For this month’s free homeschool unit study, we wanted to offer a study on classic stories and songs for varying grades and ages. Each age group will include 2 books, 1 song, activities, snacks, videos, and printables. If there is a book you want to read and study that may be in a different age bracket, hopefully, you can adjust the material to meet your needs. We hope you’re able to enjoy this nostalgic book-and-song-themed study with your family! Appropriate for grades PreK-5.
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Books and a Song
- The Story of Ferdinand by Munroe Leaf
- Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
- “Whoopee, Ti Yi Yo, Git Along, Little Dogies”
Unit Study Activities
- The Story of Ferdinand: Ferdinand is one of my favorites, and there are many different ways to expand upon it. The moral of this story is being kind and true to oneself. Everyone is different, and the world needs who you are! As Dr. Seuss said, “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” The sweet story of Ferdinand the Bull encapsulates that perfectly. Here are some activity ideas to do with The Story of Ferdinand.
- Make Ferdinand’s Flowers: Use scalloped scissors to cut flowers from construction paper. Decorate with paint, markers, crayons, stickers, washi tape, etc. Once completed, glue each flower onto a popsicle stick (or a stick from your yard!). Place the bouquet of flowers in a vase and have a lovely table centerpiece!
- Discuss the different character traits found in Ferdinand and how we can cultivate those same traits in ourselves. Then, complete an edition of our Teaching Character Series!
- Take a field trip to a farm to see some bulls!
- Watch the 2017 movie, Ferdinand! (It’s SO cute!)
- Charlotte’s Web: Who doesn’t love the story of Charlotte, Wilbur, Fern, Templeton, and all the other farm friends?! The moral of this classic is that words matter and friendship matters. Isn’t this something we all want to instill in our children? Take the opportunity to drive these things home by using this well-loved book.
- Web Writing: Use colored tape on a piece of cardboard to make a web. You could either use the words from the story, have your children look up kind, descriptive words, or even use spelling words and write them on the web.
- Discuss what it means to truly be a friend, and complete another edition of our Teaching Character Series.
- Create a diagram of a spider’s life cycle.
- Have some STEM fun by making and seeing how far baby spiders will float! This can be done in a few different ways. A couple of simple ideas are using spiders made from paper and parachutes made from ribbons…or you can buy and use the little plastic spiders and make parachutes from coffee filters.
- Watch the animated or live-action Charlotte’s Web movie with your kids.
- Taking a field trip to the farm will also work for this story!
- “Whoopee, Ti Yi Yo, Git Along, Little Dogies”: This American folk song was adapted from the tune of the old Irish ballad, “The Old Man Rocking the Cradle.” The classic cowboy song was first recorded in 1929 but was mentioned in a journal in 1893. The song tells the story of cowboys on a cattle drive to Wyoming. “Dogies” are “runty or orphaned calves.” You can read more about the song’s history here.
- Go on a Cattle Drive: Your kids are sure to love this fun game that can either be played outdoors or in a living room or other open space. Make a “cattle pen,” some kind of fence to keep the “cattle” contained, and set it up in a corner. Blow up about 50 balloons (non-helium) and scatter them around the area, just not too close to or inside the pen. Have your child get on a stick horse (or mop or broom) and using only their legs and feet, have them herd the balloons into the pen. Your kids can work together, or take turns and see who can collect all the cattle the fastest.
- Practice Throwing a Lasso: Get a medium-sized rope (or two jump ropes tied together) and tie one end of the rope into a lasso shape. Place two hula hoops of different sizes on the ground, along with the lasso. Place a man’s boot, a large plastic cone (or better yet, a rocking horse!) several feet away. Have your child pick up the largest hula hoop and attempt the rope the boot or cone. If they are able to do it, use the smaller hula hoop. Once they can get that, have them practice using the lasso until they are master ropers!
Unit Study Snacks
- Celebrate Ferdinand’s Homeland: Since Ferdinand hails from Spain, make some Spanish dishes! Have a taco night with Spanish rice, make some taco popcorn (toss popped popcorn in some melted coconut oil and taco seasoning to coat), or make some fried ice cream for dessert!
- Make Wilbur’s Brew: For this fun drink, you’ll need a 2-liter of lemon-lime soda, a half gallon of raspberry sherbet, and 2 tablespoons each of lemon juice and lime juice. Mix half of the soda, along with the lemon and lime juices together in a large bowl. Scoop in the raspberry sherbet and top with the remaining soda. Serve immediately, and enjoy!
- Make Horseshoe Krispies: Make some Rice Krispie Treats with your littles and mold them into a horseshoe shape!
Unit Study Books and a Song
- Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Florence and Richard Atwater
- Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
- “She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain”
Unit Study Activities
- Mr. Popper’s Penguins: This adorable story has several themes that can be capitalized upon in your homeschool. You can discuss adventures, prioritizing what is most important, lessons we can learn from animals, and more.
- Be Penguin Parents: Emperor penguins keep their eggs warm by keeping them on their feet. For this two-person activity, one penguin parent starts out with the egg (a tennis ball) on their socked feet and has to figure out how to pass the egg to the other parent without using their hands or dropping it. This activity requires patience and persistence for both parties. Once they can move the egg back and forth, try doing it with a little stuffed penguin!
- Have a fun STEM activity by making instant snow!
- Paint a Penguin: Have your child look at a picture of an emperor penguin, draw an oval for the body and add a circle on top for a head. Using black paint, they can paint in the penguin outline. Once that is dry, glue on cotton balls for the belly area. Paint orange feet and add a face. The face can either be done with paint or glue on googly eyes and a construction paper beak.
- Watch the movie after reading the book. Compare and contrast the stories. What parts did they like best?
- Peter Pan: Most of us grew up with the Disney version of Peter Pan, Wendy, Tink, the Lost Boys, and the dreaded Captain Hook…but have you ever read the original book? It’s well worth your time and will appeal to both boys and girls! Some themes throughout this book are the importance of keeping one’s word, not being afraid to try new things, everyone having to grow up eventually, and letting your imagination fly!
- Draw Shadow Silhouettes: Have your children sit behind a light and trace the outline of their shadow. They can either cut it out on black paper and paste it onto white paper, or flip it around and cut it out on white paper and paste the silhouette onto black paper for contrast.
- Go on a Treasure Hunt: Bury some treasure in your backyard or take a trip to a local park and hide your treasure (It could be an actual treasure, i.e. toy coins, or a coupon redeemable for a trip to get pizza or ice cream. Get creative!), give your kids a map with instructions, and turn them loose!
- Play a game of Would You Rather: Would you rather…
- Live in Neverland or the real world? Why?
- Be a pirate or a lost boy?
- Stay a kid forever or grow up?
- Captain a boat like Hook or fly like Peter?
- Stay home or go on an adventure?
- Be the hero or the villain?
- She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain: This folk song is thought to have originated in the late 1800s as the African-American Spiritual, “When the Chariot Comes.” It was first published in 1899 in the book Old Plantation Hymns by William Eleazer Barton. It seems to have evolved from a song about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ to a song used in the Underground Railroad during the Civil War, to the version adopted by midwest railroad workers about the arrival of a supply train or wagon that we know and love today. You can read the full history here.
- Spend an afternoon putting together the Sawmill Express Train.
- Make your own Covered Supply Wagon: If you have a Radio Flyer-type wagon lying around, some small hula hoops, and a white fitted sheet, you can make your own covered wagon! Adjust the hula hoops so they stand up in the wagon spaced a little ways apart and cover loosely with the sheet. Stock it with some essential supplies. You may be surprised at what your child classifies as essential!
- Create a Train Engine: Gather some large cardboard boxes and let your kids’ creative juices flow as they create and decorate a train engine!
Unit Study Snacks
- Build an Igloo: Using an apple cut in half, lay the flat side on the plate and coat the apple dome with peanut (or any nut) butter. Once thoroughly covered, add mini marshmallows to make the igloo!
- Make Pixie Dust Popcorn: Your kids are sure to love the snack full of pixie dust! Simply add a tablespoon of butter to a bag of popped popcorn, drizzle some melted white chocolate, and add sprinkles. Let it sit for a few minutes and enjoy!
- Make a Choo-Choo Train: Using jumbo marshmallows for the engine and train cars, pretzel sticks to connect the cars, cheerios for the wheels, and icing as adhesive…make and eat your own train snack!