"" -- A Homeschooler's Notebook Subscriber.
An interactive, FREE, twice-monthly ezine packed with great reader tips, reviews, & practical encouragement for homeschool families.


Some of Our Sponsors


Landry Academy

Math Mammoth

Great Homeschool Conventions

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

Resource Links

All About Spelling
Homeschooling ABCs
Upper Level Homeschool
FIRETIME Notebooking
FREE Funschool Units
Homeschooling Help
More Homeschooling Help
HS Gifted and Talented
Homeschool Country Life
Beloved Books & Audio



Holiday Prep, Pre-Cursive Writing Tip, What Kids Do Well?

By Heather Idoni

Added Monday, December 10, 2007

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 8 No 95 December 10, 2007
ISSN: 1536-2035
Copyright (c) 2007 - Heather Idoni, FamilyClassroom.net

Welcome to the Homeschooler's Notebook!

If you like this newsletter, please recommend it to a friend!
And please visit our sponsors! They make it possible. :-)


Save Money with Easy Way to Budget

Unique budgeting system helps you stop unwanted spending
and effortlessly get control of your personal finances.

"BudgetMap is compact, tidy, and amazingly effective."
- Mary Hunt, author of Debt-Proof Living.

Carry it with you - it replaces your checkbook and fits
in your purse or pocket. Instantly see your finances as
you make each transaction. Eliminate month-end surprises.

See it now at:



Notes from Heather
-- A Reader Shares Holiday Prep Ideas
Helpful Tips
-- Pre-Cursive Handwriting
Resource Review
-- Stop Motion Movie Making
Reader Question
-- What Makes a Good Homeschool Student?
Additional Notes
-- Searchable Archive
-- Our Email Group
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Heather

[I'm continuing to get wonderful feedback from readers about their
special holiday traditions... and more! Next issue I will share
ideas to do with special books/reading at Christmas. -- Heather]


"Here are some things I do to make Christmas easy. I work on it
all year! I make a list of people that I give gifts to in January,
and then plan what I'd like to do -- whether it is make something
myself, or purchase something. That way I can gather the materials
early and work on the things over time. The children always love
helping with any crafting involved. And if there is someone, for
instance, that I want to purchase a clothing item for, doing that
in late winter is the best time, as I can do it at the AFTER Christ-
mas sales. I simply don't spend very much money at Christmastime.
I then have more funds when the sales come and plan ahead for that.
Even homemade treats can be made in the months leading up to Christ-
mas and carefully frozen. I purchase cards, wrapping paper, etc.
at the sales for the next year. By the time Christmas is actually
coming soon, nearly everything is done! We also save decorations,
of course, from year to year and get them out after Thanksgiving
and put them up. Nothing very fancy, but a tradition for us. It's
all about the planning – both the money and the particulars. Just
sit down in a quiet place (maybe at 3 am after the baby goes back
to sleep!) and make a list. The only person I am likely to purchase
something for closer to Christmas is my husband, as I watch him all
year and see if I can figure out just exactly what he would love to
have that can fit our budget. I even do the wrapping of almost
everything way before Christmas comes.

There are 2 Christmas treats that our family (and friends) love,
that I make every year -- but I make them in November.

Here are the recipes:


(Note: Never frost these – it takes away the butter taste.)

3 cups powdered sugar
2 cups softened butter (never use margarine)
2 eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla
4 1/2 - 5 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cream of tartar

Cream butter and sugar with a wooden spoon (or mixer). Add eggs
and vanilla. Mix together flour, soda, and cream of tartar.
Add to creamed mixture. Refrigerate overnight. Roll out approx-
imately 1/4 inch thick and cut with cookie cutters. Top with a
mixture of cinnamon and sugar before baking. Bake at 375 degrees
for 8 – 10 minutes on greased cookie sheet. Cool. Store in a
tin. Make these in early to late November. The flavor is much
better if you make them early! This recipe is well over 100 years
old. You can make these cookies and put them in many small tins
and they make lovely gifts. The recipe can be doubled or cut in
half for larger or smaller quantities.


6 cups warm water
2 Tablespoons (or 2 small packages) dry active yeast
2 cups molasses
3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon ginger
2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 cup lard or shortening
About 7 pounds of flour

Dissolve yeast in lukewarm water. Add enough flour to make the
mixture the consistency of thick gravy. Add molasses, sugar,
spices, salt, and shortening all at once. Stir. Don't worry
if the shortening doesn't mix in -- it will later. Stir in the
flour a couple of cups at a time until dough is consistency of
stiff bread dough. Rub shortening over the top of the dough.
Put this in a very large container or two very large bowls. Cover
with plastic wrap. Let it rise a minimum of 36 hours, punching
down whenever it rises approximately double in bulk.

On baking day (set aside at least 2 hours for the baking) pour
all of this dough out onto a well floured surface and knead it
until smooth. Then, one good handful at a time, and using flour
so it won't be sticky, roll it into 'snakes' and then cut off
1-inch pieces with scissors onto a baking sheet. Bake at 400
degrees for 8 – 12 minutes. When you take them out of the oven,
just pour them into a brown paper grocery bag. After they are
all baked, leave the sack open until they are cool, then staple
it shut. Make these about a month before Christmas. They need
to dry out and get very crunchy. (These do not work so well in
a very humid winter climate, such as in south Florida.)

The first one you eat, you might think, 'What's so great about
this?' But they are addictive! Once you get going, you can't
leave them alone! Our family loves them. The recipe came from
my great grandmother who came from Sweden.

Both of these recipes are very economical and make a LOT of
goodies that can be enjoyed and shared. All this cooking is done
well before Christmas -- or even Thanksgiving -- so when Christmas
comes, I have nearly nothing extra to do!" -- Yolanda in Indiana


Do you have comments to share? Please do!
Send your emails to: heather@familyclassroom.net


Attention HomeSchool Moms: Introducing An Inexpensive
Christmas Gift That Never Wears Out, Gets Broken, Or Goes
Out of Style...

Give your 4-12 year-old an advantage at an early age by giving
the KidsWealth Money Kit for Christmas. The Money Kit is a fun
way to help children develop smart money habits and a mindset
for success - in just 5 minutes a month!

Thousands of kids are using this award-winning program to
become the confident, empowered and financially successful
leaders of tomorrow, and yours can too!

Avoid the mall. Get complimentary shipping + 4 more
bonuses by December 17th at


Helpful Tip

I have just made a discovery that I wish I'd made last year!

Did you know that BJU Press has a free download of their
Pre-Cursive fonts which you can use with your own word proces-
sing program? I have used it to make my own handwriting
worksheets to use when teaching phonetic blends, etc.

To download the font go to the following link:


-- Nina

[Editor's note: Check this out - it includes 2 fonts with
dashes and arrows for hands-on practice, too! -- Heather]


Do you have an idea, experience, or tip to share? Please write!
Send to: HN-ideas@familyclassroom.net

Resource Review

Learn Movie Making with Stop Motion Animation
by Nate and Ryan Eckerson
For more information or to order: http://www.nr-productions.com


Leave it to homeschoolers to take a hobby and turn it into a
useful resource for other families! Technology is always advanc-
ing and one of those advances is the ability to create and share
your own short films with others. However, as with all things
'technological', creating with stop motion animation can seem a
bit overwhelming! After receiving our copy of 'Learn Movie Making
with Stop Motion Animation', we are no longer overwhelmed and look
forward to many happy hours creating our own stop motion films.

'Learn Movie Making with Stop Motion Animation' is a complete kit,
including a spiral-bound, easy to understand book written for
beginners that takes the reader step-by-step through the process
of creating a completed film project. After a brief history of
animation, the authors provide a complete list of items you will
need to begin your adventure.

Other than a computer, the most important tools are software to
capture your video and a camera. Thankfully, both are provided
in the kit along with the instruction book. The other important
component is video editing/creating software - fortunately most
new computers come with this software pre-installed.

Leaving no stone unturned, the Eckersons explain the entire pro-
cess of making a movie, from creating story boards to final
editing and adding sound effects. Along the way there are plenty
of pictures and illustrations to ensure the reader understands
each step. There are MANY practical tips and nothing is assumed.
Terminology is clearly explained.

The project used for the tutorial is a stop motion film using
LEGOs. It really is amazing how exact you need to be and how
long it takes to make even a 5-minute film. Even with a book
that explains things so clearly, there is a learning curve and
some trial and error involved as one gets used to using the
various tools, lighting, sets, and software. Although older
children (12 and up) should be able to use the book and kit on
their own, I can see the whole family getting involved in movie
making and making some great memories in the process.

For those who desire to use tiny bricks or other inanimate
objects to tell a story, but don't know where to begin, 'Learn
Movie Making with Stop Motion Animation' provides the guidance
and tools to turn your ideas into a work of art, ready to share
with friends, family, and perhaps, the world!

-- Cindy Prechtel, http://www.HomeschoolingFromTheHeart.com

Last Issue's Reader Question

"I have just begun receiving the newsletters. My oldest son is
3 1/2, so I am really starting to explore options. I know and
believe in all the positive things that home schooling has to
offer. I was curious though if there are some types of person-
alities, learning styles, etc. that do better in a home schooling
environment than others?" -- Shannon M.

Our Readers' Responses

"I would tend to say that all types of students thrive better in
the homeschooling environment than they would in the institutional
setting. The important thing is that you recognize your son's
unique styles and custom design his program accordingly. Only
in the homeschool setting can a child's education be completely
individualized according to his needs, aptitudes, learning style,
personality, and areas of strengths and weaknesses. Enjoy the
journey! You're about to have the time of your life!" -- Mary Beth

Answer our NEW Question

"I am interested in finding a complete Language Arts curriculum
that works together like a unit study for English. That is, I am
doing spelling through one curriculum, Charlotte Mason's ideas for
narrating, and teaching sentence structure, names of words, etc.
with a few resources. Is there something that is comprehensive,
for first graders, that encompasses the whole language arts
subject, that anyone considers good enough to recommend? Thanks!"
-- Diana


Do you have an idea for Diana?

Please send your answer to: HN-answers@familyclassroom.net

Ask YOUR Question

Do you have a question you would like our readers to answer?

Send it to HN-questions@familyclassroom.net and we'll see
if we can help you out in a future issue!

Need Immediate Help?

Visit our Homeschool Encouragement Center! This is a live 24/7
'chat' area where you can talk live to our homeschool counselors
by typing in a box. When you get there, just introduce yourself
and let them know that Heather sent you!

This ultra-safe chat is supervised by experienced moms who are
there to serve and share their wisdom... or just offer a listening

Check out our schedule of daily chats and jump right in! :-)


[Note: This ministry is geared toward Christian parents, but all
are welcome. You may need to download a Java program to utilize
this service. Email Luanne@educationforthesoul.com if you have
any technical difficulties.]

Our Searchable Newsletter Archive

Access the Homeschool Notebook issues you have missed...
at our archives!


...or you can search on a specific word or phrase in issues all
the way back to January 2001! Just go to this link:


Interactive Email Group

In an effort to help our readers become more of an interactive
community, we have set up an email loop at YahooGroups called

Here is the link to sign-up!



There are opportunities for you to be a sponsor of this
newsletter. If you are interested, drop an e-mail to
marketing@stretcher.com with "Homeschoolers-Notebook"
as the subject. We'll send you some information on how to
become a part of this ministry!


All contributed articles are printed with the author's prior
consent. It is assumed that any questions, tips or replies to
questions may be reprinted. All letters become the property of
the "Homeschooler's Notebook". [Occasionally your contribution
may have to be edited for space.]

Again, I welcome you to the group! Feel free to send any
contributions to HN-articles@familyclassroom.net or

Our main website is:

We also sponsor an incredible site with over 1,500 pages of helps!


No part of this newsletter (except subscription information
below) may be copied and/or displayed in digital format online
(for instance, on a website or blog) without EXPRESS permission
from the editor. Individuals may, however, forward the newsletter
IN ITS ENTIRETY to *individual* friends (not email groups). For
reprints in paper publications (homeschool support group newsletters,
etc.) please direct your request to: Heather@FamilyClassroom.net


To subscribe, just send a blank email to the following address:

To unsubscribe send a blank email to the following address:


Next - Christmas and Books, PER, 1st Grade Language Arts
Previous - Holiday Traditions, Playing Board Games, Living Math!

     Site content copyright individual contributors and FamilyClassroom.net 2001-2011 - Digital duplication expressly prohibited.
Privacy Policy | Advertise