Civil War Notebook

July 6th, 2015

civil-war-notebookThis post contains affiliate links. I was compensated for my work in writing this post.

While studying the Civil War, my kids designed their own Civil War notebooks, where they placed their written work during our Civil War unit study.

What pages would you include in a Civil War notebook?

Here are some ideas of what you can include in a Civil War binder:

  • Maps of Civil War battles
  • Confederate or Union flags
  • A written biography of Abraham Lincoln
  • A chart listing which states were Confederate or Union
  • Causes of the Civil War
  • Summary of Uncle Tom’s Cabin
  • Description of Civil War re-enactment with photos
  • Letter from a Civil War soldier writing home to his wife
  • Red Badge of Courage summary
  • Genealogy research for family members involved in the Civil War


We used maps and charts from All American History, Volume II, and we printed the “Steps to War” page on light brown card stock paper. We printed out the steps and cut them out and glued them to the brown page, making it look like someone had walked in some dirt. We outlined the footprints with black marker.

We printed out the “Civil War Hall of Fame” page on yellow card stock paper. We cut out and glued each famous person to their name on the yellow paper. We looked up different people to find out more about them, and I assigned a few biographies for my teens to read during their reading time.

modern-history-pagesMy favorite activity to cause the kids to enjoy doing their work in their Civil War notebooks was to decorate the outside of the binder. We used the colors of the Civil War–silver and dark blue–and we printed out pictures from the Civil War re-enactment to place on the front cover. I show you the completed Civil War notebook in this video:

We had a wonderful time putting together this Civil War notebook and can refer back to it for years to come!

LEGO Civil War

July 2nd, 2015


When you study the Civil War, you can re-create different scenes with LEGO. One of the best ways to use LEGO in studying the Civil War is to use the LEGO people as soldiers to re-enact the battles. If you join many green LEGO bases together, you could even make the terrain–the rivers, mountains, valleys, and trees–to make the battles look more authentic.

Ideas for LEGO Civil War Scenes

Besides the obvious battle strategies and tactics for the Civil War, you can also re-create the following scenes:

  • Create a LEGO Civil War hospital. Put a red cross into a white wall as you build the hospital, and make sure you have plenty of beds where soldiers have amputated legs and arms. Civil War soldiers notoriously had body parts amputated needlessly because of lack of hygiene.
  • Build a Civil War camp with white tents and campfires and soldiers milling about.
  • Re-enact the Underground Railroad in LEGO. Have LEGO men trying to escape from cruel slave masters and flee to Canada with the help of friendly homes along the way.
  • Sew a miniature hoop skirt for a LEGO person. Add a parasol by using a small paper umbrella from a party supply store.


In these ways, you can bring to life this time period and internalize the Civil War while having fun with LEGOs!

Boat Birthday Party

June 29th, 2015


A boat birthday is perfect for the summer! What better excuse to spend some time on a nearby lake? Last weekend we celebrated my son’s birthday by giving him a boat birthday party. If you have friends who own a boat, it doesn’t have to cost you any money. If you don’t have friends who own a boat, you will need to save up to rent a motor boat. But it’s an experience that your family will never forget!


How to Make a Boat Party Invitation

I made the boat invitations by using some origami paper and folding it into a boat. ThenĀ  I stabbed a wooden skewer in through the bottom of the boat, and I taped it in place. Then I printed out the information for the party, and I cut it out in a sail shape and stabbed the skewer through the sail. Finally, I added a tiny flag at the top, taping it in place.


How to Make Lake Cupcakes

Bake some cupcakes and frost them with blue frosting. You will need to stir blue food coloring into white frosting. With a knife, make little waves on top of the blue frosting “water.” Super easy!

You will want to make cupcakes rather than cake if you are planning to eat it on the boat. Make sure to place the cupcakes into a container and put them on ice in a cooler so that they do not melt on a hot summer day in the boat.


Enjoy a day of boating. Often the best gifts are experiences.

My daughter had never been on a boat, so it was super exciting for her. We borrowed a large innertube from a friend and attached it to the boat. The kids loved taking turns being pulled on the innertube by the boat!


Okay, maybe the children weren’t the only ones enjoying the boat birthday party!


Missionary Kids and Nostalgia

June 22nd, 2015


What’s up with missionary kids and nostalgia?

For some reason, even though I never truly fit in when I was growing up, every time I see Hispanics in the States, I feel like I’m home, like I’m somehow understood. I’ve always been more comfortable around brown-skinned people. That’s because I grew up as a missionary kid in Guatemala, where I lived until I was 18. It shocks Hispanics that I speak fluent Spanish because of my white skin and bright red hair. You should see their expressions! But they are always honored that I know their language, and they always treat me like an insider once they hear my Spanish.

For years I didn’t see a single Hispanic here in Washington state. I finally stopped looking. Two years ago I met a white woman at a park, who said she attended a Hispanic church where the pastor was from–of all places–Guatemala! An American missionary had led him to Christ, and now he was a pastor in Washington state. I said to her, “Are there enough Hispanics to actually make up a church?” Yes. The Hispanic populationĀ  had apparently grown while I wasn’t looking. A church that started in this man’s garage had grown to 200 members!

When I first stepped into the Hispanic church, I was transported through time to my childhood. I felt so nostalgic that I had to choke back a lump in my throat. My emotional reaction was so intense that I was overwhelmed. I was happy, but I wanted to sob. I felt like I was home, and I had no idea how much I missed my people. The fact that I hadn’t used Spanish in 20 years hadn’t affected my fluency. There was something about being with these people that brought me back full circle so that I finally felt complete, like part of me wasn’t missing.

Last Christmas the pastor’s wife made some Guatemalan tamales, and she gave me some. As soon as I took a bite, I began weeping. I was alone in my dining room, so there was no point in holding back the tears. These tamales are nothing like the other tamales I’ve had in the States–these were real Guatemalan tamales. I pulled out a bone and laughed. Yes, Guatemalan tamales often have bones from the meat. I laughed and wept and savored every atom of the tamale. When it was gone, I just sat there. I smelled the aroma of the tamale on the empty banana leaf. And I sighed with satisfaction and joy.


Keep up with my MK posts by liking my missionary kid page.

Colossians Activities for Kids

June 15th, 2015


Here are some fun Colossians activities you can do with your kids to internalize this book of the Bible. You will need card stock paper in various colors, string, a hole punch, scissors, and glue. You will also need a computer with a printer so that you can print out various words.

Are you ready?

Colossians Activity #1: Blindfold

Put a blindfold on a child and have him walk around in darkness. How did it feel? Ask: Did you bump into things? Were you disoriented? This is what happens when we walk in sin. It leads us astray and ends up hurting us. When you take off the blindfold, your eyes are full of light, and you can see where you are going. There is safety and peace when you walk in the light.

Colossians Activity #2: Deeds of the Flesh

Print out the deeds of the flesh, which include anger, malice, slander, abusive speech, and lying. Print them in bold letters from your computer, leaving plenty of space around each word so that you can cut them out and paste them to a piece of black card stock paper.

Punch two holes in the top of the paper, and tie string through each hole, making sure to leave enough space for a child’s head. The child can now wear the deeds of the flesh around his neck (see above illustration).

Now you can make another card stock sign of love. Cut out a heart from red card stock paper, and print out “love” from your computer. Glue the label to the heart. Hole punch two holes on the top of the heart, and the child can put off the deeds of the flesh and put on love.


You can also put on Christ after taking off the deeds of the flesh. Use your creativity to make a sign representing Christ. We used a yellow cross glued to black card stock paper. Once again, you will need to punch two holes and tie string to the holes so that the child can “put on Christ.”

Explain what it means to put on Christ. This means we are to yield to Christ and manifest the fruit of the Spirit in our lives rather than the deeds of the flesh.

Colossians Activity #3: Sing Hymns

We are to encourage each other with Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, so go ahead and obey the verse by taking out some hymn books and singing your favorite hymns.

Colossians Activity #4: Cancelled Debt

Print out a sheet of paper with the title “Debt.” You can show negative money numbers listed on the paper. With a pen, mark “Cancelled” over the debt. You could also print the word “Cancelled” on another sheet of paper and glue it over the debt. I outlined the word “Cancelled” with black marker.


Talk about how our debts (our sins against God) have been nailed to the cross and cancelled because of what Christ did for us. You could have kids mention specific sins, and write “Cancelled” in another colored marker over those sins to represent that the sins are now gone because they have been forgiven if we have repented of them.

If you enjoyed these Colossians Activities for Kids, you will love the huge Bible section inside the Unit Study Treasure Vault!

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