A New Direction

I’m so excited to be taking over the reins of this blog. My name is Dawn Peluso and I was one of the folks that helped Diane with the Schoolin’ Swag Facebook page.  I’m a homeschooling mom of 3.  Our children are 11, 9, and 3.  We live in Eastern, NC and enjoy hiking, the beach, and spending time with family. We are active in our church and strive be a family that follows Jesus.

We use a variety of materials and methods in our home school and like to say our style is “Charlotte Mason Eclectic”.  In particular, we enjoy using lots of good books, nature study, hands-on history, cooking, and traveling to create a family culture of learning and growing.

Look for more posts over the next couple weeks with information about book reviews, fun home school ideas, and more.

My plan for the blog beginning in September is to have a weekly post about the history that we are studying that week (my husband and I are creating a hands on American history program for our kids and I will share that plan and the resources that we are using,  in case anyone else wants to join us on that journey), Product reviews, a monthly book review of a book for Moms, lots of guest posts from other homeschooling moms about what they are doing in their home schools and a variety of other content.  I’m very open to hearing from our readers about what you would like to see and making sure we are meeting those needs.

Tuesday Tips #4 The Importance of White Space for Your Homeschool


What is White Space?


White space is simply empty (or white) space on the calendar, times you do not have plans and commitments. This includes times you do not plan to be ‘doing school,’ going out, having appointments, etc. White space in my homeschool is trying to have more time for school than I have plans to fill it.

Why Do I Need White Space in my Homeschool and Home?


As homeschool parents, it is easy to fill up every available space on the calendar. We plan out coursework for all the subjects, co-ops or activities, field trips, science projects, and more. We often have our days and weeks so crammed full of suitable activities that we have no time or space for life’s unexpected needs or events. We also may not have time to relax and enjoy life.


One day, I was listening to the Read Aloud Revival podcast, and Sarah Mackenzie said, “The sky is only the limit if you are an airplane. You’re not. You’re a human person,”


We have to remember that we (and our children) cannot do everything, and it is not a good idea to fill up every bit of space on the calendar.

We need white space on our general calendar and white space specifically for our homeschool. For example, if I plan to dedicate 8am-12pm each day to school, I might only plan out Monday through Thursday.

That leaves Friday for the projects that took longer, extra help needed, diving into something they are interested in, or taking advantage of that field trip opportunity that pops up.

How Do I Get White Space?


You might be thinking that having white space sounds terrific, but you have no idea how to fit that into your schedule.


Start by evaluating your priorities what things are most important to your family. Next, take a good look at the calendar and see how the things on the calendar line up with your priorities.


Always remember that unexpected things are going to happen. Someone will get sick, the dishwasher is going to break, a friend will need help, or maybe a relative will come to town unexpectedly.

When those things happen, the white space helps you to be able to manage that without having to let go of your other commitments.


Once you have looked at the calendar and your priorities, start brainstorming what you might be able to let go or change. It might be as simple as figuring out that you can combine errands to a specific day in order to have another day home. It might be that the children are involved in many extra activities, and you limited those.

Evaluate, Modify, and Eliminate

Creating White Space in Your Homeschool


Other options might include teaching fewer subjects, combining courses, or using a loop schedule to free up time during the school day.


Sometimes it is as simple as planning ahead and using a crockpot or instant pot meals to reduce the time needed in the kitchen.


It can seem daunting, and the challenge is more complicated during certain seasons of life. However, adding white space into your days will take the stress off you and your children. It will allow you the flexibility to handle the unexpected and to take advantage of surprise opportunities.

Give yourself permission to say no to activities even when you do not have something else scheduled.


Extra Resources to Help Create White Space in Your Homeschool

Simplifying the Urgent to Focus on the Important

Letting Go of Good Things (or Why I Sold Our Latin Curriculum)

Homeschool in the Kitchen

Which Planner is the Best One?

Meal Planning: A Step Towards Sanity

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library, you will get a link and password to the library; we add new items to the library each month. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always, I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in, and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Deals and Freebies

If you have not tried SchoolhouseTeachers.com, you don’t want to miss this sale!

Tuesday Tips #3 Picture Books Are Not Just For Young Children

Picture Books Are Not Just For Young Children

One day as I sat in a college-level class at Campbell University (Go Camels!), my professor brought out a picture book and began reading to the class. To say we were surprised was an understatement; most of us had not had a picture book read to us since early elementary school.

As future elementary educators, most of us understood the importance of reading to young children. Still, we had not been taught the benefits of reading aloud at other ages, especially using picture books.  

Maybe more surprising than the professor reading the book was how much we all enjoyed it. It made such an impression that I still remember it today, and it has been more than a few years since that day.

The day our professor read that book, he shared the value of reading picture books to audiences of all ages. I have never forgotten that lesson.

Picture Books For Older Children and Teens

What Is So Special about Picture Books?

We often think of picture books as having simple words accompanying the pictures. While some picture books use simple language, picture books often have eloquent vocabulary and engaging stories.

“Generally speaking, you’ll find the best, most beautiful language in picture books.” Sarah Mackenzie, Read-Aloud Revival

The pictures can often help students with understanding the new and varied vocabulary. 

In addition, picture books help students learn to visualize what they are reading and encourage creativity and imagination. 

Reading picture books together can help create a bond and shared experiences without ever leaving home. Children and parents alike can travel to faraway places, meet famous people, and even have adventures through the pages of a book. 

The Benefit of Picture Books for Older Children and Teens

One benefit of picture books for older children is to help create memories and traditions. Our family has several picture books that we read each year for different holidays. We started when they were younger, but my teens still enjoy hearing them each year. One such favorite is Cranberry Thanksgiving.

Picture books can also be a great way to introduce more challenging or complex topics gently. It can give children an introduction to a topic that may be emotionally difficult such as disease, death, or persecution.

You can use picture books to help engage students in topics they might not otherwise explore. Reading those books often leads to them reading other books or researching the subject further.

There are many benefits to re-reading books, and using picture books helps create more opportunities for re-reading because they do not take as long to read as chapter books. (For more information on the benefits of re-reading, check out this podcast from Read-Aloud Revival)

A Fall Picture Book Display

Using Picture Books in Your Homeschool

All in all, picture books are an excellent resource for your family and homeschool, no matter the ages of your children. People of all ages should enjoy the rich language and beautiful artwork provided by picture books.  

How do you use picture books in your homeschool? What are some of your favorites?

Recommendations for Picture Books for Older Children and Teens

Blogging Through The Alphabet with Books!! (Not all of these are picture books but many feature picture books.)

Celebrating Math with Books and Pi: A list of Math Related Picture Books

A Year of Picture Books

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library, you will get a link and password to the library; we add new items to the library each month. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you updated on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always, I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in, and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Tuesday Tip #2 Do not try to fit everything into one day!

Overwhelmed With Your Homeschool Schedule?

If I start thinking about all of the subjects I want my children to learn or expose them to, I can make a long list.
Bible, reading, math, science, history, government, music, art, writing, nature study, foreign language, poetry, spelling, geography …..
That list could keep going, but there is no way we can fit all of those things into a single homeschool day and, honestly, even a single homeschool season. This can make scheduling our homeschool days challenging.

The Homeschool Scheduling Solution


One solution might be to narrow down the list, but alternately we can remember that we do not have to teach everything in a single day. While there are some subjects (Bible, math, and reading) that we try to make sure we include in almost all of our homeschool days, there are others that we cover once or twice a week.
There are also subjects that we do not cover every year, but that I still make sure to incorporate as we can fit them into our days. For example, one year, I might make sure to include geography in our morning time so that all of my children get geography that year. The following year, I might do some poetry studies or focus on economics.

Homeschooling Scheduling Tips!


I get easily overwhelmed if I try to fit everything into a day, a week, or even a year. However, I have eighteen years to teach my children, including thirteen years of ‘formal’ schooling.
When I look at their education from a long-term perspective, I realize that I do not have to stress covering every subject every year.

Homeschool Goals


I also have to keep in mind that my goals for them:

  • First, to raise them to know and love the Lord.
  • Then to prepare them to be productive citizens who can think critically about the world around them.
  • Next, I want them to have a solid education that allows them to follow whatever path God has put forth for them and be able to provide for their own families one day.
  • Finally, I want them to love learning and the skills needed to be lifelong learners.


When I remember that last goal, I can remind myself that I do not have to teach them everything. If I expose my children to art history and show them what is available, they will know how to learn more if they are interested. The same applies to poetry, music, classical literature, and many more subjects.
When considering what you need to cover, consider your overall goals, your children’s interests, and the needed content.

Real-World Examples

For example, we cover music more often than necessary because it is enjoyable for my children. I also do math very regularly because there is a lot of content to cover to prepare them for a job or college upon graduation. When they are young, we do phonics regularly. However, once they can read well, our literature studies can vary a bit more because they strengthen their reading skills with their personal reading.


Do you ever feel overwhelmed trying to teach your children everything you want them to learn? How do you break down your homeschool schedule to make them work?

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Tuesday Tips #1 Teacher Workdays

Tuesday Tips Series

I have been doing a lot of planning and thinking about what I wanted to share on the blog this year.  There will be many curriculum and book reviews, more hymn studies, and some fun unit studies.

I also wanted to start a new series called Tuesday Tips, where I will share a simple homeschool tip each Tuesday (or at least most Tuesdays).  Some tips will be for new homeschoolers, and others will focus on specific areas like teens or homeschooling in the kitchen.

These will be short and simple posts that will hopefully give you some new ideas and strategies to help your homeschool run smoothly.  I would love for you to share your thoughts and/or questions that need tips in the comments.

Tuesday Homeschooling Tips

Today’s Tuesday Homeschooling Tip

Teacher workdays are essential for homeschool teachers.

We often think of teacher workdays as just something for classroom teachers, but they can be beneficial in our homeschools.  These days are perfect for planning, grading papers (especially those high schoolers), preparing materials, and setting goals.

Sometimes I schedule them ahead of time, like this week.  My high schooler is doing some independent work, but I am taking this week to plan and prepare before we start back from our break.

Other times we take one just because we need it.  When life happens, and you feel overwhelmed, or behind, it is okay to decide to take a teacher workday and get things straight before moving forward.

You might have realized that a particular program was not working, but you aren’t sure how to fix it or what to try.  Take the day to research ideas and develop a plan without feeling the pressure of also trying to keep teaching.

Are you already utilizing teacher workdays in your homeschool?  What works for you?

2022 Focus: Draw Close

Last week I was thinking about my goals for the new year and what direction I wanted to go.  I like coming up with a word or phrase to help guide me each year.  I had a hard time deciding but kept thinking about the word clarity.

2022 Word of the Year

I wanted clarity of thought, clarity of purpose, and general clarity about where God was leading me.  I honestly thought I would use clarity as my word of the year, but then I went to church this morning and realized that while I needed to seek clarity, my focus should be Draw Close.

While our preacher talked about drawing close to God, I feel that the phrase applies across multiple relationships in my life.

Draw Close to God

I have had a saving relationship with Jesus for many years now, but I must always continue to draw closer to Him.  I need to continue studying and growing to become more like Christ and better understand his will for my life.  (This will also help provide that clarity that I was thinking about.)

Today, my preachers’ message was to read God’s word, study God’s word, and know God’s word.  I want to continue working on those things and strengthening my prayer life.

Draw Close to my Husband

My husband and I find ourselves in a good place in our marriage.  We survived the rocky early years where we needed to learn how to be married, live and work together, and prioritize our relationship.  However, I know that I also need to grow and work on that relationship constantly.  We can grow together, or we can grow apart.

So this year, I want to make drawing closer to my husband a priority.  I plan to be intentional about date nights, making time to talk with each other uninterrupted (which can be a real challenge with four children), and supporting him in his goals for the new year.

Draw Close to my Children

After Christ and my husband, my children are my next priority.  Overall, our family lifestyle (homeschooling and working from home) allows me to spend a great deal of time with my children.  However, like with our other relationships, we must continue to draw close to our children.  Several years ago, I watched a movie that talked about “tying our children’s heartstrings to ours.” That quote really stuck with me through the years as I work to maintain a close bond with my children.

Every stage and situation has its challenges.  In our current stage, my children range from three to fifteen.  The challenge is providing time and attention to a toddler and teens, not forgetting the seven-year-old in the middle.

I want to make sure that I find time each week to give focused attention to each child.  Not necessarily leaving the house or doing a date (though we love to do those when we can work it out.) I simply want to spend time connecting with each child.  That might be working in the garden or listening to music with my oldest, talking about books or cooking with my daughter, playing Legos or reading aloud with my seven-year-old, and doing crafts or playing play-doh with the youngest.  Simple things that allow us to spend time together and connect can impact our relationships.

Draw Close to Others

Drawing closer to others is another area where my first word, clarity, comes to play.  I plan to spend time praying and finding clarity on how to grow other relationships in my life.

I want clarity on the people God is asking me to reach and what relationships he wants me to strengthen.  I know there are only so many hours in a day and somedays I feel stretched too thin.  However, I think God will help me discern where to put my time and efforts in drawing close to others.

I want to continue to work on making our home a welcome haven for friends and guests and finding ways that I can pour God’s love into the other people God has placed in our lives.

Conclusions

Overall, while I have no idea what 2022 will bring to the world, I am looking forward to drawing closer to God and others.  Do you pick a word of the year?  Tell us what you chose this year or what goals you have for the year in the comments.

New Years Curriculum Reevaluation and Nature Study

*Some links are affiliate links, see disclosure below*

While our school year runs from September to May, I always like to use our Christmas break as a time to reevaluate our curriculum choices and make any changes that might be needed. (I fully respect that you can revaluate and change the curriculum at any point during the year.)

Most years, I find that I need to change several parts of our curriculum, and a few years, we have done a complete overhaul. Typically, there are one or two things that I started the year planning to use but let the ball drop for whatever reason.

What is Working

This year, we are honestly keeping most of our curriculum the same. We have made good progress, the children are doing well with the programs, and it has been a manageable load for me.

As homeschool moms, we sometimes forget that keeping it manageable for us is just as important as having it be a good fit for our children.

I am seeing great improvement with my son’s reading and he is getting ready to move into the next level of All About Reading. He loves his math and science programs and is overall doing great.

My older two children are doing a great job being more independent with their courses and staying on track! It is hard for me to believe that my oldest will be able to start taking college courses next year through dual enrollment.

Changes

The one area that I wanted to change was adding more nature study. We have been doing nature study for years, but I had let that ball drop this year. However, my children, particularly my seven-year-old son, missed that part of our studies. I set up his science to be very low maintenance for me, and he loves it, so we left that intact and are just planning to add in the nature study at least twice a week. (He would do it every day if I let him, and I will try to work it in as often as possible, but I want to be realistic in what I can add to my day.) The three-year-old will also join us for nature study because he loves being outside and he loves learning.

My thirteen-year-old daughter is taking a rigorous science course that is beneficial but also challenging. So we decided that we would let my daughter alternate between her regular science curriculum and nature study. This change will allow her to keep learning while taking a bit of a break from her more rigorous curriculum.

Adding Nature Study

When we first started doing nature study, we found many great resources to use. Then as time went on and I became more comfortable with nature study, I began to create my lessons. However, at this stage in our homeschool (1 in high school, 1 in middle school, 1 in elementary, and a three-year-old), I recognize that I need something laid out for me to make it easier for me to get it done.

Just a few of the courses included in the homeschool nature study membership.

Thankfully, I found a program that will make it easy for me to implement nature study on our schedule and based on our interests. Years ago, we used the Outdoor Hour Challenges and other resources from the Handbook of Nature Study website to learn about nature study. As of last month, my friend Tricia Hodges is the new owner of that material, and they are revamping the materials and offering some great resources.

We are excited to use the new homeschool nature study site to make nature study easy in our home. There is a daily calendar of ideas and access to materials on a wide variety of topics. We plan to combine the daily calendar and courses that are interesting to my children or fit into our other studies.

For example, my son loves birds, so we will be spending some time using the Birds course. Some of it we will do together, but there are also activities like studying a feather that he can do independently.

As an added bonus this will make it even easier for us to combine our art lessons with our nature study.

Reviews and Questions

Other than going back to our regular scripture and Bible plans after having paused those in favor of Advent studies for December, we are not making any other significant changes in the curriculum this year.

I am sure we will be adding and supplementing as we get back into various reviews beginning in February, but our curriculum is working well. We are enjoying the progress that we are seeing in each child. This year is our tenth year of homeschooling and probably the first year we haven’t needed to make significant changes mid-year. So if you look at your homeschool and need to make substantial changes, please know that you are not alone, and it is perfectly normal to need to make changes and not a sign of failure.

Are you making any changes in your homeschool? What programs are working well for you, and what is not going great?

Other Helpful Resources

If you are needing to make changes, these resources might be helpful.

Reviews

Our 10th Grade Homeschool Curriculum (2021)

Our 8th Grade Curriculum Choices (2021)

Our Second Grade Choices (2021)

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library, you will get a link and password to the library. You will also get a monthly newsletter email to keep you updated on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in, and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Last-Minute Gift Ideas (No Leaving the House Required)

*Some links are affiliate links, see disclosure below*

If you find yourself needing a last-minute gift idea and do not want to brave the crazy of the stores on the week before Christmas I have some great options for you! I have included some of my favorite digital resources for both mom and children in this list.

For Children

You Are an Artist Clubhouse Membership! This wonderful art subscription will provide your child with countless hours of fun and instruction with chalk pastels and acrylics. We use those lessons each week and are always finding new favorites.

Musik At Home is a great program for babies through early elementary ages. My three-year-old love to do his music lessons!

SQUILT Music has some wonderful digital music appreciation resources that would be perfect for your music lover!

One of my children is getting a couple months of Practice Monkeys lessons under the tree this year!

For Moms

Fit2B is an amazing online fitness program and would be the perfect gift for a mom that was interested in fitness!

Adore Your Wardrobe is a really fun course that helps you to learn about your body type and how to find clothes that flatter your body type.

For the Family

A Kindle Unlimited Subscription is a gift that can benefit the whole family. There are books on there for all different ages and interests.

Audible offers gift subscriptions as well. This is the perfect time for families to enjoy an audiobook together.

Whether you forgot something on your list, something got lost in the mail (or canceled last minute), or the Christmas bonus finally came in allowing you to make purchases, these digital gifts are the perfect way to finish your shopping without having to leave home. I hope this list is helpful as you finish up any last-minute shopping and allows you more time to spend with your family.

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Letter to the Overwhelmed Homeschool Mom at Christmas

Dear Overwhelmed Homeschool Mom at Christmas,

    Christmas can be a wonderful, fun, and festive time of year, but it can also be stressful and overwhelming. There are so many fun activities both at home and outside of the house, family obligations, schoolwork, and life, and all combined, it can leave us stressed, overwhelmed, and burning the candle at both ends.

You might feel like you aren’t getting enough school amidst all of the activities. On the flip side, you might feel like you aren’t doing all of the Christmas activities you wanted to do amidst regular life and school.

Does It Have to Be That Way?

I want to spend a few minutes today encouraging you that you don’t have to feel overwhelmed. It is okay to take a step back and prioritize. I can’t tell you which activities to prioritize because that will be different for each family.

Take a few minutes and think about the future. When you look back on this season 5 years or 10 years from now, what are you going to wish you had done?

For some, that may mean putting aside some activities and choosing just one or two Christmas things that are important to your family. For others, that may mean setting aside the school books for a few weeks and focusing on the Christmas activities.

Our Christmas Plan

For our family, it looked different for different children. My high schooler did a Christmas unit for literature but continued with his other regular studies before our two-week break. We decided to keep moving forward in math and phonics (elementary) but focus on Christmas for everything else with my middle school daughter and elementary-aged son.  

We did Christmas art and music lessons, an Advent reading and a family study of Luke for Bible, and lots of Christmas read-alouds.

We made a plan before Thanksgiving that I thought was workable, but the further into December we got, the more I realized it was still a bit much, so we adapted.

Adapting

We were behind on my middle school daughter’s Christmas literature, So, I found the audiobook on Hoopla (a free app from our library), and she listened to the book while she worked in the kitchen getting some treats ready.

It is so easy this time of year to over plan and over-commit and then not enjoy any activities. Every year I have to work at finding the balance, and I am still a work in progress. I do not write this letter from a position of perfection, but as someone who needs this reminder.

So I pray this year that you can step back and decide what will be important years from now and make that the priority during this season. That may change from year to year and is certainly different for each family.

I pray that you can have a fun and peaceful season without overwhelm and guilt.

Merry Christmas!

More Christmas Resources

Our Christmas School Ideas 2021

Mega Homeschool Christmas Resource Round-Up

Gingerbread: A Family-Style Unit Study

*some links are affiliate links, see disclosure below for more information*

Hot apple cider, hot cocoa, peppermint, sugar cookies…

There are so many delicious flavors that remind me of the Christmas season. I do not want to pick a favorite, but gingerbread certainly ranks very high on my list. I enjoy soft gingerbread cake and crunch gingerbread cookies!

This year, I thought it would be fun (and delicious) to do a unit study on gingerbread.

Gingerbread Cookies

History of Gingerbread

Gingerbread has a long and interesting history. A few variations are told, but we know that gingerbread has been around for a very long time. Years before Christ, possibly as far as 2400 BC, gingerbread was initially just preserved ginger, and it would be hundreds of years later before gingerbread became what we know it as today.

Gingerbread developed differently in different countries, from China to Germany to England. Queen Elizabeth I is credited with gingerbread cut into shapes and decorated with gold leaf. While gold leaf is not common anymore, shaped and decorated gingerbread cookies are still popular today.

Another common tradition is building and decorating gingerbread houses. This tradition originated in Germany in the 16th century, and they were made famous by the Hansel and Gretel story by Hans Christian Anderson. Today you can buy kits or create your own gingerbread houses.

You can find out more over at The Spruce Eats or PBS. You can also check out this documentary with Amazon Prime Video about gingerbread. (This is on our list to watch this year, but I have not yet watched it.)

Books for a Gingerbread Study

Books tend to be the backbone of our studies, and I love a good read-aloud. There are so many to choose from for this gingerbread study. Rather than choosing just one to base the unit around, I have picked out several that we could read during the study.

Gingerbread Study Books

Some of my favorites are the Jan Brett gingerbread books because of the stunning illustrations. She has several, but we particularly like Gingerbread Christmas and Gingerbread Friends for this study.

I also found this bilingual edition of The Gingerbread Man (included for free if you have Kindle Unlimited). My seven-year-old has been trying to learn Spanish, so I think he will enjoy listening to the story in both languages.

Hansel and Gretel is also a good story for a gingerbread lesson. There are many different versions with some excellent illustrations.

I even found this chapter book Rescue at Gingerbread Mountain that sounds intriguing, and I have not yet read it but did grab it with my Kindle Unlimited subscription to give it a try. It sounds like a great read for your upper elementary-age children.

Bonus Tip: If you want to add a few of these books to your household collection, Amazon is offering this $5 off of $20 book purchase, including several gingerbread books.

Gingerbread Art

You know I had to add some art to our study.  We love this gingerbread and holly lesson included with our You Are an Artist membership (If you want to try it out but don’t want the membership, you can also purchase the Christmas Course.)

In addition to a traditional art lesson, you can build and decorate a gingerbread house or gingerbread men (maybe even both.) It is such a fun way to incorporate family members of all ages.

If you need a less messy option or have food allergy issues, you can make one from a foam kit.

Gingerbread Activities

There are so many gingerbread-based activities that you could do to go along with your students. This Gingerbread playdough is a hit with all ages. Younger children can use it like regular playdough, and older children often like using it more like a stress ball.

I found this Gingerbread House Kit idea that you could make ahead for your children to do. You could even have your children make them for their friends or family as an inexpensive but fun Christmas gift.

There are many free and inexpensive gingerbread-themed printables such as The Mailbox, Royal Baloo, and 123Homeschool4Me. These offer a way to stay in the gingerbread theme while reinforcing reading and math skills.

For older students, you could assign a gingerbread-themed writing prompt. For example, have them write their own gingerbread man story or do a descriptive writing exercise about a gingerbread house.

 If you have done all of this and your child still wants more gingerbread fun, check out this list of fifty gingerbread activities.

Putting It Into Action

Whether you spend one day learning all about gingerbread or sprinkle gingerbread activities into your learning over several weeks, it is sure to be a fun family time. There are hundreds of wonderful gingerbread recipes available on the internet, and I encourage you to try one or more. However, if you want to keep it super simple, remember there is nothing wrong with making memories from a box mix!

We enjoy the Betty Crocker Gingerbread Mix for making soft gingerbread cakes. We make them in a decorative pan similar to this and dust them with sugar. They look so beautiful and fancy, but they are simple and quick.

Remember; make this study work for your family. Do whatever activities interest you and skip the ones that do not. It is not about completion but learning and having fun together as a family.

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library, you will get a link and password to the library. You will also get a monthly newsletter email to keep you updated on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in, and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Our Christmas School Ideas 2021

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Every year we do school a little differently in December. The first couple of years that we homeschooled, I added a ton of Christmas activities to our regular school. The kids loved the activities, but we were all burned out from trying to fit in everything.

Now, as much as possible, I trade out regular curriculum components for Christmas activities. For example, we choose a Christmas novel for our read aloud, Christmas hymns for our music, and an Advent study for our Bible time. This keeps the fun but minimizes the burnout.

Each year looks different as we learn and grow as a family, and we are in different ages and stages. Today I wanted to share what we are doing this year in case you were looking for some fun ideas for your family. We have four children ages three to fifteen, and it will look a bit different for each child.

Family Christmas Studies

Our whole family will be doing Christmas hymn study together. We love listening to the familiar Christmas music and learning more about the origins of the song. We also incorporate some fun art lessons.

Next, our Bible time will be Christmas-focused. We have been reading through the book of Psalms with one Psalm a day. However, we are going to switch that up and do a book of Luke each morning. We are also excited to be starting Jotham’s Journey this week as a part of our Advent study.

A Christmas Carol Study

Next, my high school son was slated to read one of Charles Dickens’ books after the New Year with his literature course. Instead, I decided that we would read Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. My son will read it independently, and I will have my younger children listen together on audio. Then we can discuss it as a family. After the reading, we will watch one of the children’s versions together as a family. I may also have my teens watch the regular movie. I think it will be a fun but meaningful Christmas activity.

I mentioned with our Hymn study that we love Christmas carols. In addition to the hymn study, we will add the SQUILT Music Calendar for December for an almost effortless way to add in a little more Christmas music to our mornings. It is an easy addition to our morning time that we all enjoy.

Christmas Art

My 8th grader and 2nd grader are also excited to be adding Christmas art lessons. We use our Clubhouse Membership with Nana over at ChalkPastel.com for most of our art lessons.

Some of her classes match our hymn studies, but there are also lots of other fun Christmas paintings. From fun Grinch and Charlie Brown pictures to nativity paintings, there is something different we could do each day. She even has a new Saint Nicholas lesson this year.

Christmas Activities for Younger Learners

As my children get older, it can feel a little more challenging to take a break from the regular curriculum. However, it is a lot of fun with my three-year-old and seven-year-old, and there are many options.

First, we will be reading Christmas picture books each day. I love Christmas books, and we have quite a collection. I try to add at least one book to our collection each year. We have many that focus on the real meaning of Christmas, but we also enjoy some just for fun. One of our favorites is Cranberry Christmas. My husband also enjoys reading the Night Before Christmas to them each year.

Advent Calendars

Several years ago, I bought a Lego advent calendar. At that time, it was a massive hit for my eldest. Now, my seven-year-old enjoys it. We reuse it each year. Each day he takes out the Legos for that day and builds the object. It has been a lot of fun.

I decided to add a play-doh advent calendar this year for my three-year-old. He is not quite old enough for the Legos, but I knew he would want to get in on the fun. So each day we will spend some time with Legos and play-doh. They are great for working on fine motor skills.

We love our pattern blocks and have found them to be a big hit year after year! We the varying levels of difficulty in our pattern sheets, both of the children can use them and be successful. They think it is a lot of fun, and I like seeing them work on fine motor skills and spatial awareness. There are many other fun crafts and activities that we may add in as time allows.

Finally, we are going to be adding fun Christmas reading and math printables. There are so many fun and free printables. We can add in some math review and sight word practice; for some reason, addition problems are far more enjoyable when there is a Christmas ornament involved.

What Are You Doing for Christmas?

Overall, we are excited about this Christmas season. Life has been hectic lately, but we have carved out some time to be home and enjoy each other during the season. We have lots of good books to read (and some hot cocoa to accompany them) and great music to fill our ears and our hearts.

I would love to know what you are doing for Christmas school this year. Please share your ideas in the comments. Be sure to check out all of our other Christmas Ideas and Our Black Friday/Cyber Monday Deals.

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