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Fun Family Memories and Photo Gifts From Artsy Couture

When my first child was born, I faithfully took her to have professional portraits done. In fact, my mother and I even paid to join the photo club for the portrait studio in our local mall. Those were the good ole days when we also filled our cameras with 35mm film and dropped the rolls off at the drugstore to be developed.

When child two came along, the visits to the portrait studio were fewer and farther between. I took both children for special holidays- a cute Christmas card photo was crucial after all. And we still used 35 mm film- although I often just picked up a disposable camera because I was too busy to worry about the regular camera and often forgot it.

By the time child three came along, portrait studio visits were few and far between. In fact, I think I have a total of four professional pictures of her early years. I rarely had pictures to get developed. With three children aged 4 and under, who had time?

Child four was in a formal portrait right after birth. I used those pictures for the birth announcements. That was the sum total of her experience with professional portraits. A new toy came along when child number four was an infant- the digital camera. All of a sudden, I had a small, easy-to-carry camera that I didn't have to remember to buy film for. It was an awesome thing.

Artsy Couture review
{The content in this post is sponsored by Artsy Couture. I received free products in return for my post. All opinions are entirely my own, and I received no other compensation.}

I had a problem with this whole digital camera thing, though. I rarely ever had pictures printed. I had plenty of pictures on SD cards and flash drives, but we could only view them...digitally.

I still don't often get any pictures printed. I have plenty of them- on my phone, on my computer- but I rarely have them printed. We also rarely have professional pictures done. But sometimes I really want nice, quality, physical pictures. I love to display them, and photo gifts are great for the grandparents.

Although I've shopped for photo gifts and places to have physical pictures printed, I recently had the opportunity to experience unique and beautiful pictures from Artsy Couture. I was very happy with the pictures I received. If you're looking for a way to memorialize family moments or get beautiful, quality pictures printed, this is a great site for you to check out.

What is Artsy Couture?

Artsy Couture started as a small business designed to provide professional photographers with a beautiful and unique way to showcase their work. It's now a larger company, but they still offer beautiful, different, quality options for displaying photos. Although it still looks as if they offer products for professional photographers, even those of us who aren't professionals can find beautiful ways to display our photos at Artsy Couture.

What does Artsy Couture have to offer?

There are many photo products available in the Artsy Couture shop. I was impressed by some of the one-of-kind options I saw- like beautiful photo albums with a canvas cover or the USB drive with a beautiful photo made into it. In addition to these unique items, you can find some of the traditional photo products- regular photo albums, cards, canvas pictures, photo prints and more.

Our Artsy Couture Experience

We received a 24x20 canvas portrait as well as ten photo prints. I used pictures that were taken by my brother-in-law who- although not a career photographer- is very professional and takes some awesome pictures. For the canvas, I chose a family portrait that he did for us this past Thanksgiving. For the ten prints, I sent some of the pictures my brother-in-law took of Kathryne- my oldest- when she graduated this past year as well as some pictures I took on our beach trip this summer.

Artsy Couture review

Everything I received was beautiful. I was very pleased by the way that the colors turned out. The pictures- the canvas and the prints- were all very clear and sharp, and the color was beautiful. I immediately hung the canvas above the couch, a centerpiece among some other family photos I have there. This was one of the first professional, large-sized family portraits we've had in quite a while, and I was glad it turned out so beautifully.

Artsy Couture review

I was very pleased with our Artsy Couture experience. I can recommend them for your own family photos or for beautiful photo gifts for the family this holiday season. (There is a photo cube that I think would be an awesome gift with pictures of the kids.)

Artsy Couture review

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Learn About Charles Schulz and Comic Strip Creation With These Unit Study Resources

Like many kids my age, I grew up reading comic strips in the newspaper. Every child eagerly awaited the arrival of the Sunday paper because there were tons of comic strips, and the comics section was in color! I assume that Sunday comics are still a thing, however the popularity of the newspaper has faded out, and I get most of my news online.

Some newspaper comic strip writers were a flash in the pan. Others have been, and remain to be, true classics. One of these classic comic strip creators shares a birthday with me (although not the year- I'm not that old!). Charles Schulz, the creator of Peanuts, was born on November 26, 1922. In honor of his birthday, I'm sharing resources that you can use to learn about Charles Schulz and to create your own Charles Schulz, comic strip-themed unit study. (If you've never created your own unit study, here are five easy steps and a free unit study planning pack.)

I'm linking up with other iHN bloggers to celebrate November birthdays of famous people with learning resources and unit studies. If you'd like to find more famous November birthdays, check out the post here.

Resources for learning about Charles Schulz and Comic Strip Creation

(this post contains affiliate links that will benefit the blog if you use them to purchase)

About Charles M. Schulz

~ Charles Schulz was born on November 26, 1922 and died on February 12, 2000. Almost from the beginning of his life he was called "Sparky."

~ He grew up eagerly looking forward to reading the Sunday comics with his father each week and from an early age, he wanted to be a cartoonist, and in 1937, he had a drawing of his family dog, Spike published in a newspaper feature.

~ As a high school senior, Charles Schulz was able to take a correspondence course in cartooning.

~ In 1943, Charles was impacted by the death of his mother and by his entry into the army, where he served throughout the war until 1945.

~ After the war, Schulz sold single cartoons to the Saturday Evening Post and ran a comic strip called Li'l Folks for his local paper.

~ On October 2, 1950, the first Peanuts comic strip was published in seven national newspapers.

~ Snoopy's character quickly gained popularity in the 1960s when he changed from a typical four-legged dog to a character that could communicate and have his own thoughts and adventures.

~ Shulz retired in December of 1999 with his comic strips in 2600 papers worldwide, books in many different languages, and a host of awards for both his comic strips and animated productions.

(Find more details about the life of Charles M. Schulz on this page of the Charles M. Schulz museum site.)

Books About Charles Schulz

Sparky: The Life and Art of Charles Schulz- This is a middle grade biography of Schulz and a look at his comic strips. Although written for upper elementary, you could easily read it aloud for younger kids.

Charles Schulz- This book from Blastoff! Readers is more of an easy read for younger kids.

Charles Schulz (Robbie Reader Contemporary Biographies)- This biography of Schulz is an easy to read chapter book.

Kid Artists: True Tales of Childhood from Creative Legends- Although this upper elementary book isn't solely about Charles Schulz, he's included, along with other artists who talk about their childhoods.

Charles Scchulz (Children's Authors)- This is a picture book biography of Charles M. Schulz.

Learn About Charles Schulz

Explore the Charles M. Schulz museum site to find an awesome timeline of events of the life of Charles Schulz. It has some great photos of Schulz, his comics, and articles from the time periods.

Watch an interview with Charles Schulz here.

Read this PBS post with eight really interesting things about the life of Charles Schulz and the Peanuts comic strip.

Learn more fun facts from the Town and Country Magazine site with another interesting things... post here.

Watch this video from Stuff You Should Know to learn more about Charles Schulz and the Peanuts comic strip.

Watch this YouTube video to see Charles Schulz drawing the Peanuts comic strip.

Read ten unique facts about Charles Schulz from Biography.com.

Resources for learning about Charles Schulz and Comic Strip Creation

Learn About Comic Strip Creation

You can draw Charlie Brown with this simple drawing tutorial. (There's a written or video version.)

Create your own comic strip with this interactive page from Read Write Think.

You can also create a comic strip at Learning Games for Kids. It offers a free draw option, while the above site has stickers you place.

Draw a comic strip with the instructions and seven easy steps here.

Watch this great art lesson video all about making your own comic strip.

And you can find lots of great videos all about creating cartoon characters at the YouTube channel Cartooning 4 Kids.

Find some great comic strip ideas and tutorials here.

At MakeBeliefsComics.com, you can create your comic strip online. This site also uses stickers, not free drawing. But there is lots to choose from. The site also has free downloadable ebooks that encourage kids to write, including several that let kids fill in their own words for comic strip scenes.

After you learn about Charles Schulz and have fun making some comic strips of your own, check out the other November birthday posts from iHN bloggers.

Famous November birthdays

Six Things to Consider When Choosing a College for Your Homeschooler- And a Look at Spartanburg Methodist College

This past school year, we reached an awesome milestone in our homeschool. My oldest daughter graduated from high school and headed to college. Fourteen years ago, when I was knee deep in preschool activities and keeping up with toddlers, this day seemed far, far away. But it really came so quickly.

Although we've never made college a requirement for our children, as two, now, have headed into their high school years, my oldest knew from middle school that she wanted to go to college. In her freshman year she became very interested in science- especially biology. And the careers that she's researched all lead her down the college path.

Things to consider when choosing a college for your homeschooled student

I attended college, but that seems so long ago now (and maybe it really is), and things have changed in the twenty plus years since I began researching colleges for myself. When we started the college search for my daughter, I realized how many things there were to think about. And, as we started finding colleges, I realized how many colleges are out there.

Even though the big name universities often get mentioned, some of these smaller colleges offer kids amazing opportunities. Because I have a college-aged student and another high school senior who is still considering the options available to him after high school, I was really excited to have an opportunity to learn about Spartanburg Methodist College for this sponsored post. This college, while small and lesser known, has so much to offer- especially for our homeschooled kids.

(This post is sponsored. I was compensated for my time. All opinions are totally mine and are honest ones. I love to share great things with my readers!)

Here are six of the top things to consider when- and if- your high schooled homeschooler begins to think about college. And I'm taking a look at Spartanburg Methodist College and all they have to offer as well.

What majors does the college offer?

Although many kids will change majors- some may change multiple times- it's good to have some idea of an area of study that they are focused on. And it's important to consider this when looking at college choices.

Most colleges have a section on their websites where prospective students can find all of the majors offered. It's also a great idea to go to an open house or college preview day and ask questions about majors that your student is considering.

What resources does the college offer to help students after graduation?

College is not the end game. Even students who love school and learning- like my oldest child- can't stay in college forever. Graduating from college needs to lead somewhere. When we help our kids consider colleges, we need to look at what's available to help students take the next step.

Are there internships available? Does the college offer two-year degrees? Four-year degrees? What statistics are available to show what kinds of jobs graduates can find? Are there career services available to help students as they move on to life after college? All of these questions are important to consider as you're thinking about where the college degree can take your student.

How much does it cost and what scholarships and financial aid are available?

It would be nice to be able to consider every college without having to worry about the cost. But most of us can't do that. The tuition costs do matter. And as our students are considering colleges, we need to think about the cost and any scholarships or financial aid available.

Before we began researching colleges with my daughter, I thought that a private college would be out of the question because of tuition. But what we found was that, although tuition for these colleges is indeed higher, there are also abundant scholarships, as well as other financial aid options, at many of them. Don't automatically write off private colleges. Take some time to research cost as well as what aid is available to help pay tuition.

How big is the college?

My oldest daughter often gets anxious in large crowds. I don't think this is a "homeschool thing" because I have other children who don't really care about being a part of a crowd. I think this is a personality thing. Some people function better in small groups, small classes. And some don't really care.

Even if your child doesn't care about being a part of a large group, the size of the college can be important. It can affect class size- especially in the undergraduate classes. And it can affect the student/advisor ration when it comes to academic advisors. This may be something that is really important to you or something not very high on your radar, but checking out the size of the college is a good idea.

Does the college have a religious affiliation?

This is another one of those things that some people may really care about, while it's just not that important for others. But it's definitely something to consider. Whether or not a college has a religious affiliation can affect the worldview of the professors. It can influence the rules for residence life. It can determine the kinds of textbooks and resources that will be used in classes.

My daughter was interested in looking for Christian colleges. The worldview of the professors and the materials used is important to her. For some students, this may not be as important. That's okay. But religious affiliation is something to consider when you're doing your college research.

Does the college encourage the enrollment of homeschooled students?

All colleges- at least as far as I've seen- accept homeschooled students. But we've come across some that actively encourage the enrollment of students who have been homeschooled. This was an important consideration for us because we felt that colleges who actively encouraged homeschooled students to enroll would also be a great support for students who may have had a little different experience in high school.

My kids have never changed classes- except in the setting of our small high school co-op. They've never stood in line in a crowd for lunch. They've never raced the clock to make it through the building, down the sidewalk, and into the classroom. And no matter how well prepared they are academically, I know some of these things will be difficult. For that reason, I like the idea of them attending a college that encourages and supports homeschooled students. That college is more likely to offer help as they learn how to handle some of these things.

Things to consider when choosing a college for your homeschooled student

Spartanburg Methodist College

A Private, Residential, Liberal Arts College

Spartanburg Methodist College is a small, private college located in Spartanburg, South Carolina. It's a two-year college that offers a variety of options to students after they complete their two years. The school is affiliated with the United Methodist Church but welcomes students no matter their personal beliefs.

The college is a good choice for homeschooled students because they offer students either a two-year degree or assistance in completing a four-year degree. And we homeschoolers love flexibility! They have a small, supportive environment and the professors serve as academic advisors for the students. This is great because students get assistance choosing the courses to take and deciding what to do after their initial two years.

The fact that the college is a Christian college is also nice if your student is looking for an environment that will help her to grow in her faith in college. Spartanburg Methodist College offers weekly chapels as well as campus organizations that will encourage kids' spiritual growth.

Because the college is encouraging homeschoolers to enroll, you can register with no application fee using the code homeschool. 

Find Out More About the College

~ You can attend an Open House on October 21, 2017.

~ Schedule a campus visit any time of the year.

~ Request more information.

~ Watch an interview with Spartanburg Methodist College students who were homeschooled.

Find Spartanburg Methodist College on Social Media

Visit the Facebook page.

Follow on Twitter.

Find the college on YouTube.

Catch the college on Instagram with the handle @smcinsc.

Whether you have students headed into high school or you are still in the throes of homeschooling preschool, the day will likely come when you're thinking about college. Keep these six considerations in mind and check out Spartanburg Methodist College.

If you're thinking about homeschooling your child through high school, but you just aren't sure it can be done, check out Yes! You Can Homeschool Through High School!: Answering Your Questions and Allaying Your Fears. And if you have a high school senior this year for the first time, you can read my Reflections on the Graduation of my First Homeschooled Child.

Cooking With Kids Without Losing Your Mind

If you've been around the blog for for a while, you may know that I'm a self-professed terrible cook. I try. Oh, I try. But, at best, I have a handful of stand-by meals that I can cook well. Thankfully it's enough to keep the family fed, although we certainly don't have a very broad dinner menu. When I cook anything that isn't very familiar, it's a chore for me. I labor over the recipe and try diligently to do things exactly as written.

Because I struggle with cooking, I've always had a hard time cooking with my kids. But I want them to grow up knowing how to cook, so they don't have the struggles I have had. So, despite the difficulties, I try to cook with the kids. Admittedly, I'm sometimes a nervous wreck when I let them help me in the kitchen. All of a sudden, I not only have to deal with the thought that I might mess up, I have to stand by and let them learn- sometimes by trial and error- and give up total control. It's not easy. In fact, if you ask a particular child in my house who made pancakes totally on her own for the first time recently, you'll learn just how crazy I can get cooking with my kids.

Cooking with kids

I've learned some things over my sixteen years as a parent, thankfully. (I hope I've learned lots of things.) And I've been able to slowly let the kids cook with me- and now without me- more and more. Here are a few things I've found that help me maintain my sanity while cooking with the kids.

Choose what you cook wisely.

When I'm cooking with a younger child who is still looking to me often for help in understanding directions and following through, I need to choose recipes I'm actually good at. If I stick with a familiar recipe that I've made successfully before, I can relax and let the child do more. If I'm using a new recipe, I feel out of control, and I'm constantly taking over without meaning to or getting nervous when I see something they may do wrong.

Letting the above mentioned child cook pancakes was not really a great choice. For some reason, I've never been able to make good pancakes consistently. So trying to step back and let her try was very hard. I do much better with something like brownies or cookies or a pasta dish that's simple for me to make. When I feel comfortable with the recipe, I'm much more calm.

Lay down ground rules.

Before we begin, I try to take some time to talk about what we're cooking and how we're going to go about it. This is especially important if two or more kids are helping at one time. That can quickly turn into squabbles about whose turn it is to do what. And the bickering makes me- already on edge- very frazzled. If I'm working with a younger child or more than one, I let them know exactly which steps they are going to be allowed to do. This helps things flow smoothly and curbs the craziness.

Set up before you begin.

Nothing creates panic and causes scrambling like being halfway through following a recipe and then realizing we're out of milk or eggs or baking powder. There is a child who's been looking forward to this cooking time all day and who is looking forward to yummy cookies at the end of it. We're pulling out ingredients as we go. I'm trying to stay relaxed. And all of a sudden I reach for the sugar only to realize...we're out! The child falls apart as the dream of chocolate chip cookies fades away. I look at the mix we already have together in the bowl. And chaos ensues.

I like to go through the recipe and pull out everything we need before we begin. I lay out all the ingredients we'll need. I get out the bowls and pans we'll need. I even lay out measuring cups and spoons. That way we have no nasty surprises in the middle of our cooking.

Be ready to roll with mistakes.

Making mistakes is part of cooking. I certainly make my fair share. Some of my craziness and anxiety over cooking with the kids can be alleviated when I just remember that and decide to roll with it. There are times when a child dumps in the wrong ingredient. There are times they are measuring out a teaspoon full of an ingredient and the box slips, pouring way more than needed right into the bowl. There are times when we finish putting it all together and I turn to look at the counter and realize an ingredient was left out. My natural reaction is NOT to remain calm and be patient. But I've tried to train my response so that I can breathe deep and put it in perspective. Sometimes we can salvage what's left, and sometimes we have to dump the whole thing and start again. But having the right perspective helps me to avoid a breakdown and teaches the child that it's okay to make mistakes.

Know when to get out of the way.

I like control. Have you noticed that theme here? Much of my nervousness over cooking with the kids is because I don't like to feel out of control. But my kids need space to grow and learn. Micromanaging them constantly might make me feel better, but it doesn't teach them independence. In cooking, as in so much of life, I've had to realize when it's just time for me to get out of the way. When I know that a child has learned enough about reading a recipe and finding and using ingredients, I just need to step aside and let him cook.

Remember the child with the pancakes I mentioned above? I finally stepped out of the way. She's old enough to use the stove safely. She's experienced in reading and following recipes. Yes, it made me nervous. But I moved out of the way and let her work. And she was pretty successful. There were some pancakes that were a little more "well done," but, on the whole, I couldn't really complain. Having kids who are old enough to cook without me is a blessing now. And when I sit down to eat fresh, gooey chocolate chip cookies that were made entirely by my child with no help from me, it makes all that craziness of cooking with kids worth it.

Cooking with kids

Do you enjoy cooking with your kids? How do you alleviate the craziness? I'd love to hear your ideas!


If you've been thinking of teaching your kids to cook, but it seems a daunting task, Katie at Kitchen Stewardship has created the perfect course for you and your kids. Kids Cook Real Food will help your kids learn about good nutrition and making their way around the kitchen.

The Kids Cook Real Food course has lessons with 3 different levels- covering ages 2-teens. If you're wanting to get your kids in the kitchen without losing your mind, this is a great way!

Cooking with kids

Keep Kids Reading All Year Long With a Reading Incentive Program

In our house it never fails. Kids will read often- or listen to me read often- all summer long... until they've completed at least one library reading program chart. But when the reading program is over, the reading lags as well. I recently went on the lookout to find some reading incentive programs that last all year long.

If you're looking for ways to keep your kids reading even when summer is over and fall rolls around, try some of these reading incentive programs.

Reading incentive programs for kids

Reading Rewards 

This program lets you set up a reading log for your children. As children read, they earn badges and move up levels. They can use their points for moving up to purchase rewards that you the parent have set. There are suggestions for what type of rewards to use without paying a dime. (There is a paid plan of this program for teachers. You don't have to have a paid plan for your child to participate.)

Pizza Hut Book It Program 

Book It runs each year from October to March, and homeschoolers are welcome to register here. The parent/teacher sets the reading goal for the child. You can use time read or number of books read- choose whatever fits your child. When the child meets the goal, they receive a printed certificate for a personal pan pizza.

Book Adventure from Sylvan Learning Center

This incentive program is a program  you can begin using any time. It's a little bit different than the other programs in that kids are quizzed on the books they read. Kids choose books from the hundreds available on the reading lists, read the book, and take a quiz. They earn points based on how they do and can use their points to "purchase" rewards. Some of the rewards are provided by Book Adventure or you can add your own. I'll never forget the thrill of my oldest when she first won a free candy bar coupon (that was provided by the program not by me). Their are book lists for grades K-8.

Read to Succeed 

This is a program sponsored by Six Flags. If you live near a Six Flags, kids can earn a free ticket for six hours of recreational reading. The program only runs at certain times of the year. Currently it is scheduled to open again in October 2015.

Book Bingo

This cool reading incentive idea is a freebie on Teachers Pay Teachers. Kids will be motivated to read to fill up their BINGO card.

Book Challenge

A book challenge is a great way to encourage kids to read. You can make up your own challenge that encourages kids to read a certain number of books or books in certain genres. Or you can download this challenge- another Teachers Pay Teachers freebie.

Reading Passports

These passports let students collect stickers for every book they read. You can choose a designated prize for filling up the passport.

Create Your Own

If you would like to create your own program with your own goals and awards, I found these great reading record charts provided by Catholic Icing. She has blank charts as well as a forty book reading challenge and a one hundered book reading challenge.

Reading incentive programs for kids

I have two pretty voracious readers in my kids and two who just...aren't. Keeping them reading is always a challenge. Using programs like these can help. Do you know of any other great reading incentive progrms? Leave me a comment!

Fill an Operation Christmas Child Shoebox for $20 or Less: Serve Others With the Whole Family

As the holidays begin to draw nearer, we often start thinking of ways that our family can reach out and serve others. Although it's always my goal to find service projects year round, the holidays just seem to be a good time to find service opportunities.

For many, many years I've loved the months leading up to Christmas because it gives us an opportunity to pack shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. This is one of my very favorite ministries, and it has become special to our whole family.

If you're looking for a way to serve this holiday season, learn a little about Operation Christmas Child and use the ideas here to pack a shoe box for a child for under $20.

Fill an Operation Child shoebox for less than $20

Operation Christmas Child

Operation Christmas Child is a ministry of Samaritan's Purse. Each year, millions of shoeboxes are sent to children all over the world. These shoeboxes are packed with small gifts and lots of love. With each shoebox, children also get a book titled The Greatest Journey. And many of the children who receive these will go on to take a discipleship class where they will have the opportunity to get to know Jesus.

Many of the children who will receive shoeboxes have never received a gift before. When they have the opportunity to be a part of a shoebox celebration, they'll hear a presentation of the gospel, receive The Greatest Journey book in their language and then have an opportunity to complete a Greatest Journey class where they'll get to know more about the Lord.

You can be a part of the shoebox ministry in a variety of ways.

Pack a shoebox.

This is definitely a fun part of serving. To pack a shoebox, you're going to pick out toys or other small gifts that fit with a specific gender and age group. You can choose boys or girls ages 2-4, 5-9, and 10-14. The Operation Christmas Child site has some information about what can...and what can't...be packed. And don't worry, because I'm going to give you some more ideas at the end of the post.


Participants who pack shoeboxes are asked to pay $9 for shipping. You can put this as a check or cash into an envelope in the top of your box. Or you can pay online and print a shipping label. I love to do this because when you choose to pay for your shipping this way, your shipping label will be scanned, and you'll receive information about the country where your box was sent! It's exciting to gather the kids around and look at video from your country. Throw in a homeschool geography lesson and find the country on a map and research it.

Pack a shoebox online.

If you can't get out to buy items for your shoebox yourself- or if you know of an elderly or ill person who would like to help and can't get around- you can pack a virtual shoebox online. You'll choose items from a possible list, pay for your items, and then your box will be packed and shipped by volunteers at a processing center.

Work at a processing center.

We are very fortunate to live near one of the eight US Operation Christmas Child processing centers. Volunteers ages 13 and up can go and be a part of the shipping process. We've helped every year since my oldest child was 13, often more than one time each season. 

The main processing times are during the holiday season- November and December- but occasionally they'll have special opportunities for a load of boxes being shipped at a different time of year. And this past summer, the kids and I got to go to a special processing day where we built the boxes that had been virtually packed online. Every time we go, we are blessed to be a part of the processing. We look forward to the opportunity every year.

Fill an Operation Child shoebox for less than $20

Pack a Shoebox for Under $20

So...you've learned about Operation Christmas Child, and you're ready to pack your first shoebox. There are some items that you can't pack in your box because of shipping conditions or because of certain sensitivities in the countries these boxes go to. You can check the FAQ list here to see what can go and what can't.

We've often found that we can pack a great shoebox with items from Dollar Tree. Because we can get them for $1, we can fill our shoeboxes relatively inexpensively, which is awesome because that means we can fill more boxes!

Here are the categories suggested for items on the Operation Christmas Child site, along with suggestions of items and some links to Dollar Tree items and Amazon items that are inexpensive and that fit the categories. Many of the Amazon items come with several in a pack. This is really nice if you're packing multiple boxes. You can buy a set and split them up in each box. (There is shipping on items from Dollar Tree. But if you are packing multiple boxes, the flat rate shipping is less than $5 and isn't bad at all. Amazon has free shipping on many items if you're purchasing $25 worth or Amazon Prime members get free 2-day shipping on many, many items.)

A "Wow" Item

Personal Care Items

Bar soap (You cannot pack liquid soap.)




Cleaning wipes

Clothing and Accessories

Underwear (This is another good one to split up in different boxes.)

Socks (As with the underwear, buy one pack and split up the pairs.)


Hair bows

Flip Flops (Hint: Stock up on these at the Dollar Store in the summer because they're cheap, and most stores don't carry them in the winter.)

Crafts and Activities

Gel Pens ($1)

Coloring Books

Activity Books


Don't forget that you can put a personal note and a picture in your box. The kids love to see letters and pictures from the families who send the shoeboxes!

Great Children's Literature That You Can Read for Free

I love great children's books. If you've been around the blog for any amount of time, you'll know that I often share great kids' books as well as resources for literature unit studies. And I'm often sharing links to places where you can purchase these great books. But even if you can't afford to buy all these great books and build up your library, you can have access to great literature for kids.

 Libraries can be good resources, but some are better than others at providing quality literature instead of just kids' novels based on television and movie characters.While I love building our home library (which is always threatening to take over our house!), there are places online to find excellent children's literature that is free in the public domain.

Great children's literature you can read for free

The list I've collected here contains mostly books that come from Project Gutenberg. It's a great resource for finding quality books for free. But it can be a little difficult to navigate, so I've collected some of my favorites here. Some of these books can be downloaded to a reading device or read online and some are great audio books that can be listened to for free. In this post I'm sharing a collection of children's classic literature that you can read for free.

This little library can get you started on the road to happy reading aloud of good books without requiring any of your budgeted schooling funds.

Children's Literature/Classics

children's literature free in the public domain

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Peter  Pan by J.M. Barrie 

Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (They have most of the whole Oz series.)

A Little Princess by Francis Hodgson Burnett

The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgson Burnett

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

The Story of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (And some of the other Anne books)

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell(Also the young readers edition)

Five Little Peppers and How They Grew by Margaret Sidney

Heidi by Joanna Spyri

In the Court of King Arthur by Samuel E. Lowe

The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry

Classic Storybooks

children's literature free in the public domain
The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams Bianco

The Blue Fairy Book by Andrew Lang (They have all the other fairy books as well.)

The Song of Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Beautiful Stories From Shakespeare by E. Nesbitt

A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Lewis Stevenson

American Fairy Tales by L. Frank Baum

The Wonder Book of Bible Stories by Logan Marshall

Aesop's Fables 

Peter Rabbit by Thornton W. Burgess

Classic Biography and History for Children

children's literature free in the public domain

Ten Boys From History by Kate Dickinson Sweetser

The Story of Young Abraham Lincoln by Wayne Whipple

A Child's History of England by Charles Dickens

Strange Stories From History for Young People by George Cary Eggleston

The Beginner's American History by D.H. Montgomery

This Country of Ours by H.E. Marshall

The Loss of the S.S. Titanic: Its Story and Its Lessons by Lawrence Beesley

Audio Books

children's literature free in the public domain
A Little Princess by Francis Hodgson Burnett

The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgson Burnett

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

Heidi by Johanna Spyri

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

At Agincourt- White Hoods of Paris by G.A. Henty

Beautiful Stories of Shakespeare by E. Nesbitt

The Burgess Animal Book for Children by Thornton W. Burgess

Great children's literature you can read for free

Find Other Classics in the Public Domain

Project Gutenberg Children's Shelf

Children's Classics from The Library of Congress

Classics for Young People

Librivox Children's Fiction (audio)

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