Tag Archives: crafts

The Legend of the First Tinsel

Today in school, we learned about Christmas in Russia (which involved watching the Bolshoi Ballet Nutcracker), and Ukraine. Part of learning about Christmas in Ukraine including reading the Ukrainian version of the legend of the first Christmas tinsel. To go along with the story, we made these cute ornaments…they were a lot of fun!




When we were at the St. Louis Scottish Games, the children received a “ticket” into the play area: a plaid (of course!) ribbon marked with the year and pinned to their shirts–pink for the girls, and green for the boys. They really liked these ribbons, and didn’t want to throw them out when we got home. Like all ribbons, however, they started to run into the problem of unraveling. After thinking about what I could do to preserve them, I got out my laminator, and turned them into bookmarks. They’re the perfect size for it, and now they can see how beautiful the ribbons are without having to worry about them coming apart!


2012-13 School Year–Week Twenty-Six

This was a fun, busy week of school! We had a lot of work to do because of our upcoming vacation, and we also had some extra stuff to do for St. Patrick’s Day. We managed to get everything done, though, and had a lot of fun in the process!

Turkey and Bunny continued working on fractions in math. They’re still adding and subtracting unlike fractions, and have added mixed fractions, as well. They both continue to do really well with this area of study, and they’re even remembering to reduce their answers (thankfully!). On Friday, we had a brief introduction to decimals, and how they relate to fractions.

Ladybug worked on the letter “l” this week. Her reading is really improving, although I have to remind her that she doesn’t have to sound out words she already knows! And she will literally sound out everything, if left to her own devices. Her reading is improving, although she is still mixing up “d” and “b” occasionally, which I assume is a normal mistake at this age.

In history, we learned about the beginning of World War II, which was both interesting and depressing. I didn’t much enjoy having to teach the children about concentration camps. Turkey and Bunny were both baffled and outraged at the idea…fortunately, I think it mostly went over Ladybug’s head. We also learned about Pearl Harbor, and how America finally entered the war after a period of isolationism. After our vacation, we’ll learn more about America’s role in the war, and how it came to an end.

We finished our lesson on the integumentary system in science this week, and got to do a few fun experiments to go along with it. We made a glue dot braille alphabet, which was particularly fun, and also used paper clips bent at varying widths to see how sensitive our hands, backs, and arms are. We only have two chapters left in our science book…I think we’re all going to be sad to be done with our study of human anatomy!

Our read-alouds for the week were all St. Patrick’s Day related. We finished the book we started last week, Shamrocks, Harps, and Shillelaghs, and also read Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland, our favorite leprechaun legend from the Lion Storyteller Bedtime Book, and The Night Before St. Patrick’s Day (that last one was just for fun). I also put another favorite St. Patrick’s Day book, in our book basket…there just wasn’t time to read them all out loud!

No holiday would be complete without some crafts. I saw these adorable St. Patrick paper bag puppets on Oriental Trading’s website, and I thought they’d be fun, so we each made one (I gave mine to Moose…he loves it!).


Since there were 12 kits in the pack, we also made a few St. Patricks that could be hung up. Still cute, even if they’re not as “playable!”


I found these little fuzzy guys at Michael’s, and since I’m a sucker for fuzzy crafts, the children made them, too. Not too sure where they’re going to end up, but they’re adorable!


During Turkey and Bunny’s math test on Friday, I also made some shamrock cookies for our St. Patrick’s Day tea party…that counts as school, right? Turkey and Bunny seemed to enjoy trying to steal the cookie dough while I was correcting their tests, anyway!


I’m looking forward to our vacation, even though I have so much stuff planned in the next two weeks, I’m not really going to catch a break!

2012-13 School Year–Week Twenty-Two

We had another fun, busy week of school! Of course the highlight of the week was Valentine’s Day. In addition to making traditional Valentines for our loved ones, we also made Valen-“swines!”


We read about the real St. Valentine, and had a Valentine’s Day tea party, as well:


We did do some actual work in school this week, too. We learned about the liturgical year and the liturgy in religion, just as a refresher before the beginning of Lent, and started our Jesus Tree. Turkey and Bunny continued to work on geometry in math, did a fun writing assignment that took all week to perfect, and worked on some easily confused words in grammar. We all finished the lesson on the nervous system in science, and got to World War I in history. Ladybug continued her two-week study of the letter “O,” and has moved on to capital letters in handwriting.

Only a month until our next big vacation…is it wrong that I’m already looking forward to it?

2012-13 School Year–Week Sixteen

We only had three days of school this week. We couldn’t be normal and do school Monday-Wednesday, though. We had school Monday, Tuesday, and Friday. I know, we’re weird. Monday was a regular day of Christmas school, because I had six days worth of lessons for Christmas in England, so we couldn’t cram everything into one week. That day’s theme was Christmas in present-day England. We read The Jolly Christmas Postman and A Child’s Christmas in Wales, as well as looked through Christmas in England, to compare a modern English Christmas to our own (they’re very similar!). We had math and writing assignments, as well.

Tuesday was our annual “Nutcracker Day.” We read what is now my favorite picture book of the Nutcracker…I’m so glad I borrowed it from the library! We already had one very short picture book that is also short on details (but does have nice illustrations), and one full version of both Nutcracker stories, which is a bit ponderous to read in one sitting, but is very detailed, and lacks illustrations. I’ve looked at many other versions in bookstores, and never found one I really liked, but I grabbed this one at the library, and it’s just what I wanted. The length of the story is just right…it took about a half-hour to read, which meant I still had everyone’s attention at the end, but it was full of good detail. And the illustrations were wonderful! I’ll be adding this to our permanent collection before next Christmas, I’m sure. We also read The Day Before Christmas, which is a bittersweet story about a little girl and her grandfather, who go to see a performance of the ballet together, just as the grandfather used to do with his daughter, the girl’s mother, before she died. The story perfectly captures the excitement of going to the ballet, especially for the first time.

This year, we watched two productions of the Nutcracker, instead of our usual one. Of course, we had to see our standard (and favorite!), version…the San Fransisco Ballet’s interpretation of the classic story. To go along with Christmas School this year, we also watched the Royal Ballet production, which isn’t quite as captivating as the San Francisco Ballet, but comes close.

Today we had our much-anticipated Christmas tea party:


We also did our first day of winter activities, which included reading several winter-themed books (I love the copy of Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening we got this year!), and doing a fun craft:


Now we’re on vacation for a few weeks…I’m really looking forward to the break! I love Christmas and homeschooling, but when you put them together, it’s exhausting!

2012-13 School Year–Week Fifteen

Christmas School kicked into full gear this week! We kept working on math (Ladybug finished her kindergarten math workbook…I don’t know what she’s going to do next!), and writing, but everything else we did was Christmas-themed.

On Monday, we learned about Christmas during the Elizabethan period, and made a favorite craft…stained glass Christmas trees. It’s been a few years since we’ve made them, and it was the first time Ladybug got to make one, so it was a lot of fun!


Tuesday’s theme as a Georgian/Colonial Christmas. Since we read about the use of pomanders at that time, I got out the cloves and an orange, and we made one  of our own. Bunny and Ladybug have decided we should always have one around, because it smells so good, and I can’t say I disagree with them!


Wednesday we learned about Christmas in Victorian times, and how those celebrations influenced how we still celebrate Christmas today. We read The Christmas Bird, which is a Christmas legend explaining how the robin got its red breast. Robins are a popular Christmas decoration in England, maybe because of this legend, or more likely because, during the Victorian era, the postmen wore bright red coats, and people used to call out, “Here comes the robin!” when they saw one. We made a robin craft, as well. I’m pretty proud of this one, because although it was simple, it was my invention. We used brads to make the wings and feet movable, and decided to glue the robins to a blue background to make it look like they’re flying.


On Thursday, we moved on to the Edwardian era, which, to be honest, isn’t that much different from the Victorian era. We did enjoy looking at An Edwardian Christmas, which has no words at all. It was amazing what the children could infer from the pictures, and the small details they picked up on! Sometimes, it’s nice to just look at a picture book, and let the illustrations tell the story. We also read about St. Lucia on Thursday, since it was her commemoration day.

We moved into a more modern era today, learning about Christmas during World Wars I and II. We’ve read Christmas in the Trenches pretty much every year that we’ve been homeschooling, and it remains a family favorite. To be honest, I had never even heard of the “Silent Night Truce,” before reading that story, but I think it’s one of the most amazing war-time stories I’ve ever heard. We also read some selections from Letters from Father Christmas. The last letter Tolkien wrote fit in especially well with today’s wartime theme.

Our big craft was making a gingerbread house…only the second time we’ve tried doing so. I was smart this time, and actually read the directions beforehand, so I knew to assemble the house the night before so it could set up before the children tried to decorate it. Turkey, Bunny, and Ladybug had a great time coming up with and implementing designs. It was a very fun, although time-consuming, activity!


Next week, we’re only having a few days of school. We’ll be finishing our Christmas in England unit with a look at modern English Christmas celebrations, having our traditional “Nutcracker Day,” where we’ll read the story and watch not one, but two different productions of the ballet (one of them being the Royal Ballet, of course!), and celebrating the first day of winter and having our Christmas tea party. After all that, we’re going to take a vacation for a few weeks…I’m definitely looking forward to that!

2012-2013 School Year–Week Fourteen

This was a much better week…of course, Christmas School tends to have that effect on people!


For the most part, we followed our regular schedule this week, with Christmas activities added in. We did suspend our normal history and science activities, however, in favor of Christmas history, and the Magic School Bus, respectively. This was partly due to the nature of Christmas School, and partly due to some schedule difficulties this week, including a funeral and a well baby exam that I had to work around. This week also saw us beginning our Jesse Tree readings in place of our regular religion lessons, and of course, those will continue through Christmas Eve.

Spelling and grammar both had review lessons this week, so that’s the last we’ll see of those two subjects before our break. We also finished one read-aloud, Bully for You, Teddy Roosevelt!, and started another, A Christmas Carol, which we’ll finish next week. Jotham’s Journey is another read-aloud that was added this week…much like the Jesse Tree, it’s something we’ll do every day until the end of Advent. We will continue with our regular math lessons next week, as well as writing, but everything else will be Christmas-focused!

Christmas School this week also involved three craft days, two of which were dedicated to making ornaments, both for our home tree, and as gifts. We made both jingle bell wreaths, and paper balls. The paper ball ornaments almost ended in total disaster, but I managed to salvage them by using the materials to make a different kind of ornament. It may not have been our original plan, but I think they turned out OK! I’m about out of original ornament ideas, now, so unless inspiration strikes in the next year (or I find some cool craft kits!), I may have to start recycling some of my ornament projects!




We also made banners for the time of Christmas, that will be hung in our school room. This is part of an ongoing project we’re working on, with the goal of having a liturgically appropriate banner for each season of the church year. We’re enjoying making them…I just can’t figure out why it took me so long to come up with this idea!

Next week, the fun really begins, as we delve into what an English Christmas has looked like and become over the course of the last several centuries, and work on some additional Christmas crafts. It really is the most wonderful time of the year!

Banners for the Time of Christmas

For our first Christmas school craft, we made banners for the time of Christmas. The time of Christmas is broken into three seasons, so we had three banners to make. They were a lot of work, but a lot of fun, too!

The season of Advent (only the first flame is glued to the banner–the rest can be added as Advent progresses):


The season of Christmas (to be used for the 12 days of Christmas and the day of the Epiphany):


The season of Epiphany (to be used on the days following Epiphany, until the beginning of Lent, as well as the time after Pentecost…all of the green days):


We spent a lot of time going through the banner book, choosing designs, colors, and appropriate Scripture verses, deciding where the glitter glue should go, and then putting them together. The whole family got involved! We’ll continue working our way through the church year…we have plans to make banners for Lent and Easter, as well as an Alleluia banner (we already made a red banner). After we’ve made the basic banners, we may move on to specific banners for Holy Week, and other themed banners…we’ll just have to see how it goes. It’s another nice way to tie our church life and home life together!

Thanksgiving School 2012–Day Eight

Today was just a fun day of school. We had one craft…everybody’s favorite, the hand-and-footprint turkeys.

And we read all of our favorite Thanksgiving books (again). Each child got to pick one book for me to read out loud one last time. It was interesting to see what everybody chose!

That’s the end of Thanksgiving School for this year (other than hanging up one more set of “thankful leaves” tomorrow morning)…in another week and a half, we’ll be starting Christmas School!

Thanksgiving School 2012–Day Six

Today, we took a look modern Thanksgiving celebrations, but we also had a bit of review, as well.

We started with Pardon that Turkey. This is a cute book, which, in part, tells the origins of the annual turkey pardoning by the President. The book also reviews Thanksgiving in America, though, starting with the first Thanksgiving, but the bulk of the story focuses on Sarah Hale. This was a nice review after reading Sarah Gives Thanks on Friday, especially since this is the first year we learned about her.

Our other two books focused on that great American tradition: The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Milly and the Macy’s Parade is one of my favorite stories to read every year, and blends fact and fiction to tell the story of how the parade got started. Balloons over Broadway tells the true story of how balloons were added to the Macy’s Parade, and how the balloons work. This was a new book to us this year (it was published in 2011), and we all really enjoyed it. The illustrations are fun, and it was another interesting glimpse into how the parade became what it is today.

Our craft for today was edible–Oreo cookie turkeys. These are adorable and so easy to make…the children loved them! It’s always fun to make an edible craft, too, because it doubles as snack time.

Tomorrow is a fun and silly story day, and then on Wednesday, we’ll re-read a few of our favorites, and make our annual hand-and-footprint turkeys. Thanksgiving is almost here!

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