10 Book-Themed Crafts and Activities for LITTLE EWE

TEACHERS! CAREGIVERS! LIBRARIANS! I’ve rounded up TEN activities created just for LITTLE EWE: THE STORY OF ONE LOST SHEEP (Beaming Books) — perfect for spring or summer, or any time of year. Enjoy!

ONE: Make your own fluffy Little Ewe (great for preschool storytime) and then play hide and seek.

TWO: Do a book-themed Read, Discuss, DO. (or two!)

THREE: After reading the story, play a book-themed listening game over at Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog.

FOUR: Follow up a Little Ewe story time with a cute paper-plate sheep craft at Glitter on a Dime.

FIVE: Have your kids draw pictures of their favorite scenes/characters and then share on your socials using the hashtag #littleewe.

SIX: After reading the story, spark meaningful conversation using this teacher-created list of lessons to cherish from Little Ewe

SEVEN: Make a knitted Little Ewe craft (for shepherds to knit, although it is easy enough for older little lambs as well.)

EIGHT: Follow up Little Ewe story time by making an adorable little lamb resting box (for the little lamb you knitted above or the toy lamb of your choice) and playing a game found over at Celebrate Picture Books.

NINE: Share with little ones how figs made it into the book, then have a figgy snack using this behind-the-scenes post for inspiration.

TEN: Download the Little Ewe activity kit over at Beaming Books (includes craft ideas, reading ideas, coloring pages and a maze!).

Time for the Bunny Finds Easter BOOK SCAVENGER HUNT (and a GIVEAWAY)!

Special Note: This post was created by my ADORABLE niece. She’s just 13 but she sure knows how to create an incredible book scavenger hunt. Enjoy her post. Take it away, Miss E!

Hello, parents! If your kids (and maybe even you!) are really enjoying Laura Sassi’s new book Bunny Finds Easter, you may want to try this BOOK SCAVENGER HUNT. To start, you can read the book to refresh your child’s memory. Then, on each spread, (after reading the words) this list will give you prompts to ask your kids so that they can enjoy the wonderful illustrations even more! 

(Remember, if your kid is getting antsy, you don’t have to use all the prompts. You can also make your own–they are open to interpretation. Each illustration can spark many conversations!)

Spread #1 (Bunny waking up and choosing clothes)

  • Do you see the butterfly? (For older kids: There are six butterflies in this book. Can you find them all?) What color is Bunny’s shirt? How many outfits do you see in Bunny’s wardrobe?

Spread #2 (Scene in the kitchen)

  • Count the hot cross buns. Can you find 3 plates? Can you find 2 spoons? What do you think is cooking in the pot on the stove?

Spread #3 (Bunny painting eggs)

  • Can you name and count the colors on Bunny’s palate? Can you count the eggs Bunny painted? (You can point out to your child that the egg Bunny is painting on the left page matches the curtains! These illustrations have many thoughtful details!)

Spread #4 (Bunny picking flowers)

  • Count the bees. (For older kids: Count the flowers Bunny has picked.) Can you spot the bird’s nest?

Spread #5 (Bunny in the town)

  • How many lily pads can you find? How many chicks? Can you spot three tadpoles? Can you find the church in the distance?

Spread #6 (Easter egg hunt)

  • (For older kids: Try to find all 30 eggs.) How many animals do you see? Can you find the church? For an extra challenge, see which animals have baskets.

Spread #7 (In the church)

  • Count the animals in the room. Which ones are wearing hats? Do you see Bunny? Can you see the cross? What do you think the cross means? 

Spread #8 (Bunny and her family)

  • Have your child point to Bunny’s mommy and then her daddy. 

Spread #9 (Happy Easter)

  • Count Bunny and her friends on the Happy Easter page. Can you find the ladybug? Can you find an animal friend with a heart on his shirt? Which animals have hats? (The list goes on and on.) Then, tell your child more about what Easter is all about!

Wow, Miss E, that was AMAZING! Readers, don’t you agree? And now in celebration of this post (and the fact that Easter is just around the corner), I’m offering a FREE copy of BUNNY FINDS EASTER to one lucky reader. Details below.

BUNNY FINDS EASTER GIVEAWAY!!! If you’d like a chance to win a copy of my newest book BUNNY FINDS EASTER (Zonderkidz, 2022) follow this blog and comment below with your favorite tip from Miss E’s book scavenger hunt. (NOTE: Must be a U.S. resident and at least 18 years old to enter.) Thank you, Zonderkidz, for providing the winning book. This giveaway ends Tuesday, April 5th at 11:59 pm EST. The winner will be announced the next day. 

Time for the BUNNY FINDS EASTER Bunny Hop: Stop Four (Plus the BOOK TRAILER reveal!)

Happy Friday, friends! Bunny and I have two fun things to share with you today.

First, check out the amazing 30-second book trailer Zonderkidz created to introduce the book. It really captures the essence of the story and showcases artist Ela Jarzabek’s delightful illustrations. Thank you, Zonderkidz!

Second, I’m delighted to be the guest interviewee over at The Chirping Moms, a website devoted to parenting and enjoying motherhood. In addition to asking me great questions, host Courtney Byrne has also created an adorable craft – a colorful tape resist cross that can be painted on canvas or a little tote bag and be used by your little one to gather goodies Easter morning! Here’s the link: https://thechirpingmoms.com/bunny-finds-easter/

PICTURE BOOK SUNDAYS: ‘Twas the Evening of Christmas (A Faith-Sparking Lesson)

When I was Children’s Ministry Director at a small satellite church, I planned a Sunday morning children’s program called “PICTURE BOOK SUNDAYS: Sparking Faith Conversations using Picture Books and Scripture”. Each week, using an engaging picture book as the spark along with games and a craft, children ages 3 – 10 delved into Scripture as we investigated what it means to be a beloved child of God. The kids enjoyed the lessons so much, that I have decided to continue with a regular blog series focusing on picture books that can be used as the spark for conversations about faith with your children. 

Today’s lesson uses ’TWAS THE EVENING OF CHRISTMAS (Zonderkidz, 2017 ), written by Glenys Nellist and illustrated by Elena Selivanovaas as the picture book hook. I hope it sparks thoughtful conversations with your kids.

PICTURE BOOK SUNDAYS: A Faith-Sparking Lesson

featuring

’TWAS THE EVENING OF CHRISTMAS

by Glenys Nellist

PURPOSE:  To celebrate the forthcoming birth of Christ and amplify the meaning of the season in a fresh and special way using Glenys Nellist’s ’Twas the Evening of Christmas as our focus. 

OPENING PRAYER AND GATHERING GAME: Caring for Baby Jesus

Open in prayer, then, sitting in a circle, ponder the idea that Jesus was once a baby.  Ask them what makes babies special and how they need to be cared for so gently and lovingly. Then, take turns gently rocking the Baby Jesus. Pass the baby around until everyone has a chance to be sweet and gentle with the baby. Then, say, “Isn’t it wonderful that God sent his son Jesus, as a precious baby,  to be our savior? That’s what we celebrate at Christmas – that God sent his Son, Jesus, to be the Savior of the World.

INTRODUCE THE STORY

Introduce the story asking the children if they know the story ’Twas the Night Before Christmas.  (Maybe even have that one on hand.) Then explain, that this one, instead of being about Santa, is about Jesus and the night He was born. Then share the story ’TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS, pausing to ponder and enjoy each spread.

FAITH-SPARKING CHAT TIME:

After reading the story, take out a nativity creche that includes all the figures that you have just read about in the story.  As you hold them up, one by one, have the children tell who or what the figure is and how they fit into the Christmas story. Then, marvel together at what a special night that first Christmas was. It’s when God sent his precious son, Jesus to be the savior of the world!

And where can we learn more about that precious night? In the Bible!

DIG INTO SCRIPTURE TIME: 

Special note: For first grade and up, I recommend having several children’s bibles on hand so children can work in pairs to find the verses. They LOVE this and in the process learn how to locate biblical passages by book, chapter, and verse – a rewarding and important foundational skill for future bible study.

Wrap up the discussion by digging into scripture together to find the Christmas story. 

 Luke 2: 1 – 20

STORY-BASED ACTIVITY TIME:   Make Nativity-Themed Christmas Ornaments

Ahead of time, gather the materials needed so children can create a nativity-themed ornament to take home and hang on their Christmas trees.  Design your own or choose from these adorable options: 

Fluffy sheep ornament:  https://www.icanteachmychild.com/sheep-ornament/

Baby Jesus ornament: https://kidscraftroom.com/handprint-baby-jesus-ornament-craft/

WRAP UP: As children are finishing up craft – have them review with you the different parts of the story using the nativity. Then, give thanks that Jesus came to earth to be our Savior. Remind them that this is the real gift of Christmas. 

OPTIONAL SNACK IDEA:  Animal Crackers – Pretend they are coming to visit and worship Jesus.

EXTRA RESOURCE:  ’TWAS THE EVENING OF CHRISTMAS Activity Pack

Celebrate HUG A SHEEP Day with LITTLE EWE: Craft and Review!

This past Saturday, in celebration of Hug A Sheep Day which takes place on the last Saturday in October, Little Ewe was featured over at Kathy Carroll’s wonderful Celebrate Picture Books blog. Head over there to find her review with this adorable craft that is also a game. It’s a cozy resting box for Little Ewe! It’s the craft I’ve been using at book store and library events this fall and it’s a big hit. There’s also a giveaway for a free copy of the book which ends 11/4/21.  So grab your favorite cozy November hot beverage and head on over. I’ll make it easy for you.  Here’s the link to the review/craft and here’s the link to the giveaway.  And to make that cute little knitted lamb press here. Thank you for celebrating with Little Ewe!

TEN Book-Themed Activities for GOODNIGHT MANGER

TEACHERS! CAREGIVERS! I’ve rounded up TEN activities created just for GOODNIGHT, MANGER, perfect for introducing Christmas to your little ones. Enjoy!

ONE: After reading the story together, put Baby Jesus to sleep with a song using this as your guide: LULLABY TO JESUS: An Extension Activity for Goodnight Manger.

TWO: Do a book-themed Read, Discuss, DO! 

THREE: Inspired by Jane Chapman’s exquisite illustrations, let your little ones create their own own nativity figures out of egg cartons.  For instructions press here.

FOUR:  Look for patterns in the illustrations throughout the book, then create your own patterned star ornaments using this activity as your guide: GOING ON A PATTERN HUNT (Plus a Craft!) An Extension Activity for Goodnight Manger.

FIVE: Extend the story with this free downloadable GOODNIGHT MANGER coloring page.

SIX: After reading GOODNIGHT, MANGER, take out your kid-friendly nativity set and retell the story using the pieces as explained in this wonderful activity from Sunny Day Family

SEVEN: Make Wide Awake Baby Jesus ornaments inspired by the book, using this activity as your guide.

EIGHT: Create your own nativity scene inspired by the book using this free printable activity from Inspired Motherhood.

NINE: Foster good visual reading skills as you ponder the Christmas story using GOODNIGHT MANGER as the spark with this visual literacy activity.

TEN: Have your kids draw pictures of their favorite scenes/characters and then share on your socials using the hashtag #goodnightmanger and tag me!

NEW RESOURCE: Picture Book Sundays and MORE Index

Over the course of the fall, I’m going to be tidying and organizing my blog (just as I’m also striving to tidy and organize my house.) One task long overdue is to create a better system of organizing certain post types so my readers can find specific types of posts easily. Stay tuned for a page that will index every single author and illustrator who I have either interviewed on my blog or who has been a guest blogger. I’m working on that – but it turns out it’s a long, long list which is taking me a long, long while to compile.

So, for today, while I still work on that, I thought I’d share with you a new page which indexes every single Picture Book Sundays post I have created plus other posts that focus on using picture books to plant seeds of faith in our little ones. I hope you find it a helpful and easy way to quickly locate these types of posts.

You can access the index using the “Picture Book Sundays and MORE!” tab above or by using this link: https://laurasassitales.wordpress.com/picture-book-sundays-and-more/

Happy exploring!

DIFFERENT LIKE ME: Six Extension Activities for 4 – 8 Year Olds

Today I am delighted to feature DIFFERENT LIKE ME, written by Xochitl Dixon and illustrated by Bonnie Lui. Published by Our Daily Bread Publishing in 2020, DIFFERENT LIKE ME is a joyous celebration of what makes us, God’s children, special. Through a delightful pairing of rhyming text and illustration, Xochitl Dixon and Bonnie Lui demonstrate through the example of a group of children, that though we are different, deep inside we feel things the same, have shared interests etc. and, thus, have much in common. The book’s takeaway is captured succinctly in the closing line: 

“I look all around me and what do I see?

God made every kid different…

and special like me!”

DIFFERENT LIKE ME would make wonderful addition to your church, school or home library. I can’t wait to share it with my Sunday School kids.

Now, in the hope of using the book as the spark for meaningful conversations with your little ones, here are SIX extension activities for DIFFERENT LIKE ME:

Play “God’s Heart” using chalk.  Read the story together, then head outside or to a large room for a game of “God’s Heart”. Using chalk or tape, draw a heart on the ground big enough for all the children to fit in. Ask what the heart reminds them of: God’s love! Explain that you will be calling out directions and if the answer to the direction is YES, they should run into the heart. Examples: “Step in to the circle if you have freckles(long hair, short hair etc.).” “Skip into the circle if you like pizza..” “March into the circle if you feel happy when others share.” etc. Continue until everyone is in the heart. Then, marvel at how wonderful it is that we are each unique creations, yet we all share much in common. And the best part is we are ALL in the heart. And what does that heart stand for?  God’s love!  And what does that remind us of? That we should love each other as God loves us! Play as many rounds as time and interest permit. 

After reading, think and talk.  This story can be used as a vivid spark for conversations with your little ones about embracing our diversity, noticing the wonderful ways we are alike and celebrating that we are created and loved by God. Use Xochitl’s question guide at the end of the book to get you started.

Do a picture read through. After reading DIFFERENT LIKE ME, flip things around by having your child re-read it to you using the pictures 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 notice all the diverse and delightful details illustrator Bonnie Lui has added to the story. So, snuggle up and enjoy being “read” to. Reading the story again and again is also a good way to take to heart the message of the story (to quote Xochitl) – “that God intentionally created each person to be unique and to work together”.

Paint a rock that looks like YOU (or a friend… or both)! After reading the story, head outside to find some good painting rocks. Then let your children celebrate their special traits and qualities and those of others by painting portraits on rock – like this one, painted to celebrate love and acceptance! For extra fun, gather your rocks and place them in a garden or in a special spot as a reminder of God’s love for us which then can overflow from our hearts to others.

Find verses that show God’s loving care. Xochitl prefaces and concludes her story with two beautiful reminders from Scripture of God’s loving care in creating each person. As you read, point those references out to your children. They are listed simply as Genesis 1:27 and Psalm 139: 13 – 14.  After reading the story, have your children grab their bibles, or the class or family bible, and look up the verses. Then marvel at God’s love and handiwork in creating each one of us.

Wrap the reading up in prayer. Wrap up your DIFFERENT LIKE ME story and activity time in prayer, thanking God for stories like this that remind us about God’s love for us and that we are each unique and special creations.  This is a sweet opportunity both to model prayer with your child and also to let them add to the prayer in their words. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Xochitl (So-Cheel) Dixon, author of Waiting for God: Trusting Daily in God’s Plan and Pace and the2021 ECPA Christian Book Award Finalist, Different Like Me, advocates for inclusion and equity based on the strong biblical teaching of God’s intentional diversity. With her service dog, Callie, Xochitl crosses generational and cultural boundaries, reaching international readers with love through her contributions to Our Daily Bread at www.odb.org and on her blog at www.xedixon.com. She inspires others to share God’s love with Spirit-empowered courage, confidence, and joyful praises through the Christian apparel and accessories she designs for Worship Expressed at www.worshipexpressed.com.

PICTURE BOOK SUNDAYS: Picturing God (A Faith-Sparking Lesson)

When I was Children’s Ministry Director at a small satellite church, I planned a Sunday morning children’s program called “PICTURE BOOK SUNDAYS: Sparking Faith Conversations using Picture Books and Scripture”. Each week, using an engaging picture book as the spark along with games and a craft, children ages 3 – 10 delved into Scripture as we investigated what it means to be a beloved child of God. The kids enjoyed the lessons so much, that I have decided to continue with a regular blog series focusing on picture books that can be used as the spark for conversations about faith with your children. 

Today’s lesson uses PICTURING GOD (Beaming Books, 2019), written and illustrated by poet and visual artist Ruth Goring as the picture book hook. I hope it sparks thoughtful conversations with your kids.

PICTURE BOOK SUNDAYS: A Faith-Sparking Lesson

featuring

PICTURING GOD

by Ruth Goring

PURPOSE: To be filled with wonder and gratitude as we explore a beautiful sampling of the many “pictures” (i,e. metaphors) for God found in the Bible using Ruth Goring’s PICTURING GOD (Beaming Books, 2019) as the spark.  

OPENING PRAYER AND GATHERING GAME: What Am I? (a metaphor guessing game!)

Ahead of time write down on little cards a rich sampling of the biblical metaphors for God found in the Bible. You can use Goring’s book to get you started, but also feel free to explore the Bible on your own and add concrete examples can easily act out.  Examples:  shepherd, eagle, rock, gate, hen, light. The morning of the lesson, open in prayer, then explain that in today’s story, we will be exploring what God is like, but first  we’ll be playing a guessing game. (Don’t say yet that each is a metaphor for God.). Put the cards in a basket, then have each child pick a card and then use pantomime to act out what it is. No speaking or sounds aloud. The children will have fun guessing and can cheer each other on.

INTRODUCE THE STORY: 

Hold up the book and have someone read the title. Explain that Ruth Goring is both the illustrator and author of the book.  Ask them to take a close look and see what kinds of materials she uses to create her art.  Do they know what this is called?  (Collage.) Based on the title what do they think the book will be about? Then say there’s a special connection between our game today and the book. Do they know what it is? They are all pictures/ images that have been used in the Bible to describe God! Then read the story, pausing and marveling together at just how God is like the various metaphors ascribed to Him.

FAITH-SPARKING CHAT TIME:

After reading the story, have a round of “popcorn-style” responses (no hand raising needed) to see how many pictures of God they can remember from the book. 

Then for each, see if they describe in their own words how God is like a rock, eagle etc.

Finally, ask again where Ruth Goring found these wonderful metaphors?  Did she make them up?  No, then where did she find them? In the Bible!

DIG INTO SCRIPTURE TIME: 

Special note: For first grade and up, I recommend having several children’s bibles on hand so children can work in pairs to find the verses. They LOVE this and in the process learn how to locate biblical passages by book, chapter, and verse – a rewarding and important foundational skill for future bible study.

Wrap up the discussion by going a little treasure hunt into God’s Word to find a few of the images of God we marveled at in Goring’s beautiful book. Use the verses listed at the end of the book, but prep ahead by putting a sampling on cards to hand out to each pair of children or, depending on ages, to look up together.

STORY-BASED ACTIVITY TIME:   Create Your Picturing God Collages!

Ahead of time, gather an assortment of collage materials as well as glue and one plain white paper plate (with two holes punched at top) for each child. Then, opening up Goring’s book one once more, take a moment to marvel at how she uses bits of this and that to create beautiful images. Thus inspired, let each child pick their favorite metaphor from the book.  Neatly print it across the top. Then, dig in and start creating! Our bits of this and that included shiny gold ribbon, sequins, pom poms and tissue paper squares, but use whatever you have on hand. As each child finishes, loop yarn for hanging, but instruct them (or their parents) to carry their masterpieces home flat until they have dried. 

WRAP UP:  As children are finishing the activity, give thanks together that God loves us like a rock, shepherd, door, mother, father etc.

NOTE: Beaming Books has also created a wonderful discussion guide if you would like additional ideas: https://ms.beamingbooks.com/downloads/9781506449395%20Discussion%20Guide.pdf

10 Book-Themed Crafts and Activities for DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE

TEACHERS! CAREGIVERS! LIBRARIANS! I’ve rounded up TEN activities created just for DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE, perfect for kicking off the new school year, which is just around the corner, or any time of year. Enjoy!

ONE: Make a pair of fancy glasses, then pretend you are at the opera while reading DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE at Celebrate Picture Books

TWO: Do a book-themed Read, Discuss, DO! 

THREE: Discuss what it means to be a diva, then make a feathered fan like Delores uses in the book with this project created by Rebecca Gomez.

FOUR: Spark even more meaningful book-themed conversation using these seven teacher-approved discussion starters.

FIVE: Extend the story with a DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE coloring page and writing prompt.

SIX: Read the story, then create your own Delores and Fernando puppets inspired by illustrator Rebecca Gerlings puppet activity.

SEVEN: Teach a lesson on RESPECT with Diva Delores and Fernando.

EIGHT: Organize an eight-book opera-themed story time featuring Diva Delores plus seven other fabulous titles!

NINE: Create colorful tissue paper bouquets just like Delores longs for in the story.

TEN: Have your kids draw pictures of their favorite scenes/characters and then share on your socials using the hashtag #divadeloresandtheoperahousemouse.

HAVE ANY MORE IDEAS? Let me know in the comments!