Earth Day (April 22) is a great opportunity to teach children about appreciating the marvels of Creation and taking care of the beautiful Earth we have been given. Here are some free stories, presentations, videos, coloring pages and activity sheets that can be used at home, school or other group gatherings to help children better understand and appreciate the importance of caring for nature.
Presentations & Devotional Articles
Image courtesy of Susy Morris via Flickr.
If you are a teacher looking for ESL ideas for the Christmas season or a parent who wants to help a child improve his or her English while on vacation, then this post is for you. This list of free resources, and ideas can help you make any English class fun and educational without having to spend a lot of time creating your own flashcards, booklets and teaching materials.
Common Christmas Flashcards - Can be printed with only the pictures or with pictures and words.
Flashcards of the Story of the First Christmas - Various bilingual versions are available for free download:
Stories & Comics
The Story of the First Christmas - This story accompanies the flashcards listed above. You can also watch the video in English for further review. Click on one of the following links to download the book that is best for your class:
The Home of Your Heart – A simple children’s comic explaining the true meaning of Christmas.
Songs are catchy, making it easy for kids to remember English words. Here are some good ones for little kids or new learners:
Jingle Bells – This classic song is so well known that kids are almost expected to learn it
I’d like to be a Christmas Tree – Another simple yet classic song. It’s short and repetitive so young learners will grasp it easily. Click here for the lyrics.
We Wish You a Merry Christmas – This version is pretty simple for children to learn. Click here for the lyrics.
My Christmas Events (color or black and white): Christmas is a special time of year with plenty to look forward to! Print out this poster and write down some of the events you can enjoy this Christmas season. Are there Christmas outings or events you are planning? Write those down. Or maybe there will be baking projects, gift-wrapping for friends, or carol singing? Add those to the list, and see how your Christmas season fills up with fun-filled events that you can share with family and friends. (Courtesy of My Wonder Studio)
Christmas Card Frames – Printable Christmas cards for little children. The cards have borders but leave plenty of room for children to draw a picture on the outside and then write a short message on the inside. (Courtesy of My Wonder Studio)
Christmas Bingo – Can be printed in color or black and white. A great game for helping children remember the words learned from their Christmas flashcards.
Christmas stories and plays
The Story of the First Christmas - Available in various bilingual formats. Click on the download choice that is best for your classroom:
The Story of Santa Claus – The story of the first Santa Claus, available in various bilingual formats:
As Little Ones – A cute story for children. It can be downloaded as a coloring book to help kids learn the words and can also be adapted into a Christmas play for a small class.
Santa Claus’ Secret: A short play adapted from the book listed above. Text is in English and Traditional Chinese.
The Story of the First Christmas: A short play of the story of the First Christmas, adapted from the play in Treasure Attic: Christmas Friends (see link for video below)
Treasure Attic: Christmas Friends – A half-hour Christmas show that includes songs, stories and fun dialog that most children will understand fairly easily. Click here to watch it on Tudou.
The Story of the First Christmas – English with Simplified Chinese subtitles. It’s on Tudou, China’s video-sharing website, making it a good choice for ESL teachers in China.
Charlie Brown Christmas – A cute cartoon from the famous “Peanuts” comics about Christmas. Alternatively, this video shows the same story but is read slowly by a native English speaker. It’s on Tudou, China’s video-sharing website, making it a good choice for ESL teachers in China.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas – A classic cartoon about how the Grinch tried to steal Christmas from Whoville.
Jesus our Savior – This one is great to sing on stage as each child can have a part to sing. Click here to download the words.
Silent Night – Download the free bilingual coloring book so kids can learn the words easily:
Christmas Cards: Nothing shows love at Christmas like a basket full of Christmas cards. The holidays are often the one time of year we hear from long ago friends and distant family. For intermediate students, point out that many card senders often add a personal greeting before signing their name. Have these students design their own card and then personalize at least two with a little note at the bottom for different friends and family members. (Adapted from FluentU’s English Educator Blog)
Christmas Paper Stocking – Children learn how to make stockings for people in their family and then add papers listing kind deeds they want to do for people in their family. (Courtesy of My Wonder Studio)
Stories & Plays
Christmas Around the World: Learn about Christmas traditions in countries around the world as well as common traditions and decorations used worldwide. Available in the following bilingual formats:
A King is Born – The story of the first Christmas for older children.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas – The classic story by Dr. Seuss about a creature who learns to appreciate Christmas.
A Christmas Carol – There are many adaptations of this story but this one is likely to be the most interesting for older children. It is written as a comic book and the main characters are listed before the story begins, making it fairly easy to adapt into a Christmas play.
A Christmas Carol (reader) – If you want your class to practice reading the book instead of just listening to it, then this book will be perfect. It is a fairly advanced reader but not too hard for children who still need English reading practice.
The Christmas Star – An adaptation of a Mexican Christmas Legend. Can be downloaded in various bilingual formats:
A Christmas Guest – Adapted from a well-known Christmas legend. Can be downloaded in various bilingual formats:
Wise Men from the East – Epiphany (also known as Kings Day or Three Kings Day) is celebrated in countries in South America and Europe. If you want to teach your class about the history of the holiday then this presentation is ideal. It can be downloaded in various bilingual formats:
The Grinch who Stole Christmas: This play is an adaptation of the story of the Grinch done by a Christian school. The cast includes about 20 characters, making it ideal for large groups to perform; however, it can be adapted fairly easily for smaller groups.
A Christmas Carol (cartoon) – Cartoons aren’t just for little kids. This one uses old English words that you will need to explain to your students throughout the video. You will probably want to read one of the Christmas Carol books listed above before watching this half-hour cartoon.
Christmas Letters – Show your advanced students some examples of a Christmas letter, which some families write to catch up friends and family on the happenings of their spouse and children. Encourage your students to think about the past year, to identify important events and milestones, and then have them write a Christmas letter to include in their cards. (Adapted from FluentU’s English Educator Blog)
Christmas Word Puzzle - In this enjoyable puzzle worksheet, students race to write down 20 Christmas words by matching numbers to letters. Each student is given a copy of the worksheet. Working alone, the students look at the numbers for each word and find the corresponding letters in the chart on the worksheet. The students then write the Christmas word in the space provided. When a student thinks they have finished, their answers and spelling are checked. The first student to complete the worksheet correctly wins. When everyone has finished, the correct answers and meaning of each word are reviewed as a class. (Courtesy of TeachThis.com)
Christmas Word Search - In this entertaining worksheet, students have to find words relating to Christmas in a word search. This word search can be used to review spelling and Christmas vocabulary. An answer key is provided. (Courtesy of TeachThis.com)
Mammoth Christmas Crossword – This one is pretty challenging but can be great for advanced students. (Courtesy of My Wonder Studio)
12 Days of Christmas – A fun traditional Christmas carol. It’s a bit long but not too hard for advanced students. Click here for the words.
Joy to the World – A traditional Christmas carol.
O Holy Night – A traditional Christmas carol. Click here for the words.
Parenting is more than comforting children when they fall down, or making sure they get proper nutrition, and brush their teeth, and so on. Parents are responsible for their children’s spiritual training as well.
You can constantly point a child towards the Lord, even from the time he or she is born, by talking to them about Jesus. You can pass a knowledge of the Bible on to them by daily using Bible story books and other devotional materials appropriate for their age.
Following are some links to free online devotionals for toddlers, preschoolers and young children. These short, illustrated books, booklets and presentations will grab your little one’s attention and make him want to learn more about Jesus.
Free Devotional Books:
Big Thoughts for Little Minds – This series of five books brings key Bible passages to life in a relatable way for young children. The books include simple text, colorful illustrations and points for discussion to help little kids better understand Biblical principles. Click the following links to read or download the books for free:
currently on sale for less than $1.00 each)
Jesus and Me – A series of books with messages from Jesus for children on themes such as: waking up, bedtime, kindness, healthy habits, learning new things, guardian angels, and protection. Click the following links to read or download the books for free:
Free Devotional Series:
Bright Pebbles – Bright Pebbles is a collection of Christian and character-building books written for children ages four on up. Each devotional is built on a Bible verse, and explains to a child in simple terms what the principles of that verse mean and how it applies to daily living. Bright Pebbles are made by My Wonder Studio and there are currently over 85 of these devotionals posted online in pdf format for easy downloading. Additionally, a compilation of two books from this series can be downloaded in epub and mobi format.
My little talks with Jesus – An ongoing series of short, devotional articles where Jesus talks with little children about day to day issues such as happiness, trying new things, forgiveness, going to sleep at night and more. This series is created by My Wonder Studio and all articles are in .pdf format for easy downloading.
One kind deed at a time – A series of ten devotional articles on the topic of kindness, consideration and forgiveness. Each devotional includes a Bible verse and practical ideas to put the article into action. This series is created by My Wonder Studio and all articles are in .pdf format for easy downloading.
Other Free Devotionals for Little Kids
Devotionals from the Freekidstories Website - Freekidstories offers a range of free children’s devotional resources for babies, toddlers and preschoolers, including presentations of songs, illustrated simplified Bible verses and short devotional articles.
My Wonder Studio - The My Wonder Studio website is dedicated to creating free children’s stories, devotionals and activities that can be read online or downloaded at no charge. You can find materials for children ages 0-5 years here or check out stories and devotionals listed by category.
Nurture, Inspire, Teach: Nurture, Inspire, Teach is a website dedicated to providing very affordable online devotionals for children, teenagers and parents. Following are links to the site’s children’s devotionals for little ones. Free sample are available on each page, while full devotionals booklets are available for $1.00 apiece:
You can also find numerous free Bible stories online that your little ones are sure to enjoy. Some of these are available as PowerPoints while others are in .pdf and/or ebook format.
Image courtesy of Microsoft Clipart
Updated June 2017!
Families that share that common connection with God, whom the Bible calls love itself (1 John 4:8), are closer, more loving, more unified, and have far fewer serious problems among themselves than families that don’t. Why?—Because they have the most important things in common, besides a clear standard of right and wrong—the spiritual guidance and support they need to make the right decisions and stick to them.
Click on the links for free illustrated and simplified Bible stories for children:
Basic Old Testament Stories – Simple, colorful and nicely illustrated Old Testament stories for children. The stories found here include Creation, Noah and the Ark, Joseph, Moses, David and Goliath and Jonah. All stories are in PowerPoint presentation format; just right click an image and then select “save file as” or “save as” to download any Bible story onto your computer.
Basic New Testament Stories – New Testament stories found at this link include Jesus Calls 12 Disciples, The Good Samaritan, Jesus feeds 5,000, Jesus calms a storm, Jesus Heals a Blind Beggar, Lazarus lives again, The 10 Lepers, The Lost Sheep and The Prodigal Son.
The above stories are in PowerPoint presentation format; just right click an image and then select “save file as” or “save as” to download any Bible story onto your computer. All the books that can be downloaded from the list below are in .pdf format and there are some that can also be downloaded in epub or mobi ebook format
Tiny Bible Treasures: Tiny Bible Treasures is a series of New Testament Bible stories illustrated by French artist Didier Martin. The stories have large illustrations and a minimal amount of text, making them ideal for very small children. These can either be read online or downloaded in .pdf format from the site itself or from Scribd. Following are links to the stories available in this series so far:
Free Bible Books
These Bibles for babies, toddlers and preschoolers are available from various publishers. Some may be downloaded; others no; however, all are ideal for very young children and can be viewed online for free.
My First Baby Bible – Unique children’s bible created using photo illustrations of babies and young children. Includes six short, attention-grabbing stories in both English and Spanish that young kids are sure to enjoy; these are Creation, Noah, Moses, David, Daniel and the Birth of Jesus. Created by Gold Quill; available to read online and download.
You n’ Me Baby Bible – This is a preview of the full book and includes eight different Old Testament stories (Creation, Noah, Abraham and Isaac, Joseph, Moses, Ruth and Hannah). Created by Scandinavia Publishing. (can be read online but not downloaded)
Great Adventures of the Bible – This is a preview of the full book and includes six basic New Testament stories for children. (Christmas, Jesus as a child, Feeding the 5,000, Jesus and the children, Resurrection of Jesus). Created by Aurora Productions. Available to read online and download.
Stories of the Bible – Basic Bible stories from the Old and New Testaments for children, courtesy of Scandinavia Publishing (can be read online but not downloaded)
Parables of the Bible – Parables of Jesus for toddlers. Includes the Parable of the Lost Sheep, The Prodigal Son, House on the Rock and the Lost Coin. Courtesy of Scandinavia Publishing; can be read online but not downloaded.
Angel Stories in the Bible – Stories of Angels from the Old Testament and New Testament. Text is short and to the point and the attractive illustrations are sure to catch the attention of any toddler or preschooler. Produced by Scandinavia Publishing; can be read online but not downloaded.
Ready – Set – Find!: Short Bible story books for children with simple text. These books give the children an opportunity to participate in the event by finding key people and things in the illustration. Available from Scandinavia Publishing (can read online but not download). Following are the books in this series:
Joy! Kids Bible Stories: The Good and Beautiful Jesus
Joy! Kids Bible Stories: Trusting God
Joy! Kids Bible Stories: God’s Miracles
Joy! Kids Bible Stories: Friendship
YesKids Bible Stories about Love
YesKids Bible Stories about God’s Greatness
YesKids Bible Stories about Jesus
Bible Stories: Obedience – This bilingual book (English and Spanish) features four well known Bible stories about obedience. Can be read online and downloaded
The Life of Jesus for Children – Contains two dozen stories from the life of Jesus, starting with His birth and ending with His return. It is ideal for older preschoolers but can be read to younger children. You can also download this ebook for kids for free in epub or mobi format.
The Story of Jesus for Preschoolers – Bilingual book (English and Spanish) about the life of Jesus. Unlike many other Bible books, this booklet focuses on the reason why Jesus came to earth instead of recounting specific miracles and parables in depth. It is ideal for toddlers and very young children and can be downloaded as well as read online.
Bible Passages and Prayers
The Lord’s Prayer – A simple yet engaging presentation of the Lord’s Prayer, with text in English and Spanish. Can be read online or downloaded.
The Beatitudes – The Beatitudes for children. This presentation has colorful, attention grabbing pictures with simple text that young kids can easily understand. Can be read online or downloaded.
The Blessing - "The Lord bless you and keep you...". Text is in English and Spanish and the booklet can be read online or downloaded.
Psalm 23 - The well-known "The Lord is my Shepherd" psalm. The book has colorful illustrations, text in English and Spanish and can be downloaded.
Psalm 100 - A psalm of praise to the Lord. The book has colorful illustrations, text in English and Spanish and can be downloaded.
Psalm 148 - A Creation Praise for children. The colorful illustrations and easy to remember text will make it easy for kids to learn this psalm of gratitude to God. The book is in English and Spanish and can be read online or downloaded
Dial Into Heaven - The Dial into Heaven series is a fun and exciting way of introducing toddlers to the prayers and promises of the Bible (The following story books can be read online but not downloaded)
On the way home after an evening outing with some friends, I asked my youngest if he had a good time.
“Sort of,” he answered. “But the kids on the playground were teasing me.”
“About what?” I asked. He sometimes reacts strongly to comments, so I assumed it wasn’t a big deal.
“Eric said he saw a picture of me sleeping while doing homework, and then Leslie said she saw it too, and all the kids started laughing.”
I didn’t know how to respond. I had posted a photo on Facebook of my son sleeping at his desk, his homework beside him. I had thought it was cute. My son puts his all into his activities, but when he’s tired, he’s tired. And he sleeps.
It runs in my family. My siblings and I know that once we reach a certain point of fatigue, we can’t push past it. Sleep is the only solution. My son has somehow learned that early. When he’s tired, even if it’s when we’re about to sing happy birthday at a party or when he’s supposed to be finishing up his homework, he will sleep.
My husband and I understand that and work around it. Our son’s teachers, for the most part, have also been understanding that at times he might fall asleep at his desk. I try to get him to bed on time when he’ll have an early morning or a long day.
Parents and teachers generally understand these things. Other kids often don’t.
When I posted the photo, I didn’t think about the possibility of parents showing their kids the “cute” post, which in the mind of a child might not be “cute” but “silly” or “funny” or “embarrassing.” Material to tease with.
Something I had done unthinkingly caused my son hurt. It cast him in a negative light in the minds of his friends. They probably forgot about it a minute later, and they were all playing again. But that moment, I had to admit to my boy that it wasn’t their fault; it was mine.
I pulled up the Facebook photo and showed it to my son, saying, “I posted this photo of you the other day. I didn’t think anyone would tease you about it.” Then I promised, “I won’t post anything of you unless I ask you first.” I already have that agreement with other members of my immediate family, but I didn’t think it would matter to my youngest. I was wrong.
It’s strange I would make a mistake like that. Thinking back to my own childhood, my strongest emotions resulted from teasing. I can remember half a dozen separate occasions, before the age of five, where I was brought to tears by teasing. Painful moments tend to remain in the mind and the heart long after the echo of the actual words fade.
How often do my own words or side comments have the same effect as those children on the playground? When I’m trying to focus on work, and after one too many interruptions, snap at the kids, telling them to leave me alone so I can get something done. Or when they’re arguing and I can’t stand the contention, so I tell them I don’t care who said what and whose fault it is—I just want peace.
After careful reflection, I vowed to see every moment of life through the eyes of my child.That’s not a promise I can make, nor one I can keep, but it is something I can try. Not a once-and-for-all decision, but a moment-by-moment choice. To slow down. To think. To pray. To love.
Photo and article courtesy of Activated magazine. Used by permission.
By Joyce Suttin
Bo was our golden lab who loved to swim in our pool. He lived for his exercise, and the pool was his domain. One day, my son was learning new strokes and tried the dead man’s float. Bo decided his boy was in imminent danger and jumped into the pool to rescue him. Instinctively, he pushed my son’s head up and held onto him with his paws in an effort to save his life. My poor son choked and sputtered as he tried to keep Bo away and ended up with water in his lungs and a chest full of scratches.
I praised Bo as he shook water all over me in his zealousness to get my opinion of the event. I knew that he’d accomplished more harm than good, but I could relate, because I know I’ve often done the same thing in my interactions with others.
I was talking with someone the other day about their relationship with their teenager and offered my advice. After forty-some years of parenting, grand-parenting, and teaching teenagers, my wisdom was really quite simple: “Don’t take things personally.”
It’s hard not to react with annoyance, anger, or sensitivity when you feel like you are being rebuffed. It’s hard not to take unkind words or actions personally, not to think of all the times when there were other things you wanted to do, but you stopped and listened and attended to your kids’ needs.
It’s hard to stand on the edge of the proverbial pool and watch and pray, knowing you have said all that needs to be said and done what you could. Now is the time to just step back a bit and let them try. Let them make the clumsy dive. Let them try the new strokes. Let them imitate their friends. But don’t jump into the pool like Bo and try to rescue them prematurely. Just watch and wait in case they call for help. And pray. Because in the end, prayer and unconditional love are really what will make a difference.
If they eventually call out to you, don’t berate them for all the times they didn’t. If they knock on your door, don’t tell them you’re too busy. Be the anchor. Be the rock. Be the stable place in the unstable world and let them know that things will be all right. Then treasure that moment with your arms around them again, and give them faith to jump back in the pool.
Joyce Suttin is a retired teacher and writer and lives in San Antonio, USA.
Text and image courtesy of Activated magazine.
Teenagers and young adults are especially vulnerable to substance abuse and getting addicted. Early intervention by parents, family, and educators can go a long way. However, many parents get confused when they learn their kids are using drugs and have no clue how to proceed. If you or anyone close to you is having trouble with a struggling teen, this guide has everything you need to know.
By Anna Perlini
My son Jonathan was born in a small Indian village, during the time my husband and I were serving there as volunteers. Like many Indian kids, he grew up eating rice, dahl, chapatis, and the incredible, colorful variety of tropical fruit available at every street corner.
Although he wasn’t yet five when we moved back to Europe, it took him a while to get adjusted to the new environment and particularly the new foods. At first, he looked very suspiciously at and dissected every bit of pasta on his plate. He had always been a slow eater, but he surely took his time to embrace Italian cuisine! Eventually, his memories of India and Indian food did fade. In those days, globalization hadn’t quite kicked in yet, and the only produce available in Italian supermarkets was seasonal Italian produce.
However, passing by a newly opened delicacies store one day, I spotted a mango! It was quite expensive, but Jonathan’s 11th birthday was just around the corner, and I thought it would be such a great treat for him to get to savor one of his favorite early childhood fruits.
I bought and packaged the mango, and invited my preteen son for a walk. Then we stopped on a bench and I solemnly presented my gift, telling him it would bring back memories from the past. Jonathan slowly opened the package and held the colorful mango in his hands for what seemed like a long time. No reaction.
“Mom, I really can’t remember. Sorry.”
I felt a bit disappointed. “Well, you should still try it. I promise you, you loved them when you were small.” With the same suspicious look he’d given his first Italian dishes years before, Jonathan took a small bite. Then another one, then more. Still, no reaction. Then … the seed appeared, and Jonathan’s eyes lit up.
“Mom, now I remember! I do! I remember how fun it was sucking on the seed!” And along with that memory, many more started rushing through this thinker of a boy. We talked and talked, reminiscing on other events and memories from the past.
From this episode with my son, I remember thinking how important it is to hold on just a bit longer when things don’t seem to click or make sense. As a mother, it was another confirmation that whatever we sow in our children’s youngest years will never be forgotten. It might seem like it is at times … but wait till they get to the seed!
Courtesy of Activated magazine; used by permission. Photo by Free Images via Freepik.com
Your child's first day of school or kindergarten is always a moment for pause. Suddenly your toddler is no longer and your 4 or 5 year old is heading out to pastures anew. While it is an exciting time, it can also be quite stressful for both the child and the parents, so removing first day jitters is a number one priority. Good organization and planning will help some of the way, along with being alert for signs of a child's unease and aiming to relieve any potential for distress.
Visit the school or kindergarten in advance
Many schools and kindergartens encourage the student and parents to attend the place before term starts. This way, the child and parents can both become familiar with the location, layout and look of the school. Look for such areas as the classroom, bathroom and cafeteria. This will be a good visual reassurance for your child and will help you to discuss things about the classroom, grounds, lunch area with your child in advance and during school year.
Meet the teacher
It is very important to meet the teacher in advance if possible. That way, both you and your child will feel comfortable with knowing her or him before class commences. This will also ensure that your child recognizes a familiar face immediately upon the first day of class.
Obtain the school handbook
It is important to know the expectations of the school in advance. Ask for a copy and read it well. If you have any questions about the rules, the requests for money etc., ask them as soon as possible. It is also important to work through the rules with your child so that she or he is aware of what is expected during school attendance.
Shop together to obtain school supplies
A big part of the fun is getting school supplies and this should be a shared experience. Following the supplies list given to you by your school, within the boundaries it gives you can allow your child to select his or her own favorite items to take to school. Often there will be leeway on a pencil case style or name stickers etc. that will allow you to personalize your child's things. If the school supplies most of the items already, you can still buy some personalized items such as a pencil case or backpack.
Obtain a class schedule
This will allow you to discuss the day's activities with your child in advance. Try to link this with the things that you do everyday so that the child begins to see the connection between daily schedules of things to do and routine that all of us practice.
From the start, it is really important to get into a routine of being organized, both for you and for your child. Together pack the backpack with the school items. Together select the outfit to wear (or lay out the uniform). In the morning, it can be a great thing to start preparing lunches together as early on as possible. That way, your child has a stake in making healthy lunches and will eventually evolve into packing his or her own lunch a grade or so down the track. Early good habits last.
Reassure your child
Spend time together before school commences talking about school, about your own love of learning and about the friendships that develop at school. Boost your child's confidence by telling positive experiences and of all the things your child will enjoy about school.
Be supportive but also learn to let go
On the first day, give plenty of hugs and reassurance but also be balanced and let go. If you have done a good job beforehand of emphasizing all the positives of attending school and you have involved your child in all the preparations, this should be an exciting and fun opportunity for your child and he or she should feel more willing to attend. Tell your child you'll be waiting for her or him at day's end and be sure to be on time!