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Homemade Felt Ornaments for Christmas

Homemade Felt Ornaments for Christmas

My assistant Robin is such a genius! Look at these ADORABLE homemade felt ornaments she created for her Christmas tree! Wouldn't they be awesome as a gift from a child, or to decorate your home with a classic Christmas feel?  Just download this pattern, cut out the colored felt, and stitch. Easy-peasy, cute-and-fun gifts!

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25 Ways to Stay Sane in December

25 Ways to Stay Sane in December

25 Ways to Stay Sane in December

It happens every Christmas … all your warm, fuzzy ideals end up in shambles, leaving you feeling frazzled and stressed. The easiest way to stay sane through the holidays is to set balanced expectations of yourself, your family, and your budget.

Start the month right, by planning ahead. You can work on at least one thing a day to make the whole month easier for you to manage!

1. Make Ahead Meals – Spend the first weekend filling the freezer with meals for your family. (Learn How)
2. Freeze the Party – Cook what you can for Christmas week and Christmas dinner. (Holiday Freezer Cooking)
3. Create a Gift List – Decide who will receive gifts and how many, and keep the list with you. (Gift Ideas)
4. Read Great Books – Choose holiday classics to read aloud together. (Holiday Reading List)
5. Choose an End Date – Choose your last day of school before Christmas break and mark it on the calendar.
6. Set Time Limits – Do the academics in the morning, with less structured afternoons.
7. Focus on Fun School – Focus on P.E., Culinary Arts, and Home Economics. (How to Collect Credits)
8. Do Less “Schoolish” School – Eliminate a workbook, textbook, or assignment this month.
9. Swap School Strategy – Don’t add any assignments unless you take something out.
10. Set Your Budget – Christmas is not about money or gifts. (Money Saving Tips)
11. Prioritize Family – Sing, cycle, sled/toboggan, ice skate, or watch holiday classics together.
12. Savor Sane Moments – One peppermint mocha or pumpkin latte can make a difference.
13. Make Bake Ahead Treats – Bake sweet bread or cookies, or freeze cookie dough to enjoy at a busy time of the season.
14. Create Family Traditions – Decide what memories you want to create for your child and work on them.
15. Practice Self Care – A warm bath, candles, and chocolate can change your perspective.
16. Pay for Help – Hire a housekeeper, landscaper, or helper for one day.
17. Focus on Family – Your mission is your family right now, so enjoy it without guilt.
18. Date Your Spouse – One babysitter for one night can help get you through the month.
19. Decorate Simply – Be realistic and choose what is easy to set up and take down.
20. Take it Easy – Not everything should be handmade; choose the easier way when possible.
21. Watch Body Mechanics – Grab a chair and pay attention to your posture while crafting and wrapping.
22. Love Your Neighbor – Take a treat of baked goods and fruit to their door with a card and a smile.
23. Serve Others – Volunteer to serve, or perform music at church or a retirement home. (Volunteering Ideas)
24. Set Aside Quiet Time – Use that daily reminder to keep your focus on what is most important.
25. Just Say No – Politely but firmly decline opportunities that take your focus away from priorities.

Holiday seasons — especially between November and January — are busy times. Celebrations such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and Hanukkah seem to tumble ontop of each other, with no time in between. For many homeschoolers, it seems that any idea of homeschooling goes out the window during these times. Is it possible to stay sane and continue to homeschool, even a little?!

I hope these suggestions help you stay sane and not have a "nutty" in December! Breathe deep and enjoy this time with your children!

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Holiday Writing Prompts for Homeschooling Christmas

Holiday Writing Prompts for Homeschooling Christmas

My favorite Christmas school project was our yearly creative writing assignment based on Norman Rockwell art. Have you seen some of his holiday paintings?  Amazing creative holiday writing prompts!

I asked my boys to choose any picture in Norman Rockwell's Christmas Book. Their assignment was to write a story behind the picture. They came up with some GREAT creative writing ideas, and the pictures really helped to get those creative juices flowing.

This tradition of creative holiday writing prompts was how my son Kevin came to write "The Santa Scandal."

"No one would see him. These and numerous other seductive thoughts flew through Andrew's brain like arrows. It was Christmas Eve, and his parents were out doing a little last minute shopping. There was a choice; be a good boy and go to bed, or sneak into his parents' room and hunt for presents."

During December, we would only do a few of the most challenging subjects - math, science, foreign language. For English, we switched our assignments and exchanged them for Christmas writing.  The boys would write their Christmas cards and letters to friends. We listened to Handel's Messiah, and other Christmas music. When my kids were much younger, many of their winter projects came from Family Fun Magazine. You can find great craft ideas through the Family Fun website. Using their suggestions, we made many gifts for our family and friends.

Although they would finish their schoolwork at about noon, we had strict rules limiting TV and computer time during our "homeschool lite" season. The kids normally helped me with all the shopping, baking, cleanings, decorating, and preparing. Then they spent the rest of the day pursuing own interests.

Remember, colleges like "passion" and want to see kids take an interest in their own activities. December is a good time to allow specialization! Many students will do many hours of volunteer work. They may work hard on a Christmas play or musical. Older teens may consider a seasonal job or extra babysitting for friends. Make sure you somehow capture the hours from these activities, and put it on their transcript. These hours might be a class called Occupational Education or Home Economics, but sometimes you'll want to save those hours to record them as volunteer work.

By the way, Kevin's story about "The Santa Scandal" ends this way.

For a moment, the drawer seemed to contain nothing of importance. There was nothing but dusty, red clothes. Andrew dug deeper and uncovered a pointy fur hat. "Now that's odd. Why would Dad have red clothes and a hat. Unless..."

As his thoughts slowly caught up with him, his parents barged in from the living room - early. Andrew let out a strangled cry and whirled about. In his hands was the incriminating evidence, and on his face was written a mixture of horror, disbelief, and betrayal. Shaking with tears, he finally cried out, "You STOLE Santa's clothes?!?"

Haha! I love that!  I still can't believe his creative conclusion!

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3 Big Ideas That Save Money on Gifts

3 Big Ideas That Save Money on Gifts

You can save money on gifts for the holidays!

Several great ways to save money on gifts included: buying things that are useful AND are things you will eventually need to buy anyway.  Buying gifts that improve your chances of receiving really great scholarships saves you money in the long run, too! Here are three HUGE ideas to help you save money on gifts this holiday season.

 1. Buy Great Books 

Many homeschoolers love great books and reading! Quality literature can improve the chance of college admission and scholarships. How does that work? Simple! High quality literature can improve SAT or ACT test scores by improving reading, analysis, vocabulary, and other English skills. Even remedial learners can improve test scores by reading, as long as you choose books carefully. Check out my College Bound Reading List for great ideas for books that will perfectly fit your child.

2. Buy Necessities for College

When your children get ready to leave for college, there are things you're just going to have to buy. They will need an alarm clock that they know how to use. They'll need their own personal laptop for their school work. You can save money by giving your teenager some of these things now, for Christmas, so you have less to buy in the spring when they graduate. You can also purchase some comfort items now, like a cozy blanket that they might find familiar when they first face homesickness. Check out my College Packing List for great ideas on what you will need to be shopping for.

3. Buy Gifts That Earn Scholarships

Colleges love "passion" in applicants. We homeschoolers call that "delight-directed learning." So when you buy things that fuel their passionate pursuits, whether that is music, mushrooms, chess or chemistry, you are actually investing in "passion." That passion could be rewarded with college admission and scholarships. Yes, a computer or microscope can seem expensive now, but it could be an investment in the future. Check out my list suggestions "Giving Gifts that Pay for College."

For more ideas on staying sane and saving money, you might like this short coffee break book filled with tips and suggestions!

Homeschooling the Holidays: Sanity Saving Strategies and Gift Giving Ideas 

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Fun Christmas Ideas for Kids and Families!

Fun Christmas Ideas for Kids and Families!

As a homeschool family, you have the freedom to use the month of December for special activities related to the holiday season. I have put together a list of my favorite fun Christmas ideas for kids and entire families! I hope you enjoy them!

Christmas ideas for kids of all ages:

  1. Instructions for 3D Paper Snowflakes
    I think a collection of these snowflakes would make for a wonderful and graphic kid-friendly display.

  2. Homemade Cinnamon Ornaments
    Wouldn’t these make your tree smell so delicious? Only 3 ingredients in this recipe!

  3. How to Cut and Fold Great Snowflakes
    Paper snowflakes are such a fun project for everyone. I love the first glimpse after unfolding the paper!

  4. Cute Cookie Snowmen
    These cute snowmen are so fun, bonus that they are tasty!

  5. Make a Cute Fudge Gift
    Practice giving to others with a sweet and easy homemade gift!

  6. Indoor Snowball Fight
    Be unexpected and host an indoor snowball fight! This is especially fun if you live somewhere very unlikely to get snow for the holidays!

  7. Make-at-home Character Ornaments
    How fun are these for kiddos who have a favorite character?

  8. Kids Books with Matching Activities
    Combining reading Christmas and winter books with a fun activity seems like the perfect holiday school day!

  9. Snowflake Ballerinas
    These DIY snowflake ballerinas would go along perfectly with a study of The Nutcracker!

  10. Make LEGO Ornaments
    Speak the language of little engineers with these instructions for making LEGO ornaments

  11. Candy Cane Hunt
    This sweet scavenger hunt looks like such a fun thing to do with little guys!

  12. Snowball Slam – A Game
    This easy-to-make game uses materials that most people have around their home.

  13. Fizzling Candy Canes
    Use candy canes as part of a fun science experiment!

  14. Pom Pom Christmas Tree Painting
    This is a fun craft idea for littles to paint their very own Christmas trees!

  15. Handprint Reindeer
    What a sweet way to cherish little hand-prints that won’t be little for long!

I hope you get the chance to try some of these projects and enjoy the special holiday season with your little guys and your high schoolers!

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Games Across the Curriculum: Christmas Gift Suggestions

Games Across the Curriculum: Christmas Gift Suggestions


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After-Christmas Kindle-Filling Party

After-Christmas Kindle-Filling Party

It's an After Christmas Kindle-Filling Party and you're invited!

The HomeScholar is having a party, a Kindle-filling party! Did you get a Kindle for Christmas? We can help you start filling it! For
FOUR DAYS ONLY, All Coffee Break Books are only $1 each! Choose from titles that give you practical tips and encouragement,
and will help with those New Year's Resolutions:

* Creating Homeschool Balance
* Scheduling - The Secret to Homeschool Sanity
* Beyond Academics: Preparation for College and for Life
* Graduate Your Homeschooler in Style

Click here for the full selection!

If you don't have a Kindle, you can buy one with some of that Christmas money now!  Kindles are fantastic for homeschooling families: hundreds of books in one place and no overflowing shelves! Books you need for your curriculum are available at the click of a button or tap of a screen! You will save SO much money on books with a Kindle filled with free or discounted books!

Act now - don't miss this sale on our Kindle books - $1 each December 25-28th until midnight only!

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The 25 Gifts of Homeschooling: The Gift of Obedience to The Lord

The 25 Gifts of Homeschooling: The Gift of Obedience to The Lord

25. Homeschooling is the Gift of Obedience to the Lord

Homeschooling is our gift of obedience, because we are doing what God has asked us to do. We give this gift knowing it was asked only of us, and we don’t look at the actions of our friends.  We are responsible for our own actions, and our own actions are our gift of obedience. We don’t look at the actions of, or criticize others.


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The 25 Gifts of Homeschooling: The Gift of Faith to God

The 25 Gifts of Homeschooling: The Gift of Faith to God

24. Homeschooling is the Gift of Faith to God.

Homeschooling is a gift of faith, demonstrating our faith in Christ that everything will work out for us.  When we first decided to homeschool high school, we went almost entirely on faith: faith that we would be able to finish the job, faith that our kids would end up well-educated, faith that we wouldn't ruin their futures. We don’t have faith that things will be perfect, we have faith that things will work out within God’s will regardless of our imperfections.  Our daily actions are a gift of faith, and we have faith that it will all work out in the end.


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The 25 Gifts of Homeschooling: The Gift of a Love Offering to God

The 25 Gifts of Homeschooling: The Gift of a Love Offering to God
23. Homeschooling is a Love Offering to God


We are called to homeschool our children. This is our fragrant love offering. We are giving what we have to Christ.  Like the little drummer boy who gave his gift of music, and the widow's offering of a mite, and the alabaster jar of myrrh that Mary gave, our gift of homeschooling is meaningful to God. This gift of homeschooling is just as meaningful as the gold, frankincense, and myrrh at the birth of Christ. We are giving what we have.

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The 25 Gifts of Homeschooling: The Gift of Citizenship

The 25 Gifts of Homeschooling: The Gift of Citizenship

22. Homeschooling is the Gift of Citizenship


While homeschooling, we have more time for volunteer work and public service.  Studies show that homeschoolers are more likely to be involved in the community when they grow up. They are more likely to vote. We are bringing up first rate citizens by homeschooling our children for the future!

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The 25 Gifts of Homeschooling: The Gift of Vision

The 25 Gifts of Homeschooling: The Gift of Vision

21. Homeschooling is the Gift of Vision

We can teach our children history, so they will not be destined to repeat it.  They can place events in the bigger picture, and see the long-term consequences.  Delight directed learning can encourage the creativity that is so important in the 21st century. We can teach them faith, so they can make the world a better place. As they grow and face the world, their faith can spill out and have a positive effect on their community and sphere of influence.  They can bring other people to faith. Their economic choices will also shape and mold our society.

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The 25 Gifts of Homeschooling: The Gift of Adaptability

The 25 Gifts of Homeschooling: The Gift of Adaptability

20. Homeschooling is the Gift of Adaptability


The world is changing so fast, we can’t be sure what the future will hold. But we can teach our children how to learn, so they can adapt no matter what the future holds. No matter what jobs they have in the future, our children will be ready for them when they know how to learn.

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The 25 Gifts of Homeschooling: The Gift of Passionate Interests

The 25 Gifts of Homeschooling: The Gift of Passionate Interests

19. Homeschooling is the Gift of Passionate Interests


Colleges want to see passion in applicants.  Passion is what homeschoolers call delight directed learning, the cornerstone of home education. The interests that students develop can guide college and career planning. Passion can improve the chances of college admission and big scholarships.

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The 25 Gifts of Homeschooling: The Gift of Eager Minds for Employers and Universities

The 25 Gifts of Homeschooling: The Gift of Eager Minds for Employers and Universities

18. Homeschooling is the Gift of Eager Minds for Employers and Universities

The love of learning continues right into college. Homeschooling can foster eager minds and creative thinkers unencumbered by mass education. Homeschoolers who enjoy learning will grow into adults who enjoy learning, and the eagerness for education is a valuable commodity for colleges.

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