Book Review–“Praise God with Banners”

I just realized that I’ve referred to this wonderful resource many times, but never actually reviewed it! Since this book has been so helpful to us, I thought others might like to know about it, as well.

Praise God with Banners

As the name suggests, this is part of the Praise God with… series that CPH publishes (other titles include another family favorite, Paper Plates, as well as Paper Cups, Paper Bags, Shapes, and Puppets). The books are meant for classroom or church use (but are also great for home use!), and are reproducible. All of the patterns are meant to be used on a 9×12 piece of felt or construction paper, to create a personal-sized banner, but are easily enlarged for full-sized banners suitable for classrooms.

The majority of the book is dedicated to banners for the church year, but there are a few ideas for Bible banners, as well. Each banner has a basic design, with suggestions for colors of paper or felt for each piece, and also has additional ideas for extra embellishments, from gemstones and sequins to glitter and yarn. There are also suggestions for phrases and Bible verses appropriate to each banner. The back of the book has a full alphabet and numbers that you can reproduce as templates for whatever words you choose to put on the banner…I used these for some of our banners, and printed off my own fonts for others. There is also a brief “Lesson Connection” for each banner.

This is one of the most useful books we have in our homeschool library. We were able to create a full church year’s worth of banners from the designs, and may make a few more specific ones in the future. Some of the banners we made are almost identical to the plans in the book, while others were created using the book as a jumping off point, and then coming up with our own additions. I used some of the phrase suggestions, and came up with some of my own using words from hymns and other Bible verses for some banners. I also combined and/or repurposed some of the suggestions to make exactly what we wanted for some portions of the church year.

I highly recommend this book to teachers and parents. I’d like to think that even if we weren’t homeschoolers, we’d still have made church year banners for our playroom, to make a solid connection between church and home.

The Church Year in Banners

Well, we’ve finished all of the banners for our school room…this was definitely a labor of love! We have three up at all times…the seasonal banner, Luther’s Seal, and the Alleluia banner, except during Lent, when the Jesus Tree takes its place. We may make a few more banners in the future, specifically for Holy Trinity Sunday and Holy Week, but they’re not necessary, and will be done as time allows. We have the whole church year covered now, which was the goal when we started this project last fall!

The Alleluia Banner

I decided that in addition to our church year banners, our school room really needed an “Alleluia banner.” It’s hanging in the spot our Lenten Jesus tree will hang, which works out well, since Lent is the one time of year I’ll need to put the Alleluia banner away! The alleluias represent the liturgical colors of the year: blue for Advent, gold for Christmas (I know, Christmas isn’t a gold day, but white wouldn’t show up on white) and Easter, green for the time after Epiphany and Pentecost  purple for Lent, and red for special days like Pentecost and Reformation Day. I considered adding scarlet for Holy Week as well, but I couldn’t find a shade of felt that I liked, and I really didn’t have room, anyway.


I modeled this banner after the one at our church. It is, of course, not nearly as lovely as the church version, but I think it does a fair job of mimicking it, and tying church and home together in a very visible way.

Banners for the Time of Christmas

For our first Christmas school craft, we made banners for the time of Christmas. The time of Christmas is broken into three seasons, so we had three banners to make. They were a lot of work, but a lot of fun, too!

The season of Advent (only the first flame is glued to the banner–the rest can be added as Advent progresses):


The season of Christmas (to be used for the 12 days of Christmas and the day of the Epiphany):


The season of Epiphany (to be used on the days following Epiphany, until the beginning of Lent, as well as the time after Pentecost…all of the green days):


We spent a lot of time going through the banner book, choosing designs, colors, and appropriate Scripture verses, deciding where the glitter glue should go, and then putting them together. The whole family got involved! We’ll continue working our way through the church year…we have plans to make banners for Lent and Easter, as well as an Alleluia banner (we already made a red banner). After we’ve made the basic banners, we may move on to specific banners for Holy Week, and other themed banners…we’ll just have to see how it goes. It’s another nice way to tie our church life and home life together!

Reformation Wrap-Up

Today marks the end of our month-long study of the Reformation. Here’s a review of all the things we learned and the fun we had!

We read lots of books, some out loud, and others as book basket selections. One of our favorites every year is the Luther biography by Paul Maier.

We made eight lapbooks, one as an overview of the people and events of the Reformation, and the other seven focusing on different Reformers.

We also learned about seven rulers (plus Pope Leo X), and completed a notebooking sheet for each.

Of course, everyone’s favorite part of our studies were the crafts. We designed our own coat-of-arms:

Made stained “glass” windows:

Illuminated letters and practiced being scribes:

Made a banner to hang in our school room:

And, of course, made Luther’s Seal:

We also listened to a lot of music, some by Luther, some by Bach, and some by other Lutheran hymn writers.

We were supposed to go on two field trips this month. The first one was a visit to the Saxon Lutheran Memorial Fall Festival in Frohna, MO, I had to cancel that on account of fog, which was disappointing because it’s one of our favorite events every year. Our other field trip, that actually worked out, was going to the Seminary in St. Louis to hear Ryan sing “Ein Feste Burg” with the American Kantorei as part of the Bach at the Sem series. That same day, we also got to attend a fun Reformation Celebration at our church.

We even enjoyed a German meal at home on Reformation Day! Jägerschnitzel with buttered noodles and sauerkraut for dinner (with Leinie’s Oktoberfest beer for those of drinking age!), and homemade apple strudel for dessert…delicious!

This was a fun way to spend the month of October, and I’m glad I finally came up with an in-depth unit for us to learn all about the Reformation!

2012-13 School Year–Week Nine

This was kind of a weird week, as varying children were under the weather with some kind of upper respiratory something or another. We did still have school, but I cut back on what we were doing so as to accommodate those people who were feeling lethargic. For Ladybug, that meant taking the week off from Language Arts, although she did insist on trying (with surprising success!) to read everything she encountered. We also took a break from science, which is the easiest thing to step away from, both because we were at a natural break anyway, having finished the digestive system and nutrition chapters, and because there is more wiggle room in the science schedule than in any other of our subjects.

We’re finally starting to move into some new territory in math. Ladybug is working on finding the number that comes between two other numbers…totally easy for her, but still good practice. She loves numbers and counting, so math is very natural for her. Turkey and Bunny are working on factor trees, and the difference between prime and composite numbers. I wish there was an easier way for them to skip ahead a bit, because the stuff they’ve been working on (mostly review) has been so easy…I think that’s one of the challenges of working with a spiral curriculum ..there’s no good place to just leap forward!

In our Reformation studies, we finished our last lapbook, the one for John Knox. We also learned about several rulers, including Protestant-friendly Edward VI, and Catholic supporters Mary Tudor (“Bloody Mary”) and Philip II. We read about C.F.W. Walther, as well…this would have been even more interesting had we actually been able to go to the Saxon Lutheran Memorial a few weeks ago, but we are planning on visiting his gravesite before the month is over. For our craft project, we made a banner for our school room. Over the next year or so, I plan for us to make banners appropriate for each of the major church seasons/festivals, so we can have a constant visual reminder of the church season we’re in. Since it’s Reformation time, we made a red banner, which looks a little more Pentecost-y than Reformation-y, but will work for our purposes…at least the color is right! The children really enjoyed going through the banner book and choosing the pattern they wanted, and then arranging the pieces just so on the banner. I’m really looking forward to making the rest of the banners with them, starting in Advent!

In history, we finished up the Reconstruction era. Next week, we’re going to suspend our regular American history lessons altogether, so that in addition to wrapping up the Reformation, we can take some time to learn about elections and how government works.I’m hoping this gives the children some idea of our electoral process that is not the constant barrage of commercials, phone calls, and junk mail we’ve been receiving! We’ll also be starting our November “thankful tree” on the first. I’m looking forward to all of the fun Thanksgiving things we’ll be doing in the coming weeks!