Annette at Live, Learn, Love mentioned her family would be reading one Christmas themed children's book, each day in December, as a way to count down to Christmas.
I thought that was a terrific idea, and decided to try something similar, but with a little twist. I've spent the last week searching through the library catalogue looking for Christmas themed books with recipes, or crafts included at the back, or somewhere in the story.
I actually managed to come up with enough, if they all come in in time, to start a few days early.
Yesterday afternoon I pulled out A Pioneer Christmas by Barbara Greenwood, and supplies for making a cup and ball toy described in the book.
The book is divided into six short chapters, blending a fictional story of a pioneer family, with short non-fiction excerpts to explain life, and more specifically Christmas traditions, in the backwoods of North America, in 1841. As I said, the chapters are short, but a little wordy for younger children. Older children will have no problem reading the entire book in one setting, though.
Each chapter is followed by a craft, recipe and/or game suggestion, describing the pioneer methods, and then suggesting modern equivalents for children to use. It would be fun to read the book over the course of a week, as part of pioneer study, and work on one or two of the projects each day. The cup and ball game we chose to try is from the end of the second chapter, with an excerpt on "Pioneer Christmas Gifts".
The girls weren't sure they believed we could turn a toilet paper tube, a piece of yarn, a couple of cups cut from an egg carton (our substitution for the plastic bottle caps called for in the book), a small paper cup, and some tape, into a toy...
...but they were willing to give it the benefit of the doubt, and follow the instructions. You can see the steps below, or find Greenwood's instructions in her book.
I worked with one girl at a time, so E (age 7) was already playing away, trying to catch the "ball" in the cup, while I worked with C (age 6), putting her's together. It took E a little practice...
...but she got the hang of it, much to her delight...
...and quickly drew her brother's attention, who stood impatiently watching, pleading and demanding for a turn.
Can I try?
Can I try it, once?
I want a turn!
Needless to say, he made one too.
After that, the evening passed by in a blur. Especially once the older children returned from youth group and wanted to join in the fun. Even the Man of the House and I, had a hard time resisting snatching the toys from time to time, for a turn ourselves.
We have a fair share of mechanized bling and electronic entertainment at our house, but fun is fun, and there's nothing like the simple enjoyment of a classic toy, no matter how simple or inexpensively created.
It's great to be a homeschooler.