Tag Archives: Activities

Back-Pocket Ideas for Creative Children

Most families in North America currently have children on break from school. Because of this, we thought it appropriate to share some of the ideas we have found which parents can use to offer creative outlets for their children. The purpose of this blog post is to share ideas which we parents can keep “in our back pocket” in case there is a stretch of empty time when it would be a good idea for our children to be given some creative outlet. Consider the links shared here as starting points: some of them may be right up your child(ren)’s alley, while others may just be enough to spark their own creative ideas.

We recommend that you read through some of the ideas we offer and jot notes about the ideas you think your child(ren) will enjoy on a 3×5 card. You can literally keep it in your back pocket or magnetically fastened to the fridge for when you need ideas! Alternatively, you can scan the links and bookmark the ones you want to show to your children when they need creative activity ideas. You do what works best for your family!

Here are a few “back pocket” ideas to stir creativity that we found (in the order in which we found them). What additional ideas do you have to share with the community?

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This mom has gathered art ideas from some of her fellow crafty blogging moms and uses them for “art camp at home.” Check out her list of links to 58 project ideas here: http://www.artbarblog.com/58-summer-art-camp-ideas/

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Find drawing lessons here: http://artprojectsforkids.org/category/view-by-theme/drawing-tutorials/

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Here is a week’s worth of fun art activities for your own homemade art camp: http://www.schoolingamonkey.com/diy-art-summer-camp/?utm_medium=social&utm_source=pinterest&utm_campaign=tailwind_tribes&utm_content=tribes

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Share an art-related book with your children and respond with a fun art activity. Need ideas? Check out “Harold and the Purple Crayon,” “Let’s Play,” “Mix it Up,” “I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More,” and “The Day the Crayons Quit,” among others. Find a nice list of books and ideas of how to respond artistically here: http://buggyandbuddy.com/activities-based-childrens-books/

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Some of these classic summer craft ideas for kids may remind you of your own childhood! http://handsonaswegrow.com/30-summer-crafts-kids-easy/

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These art lessons are listed with a suggested age/grade level, in case that would be helpful to you. You don’t need to be an art teacher to find some great projects at your children’s level at this site: https://kinderart.com/art-lessons-by-grade/

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Find art styles from different cultures here: http://www.teachkidsart.net/tag/multicultural-art/

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Encourage your children’s creativity with this activity: https://www.thebestideasforkids.com/complete-animals-kids-craft-activity/

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Do you have a crafter on your hands? Crayola.com offers more than 1600 craft ideas, searchable by age-appropriateness or by category/theme. You can find them here: http://www.crayola.com/crafts/

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If you have legos or similar plastic bricks on hand, consider setting up your own “alphabet” so you and your child(ren) can create coded messages for each other. See http://frugalfun4boys.com/2017/06/14/lego-secret-codes/ to read more.

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If you read our blog post about working together to raise funds to help meet a need (https://orthodoxchristianparenting.wordpress.com/2017/07/05/on-finding-a-way-to-help-even-on-a-limited-budget/), you may have thought of this idea already, but here goes: Consider turning your children’s bountiful creativity (after they have tried their hand at many of these ideas) into an art show or silent auction. Send invitations to friends, family, neighbors, church family, whoever your children know that would enjoy seeing their art (and perhaps purchasing it). On the night of the show/auction, offer the pieces for sale for a donation to the charitable cause for which you are raising funds. Work together before the event to make food to share at the event, and enjoy watching your children interact with their guests while it happens!

Bedtime and Other Rituals: Reading Books Together, Part 1: Why Read at Bedtime?

For many families, the words “bedtime” and “stories” go hand in hand. In the “Bedtime Routines” survey that we conducted, less than 10% of participants selected “we do not read books together at bedtime;” indicating that over 90% of the families who participated do read books together at bedtime (and the others may have parents that tell stories but do not read them from a book, but our survey did not ask about that!). What is it about bedtime and stories that goes together? Is it important to include stories at bedtime? If so, at what age should we begin to read to our children? When should we stop?

First, let’s take a look at why bedtime and stories go together so well. If we think about it a little, we realize that whether we are 2 or 100, each story that we hear offers us a mental break from real life. This is what draws us to stories, whether they are told, read, or acted out in a play or a movie. Besides the mental release, stories also offer us an opportunity to observe the characters’ experiences and learn from their mistakes (without having to make the mistakes and learn the lessons for ourselves). The rest that comes from stepping back from the intensity of life is a great way to begin to relax and prepare for sleep. That is a likely reason that bedtime and stories (read aloud or told) are paired as a part of so many families’ bedtime routines.
So, is it important that we include stories with the bedtime routine? Studies have shown that besides the beneficial mental break mentioned above, reading bedtime stories helps children to learn. The vocabulary in the stories shapes and enlarges their own vocabulary. The patterns they find in hearing the same book read over and over again help to organize the way that children think and allows them to begin to make predictions about what should or will happen next. The positive feelings associated with this cozy daily routine offer comfort and stability to children (and, if we are honest, to us as adults, as well). So, while it is possible to have a bedtime routine without including stories, the benefits are so great that perhaps it is important to include them in the bedtime routine.

What age is the appropriate age for bedtime stories? We have read that as early as in utero, children benefit from hearing their parents’ voices. We also read that teens continue to learn from hearing stories read to them. That’s a wide range of ages! But, at least in our experience, beginning to read aloud to our children as early as possible and continuing to read to them for as many years as possible affords them continuous learning opportunities. Also creating family memories together through stories is just a lot of fun. The mutual, “Remember that time we read that book (terrible or awesome as it was)?,” can only happen if we have actually taken time to read aloud together, regardless of the age of our child(ren).

We found countless articles celebrating the value of reading aloud to children at bedtime. We will share a few of them below. We hope that you will find them helpful, and begin (or continue!) to read together at bedtime.

Note: This is the first in a subseries of the bedtime routine articles. This subseries will look specifically at reading books to our children at bedtime. The next two blog posts will feature suggestions of books to read to younger readers and to older readers, respectively. In the weeks beyond that, we will focus on other kinds of bedtime stories, including stories from the lives of the saints and Bible stories. Thanks again to each member of our community who filled out the survey over the summer: we will be sharing your suggestions and adding a few of our own.

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Improved speech, language, spelling, and imagination: all of these are benefits of reading aloud to our children! Read more in this article: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/caroline-hartwell/reading-to-children_b_8488578.html

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“Great ideas come from people who are able to bring their whole selves – emotional as well as rational, memory as well as logic – to bear on problems. Bedtime stories give reading an emotional depth. Why would you ever stop? This is something people have done since the days of sitting around campfires napping flints. To stop doing it now is to break the great chain of our being.” ~ Cottrell Boyce, as quoted in this article on how important bedtime stories are to children’s literacy: https://www.theguardian.com/education/2015/sep/26/bedtime-story-is-key-to-literacy-says-childrens-writer-cottrell-boyce

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Find an article about the benefits of (as well as tips for) reading books to babies here: http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/reading-babies.html

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This blog post offers 6 outstanding reasons for reading to children. It also utilizes the word “hogwash” in reference to children’s attention spans being short. Read the post for yourself to find out why: http://blog.housefairy.org/6-benefits-of-reading-bedtime-stories

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“…Reading picture books with young children may mean that they hear more words, while at the same time, their brains practice creating the images associated with those words — and with the more complex sentences and rhymes that make up even simple stories.” from http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/08/17/bedtime-stories-for-young-brains/?_r=0
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It is not just the “littles” that benefit from bedtime stories. Big kids benefit from being read to (at bedtime or otherwise) as well! This article offers an elaborated list of ways that reading to your “bigger” kids will help them: http://www.scholastic.com/parents/resources/article/parent-child/importance-reading-bedtime-stories-to-big-kids

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For those of us with teens: keep reading!!!

If you have not yet begun reading to your children at bedtime, it is never too late to help them in this way! Recent research has found that reading to children boosts their cognitive levels regardless of when it is begun! “…Researchers have found that electronic images of the brains of children considered poor readers show little activity in the verbal-processing areas. But after the researchers spent one to two hours a day for eight weeks reading to the poor readers and performing other literacy exercises with them, their brain activity had changed to look like that of the good readers.” Read this and more in this excellent article full of information about why to read to children at all ages – even into their teens:
http://www.parents.com/fun/entertainment/books/the-brainy-benefits-of-bedtime-stories/

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Bedtime and Other Rituals – an Introduction

This fall we will be focusing our attention on bedtime routines and other rituals. Over the summer we posted a survey that many of you took time to answer for us. Those answers will be a significant portion of some of these posts. The first question on the survey invited respondents to rate the importance of a bedtime routine in their family, on a scale of 1 (having no routine at all) to 10 (using the same routine every night). An overwhelming majority (more than 82%) rated routine at bedtime as having an importance level of 7 or higher. We were curious to see if the general public, beyond our Orthodox Christian Parenting community, considers a regular bedtime as truly important or not. We also wondered whether or not it is important to do the same sequence of events in preparing for bedtime every night. We did a little research, and here is what we found:

It seems that a regular bedtime, in and of itself, is of great benefit to children. National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition” featured a report (1) several years ago about the importance of a regular bedtime. The report covered a British survey of 10,000 children studied at ages 3, 5, and 7, assessing the effect that having a regular bedtime had on each child’s daytime behaviors. They took into account differences like family size, income, whether or not the child had breakfast, etc., and still came to the same conclusion across the board: the children with irregular bedtimes had a much more difficult time managing themselves during the day. “If you change their bedtimes, say, 7 o’clock one night, 9 o’clock, the next, 8 o’clock the next, 10 o’clock the next, if we do too much of that switching, we end up inducing this kind of jet-lag effect, which makes it really, really difficult to regulate behavior.” said researcher Yvonne Kelly from University College. The study found that children with irregular bedtime were more likely to act out, be hyperactive, or be withdrawn than their regular-bedtime counterparts.

And what about having a routine at bedtime? Is it necessary to follow a certain schedule every night, or does it not matter as long as everyone ends up in bed with clean teeth? Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker answers this question in her article “The Value of a Child’s Bedtime Routine,” posted on PsychCentral.com: “Repetition and structure help children feel safe. Bedtime declares that the day is over. When you are loving and firm about when it is time for bed, you are building your children’s confidence in their world. Repetition for young children is comforting — ever wonder why they want the same story over and over? The repetition of the getting ready for bed routine (getting into pajamas, brushing teeth, a drink of water, a story, a hug, goodnight) lets your child know what to expect and helps him or her feel secure.” (2) So while a bedtime routine may not be imperative (even without one, they will still eventually fall asleep!), it seems that a routine at bedtime is more beneficial to a child than having none.

Stay tuned in the weeks to come to find some ideas that could answer questions like these: How do Orthodox Christian parents in today’s world guide their children in the Faith at the end of a crazy busy day? What routines and rituals can families do to calm their bodies and their minds so that they can rest? What stories, books, songs, and prayers are helpful? We value your input, so please add your own ideas in comments along the way. If you do so, we can all benefit from your family’s experience! And once again, thank you to all who filled out the survey. We look forward to sharing you are doing with the rest of the community!

Sources:
(1) “Why a Regular Bedtime is Important for Children,” NPR’s “Morning Edition,” Dec. 16, 2013, found here: http://www.npr.org/2013/12/16/251462015/why-a-regular-bedtime-is-important-for-children

(2) “The Value of a Child’s Bedtime Routine,” by Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker, PsychCentral.com, May 17, 2016, found here:  http://psychcentral.com/lib/the-value-of-a-childs-bedtime-routine/

Read more here:

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“Regardless of age, regular schedules and bedtime rituals help us get the sleep we need and to function at peak levels. When it comes to children, this is especially true. Establishing and maintaining good sleep habits helps your child fall asleep, stay asleep, and wake up rested and refreshed.” Read this and more about bedtime routines here: http://www.webmd.com/parenting/childs-bedtime#1

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“Enforcing a bedtime can seem impossible at times, but it is well worth it.  Doing so makes things easier when it’s time for the kids to get up in the morning, it enhances their performance at school, and it keeps them healthy.  It’s never too late to start a soothing bedtime routine that will help your child get the rest she needs.” Read this article on the importance of bedtime and sleep, including suggestions for how much sleep children of different ages need, here: http://www.celestialhealing.net/childrens_health/Childhood_Sleep_Routine.htm

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“Establishing a bedtime routine helps you create an environment and situation conducive to sleep for your child. Before your child is able to express him or herself verbally, it’s creating signals for the conscious and subconscious that now is the time to settle down… Used consistently, routines help children (and you) set expectations and get into rest mode more quickly.” Find ideas for setting bedtime routines in his article: http://www.sheknows.com/parenting/articles/825711/the-importance-of-bedtime-routines

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Responses varied when we asked what families do together as a bedtime routine. Here are a few:
“Our routine varies but we always do reading and prayers.”
“We cross ourselves before bedtime”
“We do a special blessing for each child”
“At the end of night prayers, my husband always says, ‘If I have offended or sinned against you in any way, please forgive me.’ And all the kids say the same to us and to each other.”
“We read something — sometimes Scripture, sometimes book, sometimes Saint’s life… but not all 3.”
“Kisses and hugs for each child after they’re in bed.”
“Venerate the icons.”
“Dinner, pajamas, teeth, compline (or preparation for Communion).”
“Read or watch TV together before prayers.”

Parents with babies who are looking for ideas of how to establish a bedtime routine may benefit from watching this short video: http://www.parents.com/baby/care/american-baby-how-tos/how-to-establish-a-bedtime-routine/

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“Scientists found that as children switched from having an irregular bedtime to a regular bedtime their behaviors improved. Hope dawns anew with each morning, so remember to set aside that nightly time to read, sing, pray, share highs and lows, or whatever lovely routine you and your kids have established together.” Read this article, complete with five suggestions of things to do (or not to do) as part of your children’s bedtime routine: http://www.thedcmoms.com/2014/11/sponsored-the-importance-of-strong-bedtime-routines/

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On Mark 11:17, “My House Shall Be Called a House of Prayer for All Nations.”

Note: the Antiochian Archdiocese’s Creative Arts Festival 2017’s theme is the inspiration for this blog post. We will take a closer look at the theme, to help them to better prepare for the festival in case they participate. Whether or not they do, what we can gather from this passage of St. Mark’s Gospel is applicable to all of us, not just the children participating in the festival!

Have you ever thought about that time when our Lord went into the temple, overturned the tables of the money changers, and drove out the salesmen? Why did He do that? What can we learn from His actions? How can we apply this passage to our own life?

It all began with the Triumphal Entry, the glorious reception that Jesus was given when He arrived in Jerusalem. Even the fact that He was riding on a lowly donkey did not stop the crowd from singing His praises. But instead of glorying in that acclaim, He went straight to the temple and “looked around at all things.” (Mark 11:11) His means of entry into Jerusalem modeled humility and His choice to go directly to the temple exemplifies the priority that should be given to being in God’s house.

Something else is tucked into this passage that could easily be missed. The passage says that He “looked around at all things” but “as the hour was already late He went out to Bethany with the twelve.” This shows us something else: it models self restraint. After all, as He looked around, our Lord saw all of the greedy money-making happening in what should have been a very holy, completely God-focused place. He knew that it was wrong, and had every right to be furious about it. But instead, He left to be with His disciples, calmly choosing being with people over being frustrated about stuff.

The next day our Lord returned to Jerusalem, and went back to the temple. This time He “drove out those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. And He would not allow anyone to carry wares through the temple.”  (Mark 11:15-16) He thus demonstrated the importance of keeping what has been set apart for God free from greed and from earthly stuff.

Once the temple was restored to its intended state, it could also return to its intended purpose of worship and godly teaching. And so Christ taught the people, saying, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’” This teaching was appropriate for the people who had gotten so accustomed to seeing (and doing) marketing in the temple that they perhaps didn’t even think about how inappropriate it was. It turns out that this teaching is also appropriate for those of us living 2000+ years later. Concepts that we can take from this passage include: honoring God’s house as a place to pray; welcoming all because God’s house is for everyone, regardless of nationality; and guarding against deceit and greed that can steal us away from right relationship with God.

St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians pushes us to look at this event in an even more personal light. 1 Corinthians 6:19 reads, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God?” Reconsidering the account of our Lord’s cleansing of the temple from the perspective of our own body being a temple, set apart for God, offers us even more insights for our Christian life. First and foremost, we need to aim to live humbly as our Lord did, especially when things are going well and others are lauding us. Secondly, God should always be our first stop, whether we are looking for personal guidance or we are prioritizing our schedule (being in church at the Divine Services should be at the top of our list). Thirdly, we need Christ Himself to cleanse our hearts, drive away the greed and selfishness in us, and restore us to the way we were intended to be. Finally, we need Him to teach us: how to guard the holiness of His temple, keeping our bodies from being marred by greed; how to welcome all around us to worship Him as well; and how to keep ourselves pure so that we do not house thoughts and desires that steal our focus away from Him.

May the Lord indeed cleanse us, that we may each become a worthy temple that properly worships Him and welcomes others to do the same.

Here are some ideas of ways to help our children (whether or not they will be participating in the aforementioned Creative Arts Festival) to learn about this passage:

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If your parish will be participating in the Creative Arts Festival, you can find information about it here: http://www.antiochian.org/festivals/cf

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Together as a family, read this easy-to-understand version of the story. If your children would enjoy them, print some of the activity pages or play some of the related online games found at the bottom of the page. http://gardenofpraise.com/bibl39s.htm

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This series of 5 devotional readings can help your family learn more about the temple, Christ cleansing the temple, and being the temple of the Holy Spirit. Note: the readings are not written from an Orthodox perspective, but can still be very helpful discussion-starters. http://children.cccm.com/NTDevotionsPDF/DEVNT261.pdf

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If your children enjoy doing activity pages related to family discussions, you will want to peruse the printables in this pdf about the cleansing of the temple: http://freesundayschoolcurriculum.weebly.com/uploads/1/2/5/0/12503916/lesson_11_jesus_clears_the_temple.pdf

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These commentaries on the Mark passage offer insights into the passage: http://www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/coffeecup/mark_1115_intro, http://www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/coffeecup/mark_1117_19, and http://www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/transforminglives/part_59_mark_1115_19.

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“The first and most important temple for the holy spirit is us.” Listen to this short podcast on keeping our bodies, our temples, clean: http://www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/isermon/living_as_a_temple

Holy Week Resources for Families

Holy Week is a wonderful, special week for Orthodox Christians. It is also filled with long services that can be challenging to anyone, but especially to young children. This post offers suggestions for Holy Week that can help to make Holy Week more meaningful for children of different ages. There are many ideas here. They range from ideas of ways to prepare yourself for the week to ways to help your children understand the services to crafty things you can do together.

Check out these ideas if you have time, and apply any that you wish. Please do not let these many suggestions discourage you, especially if you do not have the energy to add “one more thing” to your family’s schedule! You know your family, and what each member needs the most. So live accordingly!

Above all, let us love our Lord and each other throughout Holy Week. May we live this week together, in awe of His compassion and mercy, and in gratitude for His great gift to us. May all that we do (or do not do!) prepare us to celebrate His holy resurrection!

Blessed Holy Week!

 

Here are resources to help your family learn more about Holy Week:

Find encouragement and ideas for Holy Week from an Orthodox mama here: http://www.theorthodoxmama.com/children-during-holy-week-tips-for-parents/

Read/study up on the services ahead of time:
Find brief descriptions of each service of Holy Week here: http://www.antiochian.org/1175027131 Find background information, customs, and scripture references for each of the services of Holy Week here: http://www.goarch.org/ourfaith/ourfaith8432

Find ideas for helping children to navigate the services here:
Print this guide to the week’s services, complete with helpful links to sites that can support your family’s journey through Holy Week: http://www.goarch.org/archdiocese/departments/family/files/lent/files/folder.2014-03-20.8273141169/holyweekguide.pdf

Find suggested highlights for you and your children to look for in each Holy Week service, here: http://orthodoxeducation.blogspot.com/2010/03/holy-week-for-kids.html?m=1

Print this Daily Guide to Holy Week to read and study with your children before each service that you attend: http://lent.goarch.org/bulletins/documents/8.5x11_JourneyToPascha_1.0.pdf

Here’s a free printable “passport” with a colorable icon for each day of Holy Week: http://www.themccallums.org/michelle/2015/04/02/holy-week-passport/

Find ideas of activities and other ways to help your children learn about, celebrate, and participate in Holy Week here: https://orthodoxchristianparenting.wordpress.com/2015/04/01/holy-week-activities/

Consider making these for your young children (or godchildren) to handle during Holy Week. A “new” mini-box each day will make the week more special and meaningful to the little ones.  http://jmrockhill.blogspot.com/2014/04/holy-week.html

Create a scrapbook for Holy Week, as suggested here: http://orthodoxeducation.blogspot.com/2009/03/holy-week-scrapbook.html. Consider adding one page each day, and allowing younger children to take it with them to look at in the car or in church during Holy Week.

This cached webinar from GOARCH on Observing Holy Week as a family offers fabulous ideas and is well worth the time it takes to listen in: https://youtu.be/2MZ_PiUBsAE

Here are recommendations for books that you can read together as a family during Holy Week: http://www.theorthodoxmama.com/the-lenten-journey-best-childrens-books-for-lent-and-holy-week/

In case you missed this post on the cross of Christ and leading children through Holy Week: https://orthodoxchristianparenting.wordpress.com/2015/04/01/on-the-cross-of-christ-and-leading-children-through-holy-week/

On Learning the Scriptures by Creating a Scripture Journal

Recently, we have looked at the importance of memorizing the Scriptures and helping our children to do the same. This blog post will offer another way to meditate on (and even memorize) the Scriptures: through Scripture journaling. When you maintain a Scripture journal, you meditate on and/or memorize the Scriptures by creating an artistic illustration of a different Scripture passage on each page of the journal. There are many ways to do so, and you do not need to be an artist to create a Scripture journal. If you can write or if you can doodle, you can create one of these journals. Even young family members can make a Scripture journal! It is a fun, creative way to delve into the scriptures, and many members of the family can enjoy doing this exercise together.

You will need a blank journal for each family member who wishes to participate. You will also want to round up pens, pencils, markers, crayons, colored pencils, watercolors; whatever art supplies you wish to work with in your journal. (Note: remember that if you plan to use markers or watercolors in your journaling, you will want a journal with thick pages so that the colors do not bleed through to the next page. You will also want to place extra paper behind each page as you work, to absorb any possible bleed-through.)

Select a verse (or verses) which you want to ponder or memorize. Decide how you will illustrate that passage. You can simply write it in your own handwriting, thinking about the meaning as you write, and perhaps writing a few of the keywords in a way that emphasizes their meaning. This is a very basic way to Scripture journal, but it achieves the goal of engaging the Scriptures and meditating on each word.

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Once you are comfortable with that method, you could write the passage in a similar way, but add some color and a few small illustrative pieces to help bring out the meaning of the passage.

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Perhaps you would rather meditate on the passage by creating a sketch that helps you to learn its meaning. If that is the method you prefer, you can print out the passage, tape it into your journal on one side, and create an illustration on the other page that helps you think about and learn the passage.

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If you are memorizing the passage, one way to do so is to print it out and glue it in the middle of a journal page. Read through it several times, and then continue to repeat it to yourself as you create a colorful design around it. Zentangle patterns work well for this type of journal piece, and can give you ideas for your design. Repetitive doodling is great for meditation, so, as you are working, continue to repeat the passage. You will memorize the passage and have a beautiful addition to your journal when you finish!

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It could also be that the passage will lend itself to a particular idea of how it should be illustrated. If that is the case, you can create your illustration around the passage, gluing a copy of the passage in the midst of the piece.

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You could also hand write the passage right in the midst of your illustration.

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These are only a few of the variety of ways to create a Scripture journal. If this method of Scripture meditation/memorization appeals to you, by all means, try it! Your final results may not be museum-worthy, and that’s okay. The purpose of the exercise is not to create a stunning work of art for the world to see. The act of Scripture journaling is intended to help you to learn more about the Scriptures, to meditate on their meaning, and to commit them to memory. The final product will serve as a reminder of your work of meditation and memorization.

“And we, too, who do no more than listen to the Scriptures, should devote ourselves to them and meditate on them so constantly that through our persistence a longing for God is impressed upon our hearts [and thereby we shall be amazed to] see how the wisdom of God renders what is difficult easy, so that gradually it deifies man.” ~ Saint Peter of Damaskos

 

Here are some links that you may find helpful as you begin your Scripture journaling:

Here is a blog post about Scripture journaling. This journaler uses both lined and unlined pages when she creates a piece: http://michelleperkett.blogspot.com/2015/11/new-mps-bible-art-journaling.html

Want to try your hand at Scripture journaling, but don’t know where to start? Take this 30 day challenge: http://karachupp.com/shall-write-copy-30-day-challenge/

Here’s an excellent blog on doodling that incorporates Scriptures into the doodles:  https://1arthouse.wordpress.com/doodles-101/

This artist uses some zentangle techniques in Scripture journaling: http://www.zenspirations.com/galleries/scriptures/

This Scripture journaler has illustrated passages in a more “smash journal” style: http://www.carissagraham.com/2012/03/i-made-book-scripture-scraps.html

Need inspiration to draw an illustration for the Scripture passage you are memorizing/pondering? Here are a few beautiful pieces where the artist drew an illustration and incorporated the passage in her own handwriting. http://peggyapl.blogspot.com/search?q=prayer+journal

Consider taking this 31-day challenge to begin your family’s adventure in Scripture art journaling: http://artbyerinleigh.blogspot.com/2012/09/31-days-of-scripture-art-journaling-day.html

 

 

 

Time for House Blessings

Theophany has passed for those of us following the new calendar. The waters have been blessed. Our souls have been cleansed and refreshed by the drinking/sprinkling thereof. And now it’s time! Time to clean our house. Literally.

Why should we clean our home at this time of year? We want to prepare for the special event that will happen soon within our walls: our house blessing! The traditional “after Theophany” visit from the parish priest to bless each home with holy water has been part of Orthodox Christian practice for centuries. We work to prepare our homes for this blessing, just as we work to prepare our hearts for other blessings (like communion) that we receive from God. While the house blessing is not a sacrament, it is an important part of helping us to live the Faith at home, and so we need to take time to prepare accordingly!

The house blessing is a special time for each family. It is unique because of the prayers requesting God’s sanctification of our home, and also because of the personal time that it offers with our parish priest. Every member of the family can participate (and even help!) with the house blessing, and each person will benefit from it.

So, let us do all that we can to prepare our home, our family, and our hearts for our house blessing! And then, let us participate with joy. We will be the better for it.

Here is a useful printable that can help us teach our children about Theophany and house blessings. It also provides a checklist that we can go over together to be sure that we have everything ready! http://www.antiochian.org/sites/default/files/Antiochian_Theophany.pdf

Here are a few links that may be helpful as you teach your children about and prepare for your house blessing:

The house blessing service can be found in its entirety here: http://www.goarch.org/chapel/liturgical_texts/home_bless

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“If the priest comes to bless the home when the children are present, they have the opportunity to see the parish priest in a different and personal situation. If the priest permits, they can lead the way through the house, or hold a candle. They can show him their rooms or pets or favorite toys. They receive a blessing with water. For children, the house blessing shows the connection of the Church to the home.” ~ Phillys Onest, from http://www.antiochian.org/content/why-do-we-have-our-homes-blessed  (used by permission)

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“…the entire home is blessed, with the family walking with the priest holding candles and the Theophany icon while the Theophany Troparion is sung over and over:

Tone 1:  When Thou, wast baptized in the Jordan, O Lord, / the worship of the Trinity was made manifest; / for the voice of the Father bare witness to Thee, / calling Thee His beloved Son. /And the Spirit in the form of a dove / confirmed the certainty of the word. / O Christ our God, Who hast appeared  / and hast enlightened the world, glory be to Thee.

It is a very good idea for the family to sing this troparion, and know it by heart. Otherwise, of the priest has many houses to bless, his voice will get tired!” ~ from http://www.orthodox.net/10things/theophany-house-blessings.html

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“The blessing of homes by these holy waters maintains the spiritual association between the ‘family church’ and the parish, as well as again providing for the sharing of God’s spiritual gifts… This annual blessing…  should not be overlooked, for it is in this way that the grace of God is extended to individual dwellings.” (Marriage and the Christian Home, http://orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/xc_home.aspx.)

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“There are few things more vital to our lives than our homes. In our homes we pray, we work, we talk to others, we order our lives, we work out our marriages, etc. What more important place to reclaim for the Kingdom of God – or is it better to continue living in a place which is occupied by the enemy. For the most effective working out of our salvation, we must drive the enemy out of our homes, and keep him at bay by our prayers, our righteous life, and the annual sprinkling by Holy Water at Theophany.” ~ from http://orthodoxwayoflife.blogspot.com/2010/01/blessing-of-homes.html

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“…By sanctifying our home, we extend the grace of God to the neighbors.” ~ from an Indonesian Orthodox house blessing video found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJm2S5qeDns
Consider showing this to your children and talking about how our brothers and sisters around the world worship as we do. Look and listen for things that are the same from your house blessing!