As a former Pre-Kindergarten teacher and now stay-at-home mommy of 2 boys and a sweet baby girl, many people ask me how they can be implementing educational concepts in the lives of their young children at home before they enter school. Instead of trying to come up with a quick list of ideas off the top of my head to answer these questions, I have decided to put all of my lessons into this blog. I, along with so many other parents, want to be purposeful at home with my children and make the most of the time I have with them.
I hope that this blog can help, encourage, and inspire you to work with your kiddos and
get involved in the learning process! The benefits will be endless,
and the moments you share together will be priceless! As Dr. Seuss once said,
"The more that you read, the more things you will know.
The more that you learn, the more places you'll go!"

Saturday, December 1, 2012

25 Days of Christmas for 2012!

Are you ready for the 25 days of Christmas?  We had a blast doing this last year and can't wait to get started again!  We will focus on a specific bible verse and topic of the Christmas story each day in order to dwell on the true meaning of this season.  Also, we will be doing brand new Christmas-themed lessons including fun crafts, baking, and math/language activities.  And, of course, my favorite part...RACKs!  Each day we will have a random act of Christmas kindness to give back to our family, neighbors, community, world, and, ultimately, our Savior.  Some of these will be the same from last year, and some are new and different!  Join us this December in celebrating Christ's birth and serving Him as we learn what Christmas is really all about!
(I will post details and pictures as we go along! We will not necessarily do the lessons and RACKs in the order listed.)

* The Christmas Story *

* We are doing "A Meaningful Christmas" by Carrie Rogers and Brittany Poe again this year, so I have included those topics and verses below.  Here are a few other links to bible verses to read each day with your children:
~ The Jesus Storybook Bible Advent Verses from Home with the Boys
~ 25 Days of Christmas Scripture Chain from The Things I Love
25 Names of Jesus from I Am Momma Hear Me Roar

1.  Alpha and Omega - Revelation 22:13
2.  The Trinity - Colossians 1:15-16, John 14:16-17
3.  Creation - Acts 17:24
4.  Love - 1 John 4:16
5.  Believe - John 3:16
6.  Bethlehem - Micah 5:2
7.  Promises - Isaiah 7:14
8.  Mary is Chosen - Luke 1:26-28
9.  Trusting God - Luke 1:29-37
10. Immanuel - Matthew 1:20-23
11. Having a Good Attitude - Luke 2:1-5
12. No Room in the Inn - Luke 2:6-7
13. Born in a Manger - Luke 2:6-7
14. Shepherds Were Afraid - Luke 2:8-12
15. Go and Tell - Luke 2:16-18
16. The Wise Men - Matthew 2:1-2
17. The Greatest Gift - Matthew 2:9-10
18. The Word - John 1:1-3
19. The Good Shepherd - John 10:14
20. The Vine - John 15:5
21. The Light of the World - John 8:12
22. The Bread of Life - John 6:48
23. The Way, The Truth, The Life - John 14:6
24. The Lamb of God - John 1:29
25. Happy Birthday, Jesus - Luke 2:11

* 25 Christmas Lessons *

1. Printing Holiday Trees: Creativity First

2. Christmas Syllable Counting: Kinder Kids Fun

3. Hot Chocolate Math: Mrs. Wood's Kindergarten's Class

 4. Nativity Craft: Little Blots of Faith, Pinterest 1, Pinterest 2, What to Expect, Happy Home Fairy
* There are lots of different options for this craft.  Sawyer did the fingerprint nativity, and Tucker made his at Mother's Day Out.  Choose whichever one you like best. (Note: I could not find the exact links to two of the crafts, so I just linked to my Pinterest page.)

5. Christmas Action Cards: Oopsey Daisy

6. Christmas Prewriting Practice: Confessions of a Homeschooler

7. Three Wise Men Craft: Simply Cindy

8. Gingerbread House or Christmas Tree Decorating Snack: Pigtails and Tutus
( We were going to make the Christmas Tree snack this year, but we were invited to a friend's house to make Gingerbread Houses instead.  Choose whichever snack you like best!)

 9. Santa's Rhyme Time: Teacher's Pay Teachers

10. Polar Express Snack: Crafts-N-Things for Children

11. Snowman Sequencing and Roll a Snowman: Oopsey Daisy

12. Candy Cane Patterns and Snack: Make, Do, and Friend

13. Christmas Symbols Pack: 2 Teaching Mommies

14. Nativity Pack: 3 Dinosaurs

15. Handprint Wreath: Memories of Mine to Thine

16. Christmas Tens Frame Match: Kinder Kids Fun

17. Gingerbread Man Ornaments

18. Christmas Tree Math File Folder Game: File Folder Fun

19. Santa's Beard Math Game: No Time for Flashcards 

20. Snow Globe Fun

21. Christmas Lights Names: The Roberts Gang

22. Snow Paint: Scholastic

23. Reindeer Sandwiches: And Everything Sweet

24. Holiday Scavenger Hunt: Macaroni Kid

25. If You Take a Mouse to the Movies: The First Grade Parade

* 25 Random Acts of Christmas Kindness *

* This has become our favorite part of Christmas, and we are so excited to show God's love to others this holiday season!  I made some RACK advent cards (with blank cards you can fill in with your own ideas) that we will place in our advent calendar, so you are welcome to print them out, as well.  There is also a RACK blessing card to include with your different gifts.  Enjoy shining His light to the world!

1. Donate food to the local food pantry.
There is a sweet little boy scout in our neighborhood that puts a grocery sack and note on our porch every year asking for food donations.  Tonight the boys collected items to put in the sack to feed the hungry.  We had a long discussion about how blessed we are to have food every day and how we always need to give to those who don't.

2. Adopt a soldier for the holidays.
I found a great website (Soldier's Angels) that we could donate to and write a letter to a soldier overseas.  The boys and I typed our message of thanks and blessing to someone fighting and risking their life for us.  We are so very grateful for these men and women.  May they feel loved and appreciated this Christmas!

3. Give an angel ornament to a family who lost a loved one this year.
Some friends of mine came up with a wonderful idea to love on our friends who lost a family member this past year.   There is a person assigned for each day of the month to bring an angel ornament to the family to put on a special angel tree in memory of their loved one in heaven.  This is such a special way to show these friends that we love them and still remember their difficult loss.  It is tough, especially during the holidays, so hopefully this can cheer them up and remind them that their loved ones are having the best Christmas in the arms of the Savior!

4. Place Barnes and Noble gift cards on the shelves in the children's section.
Tonight the boys and I went to our favorite place, Barnes and Noble, and purchased a few gift cards.  We attached a RACK card to each one, and the boys hid them among the children's books for special boys and girls to find.  Unfortunately, my phone battery died right as I was taking pictures, so I only have one.  Maybe we can go back another day and see if the cards were taken! :)

5. Place a gift in the mailbox for the mailman.
We love our mailman and wanted to give him another gift this year to thank him for working so hard to deliver the mail in our neighborhood!

6. Donate supplies to the local animal shelter.
Just like last year, Sawyer and I purchased supplies like blankets, towels, Febreeze, dog toys, and Milkbones to donate to the Happy Endings Dog Rescue Center.  This year, as we walked in, lots of cute dogs greeted us at the door.  Sawyer was allowed to play with them for a few minutes.  I might see a little puppy in our future. :)

7. Adopt Angel Tree children and buy/wrap presents for them.
This is probably one of my favorite things to do every year!  We adopted two sweet little boys and bought clothes, underwear, socks, and toys for them to open on Christmas.  We pray that they feel so special on Christmas!

8. Buy toys and donate them to Toys for Tots.
We bought 4 toys today (some for boys and girls) and took them to the Toys for Tots drop off location.  This is such a great ministry for children at this time of year!

 9. Tape quarters to vending machines around town.
Tucker and I grabbed some quarters from the change jar and taped them to a few soda machines around town.  We hope some special people enjoyed a drink on us today!

10. Decorate the garbage can with thank you notes/gifts for the trash collectors.
Every Monday is trash pick-up day, so the boys and I quickly made signs and taped them, along with some chocolate treats, to the trash can before the truck came.  We are grateful for the men and women who serve all of us in this way!

11. Make Christmas treats for playgroup friends.
We love to make special treats for our playgroup friends every year.  Tucker and I put Christmas candy in little bags and will give them to the group at our Christmas celebration! (The cute tags are free at Amanda's Parties to Go!)

12. Read to children at school and donate books to the school library.
I love the school that I used to teach at, as well as all of the students there.  I wanted to take my boys to the school and read to some of the precious kiddos.  We bought books at Barnes and Noble to share with them.  After reading, we found the librarian and donated the books to the school library.

13. Bake Christmas goodies and deliver them to neighbors.
Before the boys went off to school this morning, we baked some of our favorite peanut butter with hersey kisses cookies for some very special people!  We hope they enjoy them!

14. Make blessing bags and pass them out.
I saw this idea on Pinterest and thought it was such a great way to bless the people we pass by in the car who are struggling.  Blessing bags are bags full of essential, every day items that these people can use. I want to always keep one of these bags in my car to have handy.  Today Tucker and I picked up the items we needed at the grocery store, and Sawyer assembled the bags when he got home from school.  The bags include soap, shampoo deodorant, toothbrush, tooth paste, mouthwash, lotion, comb, fruit bars, first aid kit, kleenex, and wet wipes.  We will hand them out whenever we see someone in need.

15. Leave a "Christmas Tip" for a waiter/waitress. 
While I stayed home this morning with a sick Tucker, Michael and Sawyer headed to their favorite breakfast spot and gave the cashier a generous Christmas tip!

16. Give to Sandy Hook Elementary Fund.
We were devastated by the events that happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut on Friday.  I can't imagine what the families and the community of Newtown are going through.  My husband and I have not shared with the boys what happened that day, but I wanted to do a RACK on my own to support this community and remember the precious children and teachers who are in our Heavenly Father's arms now.  I found a support fund website to donate to through the United Way.  Praying for everyone affected by this tragedy!

17. Pay for the person behind you in the drive-through line.
The boys were hungry for some Fazoli's pizza for lunch, so it was the perfect opportunity to pay for the customer behind us!  At first, no one pulled up, so the boys and I prayed for someone to come along.  Sure enough, a young woman drove up, and we started shouting for joy! We gave the cashier at Fazoli's our RACK card to give to her as she pulled up.  Hope she enjoyed her lunch!

18. Pick up trash at a local park.
Tucker and I enjoyed a morning at the park today and picked up lots of trash around the area.

19. Purchase jackets for children.
There has been a huge box at Sawyer's school for the past week labeled "Coats for Kids".  Each time we passed by it, I felt compelled to go buy jackets for the children.  So...we did!

20. Make dinner for a family that just had a new baby.
Last night the boys and I made dinner for some very dear friends who just had a new baby girl!  It was so fun delivering the meal and getting to snuggle with her for a bit!

21. Give special gifts to teachers at school.
Sawyer was very excited to give special presents to his teachers and his classmates this morning, especially on pajama day! We love Miss Cory and Mrs. Kristi so very much, and Sawyer has created great, lasting friendships with the other students!  We are very blessed by this school!

22. Take flowers and balloons to someone in the hospital.

23. Create a "New Baby" gift basket and deliver it to someone in Labor and Delivery.

24. Write and deliver thank you notes to spiritual mentors/leaders.

25. Deliver a gift to someone working on Christmas Day.
On our way to our grandparent's house on Christmas morning, we stopped at CVS (a store we frequent often!) and delivered some chocolate treats and a gift card to the woman working.  She was so surprised and excited!  Grateful for people who give up their holiday to serve others at work!