book reviews / christmas / homeschool planning / reading, writing, rithmetic / self-directed learning

unschooling Christmas studies

Unschooling Christmas studies: a necessity at Christmas break?

Not sure if we’re gearing down because we’re mentally gearing up for Christmas, but it seems to me that keeping everyone’s attention is getting more challenging.

I don’t think it’s the increased sweets factor, the candy canes coming from every direction, the Hershey’s almond kisses, the gingerbread cookies slathered in icing sugar…we tend to be conservative in our consumption. Is it the increased darkening days that makes everyone, including me, a little restless?

One week till Christmas break, and we’re grinding out study time. Not quite the same verve as back when we started.

To add Christmas flavor, I attempt to include Christmas in every subject:

Writing

Hip Homeschool Moms has a great blog which fuels me with ideas. A blog on Christmas Journaling: 25 days of Creative Writing for the Christmas season were fantastic prompts to get the juices flowing…

  1. Oh no! You are late for a friend’s annual Christmas party. What kept you from getting to the party on time? Write three silly reasons for being late to your pal’s party.
  2. The Wise Men followed a star to find the Christ-child. Write about three different adventures they had along the way.
  3. Imagine that the snowman you made in the front yard has come to life. He begins running down your street. Where is he going and what is he planning to do?

Reading

Each year, we have purchased one Christmas story for our collection.

I like to read while the kids keep their hands busy, as I am often reading to them. I have kept their fingers busy learning to cross-stitch, building green and red paper garlands, and marshmallow snowmen.

But pin mightily as I do on Pinterest, I am just no good crafting. If one of my children grows up with a crafting mind, it will have been a Christmas miracle.

Our favourite Christmas stories:

Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore

Of course you know this story, but there are some illustrated versions that are magical additions to the real story of Christmas: Jesus’ birth.

Angela and the Baby Jesus by Frank McCourt

In Frank McCourt style, this prose is written for kiddos, and the plot couldn’t be more charming: a little girl who steals baby Jesus from the nativity scene outside her church. It will make your kids laugh out loud, even the teenagers.

Eloise at Christmastime

Eloise in New York, making up clever rhymes, sort of Dr. Seuss-style, and she’s painting the town red, and green and silver and gold…what’s more Christmas than Christmas in New York City (even if one has never lived in NYC and actually lives in rural mountains on the other side of the continent? I’ve been media-taught.)

How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss

The classic rendition couldn’t be better expressed than Dr. Seuss himself.

All is Well by Frank Peretti

A little boy scours the neighbourhood selling his ‘treasures’ in hopes to raise money for his mother’s house rent. Since his dad died, they’ve been unable to keep up with their expenses. Heartwrenching, yet, in the end, encouraging that All will be Well. And you will cry at this tale, as I do every year.

Baseball Bats for Christmas

Trees are flown in the Far north at Christmas: northern Canadian boys in the ’50s are unfamiliar with trees. The boys refer to them as ‘standing-ups’ and don’t know what to do with them…so they make baseball bats!

The Tale of Three Trees retold by Angela Elwell Hunt

Three insignificant trees question their value in the well-treed forest. What will they become? Do they have a purpose? In the end, they cradle the greatest treasure given to mankind, baby Jesus.

It’s a Wonderful Life for kids! By Jimmy Hawkins

You know the story. This one is from the perspective of a boy. This book reminds us how we need to rejig our priorities from vain ambition to those things that last.

Poetry, Literature and Grammar

Christina Rosetti, Charles Dickens, readings from Little Women or Laura Ingalls Wilder–there’s a lot of Christmas atmosphere in these stories.

Do you feel like you need a little Christmas grammar? Read a few paragraphs of your favourite Christmas stories, then stop and ask questions about that last paragraph. Name three nouns in the last paragraph. How many prepositions do you hear? Did you hear the use of metaphor? What is another metaphor you might use to compare that idea?

Yes, sometimes I make grammar learning stuff up as I go along…

Writing

Christmas cards and letters! Kids need to learn the art of writing a kind thank you card and a personal letter. How about a letter to Santa? A letter to the military personnel to encourage them in overseas outposts in places without turkeys and spiced nuts and Nanaimo bars?

What better time of year to learn to write a correct return address than Christmas? Get them to write a Christmas letter if you’re so inclined–good idea! (Next year, I guess. The cards have already left the building…)

One week till Christmas!!!

One thought on “unschooling Christmas studies

  1. I’m going to keep my eyes open for some of those Christmas books, as I try to add to our collection each year too. Our favourites are The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey and the Best Christmas Pageant Ever. One brings tears to our eyes each year and the other leaves us in stitches.

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