m is for manger Posts

Incorporating Education into Story Time by Crystal Bowman & Teri McKinley

Tyndale Kids

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From Crystal:

As a grandmother, I remember the days of raising three young children. We spent a lot of time at home, playing and learning. My kids were full of questions: “Why do ducks quack?” “Do worms yawn?” “Can Jesus fly?” “What’s that noise?” I loved being the one to teach my children about the world around them, but to be honest, those never-ending questions occasionally wore me out. I always looked forward to bedtime reading when I could dispense knowledge to my eager children, but my tired brain wasn’t always up to it. That’s why I especially loved reading children’s books that offered questions and answers. It opened conversations in a way that was enjoyable for all of us.

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From Teri:

As a mother of a toddler, I already feel the urge to prepare my son for school. Because of the Technological Age we live in, our kids are expected to know a lot before they even begin kindergarten. While I want to equip my son for school, I also want him to enjoy learning and embrace the freedom of being a child. I am hungry for resources that can cater to all of these needs. There is something about reading a book with my son in my lap that is beautifully simplistic. It takes the focus off of achievement and places it on connection. And through these special snuggle times, it’s amazing to see the knowledge he gains.

Our Shared Vision:

Our latest picture books launch a new series called “I’ve Got Questions.” Do Baby Bears Have Mommies? and Does God Take Naps? are picture books created for inquisitive children ages three to seven. The question-and-answer rhyming text is whimsical and delightful to read, yet the books have an educational component that makes learning fun for the child. The questions in each book will stimulate a child’s thought process, while the answers are a “gift” to the adult reader. What’s especially unique about these books is the way they introduce children to basic STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) concepts that are pivotal to education.

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Do Baby Bears Have Mommies? is all about animals that kids love—from monkeys and elephants to skunks and bears and ladybugs. As young children begin to explore the world outside of their home, they naturally engage with animals and nature. They notice birds in trees, bugs on flowers, and worms crawling across the sidewalk. They mimic animal sounds and animal movements. This is the beginning of their experience with the natural sciences. In this book, children will dig deeper into educational aspects of the natural world, such as why cows moo and why ducks quack. Do you know how to tell a boy ladybug from a girl ladybug? You will—after reading this book!

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Does God Take Naps? builds a bridge between science and faith, helping children understand the character of God in relation to the natural world. They can learn who God is and what he does. Scientific minds will learn that God created the stars and put them in outer space. They will learn that God rules the universe and keeps everything in place. Mathematical minds may try to calculate how old God is, and the answer given in the book keeps the adult from having to say, “I don’t know.” Inquisitive minds might wonder if God eats vegetables or takes naps. Pet lovers will wonder if God has pets. The answers are fun to discover together as you turn the pages. Children will also learn that God is loving and kind: “God cares about your problems. And sees each of your tears. . . . And nothing in the whole wide world is greater than his love.”

As experienced parents and caretakers, we hope you cherish the heart behind the “I’ve Got Questions” series. Our desire is for you to connect with the children in your life while teaching them important truths about God and the world around them. With the holidays around the corner it’s a great time to sit down for a good story, a moment of learning, and some one-on-one snuggle time. We hope these books will be a gift that can be enjoyed over and over again!


This Christmas season, teach your children the story of Jesus’ birth with M is for Manger  by Crystal Bowman and Teri McKinley! Beautifully illustrated and written, this rhyming storybook will be a classic for parents to read to their children every Christmas.

Available in both hardcover and board book format. 


Crystal Bowman is a former preschool teacher, award-winning author, national speaker, and Mentor for MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers). She has written more than 100 books for children, three books for women, numerous magazine articles, and Bible study materials. She also writes stories for Clubhouse Jr. magazine and lyrics for children’s piano music.

She has written books for many popular children’s series, such as Little Blessings, BOZ the Bear, and I Can Read! She has co-authored Our Daily Bread for KidsMy Mama and Me, and M is for Manger with her daughter, Teri McKinley. She and her husband live in Florida.

To learn more about Crystal, head to her website, or find her on Facebook.

Teri McKinley grew up in the world of publishing, attending book signings and book conventions with her mother, Crystal Bowman. She began writing stories in elementary school and her love for writing grew in college. In addition to co-authoring several award-winning books with her mother, Teri has written greeting cards for Discovery House. Teri and her husband live in Texas and serve in several ministries at their church. Above all, Teri’s favorite job is being a mom to their son.

To learn more about Teri, find her on Facebook or Pinterest.


Enjoying the Days Before Christmas by Crystal Bowman

TyndaleKids

Christmas is the busiest season of the year—and the season seems to be getting longer and longer! When I was growing up, the Christmas season didn’t begin until after Thanksgiving. We would put up our tree one week before Christmas and take it down a few days after New Year’s Day.  Our Christmas season was about 2–3 weeks at most. So what has changed? I think you know. The retailers love this holiday because it means lots of sales and profit. I’ve seen Christmas items on display in early October, and one of our local radio stations starts playing Christmas songs the day after Halloween. Don’t get me wrong—I don’t think it’s a bad thing to celebrate Christmas for many weeks or even a couple of months. But the important thing is to keep our focus on the real meaning of Christmas to avoid getting caught up in the holiday hype and materialism that comes with it. If you have children or grandchildren in your life, then you know how hard it is to keep little ones from wanting everything they see. With a little thought and planning, you can help your children capture the true wonder and miracle of Christmas.


The Countdown

advent-calendarThe days leading up to Christmas seem like an eternity to a child. The solution? An advent calendar! It’s a great way to help kids count the days until Christmas as they anticipate their favorite day of the year. Some years I would buy a fancy Hallmark calendar with little flaps that opened. My kids enjoyed taking turns opening the flaps to reveal a hidden picture. Other years, I’d make a simple calendar out of green construction paper and use Christmas stickers to count down the days. Either option works well and gives children something fun to do every day in December.

 

The Nativity

nativity-sceneOne of my favorite Christmas items is the Nativity scene. Whether it’s a front yard display, ceramic figurines on a fireplace mantle, a tree ornament or a snow globe, the nativity represents the Christmas miracle and reminds us of God’s greatest gift to the world. When my kids were growing up, I had a look-but-don’t-touch, hand-painted set that always found a prominent place in our home. But now that I’m a grandma, I have a kid-sized nativity set with plastic pieces so my grandkids can play with it. We imagine what the characters say to each other and wonder if baby Jesus is crying. Adults can tell the story of Christmas through a hands-on approach that kids love.


Christmas Books

reading-with-grandmaChildren love books—especially when Mom or Grandma are taking the time to read the books. A young mom shared a great idea with me that I’d love to pass along. Every year, she wraps twenty-five Christmas books (old, new, or borrowed) and puts them in a basket. Beginning December 1, her children take turns choosing a book from the basket. They unwrap and read one book per day until Christmas. It’s an affordable way to keep the focus on Christmas while spending meaningful time with children during this busy season.

 

The True Story

m-is-for-mangerThe true Christmas story is found in the Gospel of Luke, and a few details are also given in Matthew. The story has been retold through the centuries by writers who want to share it with children in age-appropriate fashion. My latest picture book, also available in a board book edition, is titled M is for Manger (Tyndale). It tells the Christmas story in chronological order, helping young minds understand how and where Jesus was born. Bible verses are included on every page so readers will know where the events or prophecies can be found in Scripture. As children turn the pages and follow the letters of the alphabet, the events surrounding the birth of Jesus unfold before their eyes. During a recent radio interview, the host asked me why we chose M is for Manger as the title. I responded, “Because the manger is where we find Jesus!”

 

If God has placed children in your life, use this Christmas season to share the true story of Christmas—that God sent his only Son to be our Lord and Savior.

Merry Christmas!

Crystal Bowman


crystal-bowman

Crystal Bowman is a former preschool teacher, award-winning author, national speaker, and Mentor for MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers). She has written more than 100 books for children, three books for women, numerous magazine articles, and Bible study materials. She also writes stories for Clubhouse Jr. magazine and lyrics for children’s piano music. She graduated from Calvin College with a degree in elementary education and studied early childhood development at the University of Michigan. She has written books for many children’s series, such as Little Blessings, BOZ the Bear, and I Can Read! She is the co-author of Our Daily Bread for Kids, My Mama and Me, and M is for Manger. She and her husband live in Florida.

Visit Crystal at her website, or find her on Facebook.

Kid Talk Tuesday: A Family Christmas Refocused – Guest Post by Author Brock Eastman

Guest contributor, Brock Eastman, encourages us to revisit the meaning of a family Christmas. One that educates our children why we celebrate and enables them to look beyond a commercialized holiday. Read on to be inspired by Brock’s heart for his family, Jesus, and his contagious sense of humor.

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Photo Credit: JGoodlin photography

 

Travel by air. Travel by land. Travel by sleigh. Black Friday. Cyber Monday. Gifts for every family member, co-worker, teacher and friend. Peppermint Mocha. Gingerbread Latte. Flavor from your childhood memories of Christmas now in your caffeinated drink as an adult. This is the ‘Holiday Season’ these days.

Entrusted by God as parents of four little souls, my wife and I strive to make Christmas more about why we celebrate, than the over-merchandised cash-in on the ‘Holiday Season’ thing we often find ourselves caught up in. Now I’m not the Grinch and I love yummy flavored coffee, traveling to see family, and getting gifts that will make others’ eyes light up and set smiles on their faces. Still my wife and I hope Christmas will be a time of family togetherness that reflects on the birth of our Savior in a manger. We want our kids to understand that Christmas is not only getting gifts, but of giving gifts. As God gave us his Son, as the Magi gave gifts to Jesus, and as Jesus gave His life for us. To immerse our kids in this idea, we’ve started several meaningful, but simple traditions that help us have fun as a family while learning the importance of giving.

 

Advent Calendar:
I can’t take any credit for this one, aside from taking part and being excited about the activity we’ll pull out of the drawer each day. My wife does a wonderful job creating and planning 25 Advent activities. Starting on December 1st, these activities range from bell ringing for the Salvation Army (yes all 6 of us) to making marshmallow snowmen on paper or going on a family hot cocoa date. Each year we have several activities we keep doing because we’ve found them to be family favorites, while others get replaced with new ideas. And though we’re a few days into December, it’s not too late to start. You can check out a full list below of the Eastman’s 2015 Advent Calendar to get ideas for your own calendar. And you’ll notice our activities aren’t always focused on the birth of Jesus. Pinterest is a great place to find ideas for Advent.

Advent Calendar Ideas:

1.) Decorate for Christmas
2.) Make a Christmas craft
3.) Open a new Christmas book
4.) Have a sleepover with friends
5.) Go on a hot cocoa date
6.) Hang Christmas lights outside
7.) Make and deliver cookies to the local fire or police department
8.) Bell ringing for the Salvation Army
9.) Visit Santa
10.) Have a family fun night. Eat at a restaurant or go play at an activity park
11.) Host or attend St. Nicking event
12.) Go watch the Nutcracker
13.) Enjoy ice skating outdoors
14.) Christmas shopping for siblings
15.) Go see Christmas lights
16.) Christmas parade
17.) Watch a new Christmas movie
18.) Receive a Christmas activity book
19.) Bake Christmas cookies
20.) Make Christmas ornaments
21.) Present wrapping party
22.) Have a fancy dinner at home with your kids
23.) Build a Gingerbread house
24.) Open new Christmas Pajamas
25.) Bake a birthday cake for Jesus (Christmas Day)

 

Christmas Reading List:
This one is my favorite and not because I’m an author. I love having my four kiddos on my lap and gathered around me while we turn the pages to a Christmas themed book. Ten to fifteen minutes before bed each night or at the dinner table to read a story together is all it takes. We have a wonderful time listening, looking at pictures, and discussing what will happen next in the story. It’s also a great way to help our kids relax before bed. My wife and I have amassed a collection of Christmas books over the last few years, (getting a few books is one of our Advent activities) but for those who may not have a personal library yet, consider going to your local public or church library and checking out a dozen or so books. You can make this an every other night event to get started, but I’m sure your kids will soon ask for a story every night even beyond Christmas. Our books aren’t only about Christmas, some are winter themed. A couple family favorites are The Nutcracker or Snow by P.D. Eastman (no relation, at least that I know of). And the books we read about the birth of Jesus are a reminder of the ultimate gift we celebrate at Christmas. Plus reading to your kids at bedtime or anytime will pay huge dividends later as you’ll see them excel in school and their imaginations flourish. If you need book ideas we’ve created a list for you.

Tyndale’s Recommended Christmas Book List:

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1. M is for Manger by: Crystal Bowman and Teri McKinley
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2. Unwrapping the Greatest Gift by: Ann Voskamp
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3. When Jesus Was Born
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4. God Made You Special by: Jennifer Holder
5. Nutcracker by Susan Jeffers
6. Snow by P.D. Eastman

 

Three Gifts of the Magi:
Are your kids’ lists for Santa each a mile long? Has one of your kids ever said, “If you don’t get it for me, I’ll ask Santa?” America is a prosperous country and often that causes us to be more materialistic than we want, it’s simply; we see it, we want it, we get it, because we can. In light of this, my wife and I wanted to refocus our family’s celebration of Christmas with an idea that helps simplify our gift giving each year. We use the three gifts the Magi presented to Jesus at his birth as the basis for each gift our kids receive each year; yes that’s three gifts, but each one is intentional and meaningful. This tradition allows us to read of the three wise men and their journey to the manger in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:1-12), and creates a tangible connection with the baby Jesus and your children through the gifts they receive and each gifts’ purpose.

  1. Frankincense: A gift for the body can be a shirt, shoes, perfume or something exercise related.
  2. Myrrh: A gift for the spirit might be a Bible, devotional, worship music, or might I suggest Adventures in Odyssey (disclosure, I was a producer for Adventures in Odyssey.)
  3. Gold: A gift of luxury. What’s the one thing your child wants; a doll, Legos, a dinosaur, a movie. This is the gift that fulfills their greatest want.

 

St. Nicking:
A fun event to do with a group of families on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, or by your family alone. First ask your church or a local shelter to find a family in need this Christmas. Be sure to ask the church or shelter for the names and ages of each family member. If possible find out clothing sizes (shirts, pants, shoes, etc), any specific interests (books, princesses, cars, penguins), and specific needs (winter hats, school shoes, Bible, or water heater.) Next invite everyone to your house for a St. Nicholas party. Assign one member from the family in need to each participating family. Next read the story of St. Nicholas aloud. We recommend The Legend of St. Nicholas: A Story of Christmas Giving. With family members assigned, a list of suggested items in hand, everyone heads out to shop. We suggest 1 to 1 ½ hours for shopping. When everyone arrives back the wrapping party begins. It’s a Christmas party too, so have everyone bring cookies to share. Now it’s time to deliver the gifts. The key to a successful St. Nicking is the anonymity of it just like St. Nick. We want our kids to understand that these gifts are given without receiving credit. That brings me to an important point, if you have the address of the family send one car to deliver the gifts to the front door. The key is to not be seen, so ring the door bell and leave before they answer. If you do not have the address, ask the church or shelter to deliver the presents to the family without revealing your identity.

From my family to yours Merry Christmas and we hope you’ll enjoy trying out these new ideas this season. Whether you do them all or just one, the key is to remember to focus your kids on the real meaning for Christmas; the birth of Jesus. We’d love to hear if you’ve incorporated any of your ideas into this Christmas season.

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Brock Eastman lives in Colorado with his wife, four kids, two cats, and leopard gecko. Brock is the author of The Quest for Truth series, the Sages of Darkness series, Showdown with the Shepherd in the Imagination Station series, and the novella Wasted Wood. He writes articles for FamilyFiction digital magazine and Clubhouse magazine. You may have seen him on the official Adventures in Odyssey podcast and on its Social Shout-Out. He was the first producer of and launched the Odyssey Adventure Club. Brock works for Compassion International, whose mission is to release kids from poverty worldwide. Brock enjoys getting letters and artwork from fans. You can keep track of what he is working on and connect with him at Website: http://brockeastman.com

Twitter: @bdeastman
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/eastmanbrock
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/FictionforAll/videos
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/brockeastman/

6 Christmas Traditions to Share with Your Kids

Tyndale Kids

No matter where you live you will most likely see Christmas items on display this time of year. Grocery stores, shopping malls, and books stores are eager to offer their Christmas products to ambitious shoppers. Since we are surrounded by reminders of Christmas, parents and grandparents can use these weeks to tell children about some of the symbols, legends, and traditions that surround our favorite holiday.


The Christmas Tree

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A story is told that the 16th century German preacher, Martin Luther, brought a Christmas tree into a house much like we do today. One night as he was walking in a forest, he saw stars shining through the tree branches. He was captured by its beauty and told his children this sight reminded him of Jesus who left the starry heavens to come to earth as our Savior. The lighted Christmas tree has become one of the most familiar symbols of Christmas.


The Candy Cane

candy-cane

The legend of the candy cane has been passed down through the ages. It tells the story of a candy maker who wanted to make a candy to represent the story of Jesus. The candy is shaped like a J for Jesus, but upside down it looks like a shepherd’s staff to remind us of Jesus our Shepherd. The red stripes remind us of the blood Jesus shed on the cross for our sins, and the white represents the purity of forgiveness. The origin of this legend is unknown, and it may be more fiction than fact, but it makes a great Sunday School lesson!


The Christmas Stocking

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The origin of the Christmas stocking dates back to the 3rd century when St. Nicholas, a Greek Bishop, wanted to share his wealth with the poor. He had heard about a widower with three daughters who was worried the girls would not be able to support themselves after he passed away. St. Nicholas wanted to help, but only in secret. The legend says that he tossed three bags of gold into their open window at night, and one bag landed in a stocking. This led to the custom of children hanging stockings on Christmas eve, hoping they would be filled by St. Nicholas.


The Angels

Angels are very much a part of the Christmas story. In Luke 1 we read that God sent the angel Gabriel to deliver a message to a young virgin named Mary. “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you. . . .you will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus” (NIV). The night Jesus was born, God sent an angel to announce his birth to some shepherds. Then a host of angels appeared in the sky praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests” Luke 2:14 (NIV).


The Manger

manger

Every nativity includes the baby Jesus lying in a manger. Luke 2:7 tells us that Mary wrapped him in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger. When the angel announced the Savior’s birth, he told the shepherds to go to Bethlehem where they would find him lying in a manger. The manger is where we find Jesus. The manger is not only a symbol of his birth, but also his humility. Jesus left his heavenly home and began his earthly life in a feeding trough for animals.


The Bethlehem Star

The Bible tells about a special star that shone the night Jesus was born. Some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him” Matthew 2:1-2 (NLT). These men who studied the stars and planets had seen an unusual star and knew a special King had been born in Israel. The star was a miraculous sign God placed in the sky to announce the birth of our Savior. It guided the wise men to Bethlehem and led them to the King.


The Christmas Story

The true Christmas story is found in the Gospel of Luke, and a few details are also given in Matthew. The story has been retold through the centuries by writers who want to share it with children in age-appropriate fashion.
978-1-4964-0195-3
My book, M is for Manger (Tyndale), tells the Christmas story in chronological order, helping young minds understand how and where Jesus was born. Bible verses are included on every page so readers will know where the events or prophecies can be found in Scripture. As children turn the pages and follow the letters of the alphabet, the events surrounding the birth of Jesus unfold before their eyes.


If God has placed children in your life, these stories and legends can help you share the message of Christmas with them—that God sent his only Son to be our Lord and Savior.


Crystal Bowman is a former preschool teacher, award-winning author, national speaker, and Mentor for MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers). She has written more than 100 books for children, three books for women, numerous magazine articles, and Bible study materials. She also writes stories for Clubhouse Jr. magazine and lyrics for children’s piano music.

She has written books for many popular children’s series, such as Little Blessings, BOZ the Bear, and I Can Read! She has co-authored Our Daily Bread for KidsMy Mama and Me, and M is for Manger with her daughter, Teri McKinley. She and her husband live in Florida.

To learn more about Crystal, head to her website, or find her on Facebook.