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the mitten activities
Book Seeds, S.T.E.A.M.

Playing through the Winter Homeschool Slump with Book Seeds: The Mitten

Anyone who’s been homeschooling long enough has likely experienced the winter slump–that little gray zone after the holidays and before the spring thaw when everyone is suffering from a mix of boredom, cabin fever, and a lack of motivation. 

Last year when we hit the slump, I resorted to overdrive mode on field trips. We took one almost every single day–to the museum, to the zoo, to the butterfly pavilion, to the library (so many trips to the library!) It was fun, it fixed the slump, but it was also pretty exhausting. This year, I couldn’t sustain that kind of commitment to large-scale outings, but we still needed something to shake things up and sprinkle some fairy dust on our late-January heads. 

My youngest daughter’s favorite winter book is The Mitten. We especially love the version by Alvin Tresselt and illustrated by Yaroslava. I decided to make them a special Book Seed issue for The Mitten, to pause from our normal routine for a little while and invite a little enchantment.

What is a Book Seed?

For those that aren’t familiar with them, Book Seeds are really fun little guides that incorporate S.T.E.A.M. concepts (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) with nature concepts, all inspired by a single children’s book. The expanded new editions (2019 and newer) include four S.T.E.A.M. prompts, three art projects, a kitchen classroom recipe or prompt, three invitations to play, two nature study prompts, a nature journal prompt, a copywork prompt, an exploration of language and poetry, and ideas for digging deeper and following rabbit trails. (Our 2018 spring collection still includes a lot of fun activities, they are just shorter.)

We have two different kinds of Book Seeds. We have seasonal issues, like the one for The Mitten, which can be adapted for ages 2 to 8 (and up.) Other currently available seasonal issues include our two pond issues (more on the way this summer!) and our 2018 spring collection. We do have plans for some more winter and spring issues in the coming months. The second kind of Book Seed is our Profiles in Science collection. These coordinate with our elementary science curricula, but can be used independently as well. These are designed for grades 1 – 5. They can be adapted for younger siblings to join in, but definitely target an older crowd. So far, our entire first grade collection is available, but our full second grade collection will be released this spring. 

How Do You Use a Book Seed?

You can use a Book Seed issue however you like! We like to use them as mini-unit studies to break up the winter slump, pauses between subjects in our normal curriculum, and to sprinkle throughout the summer. 

Basically, you begin by reading the book that inspired the issue (or any other book or books on the same topic) and then you do the activities in the issue, in any order, as many times as you like. You can skip activities that don’t appeal to you, repeat activities your kids especially love, and are encouraged to dig deeper and follow rabbit trails whenever curiosity arises. 

Curious about Book Seeds? Stick around to the end of the post and I’ll share not one, but two opportunities to grab a free issue so you can try them out!

Exploring Capacity, Pairs, and Ordinal Numbers with The Mitten

The S.T.E.A.M. concepts for The Mitten issue are capacity, matching pairs, and ordinal numbers. This issue provides multiple opportunities to dig deep into each concept. My girls especially enjoyed the “ordering animals” activity. They got to put the animals in order as they appear in the book, while also reviewing ordinal numbers in both formats (i.e. “first” and “1st.”)

homeschool math

We did three activities to explore capacity, and two activities to explore matching pairs. Blake loved trying to stump me in one activity during which she designed a mitten, then I had to match it, and vice versa. They also both really enjoyed the “mitten print” activity.

homeschool stem

Bringing in Hands and Hearts 

The Mitten issue also incorporates activities to nurture and soothe your child’s heart and their hands. The girls loved decorating burlap mittens with embroidery thread. Brice did a beautiful job on hers, opting to outline the mitten and add a decorative bead. Blake surprised me by spending hours on hers–something she has not done before with handicrafts–and she was so proud of her finished mitten!

charlotte mason homeschool

Blake really loved learning to finger knit, but it was a little tricky for Brice’s tiny fingers. I am going to give it another shot next week and try the two-finger version with her instead. Blake and I worked together to make two beautiful “skinny scarves” for their favorite stuffed animals.

homeschool handicraft

They both loved helping me to make peg dolls for each animal in the story (you can make story stones instead, if you prefer.) We used our peg dolls to “act out” the story of The Mitten, sneaking in some “narration that doesn’t feel like narration” with a more playful approach.

the mitten activities

But their favorite activity by far was making mitten buns! We love baking bread in our homeschool, and these were especially fun (and tasty!) Once the mitten buns were finished, we ate them while my husband read a poem from the January issue of Rooted Childhood (which we absolutely love!)

homeschool baking

Another favorite was our ginger dough recipe. I love making homemade playdough for the girls, and this is probably my favorite recipe yet. I added a little more oil to it, to balance out the addition of the spices, and it made the dough super soft. Acorns, buttons, and googly eyes were really fun things to pair with the invitation. They ended up playing with it every day last week, much of it while I was reading our books for second grade and kindergarten. It makes an excellent activity for read-aloud time, and it makes the house smell amazing.

homemade playdough

Grab Your Own Copy of Our New Book Seed for The Mitten!

As a thank you for being part of our community, and because I love this issue so much, I am giving this issue away for free! You can grab your copy right now from our store by clicking here! I hope your family loves it as much as we did. Don’t forget to tag us @blossomandroot if you share pics on Instagram! We would love to see them. 🙂

Click here to get your free issue for The Mitten today!

If you want to get your issue printed out, we recommend Hard Copy HQ!

Click here to see other currently available Book Seed issues!


“But wait, it’s summer where I live right now!” No worries–we also have a free summer issue for The Three Sunflowers! Fill out the form below to grab that issue, too!

Get Your FREE Trial Issue of Book Seeds By Blossom & Root!

Book seeds  the three sunflowers

This FREE issue, inspired by the book The Three Sunflowers by Janet Lucy, includes two weeks of activities including nature study, STEAM, art project, recipe, and exploring language and poetry. Suitable for ages 3 - 8. Grab yours today!

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