Monday, December 10

Spirit of the Season (Alan Silvestri)

A beautiful new Christmas book that conveys this vintage Christmas spirit is The Lost Christmas, by B.B. Cronin.  "It's time to decorate the tree for Christmas--but Grandad can't find any of his ornaments! The hunt for the missing decorations takes the children up and down in Grandad's bric-a-brac-filled house and out into a winter wonderland. And when every ornament is on the tree at last, Grandad has a wonderful holiday surprise in store. This seek-and-find book from the award-winning author of The Lost House and The Lost Picnic will delight readers of any age and belongs under a Christmas tree."
I am totally in love with this book because of the adorable, vintage-themed illustrations!  The story line is sweet and cute, the characters are lovable, and the book is a good size for reading together with your little ones, too.  This is a seek-and-find book, which helps with visual discrimination, a necessary pre-reading skill.  The fun part is that the kids get to help Grandpa find all of his ornaments!
Transport yourself to a vintage Christmas when you step into The Christmas Shoppe at the Outer Banks of North Carolina; you'll find yourself in a magical world of delights!  From the wall o' mirrors, magnifying the illumination of the beautiful lights, to the multitude of themed rooms (such as a Beachy Christmas), to whimsical arrangements, you'll find something to delight your senses and heighten the holiday spirits around every corner!  The Christmas Shoppe is one of our must-visit places every time we venture in the direction of the Outer Banks.  If you've never been, it's worth the journey to experience the magic of Christmas year-round!

Some of our vintage Christmas ideas include.....

To decorate, vintage-style, we're making a few ornaments....and you can, too!

Using wooden star cut-outs, we created decoupage and burned-wood designs.  To make the decoupage ornaments, find a picture that you like, trace the star on it, and cut out the design.  Put a thin layer of glue over the entire front, and smooth the cut-out picture onto it.  
To make the burned-wood ornaments, draw your design (stick with something simple) on the wood and then use a wood burning tool to go over your design.  Easy peasy!
To make the cork reindeer ornament, use a full-size cork for the body and four smaller-sized ones for the legs and head.  Use two buttons for the ears, googly eyes, and glue a red bead to the nose.  You can use twine or pipe cleaners for antlers. 

We're giving away three Travel Journal prize packages...complete with travel-themed journal and journaling goodies for the road!  There are three chances to win this one!

Enter all 12 Days of Giveaways Here!

Friday, December 7

I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas (Kacey Musgraves)

Road-schooling means limited space for carrying everyday items, and we are all about maximizing that space!  If you've got a road-schooling family on your Christmas list this year, or if you're just thinking about hitting the road yourself, here are some of our top picks for a road-schooler's wishlist...

Road-school Helpers
  • Kindle Unlimited subscription - Try it with a 30-day free trial.  For only $10 / month, you have access to over a million books and audiobooks...which frees up a lot of space in your pack!
  • Car Games - These magnetic boards make board games easy to play in the car, and keep the kids happy for hours!  This particular one comes with Space Venture,Solitaire,Backgammon,Auto Race,Snakes & Ladders,Tic Tac Toe,Nine Mens Morris,Checkers,Chinese Checkers,Chess & Checkers,Ludo & Racing.  We pop them in a zip-up bag to keep everything together.
  • Physical Audiobooks - Like "Under Drake's Flag,"  are perfect for keeping the family happy on long travel days, and are educational as well.  You'll find most of the classics, currently popular books, and everything in between on audiobook....and what a way to bring history to life!  
  • Audible subscription - If you only want digital audiobooks, this one provides three books each month with membership.
  • CD carrying case - A handy dandy place to keep all of your audiobooks in one spot!
  • DVD sets - Like "The Peabody & Sherman Collection," or "Schoolhouse Rock," also provide hours of educational entertainment on those long travel days.
  • Portable DVD player - Be sure to get a headphone splitter so that your kids can share the fun!
  • Kindle - Books upon books can really eat up your available space.  I'm all for a hard copy, and running my fingers along the pages - there's something about the feel and smell of a real book that is just calming - but there's nothing calming about trying to fit two months’ worth of books into your packing space.  With an e-reader, you can download books (often free from your local library), and they all fit into one tiny space!
  • Digital Camera - We document our field trips, both for homeschooling purposes and for memory scrapbooks.  A good digital camera is a must for all traveling families!
    • FREE Classes at Craftsy - Perfect for hands-on classes and electives, or just keeping busy and learning a new skill when you have to sit still, these classes are broken down step-by-step and cover a wide variety of Waldorf-type topics.  (Cooking, needle arts, gardening, art, yoga / healthy living, etc.)  Once you sign up for a class, it stays in your library from now on to access as needed.  Again, they typically have good discounts at the holidays.
    • Crayola Twistables - These are our new favorite coloring tools.  They don't melt; they don't get messy; and they twist in and out for easy storage.  Also, they don't have to be sharpened!
    • Heirloom Audiobooks - These books are full of history’s most daring expeditions and greatest adventures.  They are stories of virtue and valor, daring and determination, character and courage!  Each one is like a movie in the car...
    • Brick Loot - This is the go-to subscription box for Lego enthusiasts!  (And y'all know our kids love their bricks...)  Each month features a new theme, such as "Back to the Future," "Star Wars," or "Doctor Strange," but sometimes it's just 'magic' or 'cars.'  There is a challenge booklet, bricks for completing the challenges, extra bricks, and promotional items.  We put this under 'education' because we have the kids do research around the topic and use their bricks to create entire scenes based on said research.  Child-directed learning!  Around the holidays, they typically have good discounts, too!
    • Historic Aviation / Rail / Military - We'll admit to sometimes just ordering the free catalogs for our kids to thumb through....they love history and find all sorts of neat goodies in here that lead them on bunny trails of their own research!  There are lots of great finds here for railroad, military, or aviation enthusiasts, too, which we've used as gifts for older families members in the past.
    • Little Passports - Seriously can't say enough good stuff about this program for preschool and elementary-aged kids.  Even my early middle school kiddos enjoyed it!  If subscription boxes aren't your thing, they now have a store, too, where you can purchase one-time boxes and add-on kits.  Their subscription boxes include world geography, US geography, and science expedition options - and all are fantastic!  (Check out a full review here.)  As a bonus, they usually have some sort of sale going on....especially at the holidays.

Just in Case...
  • RFID Pouch - We love to walk around the city, but who wants to carry a huge purse all day?  This travel wallet has room for money, cards, keys, pends, and a small notebook (or smartphone), all with room to spare!  It fits discreetly under your clothing, and is designed to thwart theft.
  • Sleep Kit - A good night's sleep is the body's first defense to staying healthy...and with this sleep kit, you'll block out all of the distractions around you.  It also comes with a tiny, but handy, carrying case!
  • Stainless Multi-Tool - Emergencies might as well be prepared.  This multi-tool has the knife, axe, hammer, lever, and several other functions.  It folds up neatly, and is durable, but affordable.
  • Oregano Oil - An antiviral and antimicrobial, oregano oil helps to keep your immune system buzzing along.  When taken at the first sign of a cold, our experience has been that it knocks it out quickly.  As an added bonus, it keeps the digestive system moving, which is nice after a lot of travel / sitting...
  • FaithBox - This one is more for mom, and it's one of my favorite subscription boxes out there.  Each month brings inspiration and encouragement, with a book, some gifts, some edibles, and more surprises.

For the Book Lover…
    • Our favorite books for parents and family! -  People are always asking what we like best from the resources that we use and recommend, so just recently, we started highlighting our favorite books.  The page will change periodically, based on new input, but we don't post anything here that we haven't personally used, loved, and often-times given as a gift to others because of our love for it!
    • Bibliophile's Christmas Wishlist - When the holidays roll around, we break out the 'Christmas Box' for special out-loud family reading time.  Mom also loves reading inspirational, feel-good Christmas stories.  We've collected several pages of our favorites, across many genres, in this wishlist.
So that's it - these are our top picks for road-schooling gifts.  What would you add to this list?  Which one does your family need for upcoming travels?  

One reader will win a cookbook bundle, including Freezer Cooking Through the Year, Another Year of Freezer Cooking, and a Slow-Cooked Year!

Thursday, December 6

Holly Jolly Christmas (Burl Ives)

Dear Santa:

I've been a good mom all year. I've fed, cleaned, and cuddled my two children on demand, visited the doctor's office more than my doctor, sold sixty-two cases of candy bars to raise money to plant a shade tree on the school playground and figured out how to attach nine patches onto my daughter's girl scout sash with staples and a glue gun.

I was hoping you could spread my list out over several Christmases since I had to write this letter with my son's red crayon on the back of a receipt in the laundry room between cycles, and who knows when I'll find anymore free time in the next 18 years.

Here are my Christmas wishes:

  • I'd like a pair of legs that don't ache after a day of chasing kids (in any color, except purple, which I already have) and arms that don't flap in the breeze but are strong enough to carry a screaming toddler out of the candy aisle in the grocery store.
  • I'd also like a waist, since I lost mine somewhere in the seventh month of my last pregnancy.
  • If you're hauling big ticket items this year, I'd like a car with fingerprint resistant windows and a radio that only plays adult music; a television that doesn't broadcast any programs containing talking animals, and a refrigerator with a secret compartment behind the crisper where I can hide to talk on the phone.
  • On the practical side, I could use a talking daughter doll that says, "Yes, Mommy" to boost my parental confidence, along with one potty-trained toddler, two kids who don't fight, and three pairs of jeans that will zip all the way up without the use of power tools.
  • I could also use a recording of Tibetan monks chanting, "Don't eat in the living room" and "Take your hands off your brother," because my voice seems to be just out of my children's hearing range and can only be heard by the dog.
  • And please don't forget the Playdoh Travel Pack, the hottest stocking stuffer this year for mothers of
  • preschoolers. It comes in three fluorescent colors and is guaranteed to crumble on any carpet making the In-laws' house seem just like mine.
  • If it's too late to find any of these products, I'd settle for enough time to brush my teeth and comb my hair in the same morning, or the luxury of eating food warmer than room temperature without it being served in a Styrofoam container. 
  • If you don't mind, I could also use a few Christmas miracles to brighten the holiday season.
  • Would it be too much trouble to declare ketchup a vegetable? It will clear my conscience immensely.
  • It would be helpful if you could coerce my children to help around the house without demanding payment as if they were the bosses of an organized crime family; or if my toddler didn't look so cute sneaking downstairs to eat contraband ice cream in his pajamas at midnight.
Well, Santa, the buzzer on the dryer is ringing and my son saw my feet under the laundry room door.

I think he wants his crayon back. Have a safe trip and remember to leave your wet boots by the chimney and come in and dry off by the fire so you don't catch cold.

Help yourself to cookies on the table, but don't eat too many or leave crumbs on the carpet.

Yours always,

PS - One more can cancel all my requests if you can keep my children young enough to believe in Santa.

~Written by unknown Mom~

.....and a little snowman humor!

We're giving away three Travel Journal prize packages...complete with travel-themed journal and journaling goodies for the road!  There are three chances to win this one!

Wednesday, December 5

I'll Be Home for Christmas (Bing Crosby)

With our kids very much into World War 2 right now, we're coming up with all sorts of ways to incorporate that history into our studies.  Here is a Christmas unit study, easily tailored up or down for all ages, that begins with three novellas about the Turner family in "Where Treetops Glisten"...

About the Book...
Where Treetops Glisten (Tricia Goyer, Cara Putman, Sarah Sundin)
Turn back the clock to a different time, listen to Bing Crosby sing of sleigh bells in the snow, as the realities of America’s involvement in the Second World War change the lives of the Turner family in Lafayette, Indiana. In Cara Putman’s White Christmas, Abigail Turner is holding down the Home Front as a college student and a part-time employee at a one-of-a-kind candy shop. Loss of a beau to the war has Abigail skittish about romantic entanglements—until a hard-working young man with a serious problem needs her help. Abigail’s brother Pete is a fighter pilot hero returned from the European Theater in Sarah Sundin’s I’ll Be Home for Christmas, trying to recapture the hope and peace his time at war has eroded. But when he encounters a precocious little girl in need of Pete’s friendship, can he convince her widowed mother that he’s no longer the bully she once knew? In Tricia Goyer’s Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Meredith Turner, “Merry” to those who know her best, is using her skills as a combat nurse on the frontline in the Netherlands. Halfway around the world from home, Merry never expects to face her deepest betrayal head on, but that’s precisely what God has in mind to redeem her broken heart. The Turner family believes in God’s providence during such a tumultuous time. Can they absorb the miracle of Christ’s birth and His plan for a future?

Music Appreciation
A Merry 1940's Christmas (compilation)
The radio features often in the background of these stories, and it's easy to hear the songs woven into the plot.  By and far, our favorite holiday cd is this one!  With twenty-five different vintage gems, it easily conveys the spirit of the holidays during wartime.  It brings back a simpler time, a celebration of spirit and hope.  Some of the songs are classics, and other lesser-known ones will quickly become family classics.  Another option for music appreciation is A 1940's Christmas, though this one only has twelve tracks.

Turn back the clock to a different time, listen to Bing Crosby sing of sleigh bells in the snow, as the realities of America’s involvement in the Second World War change the lives of the Turner family in Lafayette, Indiana.

Living History (History & Comprehension)
The Christmas novella collection, Where Treetops Glisten, follows one family through World War II. This would be appropriate for students in middle or high school. The stories show what life was like for Americans both on the home front (rationing, shortages, loss, and worry for your loved ones) and abroad (harsh living conditions, danger, and separation from family).

Free printables

Food Rationing (Math)
During World War II, many items were rationed, including rubber and metals, but it was the rationing of food that most people noticed first!  Sugar, coffee, cheese, canned milk, canned fish, meats, processed foods, and butter were all rationed.  This meant that each family member was only allowed a certain amount, and some items weren't available anywhere.

Given the rationing, trying to grocery shop or cook was quite a chore!  Watch the videos below and see if you could keep track of the ration book...

Christmas Recipes (Home Ec)
The rationing made it more difficult to celebrate, but that just let to more kitchen creativity.  Oftentimes, ration points would be saved up for a special occasion, or people would barter and trade their points.  Here are the recipe for a cake without eggs and a simple, homemade icing.  It is similar to a carrot cake or zucchini bread.

Eggless Christmas Cake

  • 4 oz finely grated carrots
  • 2 Tbsp dark corn syrup
  • 3 oz sugar
  • 4 oz margarine
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 4 oz dried fruit (cranberries, apricots, raisins)
  • 12 oz self raising flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 6 oz milk, slightly warmed
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  2. Cook the grated carrots and syrup over a low heat for a few minutes. 
  3. Cream the sugar and margarine until light and fluffy. 
  4. Stir the baking soda into the carrots and syrup mixture, then beat it into the sugar and margarine mixture, treating it as if it were an egg. 
  5. Add a half teaspoon each of vanilla and almond extract, and stir in with the dried fruit.
  6. Fold in the flour and cinnamon, and add the warmed milk to make a moist dough. 
  7. Put the mixture into a greased cake tin (or use a fluted tube pan such as a Bundt pan). 
  8. Smooth the top, and make a deep hole in the center with a spoon, if not using a tube pan, to stop the cake from rising too much during cooking. 
  9. Turn down heat to 300 F and bake for 3 hours.

V-Mail (Language Arts : Writing)
Before the days of email and cell phones, it took considerably longer to reach loved ones overseas.  Sometimes, it would be weeks or months before a letter arrived, and several letters often arrived all at the same time. 

Victory Mail (v-mail) was the original's how it worked:
  1. A letter is written and sent to the military - the letter can only be one page long, including both addresses
  2. It is photographed, put on microfiche, and shipped overseas
  3. Once reaching its destination, the film is developed, printed, and sent to the soldier
Of course, it wasn't as easy as it sounds.  Mail was heavily censored, often leading to partial letters where family members had to guess, and it took a very long time to go back and forth.  But part of the 'War at Home' was keeping up morale and taking care of our soldiers!

Gift-Giving (Arts & Crafts)
Presents are one of the things that children look forward to most at Christmas, but during war-time, there were so many shortages that parents had to get creative for gifts.  During World War II, rubber and metal were rationed.
Presents were 'make do and mend.'  Many magazines printed instructions for embroidered bookmarks or calendars, knitted slippers and gloves, and toys made from scraps of wool, felt, plastic, or even old silver cutlery. Nothing was wasted and everything was appreciated.
  • Rubber was needed for the war - airplane and jeep tires, life rafts, and medical equipment - because of this, there was a shortage of bicycles, toy wagons, doll carriages, and rubber balls
  • Metal was needed for the war - ships, guns, helmets, tins, and planes - because of this, there was a shortage of bicycles, toy wagons, doll carriages, and other metal toys
  • Wood and paper were both plentiful, so many more toys were made of wood.  Cardboard began to be used for many things, including building sets and puzzles.  Coloring books also became more popular.
  • Plastics began to be used for making toys, and creativity sets such as Legos (which were invented in 1932) began to become popular.
  • Finally, war bonds were used as gifts.  A bond was purchased in the child's name (the money went to the war effort), and ten years later they could be cashed in for a gain of interest.
  • Here are some Christmas ads from a 1943 newspaper....what would you choose?
Practice : Create a piece of String Art, a Leatherbound Notebook, or an Embroidered Christmas Card - all with items from around your house!

One lucky reader is going to win this Where Treetops Glisten prize package, courtesy of one of the authors, Sarah Sundin.  Good luck!  

Tuesday, December 4

Ave Maria (Franz Schubert)

Teaching Latin can be daunting to many homeschool moms, but we try to make it fun as often as possible.  The holidays definitely qualify as one of those times!! 

As our children have continued their Latin studies, we've developed some activities and games to practice the language while having are some that we'll be revisiting this season.  (Stick of you will receive everything below for FREE!)
I can't say the title to this one without starting to hum the classic tune from Meet Me in St. Louis...  Get into the holiday spirit while continuing Latin studies with these twenty-two pages of games, activities, and history!
  • Learn about the history of Christmas and how it derived from Saturnalia.
  • Host a Latin Christmas caroling night (with musical examples).  
  • Send Latin-language Christmas cards.  
  • Read Christmas classics in Latin.  
  • Also included are vocabulary words and a word search.
A Latin Adventure
Further study of Latin with proper nouns, declensions, and everyday use of Latin words and phrases in our modern society. Demonstrated through a fictitious adventure, with interactive components.  Similar to 'Choose Your Own Adventure,' this can be reused multiple times to practice the skills repeatedly.

Study basic Latin concepts with these fun, Lego-themed daily calendar labels. Concepts covered include : months, days, seasons, and weather.  If you're not into Latin, we have one of these for Spanish as well!

Brick-themed Latin Daily Calendar Labels - 1 A Latin Adventure - 1

The Kids Did It and The Mommy Island are excited to bring you the 2018 3rd Annual Winter Is Coming hop.  One lucky winner from this blog will receive a Latin Bundle - include Brick-themed Latin Daily Calendar, Have Yourself a Little Latin Christmas, and A Latin Adventure!

Monday, December 3

Christmas Mix-Tape : Twelve Giveaways of Christmas!

We've got twelve days of fantastic prizes lined up for our readers this Christmas!

Go ahead and get in the mood with the free Bibliophile's Wishlist...

Dec 4 - Ave Maria (Franz Schubert)
Dec 5 - I'll Be Home for Christmas (Bing Crosby)
Dec 6 - Holly Jolly Christmas (Burl Ives)
Dec 7 - I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas (Kacey Musgraves)
Dec 10 - Spirit of the Season (Alan Silvestri)
Dec 11 - Rockin' On Top of the World (Steven Tyler - Polar Express)
Dec 12 - Purple Snowflakes (Marvin Gaye)
Dec 13 - Candy Cane Christmas (Darius Rucker)
Dec 14 - Kissin' by the Mistletoe (Aretha Franklin)
Dec 17 - 'Zat You, Santa Claus? (Louis Armstrong)
Dec 18 - Candy Cane Lane (Sia)
Dec 19 - Here Comes Santa Claus (Gene Autry)

Be sure to bookmark this landing page and return everyday to enter a new giveaway!

There are small and large prize packages, and they're sprinkled throughout!

While you're here...sip on some cocoa and give these a whirl...

Friday, November 30

Sunny Afternoon (Kinks)

On a cold, sunny afternoon, we parked up under the Mackinaw Bridge and stepped back in time to the early 19th century at Fort Michilimackinac(Guess how long it took me to spell that correctly....)

If you like Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown, or any other re-enactment-based historic attraction, you'll fall in love with this little slice of northern Michigan history!  With sixteen historic buildings, representing different time periods, a few movies, crafts and hands-on exhibits, an active archaeological dig, and several demonstrations...this is a perfect field trip for a day of immersion learning!
The entrance to the fort is also home to the section on Native American tribes of this area.  We were able to crawl inside a home, get hands-on with some of the tools, and see what a typical day was like for these peoples.
First and foremost, this was a military outpost.  The time period that we visited was 1814, when the British controlled the region, and thus the British flag was flying above it.  Here, we got a demonstration of the cannon and musket-loading.
We learned a bit about the different jobs that were held at the fort, visiting a merchant and a tradesman.  Each man was also part of the militia.
Peeking into the barracks, we saw how an average soldier would live.  The men worked in shifts, sharing beds and living space.  We decided that the daily rations may not be enough to feed these teenage boys!
We played dress up (of course) and walked around some more, visiting with other re-enactors.  One thing we found interesting was the rowhouses...these were like the first apartments of the area!  Each family had two small rooms and a plot behind the home for a family garden.
Blacksmithing is a fairly new interest for the boys, and so they were quite interested in the different types of shot and tools that were made in the forge.
I found the root cellar far more would be really neat to have one of these at the house, and I'm trying to figure out whose arm needs twisting to get one!  This is the original root cellar, and was part of the archaeological dig that is ongoing at the site.
From the walkway, you can see far across the lake.  It was such a beautiful day, too!  The youngest was more interested, however, in the cannon and how far it could fire...

Unfortunately, we did not have the time required to take the ferry over to Mackinac Island and visit Fort Mackinac, but as I've always wanted to venture into that step-back-in-time, it's definitely on our future stops list!
Just hangin' around.....