Acts of the Holy Spirit: Using the book of Acts to talk about Spiritual Gifts

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Back when I was the children’s ministry coordinator at my church, I wasn’t thrilled with the curriculum choices for Sunday school. There were some interesting things out there but they were either really expensive or didn’t fit the kids at my church. I’m kind of an all or nothing person so I couldn’t commit to spending the church’s money on something I wasn’t in love with. So I decided to write my own curriculum. As I was teaching each week, people were telling me that I should publish my curriculum. I finally got around to publishing Acts of the Holy Spirit: Using the book of Acts to talk about Spiritual Gifts in the spring and apparently forgot to write about it on my blog…

Before we studied the book of Acts, we spent 14 weeks learning about Jesus. Naturally, after Easter we talked about Pentecost and then moved into the gifts of the Holy Spirit. This curriculum is just a collection of the lessons that we did that summer. The really cool part about this series was that I found a spiritual gifts test for kids in the book Discover Your Kid’s Spiritual Gifts. So at the beginning of the summer, the kids took the test. Then we learned about the different spiritual gifts. By the end of the summer, the elementary school kids in my church were using their gifts by teaching and serving in so many cool ways.

Amazon lets me make my kindle books free for five days every 90 days, so I try to go in to my promotions and make it free on holidays so it’s easier for me to remember. So the next time you can download it for free would be Monday, September 4, 2018 for Labor Day. Now Amazon also has a feature that you can actually order a print copy of the book, so you can order that way if you prefer. But I can’t make that version free because of the cost of printing the book.

Usually, I publish a curriculum version and a family devotion version of each unit. But this one is different because many of the lessons were spent acting out the Bible stories. I felt like it would be harder to do that around a dinner table.

God’s Girl Says Yes

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Wynter Pitts wrote a book with her husband last year about praying for your daughter called She is Yours. I loved it. She also has a new podcast that I have been listening to. So when the opportunity presented itself to be on her book launch team for her latest book, God’s Girl Says Yes, I knew I wanted to be a part of it.

Her last book was for parents, but this one is for girls. There are not any pictures so it will probably be a few years before Clarissa is ready to read it, but I look forward to reading this book with her one day. Wynter also has a magazine for girls that looks great!

Each of the 16 chapters in God’s Girl Says Yes has a specific message for your girl with scriptures, a prayer, and personal stories about either Wynter or a girl in elementary school. I think these stories will really help to build Clarissa’s faith and to show her that you do not have to wait until you are a grown up to do big things for God. She goes through the fruit of the spirit as a whole passage of scripture and then breaks up each individual fruit into its own chapter.

The book is very relatable. It sounds like a conversation between friends. There are several places to answer questions that will really make your girl think. Some of my favorite thoughts from the book:

  • “The Israelites’ story shows us how difficult it is to make good choices all the time. Sometimes saying yes day after day can be really hard…God loves His people and wants His people to choose Him. He entered into a relationship with Israel on purpose. He knew what was best for them, and He knows what is best for you.”
  • “As you say yes to the things God asks you to say yes to, you will have to say no to other things – to things that are unhelpful and that He doesn’t want for you. When you say yes to God and walk with Him on the path He has chosen for you, amazing things can happen. “
  • She does a good job of explaining why we have rules and learning self control.
  • “God gave us more than rules-He also gave us a relationship with him… Our life is not about rules. It’s actually about being free to live an amazing adventure with God.”
  • Chapter 15 was probably my favorite. She talks about trusting God to have a plan for your life and using your gifts and talents for him.

I really enjoyed this book. I look forward to reading it again with Clarissa soon.

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

Note: This post contains an affiliate link. If you order Truth in the Tinsel or God’s Little Explorers through this post, I will make a small commission. However, it does not add to your cost.

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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Note: This post contains an affiliate link. If you order A Sense of the Resurrection through this post, I will make a small commission. However, it does not add to your cost.