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Copyright 2002
The Teaching Home
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For 28 Years The Teaching Home Has Been Providing Families
Information, Inspiration, and Encouragement from a Distinctively Christian Perspective.
Cindy Short and Sue Welch, Co-Editors

"The angel said to them,

'Do not be afraid;

for behold, I bring you

good news of great joy

which will be for all the people;

for today in the city of David

there has been born

for you a Savior,

who is Christ the Lord.'"

Luke 2:9-11

Winter Solstice

On about December 21 each year, the Sun reaches the southernmost extent of its annual cycle.  This day is known as the winter solstice and is regarded as the official "first day of winter" for the northern hemisphere.

Read more about the winter solstice in the current newsletter of Classical Astronomy and sign up to receive future newsletters.

Visit Classical Astronomy to follow the seasonal cycles of the celestial bodies, and to find the bright, visible planets in the night sky – all from your own backyard.

Learn about the Biblical basis for astronomy, the purpose for which the Sun, Moon and stars were created (Genesis 1:14).

Classical Astronomy publishes Signs & Seasons, a Christian homeschool astronomy curriculum.

First Day of Winter

Although December 21 is considered the first day of winter, many of us are experiencing winter weather already!

See the USA Government website "Winter Is Here" for tips on winter issues such as:

 •  Eating Right This Winter
 •  Flu Season Help
 •  Heating Your Home
 •  Hypothermia and Frostbite
 •  Low Income Home Energy
 •  Seasonal Affective Disorder
 •  Weather Forecasts
 •  Weatherization Assistance
 •  Winter Driving Safety Tips
 •  Winter Storms Preparation
 •  Winter Weather Preparedness
 •  Winter Weather Terminology
 •  Winter Weight Gain
 •  Winterize Your Vehicle

Hat tip to Kim Komando's "Cool Site of the Day" newsletter.

Send us information on your favorite websites for consideration for listing in this newsletter.

Feeding Winter Birds

By feeding birds we bring them close so we can see and study them more easily.

Supplementing their food source also makes birds' lives easier during the winter when it can be especially challenging to find food and water.

The basics of feeding birds is to provide:

 •  A variety of quality seed.
 •  Fresh water for drinking
     and bathing.

See About Birds & Bird Feeding and learn how to identify birds.

See a dynamic online guide for bird species identifications and in-depth information, including description, food, audio sounds, video, and distribution maps.

For more information see Newsletter 201.

Christian Film Festival

The San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival, a project of Vision Forum Ministries, has announced the feature finalists and semi-finalists for its fifth annual film competition to be held January 8-10 in San Antonio, Texas.

Each of the selected films will compete for one or more of the SAICFF's Jubilee Awards, for the Audience Choice Award, and for the largest single film festival grand prize of its kind in America – the $101,000 Best of Festival Jubilee Award.

Of the more than 250 films that were submitted, 50 films have been selected as finalists in five categories: feature, documentary, dramatic short, promotional, commercial advertisement, plus a special category for young filmmakers.

Criteria for judging include biblical worldview; holiness in presentation; quality of directing, script, acting, editing, soundtrack; production value; level of difficulty; use of technological resources; and consistency with film festival objectives and guidelines.

Feature film finalists include the two widely distributed Christian films, Fireproof and Expelled, as well as Pendragon, Sword of His Father by the Burns Family Studios.

Franklin Films Family Media's entries include An American Adventure, A Full House of Blessing, and The Terri Schiavo Story.

Answers in Genesis has produced Noah's Ark: Thinking Outside the Box.

SAICFF also sponsors a Film Academy, "A Technical Boot Camp for Aspiring Culture Changers," January 5-7, 2009.

See complete information, including a schedule.

Resource E-Mails

Do you like Special Offers and learning about new and useful resources for your home school?

Then you will want to check out the Resource E-Mails that come to your mail box!

And if you miss one, you can visit our online Resource Exhibit Hall, where we archive these Resource E-mails, and consider if the products and services can benefit your family.

These free newsletters are made possible by the fine suppliers who advertise in them and the Resource E-Mails.

Don't Miss a Newsletter!

We trust that you find this newsletter informative and encouraging.

Some of our readers print it out and keep copies in a notebook.

You will find our archives of more than 200 past newsletters online.

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Thank you!


HSLDA offers homeschooling families a low-cost method of obtaining quality legal defense that gives them the freedom to homeschool without having to face legal threats alone.

(Use discount group number 299142 for $20 off your membership fee.)

The Teaching Home
Back Issues

Teaching Home Back Issues

Fifty-one back issues are offered online or by mail order.

The information, inspiration, and encouragement packed into each back issue never goes out of date. They are always relevant, applicable to your needs today.

Order securely online.

Sunnyside Up

A Bookworm's Hero

I have always enjoyed reading, but didn't realize how much my younger siblings noticed this.

One day as we were cutting out pieces for our timeline, one of my sisters misread Patrick Henry's famous "liberty" quote.

"Give me a library or give me death," she read.  "Oh, that sounds like Hannah!"

Submitted by Hannah B., 15, Ohio.

Send your humorous anecdote to

Christian Music Online 24/7!

Listen to beautiful traditional, sacred, and inspirational conservative Christian music (commercial free!) when you tune in to Abiding Radio at

Enjoy the music but the words are distracting you from your work?  Try AbidingRadio - Instrumental.

Also: Listen to Abiding Radio's Christmas music station.

God Loves You.

Because we have been separated from God by sin, Jesus Christ died in our place, then rose to life again. If we trust Him as our Savior and Lord, He will forgive our sin and give us eternal life.

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life."  (John 3:16)

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23) "For the wages of sin is death."  (Romans 6:23)

"He (Jesus Christ) was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification."  (Romans 4:25)

"But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name."  (John 1:12)

"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast."  (Ephesians 2:8, 9)

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Copyright 2008 The Teaching Home


15 Family Activities
for Your Christmas Break

Ideas You Can Use in the Coming Weeks

Recommended Resources

  •  Homeschoolopoly: Homeschool Board Game
  •  KidsWealth Money Kit
  •  Gospel for Asia: Gift That Transform Lives


In this issue we offer 15 suggestions for activities your family can enjoy together during your Christmas break.

Look over this list and see if there are any of these ideas that your family would like to include in your schedule — but 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.

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 activities throughout the following article.

During this season, as 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!

The Pat Welch Family, Publishers
Pat, Sue, Heather, Holly, and Brian

The Teaching Home is a home-school, family-run business operated in our home since 1980.

The Perfect Game
For Every Homeschool Family!

     HOMESCHOOLOPOLY® is the only homeschool board game in the world.
     Designed by homeschoolers, it combines all the fun and educational qualities of the old fashioned family favorite, while celebrating the best of homeschooling.

Special Price - $26.99
Plus Free Shipping and Free eBook!

Regular Price - $34.99.  Offer expires 1/1/09.
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(Scroll down to see Pamela's Free eBook.)

See YouTube video showing and explaining the game.

1. Read Aloud Together

This is the number one, all-time greatest thing to do together as a family.

 •  Make this time as relaxed and enjoyable as possible, but stop to explain or discuss items that come up.

 •  Select a special book to read during your break that will keep the interest of all family members.

 •  Read, or take turns reading, with expression and at a slightly slower pace.

An alternative is to listen together (at home or in the car) to an audio recording of good literature, such as those from your local library or Sing 'n Learn.

A free audio download is offered by The Learning Parent.  Visit and enter code "SCROOGE" to download an MP3 copy of "A Christmas Carol" read by "Uncle Rick" Boyer.

2. Play Board Games & Do Puzzles

For an electronic-free evening, turn off the TV, video, computer, etc.  Clear the table, pop some corn (see six pages of flavored popcorn recipes), and get out board games or puzzles.

Board games and puzzles provide time for all your family to visit, interact, and have fun together.

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.

Order Homeschoolopoly, the ultimate homeschool game, and also look for time-tested family games such as Scrabble, Checkers, Chess, Chinese Checkers, Boggle, Dominoes, Password, Bible Trivia, Outburst, Upwords, Pictionary, and Uno.  Two of our new favorite word games are Bananagrams and Quiddler.

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.

3. Take a Walk

In the winter, when we are not outside as much, a walk is even more special.  You might need to check the weather report to see when you can plan to go out for a walk together.

Besides being an excellent form of exercise, walking along, removed from the scene of your daily life, you can get a different perspective and a unique opportunity to visit with your children in an informal setting.

Having this time to talk things through in a nonstressful time and place can greatly benefit your relationship with your child.  Really listen to your child; ask about his interests and what he is thinking about.

4. Cook & 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 rising.

 •  See an online video demonstrating bread making, healthy bread recipes, or order "The Art of Breadmaking" DVD from Franklin Springs Family Media.

 •  If you regularly bake all your own bread, try something else that you have always wanted to bake.

 •  Make a special meal — double it and take it to someone in need!  Or take some of your fresh homemade baked goods to share with a neighbor or shut-in.

 •  Learn to make some ethnic foods.  See recipes for ethnic cuisines by region, world cuisine, or more ethnic recipes.

 •  Invite another like-minded family to join you for your special meal (or any meal, an activity, or a day).  When like-minded home-school families spend time together, they provide needed support and encouragement for the whole family.

 •  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 come.  See Freezer Cooking Guide.

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, sing a hymn, and pray with them as well.

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6. Out with the Old

No, we don't want to unclutter the whole house.  Just spend a few hours one afternoon on one small area voted by your family as the one they would most like to see uncluttered.

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.

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.

See the best Playdough recipe, a basic Dough Art recipe and instruction for keepsake ornaments, and Morton Salt's "Dough It Yourself" Handbook (42 pages, free online).

You could also do some of those other messy, time-consuming art projects you don't have time for during your school days.

8. Go for a Drive or 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 especially refreshing to drive through the countryside.  You, like we, might also like to listen to books on tape some of the time along the way, such as Dickens' "Christmas Carol."

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 things.  Or visit a museum or historical home that might be decorated for Christmas.

9. Shop the Sales

Would you like to save 40-50% or more on needed (that's the key word here) items that are on sale after Christmas?

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 year.

One large family we know used to wait 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.

10. Give Each Family Member
      Some Time Alone

As important and enjoyable as family togetherness is, everyone needs a little 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.

 •  Get caught up on your rest.

 •  Do some writing just for fun and pleasure to record your thoughts and memories.

(A little free time each day is something that needs to be built into your regular daily schedule as well.)

11. 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.

Give a Gift That Can Transform Lives

     This Christmas season, you can bless a Dalit ("Untouchable") family with a gift that will help them earn a living and point them to the Gospel.

     These gifts will last for years to come and help these families break the cycle of poverty. Most of all, these precious souls will hear about Jesus and the ultimate gift He offers.  Read more.

Gospel for Asia

Celebrating Christ.  Transforming Lives.

12. Watch and Discuss a Good Movie

Find a good, uplifting video that will entertain and inspire your whole family.

 •  See the DVDs offered by Franklin Springs Family Media that set forth a vision for the fullness of a God-honoring family life, Pendragon, the new Christian epic feature film set in Britain's Dark Ages, and Mr. Button Family Videos.

 •  Check out the Christian perspective or appropriateness of a movie you consider viewing at Plugged in Online or Christian Spotlight on Entertainment.

 •  See Christian Spotlight's lists rated with excellent and good moral rating.  (Have you ever seen "The Fourth Wise Man"?  It's a great Christmas or Easter movie.)

13. Spend Time Together with the Lord

Be sure your family's break schedule includes daily time with the Lord.  Family Bible Time, or Devotions, do not need to be long or complicated.

 •  Set aside a time each day, perhaps while everyone is still at the breakfast or dinner table or before going to bed at night.

 •  Let God talk to you by reading His Word.  You can read through the Bible each year in only about 15 minutes a day.  (See schedules.)  Our family likes to listen to an audio recording of the Scripture while we follow along in our Bibles.

 •  Take a few minutes to discuss what you've read.  Recall facts, test comprehension by paraphrasing, and make applications.

 •  Pray, sing a song, or review a memory verse.

14. Make Music Together

A good ol' family sing is a wonderful experience for your children to remember.

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 together and listen 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.

Want to learn how to play the guitar or piano easily and quickly in your own home?  Check out Jean Welles Worship Guitar Class or Mark Almond's Piano for Life.

15. Plan Regular Family Nights
      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 family nights if you are not already having them regularly?

This can create a family tradition that will be remembered and cherished for years to come.


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