Thursday, November 13, 2008


When my daughter was born, my parents gave her a Keepsake Box that included various things, like a special container for the hair from her first hair cut, a container for the wristband from the hospital when she was born, etc.  One of the things included was a round box in which there were 9 stones.  On each stone was one of the characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit, listed in Galatians - love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. 

These are things that are difficult to teach, because they are ultimately, well, fruit of the indwelling of God's Spirit in a person.  There is the element of example - she will see our lives and the lives of the saints and ultimately the life of Jesus to know what all these things look like in a person's decisions.  But there is also the element of giftedness to them.  Ultimately, as a Christian, I believe God gives peace.  We can choose to live in it or not, but it isn't something you learn like you learn how to wash the dishes.  I started thinking about this, and I decided that maybe the best thing to do at this point in her little life is to lay the foundation of knowing that these are characteristics of God.  Then, building on that, we can talk about how, if we want to have these things, too, we go to God for them.

So today I showed her the box.  She was enthralled with it.  I focused on the love stone, and we did activities surrounding the love of God.  I put the word "God" on a piece of paper and taped it really high on the ceiling where she could never reach it.  I told her to go get it, and she tried and tried (very cleverly), but it was too high.  I told her that God is so far away because people are so often very naughty.  I referenced how yesterday a little girl had made my daughter sad by being mean to her and different things that she could identify with.  BUT, then I took the piece of paper down and said that God loves us so, so, so much that he doesn't want to be so far away.  He wants to be close to us.  And so when say we are sorry (we did the ASL sign for 'sorry'), God forgives us and we can be close to him.  She was so excited by this.  It just killed me, as someone trained in theology, to leave it at that, but it seemed to be as much as she could take in today.  

She took the love stone to her dad, because she wanted him to have it, too.  I prompted her to tell him what it means, and she told him all about how God was high up on the wall and we couldn't reach him, but then mommy took the paper down and this means that God loves her.  She went around giving the love to everyone - me, the dog, her teddy bear, etc. - because she  seemed to want everyone to have something so wonderful.

Then we sang simple songs about God's love (O, How I love Jesus because he first loved me; God loves me; Jesus loves me).  

We did this impromptu litany in which I would tell her something was a gift from God - her bear, her Elmo, our dog, mommy, daddy, EVERYTHING - and then we'd say and sign together, "Thank you, thank you, thank you, God!!!"

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Seasons of the Year, Part 2

Today we expanded our seasons lesson from yesterday.  We used the seasons wheel we made yesterday, and we drew on it things we do in each of the seasons.  Swimming in summer, playing with leaves in fall, ice skating in winter, and flowers in spring.  

I got an ice cube tray out of the freezer, and we skated on the cold ice with our finger nails, like we skate in the winter.  Then we put an ice cube in a mug and heated it up in the microwave (she initiated counting while we waited, and so we counted the seconds to 35, although she can only make it to around 29 at this point) - it melted into water!  The water was warm, like you would want to swim in in the summer.  My daughter wanted more, and so we ended up melting all the ice cubes in the microwave.  The we put more water into the tray, put the tray back in the freezer, and later today we're going to see what happened to the water in the freezer. 

For autumn, we cut out five simple red construction paper leaves.  We took turns being the "tree."  Our arms were the branches, and we held the leaves in them, then we let them fall to the floor singing a song we learned in music class ("Leaves are falling, softly floating, tumbling to the ground....").  We ended up letting all our stuffed animals and dolls have a turn being the tree, too. 

Monday, November 10, 2008

Seasons of the Year

Today we focused on the seasons of the year.  We cut a piece of paper into a circle and folded it into 4 parts.  We counted 1-2-3-4.  Then on the four sections, I wrote "winter," "spring," "summer," and "fall" respectively.  We drew and colored pictures of what trees look like in each of the seasons in their sections - in winter no leaves, in spring green leaves with flowers, in summer green leaves under a hot sun, in fall colored leaves falling to the ground.  I taught her the ASL sign for "fall" ( couldn't remember the signs for the other seasons right off the top of my head, or I would have done that, too).  I drew arrows between the sections and talked about how they go from one to the other.  Then we went round and round the circle, signing "cold" for winter, "warm" for spring, "hot" for summer, and "cool" for fall.  When we were done, I asked her if she wanted to go outside and see the leaves falling to the ground - of course, she did.  So we went outside (we took our dog with us) and ran around the yard, kicking the leaves and playing chase with our dog.  I was going to rake them, but they were so beautiful as they were I couldn't bring myself to do it...


We did this over the course of a couple of days, not in the order delineated below.  We started with the construction paper.  In any case, here were our apple activities:  

I took a knife and cut an apple.  We looked at and learned the names of the core, the seeds, the stem, the skin, and the yummy part (I couldn't think of its name).  Some parts we eat (and we did eat), some parts we don't.  

We played with the seeds while we ate the apple - we counted them and arranged them in different shapes.  And we sang the song "Ohhhhhhhhhh the Lord is good to me, and so I thank the Lord, for giving me the things I need - the sun and the rain and the apple seed.  The Lord is good to me...."

I took red construction paper and cut out some circles to make paper apples.  We made a construction-paper apple tree with brown and green paper, and she taped the pieces (with some help) to another sheet of paper, and then we put on the red apples.  We counted them, and we talked about picking apples from trees in the fall.  Because they were taped to the picture and not glued or anything permanent, we could take them off and put them back on the paper easily, so we could "pick" the apples from the tree, or they could "faaaaaallllllll down."

We taped the real apple seeds to the construction-paper apples on our construction-paper tree.  We made other similar-sized red circles from the construction paper and then taped those circles on top of the ones with the seeds on them, making 3D apples.  So the seeds were hidden, just like in real apples.   

Using the construction paper, I cut out a little red capitol 'A' and a lower case 'a'.  What letter is this?, I asked, and she said, "A!"  What does it say?  She identified the sound, and we connected the sound with the word "apple."  Then we taped the a's on the picture.  It's always good to review that stuff.

Somewhere in there I told her the story of Johnny Appleseed.

Then we finished and ate some more apples for snack time.


We did this last month, too.  We cut out a big construction-paper orange pumpkin.  We used other pieces of construction paper to give the pumpkin different shaped eyes, noses, and mouths.  We used tape so the pieces could easily be removed and replaced and put back on later.  We made happy faces and sad faces.  We taped on different combinations of mouths and eyes and noses to see what it looked like.  She loved it.  She especially loved changing the emotions of the face.  It was interesting for me to notice that when the pumpkin felt certain emotions - like, when it was sad - she wanted to put it in time-out.  It became quite a game for her.  The connections she made between emotions and 'time-out' were interesting to note.  

We also cut out a "p" for pumpkin and reviewed its sound.