Canada + Maple Syrup Unit

This week we will learn about the Great White North! Take a trip to Canada with us and learn about the culture and the animals that roam the land. We will also learn about the sweet sap that comes from the sugar maple tree (AKA, syrup!), play math games perfect for when you’re stuck inside on a snowy day, and get lots of fine motor skill practice with fun felt crafts. Click here to download our free skills tracker to record everything your child learns this week. 🍁🍁🍁

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 chapter book:

Beginning this month, L + L will introduce chapter books into our lessons. These books will take you longer than the week to read together and that is absolutely fine! The idea is to instill the love of reading. So find the right time of day to this with your child. Include younger and older siblings because let’s face it, we all love to cuddle up to a good book. Don’t make this a reading or phonics lesson, make this family time. (Click) Here are a few more tips to introducing chapter book read alouds to your homeschool.

This month we will be reading Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder. We were inspired by the line in the book when Mary and Laura first taste maple sugar:

“Here, Laura and Mary,” Pa said, and he gave them each a little round package out of his pocket. They took off the paper wrappings, and each had a little, hard, brown cake, with beautifully crinkled edges. “Bite it,” said Pa, and his blue eyes twinkled. Each bit off one little crinkle, and it was sweet. It crumbled in their mouths. It was better even than their Christmas candy. “Maple sugar,” said Pa.

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:

Introduce our country study this week by reading one of the following books: C is for Canada or Explore Canada if you have a preschooler. These alphabet books give details about life in Canada while also reinforcing letter recognition. They include famous people, interesting places, as well as animals and nature native to Canada. Follow your child’s lead and explore the topics that interest them! (For those of you in Canada, this looks like a great resource.)

Activity 1: Let’s find Canada on the map. It is part of North America and has 10 provinces and 3 territories. Make this colorful map + puzzle to learn more about our northern neighbors. Cut (and laminate if you choose) the printable sheets ahead of time and present your child with a puzzle they can piece together as you tell them about Canada. This coloring page can also be used to discuss the landscape.

Activity 2: Continents Craft – Now is a great time to learn the seven continents (or review them if your child learned them in our Neighborhood Unit!) and map directions with this activity. Be sure to teach your child north, south, west and east and talk about the oceans that surround the continents. 

Activity 3: Get outside and collect some sticks for this fun (no-worksheet!) math activity. Your child will learn number values or tally marks (also called hash marks), and it can be used with any other math activity you are currently working on.

Lesson 2:

It’s maple syrup day! Let’s learn all about this sappy, sweet goodness in today’s book, A Kid’s Guide to Maple Tapping
(-) If your child is having a hard time staying engaged in this book, just talk about the pictures.

Tip: If you can’t find the book, this website will give you some talking points and pictures to share with your child.

Activity 1: Simulate making your own maple syrup by diluting real maple syrup and boiling it down in this experiment. (Note: This one will takes a while to complete, but it really makes the lesson come to life!)

Activity 2: Make sugar candy on snow (or you can use crushed ice from home) using real maple syrup.
(+) Feeling really adventurous? Here’s how you can tap your own maple trees if any grow near you.

Activity 3: What’s maple syrup without pancakes? Make your own with this recipe, or try some of these tips to dress up a store-bought batter.

Lesson 3:

Let’s learn more about maple! Today, start by reading At Grandpa’s Sugar Bush or Sugarbush Spring to learn more about where maple syrup comes from.

Activity 1: Ever wonder what those grades on maple syrup really mean? Learn about the four grades by making your own playdough and coloring it as described in this post.
(+) Optional upgrade: Once your playdough is made, you can use a maple leaf cookie cutter to stamp and cut out the dough!

Activity 2: Maple leaf activities – These blank maple cards can be used in several ways. Print them out and write in numbers, letters, symbols or words to work on skills appropriate to your child’s level. (Depending on the game you choose to play, you might need to print out more than one copy.) Here are some of our favorite options:

  • Practice sight words by writing one word per leaf and practicing them throughout the week.
  • Practice letter recognition or letter sounds by writing in the letter(s) (upper and lower case) you are working on this week.  
  • Practice sums by writing in numbers and symbols (+, – and =). Print out two copies so that you have plenty of leaves. If you have laminated them, you can also leave one leaf blank so that you can write in the answers to your sums with a dry erase marker.
  • Use the leaves as counters. Don’t write anything on them, and use the leaves to practice adding and subtracting. (For example: Place 1 leaf in a basket, add 3 more and count how many there are all together.) You can also let your child color them in before cutting them out so they are more colorful to count!
  • Is your child ready for some skip counting? Write numbers 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 on the leaves and practice counting by twos. Try counting by 5 next. (Example: 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30)
  • (+) Ready for an upgrade? Try introducing the symbols >, <, and = (greater than, less than, and equal to.) Write in numbers and symbols on the leaves, then put two numbers out and ask your child to choose the correct symbol that belongs between them.
  • (+) Want a letter upgrade? Write letters on your leaves and use them to build simple phonetic words your child can sound out, like CAT, HAT, TIN, PET, etc.
Lesson 4:

Canada is famous for a variety of native animals. Listen to this audio book of Moose, Goose, Animals on the Loose!: A Canadian Wildlife ABC to learn more about them before beginning today’s activities.

Activity 1: Make a moose sock puppet – Create the puppets with your child and then get ready to create a story, play different parts, talk about the books you’ve read this week or practice “traveling” the continents. Try interviewing your child via the moose puppet about all the things s/he learned about Canada.

Activity 2: Introduce Canadian money to your child with this blog post. Print out the “My Money Reference Card” to show them Canadian coins. Compare them to American coins. Talk about each country having their own currency.
(+) Writing practice with a Canadian coin money booklet.

Activity 3: Math and money practice. Print out one bingo sheet per player. Have a bowl of coins for the group. If this is your child’s first time learning about money, introduce each coin by name. Tell your child the money value for each coin.  To play the game, take turns picking a coin and placing it on your bingo sheet. Call out BINGO when you get the row filled out. To expand the game, fill in the entire sheet. (There’s also Canadian version of this game, but unfortunately it has a fee.)

(+)Adding coins (Canadian version, but unfortunately it has a fee)
(+)Adding coins (American version)

Note: Coins and counting money are a brand new concept for most preschool and kindergarten students, so don’t worry if your child doesn’t grasp these activities on the first try. Repeat the game over the next few months, and look for opportunities to reinforce the lesson with real money when you can. They’ll get there!

Activity 4: Let’s learn more about the wild animals of Canada with this video about polar bears.

Lesson 5:

Start today by reading Carson Crosses Canada. Review your mapping skills from earlier in the week and travel with Carson and his dog as he goes across Canada seeing the sites.

Activity 1: Our artist today is the Canadian artist Emily Carr. Her painting is a bright colored piece called War Canoe 1912. Emily really loved the First People of Canada and painted many of the artifacts she respected.  She also loved bright colors. Here’s a lesson plan that will teach you a bit more about Carr and her art as you discuss her painting.

*** Click here for more tips on how to teach children about art.

Activity 2: Let’s try our own hand at a little bit of Expressionist art! Using four (or however many colors you like!) acrylic paints, a square canvas, and a fork, make this colorful craft.

Activity 3: Felt mittens craft.

Bonus activity: End the week with a delicious Canadian dish for dinner or a snack—poutine! Here’s a recipe to make it the authentic way.

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