3-D Ornaments

3-D Ornaments by Fran W
When it comes to learning math, we enjoy exploring it in fun and challenging ways and do our best to turn simple items into cool, useful things. Making 3-D ornaments from paper and/or recycled cardboard is a great way to do this.

3-D Geometric Shapes

3-D Geometric shapes make really nice tree ornaments. When I did craft programs for kids and families, the kids really enjoyed the challenge of making these and had a lot of fun decorating them.

Chocolate Activities

Chocolate Activities by Fran W.
Make a day out of learning about chocolate in some really fun ways!

Learn about chocolate, make an old time chocolate egg cream, find out if chocolate is a fruit or a veggie, and get links to other chocolate resources such as virtual field trips, puzzles and historical information.

Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix
Make your own delicious hot cocoa mix and get tips on how to make an extra special treat out of it!

Learn how to make delicious chocolate covered pretzels.

Directions for making your own cocoa lip balm. 

Make your own body wash or bubble bath.

Connect with Funschooling and Recreational Learning!

Note:  Has this or another activity on Funschooling and Recreational Learning inspired you or someone else in a positive way? Have you featured this activity in a blog post? I invite you to comment and link back to where your post can be found, or tell me what you or your family enjoyed about the post! Thank you!

Chocolate covered pretzels

Chocolate Covered Pretzels by Fran W
Chocolate covered pretzels are really easy and fun to make at any age, and they make a great gift too!

To make your own, you will need...

1-2 1lb Bags of real chocolate chips

Pretzel Rods or your favorite shaped pretzel - 1 Large bag/container or 2 small

Bowl or heat-proof container

Spoon or a fork

Parchment paper

Flat pan

Plastic zip-top bags or long air-tight containers

Optional: Mini chocolate chips, nuts, cookie pieces, crushed peppermint sticks, shredded coconut, candy bits, white chocolate chips, nonpareils candy (sprinkles), sugar crystals, crushed candy such malted milk balls, toffee bars, etc.

What to do...

Make Holiday Gift Wrap

Homemade Gift Wrap by Fran W.
Kids feel a sense of accomplishment and independence when they make their own gifts. Encourage them to wrap their gifts up in a special way by using inexpensive items that can be found around the house! 

Turn paper into boxes, decorate a lunch or store bag, or up-cycle a cereal box. 

All that's needed is a little time and creativity and some simple craft supplies to make one-of-a-kind gift bags, boxes and wrapping paper. 

Items needed...

Paper: Old magazines, newspaper, copy paper and construction paper

Bags: Recycled store bags and lunch bags
Boxes: Recycled cereal, cracker, pasta, pizza, ect.

Craft supplies needed...

Scissors, markers, crayons, colored pencils, yarn, tape, hole punch, ruler, craft foam, paint and paint brush, kitchen sponge, stickers, stencils, stamps, hot glue gun, etc. 

What to do...

Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix

One of our favorite winter treats is a steamy hot cup of cocoa and to meet the needs and tastes of everyone in the house, we make our own hot cocoa base and add the items we like the most. 

1/2 c Powdered cocoa
3/4 c Natural sugar
1/2 c Real semi-sweet chocolate chips
Jars or air-tight container

What to do...

Sweet and Spicy Nuts

Sweet and Spicy Peanuts are a BIG favorite in my family, and my kids and I often make large batches to give to family and friends. 
I hope your family and friends enjoy them as well!

To make them, you will need...

2 T Melted Butter
1/4 c Honey
1/8 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1/2 tsp Granulated Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1 lb Raw Spanish Peanuts or Almonds
Mixing bowl
Spoon or spatula
9x13 Pan
Optional: Parchment paper

What to do...

Reindeer Games and Activities

Diorama from Reindeer/Caribou
Reindeer Games on Funschooling & Recreational Learning

Are you interested in learning about reindeer a.k.a caribou? Click on this link and learn about these beautiful creatures, make a diorama with the information learned about them, play some games and watch a short video of them in action!

Santa is taking applications so he can find a new reindeer to help pull his sleigh! Maybe the reindeer you create will qualify to help! What will your reindeer need to know? Be able to do? Find out!

Reindeer Games & Activities Off Site

Word Games - December

I hear a lot parents say that they would like to use a more relaxed approach when it comes to educating their kids, and the month of December is a great time to begin doing that. With all the festive things to do around town and fun activities being offered on-line, there are a lot of wonderful resources available to help parents lighten-up during the holiday season.

Instead of using workbooks, textbooks and worksheets to learn how words work, I recommend games and as many real-world experiences as possible, because important concepts and skills can be learned more easily through activities that matter to a person.

I've learned through experience that forcing kids to do things they aren't ready to do is a big waste of time and energy, so I make sure my kids have all the time they need to learn in ways that work for them, when they are ready to learn it. I've noticed that by doing this, they are much more willing to challenge themselves and they tend to get to the next level quickly.

I used to use a very strict, formal approach to educate. Once I made the decision to lighten-up, I changed one subject, or subject area, a month until there was nothing left to switch out. The concept of making learning fun, and working with my kids' readiness and needs, was so effective from the start, that it's the only way my kids learn these days.

Every family needs to find their own learning path. I invite you to give these word building activities a try and fine tune them to your suit your needs.

December Activities

December Activity Calendar by Fran W
Every month we make a list of the things we want to do, make and learn. Some things are done as a family, some are done individually. Since there are so many things to do this month, and so many events, we will do our best to get as much in as we can, as long as we find it enjoyable.

As a general rule, when we choose to do something, we make a day of it so we can take our time exploring and discovering all we can about each topic or activity. This is typical of the interest-based method of education we use. We choose a topic, write down what we want to learn about it, and any questions we may have, then brainstorm of some ways we can learn about the topic. 

Below is a list of all the topics we would like to cover this month. Each topic/activity links within this site and is filled with ideas, activities, and resources and offers possible ways to explore it further. Pictures are included to show how we chose to enjoy each topic/activity whenever possible.

December is always extra busy in our home, so after we make a list of fun things to do as a family, we make an activity calendar to hold our list. 

We look forward to allowing each activity to take on a life of its own, mainly because we find it more fun that way, and experience has taught us that the most learning happens when we are fully engaged in what we're doing. We think of it as "Funschooling".

Here's a list of the things we are planning to do. If we don't get to them this year, we will do our best to get to them another time. 
Check back often for updates or connect with me!

Holiday and Winter Origami

Holiday Origami by Fran W
We started having fun folding paper when my oldest child was about 6 years old and we've been finding ways to incorporate it into our lives ever since. One year we added origami presents and cranes to a Christmas tree, another we offered a bunch of holiday related folding projects for a craft program to those who wanted something different to do.  

Here are some of the other ways we have used the paper folding projects...

  • In a diorama.
  • To make a holiday scene.
  • Hang them on the tree.
  • Decorate a present.
  • Decorate the house.
Tip: Any sized paper can be used to make the projects, but make sure the paper you use is even on all sides, crooked paper will not give good results.

Note: Copy paper can be decorated with markers, stamps and crayons, wrapping paper can be used, as can pages from magazines and newspapers. Origami paper can be found in craft and retail stores and on line in a variety of designs and sizes. Origami Way offers a printable origami paper that can be *downloaded from the site. 
*Please use caution when downloading off the Internet.

I hope you find the following paper folding projects as enjoyable as we do. Unless otherwise noted, all the projects below offer illustrated instructions. Videos are also offered below.

Christmas/Holiday Cards

Making our own greeting cards for friends and family members is a fun holiday tradition in my household, and when the card making stuff comes out, everyone joins in!

Over the years we have collected quite a few things that help us create one-of-a-kind cards, but when we were starting out, we used very basic items such as:

Cardstock paper, construction paper, scissors, glue, pencils, rulers, markers, crayons, paint and paint brushes, and stickers

Christmas/Holiday House

Turn a recycled milk or juice carton into a Christmas or seasonally themed house!

To make one you will need:

A clean 1/2 gallon carton (milk, juice, tea, etc.), construction paper, scissors, Christmas or winter themed stickers, glue, and markers 
Optional: Craft knife, yellow tissue paper, glow stick or battery powered candle, old magazines, clip-art, stencils, paper punches, ruler, paint and a paintbrush