge.  While I made the soup myself, I also got my kids involved by having them slice up a bunch of strawberries that I included in a separate tub.   Here's the fabulous soup recipe I used!  I even included a baggie of tortilla chips for them in crumble on the top.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Avoiding the Summer Slump: Not Your Ordinary Books

The Summer Slump is the real thing that happens when your kids start summer vacation and slowly lose their sharpness as the summer goes on. While your summer will probably be filled with lots of outside play (yes! do this! it's so great for kids!), inevitably you'll probably want some sort of game plan for the rainy days when you're not outside, or, like us, the afternoons when baby sister is sleeping.

We have a couple book recommendations for you to check out. Each of these books are not your ordinary books. They are filled with activities related to science, technology, engineering, math, and problem-solving. Of course they don't say that out loud. It's a bit sneaky, which is what kids sometimes need.

ExploraLab: 150+ Ways to Investigate the Amazing Science All Around You

For most kids, science is a really fun subject that you don't really have to convince kids to learn. Many kids are naturally curious about the world around them, so a book with tons of science experiments is just a good idea.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Easy Teacher Appreciation Plant

It's coming to the end of the school year, and most of us will want to say "thank you" to the teachers that put up with our kids day after day and/or week after week. As a former teacher, it really means a lot to get something to show that the work you put in was valued. (And as an aside, I was a high school teacher. I hardly got a thing. Please don't forget about your high school teachers! They work hard, too!) But as a parent, it can be difficult to know what to give, especially if you have multiple teachers. My suggestion is to keep it small. You don't want to overwhelm your budget or your teacher, so this is a simple, but adorable little sign of appreciation: a succulent plant.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Richard Wurmbrand {Missionary May Series}

Perhaps Richard Wurmbrand isn't a "missionary" in the traditional sense, since he ministered to his own people in Romania, but his bravery can certainly encourage us and our children to tell people about Jesus and stand up for truth wherever we are!

Richard and his wife Sabina became Christians in 1938, the year before their son Mihai was born.  As their country entered years of turmoil, Richard was determined to tell everyone in his path about Jesus.  He began duel ministries both to oppressed Romanian citizens and the invading Russians.  He even went on train rides with the express goal of telling people on the train about Jesus and snuck into Russian camps to share the gospel!

In 1945, Romanian church leaders were called together by the communist government.  The government wanted the support of the church leaders, in exchange for "protection".  Many people were swayed by this promise, but Sabina encouraged Richard to "wipe the shame from the face of Jesus" but standing up for the truth.  Richard proclaimed to both the government and the 4,000 leaders in attendance that the duty of a Christian is to glorify God alone!