Merry Christmas Black Family

A Christmas Note For You

Merry Christmas, friends!

I hope this greeting finds you full of health, joy, and prosperity. I just want to hop on this blog quickly to wish you well. And since it’d be awkward to write a two-sentence post, I’ll share what we’ve been up to.

Yesterday, we enjoyed a relaxing day with our family. I was able to just be because I’d already completed my Christmas shopping before December and did most of my wrapping this weekend. I also organized and got rid of a ton of stuff via donation.

Family Christmas 2018

It was a great day here in Middle Georgia. It was an unusually warm winter day. All we needed was a light jacket and a smile. The sun was blindingly beautiful and very much welcomed after a couple days of gloomy weather. My boys took full advantage and rode their bikes up and down the street with their friend next door.

Later, we had a gift card to Chick-fil-a so it only made sense to bypass cooking and have a tasty drive-through dinner at our favorite fast food joint. Their spicy chicken deluxe sandwich is my fav! I love how our local Chick-fil-a decorates during this time of year. The giant cone tree filled with sparkling lights. The bedazzled manicured bushes. The fairy-light trimmings adorning the building. It’s so fun and festive!

FYI: My meal didn’t survive the drive home.

That night, we let the boys open one gift. When I was a child, my mother always allowed us to open one present on Christmas Eve, so we kept up this tradition with our children. The boys ended up opening their gifts to each other. I love to take my boys on individual shopping trips to pick out gifts for one another. It encourages them to be thoughtful and strengthens their bond.

Since my little-one loves stuffed animals, his brother got him a plush horse. It walks. It’s loud. It’s annoying. But little brother LOVED it. Although judging from the disapproving look on my husband’s face, I think Munchie will have a mysterious disappearance soon. And, yes, Munchie is the horse’s name.

For older brother, my little-one picked out a Perler bead kit. My eldest son had asked for this kit (and many other things!) during one of our shopping trips to Hobby Lobby. But it was NOT on the list, so I said no. No worries, though, little bro had his big brother’s back and gifted him the kit full of thousands of beads that’ll probably end up in the vacuum. Big brother loved it and the entire family had an impromptu crafting session.

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During our crafting session, I asked the boys what they thought Christmas was all about. We’ve had this conversation last Christmas, but I was curious as to what they’ve extracted from it. I love hearing things from a child’s perspective. My eldest son said it best, “It’s about celebrating Christ being born and saving us from our sins.” Oh, how this celebration should take place every single day of our lives!

After watching Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas on Netflix and sipping some hot cocoa, the boys were fast asleep. Soon, the presents rolled out of the closet and made their way underneath the Christmas tree. Join me on Instagram to get a glimpse of my Christmas Eve winddown on Instastory.

When it’s all said and done, I’m truly thankful for the life God has given me.

I want to end this post by saying this Christmas, please take the time to pick up the phone and call someone who could use it right now. Some people have a difficult time during the holidays. I, myself, have a friend who’s entire family literally just fell apart after her husband walked out on them. Today will be tough for her and her children.

And if you’re the one going through the holiday blues right now. Take heart. I empathize with you. I know there’s very little I can say to ease your pain. But just know that nothing lasts forever. Your pain won’t last forever. May you experience comfort during your season of grief, sadness, depression—or whatever you’re going through. May your suffering not be in vain. May you smile for the first time in days. Weeks. Months. May you make it through this difficult time stronger and more resilient.

Peace be with you, my friend.

Until next time…

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10 Top-Rated Educational Gifts Under $10 That Your Kids Will Want

Good news! It’s not too late to place online orders for this upcoming Christmas!

Many of you enjoyed my post last week detailing what I got my boys for Christmas with a $100 budget. I thought I’d share a similar post this week giving you my recommendations for awesome educational gifts for just under ten bucks each!

Although I’ve finished Christmas shopping, I’m always on the hunt for STEM-related projects to use in our homeschool, gift to my boys and their friends, or to simply recommend to parents and teachers who dislike searching for online deals.

With that being said, this post is meant to be a gift guide scenario for those of you who are interested in educational gift options for your children and/or resources for your classroom. All the items listed below are priced below $10 (as of date) and have high customer ratings on Amazon. They are also appropriate for introducing children to the wonders of STEM.

As you can see, we’re fans of all things STEM. It suits the learning style of my kinesthetic learners. If you’re new to STEM (or STEAM), it’s an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and (Art) Math. STEM stimulates a child’s natural intellectual curiosity and helps develop problem-solving, creativity, decision-making, and concentration, among other skills.

Why include STEM in your home and/or classroom? Because STEM permeates the modern world, yet research shows many students are not graduating from high school with the knowledge and capacities they will need to pursue the STEM careers steadily rising across the nation.

If you don’t get anything else from this post, know that you don’t have to rely on schools or administrations to teach your children (or students!) these wonderful concepts that are imperative for their future success.

What’s great about the following gift guide is that children will have so much fun they won’t even realize they’re learning and developing skills! Since I have two children under the age of ten, these gifts are most suitable for younger children (should be at least six-years-old) but can be challenging enough for preteens who are new to STEM.

So, without further ado, let’s get into it!

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclaimer for more information.

10 Top-Rated Educational Gifts Under $10 That Your Kids Will Want

 

 

1. National Geographic Dino Dig Kit

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National Geographic has a great series of dig kits available for the little scientist in your life. In addition to the Dino Dig Kit pictured above, this brand also offers shark tooth, real bug, and gemstone dig kits, among others. Kids will get to discover real dinosaur fossils that include a bone, mosasaur tooth, and dino stool for their rock collection. This hands-on exploration also boasts prehistoric fun facts in the full-color learning guide. A magnifying glass is also included to heighten the fun! Get it on Amazon

 

2. Magnetic Mini Tile Art by 4M

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This amazing set challenges children to create unique works of art that can be attached to magnetic tiles that will hang on any metal surface. The set includes tiles, magnets, a paint-strip of four colors, and a paintbrush. Kids can make beautiful gifts for friends and family or simply display their impressive creations on the refrigerator door. A perfect gift for the little artist in your family! Get it on Amazon

 

3. Illusion Science by 4M

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This science kit boasts 20 classic optical illusions from trick cards to 3D picture cards and glasses. There’s also an instruction booklet included that explains the science of optical illusions and how to create illusionary effects. Even if you don’t have a child who’s into optics, this is a gentle introductory kit that can be fun—and educational—for the entire family! Get it on Amazon

 

4. Metal Model 3-D Building Sets

Metal Models 2

This building set is great for helping children increase their logical thinking and problem-solving skills. The set includes metal material made from good quality stainless steel, a screwdriver, and a spanner. Perfect for the little engineers in your life and also suitable for young teens! Get it on Amazon

 

5. Be Amazing Insta Snow 

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If you’re looking for snow this Christmas, this kit is the next best thing! Insta-snow powder turns plain water into a fluffy snow-like substance in just seconds.  There is absolutely no stirring or mixing involved. This kit boasts that the powder can absorb up to 100 times its weight in water and is completely safe and non-toxic. A test tube and snow powder are included. You just provide the water for this fun STEM activity! Get it on Amazon 

 

6. Lemon Powered Clock

Lemon Clock

Engage your child in a fun lesson on battery science using this lemon-powered clock! This STEM kit includes copper and zinc plates, wire, and a clock. All materials are safe and high quality. The kit does require that lemons be provided to make the most of the amazing experience. However, this kit is a fun unique way to explore science with your kids at home! Kidz Labs also has a potato clock STEM kit available. Get it on Amazon

 

7. Green Science Enviro Battery

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Explore the wonders of green energy sources using this Enviro Battery kit. Complete with instructions, this kit also includes wires, zinc and copper plates, plastic cups, an LED lamp and more. Children can use potato, salt, water, and mud to light up an LED bulb and sound a buzzer, among other things! This kit is a wonderful introduction to the importance of leaving a smaller carbon footprint on the earth. Get it on Amazon

 

8. Melissa & Doug Stained Glass Window Art Kit

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Develop concentration, creativity, and fine-motor skills with this stained-glass window art kit by Melissa and Doug. Your child will use a number key system to place glitter stickers over the template. The kit comes with a ready-to-hang wooden frame that allows your child to display their gorgeous project. Hang it in the window and watch the light shine through the glittering stickers! Get it on Amazon

 

9. Tara Toys STEM Projects Robotic Hand

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This robotic hand project is a fun way to learn about tension and compression. This project is user-friendly and easy to assemble. Once built, the robotic hand can reach and grab objects! Also includes a fun learning card detailing the science behind tension and compression. The STEM Projects brand also offers walking dinosaur and fish generator project kits, also under ten bucks! Get it on Amazon

 

10. The STEMpreneur Mini STEM Racer

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This STEM racer kit helps children develop spatial recognition, problem-solving, critical thinking, and fine and gross motor skills. The Rally Cross Racer is one of four racer models sold separately. Get one for each of your kids and have a family fun night building the racers and engaging in a friendly race competition! Get it on Amazon


Well, that concludes my list of ten educational gift ideas under ten dollars. I hope this post helped you. I want to reiterate these gift options are suitable for children between the ages of six and ten. But don’t let my age recommendations stop you if you know your child or classroom would enjoy these amazing STEM projects!

Until next time, friends…


Are Your Children into Writing Christmas Wish Letters? Download these templates for FREE at Nike Anderson’s Classroom!

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Visit Nike Anderson’s Classroom for more Christmas resources. Don’t forget to follow my shop to be the first to know when I upload a new freebie!

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What I Got My Boys for Christmas

What I Got My Boys for Christmas for Under $100 | Non-Toy Ideas

I have two boys, ages five and nine. Since our very first family Christmas, my hubs and I have thought diligently about how to balance enjoying this time of year without overshadowing its true meaning. 

One thing that has really helped me over the years is becoming an early shopper. I seldom wait until December, or even Black Friday, to start my Christmas shopping. Being prepared in this manner ensures I won’t be stressed during the holidays, which means I can focus on what Christmas is really about. 

I wasn’t going to write a post like this, but I felt inspired to for two reasons:

First, I know for many families the lack of finances can be a stressor that inhibits them from truly enjoying the holiday season. Of course, Christmas is not about “things,” but there’s nothing wrong with desiring to give good gifts to people you love in remembrance of the divine gift God gave to us. 

Listen, you don’t have to go broke this Christmas season. This year, we’ve spent $99.25 (plus tax, of course) on 24 Christmas gifts. At twelve gifts each that rounds out to be about $50 per child, which is way below our usual budget! And, yes, we bought them awesome things they actually wanted! 

Perhaps even $99 is something you can’t afford, but most of our gifts were on sale as low as $2.50. That means if you have four children and wanted to get them each two things, it is possible to spend just $20! 

The second reason I’m writing this post is to help those of you who need alternative ideas on what to get their boys (or girls!) for Christmas. Perhaps you’re tired of purchasing toys your kids never play with. Perhaps gift-shopping just isn’t your forte. Whatever the case, I can at least help you with gift-shopping for children under the age of ten. 

Here are our gift-giving guidelines:

  • Give gifts they’ll actually use. 
  • Give gifts that foster creativity and learning. 
  • Give gifts you can do together as a family.
  • Give gifts that are mostly consumable.
  • Give gifts they specifically asked for.

For our family, art and science projects are great gift options because they follow the aforementioned guidelines. As a homeschool family, we will actually use these gifts, they will inspire creativity, we will do them together as a family, they are (mostly) consumable, and we made sure to get specific gifts our boys asked for. 

So without further ado, keep reading to find out what we got our boys for Christmas. 

Note: This is not a sponsored post. I purchased all of these products at my local Dollar General with my own money. Affiliate links are included for those of you don’t have access to a Dollar General. Please see my disclaimer for information. 


What I Got My Boys for Christmas for Under $100

 

1. Volcano Projects

Amazing Volcano Gift for Kids

This set includes everything needed to make a model volcano. We’ve made one before, but volcanic eruptions NEVER get old for my children! My sister-in-law purchased something similar from Michaels and it did not include the baking soda or vinegar, so the fact that this set includes everything is great! Get it on Amazon

2. Sketch Wizard Kits

Sketch Wizard Gift for Kids

My boys love to draw, so I knew this sketch wizard would be greatly received. This sketch wizard allows children to draw any flat image or three-dimensional figure of their choice. All the child must do is place the object in front of the lens and it will create a traceable image. Along with the unit, this set comes with a graphite pencil, colored pencils, 5 scenes, and 5 blank sheets so kids can get started on their sketches right away! Get it on Amazon

3. Metal Art Kits

Metal Art Gift for Kids

It doesn’t get any cooler than creating designs in copper, aluminum, and brass! My oldest son enjoyed when he did something similar to this in his STEM class, so I know he’ll appreciate this kit. It comes with everything needed to create cool metal projects!

4. Velvet Art Kits

Velvet Art Gift for Kids

My boys are huge into coloring. I figured coloring on velvet would take the fun up a notch. I love that this set comes with markers and 8 different designs to choose from. It would be a great idea to frame and hang them in the bedroom as wall art when they’re finished!

5. Slime Lab Projects

GooZooka Slime Lab Gifts for Kids

Slime is all the rage these days. I know it can be messy, but my boys love it, so I’m willing to bend a few rules for the sake of a fun family project. This lab includes everything we’ll need to create slime. It’s even color changing slime, which makes it a bit cooler!

6. Spin Art Projects

Spin Art Gift for Kids

Notice a theme here? Mostly everything is art related. I could not pass up this cool spin art kit, though. Mostly because it’s a painting project and my kids love to paint!

7. Neon Doodle Kits

Neon Doodle Designs Gift for Kids

I bought this set because it includes neon gel pens and my oldest son has been asking me about purchasing gel pens. It also includes neon markers, a coloring book, and giant coloring pages. I’m sure this will create hours of fun in our home!

8. Sand Art Projects

Sand Art Gift for Kids

As if this set wasn’t cool enough, it also glows-in-the-dark! This set boasts hours of fun sand art projects. I think my youngest son will be most excited about this, as he’s into kinetic sand. But I must admit, this looks like fun for the whole family! Get it on Amazon

9. Marker Maker Kits

Crayola Marker Maker Gifts for Kids

This set allows kids to create their own custom marker colors. It even comes with wacky marker tips. I mean, how fun is that? I can’t wait to do this project with them! Get it on Amazon

10. LEGO Sets

Lego Classic and Lego City Gifts for Kids

I know this is a non-toy post but let me plead my case if I may. My boys spend hours at a time making LEGO creations, so I’m more than happy to contribute to their collection. Besides, LEGO is something they specifically asked for. And, yes, these sets were also included in my $99 total! They were just a bit cheaper than other stores, but not majorly on sale. In fact, Amazon has a cheaper rate than even Dollar General at the moment. I purchased the LEGO Classic Bricks and Gears for some fun STEM-related projects.  

Get LEGO Classic Bricks and Gears on Amazon

Get LEGO Classic Blue Creativity Box on Amazon

Get LEGO Classic Green Creativity Box on Amazon

Get LEGO City Airshow Jet on Amazon

Get LEGO City Arctic Exploration Team on Amazon

11. Foam Dart Blasters

X Shot Toy Foam Bullet Shooter

This gift is for both boys since it includes two blasters. Again, this is something they’ve specifically asked for. At our co-op, most of the boys have foam blasters so, of course, my boys asked for one. I know this is a toy item, but I’m including this blaster set so you can get a visual of everything I purchased for just $99. Get it on Amazon

12. Emoji Pillows

Emoji Pillows Gifts for Kids

What kid doesn’t love emojis? My boys are no different. I know seeing these pillows on Christmas day will bring a smile to their face. My youngest son especially loves plush things at the moment so he will love cuddling up with these pillows at night! Get it on Amazon


How did I get 24 items for under $100? All the art and science projects were half off. I paid as low as $2.50 for some of them. For everything else, I received 20% off! Although the sale I took advantage of is over, Dollar General is still having an amazing BOGO sale on toys—including LEGO! The secret is to look through the top shelves for heavily discounted items! You may need a ladder. I borrowed one from the store. 

Here is a look at my long receipt of 24 items for a subtotal of $99.25. It’s a little worn, but you can see that after I got hit with Georgia tax, I ended up paying $106.20 for all 24 items. If you compare these prices to Amazon, I got a pretty decent deal paying a fraction of the cost at Dollar General. 

Christmas Gifts Under $100

For fun, I totaled up how much these items would cost if I purchased them on Amazon for the best value (minus the 4 items not available on Amazon) and the grand total is $172.07! And this grand total is still missing four items (actually 8 because I purchased double of those particular items). Wow! What a saving!

I want to end this post by saying that each year is different for us. For instance, last Christmas our boys received new bikes and helmets and we went outside and rode around the neighborhood. It was so much fun and they were extremely grateful even though they didn’t get a lot of “things.” 

And while every Christmas looks different for us, a couple things that remain constant are not waiting until Christmas season to shop, sticking to our budget, and being intentional about teaching our children what’s truly valuable. 


Are Your Children into Writing Christmas Wish Letters? Download these templates for FREE at Nike Anderson’s Classroom!

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Visit Nike Anderson’s Classroom for more Christmas resources. Don’t forget to follow my shop to be the first to know when I upload a new freebie! 

Nike Anderson's Classroom Free & Affordable Educational Resources

Christmas Treats

12 Days of Kid-Friendly Holiday Treats

One of my favorites things about Christmas is all the yummy holiday treats! Not that I enjoy expanding my waistline, I simply enjoy the process of kitchen creativity with my children. These special moments develop into wholesome memories of love and holiday goodness.  My prayer is that one day when my sons have families of their own, they share fond memories of us making holiday treats in the kitchen. Perhaps they will continue the tradition with their own families.

Of course, I looked to Pinterest for some great ideas. But what’s super fun about these recipes is that they are adaptable so you can play around with them to make them your own! Let me just say I do not plan on making all of these holiday treats. No, ma’am! However, I put this list together to refer back to when I’m looking for something fun to make with my kids.

So, without further ado, let the kitchen creativity begin! Here are twelve Christmas treats that are sure to bring some holiday cheer into your home or classroom. Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram to discover which treats me and family end up making!


 12 Days of Kid-Friendly Holiday Treats

Links for recipes below image. 

1.    Rice Krispies Christmas Trees

 Click for Recipe


2.    Snowman Oreo Pops

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3.    Holiday Pretzel Bites

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4.    Reindeer Rice Krispies

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5.    Strawberry Santas

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6.    Marshmallow Pops

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7.    Cornflake Wreath

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8.    Chocolate Covered Strawberry Trees

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9.    Peppermint Bark

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10.    Hot Cocoa Cookies

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11.    Grinch Kabobs

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12.    Gingerbread Cookies

 Click for Recipe


Which one was your favorite? Let us know down below!

Christmas Letter Templates

FREE Dear Santa | Dear God Letter Templates

This week, I created Christmas inspired letter templates! I know there are a ton of free Christmas templates out there, but I wanted to customize my own to use in my classroom. I want to reinforce to my kids that gratitude and generosity are great qualities to embody, especially during the holiday season. Therefore, I included a “guide” so to speak, encouraging kids to write down something that they’re thankful for, something that they’re hoping for, and something they plan to do for someone else. If your students choose to skip the guide, blank templates are also included for them to write as they wish.

You will also notice that the templates include a choice between a “Dear Santa” and “Dear God” salutation. That is because my children do not believe in Santa Claus, so we will be writing letters to God. Even though we don’t celebrate Santa (nothing wrong with people who do!), I still like my kids to write letters that include things they are hoping to get for Christmas. Makes my job easier! I know I am not the only parent who chooses not to play the Santa game, so I decided to share these templates with others.

These templates are totally FREE to download. No strings attached. All you have to do is click on the link below! There are twelve templates total with 4 design options. I hope this helps someone. Merry Christmas!

DOWNLOAD FREE TEMPLATES NOW

 

Visit Nike Anderson’s Classroom for more free resources!

 

Christmas Theme Worksheets

New Christmas Worksheets for Reading and Math!

First of all, Happy Thanksgiving! By Monday, many of us will already have our Christmas tree up complete with trimmings. But is your classroom ready?

Be the best teacher ever and make these adorable Christmas-themed worksheets a part of your classroom! Below are some of my latest kid-approved products coming from my classroom to yours. Check them out!

MATH FACTS PRACTICE

Click to see preview at Nike Anderson’s Classroom

Bring some holiday cheer into your classroom with these unique, Christmas-themed math practice worksheets. Designed for the 16 December days that lead up to Christmas break, these worksheets offer a motivational quote for each day as a “gift” of encouragement to students. The following quotes are included:

Day 1. You were born to stand out!
Day 2. Always do your best!
Day 3. Nothing is impossible!
Day 4. If you dream it, you can do it!
Day 5. Be yourself!
Day 6. You don’t have to be perfect to be amazing!
Day 7. Never give up on yourself!
Day 8. Think happy thoughts!
Day 9. You are somebody’s reason to smile!
Day 10. You can learn anything!
Day 11. You are super special!
Day 12. The world is a better place with you in it!

Aside from being inspirational, these printable math facts worksheets are designed to develop and improve the following skills for grades 1-2:

1. Develop strategies for adding and subtracting whole numbers.
2. Fluently add and subtract within 20.

There are 12 worksheets for addition practice and 12 worksheets for subtraction practice. A total of 24 worksheets and 352 math problems!

READING COMPREHENSION

Click to see preview at Nike Anderson’s Classroom 

Bring some holiday cheer into your classroom using these adorable, Christmas-themed reading comprehension worksheets. Included are 16 quirky letters to Santa with 48 follow-up questions.

These printable worksheets are designed to encourage and strengthen the following skills for grades K-2.

1. Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.
2. Demonstrate an understanding of key ideas and details.
3. Express creativity through the use of drawing to narrate the text.
4. Produce clear and coherent writing.

As a bonus, this set also includes a fun letter template for students to customize their own letters to Santa!

Both packets are common core aligned. Check them out on Teachers Pay Teachers for common core strand details.