Kindness is Contagious

Where I live in South Florida, drivers are not known for being kind. Whenever I back out of my driveway, I know it will only be a matter of time before someone will cut me off or honk at me. Every once in a while, however, a kind driver motions for me to merge into the long line of traffic and allows me to cut in front of her. Aaaah! The endorphines rush through my body, and  I can’t wait to extend the favor to another driver. Why? Because kindness is contagious!

This is a concept that needs to be taught to children at an early age. Toddlers are not known for being kind and genreous. They want what they want when they want it. Then need to be taught how to share and honor others because it does not come naturally.

Kindness is contagious is the idea being my book The Boy on The Yellow Bus. The story begins with Sam, a new boy in town, boarding the yellow school bus and wondering where he will sit. When a young boy offers to share his seat with Sam, Sam is grateful and a chain reaction of kindness begins. Sam then helps Sue, who dropped her lunch box in the mud. Then Sue shares her lunch with Brian, and Brian sticks up for Kim on the playgound, and Kim helps her mother after school.  And that’s the way the whole day went—and that’s how kindness starts. When someone cares and someone gives it blesses people’s hearts.

The next few pages remind us that we should be kind and share because that is what God wants us to do. Another good reminder is included in a verse that says: Sometimes people never see the good things that you do. But God sees every single time and He is pleased with you.

Picture books are a great way to teach children many of life’s lessons. They give concrete examples and visual lessons in an enjoyable and entertaining format. And when the stories help little ones learn more about how God wants us to live–it all has a greater purpose.

The best way to teach your children to be kind is to model it. So when you are out and about today, let someone cut in the long line of traffic and start a chain reaction of kindess.

Love your little ones. Pray with them. And read every day.



What Are They Thinking?

Have you ever walked in on a mess involving your child and asked, “What were you thinking?

Your little girl may be the spitting image of her mother. Your little boy may be a chip off his father’s block. But children are not just little versions of adults. And that goes for the way they think, too.

Jean Piaget  was one of the first to systematically study children’s cognitive development. Before Piaget, most people believed that children thought like adults, but because of their age, they just weren’t as good at it.

Piaget concluded there are four stages of development:

1.  Sensorimotor

From birth to approximately 2 years old, children learn through trial and error.

 2.  Preoperational

From approximately 2 through 7 years old, children begin to use language to communicate. They also use begin to use their imagination. But at this stage they do not yet clearly understand cause-and-effect, and they struggle with logic. Children in this stage are often egocentric. Their approach to life is “It’s all about me.”

 3.  Concrete operational

School-age children through approximately 11 years old begin to learn logic. They have an increased awareness of external events and they are beginning to process abstract ideas.

4.  Formal operational

Children 11 years and older, entering adolescence, have the potential for moral reasoning. They are developing the ability to process abstract logic and they can understand cause-and-effect relationships.

Why should these stages matter to us?

As we work with children (our own or others), we want to teach them in ways they can understand. For example:

– Preschoolers learn through exposure to shapes, textures, colors, sounds, and above all, doing. Their play is learning.

– Children 2 through 7 need to be continuously encouraged to think of others.

– Children aged 7 through 11 are beginning to process theological concepts such as the truths that we are made in the image of God or that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit.

– Adolescents and teens need to be taught a biblical worldview of themselves, their family, and how to view their culture.

 Leading and teaching children requires us to know, not just what they are thinking, but how they are thinking!

Why Do We Celebrate Easter? by Mark Sutherland

■Title: Why Do We Celebrate Easter?
■Author: Mark Sutherland
■Illustrator: Julie Hammond
■ISBN: 978-0983236306
■SRP: $9.99
■Reviewed By: Cheryl Malandrinos

Rating:  :) :) :) :) :)

In this beautifully illustrated story, children learn that God had planned Easter a long, long time ago–even before the world was created. The book swiftly moves along from creation and the Fall of Man, to the birth of Jesus, His ministry, the Last Supper, Jesus’ death and his glorious Resurrection.

Sutherland did an excellent job of providing young readers with a book that explains the Easter story in greater depth than many books do. The explanations provided by the author will be helpful in assisting readers to grasp the full message.

The book opens by asking the reader, “Do you ever wonder what Easter is all about?” Immediately the author works to engage the reader. This is a nice style, and one I think young readers will enjoy.

Julie Hammond’s artwork is lovely. The soft, warm colors keep with the peaceful tone of the book.

The only criticism is that I felt the book would end on a more powerful note without the last page. The second to the last page talks about how we become Jesus’ friends by believing He is God and that He died and rose again as payment for our sins. The final page acts like a summary of the entire book, and ends with the words, “And that’s why we celebrate Easter.” I truly felt that last page deflated the strong words of the page before it.

That aside, Why Do We Celebrate Easter? by Mark Sutherland is a great way to share the Easter story with the child in your life.

I received a free electronic copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinions. I received no monetary compensation to provide my review.

Sharing that Springtime Spirit

Project Overview:  This project is appropriate for any child that can hold a crayon and only requires paper and a little artistic flair!

As an author one of my favorite things to do is share my story, Perfect You, with children.  This morning I had the pleasure of reading to a group of energetic and excited preschoolers ages 3 – 5.  In Perfect You, part of the message is that we are all given talents that we should use to serve others.  This message of service, particularly with kids and families, is one that I am really passionate about!  These school story times have proven to be an awesome opportunity to combine both reading and an introduction to the idea of serving others.

At the conclusion of my presentation, the preschoolers and I talked about how they could use their talent of coloring to bring a little happiness to someone else.  Using spring-themed pictures, the kids had a great time pouring their hearts into creating mini-masterpieces.  Once completed, I was able to deliver all these pictures to a local assisted living facility where they displayed them and delivered them to their residents.  What joy would it bring to an elderly person to have cheerful picture from a child hanging in your room!  So next time you are feeling like your refrigerator can’t hold one more of your child’s special art pieces, consider delivering them to someone who would love a youthful reminder of spring!







The Joys of Remodeling

I’m in the throes of a kitchen remodel as I write this. Sheets of plastic drape my cabinets, and countertops. While white dust coats every surface, my tabletop is covered with things I’ve moved out of the kitchen to safety. My refrigerator is in the dining room, the stove and microwave in the back yard. This remodel has been a long time coming and is totally inconvenient. But it will be so worth it. 

I figure in order to survive this, I need to look at the positives. And truly, my kitchen remodel isn’t all bad. One of the first and best perks amid the dust is that I don’t have to cook! We eat out almost every night, at least until I don’t have to dodge plastic to get into my cabinets, stove and and refrigerator. Never mind what the scale is telling me these days!

Another plus is seeing my family pull together to get through the inconvenience of a non-working kitchen. It puts things in perspective to recognize how spoiled we are when you figure that more than half the world lives like this every day. How blessed we are to have the resources to remodel! And we still have running water, even if we have to go into the bathroom to find it.

My husband and I are having fun working on a project together. Our teenage daughter enjoys helping us pick out the floor tile, paint colors, and countertop. Even our little chihuahua is in the thick of it, nosing around in all the dust, watching my husband’s every move as if he’s interested in learning to remodel his dog house! It’s nice to have a big project we can all work on together, enabling us to bond in ways we couldn’t in the status quo.

We know it’s only by God’s provision that we’re able to do this remodel. I pray for His grace each day so we don’t get impatient with each other or the inconvenience. I thank Him for his goodness to us, while praising Him for the gift of family and the good health to do this work ourselves.

How about you? Have you survived a remodel? Are you working on a project that brings with it inconvenience? What lessons are you learning along the way? How have you included your children in your project? Any survival tips you can share?