We started our homeschool year at the beginning of August this year. I did this for two reasons. Reason one was that my kids had lost their minds and we were all craving a little structure. Reason two was that I knew that come the holiday season I wanted to cut way back on our regular curriculum in favor of making it a cozy time to focus on holiday fun. Funny how when the time came though, I balked a little.
It felt a little crazy to me to step back from our regular lessons and quickly realized taking the season off completely wouldn’t be a good fit for me. Instead I decided to break from our usual curriculum and fill the time with other kinds of learning- theme weeks, character development, and yes, just plain holiday fun, too!
I’ve been sharing what we’ve been reading and some of our activities on Instagram stories and received some great feedback. There are a lot of us looking for simple and fun ways to make this time of year feel festive and so whether you homeschool or are just wanting some fun activities to do with your kids, I hope you find these ideas helpful. This post is about what we’ve done this week, which I lovingly deemed COOKIE WEEK!
December Cookie Week Books
We checked out about 20 books involving Christmas cookies over the course of the week and I’m only going to share the ones that we really enjoyed. Some lacked a story or the kids just weren’t into, but these listed were enjoyed by all of us!
Gingerbread Pirates: A funny and magical Christmas story about a gingerbread pirate, Captain Cookie, and his daring adventure on Christmas eve to rescue his crew from a mysterious cannibal named Santa Claus
Cookie Angel: When the clock strikes twelve, all the presents under the Christmas tree come to life and start a ruckus! Monkey speeds around in a red racing car, and Doll and Jack-in-the-Box fight over candy canes. Can Cookie Angel stop the toys from waking the children before Christmas morning?
Tough Cookie: Once upon a time, while Fox was visiting the land of Holiday Treats, a little cookie―still warm from the bakery oven―burst out the front door looking sweet and ready to be devoured. But, as it turns out, Cookie is not as fast as he thinks and when Fox finally catches him, they’re both in for a big surprise: Sugar Cookie does not taste delicious―and he’s certainly not fit to be eaten. What’s an unsavory cookie to do? Is there another option for this not-so-sweet treat?
Messy Bessey’s Holidays: Bessey and her mother bake cookies for Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Hanukkah, and after cleaning up the kitchen, they distribute the treats to their neighbors.
The Gingerbread Man Loose at Christmas: Everyone in class is busy practicing songs and making goodies for their trip to town to thank community helpers, and the Gingerbread Man has made a gift for someone extra sweet. But before he can deliver his gift, whipping wind and swirling snow come to town, too. Slushy sidewalks are no place for a cookie, but this Gingerbread Man won’t let a little bad weather stop him!
December Cookie Week Community Project
I really wanted to put some focus on doing for others this holiday season. It’s a very important concept to me and while I talk with the girls about it a lot, I’m not sure I do the best job at getting them involved on a regular basis. I decided to make it a focus this week and get their opinions on what project they’d be most interested in. After a lot of discussion, we decided to make blessings bags. Blessing bags are bags filled with various hygiene and food items to those that are given out to those that are homeless or in need, either by keeping them in your car to hand out yourself or by contacting local shelters to coordinate drop-offs.
We talked about it, did some internet research to see which items would be most helpful and which to avoid, then made a list. We went to Walmart to get supplies to make 10 blessing bags. This project was incredible for Hailey (7 years old). She was able to grasp it. She did the reasoning behind the items, the shopping, and once we were back at home she assembled them all. Though Kaitlyn (4 years old) participated, I don’t think she got as much out of it.
Items we included: toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, hand warmers, new socks, tissues, chap stick, deodorant, hand sanitizer, vitamins, Cliff bars, and apple juice.
Neighbor and Baking Project
We knew we wanted to bake cookies (obviously) and I knew the kids would want to eat all the cookies (obviously) so we turned the baking into a writing project and community project. Each girl chose a cookie (for Hailey is was candy cane cookies and Kaitlyn chose gingerbread houses). Then I helped them write letters using correct spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc to a neighbor whose Christmas lights display we particularly enjoy.
Then we baked the cookies (which turned out NOTHING like the picture) to wrap up and deliver with our letters. It was fun to bake and eat cookies, then get to spread the love a little, too.
As for the gingerbread houses, we took a shortcut and bought the cheapest version we could find and it served its purpose just fine. The girls thoroughly enjoyed decorating and then eating all the leftover candy, too of course!
December Cookie Week STEM
Do you know how much fun a bag of gumdrops and some small bamboo skewers can be? I do, now. I had these marked as a Wednesday project, but made the mistake (good move?) of showing David and the girls on Tuesday night. That turned into staying up an hour past bedtime while David and the girls talked about the strength of triangles and assembled their towers. I truly don’t know who enjoyed it more- the grown man engineer or the seven year old.
Either way, it was so much fun! I highly recommend this activity. The original intent was to use all the green ones and build a Christmas tree, but that turned into bridges and towers and just random shapes.
December Cookie Week Miscellaneous Activities
In between these projects, we filled our days with the following:
- Seasonal spelling words. We wrote these on paper, decorated them, practiced them, and had “spelling tests” as we drove around town. The girls are really into car spelling bees right now.
- Christmas puzzle. I’ll admit I bought this and set it up on a table, but we have yet to really get to it yet.
- Card games. Both my family and David’s family play a lot of cards, so getting the girls to better understand card play is always a goal, as is number practice in general. We played a lot of Speed, some Go Fish, and I’m excited because I think Santa is bringing them Five Crowns for their stocking.
- Christmas themed worksheets. I’ve become a recent fan of Teachers Pay Teachers website, which supplies a seemingly endless array of printable sheets for all grades and ages for a low cost. I searched through Christmas themed math and language arts for k-2nd grade, printed off my favorites, and each girl has been doing a few worksheets each day, too. Having elves and Christmas trees on the sheets has made doing this more fun for them!
- Peppermint ornaments. We still have this fun and simple peppermint ornament craft left to do this week. It’s always a hit!
And that will wrap up our cookie week! Next week I’m planning a Nutcracker Week unit and ordered this book that plays 10 excerpts from the ballet, which is sure to be a hit.
If you homeschool- how do you do things during the holiday season? Break? Continue as usual?
Do you have any festive activities that I need to check out?
I’m always looking for new ideas! Happy December, my friends!