In all my years of homeschooling, I still can’t figure out December. I have tried everything from keeping formal lessons (disaster) to having no lessons (disaster). My goal is somewhere in between. This year I am trying something new and having a calendar to count down the days until Christmas. (I took some heavy inspiration from this one, this one and this one.) I wanted to sew a fabric calendar with little pockets, but instead used shipping tags that I had in my stash of craft supplies. I’m keeping the activities a secret from the boys and revealing a new tag each day. Below you can see details of what I have planned. It’s a mixed bag for sure – some secular, some religious, some crafty, some just plain fun. I am hoping these activities will carry us through the morning. Our afternoons will remain steady with handwork and storytime. In addition to Christmas, December also brings Vincent’s birthday and Tom’s birthday – lots and lots of merry making will be happening at our house this month.
Vincent: practically 11(!), 5th grader Vincent turns 11 this month! Rather impossible if you ask me. This boy has no trouble keeping himself entertained. I expect lots of holiday projects started and a few even completed. Right now he is knitting hot and heavy. He is also busy planning our holiday meals with Christopher Kimball, the editor of his beloved Cook’s Illustrated magazine. I try to ride the wave of the 1,001 suggestions he has for Christmas dinner, knowing we will probably end up having lasagna. That is the tradition in Tom’s family and the boys like hand-cranking out the long lasagna noodles on the old pasta maker.
Jude: 7 years old, 1st grader Left to his druthers, Jude would be outside all the time with a ball of some sort. Our winters are relatively mild here in the mountains of western NC, and he still gets out for a good part of the day. I try to get him in as many layers as possible while he is outside, then wind up finding piles of these same layers scattered around the house. (Oh what I would give for a mud room!) He has been knitting steadily, as is currently working on a rug (!).
Sheila: We have a beach trip planned for after Christmas and I have been trying to decide what I am going to read for literally months now. Top of the list is Louise Penny’s new mystery, The Beautiful Mystery. I have read this series from the beginning and it only gets better and better. Second on the list is another mystery, Elegy for Eddie by Jacqueline Winspear. This series is set between the wars in England: hands down, my favorite time and place ever. (If you like mysteries set then and there, I would also recommend Charles Todd (who I just found out has a new book – add that to the list too!), Laurie R. King and Alan Bradley (although Bradley’s mysteries are set a little later in England, 1950 to be exact.)) If there were world enough and time, I would also read Barbara Kingsolver’s last two novels, Terry Tempest Williams’ latest non-fiction, Reed Farrel Coleman’s final 3 books in his Moe Prager series (love that man!) and . . . the list goes on and on.
Links and other things I have loved this past month:
- Do you know the book, Unplug the Christmas Machine? If you are looking to simplify your holiday season, it is a good place to start.
- I have been enjoying Maya Donenfeld’s new book, Reinvention. Lots of fun sewing projects using recycled materials.
- Barbara Dewey’s little book Waldorf Handwork for Homeschoolers Grades K-4 is a gem. It is now available via ebook.
- My new favorite non-Waldorf, non-homeschooling blog? Posie Gets Cozy – so much goodness going on there.
- With all the knitting happening at our house, I may have to make this knitting basket made out of an upcycled wool sweater. It would be great for Vincent who is rapidly outgrowing his handwork basket.
- I don’t remember where I read this but, put a heating pad under your bread as it rises. If your house is as chilly as mine, it cuts rising time in half during these winter months. (It also a great place to soften butter at the same time.)
December 1: let the Christmas carols be played throughout the entire house; take holiday books out of the attic
December 2: cub scout holiday party; light first candle of advent (stone/mineral)
December 3: advent painting (mountain scene); write letter to Santa (both my boys still believe. love that!)
December 4: cut paper snowflakes
December 5: tell story of St. Nicholas by Jakob Streit
December 6: string popcorn and cranberries; fingerknit garlands; make button garlands
December 7: holiday baking; attend a holiday sing-along in town
December 8: holiday craft making at our library; go to Christmas tree farm to cut down our tree
December 9: celebrate Vincent’s birthday; light second candle of advent (plant)
December 10: advent painting (trees, grass); make origami evergreens
December 11: make decorations for birds and squirrels
December 12: collect evergreens; make salt dough or beeswax ornaments
December 13: celebrate St. Lucia; bake buns; make these clothespin dolls
December 14: holiday baking; make candy cane hot cocoa
December 15: celebrate Tom’s birthday; make watercolor paper lanterns
December 16: light third candle of advent (animal)
December 17: model animals out of beeswax; perhaps knit some as well
December 18: have hot cocoa in the afternoon; snuggle on the couch and read Christmas books
December 19: make straw ornaments
December 20: roll beeswax candles
December 21: holiday baking; celebrate winter solstice by having dinner and going to bed by candlelight
December 22: drive around town to see all the Christmas lights
December 23: light fourth advent candle (human)
December 24: add crèche figures to Advent table; Christmas Eve
December 25: Merry Christmas!!