Candle making with kids

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Candle making with kids
Written by Jamie Martin of Simple Homeschool and Steady Mom

You guys? I did something amazing.

I. MADE. FIRE!

Well, hand-dipped beeswax taper candles at least.

If you know me at all, you know that I don’t “do” crafting.

Aside from Green Kid Crafts (which I love exactly because I don’t have to plan anything, and all the supplies greet us at the door each month), I try to stick with my strengths, which happen to be in mostly non-artsy arenas.

But I love learning how to make practical things that my family can use, and for this reason (as well as reading about Mother creating them in Farmer Boy), I’ve always wanted to try my hand at making candles.
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The best Christmas scenes in children’s literature

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Written by Anne Bogel of Modern Mrs. Darcy.

For your holiday enjoyment, I present to you the best Christmas scenes in children’s literature. (I shared the best Christmas scenes in English literature last week.)

It was painful to choose just a snippet to share because the extended scenes—and the books from which they were drawn—are all so good!

Narnia christmas

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

(Find the movie version here.)

“It was a sledge, and it was reindeer with bells on their harness. And on the sledge sat a person whom everyone knew the moment they set eyes on him. He was a huge man in a bright red robe (bright as hollyberries) with a hood that had fur inside it and a great white beard that fell like a foamy waterfall over his chest. Some of the pictures of Father Christmas in our world make him look only funny and jolly. But now that the children actually stood looking at him they didn’t find him quite like that. He was so big, and so glad, and so real, that they all became quite still. They felt very glad, but also solemn.

“I’ve come at last,” said he. “She has kept me out for a long time, but I have got in at last. Aslan is on the move. The Witch’s magic is weakening.”

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20 favorite Christmas books for kids

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Written by Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool and writer at Steady Mom

Last Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, we followed our usual tradition of chopping down our Christmas tree.

But there’s another tradition we always follow on that day as well, and I was reminded of it when one of my children asked:

“When will we get the Christmas books out?”

It wouldn’t be the holiday season without a selection of special titles to read and share together, would it?

So here’s a list of 20 favorites–most of these reside in our personal home library, but a few are new-to-me popular titles I’ve heard about online. Enjoy!
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5 popular cooperative board games to keep the peace

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5 popular cooperative board games to keep the peaceWritten by Jamie Martin of Simple Homeschool and Steady Mom

Ya’ll, I should just ‘fess up to something:

Game time isn’t always my favorite.

I know, I know. Board games can be fabulous for learning and reinforcing new concepts.

But in my house–my kids don’t always like to lose. Even when we’re playing “just for fun,” even when an incredible learning game is designed to teach them helpful skills.

It didn’t take me long to discover this several years ago, when my preschoolers became board game ready. We sure had some big “I lost” tantrums here and there.

So over the years I focused less on board games with the kids, because it wasn’t worth the drama. I would play one-on-one with a single child instead. That was an improvement, but it didn’t guarantee peace in our living room.

Eventually, though, I stumbled upon something that helped tremendously. I only wish I had found out about them earlier.

Cooperative board games

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20 of the best picture books from 2015

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20 of the best picture books from 2015
Written by Jamie Martin of Simple Homeschool and Steady Mom

Can you believe we’re creeping slowly toward the end of another year?

One thing I love about the holiday season for us as homeschoolers, is that we quiet our “school” day a bit and make extra time for other pursuits: plenty of time in the kitchen and, of course, lots and lots of books!

I thought it might be helpful if I compiled a selection for all of us to choose from, which turned into this post!

Some of these books are silly; some are sweet. Some will make your kids snort with laughter; some will bring tears to eyes. Some have received official accolades and book awards; some are personal favorites. Some you may want to check out from the library; some you may want to put on your holiday wish lists!

One note: Because of the way book awards are handled by Caldecott and the American Library Association, some of these titles officially launched in 2014, though they are considered 2015 award winners.

Picture books are generally assumed to be for ages 4-8, but many of these could go younger or older, depending on the child! You’ll be able to tell what’s best for your little people.

20 of the best picture books from 2015

Here they are, alongside excerpts from reviews they’ve been given:
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