Does you family desire to participate in family charities? Our family has some ideas that will allow you to focus on one charity a month for a full year schedule for family charity fun.
A Year Schedule for Family Charity Fun
Sole Hope – This is an organization that would be a great way to get your family and friends together to cut out the patterns for shoes for children suffering with foot problems in Africa just because they do not have shoes to wear. A simple solution that requires willing people to use their old denim for a good cause.
Red Cross – The first on the scenes of helping for those who have lost so much. There are so many ways to get involved as a family.
Food for the Hungry – Offering short and long term help for the poor around world is always a good thing. Find ways to get involved and make a difference.
Blood: Water – Learn how to help those who do not have fresh water. Make a stand with a Lemonade Stand to raise money to conquer the need for fresh water.
Project 143 – Host an orphan for 4-10 weeks during summer or over Christmas. Make a difference in the life of orphans in several countries. These children are available for adoption, but even several weeks of hosting could make an impact in their lives forever.
Habitat for Humanity – What a great opportunity to get involved with an international charity that rebuilds those who were hit by catastrophes.
Palawan Door of Hope – Raise money to sponsor an orphan child in Palawan, Philippines. It only cost $25 a month to care for the basic needs of a child, including meals and education. Collecting coins, eliminating an out to eat meal or asking family and friends to participate with $5 to $25 donations can help raise enough money for a full year sponsorship.
Help One Now – Serving to help orphans and slaves, among a few of their focuses, you can find ways to be involved in making a difference with your own gifts and talents. Host your own yard sale to raise money for this great charity.
Salvation Army – Your family can donate many items to help those with less in your area. You can even volunteer to ring the bells at Christmas!
Meals on Wheels – This is a great opportunity to help those who are shut in their homes and unable to get out for the necessities of food.
Operation Christmas Child is a well known organization that focuses on providing one box, one child, one time for orphans around the world. You can host your own box filling event or just fill out one or two boxes as a family, including doing it online.
Christmas Angel Tree – A branch of the Salvation Army, this is a great opportunity for your children to think about other children who have less.
For many homeschooling families, they break from the normal homeschool routines to bring Christ into their December Homeschool, usually with more of an Advent focus. There are many ways that we can have a more Christ-centered Christmas through homeschool. This list is to inspire you to make the most of your December homeschool with family oriented days that will be easy to bring Christ into your days all December long.
25 Ways to Bring Christ into Your December Homeschool
- Study Christmas Hymns – Learn the stories behind the Christmas songs we all love can be a wonderful month long study that will easily bring a Christ-centered Christmas to all of your family. I would recommend Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas, More Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas and Gloria, A Christmas Hymn Study. This could be a wonderful way to spend the last 30 minutes or so of a day, cuddled with your family, before tucking the kids in bed.
- Make Christmas Goodies for Neighbors, Elderly and Shut-ins – We all make Christmas goodies, often times too much. Showing Christ in December can be easy when you bless others with some as well. Think beyond your family and friends, and consider blessing your neighbors, elderly from church and don't forget those who are shut-in their homes because of health reasons. I saw a fun way to package cookies using a Pringles can and thought this would be the perfect way to share our Christmas goodies this year. You can spend the day baking cookies and doing crafts to bless others later that day. Have the child see if they can double or triple the recipe for some math practice.
- Make Homemade Christmas Cards for Family and Friends – Children love crafts, so why not have a day where they make homemade Christmas cards for their closest friends and family members. While they are making their cards, you can work on your list of Christmas cards. I love Shutterfly for Christmas cards! I can get our Christmas photo put right on them, plus I can have them send my cards straight to my list of family and friends.
- Write a Family Newsletter – Creating a yearly newsletter where each person shares a paragraph of their highlights for the year. Once everyone has their final draft of their paragraph, just add them together to create a fun family newsletter to let family and friends know what is going on in your life. Don't tell the kids that they are working on their writing skills!
- Clean Out the Toys and Clothes for Donation – Most children receive new toys and clothes for Christmas. Take the time before their new gifts arrive to declutter and organize their rooms, while putting the focus on children who do not have as much. Once you are done, take a family trip to the local charity organizations for your donations. Removing them quickly will really help the younger children.
- Go Christmas Caroling – This wonderful tradition is not practiced enough. We did this a few years ago, in our neighborhood. We had a group of friends that came together at our home and we constructed cookie trays with a card. We visited about 12 homes on a very cold night the week of Christmas and sang until someone came to the door. Our neighborhood loved it and we were able to meet some new people we would otherwise not have taken the time to introduce ourselves. Our neighbors mentioned it the next year and seemed disappointed we didn't do it again.
- Organize a Winter Coat, Hat and Glove Drive – To get your family excited about this opportunity to bless others, I would recommend you read Gideon's Gift. Then start asking your church, neighbors and going through your own closets to collect winter coats, hats and gloves for the homeless. There are many organizations that deliver these to those in need.
- Spend a Day Reading Picture Books – I love picture books, but there is nothing like Christmas picture books for our family. I have a list of my favorite books that I have read over the years to my children and would recommend you starting this tradition. Grab some tissues, cuddle and read!
- Host a Birthday Party for Jesus – There is nothing so special than to take time to put your children's attention to celebrating the birth of Jesus. You can start the birthday party with The King is Born, read Luke 2 and talk about Him being the light of the world, as you all blow out the candle on your own cupcake, to symbolize that Jesus is here for all of us.
- Do an Advent Activity Daily – You would love Truth in the Tinsel for your little ones! Each day has an Advent activity that is part of the nativity story.
- Read Advent Focused Books – Our family has loved the trio series for Advent reading: Jotham's Journey, Bartholomew's Passage, and Tabitha's Travels.
- Watching Christmas Movies that Motivate Good Things – Christmas movies are all over the television in December. I have a list of some of my favorite Christmas family movies that teach thinking about other things. I also have some of my favorite Christmas movies for my younger children.
- Create a Jesse Tree – We have never done a Jesse Tree, but the concept is a great idea. Here is a Jesse Tree study that may be a great fit for your family.
- Participate in a Christmas Choir or Play – Get your whole family involved in a Christmas choir or play that will have them memorizing for a Christ-centered Christmas.
- Write a Letter to Jesus – You have heard about writing a letter to Santa, but have you had your children write a letter to Jesus? You could have them thank Him for his blessings, tell Him how much they love them, write what they want to do for Him and even what they desire from Him. Your church can host a Letter to Jesus drive with a box for the kids to drop their letters in each Sunday of the month of December.
- Study Gifts in the Bible – I created a free printable for a study on what the Bible says about ‘gifts'. You can use these as memory verses or just as discussion verses through the month of December.
- Go on a Nativity Scavenger Hunt – We love to go Christmas light looking. We turned this loved family tradition into a meaningful Nativity scavenger hunt. Get your free printable to go on your own!
- Host a Cookie Decorating Party – Cookie decorating is a family tradition for our family, but we switched it up a few years ago to have a more Christ-centered Christmas with using nativity cookie cutters.
- Children Create a Skit for the Nativity – Have a homemade skit of Luke 2, where the children dress up and construct their own skit for you and your spouse, and maybe others.
- Make Christmas Ornaments – Having homemade Christmas ornaments on your tree is something that your children will cherish for years. They also make great gifts! You can make clay ornaments, swirly ornaments, or wooden ornaments.
- Learn About Candy Canes – The history of the candy cane is fun to learn about. You can also do some fun decorating with candy canes, like this beautiful centerpiece. You can also do some yummy things with them: chocolate candy cane, peppermint fudge, and candy cane pops.
- Sponsor an Orphan – Helping our children think of others is always a great way to bring Christ into our homeschool. Our family loves the heart of Door of Hope Palawan and would love to share with you how you can help raise money to sponsor one orphan for a year. It is easy with just finding 35 people to donate $10 year or 12 people donating $25 each.
- Host a Charity Event – There are so many amazing charities that your family can get busy with supporting. Inviting friends over during December to enjoy a time of fellowship, while introducing them to a way to impact others.
- Visit a Nursing Home – The elderly have a hard time during the holidays and anything we can do to make their celebrations joyful would be a good thing. Your family can visit to read books, sing carols or just to visit.
- Invite a Soldier to Christmas Dinner – Soldiers are often times unable to return home for Christmas, so they would normally have no where to go for the Christmas dinner. Some local churches organize hosting homes for soldiers to come and enjoy Christmas with others.
As a Charlotte Mason educator, the study of season is always a fun way to observe the changes to our world around us. Children learn so much when they have been observant from one season to the next, and their curiosity to what causes the changes is awaken.
There is such beauty in the changing of season, obviously some more than others. My favorite is autumn! I absolutely love the crisper days, with the gorgeous ‘paintings' of the autumn colors splashed around our surrounding, the shorter days to bring the family closer together and a warm mug of hot chocolate to end the day.
As we grow from children to adults, we are making memories based on our traditions our families do during each season. We may have traditions for summer or yearly things to discover at autumn, but the world around us follow seasonal changes as well. Bringing these changes to our children's attention at a young age is priceless and a great way to study the seasons together.
5 Ways to Study the Four Seasons
- Nature Walks – Taking walks regularly can help your children learn how to be observant about the changes that seasons brings to the nature around us. Charlotte Mason, my favorite educator from the 1800's, encouraged children to pick six trees to study for a year. They would take notice of the changes each of these different trees experience over a period of the year and thus began to learn the four seasons through the trees that surrounded their home or neighborhood.
- Season Tables – I love to decorate my home with seasonal things, both real and artificial. I have been known to hang paper snow flakes from our ceiling all through our house, to celebrate the coming of winter during the Christmas season. Cut flowers, even wild flowers we have collected on our nature walks, to garnish our table in the spring or summer. Artificial leaves to decorate our mantel during the autumn season, while pine cones and greenery deck our halls during the winter.
- Collections – Children love collecting things, so why not things that grow in the different seasons. From leaves, pine cones, flowers, insects and more. They can label them in four different drawers, to show which season they found in it. The winter draw will have far less in it, but you can still find things, from empty nest, wasp nest and more. Many times late autumn and winter will show things that your eyes usually do not see.
- Photography – Depending on the ages of your children and the camera that you have available, they could easily choose a plethora of items to photograph at easy season and construct a photo book of these items changing for one year.
- A Calendar of Firsts – Again, my favorite educator, Charlotte Mason encouraged children to keep a calendar of firsts which held their first discoveries of things in season. The first snow fall, the first flower, the first leaf, the first colored leaf, the first robin, the first tadpole and more. They continue to add to this year after year and will naturally begin to come to know what to expect to find from their own entries in their calendar. Get your free ebook based on this method of studying the four seasons – A Calendar of Firsts.
One last thing to cover about the four seasons, since you are wanting to study them…
You should teach your children ‘Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn' which are the correct names of the season. The term ‘fall' comes from the time when the leaves ‘fall' from the trees and each region will have different falls but we all have the same seasons, unless of course, you are in the opposite hemisphere as we are in the United States.
Would you like to receive a FREE 100+ pages of Charlotte Mason lesson plans that I created? If so, you can download it from my other blog, The Charlotte Mason Way. I only share about this method of education on that site, but I'm making it easy to get the free offer while subscribing to the content there. Just click here to get The Charlotte Mason Lesson Plan Bundle Volume 1 for FREE in your inbox.
My preschooler loves learning boxes of all kinds, however his love of colors and sorting makes this pattern learning box a perfect learning activity for him.
Here is what you will need to do a Pattern Learning Box:
My little guy loves to have the pattern blocks spilt out on the table, so he can easily find the colored shape that he is looking for next. I love the simple activity cards because they really are something that I was able to show him how to do in just a matter of a few seconds and he caught on. The different colors on the cards help him to identify by color first and then think about the shape as he places it on the card.
We enjoy talking about the object he is building and he likes to tell me things about them as he is working on his activity card.
He loves for me to take a picture of his finished card, so he can show his daddy in the evening.
This is a perfect learning box for when I need 10-15 minutes for another project in the house or to help another child in homeschooling.
I store the patterns in an box with the activity cards next to it, so he can easily get them out for his own learning box time.
If you like this post, you may also like How to Teach Numbers with Legos…
It is so difficult when your child is struggling in their education and you really want to help them fill in the gaps that they are missing to help them see the full picture and grow in their education. So many children today struggle with math, but with a few good things to help them, they will build their confidence and knowledge in their studies and conquer the struggles in math.
7 Ways to Conquer the Math Challenges in Your Child's Education
These are the steps that I have used with my own children when they came up against a challenging aspect in their math lessons and they really work to help.
- Drill the Facts – If you are seeing your child struggling in math, I would first recommend checking their skills with drilling for math facts: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. These are crucial for all children to grasp and have a full understanding before moving forward in their education. You can use the free drills on Math-U-See or just use flash cards for each math facts and work on speed drills again and again.
- Use Manipulatives – Hands-on math is one of the great things for those who are just learning and more importantly, those who are struggling with the math concepts. Often times it takes seeing and building the math problem for it to make sense and make connections in the brain. That is why using math manipulatives are so important!
- Play Math Games – Turn play time into learning time with math board games or card games that require addition and subtraction. Offer help when needed, but always keep the board game time full of fun and light hearted, to make it really build a child's knowledge.
- Start Math First – If your child is taking a lot of effort to work on math, do what works amazing… start it first and get it done when the brain is the freshest. It really works!
- Implement Short Lessons – Avoid the need to push through a full lesson and take hours a day working on just math. This tires out the brain, frustrates both the child and the teacher and ruins the atmosphere required for learning. Set the timer for short lessons and work diligently with the student or near by to ensure that full attention is being given during that time. Come back to math later in the day for another short lesson. Think about quality of work verses quantity of work when you are dealing with a child that struggles. It is best to get 10 answers correct than to have 2 pages full of mistakes. No one wins in that situation.
- Listen to Classical Music During Lessons – It has been proven that classical music has amazing benefits on the brain while it is playing. Quietly play classical music in the background while your child is working on math. This isn't for music appreciation, although that may happen naturally, but rather a learning aid for your child.
- Oral Math During Life – One of the best things that I have done with my children is to do oral math during life, so it didn't feel like a lesson or a test. I would ask word problems while we were driving in the car, standing in the line at the grocery store, waiting at an appointment or waiting for something to start. My children loved these times and I loved seeing what they know without a paper and pencil in sight, because they is whole reason we do math – to know how to use it in life.
Would you like some math inspiration? Follow my Math Pinterest Board!
If you have a struggling or reluctant learner, there is nothing like adding games into your schedule to help turn playtime into learning time. I love using the board games that we have to help turn a struggle into learning through games.
A Collection of Games to Use In Learning
DKgames: Silly Sentences
The Incredible Word Building Game
Card Games – score keeping
ThinkFun Math Dice, Jr
Dave Ramsey's Act Your Wage
The Game of Life
Way Back in History
This Day in History
Brainbox World History
Brainbox All Around The World
Analytical or Strategic Thinking
Did I miss a game that you have used and loved that is perfect for learning?
Children love motion, and often times they get antsy when doing lessons, so I implemented learning in motion into our homeschooling for my preschooler, to give him the opportunity to move around while developing his brain with a memory game.
Learning in Motion
I purchased two boxes of insect flash cards in preparation for this learning activity.
Display Sets Around the Room
I removed 8-10 insect cards from each box, to make sets from them. Next, I placed them around the room for easy viewing for my son to be able to find matches, as he moved around the room. Be sure to put the matches across the room from each other.
Identify the Matches
Once you are ready, you have your child or children come into the room. Let them know that they can not ‘touch' any of the cards, until they have pointed out the matching set first. Once they have identified the set, they can gather the matching cards.
Learn about the Insects
Once a match is found, ask if the child knows what the insect is and if they don't tell them the name of the insect. If the child is interested, share some fun facts with them or let them go back to the memory game and finding their next match.
We finished our insect game with having my son choice which insect to draw in his journal… he chose the Black Widow and I was happy to share about the dangers of this spider and why it is important to wear our shoes outside, because we do get them in our area.
Teach addition with dominos can be a fun way for kids to learn the basic concepts for math facts. My little guys absolutely loves playing with dominoes, so I turned these into a learning box for him to learn addition and of course, he loved it!
How to Teach Addition with Dominoes
In our homeschooling, we focus on learning the math facts with only hands-on learning. Once the facts are memorized, we move our children into curriculum books. This is one of the learning activities that help build their math fact skills.
I set up a bin with number tiles and organized them in order, so it is easy for my preschooler to find the numbers. I let him pick his own domino from the pile and then he needed to count the dots and place the corresponding number underneath the dominoes. I set up the addition and equal signs for him.
Once he has his equation built with the number tiles, I have him say the equation. For this example, he would say, “Three plus one equals”.
After reading the equation, I have him solve the equation by counting the ‘dots' on the dominoes.
The last step is for him to find the answer in the number tile box and place it in the equation. He then reads the equation like this, “Three plus one equals four.”
We only do a few of these problems for each lesson at the beginning, and add to them as his skill improves.
If you like this post, you may also like Learning Math with Dominos…
There are so many life skills for preschoolers to learn, and I love to create my own list of things that I would like for my children to learn each year and one of the skills for my little one to learn is ‘to tie his shoes'.
5 Resources for Preschoolers to Tie Their Shoes
I prefer to wait to buy a laced shoe until I have confidence that my child is able to do it themselves, although I do make some exceptions, but it is one of those things that help us get out of the house on time if each of my children can put their own shoes on.
To do this, I need to have some resources around the house to help learn the life skill of being able to tie their shoes.
- Red Lace, Yellow Lace – This spiral bound book is a great book that teaches each step needed to successfully tie shoes.
- One, Two Tie My Shoe! – These four chunky foam shoes are a perfect tool to teach your little one how to tie their shoes with colorful shoe strings and fun learning along the way.
- Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wood Lacing Sneaker – I love everything Melissa & Doug but this sneaker is a fun way for preschoolers to learn how to tie.
- I Can Tie My Shoes Board – This fun board has a left and right shoe, allowing the child to not only learn how to tie by about how to identify which foot is left and which is right.
- Melissa & Doug Basic Skills Board – I love this board, not just because it is Melissa & Doug, but because of the several skills that it teaches.
Recently, I saw this video online and was so impressed with this method to teaching this life skill that I thought I would share it with you here:
I hear of so many moms who are discouraged because of the homeschool nay-sayers in their family. It breaks my heart to hear how the negativity they encounter can leave them feeling defeated and isolated in their own family. It shouldn't be this way, but often times it is and I would like to share with you some tips to help you, if you experience this in your own family.
How to Quiet the Homeschool Nay-Sayers in Your Family
Find Your Confidence
Our family is usually a wonderful place to build your confidence and find support for your choices in life. When a homeschool family doesn't get this support from their own family, the next best thing is to build your own confidence in your choices.
Answer yourself ‘why you homeschool', ‘what benefits do you expect from homeschooling' and ‘who are you homeschool for'. Once you know these answers, write them down and read them often. Once you believe in your own choices, without wavering, others opinions won't hurt you as much.
Find a Support Group
Support is crucial to everyone. If you know that your extended family aren't able to support you in your decision to homeschool, it is very important that you find a support group that will be there when you need them, offer advice where you struggle and celebrate with you when accomplishments have been achieved.
I offer a support group for those who use the Charlotte Mason way to educate your family, as well as a readers support group for every area of life (including homeschooling in general). I would also recommend finding a local homeschooling support group that can support you face to face. You may need to start looking at your state's homeschooling organization for a list of groups near you.
Find Other Things to Talk About with Your Family
I only have a few family members that don't seem completely supportive of our choice to homeschool our children, as well as how we have raised them. What I have found to work for these relationships was to find other things that we could agree on and talk about them, instead. It does hurt when I'm not able to freely share such a large part of our life with those we love, but the stress of having it discussed keeps the discussion for those who desire to hear how things are going and what we are learning.
Find Ways to Showcase Your Child's Accomplishments
We have enjoyed doing Show n' Tells at the end of the year and inviting a few families. This is a great way to share what you do with family as well. To make this a success, you need to plan for it early in the year and have projects planned to show during this time. Collections, journals, nature finds and binder books have been some of our favorite things to display and have the children share about them.
In the end, we can't change people. We can only change ourselves and how we react to others. So the best way to quiet homeschool nay-sayers in your family is follow these tips that will give you the confidence in your choice to homeschool, get the support you need, focus on building important relationships within your family and give them the opportunity to see what homeschool is really about with an annual Show n' Tell.
Writing isn't a favorite subject for most children, but is still very important to learn well. Understanding that there are different styles to writing will help you have a plan in teaching writing to your child.
A few tips when teaching writing is to never give a child a blank piece of paper unless they know what to do with it already. Be active in the learning stages for each style and start with small assignments, while growing in length as their skills grow.
The Three Styles of Writing Your Child Should Know
Creative writing is one of the easiest styles of writing to teach your child. Most children overflow with storytelling abilities, but require ideas for these juices to start flowing. If your child has a good imagination, giving them a writing topic (their family) can yield a wonderful creative writing in no time.
However, having a child that either struggles with writing or even imagination will need a little more help in getting started. Using the suggestion of ‘their family' as a writing topic, you may help them find 3 to 5 things to add to their creative story about their family. Remind them that creative stories are made up for enjoyment and can be funny.
Having these few things fresh in their minds, jotted down on paper and left to write a creative story about their family could prove very helpful in getting them excited about writing their own story.
Narrative writing is a form of retelling of what is learned. We use narrative writing as a form of book report and evaluation of what was retained in a biography or subject.
Often times, you can just have the child write what they remember of field trips, books, DVD lessons, speeches and more. You can also give them an essay question for a narrative writing assignment. Here are a few examples:
- What did you learn about the formation of rocks?
- What was the result of the Declaration of Independence?
- Who was Frederick Douglas?
- What can you tell me about your visit to the zoo?
Research is a very important writing style your child should know and is especially important in high school and beyond. I begin to teach research writing with nature, by having my children select an animal to learn about. They then write a research paper or nature book on this subject.
When first learning the skills of research, I give them a list of things that I want them to be able to tell me about in their writing. Here are some examples:
- Special characteristics
Once you know what styles of writing and how to teach them, you will help your children learn to enjoy writing.
As a Charlotte Mason educator, I use manipulatives to teach hands-on math and my children have loved learning basic math this way. We start with addition and then work through subtraction and then multiplication, and even division. As I'm preparing for my son's learning boxes, I wanted to be sure I had plenty of manipulatives for his hands-on math, considering it has been several years since I taught this age.
A Collection of Manipulatives to Teach Hands-on Math
Things Around the House
There are some good things around the house (or most houses) that would work great manipulatives.
Good Things to Purchase
I love to have some store bought manipulatives because it brings excitement into a lesson when things are colorful.
Why not put a little fun in math and add manipulatives to your homeschooling routines?