15 Christmas ideas for homeschoolers
Christmas is full of sights, sounds, smells, and gifts -- and it can be overwhelming. To connect your homeschooler with the true meaning of Christmas, and encourage learning at the same time, I've curated these 15 Christmas ideas for homeschoolers and their parents.
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Unto Us a Child is Born
In 2015, I wrote an Advent devotional with essays and questions that can be used as a small group study or personal devotional. Unto Us a Child is Born would also make a great stocking stuffer.
Building a Snowman
A fun activity if you have snow at Christmas or any time during the winter is to build a snowman. Go to thrift shops and find hats and scarves that would make any snow person proud, and keep in a tubbie for safekeeping until snow arrives. Just don't do what I did growing up: I was being chased by my snowball-wielding brother and ran right into our mega-eight-foot giant snowman, frozen solid the night before. That hurt!
Rabbit Trails through Christmas
Take your holiday studies down a rabbit trail with Rabbit Trails through Christmas! Learn about the Three Kings with the book Baboushka, incorporate copy work, get hands on, and read some amazing Christmas books this season! (books not included). This digital download lesson is meant to be used over one-two weeks -- perfect for Christmas!
With the lack of brick-and-mortar Christian bookstores, it's hard to browse and find great deals on Christian-themed holiday decor, supplies, greeting cards, and gifts. ChristianBook.com is my go-to source for all things faith-based and it offers incredible deals on Christmas items. Plus, shipping is often very quick--an important feature during this season. Check out all these stocking stuffers!
Hand Made Olive Wood Nativities and Manger Sets from Bethlehem
Several years ago, my in-laws traveled to Israel and returned with a gift for my husband: a nativity made out of olive wood from the Holy Land. It is a treasured piece of our Christmas decor. You too can have a handmade olive wood nativity from Bethlehem from The Jerusalem Export House. They also have many other faith-based items.
Answers in Genesis
Home of the Ark, the Answers in Genesis brings apologetics to a whole new level. Their book, The War on Christmas, answers these and other important questions: What is the truth about Christmas? Why does so much controversy cloud the true meaning and history of this sacred holiday? How can Christian families respond in a culture that seems to be declaring war on truth and rewriting reality? Find it at Answers in Genesis' store (you'll need to plug the title into the search bar).
Home Science Tools
Give the gift of science this year (including some awesome stocking stuffers) through Home Science Tools, the place where science comes alive and is extremely homeschool-friendly. Access their gift page here or just browse for next year's science curriculum -- or lab kits for upcoming science experiments.
Gingerbread House Building
Every year, my family enjoys a heated gingerbread house competition. I buy pre-made gingerbread houses and search on Pinterest for creative decor items (check out my board here for ideas and inspiration!), and share these with family. Buying pre-made houses (and I've also seen gingerbread barns, trains, ninjas, and chicken coops!) eliminates the hassle of construction and goes right to the fun part: decorating. Make sure you have plenty of decor items on hand with lots of royal icing. We actually have a gingerbread house competition each Christmas Eve after eating a dinner of heavy appetizers. For wee little ones, you can give them either their own little gingerbread cookies to decorate, gingerbread house stickers, or wee little gingerbread houses that come in a village set to decorate.
I'm sure you've read about this one before, but it bears repeating: since there are 24 days until Christmas Day, reading a chapter of The Gospel of Luke each day aloud to your family gets an entire book read, since Luke has 24 chapters. You start reading about the birth of Christ, and it goes through His life, death, and resurrection--the very reason He came to earth in the first place. What a great habit to start, to read a chapter every night of Scripture to your family--and what a great time to start that habit.
In the hustle and bustle of Christmas, we often forget to just rest: rest in Jesus and remember His birth, life, and death--and resurrection. This holiday season, make sure you take time to savor the time. Make some hot cocoa, turn off all the lights except for your Christmas tree, and just be quiet. Watch the lights seem to twinkle in the darkness, and meditate on Christ being the Light of the World. Build quiet time into your Christmas schedule for yourself and your family.
Baking is science, mathematics, art, and life skills all rolled into one. Take a few days and suspend book work for some serious baking. Ask informal (suspicious?) questions to your children about fractions as they measure flour and sugar; talk about what colors, combined with others, make other colors as they mix icing. Making Christmas cookies and other goodies is a terrific way to spend time together as a family doing homeschool when kids don't even realize they're doing school.
Driving around neighborhoods looking at Christmas lights is a fun family activity. Some places even have drive-through mega light exhibitions that, for a per-car fee, you can drive through. Seeing Christmas lights always puts a twinkle in my eye (pun totally intended) and gets me into the holiday spirit. Bringing along a thermos of hot cocoa, cups, and playing Christmas songs on the CD player will further the experience.
Learning about Christmas songs
Especially for older homeschoolers, studying the origin and theology of well-known Christmas songs is a great way to gain a deeper appreciation for the songs we sing at Advent and for the story of Jesus' birth. These books, electronic and audio books, as well as CDs, will give your family lots to think about and discuss about beloved Christmas songs.
Happy Birthday Party
In the busyness of Christmas, sometimes we forget that it's Jesus' Birthday. Kids do love birthday parties, so allow them to make a special cake, complete with this amazing cake topper, and served on special birthday plates and decor to celebrate Jesus' birth. Talk about the gifts the Wise Men brought the Baby Jesus, and ask them what gifts could they give Him? It will open up some fantastic discussion and insight into their discipleship journey.
As homeschoolers, we often think that because we homeschool, we already spend quite a bit of time with our kids. I know I am guilty of thinking that. At Christmas, though, we really need to be intentional with our time and show our kids that Christmas is not about getting the latest gaming system, or a bunch of clothes, or decorating, though all that is fun and exciting. It's about celebrating, together as a family, Jesus' incredible, supernatural, and miraculous birth. Yes, we decorate - but don't we decorate or at least acknowledge our own birthdays? Yes, we give gifts - but didn't the Wise Men give gifts to the Baby Jesus? If we take the time and explain why we do what we do when it comes to the intentionality of the Advent season, our kids will learn it's not about some dude in a red suit or fruitcake or getting an annual package of socks and underwear. It's about so much more: it's all about Jesus.
(C) 2021 Terrie Bentley McKee ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
April is coming and with that month the celebration of spring, new life, and the rise of Jesus Christ are at the forefront of everyone’s mind. As with every holiday, there are mainstream themes and there are Christian themes. Balancing how your family handles the two can be a challenge. However, Easter can be celebrated without the Easter bunny, and still include fun along with the important teaching of what Christ’s death and resurrection mean for us.
The Easter season is a vital part of Christian beliefs. This holiday is preceded by Palm Sunday where church go-ers recognize Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem (Mark Chapter 11). The Holy Week that follows is time spent in remembrance of the last supper Jesus spent with his disciples, his betrayal, trial, and his crucifixion on Good Friday (Mark Chapters 14-15). Ultimately, Jesus rose from the grave and fulfilled the Old Testament prophecy by taking on the sins of mankind to provide a way for mankind to have a relationship and eternity with God in Heaven.
Brief History of Easter
The name “Easter” is derived from the Anglo-Saxon Goddess Eostre. She is the goddess of spring and fertility. The tradition of the Easter bunny is thought to come from the large litters bunnies would birth in the Spring as a sign of new life. Eggs were banned from being eaten during the Holy Week and instead would be decorated and gifted as a representation of new life, as well. As the years have gone by the two have merged into the tales of a bunny that lays special eggs and gifts for children resulting in today’s Easter basket tradition.
Activities for the Family
As Christians, it’s easy to get caught up in the traditions that aren’t rooted in the truth of scripture, but this Resurrection Sunday you can celebrate and teach your children about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I’ve compiled a few fun and inexpensive activities broken down by age group. Each activity can be done at home.
Toddlers and Preschoolers
Play-doh Empty Tomb Play-doh tends to be readily available in any toddler’s home and is a great sensory activity to teach them the story of Resurrection Sunday. You and your child can craft a cross and a tomb and tell the story of Jesus’ death and burial.
Popsicle Stick Puppets If you prefer to have a printable option your child can color, this free printable provides all the characters to play out the Holy Week from Palm Sunday to Resurrection Sunday. You could even cut out the character and glue them onto popsicle sticks for more interactive play.
Tissue Paper Hanger You can create a simple window hanger with your toddler to symbolize the love and sacrifice of Jesus. This blog has a simple tutorial available using glue, black and white construction paper, and tissue paper.
“Stain Glass” Door This activity grew in popularity last year as families found themselves isolated in their homes as Covid-19 restrictions were in place. Using chalk markers and some painter’s tape, your children can create a beautiful stain glass look on a window or storm door. This homeschooling family shows how their doors turned out last spring.
Resurrection Egg Hunt This set is available online and in storefronts such as Hobby Looby or various Christian bookstores. It combines the egg hunts with the story of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection with each egg filled with some pieces to represent different parts of the story. It also includes a booklet with corresponding scripture verses your family can read when opening the eggs. If you don’t wish to ship a physical set, you can also take advantage of this printable version.
Build a Resurrection Garden If your family enjoys hiking, gardening, or simply being outdoors this activity could create a beautiful addition to your garden with resources gathered on your outdoor adventures. Some families opt to use a small pot, cup, or mug for the tomb, while some families used a large hollowed-out potato instead of a small pot.
Resurrection Rolls Baking and preparing meals can lend themselves to quality family time, while also teaching important skills to your children. This Sunday, baking Resurrection Rolls combines a love of working in the kitchen with an opportunity to share the miracle of Christ’s death and rise. This recipe is simple and easy to adapt for family members of all ages.
Tie-Dye Hangers Coffee filters provide a classic simple science activity when combined with markers and water. Your children can decorate the coffee filters with scenes or scriptures from the Holy Week. After using a spray bottle to create a tie-dye appearance, the filters can be cut and attached to a string to decorate a window or room. Here is an easy tutorial for tie-dyed coffee filter art.
Bible Trivia Jeopardy This final activity can create fun for the whole family. Whether you simply want to use questions from the Holy Week or expand to more Biblical knowledge, the possibilities are endless. Create teams or play individually and enjoy sharing your knowledge about the importance of the resurrection with your family and friends. Prep can be easy such as this family’s or you can dedicate a large wall for a more game show feel. Here is a set of Easter-related questions for a Jeopardy game, if you don’t want to write your own.
I hope that your family’s celebration of Resurrection Sunday is blessed and focused on the most important reasons we celebrate as Christians. I also pray that these activities will help your children understand the Holy Week and look forward to learning more about the Bible and Jesus.
Homeschooling at Thanksgiving
When I was a little girl at Dilworth Elementary in Charlotte, North Carolina, November meant one thing: Thanksgiving break. It seemed like every classroom in every grade took a hiatus from the normal curriculum and focused on Native Americans, Pilgrims, cornucopias, pumpkins....the things of fall.
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There are some good things about public school, and the fun activities around holidays are right up there at the top. Homeschoolers, though, can have a lot of fun -- and educational time -- around holidays, too. In fact, we can take a lot of time and focus more on the meanings behind holidays.
When Laura was in the third grade, somehow, by the grace of God, our natural progression in history landed us squarely at the Pilgrims' landing at Plymouth. Most of the time, I can guarantee that history class won't be so accommodating. I doubt this year's lessons of Ancient Egypt will have us feasting with Native Americans and Pilgrims on corn, pumpkins, and venison.
Homeschooling at Thanksgiving offers a cornucopia (sorry, couldn't resist) of lesson ideas that can supplement what you're doing in homeschool, even if it has nothing to do with Pilgrims. Gratitude is always a good lesson to reiterate, as is why Pilgrims landed at Plymouth. Escaping religious persecution and placing faith in God first are always good things to discuss. Provide pens and copies of this "Three Things I'm Thankful For" activity for guests and family to complete. Then, share what you have written. You can also trade papers and have people try to guess the authors.
In our home, Thanksgiving is an all-hands-on-deck affair. We start on Tuesday, giving the kitchen a good cleaning and washing any special serving dishes we may need. We make a list of all the food to be purchased -- use this handy worksheet! -- and make a plan to cook dishes so that everything is done at the same time. It's also on Tuesday I make my Cranberry Relish, as it's so much better when it's had a couple of days in the refrigerator, although this year, my daughter will learn how to make it. For busy Thanksgiving Day mornings, I like to have breakfast already made so people can help themselves. A cherished family delight,Pumpkin Chip Muffins is always a hit on Thanksgiving Day morning -- or really, any time during fall and winter months.
My kids have always enjoyed helping me decorate for Thanksgiving. It helps when you have some cute decorations, like this"thankful" banner or this adorably cute Thanksgiving tablecloth. Of course, homeschooling at Thanksgiving would not be complete without some Pilgrim attire...
Kids love books about Thanksgiving, and one of my most favorite books is one I've had since I was a girl. Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende Devlin disappeared for a long time, but now it's back with a simple, heartwarming message and a delightful bread recipe to bake.
Several bloggers have put together activities, unit studies, and curriculum to go along with the Thanksgiving holiday. Here they are:
Rabbit Trails Through Thanksgiving by This Bit of Life
Intentional Activities for Kids -- Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunt by Intentional in Life
Free Fall Thankfulness Journal for Kids by Kingdom First Motherhood
The Thanksgiving Jar -- A 30 Days of Gratitude Printable by They Call Me Blessed
Thanksgiving Book List Free Printable and a Thanksgiving Morning Time Resource Pack by Humility & Doxology
Year Round Homeschooling has a veritable cornucopia of Thanksgiving resources
I Choose Joy has these Fun Activities for Kids to do on Thanksgiving Day
Music in Our Homeschool features this Free 15-Minute Music Lesson for Thanksgiving
You can discover the history behind Thanksgiving and why we celebrate it with the e-book What Was the First Thanksgiving?. Filled with historical background on the Pilgrims and the reasons behind their voyage to the New World, the native Wampanoag tribe, the difficulties both groups encountered, plus the reason that Thanksgiving was made into a national holiday and more! Includes maps, paintings, and illustrations.
Thanksgiving is a time of reflection, giving thanks for all of God's provision. This year, my mother died on October 1 after a very brief battle with metastatic lung cancer. So this will be a very different holiday season. Yet, because of Jesus, I am filled with the hope of heaven and that one day, I will see her again, all because Christ was her Savior.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations. (Psalm 100:4-5)
I thank God for each of you who read my posts and follow me on social media. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for your support.
Terrie Bentley McKee is an author and speaker who homeschools her youngest daughter. Married to her husband Greg, they have four children, all of whom have special needs of varying degrees. Terrie is a follower of Jesus Christ and tries to glorify God in all she does. To read more about her testimony, click here.
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