Holiday-Themed Creativity: Have Fun While Learning Over Winter Break!

December is a wonderful time of year for our families! While we might be busy making holiday travel plans, cooking, or shopping, this month can also be a fantastic opportunity to inspire meaningful learning. Thematic integration of reading, writing, and math activities can be done easily with a little creativity. It can be a lot of fun too!

December is a great time for cultural learning:

You can research and write about traditions celebrated around the world this time of year. Some examples include Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, St. Lucia's Day (Sweden), The Legend of La Befana (Italy), Sinterklaas Day (Holland), Las Posadas (Mexico), Cobweb Christmas (Ukraine), the Yule Cat (Iceland) and many others.

Read holiday themed books and short stories. Check out your local library to find countless options!

Memorize and recite a holiday themed poem for family and guests.

Be sure to integrate writing projects into your daily learning. To make this even more fun, use festive paper and holiday stationery, or create your own by adding family pictures or holiday clipart. Another option is to make construction paper covers for stories topped with ribbon and a bow so the finished project resembles a present! Or add a special "peek-over" or festive frame to make writing come alive and be more fun to create and present.

Ideas for writing in December are limitless. Possible writing activities include:

Write letters to family, friends, neighbors, or even Santa! Use this as an opportunity to review the parts of a friendly letter, writing addresses, and mailing. Don't forget to add stickers and hand drawn pictures!

Read The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein and make tree-shaped paper ornaments with a "Gift of Love" written on the front to give to others. ( These are the gifts that money cannot buy—washing dishes, raking leaves, free babysitting... )

Write a new version of the story of the Gingerbread Man to accompany any cookies you may bake.

Write a holiday story using a winter or holiday themed wordbank.

Write about a favorite holiday memory or family tradition.

Write a persuasive paragraph. Is it better to give or to receive? Would you rather be an elf or a reindeer? Be sure to include your reasoning!

Write a sensory description about the sights and smells of your home during a special holiday meal.

Write a holiday "How-To." How do you build a snowman? Decorate your house? Plan a Party?

Write an acrostic poem using the word "Christmas," "Winter," or "Rudolph."

December is also a great time to practice real world math.

Create a grocery list complete with prices for budgeting. Use this as an opportunity to review coins, bills, and counting money. For older children, this is a wonderful opportunity to read ads and determine which stores offer the best deals.

Go gift shopping! Create a budget and plan ahead.

Cook and bake together. Use this as a chance to practice measurements and conversions.

Practice shapes, estimation, and surface area when wrapping gifts. Do you have enough wrapping paper? Will one roll be enough? How do you know?

Plan a party. What supplies will you need for your guests? How many of each item will you need?

Do some crafting. Many paper crafts require measuring and using rulers.

Plan a road trip. How many miles will it be? How long will it take? What time will you arrive? How much gas will you use? How do you know?

Project of the Month

Create a holiday themed flap book. My family made a "countdown to Christmas" calendar using this idea. After reading The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus by L. Frank Baum, we numbered and sequenced the main events in the story and created flaps to reveal the writing behind each window. It was a fun and unique way to respond to literature. All we needed was a Christmas shopping bag and a backboard. Flap books can be used in countless ways to demonstrate learning.

Let creativity be your guide! Happy Holidays, Elite Families!


Post written by Erin Burhans, Homeschool Academy Teacher of Record.

Staff Highlight - Mrs. Pearce Brings Her Own Craft to the Flex Academy

There are many reasons that people get into teaching. Ms. Danica Pearce, one of our newest Flex Academy Teachers, knew from a young age that she wanted to have a career in education. We asked her about her decision to become a teacher, and how she stays connected with her students in a remote environment.

“It is so much fun to learn alongside children and see their curiosity, excitement, and understanding light up their eyes.”  This is Danica’s eleventh year in education.  She started as a teacher’s aide where she worked with students in small groups. Some of those students were brand new to America and only just starting to learn English!  She has taught all subjects to all ages. “One of my favorites was teaching Drama and putting on plays throughout the year!”

Danica chose to join our Elite family for the 22/23 school year and is finding new and creative ways to connect with her students in a remote environment. One of those ways is to spotlight one student each week in her “Guardian of the Week” series. She draws the student in the style of their favorite show or movie! It encourages her to keep up a hobby that she loves and is fun for the students. “I love talking and joking with my students. I am a kid at heart, so I love talking about and making references to shows and things that the students and I love.”

Danica is also excited about all of the fun field trips available to students this school year! She plans on attending Amy’s Farm with the Flex Academy, where she will get to meet with her students in person and see a wide variety of plant and animal species living a symbiotic life. Danica’s students are in good hands with her enthusiasm and compassion. We are so glad she joined the Elite family this school year and are excited to see her students shoot for the moon! If you would like to learn more about the Flex Academy or our upcoming field trips, please visit our website.

Senior Virtual Academy Student Alexis T. Earns Softball Scholarship

Our Virtual Academy senior student, Alexis T.  is not only an outstanding student, but she is a talented softball player as well.  Alexis recently earned a scholarship to play Division 1 NCAA softball at San Jose State University. While she will soon be wearing a Spartan Uniform, she still and will always be an Elite Eagle! 

In her early years, Alexis started out playing softball recreationally and had a lot of fun. She made a ton of friends, kept busy, worked on her athleticism, and by the time she turned 11, she knew that she wanted to compete at a higher level. This is the pivotal moment that started the journey of playing competitive travel softball. “It was here that I learned I could continue to do what I love at the collegiate level. So, I made that my goal and never looked back. It has been an absolute rollercoaster full of ups and downs and tons of sacrifices, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.” says Alexis.

Alexis currently plays for the USA Athletics on the 18U Gold team. The athletics is a top-tier, competitive organization based out of Long Beach, CA.  The organization is owned and run by husband and wife, Mike and Rose Rogers. Alexis decided to join Elite Academic Academy during the COVID Pandemic because she knew that it was the school that would give her the education she needed and the freedom to do it while working around a very demanding athletic schedule. When asked about what she loved best about being an Elite student Alexis stated that she feels Elite has truly mastered the art of creating an institution to fit and foster the best aspects and interests of every student. She loves that she can create her academic schedule, which allows her the time to devote herself to her sport and the recruiting process. The cherry on top was that Elite Virtual Academy courses are NCAA and A-G approved.

Alexis’ Elite Educator, Ms. Hutchins, is so proud of how hard she works with her academics. Mrs. Hutchins raved about Alexis saying that “She is an enthusiastic learner who enjoys school.  She is consistent with her assignments and meetings and maintains high standards in all of her work.  I can’t wait to work with Alexis during her Senior year!”.

Alexis’ post-secondary goals for San Jose State are to earn a degree in  Psychology which will help her to seek employment in the sports industry or Forensic Law Enforcement. She is very grateful for the opportunities she has had throughout her high school career and is looking forward to another awesome year at Elite before heading to SJSU!

We are so excited to see what the future holds for Alexis. There is no doubt that the SJSU Softball Team will be getting a fantastic player and teammate from the Class of 2023! Wishing you the best Senior year at Elite filled with memories to last a lifetime.

Meet Elite's New Curriculum Coordinator: Marisa Thompson!

Elite is growing, and so is our staff! Marisa Thompson has joined our Student Support Services Department as Curriculum Coordinator. She has worked in education for 17 years. She has been a high school English teacher, a professional development instructor for University of San Diego, and an education coach and presenter.


Marisa loves the work she does because she meets great educators and supports many students. She is a fantastic addition to our team, and will be supporting the Virtual Content Teachers and curriculum writing, as well as ensuring EAA has a viable curriculum guide. We asked Marisa a few questions so you can see why she chose to #BeElite! 

What brought you to Elite?

Last year, I supported Elite teachers as a guest speaker. I loved the work they were doing and their purpose in that work. When I saw there was an opportunity to join this amazing team, I jumped at the chance to continue that work with them full-time. In May, I became the Coordinator of Curriculum & Interventions for all Elite Academic Academies.

What are you most excited about this school year and being a part of the #BeElite Culture?

In traditional education, it's normal to have to jump through many, many hoops to do what's best for students and teachers. I love that we are encouraged and supported whenever we want to try something new to help every student surpass their own expectations; to help everyone #BeElite!

What are your hobbies that you enjoy outside of work?

If I'm not working on something for Elite or a conference, I'm probably planning a trip or at the beach with my family. Travel is a passion of mine and I absolutely love body surfing and snorkeling!

We welcome Marisa to her first year as an Elite team member, and we’re excited to see how she shapes the curriculum and learning of our students. If you would like to learn more about Marisa’s role at Elite or what our Student Support Services Department is all about, please visit their virtual office

For all things Elite, please visit our website 

Alina Simons Senior Shout Out

We have many outstanding Seniors this school year! Alina S., a Homeschool Academy Graduate, is no exception. Alina is a concurrent enrollment student who loves all things Visual and Performing Arts. She has really enjoyed her time at Elite, as it has allowed her to discover different hobbies and spend time with her family.

Alina has accomplished so many incredible things during her time here at Elite. We decided to ask her a few questions to help you learn more about her and all that she has achieved.

What are your plans after graduation?

I have been concurrently enrolled at Grossmont College and plan to continue my journey by completing an associate degree and transferring to San Diego State University. There are many subjects and fields that I am drawn to, but I am confident that I will always pursue my passion for creative endeavors through writing, art, and drama.

What are you most proud of from this school year, academic or non-academic?

I am most proud of the opportunity to be concurrently enrolled in community college as a high school student. I have made new friends through my online classes and learned that I can succeed in college.

What has been your favorite part of being a student here at Elite?

The most important part of my high school experience has been acquiring knowledge. I love learning, whether it be a new craft, talent, or something academic. Being homeschooled has allowed me to learn with my wonderful family and has given me great opportunities to learn from amazing experiences.

Students & Parents: Don't Miss Alina's Graduation Speech!

Alina will be the Homeschool Academy Speaker at our in-person graduation ceremony, happening June 14! For our Elite families and friends, or others interested in attending, the ceremony starts at 6 p.m. at Hawk Ranch in Temecula. All of our Elite Families will be able to view the ceremony virtually via Vimeo Livestream! The link is on ParentSquare, so please log into your account and grab the link. Congratulations to all of our Graduating Seniors!

Interested in learning more about our Homeschool Academy? You can learn more here.

Sage Shines - Virtual Academy 11th Grader Becomes San Diego Broadway Award Finalist

Meet Sage: A Virtual Academy 11th Grader who has absolutely soared this school year! Sage has been singing and performing for as long as she can remember, she has always had such passion for it. She met Mrs. Amy Ciceri here at Elite, when she started participating in our Visual and Performing Arts opportunities. Mrs. Ciceri encouraged her to pursue her craft and entered her into the Broadway San Diego Awards.

The Broadway San Diego Awards is a regional competition for high schoolers across San Diego County. The winners, top actor and top actress, go on to represent San Diego at the Jimmy Awards. It is a very thorough audition process, including virtual and in person auditions. This was Sage's first time entering and she did not shy away from the competition!

"I was nominated as top 10 best actress. At the event, each actress sings for a top 3 spot and then the winner goes on to the Jimmy Awards. I made it through to the top three!"

Sage decided to enroll with Elite this school year, as her dad is immunocompromised. She had her reservations at first, because she was really looking forward to the "traditional" high school experience.

"I realized that being homeschooled opens up so many doors for me artistically. It enables me to finish school earlier in the day, giving me the flexibility to hone in on a variety of different aspects and cultivate my craft".

Sage typically is able to finish her school work in the afternoon, so she has the rest of the day to practice the song or monologue she's working on at the time. Her mom is so proud and has enjoyed watching her thrive in this new schooling environment.

"At Elite, Sage is now able to balance school and her passion!" 

Sage would like to major in either musical theatre or acting in college. Due to her hard work as an Elite Eagle, her goals are definitely within reach. We look forward to everything she will be able to accomplish as a student, performer, and beyond!

Student Shout Out - Flex Academy Student Zeke B.

Zeke is a 2nd Grade Student in Elite's Flex Academy and has soared like an Eagle this school year! His Teacher, Mrs. Davis, wanted to give him a special shoutout for his progress and impact he has made on his schoolmates.

"Zeke has shown massive amounts of improvement in all academic areas this year. He shows up for small group sessions and has raving reviews from his tutors! His hard work shows in his iReady assessment, where he grew over 30 points in both ELA and Math!" 

Zeke's parents chose to enroll him in Elite and they are so proud of his progress. Zeke loves to play basketball and baseball. He really likes his teacher and the friends he has made this school year. He enjoys the interactive small group sessions, and it shows!

"Not only does he come to class prepared, he is eager to share out and show what he has learned. Zeke is a good friend who takes the time to get to know his peers. He will often ask about their day, something he sees in the background that they have in common, and he remembers those connections in other meetings and builds on them. Zeke is an all around example of what it means to #BeElite! He takes advantage of every available session, works hard off screen, and establishes great relationships with his peers."

Zeke wants to be a police officer when he grows up, and we know he can do anything that he works towards. We are so proud that he has chosen to Be Elite and has represented our school so well!

Elite Academic Academy is now enrolling for the 22/23 school year. Please visit our website to get started on your academic journey with Elite!

The Quest Crew's Adventure in Nature

Mr. Olson is our CTE Recreation Teacher and an extreme outdoor enthusiast. He uses his passion and wealth of knowledge about the outdoors to open the natural world up to our students. Recently, Elite partnered with Pali Institute to offer an awesome opportunity to experience nature first hand. From biology and ecology, to team building and problem solving, this is where textbooks come to life!

The Pali Institute is an innovative outdoor program offering educational experiences to schools and youth groups. Their campus is located on the crest of the San Bernardino mountains near California’s gorgeous Lake Arrowhead. During their field trip, students were able to experience learning from a whole new angle through a variety of courses and activities.








Our students were separated into three different groups: the Young Explorers, Outdoor Experience, and Leadership Experience. The Young Explorers option was for our 3rd-5th grade students and included Art in Nature, a Forest Ecology hike, the Living Fossils lab, and "Animal Survivor" class. Students in this group enjoyed a slower pace of activities while their imaginations were able to run wild as they collected acorns and bright yellow willow leaves for their art creations.

The Outdoor Experience option was for our adventurous students. This action packed day had them shooting arrows, building shelters and identifying the plants of the San Bernardino Mountains. Classes during this program included Archery, Forest Ecology hike, Outdoor Skills & Survival Techniques. We had so many students signed up for these activities that two groups were formed; this gave students ample opportunity to practice their shot and build shelters!

The Leadership Experience was for the lionhearts and risk-takers in the group. They challenged their eye with archery; built camaraderie with classmates, and tested their nerves in an adrenaline-inducing high ropes course! This was a popular option for our high schoolers, and students appreciated the opportunity to connect with one another in a natural setting. We also had a group of young risk-takers who completely conquered the ropes course. Age is clearly not a sign of courage for our Elite students! 

Mr. Olson did not stop there - he also coordinated a hike for our Elite families in San Diego County at the Santa Margarita River Trail! Over 30 students, parents and staff joined the hike and had an absolute blast while taking in some knowledge from Mr. O along the way. The group identified several native plants, including a poison oak patch, caught a crawfish in the river and spotted a pumpkinseed fish between the rocks! Kingfishers and songbirds hopped between branches as the group made their way to the numerous beaches along the river.


Thank you Mr. Olson and Pali Institute for being such gracious hosts and instilling an appreciation for Nature and a love of learning with our Elite Students! Mr. Olson will be back in action during January 2022 with skiing and snowboarding at Snow Valley, and Ice Skating in both Riverside and San Diego Counties. If you are interested in learning more about our upcoming recreation events or learning about our CTE Academic Courses, please visit our website's CTE Page.

Celebrating Veterans Day with Operation Gratitude

Mrs. Michelle Hilton is one of our fantastic Homeschool Educators here at Elite. Her father is an Air Force Veteran who served for 50 years, so the military played a very big part in her life. In honor of Veterans Day, she asked her students to write letters to Veterans with the help of Operation Gratitude. This thoughtful gesture soon inspired other teachers and Elite families to join in and express their gratefulness with writing letters or creating their own artwork to express their thanks.


Operation Gratitude Letters to Veterans from a few of our Elite Students! 


When we think of our Military Veterans, we all think of the friends or family members in our lives that have served and protected. Here at Elite, we are especially grateful for our Veteran Staff, Parents, and Family Members. We had the opportunity to ask a couple of our current Elite Staff and Military Veterans how their time in the Military impacted their current career and led them to working in Education.


Adam Woodard, Elite's Director of Finance and Navy SEAL Veteran

My time in the SEAL teams taught me in no uncertain terms the value of teamwork, discipline, and finding a way to succeed regardless of the adversity in front of us. In my new mission as Director of Finance, I might not get to interact very much with the teachers and students that make this school as amazing as it is, but my team and I are honored to be in a position to help them achieve their goals. Leaving the Teams, I wanted to find a driven group of people who understand what it means to work hard and find a way, and I think Elite Academic Academy fulfills that definition and then some. This team truly is Elite!





Laura Spencer, Ed.D, Chief Academic Innovation Officer and Army Psychological Operations Specialist Veteran

I joined the Army on a whim when I turned 18. Little did I know just how much it would change my life. As a Psychological Operations Specialist attached to a Special Warfare Unit, I learned that I was capable of achieving just about anything if I set my mind to it and pushed through my self-doubts. With this new outlook on life, I volunteered to serve in Germany for 3.5 years. With nothing but a calling card and the German translation to order a burger at McDonald’s, I embarked on the adventure of a lifetime. I traveled to 13 countries while stationed there; made amazing friends; and gained life and leadership skills that continue to serve me today. I would encourage anyone thinking of serving to do some research about the options available and do it! I’m grateful for my time served, and proud that both my daughters have chosen to serve as well, in the U.S. Navy. (Go Army! Beat Navy!)


Staff Family Members Salute their Veterans


Kira Donaldson, Business Service Clerk and Wife to USMC Master Gunnery Sergeant, James Donaldson Jr. 

Quite a few men have served in my immediate family to include my maternal and paternal grandfathers, uncle, great-uncle and brother-in-law. My husband is an active duty Marine currently serving at Camp Pendleton. Last week he received notification that he has been selected for promotion to the highest enlisted ranking of Master Gunnery Sergeant! I am very grateful for the past, present and future Veterans. 



Maria Mack, Flex Academy Educator and Daughter to Army and Vietnam War Veteran, Charlie Mack 

I am proud of this veteran, who happens to be my dad, Charlie Mack.  He was in the army at the height of the Vietnam War.  He inspired my uncle to enlist in the army.  My uncle later on became a paratrooper.  Happy Veteran's Day!







Nolan Hutton, Special Education Coordinator and son to the first Female EOD Bomb Tech in the Marines






There is still time to write a letter or create artwork for Operation Gratitude. Here is the link to the letter writing tool kit. Once the students have written their letters, you can email them to your Teacher of Record or to Kiley Allen at [email protected]. We want to wish a Happy Veterans Day to all of our Military Veterans and their Families!

“This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.” - Elmer Davis, WWII Journalist

Jayden Cox: Student Highlight of the Month

Congratulations to Jayden Cox, an 11th Grade Flex Student who is our Student Highlight of the Month! This is Jayden's 2nd School Year with Elite, and he has shown a lot of growth since he first enrolled.

Jayden came to Elite and was simply focused on improving his grades and relationship with education. While he has made leaps and bounds in that area with the help of his Teacher, Mrs. Potrero, he has also found his niche within our Elite Clubs.

"I'm in a lot of extra curricular activities right now. I'm a part of the BeElite Podcast, Kindness Ambassadors, ArtSeen and CoreUs. I think these clubs are pretty cool and helpful because it helped me get through my shyness phase".

Jayden's current favorite subjects are Chemistry, Spanish and Construction. He chose to stay with Elite after completing our Summer Program in 2020 because he felt he got a lot more help and personalized instruction than he had previously. He would really like to get involved with the music production industry, which is why he enjoys the ArtSeen and CoreUs Clubs. He also really appreciates his Teacher, Mrs. Potrero, who helps him stay on track with his classes and encourages him to keep working hard.

"I think Mrs. Potrero is a cool teacher, she helps me through a lot of my classes, goes over everything...Elite changed a lot of my Academic Experience, I have teachers that actually grade my work and give me feedback, which helps a lot."

His Teacher in the Flex Academy, Mrs. Potrero, is deeply dedicated to her students and their success at Elite.

"We appreciate Jayden's involvement in the clubs and activities at Elite. He has become a student leader! I appreciate that Jayden includes people and encourages them to be part of the school community".

Congratulations Jayden on being Elite's Student Highlight of the month. We can't wait to see how you continue to impact other students through your creativity and kindness in our Elite Clubs!