Jesus Calls His First Disciples – Play Through The Bible – Week 17


Play Through The Biblewk17

Week 17 of Play Through The Bible is the story of Jesus calling his first disciples.  K loved this week because he is all about going fishing lately!

If you haven’t read the introduction to this series yet I recommend going here. For all the plans in one place, go here.


Week Seventeen – Jesus’ Calls His Disciples

Focus Point

Jesus asks some fishermen to follow him.

Story Time Tips

  • We read “A Wish for Fish” starting on page 156 of The Rhyme Bible Storybook for Toddlers.
  • I talked about how these men were using a net to fish, since K has only ever seen fishing with fishing poles.
  • Pretend to be fishing and then make sad faces when you don’t catch anything.
  • I briefly explained what is means to be “fishers of men.” I said that it means telling people about Jesus and asking them to follow him too. K was able to remember the phrase “fishers of men” pretty well, but I didn’t push him to remember the meaning for now.
  • Since this was the first mention of Jesus’ disciples, we spend some time talking about who they were. Day five’s craft was a great time to expound on this topic more.


Hop into a laundry basket boat and act out the story! You can use a blanket for the net and for the fish either toys or fish cut out of construction paper.


Parent: “Did the men catch any fish by themselves?”

Child: “No.”

Parent: “Who helped them to catch a lot of fish?”

Child: “Jesus!”

Parent: “What did Jesus tell them to be fishers of?”

Child: “Fishers of men!”

Daily Craft

Day One – Fishers of Men Coloring Page

Day Two – No Fish Yet



Materials needed:

  • Brown and gray (tan, or white) construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick
  • Blue paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Fish stickers (can cut fish out of paper if you don’t have any stickers)



Cut a boat shape out of the brown paper.


Paint the bottom half of the gray paper with the blue paint.


Glue your boat on top of the water.


You or your child can draw a couple guys in the boat. Ours were frowning due to their lack of fish. Please don’t be intimidated by my mad drawing skills.



Add your fish stickers in the water (we didn’t even wait for the paint to dry first!).


All finished!

Day Three – Fish



Materials needed:

  • Piece of construction paper (we used gray)
  • Sequins
  • Glue stick
  • Scissors


Trace and cut out a large fish shape from your paper.


Glue sequins onto your fish.


Simple and easy!

Day Four – Finally Catch Some Fish!



Materials needed:

  • Blue construction paper
  • Gray construction paper (optional, originally I was going to use this to cut out fish shapes)
  • Fish stickers (not pictured)
  • Glue stick
  • Scissors
  • Mesh (ours came off an orange package)



Stick your fish stickers (or glue your cut-outs) together in the middle of the page.


Put some glue around your fish.


Put your mesh overtop of the fish.


Write “Follow me and be fishers of men” on the top to finish it off!

Day Five – Jesus and His Disciples



Materials needed:

  • 13 peg dolls (we bought these ones from Amazon)
  • Acrylic paints
  • Paintbrush


For our last craft I decided to make something we could use for the rest of the series – Jesus and his disciples peg dolls. They will be perfect for K to use to play out the stories we read.

We kept it really simple…


First, we painted the heads. Of course, after we started I realized I didn’t have any brown or tan. I mixed together a color for the heads the best this non-artistic momma could, but it did end up a little too green! Good thing it didn’t bother K a bit.


After we painted the heads, we painted each body a different color, making Jesus be white.


All done! Not the prettiest, but made with love by three year old hands (with a little help from mom).

Extra Resources

Here is a great song for this week:

Fishers of Men Bible Song


I hope you enjoyed week seventeen of Play Through The Bible. I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or use the hashtag #playthroughthebible on Twitter or Instagram! 


Affiliate links may be included. Thank you for using your purchases to help support Simple Life. Messy Life.

The Baptism of Jesus – Play Through The Bible – Week 16

Play Through The Bible wk16


This week for Play Through The Bible we learned about the story of Jesus’ Baptism. The concept of baptism is a difficult one for little thinkers, but we tried our best and K really enjoyed this week’s activities.

If you haven’t read the introduction to this series yet I recommend going here. For all the plans in one place, go here.


Week Sixteen – Jesus’ Baptism

Focus Point

Jesus obeyed his father, God, and was baptized.

Story Time Tips

  • We read “Jesus is God’s Son” starting on page 208 of The Rhyme Bible Storybook and “John the Baptist” starting on page 150 of The Rhyme Bible Storybook for Toddlers.
  • Like I mentioned earlier, the concept of baptism can be tricky for a toddler/preschooler to understand. Like many things in the Bible, it is full of symbolism and metaphor, ideas that don’t mesh well with a concrete thinking 3 year old! Times like this can be frustrating when you want to help your child understand, but it’s just not happening. However, I had to remind myself that the purpose of these early lessons are just to introduce the ideas. So, I tried my best to give a simple explanation of the story and then just left it with a simple “Jesus was baptized.”
  • We talked a lot about how John wore a camel hair coat and ate bugs. K thought this was very interesting. I did not offer up an explanation for this strange behavior, and he did not ask!


Bring along some small plastic figurines to bath time and use them to play out the story or just to talk about baptism more in general.


Parent: “Who told people that Jesus was coming and baptized people?”

Child: “John the Baptist.”

Parent: “Was Jesus baptized?”

Child: “Yes!”

Parent: “What animal to God’s spirit appear like at Jesus’ baptism?”

Child: “A dove.”

Daily Craft

Day One – Jesus’ Baptism Coloring Page

Day Two – John the Baptist



Materials needed:

  • Yellow, brown, and tan construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Brown yarn


It is kind of hard to see in this picture, but use a pencil and outline a circle for a head and a coat shape on the tan and brown papers.


Cut your outlines out.


Cut some of the brown yarn into small pieces. This is going to be your furry camel hair for John’s coat.


Glue down the circle and coat cutouts onto the yellow paper.


Put some glue on the coat and cover it with the yarn.


Add some details like hair, a face, and feet.


All done!

Day Three – Dove



Materials needed:

  • Paper plate
  • White scrap paper
  • Glue stick
  • Scissors


DSC_3742Trace out a simple shape of a bird on your paper plate.



Cut it out.


Cut your white scrap paper into small pieces…


…like so. These are going to be your “feathers.” If you have real feathers feel free to use those, but that is not a craft supply we normally have on hand.


Cover your bird in glue.


Put your “feathers” on your bird.


Add some eyes if you’d like. I thought about cutting out a beak and gluing it on, but K was happy with what we had, so I just left it.

Day Four – Baptism



Materials needed:

  • Jesus’ Baptism coloring page (we used this one)
  • Paint
  • Paint brush


Since we are going to be using these guys for tomorrow’s craft, I went ahead and cut them out before he painted them. That way there would be no chance of being upset at getting his picture cut into.


Paint away! Be sure to save for the next craft.

Day Five – Baptism #2



Materials needed:

  • Jesus and John the Baptist cut-outs from yesterday
  • Green and blue construction paper
  • Glue stick
  • Scissors


Cut out a wide strip of the blue paper with wavy edges. This will be your river.


Glue the blue paper onto the green.


Glue on John the Baptist.


And glue on Jesus.

That’s all!

Extra Resources

We didn’t find any extra resources this week. Do you know of any?


I hope you enjoyed week sixteen of Play Through The Bible. I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or use the hashtag #playthroughthebible on Twitter or Instagram! 


Affiliate links may be included. Thank you for using your purchases to help support Simple Life. Messy Life.

Boy Jesus – Play Through The Bible – Week 15


Play Through The Bible wk15

Sorry that we’re running a little late this week! K really enjoyed learning about Jesus as a little boy, so I’m glad I was able to get this post put together. I hope you and your little’s enjoy learning about the boy Jesus too!

If you haven’t read the introduction to this series yet I recommend going here. For all the plans in one place, go here.


Week Fourteen – Boy Jesus

Focus Point

Jesus was a kid just like me!

Story Time Tips

  • We read “A Lost Boy” starting on page 198 of The Rhyme Bible Storybook and “Where is Jesus?” starting on page 140 of The Rhyme Bible Storybook for Toddlers.
  • The word “temple” was a new one for K’s vocabulary. We talked about how the temple was kind of like church, a place to learn about God and pray. We also talked about how it was called the House of God.
  • In Luke we find this story of Jesus as a boy, so we used that passage to add another point that weren’t mentioned in the Rhyme Bible. We talked about was how after Mary and Joseph found Jesus it says that Jesus obeyed them as he grew up. We’ve been having to talk about obeying a lot lately, so it was good timing to be able to talk about “obeying like Jesus.”


Play “hide and seek Jesus.” Designate a place to be the “temple” – it could be a certain room, under the table, a fort, etc. Have your child hide there and then wander around “looking for him/her.” Make a big production of it when you find him/her in the “temple.”


Parent: “Where was Jesus when his mom and dad couldn’t find him?”

Child: “The temple.”

Parent: “What was the temple?”

Child: “Like church/the house of God.”

Parent: “Did Jesus obey his parents?”

Child: “Yes!”

Daily Craft

Day One – Boy Jesus Coloring Page

Day Two – Jesus was a kid, too!



Materials needed:

  • Coloring sheet (we used this one)
  • Crayons
  • Glue
  • Picture of your child

DSC_3701Color your coloring page. You can kind of see in this shot that I also wrote at the top: “Jesus was a kid like me!”


Put some glue on your picture…


..and stick it on your picture.


That’s it!

Day Three – Obey Garland



Materials needed:

  • Letters O, B, E, Y outlines printed (we used these)
  • Dot markers (or whatever you want to use to decorate your letters)
  • Scissors
  • Hole punch
  • Pipe cleaner (or string)


Talking about how Jesus obeyed his parents was a big thing for us this week, and after trying to come up with some kind of craft to drive this point home I finally just decided to print out the word and decorate it. Nothing fancy, but it worked for the purpose of providing another setting to talk about obedience.


First, decorate your letters. We used dot markers, but you could use markers, crayons, paint, or whatever you want.


After your letters are decorated, cut them out and punch holes in the corners (alternatively, you could tape the letters together).


Cut the pipe cleaner into three sections and use the pieces to connect the letters together. All done!


Day Four – Scripture Scroll



Materials needed:

  • Paper sack
  • Scissors
  • Marker

I found the idea for this easy and fun craft on Our Out-of-Sync Life.


First, cut a rectangle out of the paper sack.


Crumple it up!


Then, smooth it out. Repeat the process a few times – it is pretty fun!


Choose a verse and write it on your scroll. We chose Eph 6:1 to tie into our conversations on obedience.


Then, roll your scroll up.






Ta-da! You have your very own scroll!

Day Five – The Temple


Materials needed:

  • Markers
  • Cardboard box (we found this interesting looking piece of packing material)

I thought about making something that was a more similar representation to the temple, but decided that keeping it simple would achieve the same purpose for now. Doing this craft was a great and simple way to talk more about the temple and reinforce the meaning of this new word.



Basically all we did was use the markers to decorate the “temple.” He asked me to draw a door, so we did that too.

Extra Resources

We had two songs this week that K really loved!

And Jesus Grew – Steve Green

Children Obey Your Parents – Steve Green

I hope you enjoyed week fifteen of Play Through The Bible. I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or use the hashtag #playthroughthebible on Twitter or Instagram! 


Affiliate links may be included. Thank you for using your purchases to help support Simple Life. Messy Life.

The Wise Men – Play Through the Bible – Week 14


Play Through The Bible wk 14

Sorry for the delay in getting up this post – Christmas busyness to blame! Hopefully these fun wiseman activities are making it to you just in time for Epiphany.

If you haven’t read the introduction to this series yet I recommend going here. For all the plans in one place, go here.


Week Fourteen – The Wise Men

Focus Point

The Wise Men followed a star to find Jesus.

Story Time Tips

  • We read “The Wise Men” starting on page 190 of The Rhyme Bible Storybook.
  • K pointed out that the star the wise men saw was  big and bright. This discussion tied in perfectly to day 3’s craft.
  • On the final page, the picture does show Jesus at the appropriate age (approximately two years old). You can mention that it took the wise men so long to get to Jesus that by the time they found him, he wasn’t a little baby anymore!
  • Talk about how the wise men gave Jesus gifts. I asked K what gift he would give Jesus and he thought about it for a while and said “a toy.” Then we talked about how the best gift Jesus wants is for him to love God and love other people and be nice to them.


If you have a kids nativity set (I recommend this one, but if you don’t have one try searching for “printable nativity”), use the pieces to play hide and seek wise men. We did this quite a few times leading up to Christmas. I would hide the wise men in a silly place and tell K that they were looking for Jesus somewhere and he needed to find them. The sillier the hiding place the better! K thought this was a great game and it helped him remember the role of the wise men in the Christmas story.



Parent: “What did the wise men see in the sky?”

Child: “A star.”

Parent: “Was the star big or small?”

Child: “Big!”

Parent: “Where did they follow the star to?”

Child: “To find Jesus!”

Daily Craft

Day One – Wise Men Coloring Page

Day Two – Star Ornament



Materials needed:

  • Star ornament (we found ours at Hobby Lobby, but you could just as easily cut one out of cardboard and attach a string)
  • Paint brush
  • Yellow paint


We kept decorating our star ornament simple and just painted it yellow. Feel free to let your imagination run wild with this, but K did enjoy the activity with painting only, so simple is good too!

Day Three – Starry Night Sky



Materials needed:

  • Black piece of construction paper
  • Star cut out of yellow construction paper
  • Glue stick
  • Gold sequins (or something similar)

DSC_3521First, put some glue on your star cut-out.


Then, cover the star with your sequins.


Once it is covered, glue it to the black paper.

DSC_3526Glue the other sequins onto the black paper around your big star.


When you’re finished, you will have a lovely starry sky with one big star for the wise men to follow!


Day Four – The Three Wise Men



Materials needed:

  • Three toilet paper tubes
  • Markers
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Googley eyes



First, cut out square on the top of the toilet paper tub rolls so it looks like a crown.


Color in the bottom 2/3rds of the tube….



…like so.


Then color the top of the tube yellow…


…like so.


Add on some googley eyes.


We finished them off by adding a little smile, some “jewels” on their crowns, and some arms holding their gifts.

Day Five – A Special Gift


Materials needed:

  • A gift box (I used this tutorial to make a little one, but you could use a gift box leftover from Christmas)
  • Sequins
  • Glue


Glue the sequins onto the box.


This craft was the perfect time to talk more about how the wise men gave Jesus gifts and what kind of gift Jesus wants from us.

Extra Resources

We of course love our Little People Nativity Set, but other than that we didn’t use/find any other resources.

I hope you enjoyed week fourteen of Play Through The Bible. I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or use the hashtag #playthroughthebible on Twitter or Instagram! 


Affiliate links may be included. Thank you for using your purchases to help support Simple Life. Messy Life.

Names of Jesus Advent Ornaments {Christ-Centered Christmas Series}

Christmas Series

For the last post in this year’s Christ-Centered Christmas Series, I wanted to share one of our family’s favorite traditions. I hope you enjoy!


Our First Christmas Tradition

When I was researching Christmas traditions for my son’s first Christmas, one of the first things I came across was this post. I immediately fell in love with the idea. Twenty-five ornaments. Twenty-five names of Jesus. Twenty-five days of Advent. In the post, she had made their ornaments with her son, but I knew that I wanted our ornaments to be made from something fairly sturdy if they were going to outlast the toddler years. After some brainstorming, I decided to sew them. I found a tutorial for using your home printer to print on fabric and set to work making the simple ornaments. I used a list like this, and narrowed down 25 names for our ornaments. Here are the ones I used…

Lion of Judah (Rev 5:5)
Alpha and Omega (Rev 1:8)
Light of the World (John 8:12)
Living Water (John 4:10)
Messiah (John 4:25-26)
The Word (John 1:1)
Judge (2 Timothy 4:8)
The Vine (John 15:5)
Lamb of God (John 1:29)
Cornerstone (1 Peter 2:6-7)
Savior (Luke 2:11)
Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6)
The Good Shepherd (John 10:11)
The Great Physician (Luke 9:11)
Living One (Rev 1:18)
Bread of Life (John 6:35)
The Way, The Truth, and The Life (John 14:6)
The Bridegroom (Matthew 9:15)
Immanuel (Matthew 1:23)
I AM (John 8:58)
Teacher (Matthew 23:10)
Gift of God (John 3:16)
Suffering Servant (Isaiah 53:11)
Son of Man (Mark 10:33)
King of Kings (Rev 17:14)


That first Christmas, just a few days shy of 1 year old, K absolutely loved our nightly ritual of hanging our ornaments on the tree. Both that year and the next we were staying with my in-laws, so Grandma, Papaw, and Auntie C would join us each night as we chose an ornament and read the verse. Little K didn’t grasp the significance of the names, but would clap and jump and dance each night when we put another ornament on the tree.


A Continuing Tradition

This year, K is just shy of three years old and it’s only mom and dad and himself reading the ornaments each night. Most of the names and metaphors are still over his head, but there has been some beautiful moments born out of this nightly tradition that takes a mere ten minutes.

One of the first that comes to mind was when one day I had K pick two ornaments out of the bag to put on the tree in order to catch up from days we had missed over the weekend. I read the names and, planning to just skip the verses, told him to hang them on the tree. He immediately responded, looking a little distraught: “But we have to read the story!” He then went and got me my Bible and listened as I read the verses. It was a humbling experience for me. I had mistakenly assumed that his little three year old mind wasn’t taking in all that we were doing. But, in reality, he was soaking it up.

The other fun thing has been watching his little mind work so hard to try and grasp what these names mean. Most of the time he just gets a puzzled look, but when it clicks, it clicks. Two that he has really latched onto this year are Savior and Lion of Judah. He drew the Lion of Judah shortly after learning about Daniel and the Lion’s Den, so he already had lions on the brain. He was pretty excited to learn that Jesus is mighty and powerful like a Lion. He is also fairly superhero obsessed, so when I explained that a Savior is someone who saves people (like a superhero) he was also very excited! He always picks up on the word when he hears it on the radio and a smile breaks out on his face and he says “Is this a Savior song?!”

This year of Advent Ornaments is drawing to a close and we are enjoying the final days. I look forward to next year and to many years in the future. These names carry so much meaning and truth and it is an honor and a privilege to teach them to my children. If you are looking for a simple and meaningful Advent tradition I hope that you will consider giving this one a try!


Baby Jesus – Play Through the Bible – Week 13

Play Through The Bible wk13

Just in time for Christmas next week we have made it to the story of baby Jesus! If you are looking for some fun and easy activities to do with your little one next week, look no further.

If you haven’t read the introduction to this series yet I recommend going here. For all the plans in one place, go here.


Week Thirteen – Baby Jesus

Focus Point

Christmas is when we celebrate the birth of Jesus the baby king.

Story Time Tips

  • We read “The Special Baby” starting on page 172 and “The Shepherds” on page 182 of The Rhyme Bible Storybook and “Who Saw Jesus?” starting on page 130 of The Rhyme Bible Storybook for Toddlers.
  • When we talked about how Jesus is the King (page 184 of TRBS), K remembered how last week we had learned that Daniel didn’t pray to the king. That led to a discussion of how Jesus is the King of the whole world, the King of Kings. We talked about how he is God, so it is okay to pray to him.
  • On page 180 (TRBS) we see baby Jesus in the manger. K found it was super silly to learn that the manger was where the animals ate their food – kind of like the dog’s dish!
  • After learning about the angels, K really enjoyed listening to Hark the Herald Angels Sing.


If you have a kids nativity set (I recommend this one, but if you don’t have one try searching for “printable nativity”), use the pieces to reenact the Christmas story with your child. We’ve done this multiple times since K loves to play with his nativity and, though it is simple, it has really helped him remember the story and each person’s role.



Parent: “Who’s birthday is it on Christmas?”

Child: “Jesus.”

Parent: “Who was Jesus’ mom?”

Child: “Mary.”

Parent: “Who was his dad?”

Child: “Joseph.”

Parent: “Where was he born?”

Child: “Stable/manger.”

Parent: “Who did the angels tell about Jesus being born?”

Child: “The shepherds.”

Daily Craft

Day One – Nativity Coloring Page 

Day Two – Simple Shape Nativity



Materials needed:

  • White paper
  • Black marker
  • Yarn cut into small pieces (ours was off-white, but you could use brown or yellow)
  • Glue
  • Green construction paper cut into the shape above
  • Blue construction paper cut into the shape above and into a small oval
  • Brown construction paper cut into two small circles and one smaller circle
  • Gray construction paper cut into a trapezoid and two small rectangles

DSC_3445This craft is fairly simple and self-explanatory, so I didn’t take pictures of step-by-step instructions. All you need to do is glue the pieces onto the white paper like the above picture. When we were done we wrote “Jesus the baby king” on the bottom.

Day Three – Craft Stick Nativity Ornament



Materials needed:

  • Paints (we used blue, yellow, green, and white)
  • 6 wide craft sticks – three whole, three cut like the above picture
  • Glue gun (or your choice of glue)
  • Star cut out of paper or a cereal box
  • Black marker
  • Three small circles cut out of brown paper


I’ve seen these cute craft stick nativities floating around the internet and thought it would be fun to make. I found some instructions here, but ended up simplifying it way down for toddler hands.




Paint your star yellow (or silver, gold, etc).


Paint the smallest craft stick white (this is baby Jesus).


Paint the tallest craft stick green (this will be Joseph).


Lastly, paint the second smallest craft stick blue (this will be Mary).


Once the paint is dry, glue the brown circles on and draw some little faces.


Use the glue gun to glue the remaining craft sticks into a stable shape.


Then, glue on your Mark, Joseph, baby Jesus, and star.


Day Four – The Shepherd’s Sheep



Materials needed:

  • Cardboard cut into the shape of a kidney bean
  • Two clothespins
  • Black paint
  • Yarn (we used off white)
  • Googley eyes (optional)


We had a lot of fun with the sheep craft we did when we learned about David, so I decided to search around for another one for us to do for learning about the shepherds and the angels in the Christmas story. I ended up finding the cutest little sheep and we had to give them a try!


First, paint your two clothespins black…


…and paint your cardboard piece black too.


Once it’s dry, pin the legs on like so. Also, learn from our mistake and make sure to check the clothespins before you use them – one of our sheep’s legs ended up being shorter than all the rest, so he couldn’t stand on his own.


Use some tape to stick your yarn onto the body of the sheep.


Then, wind the yarn around and around until the whole sheep body is covered.


Cute, ain’t he!?


If you’d like, you can finish by glueing on some eyes.


Then, it’s time to play!

Day Five

Since it’s Christmas week, we decided to keep it to just four days of crafts.

Extra Resources

We’ve been listening to Christmas music everyday using Pandora and K is getting good at picking up on some of the lyrics.

There are so many amazing Christmas resources out there, the real key is to try to not and do too much!

We will be off next week due to Christmas! Look for Play Through the Bible to return on January 1st!

I hope you enjoyed week thirteen of Play Through The Bible. I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or use the hashtag #playthroughthebible on Twitter or Instagram! 


Affiliate links may be included. Thank you for using your purchases to help support Simple Life. Messy Life.

The 1st Gift of the Year – Guest Post by Sarah Ball {Christ-Centered Christmas Series}

Christmas Series

Today sharing her family’s favorite Christmas tradition is Sarah Ball of Virtuous Woman Exposed.


With five children, ages 4-16, it takes a Christmas miracle to bring us all together for a sincere family moment. Christmas morning is hectic & fun, but hard to rein everyone in for some time of reflection. Boxing Day is a write off because we are so exhausted and overstuffed we can’t even move. The weeks leading up to Christmas are hurried and task orientated and in all the craziness we can usually grab 5 minutes!

Five minutes of reflection and unity is very hard to gain in a family of hormones, part-time jobs and pre-school attention spans. We manage to spend a lot of time together as a family, but it is almost impossible to get everyone to just SHUTUP for 5 MINUTES…. PLEASE!!!!

So once we find this moment, my husband and I gather the children around and threaten them “You will behave, this WILL be special, and You WILL like it!”

This moment begins with a gift.

Every year, we set aside a time to decorate the tree together.

Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 2.49.37 PM

It’s chaotic and the tree ends up looking like the ornament section of the dollar bin, but it’s a great family moment we love to share together. It’s led to fights, broken bulbs, some tears, and huffs, but mostly it’s filled with excitement, laughter, and the occasional breakoff into a Fred Astaire dancing moment. (Okay, that’s usually just me)

Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 2.49.52 PM

But all that fun aside my favorite moment is when I bring the gift. One ornament, carefully selected to reflect our year as a family.

We’ve had years of blessings, years of sorrow, strain and want, and many years of fullness and adventure. Just like the Lord said we would…

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

Phew! I think that scripture sums up a single road trip with our kids!

2 years ago we had a very hard year. I wasn’t sure how we could find an ornament that would reflect the grief and loss and strain, until I found Kermit. Sitting contemplative.

“It’s not easy being green”

“Sometimes life is not easy,” we told our kids, sometimes we go through hard seasons, and we know that there is a gift in it; we just need to find it. Kermit expressed that perfectly.

When we gather for this family tradition we reflect on standout memories of the year and talk about how we felt about it. We then set our eyes on the year ahead, hanging our past year on our synthetic tree. Hoping for a continuation or, as we did the year of the Kermit, an end to our suffering. “I hope our next ornament is a bag of money” I joked. But God wasn’t, it was almost a prophetic joke, because we had a year of blessing the following year!

This year we hung a “new home” ornament, as we reflected on the crazy adventure we have had moving to a new town and the miracle of our new house. You can read here.

It’s great to see ornaments that tell a story, hanging on our family tree. So every year we decorate it we say, “Oh, remember this year?”

It brings everyone together and we look back and praise God together for what has been. We see how far we have come and we express our gratitude for being a witness to our blessings and struggles.

In all things we are to praise God, and we do this tradition, not to fill the tree, but to bring us together as a family and see how God has directed every step of the way!

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Sarah Ball is a columnist, speaker, blogger, and mom. You can follow her blog Virtuous Woman Exposed and join her on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest.

Daniel and the Lion’s Den – Play Through The Bible – Week 12


Play Through The Bible wk12

Week twelve of Play Through The Bible is the story of the Daniel in the Lion’s Den. K had a ton of fun with the crafts this week and loved the idea of Daniel being with the lions. It was also a great opportunity to further talk about prayer

If you haven’t read the introduction to this series yet I recommend going here. For all the plans in one place, go here.


Week Twelve – Daniel

Focus Point

Daniel prayed only to God.

Story Time Tips

  • We read “Daniel and the Lions” starting on page 146 of The Rhyme Bible Storybook and “Daniel Prays” starting on page 118 of The Rhyme Bible Storybook for Toddlers.
  • We spent some time talking about prayer and how we only pray to God, not to people.
  • We talked about how Daniel obeyed God and talked about how we could obey God.
  • Of course we spent a lot of time pretending to be lions!


Using a blanket and chairs build a small fort to be a “den.” Take turns pretending to be Daniel and the lions. If you have your day 3 craft made, you can use that as well to pretend to be the lion.



Parent: “What did Daniel do to get in trouble?”

Child: “prayed.”

Parent: “Who did they tell him to pray to?”

Child: “The king.”

Parent: “But who did he pray to?”

Child: “God!”

Parent: “So where did they put Daniel?”

Child: “With the lions!”

Parent: “Did the lions eat him?”

Child: “No, their mouths were shut tight!”

Daily Craft

Day One – Daniel Coloring Page

Day Two – Pray Like Daniel



Materials needed:

  • White paper
  • Markers
  • Scissors
  • Glue



First, trace your child’s hands on the white paper.


Cut out the hands and color them however you’d like.


Once you’re done coloring the hands, write on them “I can pray like Daniel.”


Put some glue on the back of one of the hands…


…and glue them together like they are praying.


All done!

Day Three – The Lion



Materials needed:

  • Paper plate
  • Brown construction paper
  • Yellow construction paper
  • Orange construction paper
  • Glue stick
  • Scissors
  • Craft stick


Cut off an approximately 2 inch strip off the construction paper.



Cut skinny strips off out of each of the colors.


Cut out the center of the paper plate and glue the strips around the edge. We’ve been working on patterns, so we did ours in a pattern!


Put some glue on the end of the craft stick and glue it to the paper plate.


Let out your best ROAR!

Day Four – Daniel in the Den



Materials needed:


Printout and color the Daniel and the lion page. I printed ours at about 75% but I could have made it a bit smaller.


If your craft paper is new (ours came in a package) fold it a couple times and crumple it up. Then, tape each end down onto the brown construction paper. This makes your “den.”


Then, tape the picture you colored onto the back of the den. That’s it!

Day Five – The Angels



Materials needed:

  • Paper plate
  • Tape
  • Markers
  • Pencil
  • Yellow pipe cleaner

K thought the angels in the story were pretty cool, so we decided to make our own. Perfect timing, since we can use them for Christmas play as well! We used the tutorial here to figure out how to make them. I apologize for the poor quality of some of these photos. A tiny fenced-in backyard and a giant tree blocking the sun don’t give very much light into our house after a certain small window.



First, you’re going to need to trace out the shape of the angel on your plate. Start with a circle in the middle of the plate. Inside the circle, trace a head shape. Then, drawn two lines coming out the the sides of the circle at the top. If you don’t want to free hand this, there is a printable template on Martha Stewart’s website.


Next, you need to cut out along the lines you drew. First cut out the chunk on top. Then, cut around the head shape. Just don’t cut all the way around your circle. It may seem kinda complicated, but once you do it you figure it out pretty quickly.


Bend the outside of the paper plate around the back of the angel and tape together.


You could decorate your angel really fancy with glitter glue and sequins, but we kept it simple with a yellow marker.


Cut off a small piece of pipe cleaner and shape it into an oval.


Tape it onto the back of the angel’s head.


Add a simple face.


And they are ready to protect Daniel from the lions!

Extra Resources

There is a great song by the Donut Man called Daniel and the Lions, but unfortunately I couldn’t get it on YouTube.

There is also an old Veggie Tales movie about Daniel and the lions that is pretty good.


I hope you enjoyed week seven of Play Through The Bible. I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or use the hashtag #playthroughthebible on Twitter or Instagram! 


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Our Christmas Tradition of Sweet Rolls – Guest Post by Lindsey Whitney of Growing Kids Ministry {Christ-Centered Christmas Series}

Christmas Series

Up next in the Christ-Centered Christmas traditions series is Lindsey Whitney of Growing Kids Ministry sharing how their simple family tradition bridges the generations and slows them down to celebrate Christ’s birth. 


There is something about the smell of cinnamon wafting through the air that means Christmas is nearby.   Perhaps it’s the candle on the table.  Maybe it’s the pinecones in every store entrance.  For us, it’s the delicious aroma of Christmas sweet rolls.   Growing up, sweet cinnamon rolls in the oven usually meant that family was nearby.  My mother always mixed up a batch when my uncle Chuck came to town (in fact, I think he came to town just so he could eat them).    Her sweet rolls are huge, savory, and melt in your mouth delicious.  Though especially popular during the cold winter months, I also have memories of her mixing them up during summer vacations.   One year, she made them with assistance of my cousin, Keeliyah, barely three.  Keeliyah’s  small delicate hands hanging on tight to the rolling pin just inside my mother’s as they pressed out the dough together and sprinkled it liberally with cinnamon and sugar.   Though throughout the year they were miles apart, this family tradition now tied them together in a special way.

Now that my husband and I have our own home and family, I’ve continued the sweet roll legacy.  Each year on Christmas Eve, I get out the mixing bowls and measuring cups and begin the somewhat long process of making these delicious treats.  I place them rolls in the fridge, rolled tightly into pinwheels of sugary goodness and tucked neatly into the baking dish, so they are all ready to go on Christmas morning.  The first year I began the tradition, I forgot how long it takes for the dough to rise and never finished until almost midnight!

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Thankfully, I’ve learned from that messy ordeal and now every Christmas Eve afternoon, the kids and I measure out the flour and sugar, mix up the milk and eggs, and sprinkle the cinnamon together, anticipating the joy of the next day.


As we gather around the table on Christmas morning, eating these sweet rolls helps me feel connected to the generations before me.  Of course, they remind me of my mother, but they also remind me of my amazing godly grandmother who birthed and raise two of the most central people in my own spiritual walk.   She is now gone, but it’s moments like these that keep me forever connected and grateful for the legacy she has created.  I hope that my own children remember this tradition when they become adults.  I love that the rolling and waiting forces us to block out a substantial amount of time and really slow down before the celebration of Christ’s birth.  I love that the slow rising of dough builds anticipation of the goodness that is to come.  In the rush of the Christmas season, I know that this tradition will hold strong.  It’s simple yet deep.  It is a delicious tradition and it is ours.

sweet rolls

Truth in the Tinsel – Guest Post by Amanda White of {Christ-Centered Christmas Series}

Christmas Series

Today we have Amanda White of sharing the story of how her favorite family tradition came to be. If you haven’t heard of her fantastic Advent e-book,  Truth in the Tinsel, you really need to check it out!


truth tinsel jamie lydia amanda couchMy favorite Christmas tradition started with reading a book to my daughter. This daily advent book suggested making an ornament and we did. It was a simple ornament with basic craft supplies I found around the house. Then, as the book progressed and didn’t instruct us to make more ornaments, my daughter demanded we make them anyway!

So, every day, my almost 2 year old and I would read our little book (or some other book) and come up with some kind of ornament to make. They were not fancy. In fact, they barely went along with the Christmas story, but my little girl had so much fun.

The next year, I decided to make up my own ornament-a-day activities for her. We read through the Christmas story in Matthew, Mark and Luke and made ornaments to tell the story. She loved it and it surprised me to see how much she knew and understood of this big story! She could walk you through the whole story just by pointing at her little handmade ornaments.

Each year, I’d come up with (hopefully) better ornaments or more focused Scriptures to read. And every year she still enjoyed it. Until one day I thought, “Maybe some other kids would like to do this, too.” I wrote down all the best ornaments we’d made and turned it into a little ebook called Truth in the Tinsel. It’s been used by thousands of families all over the world and every December my daughter–and now my son love looking online to see pictures of kids making the same ornament they are making.

I never knew a little activity with my daughter could turn into something that would affect other people. But that’s what Christmas does. It’s what God’s greatest gift does. When we turn our hearts to Jesus’ arrival as a baby in Bethlehem, we can’t help but celebrate. We can’t help but tell others.

I think Christmas traditions of every kind are really just tools to help us point back to Jesus. Christmas trees can remind us of God’s everlasting love. Christmas lights reminds us of the Light of the World. Gifts speak of the greatest gift of all! When we use these small traditions to help our kids learn about Jesus and the true Christmas story, it will become an automatic thing for them. They will look at Christmas through a lens of celebrating Jesus! And in turn, their conversations with friends and others will also point back to Jesus.

I love that as we walk around our house, shop in the stores, turn on the TV and even drive through our neighborhood, we see a celebration of Jesus and his birth. People may unwittingly celebrate him and may literally throw the baby out in lieu of commercial Christmas. But even still, as parents, we can use these little traditions to point our children’s hearts to Jesus. When we do, it will be easy for us (and our kids) to point others to Him, too.

As you go about your December, look at all your traditions–from cookie baking, to tree trimming to serving food to the hungry as loud sparks of joy, gifts of hope and announcements of peace to your family and the whole world! “Joy to the world! The Lord is come! Let earth receive her king!”

What Christmas traditions do you like to share with others?