Defining Family

When we think of November, we might think of Thanksgiving, cider, cozy weather, the approach of winter, or creating home-cooked meals with loved ones. This November, we encourage you to center your family and dive into what family means to you.

A family can be so many things! For some people, it’s parents and their children. For others, it’s an aunt, grandfather, or other caregiver who takes care of children. And for other people, family members are their closest friends. The important thing to remember is that each person has a family, even if it might not look the same as yours.

Open Ended Play

Animal Family Portraits

Have a conversation about favorite animals or animals that your child really likes. Think about and/or research where they live, what they like to eat, etc.

Ask your child to imagine what your family would look like, where they would be, etc., if you were a family of that kind of animal.

Provide materials to make a family portrait, using your conversation and imaginings as a jumping off point to make an animal family portrait.


Does everyone in the family have to be the same kind of animal? What would it look like if each family member chose their favorite animal, and a picture was drawn of that family makeup? What kinds of adaptations would need to be made if everyone in the family was a different kind of animal? What would your family eat? Where would they live?

What is My Child Learning? 

This activity provides a rich cognitive opportunity to think about a relatively simple idea and expand it out to include research, imagination, creativity, problem solving, etc.

As a conversation starter, this is a way to think about families; does everyone have to be the same? What are some ways that people have to adapt and change in order to help each other in a family? What are some things your family likes to do together?

Language and Literacy Development: Conversations with your child helps develop vocabulary and fluency. Researching about animals and reading together promotes literacy. Bringing those things together into an engaging activity supports connections and comprehension.

Cognitive Development: Imagining what your family would be like as an animal family helps children to think symbolically and imaginatively.

In The Community

Native American Heritage Month

No matter where you live in the United States, indigenous people lived on that land before you. Native American Heritage Month celebrates and honors the lives and cultures of these indigenous people. It is also a time to reflect on the history of indigenous people in America and learn about the indigenous peoples in your area. 

There are almost 600 federally recognized tribes in the U.S., and five of them are right here in Pierce County! 

The Nisqually, Puyallup, Squaxin, Muckleshoot, and Steilacoom Indians were the first settlers in this area. Check out the map below to see the locations!

Check out one of these thematic events to deepen you and your family’s learning!

Veterans and Military Family Month

Every November, we take time to say thank you to the military families in the United States for their service. People in the military defend our country and make sacrifices every day in order to do that. 

Joint Base Lewis-McChord is the largest family military base in the U.S. and home to Greentrike’s second children’s museum. Learn more about the Children’s Museum at JBLM, its events and programs with our Military Family Month blog post.

On November 11, and throughout the year, we honor military veterans of the United States and thank those who have served in the armed forces for their dedication and sacrifice in defense of our freedom. You can engage with this holiday by thanking veterans in your life or attending a celebratory event. 

Veterans Day is the last free admission day of the year at National Parks, and there are beautiful parks right here in Washington waiting to be explored! Journey to Mount Rainier for a family hike, or for a grander adventure, head to Olympic or North Cascades. 

Joint Base Lewis-McChord is hosting a Veterans Day Run along with entertainment and activities for families. DOD ID card holders can register here.

National Children’s Book Week

November 7 – 13 is dedicated to children’s books and the joy of reading! To help you and your family celebrate the occasion, we’ve put together a booklist of Greentrike staff favorites. You may recognize some of these titles from your childhood, while others may present entirely new literary adventures for your family to embark on.

Which of the children’s books from this list is most beloved by your family? Greentrike staff will upload a virtual storytime of the winning title!  Vote for your favorite here.

National STEAM Day

STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics, and is an important set of skills children develop to navigate the world confidently and competently. STEAM education develops children’s critical thinking skills and encourages active engagement through inquiry. 

Here are a few opportunities to engage in STEAM learning this November! Hover over each image to learn more.

National Family Week

The week including Thanksgiving, November 20 – 26 this year, is celebrated as National Family Week. Caregivers and their children are encouraged to connect with one another and build community with the important people in their lives. 

Quality time and connection are different for everyone! It could look like a movie marathon, a rainy walk around the neighborhood, a community event, or a family-friendly program. Here are a few ideas to inspire your family.

Metro Parks Tacoma is hosting its annual Norpoint Classic 5k and 2-Mile on Thursday, November 24. Walkers, strollers, and dogs are welcome!

Play to Learn is a free, weekly class at eight community locations across Pierce County for families with children 6 and under. Sessions feature group activities, art extensions, songs and whole group circle time.

For a limited time, families can book a private Gingerbread Parties at the Children’s Museums of Tacoma and at JBLM! Parties come fully equipped with pre-built gingerbread houses and a delicious array of candy and frosting. 

Caregiver Corner

In addition to the observances above, there are two days to have on your radar!

November 8 is National Parents as Teachers Day, and as a caregiver, you are your children’s first and forever teacher. Caregiving is rewarding and exhausting and so many things all at once. Be sure to take time to care for yourself and recognize your value this month. Plus, check out our OSTI Zone Rooms to encourage social and emotional learning in your home!

November 19 is Family Volunteer Day, and while there are tons of opportunities to volunteer at Greentrike, there are many other ways you can engage with this observance. Whether you pick up trash on a neighborhood walk, cook a meal for a family member or friend, or help out with a community event you would normally pass up, try to think outside the box this Family Volunteer Day for ways you can show care for your family and community.