“We reveal to ourselves and others what is important to us by the way we celebrate.”
― Noël Piper, Treasuring God in Our Traditions
Although the idea of tradition can come under fire in this age in which we live, our family enjoys establishing traditions in our home because we enjoy making memories together. Our children naturally anticipate activities we do for each season of the year (including things like… the annual first-day-of-school-monkey-bread-breakfast). In fact, our teenagers inform us if we’ve ever “forgotten” to do something by the time they think it should be done. Our family traditions are special to them because it’s a familiar, shared experience with those we love. And so it is with holidays in our home.
But how do we establish meaningful traditions that make a lasting impression? Up until now, it’s usually through accidentally stumbling upon some fantastic idea either online or via a book like Creating Family Traditions. But this year we’re working through a study from Homeschool in the Woods!
The History of the Holidays Activity Study from Homeschool in the Woods offers a framework for celebrating U.S. holidays throughout the year, many with connections to the Christian faith. This hands-on study not only provides a glimpse of the history and traditions surrounding each holiday, but it also provides projects and activities that can easily become an annual traditional celebration in your home. Holidays studied include:
- Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
- Valentine’s Day
- President’s Day
- St. Patrick’s Day
- Memorial Day
- Flag Day
- Independence Day
- Labor Day
- Columbus Day
- Thanksgiving Day
- Christmas Day
After families read about each holiday, they further investigate the history and traditions through activities that leave a lasting impression on children. If you’d like to find ways to treasure God in your traditions, this activity pack can certainly provide an opportunity to establish family holiday celebrations with a Christian emphasis.
The History of the Holidays Activity Study is a digital file consisting of a reading text (for an overview of each holiday), project masters of associated crafts and activities, and detailed step-by-step instructions for completing each activity.
The project instruction pages also include web links, game ideas, craft instructions, and suggested recipes, which are quickly becoming a favorite part of our holiday celebrations. Imagine making Lincoln Cake for President’s Day, Colcannon for St. Patrick’s Day, or Haroseth for Passover! A personal favorite that’s already become a tradition in our home are Resurrection Cookies. There’s so much symbolism behind every step in making these little meringue treats!
So… what’s it look like in real life? We thought we’d share some of the activities we’ve completed thus far this year.
For Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, there’s a “Walk in His Shoes” game, a Multicultural Necklace project, a recipe, and the Martin Luther King Jr. timeline…
An added bonus? It’s also a lesson from U.S. History – as are many of our holidays! In addition to learning about the holiday, they end up with a snippet of an event from U.S. history, such as the Civil Rights Movement.
For Presidents Day, you can study a couple of Abraham Lincoln’s speeches, use Washington’s “Rules of Civility & Decent Behaviour In Company and Conversation” penmanship pages, and/or make and play the “Who Says?” game, which includes famous quotes from Washington and Lincoln.
For St. Patrick’s Day, you can practice potato stamping or embellishment, and you can make a simple symbols of St. Patrick’s Day flapbook to review the history of the holiday.
For Passover, you can make and play, “The Passover Seder Plate Game,” or you can make and eat a couple of traditional recipes to celebrate.
For Easter, make Resurrection Cookies, a Resurrection Eggs project, and/or an “Empty Tomb – He Is Risen!” pop-up papercraft:
And that’s where we are right now in this study! We hope to come back here to post the other activities over the course of the year, but until then, here are some of the other projects to look forward to as we approach each holiday in the coming year:
- Memorial Day: Poppy crafts, an overview of American Wars and Conflicts, writing a poem to service men/women.
- Flag Day: Cut a Five-point Star in One Snip, When and How to Display the Flag of the United States
- Independence Day: Flip book profiles of “Men who Influenced our Independence”, the Declaration of Independence its signers
- Labor Day: Famous Labor Leaders project, Illustrated Book of Occupations project
- Columbus Day: Spice Collage project, Making a Quadrant project, Color the Royal Standard of Spain, Mapping the Routes of Columbus’ Voyages. (We’ve actually completed some of these projects before as part of our study of Columbus and the New World Explorers!)
- Thanksgiving Day: “Mayflower Compact” penmmanship, Cornhusk Doll project, “What’s in a Name?” learning about Puritan names. (Click here for more on Colonial Life.)
- Christmas Day: “The Nativity Story” Shadow Puppet Play, Making a Spice Ornament project, Make a “Jesse Tree”
- Valentine’s Day (because we missed doing these projects!): Victorian Valentine project, “Cupid’s Favorite” game
…and each of the above holidays has at least one special recipe to enjoy!
The History of the Holidays Activity Study offers a structured set of activities for celebrating U.S. holidays throughout the year. We have thoroughly enjoyed the hands-on history studies from Homeschool in the Woods and highly recommend them to other families who enjoy embarking on a bit of craftiness in their home!