Strengthen Your Family Through Biblical Homeschooling

Tag: Christmas

kid painting crafts

Holidays & Homeschooling

If you’re like me, one thing you need is extra time to prepare for the holidays. Do you need to find a way to relax on schooling through the holidays as well?

In those early years of homeschooling, I made a list of all the Christmas activities, traditions and shopping I needed to do. I plopped on the couch in despair. How would I get it all done and homeschool too?

Incorporate Festivities

The mailman delivered a ray of hope. I received a public school flyer with their December schedule printed. It was overflowing with school plays, holiday concerts and parties! I let out a sigh of relief. They too were making special considerations by giving the students a lighter academic load to put the holidays first.

Before I knew it, all was calm again.  Instead of dreading the holidays, they became a source of joy and warm memories. We continued this tradition of lightening academics through the holidays for the entire time we homeschooled.

I decided to capitalize on homeschool flexibility by focusing on the core subjects of math and language. This opened the rest of the time for something more light and festive. A unit on evergreen trees, the history of ginger bread houses, chocolate or candy canes became an inspiration. Who wouldn’t want to write a report on those?

I employed my love of paper crafts and instituted the re-purposing of Christmas cards into ornaments to use and give away. (I realized the teacher needed a refreshing activity as well!)

Below are ways to benefit from the creative side of education while enjoying the holidays.

Holiday Activities

  • Study geography by drawing a map and studying international Christmas traditions. Draw in special icons or prepare special foods.
  • Do the same with states. Study how Americans celebrated Christmas in each century.
  • Bake bread – measure, count and double!
  • Prepare a care package for the military troops. Add personal handmade cards or letters. Send them early. Many times it takes up to a month to receive them
  • Write a family Christmas play.
  • Enjoy outdoor winter sports like sledding, ice skating, skiing and animal tracking.
  • Read Christmas classics and favorites aloud.
  • Be community minded by helping distribute goods to needy families, collecting warm coats, reading to the elderly, or Christmas caroling at nursing homes.
  • Take field trips to a bakery, candy factory, pioneer museum or zoo. Many times zoos have Christmas specials like lighted train rides and decorations!
  • Sew Christmas gifts like pillows, sachets or a soft baby book or Nativity Scene

More ideas of Christmas Crafts for Children

Check out this video with ideas for refreshing our homeschool and busting through those mid-semester blues.

This article was originally published on our Homeschool Launch Blog.

 

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You can also find many more articles on the topic of Family and Holidays under blogs.

 

Rethink Home Education

To further your reading, we have a special ebook that we would like to send to you. It’s entitled “RETHINK EDUCATION, Turning Scary Questions About Home Education Into Exciting Possibilities.” It was written after countless conversations with moms who are either considering homeschooling or struggling with doubt. My heart in writing it is to offer hopeful answers to some of the questions moms tend to be asking… and you might be surprised at which ones didn’t make the list. I would love for it to become a resource you could share with your friends who are considering home education, or who are wondering if they’ll keep going. So, grab your copy today! – Leslie Nunnery

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snowman in the snow hand made

What is a Word Family?

One of my favorite ways to help young readers learn to read is to use the patterns found in word families. What exactly is a word family? Word families are words that share the same ending chunk (rime), but have different beginning beginning parts (onsets). For example, words such as cat, bat, sat, fat, that, and mat are all a part of the -at word family.

The How Behind Word Families

There are several reasons reading and writing by word families are helpful.

For example, word families can help those younger readers who struggling with blending words together. Word families also help kids write new words by their shared patterns. Let’s say your child knows how to spell cat. But in his writing, he needs to spell bat and he’s not sure how. You can say, “How do you spell cat?” (Child spells C-A-T). Now you can help him relate it to a word he knows by saying, “Well, since bat and cat are in the same word family, all you have to do is take off the c on the front of the word and put a b there instead.”

Reading new words by word families works very much the same. When your child comes across an unknown word that is a part of a word family, relate it to a word he already knows that has the same pattern. It is absolutely amazing how many words can be read and spelled simply using the most common short and long vowel word families.

Christmas Tree Word Family Sorts

To integrate a little Christmas fun into your word sorts, download this FREE Christmas Tree Word Family Sorting activity. It features 10 short vowel patterns and 10 long vowel patterns.

cut out the ornaments and sort on the trees by word pattern | Teach Them DiligentlyPrint out a Christmas Tree mat with a certain vowel pattern you’d like your child to work on (say, short o). Then print out the corresponding ornaments. Cut the ornaments apart, mix them up and ask your child to read each word and sort them on the correct tree (using the pattern on the star as your guide). You can choose from the patterns created or there is also a blank Christmas Tree and ornament template for you to write your own.

Also included in the pack is this writing template. After your child sorts his ornaments, he can write the pattern in the star and then record all his words on the trees with lines. Merry Christmas!

 

To download a FREE copy of Christmas Tree Word Family Sorts, click HERE!

 

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Becky is a homeschooling mama to four little blessings who keep her on her toes {and knees}. Desiring an “outlet” to share her ideas and passion for literacy, she started www.thisreadingmama.com, where she posts printables, literacy curricula, and learning activities.

 

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christmas placemat

Advent Christmas Season

With Christmas quickly approaching and our to-do list ever growing; we may wonder how to keep the kids busy and focused in the right direction. One of my favorite holiday projects has been to make placemats for the Advent Christmas season with an easy cut and paste method that helps to keep those important reasons for the holiday season in clear view.

How to Make Placemats

homeschool craft project

We save Christmas cards sent to us each year so we have an abundance lying around and its great way to up-cycle them. Then we trim and glue them in collage fashion on large 11 x 14 inch construction paper. There may be a special Christmas card sent from cousins overseas last year or ones from grandparents and close friends.

I start by clipping the corners of the construction paper then place it on top of holiday wrapping paper and cut around it. Now I trim the wrapping paper one inch all around and glue it in the middle.

One year we wrote Happy Birthday Jesus on holiday stationary to add in! I even added Language Arts by having the children write a sensory poem to glue in the middle then add all the Christmas cards around it.

  • Christmas sounds like…       (have your child fill in the blank) 
  • Christmas looks like…
  • Christmas smells like…
  • Christmas tastes like…
  • Christmas feels like…

We retell the Nativity Story by using those types of Christmas cards and gluing them onto the paper. Some cards even have the names of Jesus on them written in beautiful script: Prince of Peace, Immanuel, Messiah. We cut those out to use as embellishments. The dollar store is a great place to find inexpensive cards if you don’t have any to use or throw a Trade Old Christmas Card’s Party. When finished, laminate the placemats inexpensively at the local teacher’s store or Office Max. Little ones love to sit and eat all through the season on these festive placemats! They can recount the nativity story scene by scene and keep the most important things in front of them.

For more crafts visit my blog Homeschooling for Jesus.

New Millennium Girl Books Author-homeschool writing books

 

Jan May is author of New Millennium Girl Books: Christian mid-grade novels for girls and interactive creative writing books that hook even the reluctant writers! She is also a fifteen year homeschool veteran and creative writing teacher. Jan enjoys igniting creativity in children and believes that given the right tools and encouragement, any child can write and love it!

 

 

This article was originally published on our Homeschool Launch Blog.

 

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Do you want more fun articles on a wide range of topics like discipleship, academics, family, encouragement and general homeschooling?  Just click here to search the vast blog library!

 

 

More Blessed to Give

Teach Them Diligently 365 members, listen to:

“More Blessed to Give”

The Christmas season is a wonderful time of year to instill in your children the joy of giving. 

How are you instilling the joy of giving in your kids? 

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Do You Hear What I Hear?

I first noticed it last December. How I had missed it for forty-something years, I have no idea, but I did. Last December was different, though.

Last December, I heard something that made my heart leap, and filled me with wonder.

I heard hymns being sung in stores and being played on the radio. I heard people who don’t know the Lord singing His praises– “Oh, Come let us adore Him, Christ, The Lord!” “Fall on your knees…Oh, night when Christ was born.” “Joy to the World, the Lord is come!” People who don’t know our God were joyfully lifting their voices in songs of praise to Him at this time of year. I stood in awe.

“How can they sing about what they do not know?” I wondered. And then I realized what an amazing opportunity God gives His people each year to tell them about what they are singing. Do we hear it? Do we take advantage of it?

Many of us have been sharing ideas for things that we can do within our family– Advent reading calendars, decorating trees with the names of Christ as we examine Who He is and what He has done for us, and more– and those things are critically important for keeping our own hearts and minds stayed on Him and for shepherding the hearts of our children to know and love Him wholly.

But, are we missing even bigger discipleship and outreach opportunities, because we aren’t listening?

At this time of year, when people are joyfully singing praise to the Newborn King, wouldn’t it make sense that we would do everything we can as God’s families to introduce them to the One they are singing about?

Easy Christmas Outreach Ideas for Families.

One year, when our children were much younger, we made candy cane ornaments with little gift tags that detailed the legend of the candy cane. They offered us an instant evangelism tool as we left them behind with cashiers we met at stores, gave them to family members, and more. We may never know the impact those little gifts had on the recipients this side of eternity, but it allowed our children to see just how important it is to show people kindness and love and to tell them about Jesus.  Here is a nice article about the legend of the candy cane, including a printable tag you can use when you hand them out.  (Me, not being so creative, simply purchased a couple of kits from Oriental Trading. The kit we used doesn’t seem to be available anymore, but this one is similar.)

Another thing that our family has done through the years at different times has been to bake breads and make homemade apple butter to take out to our neighbors, along with gospel-rich cards. The kids always enjoyed the baking and preparation time as much as they did the visiting with neighbors time, and they still ask me each year if we’re going to bake for the neighbors. Especially the first time we did this, we were taken aback by just how much this simple act meant to those we were blessing with our little gifts.

You could host a Christmas Caroling party at your home. Open your doors and invite your neighbors to go Christmas Caroling with you. This is a great way, not only to help people reconnect with the Christmas story, but also to help your family engage your community through God’s love. Pray that God allows you to open natural conversation with them about some of the lyrics they are singing. You may be surprised to find hearts wide open for the good news of the gospel during this season, and at the very least you will be building relationships that God can use to open more doors throughout the year.  Your children will see the importance of reaching out to those God has placed closest to you, and they will have a fun evening to remember as well.

I have heard of church groups setting up Christmas present wrapping stations at local malls and shopping centers, perhaps your family could do the same. Or, perhaps you could simply offer your services within your neighborhood. Once again, this expression of kindness can be used to open doors for gospel conversations both this month and then continuing throughout the year as you build that relationship. This doesn’t take a whole lot of preparation, time or money, but it would definitely be a great way to show God’s love as you bless others during what can become a busy stressful time for many.

Minister to those in need this Christmas season. The days and nights are long and very cold for those who are in need, and this time of year provides a natural way for believers to meet those needs physically which often opens the doors for us and others to meet spiritual needs as well. In our community, there are rescue missions, donation stations, and more that can use our help. Perhaps, your family could open your hearts and home to widows in your church or neighborhood, military families who are separated this holiday season or who are adjusting to a new way of life after a deployment is over, college students who don’t have the money to go home for the holidays, young couples who find themselves alone this Christmas, etc. Perhaps you and some friends could carol at a local nursing home or retirement community. There are needs all around us, and this season provides a wonderfully natural platform for God’s people to meet them as we celebrate the greatest gift ever given.

If you have a lot of young families in your neighborhood, perhaps you could use this time of year to host a Christmas craft party for some of the children. When school gets out, many families struggle with the lack of routine. Hosting a fun morning for the young moms and their children could become a fun tradition in your neighborhood, and could open some great doors for building relationships and sharing your faith.

For Unto Us Is Born This Day

These are just a sampling of ways your family could take advantage of the open doors that are all around us this month. Will you? Will you (and I) make it a priority to look outside of ourselves and step out of our comfort zones to share the good news of this miraculous birth with those all around us? Will we tell them the true good news of this season– about the greatest gift ever given? Will we model for our children what love for God and others looks like when it is lived out? Will we take a break from the busy-ness we create for ourselves this season (and all year long, really) to truly focus on others and on the open doors God provides for us?  Will we allow our soul to thrill as we hear the big, professional voices singing praise to our God through the loudspeakers of the grocery store and shopping centers, and will we be moved by His great gift to us to share His love with everyone we can?

Looking for more Christmas Outreach ideas?

Here is an article we published several years ago by Ann Dunagan about having a Mission-Minded Christmas. Here is a good reminder from Rachel Jankovic about keeping your priorities in order this Christmas.  And, here is a very short article, featuring a Christmas essay written by one of my children several years ago that is sure to turn all of our hearts and minds right onto what we should be focusing this month.

Your Turn To Share!

Share some of your family’s best Christmas outreach ideas and traditions in the comments below. I would LOVE to hear from you!

 

O Holy Night

O Holy Night!
The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till he appear’d and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary soul rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!
Fall on your knees
Oh hear the angel voices
Oh night divine
Oh night when Christ was born
Oh night divine
Oh night divine
Truly He taught us to love one another
His law is love and His gospel is peace
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother
And in His name all oppression shall cease
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name

 

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Guest Post by Rachel Jankovic, author of Loving the Little Years and Fit to Burst.

With Christmas fast approaching, I’m sure many of us can feel that pull of stress and exhaustion. It is like sitting at the top of a stress slide, scooting forward inch by inch. We know what is coming, and we might already be worried about how we will land in the bark chips at the bottom. While Christmas may always be busy for us, here are a few simple things to think about that may help control some of the stress.

How To Handle Stress This Christmas

Traditions Are Tools

First of all, traditions are tools. They are tools that we use to make culture, to make memories, to make childhoods. Traditions are not a base that we have to tag or we can’t count the run. It isn’t as though failure to make the gingerbread house makes your Christmas a sham. If we were craftsmen, we would not mark our success by how many of our tools we touched. We look at the product. The point of gingerbread houses, and cookies, and homemade stockings, and Christmas pajamas, and hot chocolate, and presents, and shopping, and caroling, and lights, and every joyful tradition you can think of is JOY. If you are failing to get that result, using a lot more tools will not help.

Joy is not something that you can manufacture through traditions, it is something you can shape with traditions.

But the joy itself cannot come from festive moments, or new gifts, or tasty treats. The joy can only come from our salvation. After that, it is expressed in our physical world through our traditions – through what means we have at hand.

If your Christmas is not joyful, get things right with God. The joy of our salvation is the substance of celebrating. Traditions are simply a human response to great joy. Love your traditions because of why we have them, but never love them apart from our deepest joy.

Tighten Up Normal Things

Second, you can reduce stress tremendously by tightening up on the normal things rather than loosening up. Tighten up your standards on yourself first, and then your children. Do not use the holidays to have a self-indulgent spiritual slump. When you feel rushed, it is easy to give yourself leeway that you shouldn’t. Baking a lot of cookies is not an excuse to snap at your children. “Needing” to run errands is not an excuse to ignore your small child’s temper tantrum and just buckle them up, napless and mad, to go peeling off to the mall. Do not get into a cycle of bribing with treats instead of blessing with them. This is a time to follow through. Be clear, be calm, and be consistent. This will not decrease your work load, but it will sweeten it considerably!

It is also a great gift to your children – helping them to celebrate such a precious time from a place of security and peace.

If you are finding it impossible to do the things that you think you need to do while maintaining joy in your home, you need to lower the standard. Years ago we went to a wedding where one of the bridesmaids no longer fit into her dress and wore it down the aisle unzipped in the back. Don’t be like that.

Fancy traditions, or fun shopping expeditions, or huge parties, or insanely perfect gift buying are all beautiful, but not if you no longer fit in them. There comes a time to either size up or sit it out. Be reasonable about what you can accomplish, and do what you can joyfully do.

Prepare Your Children For Disappointment

Third, and this may sound terrible, but I promise it isn’t, prepare your children for disappointment. Anticipating opening presents is such a fun thing for kids that it is easy to forget that Christmas is full of temptations too. It is a good idea to talk to your kids about what to expect. We talk about envy, and thankfulness. We talk about people less fortunate, and people more fortunate. We try to have our children aware that Christmas morning is hugely joyful, and that we all need to discipline our hearts and stay in fellowship.

We have used the illustration of running with our kids -look in front of you – the way you are running – and be thankful. Whenever you start looking at what other people are getting, or what other people are doing, you are likely to run into something, and it will probably be a big envy tree.

This certainly applies to grown-ups too. Do not spend a lot of time or energy examining the motives of celebrations of others. Christmas celebrations are a response to our salvation. Look at your own feet, at your own work. The fact that people out there are just talking about Santa, and Holidays, and Xmas and being all greedy and ugly and commercial about it really doesn’t matter. The power of a joyful, thankful, God-honoring celebration is not touched by people who do not know God and are trying to mimic it. Psalm 37 sums this up nicely when it says “Fret not thyself because of evil doers, neither be thou envious.”

Do not spend your time getting wound up over the sins of others. Do not tie yourself into knots over unbelieving family members or friends who are doing things wrong. Take responsibility for yourself, and leave their hearts to God.

Get Your Head In The Game

Live in your home..Fourth, get your head in the game. With so much happening all the time, it is easy to slip into a pattern of virtual life. When we view our phones and computers as relaxation we can start turning to them when we feel stressed. Live in your home, with your children and husband. Don’t spend all your time looking at other people’s ideas – have some of your own! Try leaving your phone on the counter all day, and skip facebook. Spend your downtime actually down and not hopping all over the virtual world. You are needed in the real world, try to be there.

Remember What We Are Doing In The First Place

And lastly, the best way of all to keep from getting grumpy and wound up and stressed out about Christmas is to remember what we are doing in the first place. We are celebrating that God dwelt among us. That He sent his son to redeem us. This is not a big burden. This is about the absence of a burden. We are not obligated to party. The excitement, the joy, the laughter, the lights, the food, the presents: this is all part of the glory of having been forgiven. We are free to do this, and we are free to do this with light hearts. Because “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given .” (Isaiah 9:6)

That child wasn’t just born to be a neat story from a long time ago.That child was born so that the world might be born anew in Him.

This is not just the birthday of our Savior, this is one big collective birthday celebration for all who have been born in Him. Don’t let a little anxiety or a big to-do list separate you from the joy of that salvation.

It isn’t that we shouldn’t be stressed because Christmas doesn’t really matter anyways. Our stress is simply pointless. Christmas is so much bigger than our little efforts to mark it. It is so far beyond us, that we should take comfort in knowing that our celebrations – our paper plates of cookies, our singing of glorious carols, our joyful gifting to others – it can only scratch the surface of a joy that is so big, so vibrant, and so deep that it changed the world.

The love of the Father for his perfect Son is so great that we have been caught up in it. Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas, indeed.

Get even more encouragement to help you keep things in perspective by attending Teach Them Diligently 2016. Learn more about our events, which are Christ-centered at their core and are designed to help parents sure up the foundation of why God called them to do what He has called them to do. We all need encouragement and the great fellowship available when thousands of like-minded families are around in this day and age! We would love to see you there! Click here for more details.

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About David and Leslie Nunnery

Leslie Nunnery and her husband David founded Teach Them Diligently, the nation’s premier source for gospel-centered homeschool events. With seven years of homeschooling experience from preschool-high school and a passion to encourage and equip homeschool families, this mom of 4 shares her know-how and insights weekly through Teach Them Diligently media and on TeachThemDiligently365.com.

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