Turn Tree Trimming Into a Learning Experience

Do you have your Christmas tree up?

I know there are many people who set-up their trees on Black Friday, but I just can’t motivate myself to decorate a tree when I am still stuffing myself with Thanksgiving leftovers.

A string of Christmas lights in one hand, a fork filled with pumpkin pie in the other.  I stink at being ambidextrous.

That and I don’t think I would be able to keep a tree alive until Christmas if I were to put it up on November 23rd.

Still, tree trimming is an exciting undertaking in our family.  My 8-year-old delights in decorating our Tannenbaum in a very specific way.  First, she puts up all of the personalized ornaments which feature her name in fancy fonts or big bold letters.  Then, she moves on to her collection of animal ornaments, followed by our treasured family heirloom pieces, and finally, she gets a lift so she can top the tree with our special glitter star.

However, this year, we have a box of new ornaments to fit on our tree.  A few months ago, my uncle wrapped up a trip across Europe.  While he was there he collected unique tree decorations.  Each one represents a different region and speaks to its cultural diversity.

I plan to make this year’s tree trimming an educational experience for my daughter. As we hang each of the new European ornaments on the tree, she’ll be reading a bit about their place of origin.

You can modify this lesson with your own collection of special ornaments.  Better yet, plan ahead for next year by purchasing an ornament from all of the places you travel to in 2013.  Remember, you don’t have to jet off to a foreign land in order to learn from the idea.  Rather, if you take a family trip to Hawaii consider buying ornaments that feature local marine life, such as the Humuhumunukunukuapua’a.  Then, when you hang the ornament on the tree you can do some research and learn more about Hawaii’s state fish.

Likewise, if you are planning to visit the southwestern United States for spring break, look for Mexican-inspired straw and tin ornaments or pick-up some strings of colorful dried chili peppers for garland.  Not only will your Christmas tree look festive, but your kids will also get a hands-on lesson on how important it is to embrace other cultures year-round.

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.