Monthly Archives: October 2008

Homespun Holidays, revisited

The Old Schoolhouse magazine has just announced that they are offering Homespun Holidays as a part of their newest subscription offer. (Click the link to see my review.)

Here’s their ad:

Did you ever dream of getting a horse for Christmas? You can get a sneak peek of our Fall issue and see Nancy Carter’s first horse! Oh, and she’s not the only one sharing her childhood pictures. You’ll see photos from the 50’s through the 80’s.

But, you’ll need the Fall issue of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine to go on this walk down memory lane.

Plus, do you like to create holiday memories? The brand new TOS holiday E-Book can be yours, too. It’s all about the fall and winter holidays – mainly Thanksgiving and Christmas. But it’s not even for sale yet. This is your chance to get it first – for FREE ($12.45 value)!

Normally when a person subscribes, their subscription starts with theĀ  upcoming issue which can take a while. But, TOS thought about that when they
planned their Fall Special.

If you subscribe now with their Fall Special, you’ll get

Almost 50% off the cover price for 2 years

The current Fall issue as soon as it is ready

6 Bonus gifts

12 months of Teacher’s Toolbox, which contains a FREE E-Book every month PLUS, the new E-Book, Homespun Holidays for FREE!

This is over $250 worth of product for only $39!!


20th century reading list for a young and sensitive student

It’s not so easy to put this together. You see, youngest has a tender heart. There’s so much in recent history that’s disheartening. (Pardon the pun. Couldn’t resist.)

So far on my readaloud list I have:

1900 to 1920 or so
The Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk by Donald? Sobel
All-of-a-kind Family series by Sidney Taylor
Little Britches series by Ralph Moody
Sergeant York? (Might be too graphic at her age)
I think “Cheaper by the Dozen” fits here, too.

James Herriot’s books
The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom
(Another book about hiding from the Nazis, I have it on the bookshelf but forget the title)
The Winged Watchman (re-read) by Hilde Stockum
Snow Treasure (re-read)
The von Trapp Family Singers (Maria’s autobiography)
Sergeant Donkey (not the whole title, but I forget the rest and it’s late)
House of Thirty Fathers (I think that’s the title, maybe it’s “Sixty”) by de Jong
YWAM’s Gladys Aylward biography

Space program (Race to the Moon DVD set, perhaps a biography or autobiography to go along with it)
Don’t know what else. Some Beverly Cleary books, like the Ramona series or Ellen Tebbits? (shows life in the 60s pretty well, I think)

Other Biographies:
Norman Rockwell? (My parents loved his art, and we have a big coffee-table book of his works they gave us.)
Churchill? (Saw a documentary about him, made by his granddaughter. What an adventurous life he led!)
Bob Hope? (Incredible story of an immigrant who “made it” and then gave generously of himself)
Martin Luther King, Jr.? (um. maybe, or maybe a snippet of his life and achievements, perhaps memorizing passages from his “I have a dream” speech–she’ll get awfully upset if the book ends with his assassination. She’s young, yet, and doesn’t need to have the fact pounded in. She’s aware of it, I think, in an abstract way. There’s time to revisit the 20th century again when she’s older.)

This was all from brainstorming while waiting somewhere today. I’m sure there’s more I can add to the list. Got any suggestions?

“All-of-a-kind Family” resource

Youngest would like to study 20th century history this year, and we’re going to go with that, because this is my hands-on learner and at present it’s best to go with her interests. She retains what she finds interesting, and disregards the rest.

But isn’t that the way with most of us? Sure, we learn to pay attention to eye-glazing stuff as we mature, but we still retain best the material that interests us.

So I’m putting together a reading list. We’ll have something about the Wright Brothers, of course. The first thing that popped into my mind, however, when she mentioned the 20th century, was the “All of a Kind Family” books. It’s a perfect illustration of the immigrant community in turn-of-the-century New York.

I just ran across a free resource on the web, with background information on the author and her books. Did you know that the author based her “All of a Kind Family” on her own life? Which character grew up to become Sydney Taylor?

There are discussion questions, pictures, and activity suggestions in this PDF file, along with a booklist for those who’d like to read more books like the “All of a Kind Family” books.

Update 1/25/2013: Sorry, the link was out of date, but I hunted around and found the updated link, so as of today, the link ought to work.

Planning and scheduling forms

You may have been wondering why I haven’t posted an update on Jennifer van Atta’s planning system–the reason is I misplaced her handout from the workshop, after getting my posts about her system about half-typed in. I remember seeing the papers tucked inside a book that I was reading at the time, but I can’t remember which book!

So if you’re the praying type, would you please pray that I can find the papers again? I’d hate to have to recreate all her experience-based advice.


Review: The Nativity (Tales of Glory play set)

Hey, all!

There’s been a flurry of activity at our house, mostly due to the TOS Homeschool Crew. Several boxes have arrived, and we’re in the thick of checking out new ideas and curricula. You’ll be hearing our family’s impressions and experience over the next few months.

The Nativity Play Set

One of the first things to arrive was The Nativity, a play set from the Tales of Glory series available from one2believe.

We have several Nativity sets at our house; I bought my first one when our oldest daughter was very little. It’s an elegant, white porcelain set. The figures are realistic in shape, but the only color to the set is a couple of touches of gold on the Magi (a gold crown and a box of gold that one of them carries).

Memories in the Making

There’s a funny anecdote about that set. Our minister was walking up and down the church aisle as he gave his sermon, and he asked the church in general what they knew about Jesus. Our daughter (about three at the time) raised her hand eagerly, and he called on her. She confidently said, “Jesus is like a little tiny donut!” (Imagine our consternation. We’re thinking, “What do they imagine we teach her about the Bible at home?”)

He laughed and turned it into a joke, saying something semi-profound like, “Some people even see our Lord Jesus in a humble donut.” Perhaps he thought she was referring to the Donut Man.

Some weeks later I was putting away the Nativity set and turning over the figure of baby Jesus in the manger, I saw that the porcelain figure was hollow inside, and the bottom formed a donut-shaped rim. In her careful fingering of the Nativity set as we’d arranged it the first Sunday in Advent, she’d evidently examined the figures more carefully than I had!

Nowadays our lovely porcelain donkey is missing one ear, and the tips of the angel’s wings are broken, for the set is made more to be looked at than handled. Children are drawn to handle the figures–which is why an unbreakable Nativity set can be such a boon.

When I was little, my parent had a wooden Nativity set. Every Christmas, we children played out the Bible stories with that set. Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem with the donkey. Shepherds perched on high places, watching their flocks. An angel announced the Good News to them, and they went to the stable, bringing the littlest lamb along. Meanwhile, Magi were making their way through the long living room to the stable, to find the Holy Child and give Him their gifts. (I’m sad to say that the set disappeared between the time I left for college and several years later, when we helped Dad go through the storage areas in the house after Mom’s death, or we’d still be using it.)


I wanted to do the same with our own children, but I needed a sturdier Nativity than our lovely porcelain set, where I wouldn’t be wincing every time a child moved to pick up a figure! I’ve bought a couple of sets over the years, one a heavy-duty (but still breakable) set, another made of snap-together plastic figures from Playmobil. The sets have had a lot of use over the past few years.

The Nativity from one2believe is well-suited this sort of interacting with the story. There are seventeen pieces in the set, including a stable, two angels, a donkey, a camel, Mary, Joseph, a manger, a bale of hay, a baby Jesus, two shepherds, three Wise Men, and two sheep. The figures are about 2.5 to 3 inches in height.

A small story pamphlet is included for your convenience, in English, Spanish, and French (though we probably won’t use it; our children are used to reading the Nativity story from the gospels of Luke and Matthew).

Our impressions:

The colorful figures are made of heavy-duty PVC plastic. They’re sturdy. I’ve stepped on one (by accident) and managed not to break it. However, the box warns that this toy is not for children under age 3. (There are small parts, and PVC is problematic if chewed or mouthed.)

There’s a lot of room for imaginative play here, not just setting up the figures in and around the stable. You may find yourself listening in to all sorts of conversations between the characters, from the angel announcing to Mary that she is to bear a son, to another angel (or maybe the same one) telling Joseph to change his plans, to both angels together (there are two in the set) announcing to the shepherds the joyful Good News. The angels may even wonder together about the unfolding mystery, just like it says in the Bible and several hymns we know. Mary and Joseph can discuss details of the journey and housekeeping… why, there seems to be no end to the various aspects of the Nativity story!

Pro/Con: (depending on your preferences)
Our 12yo finds the figures “too babyish.” This does not preclude her from playing with them, however. Her sisters think the set is “charming” and have spent a lot of time the last few days arranging and rearranging the figures, even playing out scenes and conversations between characters.

The figures are cartoonish in style. Almost every one wears a wide-eyed expression of astonishment. They are designed to be appealing to small children. If you object to cartoonish Bible characters, you might want to look into a more realistic Nativity set. The figures are not in proportion to each other–youngest was both laughing and disappointed that the donkey was much too small to carry Mary, for example. The Wise Men are very large in comparison to their camel, and the baby is huge, nearly as large as the adults. The shepherds are androgynous and can be taken either as girls or beardless boys.

If you were wondering about skin color, just about all the people are very light-skinned. I think one of the shepherds is a little darker than everyone else in the set. Hair color ranges from blond to brown. I didn’t see any alternatives at the website.

A Final Thought

I like that the baby and manger are separate pieces. We have a custom of setting up the Nativity scene some weeks before Christmas, with the manger empty. We put the baby in place on Christmas eve. Most years the girls still play out the Story, starting with the Magi in the far eastern corner of the house, setting up the stable on the hearth with the shepherds in the “hills” on the mantel above, and Mary and Joseph traveling from the kitchen to the living room in stages, arriving on Christmas eve sometime during the day.

The Tales of Glory Nativity is listed at $24.99 on the website.

Giveaway at Seaside Tales blog

This month, Sallie Mae at Seaside Tales is giving away All in One Curriculum for Pilgrim’s Progress from Answers in Genesis.

Head on over to her blog and leave a comment to enter!


Homespun Holidays from The Old Schoolhouse

Autumn is here with shorter days and crisp, cool nights. There’s a homey smell in the air, combining woodsmoke and fresh air, while leaves blaze overhead and crunch underfoot. There’s something about autumn that makes me take deeper breaths, and I often drop whatever I’m doing to watch the wild geese flying overhead, on their way to warmer days further south.

You don’t have to be living where the leaves turn bright colors and there’s a nip in the air, to get that fall feeling. Just open up Homespun Holidays, Fall and Winter from The Old Schoolhouse, and you’ll be transported into autumnal delights. Though Thanksgiving and Christmas are well represented, as you’d expect from the title, you don’t have to wait for the latter part of November to start celebrating! Ideas for decorating suited to autumn and harvest will dress up your home to say “Welcome!” There are recipes here just right to greet cooler weather. Mmmm, I can just about taste that hearty soup simmering on the stove, can’t you?

A little this, a little that, wrapped up in eighty-some pages and tied up with a bright bow… Homespun Holidays, Fall and Winter is lavishly illustrated with colorful photos, and you’ll find here ideas for crafts, homemade gifts, foods, hospitality …even a few seasonal poems. There are books to read, new traditions to adopt, even a game to play on a long car ride as you head “over the river and through the woods.”

The recipes are easy to follow and sound delicious! (A couple that I’ve tried taste delicious!) Scattered throughout the book, they are also gathered together in the final pages for easy printing and reference. The craft instructions are clear and thoughtfully put together. There are hyperlinks in the text that give you access to additional crafts and holiday ideas. I was glad to find links for making Jesse Tree ornaments, and creative ideas for recycling Christmas cards, just for two examples. The cookie recipes make me think about hosting a cookie exchange!

Homespun Holidays, Fall and Winter is the perfect read for this time of year. Why not heat up a little apple cider with a cinnamon stick and some cloves, sit back with a steaming cup, and start planning to add some spice to the season?

Watch for this e-book, coming soon!

Edited to add:

You can now purchase Homespun Holidays at this link at the Schoolhouse Store.

Old Schoolhouse Magazine Fall Special!

If you’re following the standard school year schedule, you’ve been “back to school” for about a month, now. How’s it going? Have you settled into a groove, or are you still trying to get your engine to turn over? Are you new to the homeschool journey, or have you been on that road awhile and looking for fresh sights?

Sit back, grab a cup of steaming cider and a blueberry muffin, and join me in watching the leaf fight that’s about to break out on the front lawn… The young’uns have raked up the biggest pile of leaves I’ve seen, and somebody’s going to jump in it any minute, and then all fun is going to break loose!

In the meantime, let me tell you about the special deal that has crossed my blotter.

Great reading, helpful hints, encouraging articles

The Old Schoolhouse magazine, already well-known in homeschooling circles for their thick, full-color, glossy-paged magazine, chock-full-of ideas and encouragement, is offering a special subscription deal for the fall. Now, if you’re already familiar with The Old Schoolhouse, you know just what I’m talking about, and if you’re not–well, you’re in for a treat!

The magazine is satisfyingly hefty, full of promise when you pick it up. You open the pages and find a wide range of articles about homeschooling. There are practical tips on keeping house and home together, ideas for teaching specific subjects (history, literature, writing, science, etc.), even entire unit studies to give you a jump start.

Resources and reviews

Love to browse the Internet for homeschooling resources, but hate to buy just on the publisher’s recommendation? You’ll find product reviews in every issue, evaluations written by homeschoolers who have tried out the product and can tell you from personal experience how it works, or, in the case of a book, what it’s about. Other important issues covered in the magazine are current events, trends in home education, and the political climate as it affects our homeschooling freedoms.

With The Old Schoolhouse magazine’s fall special, you get two years of issues plus a lot more!

One of TOS’ best deals, ever!

The special includes two years of the magazine, 6 fabulous physical gifts (no downloads!) worth over $120, plus the current issue of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine that is full of ideas for the new school year, so you start receiving your magazine in a flash!

I’ve seen other subscription packages they’ve put together over the years, and this really is one of their best deals ever. You don’t want to miss out. In fact, at the time I’m posting this, they’re giving away a fun, roomy Homeschooling with Heart tote bag (valued at $13.95) for the first 1000 to subscribe. These bags are going fast, but you should still be able to get one if you hurry! (They will remove the info from the subscription page when the bags are all gone.)

The total value for all this is over $212, but you receive it all for only $39 – 50% off of cover price! Plus subscribers get their online monthly Teacher’s Toolbox which focuses on a different topic each month, giving you words of encouragement, hands-on teaching ideas, book recommendations, field trip ideas, and a bonus download item.

Subscribe now (click on the link, or cut and paste the address below into your browser), and give yourself a gift that will keep on giving for the next two years.

Bubbles, anyone?

Dusk is falling now, and the children are coming in, laughing and covered with leaves. Excuse me while I sort out the chaos and get them squared away… and then I think I’m going to pick up a big, glossy magazine out of the rack (just guess which one), run a tub full of bubbles, and soak and read.

What fun!

Subscription link to The Old Schoolhouse magazine’s fall special: