Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Homeschool Theme of the Week: Thanksgiving & Pilgrims!

My daughter and I had very different plans for the last small pumpkins upon our table.  She insisted we make more pumpkin houses with them, but I was able to convince her to wait as I thought she might enjoy what I had planned for them.  I was right!  :)  She was smitten with the little Pilgrim pumpkin people we made, and I don't think I've heard another peep about pumpkin houses (although it is probably only a matter of time).

As an extension of this activity, we brainstormed appropriate names for our pumpkin Pilgrims (I believe we finally settles on Loving-Merciful for the boy and Sarah-Love for the girl) and also spent a little time thinking about what we might ask them if they were REAL and could answer our questions.  It was neat to see what her little mind came up with!

One fun thing we learned during this theme/study was what the Pilgrim children would use for writing purposes.  Instead of a pen or a pencil, children used quills and made ink by mixing mud, water, and charred wood.  Intrigued, we decided to try it for ourselves. 

 My daughter used our homemade ink and our homemade quill to copy a Bible verse (I gave it a try as well - the word "complaining" is my handiwork).  After this exercise, we decided we were thankful for pens and pencils!  :)

This teacher's website has some great Thanksgiving ideas - her class must have so much fun!  One such activity I really liked and decided to use this week was to give my daughter a paper trunk (the teacher used paper suitcases for her class) and have her write and draw inside what she would have taken on the Mayflower for the long journey to new lands.

Her items of choice:  clothes, toys, and pillows.  Hmmm, I think if I were to do one of these - maybe I would have to use some of that precious trunk space for chocolate.... ;)

Part of our week was spent completing "A Pattern Block Thanksgiving" which is a book that I designed and made.  It took a bit of work and by NO means is it perfect - but it was a fun idea!  :)

If you are interested in downloading a copy yourself - I have made it available for $2 on the Teachers Pay Teachers site here.

I ended our week of learning by surprising my daughter with a fun-filled day of Pilgrim pretend play & activities.  In one of her workboxes, I placed a letter I had written informing her that she was going to pretend to be a Pilgrim girl named "Patience" for the day, and then I detailed what her Pilgrim family looked like (a baby sister name Joyful, a brother named Determination - and trust me, this name really fits him, etc.).

Another workbox contained a list of her Pilgrim chores for the day as well as some costume items to help her get into character - as if she needed the help... ;)  Of course she was very pleased, and had fun performing her role and completing activities...

She began her Pilgrim day by mending her apron and helping me make homemade bread.  For the mending portion, I gave her a real needle and thread for this and she LOVED it!  I had left a very small part of her apron undone so she could finish it herself and I think she felt pretty accomplished when she was done!

One thing we learned this week was how the children sometimes made mattresses by stuffing linen bags with feathers or pine needles, etc.  So here my daughter is stuffing a "mattress" (it is a pillowcase) with pine needles.  The mattress was a good size for baby Joyful (a doll whom my daughter had to help tend as well throughout the morning).

Of course a trip to a nearby stream or brook was required for some fresh water to use for washing clothes.  Thus, I put our hose a little ways from the house so my daughter would have to walk a bit to carry her bucket to and fro.  As you can see in the above picture, Determination was living up to his name as he tried to help with the washing.

I put one of our pumpkins and a toy corn in what remained of our garden from spring and had my daughter "pick" vegetables from the garden.  She also picked some real oregano which we used to make a concoction to put on a scrape/cut that Joyful somehow sustained.  I did not have the kind of herb growing which we had read about in one of the books so I guess you could say that oregano was a stand-in.

That evening we enjoyed our homemade bread and homemade butter - yum!  A wonderful ending for my little Pilgrim's day!  :)  

Recipe for homemade butter:
1.  Pour heavy whipping cream into a sealed container (the amount is up to you).
2.  Optional:  add a pinch of salt.
3.  Shake!  Shake!  Shake!  (It may take several minutes of hard shaking before you see results but just stick with it!)

Linking to:
This post is linked to No Ordinary Blog Hop

It's Playtime at hands on : as we grow


  1. Love the pretend and play pilgrim activity! Thanks for linking to Things I've Done Thursday!

    Sew Rugged @ bear rabbit bear

  2. This is amazing!! I am totally doing some of this with my kids next week!! Love writing with a quill & pretending to be a pilgrim girl - WOW!! I am so impressed! Thanks so much for linking up to TGIF & inspiring the rest of us.
    Beth =-)

  3. Oh my goodness what wonderful ideas!! Im saving this for when my dd is older. Too fun! The pretending is such an awesome idea, love it,

  4. What wonderful ideas!! Thank you for sharing it at Crafty Moms Share!

  5. Wow! Love the pretend play and pattern block ideas! Very impressed!

    The pictures you take are beautiful, too!

  6. Oh my gosh! How cute are those pumpkin pilgrims?! I found you through Living Life Intentionally. Thanks for sharing!

  7. I think this could be my favorite week yet! I love it, and your daughter looks so precious in her 'Pilgrim' costume. Wonderful work Michelle:)

    Just posted on CraftGossip!

  8. What amazing ideas! I love the tangram activities!

    I would love for you to link this post to my Thanksgiving Traditions link up on Thursday!

  9. I think the pumpkin pilgrims are darling! I also love your cool shape activities.

    Stopped by from the TGIF linky.

  10. You are so creative! I can't even imagine making my own butter - more power to you! Thanks for sharing at Taking A Timeout Thursday!
    -Trish @ Mom On Timeout

  11. Just wanted to let you know that this was featured on TGIF Linky #6 - - You constantly amaze me & I am still in awe at the fun, creative activities here!!
    Beth =-)

  12. Love the pumpkin pilgrims and the pictures at the end...and the book. Great post with lots of ideas! Thanks for linking up to the NOBH