As you know I have two little blessings. Lily Anne is just shy of 17 months and Caleb is 3. We attend church each Sunday, especially when we are in our home town. Our goal is to spend the worship service in the pew as a family. Our small church doesn’t offer children’s church, but if our kids are having a hard time, there is a nursery in the back they can visit. I prefer to keep them in the service with us learning how to sit, listen to the preacher and worship together as a family.
My husband is usually in charge of Lily Anne and I am Caleb’s quiet reminder. I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time keeping my 3 year old quiet at any time and church time seems to be the hardest. He knows what it means to sit still. He knows what it means to be quiet. He knows that he is expected to sit still and be quiet (within reason for a 3 year old) in church, but the moment we walk in the door he is talking in a booming voice, making screeching noises, laughing, burping, coughing, and the list goes on. My husband and I sit in the back of church and we try our best to keep him involved in the worship service by encouraging him to sing the songs. He loves to sing and he loves music. I remind him that the people want to hear what the pastor is talking about… the great things that happened this past week, those that are sick, and learning about Jesus. I try to keep him quiet with paper and a pencil or crayons, a book from home, a soft toy, or even his favorite toy trucks, but it is a constant struggle leaving me stressed as I exit the church doors and that is just keeping him in the service during the music portion. By the time the pastor begins his service, we take turns watching the children in the nursery.
Saturday night, I again Googled to try to find some ideas on how to teach Caleb to be quiet in church. In the past, I’ve read posts about practicing at home, which we do. He’s great while I read stories to him. He could listen for an hour, but he does like to be involved in the story by asking questions, pointing, counting, and talking about the stories and I want that too as it builds his comprehension and vocabulary skills. We’ve even played quiet games where I time him to see how long he can be quiet while just sitting on the couch. We’ve made it up to 2 minutes. This time, I spotted Quiet Books, fabric books that keep little hands busy doing quiet activities by matching, pairing, sorting, counting, etc. “That a nifty concept,” I thought. While I have a sewing machine, it’s still in the box unpacked from our move 3 years ago. Even if I did pull it out, set it up, pull out my stash of fabric and begin sewing like a mad woman, Caleb would be in college by the time I finished one of these very intricate books and hopefully he would be able to sit quietly in church without one by then. I still liked the concept, but it had to be something I could work on that night (Saturday at 10:30pm) and have for him for church the next morning.
The wheels started turning and this is what I came up with…
It’s not fabric, but it is still quiet and the activities are created in the same fashion with the intent on encouraging him to learn (not just play at church). I want him to associate church time as a learning time, not a play time. I had a couple of issues with most of the quiet books online (other than sewing). First, most of the tasks only required the child to unzip a zipper, lift a snapped section or button a button. Most of the pages would be completed in less than 2 seconds. I wanted to create something where the tasks were engaging and took some time to complete. The second issue was that some of the example quiet book pages included activities that would encourage talking (at least for my child), as they were felt story boards or included finger puppets... that didn’t work for me.
Since it was Saturday at 10:30pm when I started this quest, I only created 2 activities to test out the effectiveness of the “Quiet Book” during church. Later, I would decide to make more or use it for something else. I also added 2 activities I already had.
When we went to church on Sunday, I carried the Quiet Book in my bag. We had our usual discussion on the way to church about how to sit and how to be quiet. For the first half of church, it was practice as usual. I tried to include him in singing with me, praying to Jesus, listening to the announcements, etc. When he could hold it in no longer, I brought out the Quiet Book. He was very interested in completing each task, but only once, except for his name puzzle which he did over and over probably 6 times. During this time, he sat in my lap as we went through the book. I did focus a lot of my attention on him and what he was doing, but it wasn’t a struggle and I could still listen to the preacher from time to time and get the gist of his message. These activities got him through most of the sermon. About 15 minutes shy of church ending, I noticed he was done and about to start getting wild, I pulled out the raisins. They’re a quiet activity as well and along with the support of a sippy cup, we made it through to the end of the service with a happy 3 year old and an unstressed mom. Win! Win! I plan to make more of these pages… in fact I have already added a couple. In addition, I want to include some Bible related activities like an animal matching game on Noah’s ark. I will share these activities with you when I do.
For now, here are the activities that I included in Caleb’s Quiet Book.
1. The Front Cover - This wasn't included in the initial trial on Sunday, but I think he will enjoy it. I wanted the cover to be just a engaging as any of the other pages within the book. There are actually several activities that we can do with it. The inner section displays a small road that a tiny foam car can drive around on. The outer section of squares can be used to work on multiple skills. He can just place one paperclip inside each square to work on fine motor skills as well as one-to-one correspondence. He can build fine motor skills by sliding the colored paper squares into the paperclips. He can work on patterning, counting, or even addition and subtraction later on by attaching the paper squares in a specific place and order. It's really a cover that will grow along with his skill level.
2. Name Puzzle - I already had this activity on hand. HERE is a post where I share how to make one and games you can play with it. I just slid the puzzle into the first plastic sleeve inside the binder and I was done!
3. Lacing Cards - Again, this was an activity I had made earlier this week. You may have purchased lacing cards or made your own, but these are great quiet activities! To make this one, I cut a file folder in half while it was closed so that when I opened the cut portion, it opened like a book. this gave it a little more stiffness. I drew the bear on the folder and used a hole punch to punch holes around the edge. I laminated the folder to give it some extra protection, then hole punched the holes again. I tied a string in a knot through one of the holes making sure the string was long enough to get all the way around the card. I attached a pipe cleaner... LIKE THIS.
4. Colors Activity - This is the activity I started Saturday night... Again, I used a file folder cut in half, the same way I did the lacing card, but this time I also cut it in half down the folded edge because it wouldn't fit in my laminated opened and I wanted to use it like a book. I sized a sheet of construction paper to the front and labeled it "Colors."
On the back of that sheet, I drew 10 squares and using a permanent marker labeled them each one color. I cut out same sized squares from 10 different colors of construction paper. I cut out 2 squares from each color. I glued one set of colors to a same sized square of file folder to provide it some stiffness and laminated them. The second set of colors, I glued to the other half of the file folder I cut previously. I used a permanent marker to label each color. Then, I added small Velcro pieces to the color squares and the squares on the file folders. I attached the soft side of the Velcro to the squares on the file folders and the rough side of the Velcro to the color squares.
For this activity, I started with all the color squares on the labeled squares shown by the picture on the top. Caleb then matched the color squares to the color squares on the left shown by the picture on the bottom. Later, when he can read color words, he can move them back to the matching color on the left.
5. Shape Activity - For this activity, I used the second half the of file folder and cut it in the same manner as before. I attached both the Color Activity and the Shape Activity together using 1 inch rings, so I took advantage of the space the back of the Color Activity game be to "store" the shape pieces as seen on the left side of the picture below. I create shapes the same way I created color squares above. Then, I placed Velcro on the back of the color page and the title page of the Shapes page as seen below.
Then, on the back of the title page as well as the second half of the cut file folder, I traced the shapes as seen below with permanent marker. I attached the soft side of the Velcro to the shapes in the book as well as the "storage" area of the book seen above. I attached the rough side of the shape pieces. I laminated everything prior to adding Velcro in order to make it last longer. Hopefully we will get a LOT of use out of these activities.
For this activity, Caleb removes one shape from the storage area and moves it to the matching shape in this activity area.
6. The Back Cover - Again, this is not something I included in the initial trial. I had it, but it wasn't laminated. My hope is that it will be a quiet activity, but I'm worried that we might get some horns tooting...
I used a colored piece of copy paper and stickers from Caleb's Thomas the Train Sticker book. For this activity, Caleb will drive one of his trains around the track... hopefully quietly...
I'm excited about using this book with him. I'm not letting him have it at home as I want to keep the activities new and fresh for him, but I will bring it along to other destinations where he needs to be quiet and respectful to others. I'm looking forward to continuing to make more quiet activities to add to this book. Right now, this Quiet Book is housed in a 1 inch binder. My plan is to add about 6 - 8 activities to the folder, but I will make more than that. I am going to have another larger binder where I will store all the activities. Then, I can change them out as needed based on his interest, skill level, how well the encourage quiet/or not, etc.
I hope this helps you if you are having the same issue I am. Let me know what you think! I'd love to hear your comments.
God Bless your Learning Journey~