Homeschooling Through the Holidays boys will be thrilled that I am reminding you that there are only 12 days until Christmas.

But there aren't.

There are actually almost 24.75 days until Christmas.

But who's counting?

We love the Christmas countdown so much, that we have to guard against becoming so obsessed with "counting down" that we miss the actual Christmas season. Sure, if you stand on your head and cross your eyes you can see baby Jesus in the manger, but that's not good enough.

We are busily carrying out our Holiday Traditions and humming wonderful worship songs to celebrate the birth of Christ and going through our Jesse Tree Readings.

Typically by December first, we have:
    15 Advent and Christmas Math and Reading Activities- 3rd-5
  • Decorated our home inside and out for Christmas (actually, we do that before Thanksgiving)
  • Baked 2 Turkeys
  • Prepared all excess leftovers into freezer meals to both enjoy and bless others
  • Completed our Christmas shopping
  • Baked too many desserts
  • Created advent countdowns
  • Donated a pile of food
  • Began our Advent Study
  • Sat with friends and prayed
  • Learned about Snow and division
  • Restacked our wood pile to prepare for crazy rain, wind, or snow.
This is not an exhaustive list, but 'Do you see what I see?'
That's right.
Not a long list of school assignments and projects.

I have been homeschooling now for a long time.
Every year, until recently, I rejoice that the holidays are here and then find myself fighting off the feelings of guilt that we are not doing as much traditional school work as the world might think is necessary...

Do you struggle with maintaining a consistent pace in your homeschooling?

Do you find yourself fighting off feelings of guilt and condemnation because you believe "others" may feel you should be doing more?

For you new homeschoolers, do not lose heart!
Here are a few secrets to Homeschooling through the Holidays (or any season for that matter):

Remember that you are the ones in control of your children's education. There are times where you need to work through the writing process and help your child produce a beautifully written 5 paragraph essay. There are also times where the best education your child can receive is to join you as you lay aside "school" to meet the needs of someone in your sphere of influence, or to enjoy a life-skills experience together. You get to decide when these things happen.

Purpose to live your life "Out loud" in a way that causes your children to want the kind of life you lead. Circumstances, finances, and living conditions might not be ideal in your mind, but the way you live your life is critical.

Purpose to seek peace, love, joy, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self control in your every day schooling.

Have your holiday celebrations, traditions, and routines take center stage. Be creative as you pull out "school" lessons from Christmas carols and volunteering.

Use the bustle of the holidays to allow you to reevaluate how you are schooling. Something magical happens when life derails our plans. We can see clearly what is working and what is failing. 

Remember homeschooling is like long distance running, not the 100 yard dash.  Allow the holiday rush to give you permission to slow down and focus in on that certain project your kids are working on right now. Remove the due dates in your mind and on your calendar and enjoy the learning process with your kids.

But most of all, Stop squinting: move Jesus to front and center stage.

The New Year will bring a burst of excitement with it and will likely renew your teaching energy. For now, look around you and enjoy your children and the teachable moments that surround you!

Here is a peek at what we are studying:

15 Advent and Christmas Math and Reading Activities- 3rd-5             All About Snow-4th, 5th, 6th Grades- No Prep

This snowman pack was designed by our youngest son 
the snowman "fun Pack"- (Created by our nine year old)

Simple Advent Activities that Add Holiday Spirit to Teaching

Inside: Christmas and Winter Wrapped into Learning Activities

Snow begs to be played in, candy canes plead to be enjoyed, and kids refuse to focus... 

Crazy Snowman Photo by Matteo Paganelli

Sounds like the holidays to me.
If you thought is was hard to get your kid's attention during Thanksgiving, wait until you try during Christmas!

I always switch to holiday themed activities during the holidays. 

Beginning today, let's snuggle with our kids and slow down. In the flurry of decorations, shopping, and potential holiday madness we need to take the time to share "what really matters" with our kids.

Related: Freebie for parents who do not know where to start. 

Now, I hate that green foam on the top of a green juice and the promise of Christmas Savings as much as the next mom, but I hate paying full price for ANYTHING more.

Today and tomorrow my entire store is one sale. Be sure to use the secret code: CYBER2016 when you grab your Christmas activities!

Christmas and Winter Activities




Did you grab your Advent Freebie?

6 Advent Countdown Ideas: Start Now!

I love the holidays! I love our Lord Jesus with all my heart and it simply makes my heart skip a beat that, at this time of year, I can celebrate His coming in creative and unique ways.

As a homeschooler, I have to confess that I have an incredibly difficult time focusing on traditional studies during the holidays. I'm simply too distracted by HIM to get too wrapped up in anything else! While we will "do school" we will absolutely spend too much time doing other things... And that is just the way it is:). While I will incorporate "school" ideas soon enough, I want to let you know that if you are like me, distracted by the blinking lights and nativities... It's OK! Actually, it fantastic.

To kick off the Holiday's here at A Better Way to Homeschool I want to encourage you to embrace whatever make your Christmas Season wonderful and find ways to share the wonder with your kids. Dare to break away from traditional schoolwork to really focus on the Lord.
Break out the glitter. 
Roll out the Dough. 
Dust off the piano. 
Be amazed. 
"For unto us a Child is Born!"

I started making Advent Calendars with my kids years ago. Every year I look for new and inspired ways to countdown the days until Christmas.

Here are a few classics.

Easy Paper Christmas Countdown Chains.
advent paper chains with scripture reference: spelloutloud

I make paper chains with my boys every year. We usually write the names of people in our lives on each link and hang the chain for decoration. Each day as we remove a link, we pray blessing over the person whose name is on the link. I stumbled upon another great chain today. Spell Out Loud  has a terrific printable packet that gives you a theme for each day along with a coordinating scripture to read together. I just printed mine. Do this now, so you have all 25 days to enjoy!

Countdown Clips
Kirsty Wiseman makes these cute clothes pin advent countdown calendars. I think this would be fun to hang on the kids door:).

Advent Ornaments

Advent ornaments are another fun way to countdown. Cheri at I am a Momma Hear me Roar had a wonderful post about having a special box of advent ornaments, each with one of the Names of Jesus. I cannot wait to make a box for my own family. I love that she even has a "guess which ornament is most likely to be remade next year!" Too fun.

Make an Advent Abacus
Isn't this one Cute? It was originally from Garnet Hill, but I cannot seem to find a link to it. Instead, I think it would be a fun craft for an older child to make for younger children!

"The Twelve Days of Christmas"
The Craft Patch put together "The Twelve Days of Christmas" which incorporates a present, a story, and candy. I love how this collection was put together to send to a far away family member! This one could either be made for your kids, or made by your kids and gifted to someone special!

25 Random Acts of Kindness

You simply have to visit Tracie's post about this one... What a fun idea! I cannot wait to share this one with my husband and kids!
Grab a copy of my "15 Advent and Christmas Math and Reading Activities here!

Do you have a favorite advent tradition? 
Share it with us and/or link in the comments!

Wintertime Games:
Roll a Snowman Dice Game for K- 3rd Grade Snowball Fight Multiplication Games

Simple Last Minute Thanksgiving Activities for Kids

Inside: 10 Last Minute Thanksgiving Activities for Kids that even your Uncle Bob can Supervise.

Hosting Thanksgiving without a plan for the kids attending in my back pocket was my biggest mistake ever.

"They look so innocent." Photo by Andrew Branch

Have you seen what a 'handful of littles' can do when the adults are all busy preparing food, watching football or eating pie? It's in the category of, "grab your camera and snap a picture. Once I calm down this may be funny enough to send to America's Funniest Videos."

I think homeowners and renter’s insurance was invented on Thanksgiving Day.

It’s not too late.
Set a timer for 20 minutes. Think about the ages of the kids you will see for the holidays and grab at least one “busy” activity for each age group (yes, playdoe counts. So does, “go outside and play” and “Gee, I wish someone could figure out how to build a turkey out of legos.”

Thanksgiving Writing Prompts  

This 20 minutes could save your leather sofa, your white walls and protect your insurance premium. Be Prepared!

"Happy Thanksgiving"  Photo by Elizabeth Meyers

Ammunition to Help You Win the Holiday Gift Giving Battle

Inside: Ammunition to help you win the Holiday Gift Giving Battle with Kids. Keep your camera ready.

Unfortunately for her, the ugliest facial expression my mother ever used was captured on film.
Oh, I wish I could find a copy of the picture.

Just the thought of it makes me snort.

This is not the "Red Shirt Face". Photo by Veronika Balasyuk

It was Christmas 1984.
My little sister Jackie had given mom a red shirt for Christmas. It was a beautiful red shirt. Jackie was sure mom would love it, adore it, and wear it with pride.

Sure enough, mom carefully opened her package Christmas morning. Mom went on and on and on and on about how much she loved it and Jackie gleamed with pride.

And then came the photos.

These were the dinosaur days of taking the film out of the camera and dropping them off at a photo development store and waiting and waiting to see whether or not you took a decent picture to capture the joy of the moment.

Oh boy. The joy.
When the pictures were revealed a few days later, Jackie grabbed the picture of mom and her red shirt. Jackie’s face turned bright red, her lips pursed and steam rushed out of her ears like in the cartoons.

Oh, Dear Lord.
   The face.
        The grimace.
             The contorting of facial muscles.

Mom must have been mid-blink while simultaneously smelling something awful.
Jackie screamed. “I thought you liked the shirt!” She stomped away and slammed the door.


Finding Gifts that Bless our Kids and Inspire Creativity, while Simultaneously Avoiding the “Red Shirt Face” 

Finding the right holiday gift can be a struggle. Rather than leaving you to a google rabbit hole or a bunch of recommendations to sift through, I've pulled together a one-stop shop filled with meaningful gifts for the tinkerers in your life...Whether they're 3 or 83.

In this gift guide, you'll find:

  • classic blocks reinvigorated

  • gifts for mechanical tinkerers

  • super cool robot kits

  • gifts for computer savvy kids
  • Building Blocks 2.0


    Tiny builders, start here!

    These soft tactile blocks are great for truly little littles to learn on. Made of natural rubber foam, they are squishy but perfect for building. They’re colorful and durable and fit together easily. Children can create a variety of shapes and structures!

    Using imagination and coordination, young children work on spatial, fine and gross motor skills. For kids who need sensory input, the tactile stimulation provided by this toy is fantastic.

    And while we're thinking about giving, it's also important to think about responsible buying. This is a green product, made in India at a fair trade factory using premium quality, child-safe materials. The surface is 100% nylon and wipes clean, making it perfect for little chewers!

    “My husband is quite the handyman. I purchased these for my son (and a different set for my daughter), to encourage their interest in making/building things and in fixing things. So far, I have a new a bird feeder and a bat house. Yah!” ~ Gail R - Teacher

    Perfect for large families and ambitious builders, the Challenger set encourages kids to explore magnetic construction through modular play. Magformers believes it is vital for children to develop through creativity and constructional play. This set does not disappoint.

    You'll find a variety of magnetic shapes in this set, both Rainbow and XL cruiser pieces so that children can design and build ideas from both lines including the ‘magic ball’ and super fast XL roadster.

    This set makes a great addition to a math or art curriculum, that's super hands - on. Children of all ages can build and create together making it a great social gift set.

    Tegu blocks are finely crafted  with magnets embedded so kids can build multiple structures form various shapes. Like Rubbablox,Tegu is made from eco-friendly material (in this case wood) and comes in a variety of color schemes to suit preference and mood. Honduras and named after the capital city Tegucigalpa.

    Kids defy gravity and push their imagination in previously unseen ways. No instruction manuals or electronics; just toys that demand imagination and inspire limitless creativity across all ages.

    Tegu Blocks are bringing back open, creative play with style - right in time!

    This makes a great gift because it unlocks a child’s mind through innovative play. The pieces are small enough to be portable.

    “I believe this is an AMAZING product. Something amazing happens when kids use their hands and imagination to create.” ~ Harvey S

    “Bought these for my 6 year old grandson for Christmas and we now call his creations ‘the work of a City Planner.’ The different shapes and structures take on the look of city skylines with random items like trees, bridges, etc. Geometry was never so much fun.” ~Deborah F - Homeschooler, Teacher

    “My first reaction was "these are pricey!" but they were highly recommended to me so I gave it a go. Now I can tell they will be loved for years. My 3 year old loves stacking them and clicking them together and a part. I even have fun playing with these and I'm an adult. They are high quality and the colors are great. ~ Summer H - Homeschooler, Parent, Teacher

    Packed with step-by-step instructions for 15 charming builds, The LEGO Christmas Ornaments Book is the perfect family activity this holiday season! It's one part coffee table for adults, and two parts instruction book kids of all ages.

    With The LEGO Christmas Ornaments Book as their guide, kids make classic globe and barrel ornaments, all out of LEGO! Other possible creations include original gingerbread houses, a merry Santa, arcade cabinets, and so much more!

    This makes a perfect gift for the child who already owns tons of LEGO blocks but is always looking for inspirational building ideas.

    Put some STEAM in your holiday plans! This math activity set stimulates learning through magnetic construction and creation. Activities in the set utilize the always attracting magnets to solve math problems such as patterns, addition and subtraction, and 2D nets to 3D structures.

    Use the 50 page math book included to layout Magformers shapes and complete the mathematical challenges! The set contains 12 different geometric shapes including squares and triangles, rectangles and trapezoids through to the super squares and triangles.

    Mechanical Masterminds


    Realistic building for young builders! This set makes a great gift for children who love to help parents and grandparents in the workshop.

    Encourage children to spend valuable imagination time learning new skills with this 10-piece set tool set. It includes screwdrivers, hammer, handsaw, bar clamp, file, tape measure, ruler, safety goggles, and tool belt.

    Work and play are intertwined with building activities that are challenging, educational, and - most importantly, fun! The tool designs are authentic so children can make-believe they are true woodworkers.
    Ages 7 to 10

    Build big connections! Kids work together to literally make bridges, obstacle courses - anything they imagine.

    Start fun-filled construction with just three simple steps: connect, twist, and create. Toobeez Original Building Kit is a life-sized construction toy. Unlike regular blocks, this kit comes with interlocking tubes and spheres that can be linked to create structures right out of kids' imagination. They can construct anything from a doll house, a helicopter, lemonade stand or a pirate ship.

    Just connect and twist the tube into the connector spheres. It’s a great set to be used indoors for forts as well as outdoors for lawn activities.



    The 14-in-1 Educational Solar Robot kit is the recipient of the "Best Green Products Award 2013" from Dr Toy and Creative Child Magazine has anointed it with "Top Toy of the Year Award" and "Kids Product of the Year Award."

    This robot can be transformed into 14 different robot modes which include a multitude of comical and functional movements. The user can easily change from a Wagging-Tail Dog to Running Beetle to Walking Crab to Surfer to Speedster to Zombie Chaser!

    “Excellent resource for my Middle School STEAM students. Anything robotic is extremely appealing and interesting to them so this was a big set!!! Great resource, highly recommend it.” ~ Faith B., Teacher

    “We purchased this for our just-turned-9 year old's birthday. He loves it! It's a nice size and there are so many things you can do with it! It comes with about 200 pieces and a thick instruction manual on how to make 14 different bots. Of course, the limit is your imagination and I'm excited to see how many things my son can come up with!” ~ Celena M

    “Fun and educational. I like the snap together concept and the ability to take apart and reassemble multiple times. A very good price for all that you get.” ~ Martha M

    Build a 3D bot! This makes a creative and thinking gift for the child fascinated by robots.

    Young innovators will click, connect, and create with the NEW Magformers 45 piece Walking Robot set! Kids will love following along with the step-by-step idea booklet to discover the possibilities of the colorful Walking Robot Set. Eight walking characters are built using the STEAM engine block and walking accessories!

    Building with Magformers encourages children to use their imagination and show their creativity while developing skills and knowledge critical to their development success. Magformers uses high quality “always attracting” magnetic technology that provides endless constructional play.


    An electrifying gift! This kit is perfect for the budding electrician looking to be stimulated by simple but intriguing experiments.

    Mand Labs KIT-1 is one of the coolest Educational Electronics Kit that you will ever find. With their powerful step by step visual instructions, teens can create a variety of fascinating electricity and electronic projects. They will be able to understand how real world electronic component works, test laws of physics, gain technical skills and have fun. Watch out, Nobel!

    The best part is that the kit is all-in-one. It comes with all requisite parts and tools for making 50+ projects and venturing further into electronics, books for theoretical reference, learning and making videos, troubleshooting guide, and an award winning package design that opens up into a personalized workstation. Note: This is a safe kit.



    This is an online e-course of Beginning Architecture with 25+ architecture lessons providing the early fundamentals of structures, home design, and zoo design.

    Kids use things laying around the house like paper, popsicle sticks, straws, paper plates, and pipe cleaners along with learned methods to design their own homes! Each lesson concentrates on designing and personalizing a specific room of their homes, structures or zoos. By the end of the course, students will have designed a home specific to their personal tastes and will have built various designs.

    This course provides more specific architectural challenges for students who are interested in playing with and learning about architecture and some interior design, making it a great holiday gift!

    Teens will have a blast learning how to make their own website with the help of this fun, illustrated introduction to the basics of website-building. Mix creativity with real world empowerment.  The awesome cartoon guide will help teens learn the basics and pretty soon, they'll have a website all their own to show off to all their friends.

    Readers learn how to use HTML tags, make their own site shine with CSS, customize Wordpress to fit their needs, and choose a company to host the site. They also get advice on things like how to pick a good domain name - and those of you in the blogging sphere know that's no joke!

    Finding Gifts that Bless our Kids and Inspire Creativity, while simultaneously Avoiding the “Red Shirt Face” is worth the moments spent finding just the right mix of awesomeness and creativity.

    But keep the camera ready. Trust me, if you catch your son with a crazy expression on his face, you’ll want to frame it. That “crazy red shirt face” may turn out to be one of the favorite family memories too.

    Related: When the Holidays Mess with your Homeschooling Mojo