Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Last Day of FREE Shipping!

Just a quick reminder that today is the last day of free shipping! Enjoy!



Amanda B.

Christmas Greeting from 1917


I came across this article in a book published in 1917, way back when Christmas was Christmas, not a Winter Holiday. The words of this pastor say so much to me as an adult - in ways that touched my heart as we approach the season of Christmas.

"Good Will Toward Men"—St. Luke 11-14.

There was a time when the spirit of Christmas was of the present. There is a period when most of it is of the past. There shall come a day perhaps when all of it will be of the future. The child time, the present; the middle years, the past; old age, the future.

Come to my mind Christmas Days of long ago. As a boy again I enter into the spirit of the Christmas stockings hanging before my fire. I know what the children think to-day. I recall what they feel.

Passes childhood, and I look down the nearer years. There rise before me remembrances of Christmas Days on storm-tossed seas, where waves beat upon the ice-bound ship. I recall again the bitter touch of water-warping winter, of drifts of snow, of wind-swept plains. In the gamut of my remembrance I am once more in the poor, mean, lonely little sanctuary out on the prairie, with a handful of Christians, mostly women, gathered together in the freezing, draughty building.

In later years I worship in the great cathedral church, ablaze with lights, verdant and fragrant with the evergreen pines, echoing with joyful carols and celestial harmonies. My recollections are of contrasts like those of life—joy and sadness, poverty and ease.

And the pictures are full of faces, many of which may be seen no more by earthly vision. I miss the clasp of vanished hands, I crave the sound of voices stilled. As we old and older grow, there is a note of sadness in our glee. Whether we will or not we must twine the cypress with the holly. The recollection of each passing year brings deeper regret. How many have gone from those circles that we recall when we were children? How many little feet that pattered upon the stair on Christmas morning now tread softer paths and walk in broader ways; sisters and brothers who used to come back from the far countries to the old home—alas, they cannot come from the farther country in which they now are, and perhaps, saddest thought of all, we would not wish them to come again. How many, with whom we joined hands around the Christmas tree, have gone?

Circles are broken, families are separated, loved ones are lost, but the old world sweeps on. Others come to take our places. As we stood at the knee of some unforgotten mother, so other children stand. As we listened to the story of the Christ Child from the lips of some grey old father, so other children listen and we ourselves perchance are fathers or mothers too. Other groups come to us for the deathless story. Little heads which recall vanished halcyon days of youth bend around another younger mother. Smaller hands than ours write letters to Santa Claus and hear the story, the sweetest story ever told, of the Baby who came to Mary and through her to all the daughters and sons of women on that winter night on the Bethlehem hills.

And we thank God for the children who take us out of the past, out of ourselves, away from recollections that weigh us down; the children that weave in the woof and warp of life when our own youth has passed, some of the buoyancy, the joy, the happiness of the present; the children in whose opening lives we turn hopefully to the future. We thank God at this Christmas season that it pleased Him to send His beloved Son to come to us as a little child, like any other child. We thank God that in the lesser sense we may see in every child who comes to-day another incarnation of divinity. We thank God for the portion of His Spirit with which He dowers every child of man, just as we thank Him for pouring it all upon the Infant in the Manger.

There is no age that has not had its prophet. No country, no people, but that has produced its leader. But did any of them ever before come as a little child? Did any of them begin to lead while yet in arms? Lodges there upon any other baby brow "the round and top of sovereignty?" What distinguished Christ and His Christian followers from all the world? Behold! no mighty monarch, but "a little child shall lead them!"

You may see through the glass darkly, you may not know or understand the blessedness of faith in Him as He would have you know it, but there is nothing that can dim the light that radiates from that birth in the rude cave back of the inn. Ah, it pierces through the darkness of that shrouding night. It shines to-day. Still sparkles the Star in the East. He is that Star.

There is nothing that can take from mankind—even doubting mankind—the spirit of Christ and the Christmas season. Our celebrations do not rest upon the conclusions of logic, or the demonstrations of philosophy; I would not even argue that they depend inevitably or absolutely upon the possession of a certain faith in Jesus, but we accept Christmas, nevertheless; we endeavour to apply the Christmas spirit, for just once in the year; it may be because we cannot, try as we may, crush out utterly and entirely the divinity that is in us that makes for God. The stories and tales for Christmas which have for their theme the hard heart softened are not mere fictions of the imagination. They rest upon an instinctive consciousness of a profound philosophic truth.

What is the unpardonable sin, I wonder? Is it to be persistently and forever unkind? Does it mean perhaps the absolute refusal to accept the principle of love which is indeed creation's final law? The lessons of the Christmastide are so many; the appeals that now may be made to humanity crowd to the lips from full minds and fuller hearts. Might we not reduce them all to the explication of the underlying principle of God's purpose to us, as expressed in those themic words of love with which angels and men greeted the advent of the Child on the first Christmas morning, "Good will toward men?"

Let us then show our good will toward men by doing good and bringing happiness to someone—if not to everyone—at this Christmas season.

Put aside the memories of disappointments, of sorrows that have not vanished, of cares that still burden, and do good in spite of them because you would not dim the brightness of the present for any human heart with the shadows of old regrets. Do good because of a future which opens possibilities before you, for others, if not for yourselves.

Brethren, friends, all, let us make up our minds that we will be kindly affectioned one to another in our homes and out of them, on this approaching Christmas day. That the old debate, the ancient strife, the rankling recollection, the sharp contention, shall be put aside, that "envy, hatred, and malice, and all uncharitableness" shall be done away with. Let us forgive and forget; but if we cannot forget let us at least forgive. And so let there be peace between man and man at Christmas—a truce of God.

Let us pray that Love shall come as a little child to our households. That He shall be in our hearts and shall find His expression in all that we do or say on this birthday of goodness and cheer for the world. Then let us resolve that the spirit of the day shall be carried out through our lives, that as Christ did not come for an hour, but for a lifetime, we would fain become as little children on this day of days that we may begin a new life of good will to men.

Let us make this a new birthday of kindness and love that shall endure. That is a Christmas hope, a Christmas wish. Let us give to it the gracious expression of life among men.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Christmas & Unit Study News

Unit Study News

Amanda's Corner


Dear Friends,


I hope this note finds you well and having enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. Like many of you, we gathered around the table with so many blessings to count and so much to be thankful for - the list goes on and on. And  as I glanced around the tables at the many happy faces, I had to thank the Lord for each and every person that joined us for our special day of Thanksgiving.


During the holiday weekend, I found a bit of time to reflect on the many blessings that God has provided, and you were on the list -- those of you who have encouraged me, used the unit studies, provided kind advice and shared so many stories of successful learning in your families.  You all are so important to me, and your children are the main reason that I keep on trying to help. We are all so truly blessed.


While I know that not everyone can have their families and friends gathered round for the holidays, I have learned over the years that is still so important to remember them in our prayers, with cards and pictures, as well as words of thanks for what they have meant to you and your family. Sometimes the simplest gesture of thanks can make someone's day so much sweeter  - making a difference in their outlook on life.


With about 30 various people gathered here on the farm over the long weekend, we had quite a crowd, and things were never dull. <smile> I tried to take more pictures (aren't digital cameras nice), and share more memories - worrying less about the food and more about the time together. I think the younger crowd learned quite a bit about family memories going back several generations, and what a blessing it is to know that these stories and this history will continue to be passed along. There were stories of family members in the wars, family clans and Scottish castles, cooking secrets from generations past, and so many smiles and so much laughter! Some of our guests commented that their faces hurt from laughing so much!

I pray that you and your family enjoy this very special holiday season with friends and family, whether in person, by mail or email, by phone or cell phone, share the message of the season -- thanksgiving and the gift of love from God above!


Blessings to you and yours,
Amanda B.


New - Downloadable Unit Studies are available!

We are trying a new form of delivery for some of the unit studies, to try to make the studies available more quickly, as well as making them available in a timely way for those of you located outside of the US, around the globe. For several titles, you have two choices for making a purchase - either to pay and download the complete study immediately, or to pay now and have the study shipped to you on CDROM.

The titles that are available for immediate download after payment include:

Christmas Unit Study
Birthday Unit Study
American Hero Study
American Government Unit Study

December Sale!

This month, there are two special sales, and remember that shipping is FREE only until midnight, November 30th!

Trains Unit Study  - ON SALE for only $10 in December!
With so many train sets coming into view during the Christmas season, the Trains Unit Study can help you and your crew enjoy a new interest, along with a bit of understanding of the train in the Polar Express!

American Hero Stories - ON SALE for only $10 in December!
Get ready for some interesting lessons in American History!

Remember - free shipping only lasts through midnight, November 30, 2005!

Unit Study Chatter and Q&A group!
Come join our unit study online support group! There is a now a Yahoo group that is just for people that use Amanda Bennett's unit studies, called Unit Study Works. Follow this link to sign up, and then join in the adventure -- sharing ideas, asking questions, checking out sample studies, and encouraging each other along the way!


Learning Links:


Nativity Coloring Page


The First Christmas - Word Search


"I AM" sayings of Jesus Christ - Crossword Puzzle


The angel and Mary - coloring page


Advent Ideas from Faith at Home


Nativity Coloring Page


Angel with the shepherds - coloring page


Mother and Child Coloring Page


Bell Coloring Page


Candy Cane Coloring Page


Christmas Mazes


Christmas Recipes


Printable Christmas Cards


Gifts in a Jar - collection


Gifts in a Jar - Frugal Homemaker


Cranberry Hootycreeks
This is going to be one of our productions this year - I love the name! <smile>


Enjoy this season of love, worship, thanksgiving and abundant praise to God!

Blessed Christmas,

Monday, November 28, 2005

Christmas: A Study of Love

Christmas: A Study of Love
Amanda Bennett


The warm feeling of love, the snug feeling of togetherness and family, and the joy and excitement of celebration -- all to be found in many American homes this time of year.


From the preparation and celebration of harvest and Thanksgiving to the last day of the Twelve Days of Christmas, there is a wonderful feeling of caring and sharing everywhere, and as homeschooling families, we can take this time to learn, prepare our homes and our hearts, and share with others throughout the year.

At our house, we begin planning for the holiday season by preparing unit studies on both Thanksgiving and Christmas. This has become a regular tradition here, and one that is eagerly anticipated year after year. With each year of holidays comes a new slant or area of interest for our learning adventures, and we have never worked on any unit study in the same way twice! We use these holiday studies to help us grow in our knowledge as well as giving the children more time to thoroughly prepare for and understand the meaning of the holidays -- the history, literature, geography, science and music represented within the holiday theme.

In this article, I would like to focus on studying Christmas as a family unit. What does Christmas mean to you and your family? Ever take a close look with your family, asking them what they think? Write down their comments without criticism or discussion. Then, ask them what they like best about Christmas and then what their favorite holiday tradition is -- if they are old enough to understand. This is a great way to begin the Christmas season, and is usually a real eye-opener! What significance do you give to the true meaning of Christmas?

I first wrote the CHRISTMAS Unit Study to meet this need in our own home. We wanted to study this with the children, learning together and drawing us all closer in your own celebration. We were tired of the commercialism that had worked its way into Christmas and had to reflect very closely on what and how we had celebrated in the past, as well as finding ways to focus on the true meaning of Christmas -- the reason for the celebration -- His birth. We worked with the children to define what Christmas means to our family and what we would like to change. How could we celebrate Christmas with our family, our church, our neighbors and our community with the right emphasis? After all, this event we are celebrating was foretold in almost 400 different prophecies in the Old Testament - quite a fulfilling event when our Savior was born! Why shouldn't we celebrate it as least as much as we do the birth of one of our own babies?

Like me, you probably get overwhelmed with catalogs in the mail this time of year. But recently, one that we received really caught the attention of one of the children. It has a picture of Mary and Joseph and the Baby Jesus on the front cover, but it is somehow very different. My son looked at it and said, "Look, Mom -- they had a baby! Look at how happy they are!" Unlike so many other nativity scenes where Mary and Joseph have rather nondescript faces, this one shows them as parents getting a first good look at their new baby -- utmost joy and pride and awe and love. Their expressions also reflect what I imagine that God felt about then, too -- pride and love for His own Son.

We have tried to look back at the expectations we had before each baby was born -- the joy, the fear, the concerns and the love. As we talk about these feelings of expectations, we can connect them to the feelings of God's children as they heard for so many years about the coming of the Savior and their own feelings of expectation. Then, how Mary and Joseph must have felt with their own special knowledge about this baby and Who He was. You can celebrate Advent to take a close look at the prophecies, the Birth and what His coming means to you as Christians. We do things like learning some of the prophecies of the Old Testament, and having the older children look to find where each of these prophecies were fulfilled. God does keep His promises, doesn't He!

We also include some geography, following the path of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, and try to understand what their trip was probably like. They had to travel just under one hundred miles over rough roads, using their feet and a donkey for transportation. It took them at least a week to make the journey -- contrast this for the children, using some other trip that they remember that was about that far, and how you covered the distance in under two hours.

We study what the area was like during that time of year -- quite a bit like where we lived in Florida several years ago -- no snow! It would have been a warmer climate, and citrus would have been getting ripe, with plenty of olive, date and palm trees. The children were so amazed to find out that the first Christmas weather was so much like that of Florida -- so then they asked, why do we associate so much snow with Christmas?

Another big question -- why exactly do we celebrate Christmas on December 25th, anyway? After hearing both sides of the argument over whether Christmas is a Christian or a pagan holiday, I decided to do some research of my own to include in the study and the findings were very interesting. Before the fourth century, Jesus' birth was celebrated on January 6th, along with the Epiphany. Then, as Christianity moved through Rome, Pope Liberius of Rome, in 353 A.D., researched historical records to try to establish the actual day of Christ's birth. Remember -- the whole journey to Bethlehem was to participate in a census and pay appropriate taxes -- record keeping! As a result of his work, the Pope decided to make December 25th the official day of celebrating Christ's birth.

Now, for the 12 days of Christmas! I was reading a beautifully written book recently, The Christmas Book by Alice Lawhead. The author has a whole section about slowing down the frenzy and focusing on the meaning of Christmas. She offers ideas like celebrating Christmas throughout the original 12 days of Christmas, which begin on Christmas Eve and continue until January 6th, which is the celebration of Epiphany, marking the Wise Men's visit to the Baby, the first visit of Gentiles to see the new King. Why not make cookies and have more of the festivities throughout those 12 days with family, instead of spending December in a flat-out rush to get it all ready for that one day, and be so eager to have it all out of the house! This way, we can avoid the let-down of December 26th and keep the focus of the celebration where it should be. We also use this study to learn more about the many Christmas traditions, those celebrated in this country as well as other countries. These might include the Yule Log, mumming, the days of posadas, and on and on. Have the children help with the research and then share their findings.

Use the season to read some classics aloud in the evenings while everyone is working on Christmas projects. Consider books like The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, Hans Brinker or the Silver Skates by Mary Dodge, and, of course, we read the Gospels of the Bible.

As children get older, there are two books that they might enjoy, Two from Galilee, Love Story of Mary and Joseph and Three from Galilee, the Young Man from Nazareth both by Majorie Holmes. These books have made the people and the nativity so much more real to all of us, and added new depth and understanding to the event on a human level.

There are so many books about Christmas available now and most of my favorites can be found at local Christian bookstores. Some of them are Let's Keep Christmas by Peter Marshall, The Patricia St. John Christmas Book, Christ is Christmas: A Family Advent Celebration by James Dobson, Tomorrow We Go to Bethlehem by John Metavish.

It is my hope that you all relax and enjoy the holidays, learning and sharing as a family, and that the adventures will bring you many happy memories in the years to come. May God bless you and your family abundantly!

Blessed Christmas!

Amanda B.


Keeping Christmas in America - show that you care!

Check out these special products designed by a homeschooled entrepreneurial child! He is concerned about the attempts to eliminate Christmas from the American public eye, so he created these to help keep Christmas in the public view, with the emphasis on the true meaning of Christmas:

Merry CHRISTmas!


Need the perfect holiday gift?
Here on the Bennett tree farm, we grow Fraser Fir holiday trees, as well as Old Fashioned Lilac, Red Maple, Red Oak and Japanese Maple trees to ship as memorial trees as well as for unique gifts for birthdays, new babies, anniversaries, baptism, new home owners, and more. Click on the link below and visit our online tree farm: 

Sheltering Trees

Order the Christmas Unit Study now and use it today!


Just a quick note to say that once your Christmas Unit Study order is placed, the CDROM is shipped and the first week's lessons and introductory material are sent via email to the email listed in your order. Watch for the email - sometimes it is winding up in folk's "spam" folders!

After placing your order for the Christmas unit study, the email should arrive in your email shortly - depending on how busy the mail servers are...

Amanda B.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Veterans Day - Learning Links

Don't forget to fly the flag on Friday! Here are a few links to
activities and crafts to help recognize and celebrate Veterans Day:

Veterans Day Crafts

Veterans Day Word Search

Patriotic Necklace

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Veterans Day Puzzles

Thank a veteran today as if your life depended on them - it does!

Amanda B.

Remember - Friday is Veteran's Day!


Remember, tomorrow is Veteran's Day - if you see a soldier or a veteran - thank them for fighting for our freedom! Here's an article that I wrote after being asked about veterans -- hope it helps!


Mom, What Is A Veteran?
Amanda Bennett

And so begins our search to answer the question of the day for November 11th - "Mom, what is a veteran?" This generation of children has been unusually protected from much, if any, exposure to war and soldiers and military importance. So, when they see or hear reference to the upcoming Veterans Day holiday, they don't understand the significance or relevance to their lives. We can use this holiday as the perfect springboard to learning more about our history, our blessings, and the brave men and women who have served to protect us, and all that we hold dear.

Veterans Day - what does it mean to you? The history of this holiday may be unknown to many of us, and yet it exists because of the strength and convictions of generations past that we should remember our veterans and their sacrifices for our peace and protection. There was a price paid for the freedom that we enjoy, and this freedom still needs our protection. While we enjoy peace, it is with an understanding that this peace has been bought with the efforts of our veterans, and this holiday can help us express our gratitude for their efforts and beliefs and sacrifices. On this holiday, we honor all of our veterans. Those in the military serve in all kinds of jobs - soldiers, doctors, nurses, pilots, engineers, astronauts, and so much more. They all work hard to protect and defend America, and we should be grateful to them all.

I heard recently that there is a shortage of military buglers to play "Taps" at military funerals - because so many of our military veterans are passing away, particularly those from the World Wars. While our children haven't really been directly exposed to a "war" as we of older generations think of it, they do need an appreciation for those who have bravely served. Use this holiday to become familiar with veterans - their sacrifice and their courage. Learn more about the American military system - how it protects us today and what is happening with our defense. Use this opportunity to learn more about the various organizations that help support out veterans - the Veterans Administration (VA), the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), and Disabled American Veterans (DAV), and others.

This holiday has special significance to many members of our family as well as our friends. Though often quiet about their service, these people have a wealth of information and experience that they might be willing to share with our students about their service, training, and ideas - if asked. By learning more about the people and their participation, we can carry on the tradition and remembrance with pride.

With this holiday, let's bring out the flag and applaud our veterans. Let us teach these things to our children, so that we never take our freedom and liberty for granted. All of our veterans deserve our appreciation and remembrance. It is now the next generation's responsibility to protect and defend our country, our God-given rights, and our freedoms.

"The liberties of our country, the freedom of our civil constitution, are worth defending at all hazards; and it is our duty to defend them against all attacks. We have received them as a fair inheritance from our worthy ancestors: they purchased them for us with toil and danger and expense of treasure and blood, and transmitted them to us with care and diligence. It will bring an everlasting mark of infamy on the present generation, enlightened as it is, if we should suffer them to be wrested from us by violence without a struggle, or cheated out of them by the artifices of false and designing men... It is a very serious consideration, which should deeply impress our minds, that millions yet unborn may be the miserable sharers in the event."  Samuel Adams, 1771

"The time is now near at hand which must probably determine whether Americans are to be freemen or slaves; whether they are to have any property they can call their own; whether their houses and farms are to be pillaged and destroyed, and themselves consigned to a state of wretchedness from which no human efforts will deliver them. The fate of unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the courage and conduct of this army... We have, therefore, to resolve to conquer or die..."
George Washington, speech delivered to his army, 1776

"To fight out a war, you must believe something and want something with all your might. So must you do to carry anything else to an end worth reaching. More than that, you must be willing to commit yourself to a course, perhaps a long and hard one, without being able to foresee exactly where you will come out. All that is required of you is that you should go somewhither as hard as ever you can. The rest belongs to fate...:"     Oliver Wendell Holmes, 1884

"There are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpation." James Madison, 1788