Tuesday, December 6, 2005

Christmas School

Between Thanksgiving and Epiphany, we don't do any "real" school. Instead we work at what I have termed "Christmas School". I've been asked to post some of the activities we have been working on the past couple of weeks and what we plan for the coming weeks as well.

First off, I'd like to list a few of the reasons why I've chosen to do Christmas School. First, since we do school more or less year-round, I don't have any problem taking off 6 weeks or so at this time of year. Second, I found that I never had enough time to do all the fun Christmas-y activities I wanted to do with my kids when we did regular schoolwork. Another reason is that I found that this time of year is a great time for a break; otherwise I get totally burned out trying to accomplish everything and by February I am ready for it to all be over. (This is something I learned while teaching at a Christian school years ago.) When I take a break for Christmas School, I am ready to dive back into our regular schoolwork in the second week of January. There are more reasons, but that's a good part of it.

I should also state that we are continuing on with our math studies during our Christmas School respite. Last year we did NOT do Math, and I regretted it in January. :-)

So, what do we do? I choose some appropriate Bible study. Last year we did a Jesse Tree. Here is a good example of that: http://www.rca.org/worship/material/advent/makingtree.html I used the patterns on this page to print out for the kids to color and make a Jesse tree out of paper.

This year, our Bible study is Color the Christmas Classics. (http://www.colortheclassics.com/) This study comes with an audio cassette or CD and information and coloring sheets for 13 Christmas carols that describe the history of the carol - both lyrics and music. We are enjoying this and it is very different from the Jesse tree study.

We also just finished reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, mainly in preparation for the movie that was just released. I took David (almost age 11) and Emily (age 8) to see the movie on Friday night. They've already demanded that I read another book, and so we will continue with Prince Caspian, because that is the next book that features the 4 children. (I do NOT like the renumbering of the series, and much prefer the old way of numbering that I remember from my childhood.)

We also have tickets for a live performance of A Christmas Carol, so I decided the children should have the book read to them beforehand. Quite unknown to me, the edition of the book I had on my shelf had a read-along CD included in it! So the kids have been listening to that when I am not here. Something that Bob can have them do for school, ye ken? (That's Scottish for "kwim". -g-) They will finish that this week, as our tickets are for this Wednesday.

All the children have created art projects as gifts for their aunts, uncles, and grandparents. Suzy, James, and Emily had fun foam ornaments in varying degrees of difficulty. Suzy did a snowman star, James did a Christmas tree with jeweled ornaments, and Emily did a more complicated sequined snowman. All of them added their photographs to the ornaments. It took several days for them to complete these ornaments which made for a nice relaxed pace.

David, instead of making a craft, learned how to use Windows Movie Maker, which came free with my computer (although apparently not with all computers that have Windows XP). He created a 3 minute movie/slideshow of family photographs accompanied by music. He burned 7 of them to CD's and decorated the paper CD envelopes as gifts for his grandparents and aunts and uncles on my side of the family.For David, I am encouraging every practical use of the computer possible.

OK, let's see. Still to come? Handmade Christmas cards, Decorated Christmas PJ's, Writing a Christmas letter, addressing Christmas cards and mailing them. Baking Christmas cookies, making gingerbread houses, making Christmas candies. Wrapping Christmas gifts, finishing up the last bits of Christmas shopping. Instead of me doing all this stuff late at night after the kids are in bed, we will do it together. Ye ken?

Hope this helps! I will try to post more. Questions? Ask 'em!