Threads of Hope

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Most of you know that our family is in process of adopting a sibling group from Colombia. We are partnering with an amazing organization, Threads of Hope, to help raise funds.

You can learn more about Threads of Hope by watching this short video.

 

We are selling the bracelets for $2 each with a shipping fee of $2 for *any* size order. You can email me to order (adoption@dreniarb.com), and we will accept PayPal, check, money order, etc. for payment.  Please specify how many and what color choices you’d prefer.

Thank you so very much.

Winter Fun ~ A Bucket List

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Happy First Day of Winter!

Even though Christmas will be over in a few days, you can continue to make great memories with your kids.

Inspired by our Summer Bucket List, here is a customizable Winter Bucket List! You create a unique list by choosing 20 wonderful winter activities and projects for your family.

Ideas (from the fabulous moms on the Homeschool Share Message Boards)

1. Make snow ice cream.

2. Collect mittens, scarves, and hats for people who need them.

3. Build a snowman.

4. Drink hot cocoa.

5. Watch Frosty the Snowman together.

6. Memorize Isaiah 9:6-7 together.

7. Make snow candy.

8. Hang suet treats in the trees for birds.

9. Make paper snowflakes.

10. Go ice skating.

11. Take treats to a nursing home or an elderly neighbor.

12. After a fresh snow, go on a walk and look for animal tracks.

13. Have a game or puzzle night.

14. Make homemade marshmallows.

15. Put food coloring and water in spray bottles and go “paint” the snow!

16. Grow crystal snowflakes.

17. Keep a winter bird watch log.

18. Make snowflake tortillas.

19. Go sledding!

20. String cranberries and popcorn and put them in trees for forest friends.

21. Have an old fashioned taffy pull!

22. Drink some hot apple cider.

23. Make GIANT paper snowflakes!

24. Shovel the snow off the sidewalk for a neighbor.

25. Go on a winter scavenger hunt.

26. Make snow angels.

27. Build an igloo or snow fort.

28. Make an ice man.

29. Ask local friends and family to help you gather food for a food pantry.

30.  Examine snowflakes.

31. Make winter sun catchers.

32. Check out library books about polar animals.

33. Make S’mores in the oven.

34. Go out on a not-so-horribly-cold night and look at the winter constellations.

35. Spread a tablecloth on the floor and have an indoor picnic.

36. Movie night!

37. Spread shaving cream all over the table and add cars and plastic toys for some indoor “snow” play.

38. Make snowball cookies and take some to a neighbor.

39. Learn all about Snowflake Bentley.

40. Snowball fight!

41. Make sparkly snow play-doh.

42. Eat some snowman biscuits.

43. Build a tent and read books together.

44. Create indoor ice sculptures.

45. Make some snow globes.

Five Favorite Christmas Books

It’s Christmas!  I love this time of year–the preparations for Christmas day, the lights, the music, and yes, the books.  I tried to come up with one favorite Christmas book to share with you this month, but I just couldn’t narrow it down, so here–in no particular order–are five of my most favorite Christmas books to share with my kids.


When my son was young we read this story so many times we both had it memorized!  Mrs. Wishy-Washy’s Christmas follows Mrs. Wishy-Washy’s mischievous cow, pig, and duck as they sneak inside for a warm bath while she’s out doing her Christmas shopping.  Mrs. Wishy-Washy comes home to find a huge mess but forgives the animals and passes out their presents.  The rhymes in the book make it flow easily and as I said earlier, make it easy to remember.  The pictures are simple and sweet and cozy and will make you want to visit Mrs. Wishy-Washy’s farm again and again.  (And if you love this story, don’t forget to check out the free Mrs. Wishy-Washy lapbook at Homeschool Share!)

What Star Is This? is a beautiful book that imagines the star over the manger as a comet traveling through space to alert the Wise Men to the location of the newborn King.  The pictures in this book are absolutely gorgeous and have a crackled finish that make them look like something from a museum.  The rhyming text makes it easy for young readers, but older readers will also enjoy this one because it is such a unique take on the traditional nativity story.

Jan Brett’s Gingerbread Baby is another book that has been a favorite in our home for years.  Brett’s intricate pictures keep even older children’s attention as they follow the gingerbread baby on his adventures and the fast-paced story is entertaining, too.  Gingerbread Baby (and the follow-up, Gingerbread Friends) are fun books to read each Christmas as you bake cookies or make gingerbread houses.  You can even use Homeschool Share’s gingerbread lapbook for some fun Christmas school.  Jan Brett’s website is another great resource with many printables and videos, like this one of her reading and drawing the Gingerbread Baby!

The Trees of the Dancing Goats is actually more of a Hanukkah story, but it beautifully illustrates the spirit of Christmas.  Young Trisha and her family are preparing to celebrate Hanukkah when their Christian neighbors fall ill with scarlet fever.  Trisha and her family work to give their neighbors a Christmas to remember and in turn experience their own Hanukkah miracle.  This is a wonderful story that shares many different Hanukkah traditions that may be unfamiliar to young children.  Homeschool Share also has a free lapbook to go along with The Trees of the Dancing Goats.

I heard The Best Christmas Pageant Ever as a read aloud several times as a child, but when I read it as an adult for the first time, I was stunned at how differently I felt about it.  The Herdmans are that family.  The children steal, swear, and smoke cigars and pretty much rule any situation they’re in.  When they hear about free snacks at church they show up to check things out and end up starring in the Christmas pageant.  Year after year the pageant has been the same, but after the Herdmans become involved, it’s clear that this year’s show will be something entirely different.  What no one realizes, though, is that this is the year that the Christmas story will become real for so many of them.  The Best Christmas Pageant Ever will make you laugh until you cry and then make you shed a tear as you watch the Herdmans react to the miracle of Christmas.

I hope you enjoy these books this Christmas season and that you and your family have a very merry Christmas!

Uncle Sam and Old Glory

I love American history! We live in such an amazing country and our history is made up of so many fascinating stories that we’ve all heard so many times—so many times, it seems, that the specifics begin to blur a bit and when our kids ask for details about something, we’re not completely sure anymore! Or perhaps you have the opposite problem: You know so much about our history that when your kids ask a question, you go overboard with your explanation and bore them out of their minds. Whichever problem you have, Uncle Sam and Old Glory:  Symbols of America is a great resource to solve it!

So what is a symbol? As adults, we know exactly what symbols are, but it may be a new concept for young children. In the introduction, the authors talk about how “symbols give us a sense of community and show other countries some of the things that are important about America: freedom, democracy, and a spirit of optimism.” Even young children will be familiar with some of the symbols discussed, and they may even be able to find them in your home!

Delno and Jean West have compiled information on fifteen different American symbols, ranging from the American flag to Smokey the Bear. They reveal the origins of the symbols and what they mean, and in some cases, they talk about how the symbol is viewed or treated today. In the section about the American flag, for instance, they talk about how some people burn the flag as a protest and how that has led to disagreements among Americans.

Each symbol is covered in about a page of text and has an accompanying picture. The publisher lists the book as being geared to seven to ten year olds, but these would be great as short read alouds for younger children, too. Because there are so many short sections, you could use this as a resource to pull out when you’re learning about different topics—the Mayflower and pilgrims at Thanksgiving, or the buffalo and cowboy when you’re learning about westward expansion. Whether you sit down and read it all at once or break it up into smaller pieces, the topics are interesting enough and short enough to keep any child’s attention.

The pictures in Uncle Sam and Old Glory are beautiful! At the risk of sounding like a complete book nerd, I will tell you that I think woodcuts are one of my favorite kinds of illustrations—second only to collage. Christopher Manson’s pictures have an old-fashioned feel to them that matches the topic well, but they also have bright, clear colors that are very pleasing and child-friendly.

Uncle Sam and Old Glory would be a great companion to Homeschool Share’s Independence Day unit, too. July 4th is just around the corner, so put this one on your library hold list today!

Explore, Discover, & Create . . . with Notebooking!

This is a guest post by Debra of Notebooking Pages.

At the end of each school year, are you finding yourself swimming through mounds of worksheets, quizzes, tests, and half-finished workbooks wondering just what to do with it all? Where does the organization begin? What do you keep? Where will you keep it? How much should you, dare I say, throw away? As you begin to tackle this heap, your brain recalls the many hours that went into creating this voluminous collection. You may start to wonder just how well spent those hours really were. You remember the great ambitions with which you started the school year and the many good intentions that fell to the wayside in order to finish this massive collection you are now faced with sorting. Finally, you conclude that if most, or perhaps all, of your children’s work is going to get tucked away somewhere never to be seen again, how much value can it possibly hold? Does any of this sound familiar? Well, it doesn’t have to anymore!

Our family has been introduced to an ageless tool of learning that keeps us from creating these questionable mounds of paper throughout the year. There is nothing left to sort. There is nothing left to pack away. There is nothing to throw away. Instead, another volume (or two or three or more) of our children’s prized work gets added to their personal library at the end of each year. No more busywork. No more second-guessing if our time has been well spent. As a matter of fact, this tool has freed me from the seemingly never-ending search for the perfect curriculum! It can literally transform the way you approach your children’s education and set afire a love of learning within each child. Spend your precious hours exploring, discovering, and capturing the knowledge that awaits you and your children each day. Make learning a journey instead of a list to be checked off at the end of the day and a pile to be sorted at the end of the year. How do you do this? Let me introduce you to the tool that has breathed new life into our homeschooling. It’s called . . . notebooking!

Notebooking is the coined term for what one may refer to as educational journaling or scrapbooking. Essentially, the idea is to take your planned school subjects and activities as well as the areas of your child’s interests and create notebooks, compilations of created pages collected in binders. Your child will fill his notebooks throughout the year with what he has learned about these topics. Written narrations, drawings, maps, and photographs are just a few of the items he may include. The pages of his notebooks will capture both the new knowledge he has discovered as well as his own personal reflections of what he has learned. Through the process of creating a notebook, you will likely watch him become a storyteller, a teacher, and most undoubtedly, an expert in some of the topics he studies.

Unlike some of the more traditional tools of learning, like worksheets and tests, notebooking allows your child to develop a deeper relationship with what he is learning. Instead of finding out what he doesn’t know about a topic or study, which is what a worksheet or test usually reveals, he is given an opportunity to express everything he does know. By cutting out the busywork that is involved in some of these more traditional methods, you open a window of time and opportunity for your children to dig deeper into topics, to really get to know the people, the places, the events, the concepts, the ideas, and so on of what they are studying. Then, they take this information, digest it, and produce a notebook that tells all about what they have learned. After following this process, there will not be that sudden “unlearning” phenomena that usually takes place after the traditional chapter or unit test. The knowledge that your child gains during his notebooking experience will stick! Most importantly this process fuels a love of learning as your child begins to discover how exciting and fun it is to learn with notebooking!

As your children become more experienced with notebooking, you will begin to see the evident benefits of this great tool. The richness of what they are learning will be apparent as their notebooks become filled to the brim with stories, pictures, maps, quotes, and photographs of the people, places, and events encountered. The depth of what they are learning will be told as new layers are added each year to certain notebooks, such as their language arts and math notebooks. The process of learning they have experienced will be unveiled as you note the ways they organize and choose the material they include for their notebooks. You will begin to see certain notebooks take on your children’s personalities as they learn to express themselves in the variety of ways they have been gifted. It is an amazing joy to sit down with your child while they lovingly and passionately share all that they have learned through the process of creating their notebook. Their hearts and hard work have been poured into this notebook and they beam with confidence at the turn of each page. Each year, as you take time to look back through the increasing volumes of notebooks being added to the shelves, you will see that notebooking has become an amazing “living” record of your children’s journey of learning. Instead of tossing the year’s work into a box in the back of the closet, you’ll be looking for ways to add more bookshelves to house these treasures!

So how do you begin notebooking with your family? Start simple. Start with one topic or one study for each child or for the whole family. Perhaps the easiest way to start is to let each child begin a notebook of one of their favorite hobbies or passions. Do you have a child that loves dinosaurs? I do! My youngest son would find spare moments throughout the day to notebook his knowledge of dinosaurs. His head would be stuck in any number of books from the library trying to gather information. That’s where it began for him! Today, he is our leading expert when it comes to dinosaurs.

Perhaps the easiest place to start notebooking with the entire family is with any history or science topic because there are so many ways to dig into these subjects. You could start very simply by asking your children to give a short narration of what was read on a particular day either during your read aloud time or their independent reading time. If they give you a blank stare, ask them what they found to be most important or interesting about what was studied and encourage them to write about that. If you have younger children, you may need to write down their narrations for them until they are more proficient with the physical skill of writing. For children who are accustomed to giving short fill-in-the-blank type answers to questions, narration will take some practice to develop. I highly suggest researching the topic of narration for more help in this area. Narration is an invaluable skill that will prove most beneficial in their notebooking studies.

As your family or child continues to dig deeper, add new material to the notebook. The notebook may include any number of pages and collections including, but definitely not limited to:

  • written narrations from material studied in books they have read or real life experiences
  • collections of quotes from philosophers, experts, missionaries, statesman, etc.
  • photographs, ticket stubs, and information from field trips
  • maps of places and events studied
  • timelines
  • drawings from your child’s imagination that express his ideas about the particular topic
  • sketches of objects, animals, famous art, or places being studied
  • collections of items such as leaves, pressed flowers, and seeds for a study like botany
  • pictures from hands-on activities or experiments completed during the study
  • nature photos, sketches, and journaled thoughts
  • your child’s handwritten copies of favorite scripture, poetry or selections from favorite literature

Try Notebooking Pages!

Ready to make learning a more memorable and meaningful experience for your family? Get started with notebooking today! Visit us at NotebookingPages.com for more notebooking information, freebies, products, articles, and tips, as well as for a variety of other free homeschooling charts and printables.

If you’d like to try Notebooking Pages, you can use discount code = discount10 to save $10 on your $20+ purchase at NotebookingPages.com.

You can also buy a Treasury Membership for 25% off (AND get 3 bonus months!). This is a great deal as you will have access to $600 worth of product and you’ll get to use the Notebooking Publisher tool (coming next month!). Use coupon code = happy6th to save 25%. Sale is good until May 25th.

Tonight, there will be a Facebook Party launching the new interactive Notebooking Publisher (create your own notebooking pages complete with graphics!). Fun and prizes! Don’t miss it!

Merry CHRISTmas!

As I was looking for a poem for this special day, I came across Not Only Christmas Day.  I thought it a great reminder that we all need to live daily for Jesus–not only CHRISTmas day!

Not Only Christmas Day

Lord, this is my prayer
Not only on Christmas Day
But until I see You face to face
May I live my life this way:

Just like the baby Jesus
I ever hope to be,
Resting in Your loving arms
Trusting in Your sovereignty.
And like the growing Christ child
In wisdom daily learning,
May I ever seek to know You
With my mind and spirit yearning.

Like the Son so faithful
Let me follow in Your light,
Meek and bold, humble and strong
Not afraid to face the night.

Nor cowardly to suffer
And stand for truth alone,
Knowing that Your kingdom
Awaits my going home.

Not afraid to sacrifice
Though great may be the cost,
Mindful how You rescued me
From broken-hearted loss.

Like my risen Savior
The babe, the child, the Son,
May my life forever speak
Of who You are and all You’ve done.

So while this world rejoices
And celebrates Your birth,
I treasure You, the greatest gift
Unequaled in Your worth.

I long to hear the same words
That welcomed home Your Son,
“Come, good and faithful servant,”
Your Master says, “Well done.”

And may heaven welcome others
Who will join with me in praise
Because I lived for Jesus Christ
Not only Christmas Day

— Mary Fairchild

 

Have a blessed and merry CHRISTmas from everyone at Homeschool Share!