A Year Down Yonder is, without a doubt, one of our favorite chapter books at the Lit Mama Homeschool. We first read it about 5 years ago, and we’ve read it twice more since. Why? Because Grandma Dowdel rocks. We wish she was our grandmother. We’ve done lots of fun activities to get at the heart of this story, and I have lots more ideas on top of those, so today I’m going to share them with you. Because everyone should read this book. And have fun stuff to do while they read it.
Activities for A Year Down Yonder
I’m going to divide these up as best I can into categories. That way you can refer back to a category when you spot something you think your family will enjoy. Scroll down to the bottom for a freebie printable that will rock your socks off. No, really.
These are great for allowing your littles to explore their own feelings about things that happen in the book. There’s a diary entry printable in the freebie. You can have them write about:
- How they would feel if they were sent to live with their grandparents for a year
- What it would be like to start a new school
- How their own grandparent shows love and/or a sense of community
- What they would do if the Privy Pirates were terrorizing their own neighborhood
- What it would be like to feel like an outsider
- How they feel about fur trappers–are they on the side of animal’s rights or hunter’s rights?
- How they would handle an artist moving into the attic
- How they would handle a bully like Mildred
This book offers plenty of chances for your littles to do some research and learn about something new. Here are just a few topics they could cover:
- The 1930s
- The Great Depression
- DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution)
- Armistice Day
- American Legion
- Cub reporters
- World War I
- Kate Smith
- Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)
- Amelia Earhart
- Explain how Grandma Dowdel shows love through actions even though her words are often gruff.
- Do you think the way Grandma Dowdel got the pumpkins and pecans is stealing? Explain why or why not.
- How does Grandma Dowdel impact her community? List some of the ways she affects her neighbors.
- Describe the pros and cons involved in Mary Alice staying with her grandma after the year is up.
- Explain how a person should react to a bully or a person who thinks he/she is better than everyone else.
- Describe the setting of the story—time, place, etc. to someone who has never read it.
Write a letter
There’s a page for this included in the free printables. There really are a lot of options for whom you can have your littles write. Here are a few:
- A pen pal, either real or imaginary, like Mary Alice and Royce become at the end of the book
- Grandma Dowdel from Mary Alice, telling her all the things you enjoyed about your year with her
- Mildred from Mary Alice, explaining who you really are and why she shouldn’t be mean to you
- Ina-Rae from Mary Alice, telling her how grateful you are for her friendship and why
Crafts and other Art
- Draw Grandma Dowdel and Mary Alice
- Draw Grandma Dowdel’s house with chalk pastels
- Map the town
- Make a Valentine for Royce McNabb
- Paint the Pensinger’s pumpkin patch
- Make a history collage including as many true historical facts as you can from the book
There are so many interesting foods in this book. Let your littles try their hands at making some of them. For instance:
- Cherry tarts
- Mashed turnips
- Pumpkin pie
- Pecan pie
- Burgoo (this might be a good project to get the whole neighborhood involved in)
- Hold a DAR tea party
As part of the free printables, I also made up a Venn diagram in which your littles can compare the similarities and differences between Grandma Dowdel and their own grandmothers. And a Grandma Dowdel bingo game. Whaaaa? Make sure you pick this up before you go.
Hopefully I’ve given you plenty of ideas to get some activities going while you read A Year Down Yonder, or at least inspired you to think of some of your own. Whatever you do, make sure you get to enjoy this truly wonderful book with your littles soon.