When I committed to writing this post for the iHomeschool Network’s 25 Days of Christmas Ultimate Blog Hop, I thought I had things all figured out. Now I tremble a bit in fear as I write this, realizing I’m only just beginning to understand homeschooling, though I’ve been in the “industry” for 25 plus years (being homeschooled myself). School looks different for everyone, whether you’re at home or in a building. So while this post is called the Ultimate Guide to School During the Holidays, please understand that I do not at ALL think that I have all the answers for homeschooling, nor how and what to do during the Christmas season. Rather, this is what the Lord has really laid on my heart since last year, pressed upon me as being important, for our home, our children, and giving me an opportunity to hopefully encourage you as well!
Christmas time is a tremendous opportunity to really build into our children the message of the gospel and salvation through Jesus Christ. Add to that a brand new baby due in just about a week, and we have a recipe for something incredible waiting to happen. Tears come to my eyes as I think about our Saviour coming down from heaven as a little baby – there’s something about the tangibility of a real live baby in our midst this Advent season that drives the message home that much more. Partially because of the time we will need to spend adjusting to a 6th family member, but mostly because of my desire for my children to really go deep, search their young hearts as much as they can (and mommy and daddy too!), discover the Truth in the Advent season and take time and opportunities to bless others, we are NOT going to do school through the holidays.
I know many people would frown upon this, thinking about the routine and the schedules, school work falling behind, etc. But one of the greatest realities and blessings of homeschooling is the flexibility that comes with it, allowing us to spend time later catching up if need be. I also know of a few families who advocate doing exactly what we are doing – taking the month of December off to study through God’s word, prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ, serve others.
Here are a few great posts for taking December off from some families who have done it!
So, you’re probably curious now, if we’re not doing school through the holidays, are we going to sit around in our pajamas every day, drinking hot cocoa and coffee, watching movies and crafting? Not exactly! Here’s where I start to get even more excited, as I have a LOT of really great school alternatives to share with you, for many age ranges, to help bring your school through the Christmas season.
CHILDREN’S ADVENT STUDIES
I grew up in a church that lit the advent candles each week before Christmas, but I never really fully understood the significance of why we did it – the preparation of our hearts for Christ the King. Since I’ve had kids, and really since last year, I’ve been blessed by all the resources available to celebrate Advent.
My absolute FAVOURITE is Truth in the Tinsel by the lovely O Amanda. We used it last year and are using it again this year. It’s a hands-on Advent calendar that takes you through Scripture a day with a VERY easy craft to complete. There are different tracks or themes you can focus on if you don’t have time for daily crafts, but the message and impact is still the same. Amanda has even made some printable ornaments you can use to jump-start each day, or if you don’t have time to complete the craft, just colour them in and put them on your tree. We’ll be putting these into our advent calendar for each day!
Psst, to make the message even more solidified for older ones and to satisfy handwriting requirements, my friend Kim created a Today’s Truth response sheet you can use along with the Truth in the Tinsel lesson!
Since we already use Grapevine Studies in our homeschool, and since I won a copy of The Birth of Jesus from Intentional Homeschool, we will be doing a lesson a day, stick-figuring through the bible. My kids absolutely LOVE this method of bible study! Short, impactful passages that really focus in on the meat and potatoes of the meaning. PLUS they get to keep their little hands busy drawing while I’m reading!
My friend Jessica has written a series on 25 characters in the genealogy of Christ according to Matthew. She wrote it with a desire to draw the Old and New Testament together, how it all points to HIM. And there are some really cute clothespin figures to paint as a reminder for each one! Some of the characters and topics may be sensitive, so though she has 4 and 5 year old boys, she suggests reading through each one first before teaching to your children. The first lesson on Abraham went up last night, and there will be a new lesson posted each evening.
Sarah Mae has also written a great e-book called More Than Candy – a 25-day Christmas Countdown that Counts. All you need to do to get the booklet is sign up for the daily e-mail and it’s yours, free!
“If you’re looking for more than a candy countdown this Christmas, you might like my new eBooklet, More Than Candy – a 25-Day Christmas Countdown that Counts. It’s 25 days of things to do with your family that matter to your neighbors, your local community, your family, and those in need.”
For more ideas, check out my Advent Pinterest board!
ADVENT STUDIES FOR MOM
We need to be preparing our hearts as well as our children’s hearts – and especially if we are planning on teaching them the Truth all throughout the Advent season! There are a couple of REALLY great Advent devotionals friends of mine have written that I’d love to share with you here!
A challenge that looks like fun – The Purseonality Challenge: 31 Days of Replacing “baditude” with God’s Word and Gratitude
CHRISTMAS SCHOOL FOR YOUNG ONES
Though we won’t be doing “traditional” schooling through December, we are still going to be tackling some fun unit studies and doing some worksheets to keep our minds sharp and little hands occupied while mommy may be busy with baby. My 3 1/2 year old is the one who absolutely LOVES to do schoolwork, so these are some great options for worksheets with Christmas themes we will be using over the next few weeks.
Totally Tots Gingerbread Baby Printables – We are planning on using this with Jan Brett’s book Gingerbread Baby in our read aloud time. Sequencing, tracing, matching, colouring, these look like a load of fun!
CHRISTMAS SCHOOL FOR MIDDLE SCHOOL
My two older boys are almost 8 and almost 6, and they are definitely boys in that, while they enjoy school, they also love to just play, play, play! And what boy doesn’t enjoy playing with Lego? I found these great “Christmas” lego building instructions online, I think they will really enjoy using them for “school” time, wink wink ;0)
Lego Ornaments from Chris McVeigh
And just because I know they won’t stop there, here’s a GREAT site for lots of lego building instructions!
If you’re wanting to take a bit more of an academic approach during your December off and keep the creative juices flowing, there are some great options for December and Christmas-themed units that won’t take up a lot of time or burden you with planning. Just print, read and go! Shaking things up a bit, or a lot always helps to keep things fresh and interesting.
Candy Cane Science – some fun science experiments with candy canes
Below are some great resources available from CurrClick – and they’re on sale now, so check them out! There are LOADS of other options for Christmas theme units and worksheets for all ages, so be sure to click over!
Celebrate Christmas With Cookies Unit Study – A unit study that involves baking cookies and reading books? YES PLEASE!
The Wonder of Christmas Lessons and Crafts - A unit study on Christ and his birth, comprehension sheets, activities and crafts included
Christmas Critical Thinking - This is a great resource for 1st-5th graders for critical thinking
50 Christmas Worksheets – includes vocabulary and writing, puzzles and activities
For more ideas, check out my Christmas School Pinterest Board!
CHRISTMAS READ ALOUDS
One of my favourite things to do during Christmas would be to read some Christmas-themed books. We have been collecting some new ones since last year and the plan is to un-wrap and read a book a day, for 25 days, leading up to Christmas. Some days we will incorporate an craft or activity, some days baking, other days just enjoy the time reading together. I’m excited to share with you some of the great book lists that are out there! Without these I would have had a hard time picking our books.
We will be reading through Jotham’s Journey by Arnold Ytreeide, a chapter or so a day. We first started with these books for Easter last year, and let me tell you, they are FANTASTIC! Biblical, historical fictions that just bring the stories even more to life!
Books and Advent Activity from Crafty Crow – a list of books with a craft or activity to go with each!
Check out my Christmas Reading Pinterest board for more ideas!
I hope and pray you’ve been able to benefit from this list of some great resources available to take you through your December homeschool. But whatever you do, I pray you are able to spend more time focusing on the birth of Christ and teaching your children from His word than anything else!