Saturday, December 16, 2017

What We're Reading...and Crafting, and Playing :: Last Christmas Edition

Last December I took photos of Christmas gifts to share here on the blog in case any of you were looking for inspiration for your own kids...and I never shared them!  It might have had something to do with being glued to the sofa during a challenging first trimester. ;)

I decided this would actually be the perfect time to resurrect that half-finished post from the drafts folder and give it new life this Christmas-shopping season.

This post is partly {What We're Reading} for December because my kids received mostly books last Christmas (and, um, every Christmas -- LOL).  So there's a fair amount of vintage, out-of-print goodness, and I'm sorry if any of these are hard to find!  But there's also a whole bunch of things that are Amazon-able: new-release books, craft kits, binoculars, and more.

And by the way: in each kid's photo, you'll see the nature journal kit I made for them.  I already posted the run-down on those over here.

Enjoy this post-that-never-was from last year! ;)


For Vincent, age 10

Meltzer's Ten Kings and the Worlds They Ruled
Molly and Norman Rockwell's Willie Was Different: The Tale of an Ugly Duckling
Stockton and Sendak's The Griffin and the Minor Canon
de Trevino's Nacar, The White Deer
Armstrong Sperry's Captain Cook Explores the South Seas

Schleich warrior (we have several of these -- they are somewhat fragile, so I save them for ages 7+)

For Gianna, age 10

Lois Lenski's A Book of Princess Stories
Rackham's Fairy Tales from Many Lands
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland illustrated by Helen Oxenbury
The Family from One End Street and Some of Their Adventures
All-of-a-Kind Family Uptown

Favorite Storybook Characters Paper Dolls :: Felt Wee Folk - both the book and a kit of supplies

For Cate, age 7

Hilda Boswell's Treasury of Nursery Rhymes
More Milly-Molly-Mandy
McGinley's The Most Wonderful Doll in the World
The Complete Brambly Hedge
Moore and Lobel's The Magic Spectacles

Mini Pom-Pom Pets :: Spring Fairies kit from A Child's Dream Come True
Favorite Ballets coloring book :: stationery and a wallet

For Xavier, age 6

The Big Book of Real Trains (a fun reprint)
Talbott's King Arthur and the Round Table (these illustrations have inspired much drawing)
All Around the Town (Phyllis McGinley is a longtime fave and this is fabulous!)
This Land is Your Land (hardcopy for our collection -- you know we love our folk song picture books!)
Lenski's The Little Train (her hardcovers are OOP, but they're released as board books now)

Children's Missal (we love this for our pre-FHCs at the Latin Mass) :: tape
Favorite Horses coloring book :: Grow a Frog kit

For Bridget, age 5

My Favorite Things (if you love the song, this book is wonderful)
Tasha Tudor's First Graces (a charming treasure -- apparently part of a series)
Annie Rose is My Little Sister (she loved Naughty Little Sister, so I couldn't resist adding this too)
Fujikawa's Are You My Friend Today?
The Vorland Mother Goose

Crayola Pipsqeaks :: Twist-Up Crayons (we also really like the Crayola version)
a fancy skirt for dress-up play

For Clara, age 4

Zelinsky's Rumplestiltskin
Will Moses' Mary Had a Little Lamb
Eldridge's In My Garden
Puppies are Like That
Cat Goes Fiddle-i-Fee

Mother Goose playing cards -- which I sadly can't find online anywhere to link for you

For Drew and Justin, age 2 and 1

Some Golden Books - Animal OrchestraThe Fire Fighters' Counting Book, The Animals' Christmas Eve, Guess the Animal
a set of sensory balls (these have gotten a huge amount of play)
matchbox cars

From Grandma
As you can see, my mom is wonderfully supportive of our homeschooling when she considers Christmas gifts for the kids!  I'm very thankful.

Italian board books: La Frutta and I Colori (for the baby boys)
Elsa Beskow's Woody, Hazel, and Little Pip and Alphabet Book (for Clara)
Hilda Van Stockum's The Borrowed House and King Oberon's Forest (for Gianna and Cate)
Spalding's The Sheriff of Beech Fork and The Cave By the Beech Fork (for Vincent)
A Butterfly is Patient and A Nest Is Noisy (for Bridget)
Carson Ellis' Home (for Xavier)

binoculars (these are the same brand/level as ours -- they are a fantastic little pair!)
X-Acto mechanical pencil sharpener (this is working wonderfully after a year)
Frixion erasable markers

And some of my kids' crafting: Xavier and Vincent went crazy with paper crafts for their siblings. I about died over these!

by Xavier for his sisters <3

by Vincent, one for each member of the family -- including me!

Xavier made a Connect Four board, glasses, and a boat for his brothers

note the name of the boat he made for Vincent: "Madam How Lady Why"  LOL

Gianna and Cate made these as a family gift -- Cate painted and lettered the picture in the back, and Gianna bought the statue, which was an absolute steal at only $10!  (I wish it were still available, but I can't find it for sale on Amazon any longer.)


Okay, so now I need to know: what are you gifting your kids for Christmas this year?  Any special books under the tree?  I have most of our presents bought and hidden, but there are so many good ideas popping up in my feed lately!  I save them all in Evernote so that I have inspiration for birthdays and such.  I'd love more!


  1. I love reading through Christmas gift ideas - and you have so many good ones here! The Felt Wee Folk book looks amazing (so good for a more advanced handicrafter)! And our kids love the O'Zelinksky Rumplestiltskin story! How wonderful that your mom is so supportive of your homeschooling, too. :)

    This year our children are receiving...
    James (6yo):
    - Redwall books, Billy and Blaze books, Dover colouring book (Old-Fashioned Farm Life)
    - Schleich warriors (Found an amazing deal on several used ones, including a castle! Imaginative play for weeks!)
    - K'nex

    June (4yo):
    - doll house with a Calico Critter rabbit family set
    - Dover colouring book (A Walk in the Woods)
    - Mosaic sticker book, memory game

    Alice (2 years old)
    - sharing the doll house with June, also getting a little woodland creature family set and a car for them
    - Dover colouring book (Forest Animals)

    And we're doing a couple family gifts, including a new GeoPuzzle (Africa) and a card game (Set).

    1. Arenda, your gifts sound similar to ours this year! A friend gifted us a dollhouse (we have never had one), so I got a little Calico Critters family (something else we have never owned) for each of my girls. I think this might be the last year Gianna is willing to play with something for little girls like this and actually enjoy it (sniff!), so I wanted to take advantage. I saw your dollhouse on IG and it is gorgeous! And I also bought Set, as well as some other games -- now that I have quite a few kids old enough to play games together, we needed some new options. They play the ones that we have to death! :)

    2. Oh, too funny that our gifts are so similar! Aren't the Calico Critters just adorable? I had so much fun perusing the shelves looking at all the different options! :)

  2. What did you think of the build it yourself wood kit? I was looking at that...

  3. May need to get that pencil sharpener...

    My boys (9,6) are getting:

    - Schleich knights, horses, princess ( I found a dozen in a second hand shop for 30p-50p each!! I snapped them all up! We already had some, so these will be a great addition to their collection)
    - Proper archery set (we have a large garden and they love archery)
    - Enamel mugs for hot cocoa
    - Lots of books that, like you, I've been collecting for about the last 6 months (I got all the Tallbott King Arthur books to give to 6 year old. And the Book of Trolls which you recommended a few posts ago!)

    Two year old girl is getting bubble bath, Beatrix Potter books, a stuffed toy cat and more books I've been collecting!

    (speaking of Calico Critters, I have a huge collection from my childhood, plus the house and treehouse...cant wait till she is old enough for me to give them to her!)(If nothing else *I* cant wait to play with them again! haha!)

    and husband is getting a large magnetic chess set, as I think it will improve the chess games with the boys so the pieces don't all fall over when they have to move the set somewhere in the middle of a game for dinner/an approaching toddler.
    (he's also getting a cheese box for the fridge to store the many varieties of cheese he buys. He's English. He loves cheese!)

    Now just need to find a time slot to wrap everything that isn't 11pm on Christmas Eve...

    Have a good Christmas.
    Best wishes
    English Home Educator

    1. Oh, and grandparents are getting 9 year old Elenco Snap Circuits SC-500 (he's already had SC-100 for a few years and loves it ) and the 6 year old (more) Lego.


    2. Yes, 11pm on Christmas Eve is probably what's going to happen here! :) I love your list -- great ideas!

      We have a small magnetic chess set that makes play SO much easier with littles in the house -- they can just up and move it whenever needed. ;) A larger one would be nice. Our only larger one is my husband's wood set from his childhood, and it's bulky.

      Wonderful on the Schleich score! Wow! I waited for a find like that for years, then finally bit the bullet and started buying them. The animals get the most play out of anything in our house, probably. We're adding some more this year also. It's nice to have a built-in gift like that!

      We don't have Snap Circuits yet. I am going to mention that to my mom for next year!

  4. A big pile of "new" books will be under the tree on Christmas eve. Im praying for a day snuggled up together with everyone reading.

    My 11 year old is getting:
    *wood carving kit
    *water colors

    10 year old is getting:
    *Drawing pencils & a pile of notebooks

    8 year old:
    *A Lego set
    *A watch
    *A multi-tool

    4 year old
    *A boogie board

    2 year old
    *a small wooden train set & we're starting out Schlein collection

    1. A day snuggled up reading would be excellent! I'm hoping the same will happen here, although unfortunately I don't think the 2yo and baby will cooperate. ;)

      I have a watch on the future gift list for my older three. Maybe in the Easter baskets. :)

  5. EEEEK! I love these sorts of posts. I chuckled a bit that this is from last year. I hear you. Life is busy. I often come here for book gift ideas. Thank you! I ended up getting the Wanda Gag book you recommended in another post for my Phoebe (5) for Christmas - the Snow White one! :D And that pencil sharpener! Thank you. We burn through those fast, so good to know.

    1. I hope she loves it! My Bridget and Clara really love that book, and Cate even wrote a few lines from it into her Prose and Poetry book. <3

      This pencil sharpener has been great for us. It was recommended by a homeschooling friend as a workhorse. So far, so good!

  6. I love giving books as gifts, but I have one child that is a bit possessive and wants to gather all her stuff separately. I'm starting to think it's unfair of me to hope/expect the gifted books to go on the family bookshelf. Do you deal with this in your family at all?

    1. That's a great question, Jen! I have one child that is like this also. My approach so far has been to tell her that yes, they are hers, BUT if she gets them as a gift, I expect that she will share them with the family. That said, if someone damages "her book," I would still expect that person to replace it for her if possible. If she buys them with her own money (very rare because she doesn't get an allowance), she keeps them in a special spot on the shelf and I have let her do that so far.

      But this is one of the reasons that I never give school books as gifts -- the ones I gift are for free reading and are available to be read any time to the person who received them.

      The other thing is that since this is only one child who reads a LOT of her sibling books, I can gently remind her that almost everything she reads in the house belongs to someone else -- all of us share with her. So she gets first dibs at her books but then we are generous when others want to read.

      I imagine this is going to get more complicated moving forward, though!

  7. Celeste, what a thoughtful response. You have some very good points here that I will adopt. Thank you!
    So... (have you thought this far ahead yet?) Will the kids take their books when they're grown, or will they remain in your house? Maybe that's what you mean by more complicated going forward.

    1. Since the books were gifts, I anticipate them being able to take their books when they leave, and I will need to replace. (This is another reason I don't gift school books -- I don't want to have to rebuy those down the road to be able to get along with our schooling!) Maybe they will let me hold on to them until they have children of their own to share them with. ;)

  8. You will have a lot to replace:)
    Thanks for sharing what you read. My daughter is loving some of your suggestions!