Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Yuletide Session 2010

We decided to base our "academic year" on the calendar year rather than the school schedule as we school year round, anyway.  Routine is good, going off schedule tends to unruly children. We also choose to take birthdays off school,  N-boy's birthday is January 5, so it makes sense to not start our new academic year until after it.  Thanksgiving begins the long gauntlet of the holiday season. The Friday before Thanksgiving seems a good stopping point.  Thanksgiving week is busy, not trying to do things that week makes sense.  Epiphany, January 6, is a convenient time to end the holiday break.   Our official academic year is, therefore, from the Monday following January 6 until the Friday before Thanksgiving.

We don't wish to take the entire month completely off.  During this time, we'll be continuing our Circle Time with Advent and Christmas themes.  We'll be doing more crafts, baking, and holiday fun. 

The problem has always been what to call our "Advent-Epiphany" term as we aren't taking just December or Advent or Christmas. I had decided, unhappily, on "Advent-Epiphany Term" realizing it is too cumbersome.  Dr. Grant solved my problem today with his post: Yuletide.  Yuletide covers the time period we're taking off and the themes we're studying.  So, welcome to the Yuletide Session.

Our plan this year is divided into three prongs.  The first, and most important, is the Bible prong.  It is the goal to accomplish daily.  We're using the Jesse Tree idea to organize our devotional reading.  I've been collecting resources for a few years and we even started last year.  I find that having everything put together makes it accomplishable, otherwise I just stop in the middle.  This year I purchased The Jesse Tree by Geraldine McCaughrean (I actually got mine before you, Brandy! Thanks to Mystie's rec) and we're organizing most of our lessons around it (but not all ... there aren't enough days for all of Advent). I spent last Friday finding clip art for our ornaments and making Coloring Books for the children. I printed Ann Voskamp's devotions and devotions a friend has written and I'm mashing it all together and organizing it how I wish to hopefully make a coherent devotion for the children.  Today, I found a stick and we began hanging the ornaments.

We're also learning a carol/hymn each week, you can see them in the spreadsheet attached below.  We're going to work on memorizing Luke 2:1-21, over, I'd imagine, the next few years during Yuletide Session.  I've also decided to incorporate Brandy's manners lessons from her plans and am doing them as written (well, almost). 

The second emphasis is on literature.  We're reading from Tasha Tudor's Take Joy, a story or poem each day.  One of the poems in this book is A Christmas Carol by Kenneth Grahame, and we're working on memorizing it. I'm also trying to read Dickens' A Christmas Carol, but that isn't going very well yet.  After dinner we're reading Letters from Father Christmas, M-girl, N-boy and I are enjoying it, but I don't think Jason or R-girl are so much.  I think they're funny.  When we finish the Father Christmas book, we start my favorite Advent read aloud, The Twenty Four Days Before Christmas by Madeleine L'Engle.  I purchased a used copy of the old edition, but see they've re-released it with new art. For myself, I'm reading Nancy Guthrie's Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus and it is convicting.

The third emphasis is on daily activities, particularly in December leading up to Christmas.  We have a Christmas tree shaped Advent calendar and we'll fill it every day with some activity: today was baking tomorrow, I think we'll go to Wildlights at the Zoo.

I linked them a couple of days ago, but my plans are available on Scribd.  We'll see how well we keep up with them.


  1. Wow, Dawn! Love this much to think about. I like the idea of daily activities hidden inside of your Advent tree/calendar. I would love to see your final list of activities. I always need ideas on that as I'm not a very exciting person. Organ concerts are about as exciting as I get! Ha! :)

    I like your academic year, even though I've never been able to pull off year-round school. I think that is because (1) for some reason, the public school calendar got into my very bones in childhood and (2) all of our friends homeschool through umbrella progrmas that force that "normal" schedule, and I find it easier to keep up with them if we fit our schedule with theirs, at least a little.

    Maybe I'll grow into it over time, though. We are all always tweaking things, right?

    In other did I miss Mystie recommending The Jesse Tree? Maybe I didn't. Maybe it got into my subconscious and I only thought I was being original. :) Actually, I thought Amazon was being original because I typed in "Jesse Tree" and it popped up.

    A number of the works on your read aloud list are works that I don't have in my library and only a couple are on my wishlist so I'll be adding the rest. I love building a Christmas library. :)

    Thanks for a great post, Dawn!

  2. Thanks, Brandy.

    I'll try to post the final list of our activities, I usually add a few days at a time so we can check weather and calendar and such. It doesn't have to be anything big or long, just something "extra." If I could find an organ concert ...

    Forever tweaking LOL

    I think it was in the comments on the post where I said I'd wait for you to review it ... she said she had and enjoyed it. I'm not overly in love with it and am editing as I read (i.e. substituting "Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil" where it says "Tree of Knowledge" in the story) but it is good enough.

    Anyway, being able to pull everything that is already prepped out has made a huge difference in actually accomplishing the plans I've made :)

  3. Love your Yuletide session -- that's a great name and a nice way of organizing the school year.

  4. Can you bring the Jesse Tree book to the conference? I'd like to take a look before buying it. (And, our lovely library system doesn't have it. SHOCKER!)

    Thanks for the ideas!


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