Monday, December 29, 2008

Free Homeschool ebook: Golden Numbers: Poems for Children and Young People Compiled by Kate Douglas Smith Wiggin and Nora Archibald Smith

Free and in public domain poetry for children and adults alike, Golden Numbers: Poems for Children and Young People. Compiled by Kate Douglas Smith Wiggin and Nora Archibald Smith. Published by Houghton Mifflin, 1902, 686 pages.

Main page, or begin reading here. Book is fully downloadable and printable.

A Chanted Calendar

Here is the Year's Processional in verse; the story of her hours, her days, her seasons, told as only -poets can, because they see and hear things not revealed to you and me, and are able by their magic to make us sharers in the revelation. Read the first six poems and ask yourself whether you have ever realized the glories of the common day; from the moment when morning from her orient chambers comes, and the lark at heaven's gate sings, to the hour when the moon, unveiling her peerless light, throws her silver mantle o'er the dark, and the firmament glows with living sapphires. It is the task of poetry not only to say noble things, but to say them nobly; having beautiful fancies, to clothe them in beautiful phrases, and if you search these poems you will find some of the most wonderful word- pictures in the English language. How charming Drayton's description of the summer breeze:

" The wind hail no more strength than this,

That leisurely it blew.
To make one leaf the next to kiss
That closely by it grew."

If the day is dreary you need only read Lowell's " June Weather," and like the bird sitting at his door in the sun, atilt like a blossom among the leaves, your " illumined being " will overrun with the " deluge of summer it receives."

Then turn the page ; the picture fades as you read Trow- bridge's " Midwinter.'' The speckled sky is dim,- the light flakes falter and fall slow ; the chickadee sings cheerily, for the magic touch again and the house mates sit as Emerson tells them-,

"Around the radiant fireplace enclosed
In a tumultuous privacy of storm."

There are reprints of this book for sale online for ridiculous prices - $40.00 to $60.00 at Amazon and Barnes & Noble respectively. It would cost much less to print and bind the book yourself with brads! Even better, read it for free online or download it to your PC or laptop.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Free Academic Preschool- Kindergarten Printables has many free letter, shapes, numbers, language, and matching hands-on printables which you can cut and paste onto cardboard. You can certainly find free letters and shapes off old food boxes and other print media to cut out on your own(no need for a printer), but if you'd rather have it all laid out for you, this is quick and easy.

By the way, a laser printer rather than an ink jet printer really is the least expensive way to go for low printing costs in the long run. I got an inexpensive rebuilt b/w laser printer online, the one recommended by Robinson Homeschooling. I've had this for almost two years, and still haven't had to purchase a new drum, and I do a moderate amount of printing.

Free paper: My husband brings home recycled paper from work, and I use the blank side for printing. Just place it print side up in the printer tray and it will print on the blank side.

I printed out these free learning printables(pictured above), pasted them on the back of frozen pizza boxes, cut them out, and used recycled bill envelopes for the pockets to hold loose pieces. I had my daughter do some of this in order to help her learn to cut and paste. For the letter matching boards, I pasted and taped pockets on the back and front. The cardboard is difficult to cut with small scissors. Get yourself a pair of heavy duty scissors to cut the glued cardboard pieces, or you'll end up with sore hands.

My favorite is the shape matching game, but my daughter likes matching and sorting the letters. So far I've only done the upper case letters, but they do have lower case printable sheets for file folder learning. I think the letter sheets are suppose to be glued into a manila folder, holed punched and put in a ring binder, but I did it my own way. My three year old action oriented daughter would have just ripped these out, so I modified them into a board game-like presentation.

Here's the template for the elephant(from my picture) which can be printed, cut and pasted together. There are eleven pieces for the child to match together from the picture. This was from First-School Preschool Activities and Crafts. I used this site with my son, many moons ago.

I store all these homemade educational items in recycled dry food boxes which can be decoupaged if you have the time, or if your little ones are so inclined. It's a great way to learn fine motor skills - learning to use scissors can be a real challenge. My daughter has picked it up fast, but my son took forever to learn to use the scissors.

I've also found some printable puzzles online. These are fun to print, color, cut and paste onto cardboard for an instant homemade puzzle. The pieces are really big, so it's not like a jigsaw puzzle. It helps teach visual/spatial thinking skills for the preschoolers - good pre-math skill builder as well. It's not pictured here, but we did a little three piece duck when my daughter was younger. I put a little yarn bow around it's neck - too cute, but she keep pulling it off. Maybe I'll teach her to tie it back on!

So save light cardboard boxes from your dry goods, old envelopes, and paper that is blank on one side, and you've got most of what you'll need for an almost free preschool-kindergarten! Free preschool websites will guide you in content, and you can improvise off of this.

Crafting your own preschool materials is a bit time consuming, but if you have your children help, it does double duty as teaching fine motor skills. I'm all for efficiency, what mom doesn't want the shortest route from A to B, so I do use those big fat $5.00 preschool workbooks(huge value!) for Walmart, and educational hands-on games from the Dollar Tree. They work just as well to teach, but when I make the time, crafting the materials is very satisfying and relaxing. There is nothing like something handmade to personalize the educational experience and make warm memories.

Not all printables but, here is a nice link farm for children's free educational games and activities.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Reusing Christmas Gift Wrap Paper

Ideas for reusing gift wrap paper:

- Shred it to use in gift baskets

- Cut out areas that are still in good shape to reuse with smaller gifts

- Use it for craft projects such as this fan ornament

- Shred for compost or mulch in the garden

- Turn it into a Christmas card

- Shred and use as packing filler

- Recycle your gift wrap into thank you cards

- Shred and use it to line your recycling bin to catch run off

- Shred and use for cooking oil and grease disposal

- Cut it up in small rectangles for scratch paper, hole punch it, and pull a ribbon through it. Reinforce it with some recycled gift box cardboard as the bottom page. Great for beside the phone.

- Make paper chains, snow flakes, wrapping paper stars, or lucky stars

- Make a wrapping paper book mark

- Make a New Years party hat from your Christmas wrapping paper and cardboard gift boxes

- Use the odd sized ripped paper for decoupage and mosaic ornaments

- Make paper bows

- Wad into cardboard paper towel tubes for fire starters(fire place)

- Use it for origami

Got any more ideas?

Flu and Cold Season: Benefits of Grapefruit Seed Extract

I use very little in the way of homeopathic remedies because they rarely work for me, but one thing which has worked over the years is grapefruit seed extract or GSE. I used to get these horrible sinus infections every time I got a cold, and my colds would drag out for weeks. I suffered from these debilitating viruses ever since college. I think it was the stress, lack of rest, and germy environments.

I was missing a lot of work, and dragging through the winters pumped up on antibiotics after my viruses turned septic. Something was wrong, and I wasn't willing to change the employment situation, so I read about the immunoboosting properties of GSE in a magazine. I bought some and used about 15 drops twice a day in my orange juice. It really helped stave off infections. I still had the bad colds, but I was less likely to go to antibiotics for secondary infections. I turned my MIL onto it as well.

Since I got married and quit my job, I have been much more healthy! Apparently the single childless life and working outside the home was making me sick. I seem to be more in my element physically and mentally as a stay at home mom. I still get colds, but now I can almost avoid them with the GSE. This last time when the family got sick with colds, all I got was a little sore throat for a day while taking the GSE.

Here are some of the supposed benefits of taking GSE internally. GSE can be found at Walmart, Kmart, etc. in the vitamin aisle:

- antibacterial(bacteriostatic)
- antifungal
- antiprotozoan
- antiviral

Other uses:

- Additive to beauty products much like Tea-tree oil(Antiseptic, Disinfectant)

Because of it's antibacterial properties, I add it to my homemade moisturizer(virgin olive oil) which is especially helpful with blemish control. I think it also has antioxidant(anti-aging) benefits.

- Insect and fungi control for plants

- Additive to natural cleaners to control mold and disinfect.


Weighing on the safety controversy of GSE: Grapefruit Seed Extract Preservative — Safe for Homemade and Natural Products?

Personally, I have not had a problem with the NutriBiotics brand, and only recently learned about tests which revealed potentially harmful chemical residue(when taken internally).

Nutriteam responses to criticisms and more pro-GSE discussion here.

I'm not sure who to believe, but I did find GSE at Mountain Rose Herbs which claims to be free of harmful additives/residues. They are a certified organic processor through Oregon Tilth which is fully accredited with the USDA National Organic Program. I'll be buying from them in the future, just to be on the safe side.

A few blogs(see comments at links as well) mentioning the efficacy of GSE for home and health:

Angry Chicken - deodorant

Clark Chatter - immunoboost

Urban Mommas- Thrush

Kickboxing Mama - home and health(nice list)

Wisebread - home cleaning

Autumn's Attic - Cold virus

Handprints on the Wall - Produce Spray

I wouldn't use GSE in place of prescription medication. I would use it as a supplement like you would vitamins or chicken soup(Occillococinum). It's not an antibiotic, but reportedly has these properties. I can only say it has worked well for myself as a supplement.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Free Vintage Lesson Plan and Story: Anderson's The Fir Tree

From Primary Education, published in 1920, free and in public domain. Simply left click on the pages at the links, select "view image", print preview, adjust to desired size, and print. Page one and page two .

These lessons are appropriate for early elementary school students.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Shell Garlands and Ornaments

I'm still stringing these shells onto twine for a shell garland. I got glitter spray paint for the shells this year. I'm not sure if I like it better or not. I usually use decoupage glue(watered down white glue) to adhere the extra fine glitter onto the shell, and then seal it with clear spray paint. The glitter spray is much lighter than the glue and extra fine glitter. In fact, I can barely notice it, so I put painted a light layer of the decoupage glue onto the shells as an extra adherent in order to get a bit more coverage with the glitter.

These shell garlands are so easy to make. I sit at the kitchen table and drill holes into the shells on a little piece of scrap wood. It's very quick and the results are good as long as you don't press down hard while drilling. I've broken more than one shell pushing down hard while drilling. I even made a pair of shell earrings from some iridescent flat shells. They slid easily on top of a small pair of oval loop earrings, right over the existing hanging stone.

A few of the larger shells ended up as ornaments, especially the large pieces of gray coral and barnacles which where so pretty with gold and iridescent glitter. The coral and barnacles had natural holes for the hangers. They are too difficult for me to drill.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Saint Nicholas Day Cookies, Stories and Coloring Pages

Saint Nicholas Day is this Saturday. Because both my husband and I come from a German background, we follow family tradition and put shoes by the front door on the eve of Saint Nicholas Day which gets filled with goodies for the children. Read more about Saint Nicholas and Saint Nicholas Day traditions at the St. Nicholas Center.

Here's a nice cookie recipe for Speculaas cookies.

Coloring pages of Saint Nicholas.

Printable childrens stories

This is a beautifully illustrated childrens picture book of Saint Nicholas. We checked this one out from the library a few years ago:

I haven't read this one yet but it has two glowing reviews:

You can read an excerpt; I noticed in the excerpt that a painting by Fra Angelico is mentioned. It appears that classic paintings are used to illustrate this text. This looks really good.

A history of St. Nicholas of Myra, free and in public domain.

Excerpt: "While knighthood had its St. George, serfhood had its St. Nicholas. He was emphatically the saint of the people ; the bourgeois saint invoked by the peaceable citizen, by the labourer who toiled for his daily bread, by the merchant who traded from shore to shore, by the mariner struggling with the stormy ocean. He was the protector of the weak against the strong, of the poor against the rich, of the captive, the prisoner, the slave ; he was the guardian of young marriageable maidens, of schoolboys,and especially of the orphan poor. In Russia, Greece, and throughout all Catholic Europe, children are still taught to reverence St. Nicholas, and to consider themselves as placed under his peculiar care : if they are good, docile, and attentive to their studies, St. Nicholas, on the eve of his festival, will graciously fill their cap or their stocking with dainties ; while he has, as certainly, a rod in pickle for the idle and unruly."

Monday, December 01, 2008

Homeschooling: Free Children's Winter Art Lesson

Kathy the art teacher has a nice winter art lesson, Tinted Christmas Tree Painting for children. Click here for directions for this pretty winter scene.

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I'm a homeschooling mom of two, a teen and a little. I hope this collection of mine helps you as much as it has helped us. I have an Etsy shop here: And a blog: