Category: Homeschooling

How to celebrate the Winter Solstice

I’ve always wanted to celebrate the winter solstice because of the religious symbolism. It’s the day of the year with the least amount of daylight, which usually falls on  Dec 21 —  for those of us that live in the northern Hemisphere. The earth’s axis is tilted the furthest away from the sun and hence we get the least amount of light. After the winter solstice, each day is a little brighter. If you live north of the arctic circle — towards the north pole, you won’t t have any daylight at all today — no sun. Poor Santa, he should...

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The day Christ was born — maybe not April 6

Growing up in the church, I always thought Jesus was born on April 6th. I thought it was Mormon doctrine. I heard it preached by general authorities. But as Elder Christofferson explained, “not every statement made by a church leader, past or present necessarily constitutes doctrine.” (April 2012 Conference) Although April is a significant month for Mormons — General Conference is the first weekend; Joseph Smith organized the LDS Church on April 6, 1830, and Easter usually falls in April (sometimes March) — the belief that Christ was born on April 6 is questionable. I know, I know, I have...

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The Thin Man on Christmas morning

Well, I don’t know what to say about this Christmas morning shot, but I love the Thin Man movies with William Powell and Myrna Loy and that dog, Asta. I love that Nora obviously bought her own Christmas gift. I have a friend that does that (you know who you are!) Nora is so calm. It’s a cute scene — I’m sure you want to know what kind of gun Nick Charles is using for target practice on the Christmas ornaments. 1870  Swiss Tell 1 Air Pistol:   “It’s not true, he doesn’t come anywhere near my tabloids…”    ...

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What is this Baby Gift called Frankincense?

I’ve always liked to mix up potions and collect herbs. One year, I bought some frankincense for Christmas. I was teaching my kids about the three wise men and their gift of frankincense to Jesus. To kids, this seems like an odd baby gift in today’s world. I ordered some  from my favorite herb shop and it arrived in a small brown paper bag with the name stamped in red across it...Frankincense.  It looked like beads of dried sap. And that’s precisely what it is:  What is Frankincense? Frankincense is called olibanum or in Hebrew, levonah. It is a resin from...

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Nature Book ideas for Homeschool

When it comes to homeschool, one of the more creative and interesting ways to learn about earth science and biology is by collecting specimens in nature and then drawing pictures of them in a journal. This way, you can identify them and eventually produce a book of nature finds by the end of the school year. I recommend that you (the mom/dad teacher) make one as well as your kids. Sometimes your kids may not be able to draw that well and they may be trying to compare their work to yours — that happened to my daughter and...

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History for Homeschool

One of my favorite subjects for homeschool is history. I think I got a better education for world history when I decided to teach my kids at home. I setup our history curriculum for grades 1-12, using specific textbooks, timelines, videos, and activities. We used this with great success, meaning my kids learned and loved history. In fact, I finally love history after all those football coaches teaching history in my high school. History for homeschool, Grades 1 – 12 I followed the advice from Susan Wise Bauer. We studied world history over a period of 4 years, and then...

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Was Christ born on Christmas?

There’s always been some conflict about the date of Christ’s birth. In fact, as a Mormon I thought He was born in the spring, on April 6, in the year 4 or 5 BC. New research points to the birth of Christ sometime in December of 5 BC. That would certainly help the spirit of Christmas. BYU professor, Jeffrey R. Chadwick, Jerusalem Center Professor of Archeology and Near Eastern Studies, published his research in BYU Studies, “Dating the Birth of Jesus Christ” which definitely challenges the April 6 date. Looking at all the research, and documents available — scriptural, historical,...

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History of the candy cane

I was curious about the candy cane. How did we get this tradition for Christmas? Turns out that a long time ago — in 1670 — in a cathedral far away — a choirmaster wanted to keep a bunch of wiggly kids quiet during Christmas church services. The kids couldn’t sit still during the living creche celebrations in the Cologne Cathedral. So, the choirmaster persuaded a local candy maker to make their traditional white candy sticks into a shepherd’s crook. He handed them to the kids to keep them quiet during the Christmas ceremonies. I wonder how he felt about those sticky...

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Why I teach my kids that Santa isn’t real

We never told our kids that Santa Claus was real. No north pole, reindeer flying through the air, he slides down the chimney and brings you presents. But we pretend. It was make-believe fun. It’s not that I’m against the nostalgic holiday. I love Christmas lights and participate fully with hanging ornaments and lights. But we hated to tell our kids to believe in something that was not true. They look up at you with those big believing eyes. We teach them to tell the truth. We hate it when they lie to us. Honesty is the best policy...

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Vintage Christmas photos

Christmas in the past is visually recorded in these vintage Christmas photos: “Nation’s Christmas tree ready to be lighted. Washington, D.C., Dec. 22, 1938. The Nation’s community Christmas tree across from the White House in Lafayette Square, is now in readiness for President Roosevelt to push the switch on Christmas Eve to set it aglow with gayly colored lights. Miss Mable White is pictured feeding the pigeons before the tree today, 12/22/38” Vintage Christmas photos: house decorations, 1937. “White House takes on Christmas dress. Washington, D.C., Dec. 19, 1938. Workmen were busily engaged today putting the Christmas decorations on...

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25 Christmas Movies

I’ve got my favorite Christmas movies that we watch every year. But sometimes a I need a new one. Back in the day before video and DVD, we had to watch whatever the networks chose to run, and whenever they broadcast. When video players came on the market it was a better option — but you still had to set a timer to record the movie to watch later.  We get more choices now. Here’s a list to welcome the season: 1. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946, Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed): 2.  Miracle on 34th Street (Maureen O’Hara, Natalie Wood,...

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Christmas tree traditions

We buy a live, potted pine for our Christmas tree. We started this tradition the first year we were married — 1977. Once Christmas is over we move the tree outside, still in its pot for the rest of the year and continue to water it. When December rolls around we haul it in again — a larger than last year tree, but still healthy and green. We used the same tree for Christmas for many years and then finally, we’d plant it in the yard.  And buy a new potted pine tree for a new Christmas season. Somehow,...

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Feast of Tabernacles

The Feast of Tabernacles or Sukkot — is the 15th day of Tishri. Sukkot continues to the 21st day of Tishri — about 7 days. Yes, another celebration for my Jewish friends in the House of Israel. This year, 2015, it begins at sundown on September 27th — just in time for the blood moon and the super moon. For seven days and nights they eat their meals in a temporary shelter — kind of a hut-like thing —  called a sukkah — in memory of the forty years that Moses and the Israelites traveled in the wilderness and lived in...

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Rosh Hashana

Some interesting thoughts on Rosh Hashana: Rosh Hashana 2015 — the outgoing year is Shemittah (Sabbatical) year. Rosh Hashana is a two-day celebration, which begins on the first day of Tishrei. Tishrei is the first month of the Jewish civil year, but the seventh month of the ecclesiastical year. In the Jewish oral tradition, Rosh Hashanah marks the completion of the creation of the world. This would coincide with the 7th day (or period) — the Sabbath day of rest from creation — which is also symbolic of the millennium — the period of rest from the 6000 years of...

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