This post is the seventeenth in a series about the alphabet quiet book I'm making with the girls for preschool this year. To read the introduction, click here, and to read the rest of the posts (updated on a weekly basis) click the "Quiet Book" label on the right.

O is for Ocean
Oh my goodness, this was a page where once I got started, I had trouble knowing where to stop! Initially I was thinking of doing a very simple fishy page for the ocean, kind of like this one by Lorrie on The Quiet Book Blog. That was a bit too reminiscent of our abacus page, however, and the more I looked at ocean-relate quiet book pages the more I wanted to make them all!

Inspiration and Page Design
One thing I loved about the many ocean-themed pages I saw was how different they all were! I took ideas from many different examples, but one I especially loved was this hungry shark by Irina on Wonders of Felt. A line of strong blue crochet thread leads the fish to swim directly into his hungry stomach. I left too much slack on this string, and it's the one thing I would change if I were going to make the page over again. It allows the fish to move around more freely, but is more difficult for little fingers to manipulate. The fish all have little metal "eyes" from "hook and eye" clasps sewn to their backs, much like the flowers on our mailbox page. This allows them to move along the line without being loose parts that could fall out of the quiet book.

This submarine with all of our faces in it is probably my favorite part of the whole page. I got the idea when I found the submarine on Ekatarina's Transportation Quiet Book. She used clear plastic to make windows over beautiful printed fabric. I didn't have any pretty novelty fabric like that, so I started thinking about printing some onto my own fabric. Then it occurred to me that if I was going to be printing my own fabric, I could print photos of our own family! I found some pictures with our faces clearly displayed, sized them tiny enough to fit in the windows, and ran a piece off interface-backed white sheeting through my inkjet printer. Daddy is piloting the ship, Annie, Laurel, and Jenny are all peering out the portholes, and (although it's hard to tell) I'm navigating by keeping an eye out the periscope.

I've printed with my ink jet printer onto fabric twice now, the first time with my fabric lightly interfaced and backed with freezer paper for stability, and the second time the fabric fused with very stiff interfacing, no freezer paper. The stiffer interfacing was much easier and ran through the printer without any difficulty. The freezer paper backed one took a couple tries to feed into the printer, but took the ink just the same. So in the end, both methods work, but if you have stiff interfacing available, that's the best route.

Even the Oos got an oceanic theme on this page. When I cut out the small "o" it  reminded me so much of a lifebuoy that I started thinking about what I could do with the big O to make them both part of the ocean page. I decided to make the big O like a ship's compass. I printed off the compass face on the same fabric page as the family photos. The compass needle is made from shrink plastic, colored with colored pencils and shrunk to make it stiff and thick. I sewed it on with a bead. I attached a hook and eye to keep the compass closed, and added a jewelry ring clasp at the top to make it look like an antique pocket compass.

This funny little jellyfish is made by attaching a piece of green fabric to the back of a flat glass marble with silicone glue. I had these marbles leftover from making chore magnets for our chore chart (I need to do a post about that, it was a fun and useful project!) in the style of these Marble Magnets from Not Martha. The tentacles are tightly finger crocheted embroidery floss, and the googly eyes are attached with superglue.

Several of the ocean pages I saw had pearl oysters, including this felt door hanger by Angel, and I loved that feature. I had a string of little pink freshwater pearls in my bead box, so I sewed a few of those into the oyster.

My other favorite inspiration picture was the shell I-spy pocket by Jenya on Handmade by Mom. I really wanted to make something like that, but since I haven't been to the beach in years, I didn't have enough little shells to include. Fortunately, my family has been to the beach more recently, so they mailed us a selection of small shells, along with an ocean picture drawn by my 10-year-old brother. Annie and Laurel LOVE getting mail, and it's even more exciting if it's related to what we're learning about in school!

I sewed the little sand dollar (which I coated lightly with polyurethane a long time ago to make it suitable for a necklace) onto the top of the I-spy pocket, since I didn't want to hide it under anything and so that the girls could feel its texture.

Of course, the overall activity of the page is to lace a little Nemo-like clownfish from his home in a sea anemone through the many dangers in the ocean, up to the curious observers in the submarine, and then safely back home again. I got the idea for the swimming fish from Montoya's Meaningful Memories and Musings, and specifically the swimming fish maze from Schaer Talents. Here's a fun collage where you can see the clownfish making his way to the submarine.

Preschool goals for using the Ocean page
During O is for Ocean week, we learned about oceans! As we read books and watched movies and cilps, we designed the different elements for the page and then laid out the whole thing together. We read one of Annie's all-time favorite books, The Magic School Bus on the Ocean Floor, we watched an episode of Planet Earth from the library (amazing, amazing videography!), and watched Finding Nemo for the first time. We don't watch movies very often, and Finding Nemo terrified Annie. I'd post the very funny picture I took of Annie crying in terror as Nemo got captured, but some things are best left off the public Internet. After it was all over, however, Annie LOVED to remember Nemo, loved to draw clownfish and the other characters any time she had a pencil or piece of chalk in her hands, and still does many weeks later. Oddly enough, the much more realistic portion of the Planet Earth episode of dozens of sea snakes hunting fish from Planet Earth didn't scare either girl at all.

All-in-all, our ocean week and quiet book pages were some of our favorites. Fortunately for my sanity, our next letter was P is for Piggy Bank, and was much simpler and quicker!

This is the final installment about our  Resurrection Eggs Easter Devotions. For the other posts, see Part 1Part 2, and Part 3.

19. Linen. 
Story: Burial cloths left in tomb. John 20:1-18
Hymn: Low, in the Grave He Lay

20. Nails.
Story: Doubting Thomas. John 20:24-31
Hymn: Crown Him with Many Crowns
Crown Him With Many Crowns by 2nd Chapter of Acts on Grooveshark

21. Scroll.
Story: Road to Emmaus. Luke 24:13-35
Hymn: God Hath Spoken by the Prophets (This hymn is set to the tune Ebenezer, which is the same tune as O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus.)

22. Fish. 
Story: Jesus reinstates Peter. John 21:1-19.
Hymn: Savior Like a Shepherd Lead Us
Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us by Fernando Ortega on Grooveshark

23. World Map.
Story: The Great Commission. Matthew 28:16-20.
Hymn: We’ve a Story to Tell to the Nations, or Lead on, O King Eternal (One of my very favorites - listen online here!)

24. Cotton Ball. 
Story: The Ascension. Acts 1:1-11
Hymn: Thine be the Glory, or On Jordan’s Stormy Banks (This is Laurel's very favorite hymn. I love hearing her little voice sing, "I am bound, I am bound, I am bound for the promised land." May God make it so, little one.)
On Jordan's Stormy Banks I Stand [MP Jones] by Indelible Grace Music on Grooveshark

And that brings us to the end of our Easter devotions! If you have any notes, questions, corrections, or hymn suggestions to improve these Resurrection Eggs devotions, I'd love to hear them.

This year I'd love to start work on doing something to celebrate Pentecost, since these holiday devotions offer such a great teaching time that our girls excitedly look forward to. I haven't found a lot of leads on celebrating Pentecost (especially for protestants), so if you have done anything about it or can point me to any good resources, I'd love to hear about that too!

For the other posts on our Resurrection Eggs Easter Devotions, see Part 1, Part 2, and look for Part 4 in the next few days.

13. Sponge with vinegar. (Cut a small piece of a sponge, and lightly soak with vinegar. You don't want to put too much vinegar in it or it will make the paper fall apart. This one you will have to re-charge every year.)
Story: Jesus breathes his last. Matthew 27:45-50.
Hymn: Death of a Son
The Death of a Son (Psalm 22/69) by Michael Card on Grooveshark

14. Spear. (I used an arrowhead pendant I already had. A Lego spear or something like that would be great too.)
Story: Jesus’ death. John 19:30-37.
Hymn: Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted (Listen online here) or The Old Rugged Cross
The Old Rugged Cross by Johnny Cash & June Carter on Grooveshark

15. Woven curtain. (I wove a small square for our curtain on a toy "Weave-it" type loom, but you could easily use a square of fabric, torn in two up the middle.)
Story: Temple veil torn in two. Matthew 27:51-53.
Hymn: Were You There?

Were You There (When They Crucified My Lord) by Johnny Cash on Grooveshark

16. Spices. 
Story: Anointing Jesus’ body. Luke 23:50-56.
Hymn: We Three Kings (especially verse 4)
We Three Kings by Aaron Pelsue Band on Grooveshark

17. Rock. 
Story: Jesus’ burial. Mark 15:42-16:4.
Hymn: Beneath the Cross of Jesus
Beneath The Cross Of Jesus by Derek Webb on Grooveshark

Easter Sunday
18. Empty egg.
Story: The empty tomb. Matthew 28:1-10
Hymn: Christ the Lord is Risen Today (Listen online here), or I Serve a Risen Savior

This post is the sixteenth in a series about the alphabet quiet book I'm making with the girls for preschool this year. To read the introduction, click here, and to read the rest of the posts (updated on a weekly basis) click the "Quiet Book" label on the right.

N is for Note
When you have a mailbox, it's fun to be able to write real notes to be able to fold and seal in the envelope! I made sure to arrange my N is for Note page on the same page spread as M is for Mail so the girls can do just that. Here's a photo strip illustrating exactly how it works.

Write the letter, fold it in thirds, tuck it in an envelope, place the envelope in the mailbox, and raise the flag so the mailman knows to pick it up and deliver it!

Inspiration and Page Design
Placing a notepad opposite a mailbox is a common quiet book feature. Most of the examples I found had a plain pocket for a notepad and another for a pen or crayons, with no other decoration. I wanted to come up with something a little more pictorial since it would have to go with our flower garden mailbox page, so I thought about what sort of setting would be appropriate for note writing. Immediately I thought of the desks in our school room, where the girls most often sit to write notes or color pictures.

We have four complete old-fashioned desks in our school room, the kind with cast-iron legs and folding seats and everything. The desktop pictured above is the beautifully graffitied one that I grew up with. Even though there are plenty of desks to choose from, the girls often sit double in this one, since it's the only one with a window view. I decided to base our Note page on this desk, minus the graffiti.

I immediately knew that I wanted to use a wood grain fabric as the background, and have a pen on the pencil rest at the top, and a hole for the inkwell. I enlarged the N in the word ink, emphasizing that ink also includes the letter N. A ruler, apple, paperclips, and pushpins seemed like the other logical desk paraphernalia to include, to add color an interest to the page. Annie especially loves the pushpins, probably because they're the most colorful part of this mostly monochromatic page.

The pen is attached with ribbon to the page, and slides into ribbon loops around the "pencil groove" at the top of the page. I should have made at least three ribbon loops instead of the two I made, since the pen is prone to sliding out.

Although I thought it would be appropriate to make the notebook pocket and letters N & n with lined notebook paper fabric, it took an embarrassingly long time for me to realize I didn't need to buy fabric with blue lines printed to it. I could just take a piece of plain white fabric (I have a white sheet I cut from any time I need solid white fabric) and stitch my own blue lines to it. So easy, so cheap, and so effective.

The ruler is yellow felt painted with black fabric paint, something I generally have avoided in this quiet book because unlike embroidery, paint comes with the danger of peeling. On this scale, however, paint made sense, showed the details better, and was much faster.

This is also the only page where I didn't embroider the word of the page (here, "Notes") onto the fabric itself. It looked more natural to me to simply write, in basic script, the word "Notes" onto the top page of the notebook.

Preschool goals for using the Notes page
My goals for the notes page were the same as for the mail page. During the weeks we worked on the letters M and N, and in all the subsequent weeks, Annie has been practicing writing notes to friends and family, happily copying letters I write for her, even though she can't read yet the words she's writing yet. Sometimes she writes strings of letters on the blackboard and then asks me, "Mama, what does this say?" I think she's very close to being ready to learn to read, which is very exciting for both of us.

For the other posts on our Resurrection Eggs Easter Devotions, see Part 1, Part 3, and Part 4

7. Rope. 
Story: Jesus arrested. Matthew 26:47-56, 27:1-2.
Hymn: Alas, and Did My Savior Bleed

8. Soap. 
Story: Pilate washes his hands. Matthew 27:11-26.
Hymn: No Tramp of Soldiers’ Marching Feet (This is a fairly modern Lutheran hymn that I found when looking for songs about Pilate. It's set to a well-known tune - Kingsfold - and I really like it. I wish it were more well-known! I couldn't find any lead sheets or free sheet music, but here is a chord chart I worked out, and here's a video of a choir singing it. We sing it in a more folksy-style and with a lot quicker tempo with the kids.)

9. Feather. 
Story: Peter disowns Jesus. Matthew 26:31-35, Luke 22:54-62.
Hymn: We Have Not Known Thee as We Ought
Listen online here

10. Purple cloth and/or a Thorn.
Story: Jesus wears God’s kingly crown. John 19:1-16.
Hymn: O Sacred Head Now Wounded
Listen online here

11. Cross. 
Story: Crucifixion. John 19:16-22.
Hymn: In the Cross of Christ I Glory, or Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross

12. Dice. 
Soldiers cast lots. John 19:23-27.
Hymn: Man of Sorrows
Listen to a great traditional version and an equally wonderful choral arrangement

Continue reading with Part 3

Ever since I was a little girl, my family celebrated the season of Advent (the days of December leading up to Christmas) with special Advent devotions. We had a big felt Christmas tree wall hanging, and each night one of us kids would get to take a turn hanging a felt ornament that symbolized part of the story of Christ's incarnation, while Dad would read a corresponding passage from the Bible. Collin and I have been doing Advent devotions in our own little family now for three years, and the girls love it so much that I wanted to expand our holiday devotions to celebrating Easter as well.

Resurrection Eggs are certainly not my original idea. You can buy sets of them at Christian book stores, and find ideas for building your own sets all over the Internet. I've put a lot of work into creating our set over the past three years and I really like the way it's turning out, so I wanted to share our version with you all.

Our Resurrection Egg set includes a full two dozen eggs, and they extend the Easter season on both sides. We start 17 days before Easter (that's today, this year!), with Easter Sunday being egg number 18. The remaining six eggs continue past the resurrection to Christ's ascension back into heaven. Each egg contains both a little object symbolizing part of the passion or resurrection, as well as a slip of paper with a Scripture reference to read and discuss. After the girls open the egg and Collin reads them the story and asks them a few questions about it, we sing a hymn related to the part of the story we read. There are so many wonderful hymns about Christ's passion and resurrection, it was a very enjoyable part of the project to pair hymns with the Scripture passages.

Right after Easter last year I finally put together a songbook with all the hymns we sing with these devotions. I can't share the compiled songbook with you because I downloaded the songs from many different sites, but I can share the links to the music with you. If I could find it available, I included a lead sheet that has the melody written out as well as guitar chords. When I couldn't find a lead sheet, I went for the sheet music, and when I couldn't find that I put in lyrics with guitar chords. If there is a recording that's particularly great or helpful with a less-known song, I'm including that in this blog post as well. If you have a favorite recording that I don't have included, I'd love to hear about it in the comments!

Because a blog post explaining all 24 eggs would be simply enormous, I decided to break it apart into four posts of six days each. The first year we did this, I certainly didn't have all 24 eggs ready before we began using them. As long as I stayed a day or two ahead of the egg we needed for that night, all was well!

To begin, you'll need two dozen plastic Easter Eggs, and two egg cartons to store them in. I also used some stickers from the Dollar store to label the numbers on each egg. You could use markers or paints as well, but this was a neat and easy option. You'll also need to print the slips of paper for each egg, cut them apart and place one inside each numbered egg. I printed ours on cardstock so it would hold up well for several years. Here are the links to download .pdfs of the slips for each egg, as well as a table of contents telling you what each egg contains and the corresponding hymn.

Now that we have all that explanation out of the way, here come the first six days of our Easter devotions!

1. Perfume. (This can be a sample-size bottle of perfume or a cotton ball soaked with perfume. As you can see, I found a small bottle, but it was still too large for our egg so I had to cut a hole in the bottom of the egg to make it fit.)
Story: Mary anointing Jesus' feet. John 12:1-8.
Hymn: We Three Kings (Especially verse 4)

2. Palm leaf. (This can be an actual piece of a palm frond, a similar-shaped leaf from your back yard, or a plastic fern like this. Your kids won't care!)
Story: Triumphal Entry. Matthew 21:1-11.
Hymn: Ride On, King Jesus or Hosanna, Loud Hosanna

3. Whip. (I made mine by braiding some leather fringe.)
Story: Cleansing the temple. Mark 11:15-19, John 2:13-17.
Hymn: Cleansing the Temple or All Glory, Laud, and Honor

4. Silver coins. (Three dimes)
Story: Judas betrays Jesus. Matthew 26:1-4, 14-16.
Hymn: Why? by Michael Card
Why by Michael Card on Grooveshark

 5. Unleavened bread. (Broken crackers or matzah bread)
Story: Last supper. Luke 22:7-20.
Hymn: Nothing but the Blood
Nothing But the Blood by Keith and Kristyn Getty on Grooveshark

6. Praying hands. (I found this little pin at a thrift store, but you can also print a paper picture)
Story: Garden of Gethsemane. Matthew 26:36-46.
Hymn: Go to Dark Gethsemane
Go To Dark Gethsemane [Sandra McCracken] by Indelible Grace Music on Grooveshark

Continue reading with Part 2

This post is the fifteenth in a series about the alphabet quiet book I'm making with the girls for preschool this year. To read the introduction, click here, and to read the rest of the posts (updated on a weekly basis) click the "Quiet Book" label on the right.

M is for Mail
This page combines two more classic quiet book themes: The Mailbox, and The Flower Garden. I knew I wanted to include a mailbox so that Annie and I can pass notes to each other through it as she gets better at writing, but most of the mailbox pages I saw seemed kind of plain. I thought it would be pretty to add some flowers as landscaping around the mailbox, and, just for fun, all of the flower names or nicknames start with the letter M as well!

Inspiration and Page Design
The mailbox pattern I used directly, although sized down to 50%, from the mailbox on Imagine Our Life. I freehanded the numbers to match the letters, and stitched them all on by machine. I used a busted hair elastic for the button closure, and a small red eyelet for the flag so that it could swing freely on the button.

I decided one envelope would be enough for our mailbox, but I wanted it to be big enough to include real notes. Although I made the mailbox smaller than the original template, I made the envelope full sized, and it was perfect for the notepaper on the N page. (To see what I mean, you'll have to see the post next week!) For the details on the envelope, I used rick-rack for the address, cut out the stamp with pinking shears, and closed the back of the envelope with a couple squares of Velcro.

I had so many favorite flower inspiration pages that I had trouble settling on which flowers to make and what style to do them with. Finally deciding to make only flowers that begin with the letter M narrowed things down a lot. M isn't the most common letter for flower names, so I had to cheat a little. The white and pink flower at the top is a marshmallow, the red and pink one at the bottom is a mum. The purple one next to it was my biggest stretch. It's a Michaelmas daisy, or an aster. Michaelmas daisy is the English name for asters, but since it's the name that Cicely Mary Barker used in her Flower Fairy book, which is one of our favorites, I thought I could get away with it. The last two flowers are a marigold, and a morning glory.

I got the idea to use a green zipper as a flower stem from this cute flower page. I used a number of shapes from the flower templates on this page. Those were some of my favorite felt flowers, and if I hadn't decided to make flowers that specifically start with the letter M, I might have followed the pattern exactly. I love the detailing on each flower!

While most quiet book flowers button or snap on and off, I didn't really want to make that one of the key features of the page. I felt like it would unnecessarily add loose parts, and distract from the mailbox part of the page. When I found these two pictures on Pinterest, I knew it was exactly what I was looking for. Each flower can "grow" up the stem, but not detach from the page! I sewed the loop part of "hook and eye" fasteners to the back of each flower, and it works perfectly. 

Interesting fact: when I was rummaging through my jar of fasteners to find something to work as a slider, I found what looked like a scrap of a vintage bra. I cut the loops out of it, and they were exactly the right size to slide over the ribbon. This illustrates both that you never know when something will come in handy, as long as you save it in an organized manner, and that making these quiet book pages doesn't have to involve a lot of new materials, just a lot of out-of-the-box thinking!

Preschool goals for using the Mail page
When we sewed the M is for Mail page, and the facing N is for Notes pages, Annie wrote and mailed her first letter. She wrote a note to Nonnie (my mom), and then put it in our mailbox and sent it on its way! Since then she's written little notes to her daddy and a couple friends, and she enjoys doing it so much. It's very sweet, and very fun to help her learn how to put letters together, especially since we haven't started formal reading lessons yet. I think those are in our near future, though. We're both excited to be moving past the names and sounds of individual letters to whole words and ideas!