Discover the real St. Nicholas in this Unit Study for Families Homeschooling at Christmas
St. Nicholas was born in Myra (in what is now Turkey) in the 4th century to very rich parents. After they died when he was a young child, his uncle, a bishop in the Catholic church, took him under his wing.
Nicholas also became a bishop in his uncle’s footsteps. Legends say that Nicholas had a very strong faith and healed others when they had illnesses or ailments.
He used his inheritance to help the poor and the homeless, living out his faith with generosity. The most famous story is how Nicholas gave the dowry money for three sisters (by throwing bags of gold coins through the window, which landed in their stockings hung by the fire).
Learn more about the real St. Nicholas in this family-style unit study.
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St. Nicholas Day English Language Arts
Read Aloud Living Picture Books
The Legend of St. Nicholas: A Story of Christmas Giving by Dandi Daley Mackall and illustrated by Richard Cowdrey Focuses on the best gift, Jesus Christ, as well as the spirit of giving all year long as well as Christmas customs around the world.
The Saint Nick Story by Kate Davis will help your younger ones reconcile the secular traditions of “Santa Claus” with the real reason for celebrating Christmas, Jesus’ birth. Definitely one that you’ll want to add to your home library.
Saint Nicholas and the Nine Gold Coins by Jim Forest and illustrated by Vladislav Andrejev Beautiful illustrations along with the true story of the Bishop St. Nicholas.
Just Nicholas by Annie Kratzsch and illustrated by Tessa Janes This book shows how St. Nicholas lived out his faith in Jesus by generously giving what he had to those in need; just as God generously gives to us. This book will also coordinate very well with the Veggie Tales movie, Saint Nicholas, mentioned below.
The Baker’s Dozen: A Saint Nicholas Tale by Aaron Shepard and illustrated by Wendy Edelson A sweet story about how it’s better to give than receive (and also explains the term “baker’s dozen”).
The Story of Saint Nicholas: A Children’s Adaptation by Laura Wagner. Tells how St. Nicholas did his giving in private as a way of showing love.
Middle-High School Level
The True Story of Saint Nicholas: Why He Matters to Christmas by William J. Bennett tells the story of the real Saint Nicholas, who was a Christian bishop in Myra (current-day Turkey).
This book also describes the legends associated with Saint Nicholas and the legacy he left behind, all over the world.
Caution: This book is only appropriate for those who do not “believe” in Santa. The author, Mr. Bennett was Secretary of Education under President Reagan. Available on Kindle and Audible
For Moms (or teens)
Giver of Wonders by Roseanna M. White is a sweet fictionalized account about St. Nicholas, who loved God so much that he sacrificed much. It will encourage you also to live out your faith.
A Visit From Saint Nicholas by Clement C. Moore is often called by the first line of the poem, “Twas the night before Christmas”. This iconic poem, written in 1832, is probably the most famous ever written by an American.
(However, there has been some debate over the last hundred years as to who actually wrote the poem. To learn more about those claims, read this article from My Merry Christmas.)
Listen to Robin Williams read the famous poem in this incredible collaboration between composer John Williams (of Stars Wars fame), the Boston Pops Orchestra and narrator/actor Robin Williams.
You can get a copy of the text of this original poem along with the St. Nicholas Copywork and Narration worksheet for grammar (in the next section) in the Whole Child Homeschool Store.
Copywork and narration are a real-life way to work on grammar skills. Use the FREE St. Nicholas Copywork and Narration page from the Whole Child Homeschool Resource Store
After your child has written the sentence from dictation, let her see the original to check it with her work. Have her correct her work, so that she knows how it should look.
Then have him re-write the selection in his very best handwriting.
Reading and Listening Comprehension
Use the St. Nicholas Comprehension Questions worksheets in the Free Resource Library . There are 3 levels of comprehension questions worksheets: PreK to 2nd grade; Upper Elementary; and Middle to High School.
Watch St. Nicholas: The Real Story on Amazon Prime to learn about the origins of his legend in modern-day Turkey.
Or, for younger kids, watch Nicholas, the Boy Who Became Santa. Available to stream on Vimeo.
The early Church first began celebrating Christmas in 336 A.D. These are the first two known Christmas songs, which were both written in the 4th century.
Jesus Refulsit Omnium (Jesus, Light of All the Nations), was written by St. Hilary of Poitier
Corde natus ex Parentis (Of the Father’s Love Begotten) was written by Roman Christian poet Prudentius
Watch the VeggieTales movie Saint Nicholas: A Story of Joyful Giving.
Watch Christmas Story (original title Joulutarina) 2007 PG Not to be confused with the other movie, A Christmas Story (of “You’ll shoot your eye out!” fame). Filmed in Finland. This Christmas story is a fictionalized account of how St. Nicholas became Santa. While not true, it’s still a super sweet, feel-good story and you’ll be glad you watched. Also available on Amazon Prime and free on Tubi.
More St. Nicholas Day Ideas
Discover more about St. Nicholas
The St. Nicholas Center has an online activity and game site for fun learning. Includes a geography game to learn where he lived.
Let St. Nicholas fill your shoes
Have your kids set their shoes out on the evening of December 5 for St. Nicholas to fill. Tradition says that you should leave carrots in your shoes as a treat for his white horse.
While your kids are asleep, fill their shoes with gold candy coins or an orange along with a few other simple treats.
FYI: Dollar Tree & Wal-Mart have gluten free gold chocolate coins.
Pray for and serve the marginalized
You can be like St. Nicholas and help someone around you who is going through a difficult time. It could be something as simple as a child drawing a picture and giving it to someone who needs their day brightened.
Or take a meal to a family. St. Nicholas was known for leaving food on family’s doorsteps at night so that they wouldn’t go hungry.
The Nicene Creed
St. Nicholas may have been a part of writing the Nicene Creed, a statement of faith that my church still uses today.
We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made; who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried. And the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures and ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father. And He will come again with glory to judge both the living and the dead, whose kingdom will have no end.
And we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified, who spoke by the prophets. And we believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church, we acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins, and we look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.The Nicene Creed
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