A Thanksgiving Unit


The First Thanksgiving, Jennie Brownscombe

I love this national holiday for several reasons. First, it’s not too commercialized! It’s a bit hard to sell thankfulness, don’t you think? If so, I would order a case or two of it.

Another reason I like Thanksgiving is the history regarding why the Pilgrims came to America;  plus I love to read about the life of Squanto.  He chose to help the race of people who had enslaved him and were responsible (directly or indirectly) for his tribe’s demise. Squanto is one of my heroes! I have included a list of books that I have enjoyed reading to my sons about Squanto and the Pilgrims that I think you will too.

One more reason I like Thanksgiving is because this day focuses on God and the blessings He has given to us. I have included some copywork/dictation pieces for your students to practice their handwriting. Make an extra set and send them to the grandparents as I am sure they would enjoy receiving them.

Would you like to focus on Thanksgiving and do unit study? I have some lapbooks that you can download. I have included two to get you started. Just look over the activities and see which ones you would like to do with your family. I have activities for students all the way from preschool through high school.

Crafts and Art Activities: There are so many ideas that it can be overwhelming. I have only provided you with some we have done as well as a few websites.

Placemats– Make a placemat for each guest that will be attending dinner. Laminate them with contact paper so that the artwork is not destroyed with gravy. Start early on this if you have a large gathering so as not to overwhelm your artists. You can personalize the placemats or make general themes.

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Thankful Wreath– Using fall colors, trace your children’s hands onto the paper and cut them out. Have each person tell you (if they are little) or write one thing they are thankful on each of the hands. Glue the fingers of one hand on to the palm of another hand. You will need to have several sets as you will want to form a wreath shape from the hands. If you have a larger number of children than you can accommodate for creating a wreath then you can make more or… you can make a wreath with construction paper leaves instead.

Thanksgiving coloring pages. Print off a few to take with you on the long car ride to Grandma if you are traveling.

How about a word find or crossword puzzle? There are several levels of difficulty that are given on this website.

Have you ever seen I have found them to be an excellent resource for topics we are studying. You are sure to find something on these two pages that you and your children will enjoy pertaining to puzzles and word finds.

Enchanted Learning has a variety of crafts, worksheets, and mini books to create for elementary students.

Here is a crossword puzzle for Bible: Psalms of Thanksgiving . You can use these verses for copywork as well.


Research the first Thanksgiving.  Ideas about how to use this for school: Have student(s) narrate what they have read; ask comprehension questions about the passage; calculate how many years it was from the time of the first Thanksgiving until George Washington declared  a day of thanks.

Here is another site from Scholastic under the heading of Research Starters that has the history and additional websites to investigate. click here This website can be used for middle- senior high students.

Watch a video from the History Channel about Thanksgiving. (for older students) Accompanying the video are questions to answer.

There is quite a bit of information on this website about the Mayflower. You can read the original compact  and also read it in Governor Bradford’s own handwriting by going here: Mayflower Compact. Middle school students can narrate what they have read and answer questions such as: What was the purpose of the signing of the compact ? Why did all men sign and not women? Junior/senior high students can create their own compact. Consider why it would be important to include when beginning a new colony.  Have them create a model of their colony.

Plimouth Plantation (website with many things to do and see) I would recommend you to go to  Just for Kids, but don’t stop there because there is quite a bit to look at on this website. Older students can use this website to research topics.

Scholastic. com has some fabulous resources that contain videos of the Pilgrim’s and Native American’s villages. There are also activities to accompany your unit. Click on the right hand side for activities, lessons, and worksheets.

Research how and when Thanksgiving became a national holiday.

Books to Read:

Squanto, Friend of the Pilgrims by Robert Clyde Bulla  Discuss how Squanto helped the Pilgrims. Squanto reminds me of another man who was ill-treated but turned it around for the good of a nation. His name was Joseph and you can read his story in the bible: Genesis chapters 37-50.  Older students can compare and contrast him to Squanto.

The Thanksgiving Story by Alice Dalgliesh This is a nice read aloud for younger students.

Stories of the Pilgrims by Margaret Pumphrey  This a great book for all ages as a read aloud for younger students and an assigned reader for older students. Older students can pick a few stories to highlight and tell to the family if everyone is not going to be reading it.

The If You series are books that my children and I found to provide details and factual information in an interesting format. Here are two that pertain to Thanksgiving:

If You Were at the First Thanksgiving by Anne Kamma

If You Sailed on the Mayflower in 1620 by Ann DeVito

How about including a book report to accompany the reading? Here is a book report form from ABC Teach  thanksgiving book reports


Students can copy these scripture passages on to a piece of notebook paper. Glue a piece of construction paper to the back to provide a frame. Hang up the masterpieces and memorize this month.

James 1:17

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

1 Chronicles 16:34
Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.

Older students: Use any of the documents listed above as a resource  for  copying such as the Mayflower Compact or the declaration of a day of thanks from George Washington.

Here’s a Thankfulness Character Study for your family. Click Here


Here is a lapbook for younger students to complete using the book Give Thanks to the Lord: Celebrating Psalm 92 by Karma Wilson. If you can’t find the book you can still use the psalm from your favorite translation.

Another lapbook from homeschool share based upon the book Goody O’Grumpity by Carol Ryrie Brink. Even if you do not use the book that is recommended, you can still use the lapbook ideas.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Read Aloud Books about Animals

Summer is such a great time to read and relax on the porch with a glass of your favorite cold beverage. I have had several requests from homeschool moms this summer for books about critters to read aloud to their children. I aim to please (if I can) and have some nonfiction books that I have loved or heard about.

Sam Campbell wrote books about all of the creatures he either observed or adopted while living in the wilderness in northern Wisconsin where he lived with his wife. His books are entertaining as he describes the antics of these creatures.


All Creatures Great and Small is one in a series of books written by James Herriot. Telling the stories of a country vet in Great Britain, Dr. Herriot’s  are funny, sad, and heart-warming. One time we listened to CD’s while we were in the car and the boys were not happy with just one story. They begged for more and more to the point that I thought we would run out of stories before we arrived at our destination. PBS also dramatized his stories if you want to see the countryside where he worked and lived. Some of Dr. Herriot’s stories have been made into children’s books too, such as Moses the Kitten.

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The Institute for Excellence in Writing has a program for students in grades 3-5 that would correlate nicely with Dr. Herriot’s books called All Things Fun and Fascinating. It includes outlining, grammar, source texts, and creative writing. Here is a description of the program CLICK HERE

A video review of the product by a homeschool mom may prove beneficial to you as well. CLICK HERE

Unlikely Heroes, by author Jennifer Holland, is a compilation of 37 animal stories. Tales of heroic deeds done by all sorts of animals will be sure to be of interest to your animal-loving children. If this title sounds interesting, she also has written a book called Unlikely Friendships.


End of Year Evaluative Options

Bubble Sheet Test

Congratulations on completing a year of homeschooling! You have finished school, now what has to be done in order to be ready for your summer break?

Many states require some type of evaluation at the end of the year, whether this is testing using a nationally normed test, or having a certified teacher, such as myself, review academic samples of schoolwork. If you are in need of this service, please send me a message and I will happily contact you.

If you are wanting to have your student take a nationally normed test there are several companies that offer  testing services.

Seton Testing Services offers a variety of nationally normed tests.  The first one Listed here is the California Achievement Test (CAT). You do not need to have a college degree in order to administer this test and it is $29.00. It evaluates the following subjects:

  • Vocabulary
  • Comprehension
  • Language Mechanics
  • Language Expression
  • Math Computation
  • Math Concept and Applications

The Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS) requires a B.S. or a B.A. and a one-time administrator form to be filled out. Cost varies from $29.00-$39.00. It evaluates the following:

Language Skills
  • Vocabulary
  • Reading
  • Language
  • Word Analysis (Grades K-3 only)
  • Listening (Grades K-3 only)
  • Spelling
  • Math Concepts
  • Math Computation
  • Math Problem Solving
Science, Social Studies, and Study Skills
  • Social Studies
  • Science Materials
  • Sources of Information

The Stanford 10  Online is available for grades 3-12  and no degree is necessary. The price is $35.00 for each student. It evaluates the following:

  • Word Study Skills (grades 3, 4, and Fall of grade 5 only)
  • Reading Skills/Comprehension
  • Vocabulary
  • Mathematics
  • Language
  • Spelling
  • Social Studies
  • Science

The Stanford Achievement Test is available for grades K-12  and a B.S. or a B.A. degree is required; a video must be watched,  and a test administrator form must be completed. The price ranges from $29.00-$39.00 for each student. It evaluates the same subject areas as listed for the Stanford 10  Online test.

Summer Activities for All

Yay! Summer is here and it’s time to explore! This week I will feature local parks, but even if you don’t live in Cincinnati, you can still find a park near your home. Better still, come for a visit to our town!

  • Go on a nature walk/hike. Take along a notebook and find a spot to stop and draw something is of interest. It can be a plant or an animal such as a bird. Pack some identification books to help you with unknown plants and animals.
  • Play on a new playground. Tired of the same ol’ playground in your area? How about finding a different one to take the children to play? It will seem like a mini vacation, but you’ll be home in time for dinner. 🙂
  • Exercise! Pull the plug on the video games and electronics and go for a bike ride or a long walk. Both of the Hamilton County Parks I have listed below also have horse trails if you feel adventurous.


Local Parks

The Cincinnati Parks Foundation has three amazing parks along the Ohio River that are family friendly and give your children the chance to run and play. Not only is there a playground along the walkway, but there are a few large water fountains that your children can play in, and a carousel you can pay to ride. The Waterfront Parks system consist of three major Cincinnati Parks: Theodore M. Berry International Park,  Sawyer Point & Yeatman’s Cove and the  Smale Riverfront Park that is by the Great American Ballpark so you can go and catch a Reds game after you are finished playing.

Hamilton County Parks has done a fantastic job of providing green space in the greater Cincinnati area.  There is a motor vehicle fee to get into the park and you may either purchase a day pass for $3.00 or an annual pass of $10.00 that will give you access to all of the county parks and includes discount coupons to use throughout the park system.

Parky’s Farm has a fully functional farm with horses, goats, chickens,sheep, and bees. There is a garden for children to see and trails to meander along. The barn and outdoor pens allow children to see the animals up close.  If you take some extra money with you, your children can take a horse ride or play in the indoor playground.  Parky’s Farm is a part of Winton Woods that has an outdoor spray park and playground. Bring along a fishing pole to cast your line from either shore or a rental boat. There is also a pontoon boat to take a cruise along the lake. If you’d like to spend the night, there is also a camp site or small cabins to rent.

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Miami Whitewater Forest is  beautiful and is the largest park in county. While it does have an amazing lake with fishing and boating, and a beautiful golf and frisbee golf course, it has something that no other county park has that is quite so nice.  It has a 7.8 mile hike/ bike path that meanders through the countryside (where I grew up) and has spurs off it as well so you can extend your biking experience if you like. If your children are not able to go on the long bike trail, there is a shorter inner trail that is 1.4 miles long.

My friends have a bike shop called West Trail Bikes and it is a quick jaunt off the bike path to their place on New Haven Road. You can rent or purchase a bike if you would like something different than the rentals that are offered at the park. There is a quaint country shop adjoining their shop and a little grocery store (that I worked at when I was in college) where you can get an ice cold drink and a snack. You can hop back on the bike trail at several points from the town of New Haven.

If you have never been to Miami Whitewater Park, make a day of it. Pack a picnic lunch, your swimsuits for the spray/ water park,  and a pair of binoculars for wildlife watching while you are hiking the many wooded trails. I don’t think you will be disappointed!

Metro Parks of Butler County has 10 great parks, but the newest park called Voice of America MetroPark is the one with which I am most familiar. There is a nice playground that is next to the air conditioned Wheelhouse, which has bathroom facilities and a vending machine to get snacks and drinks.

There is a nice sized lake and a walking/biking path along it. Fishing is allowed in certain areas and there are benches along the way to stop and rest or just enjoy the nature you will see. During the winter there is also a sledding hill, so be sure and visit then too!

Personal Finance for Students of All Ages


Image by AMagill via Flickr

Beginning with the graduating class of 2014, personal finance is a required subject for Ohio public school students. Given the state of economic affairs, I think this is a credit that will benefit all students. It’s never too early to begin showing and discussing money affairs with our children. I have some resources that you can incorporate into your math curriculum or teach as a separate topic.

My Family Counts workbook is free and can be downloaded and used to introduce and discuss with your elementary students ideas such as needs versus wants,saving, spending, giving, setting goals, budgeting, and banking transactions. There is also a free online game called Nicklesberg that you can register your student and is designed for students 3rd to 5th grade.

Looking for a homeschool curriculum? Many people recommend Dave Ramsey’s course.

Dave Ramsey Financial Peace The Foundations in Personal Finance for Homeschool Student Text is a comprehensive, 288-page student soft-cover consumable. It provides students an opportunity to learn, practice, and apply important personal finance knowledge and skills. The 12 chapters are aligned with the National Standards for Financial Literacy.

Here are several online courses for your high school student if you’d like to have your scholar do it this way.

Practical Money Skills for Life has a FREE downloadable course for your 9-12 grade student.

This dynamic financial literacy curriculum for 9 – 12 graders features engaging design, student-centered activities, research projects, discussion points, and tools and resources–all designed to engage students in learning the personal finance skills they need to succeed in life after high school.

Time4Learning is affordable if you have a student that can move through the coursework  fairly quickly. It is $30.00 per month and you may quit at any time. I have copied the description from the website

High School Personal Finance

The high school Personal Finance curriculum is organized into thirteen exercises that cover topics such as balancing a checkbook, avoiding debt, saving for home ownership, preparing for retirement, and performing investments using a program designed to simulate real stock market transactions. This course is designed to help students understand economics as a whole, and the importance of financial responsibility, both in college and beyond.