Tag Archives: family activities

Ice, Ice Baby (aka “Do You Want To Build A Snowman?”)-Free Printable

21 Feb

Vanilla IceYou are a child of the 80s if you know who this gentleman is. Oh, come on! You know you remember! He is famous for ONE song that has been my anthem this week.

“Ice, Ice, Baby. Alright stop, collaborate and listen…”

And…I could go MUCH further into the song lyrics, but I don’t want to embarrass myself  and give you any inkling of how much of the song I actually remember! Ha!

So, this week in good ol’ Music City USA we have enjoyed a week of being snow and ice. Therefore, the words of Ice, Ice Baby have been continually on my lips, and these poetic 80s words pretty much summarize the weather that we have enjoyed for the past week. (And…as a side note, my hat goes off to those of you who live in the Northern regions of the United States. Snow on the ground, all winter-this is your reality. Wow, just wow! You are my heroes, beloved.)

Because my children have NO IDEA who Vanilla Ice is AND because my singing invokes eye-rolling and “M-O-M!” I decided to identify with this younger generation and bust out a song that they can recognize and sing along with. Fast forward to 2015 and a winter-themed chorus that is known and loved by children everywhere, “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” (I am secretly laughing on the inside because can’t you just picture 25 years from now? This generation will have children of their own and their posterity will “eye roll” and gasp in horror when Frozen songs are jubilantly sung by their parents. What goes around comes around, right? But, I digress…) This musical masterpiece, thank you, Disney, has been more palatable for them when compared to Vanilla Ice, and I can’t imagine why! 🙂

So, if you’ve been frozen in all week and looking for a way to build a snowman without venturing out in the snow, or, if you need another winter-themed song to get “Ice, Ice Baby” out of your head, THIS, my friend is your lucky day!

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I drew this Olaf picture for use in my Classical Conversations class during Review Game time. (See below for how I used this in my CC class.) I scanned the drawing, and you can download it here to print and use at your casa. Your Frozen fanatics will have fun with this one, I hope! AND, it’s a great way to build a snowman while staying WARM! Download here: Olaf Printable. Here’s the final product!

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For those of you who are in Classical Conversations and are curious about how I used this as a Review Game, here’s what I did. 🙂 I printed and laminated two copies of Olaf. I divided my class into two teams, and each team was charged with building a snowman! For each question answered correctly, they got to add another snowman piece to their team’s Olaf. The kiddos seemed to really enjoy it!

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The Word Became Flesh: Lenten Advent Calendar

14 Feb

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I have written again and again and again about our wonderful Christmas Advent Calendars. Those advent calendars have become such a significant component of Christmas for our family. I longed for this same Scripture-rich, God-honoring, daily-reading family activity… for Easter.

Thankfully, 3 years ago, my dear friend, who first introduced me to the Advent Jesse Tree, wrote a book, The Word Became Flesh, which is a devotion used as an Easter Advent calendar during the 40 days or Lent. In addition to the daily devotions designed to use with your family, Faye, a gifted artist, has included hand drawn sketches that can be photocopied and used as “ornaments” much like the Advent Jesse Tree. We participated in an ornament swap and hang our ornaments on a grapevine wreath. This is a peek at what ours looks like.

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To read more about how The Word Became Flesh works and has impacted our family, read these two previous posts here and here. When I first wrote about The Word Became Flesh two years ago, Faye’s book had not been published and was, therefore, only available to purchase from Faye. Last year, Faye was able to get her book published (wahoo!!!), so you can now buy it from Amazon and have it arrive just in time to start next week on Ash Wednesday, February 18.

I can’t wait to hear how this book blesses your family and leads you to focus on Christ this Easter!

This post contains affiliate links. Please read my full disclosure policy here.

Valentine’s Day Tradition & FREE Printable

31 Jan

I LOVE Valentine’s Day! My birthday is a few days afterwards, so I have many fabulous memories around this time of year. As I became a mom, I wanted Valentine’s Day to be a special time to show my sons how much they are loved. Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be ooey-gooey-sappy love between boys and girls. It can also be a wonderful time to demonstrate love within our families!

These are two posts from the archives as we gear up for the LOVE month!

IMG_7791We have a Valentine’s Day Tradition–Valentine’s Day Stockings. I enjoy filling them with various things that remind me of my sons and husband. This year the boys will be getting some Usborne books that they’ve been eyeing (this, this, and this). Read the original post for instructions on how to make these. Seriously, I am NO seamstress, so if I can make them, anyone can!

I Corintians 13.4 to 7

I created this printable of from I Corinthians 13 for my Pre-K Sunday School class at church. They memorize verses 4-7, so I made this craft, which can be transformed into a mobile or garland for your mantle. I love having the TRUTH about love displayed during this month of LOVE! See the original post for the FREE download.

I LOVE my readers, so thanks for your kind and encouraging words! Thanks SO MUCH for  reading!

Friday Favorites: Christmas Cards=Prayer Cards

28 Nov

FRIDAY Favorites

I am excited to have a dear friend and mentor, Dr. Kimberly Thornbury, with a Guest Post today. I had the splendid pleasure of working with Kimberly while we were both at Union University. It was then that she introduced me, a newlywed at the time, to her family’s House of Prayer. At the time, I longed for the day that I could start this tradition with children of my own. If you are wondering what to do with the charming Christmas cards forthcoming in your mailbox once December 26 arrives, enjoy Kimberly’s tradition and incorporate it into your home during 2015.

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When my two daughters were very young, I wanted to teach them about the importance of prayer, and also help them understand more about family and friends they had not yet met. In 2004, shortly after Christmas, I took an old green Pampers wipes plastic bin, covered it with construction paper, and filled it with Christmas cards our family had received that holiday season. I stapled a 3 x 5 index card to each of the Christmas cards, and wrote down specific prayer requests related to that particular family or individual.

During meal times, our two daughters were very interested in the new ritual of pulling out a colored photo. We would pass around the photo and pray specifically for the person or family on the card. Often times, we would write updates on the back of the card. Although we didn’t pray for these people daily, we would pray for them regularly and most certainly consistently. Our prayers became less monotonous, more creative and more intentional.

Sometimes if we didn’t have a card on someone, the girls would take time to find a picture of someone in a magazine (for example the president of the United States) and create a card. Tragic situations, would often result in the girls writing words like “Haiti” on 3 x 5 card.

That little Pampers box looked like a tiny house, and it was also a symbol for the Thornbury family being characterized as a “house of prayer.” Over the years we have moved to a small cardboard “Amazon” box, but I am sure more “pinterest” moms would make something super cute out of wood.

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I have worked with college students for over 20 years. As I mentor college students throughout their tenure at the University, often times I will pray over the students I am mentoring through my house of prayer card system. You can imagine their delight, when I copy the back of the card a few weeks before their wedding day, reminding them of God’s answered promises to them. Biology tests were passed, boyfriends who were not God’s best for them faded away, they reached their goal of graduation, and will soon be married to their beloved.

Also, when someone is going through a particularly hard time (like a friend whose son was recently diagnosed with leukemia), we will find their card in the stack, update it, and pray for them right there on the spot.

When we have guests come over, the house of prayer is a way for us to explain the Gospel to others, and our belief in intercessory prayer.

I’m a fallen mom, and so thankful for God’s grace in my life. I am far from perfect, but this God-given idea has really worked for our little family, and been a tool to draw us closer to Him.

Dr. Kimberly Thornbury is the Vice President for Institutional Research and Strategic Planning at The King’s College in New York City. She can be reached at kthornbury@tkc.edu or on Twitter @kthornbury

Friday Favorites: Handprint “Thankful Tree”

24 Oct

FRIDAY Favorites

When I observe my calendar inching ever so close to November, I know that one of our family’s favorite traditions is right around the corner! Each November our family erects a tree in our kitchen. It’s not just any tree; it’s a tree filled with handprints from all 5 family members. During the month of November, we daily each add a handprint to our tree, and on each handprint is written something for which we are thankful.

Handprint Thanksgiving Tree

This short moment during breakfast or dinner seems microscopic when compared to the remaining 23 hours and 50 minutes in the day’s remainder. However, by intentionally pausing, even for only a few minutes, to reflect on God’s gracious, abundant, never ending blessings in our lives is refreshing, humbling, beautiful. I pray, too, that is memorable for my children. I pray that they will clearly see that “every good and perfect gift IS from above…” (James 1:17), that Mommy and Daddy, aka “the grown ups”, also, need the discipline of regularly, consistently coming before God to thank Him for all that He does for us.

No matter how you decide to celebrate Thanksgiving this year, find creative ways the entire month of November to cultivate thankfulness within your family. Hearing your children and family members articulate reasons of thankfulness is truly something for which you will be thankful this year and the years to come.

For details on how to create your own Handprint Thankful Tree, read this previous post.

 

 

Tour the Nina, Pinta, and (not the) Santa Maria!

13 Sep

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The Nina

For all of my CC friends, you are singing, “The Nina, the Pinta, The Santa Maria” in your head right now, aren’t you?!?! Several years ago, I had a friend tell me that she was driving all day to see the Nina in Chattanooga. I was confused. Did she not realize that Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492, and his ship had probably disintegrated into thin air after 500+ years? After further conversation, I learned from my friend Heidi that the Columbus Foundation  tours the waterways of the U.S. in life-size, fully-functioning replicas of the Nina and Pinta.

We were fortunate to see it last October while they were docked in Knoxville. We thoroughly enjoyed traipsing around both ships and listening to the tour provided by the knowledgeable crew. I have a greater understanding and increased respect for Columbus and crew who set out blindly on these ships back in 1492. I realized that I’m pretty wimpy! I don’t think that I would have signed up for this adventure. Ha! 🙂

Are you interested in visiting the Nina and Pinta (sniff, sniff! If only there was a replica of the Santa Maria!)? You’re in luck! Here is the 2014 Port Tour Schedule. Hopefully, it will be in your neck of the woods this year! If not, maybe 2015 will be the year for you!

Here are some pictures from our tour!

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 The crew slept on the deck. Again, I’m a wimp! I don’t think I would have signed up on this adventure with Captain Columbus. 🙂 What about you??

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I love maps! This was a map similar to what the crew would have used.

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Listening to our tour guide! These men and women were great fun! I asked them a million questions about what it was like to live and work on the boats. Many of them signed up to be a part of the crew for the sheer adventure.

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Boats are for climbing (duh!)

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Fighting off the “bad guys” trying to sink the Nina!

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I loved this picture because it gives you an idea of the magnitude of the ship’s size.

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How often do you see a ship like this sailing down the river?!?! I’m sure barges and tug boats do a “double take.”

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 A fun, memorable field trip!

Want to know more about what it would have been like on the Nina, Pinta or Santa Maria? Read Pedro’s Journal with your kiddos! We are reading it now and thoroughly enjoying it!

Usborne ONLINE Book Party: Favorites for Babies, Toddlers, & Preschoolers

26 Aug

You're Invited.Usborne PartyThanks for stopping by to read more about Usborne Books and my ONLINE Kick-Off Party! To celebrate being a NEW Independent Consultant for Usborne Books & More, I’m having an ONLINE party! How exciting to shop ’til you drop in your pajamas and without make up! If you’ve missed my previous posts in this series, view these to find why I started selling Usborne booksBook Recommendations for Boys, Book Recommendations for Girls, and Books for “Learning to Read” and Beginning Readers.

Some of my FAVORITE books that Usborne has are for the youngest learners. Here are recommendations for Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers:

Books for BabiesThere’s a Mouse About The House!–This is an interactive book with an accompanying “mouse.” The mouse goes through various slots in the book and in doing so goes about the house. Your kiddos will love putting the mouse through the hole and following his journey about the house!

Find the Duck–This is a classic of Usborne book lore. Many of their books have a hidden duck on each page. This board book allows your little one to search for the infamous Usborne duck. So fun!

Lullabies–This board book has an accompanying CD. Read the night time poems and lullabies and listen to the songs as well! Or, if you’re new to parenthood and want to learn some lullabies to sing to your kiddos, this is a great one!

Books for Toddlers

I have written about Farmyard Tales (YAY for an audio book!) You should also check out the Secrets of the Apple Tree. It is a “flashlight” book, which is amazingly unique! On each page, a question is asked of the child reading the book. To find the answer revealed, the child shines a flashlight on the back of the opposite page! I’ve never seen another book like this! LOVE IT! Or, if you prefer the beach, Secrets of the Seashore, is for you! This is another “shine-a-light” book involving seashore-themed exploration.

First Thousand Words–These little gems are available in a myriad of languages–English, French, Spanish, French, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Latin and Russian. These are fabulous picture books to use with toddler to teach him/her new vocabulary! So, grab your little one, let him/her plop down in your lap and enjoy some quality bonding time learning new things! The other amazing trait of these books is that each non-English version is internet-linked, so you can go online and hear a native speaker pronounce each word! (Latin is not included since it is no longer a spoken language.) That’s a fabulous “freebie” of these books! Isn’t that amazing?!!? Now you know why I love Usborne, don’t you?!?!?

Books for Preschoolers

You Choose–This is another unique book! Literally, you choose answers to questions as you work your way through the book. This book is designed for parent and child to talk through together. Your eyes will feast on colorful illustrations, and your heart and soul will delight in the dialog that you have with your child as you hear more of his/heart and thoughts.

Big Books–Usborne has an entire series of “Big Books.” Big Machines, Bugs, Animals, and Sea Creatures to name a few! Besides the fascinating content, each book has fold out pages to show the actual sizes of the book’s theme: machines, animals, bugs, or tractors! So, so fun!

Muddle And Match–I’m, also, currently in love with the Muddle and Match book. Of course, we have the boy version, but there is a girl version, too. The book is sliced into segments, “muddled,” if you will. Your child can then match the various segments and create a really funny boy or girl. You might end up with a knight-pirate-cowboy. The text you read to your child changes with the pictures, so there will be some silly, silly sentences created! Get ready to have a good ol’ belly laugh with your kiddo while you read this unique, one-of-a-kind book.

Remember…

August 2014 Customer Special

  • The GUEST SPECIAL as you shop! Download the flier here: CustomerSpecials: August 2014  or view it in the picture above. For my CC readers, the Human Body Sticker book is on the list for $5!!! For every $40 you spend, you can chose 3 books from this month’s list. Don’t you love a sale?!?!? Also, since this is an ONLINE party, you can take advantage of the Internet Specials, too.
  • Free Shipping when you spend $75! I will reimburse you via PayPal or will snail mail a check to cover your shipping costs with a retail order of $75. You will pay for the shipping with your order, and once it is processed, I will reimburse you.

 Happy Shopping! If you have any questions about a book or an order, let me know! suzanneshares AT gmail DOT com

 

 

 

Old Story New (Family Devotion) Kindle edition–currently $0.01

24 Apr

Our friends introduced us to Long Story Short: Ten-Minute Devotions to Draw Your Family to God a couple of years ago. We’ve heard nothing but great things about it! It’s on the “docket” for our family once we finish The Child’s Story Bible. I had heard a few months ago that there was a follow up to Long Story Short called Old Story New. My husband almost bought it for me two weeks ago at Together for the Gospel, but instead he bought me this (which is currently knocking my socks off!). The good news is that NOW I have both because the Kindle edition of Old Story New is currently $0.01! Yes, you read that correctly–ONE PENNY! I quickly snagged that and can’t wait to use it with our family!

Want to get this for your family but don’t have a Kindle? No problem! You can get the Kindle App to use with phones, tablets and computers. Don’t miss this great deal and fabulous resource for gathering your family around the Bible. 🙂

Easter Traditions Pep Talk

13 Apr

 

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Happy Palm Sunday! I’m reposting from last year’s Easter archives. Here’s the article from last year. It’s a pep talk to get you ready for being purposeful and celebrating Christ with your family this week. You can do it, and have fun!! 🙂

Praying that your family will have a wonderful week celebrating Christ’s death and resurrection. He is risen!

 

Friday Favorites: Favorite Places to find FREE Audio Books

11 Apr

FRIDAY Favorites

I’m wrapping up my last post about audio books today in my Friday Favorites series. In the previous 2 posts, I wrote about an apologetic for incorporating audio books into our children’s (and family’s!) lives and a laundry list of my boys’ favorite audio books divided into three age ranges: Preschool, Lower Elementary and Upper Elementary/Middle School. As promised, I am writing today about my favorite places to find FREE audio books.

Free Audio Book Resources

LibrivoxThis is an online resource that contains audio versions of public domain books. Anytime you see the phrase “public domain,” it is safe to assume that these books are old and the majority of them are in the Classics genre. Copyright stays with a book for a specific length of time, and once the said length of time has transpired the book becomes “public domain.”  Public domain books, therefore, can be used as you like. photo 1
On Librivox’s website you can search through-literally-hundreds of free audio books. Once your selection is made, you can simply listen (aka “live stream”) to the audio files via Librivox’s website or download the files to your computer or iTunes. Librivox’s website contains detailed, “how-to” instructions  for downloading the audio book files. Once downloaded onto your computer or iTunes, you can burn the audio book onto cds and enjoy in your car, or your child can use the CDs in his/her room at naptime/restime. By downloading to iTunes, you can use an MP3 player/iPod/iPad/iPhone to listen to the audio books. I especially enjoy having this audio book-on-my-iPod option for exercising. I listened to Stepping Heavenward (by Elizabeth Prentiss) thanks to Librivox, and it was great motivation for exercise. I only permitted myself to listen to the book while exercising. I was so enthralled and drawn in by the book that I easily made exercise a priority because I wanted to listen to the next chapter! 🙂

There is an expansive list of genres available on Librovox: Children’s Fiction, Historical Fiction, and Poetry,  just to name a few. Best of all–the books are FREE! (I love free!!!)

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Books Should Be FreeThis is another website similar in concept, access and functionality as Librivox. In fact, some of Books Should Be Free audio books are accessed via Librivox. There are a few distinctions to note on Books Should Be Free. This website makes available audio and eBook versions of books. If an eBook version of a book is available (Kindle, Nook, iBooks, .pdf) in addition to an audio book version, it will be indicated on the specific page dedicated to the book. If your kiddo enjoys following along in the Kindle version of the book while he/she listens to the audio book version, Books Should Be Free will be a tremendous resource for you! you can download both audio and eBook versions from the same page!

Another distinction with Books Should Be Free boasts itself as “a primarily visual browsing experience.” This evidences itself when perusing through their website. Instead of listing book titles in alphabetical order with pages of text, text, text to sort through, Books Should Be Free includes a photo of each book’s cover. The visual images of the books make navigating through their website simpler. Searching for a specific book becomes less of a wild-goose chase filled with frustration and more of an attainable goal with a happy ending.

Books Should Be Free mirrors Librivox in that you have the option to listen to the audio book online via live streaming or to download it to your computer, iTunes (including via Podcasts), or MP3 player.

Library–Don’t forget one of the most accessible places for FREE audio books is your local library. Our library’s children’s section has a vast expanse of audio books available for checkout. At any given moment, you’ll likely find 3 or 4 different audio books from our library in our home. All 3 of my boys (currently ages 8, 6, and 4) usually have about an hour of rest time each day in their rooms (and consequently, me, too! Woot!). The boys LOVE this time of day because 99.9 % of the time this one hour of rest includes an audio book! Another plus, thanks to audio books, is that they rarely complain about rest time; they’re eager to listen to the next chapters in their current audio book!

If your library has a limited, small, or non-existent audio book collection, don’t be discouraged! Talk to your librarian! You may have these options:

  • Audio Book downloads via your library’s website–With advances in technology, many libraries are expanding their online access for digital and audio versions of books. Through our library’s website, I can download audio books from my library’s collection to iTunes for a specified length of time.
  • Petition for audio books to be purchased–Most libraries add to their collection each year. If your library’s audio book section is less than ideal, communicate your desire to see their audio book collection expanded. Most libraries are eager to hear input from their patrons.
  • Make Interlibrary loan your BFF–Just hearing the words “interlibrary loan” (ILL) makes me think of my college library. ILL is a program allowing a library patron to borrow a book that is unavailable at his/her library from a partnering library. I was continually ILL-ing books during my undergrad and graduate years. I never thought of a local library having ILL; I had only associated it with college libraries. However, when my quest to find a classic, well-loved children’s book at our local library left me striking out, I mentioned this to the librarian, and she suggested using interlibrary loan. I gladly obliged. (As a note of encouragement to the previous bullet regarding suggesting books to your librarian, I noticed several months later that the book I borrowed via ILL had been ordered and added to our library!) Your librarian can assist you with the interlibrary loan process at your local library.

So, now that I’ve encouraged you to make audio book listening a part of your life and provided resources where they can be accessed for FREE, what will be your or your kiddos’ first/next audio book?!?!? If you have any suggestions to share with Suzanne Shares leaders, please comment and include them below!

Thanks for stopping by for today’s Friday Favorites!