Quick and Easy Thanksgiving Unit Study

This is a very busy season for us and our history studies do not coincide with the landing of the Pilgrims in America. Even so, I love highlighting the reason why we celebrate Thanksgiving and the attitude of some of the original settlers of our country, so I set aside a day to focus on the Pilgrims and Thanksgiving. 

Chilly Little Pilgrim Boys

The first part of our day involved pretending our living room rug was the Mayflower while I read stories such as On The Mayflower by Kate Waters, with beautiful photographs by Russ Kendall. We also read N.C. Wyeth's Pilgrims, pausing when they got to Plymouth Harbor to interject Samuel Eaton's Day, also by Kate Waters and Russ Kendall. A few days prior we had read Sarah Morton's Day, so we had the Pilgrim's pretty well covered in picture book form. While on the rug-ship the children also composed letters or journal entries in the words of their Pilgrim counterparts.

The Captain

The children enjoyed reading the Bible, singing a Psalm and acting out the eventful journey, especially dramatic events such as a storm. Once the Pilgrims had landed in our stories, we left the rug and did a few crafts.

Intent On His Project
I found some adorable handprint turkeys on Pinterest, and since this was our quick and easy version, we made our turkeys out of construction paper that we had in the house. Unfortunately we were out of yellow, so our feet are a little pale. The example below, was obviously done by our little girl, as seen by the heart embellishments. We added some words describing things we were thankful for to the feathers, and voila, it was an easy handprint-thankfulness turkey.

Since we were also reading about Squanto and the other Native Americans who the Pilgrims encountered we then moved onto making Indian feather headbands. I used the scraps from the turkey project for the feathers and the kids stapled and made their own designs. Ella also took some scrap paper to make a corn cob.


After all the crafting fun and clean up we ate our pottage, which was leftover vegetable beef soup that I had made in the crock pot last night, and then rewarmed this morning with a cup of lentils added.

Our celebrations were fun and easy, and when lunch was over, and the clean up done, I sent the children out to play Indians in the bright sunshine. It was a nice break for them from bookwork and a memorable reminder of the life experiences of some of the first settlers to our country.


Science Fun With Apologia Swimming Creatures

Tomorrow is our co-op day for science and this year we are studying Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day, written by Jeannie Fulbright and published by Apologia. Our group gets together once a month, and we also have several children who do experiments from General Science together, as well as a couple high school students who are working their way through Chemistry. Because we only meet once a month, we generally cram the elementary science reading and note booking into the two weeks before our meeting date. This leaves the other two weeks a month to spend time on the art history that we are currently studying.

I usually read the science chapter aloud while my 6 and 10 year olds work in their notebooks, and my 4 year old colors a picture from his sister's notebook. We have purchased the companion notebooks the last few years, and although they have lots of great activities, there are almost too many.  I often end up frustrated with all the blank pages, or pushing my young students to do more writing than is necessary. I haven't resolved this issue yet but one idea would be just to pull out the pages I want and put them in sheet protectors in a three ring binder. Certainly less overwhelming than forcing my students to complete every activity.

We have been using the Junior Notebook for my 6 year old and both she and her younger brother enjoy the lovely coloring pages. Today, we read about fishes, labeled the different types of fins on the pre- drawn fish in their notebook, and then planned out our experiments for tomorrow. We will also be making tiny clay sea creatures for our ocean boxes tomorrow which has been one of my children's favorite activities so far. This has been a fun and creative way of remembering all the different types of sea creatures.

In the last three years of doing Apologia's elementary science we have had lots of fun learning about science and expanding our science vocabulary. Jeannie has done a wonderful job of writing an engaging curriculum that is easy to use and yet does a thorough job of introducing children to the amazing world that God has created.

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Busyness is the Enemy of Loveliness

I recently had an article published in Above Rubies  magazine which described three areas to work on to develop a lovely home environment. I described walking into our home and being greeted by lovely scents, shining windows and a refreshing beverage, and on a bad day merely having to shut the laundry room door to hide the stacks of dirty laundry.

The lovely shelf with toys for little ones.

This was a hard week for my ideals however. We had an out of town wedding over the weekend, several out of town guests over the last few weeks, and the usual round of school, ballet, karate, Awana and music lessons.  By Wednesday night when my posh aunt who inspired my renewed commitment to clean windows was set to arrive, the loveliness meter was a little low. 
You see, if I have a choice between a lovely house, or reading aloud to my children and doing projects with them, I will always choose the children. Usually it all balances out because we can quickly jump in together and polish the windows, put away the clean laundry and wipe the bathrooms. 

By Wednesday night, the main living areas were still living up to the ideal, but the laundry stack in my bathroom had gotten to twice the height of the basket and my closet looked like a bomb had gone off. 
When we are constantly running out the door to a new activity, it is very hard to keep up with basic good habits. Tidy rooms, clean bathrooms, and organized drawers soon become a thing of the past.
This is one reason why I believe so strongly in a family vision. It is an important safeguard against being over committed. 

My bathroom vanity after running out the door too many times.

Sometimes, we cannot avoid busyness and so we must flex in some area. For me, this might mean quickly mopping the floors after the kids are in bed so that school and family time aren't interrupted. It also might mean letting my closet be less than ideal, and keeping the door tightly closed. Our surroundings need constant care, and teaching our children to care for their surroundings is an important way that we care for them. However, in a busy season, my priorities of time with God, family time and then housework remain fixed. There is nothing noble about a messy house, but if the messy house is a result of caring for sick children or helping with a family emergency, it may just be a necessary evil. 

A little tidier.

Now, off to tackle my closet and work on getting the laundry under control. How wonderful to have a full day at home!

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