It was a welcome sight to see the candle lit in the Advent wreath at church this morning, and it felt like welcoming an old friend home when we got out our family Advent wreath and lit the first candle after dinner tonight. I love this season of watching and waiting, of preparation and anticipation.
Here are a few verses from one of my favorite Advent hymns:
“Savior of the nations, come,
Virgin’s Son, make here Your home!
Marvel now, O heav’n and earth,
That the Lord chose such a birth.
God the Father was His source,
Back to God He ran His course.
Into hell His road went down,
Back then to His throne and crown.
Glory to the Father sing,
Glory to the Son, our king,
Glory to the Spirit be
Now and through eternity.” Lutheran Service Book #332
After spending a full week week learning about Native Americans, including an awesome field trip, we had a very relaxed three-day school-week, where we learned about Pilgrims, the first Thanksgiving, and the origin of some of our other Thanksgiving traditions.
Most of the books we read we also used last year. Some of those Turkey and Bunny remembered from last time, and looked forward to, and others they’d completely forgotten, so they were like new. And I had one new book to read, too–a good mix, I think!
Monday we learned about the life of a fictional Pilgrim boy in Samuel Eaton’s Day. We also read Thanksgiving: A Harvest Celebration, which is a nice summary of the first Thanksgiving (also from a fictional perspective). We put together a “thankful tree”–it was very interesting to see what things Turkey and Bunny are particularly thankful for. I discovered that Bunny focused more on the people in her life, while Turkey focused more on things.
Tuesday we continued our series about life at the time of the first Thanksgiving with Sarah Morton’s Day. It’s a nice companion to Samuel Eaton’s Day (as well as Tapenum’s Day from last week), and Turkey and Bunny both enjoyed learning about what a day in the life of a Pilgrim child was like, from the clothes that they wore and the chores that they had, to the food they ate and the games they played.
We read our new book on Tuesday as well–An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving by the same author who wrote one of my favorite books from childhood (Little Women)–Louisa May Alcott. This was a charming book about children attempting to prepare a Thanksgiving feast for their parents in the 1800s. We had a fun time identifying the parts of the meal that were the same as ours (Turkey, of course!), and what was different (apple slump, for one). When we were finished, we made the same hand and foot-print turkeys that we made last year. Fun to see how they’ve grown, and fun to see how they assemble them differently every year!
Wednesday we read a somewhat fictionalized account of the first Macy’s Parade–Milly and the Macy’s Parade–and a fun little book called The Night Before Thanksgiving, written in the same style as the classic Night Before Christmas. Turkey and Bunny were especially looking forward to this one, because it’s so silly and humorous, but it also touches on many Thanksgiving traditions, such as football, family gatherings, and leftovers on Friday!
We also began making pretty glittered turkey puppets–the assembly of those had to wait until Thanksgiving Day after the glue had dried, but we made a great mess with the glitter on Wednesday!
Come ye thankful people, come;
Raise the song of harvest home.
All be safely gathered in
Ere the winter storms begin;
God, our maker, doth provide
For our wants to be supplied.
Come to God’s own temple, come;
Raise the song of harvest home.
Even so, Lord, quickly come
To Thy final harvest home;
Gather Thou Thy people in,
Free from sorrow, free from sin,
There, forever purified,
In Thy garner to abide;
Come with all Thine angels, come,
Raise the glorious harvest home. Lutheran Service Book #892
For the last week, we’ve been learning all about Native Americans. I think that this has been one the most fun (and informative!) special units we’ve done so far!
We kept up with our regular L.A. program, and we also kept using our Horizons math worksheets, but everything else, from history and geography to read-alouds was all part of a unit that I put together to help us learn more about the people who lived in America first, before we learn about the pilgrims next week.
I found a really cool book called More Than Moccasins, which is full of crafts, games, projects and recipes, to help children learn more about Native American life in a really fun way. We used something from this book every day this week, and we were able to learn about their homes, games, food, and clothing in doing so.
On Monday, we began our week by reading North American Indians. This was a good overview, to help us get familiar with the different Indian tribes that used to inhabit our country, what their homes were like, and whether they depended more on hunting or farming. We also played a game of chance called Hubbub, which has some similarities to Pass the Pigs, and some to Yahtzee, and was used in different variations by many Indian tribes.
On Tuesday, we continued learning about the different types of houses Native Americans built and lived in with Native Homes. This book did a great job of explaining why the different types of houses were built (either because of geography or lifestyle), and what similarities and differences there were in housing. We made a small tee-pee village, complete with door flaps and “people” inside!
On Wednesday, we grew more specific in our quest to learn about Native American life when we read If You Lived With the Iroquois. I love the Scholastic If You… series, and this was a fun book to read to get an idea of what it would be like to be part of a particular Indian group. We also learned a lot about the Iroquois Nation, which was new even for me. I would have liked to have picked a book about Indians more local to the St. Louis area, but since the If You… series doesn’t make one, I settled for the Great Lakes region, which isn’t too far away, and was where Ryan and I grew up.
We also tried to make Wampum out of dyed macaroni, but this was our one project that completely failed–the macaroni were too bendy to get the string through, so we just played with them for a little while, but never got to make any beaded chains out of them.
On Thursday, we learned about two specific Indians–Squanto and Pocahontas. I found Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving to be an especially interesting and touching book–I particularly enjoyed the way the pilgrims viewed him as their “Joseph.”) Turkey and Bunny practiced their reading skills by taking turns reading The True Story of Pocahontas, and they both did really well–Powhatan was really the only word that tripped them up! To cap off Thursday, Turkey and Bunny helped me make Indian fry bread (don’t worry, I did all the actual frying!), which was enjoyed by everyone in the family, and made a nice addition to the soup we had for dinner. We agreed that it would be much more difficult to cook it over a fire, though!
On Friday, we read a fictional story about what it would have been like to have been a Wampanoag Indian boy. Tapenum’s Day is the third in a series of books about what it was like to be a child at the time Europeans began living in America. We read the first two books last year, and really enjoyed them, so we added this one as well, and we’ll be reading the first two again next week.
We also made Indian “vests” out of paper bags. Turkey and Bunny loved this craft, because they got to color, and because they can “wear” them. Definitely a fun way to end the school week!
Today, to finish off our Native American experience, we took a field trip to Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site. It was quite impressive. When you look at the mounds there (especially the 100 foot tall Monk’s Mound), and realize that thousands of people spent 300 years carrying 50 pound baskets of dirt around to construct them, it’s rather mind-boggling. We made the climb to the top of Monk’s Mound (even Ladybug, with her short little toddler legs, and me, with my fear of heights!), and the view from the top was quite impressive.
It was a great week of school!
…but I really couldn’t help myself!
If you think this is Turkey’s attempt at spelling “festivals” you’re wrong (although, looking at what he wrote, that’s probably the best reasonable guess as to what he was trying to communicate!). This is actually Turkey’s attempt to spell “vegetables” without any assistance.
It really makes you wonder how children hear the words that are being said to them!
Less than a year ago, I sat in the gym at Moose’s school, waiting for him to receive his first-ever perfect-attendance award. Don’t get me wrong, I was very happy he was getting some kind of recognition for his first quarter in school, but let’s face it, at this age in particular, perfect attendance is more about the parent’s dedication to getting everyone out the door on time.
But during that assembly, I watched other children receive a “rising star” award for outstanding improvement, and I prayed that *someday* even if that day was years down the road, Moose would win such an award.
Well, this morning, less than a year later, I sat in that same gym, as he did, in fact, receive a “rising star” award. I didn’t know that’s what he was getting until his teacher gave it to him–he could have been there for citizenship or perfect attendance as far as I knew. But he won the award that I selfishly prayed that he would get, and I couldn’t be more proud of the hard little worker he is!
Of course, this award does not mean that he’s caught up to where he’s supposed to be, or that all of his problems are gone. But it does mean that he’s made significant progress, that he’s constantly trying, and that he wants to do well.
And that’s really all I could ask for!
Bunny has started her first year as a Daisy Girl Scout, and so far, she’s loved every minute of it!
For all the saints who from their labors rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest.
Thou wast their rock, their fortress, and their might;
Thou, Lord their captain in the well-fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true light.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Lutheran Service Book #677