Month: December 2011

Crafts during Christmas Season

Homeschool Ideas

It is still Christmas at our house! It is still one more week until the three kings arrive on Epiphany! Thus, we are busy enjoying and soaking up the Christmas season with various crafts that center around Christmas. The children have been making more Christmas ornaments for our tree, and thanks to the book shown here, we had some fresh ideas that worked well for preschoolers and kindergarten children.

They simply colored their ornaments with markers, cut them out, glued them to cardstock, then added glitter glue. One hole punched at the top, and voila! They were so happy to hang their little creations on the tree as they sang “O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum”.

Our Homemade Chili Recipe

RecipesThe Rolling Acres Farm
We serve this chili soup over rice.


  • 1 lb. cooked ground beef (from family cow-share)
  • 22 oz crushed tomato
  • 24 oz cooked kidney beans
  • 1/2 – 1 cup dried common/garlic chives
  • 4 crushed garlic cloves
  • 1 T red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 t salt
  • 2 crushed, dried chili peppers (include the seeds)
  • 1 t cumin powder
  • 1/2 – 1 t paprika powder
  • 1 cup water

Combine all ingredients in a large pot and let simmer for 2-3 hours. Be sure to stir regularly and to taste regularly that the seasonings are melding well. You may need to add more salt or more garlic or more paprika, depending on your taste.

We serve this over rice. It is quite mild, so the kids will eat it right up. For adults, who like things spicy, I put a cruet of paprika on the table, so they can spice it up.

Dessert: Homemade Cinnamon Rolls


German Christmas Songs/Deutsche Weihnachtslieder

Children's Books Reviewed

What are we listening to this week? Wonderful German Christmas songs! Each year we increase our book and CD collections a few books at a time; thus, we are finally beginning to have a decent German library.

Thanks to a friend in Austria, we are listening to this wonderful CD. The music is traditional and mostly choral.  31 pieces of music to equal 63 minutes of listening pleasure. Beautiful!

Handmade Rag-Doll for Christmas: A Gift of Time and Love

The Rolling Acres Farm
A Handmade Rag-Doll for #1

We try our hardest to monitor the toys our children play with by having just a few ground rules:

  1. No electronics
  2. No plastic (except legos; boys like to throw things, so wooden blocks did not work out well …. )
  3. Not many

Our oldest is a girl, who has for a long time enjoyed a stuffed frog, but this year she was noticeably ready for a doll. As tempting as it was just to buy a baby doll from the store, we fought the good fight and decided to make a rag-doll.

I used this book for a body pattern and general ideas. No longer in print, I had found it at a library book sale years back.

Of course, as I was making the doll and putting in hours of time, I worried that she would not like it, that it would be thrown to the side; however, she loved the doll right away, and she was so happy that the doll was soft and cuddly like her stuffed frog had been. Slowly she has been discovering the doll, asking how to braid the hair, how to tie on the cape, how to put on the veil, etc. She has also given the doll a name now, the official sign that the doll has been accepted!

The total cost for this doll was the $1 I spent on yarn for the hair. The fabric, needle, thread etc. I had lying around the house in the way. It was nice to de-clutter a bit.

The Christmas Story/ Die Weihnachtsgeschichte

Children's Books Reviewed

A gift to the whole family this year was Die Weihnachtsgeschichte (The Christmas Story)  with illustrations by Wasyl Bagdaschwili. It is very simply told with semi-quotes from the Bible.

Great for children ages 2 and up! The illustrations keep the younger children interested as the older children listen with great interest. I would recommend this book to anyone using German at home.

Making Homemade Mittens

The Rolling Acres Farm

Look in any catalog, and you will find GOOD children’s gloves starting at $12-15 if they are on sale. If you have more four children, this adds up quickly. Not to mention, the store-bought gloves will not work very well for the children 3 years old and under any way. They are either too thin or too short-wristed. Because of these reasons, we decided to make our own gloves this year. For Christmas, #3 who is 19 months old will receive a pair of red gloves with a green lining. They are reversible, too! The other kids’ gloves will have to wait until Epiphany…

What I used:

  • Left-over green fleece from a blanket project
  • Left-over red fleece from a vest project
  • thread
  • used a single store-bought glove to trace around, leaving 1/2 inch all around (seam allowance). This was a lonely glove that had lost its partner last winter.
  • scissors
  • sewing machine (used a zig-zag stitch).

Once everything is cut out, sew the green gloves together. Then, sew the red gloves together. Turn the red gloves right-side out, and stuff the green gloves (seam out) inside. This gives a smooth inside and out. The doubled fleece makes for extra warm gloves, too! Sew a zig-zag stick along the wristband to hold everything in place. This way you can always pull the green lining out for quicker drying after a play in the snow. This first set of gloves may not be the prettiest ones, but they are durable and warm…and practically free.

Handmade Christmas Ornament: Preschool and Kindergarten

Homeschool Ideas

As already mentioned, we are in full preparation mode for Christmas! We do not decorate in our house until Christmas Eve, so we have spent this week making Christmas ornaments and decorations as well as preparing those little things like fresh pumpkin puree for the Christmas cake.

The kids made some very simple Christmas ornaments, story ornaments. #1 tried to draw the nativity with stars and snowflakes. The frame is made from craft sticks (Popsicle sticks!), and her two drawings were made on squares that were hot-glued to the sticks, one on each side. After this was finished, she was allowed to pick out some trimmings, which were then hot-glued as well. Her brothers made very abstract representations of the nativity as well, and they are all quite proud of their work and excited to hang them tomorrow on our tree!

How to make a paper-bag puppet

Homeschool Ideas

This week we have been focusing on crafts, making Christmas cards, Christmas tree ornaments, and some things just for a little laugh. Over the weekend, the kids enjoyed making paper-bag puppets. This is a very simple project and can be done for pennies!

Next time you go to the grocery store, request a small paper bag or two for your smaller items. These can then be used. Otherwise, the Dollar Tree sells a pack of 5 for $1.

Use crayons or paint to draw animals on your bags. Be creative and have fun!

Making Your Own Pumpkin Puree

RecipesThe Rolling Acres Farm

In preparation for Christmas day, we have already begun to prepare our ingredients, since we wish everything to be homemade and delicious! On the menu for Christmas day is A Pumpkin Chiffon Cake, so we took one of our pumpkins from the fall decorations.

  • (1) 10-12 inch in diameter pumpkin
  • Bake it in a pan at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes.
  • All it to cool (I frequently forget about ours in the oven overnight after I turn the oven off.)
  • Cut the stem out.
  • Discard the seeds (unless you want to salt and bake them for a little treat!)
  • Separate the pumpkin flesh from the rind and put into bowl.
  • Use a fork to mash the pumpkin flesh.
  • Blend or grind for a puree.

One 10-12 inch pumpkin makes approximately 6 cups of pumpkin puree that is far more tasty than the canned variety. The kids fight over who gets to lick the spoon after Mama is finished!

Pumpkin = $1 from a local farmer = 6 cups of pumpkin puree

4 cans pumpkin puree from grocery store = about $8 depending on the time of year

Art Idea: Flower Collage and a Cottage – Intro to Foreground and Background

Homeschool Ideas
Created by #1, Age 4.

Do you frequently get flower, garden, and bulb magazines in the mail? We certainly do, and we finally found a fun use for all their beautiful pictures! My daughter had cut out the flowers from such a sales magazine, so we decided to finally do something with the cut-outs. It all started out as a regular collage, but then we were talking so much about “in front” and “behind” that I realized this project would make a wonderful introduction to foreground and background in art.

What we used:

  • 1 blue piece of construction paper
  • 1 glue stick
  • 1 white piece of construction paper (leftover from another project)
  • crayons
  • flower cut-outs

First, cut out a fence from white construction paper and glue it to your blue construction paper. Then, have your child glue flowers from a magazine “in front” of the fence. Once she has finished with this, have your child (with your help perhaps) draw a house “behind” the fence. As she colors the house, continue to remind her not to color over the fence, since the house is behind the fence.