Homeschool holidays are times to teach about our Christian heritage. I like to set the textbooks aside and focus on why we celebrate. It is a time to focus on family and our beliefs.
When you are celebrating you can teach art, history, and culture. You can even fit some language art projects in too.
Thanksgiving is a great time to teach the beginning history of our country. Here is a condensed version of the story of the first Thanksgiving.
In the winter of 1620 the first group of pilgrims reached the New World. They found some corn buried in the sand. Also they met a Native American named Samoset that helped them. The next year they celebrated the first Thanksgiving with the Native Americans. They ate deer, turkeys, fruit pies, and popcorn. They celebrated for three days.
You can read the complete story in The Light and the Glory for Children by Peter Marshall and David Manuel. When my children were young I would have them color pictures of the pilgrims and the Mayflower. There is a coloring book that goes with The Light and the Glory. You can also find Thanksgiving coloring pages online.
For your Thanksgiving meal you can have some of the foods that the pilgrims ate. We know that they ate turkey and corn so have some of those foods. You could teach your child cooking by having him help make the meal.
The pilgrims were thankful for their lives, the help of the Native Americans, and that they could live in freedom in a new world. During this time think about what you are thankful to God for.
Homeschool holidays should teach the history of the holiday. It is easily done with Thanksgiving.
The history of Christmas is harder to pin down. Some say that Christmas was to replace the pagan rituals during winter time. Others say that it was to correspond to the date of the winter solstice on the Roman calendar.
The American Puritans did not celebrate Christmas. Christmas was not celebrated in America until the 19th century. The History of Christmas has some interesting facts about Christmas in different countries including the United States.
How can you keep Christ in Christmas? We usually practice Advent in our home. Sometime after Thanksgiving we get out the candle wreath. There are four candles in a circle. We have a candle with a picture that represents of the birth of Christ. We place this candle in the center of the wreath. We have a book that has scripture for each day of Advent that we read as we light the candle for that week. There are several advent books that you can buy.
Another activity that we do is to read by Arnold Ytreeide. Each book has to do with a boy or girl during the time of Jesus. You read a chapter each day. There are also reflections for family devotions.
There are opportunities to present the Gospel to during homeschool holidays. The Christian season is about giving. Also people are receptive to hearing about Jesus during this time. I have my children make cards to send friends and relatives. We try to make the cards with a Christian theme. We also make cookies to give to the neighbors. You can read more about activities we do during Christmas here.
I find that it is harder to keep Christ in Easter. I think that it is because the date of Easter changes year to year. So before I know it, it is Easter.
In the beginning Easter corresponded to the date of Passover. The date of Easter was change in 400 A.D. to correspond to the spring equinox.
Some churches celebrate Lent. Lent is a period of preparation. Lent starts 46 days before Easter on Ash Wednesday. Preparing for Easter by James L. Evans is a devotional book to bring Christ back into Easter. It has Bible readings and activities for the 46 days of Lent.
We are busy in the spring, so practicing everyday of Lent is hard for us to do. We like to celebrate the Holy Week. Holy Week is from Palm Sunday to Easter. The children of our church are usually involved in the service on Palm Sunday. They sing a song and wave palm branches.
At home we read about Jesus' last week, His death, and His resurrection. When we are reading the scripture we have a lit candle that we extinguish. On Friday we do not light any candles. We want to remember the cross and the darkness of our souls.
During Easter we decorate with a crown of thorns on a cross. We also make a picture of the empty tomb.
The holiday seasons are stressful for children who have special needs. Sometimes we need to slow down during the season. I usually take a break from academics and focus on the holiday. My children are usually excited about the holiday and cannot focus on too many things. This is a good reason to homeschool holidays. Focus on the celebration. Don’t worry about the spelling and math assignments.
There are other holidays that you can teach about. I find that when we homeschool holidays we are able to slow down and teach our culture in a fun and educational way. Besides we are making memories.
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