I’m a mom that likes structure. While many families take the summer off to enjoy random playing, I still like to have some structure to my day. I started a few weeks ago looking for something that would be fun for the summer. I easily found it when I came across God’s Little Explorers by Stacie Nelson. Due to my restricted time, I won’t be doing daily posts, I’ll be giving the weekly highlights. If you want to check out the program for yourself please take a look at http://www.motherhoodonadime and you can also get detail instructions on most of the crafts that we do for this program. We’ll be taking two units per week so we can cover the whole alphabet during the summer months. Also, for your reference, my boys are 3.5 yrs old.
This first week was a lot of fun. We began by decorating a cardboard box to be our explorer’s kit. The boys mainly put stickers on the box and I wrote Explorer’s Kit on two of the sides. With that done, I explained that explorers used equipment to find valuable treasure. I hid each treasure item and marked it with an X made out of tape. The treasure equipment was 1 adult Bible, 1 kid’s Bible, 2 pencils, 1 pack of crayons, 2 magnifying glasses and 2 flashlights. Now our kit was getting full so we made the last item. We made binoculars out of tape, ribbon and toilet paper tubes. They were a hit.
Next we looked at the Bible they found. I told them that God’s word is our treasure. We looked at the table of contents, looked at how it’s divided into books, chapters and verses. I printed out “God’s word is a treasure,” with each word in its own circle, cut those out, buried them in a plastic bin with popcorn kernels and gave them some cups and measuring spoons to play with. Sensory activities are always a hit and usually require some cleanup. Then I read the story of creation from Genesis chapter 1. I try to read the bible story for that unit from the adult version one day and the kid’s version the other times. We followed that up watching the first half of What’s In the Bible vol I dvd. After that I cut out a big piece of brown paper, made a squiggly line across it, labeled the beginning with the Bible and the end with a big X. Our theme for two days was X marks the spot. We practiced writing little X all over a big X, making X out of our body parts, making cheese pieces into the shape of an X and practicing the sound of X.
The next section focused on the garden of Eden during the creation. We sounded out the letter G. We looked at seeds under the magnifying glass, soaked the seeds overnight and cut them in half before looking at them again and placed a few in a baggie wrapped in a wet paper towel. The seeds were supposed to sprout but ours molded instead. We talked about seeds making plants and that they need water and sunlight to help them grow. We watched the second half of the Vol I What’s In the bible. I had plans to do a whole lot more with the gardening theme, but I got tired and we didn’t do them and give yourself some grace if that happens to you too. We went to see a really big garden at the end of the week. We went over to visit the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens. The boys enjoyed it. They ran, they got to be loud, we had a picnic, they got to smell herbs and they even learned about some of the birds that might live in a garden. We wrapped up this week by adding a garden picture next to the Bible on our treasure map.
I love it when I have great crafts to go along side a scripture or bible story for my boys. Just the other day I was telling my boys that if they learn what the bible says it would help them learn to obey me and God. Every time I talk about what the bible says, I use it gently and try to make it something fun to learn. I used www.abcjesuslovesme.com for my printables on this craft. I let the boys try to cut out the hearts and bibles that I printed out on white paper. Two hearts and one bible per kid. What I got was many tiny cuts along the edges of the papers, so I followed behind them and cut along the outline. I asked the boys to color the hearts and the bible. Interesting that Lance chose mainly dark colors instead of bright colors. I didn’t suggest or comment on the colors because it’s their creations. However if I was coloring it, I’d make it bright yellows and blues like James did, but slightly neater looking.
As we were saying the verse out loud together, I wrote a short version of it on the front of two hearts: “I will hide your Word in my heart, so I will not sin against you.” I punched big holes with a hole punch around the edges of all the hearts. I gave each boy a long shoe lace and helped them lace it through the holes. Shoelaces work great because of the stiff plastic end helps guide the lace through holes easier. I held the two pieces of hearts together for them at the start then I let go and let them do it on their own. Look at Lance’s mouth and you will see evidence that while this looks so sweet and calm, chaos usually creeps in the activities so have no fear if your little one or little ones don’t always look this organized and obedient. Lance tends to ignore my corrections and tries to sneak in a little snack of colored wax when mom is helping James out.
You can see in the picture that each boy had a different way of lacing and that’s all part of the learning. Lance likes to play with the lace and twist it while James is about making his neat and in order.
They both giggled when they tore the holes and laughed when they knotted the lace too. When that was done, they each got to slide their colored bible down in the pouch of the hearts. We hung them up on the fridge and said the verse each day for the next few days. So on this day, I counted my mercy as a little shoelace that helped to make a big impression on their hearts.
I laughed again today as I read “Hey guys, follow me!” and I even said it with a Chicago accent that made it all the more funny. The fishing from the pool yesterday was a hit. They were wet, I was wet, James fished and Lance bailed water out everywhere. This morning after reading our bible story, we worked on some counting. I pulled out 5 spoons, five pennies and five cars for the twins to count. I have to say the cars were the biggest winners. James had to touch each one separately as he counted while Lance looked at them and giggled in between each number. I don’t know, maybe counting is funny to an almost 2 yr old boy?
We headed out with some friends on a grand fish adventure at nearby Lake Lavon. I stopped and bought six little minnows in a bag of beautiful blue water. We went to a park and made our way over some rocks down to the shoreline. The kids looked at the fish in the bag first. I reminded them that they were little fish just like the fishermen caught in our story this week. I caught a minnow and let them hold it. I think those poor little fish were so frightened because every one of us managed to drop the minnow on the ground trying to get it to the water. Lance threw his one fish in and didn’t act like he was interested after that. He was more preoccupied with the fabulous rocks he was finding and throwing those in the water. James on the other hand was wild about the little fish. He dove his hand right in the bag and tried to catch them. He wasn’t afraid to hold it and fling it as far as he could into the water, which was just barely far enough into the water for the minnow to swim away. Of course, there was muddy shoes on all the kids.
There was a playground back up the road so we jumped out to run off some energy. As we got out of the car, I spotted some horse apples. We’ve looked at them before but each time seems to be new and fun. The kids enjoyed rolling it down the slide and carrying it around with them. Then before we got in the car to come back home the boys took off across the field for a little run. There’s nothing’ better than a big open space of grass for them to run through.
We ended our morning of fish adventures by eating fish tacos. Not my favorite, but the boys love seafood in any form. What a great way to visually connect the bible stories to something they can understand. When we were at the lake, I poured out some water into a puddle. We talked about jumping in puddles and that it was a small amount of water. Then I reminded them about the bigger water they see in a pond. Finally I said that a sea was even bigger, just like the lake. Dad has seen the Sea of Galilee and even swam in it. Maybe someday the twins will be to see it for themselves. For now though, I count it a mercy that we can see and feel little fish to help us understand a little more about the fishermen of the bible.