Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Great Books You Should Really Read!

One of my all time favorite Christmas books is, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, by Barbara Robinson. It is a short little chapter book that is great to read aloud to children. This book makes me laugh hysterically as well as wonder at it's deep meaning each time I read it.

The story is told from the point of view of a little girl who is participating in her church's annual Christmas pageant. However, this year there is a twist. The Herdmans, who were "absolutely the worst kids in the history of the world" showed up because they heard there was free food. This is an extremely heart warming story that is well worth taking the time to read.

Another great book I would highly recommend you read is, The Tale of Despereaux, by Kate DiCamillo (Because of Winn Dixie). This book is being released as a movie this holiday season, and I always recommend that children read the book before they see the movie.

Despereaux Tilling is a mouse who is different. He loves music, stories and a princess named Pea. He encounters Roscuro, a rat who lives in the darkness, but longs for a life in the light. It is also the story of Miggery Sow, a serving girl with a simple, impossible wish. The three paths cross in a dungeon, a castle and in each other's lives. As always, Kate DiCamillo writes in a style of her own and grabs your heart. It's a delightlful read for adults as well as children. My whole family (from school age to teenager and even dad) enjoyed listening to this book on a family vacation. I may have to pick it up and read it again!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Hats. hats and more hats!

Thanks to the children who came to make fleece hats last Thursday! We made over 30 hats to send to Pakistan as well as several baby hats for newborns we know! The kids also shoveled snow in the neighborhood and made Christmas ornaments. The room was buzzing with busy little sewing elves! Thanks also to Laura for her help and the use of her sewing machine.
This Thursday we will get together for brown bag lunches and I will read the end of The White House Christmas Mystery by Carol Marsh. I have a great pattern to make a gingerbread White House. Let me know if you would like to attempt that at home. We can put some pictures on the blog!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Ways to Enhance Any Language Arts Homeschool Curriculum at Christmas Time

I found these Christmas related language arts ideas on a website and thought I'd share them with you. They are from Cheryl and Melissa Moeller, mother/daughter author team. They write juvenile fiction with homeschool characters. Baby Saves Christmas is one of their titles. Anyway, enjoy their ideas! If you try one out, share a comment on how it went.

1. Make up a story to tell your children over a period of days or weeks during the month of December. Swiss Family Robinson began as a series of stories that Johann David Wyss told his children bit by bit, each night at bedtime. As a parent, you can capture your children’s hearts and imagination with the retelling of the Christmas story and stories of your childhood Christmas memories.

2. The Long, Long Christmas Book Train. Around the ceiling in your homeschool room, put a large construction paper red or green train car each time your children finishes a book in December. Challenge your children to read enough books in December to make the caboose and engine meet or fill up a whole wall! When the Christmas train goal is met, throw a Christmas train themed party with another homeschool family.

3. Name that Christmas “Stuffie.” Give each of your children a $1 small stuffed animal or “stuffie” for your December homeschool mascot. Spend an hour thinking of names for your Christmas “stuffie.” Each child makes up their own list of 20 or 50 creative “Yuletide-themed” names, depending on the child’s age. Then, have them eliminate names and come up with their most favorite.

4. “Read to me by Skype.” Have an older homeschool student, cousin, aunt, or grandpa skype or telephone each day during December and read your younger child a Christmas theme story. If you have older children, have them call up a younger homeschooler each weekday in December and read to them.

5. Don’t get out of your regular Library habit. Your children could easily stay home during busy days and use the internet, but they also need to visit the library in person. Stay and read at tables. Do a Christmas craft, if offered. Gaze and gawk. Dawdle through the aisles.

6. Writing enhances reading. Reading also enhances writing. There are many opportunities for a child to write around the “Holy-Days.” The lost art of letter writing can be found again, when your kids write letters to each relative.