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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Part 3 - Keeping Advent

The Kitchen Table
The kitchen table is a very busy place in our house. This is where we do most of our “lessons”, our craft projects, and our food preparations.

Lessons: During the holidays, we operate on what I call “Holiday School”. It is quite a bit like “unschooling”, but with a holiday theme. All our activities during Advent will focus on “preparation”. We’ll prepare our food, gifts, and decorations. We’ll prepare our minds and hearts through reading poetry, stories and bible passages.

The Notgrass Publshing company has a great homeschool journal. These journals are for your students to fill in, but mine are too young or “allergic to pencils”. What I love is that the Notgrass journal helps you recognize the many areas of education (Spiritual, Service, Relations, Creativity and traditional areas like: Science, Math, Literature, History, Writing) by prompting you to apply your journal entries to these various descriptor boxes. The Notgrass journal will help us recognize how much we are learning through all this “fun stuff” – and most importantly it puts mom and dad at ease.

There will be some slightly more formalized learning, too. Math games and activities from Family Math will be combined with a holiday activity. For example, we have two large jars of buttons which the kids would like to use to make fancy refrigerator magnets. We will use a lesson from Family Math to sort our buttons in a number of ways and then we’ll use our sorted buttons to make our magnets. Other activities will include: measuring with Candy Canes, practicing or just learning the concept of “area” and “perimeter” while wrapping packages, and some simple fun math games.

Each morning, after breakfast and chores, we will gather at the table for to read our bible, a poem and a story. We’ll enjoy a daily segment of a book on tape while we all work on some small project or free drawing. I think we’ll start with Five Little Peppers and How They Grew. Other possible books are: The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Heidi, and maybe one or two others from this list.

Crafts: I love doing crafts, but they often happen spontaneously at my house (we keep massive amounts of craft supplies on hand). Here are some online resources for crafts: A page from Catholic Mom, Advent Paper Chain, Felt Christmas Tree and ornaments. It is pretty easy to find loads of crafts online.

Food: Another Advent tradition for us is preparing some of our special Christmas treats ahead of time. The kids can be wonderful kitchen helpers, so we’ll work together to turn out: breakfast breads (Orange-Cranberry, Banana, Pumpkin Spice), cookies (St. Nick’s Gingerbread, Sugar, peanut butter “blossoms”, pepparkokar, snickerdoodles, and others), and special treats (chocolate dipped pretzels, butterscotch haystacks, hot chocolate mixes). There is a wonderful combination of merriment and purpose during our family cooking, which adds to our Advent!

Check back in the coming days as I add these recipes.