The Holidays are coming! The Holidays are coming! You can almost imagine Paul Revere on his horse riding through the streets shouting a warning of the upcoming holiday season! So much to do, so little time that it’s easy to let the learning time slide a bit … BUT, we can keep the learning going through the holidays with a little double-dipping!
Let’s get started!
Step 1: Give your child a pad and pencil – you take one, too – and sit down to think together.
Talk about all the holidays coming up that your family will celebrate, it might help to have a calendar to refer to so you can pull a bit of “time work” into your learning, too. Point out today on the calendar and the first holiday you’re planning for together. Talk about the foods you’ll serve, the family and friends that will join you(how many?), any decorating you’ll do for the house, special memories of helping your family prepare for the holidays while you were growing up. Tell your child what you need to do and ask for their input and ideas. Take turns speaking and listening. Are you using any words your child doesn’t understand? Explain them, your great-grandmother’s “antique carousel” can be visualized as a merry-go-round. Do you have customs or traditions you’ve done forever? Your child needs to know what things are special for the family, where did recipes or customs come from? Show your child a map of the world, tell them where their family started. Build their holiday vocabulary by making a list of words special for your family and sticking it on the fridge so it will remind you to add those words into the daily conversation. Every year, more of your family’s journey will be remembered by your children. Understanding one’s place in the world is the basis of Social Studies.
Step 2: Think about your house together, room by room. Draw out a simple floor plan of your home and label the rooms.
Let’s start in the bathroom because that’s a simple room to plan for and your child will think it’s silly to talk about potties and holiday company together. Will you decorate the bathroom or add candles or special towels? If so, write that on your floor plan in the bathroom square. Will you need hand soap, bathroom tissue, nose tissue, holiday air spray? Write that on your shopping list. Go room by room and make the same notes. Need the guest room ready for Grandma? Get every task on the list.
Make a cup of tea for you and a snack for your child because you’ve both worked hard! While you sip your tea, take the shopping list you made and put it in store order. Now, when it’s time to shop you’re ready to go!
Step 3: Pick a project and get warmed up!
We are on a holiday mission so you should prepare mentally and physically with your holiday team. Some family stretching, a little running in place, and a group high five accompanied by a family yell of “Gooooooooo Turkey! Gobble! Gobble!” should get the energy flowing to go hunt and gather! Yeah, Team!
If it doesn’t matter where you start to work, lay the floor plan on the floor and let your child throw a penny on it. Where ever it lands, that’s where you start.
Step 4: Ready, Set, Go!
You know what project you’ll tackle first. What do you need? Gather everything in one place. Divide the work and give everyone a job. A 2-year-old can put socks on their hands and dust the hardwood floor or baseboards or windowsills. A 3-year-old can change out pillows or towels, roll cookie dough, and help hang the garland. A 4-year-old can put cards in envelopes, open cards when they come, keep track of days on an Advent calendar, cut out cookie shapes, cut and peel apples with a plastic knife for applesauce, arrange veggies on a tray in an a/b pattern, sort items into like piles, and make pb&j sandwiches for lunch on a family project day, and draw a picture to hang in the guest room for Grandma. The most important thing is to work together as a family.
Step 5: Deck the Halls! (by hand)
A rafter of turkeys – trace everyone’s handprint on Thanksgiving and let the children decorate them with crayons, feathers, pompoms, etc. Family members will love these one of a kind treasures! Some families cover the table with a plain white tablecloth and have each family member trace and date their handprint with fabric markers. This becomes a treasured heirloom as new handprints are added each year.
Make paper chains to decorate the house and make them out of color or size a/b patterns. Use orange, red, yellow, and brown paper for Thanksgiving chains. Blue/white, red/green, red/green/yellow/black for December holidays.
Make wreaths or rings out of your child’s handprints and put a battery candle in the center.
Step 6: Wrap it up!
Yes, you will need to wrap gifts and your children can make gorgeous wrapping paper. Get plain brown wrapping paper and let your children decorate it with multi-colored handprints, a plastic fork dipped in paint, a spatula, apple prints, dip a pine cone in paint and roll it around the paper, or plain old finger painting. But, the other wrap-up may be more important. Circle the day of your family’s holiday celebration and count back 3 days. Put a star on that day! That’s the day you should plan to wrap it up! Everything done so you can truly enjoy the holidays with your precious family.
Step 7: Snuggle Time!
Snuggling with your child and reading a book is the most important thing you can do every day. But, during times of added stress, like the holidays, both you and your child need that time every day to focus on words and stories and each other! On Black Friday, while other parents are at the mall, go to the library and grab a bunch of holiday books to enjoy with your family.
Karen Meyer is a retired teacher, school counselor, and principal who has always believed in the community approach to education. Parents, schools, and communities working together to educate, support, and protect each child.