When the holidays are in full gear, I generally experience my first homeschool slump of the year.
Easily distracted by the upcoming holidays, it would be easy to just put the books away until January (and some years, I have done just that). But I have also discovered in other years that a helpful way to combat this strong urge to give up for a few weeks is to be intentional with creating some fun in our homeschool during the holidays. It takes some planning, a willingness to be flexible, and a bit of creativity, but homeschool at Christmas time can be very meaningful. It would be sad to miss out.
So if you’re like me, and need a guaranteed slump-taker-outer, here are a few things we have done in the past to make our homeschool at Christmas time both fun and memorable.
Put away the regular curriculum and do a Christmas-themed study
Whether you completely stop homeschooling in December or barrel through with the usual grind, you are missing out on some of the best opportunity to make your homeschool more fun and point your kids to Jesus at the same time. This year, consider jumping off the lesson plan and instead spend some time doing a Christmas unit study and/or lapbook.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Birth of Jesus Study by Grapevine Studies
Expedition Israel by Amanda Bennett
Christmas by Amanda Bennett
Do a Winter Nature Study
Most people don’t consider winter to be the best time of year for nature study, but you may be surprised by what you’re missing by staying indoors. There is much inspiration in studying God’s glorious creation during this season of slumber, as much so as in the spring and autumn. I have an entire resource list for winter nature study, including unit studies, books, activities and more on my Winter Nature Study post.
There are so many amazing Christmas picture books. For years, we have collected them and read them each year. It is, hands down, one of our favorite traditions. And I yes, I still read these picture books to my teen, and he still has to finish most of them because I always cry. Our top favorites include:
The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski
Jonathan Toomey is the best woodcarver in the valley, but he is always alone and never smiles. No one knows about the mementos of his lost wife and child that he keeps in an unopened drawer. But one early winter’s day, a widow and her young son approach him with a gentle request that leads to a joyful miracle.
The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg
One dark November night a stranger rides into a small prairie town. Who is he? Why has he come? The townspeople wish he were a doctor, a dressmaker, or a trader. But the children have the greatest wish of all, a deep, quiet, secret wish. Then a young girl named Lucy befriends the newcomer. When he reveals his identity and shares with her the legend of the candy cane, she discovers fulfillment of her wishes and the answer to her town’s dreams. Now will she share what she has learned?
Silver Packages: An Appalachian Christmas Story by Cynthia Rylant
In Appalachia each Christmas, a boy named Frankie waits beside the tracks for the Christmas Train, which will bring presents to the children who live in coal towns and hollows. Year after year, Frankie hopes that one particular gift, a very special gift will be tossed to him from that train. It is this enduring hope that will guide him to the true meaning of the season.
Christmas Oranges by Linda Bethers and Ben Sowards
The only home little Rose has ever known is the orphanage, but Mrs. Hartley cares for all the children as if they were her own. When Mrs. Hartley dies, Rose is sent to a new orphanage, which is as cold and cruel as her previous home was kind.
Gradually Rose makes a few friends, and she learns that every Christmas a generous neighbor donates a box of oranges for the children.
An orange is an unknown luxury for little Rose, and she waits in eager anticipation. But on Christmas morning, Rose is brokenhearted when she learns that there is no orange for her.
However, Christmas is a time of friendship, love, and of miracles . . .
Annika’s Secret Wish by Beverly Lewis
A beautiful book that will become part of a family’s Christmas heritage, Annika’s Secret Wish inspires young and old to freely give and share even long hoped-for gifts. The final page features Swedish Christmas traditions that your family may choose to include in your own holiday celebration.
Add some fun hands-on activities to your days
It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the Christmas to-do list. Shopping, cooking, writing cards, attending parties. Take some time to slow down and enjoy your kids by doing some hands-on activities. Use this opportunity to make homemade gifts for friends or ornaments for your tree. Here are a few of my favorites:
Christmas is such a busy time. It’s okay to change things up and spend more time just enjoying your children, without completely losing out on homeschooling. In the end, not only will you have the satisfaction of continued homeschooling during a busy time, you will have made amazing memories as well! Your kids are going to love this time of celebration and learning.