December 13, 2012

Embracing Cultures and Traditions

We really like to stress the true meaning of Christmas in our home, but I also feel it’s important to learn about other December holidays and traditions.  This year in addition to our usual Christmas traditions, we have taken some time to learn about Hanukkah and Kwanzaa this year.

With the help of Little Passports (we have been stock piling our monthly shipments).  We spent a little bit of time learning about Kenya and South Africa.  Then we read a book about Kwanzaa, printed some worksheets from, and made paper woven mats.

In Ancient History we are learning about the Israelites, so it tied in well to use our Little Passports Israel package and read about Hanukkah. 

Picture of Story of Hanukkah  YR1

And of course we are learning about Christmas as well! As I mentioned we really try to focus on Christ in Christmas, but this year we are also using the Discover Christmas curriculum from Discover the Scriptures.  This curriculum, while focusing on Christ, also teaches about the many Christmas traditions that have come to be part of the holiday season over the years.

Discover Christmas

In an attempt to cut back on sweets, we have added some of our own activities to the lessons each day.  (They have a lot of yummy treat making activities in the book).  Most of the days we have made ornaments to go with the themes, or performed activities related to the lessons.  We are only part way through, but here is a list of things we have done so far -

Day 1 – Placed scripture cards into advent calendar

Day 2 – Tradition of Christmas Trees – make  tree shaped ornament

Day 3 – Lights on Christmas Trees – make light shaped ornament

Day 4 – Tradition of ornaments – make ornament

Day 5 – Christmas Trees in America – make tree shaped ornament

Day 6 – Tradition of Christmas Cards – make cards

Day 7 – Tradition of caroling – attended live nativity with caroling

Day 8 – Symbolism in a candy cane – made candy cane ornament
Photo: #christmasornamentaday today we learned about the history and symbolism of candy canes!

Day 9 – Tradition of outside lights – went walking around neighborhood to look at lights

Day 10 – Symbolism in poinsettias – make a poinsettia ornament

The remaining days consist of making ornaments to go with the theme, or other activities as well.  We are placing all these ornaments on a small tree in our school room.  The kids are really enjoying making the ornaments, and displaying them on their very own tree! 

(I purchased my kits from Oriental Trading and have several sets available if you are interested, please contact me via my blog.  I am really excited to be working on my own curriculum for next Christmas which will also include craft kits!)

Some other traditions we are continuing from years past are:  daily scripture verse with candy from advent calendar, opening a Christmas book each night, giving a neighbor/friend 12 days of Christmas, adopting a family in need, delivering cookies to friends/neighbors and giving only 3 gifts per child.  

This is one of my children’s favorite books that they have unwrapped so far this month.

The book just has the lyrics to the song (which is also one of my mother’s favorites), so instead of reading the book, I sing it.  The boys ask me to sing them the book every chance they get.  My oldest has even been caught singing the book himself.

It is my hope that while we keep our own holiday traditions each December, that we might learn about and embrace the holidays and traditions of other cultures too!


2 comments - Add a comment below -:

Lisa said...

Last year a wonderful Jewish woman in our homeschool group invited us for a Hanukkah craft day. We made menorahs out of salt dough (very easy project), she cooked latkes for us, and then taught the children the dreidl game and gave each one a miniature dreidl to take home. We had a small Hanukkah celebration with just our family on one of the nights, and my kids thought it was so fun. My kids always fight over who gets to light candles when we have Christmas candles, but with Hanukkah, each child had their very own menorah with EIGHT candles all of their own to light. They were in heaven, and I thought that the Jewish people must be on to something, lol! We actually spent a few weeks last December learning about "holidays of light", and so focused on Christmas (specifically the wise men and the Star), Hanukkah, and even learned about the winter solstice. This year we are doing Christmas around the world, focusing on St. Nicholas day in Germany, St. Lucia in Sweden, and next we we'll be observing Las Posadas from Mexico.

Jen Altman said...

Awesome! Thanks for sharing all that you have done with your family, great ideas!