Archive | July 2009

Alphabet Wall: J is for Jigsaw [and J is for Jesus]

“Mama, remember Jesus died on the cross?”
            “Yes dear, and remember Jesus also rose again!”

I’d been thinking about doing J for Jigsaw for some time but conversations like the one above with DD over the past couple of weeks got me thinking about working in J for Jesus to the lesson plan.

[Note to our non-Christian readers: J is for Jigsaw is a good enough activity on its own for alphabet craft using any picture of your choice. I just generally try to make use of daily situations and learning opportunities from the environment around us when designing the alphabet craft activity, and in this case, it was good to tie it in with the syllabus covered in Sunday School 🙂 ].

You will need:
Any picture printout of your choice. I chose a picture of “Jesus and the children” from this site.
Colour pencils, scissors, marker, cardboard, glue.

Note: I did not use thick cardboard (although the thought did come to mind that it could make the puzzle pieces a bit hardier) because it’s difficult enough to cut through regular cardboard and I did not want to risk ending up with ill-fitting jagged edges when assembling the jigsaw. Still, if you know of a clever way to do it, please let me know! 🙂

1. Have your child colour the picture.

J is for Jigsaw and Jesus-coloured page

2. Paste the coloured picture on the cardboard. Using a marker, trace out the letter J with your picture in the centre of the J.
3. Trace a jigsaw puzzle outline in pencil on the J. [I hope you can see it…just realised it’s kinda faint in the picture :-P]

J is for Jigsaw and Jesus-trace

4. Cut according to the jigsaw outline that you traced. You may need to touch up the glue to ensure that all edges are firmly stuck to the cardboard.

J is for Jigsaw and Jesus-cut

5. Ta-dah, your very own homemade jigsaw! 😉

J is for Jigsaw and Jesus-puzzle pieces

6. Have fun assembling the puzzle over and over again, [and for Christian parents, take every opportunity to talk about Jesus!] 🙂

J is for Jigsaw and Jesus-completed

Deuteronomy 6:5-7
“Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

It’s late at night

The kids are asleep. And the little elves (read: DH and me) come out to work!

We brainstorm, we choose, we draft, we critique, and finally when we’re satisfied with our lesson plan, we prepare the materials for the Friday art and craft session.

We chat, joke, scribble, erase, draw, mark, cut, arrange, refine…and finally we put away all the supplies, lay out the materials on the table and call it a night.

It’s great fun to talk about new craft techniques that we can explore with each new lesson plan.

It’s exciting to think about what other learning opportunities could be gained and plan how we could possibly reinforce the lesson with a field trip.

It’s wonderful to be able to do something relaxing and creative that we know will benefit the family and provides a conversation topic for DH and DD when DH gets home from work.

It’s fulfilling when we see DD enjoy the activity and later on point out something from daily life to associate it with the lesson.

It’s constructive couple time for us as we work together on a shared activity with a common objective.

And the best part about this is that it’s a sustainable family bonding activity, because there’s always something new to learn every day for both parent and child. 🙂

So you already know…

…what we do on Fridays and weekends but what happens on Mondays to Thursdays?

We read and read and read some more! 🙂
Here are some of the family’s perennial favourites which are top winners for both the story and the illustrations.


Bob and 6 more Christmas Stories by Sandra Boynton – funny, irreverent, plain silly and the lullaby at the end of the book written purposely in a very odd tune is touching in its own way. Boynton’s lullabies are so catchy that it’s become a staple every night before bed.  I am itching to go buy more to refresh our little library… 😉

Guess How Much I Love You

Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney and illustrated by Anita Jeram – I love Anita Jeram’s illustrations, they are the kind of pictures I would like to frame up on the children’s room walls. The ending of the story never fails to bring a warm smile to DD’s face as Big Nutbrown Hare kisses Little Nutbrown Hare goodnight and whispers “I love you right up to the moon…and back.” Lovely and very good for winding down an active toddler for bedtime.

Goodnight Gorilla

Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann – We got this second hand copy as a gift and it has truly been well thumbed and leafed by the kids. It has no words so you tell the story as you see fit, but the cheerful illustrations go a long way in conveying Gorilla’s mischief and the zookeeper’s “blur-ness”. There are some “easter eggs” in the pictures that older children can try and look out for. Younger children can just enjoy the story and the pictures, which for some reason has a very comforting and calming effect. Great for bedtime.

The Beginner's Bible

The Beginner’s Bible: Jesus is Risen – this was one of the first books we read to DD. The story starts with Jesus being made to carry the cross, his death on Calvary, his burial in the tomb, the resurrection and ends on the happy note where his disciples see him again after he is risen and they are told to go and tell others that Jesus is alive. The pictures are bright and clear and it’s a succinct summary of the salvation story for young children.

The Gruffalo's Child

The Gruffalo’s Child by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler – DD knows this story almost by heart and can recite it as we turn the pages. By no means does it imply she knows how to read but it certainly demonstrates the power of a child’s memory! The story in rhyme is well written and great for teaching first words to a child and Axel Scheffler’s illustrations are really humorous.  We got this on offer for below $10 in one of those warehouse book sales and I have been looking out for the prequel to be on offer price since!

Bible for Little Hearts

Bible for Little Hearts published by Tyndale House and illustrated by Elena Kucharik – the watercolour illustrations are so beautiful and heartwarming. I find it very convenient that the pictures are those of a big sister and little brother so it’s easy for DD to identify it with herself and her brother.  This has been a fantastic resource for reinforcing the memory verses she learns at Sunday School.

The very hungry son…

…cleaned out the very yummy apple for breakfast  😉

The very hungry son

Alphabet Wall: Making…Y is for Yellow

When we were done with Elephant, DD wanted to paint some more. And she wanted yellow.
I drew up a quick Y on a new artblock sheet and mixed up yellow paints on the dish.

Y is for Yellow-materials

Explaining Y is for Yellow, I handed her the paintbrush.

Y is for Yellow-painting

I considered cutting out the Y and pasting it onto another sheet. But finally, I thought, naaaahhhh…I like the bright yellow splash across the Y, so it’s going to stay that way.

Y is for Yellow

Two pieces for the alphabet wall today! 😀

Alphabet Wall: Making…E is for Elephant

DD was very excited to do art and craft today and before I could even start with what E was for – she already suggested Elephant! “Like the ones in the zoo!”

I wanted to try a different painting technique this week, so I cut up a dishwashing sponge into half.
You will need: Marker, artblock sheet, black and white paints, paintbrush, dish or palette to mix the paint, sponge, scissors, glue.

E is for Elephant - materials

1. Draw out an E on your artblock sheet. Draw also the side profile of the elephant’s face, and an ear.

 E is for Elephant - structure

2. Mix your paints. Dip the sponge in and brush over the sheet until the E, face and ear are all covered. We had so much leftover paint that I let DD paint the newspapers while I cleared things away! 😉

 E is for Elephant - painting

3. When dry, cut out the pieces.

E is for Elephant - cut

4. Glue the face on the top left hand corner of the E and the ear just overlapping it a little. And Elephant joins African Safari pal Zebra on the alphabet wall!

E is for Elephant - completed

E is for Elephant

Cheese Scones!

Cheese and scones – a combination of two of my favouritest things in the world! 😛

I made these for breakfast! Making scones is a rather messy affair though…so much clean up required afterward!

Cheese scones1

The recipe

2 cups self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
50g butter, cut into small pieces
125g of any type of mature sharp cheese, grated
150ml or 2/3 cup milk
1 tsp mustard (optional)
pepper (optional)

1. Grease a baking tray and set aside.
2. Sieve the self raising flour, baking powder and salt into a mixing bowl.
3. Rub the butter in until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
4. Stir the grated cheese, mustard and enough milk into the mixture to form a soft dough. Set aside some milk for brushing the tops of the scones (The recipe asked for 150ml in total but I found that I had to use slightly more to add into the dough mix, and consequently a little more for brushing)
5. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough into a ball, and roll out flat till about 1.5 inches thick. Cut out the scones and place on the baking tray.
6. Brush the surface of the scones lightly with milk. Sprinkle with a little pepper.
6. In a preheated oven at 210°C, bake for 10-15 minutes until the scones turn golden brown.
7. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

Because the scones are for both young children and adults, I made them tinier than normal scone sizes so it’s easy for little hands to hold. I also omitted the mustard and pepper.
I liked how these scones turned out. They were aromatic, and the cheese was not too overpowering. The texture was not crumbly but soft and slightly springy when bitten into. Although the recommendation was to serve it with butter and jam, we thought they were great just eaten on their own, DH commented that it also felt heathier. Also got the thumbs-up from mum-in-law for the no sugar factor! 🙂