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When we first started homeschooling, my oldest was in first grade. I loved the idea of incorporating fun activities related to different holidays. I could find addition and subtraction sheets with turkeys or Christmas Ornaments, fall science lessons that went through weighing, counting, and floating activities with pumpkins, and even graphing Lucky Charms for Saint Patrick’s Day.
However, as my children got older and I kept adding those activities, it felt like they were becoming a burden during already busy times. I was trying to add them on top of our regular school work, and it was adding one more thing to the to-do list.
How Do I Add the Activities Without Adding Work?
I did not want to feel overwhelmed and did not want the fun activities to be a burden. I thought about just getting rid of them, but they were a lot of fun.
I realized that I needed to do them in place of our other activities and not in addition to those activities. This way, they are not adding anything extra to the list; we are just making the list a little more fun and holiday-themed.
I will share some practical ideas for adding holiday fun in place of other things, but first, I want to clarify that you do not need to do ALL of these things. You do not even have to do any of them. Think about what would work for your family and make your time more enjoyable.
For our family, that changes from year to year and grade to grade. My younger children often do mostly holiday-themed work between Thanksgiving and Christmas and devote a day or two to other holidays throughout the year.
My high schoolers keep going with mostly their regular work, and we swap out just a few activities. This helps them keep some continuity while still getting to join in on some of the holiday fun.
Practical Examples of Adding in the Holidays without Adding More Work
For my younger children, math work is one of the most common ways we add in holidays. I can find holiday-themed sheets either for free by searching online or with our SuperTeachers subscription, and I look for the topics they are already working on in math and then allow those sheets in place of their regular math work. (My teens typically do not do holiday math because, at that level, I find it easier and better to allow them to continue to work through the curriculum.)
Science is another fun way to add in some holiday/seasonal cheer. Again, this one is typically mostly with my elementary and middle grades children. We can find science experiments related to the holidays and seasons, For example, pumpkins in the fall, peppermint-themed activities for winter, cranberries at Thanksgiving, and more.
When I add these, I choose a lesson or activity from their current science to skip.
Generally, I put away our science books from Thanksgiving to Christmas to help make space for holiday activities. I have found it gives us breathing room, and they are still quite proficient in science.
Reading and Writing
Reading and writing are where it is easiest to get the whole family involved. Some years I have created my teens’ literature studies, and other years, we have used formal curricula, but through it all, I have added in Christmas-themed novels. When I am using other curricula, we simply swap out a Christmas novel for one of the novels in the curricula.
They read and discuss the novel with me, and we might also do some Christmas-themed crafts or cooking to accompany the book. For example, we did Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, and they watched the movie and made a Dicken’s era Christmas feast.
For my younger children, I adapt our reading for the major holidays and lots of little ones. It is so simple to choose read-alouds related to the holidays and seasons we celebrate. We love Cranberry Valentine on Valentine’s Day, Spookley the Pumpkin in the fall, and so many other books on various holidays.
Writing is also easy to integrate with the holidays by choosing writing prompts and activities that tie into the holiday. The teens might do a research paper on the origins of Thanksgiving or write a persuasive essay about a particular holiday tradition. Younger students can write paragraphs about different things associated with the holidays.
Art and Music
Finally, the easiest and possibly most fun way to incorporate the holidays is through your music and art studies. We love to do holiday-related art lessons (as a bonus, they make great gifts for grandparents and other family members). We use our You Are An Artist Clubhouse Membership, which gives us access to many holiday-themed art projects and has a calendar each month with suggested activities. However, there are also a lot of great ideas you can find by searching the internet for different art topics.
A holiday-themed hymn study can also be a great way to incorporate different holidays. You can check out our free hymn studies to get you started.
We also try to find holiday-themed music and art to study in our fine arts morning time rotation, which works well for the whole family. While my younger children do art lessons on many different holidays, we mainly focus on holiday music and art during Christmas, Easter, and patriotic holidays.
There are so many different ideas that it could quickly become overwhelming. I want to emphasize that this list of ideas is not shared because you need to try to do everything but to give you some different examples of ways to incorporate the holidays and seasons without adding additional work and having it become a burden. Start by switching out one or two things and see how that works for your family. Also, remember that it’s okay for each year and season to look different.
I would love for you to share some of your favorite ideas for incorporating the holidays into your homeschool.
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