Here we are in November. November Family Holidays include National Novel Writing Month, National Life Writing Month, Picture Book Month and National Family Literacy Month. The third week is both National Young Readers Week and National Book Award Week. So we’re going to see a LOT of book holidays this month. I can’t think of a better way to spend a crisp November afternoon than curled up with a book. By the end of the month, we’ll be busy with Thanksgiving and then pre-Christmas fun. Let’s go do fun stuff with our families!
NOVEMBER MONTH-LONG HOLIDAYS
November is Eat Smart Month
Now is a perfect time to set up (or re-invigorate) a kitchen-helper rotation and get your little sous-chefs helping to design healthy family meals. Need some busy day help? We’ve got ideas:
At Home: Twin Cities Family Meal Deals: Busy Day Take-Out Alternatives to Pizza.
Outing Idea: Kids Eat Free or Cheap Twin Cities List.
Learn More: The American Heart Association offers ideas and suggestions for Eat Smart Month.
NOVEMBER FAMILY HOLIDAYS BY DAY OF THE WEEK
First Tuesday of November – Election Day
First Saturday of November: Book Lovers Day
At Home Family Fun: I like to re-organize the family bookshelves to feature different kids books at least one Saturday each month. Of course, nothing encourages my kids to read like a perfect shelf, so I have to be ready for it to be destroyed.
Outing Idea: After organizing the shelf, there are always books we are ready to trade out. So a Little Free Library Walk is one of our favorite Saturday book-loving activities. Saturdays are a good day to stop by and pick up any books you’ve ordered from the library and to visit favorite thrift stores, antique shops and local bookstores to add to your own collection.
Meal Idea and Dinner Conversation Starter: Have a book club night! Here’s the truth about me. I don’t go to book club meetings because I’m a booklover. I can do that by myself. I go to book club meetings for the food and conversation. Make it a simple finger food night — Veggies and dip, tiny sandwiches, roll-ups, sushi, or whatever simple finger foods your family likes. Then spend the dinner hour talking about your favorite books.
Learn More: If your family loves this and wants to make it a regular thing. Growing Book by Book website has done the work for us, selecting books, activities and menus for a monthly family book club.
Third Thursday of November: National Family Volunteer Day
At Home Family Fun / Outing Idea: Gianna suggests these Ways To Give Back to Community as a Family. Some of these can be done at home and some can be of a fun family outing. We’ve listed many local charities (such as Second Harvest Heartland) where families with kids can volunteer.
NOVEMBER FAMILY HOLIDAYS BY DATE
October 1 – National Authors Day & National Family Literacy Day
At Home Family Fun: (1) Do you have a favorite Minnesota Author? If not, peruse our Bookhounds Author Directory and pick one. (2) We love that Gianna’s family started up a pen pal relationship with their favorite author. You may not get to be pen pals, but it couldn’t hurt to write them a letter. (3) Become an author today. Staple some paper together (or get fancy and buy a blank book) to write and illustrate your own story.
Outing Ideas: (1) Visit your favorite library today. Look for books by local authors or books like Matilda by Roald Dahl, where literacy is an escape. (2) One of the best things about living in the Twin Cities is that we have several Independent Bookstores for Kids and they often host authors. It is so much fun to hear the author read their book and to have them sign your copy in these intimate settings.
Read Aloud: What Do Authors and Illustrators Do? by Eileen Christelow or You could also just pick a book combo from Bookflix. All the combos offer author information and literacy games after you read the books.
Meal Idea: I love cookbooks that go along with favorite classic books. See if you can find a meal to go with your favorite family read aloud.
Dinner Conversation Starter: What kind of book would you like to write someday?
Learn More: About National Authors Day and National Family Literacy Day.
November 2: Day of the Dead / Día de Muertos
At Home Family Fun: (1) Pull out the old family albums and talk about your own ancestors and living relatives; (2) If you are comfortable pulling pictures out of the albums, you could put them up on a small table so you can remember them all day; (3) Fly Kites, in the Guatemalan tradition, of sending notes to deceased loved ones or sharing messages of peace. (4) Looking for a Family Movie Night? We reviewed Coco here. It is streaming on Disney+ or you can rent it from Amazon.
Outing Idea: You may have to plan ahead for this: Midtown Global Market traditionally hosts a Dia de los Muertos celebration on the Saturday nearest the holiday. One year we made sugar skulls with Amanda at ARTrageous Adventures. Look for seasonal arts and crafts opportunities at your favorite Art Studio.
Read Aloud: The Remembering Day / El dia de los muertos (English and Spanish Edition) by Pat Mora. This book looks long, but half the text is in Spanish and half in English, so you really only need to read half.
Dinner Ideas: Share a meal that you learned from someone you love. Be sure to share the recipe and the stories behind it with your kids.
Dinner Conversation Starter: Tell your kids your favorite stories from your parents, grandparents or even great grandparents’ childhoods. We don’t want to lose these memories.
Learn More: About Day of the Dead from the History Channel.
November 3: World Jellyfish Day
At Home Family Fun: (1) Learn about jellyfish on National Geographic Kids. (2) Spongebob Fans could buy and play the Great Jellyfish Escape Game. (3) Stef from NonToy Gifts shares 18 ideas for Jellyfish crafts.
Outing Idea: Visit an Twin Cities-area aquarium or zoo that has a jellyfish exhibit, ie: MINNESOTA ZOO, SEALIFE AT MALL OF AMERICA, SEAQUEST AT ROSEDALE CENTER.
Read Aloud: My kids loved the Narwhal and Jelly books around age 8-9. On Bookflix: read and watch Peanut Butter and Jellyfish by Jarrett J. Krosoczka, paired with My Home in the Water by J. Patrick Lewis. For bigger kids: One of our favorite local authors, Erin Soderberg Downing‘s favorite read aloud books is The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin (recommended for age 10+).
Dinner Ideas: Today is also National Sandwich Day. Skippy Peanut Butter has a recipe for a Peanut Butter Jellyfish Sandwich (not made with jellyfish).
Dinner Conversation Starter: Cool fact. We learned from the book Biggest, Strongest, Fastest by Steve Jenkins, that the sun jellyfish is the longest animal in the world. Their tentacles can be over 200 feet long. That’s longer the the Blue Whale and longer than the largest dinosaur.
Learn More: About World Jellyfish Day.
November 5: American Football Day
At Home or Outing Idea: Take your football game to your favorite park (or the backyard), along with warm blankets for anyone who would rather be a spectator and a thermos of hot cocoa or apple cider.
Read Aloud: Football With Dad (Little Golden Book) by Frank Berrios.
Dinner Ideas: Gianna shares some ideas for Football Snacks and Fun at Home. Maybe incorporate one of these ideas into dinner tonight. Or our go-to football dinner is chili – an easy meal to get started in the slow-cooker during the day and have ready to eat whenever. Plus, it goes great with football snacks.
Learn More: About American Football Day.
November 6: Name A Musical Instrument After Yourself Day
At Home Family Fun: (1) Get out some beans, old plastic Easter eggs, toilet paper tubes, rubber bands, oatmeal containers and anything else you can think of and start making creative musical instruments. Then name them after yourself: “Your last name + aphone” (2) Watch This Is Minnesota Orchestra on TPT tonight at 8pm.
Outing Idea: The Schubert Club Music Museum, located within the beautiful and interesting Landmark Center in St Paul, has a number of hands-on musical displays and and instruments for kids to experiment with. Perhaps your kids could pick out an instrument that speaks to them? Open Wednesday-Sunday, admission is FREE.
Read Aloud: Bigger Kids (8-9 years) John Philip Sousa (Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Composers) by Mike Venezia. Bookflix: Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin by Lloyd Moss paired with All About Sound by Lisa Trumbauer.
Learn More: This is not a real holiday. I made it up. But it is the birthday of both John Philip Sousa (Sousaphone) and Adolphe Sax (Saxophone).
November 8: STEM/STEAM Day
At Home Family Fun: Incorporate one of these fun Science Activities for Kids into your day.
Outing Idea: Anne shares her favorite 6 Places for Any Time Hands-On Science with Kids in the Twin Cities.
Read Aloud: Kid Innovators: True Tales of Childhood from Inventors and Trailblazers by Robin Stevenson (Recommended for ages 9-12). Bookflix has several science and math-related pairings to choose among.
Dinner Ideas: Bright Horizons has some ideas for making dinner preparations a STEM activity, including some questions you can use for Dinner Conversation Starters.
Learn More: About the importance of STEM education from the Minnesota Department of Education.
November 9: Go to an Art Museum Day
At Home Family Fun: The Met offers quite a bit of artwork in the public domain. Print one, like the Painting — Merry Company on a Terrace below — and play a game of I Spy. Go to the original on The Met’s website so you can increase the size as needed. You should be able to find:
- A Sunflower
- A walking stick with a face at the tip
- A hobby horse
- Pink roses
- A man sticking out his tongue
Outing Idea: Go to an Art Museum. Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minnesota Museum of American Art, Walker Art Center, and Weisman Art Museum are good local choices. Plan ahead for visit with kids by exploring on their websites. Mia offers these ideas for How to Make the Most of Your Visit. The Walker offers these Tips for Visiting with Kids.
Read Aloud: Babar’s Museum of Art by Laurent De Brunhoff or Log onto Bookflix to read/watch The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds paired with All the Colors of the Rainbow by Allan Fowler.
Dinner Ideas: I don’t know any parent who has time to make art out of their food, but these 19 Works Of Art Made With Food are fun to look at and maybe it will inspire a helper to dish out tonight’s dinner with a little extra flair.
Dinner Conversation Starter: Babar’s children have many questions about Art. “Does it have to be pretty? Does it have to be old? Does it have to make sense?” How do you feel about these questions?
Learn More: About Go to An Art Museum Day.
November 10: Anniversary of the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
Outing Idea: If you have time to plan ahead for a road trip, The Minnesota Historical Society honors and commemorates the crew of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald annually at Split Rock Lighthouse. Find more information here. Closer to home is the lighthouse at Boom Island Park in Minneapolis and you might find it fun to watch boats on the Mississippi.
At Home Fun: Even if you can’t drive to Two Harbors, you can watch a live stream of the Edmund Fitzgerald Memorial – available through Split Rock Lighthouse’s Facebook page.
Read Aloud: This book made my cry: The Edmund Fitzgerald: The Song of the Bell by Kathy-jo Wargin. I think this is a shelf-worthy book considering it is a part of Minnesota history.
Dinner Ideas: Here is an interesting article about what crews eat on a Great Lakes Freighter. It looks like you can go with anything “meat and potato”, but I like the idea of fish for this meal.
Dinner Conversation Starter: Would you want to work aboard a ship? Why or why not?
Learn More: About this and other shipwrecks on the Minnesota History site.
November 10: Sesame Street Day
This day commemorates the airing of the first Sesame Street episode in 1969. Pull out the videos from when Sesame Street was good! and read everyone’s favorite Sesame Street book – The Monster at the End of this Bookby Jon Stone. For those of you (like me) who don’t do voices as well as you would like, let Grover read it.
November 11: Veterans Day
Outing Idea: Visit one of these Twin Cities dedicated Memorial Parks to honor veterans. Or if you want to venture out a bit further Veterans Day is always the last FREE Entrance Day at National Parks.
At Home Fun: Print a full-color Teacher’s Guide from U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to read about Veterans Day history, get suggestions for activities, and learn how to properly fold a flag..
Read Aloud: America’s White Table by Margot Theis Raven. Find a PDF of the book here.
Learn More: Learn more about Veterans Day here.
November 12: National Chicken Soup for the Soul Day
At Home Fun: Explore the Chicken Soup for the Soul website, where you can listen to inspirational and motivational stories or find a sample lesson of their lesson plans.
Outing Idea: Go the place that lifts your soul today, like a nature walk, an art museum, a sculpture garden, a Mary garden, a fairy garden, a Peace Garden, a book store, etc. This could be a one-on-one date with your child that needs the most peace right now.
Read Aloud: With School Age Kids: Read a story from any one of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books. With Little Kids: Read Chicken Soup with Rice: A Book of Months by Maurice Sendak.
Learn More: About Chicken Soup for the Soul.
November 13: World Kindness Day & Robert Louis Stevenson’s Birthday
At Home Fun: Doing Good Together gave us some suggestions to Turn Family Movie Night into a Cozy Act of Kindness.
Outing Idea: Can you think of ways to Give Back With Random Acts of Kindness while out on a family walk today?
Read Aloud: Access Bookflix with your library card to find the fiction/non-fiction pairing of Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson and Kindness and Generosity: It Starts with Me by Jodie Shepherd or pull out your copy of A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson (and read Fairy Bread, so your kids know why you are serving it for dessert tonight.)
Dinner Idea: Make some Fairy Bread for dessert tonight.
Dinner Conversation Starter: One of the wonderful things about family is that you can learn to be kind to people who sometimes annoy you. This is especially true for siblings. Let’s say something kind about everyone at the table tonight.
Learn More: “It is the history of our kindnesses that alone make this world tolerable.” ― Robert Louis Stevenson. Learn more about Robert Louis Stevenson.
November 14: National Pickle Day
At Home Fun: Teach your kids how to make Refrigerator Pickles. Mark your calendar for two weeks from today to try your homemade pickles!
Outing Idea: Go play some pickleball. (Pickleball is one of the amenity-search options in our park directory and we have both indoor and outdoor options)
Dinner Idea: Burgers or Hot Dogs. Add pickles or fried pickles as a side to your meal tonight.
Learn More: About National Pickle Day.
November 15: I Love to Write Day
At Home Fun: (1) Write a Story. If your kids love to tell stories and write them down. Spend some time today indulging that desire. (2) Draw a Story. I DO love to write! My children, not so much. I’ve recently decided this relates to the fact that my kids struggle with all things related to fine motor skills — ie. tying their shoes, penmanship, pouring milk. While I want them to get to a point where they love to write, too. I think I have to deal with their fine motor skills first. This is why I have decided to start encouraging drawing first. I like Ed Emberley’s Drawing Book of Animals because it incorporates many of the same shapes we use in drawing letters. Find his Drawing Pages here. (3) Play Mad Libs. For a shorthand version of writing, play a game of Mad Libs. (4) Or try these 15 Fun & Creative Writing Games from MomJunction.
Outing Idea: (1) Start a Nature Journal Today. Get outside on a hike, to a park or just around your own home to observe nature and then come back in a write about what you found. (2) Consider signing up for writing classes at the Loft Literary Center.
Read Aloud: I Love to Write! Learn to Write Reader by Rozanne Lanczak Williams; Bookflix: Diary of A Fly, Diary of a Spider, and/or Diary of A Worm — All by Doreen Cronin — are all available through Bookflix.
Dinner Conversation Starter: Share your stories, Mad Libs or story ideas over dinner tonight.
Learn More: I Love to Write Day was started by Author John Riddle.
November 16: National Button Day
At Home Fun: (1) Play Button, Button, Who’s Got the Button? One of my favorite parlor games for when I need to occupy my children but don’t want to expend any energy; (2) Make Button Art with your stash of buttons; (3) Cold Weather Crafts: Activities to do at Home When You Don’t Want to Leave Your House has a button necklace craft.
Outing Idea: Did you know we have a Minnesota Button Society and they sometimes host events? or Visit the Wall of Buttons at the Children’s Museum.
Read Aloud: Corduroy by Don Freeman or Chapter 2 of All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor – Dusting is Fun.
Dinner Idea: Today is also “National Clean Out Your Fridge Day”: Let’s do a leftovers smorgasbord for dinner tonight to make room for that Turkey that needs to defrost. These DIY chocolate buttons from Ribbons & Glue are so cute and would make a nice dessert on their own or you could add them to the top of cupcakes, cookies or muffins.
Dinner Conversation Starter: Share this button trivia. Did you know that pre-historic people used thorns before buttons were invented?
Learn More: From the National Button Society.
November 17: National Hiking Day
At Home Fun: If you are the hibernating kind of family, you could prepare for the spring with these Ideas for Training for Hiking from REI.
Outing Idea: If you embrace Minnesota winters, Three Rivers Park System recommends the follow parks for winter hiking:
- Baker Winter Trailhead
- Cleary Lake Regional Park
- Mississippi Gateway Regional Park
- French Regional Park
- Gale Woods Farm
- Eastman Nature Center
- Lowry Nature Center
- Richardson Nature Center
All of these parks rent snowshoes should you need them. Or, try out one of these Kid-Friendly Hiking Trails That Are One Mile or Less
Read Aloud: Rhoda’s Rock Hunt by local favorite, Molly Beth Griffin. Bookflix: Pair Henry Hikes to Fitchburg by D.B. Johnson with I Like to Exercise by Lisa M. Herrington
Dinner Idea: In Rhoda’s Rock Hunt, Rhoda quickly tires of the salami that her aunt and uncle brought backpacking. Start testing out backpacking meals now and you’ll know which ones you want to pack next summer when you start camping.
Dinner Conversation Starter: What did you think of tonight’s meal? If you could go hiking anywhere, where would you want to go?
Learn More: About Hiking from the American Hiking Society.
November 18: High Five A Librarian Day
At Home Fun: Send a virtual high five to your favorite librarian. Tag them on social media, send them a letter or an email or just send them a high five in the website’s chat-box. Don’t forget your Toy Librarians and Art Lending Librarians! Both of these grass roots, non profit programs could probably use a little reminder of our appreciation.
Outing Idea: Make it a trip to your favorite library. If you are too shy to high five, wave to the librarians and
yell whisper, “HIGH FIVE LIBRARY LADY (or GUY)”
Read Aloud: Pull out your library card again. Bookflix pairs The Librarian from the Black Lagoon by Mike Thaler and A Day with Librarians by Jodie Shephard. Chapter 1 of All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor – The Library Lady. (I know this is out of order with Button Day, but both of these chapters pretty much stand on their own.)
Dinner Idea: Some inspired pinner gathered a whole pinboard of literary-themed recipes on Pinterest.
Dinner Conversation Starter: If there was a librarian who made a difference in your life, share your experience with your kids. If not, who got your excited about books and how?
Learn More: Read More About High Five A Library Day.
November 19: National Camp Day
At Home Fun: (1) Spread out a campsite in your living room and have an indoor camping day! (2) Plan ahead for summer. Now is a good time to start thinking about summer camps and summer camping. You might have to wait to the start of the new year to register for summer camps or book your campsite, but if you start looking now, you can be the first in line!.
Outing Idea: Book a winter camping cabin at one of our Minnesota State Parks. Nearby, both Afton and William O’Brien State Parks offer winter camping options. Although it was early summer, Gianna shared her experience Renting an RV for Family Fun.
Read Aloud: .
Dinner Idea: Pull out those backpacking recipes that you started testing on the 17th and try another one today.
Dinner Conversation Starter: If you could go camping anywhere, where would you want to go? Is the answer the same as backpacking?
Learn More: About National Camp Day.
November 20: National Pay Back Your Parents Day
At Home Fun: Switch rolls in fun ways today. Do mom and dad usually cook? Let the kids cook. Do mom and dad usually limit kids’ screen-time? Kids get to limit parents’ screen time today. If dad makes really bad dad jokes, kids get to do it today. Who usually controls the remote? Change it up today. What other fun ways can kids “payback” their parents? .
Read Aloud: How Martha Saved Her Parents from Green Beans by David LaRochelle. Or, Kids pick, but they have to do the reading aloud today. Parents can keep stacking more books up, interrupt often and wander off occasionally.
Dinner Idea: It’s kids cook night! Let them pick something they can make from beginning to end, while the parents just poke their head in every few minutes to say. “I’m hungry, when is dinner?”.
Dinner Conversation Starter: Read this quote from Lois McMaster Bujold: “You don’t pay back your parents. You can’t. The debt you owe them gets collected by your children, who hand it down in turn. It’s a sort of entailment.” What do you think that means and what do you think of that idea. Find the longer quote on GoodReads.
Learn More: About Pay Back Your Parents Day.
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