Just a quick reminder that today is the last day of free shipping! Enjoy!
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.
Unit Study News
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,
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:
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!
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
Printable Christmas Cards
Gifts in a Jar - collection
Gifts in a Jar - Frugal Homemaker
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!
Christmas: A Study of Love
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!
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:
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:
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...
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?
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