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At the Principal's Desk

Bearing Fruit with Little Pot at CCA

Archive for the 'Bible lessons in children’s books' Category

If I Could Ask God Anything

November 15, 2011
posted by Dawn Stephens

If_I_could_ask_God_anything

How many of us say, “When I get to heaven, I am going to ask God ________.”?

Some questions we might just have to wait until we get to heaven to get answers to.

However, the book, If I Could Ask God Anything, by Kathryn Slattery contains “awesome answers for curious kids” (Slattery).  The book is divided into eleven sections on:

  • God
  • Jesus
  • Holy Spirit
  • The Bible
  • Christianity
  • Prayer
  • The Church
  • Christian Seasons and Holidays
  • Being a Christian Here and Now
  • Being a Christian Forever and Ever
  • Big Questions

Each section contains specific questions that I am asked all the time by children. Each page contains one question, and a very easy to understand answer with scripture to back it up.

I have found this book to a great resource in the principal’s office at our school.  Whenever I am talking with students and they have questions about God and the Bible, we look at this book together. They find comfort in knowing other children have questions like theirs and many times we find their exact questions within the pages of this book.

As the principal of a Christian school, I share this book regularly with children and teachers alike.

I review for BookSneeze®

If Only I had a Green Nose

October 14, 2011
posted by Dawn Stephens

green nose

Today at Central Christian Academy, we had green noses. (Well, at least the cool people had them) Or so we thought. The teachers had green noses and we invited any student who thought they might be cool enough to wear a green nose too. Almost all the students chose to get one. Many of our students didn’t come and get one at first. Then when more and more students in their class got them, they gave in and followed too.
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Then at chapel we read the book If Only I had a Green Nose by Max Lucado. It is another story about Punchinello, the puppet. In the story Punchinello really doesn’t want a green nose, but he finally gives in to the peer pressure and gets one.
After he does though, the Wemmicks (the other puppets) decide green noses are not cool anymore and they all begin to repaint their noses to another color. This continues and becomes exhausting to Punchinello. He realizes that he just wants to be exactly how Eli (His maker) made him.
In Chapel we then talked about how we should be proud of how God made us. It is easy to give into peer pressure and want to be like everybody else. But God made each of us unique and thinks we are special and beautiful the way we are. We can keep trying but we will never feel that we “fit in” with the world. And, that is perfectly ok. God will always help us to be the person He created us to be.
It hurt a bit for Punchinello to let Eli sand the paint of his wooden nose. Sometimes it hurts a little when God has to “sand off” the worldly stuff we’ve added to our lives too. But, He will and in the end we are so much happier being exactly who God wants us to be.

This book is available in our school library or can be purchased here:

You Are Special

October 7, 2011
posted by Dawn Stephens

Punchinello2This morning I walked around the school giving the students and teachers “DOT” stickers. Other students and teachers I gave “STAR” stickers. I gave a “STAR” sticker to the ones that I thought were great and fabulous. I gave “DOT” stickers to the ones that were just OK. If I didn’t like what they were doing, I stuck more “DOT” stickers all over them.

Then we all went to Chapel wearing our stickers. In Chapel we read a Punchinello story by Max Lucado. It is called, “You Are Special”. In the story the little wooden puppet named Punchinello is given dots by all the other puppets (the Wemmicks).  He then meets another puppet named Lucia who does not have dots or stars on her. She explains that what others think of her will not “stick” because she meets with Eli (their maker) every day. She invites Punchinello to meet with Eli too and when he does he realizes that Eli loves him because he made him. Punchinello’s dots begin to fall off and he learns that he is special because he was made by God, not because of what others think of him.

Before we left Chapel the boys and girls determined to not let other peoples’ remarks “stick” to them. We read Galations 1:10 and all agreed to live a way that pleased God, not others. They pulled off all their dots and stars and threw them away as they left the room.

Our students can check this book in our library or it is available here:

Little Pot’s Growth Chart

July 30, 2011
posted by Dawn Stephens

Little Pot grows fruit and we know that the fruit it grows comes from the Holy Spirit. So how does it happen? What are the steps? Recently I worked with an awesome team of educators at Liberty University to develop a leadership model.  We agreed that leadership comes when we can transform what we know into the lives of others (which is also fruit bearing).  Together we came up with five steps.

First we must remember we are created by God and are simply vessels made for His use.  Envision yourself as clay pot.  You are an empty vessel and waiting for the potter’s filling so you can grow into a great leader. 

Step 1- Humility

            To grow a leader, the potter fills you with humus or soil. Humus is “a dark brown or black colloidal mass of partially decomposed organic matter in the soil.  It improves the fertility and water retention of the soil and is therefore important for plant growth” (“humus,” n.d., para. 2).   The word “humility” is derived from the Latin form of humus. In the Bible Christ explains a parable about a seed (the Word of God) and three types of soil. (Luke 8, New King James Version [NKJV]).  In verse fifteen, He says “the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience” (Luke 8:15, NKJV). God’s word may be planted within you but without humility it cannot take root and grow. 

Step 2- Integrity

            The seed of God’s word planted in humility will stem integrity.  Integrity is necessary for leaders. It isn’t the prettiest part of a plant or the part that others first notice.  However, it is what holds the plant together.  It is the part of the plant that brings nutrients up from the roots.  Our integrity is what we can have to stand on.  “A person with integrity does not have divided loyalties (that’s duplicity), nor is he or she merely pretending (that’s hypocrisy)” (Maxwell, 1993, p. XI).  Any damage to the stem of a plant can jeopardize the life of a plant.  In the same way, anything we do to damage our integrity will jeopardize our leadership. 

Step 3- Relationships

            Integrity that stems from God’s Word rooted in humility will begin to form relationships.  Consider your relationships to be leaves that reach out as you grow.  By fostering relationships we are able to become a more effective leader.  In every relationship we form we act as either a leader or a follower.  Each has specific roles and relate differently to this model of leadership. 

Step 4- Knowledge

            Once relationships form and integrity has stemmed, knowledge will bloom.  In the growth model, think of knowledge as a flower.  Others are drawn to the flower part of a plant, just as they are drawn to your knowledge.  Knowledge is not the final quality, however.  It is not the potter’s plan for us to simply draw others toward us and admire us.  The flowering part of our leadership plant has a much greater purpose hidden within.  We obtain knowledge so that we can bear fruit and reproduce it into another person’s life.

Step 5- Transform

            The final quality and stage of growth for a leader is being able to transform God’s Word into someone else.  Growth is a cycle and must reproduce itself.  Think of your little pot that you filled with humility so God’s Word could be planted and take root.  You stemmed integrity, formed relationships, and bloomed knowledge, all so you could bear fruit. It is important to know that within each piece of fruit a seed exists.  That seed is still the Word of God and is ready to be planted into another vessel or person who is full of humble soil.

principal from the black lagoonToday my children gave me a Mother’s Day gift.

It was the book, The Principal from the Black Lagoon. I remember reading the Scholastic “Black Lagoon” books to my students years ago. When I started my job as Principal at Central Christian Academy, the four year old class at the school were making up all kinds of stories. Like my office was painted black and I had a great big paddle. I have to admit the first week on the job caused a sense of fear that simply came from the “unknown”.  The students not knowing the new principal or how I would handle discipline worked to my advantage.  Anyway, my own teenage daughters loved the dinner time stories each evening of the day’s events of students being sent to the principal’s office and how I handled each offense.  They thought I would need a copy of this book for my office.  If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend you do. It is much more dear to me now that I sit inside that office each day and watch children undergo the drama of being “sent” there. Thanks to the media, our children today have very little that cause them fear.  And my office is painted in a very cheery way and there is no paddle. Instead, there is a Little Pot full of treats.

But, when they misbehave or disrupt class, they still need to know that there are consequences. So as they come in and sit there looking up at me, I realize their own imagination is driving a fear inside them. I always talk to them about their behavior and let them know the immediate consequences as well as the future consequences should it continue. But as one four year old little boy stated when I was finished asking him if he understood? – he replied, “Yes, but your office isn’t black.”  Trying not to smile at him, I then said in my principal voice . . . “You’re right, it’s not black – but you still need to correct your behavior.”

You’ll need to read the book to fully grasp the idea. – but once you do, you’ll see that being the Principal form the Black Lagoon is OK with me.

Based on The Story of Ferdinand

by Munro Leaf, drawings by Robert Lawson

true story of the three little pigs in little pot

I chose this story for our “Fruit Bearing Book” today because I recently saw the movie, Blindside.  If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll remember the reference. If not, you should. -It is a great movie!

In the story, a bull named Ferdinand doesn’t really enjoy doing “bull things”. Instead, he likes smelling  flowers and laying in the shade. He just isn’t a typical bull. When men come searching for the meanest and toughest bull, Ferdinand is stung by a bee. He jumps, kicks, and bucks at the pain. The men assume he is the meanest and therefore carry him off to the stadium to be in a bull fight. But Ferdinand remains calm and gentle.

I thin we can learn 2 main things from Ferdinand -

1. To be content.

I think we sometimes can become so discontented with our lives that we forget to appreciate all that God has done for us and given to us. We constantly ask God to do more in our lives and remain unsatisfied with all that He does do. John the Baptist warns people that they need to be contentwith what they have. (Luke 3:14) In Luke 15, we read the parable of the lost son. Ferdinand was not at all like either of the sons in this story. Both sons struggled with discontentment.

2. To be who you everywhere you go.

This quality in Ferdinand is what makes it easy for him to be content. Ferdinand knew what he liked and he was OK to be different. He didn’t let his circumstances change him. I think it could have been easy for a calm and gentle bull to turn into a raging, fighting bull given the circumstance that Ferdinand was put in.  As Christians we often use our circumstances as an excuse to be less than Christlike.

God uses circumstances to put us into new situations. Ferdinand was able to show an entire stadium of people that bulls aren’t always mean and ferocious. Even though Ferdinand’s surroundings changed, he did not.

So the questions we must ask ourselves  is #1 – are you content? – and if so, do you let circumstances affect your behavior and change who you are?

ACTIVITY:

-Have students write their own story by naming qualities about themselves. Then have them make up story where they are in a place or situation that those qualities would make it difficult for them to be there. Discuss with them how Ferdinand was brave to remain true to himself throughout the story.  Let your students see that it takes a brave person to remain true to who they are in all circumstances.

-Ferdinand spent a lot of time alone smelling flowers and sitting under the tree. Invite students to have their own alone time too. We have to spend time alone to really know ourselves and to get to know God. Encourage students to enjoy being alone without video games or TV. Kids have a very difficult time doing that today.

-Research bullfighting and help students discover how that type of entertainment was what people enjoyed before video games.

-Have children act out the story. They’ll have fun pretending to be Ferdinand when he is stung by the bee. Just be careful they don’t kick each other.

Disclosure: These ideas are that of this blog and teachers using this book, not the author or publisher of the book. To purchase this book through amazon you can click on this widget and help support more Bible Lessons in Children’s Literature


For more Bible Lessons in Children’s Literature click on the links below:

Town Mouse, Country Mouse, Content Mouse

A Porcupine Named Fluffy – Living Up To “The Name”

Corduroy – The Search For a Friend

The True Story of The Three Little Pigs and Truth Discovery

Lessons with Peter Rabbit

Seven Blind Mice and the Cure for Our Blindness

The Very Hungry Caterpillar – and a new life

Learning the Bible from Pinocchio -by Debbie Boush

Harry the Dirty Dog, Lost Dog and Lost Son

Where the Wild Things Are

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Two Shoes in little pot

Based on Two Shoes by Beth Raitt

This is a great little, rhyming book with an obvious spiritual message woven in its pages. The two shoes look up to discover there is something bigger above them that is making them move and has control of their life. They discover feet, then shins, then knees, two thighs, two hips, a belly and so on. Until finally they hear a loud booming voice above. The voice explains that He is their creator and sent His son to save the world. The shoes then understand they have a purpose in their walk. . . “To love the lord Jesus and spread the good news”

I am sharing it today because it seems to fit something God has been dealing with me on.-Surrender and control. The topic keeps coming up in “my daily walk” -and I thought about these little shoes and how they keep wondering why they move and who is in control of them.  It seems simple when it is put into the perspective of how our shoes would feel if they had feelings. I thought about how I look up to see a small piece of God and as I keep searching my perspective of Him gets bigger and bigger. The shoes in this story do the same.  the biggest picture is understanding God’s love and gift of his son. Once we accept that, we have purpose. – But before that can ever happen we have to surrender ourselves to His control. There is a song out – “Let me be your hands, Let me be your feet” I’ve sung the song but was reminded of it as I read this little book. These two little shoes make a discovery that we all need to make. First by accepting that gift and then by remembering it as we allow God to daily control our walk.

So many great little activities come to mind with this story.  The first thing that I think would be extremely fun is to have children select a pair of their shoes. It could be an old pair that they no longer wear.  Then they could glue eyes on them and write a creative story about the places those  shoes have been. I think it would be extremely fun to for them to write the story from their shoe’s perspective. Then you could make even more spiritual ties into how they responded to God at those very same adventures. The shoes in the story are anxious to a share the love of Jesus with others, and the children may be able to write about a time they shared Jesus’ love too. You could even set out a new adventure. Give them as assignment of somewhere to go. Something like a mission field trip and when they return they could write about the journey their shoes went on.   Can’t you just see children walking around with googly eyes on their shoes.

shoes with eyes

Disclosure: These ideas are that of this blog and teachers using this book, not the author or publisher of the book. To purchase this book through amazon you can click on this widget and help support more Bible Lessons in Children’s Literature

For additional Bible Studies using different types of shoes visit these blog postings:

Rain Boots

High Heels

For more Bible Lessons in Children’s Literature click on the links below:

Town Mouse, Country Mouse, Content Mouse

A Porcupine Named Fluffy – Living Up To “The Name”

Corduroy – The Search For a Friend

The True Story of The Three Little Pigs and Truth Discovery

Lessons with Peter Rabbit

town country mouseTown Mouse, Country Mouse, Content Mouse

Based on Jan Brett’s Town Mouse Country Mouse

This book was one that I always read to my students to help them learn about the differences in rural and urban environments. It really is about the mice discovering that they need to learn to be happy with what they have and that the grass isn’t greener on the other side.  The Bible also has a lot to say about us being discontented.  And I’m ashamed to admit that I personally struggle a great deal with this concept. I think because I am a very determined and self driven person, I continually strive for more than I have. This trait has been a benefit to me at times because it is what drives me to achieve more and better myself. However, it has also been a fault within my relationship with God. Psalm 84:10 gives us an interesting perspective about the best place for us to live. In it David says he would rather spend one day being doorkeeper in the house of God than dwell in the house of the wicked for years. Basically he is saying it is better to just to be near God (by the door) than to live amongst the wicked or away form Him.

In this story, the country and city mice focus on the things that are wrong with the places they live. I tend to do the same at times. It seems easy some days to focus on the things that go wrong in my life. I assume that others have it better. If I could only trade places with them I’d have it better. If I had that opportunity, however, we all know that I’d see that their situation isn’t any better than mine. In fact, just like the mice, I’d quickly remember how good my life was. We tend not to appreciate things until we no longer have them. In Proverbs 30:15-16, we are warned about never having enough.

My struggle is in finding the balance between being content with what God has given me and is doing in my life, and then patiently waiting for Him to do more. I think the key is to measure success as God does and to be able to rest in Him. We are told to hunger and thirst for righteousness. That could indicate that a level of discontentment exists within the amount of righteousness we possess daily as Christians.  Even Little Pot struggled with this as the potter emptied and filled it and it continually wanted more of something. I think the real issue is that we search for contentment in the wrong things. Even when it comes to God. We focus on the things God gives us instead of living in His righteousness. We are truly only content when we give what we have away and share with each other. Little Pot needed to learn that it wasn’t the things it would “hold” that would make it become useful. It was the ability to grow fruit and give it away.

The trouble the mice have in this story isn’t just that they find their current home unsatisfying. It is also that they are unable to cope in their new homes. If they had just taken the time to visit with one another and learn form each other, they could have had the best of both of their worlds.  They would have found contentment not in what they got from each place but in the fact that they helped each other.

As long as I focus on me, I will remain discontented with life. If I focus on others, I will be closer to where God is. Even if I am only at the door of his awesomeness.

Disclosure: These ideas are that of this blog and teachers using this book, not the author or publisher of the book. To purchase this book through amazon you can click on this widget and help support more Bible Lessons in Children’s Literature


For more Bible Lessons in Children’s Literature click on the links below:

A Porcupine Named Fluffy – Living Up To “The Name”

Corduroy – The Search For a Friend

The True Story of The Three Little Pigs

The Tale of Peter Rabbit Seven Blind Mice and the Cure to Our Blindness

The Very Hungry Caterpillar and The Very Hungry Christian = New Life

Learning the Bible from Pinocchio -by Debbie Boush

Harry the Dirty Dog: Lost Dog, Lost Son Where The Wild Things Are

Porcupine named FluffyA Porcupine Named Fluffy – Living Up To “The Name”

Based on A Porcupine Named Fluffy by Helen Lester If you haven’t read this children’s book, you should. I promise you’ll laugh aloud. Mr. and Mrs. Porcupine have their first child and can’t figure out what to name it. After pouring over many choices they decide to name him “Fluffy” As Fluffy grows, he tries very hard to live up to his name. But as you can imagine, being a porcupine, he isn’t at all fluffy.  The illustrations by Lynn Munsinger are hysterical. It isn’t until Fluffy makes friends with a rhinoceros named Hippo that he is able to laugh at his own name and enjoy being himself. As I read this book, I remembered naming my own children. I searched through the books of baby names and felt such pressure to make a decision that I would be happy with forever. I failed, because if I had to do it over, I’d rename 2 out of 3 of them. I also remember being given a plaque with my name on it as a child. It had my name, the meaning of the word and a Bible verse on it. My name is Dawn – and it means “Break of Day” – The Bible verse on the plaque was Psalm 143:8 “Cause me to hear thy loving kindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee”. I wasn’t sure exactly what that meant as a child, but I figured that since my name was “Dawn” it meant I was a morning – person and that I should be cheerful and seek God each morning. So I pretty much have tried to that. Maybe that’s why I like Fluffy so much. He thought he needed to live up to his name just as I did as a child. Having your own children and students research their names and what they mean is a great activity to do with them. In doing so though, take them to the Bible to see “The Name”. All through the Bible we see God put an importance on names. Adam was asked to name the animals. Several people in the Bible were given names or had their named changed to identify who they were and what God promised them. Eve, Abraham, Sarah, Israel, Paul and many others. I find it more interesting though that we call ourselves “Christians” – which means we bear the name of Christ. We pray “In Jesus name” and we are told to go “forth for His name’s sake” (3 John vs7). So I think the real question we can ask ourselves is are we not living up to the name our parents gave us, but are we living up to the name we bear as a Christian. Are we even worthy to bear that name? We are because Christ died for us and took away our unworthiness, -but now that I have the name – “Christian” – I know that I have to live up to that name. Do others see me as “Christ”.  Do they feel that the name of Christ is befitting to my life? hmmmmm – Christian, we have a name to bear that challenges us to do right and live right.  The Biblical lesson today with Fluffy is simple – It’s to live worthy of the name of Christ. I’ll be praying with you that we both can do it! Disclosure: These ideas are that of this blog and teachers using this book, not the author or publisher of the book. To purchase this book through amazon you can click on this widget and help support more Bible Lessons in Children’s Literature

For more Bible Lessons in Children’s Literature click on the links below: Corduroy – The Search For a Friend The True Story of The Three Little Pigs The Tale of Peter Rabbit Seven Blind Mice and the Cure to Our Blindness The Very Hungry Caterpillar and The Very Hungry Christian = New Life Learning the Bible from Pinocchio -by Debbie Boush Harry the Dirty Dog: Lost Dog, Lost Son Where The Wild Things Are

Corduroy and Little PotCorduroy – The Search For a Friend

Based on Corduroy by Don Freeman

This story first published in 1968 was one that we all grew up with. I can actually say I remember reading it as a child.  There was something about that little bear wearing clothes that resonated with me as a little girl. The way Lisa rescued him was something I believed I did as a child to the stuffed animals that I owned. I felt I had also rescued them from the store and given them a home.
Today, as I read it again, asking the Holy Spirit to speak to me through it. The connection to Him rescuing me became very evident. Throughout the story, Corduroy is searching for something. On the service it seems to be a button for his overalls. But in reality it is something much bigger. As he sets out to find a button and finds himself going up the escalator he says, “I think I’ve always wanted to climb a mountain.” Then when he reaches the next floor, he thinks he is in a palace. He then says, “I guess I’ve always wanted to live in a palace.” This pattern continues as he sees a bed and says, “I’ve always wanted to sleep in bed.” Clearly though Corduroy is still not happy because the minute he sees the button on the mattress he goes back to the search and tries to pull it off. That’s when the story gets suspenseful, and the night watchman searches and finds Corduroy. It seems Corduroy is right back where he started until the next morning when Lisa shows up and pays for him to take him home. (I know you already see the spiritual connection here – but there’s more)
Once Lisa gets home, we discover she has prepared a place for Corduroy. Corduroy immediately says, “I know I’ve always wanted a home!”  And even at that point Lisa points out to Corduroy that she loves him just the way he is, but wants to make him comfortable and therefore sews a new button on his overalls. It is then Corduroy discovers what it is he really needed all along was a friend. Don’t miss that he says, “I’ve always wanted a friend.” And Lisa’s reply is . . . “Me too!
If you haven’t picked up the spiritual connection here, let me explain. We are just like this little bear wearing corduroy overalls and waiting for something. We wonder what will come along in our life to make us feel happy. As we experience different things in life, we evaluate them. “I think I’ve always wanted this”. . . Or “I guess I’ve wanted this” – The truth is, we think and talk ourselves into things that we want because we are trying to fill a much bigger need.

And just as Corduroy believed that a button would make him worthy enough to be bought, we try to do things that will make us worthy too. But someone sees us just as we are, incomplete and not “new” looking. -And He has paid for us as well! Lisa used everything she saved in her piggy bank to buy Corduroy.  Jesus died on the cross as payment for us.  (1Peter 1:8) When we accept the payment he has made, we are redeemed and are now owned by our Heavenly Father.  And it just keeps getting better. Christ has gone to prepare a place for us in Heaven. (John 14:3) He knows that we want a home there, and more importantly, He knows that what we really want is a friend. Just like Lisa, He wants that from us too. (Romans 5:11)
When I read this story and compared it to what Christ did for me, I was so blessed. I just stared at the illustration on the last page. Lisa hugs Corduroy and Corduroy seems so content. I realized that through all my searching and adventures that I’m only truly content in my Heavenly Father’s arms.
I remember reading the book as a child. But, today I read it as a child of God. I’ll never look at it the same again.

Disclosure: These ideas are that of this blog and teachers using this book, not the author or publisher of the book. To purchase this book through amazon you can click on this widget and help support more Bible Lessons in Children’s Literature

For more Bible Lessons in Children’s Literature click on the links below:

The True Story of The Three Little Pigs

The Tale of Peter Rabbit

Seven Blind Mice and the Cure to Our Blindness

The Very Hungry Caterpillar and The Very Hungry Christian = New Life

Learning the Bible from Pinocchio -by Debbie Boush

Harry the Dirty Dog: Lost Dog, Lost Son
Where The Wild Things Are

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, and a Chance to Pray

Children Who Love Jesus may be at risk of catching: A Bad Case of Stripes

Is Your Mama a Llama? Are you the image of God?

The Paper Bag Princess and The Paper Bag Christian

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