Thursday, May 28, 2015

Lessons from Disney Princesses part 3

 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.

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 

Part Two is here

Tiana is a beautiful, hard working young woman living in New Orleans in the '20's who wants to open her own restaurant. When both she and the handsome, but lazy, Prince Naveen are turned into frogs, they set out to find someone who can change them back to humans. That's not as easy as it sounds or it would be a very short movie. But in the end, love prevails and Tiana's dreams all come true proving that hard work and persistence does pay off.

Tiana was a hard worker with a dream of owning a restaurant. The dream was extra special to her because it was shared by her father, who died before seeing it happen. This independent young lady didn't need a prince to rescue her. She used her brain, cooking ability and physical labor to make her dream come true. And the obstacles and hard work didn't make her bitter, she remained a vibrant, passionate princess throughout.

Living the lesson: Tiana had a dream, and she was willing to work to make it come true. Having a dream is good, but it's not worth much unless you are willing to work for it. Be sure to think, plan and pray about your dreams, then work hard to achieve them.

Key verse: May he grant your heart’s desires and make all your plans succeed. Psalm 20:4
Resources for today's girls:
The Creativity Book by Nancy Rue

The Christian Girl's Guide to Being Your Best by Katrina Cassel

Rapunzel doesn't know her true identity as she lives in a tower with Mother Gothel. And although kept secluded in a tower all her life, she's perky and intelligent, finding ways to amuse herself. When a handsome stranger shows up, Rapunzel finally gets her dream of seeing the floating lights. When she realizes she's the missing princesses, she has a show down with Mother Gothel, and of course takes her place as princess and marries the reformed thief, Flynn/Eugene.

Like Tiana, Rapunzel had a dream. In fact, by singing about it, she gets others to acknowledge their dreams too, some more realistic than others. Rapunzel's dream was to see the floating lights, but more than that, it was to have an adventure and do something new. So this spunky princess trusts a complete stranger (which is not a good idea in real life), holds on to her dream and gets what she wants in the end.

Living the lesson: Rapunzel had a dream. She took a chance and it paid off. In real life, it's not a good idea to entrust your safety to a stranger, but it is a good idea to talk to others about your hopes and dreams. They can help you plan. As with Tiana, be sure to think, plan and pray about your dreams, then work hard to achieve them.

Key verse: Get all the advice and instruction you can, so you will be wise the rest of your life. Proverbs 19:20
Resources for today's girls
The Uniquely Me Book by Nancy Rue
The Christian  Girl's Guide to Me: The Quiz Book by Katrina Cassel

Merida is a refreshing change from some of the earlier princess. Red haired and fiery, she is the only princess not to have a love interest during her movie. Her mother's desire to see her become a proper lady and marry a suitable man clashes with Merida's independent nature and her desire not to be tied down in marriage so young. She would prefer to ride her horse and shoot archery instead. When her mother is turned into bear, Merida has to find a way to break the spell before Mom is mistaken for the bear that tore off the king's leg and is killed for revenge. Working together to get Mom transformed back into a human helps Merida and Mom form a bond and understand each other better. The movie wouldn't be the same without the mischievous brothers.

Merida's Disney page says, "Merida is a princess by birth and an adventurer by spirit. She spends her days practicing archery, riding her horse Angus, and exploring the world around her. She loves her family, but she wants to control her own destiny."

Living the lesson: Wanting to choose your destiny is good, but remember that God has the perfect plan for you. He's given you all you need to live it out. So keep your heart in tune with God so you won't miss out on what he already has planned for you. Chances are, it will be more amazing than anything you would have thought up.

Key verse: You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny. Psalm 73:24

Resources for today's girls
The It's My Life Book by Nancy Rue

A Girl After God's Own Heart by Elizabeth George

Elsa and Anna are the newest Disney princesses as Frozen was the first movie to have two princesses, and both are loved and adored. The song "Let it Go" has become the new anthem for today's girls. Although the princesses have a rocky start with Elsa setting off an eternal winter, the sisters eventually find that love is the answer to a frozen heart. Add in a lovable snowman with lots of personality, an ice delivery man named Kristoff and a reindeer named Sven, and you have a movie that is a hit with all ages.

Elsa and Anna are most often grouped together, but they are two very different princesses. Elsa, more serious and mature, kept herself secluded from her younger, more energetic, even hyper, sister. Elsa was probably the kind of girl who spent her time studying, fulfilling obligations, trying hard to please everyone and live up to all the expectations on her as the oldest. She also had to hide her frozen touch. (Like the Midas touch, but it all turned to ice not gold). Anna was impetuous and all about fun. She's the child you can't get up in the morning, who loses her homework and has a pile of dirty clothes shoved under her bed.

So on one hand we have the reserved, elegant older sister who is guided by a strong sense of duty, and the younger carefree sister who follows her emotions and whims. Yet Anna proves herself loyal and willing to sacrifice herself for her sister.

Elsa seems to be the preferred princess since her costume and doll has so far outsold Anna's. And of course she gets the "Let it Go Song." But to me she's cold, both literally and figuratively, while Anna is warm and accepting. And while Elsa has a super power, Anna has to sort things out with no magical powers, just the help of friends. And friends are something Elsa seems to be lacking.

The sisters are definitely different, but different can be good. Sometimes siblings' strengths and weaknesses compliment each others'. So if they can work together, problems can be more easily solved.

Living the lesson: If you have a sister or brother who drives you crazy, look for his or her strengths. Find out how you can use your individual strengths and weaknesses to help each other.
Key verse: Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. Colossians 3:13-14
Resources for today's girls
Everyone Tells Me to Be Myself but I Don't Know Who I Am by Nancy Rue
Faithgirlz Handbook

Anyone have a good book for helping siblings get along?

And for all the princesses in your life:

See it here

So, this is my list of princesses and my own version of their stories. Some princess are stereotypical and some are spunky. Some do exactly as they're told, others disobey but have a happy ending anyway. They are loving, kind, brave, and sacrificial. But some also have wrong values and wrong means to get what they want. So the question is, are they positive role models for our girls or not? What positive and negative values do you think they teach?

Who is your favorite princesses? Has that changed as each new movie is released?

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?