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Copyright 2002
The Teaching Home
Box 20219
Portland OR 97294
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"Homeschooler's Toolkit from Tom Snyder Productions" is
the subject line of the e-mail accompanying and sponsoring this newsletter.

        You are welcome to forward this newsletter in its entirety.

        The Teaching Home E-Mail Newsletter #60
        Information, Inspiration, and Encouragement

        December 22, 2003  /  Cindy Short and Sue Welch, editors

Table of Contents
Family Activities for the Christmas Break
     More than 18 Ideas You Can Use This Week and Next!
Recommended Resources
     Library & Educational Services (save 50%)
     Getty-Dubay Italic Handwriting Series
     StepWare's AceReader
     Bayside Press's Mel Bay Music Supplies
Sunny Side Up: Humorous Anecdote

   Christmas Greetings
   from Our Family to Yours!


     In this issue we offer more than 18 suggestions for family
activities during your holiday break.
     The editors of this newsletter, Sue Welch and Cindy Short,
are sisters, the first and third of 11 children.  We share some
of our favorite family (and extended family) activities
throughout the following article.
     During this season we hope that you enjoy time with and thank
the Lord for your family.  Also remember in prayer those whose
families have been broken or have suffered a loss, as well as
those who are separated by military service to our country.  Most
of all, thank the Lord God that He gave His son so that He could
offer us salvation and membership into His family!

Pat, Sue, Heather, Holly, and Brian Welch
The Teaching Home is a 23-year-old, home-school family business.

Save 50% or more through January 6, 2004
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* "Treasures of the Snow" by Patricia St. John.  Illustrated
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* "Christmas in My Heart" #12 compiled and edited by
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Family Activities
For the Christmas Break
     Is your family taking a break from your studies until the
new year?  Are are looking for a rest, a change of pace, or some
family fun?  Would you like to include several activities that
are edifying to your family and reach out to others as well?  Is
there something that you would like to do before the end of the
year that you have been wanting to get to?
     Look over this list and see if there are any of these ideas
that your family would like to include in your Christmas break.
Don't try to do them all, or you will wear yourself out.
     You could be very pleased with the results of adding a new
family activity and just might make a family memory or start a
family tradition as well!

1.  Read Aloud Together
     This is the number one, all-time greatest thing to do
together as a family.
     Select a special book to read during your break and divide
the number of pages by the number of reading times (e.g., after
lunch and/or dinner).
     Take turns reading aloud.  Make this time as relaxed and
enjoyable as possible, but stop to explain or discuss items that
come up.
     Consider doing some extra, extended Bible reading during
your break.  Our family likes to listen to an audio recording
while we follow along in our Bibles.

2.  Play Board and Parlor Games; Do Puzzles
     For an electronic-free evening, turn off the TV, video,
computer, etc.  Clear the table, pop some corn, and get out board
games or puzzles.
     Board games provide time for all your family to visit,
interact, and have fun together.  (They are often educational as
well, but we won't think about that during break time.)
     Before your scheduled game time, check your local thrift
shop for games and puzzles at one-tenth the price you would pay
for them new.  Check the box and count the game pieces.  If
pieces are missing, buy a second game and still save eighty
percent.  If the rules are missing, you can find them free online
     Look for time-tested family games such as Scrabble,
Checkers, Chess, Chinese Checkers, Boggle, Dominoes, Password,
Bible Trivia, Outburst, Upwords, Pictionary, and Uno.
     Our extended family thoroughly enjoys a rousing game (it
gets that way!) of Pictionary or Password when we get together at
Thanksgiving or Christmas.  We abandon the board part of these
games, and everyone, youngest to oldest, takes turns pulling out
a card and giving the clues.
     Play one of the versions of charades for a more dramatic or
active game.

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     * Smooth transition from print to cursive.
     Mention this ad and receive free handwriting desk strip.
     Toll-free: 1-866-647-7377

     (In the Portland, Oregon, area: call regarding free
     Handwriting Workshop, Jan. 24, 2004.)

3.  Out with the Old
     No, we don't want to declutter the whole house.  Just spend
four hours one afternoon on one small area voted by your family
as the one they would most like to see uncluttered.  Our family
is planning to take one day during our break to do this.
     Use the four-box method: throw away, give away, put away,
and store away.  Maybe you can do this before your rewarding game
night and take your giveaways to the thrift store when you go to
look for games and puzzles.
      Even one little spot of improved order can be very
encouraging and make you feel like you accomplished enough to sit
down and enjoy a rest.

4.  Take a Walk
     You might need to check the weather report to see when you
can plan to go out for a walk together.  In the winter, when we
are not outside as much, a walk is even more special.  It is a
great time to visit together as well.  In fact I sometimes save
topics or upcoming events to discuss during our walks together
-- the main exercise of our nonathletic family. In rainy Oregon,
if we see blue sky or the sun actually shining through, we drop
what we are doing (if we can) and take a 20-minute walk.
     It has become one of our extended family traditions to take
a walk together after our big Thanksgiving meal.

5.  Visit the Lonely
     Take a few hours during your break to reach out to others.
Is there an elderly relative or shut-in whose life you could
brighten with a visit?
     Although your presence, smile, and listening ear is often
enough, a small practical gift, photo, or flowers permit your
visit to linger after you are gone.
     Be sure to offer the love, joy, peace, and hope of our Lord
in your words.  It is appropriate to ask if they would like you
to read some Scripture and sing for them as well.

6.  Bake Together
     Have you always wanted to make bread with your family?  Pick
an afternoon, have all the ingredients on hand, and just do it!
You might even have some extra read-aloud time while it is
     If you regularly bake all your own bread, try something else
that you have always wanted to bake.
     Your family might also like to work together one afternoon
cooking ahead for your next school quarter.  If you don't do the
complete meal package, just cooking and freezing meat to add to
your regular recipes can save you a lot of time in the weeks to

7.  Arts and Crafts
     Perhaps your younger ones need something to keep them busy
while you are baking.  It takes just a few minutes to mix up a
playdough or dough art recipe that will keep them busy for
hours.  I am looking forward to a creative dough-art time with
the young people myself this week!
     You could also do some of those other messy, time-consuming,
but creative art projects you don't have time for during your
school days.

Playdough Recipe
Basic Dough Art Recipe

     Christmas Special!
     Give the Gift of Better Reading to Your Whole Family.
     AceReader Pro Deluxe -- Award Winning
     Reading Improvement / Reading Assessment Software.
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     * Home school magazine writes:
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     General Information:
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8.  Make Music
     A good 'ole family sing is a wonderful experience for your
children to remember.  While growing up, our family always sang
a hymn before family Bible reading and prayer each night.
     If your family doesn't regularly sing or play musical
instruments together, why not start now?
     It doesn't have to be a long session, unless your family
wants to continue longer.  This is one of our extended family's
favorite activities during the holidays -- in fact, any time we
get together.
     You can also go to a concert in your own home by scheduling
a time to sit down and listen together to a piece of music on a
CD, cassette, radio, or a concert on TV or video.  You might want
to start with Handel's Messiah (or parts of it).
     One of our fondest family memories is when our father
brought home a stereo set and put on some classical music while
we sat with the lights off and the curtains open to view the
moonlight on the Alaskan snow.

9.  Go for a Drive in the Country or on a Day Trip
     Anyone can gain a fresh perspective from a change of
scenery, but for us who are "city folks" by necessity, it is
expecially refreshing to drive through the countryside.
     I try to "take a picture in my mind" as our father taught us
to do whenever we saw something beautiful.  This gives me
something inspiring to think about while I spend many hours
in front of my computer during the week.
     One of our family's favorite things to do together is to go
for a drive.  Holly, born on December 24, has requested this
family activity for her birthday this week, before her birthday
dinner.  We also like to listen to books on tape some of the time
along the way.
     Is there a little shop or park that you pass by and never
have time to stop and explore?  Take an afternoon off to do those

10.  Shop the Sales
     Would you believe that you could save 40-50% on needed
(that's the key word here) items that are on sale after
     If you haven't arranged your budget to take advantage of
these tremendous savings this year, take a few hours to check
them out anyway and see if it would be worthwhile to do so next
     I know one large family who waited to shop for gifts for
their family until after Christmas when they got more for less.
It was a family tradition to receive their gifts on New Year's
instead of Christmas and it worked very well for them.

     Complete Line of Mel Bay Musical Instrument Methods
          Bayside Press offers the complete line of Mel Bay
     musical instrument methods for guitar, piano, ukulele,
     horns, flute, mandolin, banjo, and more.
     * Many methods are available with an accompanying DVD
        bringing the teacher into your home.
     * Mel Bay is one of the most respected companies in the
        world for music education.
     * Whether your child is an absolute beginner or an
        advanced player we have products needed to continue
        that education.

11. Give Each Family Member Some Time Alone
     As important and enjoyable as family togetherness is,
everyone needs some time alone once in a while.  Give your
children some personal free time to follow their own interests.
     They might enjoy a whole day or afternoon off to catch up on
a hobby or do something they haven't had time to do.
     (A little free time each day is something that needs to be built
into your regular daily schedule as well.)

12.  Give Each Family Member Some Personal Attention
     It is important to give each family member individual
attention each day.
     You might also want to spend several hours alone with each
of your children during your break.
     Ask each child (and your spouse!) what they would like to do
alone with you.  Be prepared for anything from building with
Legos to listening to your child talk about his problems and dreams.
     During your break your children could each choose a favorite
activity and/or menu.  When our children were younger we let them
take turns in choosing an activity for family night each week.

13.  And a Whole Lot More
     There are so many more ways that your family can spend time
together, such as:
* Watch and discuss a good movie.
* Invite another like-minded family to join you for a meal, an
   activity, or a day.
* Get caught up on your rest.
* Take time for conversations with your family during or after
   activities together.
* Do some writing just for fun and pleasure to record your
   thoughts and memories.
* Visit a museum.

Plan Family Time for the Coming Year
     Hopefully your family will have enjoyed your time together
during your break so much that you will want to continue some of
these activities during the coming year.
     One of the best things we did with our children when they
were growing up was to have a "family night" each week.  It was a
time set aside to enjoy one another's company, doing something
relaxing and fun together.  It didn't have to cost money or be
very educational; it was just family time!
     Why not take an hour during your break for a family planning
time to get started on a family nights if you are not already
having them regularly?

What Do You Do for Family Time?
     We would love to share your ideas and experiences with our
other readers.  Just send us a note by return e-mail.

     Please Thank & Support Our Sponsoring Advertisers!
          These free newsletters are made possible financially
     by the fine suppliers who advertise in them.
          Please remember those that have advertised in our
     last issue (below) as well as the ones in this issue.

     StepWare AceReader Pro Deluxe

     Borenson and Associates Hands-On Equations®

     Historic Prints

     Bible in Living Sound

     Bayside Press Mel Bay Musical Instrument Methods

Sunny Side Up: Very Long Division
     Nathan, our dramatic 2nd grader, was struggling with his
understanding of division.  I brought out, once again, the craft
sticks that had helped his older brother visualize the process.
     Feeling we were soon to master the task, I was surprised
when Nathan abruptly asked, "Do I have to do division in
     I explained, "Yes, you will use division all your life."
     True to his theatrical personality, he moaned, "Oh no, I'll
be so embarrassed getting these sticks out!"
     Submitted by Kathy P., Oklahoma
     You are also invited to submit your humorous anecdote.

The Story of God's Love
     A loving God is seeking a personal relationship with you and your
family through faith in Jesus Christ, His substitutionary death for
you, and His subsequent resurrection.
     "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten
Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have
eternal life" (John 3:16).

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