Focus on the Family


Story: A Chilly Tale

Character Crew: Respect

by Becky Foster Still

"Blubber, blubber!" Serena poked Wanda's side with a giggle. "A tubful of blubber."

The arctic air was chilly, but Wanda's face burned. Her friend was teasing her again.

This time Wanda boiled over. "Serena, I'm tired of your teasing. I don't want to play with you anymore!"

"Serena, that's not nice! Would you please stop?"

"Maybe." Serena's black eyes sparkled against the crystal blue sky.

"In case you hadn't noticed, it's naptime." Wanda waved a flipper at the snoozing walruses heaped around them. "I, for one, want to sleep." She plopped her head back down on the ice and squeezed her eyes shut.

Am I too fat? Wanda wondered. She did have a hefty layer of blubber, much thicker than slender Serena's.

Bump, whump, shove. "Hey!" Wanda yelped. It was Serena, flopping and squirming against Wanda on the ice.

"I c-c-can't get warm enough to sleep!" Serena said. "Let's go play instead."

"Oh, all right." Wanda heaved herself up.

"Last one to the water's a rotten sea cucumber!" Serena cried.

Galumph, galumph went the two friends along the ice, Serena whistling and clacking her teeth. Wanda laughed. Serena was a lot of fun, despite all her teasing.

Splosh! They skidded into the water and popped their heads out. Wanda's long whiskers dripped. Serena pointed and giggled. "Whoa, look at you! Monster moustache!"

In the icy water Wanda turned red hot. "Would you stop teasing me?"

"Maybe." Serena smiled and did a back flip.

Are my whiskers too long? Wanda looked at her reflection in the water. Her moustache was awfully large, much bigger than Serena's delicate one.

"C'mon, Serena, let's dive for snacks!"

"Snacks? OK."

Down they plunged into the salty water, and soon Wanda hit the murky bottom. With her whiskers Wanda gently swept the ocean floor until she found one juicy clam, two plump snails and three tasty worms. Then up she zoomed, bursting back into the frigid air.

"Yum. That was delicious!" Wanda smacked her lips. "Serena, what did you catch?"

"Oh, not much." Serena shrugged. "I'm not that hungry anyway."

"Time for water tag!" Wanda yelled and leaped away. "You're it!"

"Not for long!" Serena swam after her at top speed.

Serena tagged Wanda; Wanda tagged Serena. As they played, Wanda began to sing.

"Swimming, swooping, swishing, swirling, that's what I like to do!" she bellowed. "Swimming, swooping, swishing, sw—"

"Wow, Wanda, you're louder than a foghorn!" Serena laughed. "Watch out or you'll start an avalanche, Freaky Foghorn!"

This time Wanda boiled over. "Serena, I'm tired of your teasing. I don't want to play with you anymore!"

Wanda shot to the shore, leaving a stunned Serena behind.

Galumph, galumph Wanda went until she found a spot behind an iceberg, far away from Serena and everyone else. She plopped down, tired and unhappy, and before long, fell into a dream.

"Help! Somebody help!" cried the distant voice. Wanda jerked awake. It was Serena, for real! But where was she?

Serena was laughing at her in the dream. "Why do you keep teasing me?" Wanda asked. But she couldn't hear Serena's reply. Her voice sounded so far away.

"Help! Somebody help!" cried the distant voice. Wanda jerked awake. It was Serena, for real! But where was she?

Wanda rushed from one iceberg to the next, searching. "Help!" she heard again, thin and weak. It was coming from the ocean!

There was Serena—curled up on an ice floe out in the water. Wanda dived in, and within seconds had climbed onto the patch of ice.

"I'm f-f-f-frozen," Serena said. "I c-c-can't even g-g-get into the water."

"I'll call for help," Wanda said. She began shouting in her most thunderous voice. " Emergency! Calling all walruses — here — now!"

As Wanda kept yelling, they came: walruses streaming from all directions to the ice floe. They flopped next to Serena, surrounding her, until the warmth of all the walruses thawed out her frozen body.

"Thanks, Wanda," Serena said as the two of them swam back to shore later. "Your shouting saved my life."

"Freaky Foghorn, you mean?" Wanda said with a smile.

They flopped onto the shore. "I'm really sorry I teased you." Serena sighed. "I was just jealous."

"Jealous?" Wanda's mouth hung open.

"I've always wished I had a strong voice like yours," Serena said. "And a long moustache to feel for clams. And nice, thick blubber to keep warm. I thought if I teased you about those things, it would make me feel better."

"Did it?"

"No. I only felt worse." Serena gave Wanda a sheepish look. "It was wrong. I won't tease you anymore."

Now that Wanda knew the reason for Serena's teasing, she felt better — and suddenly very hungry. "Shall I use my monster moustache to go find clams?" she asked.

"Mm . . . maybe." Serena grinned. "I mean, yes."

Discussion Questions

  1. Self-respect — Have you ever been teased about something? How did it make you feel? What should you do if you are teased?
  2. Community-respect — What does having respect for your community look like? Did the walruses show respect for Wanda? How? Talk about some examples of how you can show respect for your neighborhood.
  3. Family-respect — How can you show respect for members of your family? What action do you think would be disrespectful?


Activity: Excellence

Character Crew: Excellence

  1. Go to a library or art museum & discuss why certain books or artworks are excellent. Excellence is constantly improving in quality.

  2. Talk to your child about role models. Does he or she have a favorite? Discuss with your child how this role model has demonstrated excellence.

  3. Discuss what excellence looks like when cleaning the house. Compare what excellence in cleaning is and is not. Create a checklist with your child that will help him/her practice excellence when cleaning an area for which they are responsible.

  4. Fill in the crossword below with the following words:

        2                  
     
5
        1    
       
3
4
 
6
 
   
 
 
 
 


Activity: Honesty

Character Crew: Honesty

  1. Work with your child to unscramble the following words to learn a message about honesty.


    ESTHON
    INGTH
    YAS
    DAN
    GHTRI
    TEH
    OD
    PLEPEO

  2. Now, put the words into a sentence that makes sense.
    H_________ __________ ___________ __________ __________ __________ ___________ ___________ .



  3. Find the words from the sentence above in the word search. (All words are either horizontal or vertical.)



    N
    A
    N
    A
    P
    H
    L
    H
    G
    T
    E
    S
    N
    H
    S
    T
    O
    O
    Y
    N
    S
    T
    I
    D
    Y
    A
    T
    N
    T
    A
    T
    N
    P
    H
    N
    H
    Y
    H
    E
    H
    D
    O
    T
    S
    N
    E
    Y
    H
    E
    S
    D
    A
    A
    O
    E
    R
    N
    P
    L
    O
    T
    H
    T
    R
    I
    O
    G
    H
    D
    S
    H
    H
    Y
    E
    I
    A
    P
    T
    H
    I
    N
    G
    P
    O
    T
    G
    E
    T
    P
    E
    O
    P
    L
    E
    T
    H
    H
    N
    T
    T
    R
    A
    D
    E
    E
    A
    E
    T
    O
    T
    T
    E
    P
    D
    Z
    G
    N
    N
    D
    Q
    E


  4. Share a well-known news story with your child about a difficult consequence that happened when someone lied. Ask what he/she thinks might have happened if that person told the truth. emphasize the importance of truth for trust, self-esteem, and good relationships.


Activity: Perseverance

Character Crew: Perseverance

  1. Introduce your child to a new life skill that takes a lot of practice to master, such as sewing on a button, ironing a shirt (with a warm iron) or baking cookies. Encourage them to keep practicing and praise their progress.
  2. With your child, try a new sport or hobby such as bowling, flying a kite, or playing solitaire. Emphasize to your child that it is normal to face challenges when you first begin something, and that it is important to have perseverance in order to improve and succeed.
  3. Create words from P E R S E V E R A N C E by filling in the missing letter.
A__ __EE PE__AN
A__ C__P SE__VE
__EA V__RSE
__AN
__AN
__AN
__AN

Keep persevering until you get them all!


Activity: Responsibility

Character Crew: Responsibility

  1. Identify something that your child does well such as a sport, hobby, or household chore. Explain to your child that responsible people help others. Work with your child to find a younger neighbor or friend who might need help learning to do what your child is good at doing (for example: throwing a ball, painting, or riding a bike).
  2. Visit http://www.epa.gov/recyclecity with your child to learn together how many people practice responsibility by recycling.
  3. Help your child learn to care for a pet. Use the chart below to list pet-caring responsibilities for you and your child, and hang it in a public space. If you don’t have a pet, use the calendar for a chore chart. Discuss a small reward for your child if he or she shows responsibility by honestly filling in the chart for the week.

Sun
Mon
Tues
Wed
Thurs
Fri
Sat

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.


Story: Amiga, Friend

Character Crew: Hope

by Susan C. Hall

Sarah burst into the kitchen, wearing her biggest smile. "Last day of school, Mom! Summer's finally here!"

Her mother grinned back. "It's going to be a special summer, too," she said. "I've just learned that your cousin Maria will spend it with us."

Sarah couldn't believe her ears. "Cousin Maria? The one who lives in Mexico City? But why is she coming here?" Sarah asked.

"She's never been to the United States before. And since we have an extra bed in your room, your dad and I thought it would be fun to have Maria with us for a couple of months."

Sarah nodded. "I guess. But, Mom, we've never even met each other."

"I know. But she's your age. I think the two of you will become good friends. There is one problem, though. Maria doesn't speak any English."

"What?"

"Your dad and I speak Spanish. Things will be fine. You'll see."

I'm not so sure, Sarah thought. How can Maria and I become friends when we can't even talk to each other?

Maria arrived two days later. Sarah's parents talked to their visitor in Spanish, but she didn't say much. She just looked around shyly.

She's homesick and afraid, Sarah realized. I'd feel the same way if I were her. But if I can't speak her language, and she can't speak mine, how can I help?

As Sarah was getting ready for bed, she had an idea.

When Sarah woke up the next morning, she slipped out of bed as quietly as she could. She took some paper from her school notebook, picked up a pencil and on the first sheet of paper, she wrote the word "bed." Then she taped it to her bed's headboard.

She taped signs to the chair, lamp, desk, rug, bookcase, window and curtains. She couldn't wait for her cousin to awaken, so they could begin a language lesson.

But when Maria woke up and saw the signs stuck all over the room, she just seemed confused.

Sarah pointed to the sign on the chair. "See? This is a chair." She turned to Maria. "Say, 'chair.' "

She went to her desk, got more paper and another pencil, and handed them to Maria. "Write down the Spanish word for chair."

She began to write on the paper. When she finished, it read "silla."

"Silla?" Sarah asked, pointing to the chair.

Maria nodded.

"Now you say 'chair,' " Sarah said.

"Chair," Maria said smiling.

The girls went on labeling and pronouncing everything in sight, and by the time they caught Sarah's dog, the two girls were giggling together. The pooch bounded away wearing a sign reading: Dog — Perro.

She seems happier, Sarah thought, And I feel less strange around her. Maybe we can be friends after all.

Sarah found her mother reading on the front porch. "Hey, Mom, how do you say ‘friend' in Spanish?"

"A boy is called 'amigo.' A girl is called 'amiga.' "

"Thanks," Sarah said, hurrying back to Maria.

"Hi, amiga," Sarah declared.

Maria looked pleased. She pointed at Sarah. "Amiga."

Sarah nodded and gestured back and forth between the two of them, "Friend, amiga. Amiga, friend."

The girls beamed at each other.

They spent most of the day playing their new game, forgetting the words and going back over them until they remembered.

Sarah was glad summer had only just begun.

Discussion Questions

  1. At what point in the story does Sarah begin to show hope?
  2. How does hope help Sarah during this time in her life?
  3. What can we hope for Sarah and Maria's future?


Story: Bamboo People

Character Crew: Courage

by Mitali Perkins

The soldiers had set fire to our village. Since I was a baby, I had fallen asleep to the music of rustling bamboo leaves. Now the bamboo, like my people, was almost gone.

The Burmese army wanted our land, our green rice paddies, and our sparkling rivers.

Some of my friends and relatives fled to hiding places in the jungle nearby, hoping and praying that they could return to the village soon. Others, like us, risked the longer journey to the refugee camp across the border in Thailand.

The camp looked like our village, but it wasn't the same. We couldn't leave the area. We couldn't work to earn money. We couldn't even plant our own food.

Each month, a relief truck brought food and medicine. My father and the other camp leaders divided the supplies carefully and stored the extra. They would carry heavy bags of medicine, clothes, food, and books to our people in hiding. How I wanted to join them! It was the only way to keep our people alive until we were free to go back to our village.

My cousin Sayareh and I decided to prepare ourselves. Day after day, we helped the men cut the bamboo that lined the river.

Then one morning, Father's bag stood packed and ready by the door. It was time for another journey.

"Tooreh! Sayareh!" Father called. "One of the men is sick. To replace him, we must test you boys."

"Which boys will take the test?" he asked.

Wareh pointed to the biggest boy. "You first. Carry the pack to the river, walk to the bend and then turn back. I will time how long you take."

The boy swung the pack on his shoulders and surged forward. We ran after him. If the river had been slow and shallow, he could have walked straight down the middle. But the straight course was full of shaded, slippery rocks and the current was strong in many places. The boy zigzagged instead, leaping from one sunny, dry rock to another and staying in shallow waters. When he finished, the pack was dry and his time was good.

Next was Sayareh's turn. I ran beside him, shouting encouragement. I knew he'd do the same for me. At the bank, he ran headlong into the water.

"Look out!" I called, staying close behind him.

Sayareh slipped and fell with the pack on top of him. The swift current dragged his head under. With all my strength, I lunged forward and grabbed the handle on the pack. Sayareh was still clutching the rope that bound it.

"Don't let go!" I shouted. Slowly, I managed to drag him and the pack back to shallow water.

We trudged back to the group with Father easily carrying the pack.

"You can do it, Tooreh," Sayareh whispered, staying close to me even though I knew he was fighting shame and disappointment.

My first push took me to the river. I waded in, and the pack slid into the water with a splash. Struggling to my feet and hoisting it up again, I tried to think clearly.

Then I caught sight of the bamboo leaning over the water. I splashed across the river and grabbed one strong, flexible stalk. Using one stalk after another, I swung myself from one slippery rock to the next.

By the time I made it back to the group, I was gasping for air. After dropping my load, I slumped on the ground beside Sayareh. I had taken much longer than the first boy, but at least I had made it. My father could hold his head high, even if I couldn't join him on the journey into the jungle. I choked back my disappointment at the thought of him leaving without me.

"We have the makings of good men here," Wareh said. "But one of them is most suited to go on this journey."

He placed his hand on the shoulder of the big boy, who had made the task look so easy. "You did well," he said. "We will take you next time."

"Tooreh's time was not the fastest," Wareh said. "But he was the first one in the river to help his cousin. The pack was twice as heavy after it got wet, but he didn't complain. He used the bamboo to give him strength when his own was running out. He never gave up. Tooreh is the kind of man we will need in our time of trouble."

He lifted the pack. "Will you carry this again?" he asked me. "It will be lighter on the journey home."

"I will," I answered, looking over at Father, who was smiling and standing tall.

Discussion Questions

  1. Courage does not only have to do with physical strength. Explain how it can take courage to be honest, kind, helpful, or compassionate.
  2. Does it take courage to stand up for what you believe? What would you do if a bully asked you to steal for him?
  3. Have you ever been afraid to do what you know is right to do? What did you do or what should you have done?


Activity: Friendly Dinner

Character Crew: Respect

This activity teaches that everyone is different, special and should receive respect.

Gather

Go

  1. Give every family member a place mat. Have each person write his or her name in the center and draw a picture of something he likes or that represents him.
  2. Once everyone has personalized a place mat, pass the place mats to other family members. Around the edge of each person's place mat, the other people should write something special about that person as well as something worthy of respect.
  3. Carefully coat each place mat with contact paper. Use these place mats at dinner. While eating, ask each person to share what she wrote about the others.

Activity: Growing Respect

Character Crew: Respect

Have your children use the letter graph to complete the puzzle and find out how God wants them to treat others.

0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
V
H
C
L
M
Y
O
8
E
T
B
S
N
W
F
9
U
A
R
I
D
K
G

 

 

 

 

 

 

___
___
___
___
___
___
___
___
___
___
___
___
___
7,3
7,6
7,0
8,0
8,0
9,1
7,2
7,1
7,6
8,1
7,1
8,0
9,2
___
___
___
___
___
___
___
___
___
___
___
___
7,3
9,3
9,5
8,0
8,2
9,2
7,6
8,1
7,1
8,0
9,2
8,3
___
___
___
___
___
___
___
___
___
___.
9,1
8,4
9,4
8,3
9,3
8,3
8,1
8,0
9,2
8,3
___
___
___
___
___
___
___
___
___
___
___
___
___
9,6
9,3
7,0
8,0
8,0
9,1
7,2
7,1
7,6
8,1
7,1
8,0
9,2
___
___
___
___
___
___
___
___
___
___
___
___
___
7,4
7,6
9,2
8,0
7,1
7,6
8,4
7,6
9,2
8,1
7,1
9,1
8,4
___
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___
___
___
___
___
___
___
___
7,5
7,6
9,0
8,5
9,1
8,4
8,1
8,6
7,6
9,2
___
___
___
___
___
___
___
___
___
___.
7,5
7,6
9,0
9,2
8,3
8,0
7,3
7,0
8,0
8,3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Answer: "Love each other like brothers and sisters. Give each other more honor than you want for yourselves" (Romans 12:10, NCV).


Activity: Hold on to Your Trash!

Character Crew: Citizenship

  1. Have your family help organize a storage space at home - perhaps in a closet or in the garage - to save and sort recyclables (aluminum cans, glass bottles, paper and plastic products). Large plastic tubs work well if you have enough space.

  2. Share: "Because God has given us this wonderful world to enjoy, we need to do our part to take care of it. Recycling is one way we can do that."

  3. Tell your family what kinds of materials you will be collecting, and make labels for each bin. Explain why recycling is important. (It takes old materials and turns them into new products so we won't use up resources as quickly).

  4. Walk through your neighborhood or a local park, and pick up trash. If you find any recyclable items, show your child how to properly sort the different materials into the bins.

Story: Horse Sense

Character Crew: Responsibility

by Katherine Grace Bond, Sarah E. Bond

Today Carlos was starting his new business, Casper Rides. He planned to offer horse rides to kids in the field next to the new mall.

"What's taking you so long?" his friend Miles hollered from the stable.

Carlos said, "I can't find the saddle."

Miles squawked, "How's that possible? Aren't saddles pretty big?"

He poked his head into the tack room. "Oh my! How do you find anything in here? This place is a mess!"

"It's not that bad," Carlos picked up a squashed hat. "I know where everything is."

"Everything except the saddle." Miles said. "You know, Carlos, you've gotta get organized!" Miles was a neat freak: color-coded folders for his classes, bed always made, hair never out of place. He was annoying Carlos.

"Ow!" Carlos's shin hit something hard. "Here's the saddle. See?"

The town of Murphy was growing fast. The new mall looked strange, looming up above pastureland and the tiny country store. Carlos steered Casper into the field and stopped.

Miles slid off Casper shakily.

Mrs. Shapiro, Carlos's neighbor, soon pulled up in a green van. Her daughter Emma had taken riding lessons from Carlos last week. Three more cars and a truck pulled up behind them. It was looking like the business was going to work!

"Hey, Emmy, do you want to ride Casper?"

Emma nodded, "Okay." Carlos lifted her up and told Mrs. Shapiro it would be $6. Casper snorted with happiness.

Six other little girls lined up with their mothers. Two more cars pulled up, along with four boys on bikes.

This is great! Carlos thought. I'll make a fortune!

Miles went to work organizing the line of kids. "Everyone gets a six-minute ride," he said, checking his watch.

Carlos helped Emma down and Mrs. Shapiro handed him a $10 dollar bill. "I'm sorry, but it's the smallest I have."

Carlos said, "I don't have any change."

"Where's the cash box?" Miles sorted through Carlos' backpack but only found a bag of Doritos. He shook his head. "Carlos, if you are going to have a business, you need to you have bills and coins small enough to make change."

"I know that." Carlos groped in his pockets and pulled out a half-melted candy bar.

"Wait!" Carlos yelped. "I'll go get some change."

He dashed toward the mall, leaving Miles to mind Casper, and all the customers waiting behind.

When Carlos finally found a change machine, he saw Miles running toward him.

"All the customers left after you did. And then Casper made a mess on the ground!"

Carlos told his friend, "Miles, all horses go to the bathroom."

"But we need to clean it up with something. It's the law," Miles told him.

They headed toward the bathroom to try to find paper towels. Brownies and their mothers waved at them from the girls' department of Macy's.

"Where'd you tie up Casper?" Carlos asked.

"Tie him up?" Miles looked at him blankly. "I told him to stay."

"Stay?!!!" Carlos felt the blood drain from his face. "He's a horse, not a dog!"

Suddenly, shrieks came from the girls' department. A rack of clearance bathing suits bumped into the aisle. A table full of socks crashed to the floor as Brownies, mothers and clerks scattered. Carlos and Miles rounded the corner just in time to see a large white horse stepping carefully over shoe boxes and plastic purses. Casper swung his head around, draped in bathing suits, and whinnied.

"Horse loose on aisle 12!" came the announcement over the public-address system. Sirens blared. Casper turned at the escalator and headed for cosmetics. Carlos and Miles charged after him, along with the security guards.

Then Casper stopped. Standing next to the perfume was little Emma Shapiro, holding out an apple from her lunch sack. "Come on, Casper," she sang out. "Come have a treat."

Back at the stable, Carlos pulled out the cash box from under straw and boots. Fifty-two dollars and 76 cents. It would take all that and more to pay off the damages at the mall. No profit today.

Miles sat on the floor, drawing a chart. "Okay," he said. "Here's how it happened: Casper escaped because you went into the mall, which was caused by you leaving the cash box because you couldn't find it, which was caused by the utter chaos of your life."

"Don't forget that you didn't tie him up."

"Well, yeah," Miles said. "That too."

"Carlos?" Miles continued, "How about if I help you get organized in here? Then do you think you could teach me what to do with a horse?"

Carlos felt a slow smile coming to his face.

"Let's start with hanging up that saddle," Miles said. "Wherever it goes."

Discussion Questions

  1. In what ways do Carlos and Miles each behave irresponsibly?
  2. In what ways do Carlos and Miles each behave responsibly?
  3. How would behaving responsibly have helped these boys avoid some of the problems they encountered with the new business?


Story: Look Who Persevered!

Character Crew: Perseverance

Master of Invention

Do you know why the lights come on when you flick the switch?

Thomas Edison could've told you. He invented the light bulb more than 130 years ago. Edison also thought of nearly 1,100 other things that improved the world, including a power generator to make electricity, a record player to record and play back words and music, and a movie camera to film moving pictures.

Edison didn't hear as well as the other kids, so he couldn't understand everything the teacher said. Finally, when he was 10, his mother pulled him out of school and gave him books to read. She had been a schoolteacher and knew how to make learning fun for her son.

Chemistry and science were Edison's favorite subjects. His mother helped him set up a laboratory in his room, but quickly had him move it to the basement because he spilled chemicals and ruined the floor and furniture.

Edison enjoyed experimenting and improving other inventions. Because he wasn't a fast learner early on in life, he realized the importance of never giving up. And it's a good thing, since it took him more than 1,500 tries to make the light bulb work perfectly.

Science Guy

Albert Einstein is one of the greatest scientists of all time. But Einstein wasn't always wowing people with his deep thoughts. When he was your age, Albert was no "Einstein."

While many children learn to say words by the time they are 1, he didn't talk until he was 3 years old. Even as he grew, he had trouble putting thoughts into words. At 9, he rarely spoke or talked very slowly. His dad thought he was stupid, and the elementary school principal told his family it didn't matter what Einstein studied because he'd never be successful at anything.

He had a lot of trouble memorizing facts. Math interested him, because he had to figure out the answer instead of trying to remember the correct fact.

While he disliked school as a child, Einstein enjoyed playing the violin and building things. He loved to put together puzzles and create houses out of blocks and cards. Sometimes his card houses would be 14 stories high!

When Einstein grew a little, his uncle Jakob starting teaching him about difficult math problems at home. Einstein quickly learned the concepts and started solving problems that only much older kids were able to do.

By the time Einstein went to college at 17, he was a math and science whiz. He even got an article published in a German science magazine when he was 21.

Twenty-one years later, in 1921, Einstein won the Nobel Prize in physics, as the best scientist in the world.

Rise to the White House

Woodrow Wilson ran the most powerful country in the world for eight years. He was president of the United States during World War I and helped the Europeans defeat Germany. Not bad for a kid who didn't know the alphabet until he was 9 years old and couldn't read until he was 11.

Born in 1856 in Virginia, Wilson grew up listening to good books. His father was a Presbyterian minister and everyday his family would gather to pray, sing and read. Although Wilson couldn't read, his dad made sure he could speak well. He took Woodrow to see new inventions or read chapters from books. Then the two of them would talk about the ideas.

Wilson hoped to follow in his father's footsteps as a minister, but he got sick a lot at college and had to drop out.

By the time he returned to college at Princeton University in New Jersey, Wilson decided to study politics. He graduated from Princeton then entered law school.

Wilson's plan to serve people in government was put on hold when he became a college professor. He taught college for 17 years and even became the president of Princeton in 1902.

Eight years later Wilson was elected governor of New Jersey, and two years after that he became the 28th president of the United States.

He will always be remembered for his direct, honest and smooth way of speaking — even if he wasn't very good at his ABCs.

Discussion Questions

  1. Which man from history – Edison, Einstein, or Wilson – demonstrated the most perseverance in your opinion, and why?
  2. Being good at something takes a lot of work. What can you do really well? How did perseverance help you learn this?
  3. Have your parents tell a story about something where they had to use perseverance in order to succeed.

Adventures in Odyssey: Mayor for a Day

Character Crew: Citizenship

Listen to this Adventures in Odyssey episode with your family.

Quick Sum:

Underachiever Curt Stevens wins a contest and becomes the mayor of Odyssey for 24 hours. But government is no laughing matter, especially when Curt signs an order calling for Whit's End to be torn down! From this nightmare administration, we see that being involved in public affairs means more than careless or selfish choices.

Fast Ask:

  1. Why did Curt make such a terrible mayor?
  2. Public leaders say many things about their "beliefs" on this or that issue. How can you tell if they're really a good leader?
  3. Read Matthew 22:17-21. Is Jesus saying to give more than taxes to the government? If so, what else can you think of to give?

 

Based on the Adventures in Odyssey episode, "Mayor for a Day."


Story: Odd Man Out

Character Crew: Compassion

by Kelly Weg

"Watch out!" Too late. The basketball sailed out of bounds, smashing into a surprised boy.

"Sorry." I said.

"No problem," he shrugged.

"My name's Jacob. You want to play?"

"What are you doing, Jacob?" interrupted

Bret, the self-designated captain. "We've got enough players. We don't need him."

The school bell rang ending recess.

Speechless, I watched the guys clear the basketball court and head to class. Why were my classmates so rude to this new kid? Shifting my feet, I tried to break the awkward silence. "Maybe next recess."

"No sweat! By the way, my name's Andrew," he replied.

I hurried into school. A hand reached out of nowhere, grabbing my shirt and pulling me into an empty classroom.

"What are you trying to do, Jacob?" It was Bret.

"What are you talking about?"

"Don't tell us you haven't heard about that new kid? He's got a disease," Bret's voice was almost a whisper. "Joel saw him sticking a needle in his arm in the boys' bathroom. He's got diabetes. Our teacher keeps a drawer full of snacks in case he gets dizzy. It's weird."

"Next time you decide to get friendly with diabetes boy, leave the rest of us out. We don't want to be catching what he's got."

The next morning on the school bus someone slid into the seat beside me. It was Andrew. I was trapped!

"I know everyone calls me diabetes boy. This isn't the first time people have freaked out."

I felt a little sorry for him. "How did you get it, anyway?"

"I was just kind of born with it," he said matter-of-factly.

"It's not that bad. I just have to keep an eye on my blood sugar. But all the pricking and poking with needles gets old . . . "

Yikes! I thought. I can barely stand getting a shot every few years.

Andrew kept his distance after that.

I wasn't the only one avoiding him. In class, he always worked alone. I wanted to change that.

At the dinner table one night, I was thinking about Andrew.

"Is it possible to get diabetes from somebody?" I blurted.

"Why do you ask?" my mom asked.

I told them about Andrew.

"Sounds like Andrew could use a friend," Dad said.

"Jacob, the first thing you should know is that diabetes isn't contagious, like a cold. You can't catch it. But Andrew has to be careful. If his blood sugar gets too low, he could get a little confused."

"Any disease can be scary if we don't know enough about it," my mom replied. "But from what we know, people with diabetes can live perfectly normal and active lives if they take care of themselves."

I couldn't wait to get on the school bus and ask Andrew to sit with me. I really wanted to be his friend.

I went to bed early that night.

"Jacob, didn't you hear your alarm? Mom stopped short and gasped. "Oh, Jacob, look at you!"

Looking into the mirror later, I was shocked to see that I resembled a strawberry. I was covered in hives and itched like crazy.

After staying home because of my allergic reaction to strawberries, Mom finally agreed I was well enough to go back to school. A few red blotches still covered my face, but I felt fine.

Kids started teasing me the moment I walked into school.

People treated me differently. When the lunch bell finally rang, I sprinted for the door.

"I got the basketball!" one of my classmates yelled. "Let's start a game."

"Count me in!" I shouted.

"Jacob, I think you should sit this one out." Bret took charge of the court. "We don't want you spreading those hives or cooties or whatever you got."

"But guys, you can't catch it from me!" I tried to protest, but they weren't listening.

I plopped down on the side of the court. Andrew surprised me by sitting down next to me. "I see you're back."

"Hi, Andrew." We hadn't talked since we had shared the bus seat. "The guys don't want me to play. They're afraid of me because of the rash." I shook my head in disgust and took a swig of juice from the bottle I had taken from my lunch box.

"I know how you feel," Andrew replied with a smile.

Without hesitating, I offered him my juice. "Want a drink?"

His eyes showed surprise. Grinning, he slowly took the bottle.

"Thanks."

That was the first of many things Andrew and I shared as best friends.

Discussion Questions

  1. Who showed compassion in this story? Was it Jacob or Andrew? Or did both of them show compassion?
  2. Have you ever known someone who has a chronic illness, disease, or disability of some sort? If so, do you treat them differently? How? What do you do that shows compassion?
  3. If you had a chronic illness, disease, or disability, how would you want to be treated by others?
    Being safe is good, but even people with contagious sicknesses need compassion.


Adventures in Odyssey: Our Daily Bread

Character Crew: Hope

Listen to this Adventures in Odyssey episode with your family.

Quick Sum:

The Barclay family is thrown into turmoil when George gets laid off from his job. How will they make ends meet? Will Jimmy and Donna have to beg for money at the park? Will George have to hunt squirrels for dinner? In the midst of despair, the family discovers the truth of putting its hope in God through good times and bad.

Fast Ask:

  1. When George announced that he lost his job, how did the family react? Do you think they reacted the right way?
  2. How did George feel when he went to the unemployment office? What did Harvey say that changed George's attitude?
  3. Read 1 Timothy 6:17. If the Barclay family had followed this verse, how would they have acted differently at the beginning of the story?

 

Based on the Adventures in Odyssey episode, "Our Daily Bread."


Adventures in Odyssey: Relatively Annoying

Character Crew: Respect

Listen to this Adventures in Odyssey episode with your family.

Quick Sum:

Alex T. Jefferson has a good life; he only wishes it didn't have to end this way. He doesn't think he's strong enough to survive a week at Grnadpa's house! It's bad enough that his grandparents serve disgusting food and talk about death all the time. But then Grandpa takes away Alex's video game — his only source of entertainment!

Fast Ask:

  1. Why didn't Alex respect his grandparents at the beginning of the show? How should he have acted differently?
  2. At the end, Alex said he understood his grandparents a little better. What allowed him to understand them more? How can knowing people better help us develop a deeper friendship with them?
  3. Read Leviticus 19:32. If Alex had read and obeyed this verse, how would he have acted differently?

 

Based on the Adventures in Odyssey episode, "Relatively Annoying."


Activity: Showing Compassion

Character Crew: Compassion

  1. Work with your child to solve this word search.

    Hidden Words:

    KIND
    CONCERNED
    GOOD
    CARING
    HELPFUL

    Z
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  2. Work with your child to pick out 5 toys or games in your closet, and take your child to donate them to a collection site in your community. Be sure to explain to your child what donating is, and why you are doing it.
  3. Help your child draw a card for an elderly relative or friend who lives far away.


Story: The New "Losers' Club"

Character Crew: Excellence

by Nicole Brambilla

Kahil strolled onto the playground. This new school year felt like a visit to another planet. He was a sixth-grader — a glorious sixth-grader. Last year's bullies were gone to junior high.

All last year they had harassed him by calling him "short stuff" and making faces at him in the hallways. Well, he wasn't "short stuff" anymore!

Kahil had grown 6 inches in three months.

New bullies took the place of the old ones. Some things never change. Just this morning on the bus Kahil had seen Marty stumble, and Kahil was pretty sure it was over Edgar's foot. Marty was the shortest kid in the fifth grade. Boy, did Kahil remember what that was like!

As he neared the cluster of trees, he heard shouting. Screened from the view of the playground supervisor was a circle of boys — a fifth-grader cowered in the center.

Kahil wasn't surprised to see it was Marty.

"Hey, Mini-Mart!" the boys shouted."Hey, loser!"

Marty looked scared. Kahil felt sick to his stomach.

I can't let another kid go through the same thing I did, he thought. Evil men do not understand justice. Well, I sure do!

At lunchtime, Marty brought Kahil to a far table where two other fifth-graders sat.

"Teagan and Luke," he said, "meet Kahil."

The two looked at Kahil uneasily.

"We're used to getting grief from sixth-graders," Marty explained.

"Relax," Kahil said. "Nobody's going to mess with you while I'm here."

As if on cue, Edgar and six of his crew sidled up to the table.

Teagan looked worriedly at Kahil. A picture of knocking Edgar to the next table formed in Kahil's mind.

Kahil stood to his full height. "Blessed are the peacemakers," he said calmly.

"What a weirdo," Edgar mumbled. "C'mon, let's get out of here."

They left. Teagan and Luke looked at Kahil with unconcealed admiration. Kahil straightened his shoulders and sat down.

"Welcome to the club," he said.

"What club?" Luke asked.

"The Losers' Club," Kahil said.

"These bullies just don't get it," Kahil said. "But we don't have to let them bother us."

"You stop them in their tracks, Kahil," Luke said. "They're afraid to come near you."

Afraid of me? Kahil found the thought a little startling. But maybe fear was what it took to make bullies understand justice.

As the weeks went by, Kahil tried not to notice the way most kids crossed to the other side of the hall when he passed. But these "little nasties" were getting to him more than he wanted to admit.

One Friday, Kahil felt different, jumpy. Edgar and his gang sniggered by the boys' bathroom. Something was going to happen, and it wasn't going to be good.

The Losers' Club only had to wait a day to find out what. Three minutes into their Saturday meeting, they heard a SPLAT! Marty poked his head out of the stump and quickly pulled it back . . . covered in raw egg!

"Come on out, Losers!" Edgar jeered. "It's time for breakfast!"

Kahil had a sour taste in his mouth. No way were they going to get away with this. This was war!

"Yaaah!" Kahil shouted.

He tore out of the stump, straight into a flank of boys and a barrage of flying eggs. Edgar stood with his army jacket tied around his waist, egging on the eggers. Edgar darted for the egg carton, and his jacket fell to the ground. Kahil snatched it up. Then Edgar saw his jacket. "You better give that back," he said.

Edgar's face fell. "I want it back," he said. There was a note of pleading in his voice. Ed's buddies shifted from foot to foot, but nobody went after the jacket.

Kahil smiled. He noticed a jagged branch, sharp enough to shred cloth. Now he had this bully where he wanted him.

Kahil whipped the jacket onto the branch.

"Don't!" Edgar yelped again. "It's my brother's."

Kahil stopped.

"My brother's overseas," Edgar choked out. "He's been gone seven months." He took a breath. "If you wreck his jacket, I'll make you pay."

"So make me pay," he said and reached to give the jacket a yank.

"Kahil," Marty said, " 'blessed are the peacemakers.' That's what you said."

Kahil's energy drained. Peacemakers? What about justice? Evil men do not understand justice. He looked at his hands. Who was the bully now?

Carefully, Kahil removed the jacket from the branch.

"That must be tough," he said quietly. "You must miss him."

Edgar snatched his jacket and shrugged.

"At the gate, Edgar turned and looked back — not a mean look this time, just unsettled.

"You know," Teagan said, "I don't think we're the Losers' Club anymore."

Kahil nodded. "I think you're right."

Discussion Questions

  1. When does Kahil show excellence?
  2. When doesn’t Kahil show excellence?
  3. When doesn’t Kahil show excellence?


Story: Too Many Bad Things

Character Crew: Honesty

by Nicole Brambilla

Daniel waved at his mother who was watching from the kitchen window. She waved back. He tossed his new football into the air and caught it again.

He was having fun without being bad. That was good.

That was before Daniel saw the neighbors' big, gray cat.

He watched it crawl along the top of the wooden fence that divided his back yard from the neighbors'.

"You mean old cat!" Daniel shouted.

Daniel didn't like that cat. He had tried to pet it once and got a big scratch.

The cat yawned, then scratched the top of the fence. Tiny pieces of wood floated down to the grass.

"Stop wrecking my daddy's fence!" Daniel demanded.

"You're in big trouble," Daniel said. He took the football and threw it with all his might.

At the last possible instant, it jumped out of the way. The ball flew over the fence, passing right where the cat had been.

"Wow!" Daniel whispered. He couldn't believe he'd come so close.

Then he heard a SMASH!

"Oh, no!" he groaned.

Daniel crept toward the fence and peeked through a crack. He saw his football lying by the wall of his neighbors' house. And right beside it was a big blue flowerpot cracked on one side. "Oh, no!" Daniel moaned. What am I going to do?

Daniel walked around to the gate.

I should ask for permission to go into our neighbors' yard, he thought. But then Mom will find out about the bad thing I've done. Daniel shook his head. He didn't want that to happen. Instead, he checked the latch. Good, it's not locked.

Opening the gate, Daniel walked inside.

He ran toward his football and quickly picked it up. Staring at the broken flowerpot, he wondered what to do.

Whatever I do, I better hurry, he thought. I shouldn't be here.

Daniel stuffed the pieces of pottery into the pocket of his sweatshirt.

"This is really bad," he mumbled.

Grabbing the flowerpot with both hands, he spun it around until the broken spot faced the wall. He smiled. The bad thing was hard to see.

Now I've got to hide the pieces, he thought.

Closing the gate behind him, Daniel searched for a place to hide the broken pieces.

"Daniel, where have you been?" Mom asked as she headed up the sidewalk. "I've been looking for you."

Daniel wanted to say that he'd been playing in the front yard. He wanted to lie.

But that would be another bad thing. He remembered his first bad thing: throwing the ball at the cat. He felt bad about the second bad thing: smashing the flowerpot. Then there was the third bad thing: going into the neighbors' yard without permission. He suddenly realized his fourth bad thing: trying to hide the broken flowerpot.

And now Daniel wanted to hide all his bad things with a big lie.

No, that would be really bad, he decided.

"Mom, would you still love me, even if I told you some bad things I've done?" he asked.

His mother smiled. "Of course, Daniel." She knelt beside him, so she could listen better.

Daniel took a deep breath and pulled a hand full of pottery out of his pocket. Mom could see the broken pieces, but that was okay. This would be good.

Discussion Questions

  1. At what point did Daniel have to choose between honesty and dishonesty?
  2. What caused Daniel to choose honesty?
  3. What might have happened if Daniel had chosen to be dishonest?


Story: Truckload of Gifts

Character Crew: Citizenship

by Nicole Brambilla

Sitting on the carpet in front of the television in his room, Zachary Gomez jerks the video game controller back and forth. He's close to beating his high score on his favorite Nintendo game.

The room is kind of small. But Zac doesn't care about the size of his room or even that he has to share it with his little brother, Xavier. Zac knows some kids would think he has quite a lot.

His room is decorated with karate trophies — Zac 's an orange belt. He's also collected a ton of movie-related toys.

Zac knows the difference between wants and needs — probably better than most people living in North America. He understands because eight years ago Zac lived with his mom and baby brother in a shelter for more than six months.

Zac remembers employees at the shelter making huge stacks of clothes in the middle of a large room for the families to pick through. And he remembers how grateful everyone was.

Before coming to the shelter, Zac — who was just 4 years old at the time — had never owned any toys of his own.

"They had a huge room with stuffed animals," Zac recalls wide-eyed. "And I picked a Gumby. I had Gumby for four or five years. It was brand-new. It was my first toy."

And now he wants to help other kids. For the last two years instead of blowing out candles on his birthday, Zac has stood on his feet all day collecting blankets and toys for the family shelter.

The event all started as a Cub Scout project. His den leader asked the boys to give a blanket to the shelter for the chilly West Texas winter months. But Zac decided he wanted to do more.

He turned the pack's project into a citywide fund-raiser. Zac phoned local radio and television stations and a couple of national companies to help. In just three short weeks, he had collected enough donations to fill a 20-foot trailer.

"I want to do this because I know how those people feel, and I want to reach out to others," the sixth-grader says. "Most people don't realize how little people have at the shelter. I just had a bed, some clothes and something to take a shower with."

The success of the drive surprised everyone, especially Zac.

"I thought it was going to be kind of small," he says. "I didn't think it would be big."

The collection brought in winter coats, blankets, toys and other items to help moms get back on their feet.

With all the interest the clothing drive received the first year, Zac decided he wanted do it again. But this time he started earlier, so it could be even bigger.

Several weeks before the big day, Zac jotted down a "To-Do List" in his journal. He made lots and lots of phone calls, and all his work paid off. Taco Bell, Wal-Mart and a local radio and television station jumped to take part in the event. And after an article about Zac appeared in the local paper, donations started coming even before the big collection day. Because of all the community support, Zac thinks he'll celebrate his December 9 birthday this way every year.

Now he has a new focus. "I can't save the world," he says with a sigh. "But I can make it a better place."

Discussion Questions

  1. What motivates Zac to practice good citizenship?
  2. Why would you want to practice good citizenship? What are the benefits?
  3. Share the last time you, or somebody you know, practiced good citizenship.


Activity: What Does Courage Mean To You?

Character Crew: Courage

1. Tell your child about a time when you were in a scary situation, but used courage to succeed. Next, ask and discuss the questions: 2. Ask your child, "Who is your hero?" Work with your child to write a story about the hero. Encourage him or her to explain how the hero has courage.

3. Help your child circle the one word in each line that is spelled correctly. Discuss the definitions of each word.

halpful helpful helphul hepful
courage curage cerrige kurij
srong strawn strawg strong
brova brave bave bayv
protekt pratekt protect proteckt

Activity: What I Hope For

Character Crew: Hope

Unscramble the following words that describe hope:

1. eamdr

_______________________

2. ishw

_______________________

3. iefbel

_______________________

4. fathi

_______________________

5. golas

_______________________

6. lanp

_______________________

Now, match the words with their definitions below.

1. If you want something, it is also called a ________________.

2. If you have an idea to do something, you should make a ________________.

3. The final reason for doing something is also called the ___________________.

4. Something that you believe in is called your personal __________________.

5. When you think about something you want in the future, it becomes your ___________________.

6. When you trust and believe in something very strongly, you have _________________.

Now, have each family member fill in these sentences and compare answers.

1. What I hope for my future is _________________________________________________.

2. What I hope for my family's future is _________________________________________________.

3. What I hope for the future of the world is _________________________________________________.