Deck the Halls! Unit Study
DIY Holiday Decor
by Megan Mora Fuentes
We’re getting closer to the holidays, which probably means you’ve either finished up your formal homeschool for the year, or have entered a more laid-back holiday homeschool period. Create your own Christmas unit study by using Christmas decorations to reinforce concepts in history, science, math, art, literature, and more. Check out these DIY holiday decor ideas which double as a Christmas unit study to bring your homeschool into your living
DIY Holiday Decor Creatives
History – Popcorn and Cranberry Garlands
While the history of this classic Christmas decoration is somewhat unknown, it seems to have originated in Germany in the 18th century. Follow its journey from Germany to England and across the Atlantic while you string your own garlands to decorate your home for the holidays.
Science – Crystal Candy Canes
This science experiment is the perfect hands-on Christmas activity. You’ll use a borax and water solution to “grow” crystals on a candy cane form, leaving you with a sparkly candy cane to add to your holiday decorations. While this experiment does involve a bit of patience, it only takes a day or two to see dramatic results. You could also experiment with different colors and shapes in your pipe cleaners–blue icicles, gold stars, green holly leaf, etc.
Note that Borax is toxic if ingested, so use your own discretion if you have pets or small children who may ingest any broken particles of the candy canes. You can also try this experiment with a sugar solution instead. While the candy canes still wouldn’t be edible, as they’re formed on pipe cleaner shapes, they wouldn’t be toxic if someone tried! If you do try the experiment with sugar, be aware that the sugar crystals will get sticky the longer they’re exposed to moisture, so these decorations would have a shorter shelf life and would not be re-usable.
Art – Window Painting
Window painting is an easy, creative way to add to your DIY holiday decor, and only requires a few simple supplies. You might even sketch a few outlines of festive scenes and allow children to color them in with paint markers. The best part is that the paint is easy to remove if you want to re-do it or at the end of the season, so you can exercise your creativity over and over again, and your decorations don’t require any storage the rest of the year. You can also add small festive doodles around the edges of mirrors inside your home as well.
Home Ec & Math – Edible Ornaments
These edible ornaments are as much fun to make as they are to eat, and they also make great gifts or stocking stuffers (appropriately wrapped and stored). Try making festive popcorn balls, cutting snowflakes out of tortillas, or baking sweet hanging sugar and gingerbread cookies. Following recipes, organizing a grocery supply list, and even planning a schedule to ensure everything gets done on time are all great ways to incorporate math, logic, and planning skills into your Christmas unit study.
Wordly DIY Holiday Decor
Literature – Book Crafts
You can make a ton of pretty decorations from the pages and pieces of old books. This is a great way to recycle damaged or worn-out books, but if you just can’t bring yourself to rip them up, many of these crafts work well with magazine and catalog pages too. You can make beautiful wreaths, hanging ornaments, card holders, and more.
One of my favorite ways to use old books in crafts is to search through the pages for words or phrases that I find interesting or poetic, cut them out, and use them to make decorations, jewelry, scrapbook covers, and more. Collecting the words and phrases is a great way to have a discussion about literature and literary devices. With older children you can ask questions like these: What are some famous book quotes you know by heart? What makes them memorable? What makes this particular word or phrase attractive enough for you to cut it out? Younger children can be tasked with finding words that start with a particular letter, follow a common theme, or even just the simple words that early readers are able to pick out.