During the long cold days of winter, except for people, all the earth seems to be asleep. Trees are bare of their leaves, plants have died back, animals hide in burrows or nest in the trunks of trees, and only a few birds flit about looking for food. Continue reading The Earth Wakes Up→
This New Year is special. It’s the year 2020. Actually every year has special events and significant dates to remember and celebrate. But 2020 is not like any other year. 2020 is the two thousand and twentieth year since Jesus was born. 2020 is the 20th year of the twenty-first century. And 2020 is a new decade; it is the first year of the 2020s. Continue reading The Year 2020→
January is about new things. A brand new year has begun, 2019. The old year, 2018, is in the past.
A new year is exciting. A fresh new snow fall makes everything around you look new. You look forward to what the New Year will bring. You may already have new things, new mitts, a new scarf, and a new toque. Perhaps some new toys and books.
Now you’re back in school. A new term has begun. Perhaps you’ll make a new friend. You may learn a new skill. You’ll read a new book. And this year you’ll have another birthday. You’ll be a whole year older.
New things are exciting. But what about the old things? They are not gone. They remain as important as ever. What are these old things?
First, there are old buildings. Old buildings tell us of a certain time. They have history. What was happening when they were built? Why was a particular building built? Was it an important business that helped the community to grow? What is the style of the building, the architecture or design? What were the materials used to build it? Was it stone, or wood? All of these tell us about that time, perhaps long ago now.
Then there are old stories. Old stories you may have heard many times before. They make you feel good because you know them well. Maybe you feel you are a part of the story because you have experienced something similar. Take, for example, the stories of Winnie the Pooh. You may have had your own stuffed animal you took with you wherever you went. You thought of it as real, a real companion. You may have created stories about it.
Sometimes old things become new again. This means they have a new use. Look through a collection of old buttons. Your grandmother may have some. Is there a particularly pretty or unique button? Put it on a ribbon and wear it as a necklace. An old button can become a board game piece to replace a lost one. An old bottle can be used as a vase. An egg carton can be used to organize and store small items like a pin collection or stickers. Do you have old Christmas decorations? Each one will have a back story. How old is it? Where did you get it? Why is it still important to you?
Old things connect you to the past, to your history. They help build your story; they are a part of who you are, and what’s important to you.
What about old sayings? Old sayings have wisdom. They are as true now as they ever were. For example, Smiles are free, but they are worth a lot. Or this one, A journey of a thousand milesbegins with the first step. Both of these are to encourage you and show what has value.
There are many old sayings in the Bible that are important. One is in James 1:19: “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” Proverbs 19:20 says, “Listen to advice and accept instruction and in the end you will be wise.”
Activity: Find an old item.
Need: an old item, camera, drawing paper, pencil crayons
Do: Choose one item that is old and is important to you.
What is its story? Find out what it was used for? Where did it come from? Who owned it?
Why was it important? You may want an adult to help you.
What if Christmas were cancelled? What would you do?
When Jesus was born only a few people knew who he was. The shepherds knew because the angels told them. The wise men knew because they studied the stars and a new star had appeared. This meant a new king had been born. King Herod knew that if Jesus was a king he was in trouble. He felt threatened that Jesus would take his place. King Herod was so afraid he decided to kill all baby boys just to be sure Jesus would not grow up and would not become king.
But Jesus escaped. Mary and Joseph bundled him up and left Bethlehem. They went to live in Nazareth where no one recognized him. Jesus was safe for now.
Jesus was not ordinary. When he grew up he taught the people about God and that he was God’s Son. He healed the sick and raised them up to live again. People followed him because he gave them hope. When the synagogue leaders saw how popular he was they were very angry. They accused him of blasphemy, lying about being the Son of God, and they killed him. It was a dangerous time for his followers and many went into hiding.
For 300 years the Roman government punished the Christians for not worshipping the Roman gods. One was Sol, the sun god.
In AD 0312, after Jesus was born, Constantine 1 became the new emperor. He worshipped Sol, the sun god, too. One day he was on his way to fight a new battle. On the way God showed him a vision. When Constantine looked up at the sun he saw the shape of a cross over the sun, and the words, “with thissign you will conquer.” He won the battle. Constantine immediately turned to the true God and became a follower of Jesus, and he changed the laws. Christians were no longer punished for believing only the one true God. The Christian church grew and for the first time Christmas Day became a holy day, a holiday, and was celebrated with family and friends. Together they shared feasts and gave gifts to each other.
For several hundreds of years the celebration of Christmas spread from country to country. Celebrations lasted for 12 days from December 25 to January 6. It was a time of feasting and happiness. People decorated their homes with evergreen branches and sang carols. Christmas Day became the most important day of the year.
After a time, in the 1600s, the Puritans, a strict group in the church and in the government, believed the people were celebrating too much. And so they cancelled Christmas. Now celebrating was against the law.
Many years passed. In 1843 a man called Charles Dickens wrote the play, A Christmas Carol. The play tells the story of families celebrating Christmas together, taking care of each other and sharing with others. It is a story of joy and happiness. The play was an instant success. Everyone loved it. Once again the people began to celebrate Christmas.
Today we have the whole story. We celebrate the miracle of Jesus’ birth. We know he is the promised Messiah. We know that he died and rose again. We know that he will return for us. “I will come again,” he promised, “and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” This is why we celebrate Christmas.
Read Luke 2: 1 – 14, and John 14:1 – 6.
Activity: Make a mason jar table centre.
Need: 1 small mason jar, I pint size
3 or 4 pieces evergreen branches, each 8 cm long
½ cupful of fresh, or frozen cranberries
1 piece of raffia ribbon or jute string, 60 cm long
1 floating tea light
enough water to fill the jar
Do: tie the string around the neck of the jar
Place greenery inside the jar
Add the cranberries
Fill the jar with water to about 2 cm from the top
Place the floating tea light on the water
Use the mason jar candle as a center piece or give as a gift
Your summer vacation is over. Each morning you were up early and ready to go. It’s back to school and that means work, school work.
The sun still feels warm on your face and summer’s leafy trees still provide shade. But not for long. As temperatures cool a change happens.
For trees to provide shade they must grow a good canopy, a cover of leaves, and to grow leaves must have food. Trees need four things to produce food for their leaves. These are sunlight, water, carbon dioxide, and chlorophyll.
Rain provides the water that soaks into the ground and is absorbed by the tree’s roots and then travels up the trunk to the branches and leaves. Carbon dioxide is the breath you breathe out which is absorbed by the leaves. These ingredients, carbon dioxide, moisture from the ground, and sunlight create sugar, which is food for the leaves.
This process is called photosynthesis. The green colour of leaves comes from a natural substance within the leaves called chlorophyll. Chlorophyll helps trees use sunlight to produce the food they need.
In fall temperatures cool down and daylight hours grow shorter; in midwinter the sun sets around 4 p.m. Less sunlight and cooler temperatures are signals for the leaves to stop making food.
The chlorophyll in the leaves breaks down and the green color disappears. Leaves turn yellow, orange, brown and red. The tree lets them go and they fall to the ground. It is time for trees to begin their long winter rest.
Fall is a time for change. You begin your new school year and trees begin their winter break.
There are many things we can learn from trees. Scientists find that having trees around us is soothing and helps us relax. They clean the air you breathe by absorbing, or taking in poisonous gases and metals that are found in smoke from factories and car exhaust. In return they give out oxygen, the air you need to breathe.
Trees are a natural air conditioner. Their shade keeps you and your house cool. In a city enough trees can lower summer temperatures by 7 degrees while you enjoy playing outdoors.
Trees provide homes for birds and small animals. They provide food like tree fruits and nuts for people and for animals. A row of trees will reduce noise levels from traffic going by your house or school. They will stop the wind too. And their different shapes and colours make the countryside beautiful.
One of the first things God did was grow trees. He says he made them for their beauty and for food, except for one, which Adam and Eve could not eat from (Genesis 2:8-9). But they did not listen, and were sent out of the Garden. This brought hardship and sadness to their lives.
In Psalm 1:1-3, God says that anyone who knows and listens to the laws of God is like a tree planted by the rivers of water. He will prosper and have good success.
Activity: Gratitude Stones
Need: clean stones with a smooth surface, tissue paper, scissors, glossy Mod Podge, paintbrushes.
Do: 1. Cut out small tissue paper hearts. Place one on the smooth surface of a stone. 2. Use paintbrush to lightly spread a thin layer of Mod Podge over tissue paper heart and over the surface of the stone. 3. Allow to dry undisturbed. 4. Flip stone over and spread Mod Podge over this side. 5. Allow to dry undisturbed. This makes a seamless smooth stone that feels natural. 5. At dinner pass the stone around. While holding the stone share something for which you feel thankful.
August is soon here. A few more weeks and you’ll be back in school.
For now it’s still summer and there are many things you can do. You can have picnics in your backyard or in a park. You can make your own trail mix, s’mores, or sundaes. You can have a water balloon competition—see who can break the most balloons, or who will be the best target. You can blow bubbles: who will blow the most, or the longest lasting bubble, whose will go the highest. You can play bocce ball, badminton, or Frisbee golf.
You can make handprints using tempera paints, cut the shapes out and hang them on the low branches of a tree or on bushes in your backyard. You can read a new book, read it out loud with a friend while sitting on a blanket under a tree or at a picnic table. You can organize a fancy tea party, bake cookies, visit the zoo, ride your bike or go on a hike. You can decorate the sidewalk with chalk art or make one more trip to the beach.
How can you make the summer last? You can record your activities as you go along. Later you can look back and review them. Did you see something special, the ocean, a lake, mountains, a museum, a fun beach or a playground? Did you make a new friend, or visit an old friend, or a cousin? Did you learn something new? Maybe you learned how to swim or ride a two-wheeler or play a new game.
Take photos of your activities. Keep a record in a journal of all the things you do. Mark on a calendar what you do each day and who shared the fun with you. Draw pictures to show your summer. Then you can look back and remember and continue to enjoy it all again in the coming months.
Make sure to review how to be safe. Go to a playground or a park only if your parents say that you may. Go with a friend or an adult only if your parents say it’s okay. Don’t talk to strangers or go anywhere with them. If you feel unsure or afraid, find your parents or another adult you can trust and tell them about it.
Don’t run into the street to get a ball or near the edge of a cliff, a river or creek on a dare or to show off. Only swim where it’s safe and always with a buddy. Let your parents know where you are and listen to their instructions. They will say where and how far you can go. They want to know that you are safe.
Soon September will be here and you’ll be ready for it.
You are important to God. Jesus says it is good to be a child. A child enjoys play for the fun that it is. A child trusts that life is good, that people are good. A child accepts others the way they are. A child learns easily and forgives quickly. Jesus says adults too must be like this.
Read Matthew 18:1-5.
Activity: Make a photo journal
Need: camera, time for a walk
Do: choose words like:
silly face yellow
Take a walk in your backyard, a playground or a park, or in your house. With your camera take a photo of an object, a person, or a scene, that shows the word you have in mind. Turn the activity into a guessing game with your family or a friend. Show the photo and have them guess which word it is.
A publication of the Evangelical Mennonite Conference