Incorporating Holidays and Homeschool Learning
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The holidays are just around the corner (at least according to the stores), and since I like to incorporate them into our school calendar, I plan now for some holiday-related books and activities. I schedule chapter books beginning in late September so we finish them by Thanksgiving, and we read picture books as we go along. I also like to gather materials early, so when the hustle and bustle of the holidays hits, I am a little bit ahead of the game.
Freebie for You!
Be sure to get your free Thanksgiving Activity Pack, which includes more than 15 pages of Thanksgiving activities for you and your kiddos. Click here or on the activity pack image to get your free download!
This Thanksgiving printable activity pack includes Thanksgiving book lists, writing prompts, thank you note and persuasive letter language arts activities, ‘pumpkin pie’ play dough recipe, and Thanksgiving themed notebook pages and templates. (Preschool, Elementary, Middle)
Our Favorite Thanksgiving Books:
- In November (Cynthia Rylant)
- The Landing of the Pilgrims (James Daugherty)
- Pilgrim Stories (Margaret Pumphrey)
- Peter and the Pilgrims (Louise Vernon)
- Squanto, Friend of the Pilgrims (Clyde Robert Bulla)
- Thank You, Sarah (Laurie Halse Anderson)
- The Thanksgiving Story (Alice Dalgliesh)
- Three Young Pilgrims (Cheryl Harness)
- We Gather Together…Now Please Get Lost! (Diane deGroat)
Our Favorite Books About Family:
- Diary of an Early American Boy (Eric Sloane)
- A Gracious Plenty (Kate Salley Palmer)
- Grandpa’s Gizmos (John Menken)
- Henry and Mudge and the Great Grandpas (Cynthia Rylant)
- Miss Fannie’s Hat (Jan Karon)
- Miss Rumphius (Barbara Cooney)
- Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs (Tomie dePaola)
- The Old Woman Who Named Things (Cynthia Rylant)
- Our Tree Named Steve (Alan Zweibel)
- The Pink House (Kate Salley Palmer)
- The Raft (Jim LaMarche)
- The Relatives Came (Cynthia Rylant)
- Through Grandpa’s Eyes (Patricia MacLachlan)
- When I Was Young in the Mountains (Cynthia Rylant)
- Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge (Mem Fox)
Family Fact Sheets:
Every year at our Thanksgiving gathering, everyone fills out a fact sheet. I draw an outline of a face and include questions, such as name, age, favorite Thanksgiving food/dessert, what you’re thankful for, favorite/funniest moment of the day, most memorable part about the day, etc. I make copies of these on cardstock and put them somewhere near the dining room table along with some pens and crayons or color pencils. Everyone, adults included, fills out a fact sheet and draws their self-portrait sometime during the day. I have gathered them each year and added them to a family Thanksgiving scrapbook. This is a neat keepsake and a fun way to see how much everyone has changed.
Because Thanksgiving is a time for family, kids can take advantage of having everyone together to document family history. Kids can compose a list of questions in advance and interview their grandparents to learn more about their past. Answers can be written down or recorded, or the interviews can be filmed. Kids will find that grandparents love to tell stories from their past.
After reading Thank You, Sarah by Laurie Halse Anderson, we did a quick search on the internet and found the actual letter Sarah Hale wrote to Abraham Lincoln in 1863. For practice in persuasive writing, kids could write a letter to a public official suggesting a holiday they think should be on the official calendar: Lego day, dessert day, sleep late day . . .
With beautiful crisp weather and trips to the apple farms and pumpkin patch, fall is a great season for nature study. The books In November by Cynthia Rylant, The Raft by Jim LaMarche, and Our Tree Named Steve by Alan Zweibel inspired us to make an easy bird feeder to hang in a tree:
- Cut off top and scoop out the seeds from a small pumpkin.
- Use an apple corer to punch holes in the sides for stringing twine
- Fill with seeds and hang.
It is also neat to study the changes in nature in our own backyard at this time of year — making leaf rubbings, drawing pictures in nature journals, writing descriptive essays and poems, and taking photographs.