Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Jesse Tree 2013: 16th December - John the Baptist

Jesse Tree 2013: 14th December - Joseph the Carpenter

Our activity today involved wooden pegs, as a tribute to the man who brought up Jesus - the carpenter, Joseph. Pegs were the closest I could get to doing a wood based craft, without requiring dangerous tools!

We decorated the wooden pegs with sequins and glitter glue, and stuck magnets on the back to make useful fridge magnets, perfect for holding art work or recipe cards or my calendar. 

Whilst these magnets are decorative , their main role is a supporting one, a bit like Joseph. We know very little about him, but without him the nativity would be very different. He had such an important job. He may not have been Jesus's natural father, but he was His earthly dad, and a good and loving husband. 

Father God, help us to live our lives without worrying about who notices. 

Jesse Tree 2013: 13th December - Solomon

King Solomon. The wise king. He was clearly on the road to wisdom before God granted his wish to be oh so wise, as he knew enough to ask only for wisdom. In return for that, God also have him huge riches. I sometimes think it was a bit unfair of God to give him that burden disguised as a reward. Solomon, despite God's gift of wisdom, was still pretty unwise when it came to women, and his massive wealth allowed him access to more women than was wise. Perhaps Go was using Solomon to remind us that no one is perfect. At the very least no one can be as wise as God. Which enabled us to look at Jesus and see the perfection, the divine wisdom ofour Saviour. 

Our activity today was to make crowns. Wisdom is a big ask for a 2 year old, but gluing jewels onto a gold crown is right up queen B's street.  

Daddy and B really enjoyed this activity, and she's not stopped wearing her crown. 

Help us, God, to treasure wisdom like a crown. 

Jesse Tree 2013: 18th December - O Adonai

O Lord, and Ruler of the house of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the burning bush, and gave him the Law on Sinai, come to redeem us with outstretched arm!

Today we made a picture of the burning bush by sticking red, orange and yellow scrunched up tissue onto a drawing of a tree. B really enjoyed tearing and scrunching the tissue. 

Father God, help us to hear your voice. 

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Jesse Tree 2013 - 7th December: Jacob

Today we took a trip to London to visit the Christmas Market on the Southbank. Train journeys are much more relaxing than car journeys when you have children. I was able to feed the baby whenever she wanted, and B was entertained and happy, not least because she got given an activity pack at the station. It had a gingerbread man in it, which kept her occupied for most of the journey. And the excitement of being on a train took care of the rest. Those activity packs were a lovely little touch. It's so rare in this day and age to find people thinking about children. And if it's just a marketing ploy to get people with young families to use the trains more, then it worked on us!
The activity for today was meant to be handprint angels, to represent the angels Jacob dreamt about, but we didn't have time, so I'll probably get the hubby to do those with B tomorrow. 

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Jesse Tree 2013 - 6th December: Isaac

As Isaac was the beginning of the fulfilment of God's promise to give Abraham countless descendants, we did another star based activity today. 

We made salt dough stars to create a mobile, based on this: 
However, yet again, it didn't go quite to plan! Blame the sleep deprivation from having a 3 week old baby, but I misread the oven temperature in that blogpost. It's American and therefore in Fahrenheit. I baked those little things at 170 C and they burnt. Fortunately we can salvage with a bit of paint, but we'll try again next year to make one to keep. B enjoyed playing with the special play dough, and I resisted the urge to tell her not to eat it. She would try it either way! She put a bit in her mouth and found it disgusting, so that worked without me having to nag!

Jesse Tree 2013 - 5th December: Abraham

Genesis 22

Whenever I see stars in the sky I am reminded of two bible verses. The first is, "He also made the stars," from the creation account. Such a throwaway verse for something so perfectly beautiful. The second is God's promise to Abraham: "I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky..." (Genesis 22:17a NIV)

Today's activity acknowledged that promise, in that we made star jars. I pinched the idea from The Imagination Tree.

However, they weren't as successful as the various ones I'd seen on the internet. I was expecting the glitter and stars to float through the water, snowglobe-like, but everything basically stayed in a big blob at the top. Still, B enjoyed sprinkling the stars into the jars, and she wasn't bothered by high expectations or the need for perfection like I am, so to her the jars were lovely. 

Thank you, God, for fulfilling our need for perfection, and for keeping your perfect promises. 

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Jesse Tree 2013 - 4th December: Noah

Genesis 6-7

Noah was one of the easier themes to come up with activities for, though as B gets older I expect I will have to be a bit more inventive in order to make it teachable and relevant. She has several Noah's Ark related books and toys, so we read the story and played with her wooden ark. 
Daddy and B did some painting together, making a picture of the Ark ready for sticking animals onto. They painted a piece of paper with blue paint to be the sea, and then made an Ark out of paper plates which they painted brown and red. When that was dry, B stuck loads of stickers of animals on to the boat, and added rain clouds and rain drops to the sky, as well as some sea creatures to the water. 

I really love this picture. And B loved painting and sticking. It was brilliant to watch her doing an activity with Daddy. They had a lot of fun together. 

After this they painted rainbows onto two halves of a paper plate and I added streamers and string before sticking the plates together to make a mobile. I pinched this idea from

There was a rainbow in the sky the day that B was born, and so I always think that God has special plans for her. I really hope so. 

Thank you, God for keeping your promises. 

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Jesse Tree 2013 - 3rd December: The First Sin

Genesis 3

B can be very wilful and stubborn (I wonder where she gets those qualities from...) but she isn't yet at an age where she can be held accountable for her actions. We don't use punishments or rewards, but use a mixture of explanations and logical consequences in the hope that she will learn to choose right actions, rather than being "good" out of fear of punishment or simply because she will get a prize for doing so. As a result, today's theme is quite a difficult one. In a few years' time we will be able to discuss how we've upset or hurt someone and choosing to say sorry to people and to God, but for now I've chosen to concentrate on the fruit in the story of the first sin. 

Today we made some apple shaped tree decorations out of apple sauce and cinnamon. You can find the instructions here:

The key was stopping B from eating the dough, which smelled pretty tempting, but is inedible. And there, I suppose, is the teaching point! Some things look great, but aren't good for us, and God, like our mummies and daddies, wants only the best for us, even if that sometimes feels like we're being deprived and disappointed. A tough lesson for a 2 year old, but no easier for a 30 year old!

Jesse Tree 2013 - 2nd December: Adam & Eve

Genesis 2

Yesterday we made an effort to appreciate the beautiful world God created for us; today we were acknowledging that God made us too. This is a difficult, and therefore important, topic for me, especially at the moment when I am once again struggling to feed a baby with my faulty body. For the sake of my daughters, I need to get a much more positive view of my body, in order that they can grow up loving they way they look, etc., so remembering that God made human beings - including me - and declared us "very good" is vital. 

The first activity we did was to put all four of our handprints on a canvas - always an interesting activity with a baby!! The first time I tried with B they looked like monkey paw prints!

 I love this canvas. It's a beautiful reminder of our precious family and how little our girls are. I think we will repeat this every year. 

For lunch we made pizza faces. This was a lot of fun, especially because we had some friends round and they joined in too. B really enjoyed decorating her pizza and I was surprised at how accurately she placed the facial features. Her highlight though, was eating a large number of olives straight from the jar!

In the afternoon I drew round B on a big piece of paper, with the intention that she would colour it in and be able to add features, or some semblance of them. I definitely overestimated what she would manage! Instead, she enjoyed sticking stickers on the paper, so while we didn't achieve what I planned, B still had fun and wasn't asking to watch Mr Tumble! I think this is an activity that will work better when she's a bit older, so I'll try and remember it for next year. 

Thank you, God, for making each one of us. 

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Jesse Tree 2013 - 1st December: Creation

Genesis 1

B is old enough to appreciate more structured activities now, so, with that in mind, I set about organising crafts and other activities to do with her based around the Jesse Tree that I made last year. I also want her to have fun things that she can do with any visitors who've come to see the baby, so that she doesn't feel neglected and ignored.

The first theme on our Jesse Tree is Creation, so we went for a walk at our local forest centre. B was given the task of searching for interesting things to collect and take home. She really enjoyed looking for red leaves and berries. Her particular highlight was some acorn cups and a large pigeon feather. We decided not to collect any berries, for fear of them being consumed(!), but also because from the amount that we saw, it's going to be a pretty severe winter and the birds are going to need as much as they can get. Instead we took photos of the berries, and also of some teasels which were too prickly to pick. We printed these off as soon as we got home. 

B absolutely loved making a collage with her findings. Her Aunty sat down to help her make it, which was wonderful for B. Since M was born two weeks ago, we've been in and out of hospital, having to sort out supplementing and sterilising, etc. and B has been having a hard time of it. She loves M and is ever so gentle and kind towards her, but she's definitely feeling the strain of not being our one and only anymore. She's also become a bit addicted to using people's phones and watching telly, as, at times, I think we've all found it easier to pacify her with screen time, rather than deal with another melt down. So it was wonderful to see her doing something creative without a screen in sight, and to see her delighting in the activity. I think a highlight for her was being allowed to use big scissors to cut the sticky tape!
I explained to her that every thing she had stuck onto her poster had been made by God for us to enjoy or use. We also read the Creation story in her Children's Storybook Bible. 
I really appreciated the walk and getting a childlike view of creation, especially after being cooped up in hospital rooms and at home waiting for midwife visits. I think too that it was important for us to look for good and God in our day after feeling so angry with Him over the past days. 

Thank you, God, for making a beautiful world.