Jan Brett is one of my favorite children’s authors. I love not only her amazing illustrations and the intricate and intriguing borders she is so well known for, but I also love her stories. She is an amazing story teller – both in print and in person. We had the wonderful opportunity to hear her speak earlier this year while she was on a book tour to promote Mossy (you can read about our experience in my post, Meeting Jan Brett).
Jan Brett is a best-selling American author/illustrator of children’s books. Her books are known for colorful, detailed depictions of a wide variety of animals and human cultures ranging from Scandinavia to Asia. Today, I share with you a number of her books that share the spirit of Christmas in the north woods.
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I have written a lot about Scandinavian Christmas traditions here at Academia Celestia. It is during the Christmas season that the culture and traditions of our ancestors have been most obvious. In addition, we enjoy reading a variety of traditional Christmas stories. This year, we will be incorporating an author study as well. I’ve compiled here a number of literature connections and activities that you can also use to experience the spirit of Christmas in the North Woods with your children.
- Explore the prevalence of trolls in Norwegian literature; consider reading tales by Peter Christen Asbjørnsen, and Jørgen Engebretsen Moe.
- Draw your own trolls and make up your own stories describing their mischief.
- Compare trolls and nisse – How are they the same? How are they different?
The Night Before Christmas
- Watch Jan Brett’s All About The Night Before Christmas movie
- Create handmade ornaments to decorate your tree. Jan shares a few on her website.
- Put on a short play to act out this delightful story for your family.
Who’s That Knocking on Christmas Eve?
- Make a list of the traditional foods you eat on Christmas
- Learn how to make one new traditional holiday recipe – consider Seven Sorts: Traditional Norwegian Christmas Cookies
- Teach your children how to prepare a favorite family recipe
- Write about the traditions in your home. Research the cultural significance of one (or more)
The Three Snow Bears
- Visit a zoo to observe live polar bears
- Consider doing a nature journal entry on bears
- Learn How to Draw a Baby Polar Bear
- Watch a documentary on polar bears
- Research the arctic tundra biome. What is the average yearly precipitation here? Is this trend changing?
The Wild Christmas Reindeer
- Research the arctic tundra biome. What other animals live here? What adaptations do they have to survive this cold climate?
- Enjoy the story The Christmas Wish by Lori Evert – a delightful Nordic tale of a little girl who wants to help Santa’s elves. From a red bird to a polar bear to a reindeer, a menagerie of winter animals help Anja make her way to Santa
- Research the Sami culture of Scandinavia and Russia. What are their customs and beliefs?
- Bake and decorate your own gingerbread cookies or a gingerbread house, if you are ambitious
- Visit (at least virtually) the world’s largest gingerbread city in Bergen, Norway – Pepperkakebyen
Home for Christmas
- Write a letter to a someone serving in the military who is away from home during the holidays.
- Learn How to Draw a Moose
This post is iHomeschool Network’s A Book & Big Idea: Winter & Christmas series.