It may not look like much, but it sure does make for a slippery walk to the mailbox!
We only had three days of school this week. We couldn’t be normal and do school Monday-Wednesday, though. We had school Monday, Tuesday, and Friday. I know, we’re weird. Monday was a regular day of Christmas school, because I had six days worth of lessons for Christmas in England, so we couldn’t cram everything into one week. That day’s theme was Christmas in present-day England. We read The Jolly Christmas Postman and A Child’s Christmas in Wales, as well as looked through Christmas in England, to compare a modern English Christmas to our own (they’re very similar!). We had math and writing assignments, as well.
Tuesday was our annual “Nutcracker Day.” We read what is now my favorite picture book of the Nutcracker…I’m so glad I borrowed it from the library! We already had one very short picture book that is also short on details (but does have nice illustrations), and one full version of both Nutcracker stories, which is a bit ponderous to read in one sitting, but is very detailed, and lacks illustrations. I’ve looked at many other versions in bookstores, and never found one I really liked, but I grabbed this one at the library, and it’s just what I wanted. The length of the story is just right…it took about a half-hour to read, which meant I still had everyone’s attention at the end, but it was full of good detail. And the illustrations were wonderful! I’ll be adding this to our permanent collection before next Christmas, I’m sure. We also read The Day Before Christmas, which is a bittersweet story about a little girl and her grandfather, who go to see a performance of the ballet together, just as the grandfather used to do with his daughter, the girl’s mother, before she died. The story perfectly captures the excitement of going to the ballet, especially for the first time.
This year, we watched two productions of the Nutcracker, instead of our usual one. Of course, we had to see our standard (and favorite!), version…the San Fransisco Ballet’s interpretation of the classic story. To go along with Christmas School this year, we also watched the Royal Ballet production, which isn’t quite as captivating as the San Francisco Ballet, but comes close.
Today we had our much-anticipated Christmas tea party:
We also did our first day of winter activities, which included reading several winter-themed books (I love the copy of Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening we got this year!), and doing a fun craft:
Now we’re on vacation for a few weeks…I’m really looking forward to the break! I love Christmas and homeschooling, but when you put them together, it’s exhausting!
Last year, I posted a list of books we read for our “Christmas in American History” unit. I decided to re-organize that list of books, removing some that we don’t normally read, and adding a few new ones for this year. Later, I’ll be creating a seperate list, which will contain the books we’re using this year for “Christmas in England,” but won’t necessarily use on a yearly basis.
- Jotham’s Journey (This and the following two books are part of an Advent series by Arnold Ytreeide–we read one of them out loud each year)
- Bartholomew’s Passage
- Tabitha’s Travels
- The Jesse Tree Kit (This is our other daily religion read-aloud for the Advent season–each day has a short narration as well as a corresponding Bible passage to read.)
- The Very First Christmas
- Three Wise Women of Christmas
- The Visit of the Wise Men
- Fear Not, Joseph!
- The Crippled Lamb
- From Heaven Above
- The First Christmas
- Saint Nicholas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend
- Lucia, Saint of Light
Christmas in America
- Christmas in Williamsburg
- Felicity’s Surprise
- A Surprise for Caroline
- Josefina’s Surprise
- Kirsten’s Surprise
- Louisa May Alcott’s Christmas Treasury
- Addy’s Surprise
- Samantha’s Surprise
- O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi
- Kit’s Surprise
- The Carpenter’s Gift
- Molly’s Surprise
- How the Grinch Stole Christmas
- The Day Before Christmas
- Degas and the Little Dancer
- The Story of the Nutcracker Ballet
- The Nutcracker
- Nutcracker and Mouse King and the Tale of the Nutcracker
Book Basket Books–(These are any Christmas books we happened to have in the house, some from past “Christmas Around the World” units, and some from previous curriculum, or just for fun!)
- The Family Under the Bridge
- The Light at Tern Rock
- A Christmas Carol (This is a wonderful edition, with beautiful illustrations, and a bonus short story!)
- Nutcracker and Mouse King and The Tale of the Nutcracker
- Christmas in the Trenches
- The Kingfisher Book of Classic Christmas Stories
- The Lion Storyteller Christmas Book
- Too Many Tamales
- The Twelve Days of Christmas (There are many lovely, illustrated versions of this song out there, but this one is my favorite)
- A Child’s Christmas in Wales
- The Autobiography of Santa Claus (This and the following book, although Santa focused, are actually great stories, so I make them available for Turkey and Bunny to read during the Christmas season.)
- How Mrs. Claus Saved Christmas
- A Pioneer Christmas
Winter Books (As long as winter begins during the Christmas season, I’ll include the books we always read on the first day of winter)
This is how I’m feeling after the amazing end to the Cardinals baseball season:
“People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.” Rogers Hornsby
This has been a very confusing weekend.
It looks like winter–snow covering the trees, wintry mix falling from the sky, roads kind of slushy…
But are those flowers under the snow on this bush?
And tiny, brand new, green leaves on this tree?
And this poor, snow-covered magnolia…I don’t think magnolia flowers are used to weather liked this…
And the daffodils…they could barely hold their heads up under the weight of the snow.
Yesterday, we broke out the winter coats again, and now we’re wondering if the trees will even finish blooming this year, or if the hard freeze will bring an end to our beautiful spring.
March weather can always be counted on to be totally weird!
Or a weatherman, for that matter!
Does this look like an early spring? Or the results of a system that “passed to the south?”
I think not. I had to shovel four to five inches of “scattered flurries” off the driveway this morning. And that on top of a solid layer of ice that has refused to leave, even with salt, sun, and desperate attempts to break it up with the shovel. I know it’s winter, but it would be nice if we could get a forecast that would warn us of the weather to come–we either get doom and gloom about what turns out to be a relatively minor storm, or no warning about a decent amount of snow that put a crimp in my weekend plans!
“Where the Sidewalk Ends” is not only the name of a children’s poetry book–it’s also a question raised when trying to determine what is snow-covered sidewalk that needs to be cleared, and what is, beneath the snow, ice-covered lawn. Because, let me tell you, they look the same when viewed through the lens of ice!
“Oh the weather outside is frightful,
But the fire is so delightful,
And since we’ve no place to go,
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!”
It’s nice that none of us have to leave the house on a day like today!
Even though the first day of winter was on a Sunday, and technically, we had suspended school for the Christmas holiday the previous Friday, we had a special school day on December 21. Turkey and Bunny loved this, because Daddy got to come to school, which is something they are always asking for. We had a special craft activity, a special story, and a movie to watch.
Our craft project for the day was Q-tip snowflakes. They’re really beautiful, and easy for children to do on their own, because the snowflakes can be as simple or as complex as you want. There’s a really cool gallery with pictures of actual snowflakes taken with a photo-microscope. It’s totally worth checking out, and a great reminder of God’s attention to detail.
This craft was really fun, although I’m really glad I made a sample beforehand, to work out most of the kinks (who knew there was a correct side of the wax paper to use?). There were still a few minor issues with the snowflakes coming apart when peeling them off the wax paper the second time around, but not as bad as my first two, and a little hot glue fixed them up just fine.
Daddy got to be the narrator for our winter story–Snow, by Roy McKie and P.D. Eastman. The timing was perfect on this one, because Bunny had received this book as a Christmas present the Friday before (thanks, Uncle Ken!), so we got to read her copy, instead of looking for one at the library. Turkey and Bunny loved it, and have been asking to read it constantly, as well as planning all the things they would like to do in the snow that they learned about in the book–it would have to snow here first, but that’s besides the point. They can dream, right?
Finally, we watched our second viewing of the Nutcracker–the San Francisco Ballet production. I had previewed the second half of this version of the classic ballet a few days prior, and because I was so impressed with it, decided it would make a nice addition to our winter lessons, especially with how beautiful the “Waltz of the Snowflakes” was. Turkey and Bunny had already seen the Mikhail Baryshnikov production the previous week, in addition to reading the storybook, so they were familiar with the story. They both seemed to prefer the San Francisco Ballet production, in part due to the fact that Baryshnikov leaves out the Sugar Plum Fairy, while the San Francisco Ballet gives her her due. Regardless, they both sat transfixed through the entire performance a second time, which I find impressive given their ages, and the fact that, as much as even I love the Nutcracker, the music is so soothing, it makes even me want to drift off to sleep!
We have really enjoyed our special change of the season activities for both Fall and Winter–now I just have to come up with something spectacular for spring! I’m thinking something involving coffee filters, food coloring and pipe cleaners, but I haven’t decided for sure yet. Stay tuned!