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Compassion

Friday, December 31, 2010

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Introducing ~ Julie

Julie

I’m the Christian mother of two wonderful children (3 and 16 months) and I have now been married five beautiful years to my dear husband. We are a trilingual, multicultural family.

Before having children, I was a third and fourth grade teacher.  A little secret is that I was once pre-med, but God led me to realize that my calling was teaching children. My passion is Montessori, a passion that blossomed once my daughter was born three years ago. We do many hands-on learning activities at home, most of which are Montessori inspired. I am looking forward to sharing many of these with you in the Totally Tots feature: Little Hands-on ABC's and 123's. You can also find me at our learning blog The Adventures of Bear.

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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Introducing ~ Sara

image As a former kindergarten teacher turned stay-at-home mom, I have embraced my new role as mother to a toddler boy and enjoy exploring, looking for bugs, and making sound effects for things that go "vroom." I've learned more about God's grace and provision for my life in the past 3 years as we have transitioned from two full-time salaries to counting every penny and cutting coupons. My husband, Ray, and Jonah (3 years old) are my favorite people in the world! We're also in the beginning stages of the adoption process from Ethiopia.

In my "former life", I taught kindergarten in a challenging urban school with a large ESL population--half of my students did not speak English--forcing me to think "outside the box." I have a degree in Early Childhood Education (PreK-4th grade) and a master's in Urban Education. Here on Totally Tots, I will be writing posts for Once Upon a Book and Simply Made.

Away from Totally Tots, you can find me in the Happy Brown House crafting, baking, and finding the joy in the journey of motherhood. Most nights I'm burning the midnight oil sewing for my Etsy shop, Stitches By Sara to raise funds for our upcoming adoption from Ethiopia or networking on Twitter or Facebook.

Sara

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Introducing ~ Maureen

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I am mom to 6 wonderful kids, ages 12 yrs. - 2 weeks. I've been happily married to my husband for a little more than 14 yrs, and we have had quite an adventure so far! We never planned on becoming a homeschooling family, but God laid that on our hearts when my oldest was 3 yrs. old. Now homeschooling has become a lifestyle for us. I have always had a passion for teaching, and it brings me such joy to see others learn.

Through the years I have had many opportunities to use my teaching skills. I've been active in children's ministry, especially at the toddler/preschool level. I've helped write curriculum and plan programs. For several years I taught scrapbooking at conventions and local scrapbook stores. Before becoming a stay-at-home mom, I was an elementary school teacher and taught 1st-2nd grades. In 2009 I started my blog, Spell Outloud, with the desire to give back in some way to the online educational community. I'm just amazed at the friendships and camaraderie that can occur in the virtual world.

I'm thrilled to be a part of the Totally Tots team and contribute to the Now I Know My ABC's posts. My prayer is that, while interacting with your children via educational activities or play, you draw close to each other and to God.

You can see what my bunch is up to by visiting Spell Outloud.com or following me on Twitter: @ SpellOutloud.

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Monday, December 27, 2010

Introducing ~ Tara

image I am a Christian work-at-home-mommy to my awesome preschooler! We have begun some informal homeschooling while also working on his speech therapy. “Little Man” is a curious, cautious-yet-sometimes-adventurous, goofy guy and I adore him!

I became a certified Christian Life Coach in 2008 and have focused on being a Mommy Mentor to other Christian moms as we walk on this parenting path together! This has naturally branched into what I love best – writing! I’ve written two e-books focused on helping Christian moms: “Raising Godly Children: What Every Christian Mom Should Know” and my newest one that is free on my website “Moms on a Mission”.

My newest venture is Mommy Missions, an online project designed to equip Christian moms of kids ages 10 and under with tools and resources to teach their children about God, the Bible and the Great Commission in simple and fun ways! My passion is to instill heart knowledge of God and the Bible into children and trust God to nurture the seeds and reap the harvest!

I am humbly privileged to help you teach your little ones about reaching outside of our own little world to reach others with Christ’s love and Good News in the Totally Tots feature Tots on a Mission.

You can check out more of my writing and teachings on my blog as well as iBloom, Heart of the Matter, Seeds of Faith, Cindy Rushton’s Time for Tea, the Ultimate Women’s Expo and the Ultimate Homeschool Expo. Please feel free to email me with feedback or suggestions at tara@ibloom.us.

Tara

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Merry Christmas!!

We’ll be taking a short break from posting for the next few days so that our team can enjoy Christmas with their families ~ and you can too!

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Have a MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

Monday, December 20, 2010

New and Updated Features for 2011 Year!!

Over the last few months we’ve been working behind the scenes to tweak a few of our features and planning some FUN new ones for you all! Our new schedule and team of writers will start on the 1st of January, but we wanted to give you a little ‘heads up’ to get you excited about what is coming!!!

Ready for a little sneak peek into the 2011 Totally Tots year?? Here are the NEW features that we will be introducing:

little handson Abc 123

Little Hands-on ABC’s & 123’s is a NEW feature that we’ll be adding and rotating with Now I Know My ABC’s. This will focus on general ABC and 123 hands-on activities that moms can do with their tots. We’ll be introducing one of our new writers for this feature next week!

mission

Tots on a Mission is a new feature that will have a mission focus for little ones. Once a month we'll look at a specific country using the book Window on the World and talk about ways we can pray for the country. There will also be monthly printables/activities to go along with the country we are praying for. We’ll be introducing one of our new writers for this feature next week!

touch feel learn

Touch, Feel, Learn is a fun new feature that will focus on science and nature activities for little ones. It will be a fun way for your tot to explore the world around him. Cindy from Along the Way will be our writer for this post.

sensory tubs

What’s in the Tub? is a new feature that will focus on fun sensory tub ideas to go along with the monthly theme at Totally Tots. Cindy from Along the Way will be our writer for this post.

 

Continuing Features and Writers…

In addition to the new features above, we also have some writers that will be switching around behind the scenes and taking over some of our current features. Here’s a quick look at the list of monthly features and the writers behind the posts:

~ Book Basket…Jolanthe will continue to write this feature.

~ Crafty Corner….Mama Jenn will be taking over this feature.

~ Get Real With God…Heather and Carissa will continue to write this feature.

~ Little Books for Little Cooks…Mama Jenn will be taking over this feature.

~ In My Heart…Val will continue to write this feature.

~ Mommy Made Printables…Carisa will continue to write this feature.

~ Now I Know My ABC’s…a NEW writer will be introduced next week!

~ Once Upon a Book…Jenn, Jodi, Erica and a NEW writer will be writing for this feature.

~ Play With Me…Jolanthe will continue to write this feature.

~ Simply Made….a NEW writer to be introduced next week!

~ Treats 4 Your Tot…Carisa will write this feature.

Stay tuned next week to meet the new writers that will be joining the 2011 Totally Tots Team! We’re excited to have some AMAZING ladies on our new team!

 

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Get Real with God ~ The Christmas Rosettes

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I was excited recently to be invited to a friend’s Christmas Craft Party. I was feeling burnt out with the kids and the idea of Mommy time couldn’t have been more timely.

The day of the party I packed up my gift to pass, a few pairs of scissors for the craft and a cranberry trifle to share. My friend’s house was festive and warm and the women all seemed eager for fellowship and a good time together.

After a cozy meal of white chicken chili, southwest rolls, and more goodies than I ever thought I could eat, we began our craft project.

A large plastic storage box was filled with fabrics and we were asked to choose our favorites. We were going to make rosettes in three different styles. They could later be turned into hair accessories, pins, or decorations for our favorite lampshade.

I had a great evening and made beautiful hair accessories for my girls and myself. I had so much fun I made five rosettes total.

Later, I began to think about the process I had gone through to make these little pretties and how it reflected the life of Jesus and everything my friend’s and I celebrated about his birth. Let me explain:

The first rosette began by tearing a long strip of fabric from the selvage edge. When Jesus died on the cross we learn that the veil was torn in two. Matthew 27:51 says “And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;” The separation between God and humanity was erased, ripped completely in two.

The life of Jesus was filled with blessing for humanity long before the curtain was torn. Sometimes he seemed incredible and wise and sometimes his ideas sounded impossible and hard.

The second step involved taking this super long strip, knotting it, gluing it to a circle and twisting the fabric while coiling it around the center. When Mary began her relationship with Joseph she surely didn’t expect such twists and turns to come to their impending marriage. It was a run of the mill engagement. Predictable and ordinary, but then God likes to put the sparkle in ordinary doesn’t he? From the time that Gabrielle explained the future to Joseph, he began a journey down a path full of twists and turns that led right up to the birth of our Lord. Mary and Joseph may have wondered where all the twists were leading. At times they probably felt their faith walking in circles of confident trust to cautious doubt and back again. Their perseverance had a result. As I twisted my last section of fabric and hot glued it to the end I saw that I had made something beautiful. For their faithfulness, Mary and Joseph had the privilege of being named the earthly Father and Mother of the Messiah!

The second rosette required us to cut out circles from chiffon (two big, medium and small). Then we lit candles and held the fabric over the flame. This was tricky and some of the ladies gave up. If you held it too close to the flame the fabric would bubble and burn holes. At just the right distance though, the heat would cause the edges of the fabric to pull together in a crinkle that resembled the petals of a rose. You know, when the three Wise men came in search of the young Savior they knew they were facing a challenge. Herod hated Jesus and attempted to trick them into disclosing the location of Jesus. In Matthew 2:12 we can see how they avoided betraying Jesus by avoiding Herod altogether and heading home a different way. When we come too close to evil we often get caught in a trap of sin. Like the fabric held too close to the flame our ambition is consumed and we become useless. However, at a distance we can let the fire of God smooth and shape us. It’s in this safe place that we meet with God. Our caution is rewarded with beauty as he bends us to his ways and forms us to his image. This rosette was the hardest one to make and my favorite of the three. When we practice caution and are brave enough to tackle what is difficult, the results often make us proud.

The last Christmas rosette was the most poignant reflection of Christmas. I began with a large circle and cut the fabric around in a coil like a snake, leaving a quarter sized head at the end. From the first moments of humanity the serpent, Satan, has been seeking to destroy God’s creation. He’s had it out for humanity since the first breath of Adam in the Garden of Eden. But God had an antidote for snake better than any anti-venom ever administered. It came in human form, in the tiny unexpected shape of a baby boy. Genesis 3:15 explains that human offspring would be the cure, crushing the head of the serpent. I believe the first soft coos of the baby Jesus sent shivers up Satan’s back. As I rolled the coil of fabric tightly a rosette took shape.

The birth of Jesus was a miracle, an answer to redemption that we could never attain without Him. He preserved his people, paid their debt and welcomed all who would come to be accepted into the family of God. He erased the separation between God and man and made a path for relationship that we were desperate need of. He led his people through twists and turns, battles of faith and fear that always ended in beauty. He refined us with his Word and held our actions to account. He made the consequences of sin clear and the promise of following him a reward bigger than we could expect. He crushed the serpents head and made a statement that He would always win. He can be trusted.

This Christmas, whether you celebrate with massive amounts of festive celebrations or in the quiet warmth of your home, I hope you find time to reflect on the life of Jesus, our Messiah, and what his birth and life means to you.

 

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Treats 4 Tots

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Here are some more cool giveaways for tots/moms of tots, check them out below and let us know if you win something we told you about!!!!

Bolded are items we personally own and love!  If you are hosting a TOT friendly giveaway you are free to leave a link in the comments section!

If you are looking for gift recommendations for tots, I have a list on my blog here…

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Once Upon a Book ~ The Pine Tree Parable

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by Liz Curtis Higgs

Summary: This is a heartwarming story about a farmer who grows Christmas trees. The farmer and his wife show the spirit of Christmas by sacrificially giving away their most wonderful Christmas tree to a family in need!

Bible Verse

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son. John 3:16a

Craft

We made Craft Stick Christmas Tree Ornaments!

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Math

We played an addition game using the Christmas tree insert cards for our Education Cubes. Each of the boys rolled the cube. The first one to correctly add the number of Christmas trees AND correctly write down the number got a tally mark. The first one with 20 tally marks won!

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Song

Sing “Oh Christmas Tree

Fingerplay

5 Little Christmas Trees (from Preschool Education)
5 little Christmas Trees
Standing all alone
Their heart were very sad
'Cause they hadn't found a home.
Then chop went the ax
And down fell the tree
And off they went with a happy family!
(continue from 4-1 Christmas Trees)
No little Christmas Trees
Standing all alone
Their hearts were very happy
'Cause they all found a home!!!

Snack

For a yummy snack, make some Christmas tree shaped sugar cookies and decorate them with m&m’s.

Art

The boys are always big fans of color by numbers! The Christmas tree color by number from Confessions of a Homeschooler was perfect for them!

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Games

The boys loved building their Christmas trees from Homeschool Creations!  For some extra cutting practice, the boys cut out all of their own pieces prior to playing!

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Want to see what's coming next (and books we've done in the past)? Click here to see our Once Upon a Book webpage!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Now I Know My ABC’s ~ A is for Angel

It's time for some fun alphabet crafts!! We hope you enjoy these! If you are new, you can visit our ABC webpage to find links to any other letters we have done, letters (with books listed) coming up, as well as all the fun crafty letters we have been working on. Be sure to check it out!

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Christmas Angels by Gwen Ellis

Summary: Beautiful pop up book that not only shows the nativity scene, but talks about the angels that shared the message of Christ’s birth.

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What You’ll Need:

  • white and yellow foam sheets
  • white feathers
  • yellow or gold pipe cleaner
  • white felt
  • pen/pencil
  • scissors
  • tape or glue dots

How to Make the ‘A’ for Angel:

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  1. Cut an uppercase 'A' out of the white foam sheet. I used a foam sheet that was about 4" x 5" in size.
  2. Cut wings out for your angel.
  3. Cut a circle out for your angel’s face.
  4. Make a ‘gown’ for your angel from the white felt {optional}.
  5. Glue/tape the wings to the back of your capital A.
  6. Add your angel’s face to the top of the A.
  7. Glue feathers to the angel’s wings.
  8. Draw a face on your angel.
  9. Add the gown for your angel by gluing on the back of the letter A.

 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

SImply Made ~ Links

Links are a great manipulative that can be used to create all kinds of simple learning activities for you little(s)!

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Not only do the links provide fine motor skills for little hands, but they can be used in so many more ways to enhance learning opportunities and incorporate a more hands-on approach to learning!

Work on matching skills. You can use just about any printable and create duplicate copies for your little one to match up. Simply print, laminate, cut, hole punch, and let your little one get to work matching! The printables below are from the Farm Tot Book on 1+1+1=1.

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Practice linking capital and lower case letters of the alphabet together!

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Or, you could work on linking the letters in ABC order!

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Another fun idea is to use numbered printables and link up the appropriate number of links for each! The printables below are from the Brown Bear, Brown Bear Tot Pack on 1+1+1=1.

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Check out some other great printables that could be used with your links:

~ From 1+1+1=1: Tot Books & Tot Packs, Preschool Packs & Printables, Raising Rockstars Preschool Curriculum

~ From Confessions of a Homeschooler: Letter of the Week Curriculum

~ From Homeschool Creations: Preschool Printables

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Get Real with God ~ Yes or No, but "No BUTS!"

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I’m sure you’ve heard it before too. You kindly ask your child to do something and they kindly reply, “but Mom…” This has been happening repeatedly at my house by a particular child. He is Momma’s boy so he’s pretty compliant, but lately, I can’t get him to say, “yes Mom” like I want him too and this is rubbing off on his little brother and sister. Hmmm…So I started making it a little more black and white for him. I’ve been asking him to say yes or no when I ask him to do something, after all God’s Word tell us that any other answer is from the devil! Ha! Now when I start hearing the beginnings of “buuuu” I quickly ask him, Yes or No? Because in my mind “but Mom” might as well be a no.

“But let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and your ‘no,’ ‘no.’ For what is more than these is from the evil one.” Matthew 5:37

So then I started thinking about how we do this to the Lord. He, in His loving way, asks us to do something. Maybe it’s just a simple thing like spend less time on the computer, or more time in His word, maybe it’s to start cooking healthier or even something more time consuming and scary like homeschooling. Whatever it is, I’m sure God hears His share of, “but God…”

The Bible teaches us that obedience is better than sacrifice and if all the things we are doing in the “name of God” aren’t the things He’s asked us to do, it’s the same as saying No to God. Ouch!

“Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice…”

1 Samuel 15:22

Our challenge, when we hear the quiet voice of God compelling and directing us to do something that we don’t want to do or that we are afraid to do, we need to ask ourselves, do we really want to say, “NO God?” At that basic level, it’s easy to see the right choice! Yes God! Yes God! Yes God!

Father, help us to be diligent to teach our children quick, joyful obedience by allowing them to see it in our own lives. Forgive us for saying, “But God.” We want to be your obedient children that bring you great joy!

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