Advent and Christmas with Tomie de Paola and Others--Week 1

“Advent to Ascension” lapbook or notebook.  Read through the Gospel of Luke, using the Navarre Bible or the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible.  As you go, illustrate and narrate the mysteries of the rosary and organize them into a lapbook.  Be sure to include the luminous mysteries. Other useful books include The Miracles of Jesus by Tomie de Paola, The Miracles of Jesus retold by Selina Hastings and The Parables of Jesus by Tomie de Paola.  Also, Mary the Mother of Jesus by Tomie de Paola is helpful for both text and illustrations.  Eventually, we’ll walk through the Bible, using lapbooks or notebooks as an organizer for study.


Scripture Memory Verse: Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people form their sins. (Matthew 1:20)


Listen to or read Merry Christmas Strega Nona (de Paola) and narrate and illustrate.



Listen to or read The Country Angel Christmas (de Paola) and narrate and illustrate.

Reading Practice:

Early readers can read Merry Christmas Strega Nona and The Country Angel Christmas after hearing it read aloud.   If this is too challenging, have the child read from a clean, corrected, typewritten copy of his own narration of the story.

For more advanced readers:
The Littlest Angel (Tazewell)


For Older Children:

Wonderworker: The True Story of How Saint Nicholas Became Santa Claus

Just David (Porter)


To Read Aloud together:
26 Fairmount Avenue This is Tomie de Paola’s autobiography.


Copywork and Studied Dictation:

For beginners:

Don’t think about what others have done.  Just be yourselves and you will make a fine Christmas.

For Level  2:

His halo was permanently tarnished where he held on to it with one hot, little, chubby hand when he ran, and he was always running.  Furthermore, even when he stood very still, it never behaved as a halo should.  It was always slipping down over his right eye...

For Level 3:

The friends, the relatives, the adoring public, the mint of money--they are all David's now.  But once each year, man grown though he is, he picks up his violin and journeys to a little village far up among the hills.  There in a quiet kitchen he plays to an old man and an old woman; and always to himself he says that he is practicing against the time when, his violin at his chin and the bow drawn across the strings, he shall go to meet his father in the far-away land, and tell him of the beautiful world he has left.

Safe surfing while mom makes lists and checks them twice:  Go to Tomie de Paola’s website and spend some time there every week.  Kids can narrate about what they learned there.

And there is SO MUCH to learn and do at the Saint Nicholas Center.

This year, we are blessed to have many more St. Nicholas ideas at A Living Education.

Rabbit Trails for the whole family:

· Together, make a list of all the Advent activities your family does.  Compare the list with another family.  Are there any new traditions you would like to adopt?

· Write a family advent prayer.  Pray that this will be a special time to prepare for Jesus’ birthday

· Discuss the real hierarchy of angels.

· Help the child make puppets to dramatize Merry Christmas, Strega Nona.  Perform the show for family and friends on Christmas Day.

· Make apple star prints.  Cut an apple in half width-wise (surprise! there is a star inside) and use tempera to print the stars on paper.  Or print them on canvas bags or aprons with fabric paint and give as a Christmas gift.


· Make glitter glue stars to hang on the Christmas tree.  Draw stars in glue on wax paper.  Sprinkle with glitter.  When the glue dries, peel away the wax paper.  Use gold thread to hang.

·The country angels harnessed a star to shed light on the Christmas celebration.  During advent, we await Christ, who is the Light of the world.  Make an advent meditation candle to remind you throughout the season that it is Christ’s light that is a “light unto my path and a lamp unto my feet” (Psalm 119: 105).  Decorate a large pillar candle with colored beeswax cut into figures which represent biblical events from the time of Adam and Eve until Jesus’ birth.  (supplies are available from Hearthsong 1-800-325-2502)

· Bake something that requires “peeling sifting, pouring and stirring” like the kitchen angels did.

Read The Baker's Dozen and make cookies using the cookie cutters available from St. Nicholas Center.

·  Make a traditional Italian Christmas Eve dinner.  Throughout Italy, traditional dinners include twelve courses, in honor of the twelve apostles.  (See recipe box for ideas, including Big Anthony’s cod.)  This is a seafood dinner.  You can do this now or wait until it’s really Christmas Eve.

More rabbit trails for older children:

· Research Saint Nicholas.  Read how his legend evolved in Hark! A Christmas Sampler. Alternatively, read The Real Story of the St. Nicholas Legend. Narrate a story a day from The Real St. Nicholas: Tales of Generosity from Around the World.


· Find Turkey on the map.  What kind of country is it now?  Write or dictate a report on your findings. The Holy Father will be in Turkey this week, the week before St. Nicholas Day.  Have an older child follow the trip carefully and collect web reports and newspaper clippings.

·  Find Italy on the map.  Research Christmas traditions in Italy. Write or dictate a report on your findings.

·  Tomie de Paola has written several saint stories.  He doesn’t have one entitled The Story of Saint Nicholas.  Write and illustrate one.

Poet Study:

Read "Twas The Night Before Christmas" by Clement C. Moore, Matt Tavares (Illustrator).  Read every day, slowly, memorizing the poem together.  This is the only poetry for the entire month.  Break copywork into small chunks.  Let children illustrate segments as they memorize.

Picture Study:

Discuss Tomie de Paola as an author and illustrator.  Read The Art Lesson by Tomie de Paola.  Choose a picture of Saint Nicholas from Country Angel Christmas to study. Discuss your Saint Nicholas choice, without looking at the print, round robin style, beginning with the youngest child. Copy the picture or give a detailed oral narration of it. Compare an icon of Saint Nicholas to dePaola’s drawing in Country Angel Christmas.  Draw your own picture of Saint Nicholas in any style you wish.


Science and Nature Study

· Don’t forget to get outside for a hike and don’t let it get swept away by the pressure of the season.  A brisk walk is a great stress-buster for mom and kids.  Look for natural materials to use as Christmas decorations.

· Decorate pinecones with glitter or sequins or wire them into a wreath.  Tie cinnamon sticks with red ribbon.  String popcorn and cranberries for outdoor trees to feed the birds.


Enjoy A Classical Kids Christmas


Tea Time Read Aloud

Saint’s biography:  St. Nicholas the Wonder Worker (Neuberger) or The Real St. Nicholas: Tales of Generosity from Around the World.

Jotham’s Journey (Ytreeide)  This is includes a daily reading for every day of Advent and Christmas Day.  It is an adventure story that can get intense at times.  Preview each selection and paraphrase if you think it necessary.  Not a bedtime story. This is out of print. Worth finding.

This unit has been around for ten years or so and lots of us have done it.  If you've enjoyed it with your family and you have ideas to share, please leave them in the comments section.  We'll incorporate and update for next year!  Look for Week Two...ummm...whenever the baby allows me to write!