Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas Around the World

I thought it would be fun for the girls to see how Christmas is celebrated around the world. The next thing you know, I've got 30 or so library books strewn about and we're making crafts and recipes like wild. Here are some of the things we learned this week.

Books we used:

Christmas Around the World; by Emily Kelley
Christmas Around the World; by Mary. D. Lankford
The Night Before Christmas; by Clement C. Moore
Christmas in Russia; Passport Books
Christmas in Germany; Passport Books
Christmas in England; by Cheryl L. Enderlein
Christmas in Spain; World Book

The symbol for Christmas to the people of the Philippines is a parol, or Christmas star lanterns. The art of making parols (stars) is handed down from generation to generation. The Philippines is predominantly Catholic, and on Christmas Day, mass is held hourly so everyone can attend. Parols (Christmas Star lanterns) are placed in the windows of homes and can be found in all sizes. Some communities have contests to decide which star lantern is the larges and most beautiful. Many parols have a large rolyo, or ring, around the outside made of newspaper covered with fringes of crepe or rice paper.

Here is what they should look like:

Making a Star Lantern

Here we are making our own parols. My favorite are the ones with the cut out center. After cutting the centers out, I gave each girl two pieces of wax paper stars. Between the stars we put glitter glue in blue and red. Then taped the wax paper star onto the back of the project and they make lovely sun catchers!

When looking at Christmas in Spain we made homemade Spanish hot-cocoa and these cute Mary and Baby Jesus projects. The template can be found here.

Christmas in Russia was a fun study! Not that I could pronounce much of what I was learning about other than Father Frost and the Snow Maiden! The kids really like the Matrioshka Dolls, and I found this wonderful craft for hanging Matrioshka doll ornaments!

To make this project, you'll need to use a compass to draw four circles on four different pieces of colored paper. Make 1 circle of each of the following 10", 8.5", 7" and 6". Cut the circles in half and that gives you enough circles to make 2 ornaments of 4 dolls, or one really LONG ornament. Decorate each half circle with the face of a family member or doll (or cut from a magazine), then decorate the rest as either the clothing for the face or as a background.

Bring the straight sides together to form a cone and glue together. For the very top of the cone over to the back and glue as well. Use a needle and yarn to thread throug the cones (tying a knot in the inside of each cone). Fasten a jingle bell at the end, and make a loop for hanging at the top.

After reading about Christmas in England, we decided to make Christmas crackers to put at our place settings for Christmas dinner. (Did I mention that my entire family is coming to our house this year?) We used empty toilet paper rolls (appetizing, no?); wrapping paper and ribbon to make our crackers. The girls were in charge of stuffing them with Kisses, chocolate bells and a little chocolate nutcracker too.

On Thursday, we made Norwegian Christmas cookies. They are DELISH! These aren't overly sweet, but very tasty. You could probably get away with some sugar sprinkles on top! The recipe had me worried, when I real BOILED EGGS...but not to worry, its all good. Don't they look good?

If you're interested in making your own little batch here is the recipe:

1/2 cup butter
2 hardboiled egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. vanilla.

Cream hardboiled egg yolks, butter and sugar. Stir in flour and vanilla, mix well. Drop by spoonfuls (or use a cookie press). Bake for 10-12 minutes @ 375.

During our study of Germany, I'd hoped to make a gingerbread house with the girls. However, my husband has been off work for almost 2 months now and funds just didn't allow for such a venture. I did however find a printable at Enchanted Learning for a gingerbread house Christmas card. We used some of my scrapbooking supplies and I think these turned out lovely! (And no, the details aren't drawn, they are all cut out from cardstock with the exception of the lines on the window panes.)

Our read aloud book this past week was The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, by Barbara Robinson. My husband had never read the book (or heard of it). So he enjoyed being part of our read aloud time this week. This has to be one of the funniest books I've read, and at the same time, it really makes you stop and look at the Nativity in a whole new light.

Go see what other Christmasy things are going on in the homeschool world over at the Weekly Wrap Up.

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