Use Your Words. . . Tiny Tot Tuesday

love

“Use your words.”

This is a phrase I often hear moms use with their children. As young children learn to speak, it’s often hard for them to find the right words from their limited vocabulary, and so they can easily get frustrated. With frustration, comes whining, crying and yes, even sometimes the occasional temper tantrum–from both child and parent! Learning to use our words helps communicate our thoughts and our heart, and although some might say love needs to be shown rather than said, I suppose I’ve always been a believer that it’s a combination of both.

Since it’s February and almost Valentine’s Day I’ve been thinking about love. When it comes to teaching our children about love, I mean really teaching them about love, using our words can be a huge asset.

This month in our children’s department at church we are teaching our children I Corinthians 13:4-8 which says,

“Love is patient; love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast.
It is not proud. It isn’t rude.
It’s not self seeking. It is not easily angered.
It keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.
Love never fails.”

Using this Scripture as a model, we can begin to use our words to teach our children about love.

For example:
1) You are going to the grocery store. You know there is a great probability that you will have to wait in line to check out and they/you will begin to get impatient, angry, you may want to say something that is just a little rude or you may find yourself a little jealous of the line next to you that is going a little faster.

You can begin to use your words before you ever enter the store, and so you can say, “Before we go into the store, let’s choose to show love. We are going to be patient if our line is slow. Let’s think of something kind we can say to the worker, because love is kind.”

2) Starting to get angry? (Not at me, at our imaginary trip to the store!) You can simply say, “Let’s look around what do we have to be thankful for. We don’t want to start getting angry, because love is not easily angered.” Then refocus that energy by counting candy bars or playing thumb wars or saying a little prayer for the people around you and yourselves.

3) When your child tells the truth about something–and not just when they have been in trouble–Rejoice!! Tell them you are rejoicing. Tell them why you are rejoicing. Because love rejoices with the truth, and truth is good and you want to honor that.

4) Your children are bickering (yes it will still happen) and tattling about current or past offenses. Have your child make a list of positive things about the person they are upset with to replace their “record of wrongs” list. Use your words to remind them that “love does not keep a record of wrongs.”

I’m sure you get the idea. There are so many ways that we can speak love into our children’s lives as it relates to how they treat others. Sometimes it just comes down to staying intentional and remembering to make the most of those teaching able moments.

Because aren’t you thankful that God is patient with us? I am so thankful that He is not easily angered and keeps no record of our wrongs. He is not a God who delights in evil, but rather He rejoices with the truth, and He protects us, is kind to us and He will endure beyond forever.

These are great words to use with our tiny tots.

Disclaimer–I was going to share some fun Valentine craft for you to do with your children, but decided to “use my words” instead. For great Valentine craft ideas, feel welcome to kindly check out Pinterest! I’m sure you’ll find something you love!

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Giving Thanks It’s Rightful Place…mat

placemat

Sorry November Christmas lovers, Christmas isn’t until December, and it just drives me crazy when we plow right by Thanksgiving in our quest for all being calm and bright, merry and white.

So for those of you who join me in my attempt to preserve the pilgrim holiday, here’s a fun idea you can do with your tiny tots to give thanks, and Thanksgiving, its rightful place in our holiday celebrations. Try making these Thanksgiving placemats that can be used all month to help center your family on all the things they can be thankful for. (I only had my Children’s Ministry magazine when I made mine, so it’s a little limited. Oh, well, onward we go. . . .)

What do you need?

Glad you asked.

Paper, magazines, glue sticks, markers and either clear contact paper or a laminator–cold or hot will do.

Give the paper a little heading of some kind.

I stayed pretty low key with the simple, “I’m thankful for. . ”

Let your kids cut out pictures of things they are thankful for and glue them on to the paper. Or they could draw things or they could use pictures. For those of you who are really into crafting, grab the glitter and your little foam stickers and let the kids embellish away!

Seal the paper with the contact paper or laminating sheets.

Ta-da! You are one crafty mom, gramma, Sunday school teacher, small group leader, neighbor, aunt, uncle. . . . .

What a simple way to be reminded all month long of just a few of the things that you are thankful for.

And for those of you who just can’t help but be in the Christmas zone, why not have your kids make these for some of the people they are thankful for. Just include pictures of things that remind them of why they are thankful for that person and give them as gifts!

Smart. Tiny Tots giving the gift of thanks–I love it. Have a fun Tiny Tot Tuesday with the little ones you are thankful for!

Thankful for a Change–Teaching Thankfulness to our Tiny Tots

clip art leaves

 

Facebook explodes in November with daily postings of thankfulness, and I, for one, love it! I love reading the things my friends are thankful for in their lives, and I really appreciate taking time to stop and think about all I am truly thankful for. So why keep the fun all to ourselves?? Why not share it with our children? After all, like the changing of the colors of the leaves, a thankful heart is a beautiful and welcome change from everyday life.

Here’s something really, really simple you can do with your kids this month to help them focus on all they have, more than all they may want. (Christmas lists are out already, yikes!)

SImply trace your child’s hand and forearm to make the  trunk and branches of a tree. Doesn’t matter if you use brown paper or white and let your kids color it brown. Then trace out some leaves like those above. Again, you can use colored paper or just use the white stuff you have in the printer and color and cut away.

Or if you are one of the Cricut people (and I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that–I love my Cricut friends, they make me look good, I just don’t have one myself) go to town cricutting some leaves.

Find a place to stick your tree up–I’m thinking the fridge, but it may be a door or a bedroom wall. . . .

Then everyday have your children write something they are thankful for, or they can tell you something and you can write it, and place your leaves either on the tree or at the base of the tree or cascading gently down from the tree.

If your kids are like mine were, there will be days when they will want to share more than one thankful thought–Awesome!!! Let ’em go for it! Because a thankful heart changes us, it makes us beautiful and a joy to be around. It helps us to remember what we have and how blessed we are.

So have some fun with your tiny tots this fall and be thankful for a change in them, in you and in those around you.

Afterall, ’tis the season!

 

 

Oh Pumpkin Seeds, Oh Pumpkin Seeds

pumpkin seeds

Oh PumpkinSeeds

Oh Pumpkin Seeds

You kind of look like throw up

 

Oh Pumpkin Seeds

Oh Pumpkin Seeds

Your goodness helps us grow up

 

Inside the pumpkin you’re a mess

But in our bellies you’re the best

 

Oh Pumpkin Seeds

Oh Pumpkin Seeds

We love to roast and eat you!

 

Ok! So let’s just say up front this is never going to make the Top 100 song list. But it’s little songs like this that you can make up with your kids as you tackle the fun of roasting pumpkin seeds together that might make your Top 100 memories list.

Roasting pumpkin seeds with your tiny tots and your bigger kids is fun, relatively easy and totally messy–all three of which rate high in my book of making a great activity to do with kids.

So if you want to whip up some of the tiny tots with your tiny tots, turn your oven onto 350 and try this:

1–Scoop out the seeds from your pumpkin and separate the guts from the seeds.

2–You can simply throw the guts away, or use them in some other way (compost, food source, who knows what else–it’s probably on someone else’s blog!)

3–Wash the seeds really well.

4–Next, You can simmer them in a pan for about 10-15 minutes, then drain the water, pat them dry and put them in a bowl or

4b–You can put them directly in a bowl after washing–be sure to pat them dry.  (People like them both ways, it will just be a matter of personal taste for you)

5–Drizzle them with olive oil, or canola oil, or even vegetable oil if you are having a day when you just want fun and you don’t really care about the lasting health benefits to your chidren–(Just kidding)

6–Add Seasonings–salt and pepper, seasoning salt, cajun spice, whatever you like. I personally use Lawry’s seasoning salt because it’s my favorite!!

7–Toss these all together and then spread the seeds out on a cooking sprayed, foil lined or parchmented pan (if you are into easy clean up) or a cooking sprayed non foil lined pan if you like doing more dishes or if you are really into teaching your kids to do chores!

8–Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes, then flip and roast another 5 minutes or until the seeds are crisp and brown.

9–While waiting for the seeds to bake, make up additional verses to the Pumpkin Carol or “seed” your kids with the Bible verses listed below!

10–Remove the pan from the oven, let the seeds cool a few minutes, then enjoy them with the fam. Pumpkin seeds can be eaten shell and all, or the shells can be removed and only the inner seed eaten.

pumpkin-seeds2  WooHoo! Boo-tiful!! Now go out there and make some messy goodness with your tiny tots today!! Interested in some great Scriptures to share with your kids about seeds. Here are a few of my favorites:

And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.”
Genesis 1:29

“That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.  Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.” Matthew 13:1-9

“It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.”
Mark 4:31-32

“For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.”
Galatians 6:8

 

 

 

 

 

 

Helping Children Care for Others

james 127

Tonight our church staff hosted a dinner for the widows of our church. We do it about twice a year. We love it, and so do our ladies. It starts with the inspiration for a theme and menu, then out go the invites and before we know it, it’s time to get cookin! Honestly, I think it means as much to us as to them. It’s simply a blessing to share the evening and make it special for this precious group of women.

Part of the blessing tonight was the involvement of children. One of our staff has 4 young children, and it was  a real privilege to watch how their children interacted with our widows. They came ready to serve, ready to love and ready to help. Their children worked along side our staff to serve plates of food and cups of water and lemonade to our ladies. After the meal, they helped the widows pick out sachet packets our children’s ministry had made the week before as take home gifts.

While standng at the table, I observed them chatting with our ladies, helping them choose their sachet, and talking about how they had been part of the group that made them. (They got to sew on sewing machines which was super cool for the kids and super impressive to our ladies.)

In a nutshell, I was blessed and impressed to see the kids genuinely caring for our elderly.

Good form, mom and dad! Good form!

So how do we teach our children to care for others, especially the elderly, lonely or widowed?

 

It starts through things like:

1) Taking the time to involve your children in others lives. Get to know your neighbors, Schedule visits to someone you know who may be lonely or isolated.

2) Developing your child’s gifts by allowing them to share love and care with others. Does your child like to bake? Bake something special and deliver it together. Do they like to draw? Create a picture and mail it or take it to someone. Are they workers? Let them help rake leaves or assist in a project with you to show someone that you care.

3)  Not allowing your child to speak disrepectfully to others. Model and encourage speech that reflects kindness and patience. Teach your child to be a good listener.

4)  Valuing others yourself. When your child sees you place high value on another person, they will be also put value on that person. Speak kindly to, and of, others in your child’s presence.

5)  Putting others needs before your own. Teach your children to put others first by having them let others go first in line, have the best seat, hold doors for them, let them go ahead in a check out, putting away grocery store carts and offering to let others be served before they are when eating meals.

It’s really the little things, done consistently, that make an impact on our children’s hearts and how they care for others. Tonight I saw my little friends each show care and honor to others in little ways that added up to a big imact. I saw them living out James 1:27 as they helped show love and meet the needs of  widows in our church.

But it’s not just about tonight. It’s about the days and nights to come. Because these little opportunties to love and care for others are helping to prepare them for a life time of being people who care, who serve and who love–living out a pure and faultless religion as they shine like stars and keep themselves from being polluted in a world hardened by a lack of caring.

 

 

Teaching Children to Give it Up for God–Tiny Tot Tuesday

bible bank1
I remember going to church as a little girl and putting my offering in a little Bible bank like the one above. It was never much. When I was really small, my parents gave me a quarter to put in the offering container each week. No doubt, I didn’t understand exactly what I was doing or why I was doing it, but I did understand that when you went to church you got to bring offering and you got to put it the bank for Jesus. Never once do I remember thinking that I had to put the money in. Not at all, I remember that I got to put the money in, and I loved it. I loved bringing even that little bit in every week and bringing it to Jesus.

As a teen, I learned to give generously and first to God. I still felt it a privilege to give back to God from what He had given to me. Then for a few years my head, my heart and my life grew cold to God, and I struggled giving Him anything at all. When I first returned to my faith and the One who saved me, I still had a bit of trouble giving. I wanted to give. I wanted to tithe, but that 10% seemed like so much to ask. Then one day, I realized I would rarely get out and go to a sale that had only 10% off, because 10% was so little. I figured a store could surely do better than that. Ten percent?? Well, that was almost like cheating your customers.

Enter the Holy Spirit.

For at that time I realized that 10% was actually a very small amount to give to God for all He had done for me. In fact, perhaps, I was almost cheating Him by giving so little. It was at that place in my life that I began to understand more the purpose and joy of giving.

Giving to God is a way to show honor, respect, and thanks. It’s a way for me to help others through His church, the same way someone else’s giving has helped me. It’s a way to meet spiritual and physical needs, and it’s a way to live out taking the good news into all the world.

Knowing that most of what a child believes is ingrained in their brain by the time they reach twelve years old, we need to begin to teach our tiny tots about giving when they are well, tiny tots. How can we begin to teach our children about giving? Here are a few things that I remember helped teach me about giving.

Ten Ideas for Helping Your Children Learn to Give it Up for God

1) Model giving. Allow your children to see you give joyfully and regularly. We never need to be afraid to give. God promises to meet all our needs, and to never leave us or forsake us.

2) When they are small give them a small amount of money to put in the offering each week. When they are older, teach them to give from their allowance, gift money or paycheck.

3) Teach your children what offering money is used for. Introduce them to missionary families your church supports, help with outreach services of your church like the food pantry, talk to them about how offering is used to help people learn about Jesus and how offering helps your church building to have heat, air conditioning water and toilet paper!

4) Affirm them when they want to give of their own initiative. Praise the giving spirit within your child.

5) Share stories of people who have been helped through giving to your church. This will build your faith as well as theirs.

6) Be patient. We are living in a material world, and yes, we are material girls (and boys). It may take time for generosity to grow within your child.

7) Pray for a generous, thankful heart to grow in your child. Prayer is powerful and generous, joyful people are a blessing to be around.

8) Encourage your children’s pastor to continue to teach on giving. Children need to hear God’s truth from more than just mom and dad.

9) Give to needs outside church, too. Help your child to understand that God wants to meet needs at church and outside of church, too. Bell ringers, emergency causes, homeless shelters, para church organizations and sponsoring children are all ways to give on top of regular church giving.

10) Teach your children that giving to God is a way to praise. Teach them to “give it up for God!” Because He is a God worthy of our praise.

church bank

1 Corinthians 16:2
On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.

2 Corinthians 9:6-8
Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed;…

You can still buy Bible and church banks at http://www.churchsupplier.com Ha! Who knew? I’m seriously thinking about bringing back the Bible bank at our church. Old school is almost always cool!

My-Oh-My-Ley (Tiny Tot Tuesday)

Normally on any given Tuesday, I would be blogging about preschool songs, preschool crafts, and preschool home or teaching ideas. Not today. Yesterday I wanted oh-so-much to do a Mama Mia Monday about Ms Miley and the “show” she put on at the VMAs. (No, I didn’t watch it, but it was all over the news.) I think I was still in shock; not about Miley Cyrus and the VMA’s, but that this is the first real time we’ve really gotten our panties in a wad about her.

I’m sure I will address that at another time. But for today, for the parents, grandparents and care givers of our tiny tots, I want to encourage you in two ways.

Number One–WAKE UP!!!! Seriously WAKE UP!!!! We cannot continue to feed our tiny tots from the table of entertainment and think they are not going to be influenced by it. “Just say No!” to the Disney channel, Nickelodeon or whatever the flavor of the month is. Quit making Miley, Justin, and Selena your children’s heroes when they are still in preschool. Quit taking your 8 year olds to concerts. Find better heroes for your kids. They are out there.

Stop trying to do what you can to help your child become the next Miley, Justin, or Selena. For the life of me I cannot grasp, why, when we see what happens to children involved in the entertainment industry do we continue to try to do all we can to see our children become a part of that, and to make these children our children’s idols. (Um, they are called “idols” for a reason!) Maybe you don’t want your child to be a star in Hollywood, but you do want them to be a star in elementary school–coolest clothes, coolest hair, coolest activities. It’s self centered, and it’s very, very dangerous.

proverbs1419final

Number Two–STAY STRONG!!! For those of you who already feel like you are swimming upstream, and your child is only three, don’t give up and don’t give in. Keep living out Proverbs 3:4-5 and keep Proverbs 14:12 in mind. Continue to measure what you see by what God’s Word says. We just finished teaching our elementary students that God’s word is our plumb line, and we now have a plumb line hanging in our classroom to remind them to make their choices based on God’s Word. Keep the end in mind; keep your child’s heart, not just their immediate happiness, in mind, and keep God in mind.

proverbs345 final

One of the crazy things to me in all of this is why weren’t we in an uproar when the “We Can’t Stop” song came out? Have you read the lyrics? Have you seen the video?

Why weren’t we upset when the birdcage came out?

Why aren’t we upset that Lady Gaga was on stage in her underwear? Or with all the other things she’s done? How did that all the sudden become okay? Because, we’ve now decided that at least she wasn’t as bad as Miley?

Why is it that every time we are upset about someone “crossing the lines,” do we continue to go back to the table for more?

And why, oh why, were so many children watching this in the first place? And why, oh why, were their parents??

Whether we admit it or not, we like it. These are our heroes. They are our idols. They are what we spend our time and money on, and they are who we have given our hearts to.

And for the sake of our tiny tots, we need to stop and put a little–or a lot–of Philippians 4:8 into our lives.

philippians48final

Romans 1:32 says, “Although they knew God’s righteous decrees that those who do these things (sexual immorality, envy, greed, murder, strife, gossip, slander, hating God, insolent, arrogant, boastful. . . .) deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things, but also approve of those who practice them.”

“We do what we want.
We say what we want. . . and
We can’t stop, and
We won’t stop.”

My-Oh-My-Ley.