Rev Up and Wrap Up!

by Kristen Jenson

This article was originally published in The Sentinel on May 9th 2005.

The first time I planned a "wrap up" event, I did it more to give myself a deadline than anything else. We were studying the medieval period and it just kept going and going. Would we ever get on to the Renaissance? At that rate, we'd never get to Shakespeare and we had tickets to the Cedar City Festival in July! So I planned a Medieval Feast and invited some willing friends to participate. It was fun researching the menu and coming together to eat it. Even though we had not learned everything that occurred from the fall of the Roman Empire to the Black Death, WE WERE DONE!

Since then, I've realized that events not only give us a good impetus to move on, but they can be a real celebration of what we've learned and accomplished. Furthermore, our children learn even more in the process of planning an event and carrying it out. These milestones can become treasured memories and rev up our homeschooling curriculum. Here are two events we've put on to wrap up units of study in history and literature.

A Dickens's Christmas Dinner

After studying Charles Dickens and his Christmas stories, we held a dinner in his honor and invited some friends to join us. We studied up on the history of Christmas traditions using several books from the library--how fascinating it was to learn how over the years Christmas went from a wild public party to a family celebration as illustrated in Dickens' A Christmas Carol.

We built a cone-shaped centerpiece that any Victorian would have been proud of, covered in fruits and nuts and topped with a pineapple for our table. To add to the authenticity, we set the table with store bought poppers that did a good job of popping when opened! We also made little cones out of white paper doilies, filled them with candy and hung them on our Christmas tree as treats for our guests.

After our "prize turkey" dinner complete with plum pudding and trifle, we played some "parlor games" including The Minister's Cat and Up Jenkins! The finale of the evening was watching A Christmas Carol on DVD. My daughters feel that preparing for this dinner helped them to learn a lot about how our modern Christmas traditions came to be (and my older daughter learned how to roast a turkey!).

Poetry Jam

After studying poetry for three weeks, we ended with a fun Poetry Jam. We invited several other homeschooling families and all enjoyed reciting and reading poetry. It was helpful for my daughters to have a memorization deadline. They also put together poetry notebooks which included the poems they had written and poetry from each author we had studied.

Ideas for these fun wrap-up events are limitless. What are you studying now and how could you wrap it up? A Mini Science Expo to show off interesting experiments or contraptions? A Math Mania night to explore all kinds of fascinating math phenomenon and games? A Tour of China (or wherever) to highlight all you've learned about a particular country of culture? A couple of these per year will really add sparkle as well as depth to your homeschooling and create long- lasting memories for your children.


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