Monday, July 27, 2015

Kregel Book Tour: Bible Stories Gone Crazy

Bible Stories Gone Crazy!

A where's Waldo style book, with 8 stories featured.  As an educator, I think like a teacher first, then a Mom.  So I'm sharing the publishers info, what impressed me, what I observed, and what I wonder about the book.  I hope to read it more with my younger kids and add in more kid comments.

Here's what the publisher tells you about the book:

Bible Stories Gone Crazy!

Eight Bible stories are depicted in bright color and comic, cartoony illustrations. There is a sentence or two explaining the scene at the top, and then details to spot, mistakes to find, and questions to answer along the sides of the picture, such as, "Did Noah's workmen REALLY have power tools?" and "How many rabbits are in the picture?" Children will love scouring the illustrations to find the answers and spot more amusing details in the busy artwork of Emiliano Migliardo.

The stories are Noah and His Great Ark, Moses Crossing the Red Sea, Joshua and the Fall of Jericho, David and Goliath, Daniel and the Lions, Jonah and the Big Fish, Feeding the 5,000, and Man Through the Roof.

Here's what I was impressed with:

  • Kid test-- I left it out in the living room and all of my children picked it up, and read it.  So it has kid appeal! My 9 and 13 year old boys said it was fun and looked at it for maybe 1/2 an hour each.  
  • nice size book (about 9 x 12 inches). It's hard bound and the pages are stitched in.  (This feature is key as a mom of boys, and many of our hard bound books the spine breaks and the pages fall out).
  • All the pages are plastic coated, so it is durable.  (Our other seek and find books all have ripped pages when you lay on a book while looking, the book looses!) So I'm impressed that this is made to last!  
  • Illustrations- I find the illustrations (comic like more than real life like) vibrant, charming, engaging, and funny.   Many Bible story book illustrations the people are scary looking, and many seek and find books are so busy, adults don't like them, but this one seems balanced, busy but not overload.  
  • Bible Story Summary, each story has a short paragraph summarizing the story, and the passage is listed on the illustration. The title page suggest you look up the passages to help answer the questions.   
  • This book needs to be read to kids, a non reader wouldn't know what to look for other than a hidden teddy bear. 
  • The images mix the Bible story images with modern day images as the 'mistakes' I assume.  But I think this is part of the charm and the appeal.  Random fun kid things in the pictures (mermaids, hot air balloons, surf boards, lions rock climbing, big bad wolf).  I think it would make talking about the book with your kids a lot of fun!  And practice great higher level thinking skills, on the child's part.  (concepts like analysis, evaluation).  
  • I could find the missing teddy bears. 
  • This could be a great quiet time book for a reader, and even a non-reader, could have the concepts or questions read, and search. 
  • I think this could lead to some fun book responses and spur art, reading connections, and even a writing project.  (i.e.  illustrate your own Bible story, and make your own mistakes, write questions.   Or List 10 things that don't belong in each picture.  Write a story about how the modern day (or other biblical people (moses on a surf board with the 10 commandments) items/people got to this story.)  
What I wonder:
  • is there a website with answers? or to connect with the author and learn more about his mistakes?  
  • is it supposed to be dry erase? I tested a dry erase marker and it wiped off immediately. Not sure if you used a marker and left it on longer if it would come off.  
  • It says to use the Bible verses to help answer the questions, but many of the questions around the images weren't related to the story.  (things like did Noah have electric tools?) But I like that many of the questions required the kids to think about current day vs. biblical times. And some of the questions you did need the Bible story to answer.    
  • Questions. I wonder if any of the kids will expect an answer key.  There is a search for teddy bears in each picture, and at the end it tells you how many where in each picture.  But I wonder about independent readers, and if they will look for a key.  
  • It's not your normal, seek and find book. The questions ask you to find something and then answer the question, so you aren't looking for hidden items, but for answers to questions.  (and I think the 'mistakes' mentioned on the cover page, like Santa and a mexican band on the roof tops in the healing of the man through the roof story).  So I wonder if people will be disappointed, that they aren't looking for a hidden item (like a highlights seek and find). 
  • Santa on the roof top.  I find it funny and a random kid concept, but will some parents find it objectionable, as they don't talk about Santa in their christian home?   
I was given this book to review by Kregel.  All ideas and responses are my own.  

Monday, May 11, 2015

Game Review: Kregel's Bible Dominoes

Bible Dominoes

Kregel sent me this set of Bible Dominoes to review. It's a box that is about 5 by 5 inches.  The 28 dominoes are on a heavy cardboard with colorful and shiny pictures on them.  My daughter and I played them.  She's 5 and enjoyed matching the numbers to the same number of animals or to the same word.  Part way through the game, she realized that matches were the same color, and she didn't have to think as much.  

The game claims to help develop counting and matching skills with these numbered Bible dominoes and it met that expectation with flying colors!  With 28 dominoes, it's a fast playing game perfect for young ones attention span or even for an independent center in Sunday School.

It's traditional dominoes with Bible stories as the characters.  My 5 year old had fun guessing which story each picture represented, I was impressed with her knowledge.  The set also included a small booklet (glossy magazine paper) that shared about the stories pictured.  The stories pictured are:

  • Noah and his Ark
  • Joseph and his Amazing Coat
  • Moses, Prince of Egypt
  • Daniel Saved from Lions
  • Jonah and the Great Fish
  • Jesus Talks to a Crowd
  • A Big Lunch (5,000 people fed with 2 fish and 5 loaves)
  • Stop, Storm! 
  • The Good Shepherd
  • The Stranger Who Helped 
The stories in the little booklet are 4 lines, and very simple.  They are focused on facts and obedience comes up in more than one.  You'd definitely need more knowledge to build on the stories. I wish there were scripture references to look up the real Bible version.   But I imagine in most homes, the booklet will be separated from the game very quickly, and it was enough for connections.  In our Sunday School we cover most of these stories in our preschool classes, so it will be a nice game for a station or center.   

The box that houses the cards is a one piece box and the lid folds into it. It has a divider for the dominoes and is a heavy cardboard. I believe it will hold up as well as most board games, and when it shows wear, my husband can use clear tape to strengthen it.  The directions for play are on the bottom of the box, a very nice place to put them, too often the extra papers get lost from little kid games, and this makes it easy to have the rules.  

Thanks Kregel for the chance to review a game.  I was given this game in exchange for a review, all opinions are mine, and mine alone.  

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Special Needs Part 3

So once I have a vision? Once I know the needs? or what if I just want to be prepared?

What are common areas that I can invest in and develop to help special needs?

After asking the parents about the child, what strategies work, what goals they have, and what supports are best for their child.

Think about how you can help kids:


Transitions are change, moving from one thing to the next like: 

Examples: starting/stopping the class, singing time to the room for story time, snack time to game time, story time to craft. Transitions are hard for all of us.

Most of us think of change as a bad thing, and that's really what a transition is, moving from one thing to another. So children of ALL ages and stages need support in transitions.   This support is in a schedule (shared orally or posted), warning of a change (one more song before story time), or teaching a routine (clap twice, they clap twice, then you speak), and buddies or helpers can support transitions.

The biggest tip is create a schedule or routine, POST it, and share it with kids. Kids are all better with knowing what's next and with surprises being planned, but not routine.  

Here's a blog post from the Inclusive Church about Strategies to Include Every Child

Creating a transition box

Visual Schedules examples: Part One VBS example
Part Two Pill Container

Sensory Needs

We all need to move, to shake, we all have days were we don't feel just right.  But children especially, are learning how to regulate or cope with all the senses around them. Some respond by being overwhelmed, and over active, others respond with what might look shy or shut down, but some get angry or enraged and others get giddy or depressed.  All kids have sensory needs.. Just think of Christmas's too much for most people!

Simple ideas are awareness of the stimuli and the needs of kids...


  • is it too loud? too small? too big? too warm? too cold? is there a scent? 
  • some kids can't sit on the floor? others are better on the floor. Some need a cushion with texture.  
  • some kids need movement built in. 
Simple responses:
  • fidgets: a stress ball, playdough, sand, rice/beans to dig in, tactile opportunities (flannelgraph?)
  • sit on yoga balls, cushions, define space with small carpets
  • build in movement breaks or movement with songs or finger plays
  • snacks and water if you are together for any length of time, or based on how long since a meal. 
  • weighted objects can calm anyone or a body sock, tunnel, or tent can provide relief. 
You can time movement, calming options, and most people appreciate tactile, visual and auditory options as well. Just recognize which of these areas might be triggers. (think clowns are scary to lots of people, some kids are overwhelmed with competition, some can't cope if they are tired or hungry.)  
Just be aware and a good detective, and you can figure out and prevent many problems, or keep it from reoccurring.  Here's another blog that has several articles that mention it in the church setting!


Learn that you can adapt, change when a new idea comes, and you can reflect and process, but be ready to make adaptations, if something could work better or be improved!  


When in doubt, extra hands and heads, will make any program smoother, as long as each person KNOWS their jobs, and has purpose or a way to support. Even if you have an 'on call' person that leaves if there are enough helpers, this can be the best support for kids. People!

Here's a website with article and book suggestions. 

Of course the best resource is also seeking ideas from therapists, teachers, and those with experience with the disability or concerns you are facing. Pray about it and ask around, the Lord will raise up help. 

Special Needs kids Part Two Definitions and Resources

What is a Special Needs Child?

A teacher/classroom/learning definition would involve ability to learn, but it is centered around a more complex scenario- a disability, an impairment, a delay, environmental experiences, psychiatric, psychological, lack of skills, ...

  • it could be a concern in: intellectual, physical, emotional, social development 
  • it could be a  delay (need more time to learn to talk, think, age is 6 but in function acts 3) , 
  • it could be a processing concern (sensory, oral, mental, physical, verbal, nonverbal).
  • It could be a disability or handicap (vision, hearing, movement)
  • It could be that their brain needs rewiring 
  • It could be high intelligence. or Giftedness
  • It could be behavioral concerns.
  • It could be social concerns.
  • It could be that the child lacks skills or needs help learning how to ___.  
  • It could be all of the above.   It could be a blend. 
But in the world of ministry, I think we look at the WHOLE child and remember that Psalm 139 shows us that God created and formed us each as we are in our mother's wombs. And differences should not bring fear but celebration.  

So if you want to be prepared to whisper the Word to special needs kids... you need to synthesis and analysis what you know, what you need to find out, and then seek out techniques and strategies to meet the needs of every child put before you!

Step One: Ask the family about any diagnoses and strategies that help their child.  Get information, if they have a 'label' look it up.  Talk to a teacher or professional.

Here's a list of what we know as statistics... from the Inclusive Church linked below.

2013 Special Needs Stats from TheInclusiveChurchdotcom

Step Two: Think critically, what simple tweaks might help all the kids, but especially this special, precious child? How can we include and involve this student in a dignified way?

Then brainstorm with others!

You can start by seeing what others do!

Most famous perhaps? Joni (a quadrapalegic) and her friends and resources.  

Children Desiring God has some online lectures from their conferences to help you think about disabilities.

Bethlehem Baptist has a disability ministry program. (super extensive model!) 

A blog that reflects on special needs and the Works of God

The Inclusive Church has some practical ideas and resources for ANYone. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Special Needs Kids Part One

If you want to reach kids, you have to be ready to reach them where they are at.  How do we reach kids with the life giving Word of God if they have special needs?

First I think we need to think about what needs to change (if anything) to meet a 'special needs' child's needs.  I think we need to embrace this as an opportunity to show the love like the Lord Jesus and recognize that ALL people have special needs, some are just more evident than others.

I think that our first change is in ministry mindset.  Are we prepared to serve the EGR (extra grace required) kids first? Are we ready to do that with love, kindness, time, and reflection?  Then we need to see each child as a whole person, and look for how to serve each person fully. This will be thinking about their personality, learning style, life, experience, and then their physical, emotional, intellectual, social, spiritual needs.

But when a child has a set of known or complex needs, that can be daunting, or it can be an opportunity to serve? which way should we approach it?

As an educator, I think we need to remember that what's good for a special needs child is likely good for ALL.  We all need support, clarity, repetition, love, and time to learn and grow.

So how can we think what are simple things I can do to help ALL the children in our ministry/home learn best?  That brings us back to where we all should start- let's get to KNOW our children.

Well- what are our needs? I believe this takes us back to child development. What is normal for each age/stage.  

These two resources do a great job helping you grasp what's 'normal' or average development.

Sunday School Changes Everything by Henrietta C. Mears (Gospel Light Publishing)

A focus on the family resource: Spiritual Growth of Children