Think Spring – It’s closer than you think

With all the blizzards and ice storms popping up all over the US over the past few weeks, spring may seem like a remote possibility, but down deep in our souls, we know it will come again. Maybe sooner than you think.

216537_10150158033852856_8053711_nDo you love birds as much as I do? The many varieties, colors, and behavior patterns are so intriguing. Watching them can relax me on any kind of day and any time of year and they offer so many opportunities to teach your children/grandchildren about God’s wonderful world.

Bird feeders can be set up any time of the year and are a sure fire way to attract a variety of birds. Bird houses require a little more thought and planning if you wish to use them to attract birds to your yard.

208538_10150158051072856_4922408_nIt is important to have a realistic idea of what kind of birds are likely to come to your yard. What part of the country do you live in? Do you have a large manicured lawn or lots of trees and shrubbery? Do you live near water? Bluebirds like wide open spaces with trees close by but not too close. Nuthatches need pine trees. American Goldfinches need thistles nearby for nesting – they winter in South Carolina, but rarely stick around for nesting once spring returns. Don’t set out a wood duck nest box if you don’t live near water. …and so on…

Once you decide on the kind of birds you can realistically attract to your yard, learn their nesting requirements. Do they need a nest box or do they prefer only a shelf? How big should it be? What size entrance should the nest box have? Should the box be mounted on a tree, the side of a building, or on a post out in the lawn? What other nesting materials might be helpful – yarn, threads, hair, dryer lint, wood chips…? Each bird has its preferences, and the more you know about them, the more likely you are to be successful in getting them to nest where you can observe them.

Spring is very close. I noticed a pair of bluebirds going in and out of a nest box this morning on my way to church. So if you want birds to nest in it this year, time is short. If you don’t get it out in time all is not lost. The time it stands outdoors may make it more attractive to the birds next summer as it will seem more natural to their environment as it weathers.

Here are a few websites with excellent information to help you plan for your desired feathered friends.

Peeking inOne more way you can plan for a successful summer of birdwatching is to consider plants you may want to grow to attract them. I have planted sunflowers in the south to attract the migrating American Goldfinches. If you hope to see hummingbirds, there are many flowers that are ideal for attracting them. This link on the Cornell website will be helpful as you start planting for birds: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/page.aspx?pid=1146

by Janice D. Green, author of The Creation

 

Our Awesome God – A VBS Theme

A VBS Theme

Day 5 tmpWhat a dynamic theme to develop in a VBS program. We can feature the days of creation and share with the children out of an unlimited supply of examples of his amazing creation. I have been collecting ideas for a VBS and posting them to my Honeycomb Adventures Press, LLC blog over the past couple of years. While there is still room for improvement, there is a wealth of ideas on the blog to jump-start a VBS planning committee to create their own VBS program around the theme of Genesis 1&2.

Click here to go directly to the VBS ideas I have posted on this blog.

Tips for working out a VBS…

  1. Decide how many days you plan to hold VBS and assign the specific creation days to be taught on each day. Plan to teach from the scriptures. Consult Bible storybooks such as my book The Creation for ways to explain the Biblical account so children will better understand some of the language in the Scriptures. On the blog link I included at the end of the above paragraph you will find a post for each of the days of creation with ideas that can be used for teaching or discussion.
  2. Select music that fits the creation theme. Consider what is available on praise and worship DVDs for use in congregational singing. Also look on YouTube. Here is a wonderful video from YouTube that would be appropriate: Indescribable (You Are Amazing God). I have identified a few others on my blog link above.
  3. Crafts and/or science activities can be developed around the days of creation as well. For example, use balloons to demonstrate that air takes up space, and play a game with balloons. Again, check out the link for several ideas to use each day that can reinforce the concepts you are teaching.
  4. Find or make up games to help the children remember the days of creation. An indoor game could be played using the light switch to emphasize day and night. Children lie on the floor and try to be the first one up when the lights come on. Use your imagination and see how many games you can think of that would reinforce the days of creation. Several are suggested on the web page as well.
  5. I have a friend who is deeply involved in conservation work who challenged me to include activities that teach the importance of taking care of our planet as part of a VBS program on creation. He feels Christians often fall short in the area of taking responsibility for our earth, and I tend to agree. Ideas could be discussed on how to care for the things that were created each day. There might also be one activity that the VBS will follow through on each day in which the children can make a difference. Much might depend on your surroundings. Perhaps it would be appropriate to take a walk and pick up trash on a different street each day or encourage the children to go with their parents for a few minutes each day to pick up trash along the road. Or perhaps the children could make bird feeders or a few community bat houses as a craft activity.

IMG_2427e-TheCreation-200-150x150Note: My book, The Creation, could supplement a VBS program on this theme very nicely. Even though I have received multiple glowing reviews on The Creation, the fact that I self-published the book on a shoestring budget has made it difficult to market it to people outside my personal circle of friends. I still have copies that I would like to see in the hands of children, and am willing to part with them at prices barely above cost when they are purchased in large quantities for mission trips or VBS programs. Please contact me at queenbjan (at) msn (dot) com for more information about discounted prices for special events.

 

This post is the third in a series of four articles on the theme of the creation. I wrote them hoping to inspire churches who do their own VBS curriculum to consider using some of these ideas in their VBS this summer.

Article 1 – Basic Science in Genesis

Article 2 – Created in God’s image

Article 3 – Making a Creation Quilt from Coloring Pages – youth activity

Article 4 – Our Awesome God – a VBS plan (this article)

 

Making a Creation Quilt from Coloring Pages

A Youth Activity

Make your own Creation Quilt using these coloring pages

Make your own Creation Quilt using these coloring pages

Most children enjoy coloring. They can color the days of creation on fabric and make quilts that can be used on their beds, as lap quilts, or as wall hangings. A youth group could work together to color a wall hanging for the church nursery or a Sunday school classroom.

To make the quilt blocks for a creation quilt you will need…

  • coloring pages which can be ordered by clicking here
  • white 100% cotton fabric
  • freezer paper (to hold the fabric still for coloring)
  • fine point permanent markers
  • a tracing box (or glass table or window)
  • a box of at least 64 CrayolaTM crayons
  • paper towels
  • an iron and an ironing board

Cut the blocks and freezer paper into squares to fit the pictures and press them together with a hot iron to make the fabric stiff for tracing and coloring. Then tape the stiffened block over the coloring page on a light box for tracing. If a light box isn’t available, a lamp under a glass table or even a sunlit window will suffice. Tracing can be tricky, but most boys love to trace and will be up to the challenge. If the children are really young, an adult may want to do the tracing in advance.

The pictures are then ready for coloring. Do not substitute another brand of crayons as not all crayons will work. If the fabric and freezer paper begin to separate as your more enthusiastic artists color them, simply place the fabric and freezer paper between paper towels and press the pieces together again.

When the pictures are completed, place them between paper towels and press with a hot iron until the color no longer appears on the paper towels. If you wish to brighten up the colors a little more simply repeat with more coloring and press them again. Note that the ironing process also sets the color so that the fabric can be laundered. It won’t be as permanent as the colors in purchased fabrics, but it should last through many washings.

Once you are satisfied with the colors and have pressed them enough to remove all of the excess wax and color, you can separate the freezer paper from the fabric and sew the pieces together to make your quilt top. If you used the link above for the coloring pages, you will find more suggestions including ideas for arranging the blocks. A seamstress or quilter should be able to help you finish the project.

 

This post is the third in a series of four articles on the theme of the creation. I would like to see churches who do their own VBS curriculum consider using some of these ideas in their VBS this summer.

Article 1 – Basic Science in Genesis

Article 2 – Created in God’s image

Article 3 – Making a Creation Quilt from Coloring Pages – youth activity (this article)

Article 4 – Our Awesome God – a VBS plan

 

The Creation by Janice D. Green The Creation by Janice D. Green can be purchased at theHoneycomb Adventures Shop on Etsy.com.

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