Homeschooling

Using Children’s Books to Build Rabbit Trails of Curiosity in Your Gifted Homeschool

Using Children's Books to Build Rabbit Trails of Curiosity in Your Gifted Homeschool

We read a lot of books in this house. How many? Last year, we scanned most of the books my daughter read, and at year-end, counted a virtual stack of 530 books. The year before, when she was five, we catalogued 561 books. (I don’t need to sign up for a fitness program; I carry library tote bags.)

And we didn’t scan every book she read, either. We tend to mostly scan library books, and not necessarily the daily-rotating selection from our wall of overstuffed bookshelves. So one thousand is a conservative count; over the course of two years, she easily read far more than a thousand books. (Does that make your head spin? It does mine!)

How do I keep up?

I don’t.

How do I preview them all?

I don’t.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received free books from Candlewick Press and was compensated for my time in exchange for writing and publishing this post. All opinions are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

Continue reading “Using Children’s Books to Build Rabbit Trails of Curiosity in Your Gifted Homeschool”

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Homeschooling, How To

How to Study Art History with Kids: FREE Printable

How to Study Art History with Kids: FREE Printable from the Oaxacaborn blog

Figuring out how to study art with kids doesn’t have to be complicated. This free, no-strings-attached printable provides art history discussion prompts you can use with any piece of art you encounter in your homeschool studies.

Continue reading “How to Study Art History with Kids: FREE Printable”

Christmas

NORDIC CHRISTMAS :: DIY Paper Star // Papirstjerner

Paper star DIY

I’m happy to introduce you to Linda, the talented and design-savvy owner of a London-based Scandinavian house & home shop called Bo Nordica. (Have a browse, it’s lovely!) Linda graciously sent over this post to share with you. If you’ve been an observant reader of the Bo Nordica blog for some time, you may recognize it — for everyone else, enjoy this beautiful star DIY, originally from the Home by Linn blog. I can never get enough paper stars, can you?

Make Your Own Paper Stars Decorations

Christmas is one of my favourite times of the year. Over the years, the fondest memories I have of Christmas do not include expensive purchases, but precious moments spent with family and friends.

I grew up on a farm near Stavern, a coastal town in the South East of Norway. Every year my father would take the family out in search of the perfect Christmas tree from the woods surrounding our farm. When we returned home my sisters and I would spend hours making paper stars and paper hearts to adorn the tree and decorate our home.

This is just one of our family traditions that made Christmas extra special..

This week I made paper star decorations with my children. I found these paper star instructions on the fantastic Home By Linn website. Why not give them a try?

DIY Paper Christmas Stars

You will need: paper, scissors, pencil and ruler.

1. The star is made up of of 8 paper squares – so you need to start by cutting these out. To save time you can make a thin cardboard square template – draw around it and cut out. I made my squares 10cm x 10cm. Position the square in front of you with one of the tips pointing towards you. Make a fold diagonally down the middle to make a crease, then unfold paper.

2. Fold each corner to the centre so the tip meets the middle line.

3. Fold again as shown in picture (See the Home by Linn post).

4. Fold the top triangle parallel along the little triangle below. Unfold and make a fold on the opposite side.

5. You have now made a cross. Then turn it around.

6. Make sure it looks the same as it does in the photo! Take the bottom pointy end and fold it to the left along the line that you made before you turned it around.

7. Now this is the tricky bit… You should have a small triangle on top of a large triangle. The large triangle has a line down the middle – fold down the middle along the line. The little triangle should now be bending a little. Fold the little triangle and follow the line from the cross you made earlier.

8. This is what it should look like. It should be easier the second time around.

9. Practice makes perfect… You have to make 8 of these

10. Now for the assembly… Insert the small triangle behind the ‘flaps’ of the large triangle. Do not tighten too hard at first as it will be difficult to assemble the last one. Tighten when they are all connected. Pull the tips carefully one by one. Voila! You have a paper star. You can make an assortment of these in different sizes, colours and patterns.

I hope you enjoy giving these a try. And don’t forget to let me know how you get on!

Until next time,
Linda xoxo

Bo Nordica | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

Christmas

SCANDINAVIAN CHRISTMAS :: Sankta Lucia Day

Today, December 13, is St. Lucia Day! And today’s guest blogger, Linnea of Linnea in the Capitol, is here to tell you all about this wonderful Swedish holiday. -Gina

Growing up in a Scandihoovian (American-Scandinavian) household meant that Sankta Lucia day was an incredibly important part of our holiday season. Like my other favorite Swedish holiday, Midsommar, it involves wearing a fantastic crown and lots of singing!

How to Celebrate Santa Lucia Day at Home - Swedish Holidays

The Legend of St. Lucia

The legend – or legends, for I believe there are several versions – of Saint Lucia actually come from Sicily, Italy. A young maiden there, Lucia, chose to give away her dowry to the poor. This made her husband-to-be quite angry, and she was sentenced to be burned to death. The flames could not harm her, however, and eventually she was killed with a sword.

This tale was taken up to Scandinavia, where it melded nicely with local tradition and became a beautiful holiday and celebration. December 13th was the winter solstice according the old Julian calendar, and if you have ever been to Sweden in the winter you know how dark the days can be! Lucia brings light and hope (and often baked goods!) to the people on that dark, dark day.

Traditionally the eldest daughter in the family rises early and dresses in a long white dress with a red sash and with light on her head. She takes a tray of breakfast and goes throughout the home, waking the family with beautiful singing and bringing them breakfast in bed (at least that’s how we did it!)

Lucia programs are also put on in schools and throughout the community. One lucky girl is even chosen to be the National Lucia in Sweden each year. In some circumstances girls submit applications to be Lucia, and may be selected by a voting process. It is a wonderful honor to be selected as Lucia. Other girls make up the tärnor, a train which follows Lucia. The girls in the tärnor also wear long white dresses with sashes, and carry a candle in their hand. Often bringing up the back of the train are the stjärngossar (star boys), boys also wearing long white robes, wearing a tall pointed hat with stars on it and carrying a staff with a star on the end.

It is easy to celebrate Lucia at home! Here are the things you’d need:

Lucia and Light // St. Lucia Crown DIYs

While Lucia is often the eldest daughter, there is no reason that it has to be! In my opinion anyone can be Lucia, regardless of age or gender! (I often heard my brothers lament that they would never get to be Lucia. Being a star boy is fun, but in my opinion boys can be Lucia too!)

While traditionally Lucia wears real candles on her head, many people forgo this today in favor of battery powered candles. There are battery powered Lucia crowns for sale, but there are many other ways to represent Lucia’s crown as well that you can put together at home. One common solution is a wreath of silver tinsel around the head – it catches the light and twinkles in a wonderful way.

I found several great DIY Lucia crowns online, ranging from very easy (construction paper) to a little more involved (sewing.)

Lucia wears a long white dress, generally loose fitting – a nightgown works well, but any white dress will do. Tie a red ribbon around the waist and put some white socks on the feet and the outfit is complete!

Baked Treats and Hot Drinks // Swedish Lussekatter Recipe

Lucia brings a tray of yummy things to eat. You can put whatever you’d like on your tray, but if you’d like to celebrate like a real Swede consider making lussekatter (St Lucia buns) – a saffron yeast bun. Saffron is generally expensive, but gives such a distinct and unique color and flavor. I found my saffron this year at Trader Joe’s.

lussekatter via Vera H
Image Credit :: Vera H

Here is our family recipe, a combination of instructions from Första Kokboken, my great-uncle Stig, and my mother.

100-150 g. (10.6 Tablsp.) margarine or butter
4 dl (1 2/3 cup) milk
½ cup warm water (110⁰ F.)
50 g. yeast (2 Tblsp dry yeast – Kirsti; 3 packages dry yeast – Stig)
½ tsp. salt
1 – 1 ½ dl (1/2 cup) sugar
15 dl (6 cup) flour
1 gram (2 packages) saffron, also raisins
1 beaten egg to “pensla med” (brush onto the rolls before baking)

Melt the margarine in a sauce pan. Pour in the milk and warm until it is “finger warm”. Place yeast in mixing bowl and add ½ cup warm water and let dissolve. Add the warm milk mixture and flour, sugar, and seasonings. Put  the saffron in a small bowl with a sugar cube and crush them together. Then add to the dough mixture. If you have a mixer with a dough hook, use this to mix the ingredients together until the dough holds together and leaves the sides of the bowl. (It will be stickier than regular bread dough.) Place a towel over the bowl (or plastic wrap, easier to clean up) and let rise for 40 minutes or until it is light and porous. (This may take longer depending on your altitude.)

Dust flour onto the counter or a bread board. Punch down the dough, place some flour on your hands and knead with a light touch.

lucia shapes
Image Credit :: Första Kokboken

Pinch off some dough and roll into “ropes”. Then shape into “S” shapes, oxen, and other shapes. Place on greased baking sheet and let rise for 30 minutes. Decorate with raisins and brush on beaten egg (it makes the rolls shiny!). Bake at 425⁰ for 5 – 7 minutes, watch carefully because they burn easily. You may have to adjust for your oven.

Let your newly baked bread cool under a towel. Then it will be nice and soft.

Hot chocolate, tea, and coffee are great drinks to round out your tray.

Music for St. Lucia Day

There are many beautiful Swedish songs celebrating Lucia. Here are five of my favorites that would make a great Lucia playlist (click on the title to be taken to the song on Amazon).

You may also be able to find a Lucia program in your community to attend! If you are in near Washington DC, the American Scandinavian Association has their Lucia program this Saturday. (Find more information here!) I know there are also beautiful programs throughout the country, try googling “Swedish Lucia Festival [your area]” or something similar and see if you can find one near you! (This not-so-great quality photo is actually me as Lucia last night at the Ambassador’s Christmas party at House of Sweden.)

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You are beautiful, Linnea! Thank you for this great post. I can’t wait to have you back in the summer when we’ll talk more about Midsommar. :) Readers, be sure to add Linnea’s blog to your bookmarks!

Handmade

HANDMADE :: DIY Large Felt Numbers Tutorial

TUTORIAL - DIY Large Felt Numbers on the Oaxacaborn blog

TUTORIAL - Make your Own DIY Large Felt Numbers on the Oaxacaborn blog

This is a nice, simple project. Depending how long your little person naps (and how many numbers you choose to make) it just might qualify as a single-afternoon-project.

Since all the examples of felt letters and numbers I found elsewhere were tiny, I made my own template, especially designed for the 8.5×11” sheets of felt that are so cheap at the craft store. Not only are these large items easier to sew than microscopic ones, the resulting numbers are easy to hold, can double as decor, and won’t get lost in the toy box. And, you can print out the template on standard printer paper, without worrying about scale.

Aveline is just learning her numbers (two! free! five! nine!), so I wanted to lessen any confusion about backwards numbers. This was easily accomplished by using a different color for the back of each number. I used charcoal grey felt for the front and off-white for the back, because I really really love when toys match my living room. ;)

The seams are a simple blanket stitch, sewn with various colors of six-strand embroidery floss. I didn’t divide the strands, just used it straight out of the package.

It helps if you have extra-sharp scissors (the secret to cutting felt neatly and crisply.) Because felt dulls scissors quickly, I use these 3/$1.99 Ikea scissors and just replace them whenever I need to.

Make your Own DIY Large Felt Numbers - Tutorial on the Oaxacaborn blog

The project is extremely self explanatory, so I feel a little (a lot!) silly writing a step-by-step tutorial. :-P But here it is:

MATERIALS NEEDED

2 pieces of standard 8.5×11″ felt per number
Embroidery needle
Embroidery floss/thread
Polyfill for stuffing
PDF template (numbers 0-9)

1. Print out the template (numbers 0-9), and cut out the numbers you wish to make. Lest you inaccurately think I’m overly ambitious, I only made 1, 2 and 3.
2. Lay two layers of felt on top of each other, top color first and back color second, then pin the cut-out pattern to the felt.
3. Using extra-sharp scissors, carefully cut out the felt numbers. Take the paper pattern off, then without moving the felt, pin the two pieces together again.
4. Sew the two pieces together with a blanket stitch. When you have about two inches to go, stuff the number with polyfill, then complete the seam.

Voilá! If any of you are crazy enough to make 0-9, you have to send me pictures ;) And if you’re interested in seeing a similar template for large A-Z felt letters, let me know in the comments!