A Homeschool Christmas
December 13, 2017
Mercy Every Minute  
Twelve days until Christmas? Is it possible to slow that down a bit? I wish it were. But the count goes on, and I must fit everything in. This season can be stressful as it adds to our already full lives, but it sure helps if I would remain in a spirit of celebration in all I do and prepare—not an earthly happiness, but an eternal joy, knowing I am celebrating the love of my life: my Savior, Jesus Christ. (Here are Twelve Names of Christ with activities to do with the children for the next twelve days.)

Instead of celebrating the celebration, I need to slow down enough to focus on celebrating Christ, the Messiah. And if I need some reasons to help me celebrate, here are Seven Reasons to Celebrate Even if You Don’t Feel like It.  

If my heart is stressed, it is a reminder to me to consciously declutter the junk in there and have my “heart prepare Him room.” Celebrating starts with allowing Him in. He stands at the door and knocks. He wants to be with us. Throughout the Scriptures, you will hear this plea repeated, “Come to me.” So, before we sing “Oh, Come All Ye Faithful,” we need to actually come to the Faithful One and “adore Him, Christ the Lord.” 

Adoration takes pause. But the pause reminds us Who we are adoring in this season. We need to pause what we are doing throughout the day and come to Him to offer our adoration. Even if you remain busy on the outside, at least your heart will be in the right place, and your spirit will be slowed down enough to focus on the eternal. The red flag of stress should be the signal to bend the knee in worship and adoration. 

Make this week be a true heart celebration of the One who set us free from sin and death. Pause, and turn your focus from the Christmas tree to the tree of Calvary. Believe it or not, you will find more hope in the latter than the former. And in this stressful time, you will meet the Prince of Peace. True peace can be yours even today. You can put the government of your life on His shoulders. He’d love to take that from you. He came to bring, “Peace on earth and goodwill to men” . . . and especially to you . . . today. 

“For unto us a child is born , unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor , The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

Pausing to adore Him with you,

Looking for Canadian homeschooling curriculum and resources? VisitThe Canadian Homeschooler for reviews, history books lists, homeschooling tips, and a store of products to help with history & geography - like a virtual trip across Canada and a timeline of Canadian history. 
Lisa Marie Fletcher
While Christmas is touted as a “season of giving,” it's hard to deny the overwhelming sense of greed that this holiday brings to our homes. Kids are bombarded with messages to make wish lists and think of themselves. In a gimme, gimme world, how can we change our Christmas season to be one that thinks of others?

The best Christmas we ever had as a family was the year that we intentionally made a list of acts we could do to bless, surprise, or encourage others. Acts of kindness don't have to be expensive. The idea is to refocus the spotlight off ourselves and onto others.

Some of our favourite Random Acts of Christmas Kindness (RACK) have been the following:

  • handing out free water bottles at our YMCA
  • giving our elderly neighbor a pointsetta
  • leaving the mailman a gift
  • taking cookies to the librarians
  • taking a basket of muffins and goodies to the fire station
  • adding coins to the parking meters
  • collecting all the carts at the grocery store and putting a quarter in each one
  • gathering donations and gift cards from our extended family and taking a vehicle of food/gifts to a family in need in our own community
  • putting a samples goodie bag with laundry soap and dryer sheets along with a few quarters and leaving them at the local laundry mat
  • making Christmas cards and delivering them to the local nursing home to be distributed to the elderly who don't have family
  • holding the door at the store
  • hiding a couple of loonies in the toys at the dollar store
  • tucking coupons next to their products at the grocery store
  • putting candy canes with notes into the neighbors’ mailboxes
  • if there is snow, make eyes on the front window to make someone laugh
  • shovel a neighbor’s driveway
  • and so many more.

One year, we would open an activity of the day for our family and a RACK every morning along with our advent calendars. It totally changed the whole feeling of Christmas. It was no longer about ourselves. It was about family. It was about others. But it doesn't even have to be a month-long event. A single act can change the whole season—for you and the person you have blessed. You never know the ripples.

Blessing you and your family a very Merry Christmas!

Lisa Marie

Lisa Marie Fletcher is a busy homeschooling mom of 5 who somehow manages to find some time to blog at   The Canadian Homeschooler   where her mission is to help connect homeschoolers across Canada with each other and with resources to help them on their journey. 
Christmas Traditions
By Sandy Roy

I imagine that as unique as each homeschool family is, so are their Christmas traditions. These traditions give families the opportunity to celebrate Christ and honor the Lord. Our children look forward to these traditions, and it is a way that we, as parents, can drive home eternal truths. 
When my husband, Pat, first knew God was calling us together as husband and wife, we started a tradition of buying an annual ornament together. That first ornament was a promise that soon we'd be married and would share a family tree. 
That was 25 years ago! Each ornament represents a major theme from our year: a new family member, a new home, a move; many are years of God's provision. As the Lord blessed us with our wonderful children, they also participated in choosing the theme for each year. 
As each member takes a turn at hanging the ornaments in chronological order, we rehearse the goodness of God through our family’s history. By the time the tree is decorated, it’s full of warm memories and stories of God’s hand in our lives. And there it sits in our living room throughout the season—a reminder of the Lord’s goodness to us. 
Another Christmas tradition has been listening to audio dramas on the long drive to visit family. There are so many great audio stories out there that have such deep biblical lessons. It is amazing how these Christmas drives become an opportunity to redeem hours in the car. It was those dramas that, long ago, inspired us to create the Jonathan Park Audio Adventures. 
Recently, our family has begun another new family-based audio adventure series called Time Chroniclers. We are passionate about this endeavor because the battleground for the minds and hearts of children is their understanding of who created and sustains us. Is it God, or random chance processes? Our heart is to teach children that they were made with purpose by a loving Creator. 
So if you are looking for deep family traditions this year, remember to rehearse God’s providence through the years of your family’s history. And, if like us, you will be travelling for the holidays, redeem those hours in the car with stories that have a deep eternal message. If you’d like to know more about Time Chroniclers, we invite you to visit our website at www.TimeChroniclers.com
Merry Christmas!
It's not too late to shop for the best educational gifts for your kids! Sale ends Friday.
Beth Mora
Creating Christ-Centered Christmas Traditions
I’m a fan of good wholesome musicals that leave me with a tapping toe, a smile on my face, and something worthy to ponder. The musical Fiddler on the Roof is one of those kinds of musicals. I adore the opening scene. The main character, Tevye, a Russian Jewish father, opens the play with these lines:

“Tevye: A fiddler on the roof. Sounds crazy, no? But here, in our little village of Anatevka, you might say every one of us is a fiddler on the roof trying to scratch out a pleasant, simple tune without breaking his neck. It isn’t easy. You may ask ‘Why do we stay up there if it’s so dangerous?’ Well, we stay because Anatevka is our home. And how do we keep our balance? That I can tell you in one word: <said with conviction> tradition!”

I echo Tevye’s conviction and shout with him, “Tradition!”

Traditions bind and hold our values together.

They are the hands-on activities that cement godly instruction.

Traditions are the baton of standards that we pass on to our children. 

They are the stabilizing principles that help us keep our balance during life’s crazy ups and downs.

Traditions are glasses that help us see life’s big picture.

Wise women in my life have taught me three important lessons about Christmas traditions.

Begin With the End in Mind
The world with its focus on the “big holiday bucks” competes for my family’s thoughts and ideas about Christmas. So when my husband and I consider adding to our Christmas traditions, we talk about what message or value we want to share with our children and grandchildren. We want to make sure that Christ is glorified in all we do! 

It’s Never too Late to Start a New Tradition
Our family has grown over the years and so have our Christmas traditions. Some traditions remain, and some are exchanged to accommodate our family’s larger size and the needs of our children as they marry and start families of their own. I have learned over the years that it’s never too late to start a new tradition. It’s important to be flexible and allow room for new creativity and even input from our children. 

Less Is More
You need not implement your entire Pinterest Christmas tradition board. It’s strange that a holiday like Christmas which has its roots in the most humble of circumstances results in stress, debt, and fret. Think about the absurdity! We feel the squeeze of a Christmas crowded with frivolous folly instead of resting in the peace of God’s presence. Choose a few traditions that foster peace instead of chaos, giving instead of getting, and serving instead of receiving.

During this Christmas season, our family will engage in our present Christmas traditions, remember the ones that we did in years past, and think about ones we want to add. Each tradition is special to us and helps us keep our balance as we tread on the slanted roof of modern Christmas commercialism. I want the traditions that my husband and I create to help our children and grandchildren stand strong against the winds of a store-bought Christmas this year and many years to come. 

Tevye delivers the last line in the opening song of Fiddler on the Roof with a booming voice, “Tradition, without our traditions, our lives would become as shaky as a fiddler on the roof!” His statement has merit for us living in a commerce-driven Christmas. The Christ-centered traditions we create help our families to keep our balance and a proper perspective. 

You can find  Beth Mora  jogging while  singing off-key  near her home in Washington. She is the creator and teacher-on-camera for  Here to Help Learning ’s h omeschool writing program for grades 1-6. She is a welcomed  speaker  at homeschool conferences and women’s events. She loves blogging at  Home to Home , and   Peak Performance , HTHL’s blogs for moms and homeschool businesses. Every week, she serves up HTHL's  Writing Tip of the Week   for those who are serious about teaching their kiddos how to write. Everything she does, whether laughable or heart gripping, is done to honor One, without apology. God’s grace is the salve that has healed her own life, and God’s grace is what she offers liberally to others.
Merry Christmas from
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Lee Binz, The HomeScholar
5 Ways to Collect Christmas Credits with Holiday Fun
I have great news for stressed out moms. You can use holiday fun for high school credit! There are five ways that you can use your normal, natural holiday activities for creating high school credits. 

1. Enjoy Art
If your family traditions include theater and musical arts, you can stop your regular art curriculum, and do Christmas School instead. When you attend A Christmas Carol , watch The Nutcracker , or listen to Handel's Messiah, add that to your fine art course description. Along with a sing-along event with “The Hallelujah Chorus,” add other music from the composer Handel. Practicing Christmas music during music lessons can be included in your descriptions as well. 

2. Create Art
Handmade projects are more than just awesome gifts, they can also be artistic creations that demonstrate the academic subject we call "Fine Art." Use arts and crafts time in your homeschool for gift making, and then include each project in your course descriptions. Include photography projects—framed for gifts of course! Each hand-made project counts, and grade the final project with an “A” if it was completed to your satisfaction. 

3. Christmas Composition 
Enjoy reading quality literature and biblical passages about Christmas, and include those on your reading list. Read Christmas-themed novels, poetry, compilations, and plays. Many of the great literature authors have written marvelous holiday classics. Just one example is the Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol . Find books on this list of Classic Christmas Literature for High School Students . Use special Christmas writing projects in place of your generic English composition assignments. The holidays are filled with writing opportunities. Writing Christmas cards is a great exercise, or your teen could create a longer Christmas letter. December is a great time to mix it up and write essays about Christmas.

4. Career Exploration
If your teen gets a job during the holidays, those work hours can be collected into an Occupational Education credit. Estimate the number of hours spent on the job. Roughly 120-180 hours is equivalent to one full high school class, and about 60-90 hours is equivalent to a semester class worth half a credit. Write a course description describing the job, tasks, and skills learned—your child has completed a Christmas credit! 

5. Home Economics
Use your time cleaning, sewing, crafting, cooking, and baking to focus on home economics. This is the time to shore up those important "Adulting" skills that are critical for grown children to function independently. During the Christmas season, keep working on the core subjects, but don't sweat out every detail of a challenging curriculum. Instead, set aside your regular homeschool schedule and develop a Christmas School schedule that lists your expectations each day but focuses on family and enjoyment. 

Learn more ways to stay sane with this short little book, Homeschooling the Holidays.  

Lee Binz,  The HomeScholar  is a dynamic speaker and  author   of over 30 books on homeschooling high school. She is an expert on  homeschool transcripts  and getting scholarships. Lee’s mission is to encourage and equip parents to homeschool through high school. You can sign up for her free  monthly homeschool e-newsletter  where you can also get a daily dose of high school help. Check out the  homeschool freebies    on the website. You can also find Lee on Facebook at  Facebook.com/TheHomeScholar .
Help your children discover their place in God’s redemptive story! Give them the Storybook Bible they won’t want to put down for Christmas.
Sherri Seligson
Christmas – Holiday, School Opportunity, or Joyful Celebration?
One of the things I notice about myself and other homeschool moms is that we try to transform everything we experience into an educational opportunity. And Christmas is no different. We plan baking days (chemistry and home skills), craft-making (art), and gatherings with friends and family (dare I say “socialization?”). We go to Nutcracker productions (theater) and go Christmas caroling (music).

How do we do all that plus weave the Reason for our celebrating amidst all the extra activities—and get our school days in?

Well, you might be thinking this is one more “Keep Christ in Christmas” encouragement. Well, yes, but hopefully in a different way. After all, what does that phrase even mean? Do we only read from Luke’s gospel? Do we act out the birth of Jesus, omitting any other festivities?

I struggled with this as my children were growing up. I wanted to create memorable Christmas traditions and be intentional in all we did, plus hit all the bases when it came to school. But my forced plans were sabotaged from the start.

One of our first Christmases included a joyful stomach virus which was shared with holiday cheer throughout the house. Stomach viruses aren’t Christmas-y. Another year we discovered that our gorgeous Christ candle in our Advent wreath was accidentally stored in the attic along with the decorations. You can imagine what Florida-attic-summer-temperatures did to it and everything around it.

I could go on and on with tales of well-intentioned plans that were dutifully messed up by the realities of life, but you get the idea. . . .

Yet, as my children grew, I discovered something amazing. It wasn’t a formula. What kept Christ in our celebrations was making sure we were a reflection of Him in all we did . Modeling for our children selflessness as they baked those cookies and then gave them out to our neighbors. Identifying His creative hand as we crafted ornaments. Showing hospitality to those who came over, including the importance of cleaning and making the house ready with a reminder that we were doing this to bless our guests.

These became our Christmas traditions. We didn’t do things much differently on the outside, but when I turned my heart towards identifying how we can model Christ’s character , it didn’t matter if we weren’t able to go Christmas caroling this year because someone had an ear infection. It was OK if our only party was inviting the neighbors over for punch and Christmas music because we didn’t have time to put on a grand celebration. The HEART behind what we were doing was to be like Christ. And that is a big part of how we celebrate Christmas even today. Sharing the love of Christ during this season has been our joy to look forward to as a family, and we have been truly blessed by it. It has become our continuous Christmas tradition no matter how it actually plays out each year. . . .

Plus, it always would add a few homeschool days to the calendar, too!

May God bless you as we celebrate the birth of Christ this year!

Sherri Seligson is a 21-year veteran homeschool mom and marine biologist. She has authored Apologia’s  Exploring Creation with Marine Biology Interning for High School Credit , instructional DVDs for  Exploring Creation with Biology Chemistry The Human Body , and  Marine Biology and many publications. An international conference speaker, Sherri encourages moms and teaches families the value of studying God’s creation. You can find her blogging at sherriseligson.com .
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It seems hard to believe, but Christmas will be here in less than two weeks! We know your time is limited, so we’ve rounded up all our Christmas videos, lessons, and activities on SchoolhouseTeachers.com for you in one place, our Christmas Corner . Come take a look at all the Christmas resources that are part of membership: 

  • Ten video specials for kids, including the movie Jesus, He Lived Among Us
  • Seven video specials for parents and the family, including the six-part family Bible study and movie The Christmas Experience
  • Fourty-Five Christmas-themed lessons plus more than 50 activities, crafts, fun projects, and puzzles

We pray you and your family have a very safe and blessed Christmas season. Thank you for making us a part of your holidays. 

If you’re homeschooling this year and you’re not a member of SchoolhouseTeachers.com , come give us a try. You can try the entire site for 30 days for $5. If you’re looking for some refreshment, you might consider one of the many Bible studies or parenting resources that are included in your family’s membership. If you or someone you know would be interested in teaching or writing for us, let us know. You can email me at bhudson@TheOldSchoolhouse.com . We look forward to serving you and your family! 

in the latest issue of
The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine.
Contest Corner  
For the month of December

This amazing set includes four Lamplighter books!

This was our first time reading a book from Lamplighter and I have to say we are both very pleased. I love books and I have rooms filled with them. But, these are not just books; they are like little treasures preserved in time for all to enjoy. Not only are Lamplighter books visually stunning, but they are edited within a Biblical framework to ensure that every single story not only lines up with the character of God, but also provides key scriptures to seal these traits in your heart.

The Golden Thread , written by Norman Macleod, is a story written in 1861. I love the font, the style and the art peppered throughout the book. The story is set deep in a dark dangerous forest where a King rules over his Kingdom. The King prepares his son, Prince Phillip for the most difficult test of his life. At first my son, Kaden, was reading this book on his own, but it was so exciting he didn't want me to miss out on all the adventure. The story is filled with so much detail it is easy to slip away into the story with Prince Phillip. ( Read the rest of the review. )

The original tale of the king’s gardener, James, and his 15-year-old daughter Mary, was published in German in 1823 by Christoph von Schmid. The Basket of Flowers has been translated into English and has now been rewritten by Mark Hamby. Recommended for ages 9-14, The Basket of Flowers was ideal for my 12-year-old. Lamplighter Publishing now offers this 234-page hardcover collector’s format for $20. 

Mary loses her mother at a young age and has been brought up by her father James. James is a wise and godly man who has taught Mary much about her Creator and King and what He requires of her, using flowers from his work as a gardener as an example often. Mary befriends Countess Amelia, who then gifts Mary with her clothing as she outgrows them. Juliette, lady’s maid to Amelia, becomes jealous and accuses Mary of stealing a ring from Amelia’s mother. Mary is taken to prison, beaten, and accused falsely. The story chronicles Mary’s struggles as she chooses to do right things in spite of her trials. ( Read the rest of the review. )

Are you looking for a fun way to teach your child the character traits of honesty, perseverance, and industriousness? Do your children love reading or being read to? Basil; Or, Honesty and Industry by Charlotte O’Brien is a great book from Lamplighters Publishing that would help your child learn these traits while enjoying a great story!

This book, like the other books from Lamplighters Publishing, is a reproduction of the original that was written around 1856. The story itself is written almost exactly as it would have been in the 1800s, with little alterations. While this may seem hard to read and/or understand at first, by the time you are done with this wonderful book, you will not notice the writing at all!

We follow Basil as he learns about prayer. He is a poor boy with a rough home life. His mother was too busy with the children and had no time for learning about religion. A few kind words given to Basil from Squire Hamilton—"to pray to God to act honestly and industriously in whatever situation”—give Basil just what he needs. These kind words start a journey for Basil that all people should go on. ( Read the rest of the review. )

“There’s two things as always come to the top: one’s merit—t’other’s scum.” That’s the driving wisdom behind Rising to the Top by Mary E. Ropes, part of the Lamplighter Rare Collector Series. Why do the wicked seem to succeed, while bad things happen to good people? The author has faith that, in the end, justice will prevail, and one’s true character will be revealed.

First published in 1887, Rising to the Top tells the story of thirteen-year-old Bob Martin as he tries to build a life for himself after he is left an orphan. He takes a place as a servant in a wealthy home, where he learns that doing what’s right is not always easy, and that the deceitfulness of others can make one’s life difficult. In the end, of course, true character rises to the top, and both Bob’s “merit” and his enemy’s “scum” are revealed and rewarded appropriately. ( Read the rest of the review. )

YOU can WIN all FOUR books for your homeschool! 

TO ENTER : Click on over to our entry page and follow the instructions! Contest ends at midnight, the last day of the month.
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