Easter Picture Books

I’ve compiled a list of Easter books and books about the life of Christ.  I’ve chosen ones that are both beautiful  and well written.  Of course, this is just a sampling, so please share any other favorite Easter titles and I’ll add them to the list. Some of them I own (and you are welcome to borrow!) and some I’ve been able to request through interlibrary loan as well.

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The first Easter Day by Jill Roman Lord-A great beginner book that tells the Easter story from multiple perspectives.  A touch and feel book that’s great for toddlers.

http://www.christianbook.com/the-first-easter-day/jill-lord/9780824918927/pd/918927?event=ESRCG

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J is for Jesus by Debbie Trafton O’Neal-This alphabet book has simple text that highlights to chief concepts and characters in the Easter story.  The illustrations depict a diversity of skin colors, which is a refreshing departure from many traditional bible stories.  Ages 4-8 and includes activities to do as a family.

http://www.christianbook.com/jesus-easter-alphabet-and-activity-book/debbie-oneal/9780806651231/pd/651237?product_redirect=1&Ntt=651237&item_code=&Ntk=keywords&event=ESRCP

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Bunny’s First Spring by Sally Lloyd Jones-Although not explicitly stating the gospel, the author uses a story about new life and death in spring to mirror what Christ accomplished on Easter.

http://www.christianbook.com/bunnys-first-spring-sally-lloyd-jones/9780310733867/pd/733867?product_redirect=1&Ntt=733867&item_code=&Ntk=keywords&event=ESRCP

 

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Easter Story by Brian Wildsmith –Glorious watercolors with simple text, told from the perspective of a donkey, ages 3 and up.  My favorite Easter book.

http://www.christianbook.com/easter-story-brian-wildsmith/9780802851895/pd/51895

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Make Room: A Child’s Guide to Lent and Easter by Laura Alary-This is the best book I’ve read that explains for young ones the meaning and the way of Lent as a time to prepare to celebrate Easter.  For preschoolers and up. I bought a copy for DIG-email me if you’d like to borrow it!

http://www.christianbook.com/make-room-childs-guide-lent-easter/laura-alary/9781612616599/pd/616599?event=ESRCG

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The Tale of Three Trees by Angela Ellwell Hunt-This books tells the Easter story from the perspective of 3 trees in the forest who end of being the trees used to fashion the 3 crosses during Good Friday.  For ages 4 and up.

http://www.christianbook.com/the-tale-of-three-trees/angela-hunt/9780745917436/pd/19014

 

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Easter by Jan Pienkowski-The story of Passion week and Easter, with excerpts from the KJV.  The illustrator creates fantastic papercut silhouettes with excerpts from the Gospels.  Best suited for elementary aged children.

http://www.amazon.com/Easter-Jan-Pienkowski/dp/038539277X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1426033017&sr=1-1&keywords=jan+pienkowski+easter

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At Jerusalem’s Gate by Nikki Grimes –Simple and profound poems that tell the story of Easter week with lovely woodcut illustrations.

http://www.christianbook.com/at-jerusalems-gate-nikki-grimes/9780802851833/pd/851835?product_redirect=1&Ntt=851835&item_code=&Ntk=keywords&event=ESRCP

Peter’s First Easter by Walter Wangerin

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Peter’s First Easter by Walter Wangerin.  This book captures the utter joy of the first Easter from Peter’s perspective, retold by a masterful storyteller.

http://www.amazon.com/Peters-First-Easter-Walter-Wangerin/dp/0310222176/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1456003092&sr=8-1&keywords=peter%27s+first+easter

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The Donkey who carried a King by R.C. Sproul-This books tells the story of Palm Sunday and Passion Week from the perspective of Davey the Donkey who carries Jesus to Jerusalem.  Delightful illustrations, for ages 6 and up.

http://www.christianbook.com/the-donkey-who-carried-a-king/r-c-sproul/9781567692693/pd/692691?event=ESRCG

 

Legend of Faith Comic Books

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These comic books include several issues on the Easter story.  For ages 8 and up.

http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/easy_find?Ntt=arch+books&N=0&Ntk=keywords&kw=arch%20books&mt=b&dv=c&event=PPCSRC&p=1018818&gclid=Cj0KEQjwrPqnBRD56dGe1o_WlZsBEiQAb5ugtwMTKgZBk4vP320rt6PgTbaVRo42gmFOITswoBLX3YkaAmJQ8P8HAQ

This Week in DIG, 2/21/16, Communion

February’s Memory Verse

Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts.  Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.

-1 Chronicles 16:9-10, “Sing Praise to Him” from Seeds of Praise album, track 7

Infants

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Toddlers

This month toddlers have been exploring the stories of Jesus’ Miracles including Feeding the 5000, and Calming the Storm.

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Possible activities and questions to ask with your toddler:

*Act out the story with your child, using bath toys to retell Jesus and the storm and pretend food to retell The feeding of the 5000.

*Read the accounts of these 2 stories from Sally Lloyd Jones’ Tiny Bear’s Bible or Jesus Storybook Bible.

*Some wondering questions:

-I wonder how the people felt having a meal with Jesus?

-I wonder what it was like to be in the boat with Jesus in the storm?

Preschool-Jesus and the Paralytic, Luke 5:17-26

Preschoolers will spend February exploring the stories of Jesus’s ministry.

 

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*I wonder how the people feel about Jesus?

*I wonder how the man felt when he was paralyzed?

*I wonder how it feels to take his first step?

*I wonder how it feels to have his sins forgiven?

Grades K-4

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At BeFree it is important that children are treated as full participating worshippers and allowed into all parts of the service, when appropriate.  In order for Communion to be meaningful for children, we must explicitly teach them about its purpose and meaning.

 

(see my blog post for more on Communion, https://befreedig.wordpress.com/2015/02/09/communion-and-children/)

On Sunday, the elementary students participated in a lesson on Communion.  We walked through Jesus’ Last Supper. Students discussed their own wonderings about Communion, and then reflected on it individually.  Here is a list of their questions.  You might want to discuss them at home:

*Why would they drink the blood?

*Why is it called “The Last Supper?”

*Why does Jesus have to die for us?

*How did it feel in the room during the Last Supper?

*What kinds of things do you think about during Communion?

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Additional Communion Resources

Here is some other resources to use with kids to further explore Communion.

Follow and Do

http://www.christianbook.com/follow-and-do-the-lords-supper/joni-walker/9780758608017/pd/608012?event=ESRCG

You’re Invited

http://www.christianbook.com/youre-invited-family-devotions-lords-supper/john-bouwers/9781592557776/pd/557776?event=ESRCG

The Lord’s Supper. . .Let’s Get Ready

http://www.christianbook.com/the-lords-supper-lets-get-ready/laurie-donahue/9780971830660/pd/830665?dv=c&en=google-pla&event=SHOP&kw=church-and-pastoral-0-20&p=1179710&gclid=Cj0KEQiAu_GmBRDhtK-kzqKcuJwBEiQAJvB8nyVMzsMRbCW4_VyRllujsLD7JNvxXIMop2s8xn5-HWoaAgTc8P8HAQ

Communion Coloring pages

http://www.biblewise.com/preview/archives/2012/april/kids_korner/fun_games/remember_jesus.htm http://whatsinthebible.com/activity-library/last-supper/

Grades 5-6, Who is the Holy Spirit?

The younger middler schoolers will spend February examining the person and work of the Holy Spirit.

*Reread the passages Acts 8:1-3, Acts 9:1-19.

*In the Acts passages, what do you notice about what the Spirit does?

*Have you ever sensed him at work in your heart and life?

Grade 7-8 off

 

 

Communion and Children

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Here at BeFree, elementary and middle school children attend the communion portion of our service, on the third Sunday of each month. This month we celebrate Communion this Sunday 2/21.

Here are some guiding thoughts and questions to help prepare your child for Communion:

 What is Communion?

Communion is a church sacrament that Jesus began during the Last Supper. It serves to help Christians remember and celebrate what Jesus accomplished on the cross as our Savior and Redeemer. It is important to clarify that the elements symbolize Christ’s body and aren’t his actual flesh.

Some helpful passages to read with children:

*Last Supper accounts in the Gospels (See Matt 26, Mark 14, Luke 22, John 13-14)

*The Servant King story in Sally Lloyd Jones’ Jesus Storybook Bible

When should children begin to take Communion?

Although scripture is silent on when children should begin Communion, all children who have professed faith in Jesus and are actively participating in all other aspects of the worship gathering (singing, prayer, etc.) are welcome to participate. This is a very personal decision for families to make and we trust that you will prayerfully consider when your child is ready.

If your child doesn’t seem ready, we still welcome them to sit quietly and observe. It is very valuable for children to experience the rhythms of corporate worship so that they can begin to understand these structures and feel comfortable about participating themselves.

What does it look like to take Communion?

Whether or not your children participate in Communion, it is helpful to talk with them about how to prepare their hearts, minds and bodies for Communion. This includes:

*We walk slowly and quietly. We sit calmly.

*We are silent or use whisper voices unless joining in singing.

*We take one cup and piece of bread.

*We hold the elements until the leader signals for everyone to partake.

*We think about: what Jesus did for us on the cross, give him thanks, examine hard things we need to give to him.

*Refer to Paul’s instructions on Communion (See 1 Corinthians 11)

Additional Resources:

*These are two great blog posts that I used to help write this handout:

http://www.thevillagechurch.net/the-village-blog/should-my-child-take-communion/

http://www.northwake.com/children-and-the-lords-supper/

*This is short video of Tim Keller explaining the significance of Communion, geared for adults. http://www.jesus.org/following-jesus/communion/what-are-the-purposes-of-the-lord-s-supper.html

*Check back on this blog next week. On Sunday, the elementary classes are devoted to explaining Communion’s meaning, purpose, and expectations. I’ll post the kids questions about Communion, along with more child friendly resources.

 

This Week in DIG 2/14

February’s Memory Verse

Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts.  Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.

-1 Chronicles 16:9-10, “Sing Praise to Him” from Seeds of Praise album, track 7

Infants

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Toddlers

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This month toddlers have been exploring the stories of Jesus’ Miracles including Feeding the 5000, and Calming the Storm.

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Possible activities and questions to ask with your toddler:

*Act out the story with your child, using bath toys to retell Jesus and the storm and pretend food to retell The feeding of the 5000.

*Read the accounts of these 2 stories from Sally Lloyd Jones’ Tiny Bear’s Bible or Jesus Storybook Bible.

*Some wondering questions:

-I wonder how the people felt having a meal with Jesus?

-I wonder what it was like to be in the boat with Jesus in the storm?

Preschool- A New Teaching, Mark 1:21-28

Preschoolers will spend February exploring the stories of Jesus’s ministry.

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The big one is Jesus because Jesus is strong.

*I wonder how the people feel now that the unclean spirit is gone?

*I wonder who the people think Jesus is?

*I wonder what Jesus taught that was different then the scribes?

*I wonder what this person will do now that the unclean spirit is no longer in him?  

Grades K-1-Filled Full

Younger Elementary children are exploring stories of Jesus’ life and ministry.

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*I wonder how the disciples are feeling about watching Jesus feed everyone?

*I wonder how the crowd feels?

*I wonder if the crowd thinks Jesus is the Christ and if so why?

*I wonder what the boy thought of it all?

Grades 2-4, Numbers 20

Older Elementary children return to the Old Testament during February.  They explored the story of the Isrealites rebelling against God and refusing to go to the Promised Land.

*I wonder why it is so easy for the Isrealites to forget how God provides?

*I wonder what it was like to see the water flow out of the rock?

*I wonder why the Isrealites want to return to Egypt?

*I wonder why Moses hit the rock instead of speaking to it as God asked?

*I wonder why Moses won’t be able to go to the Promised Land because of hitting the rock?

Grades 5-6, Who is the Holy Spirit?

The younger middler schoolers will spend February examining the person and work of the Holy Spirit.

*Reread the passages John 7:37-39, Acts 1:8, Acts 2:1-8.

*In the Acts passages, what do you notice about what the Spirit does?

*Have you ever sensed him at work in your heart and life?

Grade 7-8

*Reread Mark 7:1-23.  What do you notice about Jesus here?  How does it connect with your life?

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Lent Devotionals for the whole family

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In the middle of a snowy New England winter, it’s hard to start thinking about Easter.  Last Wednesday was Ash Wednesday which begins Lent, the days leading up to Easter. Traditionally Lent is a time where Christians repent and direct our eyes to Christ.

I love starting something new, to recenter, to reconsider.  Just as we adults need this, so do our kids.  Like advent, Lent is a wonderful time for us as families to remember what God has done for us particularly looking at Christ’s life, death, and resurrection.

Below, I’ve gathered titles of devotionals and music to use during the Lenten season, some geared for families and some for adults that can be modified to be used with children.

Lent Devotionals

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Trail to the Tree by Ann Voskamp

This free Lent and Easter devotional is similar to her advent devotional Unwrapping the Greatest Gift.  You can download the plan, along with ornaments to make an Easter Tree at the bottom of the following blogpost:

http://aholyexperience.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/TrailtotheTree1.pdf

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Lenten Lights by Noel Piper

 This is another free Lent devotional, to be used weekly.  It includes instructions in using the tradition of the 7 lenten candles.

http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/lenten-lights

 

We welcome refugees Prayer Calendar

Download a weekly calendar for praying for Syrian refugees throughout Lent.

Pray

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Living Water

 This is a free Lent devotional put out by World Vision.  Each week centers around a different topic of how Christ calls us to live in response to what he has done for us.  Includes scriptures, questions, and readings.

http://www.worldvision.org/news-stories-videos/lent-devotional-living-water

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Devotions for Lent from the Mosaic Bible  

This very affordable devotional includes scripture readings, readings from Christian leaders throughout history, and paintings that all narrate Jesus’ life and journey to the cross.

http://www.christianbook.com/devotions-for-lent/9781414335810/pd/335810?dv=c&en=google&event=SHOP&kw=books-0-20%7C335810&p=1179710&gclid=CI7Pi-Oh88oCFUFehgodLWwCZw

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Reliving the Passion by Walter Wangerin

http://www.amazon.com/Reliving-Passion-Walter-Wangerin-Jr/dp/0310755301/ref=pd_sim_b_7?ie=UTF8&refRID=1TPR09201A11Q5F8EH0D

Behold the King of Glory by Russ Ramsey

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This author has a lovely and engaging storyteller voice, perfect for reading a loud as a family.  Really helps you see these stories in a new light.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/143354508X/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=143354508X&linkCode=as2&tag=shereatru-20&linkId=ULAD4RKZSJ7ERLR3

God is on the cross by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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http://www.amazon.com/God-Is-Cross-Reflections-Easter/dp/0664238491

Music for Lent

Many bands have special music for the Lenten season.  The 2 groups below focus on historic hymns and worship music for Lent and Easter.  Their music can be found on iTunes and Spotify.

Page cxvi, Lent to Maundy Thursday, Good Friday to Easter

http://pagecxvi.com/

Ordinary Time, Around the Table, and Until He Comes

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http://music.ordinarytimemusic.com/

Throughout Lent, I’ll share some activities to do with children. There is no one way to prepare for Easter. Pick a simple ritual and begin a tradition that works for you. The most important thing is that Christ might become bigger in our lives and the lives of our kids.

This Week in DIG 2/7

February’s Memory Verse

Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts.  Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.

-1 Chronicles 16:9-10, “Sing Praise to Him” from Seeds of Praise album, track 7

Infants-Praying over our littlest ones

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We have started a new practice in the infants room.  Each week volunteers spend some time prayer over the babies present and absent (see posted prayer above).  We pray for the children’s time in DIG but also for their physical and spiritual development.  If you have specific prayer requests for your child, please let a nursery volunteer know-we’d love to be praying more specifically!

Thanks to Jess Maravich and all the other nursery volunteers involved in brainstorming and organizing this practice!

Toddlers

This month toddlers have been exploring the stories of Jesus’ Miracles including Feeding the 5000, and Calming the Storm.

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Possible activities and questions to ask with your toddler:

*Act out the story with your child, using bath toys to retell Jesus and the storm and pretend food to retell The feeding of the 5000.

*Read the accounts of these 2 stories from Sally Lloyd Jones’ Tiny Bear’s Bible or Jesus Storybook Bible.

*Some wondering questions:

-I wonder how the people felt having a meal with Jesus?

-I wonder what it was like to be in the boat with Jesus in the storm?

Preschool- Follow Me, Mark 1:16-20

Preschoolers will spend February exploring the stories of Jesus’s ministry.

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*I wonder how the poor and sick felt being near Jesus?

*I wonder why Peter and Andrew would leave their fishing nets and follow Jesus?

*I wonder why some of the fisherman stayed in the boat and didn’t follow Jesus?

*I wonder what the kingdom of God is like that Jesus is showing them?  

 

Grades K-1-Portfolio Reflection and Review

Younger Elementary children spent Sunday looking back the their reflections from the year so far.  They choose a favorite reflection to reread and wonder about.

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*I wonder which story and reflection was a favorite from the year so far?

*What do I remember from that story?

*What made that story and reflection so special?

 

Grades 2-4, Numbers 14

Older Elementary children return to the Old Testament during February.  They explored the story of the Isrealites rebelling against God and refusing to go to the Promised Land.

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*I wonder why the Isrealites want to return to Egypt?

*I wonder why they fear the people in the Promised Land so much?

*I wonder why God decided to be merciful to the Isrealites?

*I wonder why the Isrealites change their mind and try to fight their enemies?

Grades 5-6, Who is the Holy Spirit?

The younger middler schoolers will spend February examining the person and work of the Holy Spirit.

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*Reread the passages John 14:26-28, John 16:5-15.

*What about the Holy Spirit confuses you?  What comforts you?

*Have you ever sensed him at work in your heart and life?

Grade 7-8

*Reread Mark 7:1-23.  What do you notice about Jesus here?  How does it connect with your life?

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The grades 7-8 class painted a large chalkboard in the foyer of the DIG space.  They are displaying some of their reflection there from their study of Mark.  Make sure to check it out!

Praying with Children

It’s already February and Lent is around the corner (more on that next week!), but I’ve been thinking recently about how to interest children in prayer.

I love praying with my children each day.  Picture me at the breakfast table with a coffee and half eaten muffin.  Ollie is standing at his chair, wolfing down his daily 2 eggs while doing a puzzle and singing “Go go Thomas!” loudly.  Addie sits across from me lost in her own imaginative world of princesses and sparkles and dropping half of her dry cereal on the rug.

I’ve just finished a short reading from Sally Lloyd Jones’ wonderful devotional Thoughts that make my heart sing.  I begin praying out loud “Lord we thank you for this day…we thank you for Addie and Ollie…we thank you for Daddy and we thank you for…”

All the while I’m not sure if anyone else is listening on joining in.  Ollie is flipping out about the piece that won’t fit and Addie’s still got her eyes on the lamp.

“Addie, would you like to pray?” I ask.

After 30 seconds or so, she sighs and responds with “I could pray but my mouth is too small.”

I’m sure we all have vignettes like the one above about praying with kids.  Recently, my friend Alyssa Humphries shared a brilliant weekly prayer calendar of her own making that we are going to start this month to help guide our prayer times.

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IMG_3358IMG_3354Each weekday in the notebook there’s a different theme to guide family prayer time.  These can be adapted depending on the age and interest of your children but she included themes such as: praising God, praying for family members, and praying for the Church.

Along with each weekday theme, there’s an envelope that has little pieces of paper with more specific prayer items.  For instance (see picture above) for the praising God day, there are different names of God that describe who He is.

Like with any spiritual practice, the practice of a prayer calendar doesn’t guarantee certain results in the spiritual growth or understanding of our children.  Instead it’s just another tool to create space for God to work.

I’m planning on making mine this week.  If you try it with your family, let us know how it goes!

 

 

This Week in DIG 1/31

January’s Memory Verse

Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.

-Matthew 12:34, “The Mouth” from Seeds of Praise album, track 6

Toddlers

This month toddlers have been exploring the story of The Lost Sheep from Psalm 23 and John 10

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Possible activities and questions to ask with your toddler:

*Act out the story with your child, using the shepherds found in a nativity set.

*Read parts of Psalm 23 and John 10.

*Some wondering questions:

-I wonder what the sheep’s names were?

-I wonder how the sheep feel with the Good Shepherd?

Preschool- Jesus in the Wilderness, Matthew 4:1-11

Preschoolers will spend January exploring the stories of Jesus’s early life and ministry.

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I was wondering if Jesus got smashed by the rock?-Alexa
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I wonder if he was standing on the rock?-Caleb

*I wonder what it was like for Jesus to be alone in the desert for so long?

*I wonder what Jesus and God talked about in the desert?

*I wonder how Jesus felt when Satan was near him?  

*I wonder if it was hard for Jesus to say, “No!”?

Grades K-1-Captain of the Storm (Jesus Storybook Bible), from Mark 4

Younger Elementary children will continue in the  Jesus Storybook Bible this month by reading through  stories of Jesus’ ministry.

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Jesus is sleeping.-Savannah

*I wonder if Jesus knew the storm was happening while he slept?

*I wonder what it was like to be in that storm in the boat?

*I wonder why the storm stopped when Jesus said “Hush!”?

*I wonder how Jesus can help stop some of the storms or fears in my life?

Grades 2-4, Jesus in the Wilderness, Luke 4:1-11

Older Elementary children will spend January looking at Jesus’ young life and ministry.

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Grades 5-6 off

Grade 7-8

*Reread Mark 6:1-10.  What do you notice about Jesus here?  How does it connect with your life?

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The grades 7-8 class painted a large chalkboard in the foyer of the DIG space.  They are displaying some of their reflection there from their study of Mark.  Make sure to check it out!