The 24 Days of Christmas
We do Elf on the Shelf each year, and last year we started the tradition of the Elf on the Shelf coming to visit each day, with the 12 days of Elf being 12 thematic days in a bag delivered by the Elf. I usually try to align what the Elf does or brings with activities that we do outside of the home. If you saw my yearly plan, you know that I had at first thought of doing a winter week, secular christmas, and religious Christmas week. However, this year I just decided to add additional elf days and intermix that with small presents and crafts, so it is really the 24 days of Elf this year (just with some days less extravagant than others). I added a few more thematic units based on activities I bought on sale at the end of last year and activities I wanted to do with the girls. We also do a daily advent calendar reading). Here are my plans (using many of the ideas that brilliant Jessica came up with last year) and hopefully it can inspire or help you to have a magical Christmas with your family!
Day 1: Snow Day (Saturday following Arctic/Antarctica week)
(Watch: Frosty the Snowman, Read: The Elf on the Shelf, A Christmas Tradition)
**Elf Playing on fake snow
Day 2: Christmas in Nature (Columbus Botanical Gardens Christmas Day)
(Watch: Curious George makes maple syrup or sledding episodes)
**Elf plays in sensory bin
Day 3: Rudolph Day
(Watch and read: Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer)
**Elf wears light up Rudolph nose
Day 4: Jingle Bells Day
**Elf spells Jesus with bells
(Watch: Jingle Bells movie)
Day 5: Tree Decorating Day (co-op day)
**Elf on tree with ornaments being gifted
(Watch: a Charlie Brown Christmas, Read: The Littlest Christmas Tree)
Day 6: Miscellaneous craft day- Elf gives a box with craft supplies
**Elf wrapped in Christmas colored yarn
Day 7: Polar Express Day (go see Polar Express in I-MAX 3D at Infantry Museum)
**Elf holding small train tickets
(Read and Watch the Polar Express)
Day 8: Painting plates with Santa at Bare Ware Pottery
(Read: Walt Disney’s Santa’s Toy Shop)
**Elf delivers an Elf on the Shelf bath time painting set that I bought on major sale after Christmas last year
Day 9: Hot Cocoa Day (follow up to Polar Express)
**Elf spells “Jesus loves you” in mini marshmallows and delivers some good hot cocoa mix
Day 10: Gingerbread Day
**Elf with small bowl, wisk, rolling pin
(Watch Gingerbread Men short videos on Amazon)
Day 11: Candy Cane Day (go to Callaway Fantasy in Lights)
**Elf with candy cane chain
(Watch: The Legend of the Candy Cane; Read: Jesus as a shepherd stories and story of shepherds at nativity)
Day 12: Cookie and Kindness Day (Co-op)
**Elf playing with felt cookies and had note about being kind
(Watch Curious George: A Very Monkey Christmas; Read: The Christmas Cookie)
Day 13: Peace and Joy Day
**Elf holding nail polish and supplies
Day 14: Nativity Day (Live nativity scene at our church)
**Elf hanging out in felt nativity scene
(Watch: The Star; Read: Baby Jesus is Born, The Nativity by Julie Vivas, The Christmas Story by Children’s Bible Classics, and Mary’s Treasure Box)
Day 15: Saint Nicholas Day (Breakfast with Santa at the Rock Ranch)
**Elf with cross and Bfast with Santa tickets
(Read: Veggie Tales Saint Nicolas)
Day 16: Santa Day
**Elf in Chimney rooftop drop game (https://www.amazon.com/Hallmark-181280-Rooftop-Drop-Game/dp/B00PY5Z27W)
(Watch: Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town or Elf)
Day 17: Santa Bag
**Elf sitting on Santa Bag
Day 18: Holiday Fun Day
**Elf coloring in Christmas coloring books
Day 19: Grinch Day (go see the new Grinch in theaters)- Co-op day
**Elf reading “How the Grinch Stole Christmas
(Read and watch: How the Grinch Stole Christmas)
Day 20: A Mouse Christmas
**Elf “eating” cheese and leaning on Gingerbread house
Day 21: Elf Roadtrip (heading to see family in Charlotte on this day)
**Elf hanging out on luggage
Day 22: Holiday origami (in Charlotte)
**Elf making an origami figure
Day 23: Nativity review
**Elf sitting with a nativity scene
Day 24: FINAL DAY
**Elf brings large bag, sits by a final letter with farewell in it and stuff to make cookies for Santa
Happy thanksgiving! I am so thankful to you, my readers, for reading this blog and giving me a reason to keep going by hopefully helping a few of you. This thanksgiving was extra special, as Aria is a little older and now is of the age to start understanding how lucky she is and just how much she has to be grateful for, and man, am I so blessed that I get to stay home with her and do what I do. She tells me all of the time how much she loves homeschooling, so I am so blessed to have a supportive husband who has been pro-homeschooling from the very start! Anyways, rant over, and on to all of the details of the week…
Once again, I divided each day into categories. We covered Native Americans, Pilgrims, Gratefulness and turkeys, and a co-op craft day that incorporated bits of each hosted by my friend. Though I don’t have all the links to her activities, my friend did some awesome activities like a life-size board game where you pretend to be a pilgrim and have to avoid sickness and problems on the boat overseas to get to the new world. It was a really great way to teach strategies to the girls. Then, they made teepees with ice cream cones and icing (which was of course a big hit) and tried to make our own mini floating Mayflowers (see under Science). We also played a thanksgiving bingo from Target that was super fun. I love having creative friends that give me a bit of a planning break!
For Native American day, we dressed up and made our own headbands and played with our thanksgiving pilgrim and Native American toys in our teepee. We painted with Indian corn, made small foldable teepees and played with puppets. For pilgrim day, we also colored and played with puppets, made our own pilgrim hat, and did some good pilgrim worksheets.
For gratefulness and turkey day, the girls played in a thanksgiving sensory bin, added our turkey parts to the gratefulness pumpkin, made multiple foam turkey crafts, and did some fun worksheets. We also made our own gratefulness tree I found at Target, which ended up being our table centerpiece.
I always end up overplaying for thanksgiving because each year I seem to forget how hard it is to not just cook and plan for the thanksgiving meal but that I have to fit in the cleaning and prepping for guests at some point! But it never hurts to have extra things to use for next year, so I don’t mind that I had a number of things leftover. Plus, from time to time the girls wanted something to do and I was able to quickly pull a craft or worksheet out for them.
We ended our thanksgiving week transitioning into our Christmas season, which will be extra special this year (see my 24 days of Christmas Elf post) by going to a Christmas tree farm for the first time to cut down a Christmas tree. Now that the thanksgiving decorations are done, its time to really dive into winter and the Christmas season! I just can’t wait for the many fun things to come!
This year, I decided to do fall a little bit later in the semester to try and hit the season at just the right time and seemed to succeed. Fall happens a bit later in south Georgia, and covering it right before Thanksgiving appeared to give me a good overlap of appropriate activities for both holidays. The week was terribly rainy, but we lucked out and chose to do our fall walk on Sunday so we had leaves and seeds to sort, even if they ended up being a bit brown by the time we got to them.
By far, the best part of the week was the short bit we were able to spend walking in nature and enjoying the beauty of fall. We did both a scavenger hunt and a fall leaf/seed walk, so the girls stayed busy the whole walk looking for things to collect or check of their list. That meant, there were no complaints about being tired or wanting to head back, which is always a win!
I divided the days into: apples, fall as a whole, leaves, pumpkins, and hibernation/migration. We also went over to a friend’s house one day for co-op and did really fun fall crafts like fall leaf handprints and creating leaf people, which was a fun break for both myself and the girls. I’ve really enjoyed having help once a week with coming up with crafts and activities from my co-op, and it is always more fun going on field trips when you have friends to join you! If you can even find just one friend who will start a co-op with you, it makes the journey a little less lonely.
Anyways, for apple day we played in an apple pie sensory bin, made apple orchard frames, counted apple seeds, did apple STEM, and made coffee filter apples. We also did a basic introduction to fall and its months on Monday with rewriting a fall poem (one of the great activities in the Autumn nature journal I mention) and the seasons wheel we made a few years back.
For leaf day, Aria made words out of letters written on pinewood discs, seed rubbings and sorting, salt crystal leaves (which didn’t turn out but if they turn out for you, please tell me what I did wrong!!), leaf rubbing, and pressing leaves. We also made coffee filter leaves and hung them to make a harvest banner with the apple coffee filters.
Even though we already covered pumpkins with halloween, we went back and did a few more additional activities and covered parts of the pumpkin more thoroughly (plus, dissecting anything is always fun). We made foam pumpkin and gourd crafts from Michael’s, coloring pages, and some miscellaneous pumpkin worksheets.
Lastly, we covered hibernation and migration with some friends who came over. We put a big tent in our living room so the kiddos could pretend to hibernate and created a hibernation sensory bin with leaves and other fall items, bears and squirrels, and boxes/paper towel rolls we painted to be our caves or logs where the animals hibernated. For migration, we wanted to do a bird walk but it was raining, so we talked about how and why bird migrate and had the kids draw birds in a “V” shape. I also sung the kiddos a rap song and did a chant about different animals and whether they hibernate or migrate, which the kids seemed to enjoy!
Overall, fall is a fun and important week. By not doing it earlier in the season, we missed overlapping with certain fall events like festivals or visiting the pumpkin patch, but I don’t think we were so far off from the field trips that the girls had already forgotten what we had seen. I think fall is just the best season of the year (other than the single good month of Winter, December :)), so it was fun spending some time celebrating the beauty of nature and God’s creation with two little ones who are still so excited about everything! Already looking forward to the return of fall fun next year!
Veterans Day Blog
Because my father-in-law served in the Vietnam War and my husband served over in Iraq and is now in the reserves, for Veterans Day each year we try to put time aside to not only learn about what the army does but also do special things to honor their service. This year, we added a component of putting together care packages for people my husband serves with, but overall we spent most of the week learning and creating special gifts that were military related.
To learn about the military, we wandered the National Infantry Museum with my husband, who was able to tell us all about where he served and show us lots of stuff from his time in service. It is a really great museum that the girls always love visiting. Later in the week, we went to the Civil War Naval Museum in downtown Columbus and checked out some amazing boats and boat pieces from the Civil War. You can even wander inside of one to see what life was like inside a war boat, which was something new and exciting. One of the benefits to living right by a military base is that there are so many ways to get hands on with learning about military life, even if my husband only serves one weekend a month!
We spent the rest of the week writing cards, decorating books, making characters, and ultimately filling packages for Daddy and Papa to get on Veterans Day. We were able to mail and gift the presents on Veterans Day to the surprise of both. Time in between the crafts was filled with playing with boatloads of soldiers and some new civil war toys we found at the museum. I’m definitely going to have to teach about the Civil War next year!
Overall, the week was not filled with loads of “heavy” activities to do, but I think that everything we learned about and did was very important. We are so proud of our family and their service, so it was wonderful to spend time honoring them and showing just how proud we are! Even if you can only spend a day writing Veterans Day cards or a moment saying thank you, I guarantee everything will be greatly appreciated by those who served or have served in the military because it is truly a job filled with self sacrifice!
I find fall time to be this strange mix of both completely exhausting while also strangely rejuvenating because with the beautiful fall weather comes loads and loads of outdoor activities and festivals. So, life is fun and the air feels amazing, but at the end of the holidays you almost want to collapse in exhaustion. As I'm writing this, I am definitely feeling the tiredness after all of the excitement, as we just got home from our 4th fall festival of the season. But, man, are we blessed to live somewhere that offers so many fun activities to do, especially the many free things we have been able to take part in. Halloween week school activities were fun and definitely kept us busy, but we did very little of our Math U See and Sing, Spell, Read and Write this week so that we could really make the time to attend every activity we possibly could, and I think that was the best decision we could've made! Fall is all about exploring pumpkin patches, corn mazes, fall festivals, and trick-or-treating, so I definitely suggest taking the time at the start of the fall season to plan something for each week or weekend so you don't miss out on any cool activity!
I had a theme for each day, which included the following (caveat: my girls don't get scared easily, so if your children do, you might want to avoid things that might bother them):
2. Witches and haunted houses
3. Harry Potter (co-op)
5. Jello and candy science
6. Ghosts and bats
7. Spiders and skeletons
8. Halloween party and movement games (co-op)- on Halloween Day
Anyways, we lucked out that many of the things we did during the week had great activities outside of the house that aligned with what we were doing in our home. One of the Halloween themed co-op days, we did a Harry Potter theme and did a bunch of activities that related to the books (Aria has been asking me to read the first one to her, so this worked well in conjunction with our nighttime reading). Then, we attended a Harry Potter event in Columbus at a nature center called Oxbow Meadows. The event was called Frogwarts and was a bunch of science, crafts and scavenger hunts that related to the books. Aria and Skylar had a blast! Our library also did a Halloween themed day where the girls made potions and other fun crafts, which just so happened to align with our witches and haunted house day. And of course, the four fall festivals we attended all had fun fall and halloween crafts and activities that worked to help promote what we were working on all week. If you happen to live in the Columbus area, I highly recommend Oktoberfest at Fort Benning because not only are all the rides free and the kids can take home a pumpkin each (which were the ones we ended up carving), but they also load you up on free packs of crafts that I was able to take home and use during this unit or save for my thanksgiving one!
Our favorite day was probably the jello and candy science day. Not only was it super hands on and the science experiments really weird and cool, but I actually learned a few things along with the girls! I'm still completely grossed out by candy corn, so I always love any chance to destroy the candy (though I'm not so mean as to not allow my girls to try some at the end of the day). Even Skylar really got into everything, which I always love to see.
Spider day was also a huge hit. with a fun spiderweb obstacle course and some really great crafts I got on major sale through Toucan Box. The cool thing about their crafts is they give you enough to do the same craft a few years in a row, so I was able to save it to use it again next year! We also made a fun spiderweb painting with tape and watercolors that turned out really cool looking when you take the tape off!
Halloween is such a fun time of year and I thoroughly enjoyed how much we got out and about around the holiday. The exciting thing is that the fun is just beginning and there is so much more coming this holiday season! (Can you believe that I've already gone to a Christmas fair with the girls this year?! The madness starts early!). Now, time for a quick break and then ready to dive into Veteran's Day planning! Let the fun begin again!
To finish up Halloween week, since it ended mid week and we still needed something to fill Thursday and Friday, I did a short fruits of the spirit unit that I wasn’t able to get to during All About Me week. My girls have been fighting more than usual recently, so I felt like it was necessary to work on practicing our fruits of the spirit. We just did a few crafts to try and remember what most of them were, hung up posters, and I made a fruits of the spirit reward jar where the girls could earn rocks for the jar if they came to tell me that their sibling did something nice for them or someone else. Time will tell if the unit is effective, but I have hope that we will be a more loving and caring family going forward!
Jessica and Ana
Our Homeschooling Mission Statement: We will strive to be patient, godly examples to our children, integrating biblical principles and morality into every subject. Learning should be fun. We will foster an attitude of lifelong curiosity and play while providing the best possible education we can through books, art, technology, food, tactile activities, and cultural experiences. Learning will not be dictated by hours on a clock but will be a way of life for our families.