Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Christmas Countdown--24 Days until Christmas

Today we'll be making some Christmas goodies as part of our Christmas countdown. I picked a couple of easy treats (chocolate dipped pretzels, Kiss cookies) for which I can get their part ready easily or even beforehand. They can help measure as their attention allows (we'll see).

The Bible reading is from Genesis 15:1-6 (God's promise to Abraham). We'll sing "A Great and Mighty Wonder" with its "...and peace on earth to men" refrain. Our book will be "Cranberry Christmas" by Wende and Harry Devlin. It goes well with our baking theme. If the kids would enjoy the Cranberry Cookie recipe included in the book we'd make those, too. Much of the book's theme revolves around the community skating pond, but unfortunately we don't have one of those to get out and use.

Christmas Countdown--25 Days until Christmas

Our story today was "The Story of the Christmas Rose". It went well with the hymn "Behold a Branch is Growing" (same as "Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming"). I also took requests. This has become a required portion of the countdown! The Bible reading for today was Genesis 3:1-15 (Fall and Promise).

In "The Story of the Christmas Rose" the main character stops to help or feed several woodland animals. We wanted to echo this sentiment in the yard. Pinecones rolled in peanut butter and seeds work well. I've also seen this done with a hanging container filled with cereal or popcorn and cranberries strung on thread.

We also went to the library today where they had supplies set up to make (large!) 3D paper snowflakes. The project was similar to that seen here, except that the library used full sheets of paper, fancy-edged scissors, and hole punches to make the snowflake fancier. I felt that the project was very do-able even for my 5 year-old (when done together) and the results are quite stunning.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Christmas Countdown--Bonus

I'd heard about people who have a winter snow picnic and I'd been wishing for some perfect packing snow during our countdown days. Today we got several inches of it! We made a little snow table with little snow chairs and had hot chocolate and cookies. It was one of the highlights of my week so far. (But next time I think I'll take something waterproof to sit on!)

Christmas Countdown-26 Days until Christmas

Today's book was "Christmas in the Big Woods" a "My First Little House Book". We talked a little bit about the simple traditions of yesteryear holidays. We pointed out similarities and differences between ourselves and Laura's family: the presents Laura got and the things she did for fun. In the book Ma makes pancake people for Christmas and we made pancake people for our lunch as well.

The Bible verses today were from Genesis 2:4-25--the creation of man and woman. "Of the Father's Love Begotten" is a Christmas hymn that fit well with the text. The children also had a chance to request a Christmas song.

For a messy project we made string Christmas snowballs. I thought they could remind us of the creation story since they're shaped like the globe. Note: The balls dried beautifully and I'd like to do the project again sometime BUT I would definitely add the glitter BEFORE popping the balloon. We followed the directions and popped the balloon, then painted the balls again with glue, then added glitter. The balls started to change shape (being wet from the second round of glue) and one of them even completely flattened and had to be redone.

I also made logic puzzles for the kids with holiday words. I think this type of puzzle is called chain letters. The letters must be linked in the correct order, and you may not cross over any other letters. Both the 5 year old and 7 year olds like these. Here is an example with the answer "candle". The puzzles can be made with 10 letter-words as well, adding a line of four circles under the line of three. The six-letter words I used to make their puzzles: Joseph, angels, lights, advent, candle, wreath, sleigh, and manger. My seven year-old realized that in his puzzle "manger" could also be "german". Leave it to him to find something new.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Christmas Countdown-27 Days to Christmas

The kids are excited about Day 1 and they're eager to share their suggestions on ways we can celebrate the season.

For today, we did our Bible reading from John 1. I decided that we'd have a "star" theme for today's activities. We sang "We Three Kings" and its "star of wonder" refrain. Our book for today was "S is for Star: A Christmas Alphabet" by Cynthia Furlong Reynolds. We then cut easy origami-type paper stars. Each child used one of their stars to make a thank-you card which we'll use after Christmas. We'll also use these stars to decorate the house and eventually the Christmas tree as a way to re-focus our attentions during the busiest times of the upcoming season.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Christmas Countdown--Advent Bible Readings

I've been doing a lot of thinking about how to count down the days until Christmas. I've made a list of crafts and things to do as well as learning activities in the subject areas. I'll share these a bit later (still tweaking).

For today I'll share our list of Bible readings that we'll be using from Sunday, November 28 (the first Sunday in Advent) until Christmas Day (28 readings total). I hope these can be useful to you in your regular family devotion times.

In a nutshell, the readings begin with the beginning. They trace God's continued promises to His people over thousands of years until the fulfillment of these with the birth of Christ. The last readings tell about Jesus' work on earth and culminate with readings from Holy Week and Easter.

John 1:1-5 (Christ, the Word, and the beginning)
Genesis 2:4-25 (the creation of Adam and Eve)
Genesis 3:1-15 (the Fall and the Promise)
Genesis 15:1-6 (God's promise to Abraham)
Genesis 28:10-17 (Jacob's dream and God's promise)
Deuteronomy 18:15-19 (God's prophets speak God's Word)
Ruth 4:13-17 (after summarizing Ruth 1-4, use these verses show the continued line of Christ)
1 Samuel 16:1B and 16:5-13 (David anointed)
Psalm 40 (prayer for God's deliverance from sin)
Psalm 24 (What does God do? He acts.)
Isaiah 40:1-5 and 40:9-11 (Comfort and God our Shepherd)
Isaiah 9:2 and 9:6-7 with Isaiah 60:1-3 (People in darkness and For unto us...)
Isaiah 11:1-11a (Root from Jesse to redeem for the second time)
Luke 1:5-25 (John the Baptist's birth foretold) and John 1:19-28 (John's later message)
Luke 1:26-38 (the annunciation) and Isaiah 7:13-14 foretells this about 700 years earlier
Matthew 1:18-25 (angel's message to Joseph)
Luke 1:39-56 (Mary visits Elizabeth)
Luke 2:1-20 (Jesus' birth) with Philippians 4:4-9 (what we now do)
Luke 2:21-40 (Jesus' presentation at temple)
Matthew 2:1-23 (Magi visit, Mary, Joseph, Jesus escape to Egypt, return)
Psalm 98 (joyous psalm good for use with Joy to the World)
2 Corinthians 8:9 (Christ, who was rich, became poor. Good for use with various Christmas hymns)
Luke 3:1-6 and 21-23a (Jesus baptized by John)
Luke 4:1-13 (Jesus tempted by the devil)
Luke 19:28-38 and Luke 22:1-6 (Palm Sunday)
Luke 22:7-23 and Matthew 26:36-50 (Last Supper and arrest)
Matthew 27:11-26 and John 19:16-20, 28-30 (Jesus before Pilate, crucifixion, death)
Luke 23:50 through 24:1-8 (burial and resurrection)

Note: To start making this list I consulted an online advent calendar. Then I modified and added readings taking into account some of our church's readings for the upcoming weeks. Finally, I added a few days of readings from Holy Week and Easter. After all, the reason Christ came at Christmas was for our salvation through His death and resurrection on Good Friday and Easter. God's blessings on your Christmas Countdowns!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Little Extra Spanish Practice

We've recently come upon a couple more great ways to practice our Spanish vocabulary.

1. I give the kids a lunch menu with food choices listed only in Spanish. It's a great way to pracice the names for numerous foods. It's also a great way to have them practice asking for things and saying thank you in Spanish. They can ask for cold/hot, big/little foods, and a certain number of foods if they can remember those words in Spanish. 

2. In a similar way, I can use Spanish words in center time directions and instructions in other subjects. Useful words here are "write", "read", "draw", the colors, and direction words like "under, above, beside". Examples include instructions to measure the "lapiz rojo", circle the "quinto" square, or find two adjectives on "la página 25".

A Way to Change Up School for the Busy Holiday Season?

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