Holidays

Holiday Curriculum: Putting the Fun Back in Your Holidays

Pinning this to remember for next Christmas: A day-by-day plan to make the holidays more meaningful and less hectic.

Moms, we know how hard you work all year long. Your efforts truly make the world a better place. So, with the holiday season upon us, I’ve decided to do something different this month. Instead of bringing you my latest, greatest curriculum discoveries, I went digging for resources intended especially for you—and I think I’ve found just the thing!

Amy Bowers blogs beautifully about “creative family living” at mamascouts.blogspot.com. She is also the host of periodic online learning labs. This month, for the fourth year in a row, Amy looks forward to helping folks gear up for the season with her online resource, Holiday Lab. The primary aim of this lab is to inspire a calm, restorative holiday season and help readers find ways to be truly present to the beauty of the season.

In a letter to subscribers Amy explains, “Holiday Lab is a process (your process). A yearly reflection and meditation about tradition, creation and the shadow and light in our lives. This is not a to do list, a manifesto, or a guide book. It is an invitation and permission to carve out a tiny bit of quiet and to reclaim ownership of a season whose success and magic is often borne on the shoulders of moms and women.” 

Sound good? I thought so, too! Here’s how it works. As a subscriber, you receive a lab in your inbox ten days in a row—weekdays only. As each lab is yours to keep, you can work at your own pace throughout the season.Each lab opens with an inspiring quote followed by a lovely essay written by Amy. In past years these pieces have been reflections on such themes as maintaining health, making space—both physical and mental, the value of simplifying the holidays as well as her thoughts on family traditions.

Do you journal? Is this a practice you’ve been meaning to establish forever? Get started by using Holiday Lab’s thoughtful journal prompts. Each prompt is a question inspired by Amy’s essays and will get you thinking about the way that you approach the holiday season.

The creative projects portion of each lab is great fun. Here Amy provides ideas to try with your family or, if you prefer, to do all on your own. Previous project ideas include vision boards, making ornaments and surprising someone in your community with a special handcrafted treat. Each idea nicely complements featured essays and journal prompts.

I love the recipe ideas that Amy provides in a section she calls “Soul Food.” Each looks nourishing and delicious, but also simple and straightforward—just what we need this time of the year.

A very special Holiday Lab feature is the private Facebook group Amy moderates for participants. Here members offer one another additional support and ideas to infuse the holidays with meaning and mindfulness.

Holiday Lab celebrates Christmas as a cultural tradition and is secular in its approach. Amy notes that everyone is welcome; the themes explored are “broad enough to serve any religion or ideological framework.”

In the upcoming months of homeschooling, holiday magic-making for family and friends, pause for a second and give yourself a gift. Holiday Lab starts November 30th. The cost for the lab is $30. To register, go here.

In the festive days ahead, you’ll probably find your days are especially full. Throughout this time, give yourself extra self-care. Make time for creativity, reflection and good food. Dance and laugh with friends. Drink cocoa! Make many moments to pause with your little ones and just absorb the simple beauty of the season. Happy holidays, everyone. 


How to Make a Simple Thanksgiving Wreath

How to make a simple Thanksgiving wreath with materials you find on your next nature walk

A few years ago, my eldest son and I made what we call a Thanksgiving wreath. To me, it also celebrates the changing of the seasons because we got all our materials from nature.

All you need to do is wander around outside and pick up whatever you think might look pretty on your wreath. What a great excuse to get the kids out into nature! You can wander around your yard, a park, or multiple places.

As you can see from ours, we used raw cotton that we got at a nearby homestead, acorns, pinecones, leaves, twigs and sweet gum balls. I bet you can find all sorts of other things in your backyard as well.

To make it, I cut out the shape of a wreath in a piece of heavy cardboard for our backing, and then I helped my son glue his decorations wherever he wanted them to go. You’ll need to use a strong glue such as a hot glue gun or tacky glue.

I think even my non-crafty crew could pull off this simple Thanksgiving wreath — love that it incorporates nature walk findings.

If you make a Thanksgiving wreath, please share a link to a photo of it. I’d love to see what you come up with!



Easy, Thoughtful Holiday Gifts to Make with the Kids

Easy, Thoughtful Holiday Gifts to Make with the Kids

I like my friends, so I want to make them something awesome—but my time and budget are always limited. Maybe you’re in the same boat? We’ve rounded up a bunch of easy DIY gifts that are simple enough to make with your kids (obviously you know their abilities best) but nice enough to make your friends feel like they ended up on your family’s NICE list this year.

Happy Holidays

red berries HSL

However you spend the holidays, we hope you experience joy and peace. 

The staff of home / school / life will be away from their desks during the holidays, but we can't wait to communicate with all our readers again in the new year. Our next issue will be out by mid-January!


Happy Thanksgiving

happy thanksgiving!

We're so grateful for your support of home / school / life.

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. - Melody Beattie


Our Homeschool Holiday Gift Guide

Homeschool Holiday Gift Guide

** We use some affiliate links on HSL. Learn more here. **

’Tis the season of giving, so we’ve rounded up 
a wishlist of gifts for your homeschooling pleasure,
Some nerdy, some bookish, some just for the geeks—
Unwrap them in haste and enjoy at leisure.

 

7 Book Lovers' Editions

Who can resist a good book, especially when it’s a great book dressed up in a fancy new cover?

1 :: Virago Modern Classics have covers created by British textile designers like Cath Kidston.

2 :: The sleek, graphic covers of White’s Books Fine Editions add a modern edge to library shelves.

3 :: Illustrator Jessica Hische designed the dramatic capital letters for the covers of Penguin's Drop Caps editions.

4 :: Melville House’s Novella series reimagines some lesser-known literature with bold fonts and Pantone colors.

5 :: Dover Books’ Calla editions are based on classic novels’ original cover designs.

6 :: Penguin Classics Deluxe Editions feature gorgeously illustrated covers.

7 :: Penguin Clothbound Classics look like they belong on old-fashioned library shelves,


4 Journals for Making Memories

What better way to ensure you never forget those backyard volcanoes and home theater productions?

1 :: Bare Books are an ideal way to show off your best stories and poems.

2 :: The perfect antidote to a no good, very bad day, FU: The Journal to Destroy, Rant and Vent Without the Police Becoming Involved makes a handy vent space.

3 :: Poppin’s Soft-Cover Notebooks come in a wide range of colors, so it’s easy to find everybody’s favorite.

4 :: Every Day: A Five Year Memory Book is the perfect way to keep a record of your homeschool life without all the pressure of a serious journal.


5 Cool Building Sets

Think beyond the Lego with these nifty construction sets that will bring out your child's inner architect.

1 :: Uncle Goose's Periodic Table Building Blocks are a silly science addition to the building blocks box.

2 :: Kapla Construction planks look deceptively simple, but once you start building, the construction options are endless.

3 :: Brio Builder Activity Kits come with the usual building blocks, plus wrenches, pliers, and other tools to put them together.

4 :: You don't need to steal a TARDIS when you can build one. Doctor Who fans will appreciate this Character Building Tardis Console, complete with tiny Eleven, Amy, River, and Rory.)

5 :: You have to take shape and weight into account when building cities with Blockitecture's architecturally inspired building blocks.


4 Cool Subscriptions

Subscription boxes are the gifts that keep giving, delivering a regular infusion of fun to your mailbox long after the tinsel's been put away.

1 :: Kiwi Crate‘s monthly project boxes are ideal for younger creators.

2 :: Teens and crafty kids will appreciate the monthly project-making kits from For the Makers.

3 :: Art Snacks delivers shiny new art supplies, plus detailed instructions on how to use them.

4 :: Loot Crate brings you nerdy, geeky goodies inspired by video games and pop culture.


6 Science Stars

You don't have to be planning a career as a scientist to appreciate the creative fun of these science-minded activities.

1 :: With the Bigshot Camera Kit, kids can build their own hand-crank digital cameras.

2 :: Grow your own insect-eating plants with the Carnivorous Creatures LED Light Cube.

3 :: The Periodic Quest board game is as nerdy as it sounds—but it’s also delightfully fun to play.

4 :: A 3-D printer definitely isn’t cheap, but if you’re planning a big splurge, consider this idea-to-reality generator an investment in creative fun.

5 :: Hook the Prank Star Quick-Attach Microscope to your smartphone or tablet, and you've got an instant microscope ready for impromptu science studies.

6 :: The coolest thing about the Roominate build-it-yourself dollhouse construction kit is that it's totally wired—build it right, and all the switches and appliances will actually work.


5 Crafty Ideas

Give a kid a toy, and he's entertained for a day. Give him a project, and he just might discover a lifelong passion.

1 :: Instant Iron-Ons by Julia Rothschild makes it easy to customize your favorite clothes and accessories.

2 :: A Stop-Motion Animation Kit will inspire young filmmakers.

3 :: A Stitch the Stars calendar lets you review your constellations, practice your embroidery, and keep up with what day it is.

4 :: Remember how much fun you used to have making designs with your Spirograph set? Give your kids the same artistic inspiration with a set of their own.

5 :: Small-scale projects like this cute Mermaid Sew Kit by the Beansters are easy for kids (and newbie parents) to finish successfully.


4 Playful Decks

Never underestimate the fun potential of a deck of playing cards.

1 :: Marshall McLuhan’s Distant Early Warning playing cards shuffle the perfect mix of stinging satire and witty pop culture jokes.

2 :: MOMA’s Tim Burton playing cards are as delightfully whimsical as you’d expect.

3 :: The rules in EcoFlux change depending on what cards you’re holding and how many you have.

4: $1 from every purchase of these quirky, Theory-designed Animal Kingdom playing cards goes to the World Wildlife Fund, so you can feel like a do-gooder next time you deal a hand of gin rummy.


Homeschool Halloween

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Does your family celebrate Halloween? I know a lot of homeschoolers enjoy dressing up and trick or treating, so I thought it would be fun to chronicle a "Homeschool Halloween" in our November newsletter.  E-mail me pictures of your kids or yourself in your costumes by noon EST (or 5:00p.m. UTC) on November 1st. I will try to send out the newsletter that evening or early on November 2nd.

A caption, names and locations are optional.

I hope to get photos from homeschoolers all across the country and beyond. I think it will be fun for our kids to see how other homeschoolers dress up! And you can share the newsletter with whomever you like!

Note: We are no longer accepting submissions for this newsletter. If you haven't subscribed yet, you can view this very spooky newsletter by clicking here. But be sure to subscribe so you can view our fun future newsletters too!