Happiness! It’s December and a rocking end to 2019. Here’s a look at what we’re up to learning wise and beyond this month. The coming weeks seem to hold all kinds of crazy and we have a lot of activities to fill them as the holiday season kicks into high gear.
Winter solstice is on December 21.
Hanukkah happens between December 22 and 30.
Christmas is on December 25.
Kwanzaa is December 26 through January 1.
New Year’s Eve is December 31.
Other notable happenings:
Ballet recital this month. The winter performance happens the first week of December and the excitement is off the charts. There is promise of a candy cane while the kids dance to “Candy Cane Lane” by Sia at the end of the performance and that’s enough to get the kids excited.
Forest school continues. Two more classes round out the month before we break for the holidays. There is talk of another session soon and we’re all about it. The layers and rain suits have definitely come in handy. We’re slated to have a Winter Solstice potluck and hike with fellow forest school families this month as well.
Monthly kids book club. The group’s age range is 5 to 10. We meet with other homeschoolers and a children’s librarian to talk about the month’s selection. We also do an activity around the content of the book. This month, the theme is holidays.
Pee wee basketball wraps up. Our foray into the sport wraps up this month with one more practice/game.
In other learning news:
We’re continuing to learn our consonant blends and word families. The kids are getting more confident with reading simple stories.
I found a set of ASL (American Sign Language) flash cards that I pull out when we have some down time in the car. We also like to practice our ABCs in sign.
Poetry teatime (inspired by Julie Bogart’s Brave Learner) is our special time to read our library book selections and talk about literature over a treat and a cup of tea. This is hands down one of the kids favorite activities we do together during the week.
We started listening to a new podcast called Circle Round. Each week, this literary-focused podcast tells folk tales, fables and stories (in November, they were focused around Native American Heritage Month).
Music appreciation is part of our everyday and we’re continuing that.
We found a free video learning series for piano called Hoffman Academy and in the first lesson, the kids learned how to play “Hot Cross Buns.”
Arts and crafts
I love this time of year decorating-wise as the days are shorter, dark and dreary if the sun is not out. Hygge is the name of the game.
We incorporate social emotional learning throughout our everyday as a family and with our friends. The kids are starting to learn a bit more about peer pressure, bullying and diversity. We’ve also been focusing a lot on managing emotions and anxiety, getting calm and expressing how we’re feeling about things. The kids also like to use their gratitude journals.
Some of the books that I’ve read (or we’ve read together):
- Try a Little Kindness by Henry Cole
- The Self-driven Child by William R. Stixrud
- Charlotte and the Quiet Place by Deborah Sosin
- Exploring Emotions: A Mindfulness Guide to Understanding Feelings by Paul Christelis
We have a pretend cash register that the kids love to play “store” with. We recently went to Starbucks for a treat and the next day, the kids were pretending to be baristas and ringing up orders and store items. Imaginative play is the best for learning sometimes. We run errands together during the week and there are countless hours of questions and explanations.
We typically talk about ways to stay healthy all the time, but even more so this time of year. It’s especially important when it comes to hand washing, covering our mouth when we cough or sneeze, eating our vitamins, staying away from a lot of sugar, staying hydrated, well-rested and getting plenty of exercise.
I recently discovered an informational fiction series called “The Acadia Files” by Katie Coppens which follows the life of preteen Acadia Greene and her family as they make STEAM themed discoveries. The book description says it’s geared towards the ages of 8 to 12 (a little older than what my kids are at) but so far, we’ve read a couple chapters out of the Autumn Science book and we’ve been intrigued. The kids seem to gravitate towards storytelling and this may be our introduction into more of the recommended reading through the Torchlight curriculum which from my understanding is very literary-based.
Another favorite science activity, other than our forest school experiences and tracking moon phases is our Kiwi Crates. The kids loved the boxes so much that I decided to extend our subscription another year.
We’ve also been listening to a podcast called “Wow in the World” from NPR. It’s an entertaining way to hear about a fun scientific discovery and it definitely appeals to the kids’ funny bone.
We’re still practicing our basic addition and subtraction. We have a manipulative game that we got from one of the kids’ workbooks that we’ve been playing with. We have also been going through online lessons and printable worksheets from Education.com. The kids work on number tracing daily with calendar practice and through their math sections in their workbooks.
We made it to opening weekend for the release of “Frozen 2.” That’s been a big hit here. We’ve also been watching Disney+ every so often which has been equally fun for the kids as it has been for me. Later this month, we’re checking out a holiday-themed play called “Twas the Night” – a spin on the classic Christmas tale “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” We’re going to have our annual Breakfast with Santa and will check out a few local light displays as well as spending time with friends and family.