T is for Tree: A Bible ABC Book Review

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Reformed Free Publishing Association

Clarissa usually enjoys alphabet books, so I was excited when we had the opportunity to review T is for Tree: A Bible ABC from Reformed Free Publishing Association. I am always looking for ways to introduce Clarissa to scripture. Reading scripture in an illustrated book is a great way to do this.

T is for Tree: A Bible ABC 

Every letter has it’s own page. It is mostly consistent that the page will say something similar to “A is for Ant.” X is a hard letter to find a verse for so that one is different, it says, “X is in fox.”

Each letter has a word focus with a short, three line poem that rhymes. It has a beautifully illustrated picture of the word focus. Then, a Bible verse is also listed at the bottom of the page. Each page also has a unique border that references the verse.

This book has excellent pictures. They look like they are hand painted and are very professional. The pictures have vibrant colors and the illustrations are lifelike. I can tell that a lot of thought went into each picture and how to make it relate to the words in this book.

For the most part, I liked the focus words and choices of Bible verses. Some of them confused Clarissa when she was trying to read the book to herself. For example, “B is for Bow” but it is a rainbow. “D is for Dawn,” and Clarissa wanted to say sun every time. I was surprised to see that “L is for Leopard.” I expected to see lion, lamb, or even Lord there. However, Clarissa said that L was her favorite because “Cheetahs are my favorite animal and leopards are like cheetahs.” She also enjoyed “Q is for Quails” and “R is for Ravens.” I really liked the verses and illustrations for “T is for tree,” and “P is for path.” Apparently Clarissa likes birds and I like trees.

The scripture references are King James Version, which isn’t my favorite. I prefer something modern like New International Version. This book is marketed to preschoolers but I really don’t think it fits that age group. I think that it would have been easier for Clarissa to memorize scriptures and understand them if they were written in a different version. Older elementary school children would understand better with this version of scripture.

However, Clarissa said she enjoyed the book. I think the beautiful pictures and the fact that most of it rhymes are the reasons why.

T is for Tree: A Bible ABC {Reformed Free Publishing Association Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Jesus has friends

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This lesson was faster because we used less Bible stories. We started by reviewing our lesson from last week. If I say, “I have hidden your word in my heart…” Clarissa will say, “That I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:1” She doesn’t say the whole thing on her own, but I will take it.

We talked about how Jesus was God but when he was on Earth, He was also a man. He was born, had parents, was dedicated, went to church, and was baptised just like we do today. The main difference was that although Jesus was tempted, He never sinned like we do. So He is a good example for us to follow.

For this week, we talked about friends. I asked Clarissa who her friends were and what she liked about them. Then we talked about what it would be like if she didn’t have any friends. She thought she would be very lonely. We talked about what we can do to be a good friend.

Then, we talked about Jesus. We read in her Bible about how He chose his disciples and they left everything they had to follow Jesus (Matthew 4:18-22). We talked about how these guys weren’t famous or rich. They didn’t seem like they would be important. But Jesus still chose them to be his best friends. We don’t have to be famous or really talented for God to use us. We just need to be obedient.

Then we talked about how Jesus gave his friends the power to do a lot of the things that Jesus did (Matthew 10). They could pray for people to be healed. They could tell people about Jesus. We talked about how God can use us to help people too. We also talked about how if we have friends to help us, a big job can get done faster.

Jesus, Fully God and Fully Man

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We have taken a break from our regular preschool curriculum twice this year. During the month of December, we took a break and did Truth in the Tinsel to celebrate Christmas. We spent most of March doing A Sense of the Resurrection.

When we started back into God’s Little Explorers in April, Clarissa was frustrated that we were back to doing the same story several days in a row. She still enjoyed the activities, but wanted a new Bible story every day. Though she still isn’t thrilled with writing her letters.

We are in the process of using other programs for Homeschool Review Crew so I decided to stop doing our normal preschool curriculum. For a few days I struggled with not having a set plan for our Bible reading. But then I felt like God was like, “Ahem. You wrote Sunday school curriculum. Why don’t you use that?!”

Clarissa is four, so she wants to read the story in a book with pictures instead of me just telling her a story most of the time. But it has been fun to look at what I did with the kids at church and break it down over a few days with Clarissa. Our first lesson is about how Jesus was fully God but when He was on earth He was also fully man.

We talked about how Jesus was born, like everyone else. He had parents. We have read the Christmas story several times so we flipped through the pictures of Jesus’s birth in her Planet 316 Bible and I had her tell me the story.

Next, we talked about how Jesus’s parents brought him to the temple to be dedicated to the Lord when he was 8 days old. That was a very normal thing to do back then. We found the story in her Beginner’s Bible. Then we talked about how we dedicated her to the Lord at her first birthday party. We looked at pictures and talked about what that meant (and of course we had to look at the pictures from when she was born as well).

A different day, we talked about how Jesus was a kid. We read When Jesus was a Little Boy (not necessarily accurate but talks about what kinds of things Jesus probably did as a kid). Then we read about Jesus in the temple when he was 12 years old. Jesus went to church and celebrated holiday festivals just like we do.

The following week we talked about baptism. That John the Baptist was going around preaching repentance and baptising people. Jesus didn’t need to be baptised because He never sinned, but it was part of God’s plan. So we talked about why people get baptised today as an outward expression that we believe we are a sinner and believe that Jesus died on the cross for our sins. Clarissa asked about being baptised when she is an adult. We talked about how kids can be baptised too but she isn’t interested right now, which is totally fine.

Then we read about how Jesus was tempted in the desert. Just like us, Jesus was tempted. But unlike us, Jesus never sinned. One reason for that is because He knew the Word of God and could use it against everything Satan said. So we practiced our Bible verse a few more times so that we would learn some scripture.

Each day before our reading, I read her our Bible memory verse and had her repeat it a few times so she could learn it. “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:1

Planet 316 Story Bible Review

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Planet 316

We have several different children’s Bibles that we use regularly. Or rather, we did. Since we received the Planet 316 Story Bible and the companion Planet 316 Story Bible app by Planet 316 and Worthy Kids/Ideals in the mail, Clarissa has decided that she doesn’t like the others. She only wants this one for Bible for story time. The Planet 316 Story Bible and the companion Planet 316 Story Bible app really do help to make the Bible stories come to life.
Planet 316 Story Bible and Bible App

The Planet 316 Story Bible has all of the stories you would expect to see in a Children’s Bible. Old Testament and New Testament stories are included. You can read them straight through like a normal book or there is a Table of Contents if you want to find a specific story.

The Story Bible itself is very nice. Each page is illustrated. The illustrations are very vibrant and colorful. Clarissa really enjoys them. She will sit on the couch and “read” the stories to herself.

The companion app is wonderful! I have never seen an app that makes the illustrations in a book move before. You can download the app for both apple and android for free. The app works with any device that has a camera. We downloaded it both on my phone and on a tablet (so we could have a bigger picture).

During our Bible time, we will find our story in the Bible. I read the page to Clarissa. Then, we turn on the app on either the phone or tablet. Clarissa can hold the device over the page of the book we just read. It scans the page and then the illustrations on the book pop up on the screen. If you touch the screen illustrations with your finger, they come to life. So when Jesus feeds 5000 with the little boy’s lunch, you touch the little boy and he says, “Here Jesus. You can have my lunch,” as he lifts his bread and fish to Jesus.

The app is easy to use so Clarissa can use the Bible without me. She can sit on the couch and look at the pictures. She knows how to scan them and wait for the picture to load on the phone or tablet. She can touch the screen to make the picture move or talk. She seems to really enjoy the sound effects and illustrations.

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I am thankful for a book that makes my daughter excited about reading the Bible and learning more about God. The Planet 316 Story Bible and companion Planet 316 Story Bible app would be a wonderful addition to a family’s home library or family devotion time. It would also be a great addition for a church or classroom. I used the Bible and app during a Sunday School lesson about Jesus’s burial. The kids were so excited to see the story come to life. I think it made them understand what was happening more than just telling them. The children in the class range in age from two to eight, so I think that children through elementary school would really enjoy this Bible.
Planet 316 Story Bible and Bible App {Planet 316 Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Trying to make Easter Real

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I guess I need to work on how Clarissa discusses Christmas and Easter with other children. We celebrate both of these holidays with a curriculum. At Christmastime, we do Truth in the Tinsel and at Easter, we do Sense of the Resurrection. Both of them are written by Amanda White. I like them because they are hands-on ways for Clarissa to learn scripture and experience things with her senses.

Clarissa tells her friends all about what we are learning, which I think is great because she is trying to teach her friends what she believes about Jesus. The problem is Santa and the Easter Bunny. Especially Santa. When she sees a book with Santa or someone taking a picture with Santa she makes it a point to say something like, “Why is that man wearing a costume? Santa isn’t real.” Which is only a problem when one of her friends insists that Santa is real and Clarissa wants to argue instead of just letting it go.

Usually, Clarissa really enjoys doing activities with her lessons. I was surprised that this time, she mostly wanted to read the story and talk about it each day. We had some great discussions at Christmastime this way, so I guess I shouldn’t be that surprised. She was excited to read her Bible stories each day. She would look at the picture for each activity and decide if she wanted to do it or not. We only colored one flag, so I guess we won’t need to print them next year.

We started by talking about how Mary anointed Jesus’s feet with her hair. Clarissa had a great time smelling my essential oils and choosing her favorites so that we could smell nice too.

The first time we did Sense of the Resurrection, we had a great time studying the Triumphal Entry, waving palm branches and dancing to worship music. This year was very different. She didn’t want to listen to music at all. She was excited about the donkey that Jesus rode on. So we talked about the time I got to ride a donkey on a mission trip in Mexico. We looked at my scrapbook and had a wonderful discussion about why we would want to help people or tell them about Jesus. I wonder what kind of mission trips our family will take together as Clarissa grows…

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She always asks when it will be “foot washing day.” I think she really likes to play in the water. But I like that she is learning that Jesus was such a servant. He was God, but He still washed his friends’ feet. She actually washed my feet this year as well.

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We talked about how there was an earthquake when Jesus was on the cross and made some noise makers to remember.

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I think her favorite activity was putting Jesus in the tomb. We were supposed to make a place in our house that we could walk by for a few days that was shut in because when Jesus went into the tomb no one could get in and no one could get out. They even posted soldiers there to be sure. Clarissa decided that a dance party inside was the best idea. But we did talk about how Jesus was actually dead in the tomb and not dancing.

As usual, we had some books that we read on a regular basis. Our favorites are : God Gave Us Easter, The Peek a Bible Easter Story, The Parable of the Lily, Lily’s Easter Party, and The Berenstain Bears and the Easter Story. New this year to our collection is The Miracle of Easter.

We usually do an Easter basket with a book and a small toy or two. This year, the things I bought didn’t really fit in the basket. Clarissa was most excited about The Come Celebrate Easter sticker book and her two magazines. We also gave her a God’s Little Princess Bedtime Devotional, construction paper, and stickers.

We went to church on Resurrection Day. It was fun to hear the pastor say that one of his favorite things about Korea is that “they don’t celebrate Easter. The Christians do, however, celebrate Resurrection Day.” So when you’re walking about Korea you don’t see bunnies or candy everywhere. The only place that Easter is commercialized is at the PX on base.

Since Clarissa and I have spent the past few weeks doing Sense of the Resurrection, we talked about the Last Supper as the pastor was explaining communion. She seemed to understand what was happening and how Jesus said his body was his bread and his blood was the wine. She said that she believed that Jesus died on the cross for her sins so I let her take communion. She definitely didn’t appreciate the wine…

Clarissa has been asking about s’mores since we studied tents and camping with Abraham. We can’t find gluten free graham crackers here, so my mom sent some in her Easter box. After church we decided to introduce Clarissa to s’mores. We roasted marshmallows on the gas burner of the stove and then put a piece of chocolate on the graham cracker. She really enjoyed it but couldn’t be bothered to roast marshmallows a second time so her second s’more she used a normal marshmallow.

On Monday, our friends invited us over to dye Easter eggs. Clarissa has never done this before. We tried a method that where we put dye in whipped cream. Clarissa really enjoyed rolling the eggs (and licking the whipped cream off her fingers).

On Tuesday, we finished our Sense of the Resurrection study with a picnic at the sand playground to talk about Jesus’s picnic on the beach with his friends.

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Truth in the Tinsel Take 4

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Clarissa and I do a lot of holiday type things in December.

My mom usually sends us a gingerbread house kit for our anniversary. This year, it was a village. And we couldn’t get it to stay together. So we just had fun decorating the pieces. We ate some icing and candy, and then Tim ate some of the gingerbread.

We also make and decorate cookies. Though I will say, this year, Clarissa was way more conservative with the sprinkles than in years past.

When we made cookies for the second time, she decided to skip the sprinkles and try some icing. We had fun figuring that part out together.

But my favorite activity that we do in December is Truth in the Tinsel. Every year the experience is a little different.

The first year was really all for me. I enjoyed reading the Christmas story everyday. I feel like I learned a lot about Mary and Joseph as parents. The second year Clarissa was so excited to use scissors and cut out the ornaments. Last year, we were consistent at reading Bible stories and attempting crafts.

This year was all about the conversations. We took December off from her normal preschool curriculum in order to focus on Truth in the Tinsel. Clarissa was used to reading Bible stories several times per week so that wasn’t a big change for her. She even looked forward to crafts several days.

Some days we didn’t do crafts and had wonderful conversations about the stories.

The day we learned about Jesus’s name, I told her about how when she was still in my tummy, God told me she would be a little girl with great faith. So we named her Clarissa Faith which means “brilliant faith.” Now when she plays house, she says that God told her that her doll baby would have faith so she named her Clarissa.

Another day we talked about when Jesus went to the temple to be dedicated to the Lord. So we got out our photo albums and looked at the pictures from her dedication. We talked about how the pastor and our families prayed for Mommy and Daddy to be good parents and for Clarissa to love God.

The last lesson is about the cross. We celebrate Christmas because Jesus could not have died on the cross for our sins if He was never born. So we had this great conversation about how she used to just like God and not Jesus but now she is friends with Jesus too. (The reason she didn’t like Jesus is because she thought He didn’t listen to her because He wasn’t answering her prayers…)

Lifegiving Home: April

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The move definitely put me behind on my reading. The chapters on March touched on rest. As we are settling in to our new routine in Pyeongtaek, I am making an effort to plan for rest. Clarissa is going back to some rest time in the afternoons and I have not committed us to many things in our schedule. It has been nice to spend more time at home, just playing and enjoying my time with my family.

April is titled “a heritage of faith.” In this chapter, Sarah talks about how she saw her parents’ faith while growing up. It reminded me that I enjoy listening to music while I wash dishes and clean the house. Playing music would promote a certain atmosphere in my home.

She also talks about how when she would wake up in the morning, she would always find her mother with her Bible and often she would just join her. She continues the tradition of morning devotions as an adult. So often, I have tried to wake up early to be finished with my devotions before Clarissa wakes up. Now that she is waking up earlier, maybe I should just let her join me or have special books in my room for her.

Sarah discussed many of her family’s Easter traditions. I realized that I never got around to blogging about Easter.

Clarissa and I did Sense of the Resurrection again this year. We didn’t get through all 12 lessons, just the first 10. Clarissa’s favorite lessons were probably washing each other’s feet and when we put a red dot on our hand to show where the nail pierced Jesus’s hand. She often would color the picture on the flag and then cut it out so the flags looked a little different this year.

This year, we added Resurrection Eggs to our tradition. I hid the eggs inside the house while she was playing with Daddy in the kitchen. After she found the eggs, we sat on the couch as we read the story Lily’s Easter Party. In the book, Lily invites her friends to a special egg hunt and as they open each egg, they learn about the toys inside. As they learn about the donkey, crown of thorns, and a rooster, they learn the true resurrection story.

I love that now any time she sees an empty egg, she says it’s empty like the tomb Jesus was in. She enjoys playing with the toys inside as well. I’m not sure that all of the eggs and toys are currently accounted for… Clarissa has requested egg hunts since then. She doesn’t quite understand. When it is her turn to hide the eggs, she will tell me to stay in the kitchen while she hides the eggs. Then, she brings me to each egg and tells me to pick it up and put it in the basket. No finding for me.