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Life has been busy, and we have been back at school for a couple of months. For us, that translated into a little bit of schooling fatigue and the desire to do something a little different. I wanted to keep school going but have some fun and make some memories.
With that in mind, I decided that we would do a unit study on Beatrix Potter. While Beatrix Potter may have written her books for young children, I find that all ages can enjoy them.
C.S. Lewis once said, “A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” I think Beatrix Potter’s books are prime examples of good children’s books.
How to Use this Study
I designed this study to be something the whole family could join, though my younger children spent a bit more time digging into the books and completing the artwork.
You can use these resources in a variety of ways. You could have a one-day focused on Beatrix Potter, or you can break it out and do something each morning during your morning time studies, or you could plan a couple of tea times over several weeks. It might be something you do at night for evening education. Use whatever schedule works best for your family.
Beatrix Potter Books
The obvious choices for books are those written by Beatrix Potter. You can find them in a variety of forms, from her entire collection to small books of each individual story. You can even find her complete collection on audiobook!
Personally, I think that the illustrations are an essential part of her books, so I recommend having a paper copy of the books even if you are also using audiobooks. I chose to read some of her stories aloud while showing my boys the pictures, but I also got an audio copy they could listen to later to continue enjoying the stories.
There are also some excellent biographies of Beatrix Potter. One of our favorites is Who Was Beatrix Potter?. There are also some more in-depth biographies that would be suitable for teens and adults. If you enjoy coloring, you could try one of the available Beatrix Potter coloring books.
In addition to the picture books, there is a fun set of fictional novels based on Beatrix Potter’s life. The stories include a lot of accurate biographical information but also have fun elements, such as talking animals that are reminiscent of Potter’s own works. These novels are written for adults, but the content is appropriate, and my teenage daughter is beginning the series.
Art and Science for Beatrix Potter
Nature was highly inspirational in Beatrix Potter’s stories. She had spent many hours as a young child studying animals and nature. These stories can be a great way to get your child excited about nature study. Many of the animals she features in her books can be found easily in most areas of the country.
For example, you could read about Squirrel Nutkin and then go outside and look for squirrels. Students can draw a squirrel in their nature journal or do more research on squirrels. (If you want to get started with Nature Study but want a resource to help you get going, I recommend a subscription to Homeschool Nature Study.)
We incorporate art into our studies whenever it is feasible. It is a great way to help students remember what they are learning and have a fun project to share with others. Nana over at You Are an Artist has a beautiful chalk pastel lesson featuring some of Beatrix Potter’s characters in her Famous Artists course.
If you want to add even more art, you could use this Dover coloring book or look at the You Are an Artist animal lessons for chalk pastels of many of the animals included in Potter’s books.
Tea Times and Snacks
In our house, snacks are essential to a good unit study. They make things fun, help create memories, and are just plain delicious. It is incredible how much more exciting a literature discussion becomes to my teens when there is a good snack involved.
For this Beatrix Potter study, we decided to do scones and tea since Potter was British. This was perfect because it was reasonably simple and delicious; they could enjoy it while I read aloud. We also had all of the ingredients in the house already.
My daughter helped and made the scones for us, but if you don’t have time to make something homemade, you can use a pre-bought pastry or cookie. (Don’t feel guilty about making memories from a box mix.)
If you have younger children, you can put herbal tea, milk, juice, or hot cocoa into tea cups to make it feel special without the caffeine from regular hot teas.
Tea parties are so much fun and make a simple snack feel fancy. Check your local thrift stores or yard sales if you do not have tea cups already. You can generally find them for $1 or less in our area; that way, if they accidentally get broken, it is no big deal.
Other Beatrix Potter Resources
Remember that you can pick and choose what resources work best for your family and how you want to implement any study. Have fun and make memories with your children while enjoying beautiful literature and artwork. I have included a few other resources that I’ve found in the list below. If you have a favorite resource for Beatrix Potter, share it in the comments.
Beatrix Potter Teether Book (for the youngest family members)
Miss Potter Movie (free on Amazon but rated PG. We have not yet watched it, so preview it to ensure it is appropriate for your family.)
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