Teaching your kids about small arms combat and ancient warfare

As we learned about ancient history, I knew for the battles to really make sense I need them to learn about small arms combat.  So I set about to teach them about small arms combat.

teaching small arms combat with LEGOS and toys

The first step was to teach them about how to fight effectively with small arms combat.


Small Arms Combat with LEGOS

small arms combat tactics

First we looked at why mob fighting isn’t effective.

  • Your army is only as effective as your bravest soldier
  • You do not get the benefit of having friends to fight with you
  • You are only as effective as your most skilled warrior
  • That skilled warrior can easily be cut down by a single lucky shot.

This is of course an over-simplification, but now let’s look at what ancient Greece discovered to be more effective.

small arms combat benefits of the phalanx

Meet the phalanx.  This tactic was created by the Greeks, and improved by the Romans.  A phalanx is row upon row of men who are all fighting together as a unit.  It becomes extremely effective because as one man tires out he can retreat back through the ranks to be replaced by a fresh soldier.

small arms combat generals view of combat

In addition:

  • Men are much less likely to break and run because they would have to turn around and run through their friends.
  • It makes an orderly retreat possible.
  • Traditionally your younger less-experienced troops would be in the front and would fight the most and would have the most energy.
  • The older more experienced (but less energetic) troops would be in the back and would be able to take over as the youth and inexperience fades.
  • Your exposed side is protected by your friend’s shield.
  • The shields can be used together to protect more than you could on your own.

small arms combat disadvantages of a phalanx

But here’s the problems with a phalanx:

  • Your phalanx is only as strong as the width and depth of your phalanx.  So if you only have enough men to make a narrow phalanx, then you’re in trouble.
  • It does not maneuver easily.  If your foe can get around the edge of your phalanx, you are dead. D-E-D dead (reference to obscure gaming movie).

Eventually the Romans created a variation on the phalanx called the mandible.  It was more maneuverable, and eventually allowed them to defeat the Greeks.

The phalanx lasted as a fighting technique for quite a while.  If you notice up through the Civil War you see very similar tactics to the phalanx.  With the onset of World War 1 and heavy artillery and trench warfare we see major shifts in how fighting was done.

Teaching Small Arms combat with toy weapons

If you have young boys you have toy swords.  In our case we have a lot of them.  Especially after we got the duct tape warfare book and the boys were able to make their own weapons.  We suddenly were swimming in toy weapons.

small arms combat advantages of long sword

This fight is between a short sword (which Romans carried, and most near-Eastern civilizations) and a long sword.

You’ll notice the short sword cannot reach the long sword to fight yet, so the long sword is able to attack sooner.  But the long sword is heavier and slower, so the long sword is able to swing more often and will not tire out as easily.

Long swords are effective for giving you reach and is what you most often see in movies.  It makes for nice dramatic fights.

small arms combat benefits of a mace

The mace is a wonderful weapon for smashing and for fighting someone in heavy armor.  Your sword will usually not cut through a suit of platemail, but a mace or warhammer may well dent that plate enough you’re not getting out of it easily and may well have broken bones.

A mace is also effective at breaking other weapons as it applies blunt force.

small arms combat benefits of a small shield

Fighting with a small shield.

Unlike in the movies a small shield is to be used to intersperse it between yourself and the other man’s weapon.  It’s not some decorative thing you throw to the side when  you want to get serious about fighting.

Notice in this picture Superman is holding the shield and blocking Princess’ sword strike.  He can then push her sword away or use it to try and over-balance her.  A very useful feature on the battle field.

small arms combat benefits of a tower shield

This is approximating a tower shield.  In reality a tower shield is much bigger on you, but for now this gives you a good idea of what it is like.

A tower shield provides protection for most of your body, you can hide behind it when your are being shot at, and it makes an effective way to block your enemy’s weapon.

But, a tower shield is heavy.  Thing about carrying that around all day long.  If you are carrying a tower shield you are not very mobile.  You are most likely carrying it and then placing yourself somewhere.  It makes a great defense for an archer.



So, that’s our super official small arms combat lesson.  It was a lot of fun to do with the kids last spring, and now I’ve got it all official looking so I can make them refer back to it from time to time.


I’m linking this up over at All Things Beautiful.

John the Baptist lesson

It’s finally here!  We are finally starting the New Testament and the Gospels.  And there’s nothing quite so appropriate like starting with John the Baptist, because he’s so like an Old Testament prophet.

John the Baptist lesson for kids


What I learn from John the Baptist

John the Baptist is a fun guy.  He reminds me a lot of Elijah, someone who has a less than pleasant message to give, but one that he’s going to give even if it makes everyone else mad.

That’s probably why everyone kept asking if he was Elijah.

But for me the lesson I take from John the Baptist is speak up even if you know it’s an unpleasant message.

There’s an Adventures in Odyssey episode where a girl is upset with her parents because she wants to be in a play and they won’t let her.  So she goes and sees John the Baptist’s life, and she expects she going to learn that standing up for yourself and saying what is right means everything turns out all right.

And it doesn’t always.

This isn’t the only time in history it didn’t end well standing up for what’s right.  Look at the people who hid Jews in World War 2, or the many Christians over the years who died speaking for Jesus.

This is an important lesson to learn.  God does not promise a perfect happy life for us.  Bad things will happen, and it’s important not to gloss over them.

But, my kids are young, and we don’t want it to be all sadness in our house.  So of course we need:

John the Baptist craft

John the Baptist locust craft

Locust craft supplies (affiliate links): Spoons, pipe cleaners, School Glue, wiggle eyes, Green Acrylic Paint (wow, so much better price buying it at Wal-Mart or Michael’s)


You know what’s sad?  I have some great in-process pictures of my steps (which are in the download for you to use), but I don’t have any of the kids creating theirs.  At the time we did this Superman was sick, so Batman made one for his brother.  And he was so busy making and checking on Superman that I didn’t get pictures of the kids.

John the baptist craft

This is the only picture I have of their work.  This is Princess’ version. She doesn’t like touching school glue, so she chose to draw her face on with Sharpies.


John the baptist lesson

Get the John the Baptist printable.

Other John the Baptist Ideas

Animal’s Christmas Carol Craft

Animal's Christmas Carol craft

So, the other day I let Princess pick out books for us to make crafts with, and she ran off and happily grabbed a huge stack of Christmas books.

{This post contains affiliate links, in particular Amazon.  See my full Disclosure statement for more information}

I went through them all and picked out Animal’s Christmas Carol, because I love the illustrations in it.


Isn’t that gorgeous?  And that’s not even the best one in Animal’s Christmas Carol.  I mean it gets a little silly when the lion is asking what his gift can be, but still it’s an amazing illustration.

After reading the book I pulled out stacks and stacks of Card Stock {I like the Sam’s Club card stock}, some Ticonderoga Pencils (my favorite type, I swear they don’t break as often), Cake Markers, and a few dozen cotton balls.


While they gathered, I cut the card stock into random sizes of paper, for the different sized animals.

drawing animals for Animals Christmas Carol

Then I passed out sheets and they started drawing animals.  I gave some instructions, but otherwise, it’s all their own works.  If you’re kids aren’t too keen on drawing on their own, or you want to work on that skill, here’s a few places to check out:

Art Projects for kids (I love this site for simple line drawings)

Art lessons pinterest board

After we’d drawn about 5 or 6 animals, I was thinking they were losing interest, and I suggested we stop.

begging faces

So they gave me this face, who can resist that?  Though it looks like Princess is threatening to hit me.  And Superman in the middle…..  Oh well.

We drew several more, and then had fun setting them up with our Playmobil Nativity Set {this price sucks, I got mine for $30, so keep an eye out for better prices}.


end result animals christmas carol craft

For more Christmas crafts, I highly suggest checking out my Christmas pinterest board.


For more great Winter ideas check out Book and a Big Idea Winter.

Multi-sensory writing curriculum

I’ve been using the WITS writing curriculum for almost a year or so now.  It’s an amazing writing curriculum bought last year at GHC, and it’s been a great purchase.

Multi-sensory writing curriculum{Disclosure, I bought this, and since I like to be able to have reviews of all the stuff I use, I’m putting my review up here, so there, no money, just because I like it}

So far I’ve bought the RhodeWays resource manual and the Writing Ideas TileS.  Come January I’m planning on buying the full thing, I only had the money at that time for those parts.


What I like about RhodeWays Writing: it’s a multi-sensory writing curriculum

multi-sensory writing curriculum manipulatives

I love love love the Writing Ideas TileS.  I love how interactive they are.  I love the visual aspect and the feel of them.  But that doesn’t really tell you much about them, so let me explain better.

Each tile represents a paragraph.  The outer edge of the tile is indented to remind you to indent paragraphs.  The tile will have different numbers of light bulbs on them with different colors.  Each light bulb represents a sentence, and the colors show what type of sentence it is.

Pretty simple right?

Here’s where it gets fun, now you can combine these paragraphs all sorts of ways to make them into papers, stories, and essays.


How to use a multi-sensory writing curriculum

If you are looking for a curriculum to say “write this today,” then this is not the curriculum for you.  It’s actually why I like it because I can incorporate it into what we’re already doing, rather than having yet another assignment to grade.

RhodeWays teacher manual

After working through the first couple of lessons of what a paragraph is and what to look for in the paragraph, we moved on to working on the types of paragraphs.

multi-sensory writing brainstorming paragraphs

So far we have been using our history to improve their writing.  As we read the lessons they work on writing more about the lesson with the type of paragraphs I’ve assigned for the day.


After Christmas I’m planning on buying the full curriculum, at the time I had just enough money to buy the manual and one set of the Writing Idea TileS.  Now I want the mini-posters for types of writing and the lessons for the individual paragraph styles.  I think that will really help improve the kids’ writing.

I’m writing this now because come January I’m getting serious about the kids’ writing.  They are way behind where I want them to be in this area (and their handwriting, it’s like the messy writing fairy came and zapped them this past month).


Now on to what we’ve been up to this past couple of weeks (aside from being sick, so much sickness)

Thanksgiving family

We had a fabulous Thanksgiving with my family.  The kids had lots of fun playing with cousins, and watching movies together.  The next day we got our Christmas tree (and I made all the kids pose with the Reindeer).

Christmas tree decorating

Which led to the massive Christmas decorating rounds.  Getting out our various nativity sets, and decorations.  Despite all the decorations we pulled out I’m sure there’s a missing tub of Christmas decorations somewhere.

family visits

The following weekend Jeff’s parents came down to visit.  We made SO many cookies, way more than I care to count, and I’ve still got a batch of dough to roll out and make.

Everyone enjoyed the chance to hang out, play games together, and generally have fun.  We also headed up to Burnet to visit Main Street Bethlehem.  The Baptist church has turned an entire city block into first century Bethlehem, and it’s amazing to go through.  You can see examples of their projects at the time, handiwork, inns, taverns, a home, and of course the Roman guards.

Roman soldier

Batman had to have a picture with the soldier, who was quite happy to pose with him.  Or willing to…

2 weeks of school

In the school front we learned about:

  • Saint Boniface and the Christmas tree, appropriately timed from our Mystery of History 2 (affiliate link) lesson.
  • We then went on to learn about Iconoclasts and Charlemagne.
  • The kids learned about expanded notation in math, which they hate with a passion, and I’ve retaught this lesson in so many ways I’m going crazy.
  • We learned about Christmas in Sweden, with yet another mishap in the kitchen.  I could almost write a book about our lessons going wrong.
  • We learned about India and discovered we are not every good at spinning with a drop spindle.
  • Oh, and we started the Winter Wonderland Art Class (affiliate link), and the kids have quite proudly given away two of their projects as Christmas presents so far.  I highly recommend the class if you’re looking for an art class for the non-artsy.

I’m going to link up over at Homegrown Learners because I’ve actually gotten this written relatively early.  I feel pretty proud of myself.


Gingerbread Pirates craft

As I mentioned earlier I love Christmas crafts, and I try to let my kids just have fun and not worry about the product.  I’ve found it works much better that way if I make my own version of the craft. So, I’m going to share my version of how I thought the gingerbread pirate craft would turn out, and then the kids’ version of the gingerbread pirate craft for comparison.

gingerbread pirates ornament

(all Amazon links are affiliate links in this post)

First start off by reading The Gingerbread Pirates with your kiddos.  I love this book (as I mentioned in my Christmas books post), and I am ever so thankful to Almost Unschoolers (I’ve linked to her craft at the bottom along with another of her gingerbread crafts) for introducing that book to me.

Then get ready for some Gingerbread Pirate crafting fun!

Gingerbread Pirate craft supplies

empty cereal box, School Glue, Glitter Glue Pens- Bonus Bucket Set of 50 (yes I buy it in a 50 box tub), wiggle eyes (have you seen these Peel & Stick Wiggle Eye Sheets? My daughter would love them.)

Optional extra supplies: Wood Toothpicks, Big Box Of Pipe Cleaners (I need a big box because my kids make these pipe cleaner creations)


Gingerbread Pirate craft

gingerbread pirates ornament step 1

Trace or draw your own gingerbread man (I cheated and printed out this Gingerbread man small outline)

Then cut your guy out.  If you want to have any peg legs or anything make sure you cut out mirror images.  Batman ended up with a 4 way amputee because he kept cutting it out wrong.

gingerbread pirate ornament step 2

Spread glue all over your gingerbread pirate.  Put a ribbon loop at the top and add any peg legs or hooks you need to add.  Then smash the two layers together (sorry this photo is blurry)

gingerbread pirates ornament step 4

Put a drop of glue to add the wiggly eye.  Then start adding details with the glitter glue.

gingerbread pirate ornament final step

As you’re adding the glue you can spread the glitter glue out with your fingers to get a smoother effect (or if you accidentally get a blob of glue).

My kids’ gingerbread pirate crafts, and what I learned in this craft

process versus product gingerbread pirate ornaments

As you can see we had a wide variety of gingerbread pirates ornaments.  They all turned out very much like their owners.

Princess who is much more of a follow the directions and the rules has a pirate remarkably similar to mine.

Batman charged ahead and just started cutting, then discovered his peg legs didn’t match up, so his pirate had two peg legs.  He repeated the same mistake in creating a hook for his pirate, so then his pirate had 2 hooks as well.

putting together their gingerbread pirate ornaments

Superman watched Batman charge in head long and decided to not cut off any parts of his pirate.  Instead he made a pirate because he had already cut it out, then made his own version of the project and created a Minecraft guy.  Which Batman then decided was a great idea and did the same thing.

My tips for you if you create your own gingerbread pirates craft:

  • I’d pre-cut the general shape.  I don’t remember the kids having this much trouble last year, or I must have pre-cut them.
  • If you’re not making an ornament, then just make it one-sided.  Last year ours were one-sided and the kids had fun playing with them as toys.
  • Have paper towels on hand to clean up the extra glitter glue that will happen.


Some other cute Gingerbread crafts

And don’t forget to check out all of the other book inspired kid-made ornaments over at Mama Miss.

100 Ideas to teach the New Testament to Kids

As you no doubt know by now, I’m a big fan of teaching the Bible to kids.  And because of that I’ve collected a lot of resources for the different Bible stories, and I have a lot of ideas to teach the New Testament to kids.  On my Bible pinterest boards I have over a 1000 ideas, but here are 100 ideas for you to teach the New Testament to kids.

over 100 tried and tested ideas to teach the New Testament to kids

I am loosely organizing these along the lines of my Bible pinterest boards, and then sub-dividing it by individual stories or elements in those different areas.

Before we get started there’s a few crafts and posts that can be easily used in several different areas

General New Testament posts and crafts

There are several repeated themes and elements throughout the Bible and the New Testament, these crafts can be used in more than one story, so I didn’t limit them to that story:

Boat Crafts

  1.  Giant boat to play in
  2. Sea shell boat
  3. Sponge boat
  4. Paper boat craft

Sheep crafts

  1.  Sheep cotton ball badge
  2. 3d Construction paper lamb

Fish crafts

  1.  3D paper fish
  2. Cupcake wrapper fish

Coin crafts

  1. Roman coin craft
  2. Coins of the gospels

10 ideas to teach the New Testament right there (and yes I will be doing this at the end of each section)

teaching the New Testament to kids, Advent ideas

 Advent Ideas

  1.  Christmas Story Ideas from my own blog (this has about 10 different ideas there)
  2. Illustrating the Christmas story
  3. Christ centered nature study
  4. Advent Wreath printable
  5. Truth in the Tinsel (affiliate link)

There’s 5 more Ideas to teach the New Testament Gospels pinterest board


I love the visual aspect of so many of the Gospel stories.  I had a hard time limiting it to one or two ideas for each story, so there’s a few I snuck in 3 or 4 ideas.  But if you click on the picture up above you’ll be taken to my Gospels pinterest board that has over 250 ideas to teach kids about the Gospels.

 John the Baptist ideas

  1. John the Baptist unit study
  2. Grasshopper craft for John the Baptist

 The Baptism of Jesus

  1. Dove craft and baptism craft
  2. Baptism of Jesus story cards
  3. Baptism demonstration


Temptation of Christ ideas

  1.  Temptation of Christ story order cards
  2. Temptation of Christ craft

 Calling of the Disciples ideas

  1.  Breakdown of who the 12 apostles are
  2. Illustrated Guide to the 12 apostles
  3. Jesus picks his disciples craft

 Water to Wine ideas

  1.  Water to wine paper plate idea
  2.  Water to wine learning stations and sensory bin

Jesus Feeds the 5000 ideas

  1. Jesus Feeds the 5000 story telling technique
  2. Feeding the 5000 play dough mat

Nicodemus ideas

  1. John 3:16 copywork
  2. Nicodemus printables
  3. Nicodemus craft

Jesus Walks on Water

  1.  Jesus walks on water snack
  2. Jesus walks on water craft

Jesus heals the paralytic

  1.  Jesus heals the paralytic diorama
  2. Jesus heals the paralytic craft

Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead

  1. Lazarus mask
  2. Lazarus relay race
  3. Mary and Martha story cube (Lazarus’ sisters)

Jesus calms the storm

  1. Jesus calms the storm snack
  2. Jesus calms the storm craft
  3. Jesus calms the storm bath tub toy

Jesus raises Jairus’ daughter from the dead

  1.  Jesus raises Jairus’ daughter paper craft
  2. Jesus heals the crippled woman (the miracle on the way to Jairus’ daughter)

The Samaritan woman at the well

  1.  Very encouraging lesson on what Jesus did there
  2. Samaritan woman at the well craft

 The man at the Pool

  1.  Jesus heals the man at the pool object lesson

10 Lepers healed

  1. Only 1 said thank you craft
  2. 10 lepers storytelling gloves
  3. Jesus heals 10 lepers craft

Zacchaeus and the rich young ruler

  1.  Zacchaeus paper plate craft (my friend took the picture and uploaded it)
  2. Zacchaeus construction paper craft
  3. Zacchaeus in a tree craft

Doubting Thomas, Road to Emmaeus, and Restoration of Peter

  1. Jesus eats breakfast on the shore
  2. Doubting Thomas

40 ideas to teach the New Testament just in the Gospel section (I’m having to keep a running tally to make sure I get at least 100)

That adds up to 55 ideas to teach the New Testament so far!

parables board

Parables of Jesus activities

Jesus taught most often through parables, and there’s such a great wealth of materials you can teach about this area.  If you click on the picture up above you’ll be taken to my parables pinterest board with over 50 ideas to teach parables to kids.

Two generic parables activities

  1. Prayer parables
  2. Parables notebooking pages

Parable of the Sower

  1. Parable of the Sower small world
  2. Parable of the Sower crafts

Wise and Foolish Builder

  1. Wise and Foolish builder sensory play (and several crafts)
  2. Build your house on the rock video

  Prodigal Son

  1. Lego prodigal son
  2. Prodigal son printables and crafts

Parable of the Great Pearl

  1. Parable of the Great pearl Godly play lesson
  2. Parable of the Pearl printables

Parable of the Talents

  1. Parable of the Talents lesson

Parable of the Good Samaritan

  1. Good Samaritan lesson and crafts
  2. Good Samaritan printables

Parable of the Lost Sheep

  1. Parable of the Lost Sheep book and activity
  2. Parable of the Lost Sheep game

Parable of the Lost Coins

  1. Lost coins flashlight book
  2. Lost coins seek and find bottle (only a picture)

Parable of the Rich Pearl

  1. Parable of the Rich fool crafts and activities
  2. Parable of the Rich Fool activities

Parable of the Mustard Seed

  1. Parable of the Mustard seed Godly play

And there’s another 20 ideas to teach the New Testament, bringing the total up to 75 ideas.

Easter ideas and activities


Easter activities for kids

  1. Easter family devotional
  2. Crown of Thorns craft
  3. Easter Nature Study
  4. Easter activities and drawings by Susan Evans
  5. Easter printables
  6. Holy Week Devotional

6 ideas to teach the New Testament in this section, and this section ruined my nice multiples of 5 stretch.  Sigh, poor Ticia, now my math gets harder.  I’m just going to say another 5, because that lets me be lazy.  That gets me to 80 ideas, only 20 left to go.

Acts of the Apostles

Acts of the Apostles

Acts is an interesting book because it shows a couple of things to me: 1.  That even the early church fathers weren’t perfect, and 2.  They were very brave.  Okay, I could actually write a whole paper on that topic (and probably did in college, but I’ll just get on to my Acts New Testament ideas)


  1.  Pentecost ideas from Susan Evans
  2. The Holy Spirit lights us on fire (super cool visual, you literally light something on fire!)

Peter and John in jail

  1.  Relating Thanksgiving and Suffering (this blog is doing a series on Acts right now, if you want to check into it)

The Martyrdom of Stephen

  1. Acts 5-6 informational printable
  2. Martyrdom of Stephen lesson for kids

Philip, the first missionary

  1.  Philip and the Ethiopian lesson
  2. Philip and the Ethiopian printable (this site does some amazing printables, and thoroughly covers a story)

Paul saved on the road to Damascus

  1.  Saul’s conversion lesson
  2. Saul’s conversion printable mask
  3. Saul lowered in a basket (because after he’s converted he has to escape his friends, and I know I was trying to stick to two ideas per lesson, but this is so cool, I mean he’s lowered in a BASKET!)

Paul’s call to the Gentiles and Peter’s Dream

  1.  Peter’s dream visuals (great use of toys)

Paul’s first missionary trip, sent from Antioch

  1. Paul preaches in Antioch printables

Paul’s First missionary Trip, the Philippian Jailer

  1.  Paul and Silas in jail printable

Paul’s Second Missionary Trip, Athens

  1.  Lesson to the “Unknown God” (this is one of my favorite sermons by Paul)
  2. Unknown God memory work

Paul’s Second Missionary Trip, Aquila and Priscilla

  1.  Priscilla and Aquilla tent craft (they were tent makers after all)

Paul in Ephesus

  1.  Pictures of an actual trip to Ephesus

Paul’s Third Missionary Trip

  1.   Paul’s missionary trips map (love the way this map looks)
  2. edible map of Paul’s journeys (no matter how I make journey plural it looks wrong)

Paul’s Arrest and Sent to Rome

  1. Paul in jail

Paul’s Shipwreck

  1.  Paul pop-up book (it’s his whole life, but I shared it here, for lack of somewhere else)
  2. Paul’s shipwreck boat craft

22 More ideas her in Acts, so from here on out the rest are bonus ideas.


New Testament letters ideas




 New Testament Letters

The Armor of God

  1. Armor of God object lesson
  2.  Sword of the Spirit

Fruit of the Spirit

  1. Fruit of the Spirit tree
  2. Fruit of the Spirit file folder game
  3. Fruit of the Spirit snack and object lesson (would you believe I’ve been trying to remember the phrase “object lesson” for most of the writing of this post?)

Other New Testament Letters

  1. lesson on grace from James 1
  2. 1 John craft
  3. 1 Thessalonians 5 prayer book
  4. Revelation Tree of Life Craft
  5. Hebrews 11 Hall of Faith lesson


Visit Ticia Adventures in Mommydom’s profile on Pinterest.
And if I’ve added up all of these correctly that is 112 ideas to teach kids the New Testament.  If you head to my pinterest feed you’ll see over 1000 ideas to teach kids about the New Testament in my 5 pinterest boards.  If you include the rest of my Bible boards there is over 3500 ideas to teach your kids about the Bible and I’m finding more every week.


This post is part of iHomeschool Network’s 100 Things link up.  There are 99 different lists of 100 things, I can guarantee you there is something for you there if you’re at all interested in parenting/homeschooling/life/reading then there is something for you.

Roominate review “THE” STEM toy for your daughter

Today I have a special treat for you, I’ve been playing around with a Roominate set, and by me, I should say I’ve been trying very hard not to take my daughter’s Roominate set and take it over.

Roominate review STEM toy

(Disclosure: I received a free copy of Roominate Studio to review this, opinions are my own, and I’m buying my daughter another set for Christmas)

My STEM background

As you no doubt know by now I like science.  I was the girl who got a chemistry set for Christmas one year, and then promptly ruined it by mixing random chemicals together.  So, I don’t do the best at following directions.

I was also the girl who built with my brother’s LEGOs, and had LEGOs of my own ( really want the Santa’s Workshop set for Christmas this year).  Fast forward and I have a girly girl.  Sure she plays with LEGOs, but it’s okay for her, and she likes science, but it’s not her favorite.

But, you know what she loves.  Creating homes for her toys, and furniture for her toys.  We got these strange connector toys from Wendy’s in a kid’s meal a few years ago, and ever since then she’s been jealously hoarding those toys to create furniture for her toys.

Roominate silliness

Roominate, my favorite STEM toy for Princess

Enter Roominate Studio, it’s a building and engineering toy for girls.  Each kit lets you build a room or studio for the included doll, and then wire it to create a fan, or whatever you want.

Roominate review

And that’s what I love about it.  Roominate has pictures and inspiration, but it doesn’t give you instructions.  It just turns you loose.  And that’s what I did with Princess.  Eventually she did ask to look at the Roominate website which has dozens more ideas AND pictures from other young builders of what they’ve created.

decorate your Roominate

She happily dug into the Roominate set and started building with it the second she got it.  Then she saw the papers and how she could cut them up to decorate the house and she was even more excited.

Roominate wiring

Then came the part that amused my husband, she could wire her creation.  There’s ideas in your Roominate box for making a fan, or an elevator, or any number of different creations.  We waited to do this part with my father-in-law who was coming to town a few days later because we knew he’d enjoy wiring her toy with her, and we were right.  They had a fun time building the toy together and talking through how and why the wires worked the way they do.

Roominate review

As my daughter sat happily building with her Roominate my boys were looking on jealously.  They want their own toy like this to build bases for their “guys” (and I’d have to agree, there’s nothing similarly cool for boys, future expansion for Roominate?  A fort for your guys, I have two boys who will happily get it).

Roominate review But don’t take my Roominate review for, let’s hear from her:


For those of you who didn’t watch Princess’ Roominate review, here’s her big selling points:

  • The fan is cool because it makes real air.
  • I can build it (that’s what she told me earlier).
  • Buy the Studio set because I like it.

Get your own Roominate toy

You can purchase Roominate from the Roominate website or from Roominate on Amazon, prices are comparable, so I tend to default to small business when I can.
I’m hurrying my review of Roominate because I want you to have a chance to win a Roominate toy.

Fine print on the giveaway:

  1. Winner has 24 hours to respond to my email and a new winner will be chosen (trying to make sure it gets to you by Christmas).
  2. Winner must be in the United States.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Christmas in Sweden lesson

A few years ago (back when the boys were in preschool) we did a Christmas around the World Unit, and we had a Christmas in Sweden lesson.

Christmas in Sweden

Back then we were doing lapbooks and tried all sorts of different recipes.  Since then our learning style has changed slightly and the kids are a lot more grown up.

(All Amazon links are affiliate links)

Saint Lucia Day

Sweden celebrates Saint Lucia Day as part of their Christmas celebrations.  I found a great book called Lucia: Saint of Light (affiliate link) on Amazon, and ordered it.  It combines explanations of how they celebrate the holiday with the story of Saint Lucia (sanitized for young kids).


Who is Saint Lucia?

I’m glad you asked that.  She was a young lady who gave away her dowry to the poor and was martyred for her faith.  According to legend she would wear a wreath of candles on her head so she could have both hands free to carry food for the poor.  And that leads to the traditions Sweden celebrates today.

First they choose a Saint Lucia bride, she wears a white dress and a red sash.  She wears white because she wanted to be the Bride of Christ, and the red sash is for the red of martyrdom.  The Saint Lucia bride wears all of that and has a wreath of lingonberry leaves and lingonberries (spell check does not recognize lingonberries, silly thing).  She’d be in a parade, and then she would share food on other ladies.

To learn a bit more we made our own Saint Lucia wreath, and some Saint Lucia Cat bread (the other part of the tradition).

Saint Lucia wreath kids craft Christmas in Sweden

First we cut out lots and lots of leaves, I tried to get them to make holly-like leaves, but their leaves ended up more random leaf shapes.

Then use a hole punch to make your berries, as many as you want.

At this point you can either use birthday candles, or make pretend candles from card stock and tissue paper.

Glue your leaves and berries onto the outer rim of a paper plate in a circle format.

Then glue the candles down using a glue dot.

Saint lucia crown

Now proudly wear your Saint Lucia wreath…..  Honest you can wear this.

making Saint Lucia bread for Christmas in SwedenThen we attempted to make Saint Lucia bread from the recipe in the back of the book.  I say attempted because our dough never rose.  We finally baked the bread, but it was not particularly good.  My mother-in-law who is actually good at baking bread and all things (unlike me)  thinks the yeast might have been old, and it quite likely is because I don’t remember exactly when I bought it.

Christmas in Sweden Saint Lucia breadSeriously, it didn’t turn out well at all.  We ended up sharing most of it with the birds, not that it tasted bad, just it was so very very heavy when you ate it.

Someday a recipe will go right.  Just wait until I share with you our attempts at making a rock cycle recipe….

Christmas Tomten

The other interesting Christmas in Sweden tradition is the Tomten.  In most stories, he’s rather like a Swedish Santa Claus, but there are some that make tomtens an entire group of fairies that are rather like house brownies.


Our library had two books on the Tomten, and they were both quite fun.

The Christmas Tomten (I’ll warn you, this book looks to be out of print and rather expensive to order) was about the Tomten taking a young boy around as he delivered presents and then the boy getting to see the King under the Mountain.  It taught an interesting lesson, and could be a great jumping off point for discussing gratitude, which the young boy was really struggling with.  I also enjoyed seeing how the Tomten gave wildly different things to different people, that was interesting to me.

The Tomtes’ Christmas Porridge was our other book (this book is still in print and rather reasonably priced, I would recommend ordering this one), and it treated tomtes as if they were house brownies.  On Christmas Eve in Sweden they leave out a bowl of porridge for  the Tomten to eat.  In this book the family is about to forget to leave out the Christmas porridge, so the Mother Tomte is trying to fix the problem.  It’s a very cute book about how to solve problems, and works in well with the first book we read.

Christmas in Sweden porridge for Christmas Eve

Afterwards we had our own bowl of Christmas porridge just like they do in Sweden.  We even tried out putting jam in our porridge, which got very mixed reviews from everyone as we ate it.  Superman really didn’t like it, but he doesn’t like jam anyways.  Batman thought it was the most awesome way to eat oatmeal and declared he wanted more jam.  Princess liked it okay, but wasn’t sold on the idea.  I was like Princess, it was okay, but by the time I got to eat there just wasn’t any jam left for me to try.


I think we’re gonna add in Saint Lucia Day (December 13) and some of the Christmas in Sweden tradition.  We’ll make it into a fun way to serve others during Christmas.

Christmas Around the World 2014

This post is written as part of a series, I’m lucky enough to join with the Multicultural Bloggers to write about Christmas Around the World.  Come check out some other great posts to see how it is celebrated around the world.

Learning through Christmas music

I think I’d originally planned to write about Christmas baking, but we’ve been listening to Christmas music all week, so I’ve got that on my mind.

learning with Christmas music

Probably even more strongly than movies or books or any of the other traditions I’ve mentioned this week, I remember Christmas music. We had a collection of tapes my Mom had gotten from all over that I played non-stop during Christmas. The two that stand out in my mind as most unusual were the Amy Grant Christmas Album and Christmas With Boney M (yeah, so I kinda want to buy this even though I know it would drive Jeff nuts, I’ve now got the first song from the CD running through my head), which was a group Mom found out about when we lived over in Hong Kong and brought the tape back with us.  There was also the random selection of Bing Crosby (now playing on my computer), and a few other random ones.

Aside from instilling great memories in my kids, what can I do with it?

Using Christmas songs for learning

There’s several different ways to go about this, but here’s a few I’ve used over the years.

Vocabulary, Christmas songs, especially the classic ones have some amazing words in them and we can create some great vocabulary lessons from them.  Take a look at Jingle Bells (I’m skipping the more well known parts):


A day or two ago
I thought I’d take a ride
And soon, Miss Fanny Bright
Was seated by my side,
The horse was lean and lank
Misfortune seemed his lot
He got into a drifted bank
And then we got upsot.

|: chorus:|

A day or two ago,
The story I must tell
I went out on the snow,
And on my back I fell;
A gent was riding by
In a one-horse open sleigh,
He laughed as there I sprawling lie,
But quickly drove away.

Aren’t those some great lyrics (and this isn’t the whole song) for vocabulary?  We can take: misfortune, drifted, bank, upsot, bobtail, sprawling, gent….  And that’s from two verses.  Imagine the opportunities if you sang all of the lyrics.

winter wonderland craft

Art projects, this goes back to yesterday with Christmas crafts, but there’s more crafts than I care to count for Christmas songs (right now over at Enchanted Homeschooling Mom she’s got a 12 Days of Christmas theme going).  Wouldn’t this snowman be perfect for “Walking in a Winter Wonderland”?


When I was in 8th grade I remember getting the assignment of figuring out how many presents “My true love gave to me,” and it’s a staggeringly large number of birds.  Remember each day he is giving each of those presents.  Though for several of those days she is also getting 5 gold rings.  Someday soon I’m giving my kids that assignment of figuring out how many there were.


One project we are going to do this year is piece together the Christmas Story from Christmas carols.  I want to go through songs like Silent Night, Away in the Manger, and figure out “the correct order” to tell the Christmas story.  I know Princess is going to love this project.


And the one near and dear to my heart, let’s teach some history with our Christmas music.  Who is “Good King Winslecas,” or what is the “feast of Stephen”?  Why was “Silent Night” written?  Have you heard that story?  It’s a good one.


Oh, I almost forgot this one.  Go to the theater and see “The Nutcracker” or watch a performance of “Handel’s Messiah.”  Both are great experiences (I was reminded because I saw Homegrown Learner’s Nutcracker Unit (affiliate link), and said, can’t forget to mention that!).


Finally, of course you can use Christmas carols to teach about music theory and music history.  For that I”m going to be lazy and use SQUILT Christmas Carols (affiliate link), because why put in the work to create a unit (an unit?  That sounds wrong, but it’s grammatically correct) when someone else has already done the work?


Our Christmas Music

I’ve spent a while telling you how I plan to teach using Christmas music, but haven’t told you much about our rather extensive library, so here’s a quick list of the various CDs and music I’ve collected over the years (other than the CDs mentioned at the top).

  •  Christmas Offerings
  • Peace(This is my friend’s album and Jeff got it for me this year as an early Christmas present, it’s all instrumental and GORGEOUS)
  • The Muppet Christmas Carol(I told you I loved it, also a Christmas present form Jeff one year)
  • Christmas Classics
  • Classic Christmas(can you tell I have a thing for 40s Big Band music?)
  • Random other albums that I can’t remember right now, but might come back in later and add in

This is part of Creating Christmas Traditions series come back tomorrow as I talk about Christmas giving traditions.  For more Christmas posts check out iHomeschool Network’s 5 Days of Christmas series.

Creating Christmas crafts

Christmas crafts for kids on their terms

All right, as I look at this post today on Christmas crafts, I’m completely scrapping what I’m doing.  Originally I was going to link to specific crafts we’ve done and break it down, but in all honesty, that’s not how we approach our Christmas crafts.

We look at Christmas crafts as a way to try new projects.


Some stick around, like the Christmas wrapping paper.  It’s actually an expansion of my Christmas crafting tradition.  My Mom spent months collecting brown paper bags, and our presents would be wrapped in those, and we’d decorate them with old Christmas cards, ribbons, and random things.  I loved to do that.  I changed the tradition slightly with the addition of butcher paper to create vast rolls of Christmas wrapping paper.  Though my kids’ present wrapping can leave something to be desired.


We’ve tried making Christmas cards, that one comes and goes.  Last year we made chalk pastel Christmas cards,and the kids loved the experience.  But, shhhh……  They didn’t get mailed.  I’m horrid at mailing cards.  Horrid.  I have a stack of about 10 letters to mail.  So, we may pull out our Chalk Pastels again next week to make another round of cards for me not to mail and look at guiltily for weeks on end.


My kids love to paint and decorate peg dolls, so we tend to add a few new figures and buildings to our peg doll nativity every year.  Since the creations are rather lasting (2 years and going strong) it’s getting to be a rather large town.

Christmas crafts

This year, we’re trying out a whole slew of new crafts.  We joined the Winter crafting class (affiliate link, yes, me AND the kids, it’s been interesting).  So far we’ve made a snowman, and today we’re going to make art journals.  I’m really enjoying the class, and highly recommend it, we’re learning all sorts of new techniques.  All of my kids are really enjoying it.

Our snowmen are turning out very interesting, and we are planning on giving these as Christmas presents to friends and family.  Fingers crossed super tight they turn out well.  Right now I’ll be honest I’m regretting my usual approach of letting them do it completely themselves because some of my sons’ projects aren’t anywhere near as cute as the samples.  But they are proud of them, and that’s what I need to repeat to myself each time I cringe at the square hat.  SQUARE!

Moving on.

So, I guess our Christmas crafts tradition is trying new stuff and seeing what sticks, but if you’d like actual planned projects……  Then check out these spots:

teaching the New Testament to kids, Advent ideas

I’d highly recommend following my Advent pinterest board, there’s over 300 ideas there, and I’ve gone in and done some of them from time to time (these are all my Christian Christmas crafts)

Follow Ticia Adventures in Mommydom’s board Advent season on Pinterest.


Christmas ideas


If you’re looking for secular Christmas ideas then follow my Christmas crafts for kids board (it’s not just crafts, it’s also school ideas).  There’s a few hundred ideas there for you to try.

 Follow Ticia Adventures in Mommydom’s board Christmas Crafts for kids on Pinterest.

This year I’m participating in a couple of different Christmas craft projects, and I want to draw attention to them:  Storybook Advent over at Rainy Day Mum, Kid-Made Christmas ornaments by Mama Miss, and Christmas in Different Lands with Multicultural Kids Blogs.


Apparently this is the year that I’m all about the Christmas crafting.


Stocking Stuffer Giveaway 2014 I iHomeschoolNetwork.com


This is part of Creating Christmas Traditions series come back tomorrow as I talk about Christmas giving traditions.  For more Christmas posts check out iHomeschool Network’s 5 Days of Christmas series.

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