Knowledge House Newsletter

Homeschool Information... Ideas... and Inspiration

December Holidays & Special Days - Click Here!

~ December 2015 ~

Happy December!

We all know what that means... The holiday shopping season is well underway, it's almost the end of the school semester, the new year is nearly here, and everyone is in a hurry to get things done. I beat the rush by placing my orders on Amazon before Thanksgiving, and we put up our Christmas decorations over the weekend, but I still have to write and send Christmas cards. I know some people will be trying to finish up last-minute stuff on Christmas Eve!

In case you are in need of gift ideas, I've gathered an assortment of fun and educational items in my annual Homeschool Gift Guide. They are all available on Amazon, which makes it quick and easy. If you find anything that you want to order, please click through my Amazon links, because it allows me to earn a small commission. Thanks!

2015 Homeschool Gift Guide - Click Here!

Also, if you're looking for stocking stuffers I've got the perfect thing: Citizens Rule Books. The pocket-sized book includes the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, plus quotes by our Founding Fathers and information for jurors. Only $1.00 each!

Wishing everyone a blessed Christmas and New Year. :)

Teri's Sig

Featured Article

Zoombinis Reboot!

“Hip Hip, Zoombinis! Hip Hip, Zoombinis!” I am so excited! Finally there is a newly remastered version of Logical Journey of the Zoombinis, everyone’s favorite 1990’s educational puzzle game! (It won “Best Home Education for Pre-Teens” at the 1997 Codie awards.)

Who else has fond memories of the Stone Guards, Pizza Trolls, and Captain Cajun – or the Allergic Cliffs, Mudball Wall, and Bubble Wonder Abyss? The reboot of Zoombinis stays true to the original, keeping the old soundtrack and game play, while adding fresh graphics and upgrading it for modern operating systems. A great story, clever humor, enthusiastic narrator, awesome music, memorable characters, and challenging puzzles make for a fun and engaging experience.

Zoombinis are cute little blue creatures, each with distinct personalities and appearances, who are escaping from the evil Bloats that have taken over their island. The player has to help lead the Zoombinis to the safety of Zoombiniville. Along the way, players face a series of increasingly difficult challenges that stand between the Zoombinis and freedom. There are short-term and long-term goals to work towards, from getting as many Zoombinis as possible through one puzzle to getting all 625 Zoombinis safely to Zoombiniville. (No Zoombinis are lost if they fail to navigate successfully through a puzzle; they just have to go back and start over.)

This fun logic game was originally designed by TERC, a not-for-profit education research and development organization based in Cambridge, Mass., and they also headed the redevelopment. The game’s twelve perilous puzzles, with four levels of difficulty ranging from “not so easy” to “very very hard,” are solved using math concepts such as pattern recognition, sorting, classifying, graphing, deductive reasoning, algebraic thinking, data analysis, theory formulation, and testing hypotheses. Zoombinis supports the math standards of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

The creators promised that this game would “encourage kids to develop a lifetime habit of associating fun with learning,” and it’s true. It really trains your thinking skills, and yet it’s so much fun to play! Zoombinis is well-liked by parents, educators, and children alike. If your kids have never played Zoombinis, they are missing out on one of the best educational games of all time. We have long wished to play the original classic again (and would rather forget about those awful sequels from The Learning Company that were nowhere near the quality of the first).

I am thrilled that today’s kids and teens now have a chance to play Zoombinis! While recommended for ages 8-12, a logical thinker as young as age six can get through it (the game includes audio cues for reluctant readers), and the harder modes offer a good challenge for teens and adults as well. My oldest son used to play the original Zoombinis when he was 6, and my 15-year-old is playing the new Zoombinis. Our whole family also enjoys playing it together, and it's easy to get immersed in this game even though it's just a cartoon.

Zoombinis would be a great gift for young math whizzes, puzzle lovers, nostalgic fans of the original game, or anyone who enjoys playing games that require you to actually use your brain. It's a digital download only, though, so you won't find it in a box. (It’s available on iPad, Android, Windows, Mac, Kindle Fire, and Steam.)

Reading Between the Lines

The Aroma of Old Books

While many people rely on their Kindle for reading books these days, some book lovers actually prefer real paper copies to digital editions. One reason could be that they’re addicted to the smell of books. Indeed, the nostalgic aroma of an old book can be quite comforting.

If you’ve ever stepped into a used bookstore or spent any time with books from the seventies or earlier, you’ve probably encountered that distinctive smell. Leathery and a bit musty is what you might expect – but it’s kind of sweet, too, like a combination of pipe tobacco, grass, and vanilla. Love for the old book smell is so universal that you can actually purchase the fragrance!

Scented Soy Candle - Old Books Fragrance - The Old Books soy candle has just the right combination of oils to give that old book smell, with a bit of a leathery essence and some aged paper. They also have Scented Soy Wax Melts.

Read Candle by R. Nichols - Made from a premium paraffin and soy, this candle offers a mellow, comforting fragrance of aged paper, ink and leather. The glass candle jar allows the glow of the flame to highlight the graphic design.

Paper Library Candle - This candle evokes the atmosphere of the dream library through the enigmatic smell of paper, scents of cedar and sandalwood, with clove and vanilla base notes.

P.S. Have you ever wondered why books smell the way they do? Andy Brunning, a British chemistry teacher, released an infographic explaining that the reason why the aroma of antique and new books differ has to do with organic compounds created by the breakdown of cellulose and lignin within the pages, which causes that “weirdly intoxicating scent that haunts libraries and second-hand book stores.” Check out Brunning’s infographic here.

Books of the Month

Looking for unique homeschool gifts? May I suggest the following?
The perfect gift for a homeschool mom - or for yourself!

Easy Homeschooling Series

This wonderful set of books by a veteran homeschool mom will provide refreshing encouragement and practical motivation for the new year!

(NOTE: Another homeschool site has been selling downloadable copies of these titles, but why settle for PDFs when you can have the pleasure of holding the actual books in your hand? Besides, you can't easily give a PDF as a gift. These are the original softcover BOOKS!)

3 Books for $30 - plus FREE shipping!

1. Easy Homeschooling Techniques
2. Easy Homeschooling Curriculum
3. Easy Homeschooling Companion

Click here for detailed book descriptions!

Get ALL 3 BOOKS (valued at $57) for ONLY $30!*
OR purchase one or more individual titles - also on sale!

*And don't forget the FREE SHIPPING!

E-Books of the Month

nativity Story
The Nativity Story: with Nativity Activities contains an original 10-page rendition of The Nativity Story, KJV Scriptures from the Old and New Testaments, questions for personal study and family discussion, and a condensed version of The Nativity Story for use in Christmas cards or as handouts. Nativity Activities include: Nativity Quiz, Projects & Crafts, Nativity Vocabulary, Nativity Traditions, Host a Nativity Party, Nativity Music, Movies & Multimedia, Nativity Poetry, Nativity Word Search, Nativity Art, Nativity Word Scramble, Christmas Word Find, and more. Over 60 pages, only $4.95! Click here.

Gifts for all Occasions
Gifts for All Occasions is jam-packed with a wide variety of ideas for gift exchanges, hostess gifts, stocking stuffers, gift baskets, homemade gifts, gifts for the whole family, gifts for babies, gifts for him, gifts for her, gifts for children, gifts for teens, gifts for grandparents, gifts for hospital patients and nursing home residents, gifts for the person who has everything, sentimental gifts for loved ones, and more! 22 pages of gift ideas! Only $4.95! Click here.

Easy Money Gifts
Easy Money Gifts features more than 50 easy, unique, and fun ways of giving money that will surprise and delight the recipient – while saving you time and money! This 40-page e-book also contains money facts, quotes, verses, and other monetary information of interest to homeschoolers. Only $4.95! Click here.

How to Write a Homeschool Mission Statement

How to Write a Homeschool Mission Statement

Sometime after the Christmas rush and before the New Year begins, it would be nice for the whole family spend some quality time together discussing goals, dreams, and the purpose of life. While you’re at it, why not write a homeschool mission statement! I've created an easy to follow step-by-step guide that explains how. If you're like many families, you may have noticed that the busyness of daily life seems to distract you from the principles that matter most. Your family can get back on track by preparing a homeschool mission statement to clarify your reasons for homeschooling and assist in guiding you from this day forward. "How to Write a Homeschool Mission Statement" serves as a great mid-year refresher between semesters. Only $4.95 for 36 pages! View the contents and download your copy here:

Famous Homeschoolers

Wilson Bentley

Wilson A. Bentley, taught at home by his mother, had a unique hobby of studying snowflakes. He was the first person to photograph a single snow crystal in 1885. In his lifetime, Bentley captured more than 5,000 snowflakes on film. Of course, no two were exactly alike. Learn more about "The Snowflake Man" at

Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin is a fact-filled history book, a rich science lesson, and an inspiring biography all in one. It's a Caldecott-Medal winner too! The beautifully illustrated hardcover book would be a nice gift for homeschoolers!

Learning Links

  • Family Holiday Ideas (For many families, Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the winter holiday season.)

  • Gingerbread Houses (A homemade gingerbread house makes an impressive centerpiece during the holidays.)

  • An Old-Fashioned Christmas (Celebrating family traditions is what makes families unique and bonds family members together.)

  • Homemade Gifts from the Heart (Sometimes the best gifts you can give are those from the heart. They are always appreciated more than those from the wallet.)

  • Merry Christmas & Happy New Year in Many Languages (Can You Guess the Languages? Translations provided.)

  • Merry Christmas (Jesus is the Reason for the Season... and Wise Men Still Seek Him.)

  • Christmas Carols (From the first angelic choir over Bethlehem, carols have rung joyously through the centuries.)

  • Let it Snow (Learn all about snow, as well as the Eskimo names for different kinds of snow.)

  • The New Year (Here's our chance to start over, to do it right this time, to accomplish something that we want to finish.)

Freebie(s) of the Month

The Candy Cane
Print this page, cut it in half, roll each half into a scroll, and attach to a large candy cane using a pretty ribbon. Makes a great stocking stuffer or Christmas party favor.

The Nativity Story
Print this page (double-sided) and make copies for inserting in Christmas cards, or give as handouts. This is an abridged version of my original 10-page story.

Keep track of your contacts and Christmas lists with these printouts: Contact List | Christmas Card List | Christmas Wish List

(Requires Adobe Reader: click here for free download.)

Quote of the Month

“What is Christmas? It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future. It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow with blessings rich and eternal, and that every path may lead to peace.” ~Agnes M. Pharo

A Note From Teri...

As you get ready for Christmas, keep in mind that gifts of friendship, kindness, sharing and caring are always welcome and meaningful. Remember that others may not be as fortunate as you are. The following just came to my attention this week...

Tracy Ayers Family Survival Fund

Tracy Ayers is a dedicated homeschooling mother of nine children (ages 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 11, 12, 17, 19) in Wittmann, Arizona. In October of 2015, the youngest was diagnosed with acute leukemia and began undergoing aggressive chemotherapy. On December 4, 2015, Tracy suddenly lost her beloved husband, Rob, to a heart attack.

Rob had no life insurance and was between jobs. He had recently accepted a job out of state and they were preparing to sell their home and move when the cancer diagnosis was made. Rob had to turn down the better job and make arrangements to start a new position locally so he could help with the ongoing treatments. Sadly, the benefits the job would have offered the family never had a chance to take effect.

Now Tracy has no income and the funeral expenses are estimated to be $1500, final medical expenses $40,000, and chemotherapy $3500 a month in addition to basic living expenses. Tracy doesn't have any relatives who live nearby, but her homeschool friends are providing meals, transportation, and support. A GoFundMe page was set up for the family at Please donate if you can, and keep the Ayers family in your prayers.

Happy Homeschooling!

Teri's Sig

P.S. Did you like this month's newsletter?

Copyright © 2015 by Teri Ann Berg Olsen, To subscribe to this free e-newsletter, send a blank e-mail to and follow the instructions in the confirmation e-mail that you will receive, or sign up on the web at To unsubscribe, send a blank e-mail to . Questions? E-mail .