Family Devotion Time with Young Kids

When our three girls moved into our home, we knew we wanted to have family devotion time each night, but we weren’t quite sure how to go about doing it.  Our kids were 2, 3, and 4 years old at the time, and they hadn’t been exposed to daily prayer and Bible reading. The first few times we attempted family devotion time were disastrous, with kids jumping between their beds and Stephen and me not really sure how to formulate meaningful thoughts geared toward young kids. Fast-forward to a year and a half later, and now we look forward to our time together every night. (The girls always remind us if we haven’t done it yet!)

Our routine is simple: We read a simple devotion message with a Bible verse, and then we each say a prayer. We’ve taught the girls to thank God for something that happened that day and then also to pray for those in need. Having good-quality devotion books has been key in helping us feel that we could do this every day. Here are some of our favorite books:

Devotions for Preschoolers by Crystal Bowman

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As you can see, this book is very “well-loved” at our house and has been taped many times! Each day has a story about a preschool-aged child that links to a Bible verse and suggested prayer. The girls have liked learning about the different kids and feel they can relate to what the kids are experiencing. The story length is perfect for their attention span, too.

Jesus Calling Storybook by Sarah Young

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This storybook has Bible stories from Genesis through Revelations. I love the illustrations, and the stories are just in-depth enough for young kids without being too long. The girls always want me to read “just one more story” out of this book!

The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones

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This storybook is unique in its approach to telling Bible stories, as each story is linked to Jesus. Old Testament stories always tell how they relate to the Messiah, and I’ve found that I learn deeper meanings of the stories along with the kids. The illustrations in this book are amazing, too.

366 Bible Stories by Robert Brunelli

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This book was actually mine when I was a kid! I remember my parents reading to me from this book, so I knew it would be great for our kids, too. Each day has a different Bible story and picture, and several days are on one page, so parents can review and talk about stories to come each day.

Free Printable and Teachers Pay Teachers Store

As I’ve started to create new curriculum resources for my homeschool, I’ve decided that others might also like to use my products. So, I’ve opened a new Teachers Pay Teachers Store at http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Laura-Pointer! I have this free sight word “the” find and color printable on my store page and will be uploading more products soon. Stop on by my store and have a great weekend!

 

Toy Organization for Small Spaces

When Stephen and I moved into our 1,136 square foot house five and half years ago, it was perfect for the two of us. But when we added four kids in less than two years, the space seemed to go very quickly. So I’ve employed some creative toy organization strategies that have helped save space, power struggles, and time.

Prior to our son Seth’s birth, we had one of our three bedrooms set up as a playroom, and another was the girls’ bedroom. (Our girls are ages 3, 5, and 6.) All of their toys were in the playroom, with the bedroom used mostly just for sleeping. When we converted the playroom to Seth’s room, I wasn’t quite sure how all of the girls’ toys were going to fit into their room. After all, I was basically combining two rooms into one. But armed with energy from my pregnancy nesting instinct, I got to work.

I started by cleaning out the top of their bedroom closet and found tons of wasted space. All of the contents on the top shelf were easily placed elsewhere in the room. I also found lots of space under their bunk bed. Then, I closed down the playroom for a day and put everything into categories (ex: Barbies, dress-up, games, etc), while also throwing out broken and Happy Meal-type cheap toys. I thought about what kinds of toys I always saw the girls playing with and which toys were best for imaginative, free play. I counted the different categories and decided what size tubs would hold the toys and fit in the top of their closet. Then, I found two large tubs in the attic for dolls and dress-up clothes and also spent $20 at Dollar General on smaller tubs. I labeled each tub with the name of the contents and went to work putting toys in the closet and puzzles/blocks under the bunk bed.

Toy organization for a small space. Small pieces are in the labeled clear tubs, dolls are in the gray tub, games are on the right, and dress-up is on the left.

Toy organization for a small space. (Also, for clothes organization, shoes are in the brown bins, socks are in a collective red basket, and underwear and socks are in labeled clear drawers.)

Small pieces are organized in clear, labeled bins.

Small pieces are organized in clear, labeled bins.

Dress-up clothes are in the clear tub, and dolls are in the gray one.

Dress-up clothes are in the clear tub, and dolls are in the gray one.

Puzzles and blocks are underneath a bunk bed.

Puzzles and blocks are underneath a bunk bed.

Finally, I had a meeting with the girls and explained the new system: books, puzzles, and blocks were always an option (as well as art supplies that are in the kitchen). But as far as toys, only one tub would be down at a time, and those toys would have to be cleaned up before a new tub was switched out. This was entirely new for them, since all of the toys were out all the time in the playroom. They embraced the change, and it has helped us in other ways, as well. They no longer feel overwhelmed with cleaning up the entire room at once, and I don’t get frustrated about a messy playroom. As they’ve gotten better at clean-up, I’ve started sometimes allowing more than one tub at a time. This system also helps us keep in-check how many toys they have. When birthdays and Christmastime roll around, I have them choose toys to donate so we’ll have space for new ones. This new set-up is great for all of us.

Gospel-Centered Christmas Books for Kids

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There are so many Christmas books for children out there – I have TONS in the closet where I keep all of my themed books at home. But last year when we had our first Christmas with kids, I realized I didn’t have any Christmas books that were very Gospel-centered. Mine were mostly about Santa Claus, snow, and elves. So, I started my search for Christian Christmas children’s books. Here are my favorites thus far:

The Christmas Story by Patricia A. Pingry

This board book tells the story of Christ’s birth in simple children’s terms. It gives details of the nativity story but only has a few sentences every couple pages, making it perfect for babies and toddlers.

My Christmas Gift to Jesus by Zonderkidz

In this book, a little girl wonders what she can give Jesus for Christmas. She thinks about giving him different Christmas foods, gifts, and traditions, but ultimately she decides that the best thing she can give Jesus is her heart.

What is Christmas? by Michelle Medlock Adams

The kids in this board book are trying to decide what Christmas is all about. They ask if it’s about presents, food, or Santa Claus. Then, they decide that all of those things are nice, but Christmas is about Jesus. The author also devotes several pages at the end of the book to telling the Christmas story.

Silent Night by Pageant of Lights

This book tells the story of the night when Christ was born while playing “Silent Night” and having lights on each page. The last page is words from the song.

O Little Town of Bethlehem by Pageant of Lights

Much like Silent Night mentioned previously, this book plays music and has lights on each page. The book tells the story of wise men and shepherds following the star to find Jesus. There are only a few words on each page, so it’s a great book for younger children.

The Real Night Before Christmas by Isabel Anders

Like many of the others, this book tells the story of Christ’s birth. But I also love that on the last two pages, the author also links Jesus’ birth to the cross and Easter.

God Gave Us Christmas by Lisa Tawn Bergren

A little bear in this book asks his mom if Santa made Christmas and if he can go look for Santa. The momma bear tells him that God made Christmas and that they can go find God. They go on a journey outside, and momma bear leads him to the Northern Lights. She tells the little bear that God made light from dark and that Jesus is the light of the world. They then continue to find God’s handiwork all throughout nature.

 

I hope you enjoy these books as much as we have!

 

Thanksgiving Week Kindergarten Homeschool Activities

Thanksgiving week is a great time to take a step back from day-to-day homeschool routines and work on some review work, centers, and simple Thanksgiving fun. I took some time last week to fill a basket with activities that the girls could do independently. My intentions were two-fold: I wanted the girls to keep learning even though we took a break, and I know that when they’re occupied, the days go smoother for all of us!

Basket of independent activities

 

Kindergarten independent review work

Kindergarten independent review work

 

Homemade shapes for tracing, pre-made number and word match games, sight words and stories from Hubbard's cupboard, and Scholastic decodable readers

Homemade shapes for tracing, pre-made number and word match games, sight words and stories from Hubbard’s Cupboard, and Scholastic decodable readers

 

Kindergarten Thanksgiving activities from Andy Lyons and Hubbard's Cupboard

Kindergarten Thanksgiving activities from Andy Lyons and Hubbard’s Cupboard

I found the great themed word wall from Andy Lyons and the sight word reader and turkey activity from Hubbard’s Cupboard. The Pilgrim letter match game is a free printable that was featured on Hubbard’s Cupboard. When six year-old “L” colored the Pilgrim coloring page, she wrote the caption, “I praise God,” because she felt like they were lifting their hands in praise to God. I love her heart for worship! I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!