One of my favourite Christmas events as a kid was with Girl Scouts. Each Girl Scouts group was assigned a different country. We would learn about that country’s holiday traditions, and then we’d represent that country at big meeting. You’d get a passport and go around the world, doing crafts and trying new foods and getting a stamp at each stop. My sister is an avid traveller, so my son has been interested in different countries for some time now and I couldn’t think of a better activity to do now that we’re homeschooling.
Kaleb decided he wanted to visit Norway and Russia first. Between Pinterest and Teachers Pay Teachers I was able to get a ton of great ideas. I made little passports and printed off small flags to glue in as the passport stamps. I then made mini flip books for each country. I based them off of this lapbook which I printed off to use for when we do Australia.
My sister joined us for homeschool today! She was in charge of setting us up with country-appropriate music. I think we all really enjoyed the Norwegian songs as they were really just more upbeat versions of the songs we are already familiar with. We also watched an amazing video of traditional Russian dancing- the athleticism required is amazing!
For Norway, I got most of my information right off of VisitNorway.com and we found a cute woven heart basket craft at Kid World Citizen. It was a little tricky, so if you need more detailed instructions there’s a great PDF here. They look adorable hanging on our tree! Maybe Julenissen will leave us some treats on Christmas Eve…
After we finished our hearts, we made some Norwegian cookies: Karamellkaker. (Life tip: if someone says it’s their grandmother’s recipe you know it’s going to be good.) These things are ridiculously addictive, what with a ton of sugar and butter how could they not be? The only downside is I definitely ate way too many! A single batch makes a few dozen, so if you make them be prepared to spend a long time baking them all. I would even go so far to say to halve the recipe, but you might be disappointed when they’re gone so fast!
For Russia, we actually learned about Novy God instead of Christmas. It turns out that in Russia, New Years is the big holiday where Ded Moroz (Father Frost, aka Russia’s version of Santa) visits. I found an interesting article on NPR about Novy God and for our craft we made paper nesting dolls (or matryoshka dolls) that I found here. Sure, they aren’t the real thing but they are cute!
We had a ton of fun learning about different traditions and finding differences and similarities with our own. I think we were pretty unanimous with our favourite traditions. In Norway, Julenissen lives on a farm and takes care of the animals! As if Santa couldn’t get any more amazing? And in Russia, they apparently take evening strolls to visit their neighbors. I don’t know if that’s more a tradition of the past or something that is still common today, but it just sounds so festive!
We have a busy day tomorrow, but Kaleb is excited to learn about Christmas in Australia and Santa’s six kangaroos!