Keeping some structure to your summer (and your sanity intact!)

Summer vacation is here!!! Well for this homeschool crew, anyway. To the rest of you who might have a couple weeks to go–hang in there! Or maybe I should say, savor the last couple weeks that your kids aren’t “BOOORRRREEEEDDDDD!!!” ūüėČ

No joke, I didn’t have the “summer system” I’m about to describe ready for our first week of summer vacation, and boy, oh boy, do I wish I had! While you’re in the midst of the craziness of a school schedule, starting each day in a relaxed mode and enjoying some morning cartoons on “Boomerang” (Hello, Looney Tunes and Tom & Jerry–you bring back so many memories!) may sound like paradise, but let me tell you–after just 2 days of so-called “relaxation”, I was pulling my hair out. No schedule or structure=no sanity around here. And starting each day off with “screen time” is a recipe for disaster (or at least a pastime best kept for Saturday mornings only). The bickering, the whining, the boredom… I just couldn’t take it. It didn’t help that the weather hasn’t been great (today, Thursday, is the first sunny and warm day all week). Time to whip our summer into shape and help me remember that I do actually love my children. ūüėČ

I used to be a public school teacher and now as a homeschool mom, I was very surprised that on our last day of school, I was just as elated to be done as I used to be on the last day of public school. Homeschooling, when done well, is no joke. It’s a lot of work and it’s a lot of heart work, because you’re teaching your own children. It’s exhausting. But the reward is great. And summer vacation often can’t come soon enough! But summer is more than just hanging out, going to the playground, park, or beach. While summer vacation is a great time to enjoy time with our families and children (especially if your kids go to public or private school) it is also a crucial time to continue training them. During the school year, we’re so focused on academics and distracted by our busy extra curricular schedules, that it’s hard to establish a good chore routine or spend the time it takes to work on our character building. These things are so important and take dedication, especially at the start, so summer is a great time to work on them.

We are using We Choose Virtues, a Christian character-training guide (not just for homeschool families!) for our character work. You can read more about how we’re implementing that in my last post. But it’s also important to get the kids into the habit of helping out around the house and doing chores. It can be so easy, especially when busy, to just do it yourself–let’s face it, the cleaning goes faster and comes out better that way–but it’s important to start teaching our kids the value of taking care of themselves and our home early. This takes a lot of work from the parent at first, which is why it can be hard to dive into it during the school year. And let’s not forget the importance of keeping up with our academic skills during the summer so we don’t lose our reading knowledge or math facts while on break. And if at all possible, I would like to avoid hearing “I’m BORED” on a regular basis this summer. (Okay, maybe it’s not possible, but I have hope.)

So I set out creating activity bins and charts. Oh, the internet can be such a useful resource for ideas! ūüėČ We have an outdoor bin of “boredom buster” that’s filled with some traditional outdoor toys and some not-so-traditional outdoor toys. (Letting kids play with play dough outside gives them a thrill and helps gets rid of the indoor mess!) Our outdoor bin is filled with bug nets, Play-Doh, multiple kinds of chalk, bean bags, chalk paint, jump ropes, paddle balls, tether balls, and bubbles–all of which can be purchased at the dollar store and are easy and cheap to replenish as the summer goes on.

Then we have our indoor activity bins–one for Abby and one for Noah. These focus a little more on academics, but are still unstructured. Abby (going into first grade) has a folder with math worksheets and some journal-prompting sheets, dry-erase math games (from her centers this past year), flash cards for sight words, flash cards for math facts, ¬†learning sign language cards, leveled readers, dry-erase activity cards (from Usborne books–also great for long car rides!), a dry-erase board and marker, and silly putty. Noah’s activity bin also has silly putty, a dry-erase board and marker, dry-erase activity cards, his salt tray for forming letters, alphabet and number cards, and Ninja turtle memory game cards.

Based on some helpful ideas from the internet, I set up a summer schedule which has the kids doing their chores, playing outside, practicing their memory verse (from We Choose Virtues), choosing an activity from their bin, and many other things, daily. Check it out! You can download it and adjust it to fit your family’s needs, too! I’ll post the link to our chore chart, as well, so you can see what kinds of chores we’ve included. Our kids are 5 and 4, so we have nothing major, and these aren’t chores we will pay them an allowance to do. We also don’t count basic things like making the bed as “chores”–those are just part of taking care of ourselves and our things. Our chores are helping with the kitchen and dishes, etc, and we do them because we’re a part of the family.

2017 Summer Schedule

2017 Chore Chart

I hope these ideas help you bust through summer boredom or at least establish a working family routine this summer if you’re in need of one! Happy vacation!

Is there TIME for that?

Can I just say, I LOVE our homeschool curriculum! It’s seriously awesome. There are many things to love about a curriculum, but one thing I’m thankful for today is the amount of time that’s allotted for free exploration, and fun, hands-on activities. This curriculum does a great job making room for “margin space” in homeschool life. I’m in a moms’ Bible study and last night we were talking about how much margin we leave in our lives for the unexpected, or the “fun” stuff that can present itself when we’re not prepared for it. Are we expecting the unexpected? Are we leaving enough margin in our daily schedules to allow for hiccups, or for playing with our kids even when we have other things to do? Do we have enough margin for things to take longer than expected and not get upset over it? These are questions we had to ask ourselves. It’s a struggle for me, sometimes. I’m a planner, but I’m working hard to not be an over-planner. I’m learning the value in saying “no” and leaving enough margin in my schedule. Although I typically start my day with some sort of plan for how it will go, I’m now asking God daily to give me the grace to accept and embrace the changes that come–the ones I haven’t planned for.

I’m the type of mom who searches for ways to make learning fun and to incorporate all the senses when possible. I love doing crafts, experimenting in the kitchen, and enjoying our tasty experiments! I love exploring outside when we can. So I love that our curriculum includes an “exploration day” every week (also helpful when the week doesn’t go quite as planned–there’s a cushion day). And I love that it schedules in fun, interesting, hands-on activities throughout the week that go with what we’re learning (like having a family Sabbath celebration, or measuring Noah’s ark in cubits, or using clay and toothpicks to build our own “Tower of Babel”). I like that I don’t have to come up with all the fun and interesting stuff as “add-ins” because they’ve already included a bunch¬†for me!

IMG_20170427_121427722So today, after a week of beginning to learn to tell time, we made a clock pizza! And it was scheduled right into our curriculum. I happen to have a fruit pizza recipe that is better than the suggestion given (which used actual pizza crust, whereas mine uses a sugar cookie crust–yum!) so I used that and we made an educational and delightful treat! Nice to have the time to do these things together. ūüôā Doesn’t mean the whole day was perfect or that on other days, we don’t get to the fun part that I’m looking forward to, but today was a gift. And no matter what comes, planned or unplanned, tomorrow will be, too.

*The curriculum we use is My Father’s World. I fell in love with it at a homeschool convention 2 years ago. I wouldn’t be so bold to say it’s a perfect curriculum, but it’s perfect for us, right now. You can check it out here: mfwbooks.com

IMG_20170427_121029268This FRUIT PIZZA is a great dessert for any spring/summer gathering and is SUPER easy to make. Even a pretty nauseous pregnant lady with 3 little kids running around can whip it up in no time.

IMG_20170427_121232446I use Pillsbury sugar cookie dough for the crust. They come in squares, now, so I lay them all out on a greased pizza stone and then roll them together using powdered sugar instead of flour to prevent sticking. Then I bake according to the package instructions, but usually have to add a few more minutes since we’re making one giant cookie, here!

For the “sauce”: ¬†– 8 oz cream cheese (softened), 1 TB vanilla, 1 TB milk, 2 TB apricot preserves, 1/2 cup confectioners sugar, drizzle of honey. Whip together with a hand mixer until smooth.

Spread the “sauce” over the cooled cookie, and then decorate with fruit! Today I used blueberries, sliced strawberries, and sliced kiwis. Sometimes I add grapes. Blueberries made great numbers for our clock. What a fun snack for all of us!

IMG_1342

 

Recalculating…

There is a lot of adapting involved in parenting. ¬†Before you become a parent, you probably have an idea of what kind of parent you’ll be like and how your kids will behave. ¬†Then you start having kids and… well, it usually doesn’t look exactly how you pictured it. ¬†Things arise that you never could’ve predicted and so you adapt. ¬†You try one discipline technique and it doesn’t work, so you adapt. ¬†Methods that your oldest child responded well to don’t have nearly the same effect on your second child, so you adapt. ¬†If you’re a parent who has never had to reevaluate or change direction with something, you’re probably not doing something right. ¬†Or you’re just not receptive to what’s not working. ¬†Or you’re the perfect parent. ¬†But I’m convinced that doesn’t exist, so… ūüėČ

This same thinking is applied for teachers in the classroom. ¬†When something isn’t “clicking” for a student, the (good) teacher will try to find another method that will make the material accessible and easily understood.

As a homeschool mom, there’s a combination of both these mentalities that can sometimes be overwhelming. ¬†When we have a bad day of school, we wonder if we need to change our parenting style or our teaching style. ¬†As daunting as it can be, it’s important to keep assessing so we can meet our goals. ¬†I don’t know anyone who made the decision to homeschool on a whim. ¬†Usually it comes with lots of thought, research, discussion, and for the Christian families, prayer. ¬†With something so important at stake, of course we want to do our best.

Recently I was met with a decision that made me turn and look at the way I’m “teaching”¬†my preschooler, Noah, and if I’m really tailoring my teaching style and preschool activities to his needs right now. ¬†(He’s a little behind in his speech, so that’s something I want to work on with him. ¬†Now, when I say “teaching”, I do mean very light, fun activities. ¬†One thing that I love about homeschool is that kids can still have plenty of time to be kids.) ¬†After a lot of prayer and discussion with my husband and close homeschool mom friends, I decided I needed to remember why we decided to homeschool in the first place, stay the course, but just recalculate a bit and change what I do with him¬†right now. ¬†I’ve had to do this with Abby in the past and I strongly suspect I’ll continue to do it year after year with all my kids. ¬†When you come face to face with a time for recalculating your parenting or your teaching style with your kids, here are some important things to remember:

  1. Cover the situation in prayer.  Cover your child in prayer and ask for wisdom to know what to do.
  2. Remember WHY you’re on the path that you’re on. ¬†My husband and I have specific goals for our family and our children which is why we decided to homeschool for now. ¬†I think it’s important to have “umbrella goals” or a family mission statement that won’t change over time. ¬†But you may have smaller, more specific goals that will change as your kids grow up. ¬†For us, homeschooling may not always be tied to our umbrella goals, but right now it’s a big part of how we’re meeting those goals and it’s definitely tied to our smaller goals for our young kids. ¬†It may be helpful to have these goals written down somewhere.
  3. Realize that change takes time. ¬†So you tried something once and it didn’t work out the way you envisioned. ¬†It doesn’t mean you have to change it right away, your child may just need an adjustment period. ¬†But if you keep doing the same thing without desired results, then it might be time to reassess.
  4. Recalculating doesn’t make you a failure! ¬†It makes you a better parent/teacher for recognizing the need for change and following through!
  5. Age matters. ¬†Maturity matters. ¬†Sometimes, my best plan of action was none at all. ¬†Simply because my child was too young or immature to “get it” at that time. ¬†So, we just took a break. ¬†After a month or two of not doing a certain activity, what used to be met with tears and anxiety was suddenly met with confidence and determination upon reintroduction. ¬†And I never even had to change my teaching method! ¬†She just needed a little time to grow and mature.
  6. The best route is not always the fastest route, and it’s definitely not the same for everyone! ¬†Stop comparing every little detail of your situation to another’s. ¬†Sure, there are basic, age appropriate benchmarks to be aware of, but not every kid moves at the same pace. ¬†And the beauty of homeschooling is that you can tailor your child’s education so that it suits their needs, and they don’t always feel like they have to learn like everyone else (by “keeping up” in the classroom).

As we are about half way through the school year (depending on what kind of schedule you follow), now is a good time to reassess where you are in your homeschool year. ¬†Is your child understanding everything? ¬†Are you on target, or where you wanted to be by this time of year? ¬†If not, what needs to change? ¬†Sometimes it’s our expectations that need to change, but other times, we do need to recalculate so we can still make it to our destination even if we have to go about it a different way.

New Adventures in Food and Homeschool

It’s been a week since I started my second round of the Whole30 and to be honest, it’s been great this time around. ¬†Last time, I remember thinking, “It’s only 30 days, I can get by on mostly salad for that amount of time.” ¬†That’s part of what contributed to me having a hard time with it. ¬†Trying to get by on salad and smoothies for days on end (salads that can only be dressed with oil and vinegar, by the way, since your favorite dressing from the store actually contains sugar) is not ideal, especially for someone who’s used to eating a wide variety of flavorful foods! ¬†So this time, not only have I been researching and making more unique and delicious dinners, I’ve been getting creative with breakfasts and even finding snack foods that are Whole30 compliant. ¬†It’s a lot of work! ¬†But it’s been fun, and worth it. ¬†I’m totally in love with these mocha energy balls I made over the weekend and I already made a second batch to get me through this week! ¬†I was also struck yesterday as I did my grocery shopping (once in a while it’s nice to actually go to the store and shop rather than use the to-go services, especially if I only have one child with me–that was a treat!) at just how many aisles and sections of the store I skipped because I’m on the Whole30 and only buying whole foods (mostly–I still have 4 other people in the house to feed, and they still like their dairy and grains). ¬†It wasn’t the first time I thought about what’s in our food at the grocery store, but it definitely made me think about it more.

Here’s just some of the delicious food I’ve enjoyed this past week. ¬†Hover over the picture to see the description…

In homeschool news, I introduced new centers this week (as I plan to every Friday). ¬†This week we were in tight quarters as we’re in the process of swapping out our living room entertainment center, but we made do. ¬†So far, the kids LOVE these as a general idea. ¬†They look forward to “center day” and it really has worked at keeping them occupied during regular school hours¬†when I need one-on-one time with one of them. ¬†I’ve started keeping a log of my ideas and it helps to plan ahead. ¬†I think I have the next few weeks planned now, but I still have to do the prep work, which can be time consuming. ¬†So glad I finally¬†have a new¬†laminator¬†($20 on amazon, thank you very much)! ¬†It helps to know that the work I’m doing now can be used for siblings in the future by keeping it laminated and protected! ¬†If you’re interested in this week’s centers, take a look:

Final Fruits: Gentleness & Self-Control

I’ve had so much on my heart and mind this week. ¬†I feel like I have at least 5 topics to write about but everything in me (well, the organizes, control-freak in me) says I NEED to finish writing about the fruit of the Spirit, first! ¬†So here we go!

We finished the fruit of the Spirit with gentleness and self-control.  And now Abby can recite the verses which is awesome! (See link at the end of this post.)

Gentleness is an interesting topic to try to discuss with children. ¬†Because we have a baby in the house, they know exactly what it means to be gentle with their¬†bodies. ¬†They can demonstrate a gentle touch versus a rough one, no problem! ¬†But applying that to their¬†hearts can be a tricky concept for young minds. ¬†I’ve said it before, kids only understand what they understand–it’s futile to try to get them to comprehend something that’s above their mental maturity level. ¬†That’s why I love the verse we used for gentleness–it’s perfect for Abby, my little girly girl. ¬†1 Peter 3:3-4 says: “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” ¬†Abby loves all things jewelry and make-up. ¬†I explained to her that while those things are fine, they shouldn’t be the only thing that make us “beautiful” and that God wants us to have a gentle and quiet spirit (something I struggle with, myself). ¬†This means not getting angry easily, not outbursting over little things. ¬†This is so hard to do! ¬†And we can’t be this way all the time on our own, that’s why we need the Holy Spirit in our lives. ¬†So to help us remember to not outburst when we’re angry, we made stress balls in the shapes of grapes, our representational fruit! (Okay, you have to use your imagination a little.)

They came out pretty cute and the kids enjoyed them for about 5 minutes. ¬†Then Noah bit his and got a mouthful of flour which was unpleasant (but yay for natural consequences) and Abby’s has disappeared. But planting seeds, I’m just planting seeds. ¬†I’m sure in our homeschooling adventures we’ll revisit the fruit of the Spirit and I hope they remember some of these activities which will help the meaning of the verse stick. ūüôā

So, self-control. ¬†This is probably the biggest reason I even wanted to do a unit on the fruit of the Spirit! ¬†Like most 5 year old girls, we struggle with controlling our emotions around here. ¬†And like most 3 year old boys, we also struggle with controlling our bodies (especially when we’re angry). ¬†And unfortunately, this fruit sort of fell flat. ¬†Maybe I should’ve started with it since it was one I wanted to emphasize the most, but I think because we saved it until the end, we were just a little “over” the unit. ¬†The verse we used was 2 Timothy 1:7: “God didn’t give us a spirit that makes us weak and fearful. He gave us a spirit that gives us power and love. It helps us control ourselves.” ¬†I love this verse because it culminates our unit, in a way. ¬†It talks about the Spirit of God helping us to control ourselves, just like it gives us all the other attributes we learned¬†about throughout the unit! ¬†We talked about some of the actions we need to control about ourselves and I also thought it was a good opportunity to talk about impulse control and “wanting” so many toys/things and being envious of others. ¬†I meant to watch the Veggie Tales movie “Madame Blueberry” and talk about how she had to learn to control her spending, but we never did. ¬†Strawberry was our fruit for self-control and I made strawberry smoothies¬†to go with dinner that night! ¬†To wrap up our unit, I started making some homemade play dough which is scented like different fruits. ¬†I’ve only made 2 so far, but we have all winter! ¬†They’re super easy, fun, and smell great!

Here’s the recipe…

In a saucepan over medium heat, mix:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 TB salt
  • 2 TB cream of tartar
  • 2 TB vegetable oil
  • 3 oz pack of Jell-O

Once the mixture comes together, dump it out of the saucepan and knead with extra flour until it forms workable “play” dough! ¬†So easy! ¬†(A little messy, but fun!)

I’m glad we did this unit. ¬†I do hope the activities will be remembered and referenced as Randy and I continue to educate our children. ¬†Now, I think it’s time to focus on just our schoolwork without adding “extra” supplements for a little while. ¬†It’s fun, but it’s a lot of work! ¬†Maybe these posts gave you some ideas of things to do with your own children to help impress God’s Word on their hearts… ūüôā

img_20161216_094341481Here’s Abby reciting the fruits of the Spirit:

Fruit of the Spirit video

 

Embracing the Eternal Season in the Midst of the Temporary One

Things have been a bit crazy around the Dattolo household for the past few weeks. ¬†I am tired. ¬†And Randy is tired. ¬†Our kids are even tired, as they’ve been falling asleep almost immediately upon hitting their pillows each night (normally they’re up in their room until between 8:00-9:00). ¬†And I’ve been putting them to bed EARLY!!! ¬†I can’t honestly think of anything specific that we’ve done lately that would tire them out so much, other than that maybe playing outside in the cold might make one more tired than playing outside in comfortable weather? ¬†Or perhaps the sheer tiredness of both their parents has actually worn off on them. ¬†I think we parents affect our kids in more ways than we can ever really understand. Anyway, I’m so tired that even the 2 cups of fully caffeinated coffee I had this afternoon (brewed “richly” by my new Ninja Coffee Bar!–I promise, I’ll write some kind of “ode” to it at a later date–it’s amazing) cannot help keep me awake. ¬†Just glancing at the piles of clean laundry waiting for me to fold is making me yawn.

Randy got a new job recently and it’s stressful on both of us. ¬†He’s now delivering packages for UPS. ¬†Randy and I are wired so differently when it comes to career stuff. ¬†And because it’s hard for me to understand the sudden switch, it makes it hard for me to explain it to others. ¬†So I won’t try just yet. ¬†I will say that I’m very proud of him, supportive, and happy for his happiness–there’s an excitement in his face when he says that this is the first job he’s had that he pictures himself retiring from. ¬†(Wow, when did we get so old??? haha!) ¬†Obviously, retirement is not in our near future, so it IS saying something that he feels like he could have this job from now until retirement, and it’s the first time he’s felt this way. ¬†Because it’s the holiday season, this means several LATE nights for us right now, and early mornings. ¬†For the past few weeks, his average arrival time at night has been around 8:00-8:30 p.m. ¬†Then he has to eat the supper I’ve saved for him, and rush off to his second job, which he has to keep for now. ¬†We’re like ships passing in the night. ¬†Except I’m not passing. ¬†I’m standing still and he’s coming and going. ¬†So maybe that was a poor analogy. But you know what I mean. ¬†This sudden change in our schedules has made us both tired and struggling to figure out how our day-to-days should work. ¬†He’s obviously out working hard, and I’m figuring out how to keep the kids entertained from breakfast through bedtime¬†and debating whether or not I should go “all out” for supper and what we can talk ¬†about over dinner when it’s just been them and me¬†all day long. ¬†It’s exhausting, to say the least.

Randy and I now relish the weekends even more than we did before. ¬†Saturday and Sunday hit and we both feel like we need to absorb as much of each other as we possibly can to last through the long week ahead. ¬†I guess this makes the fact that I’m a very organized planner come in handy. ¬†I actually schedule all of our family time on the weekends–when we’ll do a certain devotional, make cookies, take a walk, have a movie night, etc. ¬†I have to plan it out or else we just sit around feeling exhausted and bored and before we know it, it’s Monday again. ¬†This past weekend felt particularly special because of this. ¬†Last week was the first week Randy had EXTREMELY late nights (like, after 9:30 at night–this has become the “norm” half the time, now) so the weekend together felt so needed! ¬†I mentioned in a previous post what my plans were for December schooling. ¬†We’re doing a devotional from my church which has some family connections (that I happened to write–did I mention that part?) and we’re also doing an abbreviated version of Truth in the Tinsel by Amanda White. ¬†(I really love her!) ¬†The kids and I do the Truth in the Tinsel during the week in place of school, basically. ¬†It’s great, though, because start-to-finish, it takes about 20 minutes of the day! ¬†So it’s definitely a nice break from our normal couple hours of school.

15267848_10158177065380221_7654522769736880644_nSo the family devotional we did this past weekend from Hope Chapel was about Jesus’ name: Immanuel. ¬†We read about it and talked about its meaning. ¬†Then we were supposed to have some family “togetherness” to symbolize being with each other the way God is with us. ¬†We called my mother in law, who lives in Connecticut, just because. ¬†I made Ree Drummond’s amazing broccoli cheddar soup and let it simmer on the stove while we took a family walk in the cold. ¬†And it flurried a little for us! ¬†When we got home, the soup was ready and we had a nice, long, lunch together as a family. ¬†Then we ALL took a nap! ¬†It was the best day. ¬†Not to mention that Randy and I went out that night which was a lot of fun. ūüôā

img_0969Yes, this is a stressful time, which is why it’s so important for me (us) to cherish these quaint, family moments. ¬†Whenever I’m tempted to talk about this time of life being a “season” of this or that, I’m reminded of something I recently learned in a Bible study… the author was cautioning us not to think of life in terms of different seasons because the truth is,¬†Christians are in an eternal season of life. ¬†And this life on earth, knowing Christ, is its own season that should impact every temporary “season” of life we will ever experience. ¬†So even though I’m tempted to dwell on the stress of this time and give myself the excuse that it’s just temporary, or seasonal, it’s no excuse to lay down. ¬†I can rest, as long as I rest in Him. ¬†But I can never stop living the life that God has given me or ministering to others (ahem, my husband, children, family, and friends) with the tools which He’s equipped me. ¬†So I’ll continue to plan our family events so we can capitalize our time together. ¬†I’ll continue to wait up for my husband and sit with him while he eats dinner at 9:30 at night and take care of the household chores so he has one less thing to worry about. ¬†And I’ll continue to entertain, care for, and witness to my children. ¬†And I’ll continue making broccoli soup, which we all decided is our new favorite (actually, it was always one of Randy’s favorites, which is why I made it). ūüíú So that, my friends, is what’s up with me. ¬†I was going to write about how we talked about our next fruit of the Spirit, recently–gentleness, but I’ll save that for my next post. ¬†How’s your December going?

More Kindness, Less Planning

If you know me, then you know that¬†I like to have a plan! ¬†I need to be able to see where I’m going before I start heading there. ¬†As a crafty person, I never take on a project without having a purpose for it in the end. (Some people like to craft or make things “just because” but I’ve never been able to do that.) Maybe this is why cooking appeals to me so much–I can visualize the outcome. ¬†I always know exactly what I want to serve and I have fun making it happen. ¬†And perhaps this is why homeschooling is so scary. ¬†I don’t know how long we’ll do it for, God hasn’t shown me the long-term picture yet. ¬†He is teaching me to trust Him and let Him lead completely which is not easy for this over-planner!

So my “plan” when starting our fruit of the Spirit unit was to do a trait a week. ¬†9 weeks certainly seemed long enough for a unit like this! ¬†It’s not easy to balance our regular curriculum with this supplement, plus everything else we have going on in life! ¬†Well, in week number 5 we hit a snag. ¬†Things just caught up with us and I had to decide whether or not to rush through KINDNESS to the point of practically skipping it, or make it run into 2 weeks. ¬†The Lord is doing a work in me, friends, because it wasn’t as hard as usual to step back, slow it down, and throw the “plan” out the window. ¬†(Okay, so adding a week isn’t exactly throwing the plan out the window, but for someone like me, it feels pretty close!) ¬†So kindness took 2 weeks and we did a little review of our fruits up to this point.

img_0719Our fruit was orange and I’m not sure what the correlation is, but the good thing is that with young kids, it doesn’t matter! ¬†Neither one asked me “why” an orange stood for kindness. ¬†They just accepted it and asked when they would get their orange-flavored chapstick and scented marker. ¬†(Ok, I may be losing them a little to the glimmer of the “gifts” rather than the point of these lessons…) ūüė¶

Colossians 3:12 basically says to put on kindness like you put on your clothes. ¬†Made me think about doing an armor of God unit at some point… in the distant future. ūüėČ ¬†So Abby and Noah flipped through magazines looking for pictures of clothes to glue to our KINDNESS poster. ¬†Then I hung it on the wall by their bureau as a reminder when they’re getting dressed every morning to “put on kindness.” ¬†For our Bible story, I read the story of Ruth and the kindness she showed Naomi, which was returned to her by Boaz. ¬†Then we made a list of the ways we can show kindness to the people around us. ¬†I like to try to name actual people in our lives and real-life scenarios when we do this. ¬†Then we try to remember when we’re about to enter that scenario. ¬†For instance, before dropping them off at a friend’s house, I’ll ask, “What if your friend doesn’t want to play the same thing that you want to play? ¬†How can you still show kindness?” ¬†(Hmm… what if your friend didn’t vote for the same person you voted for? ¬†How can you still show kindness??? ¬†Not sure why that question just popped into my head!) ūüėČ

There’s a Veggie Tales video called “Lyle, the Kindly Viking” which we watched (along with about 2-3 other Veggie Tales that night). ¬†I had hopes of making orange-cranberry scones but that didn’t happen. ¬†Instead, we ate oranges for snacks several¬†times and just kept talking about ways to show kindness and even role-played using kind words (maybe another activity for some¬†adults in light of recent events?). ¬†We made a card for a sick family member and practiced¬†other little “kind” things. ¬†This whole unit has been filled with “little” things we do in an attempt to drive home what it means to live out the fruit of the Spirit. ¬†I’m not naive enough to believe that in the end, I’m going to turn out a completely changed 5 year old and 3 year old. ¬†But I do believe I’m planting seeds and can only pray that God takes it from here…

So what kind thing have you done or said today? ūüėČ