Christmas Word Bank, Part 2: Ho! Ho! Ho!

Here's a jingle-jolly Christmas word bank for creative writing activities, acrostics, and poems about holiday cheer and celebrating around the tree!

Last time, I gave you a Christmas word bank centered on the birth of Jesus and the traditional Christmas story. Now you can enjoy yet another holiday word bank (or several, when divided into categories), perfect for those jingle-jolly creative writing activities, acrostics, poems, and more!

Christmas Word Bank: Ho! Ho! Ho!

Here Comes Santa Claus

Christmas Eve, December, holiday, yuletide, North Pole, elf, elves, workshop, Christmas list, letter, sleigh, bells, ring, jingle, jolly, beard, Santa Claus, Father Christmas, St. Nicholas, Kris Kringle, reindeer, Rudolph, red nose, snow, chimney, fireplace, hearth, sack, stocking, stocking stuffers, coal, toys, doll, train set, candy canes, puppy, mittens

Deck the Halls

Shopping, crowds, stores, traffic, city, village, town, mail, cards, envelope, package, wrap, tie, exchange, presents, gifts, boxes, wrapping paper, tags, ribbon, bows, stickers, tape, gleaming, shiny, sparkling, glowing, twinkling, blinking, red, green, silver, gold, white, clear, decorations, cards, candles, votives, walnuts, nutcracker, Santa hat, mistletoe, holly, ivy, poinsettias, berries, pears, wreath, garland, Christmas tree, fir, pine, trimming the tree, tinsel, glitter, tree skirt, tree-topper, lights, ornaments, baubles, bulbs, stars, snowflakes, pine cones, popcorn strings, tin soldier, cranberries, angel, glass, ball, icicle

Oh, Bring Us a Figgy Pudding

Christmas dinner, feast, roasting, carving, ham, turkey, goose, roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, chestnuts, stuffing, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, creamed onions, plum pudding, mincemeat pie, gingerbread house, decorate, icing, frosting, candies, sugar cookies, gingerbread men, fudge, fruitcake, eggnog, punch, stollen, sugar plums, figgy pudding, platter, bowl, china, goblet, glass, centerpiece

Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful!

Friends, family, grandparents, children, cousins, relatives, giving, gathering, visits, reunion, traditions, Advent calendar, Christmas story, church, stained glass, nativity set, carolers, carols, music, singing, happy, festive, merry, greetings, joy, peace, tidings, Noel

Copyright 2009 © Kim Kautzer. All rights reserved.

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

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Stay tuned! A frosty, freezy Winter Word Bank is coming next week!

Photo: Vanessa Pike-Russell courtesy of Creative Commons

Stumbling block #6 – Laziness

Does your child dawdle about writing? Laziness can make kids unwilling to spend time planning, writing, and revising.

Welcome! We’re halfway through our Monday series on 10 Stumbling Blocks to Writing. So far, we’ve looked at five problems that plague reluctant writers:

  1. Lack of confidence
  2. Lack of skills and tools
  3. Lack of motivation
  4. Limited writing vocabulary
  5. Perfectionism and self-criticism

Today, I’m going to change direction a bit and address a different kind of stumbling block: writing laziness. More than any of the previous hurdles, laziness tends to be a character issue, making it a little more challenging to deal with.

Stumbling Block #6

Problem: The lazy child is unwilling to spend time planning, writing, and revising.

Solution: Offer structure, rewards, more consistent supervision, and opportunities for immediate success.

If your child is lazy about writing, chances are he’s lazy in other areas too. Laziness is more global, affecting multiple facets of home and school life. It robs him of a sense of accomplishment, feelings of self-worth, and motivation to improve himself. How can he learn anything or pick up a new skill or develop a talent if he’s too lazy to get up and do something?

How Can You Help Your Lazy Child?

A lazy child often fears failure. So by not completing assignments, he avoids those feelings of inadequacy. If I don’t do my work at all, there’s no way Mom can criticize my writing. He may also have learned that if he doesn’t do an assignment, you’ll eventually forget about it or simply let it slide. This proves to him that laziness works. Unfortunately, he wins.

So what can you do to help a lazy student?

Consistently Address Your Child’s Laziness

1. Determine whether it’s laziness or procrastination. The procrastinator will—eventually—get the assignment done, but the lazy student may never do the task.

2. Supervise your child. As inconvenient as this may be, direct supervision is really the main way to deal with this behavior. So first and foremost, make your lazy student work! This may mean that you need to sit with him until he finishes each task, but stick it out and don’t give up on him!

3. Learn what motivates or helps your lazy child. For instance:

  • Does he thrive on recognition? Then don’t save all your praise for a final draft that may or may not materialize. Instead, make sure you’re giving kudos for small steps of progress along the way.
  • Does he doubt himself? A lazy student may not believe he has any strengths, writing included! So encourage a sport or hobby where he shows interest and aptitude (baking, drawing, tennis, etc.).

Understand What Profits the Lazy Child

1. Choices. The unmotivated student benefits from having choices, such as what topic to write about or whether to do his writing assignment at his desk or the kitchen table.

2. A predictable plan. This child needs to know exactly what to do each day and when assignments are due. He’ll also gain from having smaller, short-term responsibilities in which immediate success can be readily achieved.

3. Structure. To guarantee that your slothful student actually does the work, you must make sure the steps of the writing process are built into the program so there’s no escaping the responsibility. A program like WriteShop ensures that the student must, for example, brainstorm before writing, and must edit and revise before receiving a grade.

Does your child dawdle about writing? Laziness can make kids unwilling to spend time planning, writing, and revising.4. Time limits. Open-ended deadlines are not a lazy student’s privilege. Give and stick to time limits. Expect him to complete a certain amount of work in a set amount of time.

5. Meeting lesson expectations. Make sure your student understands what is required of him. He needs measurable targets, not fuzzy instructions. Specific, detailed directions are invaluable to the lazy child.

6. A certain amount of responsibility. Your student must learn to be responsible for completing assignments, following directions, and revising his work. Your job is to provide supervision, encouragement, structure, and deadlines in order to help him learn diligence.

7. Using a writing checklist. Proofreading is an important lifelong skill. Self-editing helps any student take responsibility for his progress as he learns (and takes the time) to look for his own errors. Ideally, the lazy student needs some sort of checklist as a guide to help him identify errors in content, style, and mechanics.

  • A checklist (such as the comprehensive checklists found in WriteShop I) reminds him of every element that needs his attention. As he compares his rough draft to the checklist, he can make corrections and improvements.
  • A lazy student’s tendency is to check the boxes willy-nilly with eyes glazed over. But the diligent parent will recognize this character flaw in her child and work THROUGH the writing assignment with him to develop the qualities of diligence, discipline, and initiative. Eventually, through parental perseverance, your student will learn that writing is a process—and editing and revising are as much a part of that process as the actual writing.

8. Rewards for accomplishments. Depending on your child’s age, consider using a progress chart, marble jar, or other reward system where he can earn rewards (such as going out for ice cream) or free time privileges (such as minutes to play video games or watch TV).

Not sure if laziness is the issue with your child’s writing? Laziness has a cousin in procrastination, which is Stumbling Block #7. The problems—and solutions—are similar. Next week’s tips will help both the lazy child and the procrastinator finish those writing assignments!

Share a comment: Do you have a lazy student? What, if anything, seems to motivate him or her?

2009 © Kim Kautzer. All rights reserved.

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

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WriteShop  provides schedules, checklists, and detailed instructions that help a lazy student stay on task. Parent supervision is also a key element of the program. Train your little ones early using WriteShop Primary. For older students, choosing WriteShop I and II will help you equip and inspire successful writers!

Photos: Kieran Connellan and William Grootonk, courtesy of Creative Commons

Write a Paragraph about Celebrating Christmas | The 5 Ws

Reluctant writers will benefit from using the 5 Ws (who, what, when, where, why) to help them write a paragraph about celebrating Christmas.

“Write a paragraph about celebrating Christmas.”

Seems easy enough, right? But to struggling writers, this kind of assignment is not only unhelpful, it’s also fear-inducing—for the simple reason that it’s just too vague. 

The 5 Ws

All children—but especially reluctant writers—benefit from a blueprint that lets them know what’s expected and how to achieve their goal. Using the 5 Ws—who, what, when, where, why (and also how)—helps children organize their thoughts before writing. It’s a great brainstorming tool that alleviates the insecurity of writer’s block and encourages more fluent writing.

A Blueprint for Writing

Create a simple graphic organizer to help a young or reluctant child brainstorm, plan, and organize a paragraph about celebrating Christmas.

  • Who celebrates Christmas with me?
  • What things do we do? How do we celebrate? In what ways?
  • When do we celebrate?
  • Where do we celebrate?
  • Why do I celebrate Christmas?

Make It Unique

Older, motivated, or more articulate children can also follow this plan, but instead of writing one paragraph, they can write a longer story by developing a new paragraph to answer each question.

And all children should know that it’s okay to rearrange the questions in the order they like best (for example, they might want to start out explaining why).

Use Word Banks

Your children will probably find it helpful to use word banks so they have a pool of vocabulary words available to them. A list of words about celebrating Jesus’ birth can be found at Christmas word banks, part 1: Jesus is born. Also see Christmas word banks, part 2: Ho, ho, ho! for a different assortment of holiday-themed words.

Photo: Jan Ramroth, courtesy of Creative Commons

Sharp sign

Typos sharpened, please?


We’ve all seen unnecessary apostrophes, right? But here’s a new one: adding commas where even apostrophes don’t belong. And as if that weren’t bad enough, they’ve graced us with a glaring misspelling as a bonus! Awfully generous, don’t you think?

. . . . .

Stop by every 1st and 3rd Wednesday for a peek into the world of spelling, punctuation, or grammar gone wrong!

Christmas Word Bank, Part 1: Jesus Is Born

This Christmas word bank is rich with vocabulary that will inspire children to write poems and stories about the birth of Jesus Christ.

Here’s another holiday word bank to help inspire your children to write.

This time, as they write poems and stories about the true meaning of Christmas—the birth of Jesus—encourage them to stretch their vocabulary by drawing from the following word lists that focus on celebrating Christ.

Christmas Word Bank: Jesus is Born

Christmas, Bible, Word, Scriptures, story, first, Advent, nativity, angel, visit, appear, prophets, prophecy, foretold, virgin, Mary, Joseph, tax, Nazareth, Bethlehem, City of David, journey, crowds, travelers, weary, donkey, innkeeper, room, inn, stable, manger, cave, crèche,  crib, hay, straw, birth, born, wrap, swaddling clothes

babe, baby, infant, son, Savior (or Saviour), Jesus, Messiah, Christ the Lord, Christ Child, Emmanuel, Redeemer, king, Holy Family

night, star, alleluia, angels, heavenly host, shone, shepherds, flock, sheep, lamb, tidings, miracle, awe, holy, humble, sacred, divine, glorious, glory, worship, pray, kneel, bow, behold, rejoice, praise, presence, King Herod, Egypt, flee, wise men, magi, kings, camels, following, bearing, bringing, gifts, gold, frankincense, myrrh, spices, costly

world, sin, salvation, save, comfort, love, faith, hope, joy, wonder, peace on earth, holiday, light, bright, shine, family, church, Christmas Eve, midnight, service, Mass, Advent wreath, candles, carols, hymns, songs, spirit, heart, celebrate, gift, goodwill, community, poor, needy, helping, inviting, giving, donating, sharing, serving, blessing, remembering, keeping, treasuring

Copyright 2009 © Kim Kautzer. All rights reserved.

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

. . . . .

Also see Christmas Word Bank, Part 2: Ho, Ho, Ho! for more holiday word bank fun!

Share a comment: What writing assignment might you give your children that would call for them to use this word list?

Photo: Waiting for the Word, courtesy of Creative Commons

Our winners!

Congrats to the 14 winners of our Black Friday drawing. It was such fun reaching into the bowl and pulling out names!

Grand Prize

Two lucky homeschool moms won the Illuminations, Year 1 program from Bright Ideas Press, a $165 value! Way to go, ladies!

  • Kari O.
  • Carla S.

Gift Bundles

The following ladies won a gift bundle containing products donated by Media Angels, A Journey Through Learning, Art of Eloquence, Raising Real Men, and Beloved Books.

  • Valorie B.
  • Holli B.
  • Liz K.
  • Candee B.
  • Patti H.
  • Mary O.
  • Lori A.
  • Lee S.
  • Jennifer O.
  • Deborah R.

Bonus Gifts

And here are the winners of our bonus gifts!

Congrats again to the winners. Also, thanks to these great homeschool companies for their generous donations. Please take a moment to visit their web sites and browse around!

Stumbling block #5: Perfectionism

Do your kids struggle with perfectionism and writer's block? Creativity is messy! Help them learn tricks to overcome their need to write perfectly.

Welcome back to our series on 10 Stumbling Blocks to Writing. Each week, you’ll gain more and more ideas for helping your reluctant or struggling writer leap over those hurdles that make writing challenging. If you’re new to the series, Stumbling Block #4 took a look at how limited writing vocabulary can hinder your student. Today we’ll explore:

Stumbling Block #5

Problem: Self-criticism, perfectionism and writer’s block go hand in hand.

Solution: Encourage your child to let go of precision by writing an unpolished rough draft that can be refined later.

The Curse of Writer’s Block

Writer’s block. The phrase itself is enough to banish every creative thought from your child’s head. When he’s in a stare-down with a blank page—and the page is winning—it’s easy to believe he’s the only one who ever wrestles with getting a thought on paper.

It should comfort him to know that everyone suffers from writer’s block at some point. Even famed novelist Ernest Hemingway admitted that the most frightening thing he’d ever encountered was a blank sheet of paper!

Though many stumbling blocks litter the road to writing success, perfectionism—personal pressure to “get it right the first time”—is the mother of them all, and the key contributor to writer’s block.

Face it. Most children—yours included—loathe the writing process. They want to write a paper once at best, and they want you to love it. There’s no room in their world for the nuisance of proofreading, editing, or revising. For many of these kids, then, the first draft has to be perfect in their eyes.

Of course, the irony is that they’re imperfect individuals who believe that whatever they put on paper will never be good enough. So they don’t write at all. “People have writer’s block not because they can’t write, but because they despair of writing eloquently,” says author Anna Quindlen.

Writing Tips for the Perfectionist

1. Write, write, write

As counterintuitive as it sounds, the more you write . . . well, the more you write! It’s very much like priming a pump: it takes water to produce water.

So how can you encourage your child to flex his writing muscles? One way is through a simple exercise called freewriting. Author, homeschooler, and writing teacher Dianne Dachyshyn uses free writing to ease the grip of writer’s block:

“The first time you ask children to do this, they will stare incredulously and grumble. They will be hard pressed to meet the time requirement of three minutes. However, after a regular discipline of free writing, they will begin to enjoy this time and it is amazing what they can produce. I often have to force them to stop at the end of ten minutes.”  

Check out The Writing Well for more ways to try freewriting.

2. “Don’t get it right, just get it written.” –James Thurber

Believe it or not, one of the best solutions for a perfectionist is writing a rough draft. After all, writing is a debugging process.

First, your child writes something sloppy. This is the practice draft—the imperfect, flawed rough draft. Later, he goes back and fine tunes it. That’s why I love to call the rough draft a “sloppy copy.” Starting sloppy deals a blow to the blank page as the student puts forth ideas and gets into the writing flow. As author and poet Margaret Atwood so aptly put it: “If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word.”

3. Learn to let go

Enjoying the process—any process—is one of the toughest hurdles for a perfectionist! I’m not going to say it’s easy, but it is achievable—bit by bit—as he learns to let go of the things that weigh him down.

Perfectionists need to remember that creativity is messy! {10 Stumbling Blocks to Writing}Let go of precision. Creativity is a messy ordeal. Why does your student think it’s fine to make a mess when painting or working with wood or clay, but not when writing?

The creative process isn’t always neat, tidy, and measured, and it’s certainly not perfect. Assure him it’s okay if his thoughts spill out in a bit of a jumble, and it’s to be expected that he or his teacher will add marks to the paper during editing. Cleanup begins during the revising process.

Let go of pressure. Writing can be fixed. James Michener once said, “I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter.” Even if you’re a famous author, early drafts just won’t measure up. This should come as welcome news to your young perfectionist!

As much as he wants to crumple up his efforts and keep starting over, encourage him to  just get it written. Later, like every other author of great or small renown, he can work on revising until he’s satisfied. After all, writing is a process, not a one-time event!

Let go of perfection and finish the draft. Though it’s tempting for your student to try to correct everything as he goes, have him finish his rough draft without wrestling with every word, phase, and sentence. That’s what revising is for!

And don’t forget to show your enthusiasm and approval when he finishes his assignment. Success breeds more success, and when your child feels successful, he’ll be much less reluctant next time!

Sometimes your kids are perfectionists, true? And this can indeed hold them back from doing their best by seizing them with fear—but not always. Sometimes, well . . . they’re just plain lazy! That brings us to Stumbling Block #6: Laziness, which is the topic of next week’s article in the Stumbling Blocks series.

Share a comment: How does your child exhibit perfectionism where his or her writing is concerned?

2009© Kim Kautzer. All rights reserved.

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

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WriteShop builds the steps of the writing process into each level of the program, helping your perfectionists recognize the purpose and value of writing and revising. Train your elementary children early using WriteShop Primary and WriteShop Junior. For older students, choosing WriteShop I and II will help you equip and inspire successful writers!

Photos: Abhi and D. Sharon Pruitt, courtesy of Creative Commons

This our hymn of grateful praise

For the Beauty of the Earth

For the beauty of the earth,
for the glory of the skies,
for the love which from our birth
over and around us lies;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.

For the beauty of each hour
of the day and of the night,
hill and vale, and tree and flower,
sun and moon, and stars of light;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.

For the joy of human love,
brother, sister, parent, child,
friends on earth and friends above,
for all gentle thoughts and mild;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.

For thyself, best Gift Divine,
to the world so freely given,
for that great, great love of thine,
peace on earth, and joy in heaven:
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.

Happy Thanksgiving from Writeshop!


Photo: Ecstaticist / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Thanksgiving acrostic poem: I am thankful

Kids' activity: How to write a Thanksgiving acrostic poem

Last year at this time, I showed you how to create a Thanksgiving acrostic poem. Here’s a variation that helps your kids focus on reasons to be thankful.

When you’re scrambling around the kitchen on Thanksgiving Day and the children are underfoot, sit them down at the kitchen table with this activity.


Write the words I AM THANKFUL vertically on a sheet of lined paper. Using each of the letters, make an acrostic

  1. Each line can be one word, a phrase, or a sentence. There’s no right or wrong, as you can see from the examples below.
  2. If children are having trouble thinking of words, use tools like magazines, catalogs, a thesaurus, or word lists to prompt ideas.
  3. Poems can be left-aligned or centered.
  4. Afterwards, illustrate your acrostics or decorate the page with photos cut from a magazine.


I want to thank God for

A ll His wonderful blessings, like His
M ercy and grace and compassion. For simple things like

T oast and cocoa. For big things like
H ope in a dark world. For
A warm, cozy home filled with love. For
N ine fun cousins! For
K eeping me safe. For
F riends that are closer than brothers. I want to always lift
U p praise to You with a thankful heart, knowing how much You
L ove me.

Thanksgiving Acrostic PoemA Thankful Heart

I am thankful for . . .

A ll my clothes and toys . . .
y mom, dad, and brothers . . .

T rue friends . . .
H ome and health . . .
A back yard to run and play . . .
N ana and Papa . . .
K nowing God loves me . . .
F ood on our table . . .
U ncles, aunts, and cousins . . .
L iving in a free country.

I Am Thankful

I am thankful for

pples and pears
M y red hair

T oys
H ot dogs
A irplanes and cars
N ew crayons
K ittens and puppies
F lowers and stars
U nited States of America
L egos

Photos: bigbirdz and Bruce Tuten, courtesy of Creative Commons.

Stumbling block #4 – Limited writing vocabulary

Limited Writing Vocabulary | 10 Stumbling Blocks to Writing - Students can develop and hone vocabulary by using a thesaurus and word banks.

For the past several weeks, we’ve been looking at writing issues that plague students and their parents. Writing isn’t a one-size-fits-all subject, but certainly there are overarching principles that apply to many students and situations.

In this series, 10 Stumbling Blocks to Writing, I’ve been focusing on the most common writing hurdles that tend to trip up your children and offering simple and practical suggestions you can use right away. Let’s see what today’s topic has in store for us!

 Stumbling Block #4

Problem: Limited writing vocabulary that inhibits ideas and contributes to weak stories, essays, and reports.

Solution: Teach your student to develop and hone vocabulary by using a thesaurus and word banks.

A student who has a growing supply of words at her disposal learns to express herself just as she intends—using the right word at the right time. Not only that, she allows the reader to grasp subtle shades of description and meaning.

On the other hand, a limited vocabulary can cripple a child’s attempts to produce an interesting piece of writing. If he can’t express himself concretely, his stories or essays end up riddled with oft-repeated words and ho-hum vocabulary. From the comments I’ve read in previous “Stumbling Blocks” posts, this might very well be your child!

Here’s some welcome news—this problem has a relatively simple solution! Let’s take a look at some practical ways to boost your student’s writing vocabulary.

1. Start with a Good Thesaurus

Synonym FinderA thesaurus helps your student find fresh new words to replace tired or overused ones. It’s a necessary tool for every writer and should not be considered an option.

Our all-time favorite thesaurus—and the one our students used when we taught WriteShop classes—is The Synonym Finder. (My own dog-eared copy is now splitting at the seams!) Comprehensive yet easy to use, The Synonym Finder puts every other thesaurus to shame. As one mom put it:

“It’s HUGE. We got rid of all the other ones we had in the house (we got tired of not finding the words we were looking for)! A GREAT resource…. We highly recommend it.” –Patty K.

It’s so much fun to watch your kids begin to use new words. There’s nothing like seeing dazzling, jubilant, and thunderous begin to replace vague words like bright, happy, and loud. And your children will find that as their word choices expand, writing becomes more fun!

2. Choose Shorter Words

Teaching kids to use a thesaurus has its drawbacks, especially when they get carried away with the joy of discovering new words. In these enthusiastic moments, they sometimes end up with unwieldy words that weigh down their writing.

There will always be exceptions, but as a rule, long words are often more formal—even stuffy. On the other hand, short words tend to have force and directness. And as language gets more direct, clarity improves. It’s interesting to note that short, familiar words—typically words with fewer syllables—are more easily understood than their longer counterparts. For example:

  • grit vs. indomitability
  • biased vs. opinionated
  • sharp vs. perceptive
  • forlorn vs. dispirited
  • clutter vs. disarrangement

This doesn’t mean students should never use longer words! On the contrary, it’s great to see their vocabulary blossom. But eagerness to discover new words can result in sentences strung together by too much cumbersome vocabulary. Bottom line: Teach, model, and encourage your children to use more challenging words, but wisely!

3. Use Word Banks

Another excellent source of new vocabulary, word banks provide specific lists of words by category or topic, such as holidays or seasons. When a student is tempted to reuse a familiar word because he can’t think of any others, a word list can remind him of alternative words he already knows but can’t quite reel in from the edges of his mind. It can also provide a wealth of words that will spark ideas in a reluctant writer’s mind. That’s why we’ve include word lists in our WriteShop student books—lists such as textures, colors, and emotions.

So…now that you’ve got some ideas for bolstering vocabulary, get yourself a Synonym Finder, gather a few word banks, and start having fun with words!

Don’t miss next week’s Stumbling Block: Perfectionism. It’s a major hurdle for writers of all ages!

2009 © Kim Kautzer. All rights reserved.

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

. . . . .

When looking for a writing curriculum, seek out a program that purposefully teaches children to make stronger word choices. WriteShop Primary helps K-3rd graders develop a meaningful writing vocabulary. For older students, you’ll find that WriteShop I and II include 17 exhaustive word banks that help equip and inspire successful writers!

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