Home School Life Journal From Preschool to High School

Home School Life Journal ........... Ceramics by Katie Bergenholtz
"Let us strive to make each moment beautiful."
Saint Francis DeSales

Project: Mission Possible

My sister-in-law, Brenda, is the greatest! She is always looking for ways to build stronger relationships with my kids. Her latest project has created a lot of questions from you, as I just mentioned that we were completing the projects without much explanation. I am going to share the details in this post because it is a great idea that could be customized for any child. It is particularly good for loved ones that live some distance from each other but want to have more interactions with each other.
On our last visit to Brenda's house, my kids were greeted with the above little bag.

Inside were envelopes for each of them with their names on them. Inside the envelopes were projects for each of my kids to do that were tailored to their interests and talents. She also included deadlines, which, in our case, were staggered so that she could give full attention to each child, one at a time.
Because Alex, our twenty-year old autistic son, has been having fun making art lately, she gave him this challenge:

Alex- Your mission is to make postcard art and send them to Aunt Brenda on March 9, 11 and 13. She will send you a postcard on the same dates.

We cut card stock into standard postcard-sized pieces and...

he recreated three of the pieces he had made on canvas previously, making mini versions onto the card stock.

He loved receiving Brenda's postcards as well.

            Williamsburg Cypher Wheel Secret Decoder
The decoder was similar to, but not exactly like this one.
James -Your mission is to decode the following message using the enclosed decoder and to follow its directions.

Once decoded, his assignment, in the spirit of a Revolutionary war assignment,  read:

Your mission is to create a means by which we can transport troops across the Chester River. Please turn in your design to General Brenda by March 2.

Sam, who has been learning Japanese this year, was given this mission:

Sam- Your mission is to translate the enclosed into English by March 16.

She realized that a beginning Japanese language student probably couldn't translate the whole message, but she wanted to challenge him to do what he could. Meanwhile, she checked out of the library a book on translating Japanese, so that she could try it as well. The piece came with a gift ceramic turtle and what they could translate told them that the turtle was to give the recipient good financial fortune. It was enough to give them lots to talk about.

Brenda also took this opportunity to build bonds between my children and my late brother, to keep their relationship alive despite his passing last year.

Quentin- Your mission is to make up a new game by March 23. Like you, Uncle Phil liked to design games. Enclosed are copies of some of his ideas, which you can use for inspiration if you like.

The idea for Katie's mission came from a conversation they had about sewing, an interest they both share, in which Brenda told her about the method of applique.

Katie- Your mission is to complete an applique project to exchange with Aunt Brenda. The exchange date will be March 30.
Option 1: Give Aunt Brenda the project idea you have chosen by March 2.
Option 2: Let the projects be a surprise at the exchange. In that case, let her know you've chosen option 2 by March 2.

You can see how all of these missions were tailored to the interests that they share and opened up roads for future conversation and bonding.  It is a particularly good idea for loved ones who live some distance and therefore it is harder to maintain interactions beyond phone calls. Let me know if you decide to use this idea with your children and someone they love.


  1. Awesome! What a wonderful aunt!
    Blessings, Dawn

  2. This is fabulous! How thoughtful and fun and such a great, creative way to strengthen their bonds.

  3. I think Brenda get's the "Greatest Aunt Ever" award. She came up with wonderful ideas for each of the kids. It really shows how much she cares for each them. They are very blessed!

  4. Thank you so much for doing this. Both my mum and especially my mother-in-law (who lives in Ireland) would love to do this. I will be showing each of them this post and hopefully it will give them some ideas for the future.
    Thank you again, Phyllis, I'm really excited about the potential of something like this, building generational relationships across the sea. What could be more perfect?

  5. I just loved this post. Such love and creativity.


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