Category Archives: family

Fair Trade Friday - we can redeem consumerism

4 Ways to Teach Kids about Fair Trade

I think a lot about intentional parenting. Maybe sometimes too much. But there are many things I want my kids to learn that took me too long to learn, or things we can know so much about now that we didn’t twenty years ago.

One of those things is the idea of fair trade products.

Without going into arguments about the benefits or negatives from living in a capitalist, commerce-focused society, we live in one. And because we live in one, how and where we spend our money matters.

Fair Trade Friday - we can redeem consumerism

Image courtesy of Fair Trade Friday

But how do we explain that to young kids? How much should they know? How much can teaching them about fair trade make a difference?

Of course, I feel like making fair trade a part of normal discussion along with learning about money goes hand-in-hand. Where we spend our money is like voting; our money shows what we support.

I’m still learning how to approach this topic as I learn more and more about fair trade, but here are four ways I’ve come across so far. I’d love to hear your thoughts and strategies.

4 Ways to Teach Kids about Fair Trade

Discuss with Books – Books always make great learning tools, particularly if written well and with personal perspective. Here are just two books that discuss aspects of fair trade.

One Hen

One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference by Katie Smith Milway, illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes (Kids Can Press, 2008)

No Monkeys, No Chocolate

No Monkeys, No Chocolate by Melissa Stewart and Allen Young, illustrated by Nicole Wong (Charlesbridge, 2013)

Make it Tangible – Start with something kids can relate to and hold in their hands. Chocolate is a great example. (See the related book above.) As are clothes, jewelry, tote bags, soaps, and other physical items. Talk about how the product was made. Then talk about how buying that fair trade product over another product allows the person who made it to support their family in safer working conditions, with more money directly to the artisan, and with access to education, health resources, and more. When you learn about where a product was created, learn about that country and those cultures. It’s all real.

Talk about the People Behind the Products – We, as people, respond to other people’s stories. That’s why movies, books, and songs make us cry and laugh, think and explore, and feel hope and inspiration. Someone made the product you’re wearing, using, eating. That someone could have been in terrible working conditions or forced into a slave trade. Or that person may be working with fair trade companies who purposefully seek out ways to help those in need with meaningful, skilled work. Most fair trade partnerships allow more money to go directly to the artisans themselves, rather than through a company/middleman. We can share with our kids how buying something fairly traded allows a family to have food, pursue education, secure safety, and grow. Buying fair trade items is one way to serve and love other people.

Fair Trade Friday - our purchases matter

Image courtesy of Fair Trade Friday

Incorporate Fair Trade Gifts – When we give gifts, we can give fair trade items and be able to tell someone’s story along with those gifts. Kids can help share these stories. Many fair trade companies share real stories of real artisans to connect buyers with the artisans and make these purchases more meaningful. You can find a list of certified fair trade companies here, as well as read about one of my favorites below.

About Fair Trade Friday

Fair Trade Friday - celebrating one year

Image courtesy of Fair Trade Friday

Fair Trade Friday is one of my favorite online shops that supports fair trade artisans around the world and one of my favorite organizations, Mercy House Kenya. Here is Fair Trade Friday’s mission statement:

“Fair Trade Friday (FTF) exists as an avenue for women to empower women. We are tackling poverty through job opportunity and empowerment rather than enablement. 100% of the proceeds support the artisans, more than 500 women and their children from all over the world. FTF is a ministry of Mercy House Kenya, a non-profit organization.”

Fair Trade Friday recently sent me a sample box with fair trade items so I could learn more and share with you. I’m impressed with everything I read from Fair Trade Friday. They currently partner with 27 faith-based organizations in 18 different countries to help empower women and keep women out of dangerous situations. Fair Trade Friday alone helps provide steady jobs for more than 1,000 women. These jobs don’t just help the women, but also their families, and, in turn, their communities.

Fair Trade Friday - changing lives

Image courtesy of Fair Trade Friday

Fair Trade Friday works as a monthly membership club, where you pay a monthly fee and receive a new box of unique fair trade items each month. (You can sign up here, and if there’s a waitlist, you can join it!) I’ve heard from many folks that they save some of the items for gifts at Christmas, year-end teacher gifts, giveaways, and more. Fair Trade Friday also recently began offering an option for the Earring of the Month club. You can also purchase individual items at the online shop, which are great for gifts, as well.

As I look through my pieces, I can’t help but be in awe of the craftsmanship, as well as pray for these women who made these items with their own hands.

Fair Trade Friday soap from Zambia

This soap (which smells amazing) helps women in Zambia through organic farming techniques.

Fair Trade Friday bag from JOYN in India

This bag was made by three women in India. Three! Fair Trade Friday works with the organization JOYN for these bags. A representative for JOYN says this about the partnership:

“Our items are made by some of the most marginalized and oppressed people in the world – individuals with leprosy, disability, those who have grown up begging on the streets, former prostitutes, former addicts. Just one month of Fair Trade Friday’s purchases employed at least 70 of our artisans for over a month. We need more partners like Fair Trade Friday in order for this work to continue to be sustainable. We pray that this partnership grows.”

Every item from Fair Trade Friday comes with some information about who made that item and how we can pray. Fair Trade Friday FairTradeFriday4

Our purchases matter. These lives matter. Read more on the Fair Trade Friday website about the companies they work with, as well as on Mercy House Kenya’s website about ways you – and your kids – can help.

I'm a member of the Fair Trade Friday blogging team

How have you discussed fair trade with your kids? How does your family get involved? What questions do you have about fair trade?

Disclosure: I was given one free sample box of fair trade items from Fair Trade Friday in exchange for my participation on the Fair Trade Friday Blogging Team. All opinions expressed are my own.

I am an affiliate for Amazon Associates and GrapeVine Studies. If you click on an Amazon link or a GrapeVine Studies link and then make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your final cost at all. Thank you for supporting this blog and my family!

This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Jesus Calling for Little Ones

Three Favorite Family Bible Study Items

We’ve been testing out a few options for family Bible study to see what works for our kids as unique learners and us as a family. I’ve loved many resources we’ve been able to review or come across over the years. Some we’re saving for when the kids are older. But here are three we’re using right now and absolutely love:

1. GrapeVine Studies – We love the simplicity and interactive components of GrapeVine Bible studies! We’ve particularly used the traceable formats for our preschoolers, and they’re wonderful for young kids working on fine motor skills. The lessons are short enough for young attention spans, and also work well to spread a unit out over several weeks (with two or three days per week). I’ve reviewed some of the GrapeVine traceables studies on my blog in the past and included ways we adapt the lessons for our child with special needs. GrapeVine also offers studies for older students and multi-level studies for families to complete together.

Grapevine Summer Studies

Keep a watch with GrapeVine. Starting July 15th, they’re having a mega bundle sale!

2. Jesus Storybook Bible – I know I’ve mentioned this one quite a bit, but it’s just so wonderful. The poetic, yet age-appropriate and energetic, way Sally Lloyd-Jones writes this Bible offers a wonderful read aloud. Plus, every story, no matter whether it’s Old Testament or New Testament, focuses on God’s love and telling that story of love through His people and through Christ.

Jesus Storybook Bible

3. Jesus Calling for Little Ones – My daughter is in love with this book. I enjoyed the original version of Jesus Calling for adults and this board book version for young kids picks out some wonderful statements and verses. Each page spread has a sweet and colorful illustration, one focus verse, and 4-5 sentences in the trademark Jesus Calling style of God speaking to the reader.

For example of the style, one page reads: “If you look to the heavens, I am there. If you look to the bottom of the ocean, I am there. I am everywhere! You can be sure I am always with you.”

Jesus Calling for Little Ones

With a good mix of Old Testament and New Testament verses, this little book covers several themes: trusting through fear, prayer, gratitude, trusting God’s plans, joy, forgiveness, worry, God’s presence, and more. There are thirteen total spreads/stanzas.

My daughter loves reading each stanza aloud and talking about the illustrations. My favorite aspect of this format is that one page spread has just enough to allow preschoolers to hear the heart behind a verse and allows us to discuss it as a family and what it means in our daily lives. This board book is great for around ages 1-6, and for older siblings to read and “teach” to younger siblings.

Upcoming: In the next year, I’m very excited to try out the K-3 version of the PictureSmart Bible. I’ve read many good things about this program and was able to check it out in person at our homeschool convention this year, and I think it’ll be wonderful to combine a new tactile component with book overviews!

What are your family’s current favorite Bible study resources? Have you used one of the above resources? Share your experiences in the comments!

Disclosure: I received a free copy of Jesus Calling for Little Ones from the publisher as a part of the BookLook blogger program in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

I am an affiliate for Amazon Associates and GrapeVine Studies. If you click on an Amazon link or a GrapeVine Studies link and then make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your final cost at all. Thank you for supporting this blog and my family!

This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Never Say No: Raising Big-Picture Kids by Mark and Jan Foreman

Offering the Openness of Yes {Book Review – Never Say No by Mark and Jan Foreman}

I’ve read quite a few Christian parenting books, all aiming to share a blend of encouragement to seek after grace-drenched parenting styles and practical tips on everything from talking to your children to discipline to sleep tactics. Some of these books create a bit of disconnect between the author who is seen as a “master” here to teach the reader, while other books effectively reach the reader through sharing personal stories.

Never Say No: Raising Big-Picture Kids by Mark and Jan Foreman

Never Say No: Raising Big-Picture Kids by Mark and Jan Foreman (David C. Cook, 2015) is definitely one of the latter – an inspiring and intriguing book that welcomes to the reader into a journey of growth in parenting, a journey that doesn’t separate the parent from their child, but rather shows a parent and child can grow up together, hand-in-hand.

Mark and Jan take alternating turns telling stories of their own upbringings and of their two sons, Jon and Tim.

Mark and Jan do not dare label themselves as “parenting experts,” but only two people who have stories and lessons they’ve learned to tell. I found myself agreeing quite a bit with much of their parenting ideals, which fostered trust between me and the authors, while still finding I have much to glean from their journeys.

“We never saw ourselves as parenting authorities; we just knew we’d been given two phenomenal kids to be raised. It was more about not messing up God’s ingenious creations.” – p. 17, Never Say No

Mark and Jan begin by breaking down the process they underwent to look at what parenting should accomplish and the why behind it. Did they want kids who thought the main goal of life is to be happy, do good, have success? As believers, that’s often too limiting in scope. Playing their part in God’s story is bigger. And, as parents, to guide our children to their God-given purposes, we need relationship – with both God and our kids.

“Staying close to our children was critical not only for their survival but also for finding their purpose in life. We believed that as we fed and watered our relationship, we would grow our children’s confidence to find themselves in God’s big story.” – p. 34, Never Say No

This couple addresses reflecting on your own childhood and your current ideals as parents to make new family roadmaps, self-sacrifice as the highest form of love, leading by example, creating space for creativity, truly enjoying our children (and realizing that God enjoys us), discipline while still being open to “yeses” and opportunities, raising children who think, and parenting young adults. Through the book, Mark and Jan share their own mistakes and the joy in seeing their own children become unique individuals.

I’m one of those who usually can’t write in books, but because I was writing down a quote from nearly every single page, I may have to take a highlighter to this book in the next read through. I’m reading this book at a perfect time: the start of our “official” homeschool journey. (Mark and Jan didn’t homeschool their kids, yet intentional parenting is essential in homeschooling, so this book is helping shape my home environment!) My husband and I also plan on reading this together to discuss options together.

“An open environment leaves room for wonder and doesn’t try to fill in the blanks. Wonder is the gift that grows a robust imagination. And imagination is what can change the world.” – p. 110, Never Say No

Added bonus: My husband and I have been emphatic fans of Switchfoot for 12+ years. Switchfoot is in the top three kinds of music requested by our young kids in the car (whether it’s a long trip or a short jaunt to the library). It’s absolutely fun to picture young Jon and Tim in the entertaining and sobering stories Mark and Jan share in this book. Plus, I found several spaces where I read a great though from Mark and Jan and thought, Huh, this sounds rather supportive of a certain Switchfoot lyric.

I fully see myself rereading this book in the future, and I can’t say that for most books. I highly recommend parents taking a look at Never Say No.

How do you truly enjoy your children daily? What do you look for in a parenting book?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the Litfuse Publicity Group as a part of their blogger program in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

I am an affiliate for Amazon Associates. If you click on an Amazon link and then make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your final cost at all. Thank you for supporting this blog and my family!

This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

5 Picture Books on Season Transitions {undergodsmightyhand.com}

5 Picture Books About Season Transitions

It’s March 4th – the first Wednesday of March! And that means it is World Read Aloud Day!

LitWorld.org hosts World Read Aloud Day as a way to communicate the need and importance of reading aloud with students and children. Reading aloud provides a model for reading, improves literacy, facilitates connection between parent (or teacher) and child, and celebrates and encourages creativity.

Visit LitWorld online for more information about World Read Aloud Day, as well as resources for home, school, and community. Join in on the fun on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #WRAD15 to find book recommendations and celebration ideas and post your own!

World Read Aloud Day 2015!

Need some ideas for World Read Aloud Day?

How about picture books on transitioning seasons?

5 Picture Books on Season Transitions {undergodsmightyhand.com}

5 Picture Books that Discuss Transitioning Seasons

Hi, Koo! by Jon J Muth

Hi, Koo! by Jon J. Muth (Scholastic, 2014) – This book of haiku poems (get it? Haiku… “hi, Koo!”) offers 26 poems on the four seasons while following an adorable panda bear through seasonal adventures. The haikus are gentle and fluid, and the illustrations are exquisite. Great for read alouds!

Tap the Magic Tree

Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson (Greenwillow Books, 2013) – This picture book remains one of my kids’ favorites. The book takes an interactive form and gives readers directions to follow (tap the tree and turn the page, etc.). As readers complete each action and turn the page, they see their actions “produce” results! Perfect for preschoolers, this book is fun to read aloud and have one or many kids help the tree in the illustrations transition through the each season.

Bunny's First Spring by Sally Lloyd-Jones

Bunny’s First Spring by Sally Lloyd-Jones, illustrated by David McPhail (Zonderkidz, 2015) – Sally Lloyd-Jones is the author of The Jesus Storybook Bible, one of our family’s very favorite children’s bibles. She is able to tell a story with strong emotion and beautifully fluid, yet active phrases. Bunny’s First Spring introduces the reader to a young bunny who bounces in adoration of a spring world full of life and new growth. As the year progresses, the bunny grows and wonders if a tree dropping its fall leaves is sick or if winter means the earth is dying. The bunny’s mother and father assure that waiting will reveal the answer, so the bunny listens and watches nature until its own hibernation period. With a soothing rhythmic tone, this book is perhaps particularly appropriate as a read aloud for parents/guardians and preschool children.

Leaves by David Ezra Stein

Leaves by David Ezra Stein (Putnam, 2007) – This sweet book follows a young bear at the very end of summer and the wonder and discovery of fall. While the book focuses on autumn, all of the seasons are covered, ending with jubilation at the new growth of spring. Preschoolers again will love rejoicing with the bear in this book.

The Lion and The Bird by Marianne Dubuc

The Lion and The Bird by Marianne Dubuc (Enchanted Lion Books, 2014) – This book is plain beautiful, heart-wrenching, and endearing. Rather than the seasons being the focus, the book centers on the unlikely and perfect friendship between a farming lion and a journeying bird. The bird gets hurt and Lion helps bandage it, but the bird is unable to fly away with its migrating flock. The lion helps the bird recuperate through the cold winter as they enjoy a strengthening friendship. However, when spring returns, so does the bird’s flock. What will become of their friendship? This book also leans heavily on illustrations over words allowing younger readers to help narrate the story in their own words. My favorite line: “But winter doesn’t feel all that cold with a friend.” A beautiful book everyone needs to read – together.

How about you? What books will you be reading this World Read Aloud Day?

I am an affiliate for Signing Time and Amazon Associates. If you click on a Signing Time link or Amazon and then make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your final cost at all. Thank you for supporting this blog and my family!

This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Small Talk by Amy Julia Becker

Listening and Learning {Book Review – Small Talk by Amy Julia Becker}

Ever since my son was 1 or 2 years old, I’ve said that I’ve learned much more from being parent than I ever did in the years in was a public school teacher. And that statement keeps growing in truth.

Small Talk by Amy Julia Becker

Amy Julia Becker shares numerous examples of this growth in her book Small Talk: Learning from My Children About What Matters Most (Zondervan, 2014). This memoir-style book follows Amy Julia’s journey through several years of parenting two, then three, children, including one of whom has Down Syndrome. This series of stories encourages readers and highlights how we can see grace in the small moments of our lives.

“In the midst of snow days and sickness, in the midst of yelling and tears, grace enters in.” – p. 12, Small Talk

Amy Julia tells the story in present tense with some past tense reflections to draw readers in. She lets the reader know in the introduction that this is not a how-to book. She utilizes a lot of “I think” and “I wonder” and “I understand” sentences to show her own thought processes and conclusions on what she’s learning as she grows along with her children.

My favorite components of these stories are the family conversations. The dialogues between children (child-to-child and child-to-parent) are so realistic and so pure. Any parent can identify, and, as a parent of a child with multiple special needs, I especially relate to many of those conversations and specific fears. She doesn’t present herself as perfect, and these thoughtful stories help spur reflections of the reader’s own family and circumstances.

She covers holding on to certain things, letting go of others. Her children help her realize the importance of forgiveness, understanding, growth. She recounts stories of waiting, of tragedy, of community, of understanding dependence, of marriage. All while exploring God’s presence in all of it.

The reader won’t leave this book with all the answers, and the reader might not even agree with all of the author’s conclusions. But the book will allow readers to marvel in the insightfulness of children and the ability to reflect and grow, no matter one’s situation.

“…But the reminder of God’s promises quiets my soul. A gentle encouragement to trust. This Christian life of ours if messy and mysterious and beautiful. Like water, running down and spilling over.” – p. 219, Small Talk

What have you learned most from your children?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher (through the BookLook bloggers program) in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Disclosure: I am an affiliate for Signing Time and Amazon Associates. If you click on a Signing Time link or Amazon and then make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your final cost at all. Thank you for supporting this blog and my family!

Shop Signing Time

This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.