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Friendships and Water Go Together by Karen Whiting

Tyndale Kids


Splish! Splash! Children gravitate to water fun; and giggles increase with a friend to splash along. Let your child invite one or more friends to come and play outside with water. Keep towels on hand for children who want to dry their eyes, and be sure to encourage young ones in taking turns and sharing. Snap some photos so your child can talk about the time after their friend leaves then e-mail the pictures to the friend. The photos will help them remember the fun they shared and will help build bonds between them.


Fun and Safety

A pool is fun and helps with gross motor skills, but even basins of water or sprinklers can be a hit. Discuss water safety before letting children take a plunge. Children can drown in just an inch of water. Teach your child to relax around water but not to go in without an adult, even if they know how to swim. It’s a good habit to make a simple adult-supervisor necklace. Use a small plastic lid and write “Adult” on it with a permanent marker. Punch a hole and string the lid on a cord. Have an adult wear it to make sure there is someone designated to watch the children.


Water! Water Everywhere!

Simple water fun can be done anywhere outside. Paintbrushes and buckets of water make it fun to paint disappearing art on almost any surface outdoors. It’s also a great way to get children to help clean outdoor areas!

Freeze some colored water before friends arrive to add to the cool excitement.




Do a sponge toss.

Count how many children will be participating in the activity, noting the ages of each child. Cut a sponge apart for every child, creating enough pieces to match how many years old each child is. (For example, a three-year-old’s sponge would be cut into three pieces.) Number each sponge’s pieces starting with the number one, and toss the labeled sponge pieces into the water. Starting with number one, the children should grab each piece of their sponge. While the older children may be faster, the younger ones will have fewer to collect. Then use the wet sponges for a water-sponge toss. (Optional: Use different colored sponges for each child.)


Water and Faith

Set up a station with dolls for girls to bathe their babies. Boys can set up a wash station for their riding toys or action figures. Talk about baptism and Jesus while they clean their dolls or other toys. Let them try some feats with action figures and dolls such as walking on the water. Talk about Jesus and water (he boated, walked on water, and even calmed a storm).


Differences in Ability

You’ll probably notice a big difference in swimming ability among children. Since my late husband served in the Coast Guard, we taught our babies to swim starting at two weeks old. Other children might not start lessons until they are school age. Don’t start a swim competition unless children have equal swimming ability.



Water and Math

All of them can enjoy splashing and playing in water. Put out empty cups and containers for children to fill and to pour back and forth in containers. Use some measuring cups to give them simple math lessons as they play. They can even try to fill cups under a sprinkler and see how much longer that takes than scooping water from a bucket or the pool.


Ice Cubes

Take those frozen, colored cubes you made and add them to the body of water. Children may squeal as they touch the icy cubes. They will enjoy swirling them and watching them melt in the cold water. Discuss how water changes from liquid to solid when put in the freezer and how it turns back to liquid as it warms up. Use some of the ice cubes for cube races to see how fast they slide down an incline. Have an ice cube toss.



Since children are in the heat as they play, make sure they drink plenty of water. Set up a station where they can add in berries, lemon and orange wedges, or sprigs of mint to flavor the water. Talk about dehydration and signs of it (chapped lips, feeling hot, flushed, thirsty) and add a salty snack to help them retain fluids.

Check out the “Princess in Action” section of each day in The One Year My Princess Devotions for other water-fun ideas and more from Karen Whiting!


Karen Whiting is an author and speaker with thirteen published books and hundreds of articles and short pieces for over four dozen publishers including Focus on the Family Magazine and Christian Parenting Today. She was a contributing writer for Focus on Your Child 2008-2009. She writes a quarterly article for Enrichment Journal for pastors and leaders of the Assemblies of God, a quarterly column for Discipleship Ideas magazine, and a family page for a monthly denominational newspaper. Whiting has also been the community producer and host of the television series Puppets on Parade for Miami educational TV.

Whiting has a heart for families and encourages families to connect and live more fully for God. She is a mother of five and a grandmother.

To learn more about Karen Whiting, follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

Good Intentions by Matt Hammitt

Tyndale Kids


Matt Hammitt, lead singer of Sanctus Real and author of  I Couldn’t Love You More,  shares a poem he wrote about fatherhood and the struggles fathers can face as they try to “lead through actions, not just intentions, Spiritual servants, emotionally present.” Happy Father’s Day! 

Good Intentions
by Matt Hammitt

I wanted to be a good leader, husband, father, and friend,
But when I heard my family cry, “Lead me,” I wasn’t sure what to do next.
I always had good intentions, knew what I should do and could be,
But I felt stuck on the treadmill of life and work,
Lost in ideas and dreams.

As time went on through some difficult lessons,
I started to clearly see that my good intentions without any actions,
Were worthless to everyone but me.

My good intentions were a seed without soil,
With nowhere or way to grow.

My good intentions were a car without wheels,
With no way of getting down the road.

I used to say never stop dreaming,
And maybe that’s still a good thing,
But there’s no point in dreaming,
If you never start doing,
Cause without doing, nothing can change.

So I took the intentions in my head and my heart,
Started using my hands to build a home,
Make a mark.

I scheduled time to be together,
Create moments,
Cultivate laughter,
Read God’s Word,
Teach and learn.

Pray with each other,
Become a better listener,
Spend quality time, not just talk about it,
Face a hard issue instead of skating around it.

Raising a family,
Building a home,
Creating a safe place to be loved and known.

I’m just one little house, but imagine a world,
where daddies were always there for their girls.
They silenced their phones and shut out the noise,
To focus on wrestling through life with their boys.
Leading through actions, not just intentions,
Spiritual servants, emotionally present.
Imagine a world where every child felt loved,
Where women weren’t lonely ‘cause they felt understood.
A world where families stayed together,
The fabric of culture grew stronger and better,
Less about me, more about us,
Sacrificially building a home with true love.

Matt Hammitt is the lead singer and a founding member of the band Sanctus Real. He is the co-author (along with Jason Ingram) of  I Couldn’t Love You More, a sweet story with a loving, yet powerful message: I couldn’t love you more, but there is someone who does. This engaging picture book combines lovable and irresistible images with the lyrics from the song I Couldn’t Love You More, on Sanctus Real’s album, Every Fallen Tear.

When Matt and his wife, Sarah, were halfway through her third pregnancy, they discovered their son would be born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS), a rare congenital defect. Matt and Sarah’s son, Bowen, was born on 9/9/10 and received a huge following through the Hammitts’ blog (bowensheart.com), K-LOVE, and ABC News. A portion of the proceeds from the book I Couldn’t Love You More  goes to the foundation the Hammitts have started to help parents with children who have this heart condition.

Select kids titles are on sale now at Tyndale.com! Head to tyndale.com/youth to learn more.

Ultimate Road Trip Giveaway!

Tyndale Kids

Summer is finally here, and a break from school brings time for family adventures . . . including road trips! Keep your kids entertained with hours of car-friendly fun, found in this Ultimate Road Trip Giveaway!


This prize pack includes:

Enter below for your chance to win!

Ultimate Road Trip Giveaway

For more ideas on building a road trip kit for your kids, check out this post!

Beach Reads for Kids of all Ages by Stephanie Rische

Tyndale Kidsclimbing-tree.jpg

When I think about summer as a child, I don’t think of a beach. I think of a tree.

In the front yard of my parents’ house, there was an elm tree with sprawling branches that I dubbed the Reading Tree. It had a notched spot about two-thirds of the way up where three branches met, and it was just cozy enough for me to wedge myself in and not need to hang on. Happily, this arrangement left my hands free to hold a book.

Those summer reads transported me to different worlds and different times. From the comfort of my Reading Tree, I spent hours as a pioneer, traipsing across the prairie with Laura. I traveled through wrinkles in time with Meg. I met fauns and talking beavers with Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy.

At the time, I assumed those magical hours spent with my nose in a book were just for fun. But according to the research, reading just may be one of the most important things a child can do in the summer.


Much has been said about the “summer slide,” especially among elementary-age children—the loss of literacy that often occurs during the summer months. But there’s a fairly simple remedy for this trend: reading books.

Studies have shown that giving kids twelve books to read over the summer is as effective as summer school in raising students’ reading scores, and even reading four to five books over the summer is enough to prevent a decline in reading-achievement scores.

If that weren’t enough, reading has also been proven to increase memory, reduce stress, improve social perception, and heighten emotional intelligence among children.

If you’re not sure where to begin with a reading list for this summer, here are some ideas to get you started.


moon-over-manifest-clare-vanderpool.jpgFor your history buff . . .
Moon over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool: This novel was a recent winner of the Newbery Award. Set in Kansas in the summer of 1936, this story follows a girl named Abilene Tucker, who uncovers secrets in her hometown as her family ekes out a living during the Great Depression. It’s a story of loss but also great redemption.

the-boxcar-children-gertrude-chandler-warner.jpgFor your little adventurer . . .
The Boxcar Children series by Gertrude Chandler Warner: These books recount the adventures of four orphaned children who create a home in an abandoned boxcar and encounter various mysteries along the way. These books have been around for a while, but they have a timeless feel that speaks to the adventurer in us all.

summer-of-the-monkeys-wilson-rawls.jpgFor your animal lover . . .
Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls: This book has all the charm of Rawls’s Where the Red Fern Grows, without all the tears at the end. Set in Oklahoma in the late 1800s, this novel tells the story of fourteen-year-old Jay, who unexpectedly finds a tree full of monkeys along a river in the Ozarks. It’s a heartwarming story full of delightful characters.

brown-girl-dreaming-jacqueline-woodson.jpgFor your aspiring poet . . .
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson: This book, written in verse, tells the poignant story of the author’s childhood and what it was like to grow up as an African American girl in the 1960s and 1970s. The poems capture the power of words as we find our voice and learn to tell our stories.

the-wonderful-wizard-of-oz-l-frank-baum.jpgFor your fantasy lover . . .
The Oz series by L. Frank Baum: Did you know that there is so much more to the world of Oz than the movie? The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is the first of an entire series of books set in Oz. You and your children will delight in the fantasy, humor, and lovable characters in this series.

larger-than-life-lara-dandi-daley-mackall.jpgFor your middle grader . . .
Larger-Than-Life Lara by Dandi Daley Mackall: This is a compelling story about what it’s like to be different and what real friendship looks like. Not only will it spark excellent discussion, but with the clever narrative structure, your kids will also find themselves learning what makes a story a story.


For your little ones . . .

When a Dragon Moves In by Jodi Moore and Howard McWilliam: What happens when you have a bucket, a shovel, some sand, and a little imagination? A dragon just may move in!


For your little ones . . .

Bats at the Beach by Brian Lies: If bats are nocturnal, how can they enjoy a day at the beach? Simple—they go at night and put on moon-tan lotion!


Whether you and your kids find yourselves on the beach, in a hammock, or in a tree this summer, make it a priority to read together. So many adventures await you!

stephanie-rische-author.jpgStephanie Rische is a senior editor and team leader at Tyndale House Publishers, as well as a freelance writer for publications such as Today’s Christian Woman, Christian Marriage Today, and Significant Living magazine.

Stephanie is a retired serial blind dater who happily exchanged her final blind date for a husband. Since getting married, she has been reaping the benefits of having a live-in dishwasher emptier, a homemade ice cream concocter, and a humorist-in-residence. Several years into this marriage gig, Stephanie is still trying to learn the finer points of sharing the covers.

She and her husband, Daniel, live in the Chicago area, where they enjoy riding their bikes, making homemade ice cream, and swapping bad puns. You can follow Stephanie’s blog at www.StephanieRische.com.

For more summer reads for kids of all ages, head to tyndale.com/youth

Getting Ready for Summer by Sherry Kyle

Tyndale Kids

Summer is right around the corner, and for most moms, this can be an overwhelming time. Sign-ups for summer camp and swim lessons are on the budget-conscious mom’s mind and so is the need for family fun! Try these action steps to help everyone transition to a stress-free summer.


1. Calendar. Hang a calendar in a prominent place in the kitchen and have your child make an X at the end of each day. Kids love to see the countdown to summer, and it will help moms mentally prepare too.

2. Family Meeting. Now is a good time to sit down with your kids and discuss summer plans. Family vacation? Once a week beach day? An activity or team they want to join? Kids need something to look forward to, and when everyone is on the same page, it makes for a smoother transition.


3. Stock Up. Make sure your child’s closet is stocked with plenty of shorts and t-shirts. A new swimsuit, if needed, is good to have on hand and so is a beach towel and a pair of flip-flops. Make sure you have a well-stocked first aid kit, as well as an adequate supply of bug repellent and sunscreen.

4. Friends. The hardest thing about summer for kids is taking a break from their friends, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Make sure to exchange phone numbers with the parents before the school year is out, and plan times to meet over the summer months.

5. Routine. As much as we’d like to think we’re going to keep the same schedule, it’s best to let that one slide. Let’s face it, summer is a whole lot different from the school year, so why try to keep the same pace? Some routine, like meals and sleeping habits, are good to maintain but, otherwise, enjoy the kickback days of summer.ice-cream-cone

6. Meals. Speaking of meals, summer is a good time to change things up. Get your kids involved with the planning. Pizza and ice cream on Tuesdays? Hamburgers on Thursdays? Why not! Add several picnics at local parks or interesting sights, and you’re sure to have a relaxed summer!

7. Books. Keep your kids’ minds in gear over the summer, and schedule visits to your local library to get a stack of books to read. Have a goal and give rewards, such as a movie or a trip to the local museum. (Remember, audiobooks and comic books count as reading too!) Summer is also a good time to hire a tutor if your child needs help with school.


8. Creativity. There will definitely be times when your kids are bored, so make sure you leave wiggle room in your summer to be creative. These are a few ideas: bake cookies, make an obstacle course in the backyard, go on a nature walk, paint a picture, plant a garden, or keep a journal (like this DIY journal!).


9. Community. Consider doing a few community service projects with your kids this summer, such as organizing a food drive in your neighborhood, hosting a garage sale or lemonade stand then donating the proceeds to your favorite charity, creating care packages for the homeless, picking up litter at your local beach or park, making cards for soldiers, or visiting the elderly.

10. You. With everyone home for the summer, make sure you take time for YOU! A hot bath, a trip to the nail salon, or an afternoon with a friend will rejuvenate you and keep the stress away. Take a few moments every day for some deep breaths and remember to capture every moment. Summer will be over before you know it!

sherry-kyle-authorSherry Kyle has written several books for tween girls, along with women’s fiction. Her award-winning book for tween girls, The Christian Girl’s Guide to Style, was awarded the God Mom’s Choice Award. Her second nonfiction book for girls, The Girl’s Guide to Your Dream Room, was nominated for the Christian Retailers Best Awards. Most recently, Sherry is the author of Love, Lexi, a unique fictional story combined with a devotional and journal to allow readers to learn to seek God first above all else. 



For additional tips on how to maximize summer fun while cutting down on stress, check out these suggestions from Tyndale Kids author Kathryn O’Brien!