Vintage Homeschool Moms

Ten Dollar DIY Great Gift Ideas

DIY Great Gift Ideas Ten DollarsTen Dollar DIY Great Gift Ideas

Episode 244

Here are Ten Dollar (or less) DIY Great Gift Ideas! Can you really make great gifts that are inexpensive? I have done this for years and you can as well. And guess one, some of these ideas can be made in an hour or less, others take a little more planning, and some of these gift ideas do take talent, but now is the best time to learn. Remember to recruit your friend or your kids and what a fun way to spend the day.

I did this with my grandchildren a few days ago, in about two hours we painted two acrylic paintings. I showed them on a separate piece of paper (and yes, when they asked I “fixed” or adjusted, or demonstrated on their canvas) ways to paint a particular thing. My ten-year-old granddaughter even used a pallet knife and gel with acrylics to give texture to her mountains. What fun we had and this falls into our DIY great gift ideas for under ten dollars.

Arts and Crafts: Ten Dollar or less DIY Great Gift Ideas

  1. Prints you can frame. Purchase the print cheaply, and frames on sale. I like those dimensional frames that have plastic black rims, they made a clean line on the walls and have a “borderless” look.
  2. Paint a picture. Yes, this can be done. Use youtube for tutorials or take a class! Listen to the podcast on gifts kids can make that you actually want to keep for some easy painting ideas.
  3. Hand paint t-shirts with a design or an initial. You can use fabric markers, they work very well.
  4. Create a silk flower arrangement. I love doing this especially in mason jars, or awesome vases you can recycle – use that glue at the bottom that hardens and is transparent. It comes out really nicely. I just purchased gorgeous silk flowers that are white poinsettias, with glitter, and pine cones, a nice sized bunch for $5 at a store and I’m using a vase I no longer want. It came out beautifully.

Jewelry for Ten Dollar or less DIY Great Gift Ideas:

  1. Necklaces: You can buy all sorts of gorgeous beads at the craft store, and they have plenty of knowledgeable staff or instruction manuals.
  2. Bracelets: My daughter made me a black beaded bracelet that had “gold” (fake) spacers. I have a real black onyx necklace that I never wear because I didn’t have a matching bracelet. It looks real! And, I get lots of compliments from it – amazing.

Recipe Books for Ten Dollar or less DIY Great Gift Ideas:

Recipe books are a favorite of mine, in fact, up until recent years, this was my go-to gift and something I loved getting from my children. One year my thoughtful son purchased a non-fiction account of a man searching Europe for the “best” food. I loved it! While it was out of the question to go on a European vacation I was able to enjoy the food and the discussion vicariously through this author. I’m Italian so the best food selection was a hit with me. Can you guess? If you said, “Mediterranian,” then you are right! What a wonderful and thoughtful gift that I treasured and he bought it on sale for $5!

  1. Compile treasured family recipes, handwrite cards and insert into a decorated card holder
  2. Use family recipes and create an online cookbook to have printed. Buy in bulk and save even more.
  3. Purchase a photo album and create recipe memories. Use pictures of actual food and write the recipe in the book.
  4. Use laminated sheets to hold the recipe cards, handwrite or type on the computer and print out.

Homemade Foods for DIY Great Gift Ideas Ten Dollars:

I’ve baked for family and friends for years. If you are a long-time listener of my podcasts and previously my Ultimate Homeschool Expo, you know that baking is my “stress release” – you can typically find me in the kitchen at least once or twice a weak baking my family a treat. So, it is no wonder this is high on my gift giving list. I’ve cut way back on my giving, however –listen to my podcast on overcoming holiday stress here.

  1. Cookie trays
  2. Homemade breads
  3. Homemade cinnamon rolls
  4. Homemade Pumpkin, Banana Nut, Cranberry loaf, etc.

Gift Cards for DIY Great Gift Ideas Ten Dollars:

  1. Offer to babysit for a busy mom.
  2. Car washing
  3. Dinner of your choice ticket
  4. Get off of dish day

Bath and Body for DIY Great Gift Ideas Ten Dollars:

  1. Homemade soaps
  2. Bath salts
  3. Essential oil mix – or roll-ons

Overcome Holiday Stress

overcome holiday stressOvercome Holiday Stress

Episode 243

Overcome Holiday Stress? Who are you kidding? The holidays are meant to be stressful, disorganized overspending and gluttonous, right? Whether it is Christmas, New Years, Easter, Thanksgiving, or all the celebrations in between there is always room for improvement. Whether stress often appears to be the harsh reality there is a way to overcome all of the typical holiday struggles and stresses. In this episode Felice explains that even while hosting, sometimes upwards of 35 guests of all ages she can enjoy the holidays.

Six Stress Busters For The Holiday

Stress free celebrations here

Overcome Holiday Stress with these quick tips:

  1. Delegate
  2. Shortcuts
  3. Let some traditions (if stressful) go
  4. Identify the holiday stress in  your life
  5. What is on your list that you can avoid?

More great tips to overcome holiday stress.

  1. Gift shopping – online, deals or sales in the summer. Make gifts if possible to cut back on the money.
  2. Food shopping use online sources or look at batch shopping or buying in bulk. Utilize family to help out and minimize as much as possible.
  3. Sending cards – do you or don’t you like sending them out? If you don’t be sure to cut your list way back and only send to family.
  4. Photos – do or don’t? We are taking pictures this year however on Christmas Eve before we attend church. It won’t be in our card this year, the first time ever! However, with kids in college, the timing just didn’t work out this year. Change is not always a bad thing, being adaptable and making the appropriate changes helps.
  5. Letter – do or don’t? This year I won’t add a family letter. It has been a long time tradition in my family to write letters. However most of our elderly relatives who counted on an update and news are gone, now we connect with family and friends online.
  6. Baking/ cooking/ preparing ahead: I still do this and it is so freeing to have a wonderful, stress-free day with the bulk of the food (except the meats) cooked and ready for heat up.
  7. Presents – to wrap or bag? I mix up the wrapping. One year I went full steam with the bags, but now I do about fifty-percent of each.

What are your best tips for cutting back on stress?

Gifts Kids Can Make

Christmas Gifts Kids Can MakeChristmas Gifts Kids Can Make (and you actually want to keep!

Episode 242

Do your kids want to make gifts? There are plenty of Christmas gifts kids can make that you will actually want to keep – really! I know, we’ve all received those wonderful heartfelt gifts that our children make, but they sit in a drawer or on a shelf gathering dust.

Now your craft loving kids can create gifts and have fun doing it. That is a winning combination for all…especially when you can direct the kids and they can add their own ideas. Remember all of those recyclable items you keep all year? Now is the time to pull them out,  and take inventory. Start with making a list of the people your children want to make gifts for – then think about the types of crafts the children enjoy. Do your kids like to sew, cut out and glue?

In this episode I share some tried and true Gifts Kids Can Make that won’t break the budget, and best of all — you actually want to keep them! In addition, these gifts will become treasures.

If you are trying to save money using and repurposing household “trash” or recyclables is a great way to stretch your budget and turn that trash into a wonderful gift.

Complete guest blog post with details on Heather Bowen’s blog, Life of a Homeschool Mom



Favorite Christmas Gifts Kids Can Make:

  • Pillows: do you have pillows you no longer use? Use the stuffing to make other pillows.
  • The kids can use fabric paint to decorate the pillow
  • Paint a letter of a first name, a saying or Scripture verse
  • Mason jars – where do I begin? I love mason jars, and they are so versatile for gifts.
  • Fill mason jars with candy or homemade trail mix.
  • Use stickers to decorate the outside of the jar with themes (like horses, or shells, etc.) and use as pencil holders.
  • Create luminaries, use battery-powered candles
  • Use the jars as flower containers. Decorate with ribbon.
  • Fill with sewing items, first aid items, and label.
  • Fill with homemade bath salts. Easy gifts for kids to make.
  • Inkblot art – looks great. Fold the paper in half and drizzle paint on the paper fold. Use different color paints, one or three — allow the paint to smear. Open and lie flat. Use frames (old ones) to frame the art.
  • Bookmarks: Use photos and glue to make personalized bookmarks.
  • Clay art: Create a handprint dish, write a verse on it, the child’s name and date.
  • Broken crayon art – Broken crayons can be used to outline letters of names. Frame the art.
  • Decorated mugs, use permanent markers and allow the children to decorate. You can use unused mugs, or cups to repurpose.
  • Repurpose other people’s trash. My son fixed a bench that the neighbors threw out. The brass on each end was repainted and he replaced the worn wooden boards with new ones. It now resides by our pond, and I love it!

Use these ideas as a springboard for creating your own, handmade gifts. These are truly Christmas presents kids can make that you will want to keep.


Special Thanks to our Network Sponsor, Kiwi Crate!


We’d like to thank our Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network sponsor, Kiwi Crate!

KiwiCo has monthly subscriptions of hands-on projects that make learning fun! Their core offering is projects that make learning about STEAM — science, technology, engineering, art, and math — accessible and are designed to spark creativity, tinkering, and learning. Some recent favorite crates are the Slime Lab, Physics Carnival, and Paper Circuits.

Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network is excited to be able to offer you the chance to try them for FREE. To learn more about their projects for kids ages 2 to 16 AND to redeem this exclusive offer, click here to get your first month free today (just pay $4.95 for shipping)


Creating Lasting Holiday Memories

Creating Lasting Holiday MemoriesCreating Lasting Holiday Memories

Episode 241

Creating lasting holiday memories is easier than you think. Do you want to create that Norman Rockwell feeling when you think about Christmas? You know, everyone sitting around the table, smiling – clean and thankful. The children properly groomed and amazingly quiet, and the feeling that all is well in your life. Reality is a far cry from the picture-perfect holiday whether it is Christmas, the New Year, Easter, or Thanksgiving – plus all the celebrations in between. So, how does a parent do it without losing your mind? In this episode Felice shares some fun, tried and true ways to get into the true meaning of the holiday and leaving the rest behind.

To have a wonderful celebration it begins with preparing kids for what to expect and having realistic expectations yourself. Many times we expect perfection and often real life falls short. Here is my short list to make things go so much better when planning to attend a holiday event.

  1. Leave perfectionism behind
  2. Tell the children what to expect
  3. Have their clothes ready
  4. Don’t schedule too much at one time
  5. Be sure naptimes are not missed (if possible)
  6. Cut down on sugar
  7. Don’t worry about what others think
  8. Expect the unexpected
  9. Have control of your children, wild behavior is not permitted
  10. Pick up after your kids – if they make a mess, take care of it

To create memories demonstrate these for your family:

  1. Be thankful. Here is a podcast on teaching  children to be thankful
  2. Realize kids are kids – letting them know what to expect will make the occasion joyful.
  3. Focus on the celebration. Looking at what is missing, or what does or doesn’t happen never works well. Focus on the day, the event and let everything else go.
  4. Family traditions: What does that look like for you? Is there a special food, a special activity, or a special idea that works well for you and your children.
  5. Joy is a choice – be joyful
  6. Celebrate – enjoy the moment.


Educational Play

educational playEducational Play

Episode 240

Educational play is a great tool to not only teach children but to encourage them to think. Children who think, create! Besides, let’s face it parents enjoy giving gifts that encourage learning. In this episode, we explore the criteria I use for purchasing educational gifts as well as the best and most long-lasting toys that will give your children years of enjoyment. The best news? You can pass these down to others or save them for generations to come.

Show Notes: Educational Play

Educational play is not just for little kids, but the younger you begin the better your children will enjoy toys that do something. The more interactive the better, and encouraging the children to be part of the experience makes it longer lasting. This is why blocks evolved into “Legos®” and they have built an entire industry and even a theme park here in Florida.

What is your pre-requisite for educational toys or educational play?

  1. Fun
    • If a toy isn’t fun they won’t play with it.
    • Education doesn’t mean boring.
  2. Sturdy
    • Wood is my favorite type of material for toys.
    • A toy that won’t break easily.
  3. Colorful
    • Let’s face it, kids love color.
    • Not all toys are colorful, however, if they attract your attention they will attract your kids as well.
  4. Teaches
    • Some of the best learning comes from self-discovery.
    • Open-ended is better than only one solution.
  5. Long lasting
    • Similar to sturdy, you want something that isn’t just for one time.
    • My goals are to give it away or pass it down to a sibling.
  6. No batteries
    • Battery toys are great for a one-time thing. These types of gifts often break quickly.
    • If you find a battery toy (I found one that played classical music and was different depending on the way the cubes were inserted in the sturdy plastic case), be sure it will last.
  7. No one way to do it
    • Open-ended outcomes are my favorite.
    • Ideas that come to mind are blocks or Lego(r)
  8. Encourages creativity
    • No one way to do it, but more — it lends itself to engaging the child to think.
    • Something you can build again and again, but differently
    • Artistic or musical
    • Dramatic play
  9. Interactive and engaging
    • Building blocks, etc.
    • Causes the child to input ideas
  10. Kits for building or putting together
    • Favorites include tinker toys, Lego(r)
    • Art – origami, 3-D projects

Categories for Educational Play:

These categories are ones that lend themselves to educational play. My favorites are dramatic play, physical play, cooking, musical, artistic and of course outdoor activities. I’m sure I’ve left out other ideas so if you have any, post them below. Use these as a springboard and I’m sure you’ll think of more ideas on your own.

Dramatic Play

  • Theatre sets
  • Puppet shows
  • Dress-up clothes
  • Old jewelry/ shoes

Physical Play

  • Vintage toys – jump rope
  • Sporting equipment
  • Swimming pool/ toys for pool
  • Slip and slide – water toys
  • Scooters, skates, bikes
  • Playhouse


  • Cooking lessons
  • Kid size utensils
  • Kid sized cookware
  • Plastic or wooden food
  • Tea sets
  • Kid-sized aprons
  • Raddish Kids Kits
  • Cookbooks for kids


  • Science kits
  • Science supplies
  • Field Trips – (backpack kits)
  • Kiwi-Crate – building sets
  • Experiment books
  • Nature Center/ Museum season passes

Outdoor Play

  • Swing sets
  • Rock wall/ climbing
  • Tunnels
  • Bird feeders
  • Obstacle course
  • Balance beams
  • Trampoline
  • Sand and water play

Musical Play

  • Bells, symbols, drums, drumsticks
  • Recorder
  • Guitar
  • Xylophone
  • Trumpet
  • Flute
  • Musical kits

Artistic Play

  • Easel
  • Good paper
  • Art Supplies
  • Paper
  • Kiwi-Crate kits
  • Scissors – fancy
  • Chalkboard/ Markerboard


Special Thanks to our Network Sponsor, Kiwi Crate!


We’d like to thank our Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network sponsor, Kiwi Crate!

KiwiCo has monthly subscriptions of hands-on projects that make learning fun! Their core offering is projects that make learning about STEAM — science, technology, engineering, art, and math — accessible and are designed to spark creativity, tinkering, and learning. Some recent favorite crates are the Slime Lab, Physics Carnival, and Paper Circuits.

Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network is excited to be able to offer you the chance to try them for FREE. To learn more about their projects for kids ages 2 to 16 AND to redeem this exclusive offer, click here to get your first month free today (just pay $4.95 for shipping)

Top 10 Kid Gifts

top 10 kid giftsTop 10 Kid Gifts

Episode 239

Here are the top 10 kid gifts that have made my list – and they are timeless. Some things on the list may surprise you. It is time to avoid the flashing lights in the stores and even online hype. What are the gifts that keep giving? What are the gifts that make memories? What is your criteria for gift giving? In this episode, I’ll share my secrets for selecting that perfect gift.


Show Notes: What Makes the Top 10 Kid Gifts:

Not every gift will make it to the top 10 kid gifts or even fit one of the categories below, however, these are things that I look for in selecting a gift for my immediate family and friends.

Criteria for finding that perfect gift:

  1. Makes a memory – is there a gift you remember from long ago? That’s the idea. The top 10 kid gifts are memorable.
  2. Lasting – The top 10 kid gifts don’t easily break. They are made of durable material or they have a great warranty (wink!).
  3. Has meaning – Is this a gift that means something special to the child? To make the top 10 kid gifts list an item must have some type of meaning.
  4.  Pass it down – is this a gift that is from a loved one, or even someone who has passed on? These make the perfect gift that keeps on giving.
  5. Doesn’t cost a fortune- Sometimes we can’t avoid expensive gifts, ask me how many baseball/softball gloves and bats I’ve purchased. But, most of the time the gifts we can give don’t break the bank and are very useful for years.

Top 10 Kid Gifts

  1. Jewelry
    • Keepsake – locket
    • Ring
    • Bracelet
    • Necklace (with cross)
  2. Gift Subscriptions
    • Teaches children to cook — Raddish Kids highly recommended, healthy eating
    • Teaches children to create — Kiwi Crate recommended, crafts or science projects
  3. Musical Instruments
  4. Camera
  5. Park Tickets
    • Zoo
    • Museum
    • Theme Parks
  6. Lessons
    • Art lessons
    • Karate
    • Ballet
    • Music
    • Etc.
  7. Outdoor Gifts
    • Trampoline
    • Tents
    • Kites
    • Bikes
    • Skates
    • Scooters
    • Sports equipment
  8. Tablets
    • Kindle
    • iPad
    • Nook
  9. Vintage Toys
    • Yo-yo
    • Rubic Cube
    • Train sets
    • Rocking horse
    • Scrabble/ Monopoly
  10. Stuffed Animals

Great Gifts that didn’t make the top 10 list

  1. Book series
  2. Legos
  3. Dolls
  4. Art Supplies
  5. Craft Kids
  6. Science Kits
  7. Games
  8. Remote control toys
  9. Movies – see my top 50 list of movies here
  10. Puzzles

Special Thanks to our Network Sponsor!

We’d like to thank our Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network sponsor Sony and their new movie, The Star, the Story of the First Christmas – Coming in Theaters November 17th!

Visit to learn more.

Last Minute DIY Entertainment Tips

Last Minute DIY Entertainment TipsLast Minute DIY Entertainment Tips

Episode 238

In this episode, I share my favorite last minute DIY entertainment tips with you. The best thing? No matter if your kids are young, small or grown these ideas will work for all ages. Add your favorite beverage and you are all set to go…and it won’t break the bank! What is your favorite last-minute DIY entertainment tips? Share them with us.

1. Now is not the time to get creative – we are talking last minute. Use tried and true recipes.
2. Appetizers are a great asset for early comers – things like:
a. cheese cubes
b. crackers
c. bruschetta – sliced baguettes
d. humus/ salsa and pita chips
e. fresh fruits
f. spinach dip
e. salad on a stick – cucumber, green or black olives, yellow/red peppers, cherry tomatoes and cubes of your favorite cheese. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar or leave plain.
3. Fresh flowers – cut them short and stick them in small vases – spread around the house.
4. music – holiday channel with yule log on tv or have one of your kids make up a holiday mix and you can play this in the background
5. activities for kids – whether it is an ornament they can stick together, popsicle stick pilgrims, or a scavenger hunt (keep them running and outdoors if possible) – prizes can be glow sticks. I keep these in bulk on hand for when the kids leave and they love them.
6. Candles – always festive even if you don’t light them – one year I found them on sale at Joanne fabrics after bridal season – they are whites, pales yellows – that go with everything. I just add greenery for Christmas – and fall leaves for autumn.
7. Fondue – whether it is cheese for appetizers or chocolate for dessert it is always fun.
8. Make dessert mixes ahead – for example, I make pumpkin pie mix and freeze it – I do use fresh pumpkins, but when I thaw it out it is ready to go – you may need to cut back on the liquids – I always do. I scoop out ice cream ahead in balls and freeze. I make cookie dough ahead and freeze/ refrigerate.
9. Dipped strawberries are a hit. Makes any party festive and it is loved by adults and kids.
10. Disposable plates

Use cloth napkins, to use, again and again, homemade napkin rings – took plastic round shower curtain hoops and covered them with ribbon – etc.

Teaching Kids To Be Thankful Everyday

TEACHING KIDS TO BE THANKFULTeaching Kids To Be Thankful Everyday

Episode 230

Many times in an attempt to shelter our children or prevent them from some of the hardships we experienced as children our children may become spoiled and have an entitlement mentality. In this episode, we discuss ways to encourage children to become thankful, not just in the big things, but every day.


Thanks to our sponsor Sony Pictures and Affirms Films and The Star Movie — the Christmas story definitely brings home the reason for the season and the importance of teaching our children to be grateful for all that God has done for us – sending us His son, to free us.

Special Thanks to our Network Sponsor!

We’d like to thank our Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network sponsor Sony and their new movie, The Star, the Story of the First Christmas – Coming in Theaters November 17th!

Visit to learn more.

Our children are sponges, aren’t they? They absorb the good and the bad. We want to teach our children that it is better to give than receive – to be thankful in all things – but it does not come naturally.

  1. How do we expect gratitude IF we don’t model it for our children?
  2. Teaching an attitude of gratitude begins when they are very small.
  3. How is fun this? Learning through doing – working alongside us…
  4. Practice – we practice our math facts, practice our manners, why not practice what to say to be grateful?
    1. Thank you for ——
    2. I appreciate the time you spent….
  5. Saying I’m thank-you in the little as well as the big things

Friends, manners begin at home – being thankful is a taught skill. No one expects someone profusely thankful – that can become annoying and make us think the person is insecure or not genuine in the thanks –

It also breeds extremes – there are families that stop giving gifts at birthdays or Christmas because they feel like opening gifts becomes a feeding frenzie of opening gifts and leaving a feeling of letdown or kids who are unappreciative. I have mixed emotions about this one – and since this is my podcast, I can share with you my take on this idea.

Friends, teaching children gratitude does not have to be extreme – and all or nothing. My love language is giving, it gives me a sense of doing something, for the glory of God and also how we are to proceed moving forward in God’s will. Depriving children of a Christmas tree because of pagan roots or gift giving, because they may become selfish, is an extreme. Having the children make gifts for each other, putting a budget on gift giving or making giving coincide with giving to the poor are all things that go much further in fostering good will –with your children and those around us.

Our children are only with us for a short time. I’ve been blessed with two families within one family – what I mean is my husband and I married in 1979 and had two children – one in 1980 and one in 1982, then we had a gap of 14 years until our next “family” came – in 1995, 1998, and 2000… I had the blessings of raising children when I was very young, and when I was an “older” mom. I can say what I’ve learned is what is translated into these podcasts.

Extremes don’t work and breed children who either become more extreme… or, the other end of the spectrum.

And having the experience of parenting for 37 years has shown me that homeschooling is a blessing because having my children with me 24/7 allows me to see when something is going horribly wrong when a child is extremely unthankful –in keeping with the topic of this podcast.

Gift giving is something we treasure as a family, without losing sight of the occasion.

In our family we make a production of gift giving, however, we wait until everyone is seated, we allow the child to open the gift – and rise immediately to thank the person who gifted it – either with a hug and/or a sincere thank-you.

We also thank God the ultimate giver of all gifts whether they are ones in our character or our abilities. And, also for those who provide for us.

Modeling thankfulness is wonderful, especially with Bible lessons.

Bible Stories that teach thankfulness –

Jesus Cleanses Ten Lepers – Luke 17:12-19 

Only one returned and thanked God, and he was a “stranger” an “outsider” a Samaritan. This is a lesson for our children that shows not only did the Lord notice that only one came, but he was healed (inside) and outwardly. This can be a great discussion you can have with your children.


Routines are important for children – so real-life applications:

  1. Praying before every meal – thanking God for the food as well as those who prepared it and earned the money to buy it!
  2. Morning prayers. Praising God before it happens – thanking Him for the day, the beautiful sky, the weather, the rain, etc. Teaching children to praise God in all things.
  3. Dinner praises. What are you most thankful for that day?
  4. Evening prayers: Praising God for the day.
  5. Keep a Praise Journal – I divided my prayer journal years ago into praises FIRST then, prayer requests at the back.
  6. Don’t give your children too many choices – sometimes choices encourage our children to be unhappy with what they get! Try it.
  7. Teach your children to be thankful each day by giving (see previous podcast #228 – teaching children to be giving) Not just a Thanksgiving and Christmas but all year long.
  8. Attitude is a choice – it is the way we look at life (share about Jeff here)

What do you do when your child will not be thankful after repeated reminders?

  1. If they forget, having them write a thank-you note (or copying the words – even if tracing) thank-you on a piece of paper can be a good reminder.
  2. Be an example to your child. They are sponges – they will copy you.
  3. Set boundaries. If you see that your children are becoming ungrateful, pray for the root cause – and then set boundaries. Keep gifts at a minimum, no choices until attitude becomes better. Crime fits the offense and is age appropriate. Kids don’t remember something not immediate.
  4. Challenge children to purchase gifts for others. I did this with my children, and recently with my grandchildren. I took the older ones shopping for the one-year-old. It was eye-opening.
  5. Give children responsibilities – I think large families this is easier than small, but volunteering to care for a neighbor’s toddler, or volunteering in the church nursery will teach a child the importance of thankfulness very quickly!
  6. Give gifts such as museum or nature center memberships, or kids cooking club – HERE
  7. Keep TV at a minimum – watching too many commercials specifically geared to children will give the children an “I want that” mentality. Same with infomercials for adults!


Praising God is a weapon against the evil one.

Gratitude can become a habit – it is an attitude of life. Look at David in the Psalms as he goes through hardships and triumphs he continues to praise God.

Additional Scriptures:

  1. Psalm: 107:1 – “Oh give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.”
  2. Psalm: 100:1-5 – “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness!…”
  3. Psalm: 9:1 – “I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.”


Teaching Kids True Meaning

Teaching Kids True Meaning of the HolidaysTeaching Kids True Meaning

of the Holidays

Episode 237

Teaching kids the true meaning of the holidays? Why can’t you just let kids be kids? Does everything need a deeper meaning? I believe the answer is a resounding, “Yes!” Just because you delve into the real meaning of Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter – it does not diminish the beauty of the event.

People think religion means taking all the fun away – but having faith truthfully add wonder and awe. It takes something that could encourage children to be greedy and turns it into something that brings out the best in people, love, relationships, spending time, generosity, and so much more.

Holiday decorations are all over the place – Thanksgiving is still weeks away and yet Christmas decorations often dot the stores. How do you teach children the true meaning of Christmas when all around them colorful decorations are flashing for their attention?

How are you teaching your kids the true meaning of the holidays? Start with this list and add your owns.

Show Notes: Teaching kids the True Meaning of the Holidays

  1. Be involved but get the children involved
  2. Give to others – angel tree, purchase a gift for others.
  3. Volunteer
  4. Establish Family Traditions such as:
    1. Advent Wreath
    2. Birthday party for Jesus
    3. Nativity/ straw Take an empty manager and record “good deeds” with straw, until Christmas Day when you place baby Jesus in the manger filled with hay.
    4. Midnight Mass
    5. Help set up the decorations; Nativity at Christmas
    6. Read the Christmas account from the Bible
  5. How do you feel about Santa? Each family has to make your own decision. Here are some things to think about. Eventually, your children will learn “Santa” is not real. How you go about telling your child will have a lifelong impact – depending on the sensitivity of your children.
  6. On December 6th St. Nicholas Day is celebrated all over Europe, to honor the “original” Santa Claus. “St. Nick has different traditions and you can select if you want to celebrate any of these. One of my friends who is from Europe has her children place their shoes outside their bedroom door if they have been “good” during the year, “St. Nicholas” comes to leave gifts or treats inside their shoes. Or you can have your children decorate their own “shoe” boxes for St. Nicholas gifts.

Other cultures/ traditions: Teaching kids the true meaning of the holidays

New Year’s Day – Feast of the Epiphany

Hanukkah, or the Festival of Lights – an 8-day Jewish celebration of Maccabees and the fight of freedom. The dates correspond to the Hebrew calendar so they change every year, but it usually takes place beginning of December. You can explain the 8 candles – or 8 days are not about receiving a gift each day, but how they represent the miracles the Maccabees experienced.  Definitely read the book of Maccabees with your children – it is a wonderful example of God’s faithfulness and love.

Kwanzaa is a holiday that honors African heritage and ends with a large feast. Nickell recommends having your children research Kwanzaa’s importance to the African-American culture by finding books and stories, as well as speaking with people who celebrate the holiday. After researching and learning more about the holiday, create a Kwanzaa celebration.


Special Thanks to our Network Sponsor!

We’d like to thank our Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network sponsor Sony and their new movie, The Star, the Story of the First Christmas – Coming in Theaters November 17th!

Visit to learn more.

Top 50 Kid Friendly Movies

Top 50 Kid Friendly MoviesTop 50 Kid-Friendly Movies Episode 236

Does the rating have to be “G” to be a kid-friendly movie? In this episode I’ll discuss the way I decide if a movie will make it to our favorite movie list!

Have you ever been upset to view a movie that is recommended by a friend only to have to fast forward sections of the movie or even worse telling the boys to cover their eyes while we frantically search for the FF button? It is the most irritating thing and YES I’ve turned off the TV and popped the movie out of the player or stopped the digital feed if we are streaming the movie. So, today I will attempt to explain what we use to test a movie to see if it makes it to our kid safe list.

When the children were younger I have to say our expectations were not often tested. It was a simpler time, but even in this simple time, know an agenda or two that did not align with our theology or family focus were often pushed.

The very nature of movies or a good story is the need for a protagonist — someone bad. If everyone is good there is not a story. Even in the story of the Nativity there was a bad guy, King Herod. Let’s face it our kids are going to be exposed to bad – so the key is getting your talking points ready and having a good discussion and use this as a learning tool.

On another note – I’m sorry but some of the recommended or good movies with a good moral or Christian theme are just horrible. They either have bad actors or the special effects are lacking or … well you know what I mean. Truly we are spoiled! I remember years ago subscribing to this movie club and they sent us movies every month, and only a few were ones my kids could get all the way through and even less of those are ones they’d watch again. We ended up donating them to the church and even there they gathered dust.

We do need to support good movies but friends, we need to pray for those who create these movies in the hopes that they get better. At least – and I’m sorry to be so critical –get people who can act! I’ve seen some college plays where the actors are better than some of those on the screen.

Yes, we need to support sites that have good Christian content but we also need to expect more from those who create the films. Even movies I liked, like “God’s Not Dead” – I haven’t seen “God’s Not Dead II” while it had a good acting, really the pastor’s role needed to be entirely rewritten. How could he not see after the second attempt to leave town that God had a greater plan for him? We the viewers knew it even the first time… they made the pastor sort of sappy and films seem to do this…while it is a bad priest or a bad pastor it makes the moviegoer think, okay well I’m not watching this one again. Also, the scene where the girl is slapped – yes, it happens but we don’t want to see this in order to be entertained.

Movies are an escape. We want to be entertained, we want to be engaged and we want to walk away with a good feeling – or at least I do. A night of crying out my eyes does not appeal to me! So, when I look at movies those are the points I’m looking for…

So, I have my list of what I am looking for in a movie as well as what my kids are old enough to view. It really depends on your children often we get lazy and allow the youngest to sit and watch movies with the older children – and yes, sometimes it just can’t be avoided which is why kids have nightmares!

How do you select kid-friendly movies for your family?

  1. Rated PG or less – no R
  2. Look for comedies
  3. Adventures or Action
  4. Animals are okay but not my favorite
  5. Kids and sports
  6. Based on classic novels
  7. Good morals and outcome
  8. Great talking points
  9. Life lessons
  10. Feel good

What are your kids ready for?

  1. How grounded are your children?
  2. Do you have kids who are easily swayed?
  3. How sensitive is your child?
    1. Different children have different levels of sensitivity. What one considers scary – a chase scene the other will think of as silly.

What you can do to prepare:

  1. Have you watched the movie first? When in doubt, check it out.
  2. Know where the off button and FF button are on the controller just in case.
  3. Look for movies that are older versions as much as possible.

On the podcast show notes, I’ve included a list of movies we’ve enjoyed through the years as a family – I tried very hard to add movies that are not controversial – although you never know! Some of the recommended movies we own, others we’ve rented and some we’ve watched so many times we had to replace them.

Are they all perfect? No – are there parts I would change – of course. However, if you like to watch movies this list will take you into the teen years without a problem. I didn’t mention movies such as Star Wars, Wizard of Oz, ET or even the Lord of the Rings (which I loved but my kids hated – too scary!) I think it all boils down to preference and taste.

So the following list is on the show notes and they are in alphabetical order, not all movies are appropriate for little kids – for example, I would not show anyone younger than sixth grade God is Not Dead – but then I wouldn’t show anyone younger than 6th grade Star Wars either. So, again personal preference!

Top 50 Kid-Friendly Movies In Alphabetical Order:

  1. 101 Dalmatians
  2. American Girl Movies
  3. Annie
  4. Back to the Future
  5. Bambi
  6. Chronicles of Narnia -All
  7. Cinderella – old Disney animated
  8. Cinderella – musical – Rogers and Hammerstein
  9. Finding Nemo
  10. Free Willy
  11. God’s Not Dead (Haven’t seen God’s Not Dead 2)
  12. Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates
  13. Heaven is For Real
  14. Heidi
  15. Home Alone
  16. Honey, I Shrunk The Kids
  17. It’s a Wonderful Life
  18. Karate Kids
  19. Letters to God
  20. Lion King
  21. Little Princess
  22. Little Women
  23. Miracle on 34th Street
  24. My Fair Lady
  25. Nativity, The
  26. Nest Movies – Old Testament
  27. Nest Movies – New Testament
  28. Night at the Museum
  29. Oliver
  30. Pinocchio
  31. Princess Bride
  32. Railway Children
  33. Secondhand Lions
  34. Secretariat
  35. Snow White
  36. Sound of Music
  37. Star Wars – viewer discretion
  38. Swiss Family Robinson
  39. The Adventures of Robin Hood
  40. The Black Stallion
  41. The Incredible Journey
  42. The Karate Kids
  43. The Lego Movie
  44. The Parent Trap
  45. The Red Balloon
  46. The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry
  47. The Storykeepers
  48. The Three Trees
  49. Up
  50. Veggie Tales

Notable Movies:

  1. A Christmas Story
  2. The Ultimate Gift
  3. Miracles from Heaven
  4. The Goonies
  5. The Sandlot




Special Thanks to our Network Sponsor!

We’d like to thank our Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network sponsor Sony and their new movie, The Star, the Story of the First Christmas – Coming in Theaters November 17th!

Visit to learn more.


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