With summer in full swing we know that the hours of the day can seem to stretch out, and stretch and stretch ooouuuut.................. The children are at home and the schedules of the school year are over-- what to do with all those hours and all that energy?! Susan Hillis found a way to spend summer days with her large family of energetic children and we wanted to share this post with you again as you look for ways to enjoy your summer at home.
From Susan Hillis:
I spent many years at home with kids, having a desire to help them daily to avoid the self-indulgence embodied by our culture, and instead to replace it with the Lord's beauty and values. So every day I would say something like this to start off the day, "Today we are going to do something for our eyes, something for our hands, something for our hearts, something for our brains, and something for our bodies." We actually had a poster where the kids had helped me draw 2 eyes, 2 hands, a simple heart, a wrinkly brain, and a stick figure body. Often we would have a board of some kind and check off our activity when we had completed it.
Here are some examples of the kinds of things we did every day with this 5-fingered ingredients to a good day!
"God gave us our eyes to see the beauty of His creation. Let's go on a walk to see how many colors of flowers we can see (spring), or how many shapes of leaves we can pick up (fall), or how many sizes of acorns we can find (winter), or how many different kinds of bugs we see (summer)." One May when some of the kids were out looking for bugs, Alex came home with a beautiful black spider, intrigued by the 'red squiggles on its stomach', and complaining of a swollen thumb where it had bitten him. He proudly help up the spider in the bag, and we realized to our chagrin, that it was a black widow! We called poison control and were told just to watch him - and he ened up being fine! In spite of several of these types of extremes, we loved thinking together about this question, "Hey guys, what can we do for our eyes today?"
"God gave us hands to draw and color and play games and paint and play instruments. We also need our hands to make yummy food and to eat with! Let's do something fun with our hands today." Then we would draw or color or paint or sculpt or make home-made playdough or play home-made oatmeal-can drums. Sometimes we would make cards for each other or send a picture to a sick friend. Sometimes we would eat spaghetti with our hands or mix up squishy cookie dough with our fingers. Sometimes we would play simple games like CandyLand with our hands.
"God loves us a ton. More than we can imagine. It is amazing that he says if we do just 2 things, we will have a good life, one that makes us happy and God happy. The first one is this: He tells us, 'love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and strength and mind, and the second one God tells us to love your neighbor as much as you love yourself. Today lets talk about what we could do to show love to God or someone else." We might decide to go visit someone lonely and take them a picture, or we might go serve at a food pantry, or we might sing some praise songs together or read a Bible story or act out a story like Daniel in the lion's den. One memorable day we went on a walk around the block to visit a 92 year old woman. We found her stooped in her nicely manicured lawn, cutting a few pieces of grass with scissors. "Hello, we thought we might visit with you a little while." She invites us in, "I always liked girls better than boys," she says, looking intently at our son and daughter. Then she proceeds, "I am so glad to be out of that hell-hole." I proceeded to ask her what she meant. This is what she called the nursing home she had been confined to temporarily when she broke her hip. Needless to say, once we left, I had some new lessons to teach about God's view of girls and boys being both His favorites! About how hard life can become for old people. About how proud I was of them for showing God's love. And we talked about how our hearts feel when we show love to someone. "Warm inside." "My heart feels happy."
"God gives people a brain that can do things that none of the animals can do. Like math. Like thinking about complicated questions. Like creating and using words. When we use our brains to learn about God's world, we can serve Him in ways that are so very special. Let's talk about what we want to learn about this week." If it was the week of the black widow, we may learn about spiders. If we had been painting the night sky, I might pull out Van Gogh's 'Starry Night' and teach them a little about Van Gogh as a man and as an artist.
"God gave us bodies that enjoy moving and exercising and jumping and running. He says He made our body to be the place He lives inside of, with His Holy Spirit. In the Bible we learn that our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. Let's talk about what we can do to keep our bodies in good shape today." We might run or skip or do dance exercises or swim or hike or play four-square or basketball. If it was rainy we sometimes would go to a gym to run around. Or sometimes we would put on old clothes and go sliding into mud puddles. One memorable day our neighbors had a huge 12 foot long, 3 foot wide puddle. We decided it would be so fun to pretend it was a slippy pool slide - so we ran outside to play. Before I knew it lots of the bored neighbor kids had joined us! I did not quite know what to say, when, after getting cleaned up, I ran into one of the neighbor kid's moms and she began to complain about how crazy her kids had been that day - sliding in the mud and rain of all things! I was too embarrassed to tell her it was my idea!
So, often the posts I offer are more thoughtful, devotional, or testimonial. Today I just wanted to share the structure that was the under-girding foundation for so many wonderful conversations about God and life and the world and beauty, and that at the same time laid down scores of fun memories!
God bless each of you!
Share the things you do at home with your children in the comment section. Let's help each other out!
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