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Sunday, December 18, 2011

A homemade book for Christmas

Homemade Christmas cookies!
What better gift is there than a good book?

Books stay with you. You live in them, and if they are especially helpful, life-giving ones, their words come back to you when you are in tight spots.

I have put a tutorial here about how to bind a good book. If I were to give one as a gift, I would fancy it up a bit; perhaps spring for a colored file folder, print out colored labels, add a ribbon for holding one's place, etc.

Printing one's own book and giving it away is wonderful because it can be unique--there are so many wonderful authors and titles that have lost favor in modern times, and yet are so rich!

Our children love to receive books--they know to expect them from me this time of year, and so they look forward to it. Besides making them, I gather them from all sources; thrift stores, online, etc. 

Here are just a few ideas of those online that can be printed out and gifted: words of one syllable These are the results of a search I did for books written "in words of one syllable" for early readers. Many titles to choose from here.

Snuggle up to a good book!
Charlotte Yonge  Here are the results of a search for the authoress. She is considered a truly "Christian" author of the Victorian era--some criticized here for being "too" Christian.

Elizabeth Prentiss Another wonderful authoress--penned the well-known "Stepping Heavenward" which I discovered via Elizabeth Elliot.

G. A. Henty Every young man should read a few of these!

George MacDonald This author is a household favorite. C.S. Lewis enjoyed his writing immensely.

Rudyard Kipling  Little children love his Just So Stories--our favorite is How the Elephant Got His Nose.

James Baldwin He had an engaging way of writing about history--fun stories to share aloud or alone.

Sunshine for Life's Pathway I recently discovered this one, and I found it very interesting. This one presents much food for thought and meditation on all sorts of Biblical subjects--even some humor. Consider this little ditty:
When Adam, waking, first his lids unfolds,
In Eden's groves, beside him he beholds,
Bone of his bone, flesh of his flesh, he knows,
His earliest sleep has proved his last repose.

I'm printing this one out as a "Merry Christmas to me" present, that is, after I get all of my other projects finished...we're hoping that you and your family have a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Homeschool

The three wise-men following the star of Christ!
Someday, I am going to begin planning in July for December...someday when all of my children are grown and there isn't anyone left to plan for!

Meanwhile, in the real world, I need to face the facts; there is no way for this mother to keep up the grind of formal homeschooling during the holiday season. Besides, if I did my children would rebel.

Instead, I try and do a stress-free "Christmas school". Every one of those nifty craft projects that were too messy or time-consuming to do at any other time, Bible study, poetry, Christmas stories, original compositions, are all very much a part of my December plan.

The children begin their salt dough creations!
For one thing, every one of my children knows that the holidays mean salt dough creations—the children love to work in this stuff almost daily. Good thing Sam's Club sells a mega box of salt for only 98 cents! We work, bake, and then paint and decorate them. Many of these turn out to be wonderfully sweet decorations that are saved as keepsakes and hung on the Christmas tree each year.

Next, we also love to create Christmas cards—of different varieties. These are great, sneaky ways to get the children to do some unofficial copy work while filling the insides with creative poetry—and because others may see these, the handwriting, spelling, and grammar receive closer attention! 

God's Word is precious!
For Bible study, I am having the older children study the nativity accounts from the Gospels and then complete a comprehensive, written narration. I am also requiring them to memorize a Christmas carol from our hymnals and play at least the melody on an instrument of each person's choice (around here that means keyboard, guitar or recorder).

Creating a family newsletter is another great way to keep the kids writing. It is a cinch to fix up a first-rate booklet to send to family and friends via desktop publishing. I have used PrintMaster to create newsletters in the past. It is so enjoyable to include family photos, scans of original artwork, prose and poetry the children compose themselves. The funniest stories we ever included were the ones dictated to me by the tiniest children in the family—verbatim!

Besides these, there are so many great resources for coloring pages, mazes, crossword puzzles, cut-outs, etc. for free on the Internet. Here are a few of the sites I am using this year:

A time of thanksgiving...
Activity Village

I am using the Christmas decorating pages from Activity Village, both as activities for each of the children, and coloring in and laminating a set of each to use as a file-folder game. The snowman set from the Disney site is perfect for one of these folder games as well.

Activity village also offers a series of coloring pages covering the nativity with lines for narration or copy work! I have printed and copied some mazes and dot-to-dots for my tiny ones from here as well.

For Christmas math we just allow the kids to purchase gifts for each other—the practical application is worth 50 workbook pages! reflect on all God's blessings!
Of course, there is also a lot of hand-crafts happening in all sorts of secret ways and places for Christmas gifts—I can't share all of that here for fear of giving away some surprises!

Additionally, one should never discount the baking of yummy cookies and other good things—we are cracking out the "What Einstein Told His Cook" book to delve into the "why's" and "how's" of sugar, etc. Science with a smile!

What are some of the ways you like to incorporate stress-free learning during the holidays?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Technology is not necessary for a good education

Here is an interesting piece on just how wonderful it is for children to be able to live without the constant intrusion of electronic gadgets--besides the Waldorf method being so closely related to how we homeschool everyday!

The smartest, most creative and innovative people in our nation know that children need time to play and think before they get used to being limited to the spoon-feeding of media of all types.

Guess what's not on our Christmas list this year?--technology!