Have your children practice their spelling words using sidewalk
chalk or finger paints!
I came across what I thought was an amazing idea, over at www.stretcher.com. Winter Night Kits... I think I'm going to make these this year. In a basket or other decorative container (for example,
Walmart sells brown craft paper bags for about a buck a piece, you could use rubber stamps to decorate them), you can put
together some hot cocoa mixes, mugs, microwave popcorn and anything else that might make a winter night more cozy. Playing
cards, baked treats with a printed recipe, gift certificates for movie rentals, etc. The actual page for these ideas is here:
Last year, I made my own bath salts, and they were fun to make. The entire thing cost me about $25 (CAD) and I made
about 12 of these. I found the ideas at www.organizedchristmas.com. I used mason jars (get them now while they are still available), and bought epsom salts, sea salt, some extract, glycerine
and food coloring. Decorating the jars is the best! LOL The page for "In a Jar" ideas is:
The year before that, I made cookie mixes in a jar. These are popular and ingenious. Everyone I gave them to absolutely
adored them. You can do drink mixes (like cocoa), brownie mixes, cake mixes, etc. There are endless possibilities. Organized
Christmas also has ideas for that, but you can do a search on any search engine and find interesting ideas. You can use tea
towels or wash cloths in holiday colors to cover the lid and tie them on with festive ribbons. Add a candy cane and you're
all set. You could also make other beauty products for the ladies on your list... again, you can find recipes on any
search engine. Here's one I came across:
One thing I made that cost only a few dollars and went over really,
REALLY well were journal jars. Link:
You can also make journal jars for kids:http://organizedchristmas.com/article41.html
A neat idea for families is a roll-up puzzle cloth and a couple of dollar store jigsaw puzzles, maybe with some
micro popcorn, cocoa or other snacks. Pattern for the cloth is here:
And a gift I made last year that went over well were the no-sew fleece blankets:
Something I'm making my 8-yr-old daughter this year:
I'm making matching mittens out of fleece with her initial appliqued on the back.
I've also made those holders
that go over your chair arms (like on a recliner) with pockets to hold the remote control, kleenex, reading glasses,a
abook, etc. -- made these for my parents' chairs and for my kids' beds (I slide the unsewn tab between the mattress and boxspring)
I also made treasure hunt jars:
And of course, jar gifts for cookies, soups, etc. and homemade bath products recipes -- there're lots on the
I love these kinds of ideas, too! I love to find practical
ways to do really neat things. I had another idea to go with everyone elses. You could either do this yourself,
or teach your kids to do some computer work themselves. Almost everyone has a program on their computers that has crafty
things. We have print master, among others. You can make gift tags with some neat graphics, use neat kinds of
paper or vellum. My daughter, Krisitin, and I love to think up stuff to do. Online, you can find crafts
for your kids to do like wrappers for packs of gum, etc. I thought some might be interested in this interactive holdiay
budget calculator. http://www.heifer.org/cgi-bin/heifer/Xmas.pl
Speaking of Christmas ideas, on organizedhome.com, you can download a Christmas countdown planner. If you do everything
as planned, you are ready for Christmas, unstressed, and your celebration is supposed to be a lot more fun. I can't
imagine not running out to get something I forgot on Christmas Eve, LOL!! I think I may be late getting started, but
if anyone is interested, you might take a look at it.
I use my mini loaf pan and make little loaves of cranberry bread and
orange bread, which end up looking very
festive with powdered sugar icing dribbled over them. I wrap them in holiday-patterned or -colored cellophane with a beautiful
bow, and give them to neighbors, the lady at the bank, USPS workers, the garbageman, the newspaper deliverer, etc.
variation (when I have enough jam made, which I do not this year) is to make a regular loaf of yeasted bread and give it with
a jar of my homemade jam.
GET OUT OF SCHOOL FREE
If you or your kids need to recharge your batteries... there's nothing
better than playing hookie for the day! On every Birthday and at Christmas I give my children 5 "Get Out Of School Free"
cards. They love being able to make their own holidays! If you have more than one child, I'd recommend writing
their names on the back.
Feeling sleepy, grumpy, sneezy or goofy?
GET OUT OF SCHOOL FREE!
This card entitles the Student to one free
day from school. Best of all... everyone
else gets a day
off too! Wow, won't you
Last Christmas we started the scholar dollars program. I found a graphic of a dollar
bill on the internet, pasted in the name of our homeschool "Old Glory Academy" and printed up 1, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 dollar
denominations in primary colors. All of Mike's chores and schoolwork were negotiated for a dollar amount:
Taking out the garbage $5
Finishing his math $10
Cleaning his room $20
Every time he does something for scholar dollars, he gets paid immediately.
But he has to buy things with his money. Lessons, chess tournaments, etc. He
can cash in his money for US Currency at a rate of 10:1 just in case he'd like to buy some candy or a toy or whatever strikes
his fancy. Also... if he's late on finishing his schoolwork or doesn't complete it at all, he receives a fine.
But... if he finishes early or does exceptional work he receives a bonus.
This has been an excellent motivational tool. And let me tell you, it really bugs him
if he has to pay a fine. I've tried to pattern this out of real life experiences.
Chore Punch Cards
Every time one of your children does a chore or finishes a school
project, they receive a punch on a card. When the card is full, the student receives a treat of some sort. Like
pizza with dad or a new game.
Each year we hold our annual "Promotion Day" party, when we
celebrate our successes and set goals for the year. Usually we do this on the 4th of July... sort of an education independence
All year long I keep track of field trips, projects, classes, volunteer
work, etc. I take this list and
the annual CAT test results to come up with a report card that includes:
*Academic classes with grades
development with grades (I used the Character First list as a guide)
*Volunteer/Community Service with the total number
On the back of the report cards I write:
*Goals for the next school year
I also give out Achievement Awards for things that they worked hard
to accomplish. And this year I'm going to give them pins for the things they excelled in. At our party, each child stands
up while I give a little speech about their year and what they did. Then I present them with a certificate of completion and
a little trophy.
What About Graduation?