The kids didn't have a concept of what a steam shovel is, so I checked out a book about backhoes from the library (T already knew all about those) and we watched Youtube videos of antique steam shovels in action. Other Youtube videos to watch for this unit were the Beauty and the Beast song "Be Our Guest" (personification) and time lapse videos of houses being built (Mike and Mary Anne dug the foundation neat and square). I had planned to visit an actual construction site, but since T was sick during this time, Youtube was a fine substitute.
We also talked about the styles of trees found in Mike Mulligan and drew our own to match. Then we looked at the trees in our own yard and sketched them. It was nice that it was early spring, so the trunks and branches were clearly visible under the tiny emerging leaves. This was one of those times when I didn't tell K that sometimes people think drawing is hard, we just looked at the shape of the trunk--whether it extended from the ground to the top of the tree or whether it branched off into the different limbs, and far off the ground that happened. K did a great job with this and liked the idea of sketching. Several days later, she took a clipboard, paper and pencil outside to do her own sketching. I have loved how she has taken such an interest in many of the things we have learned this year and made them her own.
I really liked the Mike Mulligan activities on the Houghtin Mifflin site, but they were geared for a little older than kindergarten. K did do the one where she wrote and illustrated a brief story of what she might dig up if she got to use Mary Anne.
Another day, instead of rereading the book, we watched a story based on Mike Mulligan that was posted on Youtube. The kids really enjoyed it.
We also talked about steam power and did the pinwheel/tea kettle experiment that is described in the manual. I was a little worried going into it, because from reading the FIAR forums and other blogs, it sounded like many people had trouble getting this to work. But the key is to hold the pinwheel horizontally over the steam billowing out of the kettle, then it will spin beautifully.
Finally, we paid a visit to a local park that has a steam engine. It was big.
We were all impressed. T still asks when we can go back to see it. K brought her camera and I liked the picture she took of it.
Another great book, not nearly such a "boy book" as I thought it would be. Just goes to show that in Five in a Row, there really are no girl books or boy books. Each story has so much material to cover that it really isn't an issue.