Monday, November 30, 2015

Christmas and Advent ideas for 2015

So, I started writing up a post on my local homeschooling groups page and realized instead of sharing an old blog post from the past, I really needed to do a new one.

Mind you, this is not a Charlotte Mason style list of activities - just ones we have enjoyed over the years and what we are doing this year.

I managed to buy my Advent candles for our Advent wreath early in November (shocking, I know!).

For myself, I am re-reading Ann Voscamps's The Greatest Gift: An Advent Devotional and I am also doing this wonderful idea I found just yesterday - a scripture writing plan for December. What a neat way to help prepare your heart for Christmas!

We are not doing the 2015 Inductive Advent study, but here is the link for it. Print it now and you will only be behind by a day or so! (For 2016 Inductive Advent Study)

Free ebook from Knowledge Quest - Figgy Pudding, Stollen and Tamales when you sign up for their newsletter (if, like me, you already receive their newletter, just enter your current email addy - you will still get it).  Plus, you will be helping them send gifts to the needy through Gospel for Asia!

We did a Jesse Tree from HERE. When we did it, we made it simple. I printed the sheets, colored in the pictures with pencils and laminated them.

We have enjoyed reading Jotham's Journey, Bartholomew's Passage, & Tabitha's Travels. This year, we are reading a new book in the series (released last year) called Ishtar's Odessey. I think this one will complete the Advent series.  Last year, we read The Christmas Mystery by Jostein Gaarder. It was a lot of fun (though a couple of small doctrinal differences that I changed up as I was reading - towards the end if I remember correctly - nothing worth avoiding the book over). G3 requested that we reread it this year, so we are reading it in the morning instead of during family time at night (when we do Jesse Tree and Ishtar).

A couple of other books of interest that I will likely look at for doing in years:
Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas by Ann Voskamp
Advent Storybook by Antoine Schneider
Letters from Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien

Here are a couple of freebies that are also available:
Free Nativity Lapbook for younger children
Free Christmas Symbols lapbook
Free Christmas Around the World Unit Study/Lapbook

I have one other link for a nativity file folder "game" for preschoolers that is very cute and was a hit during church yesterday with M3. But...I cannot find the link. I printed it out a year or 2 back, cut it out....and then never glued it. I found it and a letter one for Thanksgiving right before Thanksgiving, so I put them together quickly. However, it seems they are not from the same site and I have already tossed the papers that might have said where I got it from. I will update when I find it. But, until then, here is a picture of it: Aha!! I found it! You can find the Nativity Tot Pack at A Teaching Mommy. The name of the blog page had changed, so I had to still do more digging to find it, but I did and it looks like she has expanded the pack to include activities (worksheets...and some additional things). However, the Tot Pack shown below is on that page if you scroll down. I found it in my files and realized I downloaded it in 2011!!! I know I have not had it printed quite that long, soooo, have fun!

The Advent Project - online & free! This is for the introduction, but just click outside of it to get to the main page to see the calendar: The Advent Project - Introduction

Free TOS Digital Holiday Supplement - lots of great stuff here for Thanksgiving & Christmas!
You can also email to ask for their newest (?) supplement here. The information how to ask for it is on the right hand page.

Free Audio for The Cinnamon Bear here - just scroll down.

Back to the Bible's Twelve Voices of Christmas

From the AmblesideOnline page we have a list of Christmas Carols and they are available in a printable PDF format, Christmas Poetry, and a list of Christmas books to read.

That and along with making a few Christmas presents for some people, cookies, lots of Christmas themed books, a Christmas concert at church, driving around to see the lights (love the displays downtown!), some old radio shows I purchased several year ago from Homeschool Radio Shows and hopefully, some caroling, we should have a fun, Christ-centered month leading up to Christmas.

I hope some of these are of help to you as well. Feel free to share some of your favorite resources in the comments.  Have a blessed Advent.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Resurrection Day, Lenten period, and Holy Week ideas

A friend was asking what other friends have done in the past for the Lenten season. Just as we take the time before Christmas (the season of Advent) to focus on the whole reason for the date being important to us in the first place, we do the same for that thing to prepare our hearts for the day we celebrate Christ's Resurrection from the grave.

Our church does not actually observe Lent and I know we don't observe Lent in our house the way that many denominations would suggest we observe it. But, I have come to enjoy the 40 days leading up to Resurrection Sunday as a time to focus on the things of God and drawing us nearer to Him. Then, too my little ones don't only have a focus on Easter as simply a day of candy and such.

So, over the years, I have collected several resources to help us to purpose to think about what Christ went through for us. Some of them are just for Holy Week, some will cover the entire 40 Days of Lent. Some are free. Some are not. Hopefully, you will find one here that you can use for you or your family.

To use with your children:

Jesus -  The Life-Giver    This one is for Holy Week, starting with Palm Sunday. It has a cute flower craft to do for each day during that week. It does have a price tag associated with it. I would not buy it just yet. Wait and see if it goes on sale closer to Palm Sunday.

Amon's Adventure - A Family Story for Easter    Written by the author of the Jotham's Journey trio, this book has 28 chapters to read. You could easily stretch them to cover 40 days or just the 28 days leading up to and including Easter Sunday. And since I have linked to Amazon, obviously it is not a free one.

Miss Pattycake's Eggstravaganza     This wonderful video has been in our home since the big children were really little (maybe 14 years at this point!!). It is a favorite amongst the littles. Miss Pattycake uses Resurrection Eggs to tell the story of easter.

Some children's books to add to your home library:

Benjamin's Box     This book also uses the Resurrection Eggs to tell the story leading up to Resurrection Day. A sweet book for the younger set.

The Parable of the Lily     We love this story (we love all 4 books in this series for that matter!).

The Tale of Three Trees     I love to read this book as it takes us briefly through the life of Christ via three trees.

The Very First Easter     You can read this with your older children, or spread it out over several readings with youngers.

For you to read:

The Lent Project - from Biola University   (free)  This is an online resource, but I have not used it for Lent before. They have done beautiful readings for Advent and I expect the ones for Lent to be just as beautiful. If you like, click the play button and there is pretty music to read to.

Lenten Lights     (free)  From John Piper's site, Desiring God, this is a wonderful series of readings for Holy Week. I have enjoyed using this one in the past.

Love to the Uttermost     (free)  Another from Desiring God. Again I have enjoyed using this in the past. It is free for the digital versions (you can even print out the PDF version offered), but you can buy it in paperback form.

Trail to the Tree by Ann Voskamp    (free)  I LOVE this devotional. It is scheduled over 17 days. It can be done with your family and it includes images to print to do a "Jesus Easter Tree."  You do have to sign up on her email list or RSS feed to get the link for it. I consider it worth the bit of effort.