God-Focused Summer Reading

While you’re trying to get your child to read this summer, why not slip in some books that will increase their faith as well as their reading level? Here are some ideas for books on every level.

God-Focused Summer Reading from Toddlers to Preteens

Babies and Toddlers

Preschoolers

Early Elementary

Preteens

Maybe that will help you jump-start some summer reading? I love that we have so much Christian media – books, TV shows, movies, music – that helps us reinforce biblical truth.

What’s one of your favorite Christian kids books?

5 Educational Websites for Summer Learning

Are you out of school yet? It feels funny to ask that, seeing that my daughter’s kindergarten year ended on May 18. But I know most schools get out later than that. I didn’t graduate until June 16 in Virginia, where we had the no-starting-until-after-Labor-Day rule.

I’m sure, like me, you don’t want your child’s reading level to go down during the summer, not do you want him or her to stop learning. But how do you make it fun? There are a million great ways (I highly recommend I Can Teach My Child if you have a toddler/preschooler/kindergartner). And one tool we use at home is our basic desktop computer.

While I certainly don’t want to fry my kid’s brain with screens all the time, she is allowed to use the computer a couple times a week for a half-hour or so. We are pretty insistent that she stay on educational sites, despite her new interest in finding URLs on brochures and wanting to visit the “Lego GIRLS” site. (Bleccch.)

Here are some of our favorite sites and some others I’ve seen highly recommended.

abcmouse_classroom

ABCMouse.com (paid) – ABCMouse is an “interactive classroom” for kids ages 2 through 7. Our kids started using it about age 4, when they could control the mouse. It teaches basic reading and math skills as well as offering simple lessons on animals, space, and more. The learning path has 6 levels, going from pre-reader to kindergarten levels. My daughter is 6 1/2 and can read well, but she still enjoys the lessons, earning tickets, and playing around with the different features. It’s about $8/month, but you can try it out on a 30-day trial.

reading-eggs-screenshots

ReadingEggs.com (paid) – Reading Eggs is a service we were gifted through my daughter’s school. Its curriculum is a little wider than ABC Mouse, spanning ages 3 to 14. Through Reading Eggs, kids can work on letter sounds, sight words, spelling, and a bunch more! Like ABC Mouse, there are levels that you move through and receive “golden eggs” as prizes, making it feel like a game. The cost is about $50 for 6 months or $59 for a year, with a 2-week free trial.

pbskids

PBSKids.org (free) – Since we don’t have cable, my kids are pretty familiar with the beloved PBS characters: Curious George, Cat in the Hat, Daniel Tiger, Sid the Science Kid, the Wild Kratts … need I go on? On the PBS Kids website, little ones can play games related to the series, as well as watch short videos or print out pictures to color or activities to do. My kids especially love the “pipe game” from Odd Squad, which helps with spacial reasoning.

DiscoveryKidsPuterbugs2

Discovery Kids (free) – Is your child obsessed with dinosaurs? Space? Sharks? Discovery Kids might be a good site to visit, then. There are games that vary from building a roller coaster to exploring volcanoes to virtual jigsaw puzzles. The “Puterbugs” system jumped out at me – a game focusing on teaching typing alongside reading, writing, and math.

superbook2

Superbook (free) – Looking for something to enhance spiritual learning? Based on the CBN series Superbook, this site has games, videos, a virtual Bible with daily “challenge” and character discovery, trivia, and more. Kids can even submit their prayer requests. For fun, I tried out the Bible Brain Busters game. Definitely suited for older kids (because you need to read and answer fast), some of the questions were funny and some tricky, but they will definitely learn something. Mom and Dad might enjoy quizzing each other, too.

Do you have any favorite websites for kids’ learning?

Friday Links

As always, if you’ve written or read a good post, leave us a link in the comments. Happy weekend!

Over 100 Bible Stories and Songs Help Kids Remember Key Bible Truths {GIVEAWAY}

My Sing-Along photo

My Sing-Along Bible provides hours of fun and activity for kids ages 3 and up. Through easy-to-understand stories, catchy songs, and colorful pictures, children will learn about God and his character. They’ll come to understand and embrace Bible-based concepts such as God always keeps his promises, we should pray every day, Jesus wants us to follow Him, and many more.

Perfect as a “keeping me busy” activity, bedtime story, car ride, Sunday school, or family devotions, these stories connect the Bible stories with sing-along songs and key Bible themes. Also included are bonus songs to help kids learn and memorize the names of the books of the Bible.

Author and songwriter Stephen Elkins is the creator of My Sing-Along Bible. His Nashville publishing company, Wonder Workshop, has been producing book, music and DVD products for over 25 years.

Want to win a copy? We have FIVE copies to give away. Use the form below to enter the giveaway!

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Weekend Links

So … what kind of blogs are your favorite to read? Practical? Devotional? Behavioral or about fun times? I am just wondering as I collect these each week. – Jessie

The Perfect Road Trip Accessory Every Family Needs This Summer

The summer looms ahead, and with it we find families everywhere preparing for that American tradition: the summer road trip.

I remember road trips from my childhood. I spent many hours in the backseat, reading a book while out the window I could see towering redwood trees, canyon walls, or the reflection of the ocean in the windows. The first hour of a trip can be exciting, but we all know that soon boredom kicks in and the whining begins.

If you are looking for a way to entertain your entire family this summer on that long road trip, check out Radio Theatre’s Chronicles of Narnia from Focus on the Family.

Radio Theatre Chronicles of Narnia Set

Focus on the Family’s Radio Theatre has been entertaining and enriching the lives of both young and old for decades. From timeless classics like The Christmas Carol to C. S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters, Radio Theatre makes the stories come alive and real to a whole new generation of listeners. Radio Theatre isn’t just storytelling or a recorded book. It’s an audio movie that plays on the biggest screen of all: your imagination. Enjoying world-class actors, cinema-quality sound, and an orchestral score, your entire family will be enthralled and your car ride will pass in no time.

The entire set of the Chronicles of Narnia is available now on CD in a beautiful package perfect to keep in your car for hours of fun.

Want to win a set from Tyndale House and ParentLife? Enter using the Rafflecopter form below!

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Friday Links

I hope you’ll take the time to read some of these wonderful posts! Have a great weekend, and as always, leave us a link if you’ve read or written something great this week.

Staying Active During the Summer

Exercising as a family
source: Aikawa Ke via Flickr Creative Commons

Recently on my personal blog’s Facebook page, I expressed some worry about keeping up my exercise routine this summer. You see, for the first time in my life, I actually have one. I’ve consistently gone to the Y 2-3 times a week at least since September, right after school got into full swing. I love my water aerobics and Zumba classes. And I’m a little worried that summer is going to throw this routine right out the window.

I got some great suggestions from my friends over there. One person mentioned that if the kids are biking, running, etc, she was also biking or walking. I’m trying to put that in practice immediately; when my kids are playing around on tricycles or bikes, I am walking small laps around the circle area. (And chasing a 2-year-old. Always!)

Another friend said to have a gym where the childcare was so awesome she couldn’t bribe her daughter with doughnuts NOT to go was essential. Two out of three of my children loooove the YMCA childcare. The center where I go has an awesome climbing area with slides, mazes, the works. My introverted 4-year-old, however, hates the place. He would rather be coloring or playing with cars. But once he gets there, he will generally at least wander around. So while I am exercising, they are getting exercise, too. And their love for the center motivates me to stick to my workout.

Even if you don’t belong to a gym, your family can stay active together this summer. Here are a few more suggestions.

  • Take a nightly walk after dinner, when the weather is slightly cooler.
  • Swim. A lot! Swimming burns a ton of calories, builds muscles, and strengthens the core. Plus you stay cool and have fun.
  • Train for a 5K together.
  • Make a list of all of the playgrounds in your city. Make it a goal to visit all of them during the summer. The kids will be more active as they explore a new area. You can chase kids, push swings, walk laps, or do push-ups on the equipment.
  • Limit technology – yours and theirs – until you’ve had 30 minutes of physical activity that day.
  • Do an exercise DVD or find something on YouTube. My young kids love to join me when I do this!
  • Find more ideas about local activities, camping, hiking, and more on Active.com/kids.

Let’s make a commitment together to stay active this summer. Do you have any great tips?

Friday Links

I hope you’ll take some time to read these wonderful articles over the weekend. Have a blessed one! As always, leave us a link in the comments if you’ve written or read something great this week.

Family Shares Success Story and Practical Advice in Conquering Childhood Obesity {WIN IT}

In Who’s the New Kid, releasing from Tyndale House Publishers this May, ordinary mom Heidi Bond details the healthy regimen that rescued her daughter from childhood obesity and benefited her entire family.

Breanna Bond talks about changing after obesity

In Who’s the New Kid?, Heidi Bond, a self-described “ordinary mom,” shares her story of how she helped her daughter overcome childhood obesity. She provides helpful insights and practical tips, equipping families to help their children establish healthy habits as well as lose weight. Bond’s hope for her new book is “to shine a light on the truth surrounding childhood obesity, to let other families know that they are not alone, and to show the world that childhood obesity is 100 percent reversible and can be reversed in less time than you might think.”

Childhood obesity is a pervasive problem in the United States. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), “childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years.” In 2012, over a third of American children and adolescents were diagnosed as overweight or obese, which is concerning because according to the CDC, “childhood obesity has both immediate and long-term effects on health and well-being.” Despite the alarming rates of childhood obesity and related health risks, the CDC confirms that healthy lifestyle and habits, “including healthy eating and physical activity, can lower the risk of becoming obese and developing related diseases.”

Who's the New Kid?

These statistics were all too real for Heidi Bond. At nine years old, her daughter, Breanna, weighed a whopping 186 pounds. Just walking up the stairs to her room was a challenge. Her legs chafed to the point of bleeding from rubbing against each other, and her school days were filled with hurtful taunts of “Hey, Fatty!” Watching her daughter suffer like this was devastating for Heidi, prompting her to action. Heidi helped her daughter lose weight without the aid of fad diets, medication, or surgery, and in her new book she details how other parents can do the same for their kids.

To help Breanna, Heidi instituted a daily regimen of healthy eating and family exercise. In just over a year, Heidi’s plan worked! Breanna dropped 40 percent of her body weight and was transformed from a morbidly obese child who spent her days in front of the TV eating chips and chocolate to a vibrant, healthy, energetic little girl.

Filled with helpful diagnostic tools, easy-to-make recipes, eye-opening nutritional information, fun exercise ideas, and practical tips and advice, Who’s the New Kid? will not only show parents how to help their kids lose weight naturally, but will also introduce them to simple and effective lifestyle changes that will benefit the entire family.

When asked why she wrote this book, Heidi Bond responded, “We needed to share our journey to give people hope and inspiration, and to show them that change is possible. My goal in writing this book is to let others know that they are not alone. I know firsthand the fear and hopelessness that surround this epidemic.”

Heidi Bond on mothering an obese child

Heidi Bond has appeared on Good Morning America, CNN, and The Biggest Loser. A sought-after speaker, she has helped thousands of parents who are struggling with overweight, underactive children. Heidi lives in Clovis, California, with her husband, Dan, and their children, Breanna and Nathan.

Jenna Glatzer is the author of 23 books, including Unthinkable by Scott Rigsby (Tyndale), Never Ever Give Up: The Jessie Rees Story (Zondervan), and Unbroken: A Memoir (Thomas Nelson). She has written hundreds of articles for magazines and online publications.

Want to win a copy of Who’s the New Kid? We have five to give away. Just enter using the Rafflecopter below.

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