8 Simple Tools for Raising Great Kids (Book Review)

kids bible stories


Parenting is hard work!  And with every year that my kids grow older, it seems that we solve one problem just as another makes its way into our lives.  I’m always on the look out for a good parenting book.  When I hard Dr. Todd Cartmell, author of Keep the Siblings, Lose the Rivalry (which I enjoyed), had written another parenting book, I was happy to take a look.

In 8 Simple Tools for Raising Great Kids, Cartmell breaks down each of the eight tools into five brief chapters, with a practical tip at the end of each chapter to help parents remember the main idea and a follow-up thought or action to put into practice that day. For the tool of “Talking“, for example, he encourages parents that their communication style with their kids is vital (no yelling), explains why it’s important to initiate conversations with their kids (everyone put down the phones), and the value of being an easy-to-listen parent.

In the chapter on the tool of “Connecting“, he emphasizes the importance of warm physical touch, getting into their child’s world (yes, down on the floor, putting the Legos together), and explains why a regular family time is one of the most powerful tools a parent can use to build a close and connected family.

Sneaky Squirrel (Family Game Night)

“Family times are vital to the parent-child relationship,” says Cartmell. “For example, when I think back on times with my family when the boys were young, I remember our going around in a circle and saying things we appreciate about the person on our left or right. The busy hustle and bustle of everyday life impedes meaningful, reflective discussions. It is only when you cultivate the regular habit of stopping and reflecting together on the things that are important you get this kind of interaction on a regular basis.”

Planting a Garden  (Raising Great Kids)

Throughout the book, parents also learn the Family Respect Rule, the importance of flexible thoughts, and how their kids are God’s gold nuggets (Are you looking for the gold or the dirt?).

Cartmell also discusses the importance of practicing our faith and weaving it into every part of our lives. He emphasizes the importance of continually living our faith alongside our kids and with our kids so they get a real picture of what a genuine Christian is supposed to look like.

Woman reading Bible

“These are not tools to use for a while and then discard once your kids are eighteen,” says Cartmell. “My boys are both now in their twenties and I need each of these tools as much as I did when they were three and five years old. These are tools you want to weave into the very nature of your parenting for as long as you’re a parent.”

The chapters are short — perfect for reading along with your daily devotional or during breakfast and each come with a clear application for the day.   Don’t let the short chapters fool you though — there’s a lot packed into this small book and it is something you will want to read again and again as the years go by.

Benjamin’s Box (An Easter Lesson for Kids)


Ah, Easter and Christmas!  Those wonderful mornings where kids come flooding into your classroom, dressed in their best and eager to learn!  Well, they are dressed in their best anyway!

Easter: Who's Ready to Learn?

For this Easter, I wanted to do a lesson that would keep the “regular” kids engaged and also help introduce the Easter story to new kids in a fun way.   I used the book Benjamin’s Box: The Story of the Resurrection Eggs and this amazing treasure box my parents let me borrow.

Benjamin's Box: An Easter Lesson for Kids

Inside the box, I placed all the things that Benjamin found and placed inside his treasure box including straw, donkey fur (cat fur in our case!), a twig, a coin, and a bit of leather.   As I read through the book, I pulled out each item and let the kids pass it around and ask questions.

Easter: Using Benjamin's Box

The kids loved the lesson and it was  fun one to teach as well!   Here’s another family that used the same method if you’d like to ready more about it! 

Ten Acts of Kindness during the Month of March!

The Kids Bible


Ten Acts of Kindness during the Month of March:

1. Decorate reusable grocery bags and fill them with their favorite non-perishable food items, and deliver to a local food bank. Go to www.feedingamerica.org to find a food bank location in specific areas.

2. Stuff new warm socks with water bottles and granola bars or chocolate bars to give to homeless people you pass on the street.

3. If you or your family knows someone in the armed forces, send them a “Thinking of You” card and thank them for their service to our country.

4. Box up clean used clothing that is in good shape and bring it to your local family shelter or charity thrift store. One item that is seldom collected is children’s underwear. These items must be new and with store tags still on them.

5. Make St. Patrick’s Day cards to distribute to nursing-home residents. Be sure to contact your local nursing home to schedule a time to do this. Make the cards festive by drawing pictures of spring flowers to welcome the spring season.

6. Donate gently used picture books for younger children and books for older children to distribute to a children’s hospital. If there is no children’s hospital in your area, call your local hospital and ask if you can donate the above items to the pediatric ward.

7. Get a group of friends together to rake leaves or shovel snow, take garbage cans to the curb on collection day, or offer to grocery shop one day a week for an elderly person during the month of March.

8. Charity begins at home. Offer to do something special once a week for the family. This could be offering to babysit, clean the garage, or cook a special dinner. Ask your parents what extra chore you can do for them during the month of March.

9. If you or your family knows someone who is seriously ill, form a prayer circle with your friends and pray for that person. This can be done online using a social network.

10. Older children can volunteer to help deliver Meals on Wheels to elderly homebound people. Most people use cars to transport meals, and it is very helpful to have someone with them who can get out of the car and bring the meal to the door of the people they are servicing. This is especially helpful to those in cities where parking a car can be a problem. Go online to find a Meals on Wheels organization in your area.

Do you have an act of kindness that you want to share?  Leave a comment below!



The post Ten Acts of Kindness during the Month of March! appeared first on Christianity Cove.

Join the mission to keep kids safe online

The Kids Bible


This Sunday there will be millions of parents walk through the doors of churches across the globe. Many parents will drop their child off to a volunteer who cares deeply for them. For those kids that attend the service with their parents they will be around people who also care deeply for them. They will be surrounded by a community that is cares for the safety and well being as well as their spiritual upbringing.

The other thing that these parents and kids will have in common is what happens when they leave that building. No it’s not just go to lunch. It is the question of how do I keep my kid safe out in this world? Today not only do we have to answer the question of this offline world but we also have to ask the question of the online world as well.

I speak to parents and pastors across the United States quite frequently about how to keep kids safe online. I even had the chance last week to be on CBS 42 in Birmingham, AL speaking about kids and online safety. Yes this is a mission and I hope you join in.

There are 2 things right now that you can do to join the mission.

1: Let parents know that offline conversation beats online communication every time. What do I mean? Parents need to be engaged in their child’s life. Parents need to have dinner as a family as often as possible. Relationships matter and the more that we look at a screen the more we crave real relationships. Parents can win this battle but it starts with a conversation.

2. Let parents know about the right tools. There are many tools out there that filter the internet from pornography. This is a great first step but there are also tools that limit screen time, set bedtimes, and inform parents so that they can have better conversations. This is why I believe in Circle with Disney so much. It is also why I can’t wait for CircleGo to come out the first part of next year.

I think I have the beginnings of how you can do both of these things and I have made it as easy as possible:

1. Get parents to ask these 4 questions at the dinner table:

“What’s the most interesting thing you’ve seen lately?”
“What’s the craziest thing your friends are doing?”
“What’s something that has surprised you recently?”
“Can you teach me how to do something new with technology?”

2. Help me promote Circle with Disney to parents. Here is a dropbox folder with the following in it:

11×17 poster
A half page flyer
A presentation slide graphic (both regular and wide)
A print graphic
A web graphic (both wide and square)
If you need anything else then let me know

All this to say, I ask that you join the mission. The internet does not have to be unsafe for kids. We can do this together. It just takes conversation and the right tools.

If you are up for the mission then comment/share this post and you will have a chance to win a Free Circle with Disney device.

The February Freeze and Giving Kids Money


Here in the Whitney household, we’ve just completed the February Freeze.  It’s an annual tradition where we try to only spend money on the bare essentials during the entire month of February.  It’s a great way to reset our spending habits after the holidays and to remember just how much we already have.  Dinners can get pretty creative and every year, we learn that there’s a lot that we can do without.

The February Freeze (and talking to kids about money)

This year was the first year that we explained the February Freeze to the kids.  We have been talking about saving for a truck (our car is on it’s last leg!), and this month was a great time to explain that sometimes we have to say “no” to something that would be fun in order to save up for a bigger goal.   Check out this article for more ways to talk about money with the kids.

Talking to your kids about Money

Which of course led to us thinking about the whole kids and money debate.  Since she was about 5, Chipmunk has been dog sitting for my parents.  They outrageously overpay her and she generally has money to spend at will (which is how she rode the carousel 17 times in a row during our recent trip to Tennessee).  However, there are times when she wants something “bigger” (like this ridiculous unicorn she’s in love with) and she has frittered away all her money on Kindle games.

Talking to Your Kids About Money

So, we’ve just begun discussions on whether or not to give the kids an allowance and what that exactly entails.  Do they get money for setting the table and other routine “family” responsibilities or do they just get money for special tasks like washing windows or mopping the kitchen floor.  Should they be expected to do things around the house for no pay, relying instead on outside jobs (like dog sitting or raking leaves) to bring in the big bucks?

Kids and Roman

As of right now, cleaning and helping around the house are just part of our family rhythm and I hate to complicate that with charts and starts and dollars.  However, I do want to start teaching about money management skills sooner rather than later and I know they are going to need some money to manage in order to do that.

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Leave me a comment and let me know what works in your house or any other tips you might have!

Cyber Monday and the winner of a Circle with Disney device is…

The Kids Bible


First of all thank you to everyone who shared Circle with family, friends, and anyone else who might listen. It really does mean a lot. The more I dive deep into this mission of keeping kids safe online the more I realize how important it is for there to be forward thinking solutions like Circle. I have been talking with other experts, pastors, parents, and friends about the struggles that we now face and now is the time that we come together and declare that we are going to do something for the next generation.

Today and today only you can get a Circle with Disney device for $85. They will be $99 tomorrow and will not likely be discounted for another year. There is a 30 day money back guarantee as well. So, you really have nothing to lose. Try it and see how easy it is to use and be informed as a parent.

Now for the winner… Drum roll please. The winner of the Circle with Disney device is Brent Lacy! Congratulations Brent. Please fill let me know how I can get you the device. To everyone else who entered please go ahead and pick yours up today and save $14. Then let me know how you like it. So far, Circle is getting rave reviews.

Remember it all starts with a conversation between parents and their kids. This will be the ultimate answer. Having an informed conversation is key. That is why I believe so much in Circle.

How can three things be one and the same? A Trinity Bible Object Lesson


St. Patrick is known for teaching the people of Ireland about the Trinity. He used the shamrock to teach about three things being one, but we can use things found in the classroom! This Bible object lesson will use shapes to answer the question “How can three separate things be one and the same?”


• Construction paper
• Stapler
• Scissors


Cut out one large circle, one large triangle, and one cone template for each child (see attached).


Most people think that St. Patrick was Irish, but he wasn’t! He was actually Roman. When St. Patrick was very young he was captured by the Irish and held prisoner for six years. After his escape, he became a priest and found that he was filled with compassion for the Irish. Even though he had spent years as their slave, he returned to Ireland in the hope that he could spread the love of Jesus to its people. He did this by using the shamrock to teach that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were separate (like the shamrock leaves) but also the same thing (like the shamrock itself).

What is the special name for the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? The Trinity.

Jesus told the disciples: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

When they asked him to show them the Father he said: “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me?”

This sounds confusing. How can Jesus be both the Son and the Father at the same time? To make things even more confusing, he tells his disciples that when he leaves he will send the Holy Spirit in his place!

How can three completely different things be the same thing? Let them try to answer.

This is a tough question for most Bible scholars to answer but we have an exercise to help us understand it.

Pass out the circles and triangles.

In front of you, you have a circle and a triangle. See if you can fold them so that the triangle becomes a perfect circle or the circle becomes a perfect triangle.

Give the kids about five minutes to play around with their shapes.

Be sure to praise them for their creative efforts. It’s tough, isn’t it! It may have even seemed impossible.

Hand out the cone templates.

Stand in the front of the room and demonstrate how to roll the construction paper into the shape of a cone. Secure it in place with tape or a stapler. Then ask the kids to make their own cones and have an assistant help secure them.

What is this called? (Holding up the cone) Cone.

Point the round bottom towards the children. What shape is on the bottom? Circle.

Then flatten the cone just enough to make it a little more two-dimensional. What shape do you see now? Triangle!

The first triangle and circle we worked with were in two dimensions. Hold up the circle or triangle.

Two dimensional is when something has a height and width.

Hold up the cone. Three dimensions is when something has a height, width, and depth.

In two dimensions, it was impossible for the circle and the triangle to be the same, but when we added in another dimension the impossible became possible. The triangle and circle could be the same!

Our minds are the same way. Things can seem impossible to us because we can only process them in certain ways. God sees the world in more dimensions than we do. There will always be things that don’t quite make sense to us. This is why we have to have faith. Somehow Jesus, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit are one. We can’t understand that with our limited minds, but Jesus did, and that’s what matters!



You might also be interested in these other Bible object lesson ideas!

summer object lessonNew Year's Object Lesson committing to gods handsspring object lesson caty caterpillar

Looking for more Bible object lesson ideas?  Then be sure to check out our Bible Object Lesson area!  And don’t forget to Become a Fan on Facebook, Follow Us on Twitter and Come Hangout with Us on Google+!

The post How can three things be one and the same? A Trinity Bible Object Lesson appeared first on Christianity Cove.

Looking for the best Kids Bible Stories?

The Kids Bible
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Curriculum Bible Lesson
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How to grab Kids attention during Sunday School Lessons

Curriculum Bible Lesson
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Religious and devout protest together outside High Court

The Kids Bible

* Bible studies concerns heard by Human Rights Commission McClintock’s case did not originally include CEC as the religious instruction provider at his daughter’s school was Life in Focus Trust. But CEC said McClintock was implicitly challenging the rights of Boards of Trustees to exercise their discretion to allow voluntary religious education in state schools. CEC […]

Religious instruction provider joins landmark Bible in Schools case

The Kids Bible

  SECULAR SYSTEM? A father is taking his child’s school and the attorney-general to the High Court in a landmark case over school Bible lessons. Things turned sour between the school in Red Beach, a suburb on the Hibiscus Coast, and Jeff McClintock after his daughter, Violet, now nine, was placed in Bible classes without parental permission. […]