Friday, November 4, 2016

Studying the History of Christmas in America with Homeschool Legacy {A TOS Review}

We had the opportunity to review the Once-a-Week Unit Study from Homeschool Legacy titled Christmas Comes to America. We had a great time learning where different Christmas traditions come from while using this study. Yes, it was a little weird studying about Christmas in October, but I figured, Why not? We always focus on the fact that Christmas is about the gift of Jesus to the world. This is something we can celebrate throughout the year, not just at Christmastime. 

So, what did we receive?

We received a digital download of the 4 week, Once-a-Week Unit Study, Christmas Comes to America, which is $14, a bit cheaper than the paperback version that they also have available for $18.95. The majority of this study can be read directly from the computer or tablet, with only a few pages that might need to be printed out. There is no prep required for this study, beyond making sure you have the supplies for the recipes/activities and getting the read-aloud books, movies, and CD's from the library. 

The study includes Biblical devotions, plus activities in different subjects, to make it a well-rounded unit study. You and your children will be choosing reading material from a list of wonderful Christmas books, plus looking into history, geography, traditions, cultures, and music. There are life skills and language activities, plus research and field trips to participate in. All of this is nicely organized in this 40 page book. 

The book begins with a Welcome to the Once-a-Day Unit Studies in general, followed by a list of available unit studies from Homeschool Legacy. You will also find information for using these studies for your child(ren) to earn merit badges if they are in Boy Scouts or American Heritage Girls. Next you will find suggestions for scheduling your week. These are just suggestions, as the unit study is very flexible and can be switched around to fit your schedule. We then move into the information for this specific unit study. There is a Christmas Letter to You from the author. Then you will find a list of read-alouds for non-readers and optional library materials, such as videos and music. We then get into the actual lessons. 

There are 4 weeks in this study. 
  1. The Dutch
  2. The English
  3. The Germans
  4. An American Christmas
With the first 3, we look at the different traditions that were brought over to America when those people settled here. Then, during the last week, we spend time studying what an American Christmas looks like. 

Each week is organized in about the same way.

There is a gray box with book, music, and movie recommendations. Then there is another gray box introducing the week number, the focus, how to say Merry Christmas in the language of the country being studied, and the name of that culture's gift giver. Next you will find a list of supplies. Each section of study is then detailed, starting with the Daily Activities and moving into the Once-a-Week Activities. There are things to read and activities to do, some weeks have research to complete to be able to answer questions. 

Yes, even though this is a "Once a week" unit study, there are still some things you will be doing other days of the week.  It is expected that you and your children will be reading from the chosen "traditions" book plus the family read aloud, and the independent reading book daily. One day out of the week is supposed to focus on the rest of the activities, except for field trips. Field trips are actually scheduled for Friday or Saturday, or whatever works for your family. Or, you can also choose to spread the once-a-day activities out during the week if that suits your routine better.

Though the Bible reading is all scheduled for the actual unit study day, I did end up spreading the verses out. I read a few verses each day during our normal Bible time. These verses focused on the both the prophecies of Jesus' birth and his actual birth. I chose to keep all the reading as family read-aloud time, instead of having the children independently reading any books. 

Wednesday is assigned as the Unit Study day. This schedule worked great for us, because we go to co-op Wednesday mornings, and when we got back home, I am the one who gets to choose the show, so I was able to have Wednesday afternoon as our Christmas movie time. We then gathered around the computer after the movie, so I could read the history or cultural information that was being shared that week.  We looked on our globe to discover where these immigrants originated from. 

The week on the Dutch focused on the origins of Santa Claus, whose name comes from the Dutch, "Sinterklass," We also learned about the connection between the dutch and hot chocolate, the visit of St. Nicholas, and Second Christmas Day. 

The section on the English taught us that many of our traditions come from England, such as caroling and sending Christmas Cards. 

Week 3 focused on Christmas trees, gingerbread houses, and concert etiquette. It was interesting learning the origin of the gingerbread house, and the unrelated belief of who was the first one to put lights on an evergreen tree.

We are currently in the middle of week 4, looking at Christmas in America. While many of the Christmas traditions we know in this country have come from other lands, there is at least one tradition that started here in America. 

Most of our learning has occurred through the history/cultural lessons in the unit study, plus by reading the recommended books that became a part of our bedtime routine, as well as added to our school reading time. There are added hands-on activities that go with country's lessons. Though we haven't been able to complete all of the activities in the unit study yet, I have every intention of returning to it in December when it will be more appropriate. Activities such as making homemade hot chocolate to give as gifts, attending Christmas concerts, visiting a tree farm to pick out a tree, and going Christmas caroling. We did get to do a couple of fun activities though. 

When we were studying about England, we learned that the first Christmas cards were made in England. We then spend some time making Christmas cards. 

When we studied Germany, we were supposed to make a gingerbread house. As those are not yet in the stores, I opted for a craft gingerbread house. I will be sharing details about this craft in an upcoming Littles Learning Link Up.

We have enjoyed our look into the origins of Christmas traditions here in America. Some facts I already knew, and it was fun to share them with the children, some were intriguingly new for me as well. There are some great hands-on activities here, plus wonderful reading, music, and movie selections. As we were only able to read a handful of books from each countries list, we have a bunch of books I still want to check out from the library to read during Advent. And of course, we will be making the recipes that were included, and we now know what our Christmas gifts for friends and loved ones will be. I think the children are really looking forward to making more homemade Christmas cards. 

This is a wonderful, flexible unit study. You can choose how close you want to stick to the recommended schedule. 

Be aware that the first week of the study focuses on the origins of St. Nicholas, and you will also be looking at the "gift-bringer" customs of other countries, some of which are very different than our traditional American "Santa Claus." This was wonderful for our family, because our children know that Santa is fictional. However, if you allow your children to believe that Santa is real, you may have to tweak things a bit. Also, you should be aware that the books that deal with Christmas traditions do go into the pagan practices of the past and how they have changed or been incorporated into our Christmas celebrations. This can be quite eye opening, and will expose your children to discussion of different pagan customs and gods. I think this is a wonderful opportunity to share about different cultures, but I did want to make you aware of their inclusion, in case anyone would have issues with this. Of course, as the parent, you are probably previewing the books anyway and will share what you feel is appropriate for your family.

The Once-a-Week Unit Study, Christmas Comes to America, from Homeschool Legacy is definitely a study that I can highly recommend for your homeschool. It would say it is a wonderful way to prepare for Christmas. 

You can find Homeschool Legacy on Facebook.

While we were able to review Christmas Comes to America, this wasn't the only unit study the Crew got to check out. If you click on the banner below, you will be able to find reviews for the following studies as well:

Once-a-Week Micro-Studies:

Pirates or Privateers: You Decide 

Cooking up History with the Founding Presidents

Victoria and Her World

Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims   

Many Nations

Once-a-Week Studies {Homeschool Legacy}
Crew Disclaimer

1 comment:

  1. What a fun way to study and now more about this beautiful holiday..


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