Monday, May 19, 2014

toddler school | noah's ark

It's amazing how much information little toddlers can take in.  We just finished a unit on Noah's Ark - we liked it so much that we made it last a month!  Noah's Ark is a classic Bible story for young kiddos, but there's so much theological awesomeness that I was okay with camping out on it.  And Rebekah really seemed to respond.  Even now that we've been done with Noah for almost two weeks, she still talks about boats and animals and rainbows.  She picks up her books on Noah's Ark and reads them to herself.  The last time it rained, she ran through the house yelling, "I need umbrella!  I need a boat!"  And she can't stop singing the songs that we learned or reciting her Bible verse.  She loved this unit! 

I decided to focus on the biblical truth that God keeps his promises.  Every time we read the story, every time we acted it out, we talked about how God keeps his promises.
On our playlist:
  • Hymn of Promise
  • All Creatures of Our God and King
  • The Rain Rain Rain Came Down Down Down (Disney)
  • Trust in the Lord (Proverbs 3:5-6) by Seeds Family Worship
  • Standing on the Promises
  • Rise and Shine (Arky, Arky)
  • Every Promise in the Book Is Mine
  • He's Got the Whole World
  • Who Built the Ark?
  • The Carnival of the Animals by Saint-Saens (classical)
Our letter of the unit was C, and our number was 2 (the animals came by twos!).


ASL Signs: boat, rain, animal, rainbow

Arky Activities:

  •  We took advantage of a rainy day to sit outside in an "ark" (a big plastic tub) with all of Rebekah's stuffed animals.  We talked about the story while we were out there and how Noah trusted God to provide for him and all of the animals.  This activity didn't last too long because I forgot to wear shoes (and it was cold!), but it was one of the more memorable for her.  She still refers to that tub as her "boat".
  • Rebekah and Nathan worked hard to construct their own ark out of blocks.  Rebekah's favorite part was putting animals inside.  Her rubber duckies found a happy home in that ark (that is, of course, until she knocked it down).
  • We built an ark with shapes!  (Is anyone else seeing a pattern here? lol!)  I cut out a square, rectangle, crescent, and triangle from construction paper.  We went over our shape names, and then I showed her how we can put them together to make an ark.  When we added the rectangle for the door, we talked about how God shut the door of the ark.  I just think that's an awesome part of the story!  Rebekah loved putting the shapes together to make an ark and did it several times on her own before we glued them down - it made a great puzzle!  After we glued it, she put animal stickers in their boat - two of each kind, of course!
  • We made our own Noah's Ark game!  I cut the silhouette of an ark out of two paper plates, and we each decorated one (rainbow on top, ark on bottom).  After we colored them, I glued them together so that they made an actual paper plate boat.  Then I printed off this free animal matching game by Jan Brett, glued it to card stock, and laminated it.  We love to play this simple little game.  We lay all of the cards on the floor upside down and take turns turning them over two at a time.  When we find a matching set of animals, they go in the ark (two by two!).  Rebekah gained a lot of skills in matching and counting, and it reinforced the idea that the animals went on the ark in twos.
  • We enjoyed making rain clouds out of poster board and strung up beads.  I cut out the cloud, and Rebekah colored it while I strung up the beads of "rain".  I was hoping that she would be able to string the beads, but my beads were too small for her little fingers.  Note to self - get toddler-friendly beads next time!

  • To help us act out the story of Noah's Ark, we made our own rain stick!  I filled an empty paper towel roll with dried rice and then taped foil on each end.  She loved shaking it every time we talked about the rain. 

  • We made rainbows out of Fruit Loops!  Rebekah ate more than she glued, but it was a fun craft for a relaxing afternoon.
  • We learned about the colors of the rainbow with food coloring in water.  I mixed up blue, yellow, and red water and then took them out to the front porch to show Rebekah how we can combine those colors to make orange, green, and purple.  She was fascinated, and she actually understood it!  Then, we took our paintbrushes and "painted" with our new colors on the sidewalk.  It was basically painting with water - the colors didn't show up on the sidewalk.  But she had a blast anyway and got pretty creative with mixing up her own palette.  It was the perfect activity for a warm day.
  •   We had a Noah's Ark PARTY!!!  Learning about God is way more fun when you get to share it with others, so Rebekah invited a few of her friends over for a Noah's Ark party.  We read the story together in Rebekah's Bible, listened to some Noah's Ark songs, played the animal matching game, ate animal crackers, and made rainbows out of Fruit Loops.  For a party favor, I sent each mom home with shapes and stickers to make their own shape boat later.  I unfortunately didn't get any pictures of this - we were too busy having fun!
We also plan on going to the zoo again sometime, but we wanted to wait until her daddy could join us.  It's been so much fun rediscovering Noah's ark with her!

Next up - Tower of Babel!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

toddler school | the fall

Toddler School has continued!  Since we learned about the creation last time, we've moved onto the Fall.  This is a big topic for such a little girl, but it's so foundational to the faith that I decided that we just had to talk about it.  We focused on the biblical truth that God Is Just and talked a lot about how God's word is true and all we need.

Our letter for the unit was "B", and we put together a box full of all of our favorite "B" things - box, boat, bear, blanket, brush, banana, bee, butterfly, ball, balloon, baby, backpack, bubbles, and Bible!

We focused on the number 1 - after all, it only takes 1 sin to separate us from God.

On our musical play list (they all have a theme of obedience and God's word):
  • How Firm a Foundation
  • Oh Be Careful Little Eyes
  • God Said It
  • What a Mighty God We Serve
  • Hallelujah, Your Love Is Amazing
  • Thy Word
  • Wagner's Ring Cycle

We also learned a few ASL signs: sin, snake, garden, and fruit.


We went to a local nursery to look at all of the plants!  We talked about the Garden of Eden and what it might have looked like.  We also talked about how it was Adam's job to take care of the plants.  

    Rebekah got to pick out one special plant to take home.  We potted it together, watered it, and learned how to take care of it.  She continues to be the one to water it (when we remember!).

    We went to the supermarket to check out all of the different types of fruit.  We don't know what kind of fruit it was that Adam and Eve ate, so we just learned about as many as we could!  She got to feel them and smell them.  It was a great field trip!

    Finally, we took a nature walk to explore the gardens in our neighborhood.  We collected leaves on our walk to use in a craft at home (see below).

    At-home Activities:

    We grabbed a variety of fruit when we were at the supermarket to try at home.  I have to admit, this wasn't the biggest success.  Even though she just loved feeling and smelling them, she wasn't so sure about tasting them.  She wrinkled her nose...she cried...but then she decided that kiwi was actually pretty delicious and has been eating it ever since!


    We talked a lot about the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, so we used it as our inspiration for two art projects.  For the first, we took all of those leaves we collected on our nature walk to make our own versions of the tree!  I got us started by coloring the trunk of a tree onto pieces of paper.  Then, I put glue where the leaves needed to go.  Rebekah knew what to do from there.

    These trees ended up being a great illustration every time we talked about the Fall, and they are still hanging up in our living room.  Rebekah is very proud of them.

    We also took advantage of a pretty day to make a sidewalk chalk version of the tree in the garden.

    Our last craft was probably Rebekah's favorite!  She was fascinated with the "sneaky snake" that tempted Eve to eat from the tree.  We made our own sneaky snake out of construction paper and tape.  I might need to start getting worried about how much she loves it, but that sneaky snake has a special place in her favorite chair and is admired by all of her friends who come and visit.  It's one of Rebekah's prized possessions.

    Haha, I love her "sneaky" impersonation above.  She's so funny.

    Anyway, that was how we learned about the Fall.  And I think she got it!  When we read the story in her Bible, she can identify Adam and Eve, and she knows that they disobeyed God.  According to her, they got a "time out."  :)

    Monday, March 3, 2014

    toddler school | creation

    For a while now, I've felt convicted that life at home with a toddler needed to be more intentional.  Oh sure, I play with her and read books to her, but I've often seen more intentionality out of her secular daycare (in terms of teaching her developmental concepts) than I have out of myself.  It's so easy to slip into the daily routine - laundry, dishes, lunch, nap take a walk, dinner, and the occasional child's television program.  And many times, it's just easier to let her play by herself than to play with her.

    I decided that I would start spending more time teaching Rebekah, but I didn't want to limit myself to the ABCs.  I wanted her to have experiences seeing and doing things that would greatly expand her vocabulary and knowledge.  I wanted her to be exposed to art and music so that she would learn to appreciate aesthetic beauty.  More importantly, I wanted to start with the ultimate truth - the Bible.

    So, I started at the beginning with Genesis 1 and 2.  I developed a list of activities that revolved around the basic truths of the Creation.  And I called it "Toddler School!"

    Here's what Toddler School is not:
    • It's not a rigid curriculum.  Rebekah is going to have plenty curriculum in her life.  I want her to enjoy playing and experiencing...after all, she's a toddler!  So this list of activities is just that - a list.  When we find ourselves needing something to do, we pull something from the list.  In her mind, this is just another fun thing that her mommy has come up with to make life exciting.  It doesn't feel like school...and that's the point.
    • It's not about me, my perfectionism, or my need to accomplish anything.  If I have a list, I tend to want to complete everything on it.  And I want to do it all well.  I'm having to get over that.  We might not get to everything on my list, and that's fine.  She might not enjoy something, and that's fine - we'll stop it.  We might have a day where we just don't feel like doing Toddler School at all, and that's fine.  

    So here's what I came up with for our unit on Creation...

    Bible Truth: God as Creator – Genesis 1 and 2
    • We read the Creation story in her Children's Bible, but I also read her Genesis 1 and 2 from my Bible.  I think it's important to expose children to the language of scripture at an early age so that they won't shy away from it as they grow older.  She was definitely comprehending a lot of it, especially when we would act it out.
    • I talked a lot about how the Bible is God's word, it's true, and we can trust it!
    • Throughout our day, I would use the words "create" or "creation" as we made different things, and then we'd talk about how God created the world!

    Music Time:
    • We like to sit down at the piano and bang on the keys together.  But now, we also learn a new hymn that we continue singing throughout the week.  Hymns have wonderful theology in them, so they are an excellent way to teach Biblical truths to children.
    • I make a playlist on Spotify of music for the week.  As we play with toys, we have that playlist playing in the background.  She now will sing along with just about all of the songs, including the hymns.
    • Sometimes, while we are eating lunch together, we will find videos of our music on youtube.  She loves that!
    • All Things Bright and Beautiful
    • This is My Father’s World
    • Creation Sings (by Keith and Kristyn Getty)
    Children's Songs:
    • He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands
    • Over in the Meadow
    •  Old Macdonald 
    Classical Music:
    • Vivaldi's Four Seasons 
    Letter and Number: A and 7 (for the 7 days of creation)
    • We had apples for a snack - A is for apples!
    • I used tape to make a big A and 7 on the floor.  We traced them, danced on them, and stacked blocks on them.
    • I found A and 7 coloring sheets online (just a simple google search), and we used those during art time.
    At-home Activities:
    • Watched Miss Pattycake – God’s Great Big World 
    • Read All Things Great and Small together and identified all of the animals that God made.
    • Created things out of play-doh!  We made 7 balls, an A, and here Rebekah is creating a snowman.
    •  Look through vacation photos to identify geographic features – lakes, mountains, rivers, etc.
    • We went into the closet and turned out the lights.  We talked about how the earth was dark. Then, talk about how God said, “Let there be light!” - at that point, we turned on the light.
    Big Adventures:
    • We went to the local pet store to look at all of the animals.  We learned their names (and about how Adam named them) and talked about how God created them. 

    • We went to the library to check out books about God's creation (animals, plants, etc.)

    • We went on a nature walk outside to find all the things we could that God created.
    • Finally, on a total whim, we went to the zoo!  We had such a great time together.  Here are just a few of the things we saw there.

    Rebekah loved seeing the elephants and giraffes!  We had been reading a book about a giraffe that thought he couldn't dance, so Rebekah easily identified where the giraffes were.


    This guy even came up to meet her!

    Rebekah decided to learn to drive while we were there. :)

    And she got to meet a monkey, face to face!  Haha!

    The meerkats were cute - her new favorite animal to draw!


    The zoo had a children's petting area, which gave us a great chance to talk even more about what God had made.  She got to feel the fur, hear the noises, etc.  These goats were her favorite part of the day!

    So the results of Toddler School?  We loved it!  It actually took a lot of pressure off of me - I had a whole list of ideas for things to do with her, so we spent more quality time together with less stress than we've ever done before.  I'm going to be keeping it up.  We're not going to do a different theme each week - I'm much less formal than that - but we will be continuing to learn God's truths through different activities and experiences together.

    Next up - Genesis 3 and the Fall!

    Sunday, February 9, 2014

    rebekah turns two

    On Super Bowl Sunday, our little baby turned two! 

    We didn't want to compete with the big game, so we celebrated on Saturday with an alphabet-themed party.

    I made alphabet cereal balls...

    ...and delicious confetti cupcakes!

    But Rebekah was the star of the show - didn't she look beautiful!

    We have a tradition every birthday.  On her first birthday, we took a picture of her holding her newborn photo.  On this birthday, we've got pictures of her holding her first birthday picture.  It will be fun to see how the pictures change over the years.

    We invited all of the friends on Rebekah's prayer list.  Every night we ask her who she wants to pray for, and, unprompted, she lists off several of her friends.  Then, she tells us to put our hands together, she bows her head, and she says "Thank you, God" and names all of those friends.  It's downright adorable.

    After they played their hearts out, we got ready to sing and eat cake!

    Rebekah loved hearing everyone sing her Happy Birthday.  She's celebrated so many people's birthdays the past few months, she was excited that it was finally her turn.

    She blew out the candle all on her own!

    And then she totally face-planted her cupcake. :)

    Happy girl!

    We struggled over Christmas getting her to open presents, but not anymore!  She knew exactly what to do with the presents she got.

    And she wanted to play with everything right then

    All in all, it was a great birthday.'s hoping time slows down a bit before the next one. :)