kid tools

not a screwdriver and measuring tape, and certainly not a hammer and nails.

i'm writing of tools that our family uses with our boys. tools that challenge our boys to learn more. to excel in their passions and creativity.
i will admit that i'm good at borrowing other's great ideas and implementing them into our home. but i'm always looking for more. with that, this post is two-fold.
one, i want to share our tools and, two, i want you to share yours. and like any tool in the toolbox, they seem to work best when they've been tried and tested. same with our kid tools. they've been tried and tested and are pilgreen-approved. please share your tried and tested tools in the comment box.

[photo taken by sam]

starting from left to right:

Audio stories
We're currently listening to Sally Lloyd-Jones as she retells The Jesus Storybook Bible, as well as, Goodnight Warrior, written and read by Sheila Walsh. Both audio stories are stories from the Bible. The boys go to bed listening to these at night. Audio stories allow them to use their imagination to paint the setting and characters in their mind. Truth settles into their hearts and minds and they seem to rest better.
Do you know of some great audio stories?

Chapter books
Our second grader loves his chapter books. We're into Magic Treehouse and anything baseball. He reads for homework and will bring books on van trips. Usually on Sunday afternoons, when our family has gone non-stop over the weekend, we'll all lay down with a good book. The challenge lies in asking him questions about what he has read. Somehow, him sharing, fuels his love to read more.
What chapter books are read in your home?

Easy read - picture books
Tickle Monster and anything by Mo Willems and Sandra Boynton rank up top. Our kindergartner loves Sammy the Seal, Lil' Critter, and Frog and Toad books. He is able to practice his reading as he reads to his 3 year old brother during rest time. We used the resource, Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, to teach him to read and he's taken off!
We love giving away books and getting other used books.
What are some of your children's favorites?

Recycle Bin
We live in a very green, eco-friendly city and it's becoming a value in our home as well. It's amazing how much we can recycle and compost, yet some of the recycled items are screaming, "make something out of me!" So we set aside those screaming items and stock up for a few weeks. Then we pull them out along with some scissor, glue, and crayons and make all kinds of creative things.
Sam just made a beach in a box that you can take with you anywhere. When you open the box (egg carton) you discover seashells (wads of paper), the beach (plastic coffee can lid), fish (caps) and the sun (scraps from a paper towel roll).
What do you do with random items?

Spiritual Growth
As parents, we must be growing in our relationship with God in order to model and pour into our children. We can have lots of tools in the toolbox, but without proper instruction and demonstration, the tools are useless.
We read through the Jesus Storybook Bible at night as a family and have a different prayer for the boys each night.
Monday: their education (even their colleges!)
Tuesday: their friends
Wednesday: their character
Thursday: their wives (this is a big one!)
Friday: their purpose
Saturday: our church
Sunday: our family
Since Elijah is growing in his faith as a Christian and is a good reader, he is currently reading Power of a Praying Kid as he has a heart to pray for his classmates and our city.
We love partnering with our church's children curriculum as they learn verses for the month. Memorizing Scripture can start very young and is powerful in the home and in our lives. Children have strong faith and trust and we're learning it's best to capitalize on this while they young.
Sam and Elijah have written their classmates on post-it notes near their bed. We pray for those who were sick or those who had a hard day.

Character Growth
After reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, I started keeping a grateful journal, but quickly got the kids on board with their own. On those days we're feeling groggy and selfish and can only find things to complain about, we grab our journals and jot a few things we are grateful for. It's a small task that makes a big change.
Our children are never too young to begin speaking to them about their character development. When we pray together, we ask each other, "what is something that you need God to help you with in your heart?" "what is something you notice that you are getting better at in your heart?" We pray for and rejoice in these character journeys.

How about you and yours? Where are you growing? What areas is He sharpening?