Thursday, May 21, 2015

Summer Reading Can Be Fun

Summer is coming, and every parent knows that children need to keep learning and growing even when they're not in school. I encourage you to pick up some of my books (or other books) and set aside time to read every day. Many of my books have games, crafts and other activities, so summer is a good time to do them.

Today I'm going to share about my books for the youngest readers. These are all for girls. Unfortunately I don't have books specifically for boys. My own boys have, of course, read the books and done the crafts in my books for girls. The older ones even helped me create the crafts for the books.

All of  my books are faith based and contain Scripture relevant to the topic and able to be understood by children.

The Just for Me! series says on the cover that it's for ages 6-9. I dislike that they put it on the cover. They are too easy for many nine year olds, and a four or five year old could understand the stories and do the activities with the help of an older sibling or parent.
 Just for Me! Friends 

Here is a review from Christian Children's Book Reviews:
Just For Me! Friends: A Fun Guide Just For Girls Ages 6-9, written and illustrated by Katrina Cassel, is, as the title says, “a fun guide just for girls.”

This girl-friendly book is packed with information and ideas about friendship. The book is divided into nine chapters. Each chapter deals with some aspect of friendship, such as the definition of a friend, how to be a good friend, and tips on finding and making friends.

Each chapter also has at least one friendship-related puzzle, Bible verse and “girl story.” Many chapters also have activities and quizzes. The book is interactive with places throughout the pages for the reader to record their thoughts and ideas.

Numerous pencil-sketches illustrate the pages. Answers to the puzzles can be found in the back of the book.

What I Like: Everything.

What I Dislike: Nothing.

Overall Rating: Excellent.

Some of the crafts included in this book are a friendship frame made from puzzle pieces (If you don't have a puzzle with lots of missing pieces to use, you can get one at the dollar store. Small pieces work best.), a paper chain with loops that say things you like about your friends, a friendship collage, a stand up photo and friendship crackers (like English Christmas crackers).

Chapter eight of the book has 15 (!!) things to do with a friend (or sibling). They would all make good family activities. They include games, crafts, recipes and other ideas.

You could read part of a chapter each night as a family activity and choose an activity from chapter eight to do on the weekend.

Here are several sister groups reading Just for Me: Friends together.

If you can't find the book at your local Christian bookstore, you can order it on amazon here.

Just for Me! My Family

Here are two reviews from moms who have read the book with their families.
My daughters and I have been reading this book together and we just love it! We have really enjoyed the fun activities included in the book and my girls look forward to reading together each day. We love that it all comes from a biblical perspective and that the girls are learning important things, like working together!

Our family has adopted several older children and we are working on building our family and sibling relationships. The kids have enjoyed the short lessons and activities. I like that it has a Biblical perspective.

In this book, girls will learn about the first family, find out why God made families, learn more about their parents, f ind out how to get along better with siblings, find ways to work together as a family, discover new ideas for family fun, discover ideas for serving together and learn fun facts about families.

Each chapter of the book features a Bible family (in rebus) and an animal family. Chapter One talks about the purpose of families and features Adam and Eve. The animals family feature is Koala Joeys. The craft is a family tree. Our family adapted it by giving it roots with adoptive parent names on them. The family activity is an indoor bowling game.

This one includes siblings.

 All the family trees came out a little different. 
 Bowling game made from cups

The book is especially good for non traditional families.

 We read through this book last summer and fall. I owe the kids a trip to the zoo. I told them after we'd read about all the animal families, we'd go to the zoo and see them.

 The activities in this book are younger than what the age on the book says. For instance, when I asked for a maze, they first created one that had only one path! When I asked for it to be harder, they made two paths. A three year old could do it, but the other activities are fun and can be done together.

This book is especially good for families with adopted children. Each chapter can be a springboard to discussions about families, family roles and other issues that we face with children who come from orphanages. Or even out of foster care.

Below are the links to the activities we did from this book. If you have time, check them out. Then you will know if the book would be of interest to your family.
family tree
bowling game
penguin cupcakes
candy tic tac toe--a favorite!
Frisbee game

We did the final project--a pinata--for Easter. The recipe in the book is wrong, just add flour and water until it's goopy! We painted the pinata rather than using tissue paper. 
pinata start to finish 

Another family got very creative with the project.

If you can't find it in your local Christian bookstore, order it here

Just for Me! The Bible

Here is the review from Christian Children's Book Reviews
The Just for Me! series includes a number of nonfiction activity books targeting specific age ranges. This title, Just for Me: The Bible, is "a fun guide just for girls ages 6-9." Written by Katrina Cassel, it incorporates stories, puzzles, games and activities with solid information about the Bible.
This book follows sisters Katie and Sarah as they encounter life. Each of their stories relates back to a lesson or introduces a specific story or fact from or about the Bible. Their father serves as a guide on this journey of discovery.
The text is broken into ten chapters. Each includes several invitations for interaction, from mazes, Rebus activities and memory verses to crafts, quizzes and codes to decipher. Every book of the protestant Bible is presented, from Genesis to Revelation, with at least one major story from that book.
The illustrations by Shelley Dieterichs offer simple line drawings done in black and white. An additional novelty: the book comes with a cross-shaped carabiner.

This books offers an excellent foundation of biblical knowledge for young girls and does it in an interesting way. I like that the information goes beyond Bible stories to Bible knowledge, like who wrote the Bible, how long did it take, etc. The activities are varied, which is great for maintaining interest. I also like the connections made between then and now. Sarah and Katie's stories help show how relevant the Bible is to us today. This book would be a wonderful tool for road trips!

This book will give girls an overview of the Bible. If your daughter already knows a lot about the Bible, this book may be too easy, and you might want to read The Christian Girl's Guide to the Bible instead.

The book takes readers from Genesis to Revelation using stories, Scripture, quizzes, puzzles, crafts and activities.

This book, along with the previous books, are a good size to take along on trips. You can read them anywhere.

 If you can't find it in your local Christian bookstore, order it here. See how many unique places you can read these books!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Wisdom from Dr Seuss

What's your favorite Dr. Seuss book?  Quote?

Monday, April 27, 2015

Lessons from Disney Princesses part 2

 If your family is like ours, you've lived through the princess craze from Aurora to Cinderella to Belle to the newest sisterly dynamic duo—Elsa and Anna. You've watched the movies, heard the songs and dressed your daughters in miniature gowns and tiaras (or been dressed in them if you're a young reader).

What kind of role models are these princesses to girls today? Or do girls even give any thought to them. After all, Snow White and Aurora are far removed from our lifestyles today.

A while back I posted about the Disney princesses. Basically I gave my version of their stories. I've included that in this post too. That part is in italics. I'm going to attempt to add to it but giving my thoughts on what girls learn from these princesses—and really, a lot of that depends on the parents.

Hopefully you watch the movies with your children and they serve as a springboard for important discussions on values, goals, motives, relationships and so on. If children watch movies, who knows how they may interpret the values, if at all.

Remember, the italicized part is what I wrote in my original post here 

Part One is here 

Jasmine is a strong, confident princess who doesn't want anyone to tell her what to do, including her father. She longs for her independence. She meets Aladdin, who is disguised as a prince, and goes on a ride on a magic carpet--and of course falls in love with Aladdin. After a lot of plotting, and battles between good and evil, Aladdin realizes he can't keep pretending to be who he's not. With the help of a Genie, he gets things worked out and is allowed to marry Princess Jasmine even though he's not royalty. There's a lot of deceit and lying going on in this movie, but of course it all works out in the end.

Jasmine was determined to live life the way she wanted rather than letting others make decisions for her. Her values and freedom were worth more to her than money or position. That's not to say it's okay to disobey parents or those in authority, but neither should parents be making decisions about a child's adult life for them. God reveals his plan for a person to that person, not the parents, teacher, pastor or other person. God leads each person in different and unique ways.

Living the lesson: Never be afraid to run head first into your future. Don't let the desire for money, prestige or position be your guide. Embrace life and live intentionally. Having money or fame doesn't guarantee success or we wouldn't have movie stars and sports heroes committing suicide. Live with no regrets.

Key verse:  For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

Resources for today's girls
A Girl's Guide to Making Really Good Choices by Elizabeth George
The Christian Girl's Guide to Being Your Best by Katrina Cassel

Pocahontas is an adventurer and nature lover who talks to the spirits. She is noble and wise beyond her years. The daughter of a Native American Chief, she meets John Smith in the wilderness and they fall in love. But it's not meant to be. John takes the blame for killing someone he didn't kill in order to protect young Thomas. He's going to be executed, but is saved at the last minute. Just as it looks like everything will turn out okay, he is shot while protecting the chief and John returns to England for medical treatment. And of course the movie wouldn't be the same without the raccoon.

No, the movie is not historically accurate. But that's not what little girls care about. They care about the princesses, and Pocahontas was one brave princess. She saved her tribe and made peace between her tribe and the settlers. It's not easy to go against tradition, superstition and prejudice, especially when there's a powerful father involved. But she stood up for herself and for others.

Living the lesson: Just because something has been done a certain way for a long time doesn't mean it's right.  Just because the majority of people believe something doesn't mean it's right. Sometimes you have to stand up for yourself and others even when it's hard. Different groups of people may have to work hard to understand each other. But learning respect for others is an important lesson, and sometimes it takes courage to follow through. Be open to new things, ideas and people.

Key verses for Pocahontas:  When people’s lives please the Lord, even their enemies are at peace with them. Proverbs 16:7
Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Romans 12:18

Resources for today's girls
Just for Me! My Family by Katrina Cassel
The One Year Devos for Animal Lovers by Dandi Mackall (remember all the wildlife friends Pocahontas had!)

Mulan is different from the other Chinese girls of her time. Although beautiful, she's clumsy and outspoken. She's also brave and loyal. Disguising herself as a boy, she takes her father's place in the army, with an (very small, humorous) ancestral dragon to help her. When Mulan is injured, her true gender is discovered, and she's kicked out of the army. Still, she ends up being the hero in the end, saving China and winning the love of her former commander.

Mulan changed herself for guy, but in her case, the guy was her father. She took on a male identity in order to take her father's place. She didn't change herself for Shang, but he was attracted to her anyway. Always honorable, Mulan saved the day and won the guy.

Living the lesson: Be yourself so people will like you for who you are, not who you pretend to be. You were created to fulfill a certain purpose, so if you try to be someone else, you'll miss the perfect plan God has for you.

Key verse: For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10

Resources for today's girls:
Everyone Tells Me to Be Myself, But I Don't Know Who I Am by Nancy Rue

The Christian Girl's Guide to Me: The Quiz Book by Katrina Cassel

And for all the princesses in your life:

Friday, April 03, 2015

Pinata From Start to Finish

These pictures were taken over two weeks' time.
Cutting the newspaper strips

Blowing up the balloon

Starting the pinata

Sisters being sisters!

Rick put a rod through to hang it from. I duct taped over it to keep people from peeking. I had planned to put two DVDs in it with the candy, but they didn't fit through the opening! I had originally made sure it was big enough, but it got filled in.
Rick was brave enough to hold it while the kids swung at it!

Jessica volunteered to kneel since she's 5'6.5" or 5'7" 

The candy started spilling out of a hole. Jessica ended it by hitting it without the blindfold, but I forgot to get a final picture.

The pinata is part of Just for Me! My Family. There are a lot of other activities in the book that are great for the whole family!

Available at amazon HERE and some Christian bookstores.