First Grade and Preschool Curriculum 17/18

There are a few things my first grader is doing that my preschooler will not be joining in on because of ability. However, I like to keep the kids grouped as much as possible because it is a better use of time and it helps the days flow more smoothly. These are in addition to the Morning Basket time.

Math

The current plan is to use Life of Fred alternating with a few math activity boxes that we’ll rotate through. That could change depending on how these guys do with Life of Fred. Keep your eyes open for a post about those math activity boxes!

Literature

Our first term, we are studying Fairy Tales. We will be reading them daily and doing a couple activities a week based on a fairy tale from that week. We’re reading various tales from the following books:

Mary Engelbreit’s Nursery and Fairy Tales Collection (the illustrations in these are amazing)

Mary Engelbreit’s Mother Goose

Time Lord Fairy Tales

The Little Mermaid and Other Fairy Tales (Hans Christian Anderson)

Grimm’s Fairy Tales

A Treasury of Best Loved Fairy Tales (Barnes and Noble Bargain Books)

Phonics

For the first two terms, we’re doing Alpha Tales and Phonics Tales the first two and we’ll see where that gets us. I expect the preschooler to stick to Alpha Tales while his brother moves through Phonics Tales. We’ll also be adding in My ABC Bible Verses whenever it isn’t backordered anymore.

Science

This age really loves books about science. So, we’re doing science daily with them.

Kingfisher First Encyclopedia of Animals

Usborne First Encyclopedia of Science

Usborne First Encyclopedia of Seas and Oceans

Handbook of Nature Study

Critical Thinking

My first grader will be doing this one alone. He’ll be going through the Critical and Creative Thinking Activities grade 1 workbook. This is our first year using these, so we’ll see how he likes them.

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Morning Basket 17/18

I got the idea for a Morning Basket from some Charlotte Mason homeschoolers I came across. We have used similar methods, but this is the first year we are giving it an official name and an actual basket. Morning Basket work is so ideal for large families. We do a lot of our work together. For the younger kids, it provides exposure to more complex ideas and themes. For the older kids, it can be a great jumping off place for their more individualized studies. We already try to do as much together as we can, a one room school house sort of vibe. But the Morning Basket really makes it official and gives it a more organized place in our home and our day.

Our Morning Basket consists of 7 categories. It is mostly reading and discussing. Some people call this “Couch Time” since you’re not sitting at a table pouring over workbooks.

Prayer

Each morning we will begin with prayer. We have time throughout the day for spontaneous prayer, so during this morning prayer time, I wanted to focus on memorizing prayers. We will pray through each prayer daily for four weeks, then change to the next prayer. The prayers we are learning this year are:

The Lord’s Prayer

For Joy in God’s Creation from The Book of Common Prayer

For the Human Family from The Book of Common Prayer

John Wesley’s Prayer

St. Augustine’s Prayer

St. Patrick’s Prayer

St. John Vianney’s Prayer

St. Francis Prayer

John Wesley Covenant Prayer

Truth

This category includes our Bible Study, character reading, and manners study. Our older kids also do their own personal Bible study. And as a family, we also do family devotions. This morning basket Bible study is separate from both of those. During Term 1 and the beginning of Term 2, we are finishing our Herein Is Love: Genesis study. In Term 2, we are also doing The Talk. Term 3, we will be doing Herein Is Love: Exodus.

For our character study, we will be reading through 7 Men. Once we finish that in Term 3, we’ll be reading Fierce Convictions.

For manners, we’ll be reading through the book Modern Manners once a week.

Beauty

Beauty includes art and music. During Term 1 and 2, we will be doing a different hymn each week. Term 3, we will be using a more contemporary worship song each week. For Art, we are reading about one artist each week from 50 Artists You Should Know. Here is our list of hymns and worship songs for the main three terms (Advent has its own unique schedule.):

All Hail The Power of Jesus’ Name

What A Friend We Have In Jesus

This Is My Father’s World

Amazing Grace

Praise to the Lord, The Almighty

Lead On, O King Eternal

Jesus Paid It All

I Am Thine, O Lord, I Have Heard Thy Voice

For The Beauty of The Earth

Softly and Tenderly Jesus Is Calling

Praise Him! Praise Him!

Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

And Can It Be That I Should Gain

Trust and Obey

This So Sweet To Trust In Jesus

Be Thou My Vision

He Leadeth Me

How Firm A Foundation

I Must Tell Jesus

It Is Well With My Soul

Jesus Keep Me Near The Cross

Jesus Lover of My Soul

My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less

Savior Like A Shepherd Lead Us

Called Me Higher

Come Alive

Oh How I Need You

But For You Who Fear My Name

Lift Your Head Weary Sinner

The Cost

Up On A Mountain

Burn Like A Fire

In Christ Alone

Old Church Choir

I’ll Always Love You

I Heard the Sound of Voices

Goodness

Our literature selections that we are reading aloud together fall into this category, as well as our once a week poetry readings. For poetry, we’ll be reading a few poems from a Treasury of Selected Poems (Barnes and Noble Bargain Book) one day each week. We are also adding in Mad Libs Mondays just for fun. Our literature selections for the year:

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

At The Back of The North Wind

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

The Pilgrim’s Progress

Minn of the Mississippi

The Swiss Family Robinson

Memory Work

I like challenging my kids to memorize things. But I don’t want them memorizing useless things. This year, we’re focusing just on Bible verses. For the first two terms, I selected random verses, one verse each week, that I felt were worth memorizing. For the third term, we’ll focus on memorizing a verse from Proverbs each week.

History

This isn’t usually in a Morning Basket, but since it is something we do together, I added it here. The older kids have additional work to add to this, this is simply the portion we read aloud together.

I decided to redo Story of the World Volume 3 this year. We used it last year, but we did a really poor job of it. I was tempted to just move on, but there are so many interesting parts of this particular time period, including the American Revolution, that I felt deserved more time. Once a week, we will read one chapter of Story of the World 3. I do have a few weeks with 2 chapters in order to get all the book done this school year. In addition to that, we’ll also be reading the following our loud together:

The Landing of The Pilgrims

The Three Musketeers

The Jungle Book

George Vs. George

Can’t You Make Them Behave, King George?

If You Can Keep It

Little Things Make Big Differences

John Wesley: The World and His Parish (I would seriously love the entire collection of these Christian Heros books. I’m building a library of them.)

Frankenstein

The Mexican-American War

What Was the Gold Rush? (I would also love a collections of these “What Was” and “Who Was” books. They make it so easy for kids to read and understand.)

In addition to these, we’ll also continue our Godbold Academy Geography. The older ones have their own geography specific assignments, but we enjoyed learning about the spiritual needs of various countries and having the opportunity to pray for them. So we will continue choosing a country each week from Operation World.

Science

Again, not a usual Morning Basket inclusion. However, it is something we do together. The little ones have their own science stuff, but they loved watching the experiments last year, so we’ll continue with that. We are continuing with Berean Builder’s: Science in the Scientific Revolution. We’re doing about a lesson per week of that and then some additional Science reading out loud. The Berean Builders series is science chronologically by discoveries made. We chose this particular year because it goes along with our history timeline. It does include experiments, which my kids love. All the ones we have done have used simple household items and haven’t needed anything complex or weird.

It Couldn’t Just Happen

Always Inventing

Madam How and Lady Why

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*** Amazon usually has the cheapest price on classics. However, I love the look and feel of the Barnes and Noble hardback classics. If you go the Barnes and Noble route, be sure to take you declaration of intent or homeschool ID to the store and pick up an Educator’s Discount Card that will save you 20%! Though I also really like the look and feel of Puffin Classics. Even Puffin paperbacks just have a better font and page feel than some of the other publishers.***

**** You can get a lot of the classics in e-book format for very cheaply or even free in some cases. I’m just a book lover than prefers reading an actual book.****

2016-2017 Homeschool Curriculum Review

We haven’t yet moved into our next school year, but the planning for next year is coming along. This past year was our 7th homeschooling year. We had 4 official students and 1 who insisted on jumping into the fun with us. (Preschoolers do that from time to time. Sometimes they want to participate. Sometimes they don’t. Before age 6, we let them choose. Play time is learning time for that age, so I’m not comfortable pushing them toward rigorous studies just yet.) I figured I’d let you guys know what worked and what didn’t this school year. But I always like to give an update on what worked and what didn't, since my opinions may change by the time we get closer to the end.

Overall, we have used The Well Trained Mind throughout our schooling days. We’ve been a little more relaxed in the Grammar stage. Some of the suggested resources haven’t worked for us, so we have found alternatives that work.

I had two fifth graders this year, one third grader, one kindergartener, and one preschooler.

Math
We used Teaching Textbooks 5 and 3 for these guys this year. Teaching Textbooks has been the best math program for these guys. These two started with Singapore Math and then switched to Teaching Textbooks for fourth grade. We no longer buy the workbooks, because my kids only use the computer disc portion of the program. Each lesson is well explained, having them do practice problems as they go. If they don’t do well on a lesson, you can go in and delete the grade and let them try again. They get two tries at each problem, and the program explains how the answer is achieved. It gives immediate gratification, telling them if they are right or wrong on each problem before they move on. The kids do very well with this program. I have read some reviews that say the grade levels are off, but I have not found that to be the case. Each year starts off pretty easy, but builds back to more difficult concepts. So, a student may find it easy at first, but there is more challenge coming. My only issue with the program is the cardboard cases the CDs come in. I feel like for the price, they should come in some durable CD cases for long term use. I’ve had to move all our discs into a zippered CD case. That works, but for $99 a set (higher in the higher levels) they should come with something more durable than paper. The program keeps up with the grades and you can check them at any time. We don’t usually do grades, but since the kids were doing it all on their own, it helped me keep an eye on their progress.
We started the year with Essential Math K. He flew through it. It wasn’t a challenge for him at all. We switched to Life of Fred about halfway through the year. It introduced more complex topics and he liked the storytelling aspect. The preschooler joined us for these lessons, but will likely need to do them again.

Grammar
I signed the older two up for Wordly Wise Online through Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op. They didn’t like it. I didn’t like it. The program isn’t well laid out. It is very confusing and takes a lot of time per lesson. I also felt like they weren’t really learning much for the effort being put in. We stopped it mid-year and will not be picking it back up.
We also grabbed the new Writer’s In Residence program from Apologia. Each student needs their own book. And the books are hefty. While I like some of the content, overall, the program didn’t work well for us. For one, it isn’t well laid out. The grading rubric is confusing. Everything has to be graded, which is weird for us since we don’t really grade things. Some of the assignments were frivolous. Also, it got really messy. It is a huge workbook, so I expect all the work to be done in the book and fit in the book. But there were several times when things were cut out of the book (which annoys me greatly) or they had to paper clip extra pages into the book. I felt like they could have made it all work, but didn’t. If the kids are needing to use separate paper, I would have just liked it in textbook format with all the work being done on their own paper in a separate notebook. My kids did learn from the program, but it was far too parent intensive and far too convoluted. You will need at least one of the Teacher’s Guides. I won’t be continuing this program. Even if I wanted to, I can’t. They released Volume 1 of 4 last year but haven’t released Volume 2 yet. I have such mixed feelings on this program. Some of it is SO good. But then some of it is SO bad.

I kept my third grader signed up for Explode the Code online. I absolutely love that program. It has worked so unbelievably well for him. He enjoys it. It challenges him. He is finishing up the program now, so he won’t be using it next year. I’ll be looking at buying it again for our rising first grader, though.

History
Our history years aren’t lining up smoothly because we spent longer than a school year on Ancient history. We use Story of The World. This year, we started a history co-op with some other families in our church. That slowed us down considerably, so we didn’t finish a full year of history this year either. We finished up Story of The World 2 and then moved into Story of the World 3. We tried the audio version of Story of the World 2, but the kids hated it. They did not like listening to the CDs. So, we went back to me reading it to them from the book. When we started Story of The World 3, I added interactive notebooks. It would have worked well for just my kids, but in the co-op setting, it got a little hectic. We will be continuing Story of The World 3 next year, but these two will be moving into the Logic stage, so they will be adjusting how they do history. (Technically, the Logic Stage begins in 5th grade, but my kids needed an extra year of writing and grammar before they could really tackle outlines and summaries.)

Science
We found a really awesome Science curriculum that works alongside Story of The World so well. Berean Builders Science is chronological science, studied by scientist and discovery. That has made so much more sense to my kids and given them a better understanding of how we come to know what we know. I’ll admit, they watched a few too many documentaries that had distorted their view of science. Because each documentary presents everything as fact, not theory. Then the documentaries would contradict one another or come from an atheistic world view. My kids became super skeptical and I was having difficulty drawing them back into the subject. The Berean Science books have been perfect to hook them back in. We started using Science in the Scientific Revolution along with Story of the World 3. There are experiments to better understand the discoveries made. It has been awesome. The kids love it, they are actually engaged, and they better understand the scientific process and how new discoveries change the way we see the world.

Handwriting
I have never used a proper handwriting program. However, my kids really needed it. They were having a lot of trouble writing clearly enough to communicate their ideas. So, I opted for an actual handwriting book. I chose Patriotic Penmanship. I liked the selected quotes. I decided to keep my third grader in print writing because he was only 7 and he needed some reinforcement on the proper way to make letters. One of my fifth graders did introductory cursive and the other did her proper grade. The workbooks are great. I had them work on a two page spread, one lesson, each week. Day one they would just practice making a letter. Day two they would practice key words. Day three they would work on a full phrase or two. Day four they would write the entire quote. It didn’t take more than a few minutes each day and I simply asked for very hard work for those few minutes. All of them have improved their handwriting significantly with just a little work each day. I will definitely be ordering Patriotic Penmanship workbooks again this year. Each child needs their own workbook as they are consumable.

Bible
For our Bible study for the older kids, we used Herein Is Love: Genesis. This one has a lot more lessons in it than the Leviticus book. The kids really enjoyed it and I think they learned a lot. It does a great job of weaving the whole story into the beginning story.
For the Little Guys, we used the Jesus Calling Storybook. I was not as in love with this Storybook Bible as I was with the Jesus Storybook Bible. It has little notes from Jesus, but they are worded oddly and it makes it a little difficult to follow in a read aloud format. But the kids liked it and they did learn.

Geography
We used my Operation World geography plan. It went really well. It helped open my kids’ worldview and show them more than what is outside their front door. I was really happy with how it went and will continue it next year.

Kindergarten
I purchased Alpha Tales and Phonics Tales at Costco for the little guys. We did not get into the Phonics Tales. It will really be a toss up this year if we do that book or The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Reading. I’m not sure which will work better for these guys.
I also signed them up for ABCMouse.com mid year. They have loved it. They can use their tablets to play. I signed up for the assessments, as well, but found that portion pretty worthless.

Reading
I basically let the kids pick what they wanted to read this year instead of using the reading list from Well Trained Mind. Turned out, that was a mistake. Well, the kids really loved reading, but they essentially spent the year reading junk books. I did strongly suggest a few classics that they did read and enjoy. The third grader loved the Roald Dahl books we have and finished all the Magic Treehouse books we own, plus ventured over to the Imagination Station books. The fifth graders read Peter Pan and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. They also read some Judy Bloom. But they did read a bunch of Goosebumps books and other junk type books. Next year, I’ll separate the required reading and the fun reading a bit more.

I kept track of everything in a composition notebook that I used like a bullet journal for schooling. This helped the planning significantly. I’ll be doing the same again because it worked so well. Though I’ll likely opt for a real bullet journal this year. (I’ve been using a bullet journal for a class I am taking and another one for the upcoming 2018 year. I’m liking the customization so much more than a standard planner. I also have one that I’ve been using alongside my 2017 planner for notes and things. I do like having separate planners for each of those areas, since I feel like everything together just gets too cluttered.)

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Homeschool Student Planners

One thing I implemented this year in our homeschool that has helped tremendously is the use of personal planners for each child. Originally, I had planned for only the older three to use the planners, but my Kindergartener has begged to get in on the system, as well. So he has a modified version, as well. I will absolutely continue this because it has worked so beautifully in helping my kids be more independent and responsible for their own schooling.  


I fill them out on a week by week basis. I look at my calendar and decide how heavy of a work week they are going to have. For example, my daughter does Meals on Wheels with The Pastor every other Monday. She has light work loads those days to accommodate her volunteer activities. They also volunteer once a month at a local Children’s Home, so those that are helping with that will be given a slightly lighter work load that day, as well. I find that looking at only a week at a time lets me set very reasonable expectations and they are able to achieve what is planned out for them. Planning further in advance always leads to me over planning and then they feel like they failed when they just can’t get it all done. I want them to succeed, so I make every opportunity for them to do so.


For each day of the week, I write a checklist in their planner. Several of the items are group activities, several are independent activities. I have to guide them a little more when introducing a new curriculum, but once they get the hang of something, they can really take over themselves. We do Bible, history, Science, and geography as a group. I actually have two groups running in my house right now. I have the older grammar school kids and the Kindergarteners. My Kindergarteners do Bible, Reading, and Phonics together. They have very little independent work, so I plan for that. 

I use the weekend spots to write in a weekly checklist. Now, I have been doing chores here, but if we had more computers and I didn’t have to schedule out their computer time so much, I would add much of their daily work into a weekly list. I don’t necessarily care when it is done, as long as they are doing the work. A weekly list would allow for more flexibility for them, but is really impossible with our current computer situation. (I have 4 kids sharing 1 computer.) Right now, I add their chores onto that list with the boxes for the number of times I expect them to do that chore. The chores rotate based on the week’s schedule and the season. They also rotate depending on the attitude of the kid or what they have been doing lately. (Boys that keep having “accidents” on the floor around the toilet get the chore of cleaning the bathroom floors and toilets.)


I have also been keeping their attendance in their own planners. I simply highlight the days on the monthly view that they had school. Yes, this means that I am keeping up with it in multiple places, but it has given them a sense of accomplishment and they can look and see when they had a heavy month and when they had a light month. Next year, I plan to get better planners to be able to expand this system. Right now, I just have the small, cheap, student planners from WalMart, and while they serve our purposes, they are small and there is more I think I could do with this system. (Keeping a log of books to read or books read, keeping a log of people they write letters to with addresses, habit tracking for them, etc.) A bullet journal might work well, but I think the planner format is easier for them to understand. I’m using a bullet journal style for my oldest Kindergartener right now. The simplicity is working for him, but I don’t have much to put in for him.

I’m really glad I decided to give this a try. I wasn’t too sure at first it would be something worth sticking to. Filling out 4 planners at the beginning of each week doesn’t sound like an easy task. But it really doesn’t take too much time. Just half an hour or so each Sunday looking at the week and plugging in their lists. And the time I save in their being independent is so much more. Emery (7) quickly saw how he could check off all his independent work before we even started school in the morning. He is routinely done with school before noon. Imogene (10) dawdles more and as a result, she is usually “doing school” until 4 or 5. She doesn’t complain about it, she can see what she needs to do. She just prefers a relaxed paced and is okay with it taking longer. And in the end, both of those approaches are fine. They are both learning and progressing and getting their work done. And they are happier having the freedom to do things their way in their time.

Explode The Code Online- A Review

emery 2

This is Emery. He is a spirited little guy. He is very persistent. He is extremely passionate. He is very driven. He is a self-started. He is also not a fan of being told what to do. He dislikes workbooks. He has some super awesome qualities, but because of his independent and quite exuberant personality, he can be a challenge to teach.

Last year, we tried the Explode the Code workbooks. They were not a great fit. Emery and I butted heads for a month or two at the beginning of the school year, and then I just decided we’d wait a year for Kindergarten. Then something awesome happened. Emery decided he’d be his own Kindergarten teacher. He taught himself all his letters and letter sounds. He taught himself to count and do basic math. By the end of the year, he was reading. All without my involvement. The kid is driven. So, this year, it was time for first grade, since he mastered Kindy all by himself. I knew I needed something different. Then I saw it- Explode the Code Online!

It covers reading and spelling all in one online program. You pay per year and they progress through at their own pace. Each lesson awards them a badge. They get bees when they don’t do so well, ladybugs when they need a little work, butterflies when they do well, and paper airplanes when they do excellent work. I can log into my parent portal and see how Emery is progressing. It tells me how much time each lesson took. It tells me what areas need improvement. He is absolutely thriving on this program. He can do it completely without me and he loves that. He is proud of his badges and is progressing through first grade quickly. He may start tackling second grade material soon!

Now, some kids, you could help them in areas they struggle. Not so with Emery. What I usually do is leave books with the tricky words for him on the top of the book piles and highly visible for him so when he runs to grab a book to read, he will hopefully grab the book that will help him with his lacking skill. (Like bl- combination words or whatever it is that week.) I really could not have asked for a better reading program for this kid.

They do say you can use it on your tablet, but I have not tried. Emery sits at the computer in our kitchen to do his reading work.

Back To School Planning

education quote

We’re entering the fast paced beginning of the school year time. Homeschoolers, public schoolers, private schoolers, hybrid schoolers- whatever we are, we’re getting ready for the next year. The next year when we can make a difference in our kids’ lives. Will this be the year they find that thing that sparks them? Will this be the year they develop a love for reading, or writing, or math, or running marathons? The beginning of the school year always comes with such high expectations. And then wait, come April, we’ll just be hoping we didn’t mess them up too much this year.

I’m a homeschool mom. Our year here won’t start until September. In fact, we’re finishing up our last school year still. Testing has to be done this year. But the planning for next year is beginning. And I know I’ll overplan. I’ll want to do too much. There are just so many beautiful and awesome things in the world and I want to give all of them to my kids. I want them to be able to write all the wonderful thoughts that come into their heads. I want them to read ALL the books. I want them to see, love, and create art. I want them to see how the world works and watch it amaze them. I want them to hear the stories of our past as humankind and hear their take on things. I want them to learn languages to expand their horizons and not limit them to what is written or spoken in English only. I want to teach them to play ALL the instruments. I want them to understand mathematic concepts so they can create, understand, and develop the world around them. I want them to learn liturgy, theology, apologetics, and more about our Lord. And it is all so much.

But then I remember that I am still learning. They have their whole lives to explore this world. They have their whole lives to read. I’m still reading, writing, learning. I’m still creating, listening, exploring. And hopefully they will be too, when they are my age. I have to remember that I am teaching them how to do these things- how to learn, how to explore. And I’ll enjoy the wonder as they go along.

I’ll still overplan. I’ll try to be flexible. I’ll try not to be hard on myself come April when everything just didn’t pan out the way I wanted it to. I’ll still want to show them the whole world all at once and tell them what a beautiful place it is- to look for light in the darkness or better yet, be the light in the darkness. The weight of the task will still be heavy. But I’ll try not to be overwhelmed. I’ll try to let the weight inspire me. I’ll slow down enough to enjoy this time in their lives when the wonder comes naturally.

Fruit of The Spirit Family Devotional: Week Five: Kindness

fruit of the spirit verse

 

Read Galations 5:22-23 at least once during the week. Read it daily if you’d like! We’re wanting the kids to memorize The Fruit of The Spirit.

kindness weekly verse

Proverbs 21:21 is the memory verse this week. Read the memory verse at the beginning of each devotional time. The goal is to have each member of your family memorize this verse to the best of their ability this week. I also use the weekly memory verse in our handwriting lessons. You can print out the image above or make your own- just try to get the written verse up on your wall this week. (Image is sized to print 5×7.)

Day One: Recalling Kindness

Do you remember a time someone was particularly kind to you? Go ahead and take turns sharing those stories now. Those memories of kindness usually stick with us for a long time. People remember the kindness you show them. You remember the kindness shown to you. When you share your toys, that person you shared with remembers and will share their toys in the future, offering the same kindness to someone else. Mother Teresa said, “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”

Activity: We like to play the “3 Nice Things” game in our house. We pick a person, and we go around the table, each saying 3 kind things about that person. The little ones beam with pride and love as they are edified and the grown people often have their hearts melt at the sweet things the little people say. This is a good activity not just for today, but for any day in your family. Sometimes when the littles are having a hard time getting along, we’ll play the “3 Nice Things” game and bring the smiles and full hearts back.

Day Two: Mephibosheth

Read 2 Samuel 9. This is the story of King David and Mephibosheth. Mephibosheth is the son of David’s friend, Jonathan. Usually, when a new king took over, the old king’s family was killed. (Less uprisings, you know?) But David, who loved his friend Jonathan, did not seek to destroy Saul’s family. (Jonathan is Saul’s son.) Instead, David begins searching for members of Saul’s family to show kindness to. Mephibosheth, I’m sure, was frightened at the king’s request to see him. I’m sure he was expecting David to kill him. But David was planning no such thing. David showed great kindness to Mephibosheth. He gave Mephibosheth land and gave him an unlimited dining pass at the king’s table. David treated Mephibosheth like he was of his own family. Mephibosheth was granted the life of a prince!

“Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.” – Henry James

Activity: Coloring Page

Day Three: Smiling’s My Favorite!

“I just like to smile. Smiling’s my favorite!”- Buddy the Elf. Smile. Do it. Smile. Isn’t it nice to have someone smile at you? (Oh! And aren’t baby smiles the best?!) It doesn’t take much effort to smile, does it? But that one little thing can really impact someone else’s day. There are days when you are in a bad mood and someone just smiles at you and your day gets a little brighter. Brighten someone else’s day and smile. Mother Teresa said, “Everytime you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.”

Activity: Making smiles! Grab some paper bags, construction paper, glue, googly eyes, glitter, markers, etc. and get to work making smiling paper bag puppets! Make the smiles as big and goofy as possible! (You can also print some smiling mouths off the computer and add them to your puppet.)

Day Four: Leave People Better

“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.” – Mother Teresa

There are no neutral interactions. Your interactions with people will either leave them better or worse. What kind of things would make someone better and happier? (Take a moment to name things and talk about kind interactions.) Let’s focus on showing others the kindness of God. What is the kindness of God? (Take a moment to answer. Grab a pad of paper and compile a list. List your blessings.) God has shown us great kindness, kindness we don’t deserve. And that makes us better. Let’s take that kindness and show it to others.

Activity: Be Kind Grapevine! Play the game Grapevine (or Telephone). Pick a beginning person, and an end person. The beginning person says something kind about the end person to the person next to him, who turns and shares with the next person, who turns and shares with the next person, until the message (or something like it) end up with the end person.

Alternate Activity: Be Kind Tag On Game- pick a person you’re going to say kind things about. Now, take turns saying something kind. But each new person has to say the kind things from the previous people and add their own. Keep going as long as possible! (Example: Mom says, “Emery is a good friend.” Aidan then says, “Emery is a good friend. Emery is good at building Legos.” Imogene then says, “Emery is a good friend. Emery is good at building Legos. I like to hear Emery tell stories.” Etc.)

Day 5: Good Samaritan

Read Luke 10: 30-35 (if you want the whole context, read verses 25-37). Who showed the robbed, beaten man kindness? Of all the men he encountered that day, which man do you suppose the beaten man will remember the most? I read a quote once, no clue who to credit, that said, “An act of kindness can cause ripples of healing.” And in the story of the Good Samaritan, this is certainly true. The beaten man would have likely been very angry, had no one stopped to help him. (That is, if he lived at all.) But because one man stopped and showed him kindness, he will, instead, marvel at the kindness of a stranger, instead of the wickedness of the robbers. Kindness has a lot of power, doesn’t it?

Activity: Think & Pray. How can you show more kindness to others? Pray for God to send you opportunities to be kind, and to give you the wisdom to both see and take advantage of those opportunities.

Alternate Activity: (Or Bonus Activity) Coloring Page.

Don’t forget you’re memory verse! Did you learn it? Share!