December 9, 2008

Christmas Markets

Tis the season for Christmas markets. These seasonal markets are great places to not only find unique gifts, but to also expose your kids to different ethnic foods and cultures. An outing to one of these markets is fun for the whole family, so check out some of these great ones in your area:

Christkindlmarkt in Denver, CO
Nov 28 - Dec 23, 2008
The 8th annual Denver Christkindl Market will take place at downtown Denver’s Skyline Park at the 16th Street Mall and Arapahoe Street. This market will host vendors from Germany and other European countries, with traditional German food.

Christmas Market in Chicago, IL
Nov 27 - Dec 24, 2008
The Christkindlmarket Chicago is a popular German winter holiday event. In its 13th year, they will host almost one million guest to Daley Plaza.

Festival of Gingerbread in Fort Wayne, IN
Nov 28 - Dec 14, 2008
Held at The History Center the annual Festival of Gingerbread features hundreds of gingerbread creations, from those made by area grade school children to master bakers.

16th Annual Kristkindl Markt at Stone Hill Winery in Hermann, MO
Dec 13 - Dec 14, 2008
This is a traditional German Christmas market with crafts, entertainment, food and demonstrations.

Union Square & Columbus Circle Holiday Market New York City, NY
Nov 22 - Dec 24, 2008
Union Square Holiday Market: Nov 22 - Dec 24, 2008
Columbus Circle Holiday Market: Dec 3 - 24, 2008
These yearly markets are the perfect place for unique gifts.

German Christmas Market, Dayton Liederkranz-Turner in Dayton, OH
Dec 13 - Dec 14, 2008
Visit the Liederkranz for the annual celebration of the centuries old German Christmas market tradition that originated in Nuremburg, Germany. The Christmas Market will feature authentic German food, desserts, coffee and a Christmas Raffle.

Christkindlmarkt in Tulsa, OK
Dec 5 - Dec 7, 2008
Her the German-American Society of Tulsa (GAST) provides the annual presentation of this wonderful custom where St. Nikolaus will walk among the booths. Kitchener Christkindl Market

Christkindlmarkt in Bethlehem, PA
Nov 24 - Dec 31, 2008
This Christkindlmarket is located in Bethlehem's historic downtown district. It is a heart warming holiday event for the whole family featuring live holiday music, great food, children's rides and old St. Nicholas.

Mifflinburg Christkindl Market in Mifflinburg, PA
Dec 11 - Dec 13, 2008
Come find unique handmade crafts, traditional Christkindl treats, and German Lebkuchen (Gingerbread) hearts.

German-Texan Heritage Society Christkindlmarkt in Austin, TX
Dec 9 - Dec 11, 2008
Enjoy live performances of traditional German Christmas music and songs throughout the day and a special visit by Sankt Nikolaus.

Old World Christmas Market in Elkhart, WI
Dec 5 - Dec 14, 2008
The Osthoff Resort's 11th annual traditional European Christmas Market features authentic gifts, toys, ornaments and food specialties from international and regional artisans.

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November 26, 2008

Dear Santa Letters

Dear Santa letters are a time honored Christmas tradition in many households. They are your child’s opportunity to express their wants and hopes. Being able to express their ideas to someone other than family and friends can be an exciting experience for kids.

Encourage your kids to be creative and practice their good writing skills in their Dear Santa letters. You can download letter to Santa templates from and to add a festive touch. Macy’s is also offering stationary down loads and will donate $1 to the Make-a-Wish Foundation for every letter received. So while your kids are expressing their good thoughts, they can also learn about helping others.

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Customized Christmas Cards

Creating customized Christmas cards is a great activity to do with your homeschooled children. Not only can it be a lesson in holiday spirit, but also in creativity.

It is great fun to make hand made Christmas cards, and now you can get that homemade effect with the help of the Internet. Here are some sites that are great for personalized Christmas cards:

Send your customized Christmas cards to friends, family, and supporters of your homeschooling efforts. But don’t forget the postage, PhotoStamps are a great way to add a festive finishing touch.

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November 7, 2008

Fun Christmas Facts

We all love a bit of trivia, so what better than to share some fun Christmas facts with your classoorm, or homeschooled children and families. Teachers and parents can make flash cards with the history of Christmas and use them for a fun quiz show night.

  • Santa Claus – Also known as Saint Nicholas, Father Christmas, and Kris Kringle, the origin of Santa Claus begins in the 4th century. Saint Nicholas lived in what is now present day Turkey and was Bishop of Myra. Everyone thought of St. Nicholas as a generous man, and particularly devoted to children. After his death around 340 A.D. he was buried in Myra, and his generous ways inspired the gift giving of today.

  • Christmas Stockings – According to legend, in Myra where Saint Nicholas lived, a nobleman left his three young daughters without dowries. The generous St. Nicholas, went to help them, but wished to remain anonymous. So he threw three small pouches of gold coins down the chimney where they were caught by the stockings that the young women had hung by the fireplace to dry. This was then interpreted into the present day stockings filled with gifts.

  • Christmas Trees – Starting in 16th century Germany, fir trees were decorated indoors and out, with apples, roses, gilded candies, and colored paper. The popularity of the Christmas tree grew further in the Middle Ages, and continued to spread across the globe.

  • Mistletoe – Druid priests 200 years before the birth of Christ used this plant in their winter celebrations. They revered the plant because oddly enough it didn’t have roots, yet remained green during the cold months.

  • Candy Canes – During the 17th century, craftsmen created white sticks of candy in the shape of shepherds' crooks at the suggestion of the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany. The candy treats were given to children to keep them quiet during ceremonies. The candy cane's symbolism became that the color white represented Christ's purity, the color red the blood he shed, and the three red stripes the Holy Trinity.

  • Christmas Cards – The first form of Christmas card began in England when young boys practiced their writing skills by creating Christmas greetings for their parents. But it was in 1843 when the first commercial Christmas cards were commissioned by Sir Henry Cole who found himself too busy to send individual greetings so he got John Callcott Horsley to illustrate some for him.

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October 28, 2008

Family Tree Project

Christmas is about coming together and enjoying family. For this reason, it’s the perfect time of year to introduce a family tree project to your homeschooled kids.

A family tree is a literal diagram of your family history, dating back to as far as you have records. It can be small, with just your immediate family, or larger to include very distant ancestors. To get started with your homeschool family tree project try for some preliminary background research on your family and tools to create a tree. If you can trace your family back to their immigration through Ellis Island, find them with a passenger search. Once you have gathered all your family information, print off a family fan chart from, and you’re ready. Add family photos and a frame for a lasting centerpiece.

Learning about where you have come from, the accomplishments of those who came before you, and the love that bonds your family together, is an invaluable lesson. History can come alive once you can visualize it in a diagram.


October 13, 2008

Homemade Christmas Tree Ornaments for Kids

Homemade Christmas tree ornaments for kids are a fun and personalized way to celebrate the holiday. Collecting ornaments over the years and buying new ones at the store is great, but sometimes it’s nice to make your own. It’s a great bonding experience for the whole family, and can specifically reflect the year’s milestones, hobbies, and your unique interests.

A homemade Christmas tree ornament is only limited by your imagination, so be creative. Non-edible ornament dough can be a pretty and fragrant addition to your tree. Try the different ornament dough recipes at and run wild with different shapes and endless decorating ideas, just don’t forget to put a whole in the top of each ornament for ribbon to hang. For great ideas that won’t break the bank, try some of the crafts at, were your everyday household items can suddenly become beautiful decorations. A Q-tip snowflake or homemade snow globe are festive touches.

Homemade ornaments are uniquely yours. Your kids will find a sense of great accomplishment at having created them, and decorated the Christmas tree themselves.


September 29, 2008

Christmas Traditions for Children

Celebrating time honored Christmas traditions, while creating some of your own, can get your children more involved in the holiday. Christmas traditions for children can be new or old. Because these rituals and lessons are passed down from one generation to the next, they can be new ones you start for your family, or they can be old family staples.

Creating a new Christmas tradition for your children can be a great way to get them to understand the meaning of family and the holidays. It can also give you the chance to customize experiences for the tastes of your child. One great place to start for ideas is Here you can find all kinds of how-to guides for everything from Christmas cards to how to celebrate Christmas all year long.

Once you start thinking about all the different Christmas traditions for children, you can add your own creative touch and keep it going for years to come.