Taking a long Christmas break is common among homeschoolers. We usually end up taking the entire month of December off from school. My husband takes two glorious weeks off work in December, doing a little work from home here and there, and going into work only if there is an emergency. During this time, we end up being lazy and watching lots of TV.
Among our yearly marathon of Lord of the Rings, and re-watching beloved Christmas movies like Elf and A Christmas Story, I always make sure that I include lots of educational TV. I am thankful that my entire family loves documentaries, so we catch up on all the shows we’ve DVR’d, and watch a lot of Curiosity Stream.
Throughout the year, if I come across a Christmas-related documentary, I always save it until our December break. Here is a list of ten great shows or movies that you might enjoy watching with your family over the holidays.
1. Good Eats
Genius host Alton Brown explores the science and technique behind the cooking, the history of different foods, and the advantages of different kinds of cooking equipment. The show tends to focus on familiar dishes that can easily be made at home, and also features segments on choosing the right appliances, and getting the most out of inexpensive, multi-purpose tools. Each episode has its own theme. Available on Netflix Instant Watch are episodes revolving around Thanksgiving and Christmas staples pumpkin, apple, and cinnamon rolls (episodes 8, 19, and 25 of the Netflix collection.)
2. Christmas Unwrapped: The History of Christmas
A documentary from The History Channel. Christmas abounds with traditions, from neighborhood carolers to lovingly decorated trees, but from where did all these rituals emerge? This enlightening program looks at the origins of the Western world’s most popular Christmas traditions — from the significance of December 25th and its relationship to winter solstice to the enchanting legend of Santa Claus and Prince Albert’s 1841 unveiling of the Christmas tree. Available on Netflix DVD
3. Apollo 8: Christmas at the Moon
Follow the events of the historic Apollo 8 voyage in this fascinating documentary. Christmas at the Moon includes insights from both NASA’s behind the scenes workers and the astronauts who partook in NASA’s second voyage to space. This documentary is available for free with Amazon Prime or to rent for $1.99.
4. The Star of Bethlehem
This presentation, has rapidly grown in popularity around the world by thousands who have seen this dramatic revelation as it explores the exciting truth of scripture and reveals the evidence for God’s existence as seen in the stars above. Presenter Rick Larson walks you through Biblical and historical clues revealing the incredible significance of this celestial event as well as the vastness of God s creativity. Produced by Stephen McEveety (Braveheart, The Passion of the Christ). Available on DVD for $9.29 or on Netflix DVD.
5. MythBusters Holiday Special
Join the MythBusters team as they crack a host of holiday hype. Could reindeer really help Santa fly? What’s the best way to keep all the needles on your Christmas tree? Also, find out how much yodeling it actually takes to start an avalanche. Available to rent on Amazon for $1.99.
6. The Seasoned Traveler: Christmas Markets
Every year, as Advent arrives and people’s thoughts turn to the joy of Christmas, Europe repeats a tradition that is more than 500 years old. In countries from Sweden to Spain and in cities from Paris to Prague, Christmas markets are set up in town squares. The markets have become a commingling of commerce and community. Available for free with Amazon Prime or to rent for $1.99.
7. How Stuff Works: Christmas Unwrapped
From creating the solar system to ending slavery, discover the amazing science and surprising history behind Christmas. Almost every year, I’ve seen this airing on TV (we have Dish) and also on Netflix, so it might be back around Christmas, but nothing is guaranteed. The other option is to purchase the DVD collection on Amazon.
8. Legends of Santa
Santa’s image is almost universally recognizable, yet the jolly old soul, with his bag of gifts, steering his reindeer and sliding down chimneys is a relatively modern image. This festive documentary shows how today’s Santa is a fusion of cultures and traditions around the world. Available for free with Amazon Prime or to rent for $2.99.
9. The Doctor Who Christmas Episodes
This may seem like a funny edition to this list, but believe me, Doctor Who is plenty educational because it is loaded with science and history. Yes, even real science. (Although science fiction CAN be educational since it often gets a child’s imagination rolling.) There is a Christmas episode available on Netflix Instant Watch for every season of Doctor Who. There is also a brand new collection available on DVD that includes a sonic screwdriver.
10. Background shows to play while you snuggle up and read
We have a huge list of background shows that we frequently play while we are reading, playing games, cleaning, etc. All of these are available for free with Amazon Prime.
- Home For Christmas. Images, Music, and Memories of the Holidays. 17 Christmas Classics.
- Winter Wonderland. Snowy background scenes for your television.
- Magic Winter. Immerse yourself in the fascinating winterworld.
- Celtic & Piano Christmas Music. This video includes classic such as Silent Night, Little Drummer Boy & The Holly and the Ivy.
- Nativity Set. Your favorite Christmas music set to 5 beautiful Nativity sets.
- Fireplace Atmosphere. Just relax by open fireplace in full HD. For beautiful moments at home. Never miss the fireplace.
- The Merry Yule Log. There are few things more traditional at Christmas time than the sound of classic holiday carols and the warm crackle of a yule log in the fireplace.
- Christmas Lights. Get into the spirit of Christmas in an even bigger way with these Christmas lights display.
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