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In my quest to fill the holidays with magic, I am trying to recognize some of the more obscure (from an American perspective) holidays that occur during the Winter. The first holiday that I am trying hard to incorporate is St. Nick’s Day. St. Nick’s Day celebrates the actual Saint from which Santa is based and is–apparently–a more low key, religious take on the seasonal gift givers. Obviously, a holiday such as St. Nick’s Day appears to be redundant with Christmas itself. Consequently, I had to consider ways in which to make this holiday uniquely special. I assumed I had a roadblock until I came across a video on lapbooking. I found myself so inspired by the video that I determined to make a lapbook for St. Nick’s Day. Once I committed myself to the task, I found it quite easy to create the lapbook and to incorporate a wide variety of information, stories, games and other activities around the day’s theme of selfless giving.

This is the lapbook’s cover. It features a simple picture of St. Nick which may be colored. It needs a little more oomph to it, but it will make do for now. In the very near future, I hope to create a decorative title which will be affixed above the St. Nick picture.

This is the inside cover of the laptop. Here, a fanciful picture of St. Nick can be seen poised above a small mountain of shoes. In the Netherlands, St. Nick’s visit results in shoes being filled with fruit, candies and small trinkets.

This is the cover for a fold-out story of St. Nick. I essentially printed out a story that consists of two pages printed on one side of paper. I folded the paper in half and cut out an imposing picture of St. Nick and pasted it on the blank side of the story.

Here is a simplified version of the St. Nick story. St. Nick has some fairly lurid stories associated with him, so I went for a simplified tell that left something to the imagination.

To make the most of the space allotted by the folders that comprise the lapbook, I incorporated an envelope to hold pieces for a bingo activity. I layered some papers for a drawing activity and a fold out “bag of coins” to further discussion of the St. Nick lesson. The other folder is likewise filled with side activities including a St. Nick puzzle and some material to make St. Nick ornaments.

The flap containing the St. Nick story opens out to reveal a Bingo game. The reverse side of the fold-out flap also contains a pocket which can be used to contain other elements of the St. Nick lesson plan.

Finally, the rear of the lapbook contains a matching game that prompts one to search through a picture and circle objects that start with the letter S. Here, I should point out, St. Nick traditionally travels on a ship, so the S is a fitting letter to associate with the seafaring saint and his ship.

As I was perusing various videos looking for Christmas ideas, I came across a video featuring an “Advent Box.” I had heard of calendars, but never a box. The individual in the video explained with much relish that he had received Advent calendars from various persons. However, his he was most fond of an amazing, handmade Advent box that his girlfriend designed and built for him. The box appeared to contain 24 little bags of goodies hidden amongst greenery and bells and other elements reminiscent of Christmas and/or Advent. Obviously, I had to create one myself for my son. This ushered in a week of grueling hand-sewing and beading interspersed with secret toy runs and life in general. After losing sleep over the creation for some days now, I suddenly realized that I will likely not get any real sleep for another 3 weeks or so. The Advent box is such a hit that my son jumps out out of bed every morning to reach inside for his prize. If I do not get up right at 6AM, he will hem and haw for an hour about how I refuse to get out of bed to watch him root around in the bagged and hidden treasures. One just can’t win sometimes!





I was not enthusiast about another Thanksgiving of overeating while sitting around watching football. This year, I decided that Thanksgiving itself should be a memorable event filled with family “traditions.” We don’t really have any family traditions pertaining to this holiday, so we went looking and oh, did we find ideas. The core of our holiday was based on a Pilgrim Unit study that I purchased from a link off of a facebook homeschool site. Apparently, this woman used the lesson plan once as a schooling unit and then the various projects and activities associated with the lesson plan in subsequent Thanksgiving celebrations.

Following her example, I ensured that my son would wake up to the arrival of the Mayflower. It was supposed to “arrive” in the backyard next to the tipi. However, it arrived behind the couch. Good enough.

Mayflower

Mayflower

Next, we tried our hand at baking. My son was very eager to help with the stirring and pouring of cranberry muffin mix.

Baking

Baking

We then invested time creating a Turkey centerpieces for the table.

Turkey Centerpiece

Turkey Centerpiece

I threw together a Thankfulness journal. I must admit that I put it together without my son because I want it to last for a few years. My son likely would have adorned the cover with his famous circles with legs that represent everyone from people to turkeys, suns and beyond.

Thanksgiving Journal

Thanksgiving Journal

While I was crafting away, my son got silly creating a turkey hat form himself and sketching a lopsided face on our sad little scarecrow.

Turkey Hat

Turkey Hat


Scarecrow Gets a Face

Scarecrow Gets a Face

Of course, we got in quite a bit of homeschooling. Well, virtually everything we did was homeschool-centric. We just put in a little more effort completing our Turkey, Pilgrim and Native American themed worksheets. Worksheets do not seem very-Waldorf. However, my son

Homeschool Break

Homeschool Break

After that much-needed break, we put together our Thankfulness Tree. My son wrote down various things for which he is thankful onto stickies-sized paper. He then hung his little slips on the tree.

Tree of Thanks

Tree of Thanks

After all these doings, it still was not time to eat, and my son still had his ya-yas to get out. So, we played a spirited game of marbles. Marbles is definitely not to my liking. However, the Pilgrim Study United cited marbles as a teaching tool to demonstrate what colonial children did for fun. By now, it is no surprise to my son that children during this era did not have televisions, computers and toys common by today’s standards. He continues to find this unimaginable but not surprising. However, he soon realized that he could enjoy the game just the same.

Marbles

Marbles

Finally, it was time to eat. We ate a modest turkey dinner using light from candles and little metal lanterns that we had created to evoke a colonial home.

Candlelight Dinner

Candlelight Dinner

This past weekend, we went overboard in our big run-up to Thanksgiving. First, we made a charming leaf mobile. We found this craft in a homeschooling enrichment guide published by Little Acorn Learning. Here, we are getting started by painting the base material that will later be cut into leaf shapes.

Painting the Leaves

Painting the Leaves


After a vigorous painting session, the pre-leaves are left out to dry on a trash bag. Couldn’t risk painting the table as well!
Drying the Leaves

Drying the Leaves


Here’s the leaves all cut out and hung up mobile style from two branches mounted on an overhead light.
Finished Leaves

Finished Leaves


After the fact, we realized that we had too many leaves for the mobile. We could have made it significantly more impressive, but I was losing steam by this point. Consequently, I decided to take a few of the more darker, redder leaves and make hang them from a “thankfulness tree.” The “thankfulness tree” is an upcoming Thanksgiving Project. I intended for my son to hang little cards on the three that listed things for which he is thankful. That will still take place. However, the tree will be a little more jazzy in appearance than originally planned.
Thankfulness Tree

Thankfulness Tree

We have started our November lessons with a focus on remembrance. Using a guide that we purchased from the Little Acorn Learning Web site, we have blended All Souls Day with Veterans Day and a general sense of remembering those we are thankful to have had in our life. This is a bit abstract for my young son to grasp. However, old photos, a story called Nana Upstairs/Nana Downstairs and a movie called Granpa seem to be doing the job.

Here are some large glass votives that we have made for the “remembrance” section of our nature table. I hadn’t anticipated a remembrance theme to the month, so I didn’t have the time to gather pictures of deceased family members. I hope to continue on with this theme next year, and I will be adding such pictures to a section of the nature table.

I have been miffed for a few weeks now, because I lost the instructions for a hibernating bear craft. I was reminded of the fact when my son was required to wear pajamas to an event to mark the fact that animals are just starting to hibernate. Though we have been off the topic for a while now, I decided it would still be fun and apropos to create a hibernating bear for our nature table. The bear would eventually hibernate until spring time. While I could not find the original craft, I found an even better craft as seen below.

I also came across these related 3D pictures made from paper plates, googly eyes and craft paper.

The library has become our best friend lately. One of the more no-frills, no-thrills offerings is a drop-in crafting table. One can literally drop-in to a side room, look at some crafting project examples and walk out with a handful of free supplies. One then completes the craft(s) at home at his or her leisure. Here are two crafts made using examples from the drop-in crafts table.

Hanging Cat & Bear

Hanging Cat & Bear

At some point, I got the idea to create a tree wall mural. It started as pieces of paper bag cut out in various shapes and taped to the wall. Later, it would take on a series of multi-colored apples and a resident owl. It’s not quite what I had envisioned. It’s really quite awful. However, it has taken on its own charm. Over the course of the coming weeks, it will be surrounding by pumpkins. The apples may fall off at some point, and it may become surrounded by snowflakes. My son thinks it’s amazing.

Paper Bag Tree

Paper Bag Tree

Owl At Home

Owl At Home

A time came when it was necessary to put the bird migration topic to rest. There’s only so much one can say about the matter to five year olds. As a fun last project, we created a bird’s nest by layering strips of brown thread over an inverted and inflated balloon covered with glue. Once the glue dried, we popped it and pulled the plastic away from the overlapping brown threads. With a bit of trimming, a cool, little nest came into being. We inserted some yellow Easter grass into the nest, and placed a wooden robin in the cozy creation.

Bird's Nest

Bird's Nest

Both my older son and I were big Folkmanis puppet junkies. However, Folkmanis puppets will not be in the budget anytime soon. Fortunately, I have discovered various tutorials for really exciting and inventive puppets that both my son and I can create out of cardboard and other scrap material. Here is one such tutorial for an animated bird puppet.

Here you can barely see the finish result peeking through our puppet theater. Trust me! They are neat.

Animated Bird Puppets

Animated Bird Puppets