Literature Unit Study for The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall (31 Days of Literature Unit Ideas and Favorite Books Friday Link Up)

This post is the last in the 31 Days of Literature Unit Study posts. You can find links to all of the books in the series here. And if you'd like to use this book as a literature unit study, you can find a link to a FREE printable guide at the bottom of the post.

A few years ago, I was looking at the library for a new audiobook that we could listen to in the car. I picked up a book titled The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall. We fell in love with the Penderwick sisters immediately. We've gone on to read more about the family in the subsequent books in the series. Here is a bit about the book and some ways that you can further the learning as you read it aloud.

Literature unit study for The Penderwicks

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About the book...

The Penderwicks are four sisters, along with their father who is endearing but a little absent-minded. Their mother died when the youngest Penderwick sister was a baby. All of the girls have their role- Rosalind as the oldest is a care-taker. Skye is a tomboy and an independent thinker. Jane is the dreamer of the family and loves books. And Batty is the baby and is loved and adored by all the family.

The family heads off for a summer vacation on a large estate called Arundale. They soon find adventures, including Rosalind's first crush; tame rabbits; a beautiful, prize-winning garden; and a new friend in young Jeffery Tifton.

The story is a very fun one to read aloud. I loved it every bit as much as the kids did, and we had so much fun with it. The story is filled with the funny antics that the girls always seem to be up to, but it's also filled with the spirit of family love and the importance of pulling together to support each other.

Learning connections...

  • History- Cagney, Rosalind's new crush, is very interested in the Civil War. Learn about the Civil War on this great, interactive site. There are games, learning resources, articles, videos, research help, printable activities and much more.
  • Science- Jefferey Tifton's mother takes pride in her flower garden. Look on this site to find some of the most prize winning garden flowers. Use this site to find one of the prize winning flowers to learn more about. Read tips about growing your own flowers here. If the weather is nice, take some time to plant your own small flower garden.
  • Science- The Penderwick girls are thrilled to have the opportunity to meet some tame rabbits. You can learn all about rabbits as pets on this very informative site- My House Rabbit.
  • Art- There are detailed descriptions of the Arundel gardens throughout the book. Using the descriptions, draw a portion of the garden and paint it with water colors.
  • Art- The ceiling of the dining room in Arundel hall is compared with Michelangelo's work on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel Learn more about Michelangelo here. Watch this video from Kahn to learn more about the Sistine chapel and see pictures. (The video shows entire images, including some nude figures.)
  • Literature- Jane loves books and throughout the story makes many references to literary characters or events. Keep a list as you read through the book. Write down the literary reference and then research what book it came from.
  • Writing- The Penderwick sisters have many adventures over their summer. Write a story about a summer adventure you've had or would like to have.

Other resources...

If you'd like to use The Penderwicks as a literature study, you can print a free guide with an activities checklist here.


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