The ideas for crafts and projects are endless. Holiday decorations, crafts, calendars and gifts can all be created during homeschool “lessons.” Jamie Sue Austin is a paper-crafter expert and has some wonderful ideas for holiday crafts and homeschool crafts using free printables at her blog Free Printable Fun, including snowman printables and free printables for rulers and measuring guides. (I never thought of searching for a free printable ruler when I couldn't find my ruler. What a great idea!) She has lots of free printables for the holidays, so keep checking during the seasons if you are an artsy crafty person or you'd like to put some fun into your homeschooling lessons.
Personally, I prefer to avoid the word “lesson” during homeschooling, and just make it appear as if we’re having fun all the time – but my daughter does know we’re supposed to be doing five hours of schoolwork a day. She also knows it’s not always fun. Jesse does have fun telling me “well, this can be counted as schoolwork because it teaches me about art (or math, or reading, or music),” whenever she wants an excuse to do something fun, or when we’re doing something that’s fun and she wants to count it as homeschooling.
She loves cooking and is always looking for an excuse to make something. I am NOT skilled in the kitchen, although I should be by now. I'm too forgetful, and too clumsy. My kids however, (except one who has unforunately inherited my forgetfulness and clumsiness), are excellent cooks and kitchen creators. If you enjoy making gingerbread houses and Christmas cookies, you'll enjoy paying a visit to Laurie Turk's Tip Junkie Blog. She has some amazing Gingerbread creations from readers featured, and links to tutorials on how they were created. Art, math, science and social studies can all be incorporated into a day (or week!) spent making gingerbread houses, towers or villages. (You've got to look at the gingerbread skyscraper!) She has lots of links to tips, crafts and giveaways for all the major holidays, so if you scroll down a bit you'll find a lot of links to fun at this adorable blog. It's definitely a treat to visit!
Teaching about the holidays is a fun way to contribute to studies on social studies, global studies, history, or whatever name current mandatory subjects are being designated as. The holidays are also a great opportunity to work on the math of calendars, clock and time. There are far too many websites on holidays that would be useful to teaching about the holidays, and since it is the holidays and I’m running behind on my own teaching, I’m just going to list a few websites to help homeschooling parents homeschool for the holidays. If you have your favorite websites for teaching about the holidays, please feel free to leave a comment and let others know. Knowledge is power – and holiday studies are fun!
If you'd like to learn about some funny holidays in the US that are overlooked on traditional calendars throughout the year, take a visit to the holiday website Bizzare American Holidays from Thinkquest, created by Larissa Wilson at Hiawatha High School, and Coleen Gilg at Paxton High School. January 2nd is "Run up the Flagpole and See if Anyone Salutes Day". First, this reminded me of my son breaking both his arms and a leg when he decided to swing from a rope on a school flagpole, then it reminded me of the tongue freezing on the flagpole scene in the movie A Christmas Story. I find it much more relaxing to think about January 3rd's "Festival of Sleep Day." Can't wait to study that one! The Bizarre Holiday website gives you the choice to search by month or by category, and there are more educational topics than flagpoles and sleep. (Although I can already think of a few dozen tangents to go off on with those... .) There are Bird Day, Rock Day, and other holidays that are perfect for determining the day's lesson plan. (Try Bird Day if you're looking for something on the fly - sorry, couldn't resist!) You'll find holidays for adults, like "Man-Watching Day," and cute holidays for kids, like "Winnie the Pooh Day."
If you prefer a little more reality in your lesson plans (but why?) - DMOZ has a list of links under Calendars and Lists which lists links to calendars and holiday observance information from countries around the world. There are free printable calendars and perpetual calendar links listed. DMOZ links are evaluated before they are listed in their directory, so they are likely to be a good source of information. Another interesting website for free printable calendars and lesson plans on calendars is the Library Support Staff educational website. They have a page called "What's Being Observed Today", and it has a list of links to many calendars, observance information, and educational websites on American and International holidays. It looks like a unique website, although I haven't researched it thoroughly. I'm sure there's useful homeschool ideas in there, and they have a search box to search for more educational links. And look at that - it even says that December is International Calendar Awareness Month. There's something I didn't know! There are a lot of links on the side of the blog that lead to other educational websites and reference websites.
The Money Instructor website has links to free worksheets on clocks, money, calendars and math. The title says it's for Kindergarten, but quite frankly, many of the assignments are for second graders and even third graders. After I wrote that last sentence, I noticed they did put first grade, second grade and third grade at the bottom. You'll find kindergarten worksheets, as well as coin counting, place value and fractions.
If you're interested in Calendar and Clock worksheets to teach telling time, calendar history, sundials and more, try Just in Time, a page from the Journey in Time website. You have to click on the pictures to reach the topics you wants. Just move your cursor around and you'll be able to tell it's on a link when it changes its form. You'll find information on gears, pendulums and other time-related subjects. A good bookmark for science class. We're studying gears and simple machines now so I need to bookmark this!
You can also find calendar free printables by the month, week and day along with lesson plans and questions at Instructor Web. I haven't been to their website before, but they do have free lesson plans on all the major subjects as well as free educational worksheets. It looks like you do have to sign up for the "free limited membership" to print the worksheets. The lesson plans are viewable at no cost and without having to sign up.
The US Government has many educational websites for kids that are useful for homeschooling. (Google has a Government Search that searches only US government websites.) Kids in the House is a government website created to teach kids about Congress. They have a link on the history of Federal Holidays, an explanation on how holidays are made and the separation of federal and state holiday regulations, as well as many interesting links and an opportunity to do a full text search for content in official holiday bills. This website also has a free download for an educational kids book, and links to "fun and games." The US also has The National Archives website, which has a link with a long history of George Washington's Birthday, and a search box to search for historical information on other national holidays.
Anderson Elementary is an excellent resource for a list of educational holiday websites. It includes links to activities, free printable worksheets, government holiday websites, PBS and Scholastic educational holiday links and resources for free lesson plans.
I just stumbled across Dr. Labush's Links to Learning website, and it has a LONG list of links to not only educational websites for holidays, but numerous links to websites for lesson plans, free printable worksheets, a timeline maker, and free printable calendars. I haven't delved into yet, but it's definitely worth the time to browse around. You'll likely find something useful for elementary and early grade homeschooling. There are also links for ESL and multi-cultural learning. Sadly, Dr. Labush has recently passed away. However, the free knowledge that was so wholeheartedly put together for the Links to Learning website will no doubt continue to educate children for years to come.
Hot Chalk is also a rich resource for educational links. They have many detailed free lesson plans, including one on Winter Holidays around the world for elementary grade students. Education World also has many links to free lesson plans, including a list of links to lesson plans and history on holidays around the world.
The Internet School Media also has a comprehensive list of links to educational websites with free holiday printables and free holiday lesson plans on holidays around the world. Very sad to read their website is closing because of objectionable email and other reasons, but it appears the links are still valid and live. The Internet School Media also has links for Junior High School and High School students that are valuable for homeschooling on all subjects. Hot Chalk, Education World and Internet School Media all have lesson plans and links to free educational printables on every subject, and are certainly not limited to lesson plans on holidays.
These are all great homeschool websites to bookmark for future reference.
And, since it's New Year's Eve (although I started writing this three days ago!) I'll make my last link a link from Apples4theTeacher, (a homeschool website I'm sure many of you are familiar with), and their page on Links to New Years Eve and New Years Day lesson plans, free calendar printables, and links to historical information on international holidays. Their website is geared towards First Grade, Second Grade, Third Grade, Fourth Grade, Fifth Grade and Sixth Grade. If you scroll down the New Years Eve and New Years Day page you'll see links to more educational holiday websites for kids that you can bookmark for the rest of the New Year.
I could go on forever, but I'm on my old slow computer and ready to turn it into fireworks for the new year. Yesterday I tripped over the cord to my laptop and it went crashing to the floor - which of course crashed the hard drive. So I'm having fun taking it apart for my New Years Eve celebration. (Luckily I back everything up on an external hard drive.) I'm sure the data is still there. I just need to make sure it's connected. Wish me luck. Let me know what you're doing for New Year's Eve! I'm sure it'll be more fun than mine!
Have fun with homeschooling for the holidays and have a really great new year!
Calendar Photo Courtesy of Pawel Kryj
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