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The Twelve Days of Preschool Christmas

By Melissa Morgan
Printed in Practical Homeschooling #101, 2011.

Using the Twelve Days of Christmas as the framework for a Christmas unit study

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Melissa Morgan

by Melissa Morgan

Twelve Days of Christmas unit study

On the first day of Christmas my toddler gave to me: a froggie under a tree! Toddlers give us the gift of seeing things all thing new; we give them the gift of our love and wisdom. Holidays such as Christmas provide unique learning opportunities for all ages, from preschool to high school. Preschoolers learn best by doing, and will carry Christmas memories with them for a lifetime.

Rhymes and songs effectively aid memory. You will never forget what you sing. Use a treasured old song—“The Twelve Days of Christmas”—as a memory tool to teach about Jesus and the Bible. Add this allegorical thought: Christ gives the gifts, and the church gets the gifts.

Draw a Christmas picture with your child to illustrate the Twelve Days of Christmas. Draw a different picture every day. Search in an encyclopedia or on the Internet to find picture ideas. For instance, look in your favorite search engine for “Partridge in a pear tree picture.” If drawing is difficult, cut out pictures from old magazines or find an appropriate picture on the Internet to print up. Trace and color your Christmas pictures with your child. Share your picture, along with a Bible verse, during family Advent devotions at dinnertime. Or wait until after Christmas, according to tradition, to celebrate the Twelve Days of Christmas.

1. “On the 1st day of Christmas my true love gave to me . . . A Partridge in a Pear Tree.” This symbolizes Christ’s love, as in Luke 13:34. (“How often would I have sheltered you under my wings, as a hen does her chicks, but you would not have it so . . .”)

2. “On the 2nd day of Christmas my true love gave to me . . . Two Turtle Doves.” Doves represent The Old and New Testaments of the Bible, God’s Word to mankind. Teach your child where to find the Old and New Testaments in the Bible.

3. “On the 3rd day of Christmas my true love gave to me . . . Three French Hens.” On the hens, write the words Faith, Hope, and Love—see 1 Corinthians 13:13.

4. “On the 4th day of Christmas my true love gave to me . . . Four Calling Birds.” Name the birds after the Four Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, calling out God’s Good News. Read the story of Christ’s birth in Luke 2: 1–20.

5. “On the 5th day of Christmas my true love gave to me . . . Five Golden Rings.” These gold rings represent the first Five Books of the Old Testament—Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy—also known as the Torah. Take turns finding the first five books in the Old Testament.

6. “On the 6th day of Christmas my true love gave to me . . . Six Geese A-Laying.” There are six creation days in Genesis 1. Draw eggs to symbolize creation days. Read Genesis 1 together.

7. “On the 7th day of Christmas my true love gave to me . . . Seven Swans A-Swimming.” Learn seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: prophecy, ministry, teaching, exhortation, giving, leading, and compassion. Read Romans 12:6–8 and 1 Corinthians 12:8–11.

8. “On the 8th day of Christmas my true love gave to me . . . Eight Maids A-Milking.” Single-serving milk cartons could help you remember eight blessed Beatitudes from Matthew 5:3–10: Blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and those persecuted for righteousness’ sake.

9. “On the 9th day of Christmas my true love gave to me . . . Nine Ladies Dancing.” Draw the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit named in Galatians 5:22, dancing with joy: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

10. “On the 10th day of Christmas my true love gave to me . . . Ten Lords A-Leaping.” Lords make laws or rules. Picture the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:1–17. Draw a number and a “Lord” face beside each Commandment, and read them aloud at dinner.

11. “On the 11th day of Christmas my true love gave to me . . . Eleven Pipers Piping.” Pipers play instruments, such as flutes, to lead the faithful, as did the eleven Faithful Apostles. Draw eleven flutes and read Luke 6:14–16. Judas betrayed Jesus, or there would have been twelve. Can you name all the Faithful Apostles?

12. “On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me . . . Twelve Drummers Drumming.” Drummers announce important events, and the Apostles’ Creed heralds twelve Christian doctrines. Read the Apostles’ Creed together.

Dennis Bratcher notes that “these are not the twelve days before Christmas, but in most of the Western Church the twelve days are from Christmas until the beginning of Epiphany (January 6th; the 12 days count from December 25th until January 5th).” Listen to Christmas songs, view animated pictures, and read more about the Twelve Days of Christmas: cresourcei.org/cy12days.html.

Most homeschoolers know how to “Google it” using google.com. Try out these less common resources to research more on the Twelve Days of Christmas:

  • Type in your questions, such as “Who wrote the Twelve Days of Christmas?” at Ask Jeeves, ask.com
  • Dog Pile searches a variety of search engines at once, dogpile.com
  • HotBot, filter option, hotbot.com
  • Research-It!, iTools.com/research-it
  • Yahoo Directory, yahoo.com/Education, will narrow your results, and Yahooligans, yahooligans.com, is designed for kids (but as always, adult supervision is encouraged).
After Christmas holidays, take The Twelve Days of Christmas back to homeschool. Use your imagination: rhymes, songs and memory tools make all your subjects more fun and memorable.

Try key words and picture clues to learn and remember ordinal numbers in math. Associate key words such as a partridge (for first) or drums (for twelfth). For tenth, think of leaping lords or men, or imagine the lords as frogs, leaping. Use whatever number word picture clue you remember best.


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