In November is one of those lyrical, gorgeous picture books you want to read over and over again and hope your littles will, too. That way you have an excuse. But you don’t need one. Read whatever you want to. You’re a grown up. You finally make the rules.
Sidetracked. (Imagine that.)
Anyway, I thought this would be a good book to lead us into the next month and all the changes it brings. Because October is when the world lights up and November is… well, it’s kinda when the lights go out. Which is cool in its own way, as Ms. Rylant shows us in the brilliant pages of her book. Between her words and Jill Kastner’s sweet illustrations, November starts to feel pretty cozy. If you have a little who hates the onset of winter, this one may help her appreciate the coming months a little more.
So let’s do some of my favorite leaf activities as a final hurrah to the best of autumn and a nod hello to bare-boned, stick-figure trees. While we still can.
November is the month when most places in the northern hemisphere start to get serious about being cold. Lots of good things happen in November (as Ms. Rylant points out): Thanksgiving and hearth fires and snuggly blankets and cozy sweaters. Ask your littles what their favorite thing about November is and have them write about it on the free journaling page in subscriber freebies.
In November, lots of animals begin to hibernate. Print out this free mini-unit on hibernation so your littles can learn a bit more about what animals are doing this winter.
Waxed Autumn Leaves
I have made these every single autumn for almost 20 years. The first time I made them was to decorate for a (grown-up) Halloween party I was throwing. They were such a hit, and I had so much fun making them, that they’ve become a fall tradition in the Brison house. For the last 14 years, the littles have had a hand in helping and it’s become one of their favorite things about autumn.
What you need:
- Freshly-fallen autumn leaves (this is the perfect excuse for a family hike)
- 1 4-oz block paraffin wax
- Wax paper
- A double boiler or a saucepan and metal can (I like using a can because I can toss it when we’re done and don’t have to worry about clean-up)
- Metal tongs
- Needle and thread or fishing line
What you do:
- Gather leaves
- Fill saucepan about ¼ full and place metal can in it
- Drop paraffin block into can
- Heat over low to medium heat until wax is melted
- Use a potholder to remove can from saucepan
- Set on a trivet where littles can reach the can, but give it a minute or two to cool before you start
- Warn your littles the can might be hot and to be very careful
- Pick up a leaf with your tongs and dip the leaf in the melted wax
- Carefully place the leaf on the wax paper
- It doesn’t take them long to harden, but wait till you’ve got a whole batch ready to string them, just to give them plenty of time.
- Thread your needle
- Run the needle through the top of the leaf, allowing thread to pass through
- Tie thread off to make a hanger
Dipping leaves in wax will preserve their bright color for a week to a month, but the leaf itself will be preserved for a very long time (though the color will fade). You can make a mobile or a window hanging, or you can do like we do and hang your leaves from the ceiling so the whole room looks like fall
Since you’ve already collected leaves for your craft, you can have some math fun by creating a leaf chart. Get out your freezer paper (and if you don’t know my thoughts on that, read about them in My Top Ten Favorite Homeschool Tools) and make a color graph with your beautiful fall leaves.
Frosted Autumn Leaf Sugar Cookies
What you need:
- 1 stick butter, room temperature
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 Tbsp milk
- 1 ¼ cups flour
- 1/8 tsp salt
- ¼ tsp baking powder
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 3 Tbsp water
- Red and yellow food coloring
What you do:
- Preheat oven to 350F
- Cream the butter
- Gradually add sugar
- Add egg, vanilla, and milk
- In a separate bowl, mix flour, salt, and baking powder
- Add flour mixture to sugar mixture, mix well
- Wrap dough in plastic and put in refrigerator for at least an hour
- On a floured surface, roll dough out
- Use leaf-shaped cookie-cutters to shape cookies
- Bake on cookie sheets 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned
- In a small bowl, mix water into powdered sugar one day at a time
- Separate frosting into 3 bowls
- Add 3 drops yellow food coloring to one bowl
- Add 5 drops red to another bowl
- Add 3 drops yellow and 1 drop red to 3rd bowl
- Once cookies have cooled, frost them in autumn colors