It’s the most wonderful Time of the Year! Did you just sing that along with me? I drive my children crazy bursting into random songs.
I love the holidays. Food, family, smells, traditions….
Since we started homeschooling ten years ago, we’ve had a special Advent morning time each December that builds us up to Christmas. One of the benefits of homeschooling is that we have the freedom to focus on what we teach and the most important thing I want to teach my children is why we believe in God, so now they look forward to celebrating and learning together each year.
Our first Advent Study – The Truth in the Tinsel
The first year we homeschooled I had children in preschool to third grade and we started with The Truth in the Tinsel ebook. Every day, we studied a different Bible passage, and then were guided through making a tree ornament that related to the Bible passage. We started with an empty tree and decorated it as the Advent season went on. Ten years later, we still have several of those handmade ornaments on our tree. My children enjoyed it so much that the next Christmas, I gifted my siblings and their families the ebook along with the recommended supplies, so that they could create their own traditions.
After that year, the years run together a bit, but we still do something special every Advent. Here is a compilation of several of my favorite things we did along with descriptions of each.
Complete Morning Time Plans
If you are just starting your morning times, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE following a complete plan like Pam Barnhill’s Your Morning Basket plans for Christmas. She has three different plans called Advent, Christmas Celebration and Christmas Around the World.
Each plan is chock full of poems, Christmas carols, art work, nature studies, and picture books to read. What I love – it is planned out for each day, it gives a list of all supplies needed, and it has blank planning pages in case you need to change the schedule. You can print out the book list and head to the library to get your books for the month. She includes all the links within the plan, so that you can easily listen to the music or view the art work. I love and use her plans so much that I purchased an Apple TV just so that we could view it every morning on the bigger screen of the TV instead of my 13 inch laptop.
The plans are full of such rich reading and learning that I’ve never learned anywhere else, and nothing overlaps in each of the plans, so you can use all three for unique experiences.
If we only did morning basket time during the Advent season, I would still say my children had a good education. Some days even include math lessons, like tessellations or Fibonacci’s number, and my children have not forgotten these lessons over the years!
Jotham’s Journey Christmas Series
A stand alone, once a day devotional that we love is Jotham’s Journey Christmas books which is a series of four books that follow four different children (Jotham’s Journey, Bartholomew’s Passage, Tabitha’s Travels, and Ishtar’s Odyssey) through the four weeks that led up to the actual day of Jesus’s birth. Each day has a different chapter and ends with a devotion that leads through the truth of the day’s story. The books are not sequels as they are intertwined and show each child’s perspective so you can follow the children for four separate Advent seasons before repeating.
My children LOVE this series! I learned a lot, too, as it explained the meanings of the prophecies of Christ’s birth. It is nothing like I have ever read as it is so intriguing and I truly feel I am in the Bible times.
If you like this series, there is also a book called Amon’s Adventure that leads you through Lent.
Slow And Sacred Advent
Another Advent plan I have worked through is the Slow + Sacred Advent ebook by Jennifer Nakari. This four-week plan focuses each week on a different Old Testament prophecy that is fulfilled through the Christ Child. It includes hymns and carols, handi-work projects, recipes, and Bible verses.
We enjoyed this plan as it had recipes to make and eat each week. My family LOVES to cook together and eat!
Jennifer passed away in early 2019 from cancer, but her blog www.jennifernaraki.com has the updated calendar of readings for the 2020 Advent season. This ebook also continues to help support her three young boys. She also has a Rich + Rooted Passover plan that we have used.
Books That Tug Your Heartstrings
I have a couple of books in my Christmas basket that have become staples over the years. I have no idea where I learned about them, but I love these books that tug on the heartstrings and make you feel the meaning of Christmas’s sacrifice.
Paper Bag Christmas is a small unassuming chapter book that follows a boy during one Christmas season as he is volun-told to be in the local children’s hospital Christmas pageant and has a change of heart. I don’t want to say anymore which might give the story away. It’s SO good!!! I cry through the last chapter, but it gives you such a happy feeling.
An Orange for Frankie is written by one of my favorites, Patricia Polacco, and it is the true story of her uncle, Frankie, as he waits for his father to return from his annual Christmas shopping trip. It is a beautiful picture book that follows his story of Christmas sacrifice.
What we will use for Advent 2020
I have a child looking over my shoulder as I write this. She is anxious to know what we are doing this year. There are so many excellent ones to choose from, and I had trouble choosing!! I follow the instagram account called A Gentle Feast which chronicles a Charlotte Mason styled education and decided to use their Morning Time Plans for Advent. Each week will lead us through Bible passages, composer studies, hymns, poetry, picture studies, handicrafts, and prayers.
I love this special time we have together. We are increasing our faith in our creative Father God and Jesus Christ. We learn through the works of various types of artists. And create memories as family. If you haven’t already started this tradition, I pray you do this year.