Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Bronx Zoo

We closed out March with a smashing fun day at the Bronx Zoo!  The kids and I used our membership from Christmas to tour the zoo in the lovely sunshine while Ben was meeting with a contact for Bible Study in the Bronx.  Our last stop at the zoo was a bust…not many animals out and a cold day.  Today we saw everything we wanted to – even heard the lions roar!  Aside from the million public school kids also taking advantage of good weather, it was a lovely trip.

IMG_3555   IMG_3556
Baby turtles in the reptile nursery :: Lunch by the baboons and mountain goats!

One of the membership perks is that the bug carousel is free!

IMG_3567   IMG_3570
Henry wasn’t too sure at first…

…But then he loved it!


By the rhino statue

Watching the flamingos.  Henry was thrilled to do everything his siblings did.

IMG_3578  IMG_3579
I’d call that a successful trip!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

We planned an outreach blitz for our Kingsbridge neighborhood in the Bronx.  Things were so up in the air with the house and possible closing date that we didn’t invite many people, but Ben’s parents did come down to help us distribute special invites.  They looked like this…

Happy St. Patrick's Day InviteHappy St. Patrick's Day Invite BACK

I have never really made a big deal out of St. Patrick’s Day.  After all, I’m not Irish, not a big fan of green, and I don’t drink.  But I saw some cute craft ideas online and decided to teach the kids about the real Patrick – the one who evangelized Ireland in the 5th century.

Elaine's St. Patrick's Day Drawings

Elaine's St. Patrick's Day Drawings
Elaine’s drawings

I set the kids up with some how to draw videos for festive leprechauns and pots of gold.  They did good, huh?

Nolan's St. Patrick's Day Drawings    Nolan's St. Patrick's Day Drawings
Nolan’s Drawings

St. Patrick's Day Jars   St. Patrick's Day Jars
I made these candy jars for the kids with Rolo’s and sorted Skittles.  The tags say “You’re My Pot of Gold at the End of My Rainbow!

St. Patrick's Day Jars

Homemade Shamrock Shakes 
We finished the day off with homemade Shamrock Shakes! 

Ben's St. Patrick's Day Outfit(Ben wore this green outfit for outreach.  I don’t usually “let” him wear the jacket in public.  He definitely got some attention!)

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Schunnemunk Mountain

Ever since we have been living in this tiny town of Mountainville, NY, a lot of people pull down our driveway looking for the state park.  Schunnemunk State Park.  It’s actually the mountain behind our house (and there is I-87 between us and the mountain), but a lot of GPS have the coordinates wrong.  We decided we should check it out before moving back to the city.  We had a nice day and the kids were itching to get out and move, so we took a hike down the trail in Schunnemunk Mountain State Park


It was mostly cow pasture and field that we walked through that day, but we found a great clearing for kite flying.  We came back a couple of days later for a picnic and kite flying day off of school, and then we hiked farther up the trail and crossed the train tracks.

Schunemunk Mountain Picnic Day   Schunemunk Mountain Picnic Day
Selfie with Henry during lunch :: These two!  Their imagination!  They were riding a horse together, and Nehemiah kept falling off the back!

Schunemunk Mountain Picnic Day
Let’s Go Fly a Kite!

Schunemunk Mountain Picnic Day

Schunemunk Mountain Picnic Day
Amtrak and I think NJ Transit or Metro North use this track

Schunemunk Mountain Picnic Day
The kids enjoyed shooting their stick guns from behind one of the old stone walls on the trail.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Teaching Kids Hymns

One of my goals this year was to teach my kids a new hymn each month in our morning pledge and prayer time for school.  I want my kids to learn the rich doctrine in the good old hymns that the church has used for so long in corporate worship. 

Through our travels we were in many kinds of churches.  Some were big and had lots of kids programs, and some we small and didn’t even have a nursery worker, much less a children’s program for every age group.  I also got the impression that many times in church we feel we have to have something to entertain the kids in every service, or some program or activity “on their level”.  After a couple of struggles in church with four, and then five kids, who didn’t want to sit still or be quiet while their daddy was preaching, we set out to teach our kids how to sit in church, and proper “etiquette” for the worship service.  The twins were very young, and Elaine and Nolan had never sat through church because they were always in a children’s program. 

We practiced our church etiquette at home, and every time we go to church they sit in at least church service, even if there is a children’s program available.  I want them to hear God’s Word preached, and even at 5 and 7, Elaine and Nolan are learning to pay attention and write down words in their notebooks.  I want them to be able to sing along in the hymn time, even when they can’t read the words of the hymnbook yet.  So…we are learning hymns.

I picked twelve familiar hymns that I felt were often sung, well loved, and had lots of doctrine in them.  I visualize them with clipart available free online.  I try to pick pictures which represent the words in a way kids would think of them, or that I can use to explain the concept of that portion of the hymn.  I also look for black and white sketches, so that the kids can help to color the pictures.

I wanted to capture the cross, seeing the light, and faith, so this image was perfect!

Handcuffs for “crimes” and a heart for “love”

I chose a rainbow because it reminds that God always keeps His promises, which says to me that God is always the same!  One of my pages in this song had morning glory flowers on it, because it’s really hard to visualize “glory”.

This picture of Abraham shows the sands of the sea and the stars in the sky, representing God’s promise of innumerable descendants to Abraham.  It has nothing to do with the song, except that tells us we can rest on God’s promise.  It was just a discussion starter!

“Taking” – receiving – the gifts of God, namely life, rest, joy, and peace.

Then we laminate the song, and sing it each day at the beginning of school, along with our pledges and morning prayer.  It’s exciting when they go to church and know the hymn, and are able to sing along!  (We have already learned Victory in Jesus, Amazing Grace, Nothing But the Blood, and several other hymns in family devotion time).

Hymns “every child should know” - to learn in 2017!

January: Yesterday, Today, Forever
February: ‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus
March: At the Cross
April: He Lives (for Easter)
May: It Is Well
June: The Bible Stands
July: Sweet Hour of Prayer
August: Power in the Blood
September: Nearer, My God to Thee
October: Jesus Paid It All
November: To Go Be the Glory
December: Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne (for Christmas)

In college I was required to take a class on Teaching Bible to kids, and we had to visualize things like stories, verses, and songs.  I made a lot of kids choruses in that class, but I have been applying the same techniques and principles to my visualized hymns.  Here are a few of my visualized songs that you can print and use for personal use, or to get an idea for making your own!

At the Cross
Do You Know About Jesus (kids chorus to the tune of Take Me Out to the Ballgame)
’Tis So Sweet
Yesterday, Today, Forever
From Alaska to Nebraska (sung to the tune of The Battle Hymn of the Republic)
Holy, Holy, Holy
Praise Him, Praise Him

Other resources:

  • Patch the Pirate has a CD of “Hymns Every Child Should Know”
  • has a lot of mp3 clips of the accompaniment if you want to play the hymn while you sing.  They also have printable sheet music for a lot of hymns.
  • I usually just google the words for the hymn I want to use.
  • Pixabay has a lot of nice, free, images if you don’t want to use color-able clipart
  • I like to use a kid-friendly font, like DK Crayon Crumble, BJU Pre-Cursive, or Amatic.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Wordless Wednesday: Henry Loves to Eat

Henry always lets us know when it’s time to eat.  Sometimes I find him getting out the cereal boxes or raises as a “hint-hint” that he’s hungry.  He’s also developing quite a sweet tooth…

IMG_3112  IMG_3132

He’s not too happy when I say “no” to more cinnamon rolls!  (He already had two!).  He loved the candy package from Grandma Godby for Valentine’s Day!