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Many years ago I decided that for a few reasons, school had to “look different” around the holidays. For one, the kids were just too antsy; for another, I had too much preparation to do!
Rather than just take all that time off (and thus make our school year stretch longer into the summer), I’d take a look at incorporating our family’s holiday prep with school. Thus was born my Christmas Unit Study!
This has now become our favorite time of the school year.
Christmas is probably the easiest holiday and/or theme around which to start creating a unit study. Here are some subject areas and activities you can use to give your kids some practical applications:
math ~ baking/cooking, figuring postage, budgeting
language arts ~ Christmas word games; holiday-related vocabulary lists, word-searches; journaling holiday activities, reading holiday literature
research skills ~ any type of research: family traditions, music/art/literature of the season, celebrations in other countries
science ~ weather-related studies, the solar system, water cycle and climates
fine arts ~ researching music/paintings of the season, attendance at holiday performances; learning carols/music, decorating, making ornaments, gifts or cards
history/Social Studies/geography ~ traditions in other lands, researching music/paintings of the season, Middle East/countries referred to in the Bible’s Christmas narrative
life skills ~ volunteering, budgeting, all Christmas preparations
My unit study was broken up into 15 days, giving us 3 weeks of school and 1 week off between Christmas and New Year’s. Because our family celebrates Christmas as part of our Christian faith, each day had a Biblical Focus, where we located and read either a Messianic prophecy from the Old Testament or a New Testament portion about Jesus’ birth. Math lessons centered around shopping, baking, budgeting or postage, and when there was not a practical application scheduled, they did a lesson from their workbook. Easily included each day was a Fine Arts and Life Skills activity as well, which included helping get presents wrapped and mailed, sending out Christmas cards, and community or church volunteer work.
I realized that by becoming part of the family’s Christmas preparations, and putting the emphasis on helping others, the kids were learning very valuable life skills! Each day wrapped up with a science and history/social studies/geography activity; followed by “seasonal” reading and journaling, or diary-writing.
By taking the time to find the educational value of our activities, the kids also come to realize that all of life is and can be a learning opportunity when approached the right way. The bonus to everyone is that mommy stays sane and happy, so we’re all able to enjoy Christmas!
If you’re new to the concept of unit studies and want to try this one on for size, I send this out every year to subscribers to this site. Sign up now and receive a copy in your inbox in plenty of time to be ready when the holidays roll around!