Silent Night: The Story of the WWI Christmas Truce, 1914

On a beautiful, crisp moonlit night in 1914, voices rose up in the frosty air, carrying out over the bleak expanse of no-man’s land to reach the trenches of the opposing side.  This is the heartwarming story of the Christmas Truce that happened during WWI.

The Story of the WWI Christmas Truce of 1914
An artist’s impression from The Illustrated London News of 9 January 1915: “British and German Soldiers Arm-in-Arm Exchanging Headgear: A Christmas Truce between Opposing Trenches”

Perhaps it was a bit of curious Christmas magic that caused the truce to simultaneously break out over parts of the western front.  Maybe it was the message in the songs sang by both sides on Christmas Eve, speaking of peace on earth, good will towards men.  Regardless of how it started and why, two-thirds of German, French, Belgium, & British troops – about 100,000 men – participated in this Christmas miracle.

Most accounts say that it happened with the singing on Christmas Eve.  As Pvt. Albert Moren of the Second Queens Regiment recalled, it was “a beautiful moonlit night, frost on the ground, white almost everywhere.”  Graham Williams of the Fifth London Rifle Brigade described it with a bit more detail:

 

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The following morning across the trenches, German soldiers emerged, calling out “Merry Christmas” in English.  Allied soldiers warily left their own trenches to greet them.  In other places, Germans held up signs that read “You no shoot, we no shoot.”  Throughout that Christmas day, troops from both sides exchanged gifts of cigarettes, food, buttons, and hats.  The truce also allowed both sides to bury their own dead comrades, whose bodies had lain for weeks on no man’s land.  One account mentions a British soldier receiving a hair cut from his pre-war German barber.  Other accounts speak of a pig-roast, impromptu soccer games, and other festivities.

The truce didn’t happen across the entire western front, however. In some places the fighting continued.  While other moments of peace happened over the course of WWI, none came on such a scale as the Christmas truce of 1914.  In one of the most violent times in history, for such a truce to happen is a truly remarkable occurrence.  The truce is symbolic of the human desire for peace and humanity.

We hope this story warmed your heart this chilly Christmas like it did ours.  If you enjoyed this story, be sure to check out JMCremps collection of other wartime stories.

 

How To Make a Paper Christmas Tree

Making holiday crafts with your children just might end up being a favorite holiday tradition.  It can also be a great way to keep your children occupied so you can get some things done that you haven’t had time for.  Holidays can be a hectic, busy time, and making these paper christmas trees can also be a great way for you to unwind and collect your wits for the next wave of crying children, relatives, or whatever else is thrown your way!  Not only are paper Christmas trees beautiful, they are also easy to make and a lot of fun to decorate.  A craft both adults and children will enjoy.  Let your creative juices flow, and have a great time!

How To Make a Paper Christmas Tree

Step 1: Assemble your materials. You can keep your tree simple, or get as elaborate as you like by decorating it with paint, glitter, stickers, paper cutouts, or anything else you can think of. This is a great project to do with a group. Supply the construction paper and a variety of decorative materials, and let everyone’s imagination run wild!

  • Green construction paper (or any color you like).
  • Scissors.
  • A marker.
  • Clear tape.
  • Decorations for your tree; popular choices include glitter, stickers, ribbon, colored paper, confetti, etc.
  • Craft glue or glue dots to affix the decorations.
  • A hot glue gun and glue stick to affix the topper (optional).

How To Make a Paper Christmas Tree

Step 2: Cut two identical tree shapes out of construction paper. Begin by stacking two pieces of construction paper together and folding them in half. Then use a marker to draw a half-tree shape on the outside of your paper stack. Finally, cut along the lines through both sheets of paper. You will now have two identical tree shapes.

  • You can make a large tree by using two full-size sheets of construction paper, or you can cut one piece of paper in half.

How to Make a Paper Christmas Tree

Step 3: Cut slits in the tree shapes for joining them together. First, find and mark the vertical center of each tree by folding it in half vertically (fold the pointed tip of the tree down to the base of the tree,) then lightly crease or mark the center. Finally, cut a slit in one tree from the top down to the center mark, and cut a slit in the other tree from the bottom up to the center.

How To Make a Paper Christmas Tree

Step 4: Join the two shapes and form the tree. Slide the two pieces together along the slits so that the middles match. Then use a few small piece of clear tape at the top and bottom of the tree to hold it all together. Finally, fold the tree open so that it stands on its own.

How To Make a Paper Christmas Tree

Step 5: Have fun decorating your tree! The sky is the limit with this step; be as creative as you like. You can use paint or glitter glue to add sparkle, or even “flock” your tree. Cut ornaments out of colored paper using scissors or a hole punch, and glue them to the tree. Create a garland out of metallic thread or ribbon, and don’t forget a tiny star or angel on top.

  • You can use the same 3D cutting/splicing method you used to create the tree to make a 3D star or angel for the top.
  • Hot glue works best for attaching things to the point of the tree.

 

The instructional portion of this article was provided by wikihow, a wiki building the world’s largest, highest quality how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Make a Paper Christmas Tree.  Content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons License.

Say Hello To The Best Gingerbread Cookie Out There

Picture this: the presents are all wrapped and under the tree, the kids are asleep dreaming of peppermint sticks and puppies, the stars twinkle overhead  in the frosty air, and all is peacefully silent and still at last.  As you plop backwards onto the couch, what do you reach for on the end table at your side?  Why, only the best, most delicious, delectable, iconic Christmas treat there is out there.  Grandma’s Ginger Cookies of course!  Whether setting them out for Santa on Christmas Eve or adding them as a staple food to your diet throughout the entire holiday season, folks will be raving about these cookies until next Christmas rolls around.

 

Best Gingerbread Cookies

Grandma’s Ginger Cookies

  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 ½ tsp ground cloves
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup unsulfured molasses
  • 1 extra-large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 ¼ cups chopped crystallized ginger (6 ounces) (tip: Crystallized ginger comes in pkgs in the produce aisle or in the spice aisle)
  • granulated sugar, for rolling the cookies

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, and salt and then combine the mixture with your hands. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the brown sugar, oil, and molasses on medium speed for 5 minutes. Turn the mixer to low speed, add the egg, and beat for 1 minute. Scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula and beat for 1 more minute. With the mixer still on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the bowl and mix on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the crystallized ginger and mix until combined.

Scoop the dough with 2 spoons or a small ice cream scoop. With your hands, roll each cookie into a 1 ¾-inch ball and then flatten them lightly with your fingers. Press both sides of each cookie in granulated sugar and place them on the sheet pans. Bake for exactly 13 minutes. The cookies will be crackled on the top and soft inside. Let the cookies cool on the sheets for a minute or two, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Enjoy, but don’t eat too much! You’ll want to save room for dinner after all.

How to Make a Simple Weather Barometer

Looking for a science project for your homeschooled kids, or just something fun and educational for your kids to do?  This activity is sure to spark a bit of curiosity in your child, as it gives them the chance to play weather forecaster.  Predicting the weather may seem a bit like magic, but after a couple weeks of checking their barometer, they’ll have a much better understanding of how this can be done!

How to Make a Simple Weather Barometer

Step 1: Gather the things you’ll need. These consist of: Scissors, tape, a balloon, a jar, an elastic rubber band, a straw.

 

How to Make a Simple Weather Barometer

Step 2: Blow up the balloon carefully and then let the air out of it again. (This is to stretch it.)

 

How to Make a Simple Weather Barometer

Step 3: Cut the balloon in half. Discard the piece with the neck on it.

 

How to Make a Simple Weather Barometer

Step 4: Take the remaining piece of the balloon and stretch it across the glass or jar.Keep it stretched firmly across and seal it down with the rubber band, around the rim of the glass jar. To make an airtight seal, avoid gaps between the balloon and the glass.

 

How to Make a Simple Weather Barometer

Step 5: Tape the straw onto the balloon lid; the straw should be sitting one quarter of a way on the lid, with the tape about 2 cm or 1 inch from the edge of the straw end that is sitting on the balloon lid. The straw is your indicator “needle”. Trim the straw if it’s too long, but leave more length off the jar as what is attached to it.

 

How to Make a Simple Weather Barometer

Step 6: Put the finished glass jar next to a wall and tape a piece of paper or card to the wall behind it.

 

How to Make a Simple Weather Barometer

Step 7: Mark the current position of the straw on the paper, and mark one above and below the mark, about the same length away, and label the high and low pressure. Arrange the paper so there is room above and below the straw for you to make more marks when the straw moves.

 

How to Make a Simple Weather Barometer

Step 8: Check the straw regularly and keep marking its location on the paper for a few days. Add notes that tell you what the weather is like (for example, “rainy,” “windy,” or “sunny,”) next to the mark.

  • Examine the paper after several days. Check the markings and the weather statements you’ve put next to them. What do you notice? Can you tell if and when the weather is about to change? See “Tips” for the answers.

Q&A

  • Does the barometer have to be outside?  Yes, it is very important to leave the barometer outside so that it can record more effectively.
  • What can a barometer indicate about the weather?  A barometer can only measure air pressure, giving an indication of the expected weather during the following 24 hours. Simply put, high pressure is likely to drive rain bearing clouds away, low pressure will likely let it in, leading to precipitation (rain).
  • Why do we blow up the balloon before using it?  To stretch it out. If you just pull the two ends, you can rip it and you will have to get a new one.

Tips:

  • As the straw moves up with higher air pressure, the days should be sunnier. As the straw lowers, the skies may be looking gray and you should expect cloudy or rainy weather on the way.
  • When you fitted the balloon over the glass, you captured air under a certain pressure. The balloon now indicates changes in the atmospheric pressure, that is, the pressure of the air around you. Higher air pressure pushes the balloon into the jar and makes the straw go up. Conversely, the air inside the jar expands against lower pressure and will bulge the balloon, moving the straw down. The straw makes it easier to see the motions of the balloon.
  • Also notice that the straw moves up or down just before a weather change since a change in weather typically coincides with a change in the atmospheric pressure.
  • Try to take each reading at the same temperature, since air expands when heated and contracts when cooled, which would also move the straw-indicator.
  • Check your results against the pressure from weather reports for your area. If you didn’t do it correctly, keep trying until you get it right.
  • Try this over a longer period of time if you’re having a week of rain or a week of sunshine. Try to choose the seasons likely to bring the most changes during a short period of time in your part of the world.
  • This is a delicate item. Place it away from foot traffic and daily activity.
  • Don’t leave the balloon in direct sunlight; this will wear it out and can affect the experiment.
  • Make sure there are no gaps or air holes in the balloon during the experiment; this will affect the outcome.

The instructional portion of this article was provided by wikihow, a wiki building the world’s largest, highest quality how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Make a Simple Weather Barometer.  Content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons License.

Life-Changing Financial Principles to Teach Your Children

One of the most valuable (pun intended) things you can teach your child is how to responsibly manage money.  Of course parents teach by example from the day their kids are born, but there will also come a time when we need to begin teaching them certain principles that they will use for the rest of their lives.  Listed below are several simple principles that will be a huge help for your child.

Life-Changing Financial Principles to Teach Your Children

  1. Show them that everything we receive in this life is a gift that comes from God, and we must look to him for all of our needs.  We teach them to be at peace in their heart and minds by helping them to understand submitting to his authority where money is concerned.  
  2. A perfect first subject to teach would be the simple principle of tithing 10% first, saving 10% second, and living within the remaining 80%.  As your children become more familiar with this concept, encourage them to increase the tithe and savings amounts as their self-discipline increases.
  3. Budgeting.  Teach your child how to budget, and you will also be teaching them how to plan ahead.  A valuable principle in every area of their lives, this will help them greatly.  As Zig Ziglar said, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.”  When your children start getting older, give them a chance to open their own checking accounts, budget their own money, and absolutely to make their own mistakes.
  4. A penny saved is a penny earned.  Kids need to learn to save for three things: purchases, an emergency fund, and wealth-building.  Saving for purchases is my favorite, and also the easiest! The other two are just as important though.  For teens, $500 for the emergency fund might be a good start, as this will cover things like car repairs or any unexpected purchases.  By having this emergency fund, they’ll learn to start being independent rather than relying on you whenever an emergency hits.  It’s a win-win!  And of course your kid doesn’t have to be a stock market guru, but if you can help them understand the power of compound interest, you’ll be setting them up with financial success for the rest of their lives.  
  5.  Give, give, & give again.  One lesson that was pounded into my head as a child was “for heaven’s sake, can you just SHARE already?” While it may have been frustrating for my parents at the time, they really instilled the important value of giving into my life. Giving is so powerful because it not only changes the recipient, but the giver as well.  This is one principle that is important for your children to see modeled by you.  When your children see the positive consequences shine in your life, it’ll drive the lesson home.
  6. Be wary of debt.  As a teenager, your child will soon face the temptations of credit cards and student loans.  They’ll hear a lot of things as they head off to college like: “Normal is broke.”  “Car payments are just a part of life.”  “You can’t live without a credit score.” and my personal favorite “It’s not even possible to live without debt.”  Absolutely NONE of these are true, and it’s best to help them understand this before they step out into adulthood.  

 

Remember that more is caught than taught!  It’ll stick in their heads better to see you living out these principles in your own life rather than just giving them lectures here and there.  You don’t have to be perfect when it comes to money (no one is), but you do need to make sure you’re being a strong example or none of what you say will stick!  Also, be honest with your kids about financial mistakes you’ve made.  Allow them to learn from your mistakes!  By teaching your children these essential financial principles, you’ll have given them confidence and a hand-up in life.

Don’t forget to check out our selection of toys and products that are great resources for teaching kids financial principles.  We believe it’s never too early to teach youngsters about money, finance, and even investing.  While play money may seem just like another toy, it can be used to teach kids about finances, saving, and math. In our minds, that’s a toy with some real value!

How To Naturally Improve Concentration and Focus in Your Child

Whether you’re a homeschooling parent or not, you have likely struggled with the issue of a child’s lack of concentration at some point during your parenting years.  Of course we know that children are curious, energetic discoverers.  This is natural.  However, some children struggle more than others.  Many frustrated parents don’t know where to turn for help.  What if there were some simple antidotes and tools you can use to improve concentration?  There is.  Of course no solution will work for everyone, but we think you’ll find the following suggestions extremely helpful.  Your sanity will thank you!

How to Naturally Improve Concentration and Focus in Your Child

So, how can you motivate and improve your child’s focus?  There are several different tools available.  In the beginning, it’s best to try them all to see what works best for you and your family.

1.) Attend to physiological needs.  Ensure your child gets 9 hours of sleep every night.  Reduce sugar intake & increase protein levels (lean meat, almonds, & eggs).  This stimulates dopamine which makes concentration easier, particularly for lethargic kids.  Taking frequent breaks for exercise will have a similar effect.

2.) Remove distractions at home.  Make a list of things that may prevent concentration (i.e. noise, people, lighting, fighting, tiredness, & hunger). Then go through each distraction and come up with a solution.  Make sure you implement those solutions daily!

3.) Create the right mood for concentration.  Playing calming background music, placing a fish tank (with fish) in the environment, and reducing fluorescent lights have all been proven to be successful in creating the right mood.

4.) Introduce sequencing & organization activities (i.e. following recipes, setting the table, and putting things in alphabetical order.)  Board and card games help as well.  Chess has proven to be particularly good for improving focus long-term. Their minds become incrementally stronger, alleviating the concentration problem, and in many cases, almost entirely curing it. The study of chess also instills patience and can help a child’s attitude.

5.) Find out which activities your child focuses on best.  Some kids do best with hands-on activities, and some do best with a lot of visual cues.  Look for activities that your child gets lost in for hours.  These activities can enhance your child’s concentration levels.

These are only a few of the tools we’ve found helpful through the years.  I’m sure there are many more that you’ll find that will work in your home. Before assisting your child with their concentration habits, pay close attention to their pattern of concentration and observe if there are any obvious links between diet, energy pattern, sleep, and your own behaviors.  Remember to lead by example!

Concentration can be improved and made automatic.  Picture the first time you drove a car.  No doubt the prevailing, panicky thought in your head was, “How on earth can I focus on all of this stuff at the same time?!”  After enough practice, your brain built pathways of concentration, and the task of driving has become a smooth and easy one.  Take action today and make the process of learning a lot more enjoyable for both you and your children!

Book Review – The Dangerous Book for Boys

Whether you’re a boy of 8 or 80, you’ll love The Dangerous Book for Boys!  The title sounds a little intimidating, but be sure to dive in a bit before making a snap judgement.  In these days of video games and battery powered toys that do everything except buy themselves for you, today’s unimaginative kids need to learn how to PLAY again. This book is filled with good old-fashioned, get-off-the-couch, get-out-of-the-house and get dirty ideas.

Book Review - The Dangerous Book for Boys

A perfect way to stay out of trouble but still have fun, The Dangerous Book for Boys covers essential boyhood skills such as building tree houses, learning how to fish, finding true north, and even answering the age old question of what the big deal with girls is. In this digital age there is still a place for knots, skimming stones and stories of incredible courage.

This book recaptures Sunday afternoons, stimulates curiosity, and makes for great father-son activities. The brothers Conn and Hal have put together a wonderful collection of all things that make being young or young at heart fun—building go-carts and electromagnets, identifying insects and spiders, and flying the world’s best paper airplanes.

As one reader put it, “It is perfect tinder for a young mind to fan the flames to the fire of personal wonder for the rest of their lives.”

You won’t want to put it down!  Pick up a copy today at jmcremps.com, and be sure to take a look at The Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys: Things To Do, and The Pocket Dangerous Book For Boys: Things To Know.  Happy reading!