Monday, February 23, 2015

DIY Lent or Easter Countdown Calendar

This year I finally got around to finishing a Countdown to Easter Calendar for our family. Perfect? Oh, no.

But neither am I, and I still love how the calendar turned out despite its imperfections.

Advent calendar and countdown ideas abound, but rarely do you see a Lent or Easter or Resurrection calendar.

The way I made mine is a pretty simple idea that could be adapted in many ways.

I made the calendar in a cross shape with 47 numbered pockets, ending on Easter at the sign with INRI and 47 written on it at the very top of the cross.

Traditionally, it is said the the season of Lent has 40 days, but that doesn't count the Sundays, so putting the Sundays back in brought my total up to 47. You could adjust the number of pockets to include more or less, bring the number back down to 40 or 30 or however long your family wants to anticipate the coming of Easter.

I used a very pretty patterned cotton fabric I received as a gift for the back and upcycled a pair of felted-wool-like gray pants for the pockets. By using the felt and making the pockets in long strips, I reduced my sewing time significantly.

For the numbers I simply wrote them using a fabric marker. I'd prefer the look of embroidery, but don't have the time to devote to that big of a project right now.

The cards in the calendar are from our Rising of the Son: A Family Devotional Celebrating the Coming of Easter printables which are original hand drawn artwork I drew specifically for this devotional. I cut out each ornament, glued them onto black cardstock, put contact paper on both sides, punched holes, and put a ribbon through each one.

You could make your own ornaments, verse cards, symbols, activity ideas, etc. to include if you'd rather.

I attached each ornament by safety pinning the ribbon to the calendar from the back, so the pin wasn't visible. I originally thought I'd sew buttons on each pocket so you could take the ornament out and then hag it on the pocket, but then I didn't want to spend that much time sewing on buttons either. And the safety pins keep the cards from accidentally falling off better anyway.

Not 100% sure if I'll unpin everything for storage or be able to fold it carefully enough. We'll see.

Either way I'm really happy with the way this project turned out and hope that we get to use it for many years to come.

Each night as we get ready to read from our Devotional we pull out the next picture ornament, and the kids take a treat from their hanging Easter baskets. It is a highly anticipated event in our household, and I just love all of the memories we're making.

Another idea that you could use in conjunction with or instead of a Lent or Easter Countdown Calendar would be a Jesus Tree.

How do you anticipate Easter or Resurrection Sunday in your home?

DIY Jesus Tree

A great decoration to focus on Jesus at Easter time is a Jesus tree.

The popularity of using a  Jesse Tree during advent to focus on the coming of the Son at Christmastime is growing.

You can use the same idea to focus on the rising of the Son at Eastertide as well.

For this little Easter tree I used just the holy week ornaments from our Rising of the Son: A Family Devotional Celebrating the Coming of Easter printables. I cut out each ornament, glued them onto black cardstock, put contact paper on both sides, punched holes, and put a ribbon through each one. Then I hung them on a simple tree branch in a vase (a.k.a. old vinegar bottle). You could certainly use all 47-50 from that book to make a much larger tree. Or you could put one on the tree each day/night for however many days you chose to use that devotional book.

Or you could make your own ornaments, verse cards, symbols, activity ideas, etc. to include if you'd rather. You could even make symbols for Resurrection Eggs and then hang them on a tree if you wanted.

You could also make a paper or cloth tree to hang on a wall for a different variation as well.

I think we are going to just use our Easter Countdown Calendar alone this year since I finally got it done. But Last year we did this mini Jesus tree during holy week and the kids really liked it too.

What are your favorite Resurrection minded decorations or traditions?

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Lovely Devotionals for the Whole Family

My husband and I love using holidays to help teach our kids important concepts and at the same time get them really excited about the things their learning and the holidays. One of the main ways we've done this is by creating our Family Devotional books.

These books pull together important scripture readings, discussion questions, suggested hymns, as well as activities and some little extra fun decorations. Now in our house we add some special treats and family countdowns to holidays, done and done!

This year we've been moving our Family Devotionals over to our educational site Greenfield Education, so people can access all of the PDF versions in one place. We are also working on updating them, making them all available in Kindle form and adding new books as well.

This year we were able to finish Rising of the Son: A Family Devotional to Celebrate the Coming of Easter, which was a huge project for us. To celebrate we are giving away the PDF version of Growing in Love: Garden of Charity Family Devotional.

This short ebook focuses on what true love really looks like and is packed with bonus printables at the end (which are already worth more the the regular price).

You can get it for free until February 15,2015. All details over here at the Greenfield Education Blog.

Here is some photos from last year showing us using some of the included printables.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Preschool Christmas Holiday Craft: Paper Cone Christmas Trees

This preschool activity required little time or supplies, but my kids loved it when we made these a couple years ago. They thought is was so much fun to decorate their own little trees. I thought they were a fun addition to our dining room decorations, but you could let your kids keep them in their own room too (or anywhere else of course)!

You could by pre-made cones at a craft store as well if you think a more professional look would fit better with your holiday decor, but your kids will have fun either way.

One other variation to consider if you want to do this craft in a group (or just want a simpler approach) would be to just let them color on paper cones and put stickers all over them. This would cut the mess factor way down.

Preschool Christmas Holiday Craft: Paper Cone Christmas Trees

  • Sturdy construction paper, card stock, scrapbook paper, or poster board (I actually recycled old gift and shopping bags)
  • Stapler and staples
  • Glue and or paint
  • Decorations (Glitter, sequins, buttons, etc.)
  1.  I cut rolled and stapled the heavy paper into different size cones ahead of time.
  2. Then I let my kids paint on glue and sprinkle glitter, sequins, and buttons to their hearts content.
  3. Let dry and display!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Family Devotionals Updated

My husband and I are in the process of updating our family devotionals and moving them over to our educational site Greenfield Education.

We have already updated our Thanksgiving and Christmas devotional books. The Thanks Giving Tree: Seeing Blessings Everywhere will be available for free until the end of November. And The Tree of Life: Seeking the Son This Christmas has been revised and had new printables added to it as well.

See details about how to get The Thanks Giving Tree: Seeing Blessings Everywhere for free here.

We hope that you all have a wonderful holiday season!


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Things Progressing Around Here

So long time no post. I know. This summer we went to America for two months and then back home. It was a great trip and things are going well settling back in at home now too. It was just too busy to post anything in this space.

But we have been working on a lot of different projects. I am happy to be able to share one of them with you today.

Over at Greenfield Education, my husband and I are pleased to have just released The Pilgrim's Progress in graded readers levels 1-4.

To celebrate we're giving away the first two levels until October 31st. Head on over to Greenfield Education to get your free readers and find out more.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Happy Birthday Aaron!

How did he get to be six years old already?

Aaron had a very full and fun birthday here, but is still really looking forward to his family party with the grandparents next weekend!

Waking up to balloons and his brothers singing

Talking to the grandparents and opening treats

Fun lunch

Popped the bubbly for the birthday lunch

Opening presents (Travel chess, thanks Grandma Lorna!)


Busy bags for the plane

Baby likes chess too. (And you can see a little of the play mats for the trip.)

One boy came over in the afternoon for cake

He stayed for quite a while playing with the boys

He brought this giant bear and a music box as very unexpected presents. 

Played animal charades; its a good bilingual game. (Aaron the snake)

Andrew the bee (stinging everyone with his bottom, also unexpected)

This boy was such a nice kid and seemed like he had fun.
(Or at least found us amusing)

He made a balloon hat for baby;
baby liked wearing it this way.

Chicken nugget dinner

Thanks Grandma Lorna!

Then we invited the little girl who comes over a lot over for cake.
And six girls (on roller blades which made them
feel like there were 12 of them) came.

They calmed down to a dull (giggly) roar
once we asked them to take off their roller blades.
We bought a musical firework candle that are popular here
and all the kids liked it.

The girls sang, ate cake, played for a few minutes,
and then put their roller blades back on and
ran down the stairs and out to their homes.
The boys had fun having friends over.

Then Aaron beat daddy in chess using his new travel chess game.

Lastly the much anticipated treasure hunt

Daddy is making a chess game with the best chess AI out there,
and it is going have all kinds of levels and graph how the game is going.
Aaron was very excited to see the start of it. 

Happy Birthday Aaron!
Aaron BiRthday Haqpy sign made by Andrew
(actually great copying for a 4 year old)


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