Celebrating, Capturing & Remembering Life's Special moments
Yesterday in the Tru curriculum we explored the story of the judge Ehud who was an unlikely hero, due to his being left handed. I love stories that appeal to the boys, and this is a lesser known story that I knew would be new to most of them. However my search to find a coloring or activity sheet that the kids could do during our first service resulted in 0 material. Hmmm, very interesting that no one has made a coloring sheet about this story yet. Do people think it is too gruesome for kids? Yet the kids sure loved hearing the weird grossness of this story. I wish my drawing skills were better.
Anyway, I thought up a fun activity for the kids to do instead of a coloring page (coloring pages get old when used too often anyway). The craft ended up being a huge hit with the girls AND boys. I've never seen the craft station so full during the free time between services. I had to spread out the supplies to another table so that more kids could get in on the fun. Not only did the kids create swords, but the little boys also created pretty awesome mini spears and daggers. The little girls also used their creativity, veering away from the story material by creating little people and flowers with their Popsicle sticks.
For the craft I simply set out Popsicle sticks in different shapes and sizes, glue, jewel stickers, markers and electrical tape. I also made an example to inspire the kids (and because I still like to play with glue and stickers too). I really wish I would have gotten some pictures of all the fun things kids came up with, but alas I don't think of things like that on a Sunday morning.
Being such tiny swords, I didn't have to worry about the kids engaging in play sword fights, because even a plastic toy swords does more damage than these little things.
Wait, I just found that I did accidentally get few of the kid's creations in some pictures. I was taking pictures of small groups to send with their Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes, and I love seeing kid's creativity and uniqueness expressed in the things they make.
This week our Awana storyteller is on vacation in Mexico, so I had the wonderful privilege of sharing the story of Noah with our kids yesterday night. This year our incredibly talented Awana storyteller has made it a tradition to involve kid volunteers in the storytelling each night. This is super awesome, but the idea was a little daunting to me. The kids LOVE it, but there is always that unpredictability piece involved. As apprehensive as I was about the idea, I had to go forward with the plan. There were already 5 kids signed up to help, and the waiting list was already full for the next week.
I prayed for inspiration, and grit my teeth as I headed down to our supply closet to look for costume or prop ideas, that would not require explaining as the children's involvement is almost completely improvised (except for a few whispered instructions as the groups wander in).
I ended up making some funny improvised "costumes" for Noah, his wife and 3 sons, which I ended up pretty excited about. They were basic enough to throw together quickly, yet very fun for the kids to wear (maybe because they were so ridiculously simple). With the current trend of  beards and mustaches going around, I knew that any facial hair prop was sure to be a hit (even for the girls).
I found funny beard templates from the family fun website, which I traced onto different colors of construction paper (you can find the same templates here). I ended up having to use some masking tape pieces to hold the side burns in place as well as yarn to tie the beards onto kid's heads.
When I was digging through a box of yarn looking for something to tie the beards on, I found some delightful fat yellow yarn that looked to me like tight blonde curls. I decided to also improvise a wig so as not to leave Noah's wife out of the costuming fun. The yarn was already cut, so I laid the pieces out on some masking tape to make a perfectly silly wig.
I ended up really having a lot of fun including the kids in the story. The kid volunteers did an awesome job acting out even the parts I had not given them any instructions on. Of course, there was the element of chaos, as would be expected. Even the chaos, however occurred at the right and expected moment, during the flood when Noah and his family got to squirt the audience with spray bottles. Let's just say, the "flood" didn't want to stop, and could have very well last for 40 days and 40 nights without a little intervention. Also, only one of the beards survived said flood for me to take a picture of it the next day. :-)

I'm busy getting curriculum printed, copied and organized for the fall. I was having some trouble finding a fun sheet or coloring page in my books to supplement the story of Deborah the judge, so I googled it. Maybe you groan inwardly like I do at the thought of the coloring pages that come up when doing an internet search, but I was desperate.

To my pleasant surprise I ran across this site that actually has some pretty cool pages. The boys at ParkSide are becoming fans of "The Action Bible" and these remind me a little of that action packed comic book style. Need a coloring page supplement that will also please elementary age boys? Check these out: http://www.christian-resources-today.com/free-bible-coloring-pages.html

Note: I think the coloring pages are great but did not explore the site they are on further than the first few coloring pages. Posting this link does not necessarily mean I agree with other stuff on the site, just saying, just case...

Oriental trading company has these fun posters where kids can write "all about" different topics and draw pictures according to some guided questions. I looked for a poster about moms for the Sontown kids to do as a mother's day gift, but only found picture frames and spinner things.
Since I have been having fun playing with Adobe Illustrator lately and my new graphics pad I decided I would go ahead make my own "All About Mom" poster for the Sontown kids, and share it with you. :-)
You can download it at the bottom of this post. The poster is designed to be printed on 11x17 size paper so, but if you don't have access to that size paper or a printer that can print that size you could try it on normal letter size (8.5x11), the writing spaces will just be a little more cramped.
This is what it looks like:
File Size: 145 kb
File Type: pdf
Download File

I would love to start creating coloring pages, but alas my drawing skills are sorely lacking and I have been incredibly disappointed with my efforts thus far. For the time being you and I will have to be satisfied with basic shapes like these.
I ran across a blog post I never posted last year. Since it is that time of year again, I thought maybe you'd enjoy it.
This is what it said:
"My heart kind sped up this week in staff meeting when the question was asked "what are we doing for Mother's day?" Mother's day! This week, already? I have been thinking about what to do for my own mom, but suddenly I realized that I really should provide some means for the Sontown kids to express love and appreciation to their mother's as well.
Thankfully my creative juices have been flowing really well as of late. I think it has something to do with more sunshine and color finally peeking through the gray. Inspired by the tissue paper pom pom/flowers I created a while back, I made up my own variation of a tissue paper flower. This one the Sontown kids can use to decorate cute cards for their mothers. I'm rather proud of it too! I think I'm falling in love with tissue paper."
  • First print the card onto card stock. You can find the PDF download at the bottom of this post.
  • Next cut some circles and flower shapes out of tissue paper in 3-5 different sizes. Some older kids could do this by themselves. Since I was working with a range of kids between K and 4th I just pre-cut the shapes.
  • Then have kids assemble the flowers in their desired combinations of shapes, sizes and colors by poking the brad through the middle of the tissue paper "petals" and then through the front of the card.
Bonus idea: Instead of having kids poke the brad through a card, try having them poke it into the eraser of some pencils to make a fun flowery bouquet.
Here is the PDF for a card that can go with these flowers.
File Size: 36 kb
File Type: pdf
Download File

Stay tuned for Mother's day Project # 2 tomorrow
A few years ago I received one of these chocolate covered spoons with candy cane pieces from my niece. I thought it was really cute when I got it, and it tasted good too.
The idea is that you use the spoon to stir your coffee or hot chocolate.
So this year when thinking about what I could give to the Children's Ministry volunteers at Parkside this fun little treat came to mind.

The concept is simple and easy to do, but it does take a while to create 30-40 of them.
To make 30-40 spoons I used:
    - 1 (24oz) bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
    - 3 candy canes (crushed in a zip top bag)
    - 40 spoons
    - wax paper
    - 2 cookies sheets
                                                                - a microwave safe container
                                                                - a microwave  

First I melted the chocolate in small batches of about one cup at a time in the microwave. (A good way to melt chocolate in the microwave is to heat for 30 seconds then stir, the chocolate should be the right consistency after about three 30 second intervals.)

Then, dip the spoon in the melted chocolate, set it carefully down on the wax paper and sprinkle on a little candy cane onto the melted chocolate. Once one tray is full, let them sit until the chocolate hardens.
If you want to make the chocolate harden faster, put the tray in the fridge or freezer (or if you live in Minnesota, you can just set them on a table outside for a few minutes).
To wrap them, I used cling wrap and ribbon (which I also used to attach a coupon for coffee and a donut from Parkside's Aroma Cafe).

Please excuse my sad artistic attempts and very low picture quality.
_I discovered something about myself yesterday. Googly eyes make me smile. I realized suddenly that next week is Thanksgiving, which means I should do something to acknowledge it with the kids on Sunday. The first thing that came to my mind was making the classic hand turkey. I thought of a few ways I could make it more fun than just the average classic hand turkey and my mind went to googly eyes. Just the thought of googly eyes made me smile.
Once I had assembled my silly googly eyed thankful turkey, I felt happy and somewhat proud in a silly refreshing way. By no means was my coloring good (I'm know the kid's turkeys will look better). But for some reason the simple act of creating this little paper craft brought joy to my day.
I've been experiencing a sort of fog when I'm at work lately. I feel this way just trying to get through tasks.By the end of the day I feel exhausted even though all I've done is sit at a desk, coordinating all the details of children's ministry from my computer.
Yesterday was different though, I found something simple that made me smile, and somehow that brought joy and purpose to the rest of my day as well. So look for the things that make you smile. Find ways to incorporate a smile into your day. When my silly thankful turkey has served his role as craft example I think I will keep him on my desk, to remind me of these thoughts. Perhaps I should even decorate my cubicle with googly eyes.
This will be the start of a new personal mission that I desperately need as the sunlight wanes and days grow colder (why do I live in MN?!). I will look for joy and pursue it. When I find the simple joys and surprises God sneaks into my days, I will take a moment to celebrate by smiling, giggling and thanking God.
I hope you have lots of googly eyed, silly thankful turkey moments this week. :-)