Friday, September 02, 2011

Queen Esther Day(s)!

Lauren has been fascinated by the story of Queen Esther for quite some time now and it is one of her most requested Bible stories. We have this book and she can almost "read" it (she has it memorized) word for word. I don't know if it is the little girl in her that is drawn to the story of a queen and her bravery, but I am thankful that God has planted the seed of desiring to read His Word in her heart at such a young age!

We spent lots of time reading the story of Esther from various children's Bibles that we own. Because she is still young, we mostly hit on the main points. I wanted her to know that Esther was a girl just like anyone else. Nothing made her more special or able to do what was right besides the fact that she loved God and she decided to be brave for Him. (One thing I LOVE about God's Word is that it really is accessible for all ages...I know that years from now mine and Lauren's conversation about Queen Esther will look different from this first lesson, but to me that is SO exciting!!!)

I made Lauren a special princess lunch one day. Before you think I am a ninja with my mad sandwich cutting skills, I used these awesome Lunch Punches to make the crown sandwich. I used sprinkles on Nutella for the bottom and yellow sprinkles for the tips of the crown. The Cheez-Its are the Scrabble version (way cool!!! and so yummy!!!) and then I just served her some buttered noodles. This was not necessary, but she loves when I make her fun lunches, so I thought I might as well make it somewhat applicable to what we were studying! Thankfully, this lunch was a hit with her!

I chose the verse, "Nothing is impossible with God." from Luke 1:37 to teach Lauren. I thought I wanted something from the actual book of Esther, but this verse kept coming to mind. The more I thought about it, the more perfect the verse seemed for the lesson and for her little heart.

We used our clothespin verse cards that Desir√© introduced us to to learn our verse this week. I found that even though Lauren can't read the words on the cards, she still really loved putting the cards on one by one and then pointing to them as we sang the verse. You can download the free printable here if you're interested.  (I purchased the adorable graphics from here!)

I totally made up the tune to the verse on the spot and you will mostly just hear my voice until the end (I. am. so. sorry.), but as shy as my little girl is I was just happy she actually agreed to be IN the video! (As a side note, this verse has been invaluable as we are in that toddler stage of, *insert whiney voice* "I caaaaaaaaaaan't!")

For a few little craft activities we made a queen crown out of yellow foam, glitter glue, and jewels! I can't find where I got the pattern, but I found this one HERE that would work.

And, we made a Q is for queen craft. I found the idea for this one HERE. As we talk about Bible stories I always try to incorporate some preschool appropriate learning skills as well. We have been working on letter recognition, so although this craft isn't exactly about Queen Esther, it gave us an opportunity to talk about the letter Q!

Lauren also had fun coloring this Queen Esther picture that I found HERE. It's been a goal of mine to try to have coloring pages that Lauren can work on while I am getting dinner ready. She doesn't like to do things on her own. She would prefer that I was right there with her and these pages make it easy for her to learn a little independence too. 

We also watched the VeggieTales version of Queen Esther's story. To be honest, Lauren wasn't too into the movie (and I wasn't that impressed either since it seemed to stray from the actual story line of Esther). I don't think that it really added anything to our learning, but it was nice to cuddle up together to watch the show and I don't ever discount the value of snuggle time with my little ones!

One of my favorite activities was when we acted out the story. It ended up being such a beautiful day out that we decided to pretend play outside! I had originally planned on using her little table and her play food, but with our spur of the moment change, I grabbed a blanket and one little box of her food and we went with it. Lauren pretended to be Esther and asked the King (yours truly) to attend a dinner and bring Haman (played by the handsome Easton Barry). Then, she served the food and told the King about Haman's plan. It wasn't perfect, I coached and encouraged her a lot, but I think acting it out helped solidify the order of events for her. 

Poor Easton had to play the role of Haman. He didn't seem too fazed being cast as the "mean man" and he sure enjoyed his dinner, so I think he should be just fine! :)

It also gave me lots of opportunities to ask her questions as we went along. I love to know what her little mind has absorbed from our little lessons. And, the teacher in me is always looking for areas of misconception that need to be corrected! 

(Even though Lauren is young, I wanted her to know that "God's people" (as most of her children's Bibles referred to) were the Jewish people. Most of the time when she talks about it she uses the term, "God's people" as it is easier for her to grasp and understand at this age.)

In all honesty, we took more than one day to complete all of the things shown here, and we didn't get to a few things I had planned for. As much as I wanted to do it all at once, I'm learning that life with a baby and a toddler is very unpredictable and it's way better to roll with it than get frustrated that it isn't "perfect". And, the most important thing, above all props and movies and activities, is that our little ones are learning what God's Word has to say to them!

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