Family Game Night

Hedbanz by Spin Master

Have you ever found a board game that was so much fun that you and your family ended up playing it for hours? Hedbanz by Spin Master became that game for us. I was asked to review the game and jumped at the chance, because we have been playing 20 Questions in the car for as long as I can remember and I knew that Hedbanz is a variation of 20 Questions.

Each player (up to 6 can play at a time) takes an adjustable plastic headband and inserts a card face out, without looking at what is on the card. The items on the card can range from a person to an object or even a place. The goal is to guess what you are (what is on your headband card) by asking as many yes/no questions as you can before the timer runs out.

Spin Master publishes several versions of this game:

In addition to Amazon, you can purchase Spin Master games at Wal-Mart, Kmart, Target. and ToysRUs. We chose to purchase the adult version since our son is 13. There are no inappropriate themes or words, but the items are a bit harder and you may have to have your child select a different card in case they choose a person they’ve never heard of before. In our case, that was people like Kobe Bryant and John Lennon. After a couple of rounds, we ended up deciding not to use the timer.

Hedbanz by Spin Master

My son was amazing with this game and guessed George Bush in under ten questions:

  1. Am I a person? (yes)
  2. Am I fictional? (no)
  3. Am I still alive? (yes)
  4. Am I male? (yes)
  5. Am I an actor? (no)
  6. Am I a singer? (no)
  7. Am I a politician? (yes)
  8. Have I been President? (yes)
  9. Am I George Bush? (YES!)

Hedbanz by Spin Master

I’ll be taking this game to all of our big family events from now on!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Spin Master Games. All opinions are 100% mine. Check out these other great games from Spin Master: Would You Rather and Quelf.

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Three New Books to Make Your Christmas a LEGO Christmas

Life has never been the same since my son discovered the joy of LEGO many years ago. Combine that with his love of Star Wars and he was over the moon for this latest book by DK.  How excited are you about the newest Star Wars movie coming out in a few weeks? I think this book will make your Christmas a little more Jedi-magical.

LEGO® Star Wars® Small Scenes From a Big Galaxy

photographed by the very talented Vesa Lehtimaki

Hardcover book $13.74 at Amazon

Bringing to life the LEGO® Star Wars® galaxy with wonder and enchantment, LEGO® Star Wars® Small Scenes From a Big Galaxy is a beautiful photography book recreating LEGO Star Wars brick sets and minifigures. The book features painstaking recreations of classic Star Wars movie moments and irreverent new takes on fan-favorite characters and whimsical themes.


Combining the look and feel of an art book with broad family appeal, LEGO® Star Wars® Small Scenes From a Big Galaxy is created by Finnish photographer Vesa Lehtimaki using his son’s favorite toys. The spreads showcase a wealth of new photography alongside the very best of Vesa Lehtimaki’s hugely popular online portfolio.


Every scene is a technical tour de force and an evocation of childlike wonder. Readers will have never seen Star Wars or LEGO sets look like this before. Pithy, in-universe captions give voice to the diverse characters and expand their engaging stories, while the text offers technical detail and anecdotal stories from the author offering insight into key photographs. LEGO® Star Wars® Small Scenes From a Big Galaxy combines quirky LEGO art with the drama of the Star Wars universe, with stunning results. It is sure to inspire photographers and LEGO builders alike.

LEGO: I Love That Minifigure

Hardcover book with exclusive minifigure $10.65 at Amazon


Have you ever wondered which LEGO® minifigure had the first double-sided head? Or which one was the first to have a printed torso or peg leg? Discover all the answers to these questions and more in DK’s I Love That Minifigure! Meet more than 200 amazing LEGO minifigures and find out what makes each one special. With stunning images and informative annotations, this encyclopedia features the most unique minifigures in amazing detail — all accompanied by fascinating facts and trivia that bring them to life.

Perfect for LEGO fans and collectors of all ages, I Love That Minifigure! is the official guide to the rarest and most desirable minifigures, and also comes with its own exclusive minifigure.

Great LEGO Sets: A Visual History

Hardcover book with LEGO set $22 at Amazon


Packed with stunning photography and fascinating facts, Great LEGO® Sets: A Visual History explores the history of LEGO sets in magnificent detail. The guide offers an expansive overview of the most significant, popular, and interesting play sets, featured in chronological order from 1955 to the present day.

Great LEGO Sets: A Visual History features the most beloved sets in the LEGO Group’s long history, including much-loved classic 1980s LEGO Space and LEGO Castle sets and the latest stunning licensed themed sets, such as LEGO® Star Wars®. Created in full collaboration with the LEGO Group and with profiles and quotes from LEGO designers, this captivating new book also comes with an exclusive retro-style LEGO set for readers to build.

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10 Educational Shows to Watch This Christmas

10 Educational Shows to Watch This Christmas

Taking a long Christmas break is common among homeschoolers. We usually end up taking the entire month of December off from school. My husband takes two glorious weeks off work in December, doing a little work from home here and there, and going into work only if there is an emergency.  During this time, we end up being lazy and watching lots of TV.

Among our yearly marathon of Lord of the Rings, and re-watching beloved Christmas movies like Elf and A Christmas Story, I always make sure that I include lots of educational TV. I am thankful that my entire family loves documentaries, so we catch up on all the shows we’ve DVR’d, and watch a lot of Curiosity Stream.

Throughout the year, if I come across a Christmas-related documentary, I always save it until our December break. Here is a list of ten great shows or movies that you might enjoy watching with your family over the holidays.

1. Good Eats

Genius host Alton Brown explores the science and technique behind the cooking, the history of different foods, and the advantages of different kinds of cooking equipment. The show tends to focus on familiar dishes that can easily be made at home, and also features segments on choosing the right appliances, and getting the most out of inexpensive, multi-purpose tools. Each episode has its own theme. Available on Netflix Instant Watch are episodes revolving around Thanksgiving and Christmas staples pumpkin, apple, and cinnamon rolls (episodes 8, 19, and 25 of the Netflix collection.)


2. Christmas Unwrapped: The History of Christmas

A documentary from The History Channel. Christmas abounds with traditions, from neighborhood carolers to lovingly decorated trees, but from where did all these rituals emerge? This enlightening program looks at the origins of the Western world’s most popular Christmas traditions — from the significance of December 25th and its relationship to winter solstice to the enchanting legend of Santa Claus and Prince Albert’s 1841 unveiling of the Christmas tree. Available on Netflix DVD


3. Apollo 8: Christmas at the Moon

Follow the events of the historic Apollo 8 voyage in this fascinating documentary. Christmas at the Moon includes insights from both NASA’s behind the scenes workers and the astronauts who partook in NASA’s second voyage to space. This documentary is available for free with Amazon Prime or to rent for $1.99.


4. The Star of Bethlehem

This presentation, has rapidly grown in popularity around the world by thousands who have seen this dramatic revelation as it explores the exciting truth of scripture and reveals the evidence for God’s existence as seen in the stars above. Presenter Rick Larson walks you through Biblical and historical clues revealing the incredible significance of this celestial event as well as the vastness of God s creativity. Produced by Stephen McEveety (Braveheart, The Passion of the Christ). Available on DVD for $9.29 or on Netflix DVD.


5. MythBusters Holiday Special

Join the MythBusters team as they crack a host of holiday hype. Could reindeer really help Santa fly? What’s the best way to keep all the needles on your Christmas tree? Also, find out how much yodeling it actually takes to start an avalanche. Available to rent on Amazon for $1.99.


6. The Seasoned Traveler: Christmas Markets 

Every year, as Advent arrives and people’s thoughts turn to the joy of Christmas, Europe repeats a tradition that is more than 500 years old. In countries from Sweden to Spain and in cities from Paris to Prague, Christmas markets are set up in town squares. The markets have become a commingling of commerce and community. Available for free with Amazon Prime or to rent for $1.99.


7. How Stuff Works: Christmas Unwrapped

From creating the solar system to ending slavery, discover the amazing science and surprising history behind Christmas. Almost every year, I’ve seen this airing on TV (we have Dish) and also on Netflix, so it might be back around Christmas, but nothing is guaranteed. The other option is to purchase the DVD collection on Amazon.


8. Legends of Santa

Santa’s image is almost universally recognizable, yet the jolly old soul, with his bag of gifts, steering his reindeer and sliding down chimneys is a relatively modern image. This festive documentary shows how today’s Santa is a fusion of cultures and traditions around the world. Available for free with Amazon Prime or to rent for $2.99.


9. The Doctor Who Christmas Episodes

This may seem like a funny edition to this list, but believe me, Doctor Who is plenty educational because it is loaded with science and history. Yes, even real science. (Although science fiction CAN be educational since it often gets a child’s imagination rolling.) There is a Christmas episode available on Netflix Instant Watch for every season of Doctor Who. There is also a brand new collection available on DVD that includes a sonic screwdriver.


10. Background shows to play while you snuggle up and read

We have a huge list of background shows that we frequently play while we are reading, playing games, cleaning, etc. All of these are available for free with Amazon Prime.

  • Home For Christmas. Images, Music, and Memories of the Holidays. 17 Christmas Classics.
  • Winter Wonderland. Snowy background scenes for your television.
  • Magic Winter. Immerse yourself in the fascinating winterworld.
  • Celtic & Piano Christmas Music. This video includes classic such as Silent Night, Little Drummer Boy & The Holly and the Ivy.
  • Nativity Set. Your favorite Christmas music set to 5 beautiful Nativity sets.
  • Fireplace Atmosphere. Just relax by open fireplace in full HD. For beautiful moments at home. Never miss the fireplace.
  • The Merry Yule Log. There are few things more traditional at Christmas time than the sound of classic holiday carols and the warm crackle of a yule log in the fireplace.
  • Christmas Lights. Get into the spirit of Christmas in an even bigger way with these Christmas lights display.

*Disclosure: this post may contain affiliate links.

Christmas Science: Botany

Christmas Science Botany

Close your eyes and think of Christmas…

What images come to your mind? Probably a Nativity display complete with the baby Jesus in a manger, a bright colorful tree, festive wreaths, piles of presents, furry stockings, nutcrackers.

Now close your eyes again and imagine what Christmas SMELLS like…

If you are like me, you were probably flooded with the scents of clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, cranberry, pine, peppermint, and orange. Our noses have a way of sniffing out nostalgia and taking us back in time to treasured Christmases of our childhood, or of early days as adults with our own families. Why do smells elicit such strong nostalgia? Scents travel from our noses to our olfactory bulb, a structure in our forebrain. This olfactory bulb is part of the emotional center of our brain.


Cloves are the aromatic flower buds of an evergreen tree native to Indonesia. The flower buds initially have a pale hue, gradually turn green, then transition to a bright red when ready for harvest. In addition to culinary uses, clove can be used as an ant repellent, and a dental pain reliever.


Nutmeg is the seed of an evergreen tree indigenous to the Banda Islands of Indonesia. The seeds are egg-shaped and about 1-inch long. The first harvest of nutmeg trees takes place 7–9 years after planting, and the trees reach full production after twenty years.


Cinnamon comes from the aromatic bark of a tree native to Sri Linka. The word cinnamon is derived from the Greek word meaning sweet wood.


Cranberries are a fruit native to North America. The fruit grows on evergreen shrubs or vines. The flowers are dark pink and are pollinated by bees. Native Americans and European colonists prized cranberries for its medicinal benefits. Cranberries are now considered a superfruit due to their antioxidant qualities.


Pine trees are evergreens native to most regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Each country seems to have its own species of pine tree. Pines are long-lived, typically reaching ages of 100–1,000 years. Methuselah is a pine tree in the White Mountains of California and is currently around 4,600 years old. In addition to being cultivated for Christmas trees, pine trees are also grown for timber and wood pulp.


Peppermint is a flowering perennial plant and is native to Europe. Peppermint is actually a hybrid mint, a cross between watermint and spearmint. Peppermint is undoubtedly the most popular herb in the world. It is used in tea, candies, chewing gum, toothpaste, mouthwash, and baked goods.

*Disclosure: this post may contain affiliate links.

Christmas Science: Astronomy

Christmas Science: Astronomy

Welcome to my series on Christmas science, in which we’ve covered chemistry,  zoology, and geography. Today is all about astronomy.

You may not think there is much that astronomy has to do with Christmas, but there is! While our modern view of Christmas has become all about glittery trees, feet of snow, candy canes, gingerbread houses and presents, the real Christmas is all about CHRIST. Nowadays we know 100% that Jesus was not born on December 25th, but it’s a wonderful thing that we do have a day set aside to celebrate his birth, even though it is not technically the day of his birth.

The Star of Bethlehem

The study of Christmas astronomy should be centered around the Star of Bethlehem and the night sky during the time of the birth of Jesus. There are a couple absolutely wonderful documentaries that fascinated us.  The evidence is overwhelming and I cannot recommend these more highly.

  • The Star of Bethlehem. This presentation, has rapidly grown in popularity around the world by thousands who have seen this dramatic revelation as it explores the exciting truth of scripture and reveals the evidence for God’s existence as seen in the stars above. Presenter Rick Larson walks you through Biblical and historical clues revealing the incredible significance of this celestial event as well as the vastness of God s creativity. Produced by Stephen McEveety (Braveheart, The Passion of the Christ).

    Available on DVD for $9.29 or on Netflix DVD.

  • A Christmas Star. Is the star of Bethlehem a myth or did it really appear in the Judea night-sky at the time of Christ’s birth? In the light of the most recent scientific discoveries, this film examines the historical evidence and reaches some quite startling and exciting conclusions, raising questions about the date of Christ’s birth itself, the basis of our calendar.

    Rent at Amazon for $2.99.

The Moon

Another fun documentary is Apollo 8: Christmas at the Moon. Follow the events of the historic Apollo 8 voyage in this fascinating documentary. CHRISTMAS AT THE MOON includes insights from both NASA’s behind the scenes workers and the astronauts who partook in NASA’s second voyage to space. This documentary is available for free with Amazon Prime or to rent for $1.99.

What will Christmas be like on Mars?

If the Mars One mission becomes a reality, in 2027, a team of 4 humans will spend their first Christmas on Mars. What will it be like? Since Mars is tilted on its axis like the Earth, the planet does have seasons. Winter lasts 4 months, while summer lasts 6 months. However, the summer months are still very cold and may not top -4 F, so you can imagine how cold winter probably gets!

For more information about winter on Mars, read through this article with your kids.

*Disclosure: this post may contain affiliate links.

Christmas Science: Geography

Christmas Science: Geography

Welcome to my series on Christmas science, in which we’ve covered chemistry and zoology. Today is all about geography. In homeschool, most people tend to lump geography in with history, but categorically, geography is actually a science: the study of places and the relationships between people and their environments.

Christmas Around the World

The best way to study geography in terms of Christmas is to simply study how different countries and cultures around the world celebrate Christmas. There are dozens of wonderful websites dedicated to this topic, but here are my favorites that we have used in the past…

  • A free, printable Christmas Around the World Unit Study from my friend Erica at Confessions of a Homeschooler. She covers Japan, China, Russia, Great Britain, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, and Mexico. You’ll love this unity study because it is colorful and child-friendly.
  • How Stuff Works has a section on Christmas traditions in Australia, China, England, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Mexico, Spain, and Sweden. These pages are very detailed.
  • Christmas Around The World: How Different Countries Celebrate The Festive Season is a short, condensed guide to some of the very unusual ways in which 19 countries celebrate Christmas.
  • Christmas Traditions Worldwide from the History Channel details how our modern Christmas is a product of hundreds of years of both secular and religious traditions from around the globe.
  • Christmas Around The World. This is a collection of historical Christmas celebrations for 32 different countries. The celebration or activity is the earliest history for each country and may not represent the current Christmas celebrations of today.
  • Christmas Around The World has traditions and customs for 70 countries. This site includes photos from every country as well. They also have a separate page that teaches you how to say Merry Christmas in every language.

Color in the countries on a printable map as you learn about them. Before you know it, your child will know his or her way around the world!

Track Santa with NORAD

We never did the Santa thing with our son when he was little, but he still loved to look at the North American Aerospace Defense Command’s Track Santa website. Every year on Christmas Eve, NORAD “tracks Santa” as he leaves the North Pole and delivers presents to children around the world. The program began in 1955!

Whether or not you include Santa in your Christmas, this website is a great geography tool because the names of countries and towns appear as you watch Santa and his reindeer fly all over the world. The program uses Google Earth, so you can also view the topography of the land.


Here is a fun infographic that is free for you to print out. Click on the image to make it larger.

12 Christmas Traditions From Around The World
[Source: Today I found out]

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