Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Around the World

For three weeks we've been learning about how Christmas is celebrated around the world. We studied 3 countries each week. A lot of the information I got from Homeschool Share. I also checked out many books from the library & searched the web. Capt. N & I both enjoyed this unit. I thought it was a great way to discuss other countries, even if it wasn't in great detail. I liked learning about so many countries, but next year I think we will only do 1 or 2 countries per week so we can study each country more in depth. I would like to learn a song, do a craft & cook something from each country.

Our cork board filled with the 9 countries we studied.

For each country I printed a pic and wrote how that country says "Merry Christmas." I also printed a mini flag for Capt. N to color. He has expressed interest in learning the various flags so this was a fun way to incorporate that.

Little known fact (or at least I didn't know this): Santa Clause actually lives in northern Finland. He lives up in the mountains in a place we can't get to, but there is a town nearby which we can go visit. If we lived in Finland or if we were rich, I would totally take my kids there.

My husband's great grandparents came to America from Finland. His grandma is still living & to this day enjoys her very Finnish sauna (which btw, is pronounced sow-nah, not saw-nah).
Finnish Star
I made the one on the left, Capt. N did the one on the right. The directions came from Craftideas.info. There was a bit of a learning curve, but they were simple enough to put together. Capt. N was able to do it with just little help from me. They are a little more interesting if you use double sided paper, like the one on the left. Capt. N also made a slightly smaller version using music themed paper for his 3 piano teachers.

Apparently gnomes are a big thing in Finland. So, we made these cute little gnomes from pinecones. I used the directions on the Duo Fiberworks site. I love these guys. The only problem is that I found I did the majority of the crafting on them. Capt. N gave one to his eye dr & sent one to his great grandma, whose family is from Finland.

I had this doll hair lying around, so I couldn't help but make a girl gnome.

The Finnish also set out treats for the wildlife during the holiday season. So we made these birdseed ornaments. I found the directions on Homemade Mamas. The kids really enjoyed this project. We made a bunch & gave them to my kid's teachers.

On our first attempt we used cracked corn since we didn't have regular birdseed. I don't recommend this. It was more crumbly than using the birdseed.

Before we had kids, the hubby & I spent a day in Paris. This collage of pics hangs in our craft/school room. Capt. N enjoys looking at it, so this gave us a reason to talk about it.

In these modern days, the French eat their yule logs, as opposed to burn them. We made the easy-peasy version. My kids didn't know what twinkies were so this was especially fun for them.

Frost a twinkie with chocolate, sprinkle with powdered sugar & decorate with sprinkles. Yummy, sugary goodness.

The nativity scene is a huge part of Christmas tradition in France, as well as many other countries.

My hubby's grandma painted this fabulous nativity set. It was nice to tell the story to Capt. N. I think it made it more significant to him since many of the countries we studied also value the nativity and that we, too, have our very own family nativity scene being passed down.

Although originally from England, the Australians also make Christmas poppers. The week before we had made little star ornaments out of plaster of paris. I asked Capt. N to pick 2 people he wanted to give one to & then wrap it popper-style.
There is an Australian version of the 12 days of Christmas. So, Capt. N made a drawing of that song as well as a drawing of the version we sing in the United States.

We watched this you tube video: Christmas in Australia.
Which led us to this video on you tube: Aussie Jingle Bells ... for some reason this totally cracks me up...

This couldn't have worked out more perfectly. The hubby wanted to make tamales, so I asked him if Capt. N could help. And, wa la our Mexico activity was complete. Although, Capt. N didn't really care for the taste of the finished tamale.

When Capt. N was 3 & Mr. T was 1 we had the opportunity to go on a Mexican cruise with some friends of ours. Again, this was a nice way to throw in some real life conversation with learning something new. (Although, I don't recommend going on a cruise with such young children.)

The parol is a common Christmas decoration in the Philippines. This one Capt. N made is not lighted or near as fancy as the ones seen in the Philippines, but for some reason it makes me happy. It just seems cheery.
This year, through our church, our family put together 2 gift boxes for Samaritan's Purse. I received an email saying our gifts were sent to the Philippines.

You can tell the Christmas hub-bub is catching up with me by now. These last couple countries didn't get near the exploration as the first ones we studied. The Switzerland activity was making a natural bell. The instructions are on Homeschool share. It turned out so-so.

I was also able to pull in real life experiences for Great Britain. The hubby & I spent a week in England. So, we talked about this collage I made. And, Capt. N has a friend who was born in Wales & his mom speaks with the British accent.
It seems many of the traditions in the U.S are quite similar to those in England. Since they also send Christmas cards to friends & family I had Capt. N make cards for 3 different people. They also do advent calendars, so we talked about those & the various ones we have in our house. I have one I made for me, one I made for the kids to do each day & my mom got them each a chocolate advent calendar this year. We also watched the episode of 19 Kids & Counting when they traveled to England. Capt. N says he really wants to go to London so he can ride a red double decker bus. I hope he gets to do that some day.

Italy is a place on my really-gonna-go-to-someday list. We talked about why I would like to go there - which is that I'm a huge fan of the Renaissance time period. I've just gotta see those masterpieces in person. And the rolling hills, the Venetian canals & real Italian pasta are calling my name. And, Rome. I want to walk the streets of Rome. Many of the countries we studied were primarily Catholic, so we also talked about the Vatican. It actually was a great way to pull all the countries together. Capt. N learned to play the Italian song, Carol of the Bagpipes, on the piano. Something I didn't know is that bagpipes are a big part of Christmas in Italy.

We ended this unit with the Holy Land. We talked about Bethlehem & Jerusalem & how many people attend the Christmas service right at the spot where Jesus was born. We also watched the episode of 19 Kids & Counting when the Duggar family traveled to Israel. Capt. N loved the camels, of course. He practiced playing Little Town of Bethlehem on the piano. I would like to study this country again & explore Hanukkah.

This was such a fun unit of study. I feel like I learned just as much as Capt. N. Now how do I pick which countries to study next year? We already discussed the ones that have meaning to our family in some way. I will have to pick a country in South America & Africa since we didn't visit those continents this year. And, wouldn't it be fun if I could come up with a whole unit study on Christmas Around the World incorporating math, spelling, reading & grammar. I've got a whole year, maybe I can come up with something.

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