Small World

On April 7th, 2013, posted in: Blog, Book Reviews, Karen's Blog, Lesson Ideas by

Look at this cool poster that shows global stats — the World As 100 People. Wouldn’t this be great to use in a missions class?

There’s a book for kids with the same thrust – If the World Were a Village: A book about the World’s People by David J. Smith. (2nd Edition, 2011) It’s a great way to expand kids’ worldview. This book is available in public libraries and through

Stand4Kids created Small World, a children’s mission lesson for grades 1-5 that uses stats from this book. Because “100” is a difficult number for concrete thinkers to imagine, this lesson shrinks the world population to 20 people. Children learn about:

  • the major languages spoken in the world
  • inequities in resources like food, clean air and water, and electricity
  • the spiritual condition of the world’s peoples

This downloadable lesson (PDF format) includes a prayer activity. It takes 25 minutes, the perfect length for Children’s Church, mid-week activities, Christian School chapel, or a home school gathering.




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New Books and Resources

New resources added to the Red Card Books list:

God’s Heart for Children

Just a Minute: In the Heart of a Child, One Moment … Can Last Forever by Dr. Wess Stafford and Dean Merrill, (Moody Publishers, 2012). Inspiring stories reinforce the value of children in God’s eyes and demonstrate how our interactions with them can change them forever. Hard cover, 224 pp. Adult. Available from


A Hungry World: Understanding the Global Food Crisis, (World Vision, 2005). Booklet provides 8 hours of material for teaching about global food insecurity. Includes background information, case studies, group activities, prayer materials and action ideas. Grades 6-12. Available from

Not Just a One-Night Stand: Ministry with the Homeless by John Flowers and Karen Vannoy, (Discipleship Resources, 2009). Based on the ministry experiences at their own church in Texas, the authors gives creative approaches to ministry among the marginalized. Paperback, 128 pp. Adult. Available from

When Do We Eat? Understanding World Hunger and Doing Something About It, (World Vision, 2010). 1-hour lesson to help children understand the causes of world hunger and learn how they can make a difference. Grades 1-3. Available at


Home Away from Home: How Children Find Hope When they Lose Their Homes (World Vision, 2010). 1–hour lesson explores reasons for homelessness with an emphasis on refugees. Grades 1-3. Available from World Vision at


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My Awesome God Bible storybook

On March 31st, 2011, posted in: Book Reviews, Karen's Blog by



I just received a new Bible storybook that is great for preschoolers and beginning readers.  My Awesome God includes 200 Bible stories with an equal representation from both the Old and New Testament. I appreciate that this storybook goes beyond the most popular Bible accounts, giving a well-rounded picture of God’s word. For example, it includes three entries from the Psalms and does a good job of covering the themes of Paul’s letters to the early churches.

This storybook emphasizes God as the main character of scripture. There’s an index in the back that summarizes many of God’s attributes, cross-referencing them with Bible stories. Each entry includes an application question for parents (or teachers) to discuss with children. Colorful, cartoon-like illustrations are loaded with details. Kid will love the expressions on the characters’ faces and will probably say, “Don’t turn the page yet.” See samples or purchase from DiscipleLand.

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Molly’s Adventures in Missions

Is your church starting to promote and recruit for summer short-term mission trips? Mine is. We have a combination of international ministry, cross-cultural ministry within our own country, and local inner-city outreach events. Most trips are geared for high schoolers and adults. A few are appropriate for children and their families. I have a hunch that most children don’t know a lot about why churches send out short-term teams and what kind of ministry takes place.

Molly’s Adventures in Missions is a great book that explains all of this to young children in simple language. An illustrated character, Molly, follows the short-term teams as they prepare, travel, minister, and report back to their congregation. The book introduces a wide variety of ministries. Young children will love searching for Molly in the photos. The book also gives children ways they can be involved in sending teams by learning about the places where the teams will serve, praying, and donating ministry supplies.

There’s even a Molly paper doll that can be cut out, laminated, and given to short-term teams to carry in their luggage. Teams can include Molly in trip photos. These can be used in follow-up reports for the children’s classes. This book is appropriate for children in preschool and early elementary grades.

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Book on St. Nicholas

On December 7th, 2010, posted in: Blog, Book Reviews, Karen's Blog by


Jolly Old St. Nicholas — did he really smoke a pipe and have a stomach that shook like a bowlful of jelly? Voice of the Martyrs produced a 40-page storybook that  teaches kids about Nicholas of Myra, the real man behind the legend of Santa Claus: The Story of St. Nicholas: More Than Reindeer and a Red Suit by Cheryl Odden (On Pointe, 2007). Living at the time when the Romans ruled the world, Nicholas refused to bow the knee to anyone but Jesus, the Son of God. This move landed him in prison. Later in his life, Nicholas endured persecution from church leaders when he took a stand against a false doctrine. Nicholas is a wonderful example of someone who stood strong in his faith in the midst of opposition and served others with a generous, giving spirit. The Story of St. Nicholas is appropriate for children ages 5-10. Younger children will love the beautiful illustrations. For older children, the content lends itself to a discussion about the true meaning of Christmas and how we live that out in our daily lives. It’s not just about the guy who brings the toys. Available from Voice of the Martyrs or

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Book Review: The Good Garden

On December 3rd, 2010, posted in: Blog, Book Reviews, Karen's Blog by

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Red Card addresses the issue of hunger in its Poverty lesson.Many children in the world, including the United States, do not have enough of the right kinds of foods to develop and grow in a healthy manner. I found a great book that introduces grade-school children to the issue of food security: The Good Garden: How One Family Went From Hunger to Having Enough by Katie Smith Milway, (Kids Can Press, 2010). Set in Honduras, this is the true story of a girl who’s put in charge of her family garden. Maria learns sustainable farming practices that yield good crops and help her family begin the journey to financial independence. Available from Kids Can Press or

The Good Garden created an interactive website for children to explore after they’ve read the book.  The website includes interactive games related to the story, a video of the real Maria, and lesson ideas for educators. Check out the project suggestion to engage groups of children in helping local families go from hunger to having enough.

I’ve also added an activity with children called “Who’s Got the Cookies?” It helps them understand that hunger is not so much an issue of lack of food, but of unequal food distribution. Afterwards, we discuss reasons that food is not getting to people who need it, using examples from current events.

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Book Review: Take Your Best Shot

At a conference last year, I met Austin Gutwein, a 15-year-old with a God-sized passion and vision for AIDS orphans in Africa. The amazing thing was that God had birthed this vision when Austin was only nine! Take Your Best Shot: Do Something Bigger Than Yourself details his journey. While watching a World Vision video about Maggie, an AIDS orphan in Zambia, Austin realized she wasn’t any different from him except she was suffering. Austin felt God calling him to help orphans like Maggie using something he loved – basketball. On World AIDS Day in 2004, he shot 2,057 free throws, one basket for every child who would be orphaned during the hours that he was in school. With friends and family sponsoring him, Austin raised $3,000. Those funds were used by World Vision to assist eight orphaned children.  But Austin didn’t stop there. He founded Hoops of Hope to inspire and mobilize other kids to act on behalf of orphans.

Take Your Best Shot reinforces the idea that God uses young people, even children, in his kingdom. The book is perfect for tweens and teens who are seeking to serve in ways that express their passion and utilize the gifts God has give them. Each chapter closes with a scripture passage, questions, online experience, and a take action activity. Written by Austin Gutwein with Todd Hillard (Thomas Nelson, 2009), the book is available from Thomas Nelson or

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Microfinance Book for Kids

I found a great book that introduces grade-school children to the concept of microfinance and how small loans assist families to escape the cycle of poverty. It’s One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference by Katie Smith Milway, (Kids Can Press, 2008). Inspired by true events, One Hen tells the story of Kojo, a boy from Ghana who turns a small loan into a thriving farm and a livelihood for many in Ghana. You can buy it from Kids Can Press or from

One Hen has an interactive website for children to explore after they’ve read the book.  The website includes games related to the story, a video of the real Kojo (now all grown up), and lesson ideas for educators. Kids can earn beads by playing interactive games on the website. Each bead (equal to one cent) donated at the end of the game turns into real money. “Bead money” is saved and goes towards real microfinance loans.

I’ve used this book with several groups of children. We even acted out parts of the story. Then I challenged kids to work together to earn money to buy a chicken, pig, duckling, or other animal that will help provide a livelihood for a family in poverty. You can go online to find gift catalogs from organizations like Compassion International, World Vision, Samaritan’s Purse, Partners International, and Heifer Project. I printed out pages from several of these gift catalogs to show the children how much these animals cost. The children were amazed that they could order animals from catalogs and excited about this unusal way of helping the needy.

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