12 Days of Christmas Lap Book

by | Jan 2, 2009 | Advent and Christmas, Lap Books | 17 comments

This past week, Twinkle Toes has been singing The Twelve Days of Christmas ever since she was given a bookmark on our way out of Mass on Christmas Day. She was thrilled when I asked her if she wanted to make a 12 Days of Christmas Lapbook and learn the symbolism behind the words of this song.

Catholics in England during the period 1558 to 1829 were prohibited by law to practice their faith either in public or private. It was illegal to be Catholic until Parliament finally emancipated Catholics in England in 1829.

“The Twelve Days of Christmas” was written in England as one of the “catechism songs” to help young Catholics learn the basics of their faith. In short, it was a coded-message, a memory aid. Since the song sounded like rhyming nonsense, young Catholics could sing the song without fear of imprisonment. The authorities would not know that it was a religious song.

“The 12 Days of Christmas” is in a sense an allegory. Each of the items in the song represents something significant to the teachings of the Catholic faith. The hidden meaning of each gift was designed to help Catholic children learn their faith. The better acquainted one is with the Bible, the more these interpretations have significance. Source

Whether or not the above is true, I love anything that helps teach my children their catechism! 🙂

I wanted to point out, that although I got the directions and mini-books for this lapbook from Homeschool Share, they DID NEED TO BE MODIFIED. I’ll include the links to all the pdf files in this post, as well as any modifications needed to correct the errors, in case any of you plan to make one as well. Next year I will probably purchase this Catholic version for the boys.

We read The Twelve Days of Christmas by Jan Brett, listened to the song, and then got started. We used four red file folders, gluing each additional folder onto the back of the right side flap, making a double “Double Lapbook”. (Here is an old post of mine which shows how to make lapbooks.) Next we printed out this Pdf and glued it on to our cover.

Next, we started with all the information about the song, and placed it inside our first file folder.

On the left is the Song Layer book which includes all the words to the song. In the middle there are 12 Matchbooks. Each Matchbook shows an item from the song and inside what Biblical item it represents. On the left there is a simple fold book with the origins of the song.

The partridge in a pear tree is Christ Jesus upon the Cross In the song, Christ is symbolically presented as a mother partridge because she would feign injury to decoy a predator away from her nestlings. She was even willing to die for them. The tree is the symbol of the fall of the human race through the sin of Adam and Eve. It is also the symbol of its redemption by Jesus Christ on the tree of the Cross.

The two Turtle Doves refer to the 2 parts of the Bible, the Old and New Testaments. (For this we have a God’s Word Three Circle book, a Bible Flap Book (this needs to be corrected to: 46 Books in the Old Testament), and Old and New Testament Pockets with Old Testament and New Testament Flash cards printed on cardstock.) NOTE: I added flashcards for the seven books of the bible that the Protestants erroneously reject: Wisdom, Tobit, Sirach, Judith, 1st Maccabees, 2nd Maccabees, and Baruch.

The “three French hens” stand for faith, hope and love—the three gifts of the Spirit that abide (1 Corinthians 13). It can also remind us of the three gifts that the Christ Child received from the Magi as well.

The “four calling birds” refers to the four evangelists who wrote the Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke and John—which sing the song of salvation through Jesus Christ. We used this simple petal book, but you could also use this tab book.

The “five golden rings” represents the first five books of the Bible, also called the Jewish Torah: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

The “six geese a laying” represent the Six days of creation. This was our first time making a flag book. It was a bit tricky, but these instructions really helped. What didn’t help is when we took a break and came back to find it cut to pieces by a little sister who “wanted to help!” After the book was made, we drew in pictures for each day: Day 1) “Let there be light.” Day 2) God created the firmament, the sky and the clouds. Day 3) God separated the waters of the earth from the land. He also made the grasses, flowers, trees, and fruit. Day 4) God made the sun and the moon and the stars. Day 5) God created the fishes and the birds. Day 6) God created animals and man.

The “seven swans a-swimming” refers to the Seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. NOTE: Instead of using the names provided at the previous link, we used: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord. The “seven swans a-swimming” can also refer to the Seven Sacraments!! I think we may go back and a mini book of these to the lap book too!

On the left flap Twinkle Toes wanted to glue in a couple of her bookmarks. This would have been a great spot to add the Seven Sacraments.

The “eight maids a milking” reminded children of the eight beatitudes listed in the Sermon on the Mount.

The “nine ladies dancing” were the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. We used the accordion book, but you can also use this Sentence Strip Book. Also, it is hard to keep accordion books closed, so we glued in a ribbon behind it so we could tie it shut.

The “ten lords a-leaping” represents the Ten Commandments. NOTE: YIKES!!! I did use this template for Ten Commandments, however, I JUST used the first page, and wrote in the CORRECT 10 Commandments.

The “eleven pipers piping” refer to the eleven faithful apostles. For this we used this pocketbook, and printed out the Apostle Cards: Set 1, 2, and 3 (removing Judas Iscariot).

The ‘twelve drummers drumming” are the twelve points of belief expressed in the Apostles’ Creed.

Didn’t she do a great job?!?

There is SO much information in this lapbook!! I love it!! I am sure we will be referring back to it often as she works on memorizing some of these things.


  1. Regina

    i dont know, i think their 10 commandments are great! especially the worship idols or statues…do you think they were thinking of a particular religion with that one.

    the lapbook looks fantastic. did you used to do lapbooks as a kid during your own homeschooling?

    can you come visit me now? i am in a total school funk not wanting to get started again…my kids would love your fun stuff.


  2. Sara

    That looks great—we’re still slowly working on ours. Do you let each of your kids do their own if you’re studying the same thing? Like the Advent ones? That might make me tear my hair out!

  3. Jamie Jo

    Wow, that lapbook is beautiful!! My oldest daughter would love to make one…if her mama can get her act together, there’s still time!

  4. Barbara

    Wow, those are great. We have never done lapbooks. I use a Mac and I often can’t read the text once they are downloaded, but I’m very impressed by yours!

  5. Christine

    I learned a lot also! I think I will try this out with our own family!

    Thank you so much for all the work you do to share with us….your faithful blog readers. I love your ideas!

  6. Jessica Gordon

    Regina ~ Isn’t that awful! I was shocked that they “added” that commandment, changed the numbers on the rest, and then deleted the last one! Ridiculous!

    As for making lapbooks as a kid… That made me laugh! No — the first lapbook I ever did was the Columbus lapbook the boys made last October. Actually, crafts were really not a part of our curriculum as children… My mom would order our books/workbooks and we'd read/do them and that was about it.

    Your so funny!! I was hoping to come up in April… Or maybe May… Are you going to the conference?

    Sara ~ Yes, they each make their own lapbooks. However, that don't ALL make it. For example, just the boys made the Advent lapbook and just TT made this one. We spent most of Advent slowly working on the Advent one, so it wasn't that big of a deal.

    Barbara ~ I think you should give it a try. Peach would probably love it!! I would think that your Mac should download Pdf files correctly? Doesn't it?

    Jamie & Christine ~ Yes, you still have time!! Have fun with it! We sure did!

  7. Anonymous

    I would like to send you a Christmas letter or even an email. I know so much about you from your blog, but you only know a little about me from the second ordination. Is your email listed here somewhere?

  8. Jessica Gordon

    Teresa ~ Hello! When you left a comment at Christmas and signed it "your friends in CO – Shad & Teresa" You sounded really familiar, but I didn't make the connection. I met SO many people during all 3 of our ordination trips that it is hard for me to keep everyone straight! I'd love to hear from you. If you look in the left sidebar (just above our family photo) and click on View complete profile you will see a link to Email under Contact. That should give you my email. If you email me I'll give you the rest of our contact info. God Bless!

  9. Shelly

    can you homeschool me? LOL!!

  10. Lori

    This is an AMAZING post Jessica! WOW! Our Nativity lapbooks and 12 Days folders are coming along…slowly. Thanks again for the inspiration! God Bless, Lori

  11. Anonymous

    Thank you for posting this…we will definitely use this next year. You mentioned that you created flash cards for the missing 7 books of the Bible…would it be possible for you to share those graphics?

  12. Jessica Gordon

    April ~ I actually didn’t use graphics — I guess I probably should have… Anyhow, I just printed out the names in different colors onto cardstock, and cut them the same size as the others. If anyone does find graphics to use with the missing books of the bible, I’d love to add them to TT’s book!

  13. Jenn

    I am getting ready to do this lapbook after Christmas. You had mentioned that there was something wrong with the 12 commandments? I pulled up the link, but couldn't spot the error. Could you help me out? Thank you!

  14. Jessica Gordon

    Jenn – The problem I had with the printout was that they ADDED #2 "Do not worship idols or statues." and then bumped the numbers on the remaining commandments, combining #9 & #10 to make up for their #2.

    I think that it is directed at Catholics (even though we don't "worship" idols or statues) and it isn't necessary considering the first commandment is "I am the Lord, your God. You shall not have strange gods before me. " (or "Have no other gods but the one true God" as phrased in the printout.)

    Does that help?

  15. Jenn

    Yes, thank you. I guess I had always studied that portion of scripture as being commandments 1 and 2, as shown in the lapbook, so I was worried I was overlooking something. Thank you for clarifying what you saw. Looking forward to starting this next week!

  16. Unknown

    Hi Jessica,

    It's probably too late to ask this, being that this time of the Advent/Christmas season is so busy for many, but I was wondering if you would be willing to send me the PDF files for this lapbook. I think they won't download for me because they're on an older file saving program – listen to me trying to pretend I know what I'm talking about! I know you're very busy, and understand if you aren't able to get to it in time for this year. God bless you and yours this memorable Christmas season.

    Sonja Campbell


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