Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Christmas School - Jesse Tree Day One

With such a busy season, we've tried to fit school into the month of December, but it is never productive. There are so many extra things that I want to stop and take time for and it always felt as if we were rushing. A few years ago, we began doing Christmas School and it has been a success.

Each day, we begin school, but our regular devotion time after breakfast is exchanged for Jesse Tree devotions. We've used devotion books written just for this, but our favorite is to just read the verses and talk about them. I enjoy discussing things with my kids. Jesse Tree celebrations are generally done every day of Advent, but we choose to make it part of our weekday-only, Christmas School studies.

On the first day of the Jesse Tree, there is much excitement over finding the perfect branch. The boys scour the yard and bring in samples to lay out on the table. We hold them up to the wall one by one and decide which looks the best. In all my Jesse Tree studies, I've never seen another branch decorated sideways, but it's how we've always done it and we just like it that way. Perhaps we chose horizontally on the wall because we never seem to have an available surface to put a vertical tree onto. Who can remember? It's tradition now and there's no changing it.

The boys do copywork after devotions and this is replaced with Jesse Tree copywork. Today's verse is Isaiah 11:1. I am only making them 3 days at a time at the moment, but if you would like a copy of them as they come, leave a comment with your email address and I'll send them to you. As I make them, I'm creating them in cursive, cursive-dashed, print, and print-dashed for the Kindergarten age. Please specify which version you would like.

We hang no ornaments today, but much to-do is made of hanging the Jesse Tree. This year, the boys spied a brush pile and a friend delivered a huge Jesse Tree branch. It is much bigger than any we've used before, but it is so pretty that we couldn't pass it up.

We are going through our Advent Calendar out of order so that we can be a day or two ahead of anyone else using it, in the hopes we can catch errors before we confuse anyone's celebrations. Today we studied The Nutcracker and the country of Russia. The kids watched the Nutcracker Ballet and then built a nutcracker out of a pr*ngles can. The original instructions said to use felt and such, but we stuck with construction paper. We glued on three bands paper, using a paintbrush to spread the glue finely. Pink for his face, green for his shirt, and blue for his pants. The boys put rubber bands around the paper to keep it attached while it dried. For the shoes, a plain band of black would work, but we trimmed it to have two rounded bumps in the front to be the tops of his shoes. We used hot-glue to make the ribbon stick to his shirt and for the arms made out of rolled paper. Regular glue attached the yarn hair and the boys attached a hat to the lid of the can. They cut out and glued facial features onto the pink paper. For the mouth, they cut out a square of white and then drew in red gums with a red Sharpie marker to separate teeth shapes.

They want to fill it with nuts and give it to friends. I'm so proud of their work, I selfishly want to keep it!

The boys also discovered a huge brush pile of greenery while hunting for their branch and have been decorating the porch with it. Let's hope it doesn't turn brown! I love this small town that we live in. I love neighbors calling and smiling over the two boys they watched riding their bikes down the street with their backs laden with branches. No one wonders too hard anymore what they might be up to, they just chuckle at those Harrison boys...at it again.

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