Christmas is a great time put your regular curriculum aside and snuggle up with your kids with some hot cocoa, popcorn, and a stack of books. Reading aloud quality books is one of the best things you can do for your kids. So, we at Silverdale Press have come up with a list of our favorite Christmas books for children. Take this list with you to the library or use it as a gift guide. We love giving books at Christmas!
1. The Tailor of Gloucester by Beatrix Potter: The mayor is to be married on Christmas Day in the morning. But the poor tailor, who is supposed to be making the mayor’s wedding coat, has run out of twist. The cast of characters also includes a mischievous cat and resourceful mice. Don’t miss this story from one of the most beloved children’s authors of all time. Grades K-6.
2. Christmas in Noisy Village by Astrid Lindgren: The village is noisy because there are so many children running around. In this old-fashioned Christmas tale, learn what the Children of North Farm, Middle Farm, and South Farm do on the days leading up to Christmas. Grades PreK-4.
3. Christmas Farm by Mary Lyn Ray: When Wilma gets tired of growing sunflowers, she decides to grow Christmas trees instead. But she needs the help of her five-year-old neighbor, Parker. Watch how both the trees and Parker grow together. A great book for young naturalists. Grades PreK-4.
4. The Story of Holly & Ivy by Rumer Godden A poor, lost orphan girl stares into a toyshop on Christmas morning. Ivy has never had a doll of her own. Ivy is penniless. And the store is closed. But Ivy knows that the doll, Holly, was meant just for her. Grades K-6.
5. An Orange for Frankie by Patricia Polacco: Frankie looks forward to Christmas Eve because his Pa brings home one orange for each child. But there’s a snowstorm in Michigan, and Pa is waylaid on his trip home from meeting the Florida train. There might be no oranges for Frankie and his siblings to decorate the mantle, per their longstanding family tradition. This is a heartwarming tale, not just of a special citrus treat, but of sibling love and generosity.
6. The Christmas Story by The Metropolitan Museum of Art: This book pairs the Christmas story from Matthew and Luke with exquisite nativity paintings from the Met’s collection. All ages.
7. Franklin and Winston: A Christmas That Changed the World by Douglas Wood: It’s December 1941, and America has just entered World War II. How will the American president spend Christmas? With the British prime minister, of course. In this historically accurate account, see how Winston Churchill spices up Franklin Roosevelt’s White House Christmas. Grades 1-5.
8. The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson: During a frigid Paris Christmas season, three young, recently homeless children befriend a hobo. Find out how they change each other’s lives for the better. Grades 1-6.
If you want a Thanksgiving rich in literature, check out our Thanksgiving Book List. It's an annotated list of 10 great books to read in your homeschool. All are compelling non-fiction narratives, rooted in history.
1. Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving by Sarah Halse Anderson. For young readers, this is the story of Sarah Josepha Hale, “editress” of the Godey’s Lady’s Book and the woman who lobbied presidents to establish a national Thanksgiving holiday. Grades PreK-4.
2. Balloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade by Melissa Sweet. Meet Tony Sarg, an inventor from an early age. This book tells the story of how he inspired the helium balloons that have become the hallmark of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Grades PreK-4.
3. Thanksgiving in the White House by Gary Hines. This children’s picture book chronicles the first presidential turkey pardon. It tells the story of how Abraham Lincoln’s youngest son, Tad, convinced his father to spare the life of Jack the turkey. Grades PreK-4.
4. Thanksgiving Day by Gail Gibbons. Gibbons is one of the most beloved writers of non-fiction for children. In this book, she tells the story of Thanksgiving, its origins, traditions, and how it is celebrated today. Grades PreK-4.
5. Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember by Barbara Rainey. This book is meant to be read aloud as a family. There are special sections adapted for young readers. In this book, Rainey highlights God’s hand in the history of Thanksgiving. It’s beautifully illustrated, and there is a gratitude journal at the end. Grades PreK-12.
6. Eating the Plates: A Pilgrim Book of Food and Manners by Lucille Recht Penner. This is the perfect Thanksgiving book for your little foodie. It covers the eating habits, customs, and manners of the Pilgrims of Plymouth Plantation. Grades K-6.
7. To My Countrywomen: The Life of Sarah Josepha Hale by Muriel L. Dubois. This is a great little biography of the mother of Thanksgiving. Grades 5-8.
8. Thanksgiving: The True Story by Penny Colman. This book chronicles the history of the Thanksgiving holiday, from the Pilgrim origins to modern-day traditions. It is one of the best overarching accounts of the holiday for the middle grades. Grades 5-8.
9. Of Plymouth Plantation by William Bradford. Required reading in many history classes, this book counts as one, big primary source! Written by a Pilgrim father, it is the best eyewitness account of the Pilgrims’ great adventure: their stay in Amsterdam, their Mayflower journey, and their relations with Native Americans. Grades 9-12 & grownups.
10. A Great and Godly Adventure by Godfrey Hodgson. Good for the brainy, this book provides a detailed, religious history about what drove the Pilgrims to the New World. Grades 11-12 & grownups.
We hope you have a wonderful holiday!
P.S. It’s not too late to start our Thanksgiving Unit Study. It’s all the Thanksgiving history, plus fun and creative activities, all in one place! It is high quality and easy to use. It will surely enrich your whole family this holiday.
Do you know the story of the mother of Thanksgiving? Sarah Josepha Hale is one of the most fascinating women in American history. If you don’t know her, our homeschool Thanksgiving Unit Study tells the story of how she wrote to--and eventually persuaded--U.S. presidents to declare national days of Thanksgiving. Here’s a bit about Sarah.
Sarah was born in Newport, New Hampshire on October 24, 1788, the year before George Washington became the first president of the United States.
Schools and colleges did not educate girls back then. This irritated Sarah, but her mother gave her a good education at home. As a girl, she read the Bible and John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. Her brother taught her Latin, math, and philosophy.
As she grew older, she championed early education for children. She even opened a preschool, called a dame school, and taught her pupils the alphabet, numbers, and even beginning Latin. She read her brother’s college textbooks (he went to Dartmouth), vicariously receiving a college education through him.
When Sarah was 22, her father, a Revolutionary War veteran, sold their farm and opened a tavern. It was there Sarah met a young lawyer named David Hale. Several years later, on October 23, 1813, Sarah and David Hale were married. Back then, married women did not have careers, but Sarah and David devoted two hours each day to reading and writing. Sarah loved those hours. David recommended books, and the couple discussed them together. David thought his wife was an excellent writer, and he sent the poems she wrote to newspapers in hopes that they would publish them. Sarah and some friends even started a writers’ group called the Newport Coterie.
Between 1815 and 1820, Sarah gave birth to four children: David, Horatio, Frances Ann, and Sarah Josepha. Then in 1822, tragedy struck. Sarah was pregnant with her fifth child, William, when her husband died of pneumonia. She was only thirty-four years old. Though David’s law practice was successful, he was young and had not saved much money. Sarah would have to raise five children and provide for her family on her own.
Fortunately, David’s friends were looking out for Sarah. They knew about her writing talents, and they helped her to publish a collection of poems: The Genius of Oblivion and Other Original Poems. She also wrote newspaper and magazine articles and completed a book called Northwood. The book compared life in the North to the slave-owning South after the Revolutionary War. In it, she described a traditional New England Thanksgiving.
Sarah’s book was such a success that Reverend John Blake asked her to be the editor of a new women’s magazine he was publishing called Ladies Magazine. Reverend Blake wanted to use the magazine to set a model for American womanhood. Since Sarah needed money to support her family, she accepted the offer.
As “editress,” as she was known, of Ladies Magazine, Sarah had to write persuasively. Her first challenge was to get husbands to agree to pay three dollars for the annual subscription fee. This was a heavy sum at the time. She had to convince them that Ladies Magazine would benefit them. Sarah claimed that if women had more knowledge, they would be better mothers. Better mothers meant better children, which could only lead to a better country. Sarah’s argument worked. Subscriptions rolled in, and the magazine was a success.
Sarah’s work as an “editress” kept her busy. She had to write her own editorials, poems, book reviews, and articles, as well as revise and edit the work of other writers for the magazine. While she was busy editing, she even wrote a small book of poems called Poems for Our Children. It contained the poem “Mary’s Lamb,” known today as “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”
In 1836, Ladies Magazine merged with Godey’s Lady’s Book, owned by Louis Godey. While Louis Godey did not allow Sarah to take political sides in her writing, he did allow her to write about issues she felt were important.
Today, Sarah is best known as the mother of Thanksgiving. From the late 1840s through the 1870s, Sarah argued in Godey’s Lady’s Book that America should celebrate a national day of Thanksgiving on the last Thursday in November. Sarah grew up celebrating Thanksgiving in New England, and she hoped people around the country, in the North and South, could use the holiday to celebrate their common heritage.
Sarah wrote to U.S. presidents to try to persuade them to declare national days of Thanksgiving. In the midst of the bloody Civil War, she twice persuaded Abraham Lincoln to declare national days of Thanksgiving.
Sarah was almost ninety years old when she finally gave up her editing job. She died at age ninety-one in the year 1879.
Sarah's story is just one slice of Thanksgiving history. To learn more, check out our homeschool Thanksgiving Unit Study.
Need a break from your regular curriculum? Veterans Day is coming up. We at Silverdale Press can help you seize the holiday as a unique, enriching learning experience. For a limited time, get our Veterans Day Unit Study for FREE!
Do you know what’s so special about Veterans Day 2018? Before Veterans Day was Veterans Day, it was actually called Armistice Day. One hundred years ago this Veterans Day, we signed the armistice that ended World War I.
Don’t know the history behind our national holiday? Here’s your chance to learn all about it and make meaningful memories with your family at the same time.
Download our White House Holidays: Veterans Day Unit Study for FREE. It’s our gift to you in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the holiday that grew into Veterans Day.
Use the coupon code VETFREE at checkout. The coupon is only good until November 1, so order now.
With beautiful illustrations, meaningful activities, and rich history, your family will learn about the following topics:
Best of all, we provide everything you need. Our unit studies are so easy for parents to use!
And if you haven’t already, download our free Veteran Oral History Guide to use as a supplement. If you have a family member or friend who is a veteran, this is a great way to record their stories for posterity.
We hope this free unit study blesses your family, as you teach your kids about our national history.
At Silverdale Press, we love to help your family learn about elections. For the next several weeks, our Hot Chocolate and Current Events will focus on the upcoming congressional election in the U.S.
Studying current events has so many benefits. Not only does it increase vocabulary, it can help you pass along values to your children. Since everyone is talking about the congressional election, now is a great time to have a purposeful discussion with your kids about it.
But first, some information:
-This is a midterm election year, meaning that it happens in between presidential elections.
-All 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives are up for reelection.
-Out of 100 Senate seats, 33 seats are being contested in regular elections and 2 are being contested in special elections.
-Those elected to the House will serve two-year terms; those elected to the Senate will serve 6-year terms.
-Republicans currently hold majorities in both houses.
-Voter turnout for midterm elections is around 40 percent.
Hop on over to our blog to get the article, map points, and discussion questions.
Get the article:
Plot these points on a map:
Washington, D.C.; Montana; Arizona; Nevada
Discuss the following questions:
What is the main topic of this article?
Why is Donald Trump campaigning so hard in the congressional election?
If Democrats get control of Congress, do you think they’ll try to impeach the president or the new Supreme Court justice, Brett Kavanaugh?
What message do you think the president needs to get across at his rallies, in order to get Republicans to turn out and vote?
Why is voter turnout so low in congressional midterm elections?
Do you think voter turnout will be higher this year than its usual 40 percent?
Do you think this election is a referendum on the president’s leadership?
Why do you think President Trump is holding more rallies than Presidents Bush and Obama did?
Why do you think the president is looking forward to the next three weeks?
The Supreme Court: What’s Ahead on the Docket
The Supreme Court convened for its new term on the first Monday in October, as it does every year. With new associate justice Brett Kavanaugh recently confirmed and sworn in, we take a look at what’s ahead on the Court’s docket.
Quick fact: The Supreme Court only hears about 70 to 80 cases per year, and the vast majority of those cases are not headline-grabbing civil rights and liberties issues.
1. Get the article from Voice of America
2. Note the following vocabulary words:
Docket: a calendar or list of cases for trial
Cert: Refers to a petition for a writ of certiorari, or the petition through which parties ask the Supreme Court to take a case
Stare decisis: a legal principle that is translated “let the decision to stand” and binds justices to uphold cases on the basis of precedent
Precedent: previously decided cases
3. Plot the following point on a map: Washington, D.C.
4. Answer the following questions:-What is the main issue raised in this article?
-When do you think the Supreme Court should revisit and even overturn past decisions?
-Why do you think the three cases highlighted are worthy of a hearing by the Supreme Court? Are they issues that average people care about?
-Do you think the Court should accept and decide politically divisive cases?
Greetings! Teaching homeschool writing is hard. But do you know the secret to your child improving his or her writing skills? It’s regular writing practice. Writers write. It’s as simple as that.
Engaging prompts also help your child to enjoy the writing process. That’s why we at Silverdale Press have created these 10 fall writing prompts. These prompts span the categories of writing: persuasive, expository, informative, creative, and narrative.
Lost in a corn maze (story starter/narrative fall writing prompt):
You and a friend are running through an empty corn maze on a cool, autumn night. Your flashlight suddenly burns out. You look down to see what is the matter. When you turn around, your friend is gone. Write a story about what happens next. Be sure to use lots of action words.
Pen pal letter (explanatory/descriptive fall writing prompt):
Write a letter to a pretend pen pal in a foreign country. Describe how your town celebrates fall. Be sure to include local food, festivals, and activities.
Autumn poem (fall creative writing prompt):
Take an autumn nature walk. Bring along a notebook and pencil. Write a poem about the natural splendor of autumn.
Football: yes or no? (fall persuasive writing prompt):
If football is dangerous, should parents let their kids play the sport? OR If football is dangerous, should we watch it on television?
Apples: which kind is best? (fall persuasive writing prompt):
Complete this statement. ____________ is the best kind of apple because ___________________.
Pumpkin patch story starter (fall creative writing prompt):
Finish the following story. I was walking along in the pumpkin patch, when a black crow landed on my shoulder…
October 31 (explanatory fall writing prompt):
Some families celebrate Halloween, while others do not. Write a short essay explaining how and why your family does or does not celebrate Halloween.
Veterans Day (persuasive fall writing prompt):
Veterans Day is November 11. What does our country owe to those who served in the military?
Thanksgiving turkey (creative fall writing prompt):
Write silly instructions on how to cook a Thanksgiving turkey.
Thanksgiving menu (descriptive fall writing prompt):
You are in charge of writing a Thanksgiving menu (real or imaginary) for your family’s Thanksgiving feast. List the dishes as on a real menu. List the name of each dish, as well as a one-line description underneath. Be sure to use sensory language, describing taste, smells, textures.
Greetings! The routine and predictability of your regular curriculum can be great. But the daily grind can wear you down after a time. Your kids may be restless and complaining. While your regular curriculum may be effective, it may lack, shall we say, SPICE.
With that in mind, here are some ideas to (literally) spice up your homeschool this fall. While assignments, readings, and workbooks are all great, learning can happen in so many ways, ways that will enrich your whole family.
Pie Baking Day
Why not take a day off of regular school and bake pies together? Baking a fall pie can be a valuable learning experience. Not only will you be teaching math and life skills, there are also intrinsic lessons about seasonal eating and the growing seasons. Not to mention that your kids will love the break and the sweet learning outcomes.
Apple Cider and Read Aloud Day
With the temperatures falling, fall is a great time to curl up with a good book. Plug in your crockpot. Fill it with apple cider. Add some cinnamon sticks and orange slices. Then curl up on your couch for some read aloud time. Your library probably has some great fall seasonal and holiday books.
Reading aloud is one of the best things you can do with your kids. From increasing vocabulary to learning sophisticated sentence structure, reading aloud is the magic pill for helping your kids to succeed in school. Adding apple cider will only add more spice to their learning.
Homeschool unit studies can be great way to take a break from your regular curriculum. Unit studies can incorporate most subject areas—language arts, history, science, and even math if you’re creative. They are a great way to allow students to follow their own interests and ensure that they love what they are learning. For parents, putting together a unit study can take some effort. But there are pre-made ones out there that make the parent’s task easier.
Fall is a great time to spice up your homeschool with a unit study. Little kids can do a unit study on apples, pears, or pumpkins. Older kids may want to do a more in-depth unit study on subject like sugar, cinnamon, and even chocolate! History, science, writing, life skills, and ethics could easily be woven into such unit studies.
Find it hard to get teens and tweens to talk? Get the conversation going with Hot Chocolate and Current Events! Reading the newspaper is a habit of great leaders and thinkers. Won’t you join us for a year of family-friendly and fascinating news articles? This week, add a box of donuts for an extra incentive. We’re talking business and marketing in the news!
Do you know which storied purveyor of fried dough glazed with sugar is changing its name?
Get the article:
Plot these points on a map:
Learn these vocabulary words:
superfluous—unnecessary, especially through being more than enough
sacrilege—misuse of what is regarded as sacred
pigeonholed—assign to a restrictive category or class
Discuss the following questions:
Where does the story take place?
What is the main topic, problem, or issue?
What is your reaction to this article?
Do you think that the second word in the brand’s name is superfluous?
Why is it sacrilege for New Englanders to say they don’t like “Dunks”?
Do you think it’s a good idea for established brands to change their names?
Why do you think this company decided to change its name?
Do you think the company is being pigeonholed as a donut place?
Do you think the name change will help Dunkin’ be more successful?
It’s so important to record the memories of friends and loved ones, especially those who have served our country in the military. In this newsletter, we’ll teach you how to do your own veterans oral history, so that you can preserve for all time the experiences of those brave men and women.
What is oral history? Oral history is the collection and study of historical information using recordings of interviews with people having personal knowledge of past events. With a veteran oral history, your goal is to interview and record a veteran about his or her experiences in the military.
With the 100th anniversary of the armistice right around the corner, this would be a really neat homeschool project, not to mention a priceless keepsake.
Step 1: Prepare
-Decide whom you will interview
-Gather recording equipment—maybe an app for your phone, a digital camera, or a simple audio recorder
-Ask the veteran permission, and set up a time and quiet location
-Test the sound/recording equipment
Step 2: Conduct the Interview
Use these questions as a guide:
-What is your name and birth date?
-Where were you born?
-Did you have any family who served in the military before you?
-What did you do before you entered the military?
-In which branch of the military did you serve?
-How long were you in the military, from when until when?
-In which branch of the military did you serve?
-At what rank did you start out, and at what rank did you leave?
-Did you enlist in the military, or were you drafted?
-If you were enlisted, what made you want to join?
-If you were drafted, how did you feel upon being drafted?
-How did your family feel about you going into the military?
-What were your first few days and weeks like?
-Discuss your training/boot camp. What did you learn? What kind of physical training did you have?
-Who were your instructions, and what were they like?
-What were your reactions to the physical training, schedule, accommodations, and food?
-How often could you talk to friends and family?
-Where did you serve? At home or abroad?
-Did you serve during a war or conflict or during a time of peace?
-What were your responsibilities?
-Did you witness any combat action?
-Were you in any famous battles?
-Did you get injured?
-Did you see death and destruction; if so, how did that make you feel?
-What kind of food did you eat, and what were your living and sleeping quarters like?
-Did you get time off, and what did you do in your free time?
-Who were your friends in the military, and what were they like?
-How did you keep in touch with friends and family back home?
-When did you return home? Describe what it was like to come back.
-Why did you leave the military?
-Did you keep in touch with your military friends?
-What have you done with your life since leaving the military?
-Do you think about your time in the service often?
-Would you recommend that a young person today join (the veteran’s branch of) the military?
-What were the most valuable skills and lessons you took away from your military service?
-How did your service affect the trajectory of your life?
-Is there anything else you want us to know about that we didn’t cover?
Step 3: Preserve and Share
-Be sure to back up your interview so that it is not lost
-Transcribe the interview if you have time, or have it transcribed
-Get permission, then share with family or friends who would be interested in having these memories
I hope you have found these suggestions helpful. Looking for more Veterans Day resources? Check out our Veterans Day Unit Study!
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