Beloved: 365 Devotions for Young Women (review)

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If you have a teenage daughter, this review of Beloved: 365 Devotions for Young Women by Zondervan is for you! This beautiful hardcover devotional book is as powerful on the inside as it is beautiful on the outside and I am excited to share this resource with you.

When I started reviewing this book, I was looking at it from the perspective of the mother of a ten year old daughter. As I read the devotional I came to two conclusions. My first conclusion was that this was a well done devotional that would be great for a mother and teenage daughter to work through together. The second, was that my daughter was not quite ready for some of the content and so I am putting it up for a year or two before we work through it together.

The devotional is laid out with 365 devotions to take you through the entire year.  Each day consists of a small scripture verse, a devotional thought, and a bit of journaling space at the bottom of the page for your notes and thoughts.  While I wish that the scripture verses had been longer to give more context, that is easily remedied by reading the scripture in your Bible.

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One thing I really like is that many of the devotions go in a series by following through an entire story of scripture. For example, one series is from day 213 to day 227. On those days the reading is in 1 Samuel chapter 25 focusing on Abigail who was Nabal’s wife. I love how it focused on various women in the Bible to help a teenage girl see how God used women and continues to use women to do amazing things for the kingdom of God. I think it handled subject of women in ministry well by explaining that each person can use their gifts even if not behind a pulpit.

You may be wondering why if I enjoyed it so much I put it aside for another year or two before going through it with my daughter. I should mention that my daughter is still a bit younger than the recommended age but I was hoping she was ready. However, since it does address the topic of sex and adultery in several of the devotions I did not feel my daughter was ready for this book yet.  The topics were handled well and appropriately but I would not recommend them for a girl who did not yet know about sex unless you were going to read it with them and were ready to have that conversation and offer explanations.

Overall, I do recommend Beloved: 365 Devotions for Young Women for teenage girls. It is simple enough for them to do on their own but I think it would be a great mother-daughter devotional time. You can sit down for a few minutes each day with a warm drink and read through it together; drawing closer to each other as you draw near to God. I encourage you to check out the other Review Crew reviews below to see how they used the devotional and what those with older girls felt about the devotional.

Beloved: 365 Devotions for Young Women {Zondervan Review}Crew Disclaimer

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This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

 

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Be Still and Be Present: Week 1

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Welcome to week one of the ‘Be Still and Be Present’ challenge. I am so excited for us to take this journey together. I didn’t do this challenge because I have it all together, but because I felt that I needed to work on these things as well. I am excited to see what God can do in my heart and my life through this challenge. I will be praying each day for all of you that are participating with me in the challenge.

*Some of the links in my posts may be affiliate links see below for more information. *

‘Be Still’

This week I chose John 14:27 as my focus verse. Many times throughout the Bible we hear about God’s peace. I want to remember that God is not a God of overwhelm and rest in his peace this week. My goal is to memorize this verse by the end of the week and use it to remind myself when the season gets hectic.

In addition to my focus verse, I am going to be working my way through the advent reading plan from Not Consumed and coloring or journaling either in the Max Lucado Christmas Coloring book or in my Beautiful Word Coloring Bible. You can use whatever Bible or materials you have available to complete this challenge. I choose to use a coloring Bible because the act of coloring the pictures and words helps me to slow my brain down and really focus on God’s word. If I am just reading and trying to sit quietly, my brain has a tendency to wander. I found my coloring book (and one for my 10 year old) at Ollies for only .99. If you do not have an Ollies there are some other options on Amazon.  Another good free option for your study plan is to use these Names of Jesus printables and verses and study through the various Biblical names of Jesus.

Another resource that I want to share with you are Bible apps. If you do not have a Bible or if you find it more convenient to read from your phone or device the  YouVersion Bible App is a great free app. It offers a wide variety of translations which can be very beneficial when you are studying a particular passage of scripture. While I find that I focus best while I am coloring or journaling, I know others that like to listen to the Bible while they are driving or maybe while out in nature or taking a walk. The Daily Audio Bible App is only .99 for Kindle and free for Android. This app reads through the Bible in a year.

‘Be Present’

I often hear people talking about how important family is during the holiday season, but I know that in reality I often neglect the focused time with my family because of the hustle and bustle. We spend lots of time together doing school, going from place to place, crossing tasks of the to-do list, but we don’t always slow down and just spend time together. I encourage you to spend at least 30 minutes a day being present with those that mean the most to you. Some of you will need to spend that time focused on your children, others may feel you have been neglecting time with your husband. I am hoping to be more mindful of time with both my children and my husband over the next month.

This time does not have to be an elaborate activity, costs lots of money, or even be something new and exciting. The goal is simply to spend time being fully present with those you love. My daughter and I recently started working through a Christmas coloring book together. We can sit at the kitchen table and spend 15 or 20 minutes coloring and chatting together. This is relaxing for me and it is encouraging for her.  You could take a walk with your children or your husband, build Legos with your children, color a picture, or make a Christmas craft.  One of our favorite ways to connect is to pour mugs of hot cider or cocoa and gather on the couch for me to read a book. We also enjoy playing ‘Would You Rather ‘ type games.

I have included a downloadable sheet that will allow you to plan each week’s devotional time and your ‘Be Present’ activities as well as a sheet where you can check them off as you complete each day. Some of you may prefer to take each day as it comes, especially with the ‘Be Present’ activities and if that works for you that it totally fine. In my life I have found that having it planned out makes it more likely that it will actually happen so I plan to sit down each week and plan out a flexible list of activities.

Please share with me in the comments some fun activities or great devotional tools that you have and I look forward to hearing how this challenge is effecting your life.

Be Still and Be Present planning

Be Present Check List

Be Still Check List

 

Sign-Up Here For Be Still and Be Present Weekly Emails

 

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

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This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

December Hymn Study: O Holy Night

O Holy Night

*Some of the links in my posts may be affiliate links see below for more information. *

December is one of my favorite times of the ‘musical year’. I dearly love Christmas carols and the joy and hope that they bring to my heart. They are such a wonderful reminder of the love of Jesus. I love that I often hear them in places where you do not normally hear Christian music and I pray that they touch the hearts of those around me.

When I chose the song, ‘O Holy Night’ to study I had no idea what the story behind the hymn was or why it was written. It is an interesting story as it was written by a man who later walked away from the church and the music composed by a Jewish man who did not believe in Jesus. O Holy Night was embraced by the church in Ireland when introduced in 1847. Shortly thereafter, the church’s opinion changed and the song was denounced, before regaining popularity a decade later in the United States.

In addition to being able to read the story behind the hymn this month, I found a short YouTube video that shared the story. There are so many different versions of this song so I included links to a few below, including a fun Celtic version.  As you take time to listen to the music this month I encourage you to take a few minutes and just sit and reflect on that night. The night that in many ways was just an ordinary night but that was also one of the most extraordinary nights in history.

I broke up the copy work into six days instead of five because the lyrics to this song are a little longer than many of our hymns. In addition to our normal listening and copy work, I think that this free Christmas Star art lesson is going to be a great addition to our study. When I hear the words to O Holy Night it reminds me of the star that shone so bright that night.

Resources

Sheet Music

YouTube (Celtic)

YouTube Performance w/ Orchestra

YouTube (with Lyrics)

Story Behind the Hymn (Video)

Story Behind the Hymn

Download Your Freebies Below!

Hymn Study Fact Sheet

O Holy Night (December Copywork)

 

 

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

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This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Deals and Freebies!

 

FREE Fall in Love with Science e-book from Apologia

Alice in Wonderland on Audible for less than $1!!

FREE: Check out this great new FREE resource for classical and Charlotte Mason education! Classical Christian Education & Charlotte Mason. Great for folks already homeschooling or if you have friends that are looking into it!

FREE Writing About Books: Book Reports and Beyond from Write Shop!

Be Still and Be Present: A December Challenge

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As I was thinking over Thanksgiving about what I wanted to the next month to look like in our lives, I knew that I wanted to be very intentional but also not overwhelming. This time of year can get to be very busy with schooling, holiday festivities, running a business, family events, and just day to day life. I spent some time in prayer trying to determine what the next month should look like and determined that my two focuses would be ‘Be Still’ and ‘Be Present’.

As  busy moms some of you are thinking that you can’t be still because you have children to chase or if you are like me, you can’t be still or you will fall asleep. However, I’m not talking about physically being still (though we all need that sometimes too). Mentally and spiritually we need to stop and be still so that we can spend time with God and feel his peace this season. Isaiah 9:6 tells us that Jesus is the Prince of Peace. He is not the prince of chaos or overwhelm. I know how difficult it can be to find time in your day to ‘Be Still’ but I truly believe that if we purpose to spend just 30 minutes a day devoted to our relationship with him it can transform us.

For some of you, that 30 minutes might be first thing in the morning before your children wake up. That does not work for me because my children always sense if I get up early and with-in just a couple of minutes they are up. However, I have found that once I get up I can get the older children working on chores and the younger children occupied and take five to ten minutes and do a short devotional to help get my mind focused on God’s word. Then in the evenings once everyone is in bed or in the afternoons during quiet time, I can spend a little more time in worship and prayer. No matter what time of day, I encourage you to carve out thirty minutes with-in your day to focus on Jesus.

For each person this time may be spent a little differently. It should always include prayer and Bible reading, but some of you may also wish to include worship through song, journaling, or an additional devotional reading. Each week I will share with you some Bible verses that I am using for the week as my focus. You can choose to join me in using those verses or use whatever devotional or reading that you feel works best for you. I know many of you have Advent reading plans and other devotionals that you are currently using. I pray that as we take 30 minutes each day to ‘Be Still’ it will change our outlook and focus throughout the day and help us remember to be a shining light for the whole world to see.

I also really want to work on ‘Be Present’. It is so easy in the hustle and bustle of the season to spend lots of time with our family and friends but not ever really ‘Be Present’ with them. I can get so focused on checking the boxes and crossing things off of my list that I lose sight of the value of time spent enjoying my children and husband. My goal and challenge this month is to spend at least 30 minutes a day fully present with my children and doing something enjoyable with them. As a homeschool mom I spend most of my days with my children, but often we are busy doing schoolwork, chores, or other tasks and forget to stop and just enjoy each other. Those 30 minutes do not have to be anything complicated. It might be going outside and pushing them in the swing, taking a walk, building Legos, or painting a picture. It might be drinking hot cocoa and reading a fun book or playing a board game. Just make sure that you are fully present with them and enjoying quality time making memories.

Each Monday, I will send out an email sharing some Bible verses and devotional ideas that you can use as well as some fun free or super inexpensive ideas for being present with your family. I hope that these email serve both to give you ideas and as a gentle reminder to ‘Be Still’ and ‘Be Present’. If you forget one day or life gets busy, remember that each day is a fresh start.  I hope you will join me in this challenge. You can sign up below to get my weekly emails for the month of December. Please feel free to share this with anyone that you think might benefit from the challenge.

Sign-Up Here For Be Still and Be Present Weekly Emails

 

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

My Review Year in Review

I was filling out a survey a couple of weeks ago and it asked how many products I had reviewed for the Schoolhouse Review Crew in 2018. I was shocked when I counted up and realized I had reviewed over different 50 products. Some of those I loved and we are still using. Others were not a great fit for our family but I am thankful that I had the opportunity to share each of them with you, my readers.

*Some of the links in my posts may be affiliate links see below for more information. *

When I thought back on the products that I loved the most I truly had a hard time deciding. There were so many great products to chose from. The books from Great Waters Press were certainly in my top ten for ones that were helpful to me as a mom. We all had lots of fun with the history activities from Homeschool in the Woods. Audio dramas and books are a source of both education and fun for our family so both Heirloom Audio and the Brinkman Adventures gave us hours of family entertainment.

When it comes to full curriculum that we found to be most beneficial I can say that Apologia was a big hit. We love how thorough and in-depth the science is while still being engaging and having lots of hands on opportunities.

I thought it would be interesting to ask my children which of the review products   that they liked best.  When pressed to choose one my oldest son, age 12, said that his favorite was Kids E-mail but he also really enjoyed Forensic Faith, Brinkman Adventures, Guitar 360, and Heirloom Audio.

My daughter chose Princess Cut as her very favorite review product. We watched it once as a family but she has watched it several times since then.  Kids E-mail came in a close second for her as she enjoys using her e-mail to keep in contact with a variety of friends and family members. She also enjoyed learning to write in cursive using Cursive Logic. Like my son she enjoyed Forensic Faith and Brinkman Adventures. If I let her I think she might give us a list that included much of what we reviewed, but I told her she was supposed to be choosing her favorites.

My four year old was not involved in as many reviews as a preschooler but we did review several products that were appropriate for him. He decided that he most enjoyed Zirrly beads. He also loved and still asks to use Planet 316 Story Bible App and Starfall.com. We liked Pencil Grip markers so much that I have ordered him the paint sticks for Christmas (but shhh don’t’ spoil the surprise and tell him).

I’ve listed our very favorite choices here but feel like I’ve left many really great programs out because we were blessed to try so many great products this year. You can check out all of my reviews and see what products your family might enjoy. The Review Crew also has a great post coming soon to share the products that we voted as our favorites in various categories. I’d love for you to tell me in the comments which program you would like to try or share a program you think we should review.  I have one more review coming next week and then I will be taking a break for about a month before we get started with a new list in 2019!

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

FINAL WEEK for the Schoolhouse Teachers sale!

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YWAM has a special 50% off collection on some really great biographies now through December 15th!

Amazon has some great Cyber Monday Week all week long! Including some great deals on Kindles.

Amazon Prime 30 day FREE trial. If you do not yet have Amazon Prime this is a great time to try it for free for 30 days! Get your Christmas shopping done with free shipping, enjoy Christmas music and more.

Our Christmas School Plans

 

Last week I shared about all of the books I wanted to read during December. As much as I want to focus on reading lots of good Christmas books, we will also be doing some other fun and simple activities.

First, as I thought about independent reading I decided that each of my older children would read a different Christmas or Hanukkah book each school day during December.  We have a multitude of great picture books that will be easy for them to read in one day but still provide great reading practice. Over the course of each week they will choose two that they really enjoy and write a paragraph reviewing the book and telling why they enjoyed it. They will also come up with one or two extra activities that could be used to supplement the books they are writing about (a recipe, a model, a research project, etc). My goal is to publish these on the blog.

*Some of the links in my posts may be affiliate links see below for more information. *

For musical studies we will be doing a hymn study of O Holy Night (coming soon to the blog) as well as enjoying a few fun activities to go along with other Christmas Carols from At Home: Where Life Happens. I love that her ideas are fun but simple to implement.  I know my children will love the marshmallow creations to go along with a couple of her song choices.

For art studies we are going to choose one lesson from our ChalkPastel.com lessons each week. I’m really excited about Away in a Manger. We will also be making a few Christmas crafts and pictures to send to grandparents,aunts, and uncles that live far away. This time of year seems to lend itself to lots of creative activities.

I have noticed that my children have been a bit lazy about their handwriting lately and I wanted to get back to doing copywork to help address it. I found this great set of Christmas poem copywork at Schoolhouse Teachers. I am going to have them complete one poem each school day.  They also have lots of other resources, lessons and videos in their Christmas Corner. If we have extra time we may enjoy some of the videos or other activities that are included in that section.

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A few of the activities and lessons included in the Schoolhouse Teachers Christmas Corner.

Bible study will be an important part of our December studies. We have really enjoyed using the Unwrapping the Greatest Gift advent study in the past. I also really like the free advent printables from Kim at Not Consumed. I am still praying about which study would be most beneficial to us as a family this season. I want to keep our focus on the Bible and not get into a system that becomes overwhelming.

This year we will continue with our normal math programs for my older two children (Math For A Living Education and A+ Math) in order to help make up some of the time we missed due to Hurricane Florence. However, my four year old will enjoy using pattern blocks and some fun free Christmas math printables.

My goal is to be able to continue making academic progress while focusing our attention on Christmas. There are so many things that keep us busy this time of year and want to minimize the stress of trying to ‘get it all done’ while still incorporating many fun holiday activities. My prayer is that this plan allows us to enjoy the holiday season, keep our focus on Jesus, and have time for rest and family fun.  Speaking of rest and family fun, I will be sharing later this week about a December challenge that I have given to myself and I would love to have you join the challenge. I plan to spend time each day focused on being still and being present. I will share my simple (and free) plan for spending time each day with God and my family.

What are you planning to do for school in December? Is it business as usual or do you change it up for Christmas. I’d love to hear what resources you love to use.

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

 

YWAM has a special 50% off collection on some really great biographies now through December 15th!

Amazon has some great Cyber Monday Week all week long! Including some great deals on Kindles.

Amazon Prime 30 day FREE trial. If you do not yet have Amazon Prime this is a great time to try it for free for 30 days! Get your Christmas shopping done with free shipping, enjoy Christmas music and more.

 

Happy Thanksgiving and Deals and Freebies 2018!

We have enjoyed reading Cranberry Thanksgiving, passing out some sweet treats to folks who serve us, sending cards to family members, and filling up our scarecrow with all the things we are thankful for.  Tomorrow morning we will enjoy Cranberry Cream Cheese French Toast  at our house and then spend the evening celebrating over turkey with all the ‘trimmings’ with our extended family.  However, you celebrate I hope you have a blessed Thanksgiving Day.

*Some of the links in my posts may be affiliate links see below for more information. *

There are so many great deals and freebies going on this week for the ‘Black Friday-Cyber Monday sales. I wanted to go ahead and get this information in your hands today as I take tomorrow off to enjoy a time of Thanksgiving and fellowship with my family. There are some great deals going on over the weekend on various homeschooling and family related items. I hope that you enjoy some time with family and friends, good food, and much thankfulness. I am thankful for my readers and all of your support as we journey together. I look forward to connecting with you again next week. Your shopping through our affiliate links blesses our family greatly by helping to fund the blog.  Please feel free to share this list and add any other great sales in the comments. You can also check out the sales thread on Facebook at Dawn Peluso, Schoolin Swag for the latest sales as they come up.

Black Friday-Cyber Monday Deals (be sure to read my comments some of these deals are only active on certain days over the weekend)

My personal favorite is the great sale we are running on my husbands book! Purchase any two directly from us for only $18 including shipping in the US and they will be autographed.

Small business saturday sale flyer

 

Homeschool in the Woods is having a great bundle sale starting Friday and going through Cyber Monday! I’m really tempted by the file folder game library!

You Are An Artist is having a 25% off sale on all video art courses and ebooks (excludes memberships) from 11/20-11/27. We love their courses. They make great gifts for your little artists.

Chalk Pastel Art Gift Guide

YWAM has a special 50% off collection on some really great biographies now through December 15th!

Fit2B is having an AWESOME 60% off ecourses, $30 off 1 year memberships and more sale for Cyber Monday Nov. 26th and 27th! There are some great online classes and memberships to help you as a mom (even classes you can do with a baby). They also have an excellent class that I recommend for health education for girls. This course talks about various aspects of growing up such as hygiene, menstruation, etc. but DOES NOT get into physical intimacy.

Cyber Monday At Fit2B Studio!

Educents has some deals and sales going on toys and educational gifts. We are particularly fond of the Maestro Classics CDs. Classical music combined with great stories are a wonderful (and easy) addition to our homeschooling. We can listen at home or in the car. Sometimes I use them as a formal lesson and sometimes we just listen for fun.

Square_Educents

Not Consumed is having a great sale from 11/20-11/26. I have not tried all of her products but we love her hymn studies and have used and enjoyed several of her Bible studies. My children are currently working through the sibling challenge journals that are on sale.

Black Friday Deals Christmas Gifts

Save 60% on your first month’s subscription of KiwiCo! with code CHEER60

Amazon has some great Black Friday deals all week long! Including some great deals on Kindles.

Amazon Prime 30 day FREE trial. If you do not yet have Amazon Prime this is a great time to try it for free for 30 days! Get your Christmas shopping done with free shipping, enjoy Christmas music and more.

Notebooking Pages is having a big BOGO sale on their memberships!! We love using their pages as an addition to our history curriculum.

Apologia has a great gift guide with many items marked down!

The 2018 Lego Advent Set is on sale right now for only $21.97. If you are looking for one grab it soon because they typically sell out!

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Homeschool Buyers Co-op is running some great specials on Heros Then and Now book series. If you have not tried these books I highly recommend them. We use them with our missionary studies as well as our history studies. The children beg for me to read more each time we read them aloud. We read George Mueller last year and are currently reading about Mary Slessor.  You can also get a FREE Homeschool ID card to use for discounts at various stores that offer teacher and student discounts.

40% off Online Rehab with Tummy Team. This sale runs from 11/22 at 9PM through Noon on 11/24!  This one isn’t specifically home school related but so many mamas are struggling with this that I wanted to share. Please feel free to message me with any questions and share this post with anyone that might be interested. If you are struggling with diastasis or pelvic floor issues the Tummy Team has some great online PT programs. I did their Core Foundations and saw a huge improvement and I’m going to do the prenatal crash course. I know this can be an issue for a lot of mamas so I figured I’d share. I’m happy to answer any questions about my experiences.  (ref)

The Green Ember is only free on Kindle or  with a KindleUnlimited Trial

$10 Sign-Up Bonus for Ibotta and they are doing some major savings and rebates starting today. Great way to save money on the things you are already buying.

$40 off your first HelloFresh Box

If you are looking for some maps to help extend your geography check out these from Knowledge Quest Map Trek (including a free sampler).

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Educational Christmas Ideas (that don’t feel like school supplies)

When I start thinking about gifts I want to choose things that will bless the person that I am giving them to and not just take up space. We love to include educational items in our gift giving but I don’t want them to feel disappointed or like they got stuck with schoolwork for Christmas. If you want something they can really use and learn from without feeling like they got ‘stuck’ with something educational check out these art and music resources.

*Some of the links in my posts may be affiliate links see below for more information. *

Art supplies and classes are top on my list for this type of gift. It encourages creativity and most children tend to love the chance to express themselves through art. Over the course of this year I’ve had the chance to review four different types of art products that would all make great Christmas gifts.

First are You Are An Artist Chalk Pastel Lessons. These are so much fun and so easy for a beginner to get started while being varied enough to keep a more skilled child interested. They offer seasonal courses, themed courses, history related courses, and our personal favorite a Clubhouse Membership which gives you access to new projects each month. They also have recently branched out and started included acrylic lessons! My oldest enjoyed the lessons except that he really didn’t like how the chalk pastels got on his hands. We had been adapting by allowing him to use color pencils but I recently discovered these chalk pastel pencils that I’m going to get him as part of his Christmas to give him the ability to blend and shade like the pastels but still keep it off of his hands. (They are having a 25% off sale this week so its a great time to check them out.)

The second art lesson/projects that we tried and loved are the Kidzaw Master Kits. We reviewed the Starry Night kit and the children really enjoyed it. The box came with enough supplies for two completed projects (the same project done twice) and the project took less than an hour from start to finish. They recreate a famous work of art and get the opportunity to learn  a little more about the artist.  They have lots of other kits and even this fun party kit that makes up to 12 pieces of the art work. That would be a fun and inexpensive alternative to doing a birthday party at one of the art studios.

Zirrly Super Beads are another great option. These low mess beads are easy to put together with a bit of water and a lot of fun for a variety of ages. My four year old did them with a bit of help from his sister but my ten and twelve year olds still enjoyed using them and doing some of the more complicated designs.  The fourth fun art option we reviewed this year were Pencil Grip Magic Stix Markers. These were great options for older children (old enough to be careful and not write on things they are not supposed to). They do not dry out like many markers and have a dark strong color that is great for a variety of projects.

Not a specific product but another idea that my children have loved is a ‘bucket full of art’. You can gather a variety of supplies and put them together in a bucket full of art supplies that they can use to create whatever they can imagine. We always like to include the basics such as scissors, paper, crayons, and glue. Then we find some other fun items like stickers, clay, paint, beads, yarn or glitter glue. You can order these items online or check out your local craft store. They can provide hours of fun for a very reasonable price.  For older children you could include supplies specific to a hobby or supplies for making slime and goo.

Some children prefer music to the arts and there are lots of options for musically inclined children. I am not musically inclined but my children have been showing interest in various musical instruments.  My four year old really wants to learn to play the harmonica. I’m not quite ready to help him learn but I did find this great harmonica and book with video lessons for when I think he is old enough to get started. The great thing is I could get both for under $20 total.

My twelve year old has been learning to play the guitar using Guitar 360 Method and really enjoying it. These online video lessons are significantly cheaper than in person lessons and give us the flexibility of being able to complete them whenever he has a few minutes. If you have a student that is interested in learning to play the guitar, but you do not have the time or finances for in person lessons this is a great option. Since he is already taking the lessons I am purchasing this collection of guitar picks as a stocking stuffer for him this year. (Check out the blog post for a 20% off coupon.)

Elizabeth is learning the violin. In interest of full disclosure I prefer listening to guitar practice than violin but she loves it and is showing great progress. I will have a full review of that product coming in January but if you are interested in giving violin lessons as a gift check out Practice Monkeys.

Schoolhouse Teachers also has a great variety of music classes available with their family membership. In addition to all of the other core and elective classes they offer both guitar and violin courses that have video components. They also offer music theory, voice, and recorder classes. In addition to those instruments there are a variety of musical unit studies and classes. One membership covers all of the courses for an entire family so this is a very economical option. (Check below for a great sale on Schoolhouse Teachers)

I hope that you found some fun and educational gift ideas to support your budding artist or musician. Please share in the comments any additional ideas that you have for fun gifts that are also beneficial.

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Deals and Freebies!

A Christmas Carol Audio Book Only $.66 (Amazon prices subject to change)

Amazon has put Heroes Next Door: Hornet 24 on sale and there is a coupon on the page to make it even cheaper! This is a great Christmas gift.

Free I”m Thankful For…. Book from Amazon! (Always check prices as they are subject to change)

The 2018 Lego Advent Set is on sale right now for only $21.97. If you are looking for one grab it soon because they typically sell out!

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FREE Fall in Love with Science e-book from Apologia

The World of Peter Rabbit and His Friends Only .99 on Kindle! We love Beatrix Potter’s stories and this one includes her original illustrations.

Sunny Under the Sea  Free (always double check because Amazon changes prices regularly!)

FREE: Check out this great new FREE resource for classical and Charlotte Mason education! Classical Christian Education & Charlotte Mason. Great for folks already homeschooling or if you have friends that are looking into it!

FREE Writing About Books: Book Reports And Beyond from Write Shop!
Not Consumed is having a great sale from 11/20-11/26. I have not tried all of her products but we love her hymn studies and have used and enjoyed several of her Bible studies. My children are currently working through the sibling challenge journals that are on sale.

Black Friday Deals Christmas Gifts

A Cozy, Book Filled December

We started our school year the day after Labor Day and that first week went just as planned. Half-way through week two we were hit with Hurricane Florence and nothing has really been the same since. We took several weeks off during the worst of the recovery but then we started working school in around relief efforts. For our family that meant helping prepare and serve meals to the volunteers that have been staying at our church to help the community.  We would school first thing in the morning before going to serve lunch, or bring math books  and reading with us to work on during down time. Music lessons were happening before breakfast or sometimes even using the laptop at the church.  This was what needed to happen and the children have learned a lot from the real life experience of helping to serve others. They have even made new friends from all over the eastern United States.  However, there are some things that I’d really like to do this December to help us focus and enjoy the season.

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We love books and have a collection of Christmas books that takes up several boxes. I try to add one or two books to it each year. While we will still be volunteering during the first few weeks of December, we will have several weeks off and even the days we are volunteering should be a little slower than those first couple of months. I want to fill our time with lots of Christmas focused read alouds. I purchased Letters From Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien as a new read aloud for my older children this year. If time allows I’d also like to read aloud A Christmas Carol to them.  If you do not have A Christmas Carol the audio book is currently only 66¢ on audible.

For my four year old I’m purchasing the book An Otis Christmas. We love all of the other Otis books that we have purchased so far and are looking forward to adding this one to the collection. These books are adorable books about a little tractor named Otis and the lessons he learns through his many adventures on the farm. The are sweet and lovely little books that he likes me to read over and over.

In addition to those books we will read lots of holiday themed picture books. I know one of the first ones they will ask for when they realize that the Christmas books are down from storage is Cranberry Christmas. This is a delightful sequel to Cranberry Thanksgiving that we purchased last year. They also enjoy The Very First Christmas which is a recordable book that I recorded myself reading several years ago. Other favorites include The Gift of the Christmas Cookie and The Very First Christmas. There are so many more and I truly couldn’t pick just a few favorites.

Throughout the month my goal is to read whenever we can. Sometimes that might mean just grabbing a book and reading for a few minutes in the morning. Other times, we will pour hot cocoa or eggnog and snuggle up on the couch to read. I have lots of recipes for great Christmas cookies that we hope to have time to bake and enjoy while we read. However, if life gets busy and there is no time to bake or baking feels more stressful there is no shame in having a premade snack. You can enjoy popcorn or cookies from the store. While I want to spend plenty of time with me doing the reading, we may also choose to listen to some of these stories as audio books when we need to be in the car.

I plan to have some of these books displayed as decorations, as well as several baskets with the other books placed throughout the house. I want the books to be a visual reminder to me of our commitment to make this a cozy December full of reading. Having them placed in various locations at easy reach will also make it easier to read in those little pockets of time between activities and commitments. When I look back at the end of the month, I don’t want it to be with regret for what we didn’t do but with peace about the time we spent together.

I thought I was going to leave you with a list of my top ten favorite Christmas books but I was having such a hard time deciding. So, I have several lists of great Christmas books that fit various age groups and situations. I would truly love to hear your favorite books because I’m always looking to add new books to our list. I hope you will join us in making December a month full of good memories and lots of books!

Books For Young Children

The Story of Christmas  (board book)

An Otis Christmas

Usborne Lift-the-Flap Nativity

One Baby Jesus (board book)

Christmas in the Barn

The Jolly Christmas Postman

Jan Brett’s The Night Before Christmas (the illustrations for this one are wonderful)

That’s Not My Snowman (board book)

Our Family Favorites

The Very First Christmas

Cranberry Christmas

The Gift of the Christmas Cookie

The Night of Las Posadas

A Little House Christmas

Unwrapping the Greatest Gift (Advent Devotional)

Legend of the Poinsettia

Chapter Books

The Best Chrsitmas Pagent Ever

A Christmas Carol

Letters From Father Christmas

Cole Family Christmas

Magic Tree House Christmas in Camelot

New Books We Are Adding This Year

An Otis Christmas

An Amish Christmas

Letters From Father Christmas

Cole Family Christmas

Audio Books

The Night Before Christmas

A Christmas Carol and Other Favorites

A Christmas Carol (less than $1 at the time of posting)

Best Christmas Pageant Ever

Adventures in Odyssey Count Down to Christmas

 

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

 

Deals and Freebies!

A Christmas Carol Audio Book Only $.66 (Amazon prices subject to change)

Amazon has put Heroes Next Door: Hornet 24 on sale and there is a coupon on the page to make it even cheaper! This is a great Christmas gift.

Free I”m Thankful For…. Book from Amazon! (Always check prices as they are subject to change)

The 2018 Lego Advent Set is on sale right now for only $21.97. If you are looking for one grab it soon because they typically sell out!

 

2018-fall-harvest-special-ban-240x400-2

FREE Fall in Love with Science e-book from Apologia

The World of Peter Rabbit and His Friends Only .99 on Kindle! We love Beatrix Potter’s stories and this one includes her original illustrations.

Sunny Under the Sea  Free (always double check because Amazon changes prices regularly!)

FREE: Check out this great new FREE resource for classical and Charlotte Mason education! Classical Christian Education & Charlotte Mason. Great for folks already homeschooling or if you have friends that are looking into it!

FREE Writing About Books: Book Reports and Beyond from Write Shop!

 

 

Guitar 360 Method (Review) and DISCOUNT CODE!

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Over the past month or so my twelve year old has been learning to play the guitar using the online Semester 1 Bundle from  Guitar 360 Method.  When my son was about four he wanted to learn to play the guitar and our wonderfully talented youth and music minister agreed to teach him. He enjoyed the lessons but refused to practice and so I discontinued them and the guitar has sat mostly unused ever since. My son had recently began mentioning lessons again but I was hesitant to commit to taking him to more lessons given our busy schedules and his lack of follow we saw last time. I felt like the scheduling concerns were addressed by using this online program because we could work the lessons into our busy and changing lives as needed.

*Some of the links in my posts may be affiliate links see below for more information. *

Guitar 360 Method

Music lessons are one of those subjects that I chose not to require in our home school. I know that different families have different areas of focus and for us music lessons are not a priority. We do incorporate music appreciation, hymn study, and this year a fun genre study into our everyday curriculum. Since we do not require lessons, but my son had been talking about wanting to try guitar again, I let him decide if this review was something that interested him. He was so excited to try it and I’m glad that I gave him the opportunity!

While this was not his first time in classes, it had been seven years since he took them so we started him in the Absolute Beginner Course. He worked through that at his own pace.  He enjoyed it and found that he learned new skills and brushed up on some other skills. At first we had a bit of problem with the videos not wanting to stream correctly (the sound would play but the video would freeze).  We determined that the problem was that we were using an older computer and the videos were playing at a very high resolution. I’m glad we were able to easily solve that small problem by wsing a newer computer or adjusting the resolution fixed this issue and allowed for a much smoother practice session.

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The first day that he had access to the lessons he worked through multiple lessons in the beginner course because he was so excited. Throughout the rest of the review period he practiced four or five days a week, which considering our busy schedules during this time was an excellent accomplishment. He really enjoyed the chance to practice and learn each day. He worked through all of the beginner course and began the Semester 1 course. During that time he learned basic chords, strumming patterns, and even his first song.

Each video ranged from about three to ten minutes in length making them very easy to fit into our days. However, I recommend making sure that your student also builds in some addition time to practice those skills in order to see the most progress. This program is not a subscription that you lose at the end of the thirteen week program so there is no pressure to rush through and finish ‘on-time’.

Some of the lessons he picked up on quickly the first time through and he could keep moving forward. There were a few things that he needed to go back and work on but that was very easy with this program. He could simply watch that video lesson again and even pause and practice some more before continuing. However, I think that I let him work through those lessons a little too fast in the beginning with not enough practice and he struggled to put it all together. Learning an instrument is not like binge watching your favorite streaming program, you have to develop the muscle memory. Once I made him go back and master each lesson before moving on he showed a good deal of progress.

Each week of the course includes a  goal for the week and then various teaching and practicing videos. The teaching videos show a new skill or concept that they learn along with and then the practice videos are several minutes of work on the skills that have been covered.  The course is a good mix of music practice and music theory. This helps with the goal of giving the musician freedom and confidence in playing and not just memorizing songs.

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We still have a long way to go to be finished with this course, which is a 13 week course not counting the Guitar Course for Beginners portion. However, at the end of the course my son should be able to play a variety of songs and chords and have the skills and confidence he needs to play well with a band or independently. He will understand the music theory enough to allow him to be flexible and adapt his skills to the situation and not just memorize chords. The instructor says that with mastery of the course a player would be well equipped to be a valuable player in a worship band or other similar setting. My son would really love to play well enough to be able to help out with our band at church.

I was not sure that our family had the time or resources to give to music lessons during this time in our lives, but this program proved me wrong. The flexibility of the online prerecorded format and the short easy to follow lessons allowed my son to fit his lessons in around our other obligations. The program was fun, easy to follow, and allowed him to move at his own pace. This has been a very positive experience for us and we are excited to see how well he is playing when he finished the Semester 1 Bundle. If you have a son/daughter who wants to learn the guitar, or even if you as an adult want to learn I highly recommend this program. I would recommend it for ages 10 and above. Check out all of the other Crew Reviews below to see how people used it in a variety of situations with a variety of ages. I can also offer you a 20% discount on this course using the code HOMESCHOOL20. The course was already significantly less expensive than paying for most private instructors and the 20% discount makes it an even more amazing value. This would be a great addition to your curriculum or a gift for that music lover in your life.

Guitar Lessons with Krisz Simonfalvi {Guitar 360 Method Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.