England + Ireland Unit

Pack your imaginary bags (and hop into your time machine on a couple of days) and let’s “travel” to Europe. In this unit we will learn about England and Ireland and their rich history and exciting legends. We will learn about famous people of the past, some who continue to impact our lives today. So, grab your passports and let’s go!

Note: Occasionally we include project upgrades (for kids ready for more) and modifications (which can be useful for including younger siblings). We’ll mark those with the plus (+) or minus (-) symbols.

What you need:

Books (find at your local library or order below on Amazon):

Supplies (use what you have, but here are links to shop if you need anything):

What to do:

We recommend doing the below lessons in this order to build on each skill your child will develop, but don’t feel that you *need* to do them in this order. Do what works for you and your child. If they love an activity, feel free to repeat! Not a winner? Skip and try the next thing. Have fun!

Lesson 1:

Let’s begin with a quick geography lesson. Open your atlas, pull out the globe, or look at this map of Europe and find The United Kingdom (UK) which is short for The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland…quite a mouthful! It is a sovereign state, but it is made up of four countries: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Our unit will only focus on England and Ireland (which is not actually part of the UK, but we’ll get to that later!). You can also compare these maps to the medieval map from our Castles Unit to show how the area has changed.

Review the seven continents and sing this song we learned earlier this year. Nexg, read the book All Aboard the London Bus with your child and point out some of the sites in your imaginary tour of the country. Focus on the London bus, Buckingham Palace, and the Globe theater since we will be highlighting these places and things in our activities this week.

Activity 1: Make a London Bus with a shoe box or small box. Draw the windows and doors in advance and have your child practice cutting and pasting.
(-) Simple London bus craft. This activity is great for kids who are still learning their shapes. Precut most of the shapes in advance if your child hasen’t developed cutting skills yet.

Activity 2: You might have heard about this little band from England called The Beatles. 😉 Introduce a few facts about the band:

  • The band was made up of four friends named John, Paul, George, and Ringo.
  • They played rock and roll music.
  • They started playing as a band in the early 1960s. (Make connections to people in your child’s life who are in that age range.)
  • They were so popular, they rented baseball stadiums for their concerts. One concert had 50,000 people. The people cheered so loudly, you couldn’t even hear the music!

Let’s listen to one of their classic songs about friendship, “With a Little Help From My Friends.” If you have a tambourine at home, play along with the song. And don’t forget to sing along if you know the words!

Activity 3: Now it’s your turn to rock! Build your own guitar with this simple shoebox craft. Note: The original craft uses regular glue, but we recommend a hot glue gun if you have one for a more secure guitar.

Lesson 2:

Remember those time machines we talked about? Today, we’re taking a trip back in time to England of old…

Activity 1: England is a country rich with history. For today’s activity, we’re introducing the idea of teaching as a story teller. As you tell your child about the Crystal Palace (see our notes below), use the same enthusiasm as you would reading them a story. Try to capture their imagination, using the photos we’ve linked to add details and color:

Have you ever heard of The Crystal Palace? When Queen Victoria and Prince Albert ruled England, they built a structure to hold the most amazing things in the world all under one glass roof—they called it The Crystal Palace. It was a structure made of iron rods and clear glass that looked like a palace and a beautiful garden green house all in one. It housed The Great Exhibition, where 14,000 exhibitors came from many parts of the world to show off their inventions proudest possessions and most interesting inventions, including false teeth, artificial legs, Colt’s repeating pistol, Goodyear india rubber goods, chewing tobacco, and McCormick’s reaper. Popular British exhibits included hydraulic presses, powerful steam engines, pumps, and automated cotton mules (spinning machines). More than six million visitors attended the exhibition. (Source) Share these photos from the Library of Congress with your child.

Activity 2: Next, meet Sir Frances Drake! Depending on your perspective, he was either an explorer or a pirate. He was friends with Queen Elizabeth I, who knighted him after he became the first Brit to sail around the world on an expedition. He was very rich, but the Spanish Armada didn’t care much for him because he stole from them. Here’s a video that tells us more about him and his travels. Talk to your child about how perspective can play into our understanding of history. How did the British monarchy feel about Sir Francis Drake? How did the Spanish monarchy feel about him? Teach them to consider different sides of history to get a fuller understanding.

Next, let’s make history come to life with this Golden Hind craft. (That’s the name of Sir Francis Drake’s ship…why, what were you thinking? 😉)
(+) If your child is engaged with Sir Francis Drake’s story, you can play this audio book. Audio books are great for car rides and quiet time at home.

Activity 3: Let’s learn about the UK flag. Scroll down to the bottom of that link for a PDF printout of why the flag has the colors it does. You can also print this worksheet to color it in. 
(+) Our co-founder’s 5-year-old came up with this cool activity to demonstrate how the three flags of the UK flag come together—if your child is interested, try this child-led upgrade!

Lesson 3:

Today is Shakespeare Day! Shakespeare is famous for writing plays. Talk to your child about the difference between a book and a play. Were plays meant to be read like a book? No, plays were meant to be acted. Read this kid friendly article with your child to learn more about Shakespeare. (The videos won’t work because the site is from the UK, but here’s a video you can share after you finish reading.) If you were able to get the Shakespeare Pop-Up book, introduce it to your child today. You can read the biography information and share the different types of plays that Shakespeare wrote.
(+) Is your child ready to dig into some kid-friendly Shakespeare? Begin reading A Midsummer Night’s Dream for Kids for the next few days to give your child some Shakespeare exposure. Prefer to listen to an audiobook? Here are two of our favorites told in a kid friendly style.

Activity 1: Help your child write a play of their own this paper fold method. To get the story going, have them start with one of these simple prompts if they need help:

  • Taking a rocket ride through space
  • Life in a castle
  • A day at the beach
  • Going camping
  • A walk in the woods 

Next, help your child:

  • Choose a setting. Where is your story taking place?
  • Create characters. Who is your story about? What are their names?
  • Tell a story. What is your story going to be about? Is there a problem to solve? Will the characters go on adventure together? 

Encourage them to illustrate their story, and scribe for them if they aren’t writing freely.

Activity 2: Tea and Poetry with Shakespeare. Shakespeare wrote many famous sonnets, which are a type of poem. Read a sonnet or two penned by Shakespeare as you enjoy your “tea.” If you have the Sing a Song of Seasons book we recommended in the Foundations Unit, look on pages 181 and 245 for poems by Shakespeare. Here is another kid friendly sonnet if you don’t have the poetry book at home. 

Activity 3: Some of Shakespeare’s plays involved masquerade parties where the actors wore masks to hide their true identity. Let your child make their own mask by printing this template onto cardstock and decorating markers, gem stickers, feathers, and glitter glue. Use ribbon or yarn to tie it on.

Activity 4: The Globe Theater was the special theater Shakespeare used for his performances. This short video teaches us more about it.

How did they make such a beautiful theater over 400 years ago without the help of power tools? Simple machines like a pulley help people do hard work. Watch this video to learn how a pulley works. Now build your own with this simple activity.

Lesson 4:

Let’s now travel to Ireland and Northern Ireland. (As a reminder, Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom but Ireland is not.) Begin by finding Ireland and Northern Ireland on the map. Ask your child, “If you were traveling from England to Ireland, how would we get there?”

The official language in Ireland is Gaelic. Click here to learn how to say a few animal names in Gaelic, and here to learn a few other words.

Activity 1: One of the most famous natural wonders of Ireland is the Giant’s Causeway. Made up of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the Causeway came about as a result of an ancient volcanic eruption. (Here are some pictures to share with your child!) Legend has it, though, that it came about as the result of a conflict between two mythical giants that are famous in Irish stories.

As the story goes, Irish giant Finn McCool was challenged to a fight by Scottish giant Benandonner. Finn accepted the challenge and built the causeway across the North Channel so that the two giants could meet. On the other side, Benandonner also builds to meet him. The two built for weeks! When Finn gets close to Benandonner, however, he realizes that the Scottish giant is twice his size! Finn runs home and hides. Finn’s wife, Oonagh, who is very clever, disguises Finn as a baby and tucks him in a cradle. When Benandonner comes looking for Finn and sees the size of the “baby,” he assumes that his father, Finn, must be a giant among giants. He flees back to Scotland in fright, destroying the causeway behind him so that Finn can’t chase him down. (Source) Here’s a video of the same story.

Today’s book is another Finn McCool story—you can watch our read aloud here!

Activity 2: Let’s do some Giant’s Causeway Math! Show your child the photos of the causeway again. Talk about the hexagon shape of the columns. A hexagon is a 6-sided figure.

With some sidewalk chalk, go outside and draw hexagons in the pattern of the causeway. Number each hexagon and have your child pretend to be a giant and “step across” from Ireland to Scotland. Practice skip counting by hopping, jumping on one leg, or taking “giant steps” over the even or odd numbers. Raining outside? Print a few copies of this print-out and secure them to the floor to create an indoor Giant’s Causeway.

Activity 3: Another famous Irish tradition? Clog dancing! The origins of this dance goes back almost 2,000 years. It was loved by kings and queens throughout history, and it was performed by both peasants and aristocrats during times of celebration and mourning. Today, it is part of the rich culture of Ireland and children, teens, and adults enjoy this dance and even participate in competitions. Show your child this video, which brings together the music and dancing of Ireland in one amazing performance. Encourage your child to try to dance along! Want more? These two brothers are the current 5x World Champion Irish Dancers, and their Instagram videos are a lot of fun to watch!
(+) This interview tells the inspiring story of Morgan Bullock, who fell in love with Irish dancing as a little girl. It’s a great story of overcoming challenges to achieve a goal!

Lesson 5:

Today, we’re taking a closer look at the country of Ireland. Ireland is an island nation that is very green because of its yearly rainfall—that’s why it’s nicknamed the Emerald Isle! One of the popular places to visit in Ireland is Blarney Castle. Watch this video to see the castle and surrounding gardens. Millions of people visit the castle to kiss the Blarney Stone, which legend says will give you the gifts of eloquence and persuasiveness. Here’s a video you can show your child of people kissing it (in case your child doesn’t believe you 😉).

Activity 1: Next, complete this Irish flag craft. Ask your child to compare and contrast this flag from the UK flag. How are they different? How are they the same?

Activity 2: Let’s talk about one of Ireland’s famous native residents, the Connemara Pony! This video shows some real life footage of the ponies. Then complete this fun and easy horse craft. As your child is building the horse, talk about the names of the each part. After you’re done crafting, review the parts of the animal’s body while “grooming” the horse with a doll brush or a clean toothbrush, pointing out the horse’s mane, tail, hind legs, fore legs, etc. (Need a little help knowing the horse’s parts? This blogger has printable cards for several animals. Click on the image called “Zoology Nomenclature Set” and scroll to find the horse pictures. No need to print them—you can simply use it as a reference as your child builds and grooms their horse.)

Activity 3: Now let’s talk about some famous Irish art. Did you know that art (that depicted athletic events) was an Olympic ‘sport’ from 1910-1948? We were surprised to learn this, too! But in 1924, an Irish artist named Jack B. Yates won the silver medal at the ‘24 Olympics in Paris for his oil painting depicting a yearly swim called the Liffey Swim, which takes place in Dublin’s River Liffey. Let’s take a look at this picture, which hangs in the National Gallery, and then learn a bit more about the race.

Here are some things you can ask your child about the painting:

  • Let’s talk about Expressionism. Expressionist artists like Yates didn’t want their pictures to look exactly like real life. They wanted people to feel the picture. When you look at this picture, what do you feel? Does it look exciting? Happy? Cold? Warm? Can you imagine the crowds cheering? What do you think it sounded like? Look at the people watching. We call them spectators. Why are they there? Do they look excited?
  • Yates liked to paint about sports. Why do you think he did that? Talk about how there was no TV back in 1920 when this race began. How would this picture help people to “see” what it was like to be in this race or to watch it?
  • The winners of Olympic events get medals. The first place winner gets a gold medal, the second place winner gets a silver medal, and the third place winner gets a bronze medal. Yates also won a medal for this picture—he won the silver.
  • Hundreds of people enter the Liffey Swim each year. They swim the river under several bridges where people stand and cheer, and the winner gets a trophy.

Activity 4: End the week with a traditional Irish recipe, Irish soda bread. This four ingredient recipe will be perfect for your little one. Since it’s so simple, give your child as much independence as they can handle to really take charge of this bake.

***Post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through a link, we may receive a small commission at no cost to you. Thank you for supporting our small business!***

England + Ireland and Castles Supplies

Here’s what you need for week 1, England + Ireland:

Books (find at your local library or order below on Amazon):

Supplies (use what you have, but here are links to shop if you need anything):

Here’s what you need for week 2, Castles:

Books (find at your local library or order below on Amazon):

Note for grownups: We’re suggesting specific books below, but if you can’t find these at your local library, most other books for kids on this subject will serve the same purpose. You want the book to have lots of illustrations about castle life. They should include pictures and details about the people who lived and worked in the castle (lords, knights, peasants) and parts of their life, like entertainment, hunting, and battles.

Supplies (use what you have, but here are links to shop if you need anything):

***Post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through a link, we may receive a small commission at no cost to you. Thank you for supporting our small business!***

Castles Unit: Make a Sword Craft

Any knight is only as good as their sword! With this simple craft, your child can make their own as they explore life as a knight in our Castles Unit.

What you need:
  • aluminum foil
  • a long cardboard tube (a paper towel roll will work, but it works best with something more durable, like a wrapping paper tube or the cardboard tube from a box of foil or plastic wrap)
  • 9 x 3 inch of scrap cardboard
  • scissors
  • hot glue gun + glue
  • paint (optional)
What to do:

Start by cutting a (roughly) 9 x 3 inch rectangle out of your scrap cardboard. This will be the handle of your sword. Paint a bright color, if desired.

Once paint is dry, trace the opening of your cardboard tube onto one end of the cardboard scrap. Use your scissors to cut out the circle.

Slide the tube through the circle, then bend the rest of the rectangle up to form the handle. Use your hot glue gun to glue the bottom of the tube to the end of the cardboard rectangle.

Using your hot glue gun, glue aluminum foil around the blade of your sword.

Once the glue is dry, you’re ready to play. En garde!

England + Ireland: Layered Union Flag Activity

Sometimes the best projects come from our children’s imagination! This craft was actually created by our co-founder’s 5-year-old daughter after learning that the Union Flag was actually made up of three different flags, and it’s a simple, concrete way to demonstrate how the flags of England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland come together.

What you need:
What to do:

Cut one of your laminating sheets into two pieces at the fold.

Put one piece over the picture of the Union Flag and trace the outline of the flag in black marker. Then, trace the red middle cross (that makes up the English flag) with red marker. Trim the sheet so only about half an inch of plastic remains around the flag drawing. Set aside.

Take the second piece of laminating sheet and place over the Union Flag picture. Trace the outline of the flag in black marker, then trace the portions of the red X (the Northern Ireland flag) in red marker. Trim the sheet so only about half an inch of plastic remains around the flag drawing.

At this point, you should have two sheets that look like this:

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Fill in the red cross and red X with your red marker. Set both aside.

You should still have one intact laminating pocket. Open it, and place the back flap over the Union Flag picture with the inside of the pocket face up. Trace the outside of the flag with black marker, and then use your blue marker to trace the blue sections of the flag (representing the flag of Scotland). Fill these sections in with your blue marker.

Next, layer the red flag sheets inside the intact laminating pocket so the outside edges of your flag drawings line up. You should see a full Union Flag!

Close the intact laminating pocket sheet and laminate to finish your flag.

***Post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through a link, we may receive a small commission at no cost to you. Thank you for supporting our small business!***

England + Ireland Unit: Sir Francis Drake Ship

Sir Francis Drake was the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe in a single expedition, and he did it in a ship called the Golden Hind. The ship was originally known as the Pelican, but Drake renamed her mid-voyage in 1578 in honor of his patron, Sir Christopher Hatton, whose crest was a golden hind, which is a female red deer. (Not what you were probably thinking. 😂) Let’s make a model of a ship inspired by the Golden Hind!

What you need:
What to do:

Cut the paper plate in half and paint the outer sides brown.

While the paint dries, cut your white felt (or paper) into two 5×7″ rectangles. Cut four small holes along the center of each sail to thread your dowels through. (You may also want to trim your dowels to about 10″.)

Next, cut six small yellow circles (about 1″ across) and six slightly smaller black circles out of paper. Glue the black circles onto the middle of the yellow circles to make six porthole windows.

Cut a small rectangle out of white cardstock or construction paper and use the red marker to create an English flag.

Cut small holes in the toilet paper tube so you can thread the dowels through it. (The dowels will be your ship masts.)

Now your ship is ready to assemble! Start by using gluing the three windows to each side of the ship.

Next, use your hot glue to attach the two sides of the ship together. (It should look like a boat at this point.)

Glue the toilet paper tube in the middle of the boat, making sure that the holes are on top. Thread one sail onto each dowel.

Glue your flag onto the top of one of the dowels.

You’re ready to set sail for adventure! Tip: To get the ship to stand on it’s own, clip two binder clips to the bottom like this:

***Post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through a link, we may receive a small commission at no cost to you. Thank you for supporting our small business!***

Castles Unit: Medieval Banner Craft

Decorate your home like a royal with this simple medieval banner craft!

What you need:
What to do:

Using our printable template, print as many copies of the banner as you would like on cardstock.

Let your child color the larger banner pieces a solid color (or they can get creative with a pattern!). Then, depending on their ability, have them decorate each smaller banner with symbols or pictures of their choice, using crayons, markers, paint, and/or stickers. They may want to use some of the same symbols they put on their family crest, or you may want to draw pictures (like a crown or sword) for them to color in.

Cut the banners out and glue the smaller banners on top of the larger banners like the above photo.

Using your hole punch, punch a hole in both of the top corners of the banner. Then lace your ribbon, yarn, or string through the holes so the banners can be hung on a wall. (If your child has trouble stringing the yarn, use a plastc yarn needle or wrap a bit of tape around the end to make it easier to thread.)

Hang your banner as desired. Let the festivities begin!

***Post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through a link, we may receive a small commission at no cost to you. Thank you for supporting our small business!***

Castles Unit: Royal Chalice Craft

Ready to raise a glass like a royal? This super simple chalice craft makes it easy to turn your next meal into a feast fit for a noble.

What you need:
  • 2 plastic cups
  • duct tape
  • gem stickers (optional)
What to do:

Stack the cups so the two bottoms are touching. (The cups should now be in an hourglass shape.)

Using 2-4 pieces of duct tape, tape the bottoms of the cups together.

Decorate as desired with gem stickers. Cheers!

Quilts + Light, Shadows + Rainbows Supply Lists

Here’s what you need for Week 1: Quilts:

What you need:

Books (find at your local library or order below on Amazon):

Supplies (use what you have, but here are links to shop if you need anything):

Here’s what you need for Week 2: Light, Shadows + Rainbows:

What you need:

Books (find at your local library or order below on Amazon):

Optional additional reading:

Supplies (use what you have, but here are links to shop if you need anything):

***Post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through a link, we may receive a small commission at no cost to you. Thank you for supporting our small business!***

Light, Shadows + Rainbows Unit

Our activities this week are full of bright ideas! 💡 We will learn about light, the shadows that are created when it is blocked, and the beautiful colors that are seen when we send it through a prism. 🌈 As you move through the lessons, look for opportunities to make great connections to previous units, too, like the Outer Space Unit (the sun and the moon), the Weather Unit (water droplets causing rainbows), and the Native Peoples Unit (where we first learned about the Aurora Borealis). Track your progress along the way with our printable tracking document, available here.

Note: Occasionally we include project upgrades (for kids ready for more) and modifications (which can be useful for including younger siblings). We’ll mark those with the plus (+) or minus (-) symbols.

What you need:

Books (find at your local library or order below on Amazon):

Optional additional reading:

Supplies (use what you have, but here are links to shop if you need anything):

What to do:

We recommend doing the below lessons in this order to build on each skill your child will develop, but don’t feel that you *need* to do them in this order. Do what works for you and your child. If they love an activity, feel free to repeat! Not a winner? Skip and try the next thing. Have fun!

Lesson 1:

Let your light shine today! ☀️ Today is all about light. All light comes from an energy source, either natural or man-made. The light we get from the sun is natural light; the light we get from a lamp is man-made. Begin by reading from the book Light: Shadows, Mirrors, and Rainbows. Read the first section only, entitled Delighted Light on page 4 of this book. You will be reviewing Earth’s natural light sources like the sun, other stars in the night sky, or lightning, and also discussing other sources of light, such as light bulbs. Next, read the book Day Light, Night Light to explore this topic in more detail. Help your child to see the important connection between light and energy.

Activity 1: Light grab. Play with your child (you can also include younger siblings, and even a pet!) with a flashlight. Talk about how the light from your flashlight can be pointed toward an object to shine light to a specific spot. Use the flashlight in a well lit room and then in a dark space like a closet. Make observations together and point out to your child that:

  • Light can shine.
  • Light travels in a straight line.
  • It can be blocked with your hand or other objects.
  • It can’t be grabbed.

(+) While you have the flashlight out, grab a mirror and try this light play activity to discuss how light reacts to mirrored glass.

Activity 2: Print out 2-5 sheets of this light bulb template. On each bulb, write whatever you are currently working on with your child, whether it be letters, numbers, sight words, shapes, or colors. (If possible, laminate the bulbs first and write on them with dry erase markers so you can reuse later.) Cut out the light bulbs and spread them out on the floor (make sure you put them at least a foot away from each other). Give your child a flashlight. Call out what’s on the bulbs, and ask your child to point the light towards the correct lightbulb. 

Activity 3: Light scavenger hunt and journal. Find as many light sources in your home and have your child journal them (draw them) on a sheet of paper. Examples to look for: flashlights, lamps, light fixtures, lava lamps, clock light, computer screen, cell phone screen, smart watches, toys that light up, the tv screen, etc. If your child writes freely, have them label each drawing. If not, you can act as they scribe while they watch you write the words.

Activity 4: Want to know more about man made harnessed energy? This short video about Thomas Edison tells us about the invention of the light bulb. 

Bonus activity: You can review everything we learned today with this episode of Sid the Science Kid.

Lesson 2:

Where there is light…there will be shadows! Today, we’re focusing on the darker side of light. Let’s start by reading My Shadow or Nothing Sticks Like a Shadow. You can also review the pages about shadows in in the book Light, Shadows, Mirrors and Rainbows or the book What Makes a Shadow?

Activity 1: Make your own shadows. Prepare to do this activity at 9 a.m., noon, and 2 p.m. to best see your shadows move throughout the day. Using chalk, stand on the sidewalk or driveway and ask your child to draw your outline. If they aren’t able to trace your shadow, ask them to stand still and you outline their shadow. (This is also a great activity to do with siblings!) Use a measuring tape, measure the length of the shadow. As you draw your first shadow in the morning, ask your child to make predictions about what the shadow will be likewhen you come out again at lunchtime. Will it be in the same place? Will it be the same length? Once you have all three shadows on the ground, discuss their differences. 
(+) This is also a good time to discuss what a shadow shows us and what it doesn’t. If you raise your hands, does your shadow change? What happens when you smile? What if you stick out your tongue? Make observations and discuss them.

Activity 2: Japanese shadow art. Take a look at the images by Kumi Yamashita with your child. Yamashita is an artist that is fascinated with shadows. Scroll down to the image of a head silhouette with numbers. Ask your child what they see. Ask them to point to the numbers they see and name them if possible. What do you think the artist is trying to tell us with this photograph?

And, yes, photography is art! This blogger writes: “In my opinion, what makes photography art is the imagination, dedication, and time that you pour into your work….Many photographers agree that what makes photography art is something anyone would want to exhibit in a gallery. It’s a work of art that would make almost anyone feel something.”

Activity 3: Now it’s time for you and your child to go on your own shadow scavenger hunt. Take a walk in your neighborhood or around your home and look for shadows that appear to make art. Ask your child to photograph these shadows. You’ll be surprised at what you see in the shadows when you start looking!
(+) Print the photograph and ask your child to write a story about the art they have created. It could be a sentence or a paragraph, and you can scribe for your child if their imaginations are bigger than their writing ability. Remember, this is a creative assignment, not a handwriting one.

Activity 4: Imagination play will light up your day! Create your own shadow puppet story with this activity.

Lesson 3:

Today, we’re combining light and shadows for some scientific play!

Activity 1: Before we had clocks, we used sunlight and some structures on the ground to tell time. This special tool is called a sundial. Today, let’s make a homemade sundial together. Use the sundial all week to help your child know when it’s lunchtime, nap time, snack time, and more!
(+) Does your child love LEGO? Here’s a LEGO version you can make instead.

Ask your child these questions to discuss and review the experiment:

  • Do you think the sundial will work at night?
  • How is a shadow made?
  • How does the shadow of the pencil change throughout the day?

(+) Upgrade this activity with a log sheet to track your observations. Scribe for your child if they are ready to make these observations but not ready to write on their own.

Activity 2: What color is light? Let’s investigate light with the use of a prism.

What is happening here? Kids Britannica explains

Certain objects, such as triangular pieces of glass called prisms, can separate white light into the individual colors. When light travels through a prism, waves of different wavelengths bend by different amounts. The color of each wavelength then appears separately. This effect is called a spectrum.

Activity 3: Let’s now mix the colors of light to make white light with this experiment.You will need three flashlights; colored sharpies in red, blue, and green; tape; a white backdrop; and any little toys that can create shadows. (Free-standing toys work best.)

Activity 4: Shadow play time!

Lesson 4:

What makes a rainbow? Let’s read about them in our book, Light: Shadows, Mirrors, and Rainbows. Focus on the section about rainbows . If you were with us during our Weather Unit, we learned that dust particles in the atmosphere are responsible for clouds and snowflakes. Now, introduce how dust particles and water droplets help create rainbows.

Activity 1: Using your prism from Lesson 3, demonstrate how a rainbow can be made. This time, focus on the colors of the rainbow. (This print out can be helpful in your discussion.) Next, make your own rainbow with this fun craft. Review the colors you will need to make your rainbow an accurate representation of what real rainbow colors are.

Activity 2: Rainbow Numbers. Pick the activity that best meets your child at their level.
(+) Try this upgrade for a little rainbow arithmetic.
(-) Need to modify? Younger children will love this simple rainbow puzzle.

Activity 3: Here’s a simple song that will help your child learn the rainbow colors in order. Repeat it throughout the day and tomorrow until your child memorizes it. Want more music? Here’s one of our favorite songs about rainbows. 🌈

Activity 4: Practice the rainbow song as you work on this rainbow measurement craft.

Lesson 5:

We could never fit all the rainbow fun into one day! Let’s continue with the last day of our week.

Activity 1: Have you heard the story of finding gold at the end of the rainbow? It’s a legend of course, but it’s also the inspiration for our next activity. This money-at-the-end-of-the-rainbow activity will be a fun way to learn about coin values. Use the print-out from that post, but follow the instructions below to complete the activity.

Print out the pot of gold and laminate the print-out. Write in a money amount and have your child find the coins to match that value. For example write: 1ȼ, 5ȼ, 10ȼ, or 25ȼ. Provide your child with a penny, nickel, dime, and quarter and demonstrate how each coin has a value. Repeat the activity until your child can correctly identify the coin value on their own.
(+) Increase the challenge by writing in amounts that will require more than one coin. For example: 50ȼ, 75ȼ, 35ȼ, 45ȼ. Help your child to add coins together.
(-) Not ready for money yet? Instead, print out the first page of this activity link and fill the rainbow with pompoms in the correct colors. 

Activity 2: Rainbow tally marks activity.

Activity 3: R is for Rainbow writing practice.
(+) Try this one for a bit more copy work.

Activity 4: Shaving cream rainbow craft.

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Quilts Unit

If all you think about when you think of quilts is the afghan on your grandma’s couch, think again. Quilts can teach us the beauty of culture, family, and diversity—especially when it comes to gaining understanding of cultures different from our own. People around the globe celebrate life and family in many different ways, but one common thread (pun intended!) we find in countries around the world is the quilt. 🧶 In some cultures, they’re an heirloom; in most cultures, they tell a story; and in others, they even saved lives. We invite you to learn about the customs and people of our stories while you weave together connections to your own family story. 💕 Want to keep track of your work? Download our printable tracker document here.

Note: Occasionally we include project upgrades (for kids ready for more) and modifications (which can be useful for including younger siblings). We’ll mark those with the plus (+) or minus (-) symbols.

What you need:

Books (find at your local library or order below on Amazon):

Supplies (use what you have, but here are links to shop if you need anything):

What to do:

We recommend doing the below lessons in this order to build on each skill your child will develop, but don’t feel that you *need* to do them in this order. Do what works for you and your child. If they love an activity, feel free to repeat! Not a winner? Skip and try the next thing. Have fun!

Lesson 1:

What is a quilt anyway? Read The Quilting Bee to learn a little about quilts and how they’re made. If you have a quilt at home, pull it out and tell your child its story. Do you have a relative with a special quilt? Ask your child to help you come up with two or three questions to ask your family member about their special quilt, and then call or video chat them to ask them your questions.

Activity 1: Quilt number cards. This link is filled with letter “Q” activities. Scroll to the “quilt number cards” and print out the PDF to practice numbers. (We suggest laminating them so that they can last you all week and beyond!)
(+) If your child is ready for more, use the cards and your choice of manipulatives (AKA, tangible items to count, like beads, pom poms, etc.) to practice addition and subtraction. For example, have them draw two cards. If they draw a 2 and a 4, have them count out two beads and four beads. Then tell them you are going to add 2 + 4. Join the beads together and have them count out the sum. Say, “So 2 + 4 equals 6.”
(++) Think they’re ready for more? Try adding or subtracting the digits without the manipulatives.

Activity 2: Q is for quilt craft. Use magazine cut outs, scrapbooking paper, leftover fabric, or felt pieces to make the letter Q. 
(+) Get some writing practice with this printable.

Lesson 2:

Let’s kick off today with The Keeping Quilt. This story follows a Russian Jewish family for several generations, discussing immigration, family, celebrations, and heritage. Use this beautiful story to talk about how the quilt made by this family connected generations of people, then make personal connections by discussing your own family traditions and heirlooms. You can also listen to the author tell us about the book in her own words in this video.

Activity 1: Quilts around the world. The family in our story is of Russian descent. This print-out shows your child images of quilts from around the world. Here’s what it says about Russian quilts:

“Russia has a long history of using quilts and patchwork to create folk-art. Many of its quilts are acclaimed and world-wide to this day. This technique is known as ‘patchwork collage,’ and became most popular in the 20th century. Using multi-colored and geometric fabrics, Russian quilts often celebrate everyday scenes of animals and the countryside.” 

Show your child where Russia is on the map, and then show them how far the family in the book traveled from Russia to NYC, USA. Point to each quilt in the link and talk about the differences between the patterns and where in the world they are from. Does your family have a history with quilts? Point out the quilts that make a family connection for you.

***Psst! Are you doing Passport to the World? “Stamp” your child’s passport for Russia!

Activity 2: Family tree quilt

Activity 3: Me and My Family craft

Lesson 3:

First, read The Quilt Story. In our last story, the quilt served many purposes and was passed down from one generation to the next. In today’s story, we learn how this quilt became symbolic of safety and security. It keeps the narrator warm and safe through her pioneer travels, her games, and her bedtime. In the end, it’s discovered by an entirely new family who takes it on their own adventures. Try to make connections between the store and your family. Does your child have a toy or a blanket that makes them feel safe? Or maybe a special dress or sweater that was passed down from a relative? Discuss the power of feeling safe and happy when surrounded by what is familiar.

Activity 1: Play Shut the Box. This math game has been played since the time period discussed in our story, and it will be a great addition to your homeschool artillery. It’s great to play as a family and will likely be used for years and years. It reinforces mental math skills in a fun, non traditional way. Here’s a great blog post explaining how this family plays the game, both the traditional way and a few alternative ideas.
(+) If you have a Lego enthusiast in your home, you might enjoy creating this version.

Activity 2: Shape making quilt.
(+) Make a foam square quilt. This activity will likely not be completed in one day. Allow your child to work on this activity all week to complete the entire project.

Activity 3: This is also a great time to talk about pioneer life, especially if you started reading Little House on the Prairie in the Canada + Maple Syrup Unit. This pioneer doll craft will keep your child’s fingers and imagination busy as you share facts with them from the above link.

Lesson 4: 

Start today by reading The Patchwork Path: A Quilt Map to Freedom (or one of the alternate options) to learn about the fascinating history of quilts in African American history. After reading the story, use this link to help your child understand the incredible journey to freedom that some enslaved Black people took called the Underground Railroad.

Note: Want a little help talking to your kids about slavery? Try this link. Read the material ahead of time so that you feel prepared to answer their questions. Not sure if your child is ready for this topic? Check out this article to learn more about why it’s important to start having race conversations with children while they are young.

Activity 1: The Underground Railroad Game. (Psst! We made printable playing pieces for you here!)

Activity 2: Make your own quilt map with this playdough activity. (Here’s a printable template you can laminate or put in a large Ziploc bag for your placemat.)

Activity 3: Letter practice quilt. Use this idea to practice letter skills. Use the bottom layer for lowercase letters and the top layer for capital letters. You can use the same printable from the playdough quilt activity for your base!
(+) Need more of a challenge? Use this activity to practice building familiar words. Write the word ending on the bottom layers and the first letter of the word on the top layer. Note: Use this activity to practice words your child is familiar with, not to introduce new ones. Try starting with rhyming words or site words.

For Example:
Bottom layer will be: -at
Top layer will be: c, m, b, f, r.
Each time the child adds a quilt piece, ask him to read the word he has made.

Lesson 5:

It’s art and music day! You can also use today to read any additional books you think your child would be interested in or to re-read a favorite from earlier in the week.

Activity 1: Let’s look at the quilt patch the same way we examine art. This lesson from the Quilt Museum will help your child see the artistry in quilt making by observing the picture and creating their own story. As was the tradition of many quilts, instead of writing down the story your child creates, record them telling you the story in a video with your cell phone so you can remember it for years to come.

Activity 2: Even though our unit has been all about quilts, we hope you see that it is also about family. Celebrate your family with a little disco party! Your kids will probably recognize this song from the Ice Age movies, but now you can share the original with them. This song by Sister Sledge (real life sisters) became famous in 1979. Have fun listening, laughing, and dancing to this feel good tune!

Activity 3: If you decide to purchase the tangrams, introduce this activity to your child today. Playing with patterns is a great way to build math and critical thinking skills. Talk about the patterns in quilts and the patterns that are possible with your tangrams. Here are some free printable sheets for you to try to build along with your child.

Optional field trip: We know field trips aren’t always possible (especially during the pandemic), but here is a list of some of the great Quilting Museums around the country you could try to visit if there is one near you.

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