We were so glad to share the story of Jesus’ birth through our family Christmas worship this past Saturday. It was great to have Pastor Shelly and Ms. Carrie help us celebrate with our families. Today’s post is from Carrie Lahmeyer, Aldersgate UMC Director of Children and Family Ministries
I can not believe that we are already mid December, and Christmas is less then two weeks away. I love this time of year hearing all the preschoolers sing their cute little Christmas jingles, hearing their laughter and seeing the surprise in their eyes when they learn something new. I am so blessed this year to get to work with the preschool children and staff more getting to know some of the children and families as well as see “my kiddos” who are a part of Aldersgate Church programs during the week. All of these things brighten my days and make my heart full.
Today as I sit here on a gloomy, and cold Monday morning I think about how this time of year can be very confusing, and stressful to children and even us adults as it has become so much about Santa, reindeer, Elf on the Shelf and other items that we have trouble staying focused on the true meaning of Christmas, JESUS! For myself I find myself asking questions and even the all too familiar, “Why God” questions and realize that Christmas isn’t always a happy time of year for many. This is why my job as Director of Children and Family Ministries is so important to me. Aldersgate is real, with real people who have family troubles, marriage issues, depression, personality conflicts, and a lot of other things that others experience. We also have many Joys like the building we share, the love we have for one another, the events, and services we offer, and wonderful staff, and most of all the blessing of God. The Joy of spreading God’s Love is in ACTION at Aldersgate and I invite you to be a part of that at any time. Below you will find our Sunday schedule as well as some opportunities coming up soon and after the first of the year. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the church office or at the information listed below with any questions, or suggestions. More details about events, groups, and church schedule are available on the church webpage at www.aldersgateumc-ks.org also.
I pray that each and everyone of your families has a memorable, blessed Christmas and 2016 brings you great joy. As a mother of four children, the oldest who will graduate in May I will tell you these childhood years go way too fast! Take this special time of the year to teach them the true meaning of Christmas and make memories that will last a LIFETIME! One of my favorite quotes is from Charlie Brown’s Christmas and it says, “It’s not what’s under the Christmas tree that matters, it’s who is around it!”
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,
During Advent the Children’s Ministry team has been using movie clips each Sunday from “Charlie Brown’s Christmas” to teach children life lessons from the movie and how they relate to the Bible. We have been keeping it simple around here and putting a lot of focus into it is not about what we receive, but what we give others.
This Saturday, December 19th from 6:00-8:00 PM we invite you to join us for a Project Linus event. We will gather in the Church Commons to make fleece tie blankets to donate through a local Project Linus group for children at Children’s Mercy Hospital. These blankets will be given to children in need, or who are scared and need a little extra love during their time at CMH. To join us please sign-up at the Sign-Up Station in the church commons or register online at www.aldersgateumc-ks.org. All ages are welcome, childcare for children 4 months old through age 2 will be provided upon request only. If you are unable to attend, but like to donate contact me for information on how you can help.
What to bring:
- 1 and 1/4 yards of fabric (there will be some fabric already purchased)
- A dozen snacks, or treats to share
Christmas Eve Services:
6:00 PM- Family Service
- Geared for families with children 5th grade and younger and don’t mind the giggling and wiggling.
- Childcare for children 4 months old through age two will be provided for any families desiring childcare.
6:30 PM- Jesus Birthday Party
- Families are encouraged to start the 6:00 Worship together and then children will be dismissed to attend the Birthday Party. Adults and older children will remain in the Worship Center for the remainder of the service.
- Parents will pick up children in the far east preschool rooms following the conclusion of the 6:00 Worship.
11:00 PM- Traditional Candlelight Service
- All ages welcome
- No childcare provided
Parenting with Love & Logic Classes:
Thursday evenings 6:00-8:00 PM, starting February 18th. This is a 6 week class that will meet every Thursday evening, except March 17 through March 31. Childcare will be provided for a suggested $5/class per family charge. Mark your calendars now, and watch for more details after Christmas break.
8:30- Worship **
9:45- Sunday School for all ages*
11:00- Worship **
*Childcare is provided for children 4 months old through age 2 at both Worships and during the Sunday school hour.
**Children ages 3 through 3rd grade are invited to PAL (Praise and learning)Time, a.k.a Children’s church. Children start Worship with their families and are dismissed to PAL Time following the Children’s Message.
My last post included some of our favorite items that might make good Christmas gifts. I realized that I hadn’t mentioned books at all. What a major oversight! We read to children everyday at school. We love books! Kids love books!
Research supports the idea that reading to young children in the home has a positive impact. “The Early Childhood Longitudinal Study measured children’s home literacy activities using an index that counted parents’ reports of how often they read to their children, sang to them, and told them stories, as well as the number of children’s books and audiotapes or CDs in the home. The children who ranked higher on this home literacy index also scored higher on reading and literacy skills when they entered kindergarten. The positive relationship between a home literacy environment and children’s reading knowledge and skills held true regardless of the family’s economic status (NCES, 2003, p. 74).”
Enough about the serious side of reading, though. I’d rather focus on the FUN! I asked a few teachers for a list of their favorite books. Here is a very limited list.
Press Here by Herve Tullet
This is a newer book that is very interactive. The text encourages children to touch dots, tap each color, shake the book to the right and more. It’s entertaining to see how the dots react in the subsequent pages. The kids call this the “magic book.”
Pete the Cat, I Love my White Shoes by Eric Litwin
We love the original series of Pete the Cat books. Their catchy text with repetitive phrases are fun to read (and sometimes sing) with the kids. You can find many of these on youtube.com to hear how the author sings the phrases. Unfortunately the later books in this series are written by a different author and don’t hold up (in my opinion) to the first few books: Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons, Pete the Cat and the New Guy, Pete the Cat: Rocking in my School Shoes, Pete the Cat Saves Christmas
Go Dog Go by P.D. Eastman
Bears on Wheels by Stan and Jan Berenstein
These two classics (I’m sure you remember these from your childhood) still hold appeal with kids. The rhythmic text and humorous situations presented prompt plenty of interest from the children. I love the play with language and cognitive concepts included.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do you See by Bill Martin
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
There are so many other classics. These are just a couple more examples but pretty much I will say, if it’s lasted through the ages it’s probably a pretty good read.
Lines that Wiggle by Candace Whitman
This one is a newer book in our library and to be honest, I picked this one. I love the rhyming text but I also love the way it introduces the idea of lines to young children. That’s was letters are after all – lines. I can see following a reading of this book up with fun activities such as hunting for leaves with different kinds of lines in them, going on a line hunt (walk), dividing letters into straight, curved or both piles, going through the book again following the lines with a finger and of course just drawing all kinds of lines (straight, wiggly, dotted, curvy, tall, sideways . . .) on paper. I could also see using this as an opportunity to make up your own story with your child. Pick a page and tell a story together.
Alphabet Rescue by Audrey and Bruce Wood
This alphabet book with it’s wonderfully bold illustrations and engaging story line draw the kids rap attention. I love that this one also introduces lower case letters. I encourage many alphabet books especially for those that are just beginning to notice letters. However even children that already recognize letters will find new things to notice every time they read and talk about a book with you. Other alphabet books we would recommend are:
Alphabet Under Construction by Denise Fleming
The Dog from Arf! Arf! to ZZzzzz from The Dog Artlist Collection
Z is for Moose by Kelly Bingham This one has a moose that wants it to be his turn throughout the story! It would also be a great read for those children who have a hard time waiting for things.
These are just a few of our favorite anytime books. I want to be sure and include a few Christmas books too.
B is for Bethlehem by Isabel Wilner
Continuing the alphabet book theme this book has detailed illustrations as it uses a word beginning with each letter as a springboard to tell the story of Jesus’ birth.
This is the Stable by Cynthia Cotten
Hark the Herald Angels Sing (board book)
These are just two books we enjoy that tell the story of the first Christmas in a way that young children can understand. They never tire of hearing this story.
Motimer’s Christmas Manger by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman
This book weaves the story of Jesus into some of our everyday Christmas traditions all through the eyes of an adorable little mouse.
Bear Stays Up by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman
This wonderful story shows how we share love and caring during this Christmas season.
Don’t forget the classics. Kids LOVE this song and they enjoy seeing it in pictures. I’d encourage you to have fun with some real jingle bells too! You can have fun with a simple song to the tune of Mary Had a Little Lamb
Ring those bells on your elbow, on your elbow, on your elbow
Ring those bells on your elbow, how else can we ring those bells?
Way up high? And jump, jump, jump? Really, really fast?
I could go on and on! At preschool we have lots of toys that we love to use with the kids but you can imagine we have hundreds of books we could list. We just pray you make time for reading. Make time for talking about what you see. Make time for noticing letters, rhymes and rhythms. Make time to cuddle and read. That’s one of the best gifts!
It’s that time of year again when we are sometimes consumed with the question of what to get the kids for Christmas? We have a couple of previous posts with ideas that you can find by clicking on the links below:
There is one in Kansas City (a list of some items we like from Lakeshore Learning)
As you can imagine, though, we have plenty of other ideas that would be good options, so here is our 2015 list: (Click on the photo to link to a website.)
Fine Motor and Building:
You just can’t go wrong with Legos for four years and older and Duplos for two and three year olds. These old stand-by toys are great for fine motor strength and they are open-ended (assuming you build beyond the original plan in the kit.) I’ll show a little of my bias by suggesting the kits that are gender neutral in color and shapes. You may be able to find some cheaper with sales in the stores but these on Amazon are what I ordered. (click on the photo for the link)
These are such a simple idea but the play is open-ended and the play encourages the development of math concepts. Manipulating the rubber bands encourages fine motor strength development. These are out on our shelves all year long. This set comes with six boards so it would be a great one to get and divide up for several kids on your list.
Alphabots and Numberbots
These fun toys are from Lakeshore Learning. Let’s just say they are a HIT here at preschool!
Locks and Keys
These are also from Lakeshore Learning and again, they are a hit! Be sure to check online or get on their text list and you will receive discounts codes often.
Many of you may remember playing with a light bright as a child. They continue to hold appeal for young children today. Actually we have found the old standard version to work really well. The link attached to the photo will take you to the Ebay page that offers options of various sellers for this toy.
The link from the photo will take you to a previous post about the benefits of play dough along with our favorite recipe. You may feel that something homemade is not “exciting enough.” Imagine the excitement a child will feel with a new batch a play dough and some new accessories for the play.
As you know, kids love to move! Winter weather often necessitates indoor large motor play options.
We’ve had a few of these for several years and they have held up GREAT! This kids love them too. They come in a variety of colors. I have two on my list for the grand kids this year.
We use scooters often at school. They are great for general play, but also build core muscle strength when children lay on their stomachs and move. While I would use these on my wood floors many of our staff said they wouldn’t. There may, however, be the garage floor or perhaps and unfinished basement area available for play. These are fun for movement while sitting or laying, but they can also be used with rope attached to pull items, etc.
General art supplies
Whether its as stocking stuffers or as a collection in a fun box or container everyday art materials are important to have available to young children. Yes, scissors, glue, paint, markers and crayons can all be messy at times but with some advance planning and planned supervision these supplies can provide hours of entertainment as well as some important fine motor development.
This is a great way for children to naturally engage with letters and numbers. As their knowledge grows, their play changes and eventually stamps are incorporated into play with words and spelling. The bonus is that the kids just have fun playing!
One of our parents endorsed the fun of a bunch of pom poms in her comments on our last Christmas post. She wrote “One of the best things we had at a family Christmas was a lot of new pom pom “puff balls” I bought from a craft store. I got several different sizes and colors. The kids had a blast sorting them by size, color, etc. We “cooked” with them, used them in construction trucks and had snowball fights. Out of all the new Christmas gifts, this one kept six young kids entertained the longest!”
I could go on and on and on with so many fun ideas. I guess I just encourage you to find a couple of things that will enhance your child’s play and exploration. Don’t stress it too much. Let this part play a minor role in your holiday plans and activities. The best gift you can give is yourself. Your time for play, reading and cuddle are the most valuable gifts at any time of the year!