Book Club Meetup: Trumpet of the Swan

Trumpet of the Swan is a delightful children’s novel by E.B. White published in 1970. It is one of those stories you grieve when you finish reading because you don’t want it to end. Trumpet of the Swan tells the story of Louis, a trumpeter swan who was born without a voice. Louis overcomes this difficulty by learning to play the trumpet in order to impress a beautiful swan named Serena. The story takes him around Canada and the United States on all sorts of adventures.

After reading this book over the course of about 5 weeks, we celebrated with our book club. Read more about How to Start a Children’s Book Club here

Here are the activities we did at this meet up. 

Bird Nest Treats

Using this recipe, the kids made their own bird nest treats. We used broken up pretzel sticks instead of noodles and mini marshmallows instead of candy eggs. The kids loved stirring the mixture and forming their nests on parchment paper. We popped them in the freezer to harden quicker while we moved on to the next activity.

Clay Swans

Using this tutorial, one of the moms led the kids in making air-dry clay swans. To better represent the trumpeter swan, we used all white clay and painted the swans beaks black after drying.

Chalk Name Writing

In the story, Louis learned how to communicate by writing with chalk, using his beak. I wrapped duct tape around pieces of chalk and the children used their mouths to write their names on our big chalkboard. It was so funny to watch and the mamas even gave it a go. The kids loved that!

Snack and Chat

We munched on our bird’s nests and Bugle chips (mini trumpets) while we had a little book discussion. Everyone shared their favorite part of the story. Then we talked about Louis Armstrong and his mention in the book. I pulled up a photo of him for the kids to see and read some information to them about his life. We finished munching while listening to some of his music!

Funnel Trumpet Craft and Game

We provided each child with a funnel, some duct tape, a paper towel tube, and foil. They built their trumpet and wrapped it in foil. Then we sat in a circle and took turns being “Louis.” When a child was Louis, they wore the four items around their neck that Louis wore in the story–a slate, the life-saving medal, the trumpet, and a money bag. The kids absolutely loved that little touch to bring the story to life. When it was their turn they played “taps” on their trumpet and the rest of the children mimicked their tune. 

Story Reenactments

I allowed the children to brainstorm scenes from the book they wanted to reenact together. Here is what they chose and how we did it.

Swan Boat Ride

Using a blanket, one child pretended to be Louis by pulling it along the hardwood floor and playing their trumpet while another child sat on top for a ride. 

Saving Applegate

In the story, Louis saved a boy named Applegate Skinner. The kids reenacted this scene by using our ballpit to be the lake. One child was Applegate, drowning in the ballpit, and another was Louis “swimming” out to save his life. So many laughs on this one!

I pulled these ideas from various resources, including The Masterpiece Studio. The Masterpiece Studio has an Art + Baking Study Guide for The Trumpet of the Swan that would be great to use if you were going chapter-by-chapter through the book and wanted enrichment ideas. Use my code TREEHOUSE15 to get 15% off any order.

We had such a good time with this bookclub meet up! If you try any of these activities in your home to celebrate this story or with your bookclub, I would love it if you would share them with me by tagging me on Instagram at @treehouse_schoolhouse

Charlotte Mason Inspired Apple Study

Autumn is quickly approaching, so naturally, all the homeschool mamas are browsing Pinterest on the hunt for the cutest apple, acorn, and pumpkin-themed crafts and activities. I used to be that homeschool mom. The one who would print and laminate all the things and stress myself out spending too much money at the craft store for projects that barely held my children’s interests and, in the end, taught my children very little.

As I have studied Charlotte Mason’s philosophies and methods over the last year or so I have begun to take a different approach to studying specific topics, and you know what? It is so much simpler and way more meaningful. Instead of the shallow approach I may have taken in the past, I focused on the staples of a Charlotte Mason education in this study–living books, narration, poetry, hand rhymes, songs, handcrafts, art, picture study, tea time, hands-on nature study, and real-life experiences.

Living Books and Narration 

First and foremost, every good study begins with books! I gathered the books from this list and put them in a basket in our living room for the children to read independently throughout the week. We grabbed a few to read together at Morning Time and I would ask the children to orally narrate what I read. We also used these books during our apple tea party and throughout the week as a reference when questions came up about apples and for art inspiration.

Here is my apple picture book list. I’ve compiled this list from a few sources over the years. These are my tried and true favorites from these sources: Read-Aloud Revival, The Peaceful Preschool Letter A Unit and Tree Guide, Stephanie Hathaway’s Apple Unit, and Rooted Childhood September Collection (get 10% off with code: TREEHOUSESCHOOLHOUSE10).

  • The Season’s of Arnold’s Apple Tree by Gail Gibbons
  • Apples by Gail Gibbons
  • The Apple Doll by Elisa Kleven
  • How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Princeman
  • The Apple Pie that Papa Baked by Lauren Thompson
  • Johnny Appleseed by Reeve Lindbergh
  • How Do Apples Grow? By Steven Kellogg
  • The Apple Pie Tree by Zoe Hall
  • The Apple Cake by Nienke Van Hichtum
  • How Do Apples Grow? by Betsy Maestro
  • Secrets of the Apple Tree by Carron Brown and Alyssa Nassner

Poetry, Hand-Rhymes, and Songs

Each morning we recited poems, hand-rhymes, and sang little songs around the theme of apples. Here are a few that we enjoyed. 

Poem

We focused on the poem After Apple Picking by Robert Frost. I pulled the poetry printable from Stephanie Hathaways Apple Unit Study and put it in our Morning Time Menu. We read the poem each morning and discussed unfamiliar words, the meaning of the poem, and how different aspects of it made us imagine and feel.

Hand-rhymes and songs

I pulled these two from Rooted Childhood’s September Collection and ended up finding them online to sing along with the music. My two-year-old especially loved these and wanted me to sing them all day and do the motions. 

Handcrafts, Art, and Picture Study

Here are a few handcrafts and art projects that I found to add to our apple study. We didn’t fit all of these into our week, but I wanted to share all of the ideas I came across to inspire you.

Apple star printing

After reading The Apple Star Story found in Rooted Collection’s September issue, we cut open an apple, found the star, and made star prints by lightly painting the apple’s star with a paintbrush and pressing it on paper.

Still-life art study

I printed the still-life art pieces from Stephanie Hathaway’s Apple Unit Study and put them in my children’s Morning Menus. Each morning we looked at the art, read about the artists, discussed different elements of the artwork, the colors, the art mediums, and how the art makes us feel. After a few days of learning about still-life paintings, the children set up their own still life using apples and anything else they would like. We lit a candle, put on some classical music, and they attempted to paint their scene. You can find the watercolor paper and paint we use here.

Apple tree embroidery

This handcraft is so adorable and perfect for beginning sewing practice. Using an embroidery hoop and a yarn needle, your child can sew a felt tree trunk and green treetop onto some burlap. To finish it off, they can sew on a few red buttons as the apples. Check out the Art & Handcrafts section in my Amazon shop to see the needles and thread I use. This was a handcraft featured in Rooted Childhood’s September Collection.

Air-dry clay apples

Roll air-dry clay into balls and stick a twig in the top of them as the stem. Once they dry, paint them red, green, and yellow. 

Tea Time

One morning I set up an Apple Tea Time with a spread of apple slices, cookies, cheese, crackers, and almonds. We had cinnamon tea, read books from our book basket, and watched a few apple videos that were shared in the Apple Unit.

Here are the videos we watched:

Hands-on Nature Study and Exploration

Using the living books I mentioned, the videos above, and Stephanie Hathaway’s Apple Unit printables, we explored many facets of how apples grow, the life cycle of the apple tree, the anatomy of the apple and the apple blossom, apple varieties, and more. 

Nature notebook

After a few days of my children soaking in all the information, I asked them to give me a few sentences of what they have learned. I wrote what they said in their nature notebooks and they drew/painted a picture to illustrate it. 

Dissecting and tasting apples

We cut open a few varieties of apples and using the Anatomy of an Apple printable from the Apple Unit, we separated the pieces into piles. Then we ate them and talked about how the different varieties tasted.

Real Life Experiences

What would an apple study be without some baking? This week we made apple crisp and apple pie. Children love being in the kitchen. They are gaining so much while peeling, cutting, measuring, following directions, setting the timer, and most of all, being together in a shared experience. 

Baking apple crisp

I use and love the apple crisp recipe from The Peaceful Preschool Letter A Unit

Baking apple pie

If you’re looking for a pie recipe, try this one.

Apple picking

After a full week of exploring apples, we drove over to our favorite mountaintop apple orchard and spent the day picking apples. I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate the end of a fun study and really round off all the learning that happened.

Introducing my Amazon Storefront

IMG_20190223_103750_762I have been working on something for you guys for a little while and am excited to share it with you today! One of my favorite things about following other homeschool accounts on Instagram and blogs is discovering the resources and products that other families use and love. I love seeing them in real life in their schooling and in their homes. Many of you ask me where I get certain things and what brands things are that you see in my Instagram posts. My hope is that I can share with you what we are using and love and that is helpful to you as you make choices on what to purchase for your own journey.

Recently Amazon introduced Amazon Storefronts, which is a place for small accounts like mine to post recommended resources all in one place with links for purchase through Amazon! I get a small kickback if you purchase an item from my storefront, which helps me buy more homeschool supplies. The products that I recommend are the exact things I have bought and are tried and true by my family. I plan to add to my Storefront over time, but for now I stocked it up pretty good with things I use and love if you want to take a browse.

Lesson Preparation

These are the products I use to print, laminate, and organize my curriculums and lessons. I especially love my printer and laminator! I use both every week and have had no problems with either one. The Amazon Basics laminator is an especially good price!

IMG_20190124_130536_133Sensory & Fine Motor Supplies

This category includes everything from the scissors we love to the net swing that we have hanging in our front yard for vestibular input. I have also included things you would find in a sensory bin like the water beads I buy and fine motor tools for scooping and grabbing!

Books

Here I have listed the must-have books for your home library. They are they ones we use for tea time poetry, reference for multiple lessons, or read-alouds that we read over and over. I have also included my top reads for the homeschool mama!

What Mama Loves

This was a fun one to put together as it is full of all the random things I personally love. Shoes, home decor, and my favorite coffee making gadgets. I am a fairly simple woman, but I have a few things that really bring a lot of joy to my life that I wanted to share.

Practical Life Skills

In this category I have included the things that we have that encourage my children to work alongside me in household chores and in the kitchen – things like child size aprons and a small handheld broom. My favorite in this section is definitely the hard nylon knives that they use daily in meal prep!

Art & Handcrafts

This may be my favorite section and my favorite part of home education! You will find the exact crayons,  watercolors, and clay we love and use on a regular basis. Everything in this section we have on hand for various projects. The yarn needles and the weaving loom are amazing tools for introducing handicrafts to littles.

IMG_20190218_103603_915Toys We Love

Here I have all of our favorite open-ended toys! These are basically all of the toys we own and encourage so much imaginative play. Currently my kids are mostly playing with Calico Critters and Magnatiles!

Phonics & Handwriting

I can’t say enough good things about the products I listed here. These are the books and resources we use everyday. I have also included the pencils and pencil grips we love!

Visit my storefront to see all of these items in detail. If you found this helpful, be sure to keep checking back as I will add items as I discover new things that we are using and love!