Cranberry Christmas


We chose to row Cranberry Christmas during the holidays. It seemed perfect since we were on our second year of U.S. History.

Kick-Off Breakfast:

We kicked off our holiday row with a fun snowman bagel breakfast.

Story Disk:

Jordan colored our story Disk and placed it in the Northeastern part of the United States.

Cover Art:

The boys created their cover art pages in their FIAR Notebook. I loved the colorful artwork.

Cranberry Thanksgiving:

It had been several years since we rowed Cranberry Thanksgiving, so I thought it might be helpful to do a quick review.

I recently created a Cranberry Thanksgiving Story Review. I printed copies of the Story Review worksheets from our pack.

The kids remembered quite a bit, but there were a few tricky questions. This was a fun story review, because it had been so long since we read Cranberry Thanksgiving and the questions challenged them.


My daughter created the clipart for our Cranberry Christmas Bible printable.

You can purchase your copy here at our TPT Store. You can download the FREE tracer in the preview.

The boys traced their verses and we added them to their FIAR notebooks.

Christmas Bible Lessons:

As we ended our Thanksgiving lessons, we prepared for our Christmas unit. This year, I decided to do the Kids of Integrity Christmas lessons with all three kids.

Advent Wreath:

The Advent wreath was our Christmas kick-off activity.

I set out all the things we needed to make the Advent wreath.

Haley put the wreath together. It looked beautiful. We decided to add some red sequins as holly berries. It added a nice touch of sparkling color!

I put the Advent wreath on the table so we could add to it with each lesson.

God’s Love:

Our kick-off lesson was about God’s love. He gave us the greatest gift of love, Jesus.

We enjoyed this first lesson over hot cocoa and peppermint sticks. This was a cozy and very Christmasy start to our seasonal Bible lessons.

We added a red heart button on our Advent Calendar to remind us of God’s love.

I chose to use Psalm 27:1, “The Lord is my light and salvation whom shall I fear?” as our Christmas verse under our classroom “Charlie Brown” tree.

Day 1 – Harmony:

We read about God’s gift of Shalom, His peace in every circumstance. It is so wonderful when we live in harmony.

We talked about being peacemakers and added a gift to our wreath. God gave us “shalom”, the gift of His peace.

Afterwards, we wrapped gifts for each other and placed them under the tree.

Day 2 – Joy:

Are we looking for joy in all the wrong places? I prepared a sweet treasure hunt the night before. I made “joy” goggles for the kids and hid Kinder Joy eggs in the Living room.

We sat around the table for our Bible lesson. We talked about how much fun we have at Christmas, but we also discussed how true joy comes from the Lord.

Afterwards, I sent the kids searching for some sweet treasure.

I added goggles on our Advent wreath.

Day 3 – Courteous Communication:

Over the weekend, we bought two types of holiday kisses. We talked about how our words can be warm like cocoa or cold like a snowball in the face.

Since our Advent calendar was about Christmas in Mexico, I decided to make Mexican hot chocolate to accompany our Bible lesson.

They sipped their Mexican hot chocolate and sampled the Hershey’s kisses while answering Bible questions.

Day 4 – Forgiveness:

We read about the servant who was forgiven a large debt and wouldn’t forgive someone who owed him a smaller debt. If we were home, we could have watched the following clip from our Cranberry Christmas Playlist, but we had our Bible study “on the road” that day. This is a Bible lesson we knew by heart.

We discussed this subject for a while. If God forgives us every time we come to Him, we have no right to withhold forgiveness from others. No matter how provoked I am with repeated bad behavior, I always tell my kids, “I will ALWAYS forgive you, because God ALWAYS forgives me”.

We concluded this Bible lesson with hard, chocolate-covered pretzels. Let’s be sweet, like our pretzels, and forgive each other. We would revisit the soft-pretzel suggestion before this week ended.


Since I planned to make the soft pretzels and Parker and I were reading The Grinch for his Language Arts lesson, I felt inspired to create a Grinch-like creation.

Jordan and I made green-tinted dough. We left it in the bread-maker to do all the work.

Jordan and I made green-tinted dough. We left it for the bread-maker to mix.

I put the dough in a bowl and covered it with Saran Wrap. I actually left it overnight to rest and rise.

I added more green food coloring to the dough. Then we rolled, stretched, and shaped our pretzels.

After they sat for a while, we put them in the baking soda bath and baked them in the oven.

They smelled SO good. They were puffy, golden, and tasty treats.

Day 5 – Generosity:

There were a few hands-on activities to go with this lesson. I chose to do one before our Bible lesson and one after.

The Twelve Days of Christmas:

The Twelve Days of Christmas certainly is about giving and receiving! I thought it would be fun to test their memory of what was given to “his true love” and in what order.

I set out a Twelve Days of Christmas Story Sequence activity. I cut off the numbers from the cards and presented it with the sorting mat, the night before our Bible lesson. Mr. Nutcracker included a little “treat“ incentive to participate. It’s funny how willing kids can be when candy is involved!

All three kids gave their best “guess” and happily grabbed an Almond Rocha reward.

The next morning, we read The Twelve Days of Christmas and reviewed our guesses from the previous night.

More Blessed to Give:

We read about the rich young ruler and his love for money. Though he presented himself as “perfect”, Jesus saw his heart and knew he wasn’t a generous man. When presented with the challenge of “giving all he had to the poor”, he walked away from the Lord and His “free” gift of salvation.

Check out our Cranberry Christmas Playlist for this clip and many more to complement our KOI Bible lessons. Sometimes an animated Bible story breaks the monotony and prepares everyone for an engaging discussion afterwards.

I set out some Christmas candies for the object lesson idea from our KOI lesson. We talked about how gratitude and contentment help prevent an unquenchable “thirst for more”.

The Bible says, “it is more blessed to give than to receive.” It’s important to think of others too! So I instructed the kids to divide the sweets. They purposely thought about each other’s favorite candy and made sure everyone was happy with the candy math result!

We added M&Ms to our Advent wreath to remind us to be generous.

Day 6 – Obedience:

Our lesson on obedience focused on seeking and obeying God. We read about the shepherds who went looking for Jesus immediately after the angels announced his birth.

We also watched an episode of Minno’s Big Questions about Christmas Family Devotional. This was a wonderful devotional about the angels appearing to the shepherds.


I thought it would be fun to explore candles, because they are such a beautiful Christmas symbol representing Jesus, the “light of the world”. Check out our candle unit in the Science section below.

Bub assembled our German Christmas candle. It’s so beautiful! I love watching it spin by the flicker of the candle.

Day 7 – Cooperation:

We watched the animated story of Nehemiah on our Cranberry Christmas playlist. We talked about the importance of cooperation and teamwork.

A great example of cooperation was when we teamed up to build gingerbread houses on our Christmas break. We developed a plan and worked on our tasks to get the job done.

We added a gingerbread house on our Advent wreath as a visual reminder of our lesson on cooperation.

Day 8 – Kindness:

We watched the story of David and Jonathan. We talked about David’s love and devotion to Jonathan. After Jonathan died, David kept his promise when he showed kindness to Mephibosheth.

We also read It’s a Wonderful life. In this story, George Bailey sacrificed so many things for the benefit of others, but these acts of kindness were returned back to him when he needed them most.

We talked about being angels of kindness, so we added an angel to our Advent wreath.

Day 9 – Righteousness:

We watched the story of Joseph in Egypt and talked about being lights in this world. Joseph shined wherever he was and he always did his absolute best.

I added a star on our Advent wreath as a reminder to be God’s living lights in this world.

Day 10 – Acceptance:

We watched A Charlie Brown Christmas Tree together.

Afterwards, we talked about how Charlie Brown felt rejected by his friends. We even tied-in Parker’s “dialogue” creative writing assignment with this discussion.

Then we watched the story of Zacchaeus together. We talked about how Jesus treated Zacchaeus. He accepted him and set a supreme example for us to follow.

We added a little “Charlie Brown” Christmas tree as a reminder to accept others as Jesus did.

Day 11 – Compassion:

We watched Jesus Feeds the 5,000, as well as other miracle stories from our Cranberry Christmas playlist. Jesus was never too busy to help someone in need. He had the biggest heart of compassion and dropped everything to help everyone.

We added a bandage on our Advent wreath to remind us to show compassion to others.

Day 12 – Contentedness:

During our Christmas break, we watched the entire “Why Do We Call It Christmas?” series on minno kids.

Parker also read The Christmas Cradle which was a wonderful story that reminded us of the true meaning of Christmas.

We added a manger on our Advent Wreath to remind us of the true meaning of Christmas.


New England:

I printed pages from our Christmas Across America – The Northeast State Holiday Fun.

You can purchase your copy here at our TPT Store.

As we read about each state, the boys completed their Crack-the-Code worksheet.

Afterwards, we added the New England States’ Christmas Messages in their FIAR Notebooks.

We also read The Twelve Days of Christmas in New England and excerpts from A Child’s Christmas in New England.


Story Review:

I created a Cranberry Christmas Story Review.

You can purchase your copy here at our TPT Store.

The kids had an easier time completing their story review worksheets, because we had read the book so many times. They LOVE Mr. Whiskers!

Character Sketch:

I printed the “Character Portraits” from our Cranberry Christmas Story Review.

We read Cranberry Christmas enough times to know the traits of each character. Jordan worked independently on this activity. He added notes for all five characters.

Christmas Songs:

Christmas Build-a-Word Activity:

I printed a copy of our Christmas Build-a-Word activity from our Story Review and set out pear letters.

We played around with the tiles trying to build larger words. At this point, we didn’t do the math challenge.

ABC Order:

I printed a copy of the Christmas Songs – Alphabetical order worksheet from our Story Review.

While working on the alphabetical order activity, Jordan gave me an idea for another Christmas song idea.

Music & Lyrics:

First, I had Parker read our Jingle Bells Golden Book.

Afterwards, I handed him the Christmas Song Scramblers worksheet from our Story Review.

Creative Writing:

Character Essay:

I decided to incorporate the FIAR character comparison activity in this weeks character essay assignment. I thought comparison Cyrus Grape and the Grinch would be fun and festive! I printed the Venn Diagram character comparison worksheet and brought out How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

We already read Cranberry Christmas several times, so we turned our focus on one mean Mr. Grinch. Parker and I sat together on the couch and read this timeless classic.

I presented our Venn Diagram worksheet (FIAR Cranberry Christmas worksheet), both books, and a special glass of Grinchie-ade (lemonade tinted green).

Parks recorded all the individual and shared characteristics of the Grinch and Cyrus Grape. Afterwards, he used his notes to type his character essay. It turned out wonderfully!

Grammar Ace:

We rowed this book for four weeks. As a result, we were able to create four festive notebook layouts.


The first week we rowed this book, I created a Christmas tree themed two-page layout to display the oodles and oodles of prepositions.

I figured a Christmas tree trimmed with many ornaments would work best! I set out all the elements for Parker to glue on his notebook.

First, we added the sticker title at the bottom of the page.

Next, we added our “star statements”, matched the “in a nutshell” term presents to the matching definitions, and trimmed the tree with many, colorful preposition ornaments.

This was our most intricate layout so far. It turned out quite festive and colorful!

Indirect Objects:

This week, I prepared our Indirect Objects layout featuring Mr. Whiskers and his sister, Sarah.

First, Parker added the sticker title at the top of his notebook page.

Next, Parker matched the “In a nutshell” terms and definitions. Then he marked both the “direct object (DO)” and “indirect object (IDO)”.

It looked amazing! We will never forget the fun we had rowing Cranberry Christmas.


The fourth week was our holiday round-up, so I decided to have a Santa themed page layout.

I prepared everything the night before and set them out for Parker.

First, Parker added the sticker title on his notebook page.

Next, Parker matched the “in a nutshell” terms with their descriptions.

It’s Santa, the man with all the toys, representing appositives! This was the same layout I used for Bub!



I printed copies of our December calendar worksheets.

You can purchase your copy here at our TPT Store.

I had the kids number their December calendar worksheets, add holidays, and note birthdays.

Cranberry Shapes:

For this festive MATHtivity, I printed copies of the Cranberry Math – Build-it-Up! worksheets for the boys and brought bowls of fresh cranberries and toothpicks.

Parker made several 2D shapes while Bub worked on 3D shapes. They built their shapes then sketched them on their worksheets.

I printed copies of our Cookie Math worksheets from our Story Review.

Parker worked on multiplying the recipe while Bub divided his recipe. This was great practice with fractional math!

Maggie’s Cookies:

We ended up making Maggie’s cookies after Christmas. We baked dozens and dozens of cookies for our neighbors and family. After so many buttery treats, I thought it would be good to scale back a bit and revise our recipe. Jordan divided our recipe in fourths and we used pureed pumpkin with butter to reduce the fat.

Jordan measured our wet and dry ingredients. He even picked a lemon from our garden to use in the recipe!

I left the cookies cooling on the counter and when I came back, there were only three cookies left! Haley tried one, but she didn’t care for the fruit or cake-like structure. The boys LOVED them!



We studied cranberries before I completed the Cranberry Christmas Story Review. As a result, I used worksheets from our Cranberry Thanksgiving Story Review as well as our Holiday Science packs.

We read several wonderful books about cranberries.

While drinking cranberry juice with a bowl full of cranberries, the boys completed their Growing Cranberries worksheet.

I brought out our Parts of the Cranberry definition cards and the boys color coded the parts of the cranberry fruit.

We cut open our cranberries and explored the fruit closely. They were able to identify each part.

Christmas Symbols:

I thought it would be fun to explore some of the Christmas decorations Mr. Whiskers used.

Christmas Candles:

First, we read How It Is Made Wax to Candle. Then I printed copies of our Christmas Candles worksheet from our Story Review.

The boys read the text and put the candle making pictures in order.

I found a candle making kit at Target. The paraffin wax overheated our microwave. Later, I saw that Hobby Lobby had soy wax candle kits that melted over the stovetop. I think we will do that the next time.b

Regardless of the microwave debacle, we had fun making our little rose scented candle.

We also read The Christmas Candle, but it ended rather abruptly and felt unfinished. There may be a better Christmas book about candles.

Jordan helped set up the German candle Daddy bought us. It was really beautiful!

Christmas Trees:

I planned to have a Christmas Tree themed day since it was our last day before winter break.

We started off with cinnamon roll Christmas trees for breakfast.

I printed copies of the Decorating your Own Tree worksheet the FREEbie from our Growing Christmas Trees holiday science pack. You could also use the Mr.Whisker’s Christmas Tree worksheet from our Story Review.

I read some cute Christmas books while the kids dot-painted their trees.

After a quick drying process, I slipped them in dry erase pockets and presented them with scented dough (Target dollar bin).

The kids had fun decorating their trees treesor while I continued to read aloud.

We also read Tomie dePaola’s Christmas Tree Book.

The boys completed worksheets from our Growing Christmas Trees pack.

We planted spruce tree seeds (another Target dollar bin find).

We left them on the kitchen counter, near the window. We’ll wait and see if they grow.

Salt Water & Fresh Water:

I printed copies of our“ fresh and salt water worksheets and set them out with our Periodic Table of Elements placemat.

Parker did a Periodic treasure hunt to complete the worksheets.

Afterwards, we filled a dixie cup, to the brim, with water and placed it in the freezer.

After it froze, we brought it out to inspect. We found that it rose higher, because water, as a solid, takes up more space than it does as a liquid. Hostly I should have used a plastic vessel that would have held its shape better. The paper cup expanded


The Moon:

We actually covered this topic on the road. It seems we did quite a bit of “learning on the road” during this row. It was fun reading while on a family drive.

As we were driving home from the city, the moon was large and beautiful. I asked the kids to make a mental note of it. I thought we would do an art project later, but we ran out of time.

We had a gorgeous moon shortly after we rowed this book. I captured a couple of photos to show the kids. The owls were going crazy that night! This was a great lead into our next row, Bird Count.

Currier & Ives:

I bought a couple of used Currier & Ives books online. They remind me of an old book my dad had when I was a child.

The boys and I skimmed through the pictures looking at the wintry scenes and other photos we liked.

Ice Skating:

First, Parker and I read a few picture books about ice skating.

Afterwards, Parker colored his own ice skates using our “Skating with Mr. Whiskers” worksheet from our Story Review.

Chalk Pastels:

We watched a Mr. Whiskers chalk tutorial on our Cranberry Christmas playlist.

We had fun on this art project. Who would enjoy sketching Mr. Whiskers?

They turned out adorable! We hung them up around the classroom.

Trimming the Tree:

I recently saw a post on FIAR’s Official Facebook page by Lesley Marshburn Rackley.

Isn’t her tree adorable? She made ornaments for all the BFIAR and FIAR books she’s rowed with her kids. This gave me a new “Mother Culture” project. Something I could do in my free time.

We purchased a new tree for our classroom. It is so pretty, but it needed some ornament love. Thus my ornament journey began!

I made several ornaments during Thanksgiving week and winter break.

For this row, we painted gold sea shell ornaments and a sea star tree topper, just like Maggie and Mr. Whiskers made.

Christmas Party:

I thought it would be fun to have a class party our last day of school before winter break.

I set the table with sweets and hot cocoa.

We sat and watched A Charlie Brown Christmas.

We did our art project while nibbling on sweets and drinking hot cocoa. It was a magical end to our last day before winter break. These are the memories I will cherish forever!

Pinterest Board:

You can find most of the activities, ideas, and printables from this post on our Cranberry Christmas Pinterest Board.

Youtube Playlist:

As with our other rows, we created a Cranberry Christmas Playlist with read-alouds, music, science, and other clips.

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