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While we’ve read this book several times before, I thought I’d add in a few enrichment activities this week a la literature-based unit studies.
Since it’s Christmas School and things are bit more laid back, we are only reading through The Christmas Tree Ship for 3 or 4 days.
When doing a literature-based unit study, I often have enough activities for 5 days. This is a shortened version due to the holidays.
The Christmas Tree Ship
As I described in this post on our favorite Christmas books, The Christmas Tree Ship took a bit of time for my children to warm up to.
I have fairly sensitive children and they initially had a hard time accepting that the captain and his ship full of Christmas trees sink in a storm.
In fact, I wasn’t sure that they would ever really love this book, but I was wrong! Now it is a favorite!
Geography – The Great Lakes
I was neither taught nor exposed to much geography in my own school days, so I have to make up for a lot of lost time! As a result, I incorporate geography into every activity that I can, even with my youngest girl.
You are never too young to be exposed to great maps and learning where we are in the world!
The setting of The Christmas Tree Ship is on Lake Michigan, so it was the perfect time to introduce The Great Lakes.
Our focus, of course, was on Lake Michigan and the route that Captain Santa might have taken to Chicago or the shores of Wisconsin.
Since Grandfather Axel was a Swedish immigrant, it was neat to get out the globe and talk about the route he might have taken to reach the American coast.
I have found that when we look at our globe, one conversation leads to another, which leads to another!
Is Michigan north or south of North Carolina?
Do you think it’s colder there?
Does it ever get hot there? They’re so far from the equator!
Are they in the same time zone as we are?
The questions go on and on…and I love it! I always go over basic map facts (cardinal directions, the equator, longitude and latitude) when we look at the globe together. It encourages their little brains to think up questions and encourages their curiosity.
I love watching that it in action!
I’m not a stickler for making my children memorize vocabulary words. We read a ton of great literature, and they naturally have good vocabularies as a direct result of consistently reading aloud.
I do make sure we go over the words that we don’t use in every day speech, just to ensure they know the word’s meaning.
In The Christmas Tree Ship, we reviewed the following vocabulary words each time we read the story.
Also, there is a wonderful opportunity to introduce similes with this book.
The author describes Lake Michigan like “a child with many moods.”
That led to a neat discussion with my little girls!
We talked about what the water would look like when it was angry, or when it was happy, or when it was excited. My girls had a great time describing those emotions!
Writing and Drawing – Like Notebooking!
Even though I’ve homeschooled for 6 years now, there are still areas where I feel inadequate and uncertain.
Teaching my children to write well tops that list!
I wanted to add a very small writing activity to this book, since my 1st grader hasn’t had a ton of practice with writing her own sentences. She did beautifully!
We simply used a couple of sheets of picture story writing paper and colored pencils to work on our activity.
My girls brainstormed their favorite parts of the book and illustrated their papers.
My 5 year old, who is still learning to write letters correctly, only wrote one word on her paper with me spelling it.
My 1st grader dictated a sentence to me, which I wrote on our white board. After reviewing spelling, capitalization, and end marks, she copied her sentence onto her paper.
I was so proud of them, and more importantly, they were so proud of their work!
It has been far too long since I incorporated a literature-based unit study into the homeschool of my little girls. Shame on me!
We all adore this style of learning, so I must be intentional about more book-based learning in the next half of the school year.
What books are you reading with your kiddos this Christmas Season?