A Homeschool Family-Style Reindeer Unit Study for all ages of learners
This Reindeer Unit Study is designed to be done together, as a family, with your children of all ages.
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Reindeer Unit Study: English Language Arts
Read Aloud Living Picture Books
Reindeer Christmas by Mark Kimball Moulton and illustrated by Karen Hillard Good. If you only read one book on this list, make it this one! Just before Christmas, a grandmother and her two grandchildren help a weak deer that is cold and hungry. This story captures the magic and wonder of the Christmas season, without all of the material commercialism.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Rudolph Shines Again by Robert L. May and illustrated by Antonio Javier Caparo are the original Rudolph stories, written years before the classic television special was created.
Mr. May was commissioned by the Montgomery Ward company in 1939 to write a Christmas story. He borrowed the basic story from the folk tale of The Ugly Duckling and wrote it in the same rhyming poetic style as Clement Clark Moore used for A Visit From St. Nicholas (Twas the Night Before Christmas). These two stories are very different from the licensed versions that go with the 1964 television special.
Interesting tidbit of trivia: Johnny Marks wrote the iconic song, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer in 1949, ten years after his brother-in-law, Robert May, created the character in his book.
The Wild Christmas Reindeer by Jan Brett A classic story from one of my favorite authors. A girl tries to get Santa’s reindeer ready to pull his sleigh, but they won’t behave. She finally realizes she’s been too bossy and not listening.
The Reindeer Girl (Winter Journeys) by Holly Webb is the story of a young girl who goes to visit her great-grandparents in Norway, but becomes a part of one of her great-grandmother’s folk stories. This book about reindeer, the dangerous Artic winter, and the Saami culture is written at a 3rd to 4th grade reading level.
How the Reindeer Got Their Antlers by Geraldine McCaughrean and illustrated by Heather Holland is a sweet story of how the reindeer were embarrassed by their heavy, awkward antlers and fled to the north to hid. They later meet Santa and help him with his sleigh. This pourquoi origin story is told from a Creationist worldview.
Write about a pretend pet reindeer. Work on using adjectives to describe your reindeer. Then use your creative writing skills to make up a humorous story about your reindeer.
Use the My Reindeer Writing worksheets in the Free Resource Library. It comes in 3 different difficulty levels; choose the one that is best for your child.
Read the original 1836 poem, A Visit From St. Nicholas (known today as Twas the Night Before Christmas) that gave names to Santa’s reindeer. Print out the poem and get copywork for grammar also. It’s free in the Whole Child Homeschool Resource Store.
Reindeer Unit Study: STEAM
For some preschool level reindeer facts, read the book, I’m a Reindeer by Mallory Loehr, illustrated by Joey Chou.
Watch the movie, A Reindeer’s Journey, narrated by Donald Sutherland, rated G. It’s the documentary story of a young reindeer, Ailo, born in Finland. Many libraries carry the DVD or you can stream it free on YouTube.
Also, check out this video from Gross Science to learn why reindeer antlers sometimes look bloody. You’ll also learn how they can see UV light.
Use this reindeer notebooking page from Homeschool Helper Online to show what you’ve learned about reindeer.
Middle and High School
Read about reindeer (a.k.a. caribou), Rangifer tarandus, in this article from DeerWorlds.
Write a 5 to 7 sentence paragraph telling what you learned about reindeer.
Make a pickle glow with electricity just like Rudolph’s nose with these instructions from the Owl Teacher.
Or light up a light bulb (like Rudolph’s nose) with just static electricity from your hair. Instructions are in a free download from Education.com
Figure out how to re-shape a candy cane (without breaking it) by creating a foil template and heating it up with these instructions.
John James Audubon was famous for drawing amazing pictures of birds. But did you know that he also drew other North American animals?
You can see his rendering of Tarandus Furcifer, Agassiz. Caribou, or American Reindeer. (v. 3, no. 26, plate 126) in the University of Michigan Collection.
You can learn more about Audubon’s interesting life in this Biography article.
Make Rudolph Noses Pretzel Bites. They only take 3 ingredients and you can even make them gluten-free if you use gluten-free pretzels!
Reindeer Unit Study: History & More
Make Reindeer Noses Treat Bags to give away as a small gift to neighbors to brighten their day!
The Saami people live in the very northern region of Norway, Finland, Sweden and Russia. While they are considered an indigenous people, they weren’t there before the Scandinavians who also live there. In the past, they were called Laplanders or Lapps, however, some find those terms to be offensive and prefer Saami or Sapmi.
Learn more about the Saami in this classic living book, Children of the Northlights, by Ingri d’Aulaire & Edgar Parin d’Aulaire.
Here’s a map of where they live.
The Saami people are best known for their semi-nomadic herding of reindeer. The reindeer provide them with food, clothing, and transportation.
You can learn more about the Saami “The Reindeer People” in this Nat Geo Live video from Erika Larson.
Up On The Housetop was written in 1864 by Benjamin Hanby. It’s the second oldest secular Christmas song. (The oldest is Jingle Bells). The original first verse was sung
Up on the house, no delay, no pauseBenjamin Hanby, 1864
Clatter the steed of Santa Claus.
Down thro’ the chimney with loads of toys
Ho for the little ones, Christmas joys.
Gross Motor & Sensory Awareness
Do the Reindeer Hokey Pokey with Jack Hartmann
Reindeer Brain Breaks from Pink Oatmeal
Make a Reindeer Sensory Bin like this one with just a few simple items. Learn how in the Christmas Sensory bins post (coming on December 14).
Even More Reindeer Extension Ideas
Be sure to follow my Pinterest board Christmastime Homeschooling for more great hands-on activities and ideas for your Reindeer unit study!
And most importantly, pin this post so you can refer back to it during your Reindeer unit study.