Storytelling Brings the Family Together

Storytelling Brings the Family Together

Parents and elders have been storytellers since the dawn of humankind, passing on wisdom, knowledge, caution, or simply entertainment. And what is amazing is that we cannot grow out of being the listener. There is always something we can learn from in the words and stories of others.

Have you ever watched your younger sibling, maybe your students, niece or nephew, or even your own child as they were discovering that those beautiful depictions of their hero or heroine on epic adventures were not always fantasies woven in their storyteller’s mind, but rather the ability to interpret scribbles on a page? In wonder, they grasp the book in their own hands, squinting and proudly declaring, “Now I will tell the story to you!” Made all the more adorable when the entire book is upside down. 

Children are drawn to the sound of language, learning to love being read to before even noticing the existence of printed words. Reading books out loud to children is essential to stimulating imagination, creativity, and comprehension skills in preparation to become the storytellers themselves.

Reading with others is a great bonding activity. It’s a chance to bring up topics in the story and hear how the child is doing, how she interprets the world, her dreams and aspirations. Children (and adults!) automatically find the commonality and differences between themselves and characters in a story. It helps to ask questions and engage with your young listener when you can or just relax and enjoy the reading session because even the act of reading together will benefit everyone involved.

It is also an opportunity to create a family ritual. Intentionally spending time to read and learn together feeds into our personal excellence both inside and outside the home while building a common language, so to speak, and points of reference between family members.

 So, go ahead, read together and share stories, from books on science and history, to tales about dragons and lands far away. Incorporate diversity and listen to what that special child in your life is interested in reading about as they grow because whatever the topic, they are bonding, expanding their knowledge and vocabulary, enhancing concentration skills, and learning to love learning!

Being Responsible for My Choices

Being Responsible for My Choices

“Why should I practice piano?” Yoshi asked himself. He had a choice between practicing his piano or continue reading his comic book.

“I promised I would practice every day,” he reminded himself. “And practice helps me in many ways. I get better at piano so I can play nice music. I become responsible for my own actions, and I make Mom happy.”

He closed his comic book, walked over to the piano, opened his practice book and began to practice.

Later in the day, when Mom came home, he proudly announced that he had practiced his piano. A big smile spread over her face as she said, “Thank you!”

Yoshi (far left) helps organize candy donations during CVA service project.

Earlier in the week at Core Values Academy, Yoshi’s class learned the importance of owning their own choices.

Ownership he learned, means doing things not only because you were told to, but because you understand and agree with the value of the action.

In many areas of his life, Yoshi’s parents ask him to do things like practice piano, study, eat healthy, do chores, pray, and spend time studying about his spiritual values. Without personal ownership, these actions could become routine that Yoshi did only when his parents reminded him. Ownership, allows each action to become a conscious choice that he takes to put his values into action.

For example:

  • I study so I can gain knowledge that can help God and the world.
  • I eat healthy so I can have a strong body to help God, the world and be there for my family.
  • I do chores so I can be responsible in my family and myself.
  • I pray to invest in my relationships with God, and reflect on what He taught me that day.
  • I study about my values so I can know about the values of my family.

He learned that small everyday choices are opportunities to own his values and important preparation for the larger, groundbreaking choices that he will have to make in the future.

That week each student was asked to make a goal through which they could practice owning their choices. Yoshi chose to practice piano.

That week he made his mother happy, made his teacher proud, and owned the value of practice and daily discipline a little more.

Try it at Home:

Make a list of expected actions for your children.

Talk about each one with your child. Explain what values they can put into practice when they work to meet those expectations.

Make a goal with your child to “own” one of those expectations this week.

At the end of the week reflect on what they learned about ownership as well as the values that they put into practice by owning that action.

Talk about hypothetical situations where they will have to own their choice of action. (Ex: Sharing with a sibling, choosing to lie or tell the truth, doing chores or not, etc.)

Bridge of Trust

Bridge of Trust

“Did you brush your teeth?” David’s mother asked him.

David almost said, “Yes,” without thinking. But he stopped himself. He really didn’t brush his teeth. It was habit to give mom the answer he thought she wanted even if it wasn’t true.

“No.” he said, “But I will now.”

Mom smiled and said, “Great.”

David breathed a sigh of relief, he had put another stone in his bridge of trust with mom, and he had practiced his truth telling muscle.

This week in Core Values Academy David learned about the bridge of trust that he had between himself and others.

They learned about the story of the “Boy Who Cried Wolf” and how the boy’s lies had broken his trust with the villagers.

But just as lies weaken or break the bridge of trust, truth strengthens the bridge.

The most important bridge, he learned, was the bridge between God and himself and the bridge of trust between himself and his parents. These bridges are there to get love, advice and help. That is why telling the truth is so important, it strengthens these important connections.

But telling the truth is not always easy. Sometimes it seems like lying will be an easy way out. But in the long run, the truth helps find the problem and get help.

That is why it is important to use the truth muscle, even in small things like brushing teeth. When we practice the truth muscle, we have it ready for when we need it when we have to talk about bigger problems and questions with God and our parents.

Try it At Home:

Talk about the difference between truth and lies.

Draw the bridge of truth with your children. Discuss how the bridge is the path for God and parents to connect to the child and give love, guidance and help.

Talk about how truth strengthens the bridge and how lies break the bridge.

Talk about different examples where they could tell the truth or lie. (ex: brushing teeth, breaking something, hurting a sibling, taking something without permission)

Make a goal to choose to tell the truth this week. Use the bridge as a reminder.

Treasure Hunt to Practice Unconditional Love

Treasure Hunt to Practice Unconditional Love

“I found one!” A four-year-old shouted with delight as he held up a colorful plastic egg.  The other children crowded around him as he cracked the egg open. Inside was a chocolate. Rather than stuff the treat in his own mouth, the four-year-old smiled and handed it to one of his friends. His friend said, “Thank you,” his face full of surprise.

The activity was part of the Core Values Academy (CVA) in Seattle. The weekly program focuses on providing children ages 4-16 with age-appropriate lessons to support families in cultivating important character traits, values and spirituality.

The assignment was to work together in pairs to find hidden treasures that included a special tasks for the kids to complete to demonstrate unconditional love towards their peers and teachers.

The four-year-old was instructed to give his chocolate away to his friend. His happy face showed that giving is a joyful experience.

A major value that the Core Values Academy focuses on is living for the sake of others.

Teaching children at a very young age to consider the needs of others and serve others, not only cultivates a critical ethic in the child, it brings joy as they learn to give value to others.

CVA supports empowering children with the confidence and conviction that they have something valuable to offer their family, community and world.

You can try the treasure hunt at home with your children, or at your next community gathering.

Here are some example instructions you can include in the treasures:

  • Give a close adult (aunt, uncle, mom, dad) a hug and thank them for what they do for you everyday.
  • Compliment your partner.
  • Clean the area with your partner.
  • Give your treat away to your partner.
  • Even if it is your turn next, let your partner lead.

Operation Gratitude

Operation Gratitude

Structuring service projects into the Core Values Academy curriculum is an important part of nurturing a culture of living for the sake of others and supporting parent and family involvement into Blessed Children education.

CVA Seattle kids and teacher assistants write letters for Operation Gratitude

The first of these projects for the school year in CVA Seattle was “Operation Gratitude.” Children donated their Halloween candy to create a total of 17 care packages on November 6. Elementary children and their older brothers and sisters worked together to write beautiful letters to military troops serving at home and abroad. Besides the colorful personal letters of gratitude from the volunteers, several of which required hours to dry the glitter glue, children also picked out their favorite candies to include in each package.

In order to prepare for Sunday’s service activity, parents were encouraged to talk to their children about the significance of collecting and donating their candy on Halloween day. The tips below were presented to support parents in making sure their children’s act of service was memorable and happy, not sad because they were parting with candy:

  1. Discuss what our soldiers are doing overseas and help children understand that the candy they enjoy can also bring a smile to soldiers who miss the taste of good old American candy.
  2. Encourage kids before going out to have a great wonderful Halloween trick-or-treating and work hard to collect extra for our troops overseas that we will share the treats with.
  3. If reluctant or trying to only give unwanted candy, talk it through and ask kids, “Which candy do you think the soldiers would like most?” and help them pick a few to bring on Sunday and let them keep some nice ones too!

Children pick out best candies to share with active soldiers

To start off the class, teachers divided into grade levels to ask students why they thought the service project was a meaningful thing to do. Although coming to the candy table with different depths of understanding, all the kids could agree that giving up their candy was a small sacrifice compared to the sacrifice of the people who were willing to give up time with their family to protect their nation. Children expressed their gratitude to the soldiers in heartwarming letters, prompted by teachers to think of the strangers as their own family.

Although mostly strangers, some of the recipients of the packages were friendly faces. Lieutenant Jacob Bates and his wife Ohnshil Bates sent a thank you back to the volunteers saying, “We received the candy and beautiful cards. We are so grateful and we shared all the candy with my platoon in the army. Thank you!”

CVA will continue to include a variety of service projects throughout the year to inspire children with the culture of true love: to live for the sake of others.

Families can do the same. What service project ideas have you tried? Post in the comments below.



Girls Learn Compassion through Service

Girls Learn Compassion through Service


Girls hold bake sale to raise money for the nonprofit animal care shelter PAWS

Grades 4-7 Core Values Academy class in Seattle just finished off their 3-month long service project to support the local animal shelter PAWS. The project involved learning about animals and animal care from a Godly perspective, organizing and holding bake sale fundraisers at the local library and supermarket (rain or shine), engaging their younger siblings in the community through a treat-making activity, and more!

On Saturday, May 14, 2016, the girls dropped off their hard-earned $500 donation to PAWS. Through this experiential learning opportunity, the girls were able to learn about important values and life skills such as determination, compassion and sacrifice, learning from feedback and teamwork. This was also a valuable experience for the teachers of the class who were able to realize just how much innate leadership potential lies within young girls.

This project was not possible without the continuous support and cooperation from the parents. A big thank you to all who helped make this happen!