Resources and Ideas for Homeschooling During the Holidays
I like to keep our schooling schedule flexible. I like to have time to take off days when we need to. If someone is sick for a longer time or if we want to travel, I don't want to have to worry about having "enough days." (Our state mandates 180 days of school.) Because of this, I try to count as many school days as I can. I often do not take too much time off for summer or for holidays. Instead I modify our schedule so that we are "doing school" but we're still having a break and some extra time to relax.
As well as helping us to have enough days to count, this also helps to combat boredom. I find that my kids are complaining about being bored if they have too much free time. Although they look forward to a school break, they really do better with some structure to their days. One of the best ways to achieve this structure but still have a break is to do some sort of special holiday school. I've read holiday books. I've come up with holiday-themed practice sheets. I've used lapbooks or unit studies. All of the things I choose are (1)educational, (2) fun, and (3) useful for all of the ages I have. Doing some sort of holiday school can be a fun thing for us to do together as a family.
I've compiled a list of some of the resources we've used over the years around Thanksgiving and Christmas time. I usually take off the whole week of Thanksgiving to do some sort of themed study. And in the past we've often taken the whole month of December to do some sort of Christmas themed unit study. This year, things have changed a little because I have a high school student. We ended up not doing much of a Thanksgiving study together, and I'm thinking we won't take off all of December because her curriculum involves completing material, not just counting days. But I'm still trying to incorporate some of this. I have fun teaching it, and they have fun doing it together.
(Some of these resources are ones to buy, although I've tried to list free ones also. These are not affiliate links. So if you see a paid resource, feel free to buy it from a friend's affiliate link.)
1. For several years, we've done a Christmas Around the World unit study throughout December. At times I've just gathered my own resources; but then I found this great lapbook from Homeschool Share. It's free. There are some suggested books that you can buy, but I was able to find most of them from the library.
I love Christmas Around the World studies because so much history and geography can be included. I've used information from Santa.net to add to this study. It's a great free website that has information about Christmas traditions from all over the world. And there's a cool feature that allows you to hear Merry Christmas in different languages.
2. As a Thanksgiving read aloud, I've often used Stories of the Pilgrims by Margaret B. Pumphrey. Occasionally I've seen it free near Thanksgiving, but I at the time of this post, it's $.99 for Kindle. It is definitely worth that. It's a true "living book." The stories don't just cover the first Thanksgiving, but there is information about the Pilgrims' lives in England, religious persecution, and their first experiences in the New World.
3. For Thanksgiving and Christmas printables (as well as other holidays), Enchanted Learning has lots to choose from. It is a site that offers a paid membership as well as free resources. Most of the resources can be viewed without a membership. It's just much more convenient to print them with a membership.
There are fun activity type sheets here- mazes, word searches, puzzles. But there are also educational booklets to print for math and language arts. Most of the pages are for kindergarten and early elementary aged kids.
4.A Journey Through Learning has lapbook/unit studies for Thanksgiving and Christmas. There are several for less than $5. There are two really nice things about these lapbooks. First, they can be used for multiple ages. The age range says 2nd-7th; but I've used them for older and younger. And secondly, although there are usually supplementary books suggested, the lapbooks can be completed with only the material in the study guide.
These lapbooks are pretty simple and not very time consuming, so they are great to use as a school vacation of sorts. Of if you want to use more than one and take the whole month off of "regular school, " I have been known to stop our regular curriculum and just do the unit study along with each child's math and reading work for the length of the study.
5. Hands of a Child also has some great holiday lapbooks. Theirs are usually a little pricier, but most are still under $10. One of my very favorite was the 12 Days of Christmas lapbook we did several years ago. The study looked at the traditional song and explored the cultural and scriptural meanings behind the words. I had never heard the story behind the song, and I won't spoil it. You'll have to do it with your kids to find out.
Whatever you decide to do with your homeschooling during the holiday season, remember that what works for someone else may not work for you. Figure out what works for your family and have lots of fun with it.
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