Category Archives: Seasonal

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April Showers Crafts and Games!

It’s that time of year when we stand on the brink of sunshine and hours of outside play. So close we can almost smell it… yet it’s not quite here.

We are having one of those classic April weeks in Minnesota, where it’s too cold to play outside and every day looms of rain, so we decided to make the most of it! Today we learned all about the seasons, rain, and why there are April showers. ☺ I came up with a list of activities that would both demonstrate how rain works, and give the kids a hands on experience, plus a craft project o remember it by. It just happened that I was also able to incorporate appropriate books throughout the day to go with each activity.


The Seasons:

IMG_4136First, I chose 1 item to represent each season: a wooden snowflake, a red leaf, a small wooden flower, and a yellow circle for the sun. I placed the items in a bag and had each child reach in (without looking) to pull one out. We discussed each one and what it represented. They really enjoyed the suspense of this activity!

Then we read “When?” by Leo Lionni and “All Around Us” by Eric Carle. These were perfect! They both cover the seasons and things that happen in them. We talked about how we are in the season of spring and specifically, the month of April. In April it rains a lot so flowers can grow etc.

April and Rain:

IMG_4139Next, we moved to the dining room table where I placed a large mason jar filled 1/3 of the way with boiling water. I placed a plate on top and let it sit for a few minutes while we discussed how and why rain works. You can read more about it HERE. Next, I set 8-10 ice cubes on the plate. Within a few seconds, we could see a gentle mist coming down the jar from the bottom of the plate which looked like a light rain. They loved it!

Making their own rain clouds:

IMG_4142I filled a large clear container half full with water and added only 2 drops of blue food coloring. I wanted them to see the blue, but I didn’t want it to stain anything. ☺ I gave them each a container with cotton balls, a piece of paper, and tongs. If you don’t have enough tongs, we also used 2 matching serving forks and 2 matching serving slotted spoons. These may have even been easier. :-D I would also cover your workspace with a towel—everything got quite wet.

I explained that their cotton balls were clouds and they needed to fill them with water to become rain clouds. They dropped the cotton balls into the blue water, let them get wet and then set them on the paper to make designs. They LOVED this!! Before long, the cotton balls were back and forth and everywhere else. They wrung them out with their hands and started the process again. Everybody was wet, but they did this for about half an hour. Very fun activity that serves as a great visual for rain!

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I gave each child a piece of cardstock with a simple cloud drawn in the top portion. I had them fill it with Elmer’s glue and then cover it with cotton balls. Next we discussed how rain comes out of rain clouds, so they made their rain with the glue. I then sprinkled blue glitter on their rain, poured off the excess, and Voila! Beautiful rain coming down from their clouds. They were pretty giddy about all that glitter—especially since I was doing this with 4 little girls. ☺

IMG_4147Listening Walk:

It just happened that it wasn’t raining this afternoon, so we decided to get outside for a few minutes—it was still cold! :-D I wanted the walk to go with our spring theme though, so we read, “The Listening Walk” by Paul Showers, then we got bundled up and headed out for our own listening walk. This was a lot of fun. All of the kids noticed things they had never noticed before. We discovered a lot of unique and new sounds as well finding some new life on trees and in plants. They were surprised to see and hear so many of the signs of spring we had been learning about.

FullSizeRenderOther books we read to go with the theme:

“Dora’s Serach for the Seasons” by Samantha Berger

“A Bunny for all Seasons” by Janet Schulman

“My Spring Robin” by Anne Rockwell

“Wee Little Lamb” by Lauren Thompson

Coloring Pages:

We finished the day with a couple of coloring pages that coordinated with the theme. I just got them off Google images and turned them into coloring sheets.

Soon the luster of spring will be here and we will miss these cold rainy days to do projects inside our home. I love the opportunities to take advantage of these less than desirable times! ☺

Happy Spring!

-Lydia

 

Resurrection Day Invitation to Play – Easter Crafts

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During a season of bunnies, chicks, and eggs, it can be hard to direct our children toward the real meaning of Easter. This year, I wanted something that was hands-on and interactive but not a typical craft project. I came up with an Easter Invitation to Play that was God focused and reviewed many of the truths we have been learning the last few weeks.

I think there are a lot of ways to do this, but here’s what we used. You can tweak this to adapt to your materials and needs.image

White Play dough
Green Play dough
Three toothpicks or small sticks to serve as crosses
Pom-poms or small flowers
A strip of fabric or paper
Small pieces of paper or stones where you have written examples of sins
The bottom portion cut out of a cup

imageI gave each of the kids a plate with the above items. We have been learning all about the crucifixion and the resurrection so it was all very fresh in their minds. Before we began this portion though, we sat down and discussed the fact that it was our sin that sent Jesus to the cross. He was perfect and did not have to die to take the consequence for his own sin. He died for us: it was our sin that paved the way to the cross. I wanted them to understand the significance of this truth. I had very small pieces of paper, maybe half inch by half-inch, and we wrote a different sin on about 30 of them. This was significant and they really understood it. Therefore, when they each received their plate with the items to use for the invitation to play, they each had about eight of the papers with sins. I explained that they were going to set up the scene however they would like. The toothpicks could be used as crosses, the white Play dough could be used to create a tomb and to cover the cup portion, or they could use the cup portion as the tomb and the white Play dough as the stone. I explained that the pom-poms could be flowers, or some other type of decoration. They could use the strip of paper as a road or some type of pathway. They could even use it as a linen cloth to wrap up a pom-pom to serve as Jesus. :-) The green Play dough could be used as grass or as a hill for the crosses to sit on. The one thing I told them I wanted them to include for sure was the pathway of sins. They all thought this made a lot of sense and were excited to dig in!

imageThey worked on this project for probably close to an hour, and came up with all sorts of scenes. I think it really helped to solidify the truths that we have been learning this week in a hands-on experience where they could actually do something with what they have been learning. I hope that you find this to be just as profitable with your kids!

Happy Easter!

-Lydia

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Sun Catchers Craft

​As we gear up for spring, (and that extra hour of sunshine!) the kids and I did this great craft project I have to share with you! It’s cheap, easy, and makes a great gift to brighten someone’s day. We made sun catchers.

What you need:

• Contact paper
• Tissue Paper
• Ribbon
• Hole Punch
• Scissors
• Small suction cup with hook

​Simply trace a circle onto contact paper with a little hump on the top. It will look similar to a Christmas ornament.

​Cut out 2 of them for each sun catcher.

​Cut out several small squares of multi colored tissue paper.

​Peel the backing off the contact paper. This takes a bit of patience…

​Have the kids place their tissue paper squares all over the sticky side of the contact paper. My 13 month old did this no problem and loved it!

​When it’s full, place the matching contact paper circle on top. Line it up best you can, but it doesn’t have to be perfect at all.

​Trim around the edges. This will catch the tissue paper hanging off the edges and is also an easy way to even out the circles.

​Punch a hole in the center of the hump part at the top.

​String a short thin ribbon through the hole and tie it in a loop.

​Hang on a window with a suction cup that has a hook. They sell 10-12 packs at Dollar Tree.

​These make great gifts to brighten someone’s day!

​Enjoy the sunshine!!
- Lydia

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Valentine’s Day Game

With Valentine’s day quickly approaching, I wanted an opportunity to teach my kids about the most important love of all—God’s love. I wanted it to be interactive and kind of fun, so we went on a treasure hunt!

To start everything off, I had each of the kids make their own mailbox using this site. This is completely unnecessary, but so cute and was definitely a special touch. They could just as easily use little treasure chests, bags, buckets, or nothing at all.

I explained that last night I had gone on a treasure hunt through God’s Word, the Bible. I had gone looking for treasures about God’s love and I was going to share with them what I found. In order to find those treasures though, they had to go on a treasure hunt through our house! ☺

I had them leave the area with their mailboxes while I hid 14 prepared hearts around the first floor of our home. Each heart had a different truth about God’s love written on it. Here is my rough list if you want to copy the concepts. I’m sure there are others though!

God’s love is Everlasting
God IS love
He loved us first
God’s love never changes
He showed it to us when he died for us
He loves it when we do good
God loves the world
God loves Jesus
God loves to be an example for us
God’s love is an example to us
God has the greatest love and He showed it when Jesus laid down his life for us
Nothing can separate us from God’s love
God’s love is great
God’s love is overflowing

After they found all the hearts and had them carefully stashed in their mailboxes, we met on the floor in the living room to discuss their treasures. We simply went around the circle and each child pulled out one heart at a time. We discussed the concept found on that heart and interacted a bit about the truth that was there. We continued until all the truths had been discovered. At the end, we reviewed what we had learned about the treasure of God’s love and how His love was unlike any other love.

I encouraged them to keep their hearts in their mailbox with the flag up, so they could send their treasures to someone else who would like to know about the great treasure of God’s love. They each left the room excited about the depth of His love and eager to share their treasures with others!

 

-Lydia

 

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Cut Your Christmas Decor Take-Down in HALF!

A few years ago I started using an easy trick that cuts

my Christmas decor take-down time in half!!!

(-And also helps with set up next year!)

Here it is!! TADA!!

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I realized that if I just gently take down the garlands/wreaths/swags (WITH THE ORNAMENTS AND LIGHTS STILL ON) and put them each in their own garbage bag [which I re-use year after year], I wouldn’t have to re-decorate and re-pack all the ornaments and lights.

-The Lights DON’t tangle because they are already spread around the garland

- The ornaments (most of ours are plastic) are padded by the garlands/swag/wreath or whatever I’m packing up.

-Everything I need to put the garland/swag/wreath back up next year is all together!

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Then I stack the bags (about 5 to a tote and stack the totes in the basement.

image(This year, I got organized and listed on the outside of each tote what I’d packed inside.)

Of course if you have a lot of glass ornaments this may not work as well.

I estimate I save at least an hour and a half on take-down and another hour on set-up next year, and it helps a lot with trying to keep track of everything with four little kids ‘helping.’

So there is my tip. :-)

-Verity

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Decluttering the Kids’ Room for Christmas! :-)

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It is amazing the difference of focus!

EXAMPLE: I am not a huge fan of cleaning – but if I get a brand new scented candle and focus on  displaying it on a clean table in a clean house … Well, that changes everything!

I clean my house in record time and light that thing with pride. ;-)

Kids are the same way :-)

So, in the easiest indeaver yet, the kids helped me clear out the extras in their room to make room for Christmas presents. (BOY, were they excited to get rid of stuff!!)

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(I think this will be normal thing for us each year! What a great excuse to clear out.)

Here’s everything we cleared from their room. :-) (A lot of it was just out of place, but some will be donated.)

Focusing on the future is my approach to decluttering in general. (And a lot of areas in life).

We get rid of things to make room for the things we want in our lives (whether it’s goals, items, responsibilities, people).

The FOCUS should NEVER be on the clutter – that is the past – past, hopes, objects, and identities.

The focus needs to be on what we are walking toward. (The relationships that we want more time for, the career goals, the ministries, the hobbies…)

I also took the time to apply some of my favorite Julie Morgenstern organizing techniques!

She suggests evaluating a room – then determining what IS working and what is NOT working.

What WAS working:

1. 4 kids’ favorite toys and almost all their clothes in one closet using baskets and shelves.

Working great!!!! :-) Very little clutter there. Easy to maintain and keep up.

2. Top Two Drawers of the Diaper Changing Station – (almost) perfectly organized and contained. Rarely got out of hand- even on our craziest days.

What was NOT working:

I’d noticed that despite the small quarters, 90 % of clutter gathered in ONE spot – right in front of the bed. That told me that the problems were probably right there. Here were the problems.

1. Overstuffed PJ drawer

2. One broken stuffed animal that was spreading

imagestuffing everywhere (Duck tape should do it…right?)

3. And one organizing system that was not working.  (A box with a lid under the bed for my son’s toy swords. He was so responsible with his basket in the closet that we let him have a second toy box in the room. At first he did well putting his toys away, but when we added the lid,  it became too hard to pull the box all the way out and put toys away – [especially since clean-up happens with 4 littles and a mom in the SAME room] so the lid will need to be take off for a while. Then he can just toss his swords in without pulling the box out.)

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Here it is! Finished product!

Decluttered – Check!

Problem Solved – Check!

(And the kids don’t know it, but for Christmas, I’m going to add all the castle decorations I’ve been collecting for them. Tune in for that in a couple weeks! :-) )

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So all set for Christmas!

How is your pre-Christmas decluttering going? (If you don’t have much time, grab a box and spend ten minutes grabbing garbage and donations. It is SO MUCH more fun to declutter with Christmast just 2 days away!)

- Verity

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Snowman Kit in a Jar!

IMG_3105Sometimes you need a fast, easy, cheap (or free), super cute, and practical gift for a child. I guess that sounds like a lot of criteria to fill, BUT I came up with the perfect idea and I can’t wait to share it with you!

It’s no secret on this blog that I LOVE play dough. I love making it, I love all the possibilities it presents, and I love that my kids can keep busy with it for long periods of time. :-)

I also love invitations to play, but they require so many pieces it’s a hard thing to give as a gift—until today!

I present to you: Snowmen in a jar!

Aren’t they cute?!?!

I started by making THIS recipe, but I added 1 teaspoon peppermintIMG_3101extract. (Did you know they are selling it at Aldi right now? So cheap!!) After the play dough was cooked, I added a bunch of glitter while I kneaded it on the wax paper. Ta da! Snow!

One batch of play dough is the exact amount you need to fill 3 baby food jars.

Next I just used items I had around the house. You could use anything! I chose 3 small pom poms in matching colors to be the buttons for each snowman. Then I cut green pipe cleaners for arms—I got 10 out of 1 pipe cleaner to give an idea of length. Next, I cut red pipe cleaner in slightly smaller segments for the carrot. Beads would work for eyes, or googly eyes.

I’m sure there are lots of great possibilities, but I was just using what I had.

I put everything into baby food jars—free containers! Any little container would work though—even Ziploc bags. I used black fabric paint to make eyes and a smile and then I used orange for a big carrot nose. I colored the lid with a big, thick permanent marker to look like a hat.

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To fill the jars:

Divide one batch of play dough into 3 parts. Roll each part into the shape and size of a small, chubby hot dog and slowly lower it into the jar being sure to fill the entire thing. You might need to smush it in with your fingers to get the air out. It should fill the main part of the jar perfectly.

Next, I laid the decorations on the top of the play dough—there is the exact amount of space you need for them!

Screw the lid on and you have a fun, fast, easy, cheap (or free), super cute, and practical gift for a child!

-Lydia

 

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Christmas Tree Craft for Toddlers!

​This year, we are blessed to have a 10 month old at Christmastime. In many ways, I have felt like she’s a bit left out of the fun activities and is often told, “Don’t touch!” The other night, she got sick, so I stayed home from church with her. This gave me some time to think of a Christmas activity that maybe SHE could do

​I had seen the general idea of making a felt Christmas tree with felt ornaments for toddlers on Pinterest, but I felt like it was a lot of time and money to invest. Regardless, I opened my fabric drawer and was surprised to discover several squares of felt left from my nesting days of her pregnancy. (For Naomi’s pregnancy I got SUPER creative and crafty!) I only had 1 dark green felt square, but it was fully intact, so I went for it.

​First, I folded my dark green square in half and used a black permanent marker to draw one side of a pine tree, being sure to cover the entire thing and therefore, make it as big as possible. I like that it can be done with just one square to save money and time—and space. I mean really, how many busy moms are going to stop at an EXTRA store just to buy a few yards of green felt?! You can buy the squares at Walmart while tackling the rest of your shopping.

​With my tree completed, I had planned to just cut various shapes out of the other colors to give her ornaments to hang, but then I remembered a container of small Christmas cookie cutters I had purchased on clearance years ago and never used! Perfect! And they really were. There was a variety of shapes and just the right size. We were able to hang 9-10 on the tree with space to spare and they were big enough that she wouldn’t eat them.

 

​I simply traced the ornaments with WASHABLE marker onto the felt. I discovered the hard way that permanent is, well… permanent on the cookie cutters. Oops! The washable just wipes off the cookie cutters and rubs off the felt. Another perfect idea! I guess I was on a roll. J

 

​When everything was done, I simply used Scotch tape and attached the tree to our refrigerator. I’m sure other things might work better, but that has worked surprisingly well—and it’s cheap.

 

​Start to finish, the project probably took about 20 minutes and used all items I had on hand. If you were to buy the felt squares, I’m guessing you could do the whole thing for $1-$2. It’s a great and cheap way to involve your little one in the Christmas season and will also keep her busy while you to accomplish all of your extra holiday tasks!

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Christ-Focused Christmas Traditions (Part 5)

Christmas Books!

I’ve SLLLOOOOWLY been collecting Christmas books!

Here is what we have so far, and here are some that are on my wish list!

Saint Nicholas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend

Saint Nicholas

We read this every December 6th! I can hardly wait to read it to my kids tomorrow! :-)

It’s the true story of Santa Clause. We can learn a lot from other Christians, and his story has a beautiful message for children and adults.

A Christmas Guest 

christmas guestHebrews 31:2 says “2 Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” In this age-old story a little boy actually does entertain an angel on Christmas eve. There is a touch of fantasy, but I think it’s a beautiful book that brings out that Biblical truth in a way children can understand.

Masterpiece Story Bible

This book has a passage on one side and a famous painting on the opposite page. It covers the whole bible but it has a dozen Christmas related paintings and passages too.

I love covering the Christmas story using scripture verses and high-quality paintings.

My Wish List!

Gift of the Magi

magiI can hardly wait to introduce my children to this timeless classic.

Christmas Day in the Morning

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I read this at our pastor’s house. It’s a lovely picture of mature love.

What other books would you suggest??

-Verity

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Christ-focused Christmas Traditions (Part 4)

Last year Lyd posted some great articles on Christ-focused Christmas traditions! I’m reposting the links today in case you missed them!

Make sure you come back tomorrow and Saturday as I’m posting about our Christmas book collection tomorrow and my FAVORITE Pre-season kid tradition on Saturday!

Nativity Invitation to Play

Baby Jesus Craft

Mom’s Musings: The Opportunity of Christmas

Happy December Everyone!

-Verity