Charlton Heston in the 1956 blockbuster film The Ten Commandments plays out in 20 minutes shy of a full 4 hours and could be considered torture for almost any kiddo. That said, its a gem of an epic classic film and a terrific homeschool family resource for teaching about the Passover. We watch it almost every year but I do my best to keep it fun and interesting. Keep reading below to see how I keep things interesting.
Spread It Out
We never watch it in one sitting or even one day. Often the evening begins by reading the scripture that pairs with the scenes we will be viewing.
- Day 1: Moses Drawn Out of Water – Exodus 2:1-10
- Day 2: The Burning Bush – Exodus 3
- Day 3: Let My People Go – Exodus 5-6:1-8
- Day 4: The Plagues & The Release – Exodus 7-12:17-42
- Day 5: The Parting of the Red Sea – Exodus 13:17-15:21
- Day 6: The Golden Calf – Exodus 32
- Day 7: The 10 Commandments – Exodus 20:1-21
Edible Plague Night
I will admit that the most anticipated and remembered night is when we eat the ten plagues and discuss the Ancient Eqyptian myths that each one mocks. We give each child a basket to catch their plagues in instead of baskets and candy on Resurrection Sunday. See the pictures below for the names of the Egyptian myth associated with each plague. And yes, my kids eat the real crickets! I didn’t.
- Plague 1: Nile Turns to Blood – Strawberry Applesauce or Juice
- Plague 2: Frogs Invade Egypt – Gummy Frogs
- Plague 3: Lice – Sno-Caps
- Plague 4: Flies – Gummy Flies
- Plague 5: Livestock Dies – Frosted Sprinkled Animal Crackers
- Plague 6: Boils – Bullseye Candy
- Plague 7: Hail & Fire – Mini Marshmallows and Red Hots
- Plague 8: Locusts – Crickets
- Plague 9: Darkness – Oreos with Eyes
- Plague 10: First Born Dies – Sour Patch Kids
In an effort to help keep Jesus a focal point in our living room and not the television, we constructed and hung a large cross for our living room wall. I say “we constructed” but in reality it was the effort of my handy husband. Along with being a visual reminder of our savior’s work on the cross, it also serves as a prayer wall. Nails placed all over the cross act as a place for us to hang our burdens, prayers, and thankfulness in written form – if we choose. The nails also serve as a reminder of our sins being nailed to the cross of Jesus. Being the horse loving family that we are – the nails we selected for this project are farrier nails. I thought they looked like miniature versions of the stakes used in the hands and feet of Jesus.
He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us, he took it away, nailing it to the cross. Colossians 2:14-15
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
Passion Week Preparations
When Passion Week comes along we make a few additions to our cross. First, we cover our cross with a curtain made to resemble the one used in the temple. This is the curtain that would have separated people from God. We did our best to adhere to the instructions in Exodus 26:31 “Make a veil of blue, purple, and scarlet yarn, with cherubim skillfully worked into it.” but my golden cherubim look more like golden plump pigeons might not meet God’s “skillfully” done requirement. This is just another reason to be thankful Jesus took this requirement away from us.
Along with the curtain, we hang a purple robe, a staff made from a stick, a crown of thorns, and a sign that reads “King of the Jews”. If the purple robe looks a little rough its because we found it in the dress-up bin. I believe I made that for my oldest daughter during her Narnia phase. Not a penny was spent making the curtain or the accessories. The fabric was in my scrap bin and the crown of thorns and staff were compliments of nature right here on the farm. I don’t remember but I wouldn’t doubt that the sign was made using cardboard from pizza the night before. “They dressed him in a purple robe, and they wove thorn branches into a crown and put it on his head. And they began to call out to him, “Hail, king of the Jews!” Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him.” Mark 15:17-19
GOOD FRIDAY CHANGES IT ALL
“And the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.” Mark 15:38 As Jesus died on the cross, the temple curtain was torn in two signifying our ability to have fellowship with him through his son. Hidden in our homemade curtain is a vertical strip of Velcro. When Good Friday arrives, the kiddos get to rip the curtain – year after year. The cross has a light feature mounted behind it which remains off during the dark three days following the death of Christ. Come Easter morning the light is turned on as we celebrate our risen savior!
In Him and through faith in Him we may enter God’s presence with boldness and confidence. Ephesians 3:12
Do You Have a Special Tradition?
Do you have a Easter tradition that helps your family keep their focus on Jesus Christ? Please share your ideas in the comments. Thank you for reading. Have a blessed day!
Our family just finished reading Little Pilgrim’s Progress and following along with Little Pilgrim’s Progress Adventure Guide. Pilgrim’s Progress is an allegorical book written by John Bunyan in 1678 about a Christian’s spiritual journey. Little Pilgrim’s Progress is a children’s version of the book written in 1947 by Helen Taylor. Taylor simplifies the language and vocabulary while keeping the story true to Bunyan’s original work. Afterwards we watched the 2008 film Pilgrim’s Progress. My kids were not super impressed with the movie – its a bit cheesy, but it still served as a decent way to visualize the book and reinforce the learning. We did enjoy the Pilgrim’s Progress board game. It comes with a nicely illustrated children’s book that summarizes the story. Literally the minute we finished reading Little Pilgrim’s Progress, I learned of an animated version being played in theaters during Passion Week 2019. God’s timing has no coincidences. We don’t see many movies in the theater but felt led to support the Christian entertainment industry and indulge ourselves in the treat. The animated version of Pilgrim’s Progress will ONLY be in theaters April 18th and 20th. Since our theater had just two show times we purchased our tickets in advance.
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Purchase the Pilgrim’s Progress movie here:
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Purchase your copy of the Little Pilgrim’s Progress Adventure Guide here:
I admit it – Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love the fall weather, colors and setting aside a time each year to reflect on our blessings big and small. I don’t like to rush from Halloween straight to Christmas because it takes away my opportunity to focus on thankfulness. That said, before Thanksgiving is even here, I am already making my Christmas list and checking it a million times. I am mostly an unschooling kind of mom too, so the lists are not a normal part of our life. The month slips by quickly though and having a list and calendar helps us not miss out on our favorite traditions. Here are some of our favorite traditions – not in any particular order.
Visit a living Nativity
Our favorite nearby is “Walk Through Bethlehem” at Grace Baptist Church in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Others have popped up here and there over the years but GBC is our most memorable and longstanding tradition. If you have a favorite, please post about it in the comments section. It might just mean a road trip for us!
Learn About St. Nicholas
St. Nicholas Day is on December 6th and we love to teach the children about the Christian man we know as St. Nick. We read books, do crafts, and make nummy foods. The children look forward to their farm boots being filled with nuts, oranges and chocolate coins. Check out the ultimate website devoted to nothing but St. Nick.
Go see our favorite local Christmas light show – Christmas Lights By Jackie Cherry in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The display is put to music. The best part is you don’t have to take kids out into the cold or rain to enjoy. You can park and the music plays on your car radio. If you chose to walk their yard, they have hot chocolate and cookies waiting for you in the backyard. They have a donation box near the house where you can elect to give to the charity they support…or not. This year we might go back to Lights Under Louisville. Where is your favorite place in or near Kentucky?
Build a gingerbread village. After Christmas, I buy discounted gingerbread kits. The following year we have an inexpensive fun activity. Instead of eating our creations, we wait for New Year’s and give them to our horses and pony as a treat. One year we used leftover 4th of July firecracker’s to demolish our gingerbread village while filming from behind a plexi-glass wall. There have been years when we didn’t use the kits and went all out making our own gingerbread from scratch or used a variety of pretzels and crackers. It all depends on the budget of both time and money.
We make 3D snowflakes to decorate the house. Some are still hanging in June – just saying. This is our favorite instructional video.
Make fake snow. We don’t get much of the real stuff here in southern Kentucky. Buy it here
Christmas Movies & Themed Treats
Watch Christmas movies and make themed treats. Powdered Sugar Donuts on a Stick Snowmen , Grinch Themed Snacks , Narnia Turkish Delights, and Polar Express Hot Chocolate. Note on the Turkish Delight: we have made it from scratch once. It was time consuming and tricky. You can skip the rose water. We have relatives in London that send us Christmas Turkish Delight. Much easier. If you are short on relatives in England, give this store a try. Honestly, I think Turkish Delight is icky but my kids love it.
Make a Jesse Tree. A Jesse Tree celebrates the genealogy of Christ with ornaments that represent or help tell the story of the person or event in his family. Isaiah 11:1 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. You can buy a small potted evergreen tree to decorate with Jesse Tree Ornaments. When finished, plant outside. Each year you add another tree building a Jesse Trees of the past forest. Budget too small for a real tree? Use an artificial tree, make one from pallet wood or draw one on wrapping paper and hang on the wall. An excellent devotional book to use along with a Jesse Tree is “Unwrapping the Greatest Gift” . Don’t want to buy it new? I have seen it on ThriftBooks used. I just found a link to a free printable pdf file that contains a complete devotional by the same author with printable color ornaments – Click here. If you want something that will require less printer ink that the kids can color, click here. Our Jesse Tree started out with construction paper ornaments – Ruth’s wedding ring was made from foil – and over 15 years have become more detailed. Don’t feel pressured to have a big elaborate tree with the entire genealogy of Christ. Pick a few this year and add more each year. My kids each pick one ornament a night to hang on the tree. Before they can hang it on the tree, they tell us about the person or event it represents.
Learning Through Crafting
Truth in the Tinsel is a great devotional for little ones with simple craft projects for each day.
Sing and Ring
Be bell ringers for the Salvation Army or make a donation. Visit a local Salvation Army and see what they do. Our favorite is in Lebanon, Tennessee – here is a link to their website. Sergeants Tom and Raechel Freeman along with a core of serious volunteers pour the love of Christ into the children and families in their county. Their after school program for children living in nearby HUD homes is in a league of it’s own – children are fed a meal, helped with the core subjects, character building class, art, music, sports and more. On Sundays they have a worship service and time of teaching and their cafe, The Roast, is open on the weekends to offer the community an alternative to bars.
Watch a parade or be in one.
Fun with Pets
Wrap new tennis balls in Christmas paper and film your beloved family dog sniffing out his gift among many and opening them with his paws and teeth. R.I.P. Miles Norman Beasley. Christmas won’t be the same without you buddy.
Feed the Birds
Make edible gifts for the wild birds. My kids love decorating the shrubs and trees outside our windows with strings of popcorn and cranberries. This link has directions for edible garland and more edible bird gifts.
Bake for Special People
Bake Cookies for your mail carrier.
Adventure on Ice
Go Ice Skating. Bowling Green, Kentucky has a wonderful new outdoor ice rink – check it out. Be prepared when the hours of finding matching mittens, loading kids into the van, driving an hour to the ice rink, bundling the kids up, getting their skates on – is all for about five minutes of falling on the ice, crying and that final straw of “I have to go potty”. Still be of good cheer though! It gets easier as they get older.
See a Movie
See a movie at the theater. This is a big deal for my kids. Movies are so expensive that we hardly ever go. Thanksgiving and Christmas are the two times when we are likely to splurge. Well, we do make exceptions for newly released Star Wars, Star Trek and possibly Guardians of the Galaxy.
Swim at a hotel. Many hotels will let you use their pool for a flat rate per child. Swim all day!
Unpack and set up your growing collection of Nativity sets.
Watch the free-range goats and pot bellied pig destroy the outdoor Nativity. Bring outdoor baby Jesus indoors because the farm animals obviously can’t have nice things. But do this all over again next year because it was a favorite memory. If you don’t have goats and pigs, consider adopting from your local shelter or rescue group.
Happy Birthday Jesus!
Have a Birthday party for Jesus. If you knew Jesus were coming over for a special dinner, what would you cook? What kind of cake would you bake? Let the kids decide! It won’t be as fancy as you might think.
New Traditions for 2018
We will be sprucing up our Jesse Tree by purchasing 25 Days of Christ unfinished ornaments and free devotional offered at New Tradition Crafts. This is produced by a Mormon but the New Testament version appears to be Bible-based. What I love about this set is it focuses on the life of Jesus – birth through resurrection. It allows us to share the full gospel message beyond his arrival in the manger.
Last year I made these Names of Jesus Ornaments using this free printable on fancy scrapbook paper. The nice man at our local hardware store gave me all the paint sticks I needed for free too. This year I am going use the ornaments from last year along with this 25 Names of Jesus Advent Countdown. I also found this cute and fun idea that I might incorporate – gift ideas that go along with the names of Christ at So Festive. While visiting So Festive, check out their list of additional Christ-centered Christmas Ideas.
Would love to hear your ideas. Thanks for stopping by. Please come back soon.
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17
…so that in all things He may have preeminence. Colossians 1:18
I purchased our domain name and had the framework for this website built in June. I thought the summer months would provide me with enough free time to get this adventure going. As you can see, that didn’t happen. Okay, it wasn’t just time. I had these big plans and it was too much to try to do all at once. Instead of narrowing down the plans to something manageable, I procrastinated. Tonight is the night though. It’s happening. We are putting this boat in the water and sailing it out of the harbor.