July 2015 Posts

Kid Talk Tuesday: A Fresh Look at Rainy Day Fun – guest post by author Kathryn O’Brien

Today’s post is by Kathryn O’Brien, author of the upcoming Sit for a Bit series releasing in Spring 2016. See more from Kathryn on her website www.kathobrien.com.

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Summertime is all about being outside, but every so often wet weather dampens our fun in the sun. When sunscreen and swimsuits are scattered by a sudden storm, don’t let a few showers rain on your summer parade. Be prepared with these age-old, indoor ideas with a fresh twist.

Send it! Pulling out the arts and crafts box passes the time nicely, but how about giving your masterpiece a purpose? Make a list of people that may like to receive a special gift. Grandparents or cousins that live far away? A neighbor who has been recently ill? A friend with a broken arm or summer cold?  Use your gray day to brighten someone else’s by drawing, coloring, crafting or painting a personalized work of art.  In this age of technology, hand-made surprises found in a mailbox are extra appreciated. (This is also a good time to remind kids how to address an “old-fashioned” envelope and use a stamp!)

Make it! Board games like Candy Land and Shoots and Ladders are great classics to have on hand, but a kid-created board doubles the fun. Sketch a curvy, zig-zag path onto poster board. Next, divide the path into squares. Fill each square with rewards (ie: You found a pretty shell at the beach; move ahead three spaces) and pitfalls (ie: You forgot to bring the tent on our camping trip; move back a space). Personalize the squares by citing specific places your family loves to visit during the summer.  Use markers and crayons to decorate, dice to move ahead, buttons for tokens, and you’re on your way!

Watch it! Who doesn’t love a bowl of popcorn, a comfy couch and a good movie on a drizzly day? But have you thought of starring in that movie yourself? Pick a family favorite and choose some well-known scenes. Dress up as characters, gather props, practice saying lines, and take turns as actors, directors and videographers (even preschoolers can push “record” on Mom’s ipad or smartphone). For those with extra imagination, rewrite a scene altogether or think of a different ending to really make it your own production. Don’t forget to make that popcorn, as you’ll need it for the viewing party when filming wraps.

Read it! Making a cozy space with blankets and books is a great idea rain or shine, but why not publish your own book? Gather some computer paper and staple down the left hand side. Think of a great summer trip or outing your family has taken (or would like to take) and write about it from beginning to end. Decorate the cover with a title and the author’s (your) name. Inside, use the bottom half of each page for text, the upper half for illustrations. Be sure to describe the setting and all of the characters by adding lots of details. And don’t forget an “About the Author” page at the end telling readers all about you.

Create it! Everybody loves puzzles, but have you ever designed your own? Use a sheet of plain white paper (preferably heavy cardstock) to create a colorful picture. Be sure to cover the entire page; don’t leave any spaces blank. Turn the paper over and draw squiggly lines from top to bottom and left to right, dividing the sheet into small sections. Then cut on the lines. Place the puzzle pieces into an envelope and give to a friend or sibling, or try putting it back together on your own. Optional: glue the pieces onto a colored sheet of construction paper as the puzzle is reconstructed, for a cool mosaic piece of art.

Learn it! Action games like Pictionary and charades are wonderful pastimes, but why not throw in a little academics?  First, make a list of historical characters or Bible heroes. As you make your list, take time to discuss the famous figures. Who were they? What did they do? When did they live? What is important about them? Use a children’s Bible or a safe internet site to gather more information if needed. Cut up the list and gather names into a hat or bowl. Take turns choosing and acting out (or drawing) clues. Valuable information is shared and learning is reinforced as answers are eagerly discovered.

So here’s wishing your family fair skies ahead, but if gray clouds threaten to bring on the blues, put some of these ideas into action and enjoy a cheery day.
Kathryn O’Brien has been published in numerous parenting and teaching magazines, including ParentLife and Shining Star. As a former elementary school teacher, Kathryn continues to write on education topics and blogs regularly at kathobrien.com. She is an award-winning author of two children’s books, including I’d Be Your Princess, which won the 2005 ECPA Christian Book Award (Best Picture Book). David C. Cook recently invited her to join their writing team at HomeFront Magazine.

Kid Talk Tuesday: Guest Post by Katara Patton, Founder of Esteem Publishing

Today’s post is by Katara Patton, former Acquisitions Director for children & youth products at Tyndale.

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It’s been exactly one year (July 1, 2014) since I said good-bye to my friends at Tyndale and launched on my own as a freelance writer and editor. And it has been a journey, to say the least. I’m grateful to still be in touch with such great folks at Tyndale and that they’ve invited me to share what I’ve learned over this year—particularly about the industry and about the freelance world.

1. It is a faith walk. When I resigned from my fun job as acquisitions director for children and family so I could have more flexibility and be closer to my preschooler, I had no idea what projects I would work on. I had some projects in the works and a few dollars saved up, but leaving a full-time job (and a paycheck every two weeks) takes faith. I’m glad I could rely on my faith in God and that I felt called to freelance—otherwise, some of my lean days would have been harder to take.

2. There is work out there. This past year, I’ve written two devotionals, a study guide, edited an inspirational book, taught two writing classes…and more. Publishers will send you work—especially if what you have already done for them meets or exceeds expectations and is on time. One of my editors sent me a special note thanking me for having my work in her inbox at the start of the day it was due. I don’t think she was used to people meeting their deadlines. She has sent me more work—and I am grateful.

3. It is hard work. Many publishers—and even individuals looking for editors or writers—want a lot done in a little time. It’s the nature of freelancing. So I wake up early and sometimes work after my child is asleep, but I do have the freedom to go on field trips, visit the classroom in the middle of the day, and do my morning Zumba class (and occasionally have a mid-day nap).

4. It all matters. In this past year, I’ve used the experience I gained from Tyndale and other companies. I’ve received referrals from former co-workers and I’ve even gotten work on a project from another former employer.

I look forward to sharing more when some of these projects see the light of day and staying connected to the Tyndale Family. I thank God for the work experience and the ability to inspire through words. I also thank my husband and family for being supportive. For more information on some of the work I’ve done, visit www.esteempub.com.

Katara Patton, Founder and Executive Editor, Esteem Publishing

She’s Got Issues by Nicole Unice – E-book sale and free chapter of Brave Enough!

 

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She’s Got Issues by Nicole Unice – E-book Sale $0.99 (Ends 7/23)

We’ve all got our issues! Maybe you feel like life just isn’t going your way, or you’re afraid that you don’t measure up to other people’s expectations. Perhaps you have a hard time managing your temper or have someone in your life you just can’t forgive. We deal with our “issues” every day in one form or another; the problem is, after a while, they start to feel . . . normal. Unchanging. Just part of who we are. And we forget that we have access to the power of Christ—a power that can transform our everyday weaknesses into our greatest strengths and gifts.

In She’s Got Issues, Christian counselor, ministry leader, and regular mom Nicole Unice explores the ordinary issues that are keeping you from the full and free life you were meant to have. Applying years of counseling with practical scriptural teaching and a fresh and authentic voice, Nicole shows you how to let God freely shape your character—and transform your life from ordinary to abundant.

Nicole’s next book Brave Enough releases in August. 

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Learn more about Brave Enough by clicking here.

Or download the first chapter for free here.

Faith that Sticks Craft Challenge – Post #5

This week’s Faith that Sticks Craft challenge project is from Becky Dempsey. 

Stickers. Who doesn’t love stickers? Especially children? My kids love stickers and doing crafts. We received the “God Made Animals” sticker set from The Tyndale Blog for the Faith that Sticks Summer Project. The ideas for how to use them swirled in my head. My first thought was to give the kids sheets of construction paper and some chalk or crayons and have them draw a scene and then put the stickers into the scene. Then I thought, why make it a flat picture? Why not make a diorama?

I gathered some supplies:

-stickers

-construction paper

-glue (stick glue and white school glue)

-tape

-pencils and pens

-boxes (we used empty boxes from snack packs of Goldfish crackers so they didn’t have tops)

-toilet paper tubes

-cardboard

-anything else that would work for your diorama

 

I told the kids my ideas and let them go. They decided they liked the diorama idea and each selected a box. After that, their own creativity reigned as they each came up with ideas on how to use their stickers to create a scene. I enjoyed watching them work on their projects and the ideas they came up with.

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I have four children. Two girls (the oldest) and two boys (the youngest). None of the projects were the same. Besides using different themed stickers, they each had their own interpretation of how to best make their diorama. One completely covered the box (and practically used a whole roll of tape in the process). Another used the box as a room with sides and top and front, with only a small window to see in. A third used the box as the backdrop for the scene and the last used the box flat on the table with the sides as a wall around the scene.

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I participated in the project mainly in a support level role. My children are ages 11, 9, 7, and almost 6 and are used to doing craft projects, so I knew they would be able to handle making the dioramas mostly on their own. Depending on the ages of your children and their ability levels, you may need to provide more hands on help than I did. If you have a specific idea that you want to accomplish, you could also be more directive in the project so the kids do the things you envision.

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The kids really enjoyed this project and creating their own one of a kind dioramas. They all want to be able to make more dioramas and have great plans on what they are going to do to make them the best that they can make. I really liked this project because it got my kids thinking and crafting and being creative. I liked seeing their individual personalities shine through the things they did with their dioramas. They surprised me with some of the little details and elements that they included. Overall it was a very fun and educational project that we’d like to do again.

Kid Talk Tuesday: The Best Read-Aloud Books for the Campfire

Today’s post is by publishing coordinator Linda MacKillop.

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The memories are vivid and warm and delightful: my husband and I, gathered with our four sons around a campfire in the middle of the woods, with water lapping the shore from the nearby lake. Crickets and tree frogs serenaded us while the wind whispered through the trees above and wood crackled on the fire—usually while someone poked at it with a stick, stirring up the ashes and flames.

Their young faces looked expectantly at us while we all enjoyed being transported to another place through story with a book in my lap or my husband’s lap. At the same time, we were writing our family’s story. We read many animal books during those seasons since we were in the “wilderness”, as well as the Chronicles of Narnia several times over, bonding in glorious summer moments around tales we internalized together.

There were so many levels of learning that took place during those times, which included rainy nights inside a tent, gathered in sleeping bags with a battery-operated light in the middle of our cluster of family members. Once, we spent a week camping in the tail-end of a hurricane right on the coast of Maine. How did I forget to check the forecast before we went? We had to make our reservations and pay up front for this coveted campground well in advance, so I assumed we would go no matter what. But if I had known how dreadful the weather would be with six kids in tow (we were with friends), I certainly would’ve forfeited the money.

Instead, we spent many hours sharing books inside the tent—when we weren’t mopping up the flooding water which soaked our clothes, sleeping bags, food, and books. Even though the ages of our kids spanned five years, if we chose the right book, the older ones were hooked with an adventure of a dog-sledder or a  time traveler, while the younger ones followed along as best as they could, picking up new vocabulary words and learning from the older kids that reading is fun and cool.

In the 1980’s, author Jim Trelease wrote his best-selling book, The Read-Aloud Handbook. According to Trelease, reading aloud to your children “builds vocabulary, conditions the child’s brain to associate reading with pleasure, provides a reading role model, and fills in the background knowledge necessary to understand things that aren’t in his or her neighborhood—like war or whales or locomotives.” Reading is the perfect family activity that teaches, while also bringing great pleasure.

We encourage you to find similar moments this summer now that the schedule has grown quiet. Enjoy books as a family and connect with your kids around stories that teach values they can absorb and cling to for a lifetime. If you’re not a camper, read around a bonfire in the backyard or just have a “campout” in the family room with a battery operated light in the midst of a collection of sleeping bags with some popcorn (maybe popped in the fireplace?).

Here are a few suggestions to get you started. If your children love animals and horses, Dandi Daley Mackall’s series of Winnie the Horse Gentler would be perfect around the campfire, as would Starlight Animal Rescue series. Or consider Sigmund Brouwer’s Robot Wars series that documents life in an experimental community on Mars. Enjoy a good mystery in The Red Rock Mysteries by Chris Fabry and Jerry Jenkins. Any book that takes you and your kids on a journey through time is sure to capture young minds, so consider T.J. and Time Stumblers by Bill Myers. The characters stumble into one hilarious catastrophe after another while learning the importance of a few core values.

Today, those distant moments of reading together with our sons form some of the highlights of our wonderful family story. As for me, I’d love to go back for one more night and gather them back to share a common read-aloud experience. Even though they are grown men now, sometimes I’m tempted on one of our rare visits with everyone in the same house to pull out a book again and capture everyone’s attention and enjoy a journey to a fictional land. For you young families, this is still an option. Take advantage of the moment!