One of my absolute favorite ways to homeschool through the holidays is to combine seasonal books with fun hands-on activities. This works especially well when I find books that combine the holidays with educational subjects. Christmas Tapestry, by Patricia Polacco, is a natural choice to read while homeschooling through the holidays.
Christmas Tapestry by Patricia Polacco is different from many Christmas picture books. The story has an emotional depth that is unique for a children’s book. It strips away the commercialism that is so prevalent at Christmas time and gets right to message of Christmas: welcoming strangers with love.
This historical fiction holiday book teaches a bit of World War II history while also celebrating the miracle of the birth of Jesus.
Jonathan is homesick in his new home. His family recently moved from Tennessee to Michigan so his father can help support a flailing church and Jonathan misses his former life.
The family works hard to fix up the church, but a leak ruins the sanctuary wall right before Christmas Eve. There isn’t time to fix it before the church service. Jonathan and his father happen to find an antique hand-embroidered tapestry that will perfectly cover the ruined wall.
While returning form their shopping trip, they meet an elderly woman on the bus on a blustery day. They invite her to their home to warm up with a hot dinner. While she is there she notices the tapestry and instantly tears up. She recognized the cloth from her own wedding! The tapestry was lost when the Nazis separated her and her husband during World War II. This is the first she has seen the tapestry in many many years. Sadly, she never laid eyes on her husband after that dreadful day.
The next day, Christmas Eve, the plaster repairman arrives to inspect the damaged wall. He also notices the tapestry and tells the family that it looks exactly like the one his wife made years ago.
Jonathan and his family realize that the nice woman from the bus and the plaster repairman are actually long-lost husband and wife! They reunite the couple in what can only be described as a Christmas miracle.
Christmas Tapestry Activities
Bake raisin cookies
Bake raisin cookies and share them with a friend just like Jonathon’s family shared with Mrs. Zukor. This is an excellent opportunity for a Christmas tea time!
Baking cookies is a classic homeschooling through the holidays activity. It is a hands-on way for kids to practice reading comprehension and math skills. I’m pretty sure my kids learn through their stomaches, so I include food in lessons whenever possible.
Any raisin cookie recipe will work, but my family enjoyed this gluten-free oatmeal raisin cookie.
Invite a neighbor over for dinner
This is an activity that involves the entire family. Children can create personalized invitations and help the parents can plan a special meal. This dinner does not need to be fancy. It is the company that makes a dinner special – not a certain type of food.
It is always kind to invite neighbors over for dinner, but it is especially nice during the holiday season. Many people live away from family and appreciate being included in holiday plans.
Create a Christmas tapestry of your own
Crafts and Christmas seem to go together very well. Craft projects always make it onto our annual Advent calendar.
Creating a tapestry can be a great way for children to practice patterning. Typically a tapestry is made of fabric, but part of the fun of crafts is putting your own spin on the project.
Children can weave a simple Christmas placemat with a few sheets of colorful construction paper. Laminating the completed craft project will protect the placemat from spills while also preserving it for years to come.
There is no rule that says placemat crafts must be on tables, so feel free to treat this project like a traditional tapestry and hang it on the wall.
Christmas celebrations during WWII looked quite a bit different than they do now. Kids can research how Americans observed the holiday on the home front while their soldiers were at war overseas.
Following this educational rabbit trail is a great way to teach history while homeschooling through the holidays.
Color the Christmas Tapestry coloring page
Download a free Christmas tapestry coloring page for your child. There are several ways to use this free coloring page:
- Set it out before reading Christmas Tapestry to increase interest in the book
- Allow your child to color the book as you are reading (especially helpful for kids who can’t sit still!)
- Color the page as a closing activity after reading the book
- Set the free coloring page out for your child when you need a few quiet moments.
Have you ever read Christmas Tapestry with your children?
Jennifer Knick is a homeschool mom of two. Before having children, she was a kindergarten teacher. She shares organizational tips, hands-on lesson ideas, and great book lists at OrganizedHomeschooler.com. In her free time she enjoys reading and spending time with he husband. Follow her online on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook.