Gift Ideas that are Fun and Educational

gift ideas that are fun and educational

Today, I sat around a table with some great friends of mine.  As our children all ran through the house and yard, we started sharing a few gift ideas with each other.  A few of the moms even ordered items I suggested on their phones as we chatted.

Even though most of you are probably already done with your Christmas shopping, I thought I’d take a minute to share a few ideas with you anyway.  These are items my children are getting for Christmas (or already received at a recent family gathering).

Most of these items come with a low price tag.  Other than the lego set, we paid less than $20 for each of these.  If they are higher priced than that, I would wait to buy them.  The high prices may be due to low stock.

In no particular order:

Kutz LEGO Chain Reaction Craft Kit.  This kit includes a fun book showing how to set up lego chain reactions as well as including lego pieces to do this.  Since I have a son who loves Rube Goldberg machines, I hope this kit sparks much more creativity in our lego building.

Awesome Lego Creations with Bricks You Already Have.  I’m excited about this book that finally just arrived at our house.  (Amazon was out of it for a week or two.)  There are step-by-step instructions to build all sorts of lego creations (animals, robots, etc) as well as “creative challenges” where they give you key lego pieces to collect but don’t spell out the directions.  I love the detailed supply lists for the projects and that we can use the legos we already own.

Klutz Star Wars Thumb Doodles Book Kit.  I was searching on Amazon for a craft book for my youngest.  This is the same style of book as this Sweet and Sparkly Fingerprint Kit Ruthie had years ago but with a Star Wars theme.  I know he is going to love it.  I remember Ruthie really getting into creative little art projects with her book, and I hope this one does the same for Gideon.

Mini Pom-Pom Pets craft kit. My daughter could use craft kits every day of the week.  I thought this one looked fun and had a few new skills in it. She has already been given Sew Mini Treats this week.

Lego Birds Model Kit.  These are display-worthy realistic birds, complete with Latin name plaques. Ruthie received these as a gift at a family gathering, and they are wonderful.  I was really impressed with this kit.  It’s apparently been discontinued by Lego but is still available for purchase.  I hope Lego makes more kits like this in the future.


And, there you have it.  Just a few educational but fun gift ideas.

Do you have gifts you are looking forward to giving this Christmas that are fun and educational?


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CC Blog Carnival: December 2015

Some Classical Conversations’ campuses are already on Christmas break, while others still have a few weeks left.  We are in the “few weeks left” category, but we are excitedly anticipating our Christmas break.  I love all the extra activities and learning we can do in December along with the regular school work.

CC-Blog-Carnival December 2015

Along with our usual Foundations, Essentials, and Challenge categories, I am going to share Christmas ideas and activities from some of the regular blog contributors.

Christmas Ideas:

Lindsey from Simply Diligent gives a great summary of how she is preparing for the holiday season.  I love how she made a list of the categories that need to be accomplished and then expanded from there.  I think I need to sit down a make a similar list myself.

Brandy from Half a Hundred Acre Wood has a huge list of Advent activities that her family enjoys.

I just recently used my Christmas book and movie list from last year to place holds at the library.  We unpacked and set up our nativity set collection from around the world.  I will be picking up a bunch of these later today.  Also today, my family is starting our yearly tradition of earning money toward Gospel for Asia that you can read about here.  I hope to get in my favorite Christmas field trip as well as set up our Christmas countdown in a few weeks.  As much as we still have a few weeks of CC left, can you tell I will be filling lots of our time with Christmas activities?

Mary from Homegrown Learners is offering a free Advent SQUILT music lesson.


From Mt. Hope Chronicles, there is a huge collection of quotes and information about the beauty and value of memorization.  Since this is a large part of the Foundations program, I think this is an excellent reminder of the value of what we are doing this time of year.

Bethany has put together a wonderful list of the top things she is enjoying from CC Connected right now.  If you find it overwhelming to wade through all the choices on CC Connected (or don’t have time), this list is a great place to start.

Also from Bethany is a helpful tutorial on how to make portable timeline cards.  I’m sure someone will find this useful!  I know it’s a challenge to carry the actual timeline cards with us.

I enjoyed this article about Latin noun declensions.  I appreciate the ideas of how to work on Latin with younger students as well as leading into Challenge.  For more on Latin, look under the Challenge heading below.

I’m sure many of us can relate to those moments when we are desperately trying to get to somewhere on time.  For many of us, it’s Foundations.  This humorous story of the day the smoothie [almost] killed me one we can all relate to.

If you are hitting the time of year when you need some organizational help, I just love this magnetic task management system.  I actually started looking around my house for a place we could implement this.  I hope to work on it over break.  Also helpful is this marble money system for paying chores (something else I was looking to set up soon!).

If you have ever wanted to make a digital timeline, check out the digital timeline maker under the Challenge category below.


I love all the ideas of how to review English grammar shared by Melanie at The Real Deal.  I can see how these would be fun in class or at home.

In this helpful article about math, Melanie also shares a number of math games.  Again, these would be great in class or at home.


Here is a digital timeline maker for those of you ready to expand your timeline to something more.

Family Style Schooling has series of articles and helps on Latin.  Here are part 1 and part 2 of Lain verbs.  I shared the Latin Nouns up under the Foundations heading above.  These really would be helpful for anyone studying Latin – not just a Challenge student.

I love the encouragement about education found here.  What a great illustration of education!  My 3rd child just learned the definition of a ray yesterday so I really appreciated reading this today.

Brandy from Half a Hundred Acre Wood gives us a glimpse into Challenge A.  I really love these glimpses into what is coming in life.  Honestly, reading what she wrote encouraged me to relax, take a few field trips this week, and enjoy these less structured younger years.  I am looking forward to the Challenge program, but I know it will not allow for as many interruptions.

Here are some more geography flashcards from Brandy for Challenge A.  (There also were some on the November blog carnival.)

Mt. Hope Chronicles continues to educate me more on the Challenge program and how to write in general.  In this article on Parallelism, I appreciate how many examples from literature that she shares.  Some of them, I have read before, but I didn’t realize they were parallelism.


May you have a blessed Christmas season remembering the birth of the Savior and reveling in the thought that He is Immanuel – God with us!

Matthew 1:21

She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus,

for he will save his people from their sins.”

John 3:16  

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son,

that whoever believes in him should not perish

but have eternal life.

Unpacking the Nativity Sets

Over the years, I’ve collected nativity sets from around the world.  Now that we are in a new house with more space, I actually have room to display the collection.  Since I haven’t gotten the sets out in years, I sadly have forgotten where a number came from.  I’m hoping that my mom and mother-in-law are going to remember more than I do.

unpacking the nativity sets

I shared one picture on our facebook page yesterday, but then I decided to share all of them here instead.

(Ruthie helped with the photography.  I have one more nativity set still at a relative’s house, but I hope to get it up in the next few days.  It’s the Willow Tree Nativity Set, and my most “normal” one.)

One of my aunts served at Rift Valley Academy in Kenya for many years.  Three of my nativity sets come from there.

This one is probably my favorite.  We think it is made out of banana leaves.

Nativity from Kenya

Also from Kenya is this one.  It is made from some type of husk.

Husk Nativity from Kenya

The third one from Kenya always makes my family laugh.  They are just very funny faces.

clay nativity

Another aunt lived in Haiti for many years.  This one with a coconut hut (and machete) is probably my second favorite.

Nativity - Haiti

We also have purchased a number of nativity sets from Ten Thousand Villages over the years.

From Laos:



I think these are both from Israel:


one piece

This one is from Vietnam

vietnam 2

with some cute wise men.


We also have a nativity set from Peru.


Here is one that I don’t remember it’s location (or where we got it – I don’t think it was from Ten Thousand Villages based on the newspaper wrapping I had.)


Last (but certainly not least) is a nativity set my mom made when I was a child.  Considering that my family had a huge house fire when I was a teen, this is one of my only possessions from when I was young.  We have it set up on the floor for any children to play with.

nativity dolls from childhood

I hope you enjoyed seeing my collection.  We definitely had fun setting them all up!

Do you have any international nativity sets?  If so, what countries do you have?

The Good News Of Great Joy

It’s Christmas Eve.  I’m so thankful for another year to celebrate the good news of great joy that the angels announced so long ago.

Merry Christmas

May your family be blessed this Christmas remembering the Savior’s birth and why He came.

One of our favorite Christmas songs is “It’s about the cross.”  We usually listen to the Go Fish version, but I love the Ball Brothers version I found today.

As the song says:

“The beginning of the story is wonderful and great
But it’s the ending that can save you and that’s why we celebrate”

I pray that in all the busyness and celebration this Christmas season,  I don’t loose sight of  “His precious blood that saved me from my sin.”

If you have a minute, you might enjoy listening to this song.  Have a wonderful Christmas proclaiming the good news of great joy to those around you!


Projects with Granddaddy: Christmas Trees

Over the course of about a week and a half, each of my children built a tree with their granddad.

First Ruthie went. They painted and decorated the tree (as well as played some scrabble on his iPad while the paint dried).  When she brought her wooden tree home with her, the rest of the kids wanted to make one, too.

Ruth with Granddad

Gideon asked if he could make a tree next. They came up with a new plan and built another tree.

Gideon with Granddad


After making two designs, Granddaddy had to work harder to come up with original plans for the next tree.  Isaiah’s tree has the added bonus of moving nicely with a hairdryer.

Isaiah with Granddad

Elijah and Granddaddy decided to make a Christian tree with names of God on it.

Elijah with Granddad

I am thankful that the kids get to spend time with their grandparents.  When Seth and I got married, none of our grandparents were still living, and both of us have grandparents who passed away before we were born.

Now our home has a forest of Christmas trees.

Christmas trees

Do your children make projects with their grandparents?

(These pictures were taken a few weeks ago.  Sadly, I think we will not have a white Christmas this year.)