July - An Idea for Every Day - Week 1

Oh my goodness, leaders. I cannot even believe July is already upon us. I'm not ready for it. And, I must apologize, I do not have the July calendar finished. In fact, it's not even close to finished. I merely completed next week so I could write this post. Life, as you well know, does not always go as planned. So, while I'm not sorry for the way I chose to spend my time (in fact, I'm very grateful for it) I do apologize that I do not have the calendar anywhere near finished. I will, however, share the link. The calendar will continue to update as I work on it. So, you'll still have access to advanced planning - just not as advanced. 

How has your summer been so far? We'd love to hear about it! Our last week was stressful. It was the week of the surgery mentioned in the last, "Idea for Every Day," post. But, we're happy to report the surgery was successful and, while we're still praying through recovery, it feels as though a heavy weight's been lifted. I'm sure you can relate.

Talk about lifting spirits, next week ends on Fourth of July! Can you believe it? Of course we included it! How could we not? Check out the line-up (click the link to hop to the desired day):

  1. Descendants' Day (6.28.20)
  2. Camera Day (6.29.20)
  3. Meteor Watch Day (6.30.20)
  4. U.S. Postage Stamp Day (7.1.20)
  5. I Forgot Day (7.2.20)
  6. Compliment Your Mirror Day (7.3.20)
  7. Independence Day (7.4.20)
And, we're plating them up in the following ways:
And now, without further ado, check out these ideas we've been stewing on for you.

Sunday, June 28, 2020 - Descendants' Day 

Share family stories with your children.

As I've grown older, I've found hearing stories about my ancestors to be more intriguing. I don't know if I heard the stories as a child and dismissed them, or if there's something in getting older that makes you more intrigued with your family history. But regardless, I want to soak all the stories up and write them in a book so my family's history won't be forgotten. 

The most recent story told to me was one of a picnic. My mom's family picked up fried chicken (I'm imagining KFC here because it was in a bucket) and headed to a picnic area. Once arrived, they piled out of the car, chose their spot and placed the chicken on one end of the table and, unthinkingly, all sat on the other side. A basic understanding of physics will fill you in on what happened next - my ancestors made fried chicken fly. I'll have to ask follow-up questions on what happened next; during the initial telling, the imagery of fried chicken soaring through the air was enough. 

What ancestral tale do you have to share with your descendants? Sit down and share a few. Perhaps even consider writing them down to start your own family history book. 

And remember, as you're adding your stories to your own family book, we (this family of believers) are really all writing separate chapters in one large family book:
If you belong to Christ, then you are the descendants of Abraham and will receive what God has promised. Galatians 3:29 (GNT)

Monday, June 29, 2020 - Camera Day

Related activities for your preschool to sixth grade learner.

While writing is one way to record history, photography is undeniably another. If handed a camera, what would you choose to capture? For me, it would be a piece of God's handiwork:
When I look up and think about Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in their place, what is man, that You think of him, the son of man that You care for him? Psalm 8:4 (NLV)
Yet, some things are difficult to capture in a photo - no matter how good your camera is. It doesn't stop us from trying though, does it? And we want to encourage you (and your learners) to keep trying with these activities we've been stewing on for you.

To start, Bay Area Discovery Museum invites you on a digital scavenger hunt. For each team, you'll need a camera (cell phone or digital), trash bag, paper, pencil, and the instructions from Bay Area Discovery Museum. Bay Area Discovery Museums suggests you make up your own list, but also provides a pre-made list (including photo and video challenges) if that's your preference. One idea we especially love about their scavenger hunt: the requirement to pick up any litter along the way. While scavenger hunts are always fun, adding the picture-taking element certainly kicks it up a notch.

Perhaps your learner actually wishes to develop the skill of photography. If so, we direct you to Felt Magnet's post by Rose Clearfield. She'll guide you through camera selection, correct handling, camera anatomy, practice guidelines, basic techniques, challenge opportunities, photo editing basics, information about sharing photos online, display options, and additional resource suggestions. If nothing else, it's definitely a place to get started no matter your photographer's proficiency level.

You know, I wonder if God captures keepsakes of us. Maybe He has a camera of sorts with which He's recording our story. It wouldn't really surprise me, throughout the Bible God definitely kept detailed records. And the beautiful thing about God operating the camera? He already knows my good side; He made it.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020 - Meteor Watch Day

Related academic activities for your preschool to sixth grade learner.

While you're capturing a picture of that night sky, perhaps you'll see a shooting star. Did you know references to falling stars (meteors) appear in the Bible?
Then the stars of heaven appeared to be falling to earth—like green fruit from fig trees buffeted by mighty winds. Revelation 6:13 (TLB) 
Perhaps you've been lucky enough to witness a falling star. If not and you (or your learner) desire to, we've found some resources to help make your wish come true.

Before searching the skies for a meteor, you might first want to teach your learner about them. To help you reach this goal, you might show them this National Geographic video on meteor showers or read a book.  We've rounded up a few for you (with links to digital sources):

Preschool to First Grade

Second to Third Grade

Fourth to Sixth Grade

With a head full of meteor knowledge, we bet you're ready to see one with your own eyes. To do so, you'll first want to do some research into what night is best for viewing. For that, we recommend Star Date. You'll find the time and dates for all 2020 meteor showers. Just remember, a meteor is easier to see on a clear night; so you'll want to check your forecast too. Visit Star Date for even more recommendations on making your meteor-watching experience an enjoyable one.

When you do finally see that falling star, make sure you have that wish ready; the God who made the stars wishes to know the desires of your heart, after all (Philippians 4:6).

Wednesday, July 1, 2020 - U.S. Postage Stamp Day

Related academic activities for your preschool to sixth grade learner.

Indeed, the same God who wants to know your wishes loves you so much, He's marked you as His own:

And you also became God's people when you heard the true message, the Good News that brought you salvation. You believed in Christ, and God put his stamp of ownership on you by giving you the Holy Spirit he had promised. Ephesians 1:13 (GNT)
While stamps in Biblical times signified ownership, today they're used to indicate postage paid. What was once very personal became common. Although, the variety of stamps does leave room for a small amount of self-expression, and opens the doors for a wide variety of learning activities. 

To give learners a visual introduction to stamps, start off at the USPS Kids Corner on Pinterest. You'll find all kinds of kid-friendly stamps to make your learner "ooohh" and "aaaah." Our favorites: Carl and Dug from Up and Princess Leia with R2D2 from Star Wars. 

With a firm understanding that not all stamps depict the United States' flag, invite learners to create their own stamp with Layers of Learning. There you'll find a template along with ideas for use including creating a stamp to represent a tall tale, country, yourself and more!

If you're looking to do even more learning with stamps, you need to check out Stamps.org.  Clearly, stamps are a valuable learning tool that, quite honestly, I never considered implementing before. At Stamps.org, you'll find lesson plans separated by grade-level, a separate download for teaching American history (grades 4-8), and even a classroom economy system. Of the lesson plans, we'd choose the following for each grade level band:
  • Preschool and Kindergarten: Soaking Stamps. Learners predict how long it will take for a stamp to separate from an envelope when it's soaking in water.
  • First and Second Grade: Stamp Story. Learners choose stamps to complete a fill-in-the-blank story outline. 
  • Third, Fourth and Fifth Grades: Famous Monument Report. Learners choose a monument stamp, and then research to complete a report on their chosen monument.
  • Sixth, Seventh and Eight Grade: Wild about the Wetlands. Embark on a series of lessons to learn about the wetlands. The first provides a basic understanding of this ecosystem, the second of the animals, and the third of ways we can protect them. Also included is a feature on the wetland stamp series and a "Wetland Walkabout" board game to test their learning. 
After exploring stamps, likely your learner found a few favorites. Encourage them to start a stamp collection by making a mini book with these directions from Instructables. On each page, they place (or draw) their chosen stamp and write a brief caption of it. The caption can tell more about it, explain why they like it, or imagine a story from it. The most important part: that your learner has fun adding it to their collection.

We think the perfect wrap-up to these activities would be a reminder to your learner that they wear God's stamp, which indicates their worth and comes with a clear postmark - bound for heaven.

Thursday, July 2, 2020 - I Forgot Day

Related academic activities for your preschool to sixth grade learner.

I've been there. Forgetting sometimes brings embarrassment, disappointment and pain. But, hopefully, it ends in grace; we all forget from time to time. 

Perhaps a good way to promote understanding in forgetting is to share stories of times you've forgotten. My story is of a forgotten birthday - my mom's. At the time, there were four of us at home: my mom, my step-dad, my brother, and me. The day unfolded as any other day would: work for my parents, school for my brother and me. Then, on the way home from school, my mom stopped at the bank to make a deposit where the teller told her, "Happy Birthday." My brother's eyes locked with mine, both filled with shame. How did we forget? We told my step-dad (who had also forgotten) over dinner. His eyes instantly rounded in surprise, with a dropped jaw to complete the look. The worst part of it all though, the entire time my mom thought we were joking and secretly had something planned. We didn't. We forgot. It still stings to this day. Luckily, my mom, always full of grace, found it laughable. 

What's your story of forgetting? We bet your learner would appreciate hearing it; they love knowing leaders mess up sometimes too.  For more learning activities regarding the phenomenon of forgetting, look at these resources we've been stewing on for you:

Start the conversation with your Preschool to Second Grade learner, by reading the book I Just Forgot by Mercer Mayer (the link is for a YouTube read aloud by Oceanhouse Media). Then, work together to make a mini book (with this Instructables guide) depicting personal examples of forgotten events.

Your Third to Sixth grade learner might be ready to learn about Alzheimer's and record what they learn. For kid-friendly Alzheimer's facts, we like this Kids Health article (reviewed by Steven Dowshen, MD). The article starts with a general description, delves into the science that explains the how and why of Alzheimer's, explores the psychological effects for both the affected individual and the family, and discusses typical treatment practices. After reading and discussing the article, we suggest using this note-taking sheet (from Jessica Topol via Teachers Pay Teachers) to process new learning. Topol's organizer includes room for recording vocabulary, facts, lingering questions, and new opinions - a valuable tool for thinking through a new topic. 

Alternatively, Kathryn Harrison shares a children's booklist regarding Alzheimer's and Dementia at Alzheimers.net. Of the books suggested, we found the following digital versions:
While forgetting can sometimes feel shameful and embarrassing, we want you to remember forgetting isn't always a bad thing. In fact, sometimes, forgetting is good:

Brothers and sisters, I know that I still have a long way to go. But there is one thing I do: I forget what is in the past and try as hard as I can to reach the goal before me. Philippians 3:13 (ERV)

With grace, we forget our past and move on - ever trying to reach our goal. The goal always before us: being better. We're on that road together, friend. So, let's together forget the past and let grace set the road before us toward sanctification and Jesus. 

Friday, July 3, 2020 - Compliment Your Mirror Day

Related academic activities for your preschool to sixth grade learner.

We look in a mirror and tend to see our flaws, but I wonder what God sees. And, I wonder if you try hard enough, if you might see it too:

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. Psalm 139:14 (NKJV)
 That's what this day is all about: choosing to be thankful and appreciate what the mirror shows you instead of dreading it. This practice is powerful in building healthy body image and self-esteem, both confidence boosters. Confidence empowers learning. Empowering learners is something we love doing. So please, glance through and see if you can use some of these ideas we've been stewing on for you (and your learner).

To begin today's learning activities, you may first wish to define self-esteem with your learners. To support you in this endeavor, we point you to the "Self-Esteem" Kids Health article reviewed by D'Arcy Lyness, PhD. You'll find a general definition, attributes of kids with high and low self-esteem, a discussion on the importance of self-esteem, and steps toward building self-esteem.  Our favorite self-esteem building step: practice the things you do well.

Next, spend time in a book about self-esteem with someone you love, because spending time with someone you love is another self-esteem builder. A Mighty Girl compiled body image positive books for kids and CNBC features a psychotherapist's book recommendations for parenting books on raising strong and confident kids. Of the books on each list, we found digital access to the following:

Body Image Positive Books (for learners)

Preschool to First Grade

Second Grade to Third Grade

Fourth to Sixth Grade

Raising Strong and Confident Kids (for leaders)

For a biblical approach to positive body image, we direct you toward Kids of Integrity's "Confidence" page. Here, you can download the lesson or find them all online. You'll also find a planning page and parent's guide. The lesson includes separate prayers for parents and kids, a blessing and memory verses to speak, a craft, relevant bible stories, creative discipline suggestions and hands-on opportunities. Our favorites from each category as follows:
  • Parents' Prayer Excerpt: "Please remind them often that You do not judge by externals, but by the attitude of a person's heart (1 Samuel 16:7), I pray that [my learners] will find their confidence in You, not in what they have or do."
  • Kid's Prayer: "Dear God, thank you for making me exactly according to Your plan for me. Amen."
  • Blessing: "Your joyful smile reminds me that you have 'Jesus joy' in your heart."
  • Memory Verse: "His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor His delight in the legs of a man; the Lord delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love." Psalm 147:10-11
  • Craft: Measure-Up Charts. An activity that helps your learner compare the way the world measures us to the way God measures us.
  • Bible Story: Bought with a price. You'll read and discuss the parables of the lost sheep (Matthew 18:12-14) and pearl of great value (Matthew 13:45-46). 
  • Creative Discipline: "Share with your child the idea that 'under-confidence' can be a great reminder that we need to trust God instead of ourselves."
  • Hands-On Opportunity: You're a treasure. Play hide-and-seek. While searching for your kids, you'll loudly lament their disappearance. When you find them, affectionately cover them in love.

It's a long road to sanctification, but when you look in the mirror, try to see yourself the way God sees you: wonderfully made, a marvelous work, standing in grace.

Saturday, July 4, 2020 - Independence Day

Family celebration ideas.

On this day, 244 years ago, we claimed our independence. Our freedom. We, as citizens of the United States, live in what we call a free country, an open democracy - a government ideally run by the people and for the people. Our country is all about freedoms and unalienable rights; they truly set us apart. So, this occasion is definitely worth celebrating. If you're looking for some ways to celebrate with your family, check out some of the ideas we've been stewin' on for you.

First, you need to look the part. While we know you're already looking great in your red, white and blue, you need an accessory to complete the look. Head over to Alice and Lois and make yourself a ribbon wand. These decorations that never fizzle out are made using 1/4 inch dowel rods; thin red, white, blue and silver ribbon; screw eye hooks; scissors and the directions from Alice and Lois. 

With wand in hand, it's time to head outdoors for some exercise. We think your family will have an absolute blast with this balloon dart game from Giggles Galore. Using a white pegboard (6' x 4'); red, white and blue balloons; small prizes that will fit in the balloons (like candy or money); darts and directions from Giggles Galore, you'll craft an American Flag from balloons that your family and friends can take turns popping for the prizes inside. 

We all know that hunger follows physical exertion, so be prepared with these All-American Eats from Delish. We'd choose the BBQ Grilled Chicken with a side of Cheddar Bacon Ranch Corn-on-the-Cob and Banana Split Kebabs for dessert. What about you? What would you put on your Fourth of July Menu?

Reader, I want to tell you something: You are free! But, in the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, "With freedom comes responsibility." And on this, the Bible agrees:
My friends, you were chosen to be free. But don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do anything you want. Use it as an opportunity to serve each other with love. Galatians 5:13 (CEV) 
So on this day, the day that we celebrate our freedom, remember that it comes with a calling. Fulfill it with pride.

Before You Go

We'd love to know:
  1. One thing you could use help remembering.
  2. What's your favorite Fourth of July pastime?
Until next time, leaders, we're sincerely hoping you find the joy in EVERY day.

At Your Service,
Created to do good works

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