Tag Archives: Resurrection Sunday

Christ-Centered Books for Easter

Books are big around our house, and holidays are a special excuse to pull out old favorites.  When it comes to the big HOLYdays like Christmas and Easter, I am especially intentional about trying counter the cultural messages that bombard my children and focus on the true reason we celebrate.

To the consternation of some of my friends, we don’t do bunnies and Easter baskets.  I want my children to find wonder and take delight in the miracle of the resurrection, and I think a bunny bringing candy is pretty stiff competition for a young heart’s affections. I also try to keep egg hunts separate from Resurrection Sunday, though because eggs do tie into the celebration as a symbol of new life, we enjoy a few egg-related books and activities in the weeks before Easter.

Easter books
Here are our families favorite books to celebrate the Passion Week, culminating with Christ’s sacrifice and triumph over death (affiliate links):

The Donkey Who Carried a King by R.C. Sproul

 

The Legend of the Easter Robin: An Easter Story of Compassion and Faith by Dandi Daley Mackall
 

The Parable of the Lily by Liz Curtis Higgs
 

The Legend of the Sand Dollar by Chris Auer

 

Benjamin’s Box by Melody Carlson and Jack Stockman
(goes along with “Resurrection Eggs” and is one of our favorites!)
 

For the preschoolers, I use The Story of the Resurrection Eggs in Rhyme and Song: Miss Patty Cake Opens Up the Wonder of the Easter Story by Jean Thomason.  I wasn’t sure about the book on it’s own, but my little ones adore the DVD that goes along with it, which has made the book a treasure as well.
 

Legend Easter Egg

The Legend of the Easter Egg (I like the main point of this story but it seemed like it could have been more thought out.  Still, a good way of redeeming the whole idea of Easter eggs and refocusing on Christ.)

The Very First Easter by Paul L. Maier (This book has beautiful illustrations, which kept Ian intrigued even though the book is better for older children.)

 

The Easter Cave by Carol Wedeven (repeating pattern in the style of “the house that Jack built”)

 

The Easter Story by Brian Wildsmith

The Easter Story illustrated by Gennady Spirin (text from Matthew, Luke, & John in KJV)

 

Journey, Easter Journey! by Dandi Daley Mackall (Rhyming story that tells of Jesus’ entire life through the ascension. Ours came with a read-along CD.)

 

Egglo
The Egg-cellent Easter Adventure (We reviewed the related Egglo glow-in-the-dark eggs a few years ago and this is one of my kids’ favorites.)
 

The Berenstain Bears and the Easter Story by Mike Berenstain  (Tells the story of Christ’s death and resurrection truthfully without being graphic.)

 

An Easter Gift for Me by Crystal Bowman (rhyming board book, great for preschoolers)

 

Legend of the Easter Robin by Dandi Daley Mackall (Book Review)

Can you believe the Easter season is almost upon us?  My children have been asking for some of the books our family enjoys leading up to the celebration of Christ’s resurrection, we jumped at the chance to review a new addition to that collection.  They couldn’t wait to read The Legend of the Easter Robin: An Easter Story of Compassion and Faith by Dandi Daley Mackall.

The Legend of the Easter Robin points to Christ in numerous ways.  The overall story is about a little girl, Tressa, who delights in watching a family of robins from the time the parents build their nest until the little ones hatch safely out of the pale blue eggs.  She and her grandmother discuss different aspects of the experience along the way:

  • trusting the Creator to keep one safe
  • celebrating with Easter birds made from egg shells
  • the robin’s red breast reminding us of Jesus’ blood and sacrifice

Throughout the book, Tressa worries about the baby robins, but when they finally hatch, she is “sorry she’d ever doubted God’s care,” and she determines that whenever she sees a robin or feels worried, she’ll remember the legend of the robin who tried to spare Jesus the pain of his thorny crown.  The final page of the book tells about the history of the Pennsylvania Dutch legend of the robin’s red breast and the traditions discussed in the story.

Richard Cowdrey’s beautiful illustrations draw the reader’s eye on every page.  I especially like the black and white sketches of Jesus with the dramatic touch of red as his blood falls on the robin’s breast.  This book takes elements of “spring” that can often dominate Easter festivities and points to the true reason we celebrate.  It’s definitely going to be pulled out year after year as we look to remember Christ’s sacrifice.

BookLook disclaimer

Wrapping Up Week 32 (2014-15)

weekly wrap-up
 This turned out to be a week for finishing things!  We came to the end of several books, and others I decided to just put away to make room for what we’ll be doing for the last month of school.

For the last few weeks I’ve talked about how we’re itching to be done, so I’m really excited about the change we’re making.  We’re getting a chance to review Knights and Nobles, a 4-week unit study from Homeschool Legacy.  Since it integrates all our subjects into a study of one of Ian’s favorite topics, this unit study seemed like the perfect opportunity to end our school year on a positive note.  Plus it will be a fun preview of the medieval part of our history lessons for next year.  As I’m looking over some of the books used in the unit study, I’m finding many I had already bought to go along with Year 2 of our history cycle, (which have been getting the boys excited as they arrived in the mail over the last few weeks), and a trip to the library added to the wealth of great books we’ll get to go through over the next few weeks.

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Bible/Circle Time

We started Little Pilgrim’s Progress way back in January when we started up after Christmas, and this week we finally got to the satisfying ending.  Ian and I both really enjoyed this book, and I know we’ll come back to it with our family as the little ones grow.

We spent a little bit of time each day talking about Holy Week.  Every year our children look forward to going through the Resurrection Eggs over and over.  The older boys enjoy opening the eggs as we read through Benjamin’s Box.  Arianna gets more out of watching Miss Patty Cake’s Egg-stravaganza and reading the book that goes along with it (The Story of the Resurrection Eggs in Rhyme and Song).  I find the DVD a bit cheesy, but it’s full of songs and Resurrection Eggs and all my kids enjoy it, from Ian (7) down to Nicholas (1), so we watch it several times each year.

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Arianna also enjoyed reading The Easter Story by Brian Wildsmith.  “It’s a Jesus book!” she said excitedly when she brought it to me.  I think she likes the size (we have a miniature version) and the shiny gold in the illustrations.

I left a basket out all week with all our Easter books and videos.  Here’s what the kids pulled out:

Math

Ian got really motivated this week on Mathletics, completing over 1500 points instead of the 1000 I require of him each week.  He enjoyed the sense of completion as he saw that he could finish up whole groups of lessons.  I’m not going to require him to finish all the 1st grade lessons since he’s done plenty on other programs this year, but it looks like he might get close to finishing everything.  (Even after we end our school year, I’ll still have him doing some math through our summer break just so he doesn’t get out of the habit.)

He had a rough week on xtramath.org as he worked through harder subtraction facts, but by Friday he had improved his scores , so I hope he’s not too frustrated.

Literature

We didn’t quite finish all the reading for Ambleside Online, Year 1, but we did get through most of the literature scheduled, and I’ve decided to just skip the last couple stories from The Blue Fairy book and Parables from Nature.  I’m hoping to get through Twelfth Night in Tales, but other than that I’m considering our year completed.  (Woohoo!)

Science

Similarly, I’ve decided to call it a day with The World of Plants.  We managed to get through lessons 26-30, and I don’t see any need to finish the last couple lessons with a first grader.  My main goal with using the God’s Design for Science series has been to provide exposure to a wide range of scientific topics.  I think we’ve accomplished that this year with the three books in God’s Design for Life.  I don’t think plants are ever going to be a favorite topic for Ian or myself, but I’m glad we persevered this term and got through most of the book.  (I think we covered more than I ever did in any elementary science book when I was in school!)

Moving On…

So now, onto four weeks of Knights and Nobles to finish out our year!

Upcoming Reviews

We’re currently getting familiar with several products.  Watch for reviews soon!

Come Celebrate Easter Sticker & Activity Book (Book Review)

http://i2.wp.com/ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/61FVOfi5N9L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg?w=960We recently were given a chance to review The Beginner’s Bible Come Celebrate Easter Sticker & Activity Book from Zonderkidz.  This is not exactly a story book that you can read through with your child, but you might be able to use it that way if you skip the activity instructions and just read the narratives about Jesus on each page.  Beginning with a description of Jesus, the book covers the major events of the Passion: from the triumphal entry, through Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion, to the Resurrection and finally Jesus’ ascent to heaven.

Each page contains some sort of activity, including things to color, sticker puzzles, letter/number tracing, a maze, a word search, and a dot-to-dot.  Some of the activities were too advanced for my 3-year old, but she still had a lot of fun with the parts she could do.  My 7-year old could do everything in the book and had fun with it, but some of it was too easy for him.  I think my 5-year old was the best fit, and he would have enjoyed having the whole book to himself, but I let them all take turns choosing a page to complete.

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As soon as I opened the book I was surprised by the quality of the pages.  The colors on each page are a vibrant as those on the cover, with a glossy quality that makes it easy to reposition the stickers.  Over 50 stickers are included, some with specific places to put them, others just for decoration.  One page had several puzzle piece stickers, and after my 7-year old had done the puzzle, my 5-year old removed all the stickers so he could do it himself.  I was impressed that both the stickers and the page held up through all of that!

Our only complaint is that at 16 pages, the book seemed rather short.  However, it would be the perfect thing to tuck in an Easter basket or take along to church to help a child sit quietly through service while focusing on the Easter story.

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The Resurrection: Letting Go of Expectations

It seems like the main lesson I learned through this Lenten season was that things are not always going to happen the way I expect.  Lent TreeOur Lenten Tree limped to life in spurts.  Because it wasn’t connected to either our evening family Bible Time devotions nor our morning Bible reading with school, we just didn’t add to it as regularly as I hoped.  Instead we kept adding leaves in clusters.

There were two ways we brought our tree to “life.”  The leaves were made using the printable “ornaments” from Gina at Seamless Days.  She has drawn up simple pictures to represent the stories mentioned in No Ordinary Home: The Uncommon Art of Christ-Centered Homemaking by Carol Brazo.  They tell the story of God’s redemption from Creation to the Resurrection.  We also added flowers to represent some of the ideas I got from Bring Lent to Life: Activities & Reflections For Your Family by Kathleen M. Basi (e.g. people we’re praying for, things we’re thankful for).  I still like the idea of the tree, but the next time we try it I think we’ll make sure to connect it with the devotions during our family Bible Time.

Even though we didn’t add to the tree daily or as often as I would have liked, at least it did happen (sort of) and provided the visual lesson I intended.  I had other plans for Lent that never happened at all, so I went to church this morning with anticipation in my heart, hoping for a great glorious celebration tapping into two thousand years of tradition of celebrating the miraculous morning of the Resurrection, something that would wipe away the dissatisfaction of my frustration expectations.

Then my children had one of the most difficult times in church I can remember since we started keeping them in the main service with us a few years ago.  (Actually, it was probably just one child in particular having trouble, but multiple issues on that front made me hyper-sensitive and then every little thing out of the others seemed a lot worse than it was.)  I ended the service in tears.  The morning had not been the glorious experience of my dreams.

I imagine the disciples felt the same way at the beginning of that Sunday morning so long ago.  Here they were, at the culmination of three years of ministry following Jesus, expecting him to triumph over their oppressors and establish his kingdom, only to find themselves left with a body in a tomb.  They adjusted to his death and tried to figure out where to go from there.  Then the women came back from the tomb proclaiming Christ’s resurrection.  In spite of the fact that Jesus had told them he would be raised on the third day, they still had a hard time believing it until they saw him for themselves.  It wasn’t until they let go of their expectations that they were able to fully experience the awesome power of Christ’s victory over death.  What started as a gloomy morning turned into a joyous celebration.

My own morning did get better.  Our merciful God brought several good friends around me who offered comfort and encouragement, and by the time we left the church building my spirit was renewed and refreshed.  Even though the rest of our day has just been an ordinary Sunday at home, there is something different inside me.  I have spent the day reading through the story of Easter morning in all four gospels and reflecting on the beauty of the Resurrection.  While my day wasn’t quite so dramatic as that first Resurrection Sunday, it still ended up being a time of joy and marveling at the glory of God.  As I let go of my expectations I was able to embrace His mercy, His grace, and His infinite love.  And that is a wonderful way to celebrate the day God triumphed over death and gave us the incredible gift of new Life.

 

Lent: Looking forward to New Life

Lent1Our family so enjoyed the sacredness of celebrating Advent that I decided I wanted to do something for Lent this year to make this season a holy celebration as well.  Usually when I think of Lent, I think “fasting,” but really the season is about so much more than that.  I’m not sure how much our children would understand the concept at their ages and whether they could really choose to give something up on their own.  I don’t want the season to be remembered for how much they resented me taking away their sweets or screen time. So instead, I’m choosing to use a “Lenten Tree” to represent God bringing us new life.

Throughout the season we will add leaves, flowers, and ornaments to transform our barren “tree” into a lush symbol of Christ’s triumph over death.  I’ll share a little more about how those things will get added as we move toward the celebration of the Resurrection.

To see how our tree came to life, check out The Resurrection: Letting Go of Expectations.

Resurrection Day!

I think this was the most meaningful Easter I’ve ever celebrated, probably because we were so intentional about focusing on the story of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection all week with the children.  Actually, I think from now on I want to take more time (as in 2-3 weeks) to focus on it, the same way we do with Christmas.  There were so many things I wanted to pack into this past week, and we didn’t get to half of them because I wanted to take at least a bit of time to really enjoy what we did choose to include.  I’ll definitely have to keep a file full of ideas to use in years to come!

I’ve been timing our Bible lessons so that we would be on Week 32 of the ABC Jesus Loves Me 3-Year Old Curriculum, which covers the story.  However, I ended up pretty much just doing our own thing.  Not only did we not get to everything I planned, we ended up changing our focus completely.  I had intended to use The Parable of the Lily by Liz Curtis Higgs as our “book of the week”, but we never even got to it because Ian got so into Benjamin’s Box and “Resurrection Eggs.” (In case you’re not familiar with them, a Resurrection Eggs set is made up of a dozen plastic eggs, each a different color and each containing a small object that represents part of the Passion story–except for the last one, which is empty to represent the empty tomb.)

Resurrection Set

Resurrection set from Oriental Trading

Okay, confession time. I had heard of Resurrection Eggs before, but to be perfectly honest, I was skeptical of how well they’d be received.  It just seemed a little too commercial somehow.   I was SO wrong!  Something in me (hmm, Holy Spirit maybe?) prompted me to go ahead and buy some the week before.  (I know some people have put together their own sets, but I just wasn’t sold enough on the idea to devote that much time and energy to it.) I put them out on Monday with the resurrection scene I’d gotten from Oriental Trading Company and all our Easter books.  Ian was immediately intrigued and wanted to know more about them.  I had him come over to sit with me and told him he could open one egg at a time as we went through the book Benjamin’s Box.   (Another confession: I wasn’t so sure about this book either.  It seemed like a gimmick to get me to buy the eggs.  So I hadn’t bought it, just put it on my Paperback Swap wishlist after hearing people talk about it last year, and lo and behold, it became available and I thought, “Sure, why not?”  Again, SO glad we had it!)  I don’t think Ian would have sat through the book if it hadn’t been for the eggs, but having them there kept him engaged the whole time.  He really enjoyed getting out each object and talking about how it fit into the story of Passion Week.  Later, when we watched watched The Animated Passion video together, Ian kept the eggs with him and opened them as we got to each part of the story.  So I am now an avid fan of Resurrection Eggs!  They helped Ian grasp the details of the story in an incredible way, and he enjoyed using them to tell the story to himself and to others in our household over and over.  Even after Easter Sunday, he wanted to keep going through them.  (We’re taking a “Spring Break” this week so I hadn’t rushed to put away anything from last week.)Anyway, that became the main focus of our week.  (For our Bible notebook, I kept it pretty simple: “He Lives”  Cross Make-a-Sticker Scene sticker set from Oriental Trading Company.)  We did read through a few other books, though we didn’t get through everything on our list (but I’ll share the whole thing):

We also attempted to make “resurrection rolls,” which I’ve seen mentioned on more blogs than I can count.  We learned one very important lesson: USE FRESH MARSHMALLOWS.  At least I think that’s what went wrong.  (I thought I’d use up what we had in the cupboard. Oops.)  We had SO much fun “anointing” our marshmallows in melted butter, rolling them in cinnamon sugar, and wrapping them in crescent roll dough.  I didn’t do the greatest job at pressing the seams together, so a number of them split open.  But the bigger flop was that our marshmallows didn’t melt away the way they were supposed to!  They still tasted great, but I’m afraid the boys are going to be pretty disappointed next year when the “tombs” are actually empty!

  

I think my favorite thing about this week was listening to “Easter carols” on our iPod playlist.  Most of them were songs that have played a meaningful part in past Easter celebrations in my life, and I found myself tearing up several times throughout the week as we listened.  Do you have any favorite Resurrection-related hymns/songs that we can include in the future?  Here’s our playlist from the week (including our memory verse, John 3:16):

All the things we did this week created such anticipation for Sunday morning.  Some of the songs we sang at church were songs we’d been listening to.  Ian was so excited when he heard, “He is risen!” and he knew to respond, “He is risen, indeed!”  Worship with our congregation was a beautiful, joyous celebration.

I’m already excited about celebrating again next year. I’m hoping to incorporate a lot of the “Sense of the Resurrection” ideas Amanda posted over at impressyourkids.org.  (She also listed tons of other ideas to help you plan a “Meaningful Easter.”)  I also loved some of the ideas from Desiré at whenyourise.com.  What sort of things did you do with your kids to focus on Christ this Easter season?