Ah November. I thought about leaves or pilgrims or turkeys, but gratitude just feels like the right fit. I want to slow things down a little this month and focus on what means the most during this season, which to me is family, love, kindness, generosity, and gratitude. Little House in the Big Woods, the book Hailey and I have slowly been making our way through with a couple chapters each week, just so happens to go along with this gratitude theme quite well. It’s teaching Hailey about life in the 1800’s and she’s fascinated by the differences. Learning about how Ma, Pa, Mary, Laura, and Baby Carrie worked hard for everything is bringing a new appreciation for the things we take for granted everyday.
So for this month we will focus on gratitude as well as add in some craft and experimental ideas from “simpler times.” On a random tangent, we also plan on finally watching the “real” Beauty and the Beast, something the girls have been asking to do since the day it was released. I plan on making it a big deal with Belle costumes and popcorn, and we’ll lead up to the viewing with a mini-study on the traditional fairy tale written by French novelist Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve in 1740. You can read an abridged history on the fairy tale here. Next year I’m considering a new fairy tale unit for each month, so this will be a fun way to dip our toes in.
But back to November… here is our gratitude-focused list of what we will read, cook, visit, experiment, and craft for the month. This is our plan to complement our core homeschool subjects of course, but really, anyone could add these activities into their day to day whether you homeschool or not!
Bear Says Thanks : Bear has come up with the perfect way to say thanks—a nice big dinner! When Bear decides to throw a feast, his friends show up one by one with different platters of delicious food to share. There’s just one problem: Bear’s cupboards are bare! What is he to do? Young readers will delight in discovering the special gift Bear has to share.
Andy and the Lion : In this retelling of Androcles and the Lion, Andy meets a lion on the way to school and wins his friendship for life by removing a thorn from his paw.
Being Thankful : There’s a new kid in town who has everything Little Critter wants — a Super Streak scooter, his own cell phone, and even a limousine! But Little Critter soon realizes that he has something money cannot buy — a family who loves and adores him.
Those Shoes : All Jeremy wants is a pair of those shoes, the ones everyone at school seems to be wearing. Though Jeremy’s grandma says they don’t have room for “want,” just “need,” when his old shoes fall apart at school, he is more determined than ever to have those shoes, even a thrift-shop pair that are much too small. But sore feet aren’t much fun, and Jeremy soon sees that the things he has — warm boots, a loving grandma, and the chance to help a friend — are worth more than the things he wants.
Little House in the Big Woods : Pioneer life isn’t easy for the Ingalls family, since they must grow or catch all their own food as they get ready for the cold winter. But they make the best of every tough situation. They celebrate Christmas with homemade toys and treats, do their spring planting, bring in the harvest in the fall, and make their first trip into town. And every night, safe and warm in their little house, the sound of Pa’s fiddle lulls Laura and her sisters into sleep.
Homemade Butter : OK, I get this isn’t really cooking, but it goes hand and hand with our reading of Little House and I think Hailey will marvel at watching cream turn into butter.
Pumpkin Crumb Muffins : And deliver them to neighbors. We have some wonderful neighbors. Hailey has taken to making crafts and selling them door to door. Our neighbors have not only bought them, but also proudly display them (like Hailey’s Halloween decorations) in their yards. The least we can do is deliver them a yummy seasonal muffin to say thank you for being a “customer.”
Pumpkin Risotto : Because it just sounds delicious and I think the girls will get a kick out of all the stirring. Plus there is bacon involved.
Goodwill : We can actually check this one off our list, as we took a behind the scenes tour with Girl Scouts this week. Though we visit the Goodwill fairly regularly, either to donate items or peruse their kid book section (which I highly recommend!), getting a behind the scenes look of what they do, how they do it, and more importantly WHY they do it, was a good lesson for the girls.
Zoo : I love visiting the zoo when it’s cool out and no one gets heat stroke. I’m not sure which zoo we will opt for yet, but we will narrow it down soon.
Family : Because to me, family is everything. November fills my heart more than any other month because it’s a month we get to see so much of our family, some that we don’t see but once a year.
Marshmallow Engineering : A basic STEM activity that involves toothpicks and marshmallows is sure to be a hit. I am looking forward to creating different contests, like build the tallest tower or the longest bridge.
Why Pine Cones Close : I really enjoy when we can explore the nature in our own backyard. We have plenty of pine cones so I plan on going on a nature walk and collecting a few to experiment with and observe.
Blue and Yellow Rose Experiment : We will do this experiment the week we watch Beauty and the Beast. I might get a couple other food dye colors to try as well. We’ve done this with celery, but I think the white rose will make it extra visually appealing and exciting for the girls.
Candles : Ever since our day at Latta Plantation, Hailey has been asking to make candles. I want to do the dip and dry method, but feel like that would be better to do when Kaitlyn is a little older since it takes some time. For now, I’m going to get a simple candle making kit (I’m looking at this one) to scratch the itch.
Gratitude Journal : We’ll craft our own journals and decorate them, then write and illustrate one thing a day for which we are grateful. I say “we” because I plan on joining in on this activity too. I think this will be good to help Hailey focus in on specific blessings, as usually when you ask her what she is grateful for or what the best part of her day was, we get an enthusiastic “EVERYTHING!” which is sincere and sweet, but I’d like to teach her to focus in on more tangible specifics, like staying up late to “watch” football with dad.
If you have any books or activities that help focus on gratitude, I’d love for you to share them in the comments! I’m really looking forward to diving into this “unit” starting today and helping the girls to count all our blessings.