Rustic, Christmas Charm... The Nut Ball

The Christmas Nut Ball
By Renee Neace

For rustic, Christmas charm, try making some Christmas Nut Balls. These are perfect projects for the crafts-disabled person. No artistic talent is needed, just time and patience. I have fond memories of staying up late one night during Christmastime, gluing walnuts to a foam ball. My husband fondly remembers me emerging from the kitchen, after hours of working on “Christmas crafts,” smiling proudly and displaying my Christmas Nut Balls. “Wow, Mommy made a nut ball!” he said with a sideways grin. Those words have stayed with our family throughout the years and have become a Christmas tradition. Each year as we unpack the decorations, we fondly remember when Mommy made her first nut ball.

The supplies are simple and available at your local craft store and grocery store.

• 1–2 foam balls (3” and 4”)
• Glue gun with plenty of glue sticks
• Bag of green moss
• Large bag of nuts from the grocery store (walnuts or hazelnuts work well)
• Dried baby’s breath
• A bag of potpourri to make the second ball (containing red flowers, like dried roses)
• A decorative vine ball


{See The Christmas Nut Ball Slideshow for detailed pictures.}

Step 1: Glue the moss onto the foam ball. Break the moss apart into small pieces before you begin gluing.

Squeeze the glue onto a small section of the ball and gently press the moss on. Be careful! The hot glue is HOT! Gently pull off the extra moss as you’re working and then reapply, making sure there are no bald spots. Keep working with it until you’ve covered the whole ball. This can be a little messy and sticky, but it’ll look good when you’re done.

Step 2: Start gluing down the nuts. Again, this is easy. Imagine an equator around your moss-covered, foam ball. Squeeze some glue where you want your first nut to go, then press it firmly in. Continue all the way around the imaginary equator, and begin a second row. Do this until the whole ball is covered with the nuts. Don’t worry about being perfect; some space between the irregular shapes is to be expected.

Step 3: You’re almost done! At this point, you can decide to keep it plain or to add in some baby’s breath. First, break or cut off some little pieces of the flowers. Squeeze a tiny amount of glue into the tiny nooks and crannies of the nut ball and stick some of the flowers in. You don’t need to fill in every crevice, just a few spots all over the ball.

You’re done!

Make another one, so that you can create a vignette of nut balls for your Christmas mantle. Or make the Potpourri Ball to display with them.

The Potpourri Ball

Step 1: Glue the moss onto the foam ball like you did for the Christmas Nut Ball. (You can use a different size foam ball.)

Step 2: Start gluing down the potpourri. Pour the potpourri onto the table and pick out the prettiest pieces and start gluing them on. Cover the whole ball with the potpourri.

Step 3: Fill in gaps with green moss. Once you’ve finished gluing the potpourri, gently stick some
little pieces of the moss into the spaces all over it. This gives it a more finished look.

You’re done!

Now, set it down on your mantle next to your Christmas Nut Balls.

Renee Neace lives in sunny southern California with her husband of twenty five years and their four children. They have been homeschooling for several years, including coming up with creative ways to teach their son with Down syndrome. The whole family is actively involved in their church. Renee holds a B.A. degree in communications. She enjoys reading classical literature and loves working from home for The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine.

Friendly Chemistry! Perfect for Homeschoolers & their Moms

Friendly Chemistry
A Guide to Learning Basic Chemistry
3rd Edition
By Joey & Lisa Hajda

Friendly Chemistry really is very friendly and I have learned so much about the subject. Since I did not take it in high school, I was initially concerned I would not be able to teach it, but my 11th grader and 6th grader are sailing through practically on their own. The course comes with a Student Book and a Teacher Edition, both are needed since there are lesson plans and creative ideas in the Teacher Edition.

Both of my children have "naturally" memorized almost all of the elements chart, by playing the games, such as Element Bingo, and doing the worksheets. The Doo Wop Board is a great visual tool that Friendly Chemistry uses to teach the levels of the electrons. My kids used it so much that now they have the electron levels memorized.

There are 32 Lessons in the course and some topics covered are:
  • The Elements
  • Structure of an Atom
  • Intro to Quantum Mechanics
  • Orbital Notation
  • Ionization Energy
  • Introducing the Mole!
  • Writing Empirical Formulas
  • Balancing Chemical Reactions

I was heavily involved in the teaching from the beginning, but now I have my 11th grade daughter teach the lessons to her younger brother. This is working out great! I'll count it towards her high school chemistry class, and she'll know chemistry exceptionally well because she is actively teaching it. Here are some of her comments about the course:

  • Easy to understand.
  • Things are repeated to enforce.
  • Lots of involving games for large groups of younger students.
  • Lessons start simple and build upon each other.
  • Each lesson is easy to finish fast.
  • A 6th grader through upper years can finish one lesson in 1-2 days.
  • Not trudgingly difficult.
  • The concepts are still upper level, but the learning is free and smooth.

Here is a sample of a written narration by my 6th grader. I asked him to tell me what he's learned from the previous week and I use these narrations as a simple test. Remember, he thoroughly understands what he's learned and is able to articulate it in a written form:

In chemistry I learned about Ionization. It's when an atom becomes stable by losing or gaining valence electrons. There are 8 families, noble gas, halogen, oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, boron, sodium, and calcium families. Halogen and oxygen gain, sodium and calcium lose, carbon, nitrogen and boron are unpredictable, and noble gas does neither.

Friendly Chemistry gets an A+ in our house.