Instead of typical homeschool days, we love to make December special, celebrating Christmas all month long! We step out of the routine and enjoy a Christmas unit study. Taking a break from everything except math from the normal grind lets everything seem fresh and new come January.
Sometimes we choose a book and other times we just choose a topic. We have enjoyed the following topics:
- Christmas in Colonial America
- Christmas Cookies
- Christmas in Victorian England
- Christmas Traditions from Germany
- The First Christmas in Bethlehem
- Christmas in Florida
We have created unit studies with the following books:
- Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
- Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
- Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
We not only enjoy writing poetry and stories, research projects, and copying/dictation, we also craft and bake things that we can give as Christmas. School time includes decorating the house, sending Christmas cards, wrapping presents, and doing service projects as part of our unit study. The family gets to learn and “Christmas” for school!
As part of the unit study, the house gets decorated, presents made and wrapped, and we enjoy Christmas devotions each morning.
Let me give you a couple of examples.
Christmas in Victorian England
We were fascinated by Victorian Christmas celebrations from watching A Christmas Carol each year so we decided to make a Victorian feast for Christmas Eve dinner with goose, chestnut stuffing, plum pudding, and non-alcoholic wassail. We dressed Victorian and went Christmas caroling. We decorated our tree with lace and rose ornaments that we made ourselves. We strung popcorn and tried to find somewhere where we could go on a carriage ride. We learned Victorian hymns and Christmas carols. Inviting friends to join us, we hosted a tea and recited poetry.
We also copied paragraphs from A Christmas Tale and read the book aloud. We watched several different versions of the story including a Mickey Mouse version and a modern-day version.
We made little booklets describing life in Victorian Times. We wrote stories set in Victorian times. Our ballads were decorated with lace and ribbons of course. All in all, we had a blast! Of course, we also had to learn about Queen Victoria and her large family.
Christmas Traditions from Germany
We started with older traditions in Germany like Christmas villages, gingerbread houses, Christmas cookies, and Christmas trees, researching the origins of those traditions. We baked lots of Christmas cookies and gave them to neighbors as gifts. Christmas markets and Christmas pyramids are newer traditions and we enjoyed learning all about them. Crafting ornaments and gifts was the best part of the unit study!
In addition, we read Grimm’s Fairy tales and created our own. We sang German carols in English. Then, we researched the Black Forest, the setting of many of those stories, and several animals who make their home in those woods.
Watching travel videos, we discovered how beautiful that country truly is. When we investigated the history of Germany, we were surprised at how young a country Germany is and yet what an old history the German people have.
And finally, an example of creating a unit study around a book.
Christmas in Avonlea with Anne of Green Gables
Anne of Green Gables is a favorite in our house!
We read the book aloud and learned about Prince Edward Island, Canada. We tried to find recipes and make all the food and drinks mentioned in the book. Each chapter gave us an opportunity to take a rabbit trail—learning about croup, carpet bags, Victorian furnishings, and proper Victorian etiquette.
Just like Anne, we acted out stories and poems—though we drew the line at a leaky canoe. We celebrated the ending of the unit study with a tea where we served raspberry cordial, plum pudding with sauce, and cakes. Lots of friends came and after eating, we showed them our display table of all the crafts we made. Then we watched the movie Anne of Green Gables together.
I hope I have inspired you to create and enjoy a Christmas unit study with your family this December. The memories will last a lifetime!