Tonight as we drove home from an extended family Christmas gathering, reading aloud and singing, I was reminded of an old article I wrote for our newsletter several years ago—Christmas in the Car. I will post it in its entirety below—gotta sneak in those family times any chance we get as our kids get older!
If your children are growing up as fast as ours are, and if you travel distances to church, piano lessons, grandparents, etc. as we do, you might want to try some of our “Christmas in the Car” tips. Basically, every year I see the holiday time slipping away from us. The girls are taking college classes; off to Spanish or piano; teaching their own guitar, language arts, and piano students; working at their jobs; and more. Every time I think we’re going to have a sing-along/reading time tonight, someone announces that she has a Spanish test tomorrow and has to study all evening! Thus, our “Christmas in the Car” time was born.
We spend a great deal of time in the vehicle each week—driving to lessons, church, grandparents, etc.—all forty-five minutes away from us minimum. Being the efficiency expert that I am (of sorts!), I began utilizing this time in the vehicle to keep some of our holiday traditions alive. Try some of our “Christmas in the Car” ideas—and keep those traditions going strong:
*Sing carols as you drive.
*Listen to Christmas radio dramas (Focus on the Family has good ones), Uncle Dan and Aunt Sue Christmas stories, Christmas books on tape, Adventures in Oddysey Christmas stories, etc. as you are driving.
*Sing your way through the Christmas story. Start with “Mary, Did You Know?” and move on to “Oh, Little Town of Bethlehem,” then move onto anything having to do with the shepherds (“The First Noel,” “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” “Angels We Have Heard on High”). Next move into the birth/after the birth with “Silent Night,” “O Come All Ye Faithful,” “Away in a Manger,” and “We Three Kings.” Lastly, sing of the joy of his arrival: “Joy to the World” and “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.”
*Tell the Christmas story in one sentence increments as you go around the van, person-by-person. (This gets interesting with the little ones who might have them fleeing Herod’s wrath before Jesus is even born!)
*If a passenger can read without being sick, you might read your way through a favorite (pictureless) holiday book. We enjoy reading Cosmic Christmas by Max Lucado and The Birth by Gene Edwards. Everyone looks forward to reading another chapter the next time we get in the van.
*Likewise, we read “devotional” type books about Christmas while we drive. This year, we are enjoying short chapters in the book Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas (see review). We have also enjoyed Christmas Stories From the Heart, The Christmas Reader, and more in years past.
*Use the driving time to memorize the Christmas story from the book of Luke. (We like to assign one verse to each person and go from person to person.)
*We enjoy memorizing all the verses from a certain Christmas song each year. In years past, we have memorized “Away in a Manger,” “Twelve Days of Christmas,” and “We Three Kings.” We can still sing most of the verses today!
*Drive by Christmas lights on your evening travels.
*Go through a drive-through or walk-through nativity while driving by one.
*Deliver goodies to those in route.
*Play “20 Questions Christmas-Style” or “Name That Christmas Tune.”
*New game: A person picks three things about the Christmas story that are really true or just thought to be true (or embellished, such as the little drummer boy playing for Jesus), and the others try to guess which two things are really in the Bible and which one is not. This is eye-opening.
*Sing whatever Christmas song you are reminded of by the decorations you see—stars, snowmen, angels, etc.
*Make up your own humorous twelve days of Christmas song, with each person getting to add their own items to the list as you sing around the van.
*Play the ABC Christmas game—“What I love about Christmas is A for angel, B for baby, C for candy, etc.” Go around and each person starts with A and tries to remember what was previously said. (This is a spin-off of the “I went to Grandma’s and I took A for applesauce, B for blankets, etc.)
*My personal favorite: Have someone write your holiday cooking and shopping list and holiday menus down for you while you drive and dictate to them. (Be forewarned: No comments about the spelling or penmanship are allowed when the child is done writing for you!)
Sheri Graham, of Graham Family Ministries, knows where all the goodies are! She just sent through another great link—this time a free online advent calendar. With the internet and all of the *freebies* available therein, we have no excuse for not doing great things with our kids all year round!
Click on the link below to get your free online advent calendar!
“And the Grinch stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so?
It came without ribbons. It came without tags.
It came without packages, boxes or bags.
And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before.
What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. …
What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?” ~Dr Seuss
When our kids were very little, I always had one nativity set that was for them to play with. This one was set up on a low table and was the kids’ to interact with. We have done other nativity pieces—clay, paint your own, Fisher Price, felt, punch outs, and more. A simple search of nativities online yielded so many cute ideas—if you are crafty, they are even better! Here are some I found that you might enjoy sharing with your children.
LEGO nativity: http://images.search.yahoo.com/search/images?_adv_prop=image&fr=yfp-t-701&va=lego+nativity
EDIBLE nativity: http://www.mustardseedclub.org/arc0021.htm
PIPE CLEANER nativity: http://familyfun.go.com/crafts/away-in-a-manger-homemade-creche-668113/
PLUSH nativity: http://images.search.yahoo.com/images/view?back=http%3A%2F%2Fimages.search.yahoo.com%2Fsearch%2Fimages%3F_adv_prop%3Dimage%26va%3Dplush%2Bnativity%2Bset%26fr%3Dyfp-t-701&w=400&h=400&imgurl=www.stjudeshop.com%2Fresources%2FStJudeShop%2Fimages%2Fproducts%2Fprocessed%2F14313.zoom.a.jpg&rurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.stjudeshop.com%2Fproduct%2Fchildrens-bagged-nativity%2F&size=23KB&name=…+Plush+Nativi…&p=plush+nativity+set&oid=19a615
PAINT YOUR OWN nativity: http://images.search.yahoo.com/images/view?back=http%3A%2F%2Fimages.search.yahoo.com%2Fsearch%2Fimages%3F_adv_prop%3Dimage%26va%3Dplush%2Bnativity%2Bset%26fr%3Dyfp-t-701&w=730&h=557&imgurl=www.catholicsupply.com%2FCHRISTMAS%2F27405.jpg&rurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.catholicsupply.com%2Fchristmas%2Fcmastoy.html&size=253KB&name=…+Paint+Your+O…&p=plush+nativity+set&oid=6a6c7fecf0eba37de269ac6b77318a7a&fr2=&no=7&tt=2750&sigr=11kefpv89&sigi=11atpjlf6&sigb=12vi3n8l6&.crumb=MbLOpBXyoMe
FISHER PRICE nativity: http://www.fisher-price.com/fp.aspx?st=900000&e=storeproduct&pid=46068
PLAYMOBILE nativity: http://store.playmobilusa.com/on/demandware.store/Sites-US-Site/en_US/Product-Detail?pid=5719&cgid=
ADVENT NATIVITY CALENDAR with CHOCOLATE!: http://www.catholicsupply.com/christmas/advcal2.html
WOODEN ADVENT CALENDAR: http://images.search.yahoo.com/search/images?_adv_prop=image&fr=yfp-t-701&va=wooden+advent+nativity+calendar
CLAY nativity: http://www.ehow.com/how_6578433_make-clay-nativity.html
CARDBOARD BOX nativity: http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1212882/easy_cardboard_box_nativity_scene.html
PUNCH OUT nativity: http://paperdollreview.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=516
SALT DOUGH nativity: http://www.squidoo.com/salt-dough-nativity-scene
Twelve Tips for Homeschoolers: Learn to Teach Like Jesus
Many years ago we were introduced to the concept of teaching like Jesus taught. We have since delved into that further, realizing that Jesus was not only a model of how to teach concepts to our children, but he was also the epitome of relationship building with people. This has helped us in our parenting and discipling of our children in general (not just in “teaching” or homeschooling).
One of the things that has stuck with us the most is the concept of time in Jesus’ teaching. Jesus taught all the time! He taught Nicodemus late at night; he taught during meals via the last supper and other “potluck” style opportunities. This reinforced the concept in Deuteronomy 6:7 of teaching our children all the time—as we do everything—as we live. Along the lines of different time frames, we also noted that Jesus taught varying lengths of time. Sometimes he taught short and straight to the point (the woman at the well). Other times he had lengthy teaching sessions, such as the Sermon on the Mount. Sometimes he taught so long he went right on through meal times! We, too, need to be aware of our audience—and their time limitations, our scheduling needs, etc.
Jesus also used various types of teaching. This showed us that some kids need a certain type of instruction while others need something else. In Matthew 18:12, Jesus asked the question, “What do you think?” This has become a common mantra for our parenting/teaching. We have wanted to allow the kids to tell us what they already know or what they think—and then we could build on that. Asking open ended questions is a super method for academic training—and for heart training.
Of course, Jesus also taught one-on-one (again, Nicodemus and the woman at the well); small group (twelve disciples); and large group (five thousand). There have been many things in our homeschool that were perfectly suited to one-on-one instruction. Other things were great for small group—and we used unit studies and other “small group” instruction situations with our kids together. Some things were truly best suited to a larger group, such as speech and debate, drama, and choir.
Jesus used storytelling extensively. He used God’s word to tell stories. And he used nature to tell stories—pearls, fish, trees, water were all object lessons. We have taken his concept of using nature to heart. We have used animals via Answers in Genesis materials, zoo trips, etc. We have used Character Sketches books for twenty-nine years to teach character and Bible—half of the book is using nature to teach character! Sometimes we just look at the snow, clouds, stars, ocean—and an instant lesson in spiritual truth presents itself!
Jesus taught in unusual places—which we have found extremely effective and fun—for the kids and parents! Jesus taught in a boat, by a well, on a hillside, in a garden, on the water, under the stars. Kids love surprises and unusual things. And we have enjoyed providing surprises and unusual places to learn—zoos, parks, sleeping at the top of the jungle gym at Science Central, camping out on the “bunks” at the fort, and more have provided us with unusual and enjoyable learning opportunities.
Lastly, Jesus had characteristics of a superior teacher—that we homeschoolers should model after. He knew his audience—and he taught accordingly. He was teachable, even as a teacher: “I only do what I see my Father do.” He had his priorities in order: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33). And he didn’t “just teach”—he discipled: “Come ye after me” (Mark 1:17). Wow, “to be like Jesus”—to teach like Jesus! Now that would make me a successful homeschooler!
Twelve Back to School Tips for Those Attending School!
Tip VII: Pray! (Back to School Prayer)
We should always pray for our kids—for our family. However, when we are going to be apart from each other, we should pray even more.
I love this “back to school prayer” at the link below!