Bethlehem Scene

October 24th, 2014

bethlehem-sceneMy children drew a Bethlehem scene from the nativity story in the Bible. They could choose any of the scenes from the birth of Jesus found at the beginning of the books of Matthew and Luke. My favorite rendition of the nativity story is from Luke 2. My father used to read the story to us each Christmas Eve before opening gifts.

Linus in the Peanuts cartoon told this story from the book of Luke:

An angel appeared to Mary, telling her that the Holy Spirit would cause her to conceive and give birth to the Son of God. While Mary was trying to figure out how to explain the situation to Joseph, an angel appeared to Joseph, telling her that Mary was going to give birth to Jesus, and that she had conceived through the Holy Spirit.

joseph-and-angelHere is a drawing that one of my sons decided to choose for his scene of the nativity story. The angel appears to Joseph in a dream.


Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem, where they give birth to a son and place Him in a manger, because there was no room at the inn. That’s because there were a lot of people in town for the census.


Angels appeared to the shepherds in the fields outside of Bethlehem, and the shepherds ran to find baby Jesus. They bowed down and worshipped Jesus, and Mary and Joseph must have marvelled when the shepherds described the choir of angels announcing the birth of their baby.

Here are a couple of ways to experience the Bethlehem scene in a hands-on way:

If you enjoyed these drawings, you will love the entire series 31 Days of Drawing through the Bible.

John the Baptist Unit Study

October 22nd, 2014

john-the-baptist-unit-studyDuring our John the Baptist Unit Study, one of my children dressed up like John the Baptist. We drew pictures of John the Baptist, made crafts, and dramatized his life. After hearing the Word of God regarding John the Baptist in the four gospels, I read the chapter about him from Wilkinson and Boa’s Talk Through Bible Personalities. My children had a well-rounded view of this prophet by the time we started doing hands-on activities.

The Birth of John the Baptist

First we saw prophecies that foretold the coming of John in Isaiah and Malachi. The birth of John the Baptist was surrounded by strange events, since his father Zacharias saw the angel Gabriel and didn’t believe the news when the angel told him that he was going to have a son in his old age. So he was struck dumb and wasn’t able to speak until the birth of his son. Meanwhile Elizabeth saw Mary, the mother of Jesus, and John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit and jumped in her womb before he was even born!

Here is a craft about the birth of John the Baptist:

Here is a video clip about the events surrounding the birth of John the Baptist, which is part of The Nativity Story:

John the Baptist Eats Locusts and Honey

In the wilderness, John ate locusts and wild honey. You can have your kids taste honey and observe a grasshopper in a terrarium. (Pet stores sell crickets for cheap, but beware that they chirp at night and are irritating.) John looked like a wild madman.

Here are a couple of activities depicting the wildness of John the Baptist:


Here is a printable craft about grasshoppers:

Here are some of my kids’ drawings of John the Baptist living in the wilderness:




John the Baptist Preaches Repentance

He spoke in sharp rebukes and harsh words, and people flocked to him to hear him preach and be baptized by him. He preached the gospel: “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.”


Here is an activity to help children learn how to repent of sin:

When Jesus walked towards him, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!” He said he was not worthy to untie the sandal of Jesus. Here is a hands-on activity about untying sandals:

The Baptism of Jesus

John baptized Jesus. At His baptism, Christ’s identity was confirmed by God the Father speaking, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” The Holy Spirit descended as a dove at the same time.

Here is a video clip about the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist:

Here are some activities and printables to help you as you study the story of John baptizing Jesus:


Baptism of Jesus: Hands-on Lego Activity

Here is a re-enactment of the baptism of Jesus, done with Legos:

John is Beheaded

Even before John was born, he leaped for joy when Mary the mother of Jesus entered the room. John recognized the presence of Jesus even before birth. So why did he doubt when he was in prison? John’s doubts probably came from the fact that he didn’t know that Christ was going to come again, and a lot of the prophecies weren’t being fulfilled. Jesus answered John with Scripture that was being fulfilled at the first coming of Jesus.

Christ said this about John: “Among those born of women, there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist.” (Matthew 11:11)

Because Herod was not happy about being told he had done the wrong thing to marry his brother’s wife, he had thrown  John into prison. Later when Herodias’ daughter danced for Herod, he granted her any wish she desired. After consulting with her mother, she asked for the head of John the Baptist on a platter.

head-of-john-the-baptistBack when I taught at a Christian school, every Reformation Day, the students would come to school dressed up as characters from the Bible. One year I had a kid come as the head of John the Baptist on a platter on a table. I though it was clever how the head was covered up and uncovered by another student. A bit gruesome, but biblically correct. Thus ends the life of John the Baptist.

If you enjoyed this John the Baptist Unit Study, you will love the huge Bible section of the Unit Study Treasure Vault!

#12 Testing Charles’s Gas Law

October 20th, 2014

charles's-gas-lawThis post contains affiliate links. I was compensated for my work in writing this post.

My kids tested Charles’s Gas Law with a fun experiment involving a glass soda bottle and a balloon. We are using Christian Kids Explore Chemistry by Bright Ideas Press. This is one of the experiments in the book.

What is Charles’s Gas Law?

I suppose we should define Charles’s Gas Law before we conduct our experiment. Charles’s Gas Law: If the temperature of a gas is increased, the volume of the gas will increase.

Knowing this law will help you predict what will happen when you place a glass bottle in the refrigerator, then set it in a bowl of boiling water with a balloon over it. The gas inside the bottle went from cold to hot, which means the air inside the bottle is expanding. This is the reason the balloon immediately stands up, because the expanding air needs to go somewhere.


Then you place the bottle into ice water, and see the balloon deflate again. You might need to place it in the refrigerator to see the full effect of the deflated balloon.

Steps for Charles’s Gas Law Experiment

  1. Place a glass bottle into the refrigerator for at least one hour so the air inside it is nice and cold.
  2. Place some hot (not boiling–it melted our first balloon!) water in a bowl, and place ice water in another bowl.
  3. Grab the bottle out of the refrigerator and put the balloon on the top of it.
  4. Place the bottle into the hot water and watch the balloon stick up suddenly.
  5. Now place it into the ice water. Wait for a while, and notice there is less air pressure in the balloon.
  6. Place the bottle back into the fridge, and an hour later, voila! A limp balloon will cause your kids to squeal and point. Indeed, Charles’s Gas Law is correct!

Video of the Experiment

Take a look at the experiment:

The bottle is too small to actually inflate the balloon for real, but I’ve done a similar experiment, throwing dry ice into the bottle and placing a balloon over the top. The air expands way more explosively, and the balloon actually inflates!

*Always make sure to wear gloves when touching dry ice.*

Old Testament Drawing and Overview

October 17th, 2014

old-testament-drawing-overviewOne of my sons did an Old Testament drawing that combined many different stories from the Old Testament. He added to his drawing over the months as we were studying the Old Testament. He included the parting of the Red Sea, Sodom and Gomorrah being destroyed by fire from heaven, a rainbow and a dove from Noah’s ark, the story of Joseph and his coat of many colors, and Elijah going up into the clouds in a golden chariot.

Hands-on Activities for Old Testament Overview

If you are about to begin a study of the Old Testament, it’s great to give an overview. Also, at the end of a study of the Old Testament, there are many hands-on activities that you can do:

  • Draw a picture demonstrating your favorite story from the Old Testament
  • Learn the themes of the Old Testament with hand motions
  • Do a series of skits to demonstrate the stories from the Old Testament
  • Display crafts made throughout your study of the Old Testament
  • Cook food from Old Testament times
  • Celebrate one of the Jewish feasts
  • Watch a DVD about the land of Israel
  • Learn the books of the Bible in order

Summary of the Old Testament

Here is a fun video that will summarize the entire Old Testament in 5 minutes:

Learn the Books of the Bible

Why not learn the books of the Bible while studying the Old Testament? This is the song my children used to learn the books of the Bible:

We have finally finished creating unit studies for every single book of the Old Testament, and you will find these unit studies in the Unit Study Treasure Vault!

Homeschooling Multiple Ages

October 15th, 2014


How do you homeschool multiple ages? Here is a webinar that describes what you can do when you are homeschooling multiple ages:

Is it possible to teach children of all ages at the same time? How do you modify assignments for different ages?

With unit studies, you can easily teach your children of multiple ages. This applies to history, science, literature, geography, and even writing. One time my kids were making a homemade botany field guide. A young child who could barely form his letters wrote the name of the plant under the cut-out magazine picture for each page. A slightly older child wrote one sentence under each plant picture. An older child wrote a full paragraph about the plant, using botanical terms that we had learned. So each child was able to complete the writing assignment on his or her level, and yet we were all studying the same topic.

I did a series on my blog about unit studies, where I explain how to teach all of your students at the same time, cutting down on the amount of teaching time for you and fostering family unity. You can find the 5-day unit studies series here: Unit Studies 101.

How do you keep babies and toddlers busy while teaching older children?

You can keep younger children occupied with age-appropriate activities at the table where you are working with your other students. If you can give them something that can keep their hands busy and keep them from interrupting your teaching, this is what you want. Here are some open-ended ideas for preschoolers: wooden puzzles, lacing cards, Play Doh, paint-with-water, coloring books, interlocking beads, tangrams, etc.

Another method that worked for keeping preschoolers occupied while teaching older kids was a fenced area with a CD with either my voice or classical music, or an educational CD. Hearing the mother or father’s voices or familiar songs can be comforting to babies and toddlers, and they are more likely to be quiet and listen. My toddlers and preschoolers were able to play quietly on their own for longer periods of time using this method. I always put open-ended toys in the room so that my kids could play for a while, not just for five minutes. If you need more ideas on how to keep babies and toddlers occupied while teaching older kids, watch the free webinar  A Routine for Young Children.

How does organizing your time help you to get all your homeschooling done with children of different ages?

You do need to sit down and decide how you want to structure your day if you want to homeschool with success. At minimum you need some sort of routine where you begin the day with math, for example, and then move on to your unit study. If you are doing 4 or 5 subjects in your homeschool, it’s easier if you plan ahead of time which order you will be covering the subjects so that your students can develop a natural rhythm to their day. This makes the day run more smoothly and enables your students to get everything done.

If you need help with organizing your day, you can take a look at my articles and videos about Homeschool Organization. You can also sign up for a free Homeschool Room Makeover video workshop, which will help you to feel more organized in your homeschool.

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