Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Spooky Spider Cookies

If you are looking for something fun and simple to make with your kids this Halloween week, I've got a tasty treat that takes no time at all. We actually made these back at the end of September. The idea came from a class that Jacob took last fall at a local nature center the week they studied spiders. (Forgive the ill-lighted photos -- it was an overcast, rainy, PJ day.)  Here is my version of these arachnid-shaped snacks.

Chocolate Spider Cookies

You will need:
  • chocolate sandwich cookies (we prefer Trader Joe's version)
  • pretzel sticks (also good for spreading)
  • mini M&M's (the regular ones work OK in a pinch)
  • something sticky (we used Nutella, but peanut butter works fine)

This is a very hands-off project for the adults, so just set out the supplies, make an example, and let the kids go to work!
To assemble, just open up your sandwich cookies, like so....

Arrange the pretzels in the icing so they form eight spider legs. You might want to break the sticks in half. (This moment affords an excellent opportunity to discuss the difference between how many legs spiders have versus insects. Numbers! Science! Comparison! Counting! We are "learnding."

Next, put the cookie back together (You may need some extra "glue" here to hold it together, so spread on some extra Nutella. Because you can.).

Using a pretzel stick, dab on two dots of Nutella and add the mini M&M's as eyes. That's it!

Here comes the best part...the eating! (They look so tired in this photo, but really, they were excited!)

We finished off the theme by singing "The Itsy-Bitsy Spider" and reading Eric Carle's The Very Busy Spider before taking naps. We may make these again this week, and if so, I hope to include a reading of Mary Howitt's poem, "The Spider and the Fly," which, though morbid, could make for an interesting inclusion in the cookie. Maybe the spider could swallow up a regular-sized M&M for the "fly"?! However you make these and whatever you do, please enjoy!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Book Review: 365 Great Bible Stories

The opportunity to review 365 Great Bible Stories The Good News of Jesus from Genesis to Revelation came at just the right time in our family. After the birth of our third son, things have become more hectic than usual, and so I've been looking for a way to incorporate more Bible reading time into our family's daily routine. This larger compilation by Carine MacKenzie, who has written numerous other children's adaptations of Bible stories, seems a natural fit for our family.

Things I appreciate about this Bible story book:
  • the depth of theology -- the commentaries, particularly in the OT section, point toward Christ and the stories remain faithful to the truths found in Scripture
  • the breadth of stories -- her selections include highlighting lesser known passages, yet they are almost always connected to some aspect of faith in Christ without simply moralizing
  • the brevity of each selection -- no story is more than a few paragraphs long and each fits on a page, yet the content is sound and requires close listening
  • the option of reading the stories thematically -- you can trace stories about Jesus, wars and battles, the Holy Spirit, journeys and travels
  • the illustrations are also thematic (dove for Holy Spirit, road for journeys, etc.) which allow even pre-readers to recognize the larger threads of the Bible

Overall, I found this an excellent format for our purposes. These brief yet powerful stories will provide ample discussion and lead us to search the appropriate Scripture passages further. Though the illustrations were not in a style I particularly favored, I was glad that they refrained from attempting to illustrate Jesus, since that almost always turns out badly. And the repetition of iconic illustrations to assist in identifying the common themes of the stories turned out to be quite helpful to our children. The target age seems to be younger elementary students, but I think our almost-5-year-old will easily be able to understand the main points and the "Think" comments. We are looking forward to reading through these daily selections over the course of the next year as we grow together in our study of God's Word. MacKenzie's 365 Great Bible Stories is a great jumping-off point to guide your reading of Scripture as a family.

Full disclosure: I was sent a copy of this story Bible from the publisher, but these words and opinions are completely my own. I really do appreciate it and plan to use it in our family's devotion time.