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    DecemberTerm 2012

    November 20, 2012 by Brandy Vencel

    Wow! It is hard to believe my plans are complete and ready to roll already, but what can I say? My new templates are working overtime to keep me from working overtime. It also helps that I now have years of plans from which to draw. I mean, tradition is tradition, right? I might switch things up a little, but I don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

    But first…what is DecemberTerm? I know that some of you are wondering. In brief, after years of living between sleep and awake {due to being pregnant–and nauseous all nine months, mind you–and nursing for years on end}, I awoke one Christmas to discover we had virtually no Christmas traditions of our own. DecemberTerm, which the children fondly call “Christmas School” or “Advent School” was my solution to this problem. I took what we normally do every morning–called Circle Time–and gave the whole thing an Advent twist.

    Around here, DecemberTerm refers to all weeks of school between Thanksgiving and Christmas–even if they are technically in the month of November.

    This year, I am especially ready for our Jesse Tree study. I am ready to walk through the Gospel once more, taking my children with me.

    So here are the plans:

    DecemberTerm 2012

    Execution and Resources

    As you can see, I’m sticking with my simple chart format that I used for Circle Time last term. This means I need a different resource than last year. First of all, I need my Memory Binder to be organized in such a way that it isn’t a big deal that I didn’t list out what we’re doing on specific days. Lucky for me, I left it organized last year, so we’ll just sing a couple songs each day and start back at the beginning when we reach the end. Luke 2 is easy enough–I’ve always just read it straight from the Bible when we work on it.

    Here is a link to the Rossetti poem we will be memorizing.

    Another link that might be helpful, if you are using some of these plans, is my document which coordinates The Jesse Tree book with applicable Scripture passages. Since I was not typing out daily plans this year, I needed something to organize our Jesse Tree readings, and this simple, one-page document is perfect. I plan to just keep it in the book and use it as a bookmark. Our Jesse Tree tradition is simple. We have a little felt tree, and paper ornament we made ourselves a couple years ago. We read the Scripture, and then the children narrate the Scripture. Then we read the chapter from The Jesse Tree, and then we hang the day’s ornament on the tree. We just rotate children from youngest to oldest so there is no arguing over who gets to hang the ornaments.

    Next year I hope to get a new Jesse Tree book {I like this one, but hope for even better–any suggestions?} and make a new set of ornaments as my children enjoy making them of course.

    Perhaps you noticed that I didn’t put Picture Study on the schedule? Well, we have studied these works two or three years in a row now. I plan to be a lot more casual this time around–I’ll hang them where I always do, but we’ll just chat about them a little. I don’t know that we need to study them intensely every single year, even if they are masterpieces.

    With that said, let me explain the weekly schedule. The children are really enjoying Pilgrim’s Progress right now. I toyed with taking it off the schedule anyhow, but decided to not only keep it, but move it to two days per week. When you think about it, it really is a book that fits with the season, just not overtly. So I’m alternating Pilgrim’s Progress with books from our Christmas collection. We have lots, and I’ll probably let my preschooler do most of the choosing. The nice thing about having a good collection is never needing to say no. He can choose from the box and we’ll do fine.

    For other literature selections, I’m alternating Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, which is the book we read every single year, with a new one, Marguerite de Angeli’s The Lion in the Box. I am very excited about this. I scored a copy of The Lion in the Box on PBS. {I wonder if the previous owner realized even these cheap paperback copies are selling for over $40 a pop on Amazon? I did a little dance!} I try to have something new each year, and The Lion in the Box, along with our book for St. Nicholas Day, will be special treats.

    Related Posts:
    DecemberTerm 2011
    DecemberTerm 2010, plus the Updated Version
    DecemberTerm 2009
    DecemberTerm 2008 {our very first DecemberTerm}

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  • Reply Jill November 28, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    We love the series of Advent books by Arnold Ytreeide. The series begins with Jotham’s Journey. These books are intense…a cliff-hanger every night, so whe we began the series we would have to read into the next night’s reading in order for everyone to be able to go to sleep. I hope you will enjoy these books as much as we have.

    • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts November 28, 2012 at 7:17 pm

      Thanks, Jill! We read Jotham’s Journey one year for Advent and my oldest still likes to read it every year. πŸ™‚

  • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts November 21, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    KM, I think your tradition of wrapping the books is a beautiful one, though I must admit to always deciding NOT to go through that level of effort! That is a LOT of wrapping!

    • Reply Kansas Mom November 21, 2012 at 4:46 pm

      Oh, I do love it and so do the kids. The wrapping doesn’t seem so bad since we don’t actually open much on Christmas Day. I usually spread it over a week, too.

      But I’ve been reading recently about simplifying and am a little curious now if it might be overwhelming to the kids, that they might do better with a small box from which to choose…I could change them each week. It would be interesting but I’m not sure I want to give up the picture book a day to give it a try and it really wouldn’t work at all to do both.

      This is probably a good example of over-thinking a parenting decision.

    • Reply Mystie November 21, 2012 at 5:21 pm

      I like the thought but not the reality of wrapping all those books, so last year I settled on a compromise: A couple new Christmas books each year wrapped on the breakfast table to kick off the first Sunday in Advent (also the day we get & decorate the tree). I’m glad this year to get a little extra time to prepare before advent begins. πŸ™‚

      Our regular music and our regular picture books are put away during advent and we only have Christmas music & picture books out until December 31st.

  • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts November 21, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    Okay, you asked me, and I answered and now I’m asking YOU. Hint hint. πŸ™‚

  • Reply Kansas Mom November 21, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    I second Jeanne. I’d love to see a list of your Christmas books. I think it would be interesting to do something like that with my kids one year just to see what they would choose each day…I wonder if it might be the same book over and over again rather than the variety that I would choose.

    Hmm…now I’m thinking about it…but would my kids missing opening the books each day?

  • Reply Jeanne November 21, 2012 at 9:50 am

    Ps I’d love to see what you have in your Christmas collection. We have one too. I wonder what we have in common…

  • Reply Jeanne November 21, 2012 at 9:49 am

    We finish school in November expressly so that we can celebrate Christmas term. This year we are reading Christmas Carol for the first time. We also read a picture book each day and watch some wonderful Christmas films. We bake for the neighbours, recite Luke, sing carols and really get into to season. I love Christmas. Funny for a gal whose church doesn’t celebrate Christmas at all. To me these are my family’s traditions. I love them.

  • Reply Kansas Mom November 21, 2012 at 2:52 am

    I hope you enjoy the St. Nicholas book. We’ll be reading it again this year. I’m seriously contemplating A Christmas Carol, but am also struggling with a desire to pare down this Advent. So I haven’t quite decided what we’re going to do…We’ll start with Advent proper on December 3rd, so I still have some time.

    • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts November 21, 2012 at 3:46 am

      I think we will!

      I know what you mean about wanting to simplify the season. This is an easy year’s plan for sure–no picture study, no new songs, no manners study {hope that doesn’t backfire!}–most of it is the same as last year. I think this will work well for us.

      I look forward to reading your plans {hint hint!}. πŸ™‚

  • Reply Anonymous November 21, 2012 at 2:09 am

    Do you have a go to website for printing off your artist selections?
    Thanks so much!
    Julie in St. Louis

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