Monday, March 26, 2012

Easter Decorations and Redeeming Easter Baskets

Easter table
Tonight we cut some branches off a dogwood tree and completed our Easter decorations.  I'm excited about how pretty it looks and also how I'm going to use the branches as an "Easter Tree".  Starting tomorrow morning Susie will get to open an egg and hang what is in it on the tree -- I have 12 symbols or trinkets that have significance in the Easter story.  I was suddenly inspired when I remembered my milk glass chicken to use that to "hide" the egg in each morning.  To go with the chicken/egg, I've ordered the book Petook, (a tale based on the hen that gathers her children under her wings that Jesus refers to when speaking to the Jewish people) from the library.  If it's good, I'll let you know and maybe buy it for next year!  The cup on the table holds the paper scraps I cut for Susie to add each day to our paper chain (which is now long enough to hang over the mirror by the table).  And one of Susie's Easter watercolor paintings is under the mirror -- I've been adding her Easter pictures to our decor as they are completed for several weeks now.

Another decoration I made this year was a banner out of scrap fabric with verses for Lent clipped to it.  I like the way the fabrics look together, but I think next year I will improve the way I did the verses -- I'm open to suggestions!  I would also love to hang this by the table -- maybe next year that will work out better.  For now, it's hanging over the couch, which is ok.

I'm almost done with gathering up what is going in my kid's Easter baskets!  Since Susie was tiny I decided to do an Easter basket, but to redeem them by making them focus on Jesus and the real reason for Easter!  In the past couple years I've just given her one or two books with a plush lamb and maybe one piece of candy. . . but this year I bought in advance, so the amount is building! :)  I still need to get Chippy a lamb (I kind of want one that rattles but not shaped like a rattle, if that makes sense), but otherwise, everything else is at least ordered.  I may end up giving them one or two of their books early.  In addition to the books, I have a big stuffed sheep for Susie and a chocolate cross (which she spotted in the grocery store and began singing "Easter Friday" at the top of her lungs).  Here are the books I giving this year:
The Big Picture Story Bible with audio CD by David Helm

The Easter Story by Patricia Pingry

Jesus is Coming --board book about the triumphal entry

I got/am getting all my books from LifeWay -- if you are in the Louisville area, the campus store has or will have all of these if you want to pick any of these up!  Also, please join us for storytime on Good Friday morning at 10:00 am --  I will be reading the account of the passion of Christ and resurrection from The Big Picture Story Bible!

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Countdown to Easter

Tonight I was looking for Christian or religious themed Easter stickers in a big chain craft store to use with my kids in counting down to Easter Sunday -- basically just planning to stick on on the calendar each day. . . not overly exciting, I know, but I wanted to do something!  Not surprisingly, there were NONE to be found -- seriously nothing whatsoever.

It's ok, though, because I was struck with a GREAT idea for counting down to Easter!  This would have worked great for Lent, and I'm counting that -- the season of Lent is kind of long for a 2 year old to keep up with, but in future years I'm planning on using my idea during the entire Lent season.

It's very simple -- make a paper chain by adding a ring of paper each day leading up to Easter.  The chain will grow longer and longer as Easter draws close.  You can talk to your children about sin, and their sin, as is appropriate for their age, and that our sin is like a chain on us, putting us in bondage.  If your kids are older, you could write verses about sin, or even sins they are fighting and confessing during this time.  Then on Easter morning, they can rip the chain all up because Jesus triumphed over sin!

I'm sure this idea is not totally original, but I do not remember seeing it anywhere before.  It's really simple, but I think it's fitting for little or big kids -- and I think kids will enjoy tearing it apart on Easter Sunday.  We are starting ours tomorrow morning!

Thursday, March 01, 2012

More on reading to younger siblings

Chip celebrating Dr. Seuss' birthday with us
I've been continuing to work on building read-aloud into Chip's daily life -- I want him to grow to love books just like his big sister does.  My friend pointed out that her second daughter is introduced to much older books than her first one was, but she also has a hard time making sure she reads to her.  I think this is a pretty common issue -- the older sibling is able to vocalize their desires and the younger child can take a back seat to those demands!  So here are a few more ideas for teaching the younger child to love reading time.

1.  Let them move -- have you ever had your baby scoot away while you read to them?  Ahhhhh -- why not read why they jump in their jumperoo?  Yes, you may have to be loud (not a problem for me), but let's face it, you certainly are associating reading with excitement!  My kids have both been BIG jumpers, and they start kicking their legs in a jumping motion as soon as they see I'm putting them in it.  The other day we read 6 straight books while Chippy jumped and jumped and clapped and grinned and laughed -- and LOVED IT.  When I saw the pile we'd gone through, I was stoked.  He certainly had fun during that storytime!  

2. Make sure they get access to the pictures, even if it seems like they aren't really paying attention.  I have to consistently tell Susie to sit down and not block Chip's view of the book.  Like all things, she is learning that she is not the only person present who matters.  She is usually so excited about the book that she jumps up to see the pictures.  It's easy to mentally go "oh, he's not really listening anyway. . . " but it's a good pattern to set to teach the older sibling to include the younger one in reading time.  It's a good skill to learn for when they listen to a story in a classroom setting as well.

3. Help them learn to explore the book with their hands -- you may need to start this by putting something in their mouths.  The other day Chip sat on my lap and turned the pages while we read a short board book together.  He didn't stop to bite it at all!  I've always let him explore our books with his wet little teething mouth, but I read to him several times while he had his pacifier, and so he learned to look at the pictures while I read.  It's really exciting when kids start to look at the pictures and get it.  I let him rip up junk mail when it comes, just so he can explore the paper and pictures and the other day I noticed he was touching the faces of the kids on a fold-out postcard we'd gotten.  He recognized what he was looking at!  This takes TONS of practice!  And babies may have that ah-ha! moment at different points.  

Chip with Big Red Barn
4. Pay attention to their favorites -- I could have easily told you what Susie's favorite books were at 9-10 months.  But Chip reads. . . what Susie likes, pretty much.  And obviously that's not all bad, but I think it's good for me to see what stuff he likes to read and even choose books just for him at the library.  In honor of this, I'm going to add a column to my blog sharing his current faves, as I come across those.  Maybe your baby likes the animal books when you make all the funny noises.  Maybe he likes the faces, or the rhyming books you make into a song.  

5. Make literature available for their destructive little fingers.  We have piles of books everywhere, and I trust Susie to treat them well.  But since Chip isn't mobile yet, he can't just crawl over and choose a book from the bookshelf.  So I've been putting various board books and cheap/free books from kids' meals or even sometimes mail or other pictures/paper in a clear box that once had spinach in it.  He loves the box because it makes a crunchy/crinkly noise, and he can see in it, even if he's on his belly because it's clear.  This is my current method for making them available to him.  Something else may work well for you -- so get creative!

Here are the posts I wrote about reading to babies when Susie was little if it is helpful to you!

Part 1 -- which I wrote when Susie was 10 months
Part 2 -- which I wrote when Susie was 18 months