Beginning in June, stop by my Facebook or Instagram pages (and here too!) each Wednesday for some Bible time for little ones and their families as we READ, PLAY and PRAY our way through MY TENDER HEART BIBLE (Paraclete Press). Inspired by memories of sharing God’s Word and God’s love with my own children when they were small, it is my hope and prayer that this little weekly installment will provide busy, young families a fun, engaging way to make Bible time a part of your summer.
With that in mind, each Wednesday in a pre-recorded segment from my porch that I will share to Facebook and Instagram (and supplement here with details), I will:
Share the inspiration behind that week’s Bible story, so you can READ it afterwards with your little ones
Offer fun, kid-friendly options for deepening your little ones’ understanding of the story and God’s love through PLAY using a craft, game or other activity
Close with a PRAYER that each week both we and our children will grow in our understanding of God’s love and be inspired to share that love with others
Sound fun? I hope so!
The book is available wherever books are sold, so if you don’t have yours yet, there’s still plenty of time for our June 7th kickoff as we READ, PLAY and PRAY our way through the summer with MY TENDER HEART BIBLE.
Here’s the schedule. Feel free to jump in anytime. Please let your friends know. Hope to see you then!
June 7, 2023 Creation Joy Genesis 1:1 – 2:3
June 14, 2023 God’s Garden Genesis 3:1-24
June 21, 2023 Star Promise Genesis 15:1-6
June 28, 2023 Great Escape Exodus 14:10-31
July 5, 2023 Tasty Blessings Exodus 16:11-18
July 12, 2023 Brave Queen Esther 14:13-17
July 19, 2023 Welcome, Jesus Luke 2:8-19
July 26, 2023 Dove Love Matthew 3:13-17
August 2, 2023 Precious Children Mark 10:13-16
August 9, 2023 Worry Cure Matthew 6:25-33
August 16, 2023 Donkey Parade Luke 19:35-38
August 23, 2023 Easter Joy Matthew 28:1-10
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Last week Bunny (the sweet protagonist from Bunny Finds Easter) and I were invited to our first 2023 Easter Egg Hunt! On Palm Sunday, I’ll be reading Bunny’s story at this event that typically attracts several hundred people. Do you know what that means? It means it’s time to take out my Bunny-inspired Easter bonnet! It also means it’s time to share some ideas for how we as parents, teachers and the church can help our littlest ones understand what Easter is all about.
In Bunny Finds Easter (Zonderkidz, 2022), Bunny is on a quest to find out if Easter is all about chocolate eggs and jelly beans or if it might just be about a little bit more? As the story unfolds, Bunny encounters many of the fun traditions surrounding Easter but it’s not until she arrives and church and they sing an Easter song that she realizes JESUS is the reason we celebrate Easter. Indeed, amidst all the fun of jelly beans and Easter bunnies, it can be hard for little ones to understand that Easter is about Jesus. With that in mind, here are…
Five Fun Ideas to Point Little Ones to JESUS at Easter
Read some faith-filled Easter board books (and picture books too!) With simple text and engaging illustrations an Easter-themed board book that touches on the real meaning of Easter is a cozy, fun way to spark conversation with little ones that Easter is about Jesus and His great love for us – a love shown through the atoning grace of the cross, the joy of His resurrection, and the gift of new life we have in Him.
Do some Easter baking. Little ones love baking and eating sweet treats. That’s why Bunny nibbles hot cross buns in Bunny Finds Easter. According to tradition, hot cross buns were first baked by monks in the 12th century with a cross marked in the dough to commemorate Good Friday. They are relatively easy to make and a delicious reminder of Jesus and the cross. Resurrection rolls are another fun and meaningful baking option that can be used to point little ones to Jesus at Easter. You can find many recipes online for baking and enjoying either or both of these baked items with your little one.
Use jelly beans to point to Jesus. As you and your little ones nibble Easter jelly beans, let them serve as a sweet reminder of Jesus’s love for them and the world. Before sampling each color, think about how it might remind us of Jesus. For example, yellow can remind us that Jesus is the light of the world. Green can remind us of the new life we have in Him. Purple, the color of royalty, can remind us that He is our loving King. Red can remind us that he died and rose again for us. And so on.
Include Jesus in the Easter basket. Fill your children’s Easter baskets with colorful, engaging items that remind them of Jesus. Consider having a faith-based Easter board book serve as the centerpiece. Round it out with small items such as candies, stickers, and other little toys etc. that are in some way connected to Jesus and Easter. Examples: a little lamb (we are His sheep), a glow-in-the-dark cross, chocolate hearts (because Jesus loves us), little chicks and bunnies (to represent new life in Christ) etc.
Sing some “Jesus loves you!” songs. Songs learned, even as young as toddler and preschool age, can have a lasting faith impact on the human soul. Just think of the songs you remember from your childhood and beyond. Do any of them speak of Jesus? If so, they can be a special way to introduce Jesus to your little ones at Easter and throughout the year. Some Easter-y favorites that we love at our house (that are good for little ones too) include: He Lives,Jesus Loves Me, Amazing Grace and more.
OTHER IDEAS for using Bunny Finds Easter specifically:
Have a Bunny Finds EasterBook Walk. This fun intergenerational activity has the feel of an Easter Egg Hunt – and can even include jelly beans and other goodies – but the “hunt” is walking along a trail (outside or inside) to discover progressive spreads of the story BUNNY FINDS EASTER mounted on boards culminating in a craft or activity table at the end of the walk. Get all the details plus the FREE downloadable instruction sheet here.
Get FREE downloadable BUNNY FINDS EASTER activity kit designed especially for littlest ones. The six-page kit includes:
Decorate the Easter Egg
Help Bunny Find Her Way to Church on Easter Morning
How Many Eggs Can You Find?
Draw More Easter Lilies for Bunny
Send an Easter Card to Someone You Love ( foldable printable card)
Interested in ordering Bunny Finds Easter? It’s available wherever books are sold. Happy Monday, all!
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There’s a new alphabet picture book popping up on shelves everywhere, just perfect for cozy bedtime reading with your child. Written by Susanna Leonard Hill and illustrated by Betsy Snyder, ALPHABEDTIME is a rollicking introduction to the alphabet – with a restful, bedtime wrap up. My kids are almost grown, but this is just the kind of alphabet book they would have asked me to read again and again because it’s not your ordinary “a is for apple” type of alphabet book. Instead, it’s a fun story with letters infused and lots of game-like opportunity to hunt for the letters on each spread.
Here’s the official description:
“A cast of adorable alphabet characters make this clever bedtime story a standout!
Suppertime’s over. Everyone’s fed.
Alpha Mom says, TIME FOR BED!
It’s a busy night for the Alphabet Family—after all, there are 26 kiddos to get ready for bed. A, B, and C declare they are not ready, and Impish I and Jazzy J don’t want to settle down, but by toothbrushing-time the crew seems to be headed in the right direction. Bath time requires six bathtubs and is super-splashy—and getting into jammies is no joke—but finally, after a story has been read and they are all tucked in tight, peace should reign. Except what’s this? When Mom turns off the light, it’s an Alpha pillow fight! Toddlers are sure to get a huge kick out of this lively alpha family—and hopefully following each and every little letter’s antics will tucker them out!”
Now, in celebration of the book’s release, and in the hope of sparking some good alphabet fun, here are SIX extension activities for ALPHABEDTIME!
1. Go on a letter hunt. As you read the story together, pause to look for and point to the letters as they are creatively presented. (Note: Each child’s shirt has their letter stitched in bright colors.) For added fun, after reading a spread, pause and play a game of “I spy” as you and your child take turns naming and then hunting for letters.
2.Do a picture read through. After reading ALPHABEDTIME aloud to your child, flip things around by having your child re-read it to you using the pictures (and letters) as clues. Reading the pictures is a great pre-reading skill because it encourages interacting with the page. It’s also a wonderful way to foster storytelling and memory skills. So, snuggle up and enjoy being “read” to.
3. Sing some alphabet songs. Singing songs is a fun and effective way to learn and remember new information (like the letters of the alphabet) so after reading the story, sing some alphabet songs together. Here’s a variation on the traditional one that I learned as a child, that you and your child might enjoy:
4. Do a hands-on alphabet activity. A quick search on-line reveals an abundance of alphabet-themed activities and crafts, but here are a couple of simple ideas that my own kids enjoyed when they were small:
Make pizza dough letters. Make or buy a ball of pizza dough. Sprinkle flour on a clean work surface and then have fun rolling out “snakes” and then shaping them into letters. Gather all your letters on a cookie sheet, sprinkle with salt or parmesan and bake and eat!
Have alphabet fun at the sandbox. Visit your local sandbox (or the beach!). First, smoothe out the sand using your hands or feet. Then take turns etching letters into the sand using your fingers or a sand tool like a shovel or stick. For extra fun, turn it into a guessing game.
5. Play a “what if” game. Inspired by Susanna Leonard Hill’s wonderful imagining of what bedtime might be like for 26 rambunctious letters, have fun imagining what might happen if the Alphabet family encountered different situations. For example, “What if it was breakfast time? What would each alphabet child eat?” or “What if the Alphabet family decided to plant a garden? What would each Alphabet child pick to plant?” And your choices, of course, must pair with the letter names!
6. Have an alphabet book fest! After reading the ALPHABEDTIME, your kids might be inspired to read more alphabet-themed books. If so, head to the library and have a alphabet book fest! Your librarian can help you find some good books.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Susanna L. Hill is the author of three New York Times bestsellers, including Moon’s First Friends: One Giant Leap for Friendship, and the award-winning author of over twenty-five more books for children, including Punxsutawney Phyllis, Can’t Sleep Without Sheep, and the popular When Your Lion Needs a Bath series. Her books have been translated into French, Dutch, German, Japanese, Chinese, and Thai. She does frequent school and library visits, teaches picture book writing, and has a popular picture book blog. Susanna lives in New York’s Mid-Hudson Valley where she practices the alphabet with her children and two rescue dogs.
NOW FOR THE GIVEAWAY!!! If you’d like a chance to win a fresh-off-the-presscopy of Susanna Leonard Hill’s new picture book ALPHABEDTIME follow this blog and leave a comment. (NOTE: Must be U.S. resident and at least 18 years old to enter.) Thank you to the publisher for providing the winning book and to Susanna for providing a signed and personalized book plate to go with the book! THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW OVER. The winner is announced here.
Created by picture book author Rebecca J. Gomez, Read, Discuss, Do! is a reading website designed to help children and their caregivers extend the magic of story time beyond the last page by following three simple steps:
Looking for some easy, last minute ideas to add a little extra something to your Fourth of July celebrations? Here’s are five of my picks, perfect for families with little ones. They make me wish either that my kids were younger or that they were older and I had grandkids! LOL. Enjoy!
1. Sing a patriotic song. Choose your favorite, or enjoy this new favorite of mine: America to Me by YouTube sensation, Jack Hartmann.
5. Fold the American flag the patriotic way. Did you know there’s a proper way to handle our flag? My husband taught me and he taught our kids and ever since, putting up and taking down our flag has been a special family tradition. Here’s a quick tutorial, with two kids named Jack and Sam to get you up to speed. Your kids will LOVE helping.