Monday, December 16, 2013

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

As a Christian mom, I feel like it is almost required for me to read C.S. Lewis' The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to my kids.  I finally have gotten around to reading it to them and they have enjoyed it. 
I tried to explain to the girls that this was an allegory and Aslan was God, the White Witch was Satan, etc.  Neither of my kids seemed to understand that at all.  Perhaps they are still too much of "concrete thinkers."  So the theological lesson is not getting through to them, but they are enjoying it as a story.

I have never read any of the other books in the series, but the girls are enjoying this one, so I may try the others.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

A Lion to Guard Us

Catherine's literature curriculum requires that we pick four novels and read them.  This is our first one, and is proving to be far more interesting than the reading that is in her actual literature book.  For each chapter, she has vocabulary, questions, and a writing assignment.  After every five chapters, she takes an online test. 

I have never read this book and have enjoyed reading it with her.  She is still a slow reader, so we alternate reading pages out loud.  This book is A Lion To Guard Us by Clyde Robert Bulla:
The book opens in London in the 1600's.  The three Freebold children and their mother live with a wealthy family, as servants.  Their father has gone to Jamestown, Virginia, to start a new life for them.  The mother dies and the children decide to go to Virginia by themselves.

There is quite a bit of action in the novel as the children have to get on a ship and sail across the Atlantic Ocean.  They survive some storms and eventually crash into Bermuda.

This is a great novel to really teach the children what it must have been like to be an American colonist.  These types of "living history novels" are so much more interesting and effective than mere textbooks!


Roald Dahl is one of our favorite authors.  I finally picked up Matilda at the library.  Like all of his other books, this one was silly, full of action, and the girls loved it.

Matilda is a five year old girl who, against her parents' wishes, reads.  A lot.  She is told to stay at home in the afternoon and watch "the telly."  (Dahl is British so uses different terms than Americans do ... which my girls find funny.)  Instead of watching television, she walks to the public library, teaches herself how to read, and then reads every single book in the children's section.

Then Matilda moves on to the adult section of the public library and reads classics such as all of the Charles Dickens novels.  All the time, her parents punish her when they find her reading.  So to get back at them Matilda stages practical jokes on her parents. 

Several chapters into the book, Matilda begins kindergarten.  Her teacher is a sweet woman who recognizes her brilliance and loves her.  The school's principal, Ms. Trunchbull, is horribly mean and wants "a school with no children to run."  Ms. Trunchbull is horribly mean and mistreats the children.

So, Matilda begins to play practical jokes on Ms. Trunchbull.  In time, Matilda also develops magic powers which she uses to get back at the mean adults in her life.

We also watched the movie, with Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman.  It was very true to the novel and the girls loved it.  Like all of Dahl's books, the mean characters are VERY mean and the children are resourceful and clever. 

Advent Activities

Each year we try to do Advent activities with the kids.  Because Catherine will not eat anything, even chocolate, it would not be fair to get a chocolate advent calendar.  So, we were so excited when we found an advent calendar of "the girl Legos" while we were at LEGOLAND.  Like the chocolate advent calendars I got when I was a child, there are little cardboard windows for each day.

Behind each mini door, there is a tiny little kit of LEGOs for the kids to do.  So far two of them have been girls (one brunette, one blonde), one was a bag of accessories for the girls, a jet ski, a lamp post, a tray with drinks, a basket with money, and some little tiny vendor stands.

The girls alternate opening the windows.  They love doing this every day ... there is so much suspense involved!
We also have resumed our "Advent Activities" project.  Last year we could not do this because I could not find the enveloped.  The kids asked about it several times last year, so I was thrilled when I found the envelopes over the summer.  Robby hung a string up in our foyer and clipped 24 envelopes, in order, up.  Each day the kids alternate pulling an envelope down and opening it, finding a card with an activity on it inside.
 I made all the cards & decorated the envelopes with card stock, stickers, and notes I made on paper. 
This is one of my favorite activities, because I don't think we have ever done it.  I am wondering if we just skipped it two years ago or if I changed some of the activities when I located the cards over the summer.  This project started out neatly:
 Sabrina used a lot of bird seed:
 Part way through the project Catherine switched from using her plastic knife to using her hands:
 Sabrina tasted the birdseed:
We placed all the pine cones, as well as some leftover cranberries from Thanksgiving, on a plastic tray in our bird bath.  I sure hope the birds like it:
 Another activity is "make paper chains:"
I had envisioned a paper chain made out of red and green, but the girls insisted on pink and purple:
 Another activity is "color Christmas pictures"

All of the activities are supposed to cost very little money and only take about 10-15 minutes.  We do all of them as a family, so it is a great way to make some great memories!

Christmas Packages

Each year our church, Johnson Ferry Baptist Church, hosts a fun event for children & families called "Christmas Packages."  The entire church is turned into a festival and you wander all around, participating in different activities.  This year we could only stay for about thirty minutes (after Sabrina's kindergarten choir performance) because we had to leave to go to our next Christmas event of that day.  So, we missed a lot of the events this year.

But, while we were there we did have a fun time.  We saw a puppet show:
 And played dodge ball in formal party dresses:

So much fun!

Sabrina's Kindergarten Choir Perfornance

The Christmas season is so busy that we originally thought we would not be able to make it to Sabrina's kindergarten choir concert.  It was in the middle of three other Christmas parties we were invited to that day.  But, our schedule opened up a bit and we were able to make it.  I am so glad because it was fabulous to see Sabrina sing her heart out!
 As with all preschool music concerts, every song has adorable hand motions:
 Cute, cute, cute!
 The baby Jesus ...
 Is in my heart ...

 This song was about Emmanuel ... "God is above us, below us, sideways, all around ..."
Such a treat!

BTFC Christmas Party

One of our favorite events every year is the Brain Tumor Foundation for Children Christmas Party.  It is a huge, fun event with so much to do.   Meeting Santa is always one of the first things they like to do:
 Because Santa means ... gifts!
Sabrina squealed with delight when she got a Princess Sofia & Family figurine set:
Catherine was disappointed (and actually cried) when she opened her Shrinky Dink maker.  But, the next day, when we showed her how it worked, she decided she loves it.  She wants to make more shrink dinks every day & now we will have to buy some more replacement cartridges.
 Catherine, with a tiara, feather boa and parasol, taking pictures with some foxes:
 The girls taking silly pictures, including an inflatable saxophone:
 Sabrina and Elmo:
 The girls & princesses:
 There are tons of games for the kids to play:

 My kids do not care for these characters, but they are a hit:
 They also made a bunch of crafts:

 This party is a lot of fun and a wonderful way to celebrate the season.  Thank you BTFC!!