Thanksgiving School–Day Seven

Day seven was our last “serious” day of Thanksgiving School (tomorrow is our equivalent of a party day). We started by reading another book in “The American Story” series: The New Americans. This book picks up where Exploration and Conquest left off, and details how the different colonies in America were settled, and what countries were responsible for the settlement of these colonies. Turkey and Bunny like this series so much (good-storytelling and excellent artwork) that they can’t wait to read the next one, about the French and Indian War. They’ll have to wait until we get it, though!

We also read a fictional story about what Thanksgiving was like in the 19th century–An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving by Louisa May Alcott. This is a heart-warming story about a group of siblings who work to prepare the Thanksgiving meal for their parents when an emergency surprises them on the holiday. Of course there are some mix-ups, but they still have a wonderful holiday, and their hard work is appreciated by everyone. I have an older edition of this book, and the illustrations are beautiful–I can’t speak to the illustrations in the newer edition, though.

Our craft for the day was supposed to be a felt and pipe cleaner turkey from another kit I picked up on clearance at Jo-Ann’s. We learned a lesson about craft kits, though–sometimes they just don’t work as advertised. The directions included with the kit were incorrect, and while I figured out what they were supposed to be, the pieces just didn’t work together the way they were supposed to. We regrouped, and I came up with an idea for turkey stick puppets–not as cute as what I had planned, but at least Turkey and Bunny could actually make them successfully. I’ve seen their Pilgrim puppets hunting their turkeys, and found the turkeys riding their paper plate Mayflowers, so I don’t think they’re too disappointed that we didn’t get to do our originally scheduled craft!

Thanksgiving School–Day Two

On Tuesday, we started focusing more on the colonization of America. We started by reading Exploration and Conquest, book two of “The American Story” series, and discussing the treatment of the native people in North American by the European explorers. Turkey decided at this point that he doesn’t much like history, because of how badly the people were treated. It did give us an opportunity for a great discussion of the mistakes people have made in the past, and why it’s important to study history and learn from those mistakes.

We also read a more light-hearted book–You Wouldn’t Want to be an American Colonist. This is another great series, which focuses on the bad, bizarre, and occasionally gross things that have accompanied some of the most notable events in history. After much giggling and exclamation, we finished the book, and decided it was for the best that we were not early settlers in America!

In keeping with our colonial theme, we made silhouettes–Turkey and Bunny thought they looked really cool, but were definitely not fond of how still they had to sit to get the picture right. I loved how Turkey’s eyelashes were visible in his silhouette!

Thanksgiving School–Day One

On Monday, we began our eight-day long Thanksgiving unit in school. This is one of my favorite parts of every school year. We use many of the same books every year, and some of the same crafts, but we also read new titles, and find new things to make and do. There’s also always a field trip–in Kindergarten, it was simply a trip to Macy’s (after reading Milly and the Macy’s Parade), last year a trip to Cahokia Mounds, and this year, a trip to the St. Louis Art Museum to view the pre-Columbian and Native American art on display there.

So we dove right in on Monday, starting with the reading of two books. First was The Discovery of the Americas, which is the first in “The American Story” series, an excellent selection of books that introduces early American history to children.

We also read North American Indians, a repeat from last year, but a great introduction to some of the different tribes that have lived in America.

We started our “thankful turkey” on Monday, too (an idea inspired by previous years’ “thankful wreath” and “thankful tree”). Turkey and Bunny cut out the body and feathers, and after I hung the featherless turkey up in the school room, they each filled out a feather with something for which they are thankful. We will continue to do this every day of our Thanksgiving unit.

Our main craft for the day was designing and making Indian headdresses. This was a very fun activity, and it was fun to see how creative both Turkey and Bunny are, in very different ways!

Homeschool Review: “A More Perfect Union”

As a part of our summer school unit, which focused on the Revolutionary War, and the events surrounding it, we learned a little bit about the Constitution. I found a book focused on how the Constitution was written, as well as who was involved in writing it, and the basic contents of it.

A More Perfect Union: The Story of Our Constitution (part of “The American Story Series”) was written and illustrated by Betsy and Giulio Maestro, a duo who have written a whole series about the early history of America. It is targeted at middle to upper elementary aged students, and Turkey and Bunny found it very interesting. It is very factual, and yet written in a way and on a level that makes it interesting to children.

The illustrations are great, and add interest to the story. The timeline in the back of the book is a great concise help in seeing the big picture of the Revolutionary War, and the early years of America as a free country. Basically, everything about the books is both interesting to children, and full of information–a great way to encourage children to learn without even realizing they’re doing so, and make history come alive for them!

This was a great resource for learning about a very important part of American history–I’m so glad I took a chance on it! There are six other books in the series, covering the history of America from her pre-history to discovery by Columbus to the War of 1812, and everything in between, including the French and Indian War. I can’t wait to add those to our library as well–these are definitely books that the children will want to read over and over again!