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Dec 19, 2012

A Candid Prayer to God

On Sunday morning one of the elders preached so eloquently at my church that I feel compelled to share just a piece of this sermon with you. As part of his sermon he quoted this letter written by Max Lucado and I think it describes very well how many of us are feeling, and our prayer as well.

Dear Jesus,
It's a good thing you were born at night. This world sure seems dark. I have a good eye for silver linings. But they seem dimmer lately.
These killings, Lord. These children, Lord. Innocence violated. Raw evil demonstrated.
The whole world seems on edge. Trigger-happy. Ticked off. We hear threats of chemical weapons and nuclear bombs. Are we one button-push away from annihilation?
Your world seems a bit darker this Christmas. But you were born in the dark, right? You came at night. The shepherds were nightshift workers. The Wise Men followed a star. Your first cries were heard in the shadows. To see your face, Mary and Joseph needed a candle flame. It was dark. Dark with Herod's jealousy. Dark with Roman oppression. Dark with poverty. Dark with violence.
Herod went on a rampage, killing babies. Joseph took you and your mom into Egypt. You were an immigrant before you were a Nazarene.
Oh, Lord Jesus, you entered the dark world of your day. Won't you enter ours? We are weary of bloodshed. We, like the wise men, are looking for a star. We, like the shepherds, are kneeling at a manger.
This Christmas, we ask you, heal us, help us, be born anew in us.
Your Children

By Max Lucado

Dec 13, 2012

Ruldoph the Red-Nosed Reindeer mini-unit day

Hello everyone! I like to spend the afternoon with my kids doing fun crafts and yes, watching old Christmas flicks this time of year. Today I decided to duplicate: an old craft and an old movie, the old book, and the old (but never goes out-of-style) song.

the Book

For today's craft you will need:
brown foam paper
clothes pins
brown pipe cleaner
sparkly pipe cleaner (such as silver)
an art bubble eyes
red pom poms
small art bell

I began by cutting out the shape of a reindeer's body. Then attached the brown pipe cleaner as antlers. After that attach the bell to the silver pipe cleaner and wrap around the neck of mr. reindeer by twisting on the back. Use glue (or glue dots) to attach the eye and red pom pom nose. And last, attach the two clothes pins to the bottom to make the legs.

After that you can let the kids watch the old classic, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and snack on some Peanut Butter Wands: pretzel sticks rolled in peanut butter, sliced almonds and dried or fresh fruit.

When the movie is done teach your kids the old classic song by first letting them hear it, and if they can read, print out the lyrics to the song while you sing along.
Holiday mini-units are a simple way to fill time in the afternoon when school is done and the kids need something to keep them occupied and out of mischief. Plus it gives me an excuse to "watch" my kids movies.

Merry Christmas,

Candy Cane Brownie Lollipops

Candy Cane Brownie Lollipops

1 pkg of brownie mix (plus ingredients to make brownies)
24 candy canes
10 oz. chocolate flavored almond bark
additional decorations such as red sprinkles
mini cupcake liners

1. Line medium sheet pan with 13-in piece of parchment paper; lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. Prepare brownie mix according to package and after baked let cool for 20 minutes or until slightly warm.

2. Meanwhile, cut off straight ends of candy canes to form 4 1/2 inch sticks. Place candy cane tops into a ziploc bag and crush using a flat side of a large knife, set aside.

3. Using a medium scoop, scoop brownie into 24 rounded scoops, packing brownie into scoops using hands (the more you place with it the more "doughy" it feels). Roll brownie scoops into smooth round balls. Insert candy cane sticks into centers of balls, mounding brownie around stick.

4. Place almond bark into Small Batter Bowl; microwave according to directions until melted and smooth. Spoon melted bark evenly over each brownie ball, turning to coat completely. Allow excess bark to drip off. Dip into reserved crushed candy canes or additional decorations and stand upright on parchment paper. Repeat with additional almond bark, lollipops and crushed candy. Let stand until set. Place into miniature cupcake liners.

I found this great recipe in an old Pampered Chef Holiday Cookbook and will probably try all the recipes at one point or another because they're all just so delicious looking!

Happy Holiday Baking,

Dec 9, 2012

Christmas Holiday Wreath

Hi everyone! I hope the holiday season is bringing you joy! 

Every so often I look through magazines and see really great crafts for the home. Sometimes I even buy the supplies but somehow never find the time to get it done or the task seems so big that I just set it aside for "some-other-time." Well this time I saw a great idea from a mag that I just had to try. Its creative, unique and the perfect simple gift for someone very special to me who also happens to love music.

I give you the Holiday Musical Wreath

First I went into an antique store and bought two old music books for about $1.50 each. Then I started by tearing one sheets into fourths for the first two layers. Since the books were from 1929 and 1941 simple folds were enough to tear them without using scissors. Then I rolled and hot glued the rolls tightly over and over again until I had A LOT, maybe 40. Surprisingly this part didn't take too long! I made enough to make two layers, then cut some shorter so they weren't overlapping in length.

After that I took a old cardboard box and traced a large and small circle with two sized bowls. Cut out the wreath then one by one started to hot glue each cone-shaped piece onto the cardboard wreath. Once the first layer was done I trimmed about 1" off the second layer of cones to give the wreath a little more depth.

For the third layer I tore the remaining sheets into 16ths to make tiny cones for the top layer. There's no science to this, "unevenness" is better because not all the cones are evenly sized. You might end up with little gaps here and there and you can use the little cones to fill in those spots.

An up-close pic of the three-layered final wreath.
   The end result is a lovely new piece that in all honestly was not complicated to make or expensive. I do not possess the DIY creative gene but this one turned out pretty cute and I totally recommend for all!

Happy Holidays and Craft Making,

Dec 6, 2012

Egypt Unit Study Day 4 & 5

Day 4: Egyptian Geography
      Use atlas and globe to locate Africa and Egypt. Discuss what type of landscape is there ie desert, oasis, delta, palm trees, etc.
       Lap Book: Word Scramble; cut out the letters to the words: delta, oasis, tomb, desert, pyramid, and sun. Paperclip the letters together and store in pocket. Have student pull out letters and work on one word at a time, give hints if needed.

The Grinch Day!

Hello Everybody! Because one of our Christmas stories is The Grinch Who Stole Christmas I decided to make a mini-unit day out of it.  

The Grinch Who Stole Christmas

Song: the Grinch music video and song

Craft: a Mr. Grinch head
Follow link to Tippytoe Crafts/Christmas

Christmas Pattern Blocks Activity

Ever need a little something extra for your kiddos to do while you finish the dishes? I found these through internet exploration last year and brought them out again for the kids to do this afternoon. Its just a simple way for your kids to play creatively with pattern blocks besides using them as a math manipulative! I printed them out and laminated them to keep for future use.

Dec 5, 2012

Marshmellow Treat Ornaments


I love trying new recipes for the holidays but bringing out the classics as well! This is a delicious combo of both. The classic rice crispy treat but with a new holiday twist. I found this recipe from the Pampered Chef cookbook Festive Holiday Desserts, if you're interested.

Here's the recipe:
6 tbsp butter
2 1/2 cups miniature or 18 large marshmellows
2-3 tsp red or green food coloring
5 cups crisp rice cereal
16 pieces of thin licorice (twizzlers/red vines)
16 gummy ring candies
3 tbsp decorating sugar or sprinkles

Christmas Card Activity

Christmas Card Craft:
Using craft holiday paper let your kids create a few Christmas cards for their closest friends and family. Let them pick out the paper, then trace a shape, cut it out, then decorate however they wish using glitter, marker, whatever they wish. And add a drawing or personal note on the inside. Junior even suggested adding a little picture.

Sharp concentration of the cutting :)
Use whatever shapes you have. This is a scrapbooking stencil but you could use cookies cutters or play dough cutter shapes.
Didn't want the lovely glitter all over the table so we used plates. Then let them sit to dry for over an hour.
Add a hanger or pipe cleaner so the recipient can hang it on the tree, if they wish.
Happy Holidays!

Dec 2, 2012

25 Days of Christmas Book Countdown

Hi Family and Friends!
For 25 nights (1 book/night) the kids will take turns opening a pre-wrapped Christmas book ending with the Biblical story. We only had about 16ish books so the rest I checked out from the library. Some are classics, others a newer, all cute and all special simply because its family time! And yes my kids wanted to unwrap them all as soon as they saw them, so for now they're sitting on a shelf, a tall shelf, haha.

Here's a list of the 25 Christmas Book countdown, plus a few extras since some are super short.

  • Frosty the Snowman, a Little Golden Books
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, a Little Golden Book
  • The Night Before Christmas, a Little Golden Book
  • Christmas is a Time for Singing, a Little Golden Book
  • ABC is for Christmas, a Little Golden Book
  • Jingle Bells, a Little Golden Book
  • Grandfather's Christmas Tree, Thomas Locker
  • Yuletide Ice Cube Fair, Veggie Tales, Wonder Kids
  • BOB, and 6 more Christmas Stories, Sandra Boynton
  • If You Take a Mouse to the Movies, Laura Numeroff
  • Come and See; A Christmas Story, Monica Mayper
  • The First Night, B.G. Hennessy
  • We Three Kings, Gennady Spirin
  • The Donkey's Christmas Song, Nancy Tafuri
  • The Little Drummer Mouse, Mercer Mayer
  • The 12 Days of Christmas; A Pinata for the Pinon Tree, Philemon Sturges
  • Christmas Cakes, Francesca Bosca
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas, Charles M. Schulz
  • The Hat, Jan Brett
  • The Velveteen Rabbit, Margery Williams
  • In Case you Ever Wonder, Max Lucado
  • The Real Night Before Christmas, Mike Gay
  • Snow, Roy McKie and PD Eastman
  • The Christmas Story, Patricia A. Pingry
  • Luke 2 Bible reading on Christmas night
Still have a few more to get to.
A Few other materials we will use are soundtracks:
  • Veggie Tales, 25 Favorite Christmas Songs
  • The Muppets, The Muppet Christmas Carol
And DVDs:
  • The Toy That Saved Christmas, Veggie Tales
  • Childrens Treasury: The Crippled Lamb, Jacob's Gift, Alabaster's Song, by Max Lucado
  • The Little Drummer Boy, Veggie Tales
  • The Three Wise Men, Reyes, Magos
  • The Cat in the Hat Know A Lot About Christmas
This is a new tradition we are starting this year and only two days in the kids are excited to go to bed because it means a cool Christmas story, this makes me feel so happy!

Merry Christmas,

Nov 30, 2012

Night Sky Adventure In ACTION!

Hello Readers! Well if you didn't see my invitation post before here's more about the great fun our eldest son and husband had on their "Night Sky Adventure" trip learning about stars, constellations, and beavers. AND because I wasn't actually the parent who went to the event I'd like to give a warm welcome to my guest blogger on THIS POST for the first time ever! Here's what my husband and Junior learned.

Nature Center
Junior and I headed over to the North Chagrin Nature Center this evening to meet up with some other homeschooling kids and their parents to learn about planets, stars, and constellations.  Inside the nature center we got to crawl into a portable planetarium.  In the planetarium we got to see how stars travel across the night sky, and we learned about the northern and southern hemisphere.  Junior learned that there are 88 constellations in the night sky and the "Big Dipper" is actually not a constellation but rather a small part of the Ursa Major (The Great Bear) constellation.
Cutting out the Constellation Finder

After the planetarium it was time for our constellation finder craft.  Basically it's a wheel that rotates from month to month.  Based on the month the finder will show you the position of the constellations in the night sky.

Heading to the trail
Next it was time for our nature walk around the Sanctuary Marsh to see what kind of planets and stars we could spot in the sky.  I must say this was the coolest part. When we arrived at the nature center the sky was cloudy and I didn't think we'd see anything, but sure enough when we headed out the clouds had rolled out and we got to see Jupiter, the Little Dipper, and the North Star.

Google map screen shot

Junior loved the Google Sky Map that I downloaded to my phone.  We where able look up at the night sky and see all of Gods creations.

Hot chocolate to finish the night was a great treat.

My first real homeschooling adventure with Junior and it was a success.  I look forward to the next one.

Junior's Dad

Nov 29, 2012

Outdoor Education for Homeschoolers!

Hey Cleveland Homeschoolers! Join us for:

"Outdoor Education for Homeschoolers: Night Sky"
Fri, November 30, 6pm – 8pm
North Chagrin Nature Center

Join Naturalist Angelec Hillsman as we gaze at the night sky. Discover the wonders of the fall night sky through star watching, storytelling and SkyLab, an indoor planetarium. We’ll also make a craft, walk under the beaver moon and more.
Ages: 6 – 12 years
Fee: $3
Terrain: easy, level, 1 mile

Registration is required. Register by calling 440-473-3370.

Love to See You There!!!


Nov 28, 2012

December Calendars!

December's Here Hooray!
First I have to say that I love, Love, LOVE Christmas Season. In my home the countdown to Christmas starts the day after Thanksgiving. But because there's so many great things to do its very helpful to organize my life a little more than usual. Therefore, I've come up with a more-than-usual-detailed Meal Plan and Activities Calendar(s) for the Advent Season. 

I am doing this for mainly two reasons:
1) I know my husband and kids would appreciate not eating the same breakfast, lunch, and dinners every week over and over! We all need a little variety in our diets ;)
2) Simply put Proverbs 31:10-31. By removing a simple distraction like what to cook for dinner by already having a dinner plan, the more my time will be freed to be a mother God can use in any way He chooses!

But before I post my December calendars I like to personally note that this is just what I think I need to do to make life a little simpler. I don't think it will go perfect and we may skip, tweak, or blow off the plan, but my overall goal is to have meals planned so that its one less thing to think about and I can focus more on my family and having fun with them.

December Meal Calendar

December Activities Calendar

For more details check back each Sunday for a post with recipes, pictures, and links of all the fun stuff we're going to do.

Happy Holidays!

Nov 15, 2012

10 Penny Activites to Liven Up Learning!

10. How Many Pennies Did I Grab.
Use a 100 number chart (you can make the chart with construction paper, pen, and straight edge) and basket full of pennies. Have your student grab a handful of pennies and guess how many they grabbed. Then have them spread out the pennies, starting at #1, on the number chart. What number did they end on?

9. Flip Flop Which One is on Top? 
Make a simple grid graph on a sheet of paper with two columns. Label each column heads/tails. Give each student one penny. Have them flip the penny 25 times and check the column it lands on. Then asks questions about your graph results.

8. A Balancing Act

Take two bowls and a handful of pennies. Have student drop half their handful into one bowl and the rest into the other bowl. Then have them count the number in each bowl. Ask which bowl has greater/lesser number. Then ask them to even out the number by adding or subtracting pennies to make the bowls even. If you end up with an uneven number ask them to leave one penny out so the bowls are even.

7. Guess the Hidden Number

Take out a 100 number chart and cover some numbers with pennies. Then have your student count until they hit a covered number and guess what number they think is covered up based on the last and next number they see. Have older students count backward from 100.   

6. Which Stack is Higher, Lower, First, Second, Third, Last?

Take an egg carton and put different amounts of pennies in 5 different cups. Have them guess how many they think are in each "cup." Ask students to take pennies out one at a time and make  stacks out of pennies.(Make sure you have 5 different amounts. Then ask your student to identify the stack with the most/least/equal. Then have them put the stacks in order from most to least. 

5. Double Down

Take 24 pennies and put on a pile on the ground and have student count them. Then have them divide the pile into 2 piles of 12 removing one penny at a time to the new pile. Then count and divide the 12 pennies in the two new piles and so on until you cannot divide anymore. For older kids do the activity with a larger number to begin such as 64.

4. Many Years of Pennies

Take 15 pennies and have student put them in order from oldest to newest in the years they were made. Again to make more complicated have student put them in decades first then by the year using more pennies.

3. How Many Penny-Pennies Does it Take?

Draw a line on a clear cup or mason jar (ie a kids throw-away dixie cup or a mason jar). Have your student guess and write down how many pennies it will take to fill up the jar/cup. Add pennies while counting how many it takes. See how close their guess was. Then give the pennies to your kiddos to save.

2. Pennies Per Pages!

Take out your child's favorite book (the bigger the book the more pennies you'll need:) As you read the book put a penny in each page then when done add the number of pennies you needed for each page of the book.

1. My Lunch Costs How Much?

Pre-make a lunch ie. sandwich, fruit, veggie, chip, drink with multiple options. Put each item in a lunch baggie and a price on each bag (all 5cents or less). Take a brown paper bag and have student write their name on it. (you can use anything to put their "purchase" in) Give your student 25cents and tell them they are going to buy their lunch today. Have them pick out which items they'd like to buy and talk about the importance of a balanced diet. Have them pay for each item.  If they have any money left teach them about the value of saving for tomorrow or the future. While going through the process ask questions about adding and budgeting so they can afford all the things they wish to eat. For older kids explain how adults need to budget and plan for their cost of food whether at home or for the working parents who go out lunch during the work week. 

Playing with pennies can help teach kids the value of math, and how math and money relate to the outside world. It also widens their perspective on how to use pennies to learn in many ways. Have fun and remember kids learn in stages so once they master a simpler penny game move on to a more difficult one.

Happy Homeschooling,


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