Monday, March 2, 2015

Music Ministry

How do you choose music to whisper the Word in your family or church life?

Here's some excellent resources I know of...and a few my friends love...  (and my list is more for listening than the music or performing part, I don't have a musical skill set other than to enjoy it a lot!)

Prezi on how to think about Music by Ashleigh Wilson with some great thoughts about HOW to evaluate music...

A book in the Emmaus library with guiding principles (more for a choir)
....a majority of the book deals with what would be good for a children's choir but I liked it in the fact that it divided into Biblical Perspectives, Educational Perspectives, and Contemporary Challenges. It would help you think about music choices when there are so many, how do you choose the best?
Children's ministry musicby Connie Fortunato

Videos of songs that kids sing... 

CD's to purchase
What link for a favorite cd, youtube video of a favorite song would you add?

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Easter Stories and Prayers (A Little Blessings Book) from Tyndale Kids

We love the little Blessings books and this one is a new favorite.  

Here are the reasons, we like this book!

1) It's a compilation of several books.

This special edition of Little Blessings books includes four books in one: Who is Jesus, Why is there a Cross, What about Heaven, and What is Prayer.

2) Illustrations with warmth, child appeal, and beautiful colors.

A picture in a child's eyes is worth SO much, and my daughter has picked up these books because of the illustrations for years.

3)Bible references throughout the story and illustrations.

A helpful features for teachers and parents, scripture references to support the story integrated throughout.

4) Questions build curiosity, and are appealing to the reader/listener.

Inquiry learning is a brain based strategy for teaching kids, using questions to engage us in critical thinking and to seek out the truth, helps us not just hear the answer, but our brains are more likely to remember it and file it long term in our deeper meaning brain.

5) Solid Biblical Answers written with rhyme and personal application

A few sample quotes:
  • "Let's look through the Bible, for then we will see, Why the cross is important to you and to me."
  • "Jesus was willing to die for our sin. He gave up his life so that we can all win!"
  • "Because Jesus lives, we can share in his glory, And this is the truth of the whole Easter story!"

Taste and See by Yancy

Yancy is a FAVORITE musician of mine.  I'm honored to review her new CD and the DVD of music videos!

Yancy has done it again. She has taken solid Biblical truth and set it to music in a preschool oriented way.  She combines scripture and early childhood concepts and in this CD a fast past, upbeat, fun musical collection.  Boys in our home were especially drawn to the CD and videos. I think it could have something to do with her use of 'Super' and the understanding of it's connection to a hero!  And that hero is God!  She teaches us not only about Who God is, but also who we are in response to that. i.e. "We need to praise the Lord every day,"  She helps us see Who He is and what we CAN do to remember that all day long. We are to see promises in the B-I-B-L-E!

So when you finish the CD, you are reminded that it's our job to: Praise God, Obey Him, Taste and See Who He is, Serve Him, Count on Him, Thank Him, Sing to Him, and Worship Him. She integrates old songs with her new songs, so Hallelu, Hallelu is part of praising God, the B-I-B-L-E is part of another, and she sings the classic "I Love You Lord." She uses concepts that are key for this age group.  Concepts like: God made..,  counting, days, Stop and Go, from our head to our toes,  stop/go, and holidays.  

The DVD is great.  The lyrics scroll across the screen, the images are fun, and the music is great. I love the Bible images integrated, Bible references, and the pleasant people throughout that engaged us all.

It stirred up spontaneous dance parties in our home, and singing along.  The words and truths warmed my heart, the rhythm and simple concepts, engaged my kids.  It's a win win experience.  The music lasts long after the dvd or cd stops, and it hopefully will help mold our minds and brains into thinking about Who God is and how we are to remember that all day long.

I've got the privilege to give away one of the cd's for a chance to win, comment and share WHY you would appreciate this CD!  You can purchase your own copy here. It's also at Itunes. I'll pick a winner on March 1st.  

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

One Sentence Storybooks by Nancy I. Sanders (Tyndale Publishers)

Looking for early readers? THESE are great books.  I'd compare them to BOB books.  Each story is ONE sentence, building with a few new words each page.  My 5 year old will read these independently to her dolls.   It's simple, it's beautiful and it's practical.

And I love that the repetition in the books is Bible stories, I haven't heard them over and over yet, but somehow "The star in the sky led the kings to baby Jesus."  will be easier to hear practiced over and over again compared to other early readers about cats and mats!

These are cute!  They are fun and the illustrations draw you to open the books.
The box contains 10 books.  Each book is 4.5 by 5.5 inches with a high gloss cardstock cover and thick color pages.  Illustrations are warm, colorful, and build on the concepts, helping early readers to connect text to pictures for meaning.

Simple words, yet real concepts.  After each sentence, is a word/picture page and a parent page.  The parent page has: One Truth to Learn, One Verse to Say, and One Prayer to Pray.  The last page of the book is Look Back in the Book.  (and it is simple connections like color and count, but moves to reading words and sounds.)

The content of the truth, verse, and prayer, are REAL biblical concepts.  Actually they teach doctrine like Jesus is the Son of God (book 7), Sin is anything bad someone thinks, says or does (book 2).  I appreciated this the most of this series.  It had real truths to convey to kids at an early age.  So it's a great foundation for early reading skills and biblical concepts together.

Thanks Tyndale for letting me review this book, my kids will be reading them and I will use them in Sunday School and even training for years!  

Screens and Teens

It's an honor to review books as a blogger!  Especially ones that connect across all my life areas... educator, parent, teacher trainer, and children's ministry while using God's Word as a lens for solutions and strategies to help us adults.  This book I accepted because it crosses ALL the lines for me.  And I loved the last book by this author, Kathy Koch.

Her new book is titled Screens and Teens.  And my oldest is 13 now, and it's fun to tease him that he's a teen now, it's a bit of a revelation as a mom, to be the mom of a teenager! Especially when you life ministry and work has been teaching college students, am I really only 5 years from a college kid?

But I also teach a digital teaching and learning course for pre-service teachers, and I've been most amazed that the students arriving in my classroom, see technology as a time-waster, a negative, a social connection, but often enter my course as 'digital natives' and think lecturing or rote memorization are better learning/teaching strategies.  Their experiences, even their digital footprints, are lacking in an educational arena.  They find technology vital and consuming, but not as a learning tool. Some day I will enter the class, and my students will be true digital natives, and will start with the question, what's new and how can I learn to use my online life as an educator?  But for now, they are tech savvy, screens are in BOTH hands, and yet as young adult teens, they aren't sure how to use technology for good.   They often laugh, when they recognize, my first helpful tool is to look in the mirror! Technology is only as good or evil as the OPERATOR.  It alone is not inherently good or bad, it's just a tool.  I've drawn from and his book The Next Story, and from Moody Publishers, Unfriend Yourself by Kyle Tennant.

I laugh because the when we teach about digital natives vs. digital immigrants, I fall more easily into the native category in  my thinking and approach to digital resources!!  But the key is to cross into new and better ideas, together!

 This visual helps you think compare:

So I'm excited to dive into this new book, and see how it helps me connect with the teens AND screens in my life! The book launches next month, but I'll be keeping you posted here!  

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

My Little Life of Jesus (Kregel Books via Candle Books/Lion Hudson)

First, when it's a kids books, the BOOK matters. This is a book that is designed for kids. It's 6.5 inches by 6.5 inches. It's a padded book cover. It has a Presented To: page as the opening page. The paper is a glossy thick durable page.  It has a Contents page, has page numbers, and headings throughout the book.  The illustrations and color choices are clear, look computer layered/generated, but are appealing, and add to the book content.  It's a nice book to hold and very kid centered.

This book is targeted for children ages 3-5 and the simple facts and illustrations go along with that age group.  The content is accurate (i.e. the wise men visit Jesus as a young boy, not a newborn).  I love that in the middle of the book there is a map of the places Jesus travels with images to depict events in each location.  This is so key to knowing about Jesus life and ministry, but often isn't discussed until adult level.  I like the choices in sharing Jesus life, you have the Lord's Prayer, parables, miracles, and it continues on through his appearances after the Resurrection and ends with His return to heaven.

The author consistently uses simple child like vocabulary. I wish sin was used instead of 'bad things' and I would have liked a little more depth in the explanation of who Jesus is (God and yet man) and His purpose on earth. The book portrays Him as a healer, a kind helpful man, who made special friends and who was a special friend/king, he was killed and rose again, and went to be with His heavenly Father.  I prefer more direct doctrine- words like sin, Savior, more explanations of His living a perfect sinless life, yet dying to redeem a fallen sinful world. I am most disappointed that this life story lacks a clear plan of salvation or gospel message.

I really appreciate that in this book that is a summary of Jesus life the references to the Bible passage that also talk about the summary statement.  I think as a parent and a teacher, that adds credibility and makes this a practical resource to read aloud, and even to teach from.   I also see this book as laying a solid foundation and life of Christ outline for young children. It could be a simple tool and most parents/teachers who share my desire to present more than moralistic teaching from biblical content, will easily add in their own statements about Jesus, man yet God, born to die for sinners such as we are, and who is our eternal King in Heaven preparing a place for all those who accept His gift of eternal life.  But I hope that some day publishers will not shy away from the full story and will use terms that are biblical and more complete in thought than 'bad' instead of sin. I want to let me kids see who God is and how Jesus life was orchestrated to rescue a fallen, sinful world.

I thank Kregel Publications for the opportunity to review this book, and even with it's limitations, my children will read this and I will likely use it in my Sunday School class.  It's a lovely life history with some great features.  

Friday, January 23, 2015

Evangelism Bible from Kregel Publications

 I love study Bibles.  Evangelism is not my most natural spiritual gift, but years ago, I discovered EvanTell and their tips, strategies, and visuals to help share the gospel with others.  So I was thrilled at the chance to review this Bible.  

Bible Features:  
  • Glossary of Evangelism Terms
  • Concordance
  • A Gospel Presentation: Bad News/Good News
  • Color Maps (and an index)
  • In-depth teachings on specific passages
  • "how to" trainings
  • devotionals
  • study notes 
  • practical tips (and a list in the front of what's integrated in each bible book) 
I found this Bible full of practical study helps, relevant to normal reading, but geared towards living a gospel focused life.  The tips often show how to share God's glory and the gospel with others, but also are great reminders of how amazing a gift the Gospel is!  

As a visual learner, there are tips to show the truth with visuals and to help communicate with more than just our words. I appreciated that.  I love that all the lessons on how to share the gospel, are connected to the text, how better to share God's salvation than with the Word of God.  The concordance was thorough and practical, and the hard cover Bible seems sturdy and like it will stand up to a lot of travel and use over a lifetime of reading.  And while it's not about the content, an excellent and loved book, is best if it won't fall apart in the first year or two!