The Homeschool Minute

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"I so much appreciate receiving these "minutes"! They take a short time to browse through, and I am almost always left with a good 'take-away' thought to chew on. I enjoy the good ideas and insights, and always the encouragement from Todd to enjoy life and not feel guilty or overwhelmed or pressured."


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"Keep up the great work! We need all the good tips and advice you ladies have to offer, but people like me need Todd's humor and reminders to relax sometimes too. You're all doing a great job and balance each other out nicely." 


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"Thanks for talking about being weary! I needed to hear that I am not the only one. Thanks for being so encouraging and for the wonderful resources. I just wanted you to know that what you do makes a big difference!"


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The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine


December 14, 2011

Tis the Season: Inexpensive Gift Ideas


Deborah's  Picture



With Christmas just 12 days away, it's time to finalize all those last-minute gifts. And in these hard economic times, I love to find clearance deals or inexpensive homemade crafts. There are so many ways to give gifts, and I am sure you have a ton of ideas, so I am not sure I have much to offer-but here are some of mine for this year:


  1. I hope to try decorative pillows for drop-in friends or hostess gifts or just extra gifts for those unexpected situations. I plan to go to the thrift store and find some really cheap, small pillows in holiday colors and then tie them with a big, festive ribbon and bow to look like a present. I found this idea here (scroll to slide 11).
  2. The kids and I will be getting small wooden letters at a craft store in the last names of some of our family and friends, and some of the different names of Jesus, and will paint them with gold, silver, and other festive colors. Here's an example (slide 16), but I will tweak it a bit.
  3. We always give once-a-year special treats, like that box of cereal we would never buy for the kids during the year, or those chocolate-covered gummi bears, or See's lollipops. For me, my special treat as a child was oranges; you can read my miracle orange story in the FREE TOS Christmas Supplement.
  4. In fear of hearing it from Todd Wilson, I will quietly let you know that I give my kids educational things for Christmas. I always have, and I probably always will. I find them used but in good condition or buy them at clearance prices and put together special sets of favorite books and DVDs or related toys. Last year, one of my older boys received a Robinson Crusoe book on tape, a DVD and a collector's book that I put together as a set, which was his favorite gift. This year I have a couple of different sets in process.
  5. My husband and I are thinking of doing things differently by giving the kids each only one special gift and then having our own family white elephant game after that. This is where each of us purchases only one gift (something we know someone in the family will enjoy) for the game rather than 10 separate gifts for each person in our family. That will save the kids money, as they always want to get gifts for each other. The kids love to play this game, as we allow three steals, and then trading at the end. So, if the 3-year-old gets a gift card and the 18-year-old ends up with a stuffed dinosaur, they can trade at the end and still enjoy the game.


We should also think outside the "Christmas" box and give gifts that are much more meaningful, and I must say, much more costly as well. We could give the gift of patience for that family member who tries our patience every year. We could give the gift of forgiveness for that child or friend or spouse who said that unkind word. We could give a special gift to that neighbor who doesn't understand us. We could give the gift of friendship to those hurting and lonely at this time of year. We could give the gift of time for those who need someone to listen. And, we could give the gift of the gospel to a lost and dying world. Not only could we, but we should, as these would be gifts fit for that Christmas baby we celebrate: our King Jesus. These are much more costly than those easily purchased gifts that are soon forgotten, but their effects could very well last a lifetime.

What about getting a gift for yourself? I suggest getting that very costly gift called wisdom. As one version of Proverbs 4:7 says, "Though it costs all that you have, get wisdom." Here is my gift to you on that subject: The Costly Pursuit of Wisdom.

We have 12 days of Christmas left. Instead of becoming stressed, let's pray that we will know and understand true wisdom, and that the Lord will show us which gifts He has ordained for the people in our lives.



TOS Senior Editor

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Whatever you do, don't miss . . . reading gifts for Christmas! Holiday Book Club (birthday month . . . free bonus), Stretch-A-Book Club (email links to eActivities: read-alongs, songs, scripts, video demos-first book FREE) Readers' Theater eScripts pak . . . and more. Tots and tweens play their way to reading fluency and turn reading into acting. 



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Learn math and music while playing War, Texas Hold 'Em, Go Fish, Old Maid, and any card game. This specialized deck has reorganized a regular deck of cards and turned them into an educational resource. Learn and reinforce math and music while playing games rather than completing a worksheet. 


Hey from Gena          Gena Suarez

Gena Suarez, Publisher of TOS     

Gena is away from THM this week, but she'll return soon. If you didn't get a copy of Gena's new E-Book you can still get a copy FREE! Simply spend $25 in the Schoolhouse Store. And right now $25 will get you some great deals.

Stock up on back issues in print. The Winter Warehouse Wipeout, valued at $104.75, is only $25. You'll get a bunch of back issues, some warehouse books, extra goodies, Homeschooling with Heart tote bag, and more--and shipping is free (U.S. only). Grab a couple for Christmas gifts. Take a look at this offer here.


Or check out our other specials here.


Simply spend $25 on any of these great deals and get Gena's new E-Book free!



Creation Revolution 


Is the book of Genesis true history? According to many schools and colleges, it is not. So how do we know if this book of the Bible is a true account of what happened thousands of years ago?

Read the article Jesus, the New Testament and Genesis to discover evidence that proves that Genesis is a historical record of past events.




World's Greatest Stories. Exciting stories--word for word from Scripture! Brought to life through the amazing storytelling of George W. Sarris. Great for car time, naptime, bedtime-any time! KJV or NIV on CD. Hear a sample and order at Getting Eternity into the Hearts of the Next Generation!

The FamilymanTodd Wilson
Todd Wilson, Familyman Ministries  


I speak on behalf of husbands everywhere . . . like the Lorax of Husband-dom. What I'm going to share has all the makings for the best Christmas ever as far as your husband will be concerned. And talk about inexpensive-it's all FREE.

The first thing on his Christmas wish list is a wife who smiles at him. This is not to be confused with a smiling wife but one who smiles AT him, FOR him, and BECAUSE of him. A smile says, "I like you . . . I think you're neat . . . I'm so glad you're mine." To be honest, most of us husbands don't get very many of those smiles. Instead we get critical comments, complaints, and looks of disgust and disapproval. So, especially on Christmas morning, smile even if he says the wrong thing, gives the wrong thing, or does the wrong thing. Look him right in the eye across the room and smile. Believe me, he'll melt.

Next, take all the unrealistic and lofty expectations you have for your husband and toss them in the trash. Quit hoping and hinting that he'll change and like him the way he is right now. Refuse to think, "If only he would lead us . . . if only he would be more . . . if only he would . . . THEN I could . . ." This year give him the gift of acceptance.

Lastly, give him the gift of yourself. Don't hold back. Don't worry about where it might lead or how he might read into it. Just give him YOU. Forget the thermal underwear and the amazing wrench, as seen on TV--all he really wants is YOU . . . that, and the 2012 You 'da Dad Daily Calendar, the 365 Day Dad, and maybe a cool Familyman cap (like how I slipped that in?).

Thus saith the Husband-Lorax.

Be real,




Discover Piano at Christmas! With KinderBach, your joyful preschooler can play Jingle Bells for free, and 14 other holiday carols, by Christmas Eve without a single lesson. Try Jingle Bells and order your CD package today! Lessons through online video or DVD with activity pages are also available.

It's Just Common Sense 

Ruth Beechick, Curriculum Specialist 


Debbie Strayer, Homeschool Consultant  


I have ornaments with my children's pictures in them. Ornaments that mark the growing of children or special events or trips and ornaments made by children. To me, all of these are the best gifts ever. Christmas gifts that mark the seasons in our lives and tell the story of our holiday celebrations demonstrate to our children how much the continuity of family means to us, and all the many ways we celebrate them as they grow up.


When my children were young, framed family pictures were our gifts to family members at least every other year. Over time, I have noticed that the family members do display them (or at least I see them when I am there!), giving my children another dose of how special the place is that they have in our family's history. This is not a me-centered self-esteem builder, but rather the telling of a story that is unique to each and every family. The reinforcement of the identity we pass to our children is part of our family heritage.


One year when I was visiting Dr. Beechick at her home in Denver, she pulled out an album of articles she had written and collected over the years. There was one that told about her childhood. I asked her about it, and she began to share beautiful stories of a childhood during the Great Depression, lived with her large family at home in Washington. As she was quick to point out, they didn't know they were deprived of anything, but filled their days with family and church, helping neighbors, chores, and playing with siblings and friends. Though they may not have had much materially, they had what they needed. As I listened, I heard about a great richness, though.


Ruth was raised to love God and to serve others. She didn't feel deprived because she wasn't focused on what she didn't have, she was focused on all that she did have. As I went home, I thought of the messages I was sending to my own children. Even though we honored Christ's birth, did we adequately appreciate the great gifts He had given us in our family? Did I truly believe that the unique situations and personalities in our family were God's perfect gift to me? If so, it affects my ability to love, serve, and appreciate those wonderful characters in my midst.


As you prepare for Christmas this year, start by acknowledging that the people you give gifts to and celebrate with are truly meant to be your gifts as well. Some may be a little quirky and rough around the edges (been there, done that!), yet they are still there to be loved and appreciated. Give gifts that show your love of family and reap the reward of a family that knows they are loved.


~ Debbie     

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  Schola Publication - 3rd Webinar

Contest Central   

For the month of December, 2011   



Illustory is a kit for creating one's own book. The kit contains instructions, a story web planner, two cover pages, 18 book pages, an order form, 10 washable markers, a postage-paid envelope, and information about completing the book online. The kit price of $21.95 includes one finished book with no return shipping fee. The finished book is a 7- by 9-inch hardcover. There are options for ordering additional copies of your book, making additions to your book, etc. (. . .)


You can make your pictures right on the pages provided, or you can make them on your choice of papers, scan them and insert them into the online pages, and then type your words in at the same time. That is what we opted to do. You can even pick the color of your book cover. This has been an experience I would not have missed for the world. (. . .)

Read the rest of the review here.

Win this resource for your family!

Email Deb with your name, mailing address, and phone number for contact purposes, with the subject line "Illustory" for a chance to win* this great resource! 

2011-12 Schoolhouse Planners  

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® Magazine, LLC ("Company") is sponsoring the November Contest Central contest running from November 1, 2011, to November 30, 2011. You must be 18 years of age or older and follow all rules to participate. Entering the contest constitutes full and complete acceptance of, and a warranty that the entrant has read, understands and agrees to, all contest terms and conditions, including without limitation all of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC Contest Rules ("Official Rules") and The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine Writer Guidelines and Terms and Conditions for Submitting Queries. All Official Rules apply. Entry also constitutes full consent and unlimited permission for Company to print, publish, broadcast and use all intellectual property and personal information submitted as part of the Contest entry on the Internet and in any and all Company publications in accordance with the Rules. Entries become the sole property of Company and will not be returned. Employees and independent contractors of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, Contest sponsors, individuals or entities furnishing Contest prizes and their family members may not participate in this contest. Company reserves the sole, discretionary right to determine contest winners and to cancel, terminate, modify, or suspend the contest or the Rules at any time with or without notice or cause, subject to applicable law. See Official Rules for details.

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