For February, there is no better book than Black Beauty. It’s an easy read-aloud that pulls in young learners with its action and adventure and lessons on everything from how to care for a horse to how to practice kindness with all living things.
Anna Sewell’s timeless tale of a horse’s life is a brilliant book for teaching. With almost no effort, your kiddos will learn the parts of a horse, what horses like to eat, how to treat horses, and lots and lots of lessons about friendship and human nature.
Teaching With Black Beauty
This is another book with which you can get creative. (Are there any other kind?) We did week-long lessons in science, art, and history along with the story. Here are a few of our favorites.
Learn about horses more in-depth. Check out library books, find printables on the interweb, watch movies about horses. Find a picture of a horse and let your kids label it with terms like mane, tail, withers, pastern, fetlock, hoof, and muzzle. There’s a great vocabulary list for this at Habitat for Horses.
A big theme in Black Beauty concerns animal cruelty. Have your children research the use of animals in drug and cosmetic testing. How does it compare with the cruelty toward horses in the story?
Visit the Humane Society or another animal shelter. Better yet, volunteer to help.
Beauty lived in a pre-automobile era. Have your children research the ways in which horses were used before cars and other machines took their places.
Anna Sewell was an invalid when she wrote Black Beauty, and the novel features ill health as a reason Squire Gordon and his family must give Beauty up. Have your children study 19th century medical practices and the types of illnesses that often caused people to move to new homes.
This is a cool project because you can glue it together to make art or simply stick the felt pieces onto the background. If you choose not to use glue, you can rearrange your project however and whenever you want and use it as a play mat. Yeah yeah.
What you need:
- 9×12″ green felt sheet
- Felt in various other colors such as blue, yellow, pink, brown, white, and shades of green
- Glue (optional)
What you do:
There is a complete description of Beauty’s childhood meadow on the first page of the book. Write out the description for your littles to follow. It should look something like this:
Now you can get started.
- The 9×12 green felt will be the base of your meadow. Using your scissors, round it up a bit to make it look more like land. Along the right edge, cut a wavy line that will become the bank of the brook.
Cut a wavy line of blue felt and glue or stick it to the back of the meadow along the right edge to make your brook
Cut an oval out of blue felt for the pond
- Lay the oval on a piece of light green felt
- Cut out an oval about a half-inch bigger than the pond
- Glue or stick the pond onto the meadow
- Cut small circles from green felt, then cut a snip out of each circle to create lily pads
- Glue or stick lily pads onto one edge of pond
- Cut small triangles from pink and white felt to make lily flowers
- Glue or stick flowers onto lily pads
- Cut rounded tree shapes from green felt
- Glue or stick tree shapes to one side of pond
- Cut a long wavy line from green felt to create a hedge
- Glue or stick hedge onto bottom of meadow
- Cut another wavy line from green felt that is shorter than the left edge, leaving room for a gate
- Cut a thin rectangle from brown felt to make the gate
- Finish up with another line of wavy green felt if you want more hedge
- Cut small and medium triangles from green felt to make fir trees
- Glue or stick fir trees to side of pond
- Cut small circles from yellow felt to create meadow flowers
- Glue or stick meadow flowers to meadow wherever you want
- Cut small circles from various colored felts to make pond bank flowers
- Glue or stick flowers to pond bank
If want even more ideas for teaching with Black Beauty, head over to my Activities for Learning post and get some wonderful creative writing ideas plus so much more!
Also, if you missed January’s Activity for Winnie-the-Pooh, make sure you go look at that adorable Very Useful Pot. And come back tomorrow, my friends. We’ve got 10 months to go!
Looking for more book activities? Check out:
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