Showing posts sorted by relevance for query thanksgiving kids. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query thanksgiving kids. Sort by date Show all posts

Nov 18, 2013

14 Thanksgiving Games and Activities for Kids

In years past, I've blogged about some great Thanksgiving crafts for kids, but this year I'm focusing on games and activities kids can do on without adult help. You might use these at the kids' table on Thanksgiving day, as a way to occupy kids while you cook Thanksgiving dinner, or as fun things to do leading up to Thanksgiving.

* Starting with the most obvious, there are tons of free Thanksgiving coloring pages available online. There are also color by number pages, word searches, and mazes.

* Or what about some Pilgrim paper dolls? Let the kids cut them out. Check out these and these - both free.

* School-aged kids can make this Native American toilet paper tube centerpiece (or turn it into a play set). Or print out these paper pilgrims and Indians instead.

* Thanksgiving Mad-Libs. These are so fun for kids who can read! (Here's another version.)

* Print out and assemble the "Sail on the Mayflower" game. Kids will have fun playing it - plus they'll learn a little history. Or have the kids play this Candyland-like homemade Thanksgiving board game.

* Give the kids a Thanksgiving themed cootie catcher.

* Set the kids up with turkey bowling.

* Give the kids activity placemats. Try this Mickey Mouse Thanksgiving placemat, or these Micky and Friends mats, this Thanksgiving activity mat, this "I'm thankful for" mat, or this one.

* Hide a bunch of paper turkeys around the house and have the kids scavenge for them.

* Print out these simple Thanksgiving puzzle pieces for young kids to match up.

* Buy this Thanksgiving roll the dice game (for $1) and let the kids have at it.

* Print out the "Don't Eat the Tom!" game. This is simple enough for preschoolers on up.

* Do your kids like the "Would You Rather?" game? Here are some fun Thanksgiving related questions to add to the game.

* Print this Roll and Draw a turkey game; even toddlers can do this one!

Nov 5, 2012

21 Thanksgiving Activities for Kids

Pilgrim cupcakes from
 * Play the "Sail on the Mayflower" game. (While you're at it, use the resources at Scholastic to learn what the Mayflower and its voyage were like. You can also learn about the Plymouth colony. The Plimouth Plantation website also has a neat "play history detective" interactive about Thanksgiving.)

* Put on a "First Thanksgiving" play or puppet show.

* Make a cootie catcher about Thanksgiving facts and myths.

* Print out and play with some free printable Thanksgiving paperdolls.(Here, too.)

* Make handprint Native Americans.

* Make harvest bookmarks.

* Cut out some Thanksgiving silhouettes to use as decorations.

* Create some cute pilgrim and Indian roll napkin rings.
Handprint Native Americans from Handprint and Footprint Art.
* Color some Thanksgiving pictures (including a color by letter or color by number page)

* Make some very simple pilgrim hats.

* Whip up some pilgrim cupcakes.

* Make a turkey with seeds and beans.

* Print some free children's placemats. (Here, too.)

* Make some pumpkin-like caramel apples.

* Create a paper chain of thanks. (Or use these paper chain printables for elegant napkin rings.)

* Make some tepee cupcakes.

* Print out a pilgrim praying journal and have the children write what they are thankful for in it.

* Make gratitude rolls - yummy buns with handwritten words of thanks in them.
Tepee cupcakes from StiesThoughts.

* Create a cute turkey basket for holding bread.

* Print out some Thanksgiving toys, including cute pilgrim and Indian "dolls."

* Read the free ebook "The Puritan Twins." (It's not politically correct, but it's an adventurous and fun way to learn about the pilgrims. These free paperdolls were designed to go with the book.)

Check out previous' years' posts for more great ideas!:

12 Thanksgiving Projects for Kids
Thanksgiving Cookie Ideas
Easy Thanksgiving Projects for Kids
Great Thanksgiving Picture Books
Listen to Adventures in Odyssey's Thanksgiving story on CD

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Nov 2, 2010

Learning about God and Thanksgiving

When I was a kid, nobody helped me connect God with Thanksgiving. I knew about the Pilgrims and I thought they held only one Thanksgiving (they actually had many), but I didn't really understand the Pilgrims were expressing their extreme thanks to God - and with good reason.

As parents, it falls to us to show our kids God's hand in history, and Thanksgiving is an excellent time to do this. Perhaps some of you hate history (probably because of the way it was taught to you in school) or don't have the time or energy to study up on the real particulars of the Pilgrims thanksgiving celebrations. Fortunately, there are some pretty decent children's books to help both you and your kids get a grasp on the true meaning of Thanksgiving. Here are our family's favorites:

* Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving by Eric Metaxas. This is my all time favorite picture book about Thanksgiving. This volume lshows how Squanto was kidnapped and made into a European slave. But, like Joseph, his slavery was in God's hands. Monks bought Squanto, treated him well, and taught him about Christ. To help Squanto return home to his family, the monks sent him the England, where Squanto learned English. After several years, Squanto finally found a ship sailing the North America - only to arrive in his home village to discover his people were completely wiped out by illness. Lonley, Squanto lived alone in the woods until he discovered the Pilgrims - people who loved God as he did and needed help surviving in the New World. In the end, Squanto and the Pilgrims realize how God used tragedy in Squanto's life for good.

* Sarah Morton's Day by Kate Waters. This unique book is illustrated with photographs of re-enacters at Plymouth plantation. The text is written as though a Plgrim girl (Sarah Morton) is narrating her day to a guest. Although this book isn't explicitly about Thanksgiving (Sarah lives a generation or two later), it does give a wonderful look at daily life in Plymouth. And, despite the fact that this is a mainstream book, it shows how biblical studies fit into the average day of a Pilgrim child. You can read my full review of this book here.

* Three Young Pilgrims by Cheryl Harness. This is a mainstream book, but I love that it includes information about the God-centered Mayflower Compact - something you won't find in most picture books. The book takes us through the early days of a Pilgrim family, from their landing in the New World until the famous Thanksgiving celebration. It helps us see their hardships and shows Thanksgiving being about about praising God. The illustrations are also spectacular; my 5 year old spends lots of quiet time examining every detail in this book.

* Thanksgiving: A Harvest Celebration by Julie Stiegemeyer. This is a Christian book that focuses on the life of one Pilgrim girl. Although the book only gives the very basics of Thanksgiving history, I appreciate how it talks a lot about thankfulness to God. Read my complete review here.

* Amost Home by Wendy Lawton. For older kids, this chapter book is a great explanation of the Pilgrim's trials in the Old World, their trip on the Mayflower, and their struggles and ultimate triumph in the New World. My complete review is here.

Nov 12, 2010

Easy Thanksgiving Projects for Kids

I'm always looking for ways to make Thanksgiving more kid-friendly. Simple crafts are one way I do this. Most of these projects require very little time, but help teach kids about the history of the holiday. Many also inspire kids to think about what they are thankful for.

Try making the hats for the kids' table. Or, if the kids are old enough, have them tackle making their own hats. Find instructions for a Pilgrim maiden hat here or here. For Pilgrim hats for boys, go here or here. For instructions on making an Indian headband, look here, or try this printable headband.

An "I'm thankful" turkey is a great craft for kids of most ages. Try this printable version, or this version, or make one from a paper plate, as shown to the left.

Placemats are great for both the adults' and kids' tables. I like this "I'm thankful for" placemat. Or use the puzzle placemat here or here.

For more craft ideas, including a harvest turkey (decorated with glued on beans), pilgrim paper dolls, tepee crafts, and more, try this site.

And don't forget one of the easiest Thanksgiving traditions around, the legend of the 5 kernels of corn.

Oct 18, 2016

Our Favorite Christian Children's Thanksgiving & Fall Books

This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full information. Thank you for supporting this site!

As hot summer weather cools and turns into rainy fall, snuggling up with the kids and reading some great books is the perfect way to spend the afternoon. With that in mind, here are some of my family's favorite picture books about fall and Thanksgiving. May they bring as much pleasure to your family as they have to mine!

Favorite Fall Themed Picture Books

* My Basket of Blessings by Mary Manz Simon. This cute board book is engaging to look at and reinforces the important concept of counting the blessings God gives us. The book is die cut to look like a basket, and each page has die cut images of items inside the basket, giving a fun layered look. Each item is fall-related, including juicy apples that "will never match the sweetness of God's love for me," a scarecrow to remind that God made us, and a pumpkin pie, with it's wafting scent, to remind us God's gifts are everywhere.

* God's Oak Tree by Allia Zobel Nolan.This board book is beautiful to behold. The cover features a die-cut hole through which you can see a smiling acorn. Open up the book, and you'll find the pages are of different shapes, starting narrow and growing wider. Each time you turn a page, the image of an acorn hanging from a tree shifts, and on the opposite side the image of a fully grown oak tree gradually appears. Each page is beautifully illustrated, with rich nature colors, lots of wild animals, and plenty of detail. Best of all, this book explains science (how an acorn turns into a tree) from a Christian standpoint.

* Give Thanks to the Lord by Karma Wilson. Based on Psalm 92, this book celebrates the glory of nature during fall, giving God thanks for providing it. I especially love that this book makes it easy to memorize a simple Bible verse.

* My Happy Pumpkin by Crystal Bowman. This cheery board book tells the story of a pumpkin turned jack-o-lantern and how it symbolizes the way God washes away our sin and shines through us. It's sure to become a
seasonal favorite, perfect for reading while your children decorate pumpkins.

* The Pumpkin Patch Parable by Liz Curtis Higgs. Very similar to My Happy Pumpkin, but targeting a slightly older age group (say, 5 - 8). A classic! (In fact, check out all the parable books in this series, each focused on a different time of year. They are excellent.)

Favorite Thanksgiving Themed Picture Books

* Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving by Eric Metaxas. If you read your children only one fall or Thanksgiving themed book this year, make it this one. Here's a part of history few people know - how Squanto's life was shaped by God at least in part to help the Pilgrims. An amazing story!

* Mary's First Thanksgiving by Kathy-Jo Wargin. A story that helps instill thankfulness, while teaching the legend of the five kernels.

* Samuel Eaton's Day & Sarah Morton's Day by Kate Waters. Filled with full color photos of reenactors from Plymouth Plantation, which do an excellent job of showing what everyday life was like for Pilgrim children. These books don't specifically mention Thanksgiving, mind you, but are still a great tie in with that holiday. (Also check out the companion book about a Native American boy of the same time period: Tapenum's Day.)

* Three Young Pilgrims by Cheryl Harness. My kids adore the illustrations in this book, and often spend days studying them. They are detailed and rich, and the story itself does a good job of showing why the Pilgrims came to the New World, how they suffered, and how they trusted God.

Aug 17, 2015

Our Favorite Kids Educational Programs on Netflix Streaming - UPDATED!

3/26/2014: We save hundreds each year by not buying cable TV. Instead, we pay for Netflix streaming ($7.99/month). Not only is it incredibly cheaper, but we don't have to deal with commercials. And for years, I've been using Netflix's instant streaming programing to help educate my kids. I mean, if I'm going to let them watch anything, why not let it be something they can learn from? With that in mind, here are our favorites.* (All age listings are approximate.)

UPDATE 8/17/2015: Some of our favorite educational shows are no longer on Netflix streaming. (Wah! No more Beakman's World!) I've included the names of these shows at the end of this post, so you can keep an eye out for them if they become available, if you want to try to rent them on DVD, or you want to try to find them from another source. In the meantime, I've completely updated the list. As of 8/17/2015, all the following shows are available on Netflix streaming.


The Magic School Bus (ages 5 - 9)
Wild Kratts (ages 5 - 10)
David Attenborough: Wildlife Specials (ages 6 and up)


Word World (4 - 6)
Amazing Word Explorers (4 - 7)

Preschool Basics:
Sesame Street Classics and Numbers and Letters
Shapeville Park
Phonics Farm
The Amazing Alphabet Amusement Park
Sesame Street and Sesame Street Classics
Reading Rainbow

Cat in the Hat (ages 2 - 7)
Veggies Tales (the new series; ages 2 - 7)
Little Einsteins (ages 2 - 6)
Mighty Machines (ages 2 - 5)
Various documentaries (These change rapidly, so I suggest browsing the documentaries section regularly. Note that you can expect all nature related documentaries to mention evolution.)

BONUS: If you use a Roku device for streaming Netflix, there are many other educational channels you can watch for FREE. These channels include:

PBS Kids
The Smithsonian Channel
The History Channel
National Geographic Kids
Kids' Food

The list grows monthly. (Note that some stations, like The History Channel and National Geographic Kids, allows Roku users to see only some episodes.)

Currently Unavailable on Netflix Streaming:

Beakman's World (ages 5 - 10)
How Stuff Works (ages 5 - adult)
How Do They Do It (ages 5 - adult)
Reading Rainbow Ocean Life (ages 3 - 5)
God of Wonders (creation science; ages 5 - adult)
Dragons or Dinosaurs (creation science; ages 6 - adult)
Wonders of God's Creation (creation science; ages 6 - adult)
Dear America (ages 5 - 13)
Storybook Treasures: Amazing America (ages 5 - 9)
A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (ages 4 - 12)
WordGirl (ages 5 - 9; look for this on Roku's PBS Kids station)
Busytown Mysteries (ages 2 - 5)
Numberland (preschool)
The All About series (All about Astronauts, All About Cars, etc.; misc.; ages 3 - 6)

* Please note that Nextflix streaming offerings change periodically.

Nov 21, 2016

Teaching Kids to Be Thankful...All Year Round

It's good that we set aside one day a year to focus on being thankful. It's bad that we set aside one day a year to focus on being thankful.

Both statements are true. A yearly holiday that's at least supposed to make us think of all the things we're thankful for is a good thing. But cultivating a thankful heart every day is really what the family of a Proverbs 31 Woman aspires to. Indeed, an attitude of thanksgiving is readily recognized as a balm for much that plagues our society today.

But as parents, just how do we go about encouraging a thankful heart?

* Show gratitude yourself. Parents have a tremendous influence over their children. If your kids see you expressing gratitude on a regular basis, they are more apt to dwell on the things they are thankful for, too. Action Ideas: Say thank you more often than you need to; express grateful moments out loud ("Mrs. Smith is so kind to think of us this way!"); show how gratitude leads you to do for others ("Mrs. Smith gave us her son's old books, so I think it would be nice to make her a batch of cookies.")

* Show them the world. Americans, even those who are considered poor, mostly have it easy compared to people in much of the world. It's a big mistake to shelter your children from the difficulties so many other people experience - or to simply neglect to teach them about those who have less. Instead, make a point of regularly talking about, learning about, and seeing people who have less than you do. Action Ideas: Take a family trip to a third world country; look at photos from National Geographic (or an online search) showing how the less fortunate live; read articles about daily struggles in other countries or communities; volunteer at a homeless shelter; think out loud about other people's needs ("Did you notice that Judy seems lonely? I wonder what we could do to cheer her?").

* Do something about it. Praying for the needy is very good. But come up with other ways you and your children can help those in need. For example, my sister's family has made it a tradition to cook dinner for the homeless each Thanksgiving. Whatever you do, though, don't limit it to the holiday season. Each month, aim to have a project that helps others. Action Ideas: Have your kids focus on earning money so they can give to their favorite charity, like World Vision; encourage your child to mow your neighbor's lawn or help the neighbor with weeding; as a family, visit the elderly; at least once a week, have each child find one way to be kind to a sibling.

* Make thankfulness an important part of daily prayer. When you teach your children to pray, be sure to insert prayers of thanksgiving on a regular basis. Action Idea: There is always something to be thankful for! Make sure you acknowledge that before your Creator - and during family prayer times.

* Write thank you notes. Growing up, I was never encouraged to do this, and where we live, it seems to be a dying tradition. Let it not be that way at your house. Action Ideas: Children who can't yet write, can draw a thank you picture; kids who can scrawl a few words should; young children needn't write a thank you note for every single gift (that could be an overwhelming and negative experience), but perhaps they can write one big thank you note and send copies of it to every gift giver.

* Think of others first. Gratitude is the natural outpouring of the greatest commandments: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind'....and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'" (Matt 22: 37-39) Therefore, teach your child what true love is: Putting others before yourself. Action Ideas: Talk about specific ways to love others in everyday life; when you see someone put others first, point it; think out loud about showing love ("I'm going to bring Mrs. Jones her mail today, just because.")

* Everyday traditions. Consider adding some traditions to your life that encourage every day thanksgiving. Action Ideas: Have one night a week where everyone at the dinner table talks about things they are thankful for; once a month make gratitude rolls; keep a family gratitude journal - a list of things you are thankful for.

* Memorize Scriptures about being thankful. Do it as a family! Some suggestions to get you started:

"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
1 Thesselonians 5:18

"And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."
Colossians 3:17

"Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!"
Psalm 106:1

How do you teach your children thankfulness? Share your thoughts and tips in the comments!

Nov 16, 2011

12 Thanksgiving Projects for Kids

1. Encourage everyone to nibble on healthy food, instead of sweets, by helping your kids create this turkey fruit and cheese kabob holder made from a pear, a melon, and some sweet peppers.

2. Another way to encourage healthier eating is to create a turkey out of vegetables laid on a platter. You'll probably have to make it - but the kids will enjoy eating it!

3. Make a harvest necklace using thread and a blunt needle. String popcorn, raisins, dried cranberries, and dried apple rings onto the thread.

4. Try a "thankful garland." Draw some leaf shapes on red, orange, yellow, and brown construction paper. Let your children cut out these "leaves." Ask every guest to take at least one leaf and write something on it that they are thankful for. Gather everyone and, one at a time, have guests read their leaf and string it onto a cord. When everyone is done, hang the cord as a garland. Or, cut rectangles from rainbow colored construction paper and have your children write what they are thankful for on the strips. Help them turn the rectangles into rings (using tape, glue, or staples) and create a traditional Christmas ring garland. On Thanksgiving, hang it somewhere prominent. Keep it up until New Year.

5. Have your children make Mayflower hand print pictures: Paint a child's hand brown and press the hand down on blue paper. Paint a darker blue sea and add some white cotton ball or painted clouds. Cut sails from white paper and have your children apply them.

6. Help your children make the sort of toys Pilgrim children relied on: Cornhusk Dolls.

7. Let your kids use blocks with letters on them to create appropriate messages around the house, like "Give Thanks."

8. Make place cards or napkin rings from construction paper. Use clip art to print out native headdresses and Pilgrim hats and collars. Use computer software to combine this clipart with a photograph of each guest's face. For an example of this craft, visit Family Fun's website.

9. Create a family tree print. Paint the trunk of a tree on heavy paper, then paint each child's hand the color of an autumn leaf: some green, some orange, some yellow, some red. Help the children press their hands onto the paper, creating the limbs and leaves of the tree. For best results, allow one color to dry before applying another. Frame this print and keep it as a family heirloom - or a give it as a Christmas gift.

10. Create the Mayflower from a milk carton.

11. Make a Thanksgiving ensemble of natives and Pilgrims with these free templates.

12. Check out last year's Thanksgiving craft ideas!

Nov 19, 2016

Weekend Links & Updates

My daughter's pet rabbit, relaxing on her bed.
This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full information. Thank you for supporting this site!

 In which I share my favorite posts from this blog's Facebook page.

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."
Joshua 1:9
* Today, I have to call my Dad and tell him I'm sorry his birthday card won't arrive on time. Do you think he'll believe me when I tell him the puppy ate his card? Because it's true! He also ate or chewed up my cell phone charger cord, my old laptop's charger cord (my children were using it for some school projects), the television cable cord the previous owners left attached to the dining room wall, my new-to-me dining room chair rails, his bed (he now sleeps on old towels), a myriad of papers (including my notes for a new recipe I'm working on), and our living room wall. Yes, the wall. So you can see I spend a lot of time "parenting" the naughty dog. 

I'm also spending an inordinate amount of time dealing with our mortgage company, which seems bent on making it difficult for us to re-build our pole barn. (The insurance company was legally bound to put our mortgage's company's name on our check...and now the mortgage co. gets to control the money.)
Just another thing the puppy tried to destroy - a new recipe I'm working on.
Otherwise, I am busy homeschooling, preserving figs, and just keeping up with everyday homestead chores like laundry and caring for animals. Did someone say Thanksgiving is coming soon? Ah well; I'll be ready...somehow.

* Glyphosate (Round Up) found in many common foods. This is really not a surprise, once you learn how much Round Up is used in commercial farming. I would caution, though, that the group that did the testing is pretty radical; I look forward to other organizations doing their own testing. In the meantime, do your best to cut all processed foods from your diet. Buy from local farmers who you trust to be honest about their growing practices. Better yet: Grow as much of your own food as possible!

* A good introduction to use the use of herbal medicine.

* Simple ways to focus on thanks this Thanksgiving. 

* Need some new and different - or classic! - pie recipes for Thanksgiving? Please consider my ebook or paperback Easy As Pie! I'm definitely making chocolate chip cookie dough cheesecake pie! Sooooo yummy!

Oldies But Goodies:

* Getting Children to Listen During Devotions
* Teach Little Ones an Easy Way to Put on Their Own Jackets
* Thanksgiving Cookie Ideas
* Thanksgiving Games for Kids 
* Make Ahead Thanksgiving Food Ideas


Nov 18, 2011

Teaching Kids Generosity

"Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’"

Mathew 25: 34-40

Do you ever look around the world and think: What selfish, self-centered people! You're not alone.

It's natural for young children to thinking selfishly, but it's our job as parents to lead them away from this behavior toward generosity, compassion, and biblical servitude.

One way to do this is to help our kids focus on giving. Any time of year is the right time to give, but with Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner - and, often, gluttony along with them - fall and winter are ideal times to focus on generosity.

* Together, read and memorize Bible verses on generosity. (Ideas include the parable of the sheep and goats, Acts 20:35, Prov. 19:17, 2 Cor. 9:6-7, 1 John 3:17, Prov. 14:31, and Luke 12:233-34.)

* Teach your children about those with less. We are extraordinarily wealthy in the United States - so much so, we often loose track of just how much more we have than so many others around the world. An easy way to show your children what life is like elsewhere is to do a few Google image searches. For example, you could search "third world children" and come up with a wealth of images of undernourished kids, children doing back breaking work, and extremely modest housing and clothing. Print out the images and help your child stick them into a purse-sized photo album or turn them into a lapbook project. Then start discussing the images: "Do you think that house is warm or cold? Do those children have lots of toys? What do you think it's like for a child to go to work each day?"

* If a disaster takes place, share it with your child. You may not want to share a news report with young children, but you can still show them carefully selected images of a recent earthquake, flood, or other disaster. Ask questions like, "Where do you think that man will live now that his home is ruined? How long do you think he might have to work to earn money to replace it? Do you think he has enough food?"

* Allow your kids to see your generosity. If you give a homeless man a meal, your kids will notice and learn.

Link * Take care of others together. Volunteer - as a family - at the local homeless shelter, or get involved in a group that visits the elderly.

Link * Give your children a way to help on their own. Give your child opportunities to earn money - give them extra chores, for example, or help him gather and turn in soda cans - then teach him how to set some aside for charity. Help him choose a cause for that money to go to; for small children, offer only two or three choices, to make the selection less daunting. Try to make sure your child knows exactly what her money or donation is going toward. Some ideas include a local Christmas giving tree for children, a care package for children living in poverty, or Blanket and a Bible.

How do you help your children learn thankfulness and generosity?

Jul 8, 2015

Encouraging Children to Pray - an Interview with Tricia Goyer

Author Tricia Goyer.
My children and I are halfway through Tricia Goyer's newest book, Prayers that Change History. We are loving it! This book for children and teens offers up stories about people throughout history who prayed and saw remarkable answers to those prayers. Not only does the book give strong examples for my children to follow, but it's lead to many great conversations about our own prayer lives and how we can strengthen them. What's not to love about that?

Recently, I emailed with Tricia about her book and about how she encourages her six children to grow their own prayer lives.

Kristina: What inspired you to write Prayers that Change History?

Tricia: I've been a homeschooling mom for many years, and one of my favorite things is reading about historical heroes. Through the years I was amazed by how many historical stories involved prayer. For example, did you know that three days before Christopher Columbus found land his crew revolted and wanted to turn around? Columbus prayed about it and felt impressed to ask for three more days. And it was on the third day that they found land. I started collecting these stories, and soon I knew it had to be a book! Yet I not only wanted to share these historical stories, but my goal also became to teach children how to pray themselves. That excites me!

Kristina: Me, too! One of the things I like about Prayers is that it includes discussion questions that have really helped my children look closely at how they can improve not just their prayer life, but their walk with God. Would you share your favorite historical story from the book?

Tricia: That's like trying to choose a favorite child! There are so many great ones, but today I've been thinking a lot about Florence Nightingale. As a young teenager Florence was praying and felt God's call. Her journal says, “On February 7th, 1837, God spoke to me and called me to his service.” She had no idea what that was, but she worried about doing it as a married woman so she even turned down a marriage proposal.

Years later she felt drawn to nursing, but it wasn't a suitable profession at the time. Nurses were known to be largely unskilled, uneducated and heavy drinkers. Her parents were horrified. Florence left London to serve in Russia with an army unit. She was horrified by how the injured were treated, especially because the main cause of deaths in the Army wasn't from wounds, but from infection. For the remainder of her life Florence worked to transform nursing practices. Even today those practices are followed it ever nurse today learns and recites the Nightingale Pledge.

I love that story because one young girl prayed for God to use her. She continued to pray over the years  for God to show her His call. Once she knew the call, she prayed for help and wisdom. Because of her prayers nursing practices were changed … and aren't we all thankful?!

Kristina: What an amazing example of how children and teens are important to God and can really make a difference if they are focused on him. Do you have an example of how prayer changed your personal history?

Tricia: Yes! In 1989 I was a pregnant teenager. My boyfriend was out of the picture. I had just rededicated my life to God, and I knew I wanted to have a different life. I wanted to go a different direction than the one I'd been going. I started praying. I prayed for a future husband—someone who would love me and my son. I thought it would take years for my prayers to be answered but God answered right away. I started dating the pastor's son after my son was born and we were married when Cory was 9 months old. We've been married for twenty-five years and we have six children and we're in the process of adopting four more. I was praying for a father to my son, and God had exceedingly more than I asked for or imagined. I love how God does that. And that is just one story of answered prayer. God has done so much more!


How do you encourage the prayer life of your six children?

Tricia: We pray together as a family every night before bed. We started with the youngest and go to the oldest. John and I pray for each child by name. Also, in the mornings John and I have quiet time together before he goes to work. The kids see us reading our Bible and praying together. This time is special to us, but we also feel it's an important example for the kids to see. Kids model what they see. 

Kristina: So you and your husband lead by example. Can you give us more insight into how this works?

Tricia: For my family, we try to pray throughout the day. We pray when we see an accident on the road. We pray when we are having bad attitudes (both the kids and I). We pray over our meals. We pray about many things. By modeling prayer we can teach that prayer changes everything.

It's also important to read stories about people who have prayed. Biographies of Christian missionaries and Bible stories are important. When we see how God answers other people's prayers then we have faith that He will answer our prayers, too!

Of course prayer isn't just about asking for things. We also pray prayers of thanksgiving. My kids keep gratitude journals and every few days we write down a one-sentence prayer of something we're thankful for.

Kristina: Thank you, Tricia, for sharing with us. And thanks for your encouraging new book!

Prayers that Changed History is available from Amazon for $9.83 (paperback) or $7.99 (Kindle).

Nov 11, 2011

Thanksgiving Cookie Ideas

My kids love to make cookies. (And eat them, too!) But their favorite cookies to both make and eat are creative endeavors, like our yearly batch of iced and trimmed Christmas cookies. This year, I want to try some special Thanksgiving cookies, too. Since I'm not good at fancy decorating, I scoured the web for easier ideas my kids can fully participate in. Here's what I came up with. (Photos all copyrighted by the linked-to websites.)

* Plymouth Rock Cookies. I love this idea because it's both fun and teaches a wee bit of history. I found two slightly different instructions. Family Fun's version and Almost Unschoolers'.

* Turkey Handprints. There are a number of ways to use your children's hands as a template for sugar or gingerbread Linkcookies, but I like the idea of tracing their hands onto paper or cardstock first. Not only does this limit the amount of patience my kids (and I!) need for the project, but I think it makes cutting a lot easier. It's the decorating that makes these cookies really look like turkeys. Try having the kids brush on icing that's a different color for each tail, and look for ball and oblong edible decorating items in the baking aisle or from a source like King Arthur Flour. For an example of this style of cookie, check out Taste of Home's website.

* Pilgrim Hat Cookies. There are a few ways to make treats in the shape of Pilgrim hats, too. The simplest may be these, featured at Accent the Party, and made of chocolate wafer cookies and peanut butter cups. You can also use Keebler Fudge Cookies and marshmallows, as explained over at Celebrations. Yet another variation is found at CafeMom.

* Cookie Turkeys. Keeping the theme of using store bought cookies and candies to make your own cookie creations, I like two variations on the turkey theme: Using chocolate covered cherries, candy corn, and cookies, as shown at Taste of Home, and using Oreos and candy corn, as seen on Flickr.

* Corn Stalks. These clever creations are just sugar cookies frosted and decorated with M&Ms. Green fruit leather makes up the husk, as detailed over at Family Fun.

Nov 11, 2010

Delegating this Holiday Season

If you're like me, you're already beginning to feel the pressure of Thanksgiving and Christmas "must do's." In addition to trying to pare our holiday "musts" to a more manageable size, this season I'm going to start to delegating to my kids more.

Not only does giving your children more tasks lower your stress level, but it does kids so much good! Kids need to feel they're an important part of the household. Chores are the best way for them to develop this sense. Plus, chores teach them helpfulness and charity - as well as give them important life skills.

"But they won't get it done right!" some of you are thinking. If this is what keeps you from giving your kids more responsibility around the house, it's time to prioritize. Sure, a kindergartener isn't going to do a perfect job sweeping the kitchen. But the job will be good enough - if you patiently teach her the right way to do it (and never do her work over because "it's not right"). By letting go of your own perfectionism, you'll allow your children to grow and thrive in your home.

It's a win-win situation. Your children gain experience, a Christian attitude, and a sense of belonging, and you'll feel more rested and less stressed this season - which helps everyone focus more on the meaning of the holidays.