Friday, November 22, 2013

Preschool week 12 (letter Hh, number 6 and Gideon)

For this week we covered a lot for our Bible story. We covered the letter Hh, number 6 and the story of Gideon. After reading through the story of Gideon in the Bible I wasn't sure how to go about teaching it to Oliver. Everywhere I looked for resources the only part covered of the story was the very end when he used torches to march around the city. There is SO much more to the story and it's awesome how God worked through this man, and prepared him to lead. So I decided to break up the story through several days and focus on different parts each day. The first day we covered the part where God spoke to Gideon by causing fire to come out of a rock.
I had Oliver find a rock and we tore up orange tissue paper and glued it down to the rock (with only elmers glue too!)

The next day we read about the fleece Gideon put out on two nights asking God for a sign (one night the fleece stayed dry and the ground was wet, the next night the ground was dry and the fleece was wet). I tried to explain this to Oliver as it's something he doesn't quite understand, seeing how I am not able to create a miracle (ha!). To physically show this, I got two pans. One had water in it and Oliver dropped a napkin in it to watch how it got wet. The next pan was dry and I put a napkin in it and let Oliver put water on it. I explained how they both got wet and how God was able to make a miracle by keeping the parts dry that shouldn't be. Oliver may not have understood this, but he enjoyed doing the physical activity. I know once he's older he'll understand :)

Another day we focused on the next part of the story, when God had Gideon separate out his men that would go into battle with him. Gideon had thousands of men for his army, but God wanted him to take them to the river and watch how they drank the water. If the men were down on the ground, drinking water directly out of the stream they would not be chosen. The men that used their hands to cup water up to their mouths would be part of his army. This dwindled the number of men down to merely 300. I'm amazed at how few God required, but it showed how great He was and that it was not on account of men that they defeated the Midianites.
I had Oliver build a stream out of his legos, then showed him how the men were chosen by how they drank from the stream. He liked practicing this one, but only a couple times, then he was done! It was a good visual I think.

Our final part of the story. We read through the final part when Gideon led his men around the camp of the Midianites, blew their trumpets and broke their pitchers to reveal their lanterns. The Midianites were defeated by simple shouting, but by the mighty work of God. I helped Oliver create a torch and trumpet, using some paint, glue, tissue paper and toilet paper rolls. I have to admit we never finished his torch as we were letting the paint dry, but that's okay. Oliver didn't seem to mind as we became busy with other things!

And for our letter Hh I did something recommended from ABCJLM. I took a mirror out and had Oliver  breathe the "h" sound into it until he saw it fog up on the mirror. It was a great way for him to make the sound correctly and he continually says it correctly whenever I ask him what sound "H" makes. A great way to learn it! And he worked on the number 6, with some play doh, a favorite. I helped roll them out, as he's not that good with fine motor skills yet, but he's getting better at it.

Finally this week we started making thankful leaves in honor of the month of November with Thanksgiving. I cut out some leaf shapes in construction paper and strung up some yarn for us to tape them to. We are daily writing new things we are thankful for on our leaves and it's fun to see the string of leaves get longer and longer. We have so very much to be thankful for. God is so good and I am so grateful for all He has allowed us to have, and all He continues to teach us!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Fire Station Tour!

The best toddler trip ever!
Really, we had a great time touring a fire station about a week ago. Oliver is really into cars of any kind at this age and fire trucks are pretty high up on his favorites list.
I had looked up fire stations in our area and called and scheduled a tour. They are free and you can also bring a group. So I invited some other friends to come along.
It was so much fun! The firemen were so polite and friendly and showed us around the fire house. We watched a safety video, and checked out the everyday space the firemen lived in (they actually stay on shifts for 24 hours). I love the unity and family aspect they convey. Living in the same space so long, cooking meals and doing chores together (they actually rotate what chores they do each week, it was window washing day when we were there) can't help but bring these firemen together. It was a really neat experience.
Plus the boys were able to see some big shiny firetrucks, a police car and a police bike. The officers were so kind to my boys (to all of us that were there, really) and I got to sit in a fire truck!
Granted there wasn't a dalmation dog keeping watch, or a fire pole to slide down, but I guess I've read to many books :)
The boys had a great time. And it was free! I am thinking I'd like to bring some baked goods to them in the near future. It will be fun to do something for them to let them know we appreciate them.

Preschool Week 11 (Gg, 5, Bible story of Jericho)

For week 11 we focused on the letters Gg, the number 5 and the story of Jericho in the Bible. 
For a Jericho craft, I used the printout from ABCJLM and had Oliver color it, then cut out some pieces of paper to glue down on the wall pictured in the illustration. I thought it would be a good exercise for his fine motor skills, since we haven't used his scissors in a while. He enjoyed cutting and did pretty good with it. I started the cuts for him so that it wasn't such a large cumbersome piece for him. Then he glued them all down. 

I also used a free printout I found online that had G for goat, and a bunch of other G (and goat) things with it. One was sequencing, where I had Oliver match the largest to smallest goat picture with the correct numbers (1 with the biggest, 2 with the middle etc.). He did pretty well with it. 

While we were reading about the story of Joshua and Jericho, I was trying to think of something we could do that was creative and hands on for Oliver to really remember the story. I finally decided on boxes. Ha!
I pulled a bunch of boxes out of storage (are we the only ones that tend to save perfectly good boxes for   future use?) and stacked them up. Then we talked through the details of the story ( 7 days marching around the walls of Jericho, until the 7th day) and on the 7th day, after marching around 7 times they made a bunch of noise and God pushed those walls down! And at that point Oliver shouted and knocked down the "wall" of Jericho. He loved it so much! This was a fun way for him to be involved in the story, and he LOVES being an active part. He wanted to do it over and over, and started to build it by himself, including some cars, a stuffed animal and anything else that would fit on the "wall". (also take note of his baby brothers fascination with mom taking pictures, ha!) So much fun!

And finally, I used some more goat printouts. This one had about 12 different goats with a new color name printed on each one (in corresponding color). I let Oliver find the matching crayon for each one and color the square that had that color. I remember trying something similar to this with him months ago and he had no interest, and gave up easily. His attention span and observation has grown so much since then, and I can clearly see that while he colored away at these! It's neat to watch him grow in these areas, and also good to remember that there will be things he isn't interested in right now, but may change in another month or two. 

Pumpkin Patch

As I mentioned a few posts back, we took a trip to a pumpkin patch this past month. It was a beautiful, clear, blue sky kind of day and we had a wonderful time. Last year we started this tradition and had such a great time, decided to keep it as our annual fall trip. Because we live in a pretty urban setting, driving out to a farm was a breath of fresh air (literally!). The boys could roam freely in the open country space, and they loved it. It reminded me of my growing up years, as I was raised in the country.
I shared these photos on our website here.
I loved the oranges and blues in these photos (and the sweet faces of my dear family)!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Preschool Week 9 and 10 (letter F, number 6, the ten commandments)

This I am actually a few weeks behind posting.
As we are actually in week 12 as I write, I know that I have become a little more relaxed in our day to day the past couple weeks. And it happens. I've had several things in my life that have taken me away from so much focus on schooling. We still do our schooling, but it was not as planned out as it had been when we first started.
This weekend I finally felt like I was at a place where I could sit and think through our upcoming week and really plan for it. I had to say no to some things so that I could focus on my "lesson plans" (I say that very loosely!). I love teaching Oliver and whenever I sit and think through our week I get so excited about how many things I can include in our everyday. Pinterest is such a great source for me for helping in my planning. When I know we will be working on a specific Bible story I can look up related ideas for crafts for it. Or for our letter of the week, or number. And since it's fall, with Thanksgiving approaching, there are numerous things we can include in our days that relate to that. So much fun!
The biggest thing that I notice about taking time to plan is that I feel better, and prepared mentally for Monday morning. My preparation makes our days smoother and Oliver knows what will come next. Now that he's three he really thrives on a consistent schedule. He has a lot of play time in the day, but he really enjoys our time together having "school time". He gets so excited to work on new projects together.
But for weeks 9 and 10:
Week 9 was review of the previous week so there isn't much in pictures of that. Week 10 was the letters Ff, number 5 and the Bible story, Moses and the 10 commandments.
I had Oliver work on drawing Ff and 6. We also did a few "f" crafts. This one was making the letter f into a frog. He glued down all the parts to a letter f. I showed him where they would go and let him use the glue to make it all happen. He did great, even with the excessive amounts of glue! :)

I also pulled out our chalkboard to let him draw f with chalk. I just love the chalkboard! And it was a new texture for Oliver to use.

We worked on a new game too. I had printed these files from this great site. It has pictures and words that you can match to the corresponding page with the same pictures and words (written in a dashed line). I didn't know how tough this would be for Oliver since he can't read yet. He had to find the matching letters in the words to match them correctly. He surprised me at how well he did. I talked through the letters of the words with him to help him know to look at the first letters in the words to make sure they matched. He is such a smarty pants! He matched them all :)

A little puzzle fun. He still needs help with big puzzles like this, but he really likes puzzles.

This week we were learning about Moses and the ten commandments. To go along with that ABCJLM suggested teaching about rules had this game idea on their site. I found some paper plates in our pantry and we used them as steering wheels for our "cars". We drove around and pretended to come to stop signs while we waited for other cars to pass. I explained to Oliver what would happen if we didn't follow the rules. We would crash and we could get hurt. And we talked about other rules in our lives, both at home and from God. How they keep us safe and protect us. Oliver LOVED driving around and doing this physical activity really grounded what I was trying to teach him. 

We did another F craft that I saw online (failing to remember where now, maybe Pinterest?). I placed a large F and a small f on two separate pieces of paper. I had Oliver find all the small f's on logs and all the large F's on logs and glue them on their matching paper. Then we glued down fire on top of the logs. I helped him with this one since there were so many parts. I had this craft ready to go the day before too since I cut out all the pieces out of construction paper. A cute little f craft!

Finally we ended our week working on a little painting. I had Oliver paint two pieces of paper cut out as rectangles for our ten commandments. When they dried we crinkled them up really good. I had intended to glue them down and write the commandments on them, but we never made it that far. I have them ready to go, so we can pull it out another time :)

Saturday, October 26, 2013


We took a trip to a pumpkin patch this week. A favorite and somewhat new tradition. We took the boys for the first time last year and had such a great time, we repeated it this year. The patch is a farm north of us and it's a great open, country space. Reminiscent of my younger years, where I grew up. I lived in the country so I well remember the open space and big skies. Oliver loved the chance to run freely (we live in a suburban area) and Aleksandr loved the pumpkins and gourds. He took a bite out of one actually. Woops.
But I picked up two pie pumpkins while we were there. I've been roasting and pureeing my own pumpkins since Oliver was a baby. I have been on a food journey for several years and the more I learn the more excited I become about it. Food is so healing, and eating for those purposes just makes sense. The old saying, "you are what you eat", is so true in my own life. I started this food journey because of my personal health issues. I feel like the Lord has led me along this road and He continues to bless as we make better decisions for our food and health choices in our family. I can start a list of how good He has been to us, but I know that it would be LONG. I may post about it in the future, because I love to tell of what God has done. Entering into a cleaner way of eating, cutting out processed foods and focusing on nutrient dense meals (and snacks) is not easy. It's time consuming, it's expensive, and it can completely become an idol in itself. All of these keep me in prayer whenever I learn something new that I'd love to include in our food budget, as well as keeping everything balanced and in perspective. What is the most important thing? My relationship with God first.
If I am struggling with finding a balance with our money and time for foods, putting God, my husband and my family after food, well, then it's time to refocus and eat a bag of doritos. Ha! Maybe not the doritos, but definitely take a breather and get my focus back where it should be.
Really, I have seen a HUGE difference in my health (physical and mental) due to what I have taken out of our diet and what we've added in. Cooking from scratch, eliminating processed foods (as much as you can), reading labels, switching out refined sugars for natural sweeteners, and using real fats is a great way to start if you are wanting to go down the path of eating real foods.
SOOO, with that said I love sharing something that is easy and good for you!
It's the time of year when they are in season and the "pie" pumpkins are easily available just about anywhere.
I like to use pureed pumpkin in anything I can. It's considered a superfood and is packed full of vitamins. (I love that seasonal foods deliver such a punch with nutrients for our bodies. I think God did that on purpose! :)
Roasting a pumpkin. I know it sounds like something your grandma would do, especially when you can buy a can of it on the shelf. But I take satisfaction in the freshness of getting it straight out of the ground!
To roast your own pumpkin:

  1. Chop the pumpkin into two pieces (I chopped the stem off first), and scoop out seeds and that stringy stuff (I set my pile of seeds in a bowl to roast later).
  2. Wrap in foil and place on a cookie sheet. 
  3. Bake at 375 degrees for about an hour. 
  4. Scoop out pumpkin from shell.
  5. Puree ( I added a little bit of water to make it blend easier) and store. You can freeze it for later!

My one pumpkin made about 4 cups puree. What to do with it?
I am searching out pumpkin recipes. I have never tried it savory, so maybe I'll be brave and do that (soup?), but I usually add it where I can easily like in oatmeal, as muffins, breads and of course my favorite holiday treat–pumpkin whoopie pies. They aren't a nutritious option, but we look forward to them each year! 
When all this was done, I was thinking of how long this pumpkin would last when I looked on the counter and realized I had another pumpkin waiting. Yah for forgetfulness!
Meanwhile, I'm drying out my pumpkin seeds to roast later. Hoping this time they taste a little better than the last time I tried roasting. Any favorite pumpkin recipes you'd like to share? 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Preschool week 8: letter E, number 4, Moses and the Red Sea

For week 8 we covered the letters Ee, number 4, and Moses and the Red Sea. I created E and e out of felt for Oliver to work on. This kind of thinking (using your hands for letters) is challenging for him and I don't push him too hard with it. I know he'll get it eventually, I just want to give him a variety of mediums to work on forming letters.

This week we also headed down to our communities story time. We actually ended up getting there a wee bit too late. They had read the story and were starting on the craft when we got there–woops! But Oliver didn't mind as they had a snack (a huge pile of raisins for him!) and his focus was on that snack for sure. Nevermind the craft :)!

We also made pear/apple sauce this week! Oliver loves to sit on the counter and help me make anything, so because I had a lot of pears that were soft and we all love sauce around here (pear, apple, whatever!) I thought it would be great to make it this week.

For our Bible story about Moses and the Red Sea, I found a craft idea like this one online, and made it similar to that. You trim out two pieces of blue for the water and fold up the inside of them to look like water parting. I had Oliver glue down the pieces and all the little men (red were the Egyptians and purple and black were the Israelites). He did great with this and kept all them men in neat little rows. Something that is very much an Oliver thing! :)

I used another section from the print out pack I talked about here. This one was a matching one–of course Oliver loved it. My favorite part of it all, was when he was "sharing" his raisins with the little picture of the people. Sweet boy! And we also played another game from the print out where you roll a big cube with an animal on each side, and when it lands on one you mark it on a corresponding sheet. It's a graph but Oliver liked rolling the big cube and finding out which animal would reach the last number first!

We finished our week heading to visit family. We celebrated Jonah's and Aleksandr's (again) birthday with some cake, much to Oliver's delight! And we enjoyed visiting with family for a couple days.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Out of Darkness: bringing light to a very dark place

Amidst the everyday of being home training two little boys and all the going on's that go along with that, Jonah and I have been praying and seeking the Lord about a specific ministry we feel led to serve in. I was asked to write a blog post about it for a site called the Middle Places, a place where several women come together to blog about their own "middle place" and how God is working in them. I wanted to post it here for my readers, and for my own access, so I can remember my thoughts at this point in the journey.
You can read it here.
We are slowly going through the steps now to become a part of this organization as volunteers, and I'm eager and waiting to see where God directs. I know He is before us on this journey and I'm praying for His Spirit to lead, to prepare us now for helping bring His light to these women. Please pray for us as it's not a place that the Enemy wants exposed. But HE is GREATER and He is victorious!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Preschool Week 7, Letter D, Number 4, and baby Moses

This week we focused on the letter D. Again. I actually jumped the boat when we started preschool and wanted to include letters even though the curriculum waited a couple weeks into can read that here. 
But after a week or two into preschool, I realized it was better for us (and a lot easier for me) to just follow the curriculum regardless if Oliver already knows the letters, shapes etc, of what we are covering. I can add to the curriculum each week if it's just too simple for Oliver and I love doing that.
But back to the week, we focused on D, the number 4 and the Bible story of when Moses was born.
I created a page of words with "d" in them for Oliver to find and circle. He still gets frustrated with this because it's hard for  him to make small circles around the d's. But I talked him through and helped him find words that started with the "da, da, da" sound.
Also, I love this picture of our sweet boy. I can see his boyish, childhood all wrapped up in that little face. :)

We played with some play sand this week again, which is ALWAYS a huge hit.
And I also let Oliver put a puzzle together that I printed for free online. It's a puzzle that is in strips you stack, with the number at the end of the strip. You can find the numbers and line them up (1-10) and then the pictures line up too. It's hard to get them (with three year old hands) perfectly lined up, so Oliver wasn't a huge fan. But as his fine motor skills and attention span increase I think he'll like doing this one a little more :).

We read the story of baby Moses this week too, and our craft was very simple for it. I printed the free printouts from ABCJLM and used those. Oliver painted and glued the pieces down on a sheet of paper. He did good gluing them all down in the right sequence (brush, basket, baby).

I found a super cute theme packet for brown bear that I printed for free! I used the sequence bears for Oliver. He's gotten really good at figuring out sequences. And Oliver worked on matching letters (big and little) from his name on this car that I made him.

Another counting activity we did: I used the ladybugs previously and instead of matching them to leaves, I had Oliver count the dots on the lady bugs and match them to the corresponding numbers I had made on sheets of paper. (I just made numbers 1-10 with simple matching dots under them)
He really loved doing this! He counted each dot on the ladybug and on each sheet of paper. He really likes counting and matching!

We are enjoying some lovely weather here in Georgia and it's wonderful to take lunch outside and enojoy these mild fall days together. The boys love being outdoors so any chance we get is always a hit! I am so thankful to be home with the boys to be able to do this with them. Such a huge blessing!
Also, nevermind that my foot looks completely out of proportion with my body. What the?? It's what you get from self timer. ha!

Our week ended with a little paint project. I had created these balloons for Oliver to paint for his daddy. Whose big birthday was that weekend. He did fabulous painting them with much gusto. He really likes to paint shapes. Aren't they pretty in all those colors?