For the last few years, each December we've had a special month in our homeschool. I let a few things drop off my homeschool mental to-do list (such as science and history exposure), and instead we shift our focus to holiday-related activities. This makes December a month to celebrate the flexibility of homeschooling while we dig into more artistic and musical pursuits.
December Curriculum Focus
Our curriculum focus for December typically includes the following. I don't require my children to participate in these activities, but nonetheless they generally both choose to participate in all of these to varying degrees.
Family music recital
Homemade Christmas presents
Family reading of A Christmas Carol script
Winter and Christmas-themed read-alouds
Winter and Christmas movies
Family Music Recital
The children and I choose a few Christmas songs to play together. Throughout the month, we practice individually and together, as much as we each desire to. On Christmas Eve, we perform the songs together. The instruments we have on-hand for our Christmas songs are:
As a fun way to count down the days until Christmas, my children enjoy doing Advent crafts, which have one activity for each day from December 1st through 24th. My kids have especially enjoyed doing the Advent Colouring Pages from Activity Village, such as the Christmas train and village, which can be cut out and made into a scene.
The Activity Village Advent resources used to be free, but are no longer. Some other free options I have found include the following:
24 creative homemade advent calendars @ thecraftycrow.net
25 Advent coloring pages @ kids-n-fun.com
Christmas coloring pages @ damav.com
20 amazing Advent calendars to make @ thecraftycrow.net
Commonly, my kids are really excited about Advent crafts for the first couple weeks of December, and then their interest fizzles out. This is totally okay, and I just let them participate as much (or as little) as they want to.
Homemade Christmas Presents
In the week leading up to Christmas, my children and I get to work on making homemade Christmas presents for family and friends. The presents we've made have included Christmas tree ornaments, cardboard and/or popsicle stick toys, artwork, and food treats. This is an inexpensive and sweet way to shift the focus of Christmas away from ourselves and onto what we can make for others.
Family Reading of A Christmas Carol Script
Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol is a wonderful little story about the real meaning of Christmas. My family has enjoyed doing a reading of A Christmas Carol script for the last few years. Sometimes, this has been as simple as us all reading it together on Christmas Eve; other times, it has turned into more of a project for myself and the kids in putting on a little play with figurines, costumes, and sound effects. In the weeks before Christmas, the kids and I do a few practice read-throughs of our parts so that we are ready for the Christmas Eve reading.
Winter and Christmas-Themed Read-Alouds
Throughout the month of December, I read-aloud books which have an emphasis on winter and Christmas. These include the following:
The Child's Christmas by Evelyn Sharp - This is a delightful book written over a hundred years ago. This book tells little stories of an English family's preparations for Christmas, as well as their holidays including Christmas, New Year's, and Twelfth Night.
Christmas stories from the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder - My children have both loved all of the Little House books, so in the week leading up to Christmas I like to read-aloud the Christmas chapters from each of the books in chronological order.
The Night Before Christmas by Clement Moore - As a child, every year my mother would read The Night Before Christmas to me and my brother on Christmas Eve. I loved this tradition so much that I have carried it forward with my own children.
The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola - This is the story of Lucida and her family's struggles one Christmas season when the mother is ill. Lucida finds a way to still make Christmas special and meaningful. My children love this story.
The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg - My children love this story of the Christmas train and journey to the North Pole.
The Christmas Coat: Memories of My Sioux Childhood by Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve - This book illustrates the true spirit of Christmas. It tells of a girl whose winter coat is too small, yet she must rely on the charity of others to fill the need. She learns not to put her own needs ahead of others'.
Brave Irene by William Steig - This story of perseverance and courage is a lovely book to read during the winter holidays.
One Winter's Day by M. Christina Butler - This sweet little picture book about giving has been enjoyed by my children since they were preschool age.
The Biggest Snowman Ever by Steven Kroll - My son, especially, loves this picture book about teamwork.
Christmas Movies for Family Movie Night
For our weekly Family Movie Nights in December, we watch winter and Christmas movies. Some of our favorites include the following:
A Great Way to End the Year
By shifting the focus in our homeschool for December, we are able to thoroughly enjoy the last month of the year together. Instead of feeling like we are dragging our feet or going through the motions, December has become a cherished month of homeschooling for our family.
Do you have any December homeschool traditions to share?
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