This year I intended to continue our Colonial Times unit into the Christmas season by doing "A Colonial Christmas". A little bit of research revealed that the colonists didn't make nearly as big of a deal of the holiday as we do today. In fact, any celebrating of Christmas on their part began on Christmas Eve and continued through the Twelve Days of Christmas until Epiphany on January 6th. There were balls, feasts, hanging of greenery (but no Christmas trees), and small gifts for the children. Most of the Christmas traditions we have today didn't appear in America until the early 19th century with the coming of German (and other) immigrants to this country.
So...we decided to take a break from "Colonial Times" to do some fun Christmas activities. But I absolutely must have some sort of theme to plan things around - I just can't help myself. :) I decided to put together a mini-unit on Christmas Symbols. For each day we'll talk about the symbol of the day, read a Scripture that explains the symbolism, read a children's book that ties into the theme, and then do a craft. I've listed several craft ideas for each symbol. Because love to make ornaments with my children and I cherish these memories that we can hang on our tree, the crafts that we do will be used tree ornaments. (We did something similar with our Christmas unit last year.)
Here is what I have planned so far. We began with the Christmas Tree today.
Day 1: Today's Symbol: the Christmas Tree
Read The Tale of Three Trees by Angela Elwell Hunt.
Talk about evergreen trees representing eternal life.
Read John 3:16 - Jesus gives us eternal life.
The tree also reminds us of the Cross on which Jesus died.
Christmas Tree Craft Ideas - We'll only do one of these. :)
Christmas Tree Handprint Ornament/Craft
Tissue Paper Christmas Trees
Mini Felt Christmas Trees
Recycled Magazine Christmas Trees
Day 2: Today's Symbol: the Christmas Tree (continued)
Re-read The Tale of Three Trees.
Re-read John 3:16 and talk more about how the tree reminds us of the Cross and Eternal Life.
Finish handprint Christmas trees.
Day 3: Today's Symbol: Candles and Lights
Jesus is the Light of the World. Read John 8:12
Read When Christmas Came by Eileen Spinelli. Look at the illustrations. Point out the contrast of the light-filled, candlelit church with the dark, cold night outside. Talk about Jesus bringing light into the darkness.
Candle Craft Ideas:
Torn Paper Candle Art - I'd like to use this idea as an ornament by making a single candle, glue it onto a colored paper background, cut out in the shape of a circle, and glue onto a small plastic coffee can lid. (Did anyone else make those plastic lid ornaments when you were little?)
Votive Candle Holders.
Mason Jar Candles
You could also make candles.
We'll have a candlelight dinner, and then go for a drive to look at Christmas lights!
Day 4: Today's Symbol: Ornaments
Early trees were decorated with fruit, nuts, flowers - the bounty of God's provision. Later cookies, other foods, and candles were added.
Today when we see round ball ornaments we can think about our world being created by God, His love for the world, and Jesus' dying for all the people of the world.
Ornaments are typically beautiful. They can remind us of all of the beautiful things that Jesus does for us.
Read Mouse and Mole's Christmas Walk by Doug Cushman
Ornament Craft Ideas:
Cranberry Ornaments - I like this idea because it can remind us of how early trees were decorated with food.
Painted Glass Ball Ornaments
Tin Foil Festive I think we'll use this idea and cut the finished project into the shape of a ball ornament, punch a hole in the top, and hang with a ribbon.
Fabric- Covered Ball Ornaments
Tissue Paper Ornament Silhouettes (O.K., these are so neat. Maybe we'll do these instead of the Tin Foil Festive idea. :)
Easy Felt Ornaments - These would be a fairly easy sewing project, even for youngers (and me!)
Day 5: Today's Symbol: the Star
Read Matthew 2:1-2. Star decorations remind us of the Star of Bethlehem that led the wise men to Jesus.
Read This is the Star by Joyce Dunbar
Star Craft Ideas:
Popsicle Stick Stars
Beaded Star Ornaments
Most of the history for these symbols came from a unit I found here.
That's all I've put together for now, and it might be all that we'll get to between now and Christmas. But...if we do delve into any additional symbols, I'll share those activities in a "Part 2" post. :)
Hope you're enjoying the Season!