Thursday, November 21, 2013

Review: Christmas Comes to America Unit Study

Should our family participate in the tradition of Santa Claus?  Are Christmas trees and candy canes pagan symbols?  Is there anything more to the modern Christmas season than commercialism?

Make Christmas more meaningful for your family by studying the roots of the Christmas symbols and traditions this year.  Celebrate Christmas every day during December as a part of your educational experience and bring your family closer in the process.

We have had the wonderful opportunity to start Christmas early (if you've been reading my blog you already know that) and review the unit study Christmas Comes to America from Homeschool Legacy.  I usually save my opinion for the conclusion, but since the Christmas season is almost upon us, let me just say that we love this unit study, and you must go order it right now so you will have it in time to start by December 1!!!

Christmas Comes to America discusses Christmas traditions over a four-week unit study.  Like other Once-A-Week Unit Studies from Homeschool Legacy, there is reading to do each day, with the bulk of the family lesson to do on just one day during the week, while lightening your other workload for that day.  Christmas is a lighter unit study than the other Once-A-Week studies, with fewer writing assignments, for the purpose of letting your children really just enjoy Christmas while they learn next month.

There are several things I love about Homeschool Legacy's unit studies.  One is the way they are laid out.  If you like structure in your curriculum, you may follow the schedule exactly as listed.  The library list is ready for you to print and take to the library.  Check out your books, do the suggested reading for each day, and do your family unit study work on one day each week with limited preparation.  If, like me, you like to tweak and change everything you do to fit your family, these unit studies are flexible enough for that as well.  The readings, activities, and devotions work together perfectly, whether or not you do them exactly in order or all in one day, and whether you choose to do every activity or just pick and choose.  If your library does not carry all the books, you can easily substitute others.

Another thing I love that is specific to Homeschool Legacy is that these unit studies contain a page with requirements for Boy Scout and American Heritage Girls badges, so you can complete these badges while doing the unit study if you wish.  Our lives revolve around Boy Scouts, so this is great for us.  You can still read the review I did on the Forest For The Trees Unit Study I did last year.

In Christmas Comes to America, you will spend one week each learning about the Dutch, the English, the Germans, and An American Christmas.  As in other Homeschool Legacy studies, you will learn history, geography, and vocabulary in the process of the study, but this one has fewer writing assignments and more activities like listening to Christmas music, watching Christmas movies, and Christmas caroling in addition to the reading assignments.  Of course, there have to be a few writing assignments, but who objects to writing a letter to Santa in early December?!

We thoroughly loved doing this study.  I did it with all four of my kids together, Grades 3-10.  With different-leveled reading assignments, they can participate in the rest all together.  There were some activities, since we did the unit early, that we decided to save for closer to Christmas.  For instance, we did drink hot chocolate when we learned about the Dutchman responsible for the patent on extracting cocoa from cocoa beans, but we plan to use the provided recipe to make our own hot chocolate for Christmas gifts in a few weeks.  We are also going Christmas caroling (part of Week 2 of the study, on England) with our homeschool group in mid-December.  (We've been practicing as part of the unit study!)  I will be posting our various Christmas activities on the blog during the month of December (I hope!), so come back and check them all out.

This unit study also works very well for working almost any Christmas tradition you and your family celebrate into the lessons.  In fact, I began the first week, which was about gift-giving (and the Dutch Sinterklaas) with the book The Sparkle Box which I reviewed last week.  (Hint:  You still have a few days to enter the giveaway for a free copy!)  I also included two of my favorite resources for learning about the origin of Saint Nicholas, The Legend of the Christmas Stocking by Rick Osborne, and Veggie Tales' Saint Nicholas: A Story of Joyful Giving.

If you haven't yet, you need to go quickly to Homeschool Legacy and order Christmas Comes to America in time to use it for the month of December!

Happy Christmas-planning!  :-)

Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of this unit study in exchange for a fair review.  No other compensation was given, and all opinions are my own.

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