We love Christmas in our household, we go all out: carols, movies, decorations, a tree, presents and we attend Christmas events in the community. Not because we’re buying into the consumerist version of Christmas, but because all these things are ways that we celebrate the beauty of the season – Christ’s birth. We also celebrate Advent, in church and at home. In our personal lives, and in homeschool.
As a family we will follow the readings and activities in A Catholic Family Advent. After supper each day, we will take turns reading the scripture and reflection, talk about the discussion prompts, pray and then do the activity suggestions together. Not only is it a great way to keep our focus on the real reason for Christmas, but it’s a wonderful way to really bring us together as a family.
The other activity we will be doing is a Christmas Book Countdown, which you can find the idea for, here. We have selected 25 books that will be wrapped. Each night before bed, we will let the children take turns picking out a book from the basket to read. We will have one special one set aside, one for Christmas Eve (can you guess which one?). This year’s titles include:
Turkey Claus, A Magical Christmas Eve, Bear Stays up for Christmas, Berenstain Bears Night Before Christmas, How Do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas, Howard B. Wigglebottom and the Power of Giving, Is It Christmas Yet?, Itsy Bitsy Christmas, The Little Shepherd’s Christmas, Little Critter’s The Night Before Christmas, The Littlest Elf, The Christmas Kitten, , Christmas in the Big Woods, Mommy, One Snowy Night, I’ve Seen Santa!, Merry Christmas Grumpy Bunny, Jingle Bells, The Story of Christmas, The Friendly Beasts, Mater Saves Christmas, The Magic of Christmas, The Birds of Bethlehem, A Special Place for Santa, The Christmas Story, The Littlest Christmas Tree and This is the Stable.
Then, in homeschool – we will go all out! Aside from math and phonics which will continue as usual, our other lessons (literature, creative writing, science, art and nature study) will either temporarily stop, or take on a new focus. Our morning circle time will also have a temporary Christmas break. I know how I felt when I was looking for ideas and wracking my brain tying to come up with plans, so I thought I would share what I’ve come up with, in hopes that it helps someone else!
Our homeschool Advent plans are:
1. Morning circle time: We will be using Hubbard’s Cupboard’s Celebrating the Birth of Christ. This is a free guide with daily Advent activities that you can either follow the online plan for free, or purchase a neatly organized printable version for $4 (I highly recommend this version). Every day includes a scripture reading, an optional storybook, songs, and then a Christmas craft or activity. We won’t be doing everything listed, as it would be way too much, however we are going to pick and choose many of the crafts, and then also use their song guide as well.
2. Bible: We will be skipping our normal Bible devotional during Advent, and instead we will be reading through The Jesse Tree, and following the guide plan listed here. We will read the daily scripture verse, a chapter from the book, and then color in our ornament for our tree.
3. Creative writing: Someone shared this great list of Christmas writing prompts on a homeschool group I’m on. I loved the idea, so I have picked 15 that I think my son will enjoy. I plan on printing them out, and cutting them into strips, then having my son draw one randomly each day.
4. Unit Studies: We’ll be replacing our normal science class with a holiday unit study. While originally I planned on doing three different unit studies, one a week, I realized that might be too much. So, I’ve narrowed it down to focusing on one unit study and stretching it out over the three weeks of Advent (we’ll take a 2 week break from lessons, ending our classes on December 20th, resuming January 6th).
So, we’re going to focus on St. Nicholas. I found this great unit study on the life of St. Nicholas. We will read from the listed picture books about the life of St. Nicholas, and then do several of the listed activities, over the three weeks. We will also celebrate December 6th, with a traditional St. Nicholas Day feast.
5. Literature: This one is quite self-explanatory! During Advent we’ll read… yup, you guessed it! Christmas books. We’ll read through the classic A Christmas Carol, and then others that my son chooses.
I can hardly wait to start our Advent season! If it seems like we’ll be doing a lot, we will – and won’t be. There’s a lot in our plans, and yet all the units we’ll be doing, will be done lightly, with one activity per day, and will not add any length to our school day at all. And above all, the focus will be on having some Advent season fun, as we prepare our hearts for the coming birthday of Christ!