I think it goes without saying my obsession with holidays means that homeschooling through the holidays is something we did year after year in the Happy Hive. It is however a little deeper than that.
I have always adopted the philosophy that everything is learning. In the Happy Hive, school takes place 365 days a year. My kids only got a vacation on Leap Day. We didn’t take time off at Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Spring Break. There was no such thing as Summer Vacation as far as homeschooling was concerned. This system of schooling is, without a doubt, a matter of mindset. I want to reassure you we did not sit down to complete math worksheets and write essays for 365 days straight.
“Everything is learning” means what we learn ebbs and flows with the seasons of life. Some days we learned how fun it is to stand in line for rides at Disneyland.
We also had that magical year where every day was a holiday. That year was my inspiration for the activities I create for your homeschools. Every other year there was the regular “holiday season” from about Halloween to January 15th. In those years, we began adapting what is often thought of as “traditional” schooling. About 2 weeks before Halloween we stopped our lessons and did not get back into our “normal” routine until mid-January.
Homeschooling Through the Holidays is easy with a plan
Here is a look at what Homeschooling through the Holidays looked like in the Happy Hive Homeschool. You’ll also get plenty of suggested adaptations you can make. These easy changes will help keep learners of all ages engaged in academics rooted in tradition and quality time with family.
I worked the necessary curriculum changes into my overall lesson planning when I mapped out my year. It’s ok if you haven’t done that. Give yourself permission to go off the path and create a new plan! Re-visit your overarching homeschool WHY. I would imagine it is so you can provide a custom curriculum that is BEST for your child. Trying to be everything, do everything, and become a stressed-out mess during “the most wonderful time of the year” isn’t ideal!
Let go so that you can give the homeschooling through the holidays method a try!
Ideas for Homeschooling Through the Holidays in October
Plan crafts and artwork to be used as decorations around the house. These are fun to collect each year. There are even online tutorials for drawing and painting you can use.
Study the HISTORY of Halloween to illustrate traditions relating to costumes, trick or treating, and jack o’ lanterns.
Involve the kids in putting together the gift bags for your trick-or-treat giveaway. From the shopping to the packaging every step is educational. Create a treat bag that is balanced nutritionally, allergy-friendly, or non-food related for a really different treat! Calculate the overall cost of your giveaway and per-item cost for some real-life math.
Get creative with costumes
Make your own costumes (it’s amazing what you can do with a glue gun if you don’t sew). Make costumes at your level of make-ness! Each year AFTER Halloween I’d get up early, go to the store, and purchase costumes at a discount for our “dress-up bin”. For several years that dress-up bin became THE SOURCE of HALLOWEEN inspiration. We hit some financial speedbumps and going all out was out of the question. The end result was the same – HAPPY KIDS!
True story, in 2021, my then 20-year-old daughter was invited to a costume party. She asked if we happened to have the dress-up bin. I had it stored in the attic. We got it down, and low and behold – she repurposed her kitty costume from when she was 7. All she needed to do was crochet herself a tail. The original hat was lost, but she had another kitty hat that “Mrs. Claus” had made.
Another BIG October event is making costumes for stuffed animals. In the Happy Hive, it was the three best friends of my children, however, any stuffed friends can get costumes! This is simply another opportunity for the children to be creative and expand their skills.
Ideas for Homeschooling through the Holidays in November
Keep a daily gratitude journal. Make each day something different. Our favorite idea is to trace each child’s hand and write the gratitudes around the hand using different colors. Another idea is to make an autumn (or spring if you are in the southern hemisphere) tree and add leaves of gratitude each day. Have each child use a different leaf outline or different fall color.
Create a Thanksgiving Dinner Project. It can be as simple, or as complex as you want, or as the ages of your children. Here is a basic outline:
- Plan and “shop” for their version of Thanksgiving dinner.
- Give your kids an outline, such as including one Meat dish, one vegetarian dish, two sides, and one dessert. They should also be sure to include beverage choices.
- For each option have the kids write out the recipe, list the ingredients needed and shop for them. They can also indicate the cost for each. You can make allowances for things you would reasonably have on hand like salt and pepper or other seasonings.
- You can set a budget or just figure how much their dream meal would cost.
- If you want to take the project further, have them cut out pictures from grocery store ads, magazines, or online clip art and create a menu or other display!
November is a great time to study the history of table place settings. Answer the question why the fork goes on the left. Exactly how many forks are used at special events?
Plan Thanksgiving-themed crafts and artwork to be used as decorations around the house. After all, making placemats and homemade napkin rings is always a hit.
An activity for the whole family
Here in the Happy Hive, our favorite November homeschooling through the holidays activity begins just after Thanksgiving! The Cinnamon Bear Old Time Radio show has become an anticipated tradition in our home! We listen each day to the adventures of Jimmy, Judy, and Paddy O’Cinnamon as they try to find the lost silver star. The star is important because it belongs on top of Jimmy and Judy’s Christmas Tree. They meet many interesting characters all throughout Maybeland that will delight listeners of all ages. These Adventures continue throughout December as well! This is a great dinner or bedtime activity for the whole family. Often dad is left out of our homeschooling adventures because of his schedule. See if you can include him in this.
Because the Cinnamon Bear is indeed a favorite It’s one of the Holiday of the Day resources available for you in our Shop! I have created a collection of 40 different coloring pages to keep little hands busy while you listen each day. There are links to listen to each episode provided as well! The Radio show is also available in the public domain. A quick search will give you the results you need.
Ideas for Homeschooling Through the Holidays in December
Traditionally, school children have about 2 weeks off at Christmas time. This break can be both a blessing and a curse. It’s nice to have “no school” but what do you do to keep the kids occupied? Especially because as a mom YOU have so much to do. Here is a PEEK into our December activities in 2012 when I was both working AND homeschooling.
December is certainly the time I think having a plan to homeschool through the holidays really helps!
Another magical treat is to watch the daily antics of Santa’s Reindeer. Log onto the REINDEER CAM. There is plenty to do free on this website that will delight believers of all ages. Unlocking all features is only $5.00 and so worth it if you have little ones. (I am not an affiliate simply a long-time Reindeer Cam Viewer and BELIEVER in the Magic!)
I like to wrap a different children’s book for each day in December. The kids open them as a literature advent calendar. They are NOT new books, just favorite bedtime stories! I happen to have enough Christmas / holiday-themed books to do this with those, but you can use any favorite bedtime stories! I placed the wrapped books in a basket and one child picked each evening.
Make Giving the focus of December
December can also be filled with gift-making activities. Taking the time to make a list of relatives and friends for which you can make handmade gifts is a great way to homeschool through the holidays. Some ideas include:
- Greeting Card Sets (1 for each month- think about holidays, birthdays, occasions they can SEND cards for all year)
- Create rock paintings or small canvas paintings
- Sewing, knitting, or crocheting as your talents allow is a fun way to make gifts. It’s probably not a good time to learn a new skill. Think about things that are useful such as potholders and scarves.
- Photography is also a great skill you can use to give gifts. Take abstract or natural pictures and frame them.
- Do you have plants in your garden you can propagate and gift? Decorate the containers with kid art.
- Jazz up dollar store photo frames with craft supplies like felt, pom-poms, and glitter. This works great for candles too!
- Bead simple necklaces, earrings, or bracelets. Make keychains for the men in the life of your child.
- The holidays are a fantastic time for baking together and homemade treats make a GREAT GIFT!
More December Activities
As with the preceding months, making decorations together is a favorite activity. Ornaments for the Christmas Tree, a Christmas countdown paper chain, or even a paper plate craft can all make your days merry and bright!
Whipping up a batch of Reindeer Food can be another fun activity for a cold December day. Reindeer Food is designed to help Santa’s reindeer keep up their strength and not eat your LAWN! One thing to keep in mind is that glitter is not safe for birds who may partake in any leftovers. Stick to natural animal-friendly ingredients such as oats, unsweetened cereal and for a pop of color go ahead and use cake sprinkles! If you want to add a little birdseed, the Reindeer won’t mind a bit! Share packets of Reindeer food with the neighbors, your family, and friends.
If you’re feeling ambitious, why not try the Happy Hive’s all-time favorite tradition: The Edible Christmas Tree.
It uses my mom’s tried and true recipe for sugar ornamental cookies that the kids “paint”. You don’t have to go all out with a completely edible tree to enjoy an afternoon of cookie painting. If you like the idea of painting cookies, or even creating your own version of the edible Christmas Tree inspired by my mom, you’ll love the Homeschooling Through the Holidays Activity Pack Freebie I have for you when you become an email subscriber!
After the Christmas Rush, there are still plenty of activities
The toy trade is my favorite after-Christmas activity. (I have a lot of favorites at this time of year!) As the kids are cleaning up the loot they got from Santa, family, and friends, have them take a good hard look at what they ALREADY HAVE and say goodbye to at least half. For example, if they received 10 new toys, they should donate 5 old toys. My kids were not allowed to donate broken toys, those got trashed at this time of the year. They made thoughtful choices about what to keep and what to give. This works for clothing as well! Anything that does not fit can be donated. Thinks that are ripped and stained can get used as rags or upcycled in other ways or recycled.
It’s also time to prepare for the new year. An end-of-the-year reflection and goal-setting activity. I’m not a fan of “resolutions” as they are just a desire or a decision to do (or not do) something. A goal on the other hand, establishes an objective based on the child’s effort. A goal provides a path to follow when you set them, follow up on them and celebrate them.
The Goal Setting Templates from Happy Hive Homeschooling are designed to do just that! This complete program is for homes with multi-aged children and works well when starting a new year! You can grab your set in the Happy Hive Shop.
You can also plan an end-of-the-year celebration as part of your homeschooling day. Will you read a book every hour until midnight? Have a movie marathon, play games, or make special foods? There are many New Year’s Eve traditions that kids can be involved in.
Activities that can extend into the New year
Thinking ahead to the NEW YEAR and what that will look like for your family and your homeschool, why not consider creating a family TIME CAPSULE? This was an activity we did in 2010. The Time Capsule stored work samples, items of clothing, pictures, and other mementos for 10 years! The time capsule reveal was a memory-filled family even that was fun for all of us in 2020. You can choose to create a time capsule for any length of time and at any point in your homeschooling journey.
The biggest element of our time capsule was our Seasons, Months, and Days lapbook. This was a year-long lapbooking project that was carefully curated over the entire year. . Not only did the project contain work samples, but it also has handwriting samples including a record of how your children write their name each month! I have updated this project’s files and created the activities so you can complete them with your children as well. It can be started in January, or during the “back to school” season. It has Calendar History, Facts about the seasons, months, days of the week and so much more! This is truly one of my all-time favorites.
Are you ready to Homeschool through the Holidays?
I hope these ideas have inspired you to set aside the textbooks and online curriculum for a bit and enjoy the traditions of the holiday season. To help you implement the plan smoothly and have activities ready, grab this Homeschooling through the Holidays Activity Pack.
You are now an expert on how to homeschool through the holidays!
Once you implement some of these ideas you’ll transform your holiday homeschooling in no time. Don’t worry about what month you are in, begin now. Tuck the other ideas away for next year and enjoy the memory-making right where you are. Thank you for inviting Happy Hive Homeschooling into your Happy Hive!