Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Rag Coat

The Rag Coat is the poignant story of a girl in the Appalachians who loses her father to Black Lung Disease and experiences the kindness of neighbors as well as the cruelty of other children.  I was curious how K would take to this Five in a Row book as it does have a lot of emotion. There are some fun things to learn about, too.  I needn't have worried--it was another good row.

I did have to explain funerals--thankfully, the kids haven't had to have experience with those yet.  Again, we kept it simple and then moved on to other topics.  We did many activities, as usual, but here are the highlights.

We spent a few days on quilts.  We examined pictures of real quilts, played a quilt pattern matching game, found different ways to sort quilt designs, and K made her own quilt designs using cut paper shapes and also on a geoboard.

T, who didn't wanted to be left out of this activity, ad-libbed his own geoboard design by adding puzzle pieces and "a seatbelt" to his quilt picture.

I thought it would be fun to take the kids to see some real life quilts and we drove to the Fiber Arts museum we visited last year when we had such fun learning about weaving with Anna and the New Coat.  Alas, when we got there it was inexplicably closed.  We peered through the windows into the darkened museum for awhile, trying to make out the designs on some the visible quilts.  We couldn't see much.  However, I happened to notice that there was a quilting supply shop just down the street!  So we went in there and were happy to see lots of pretty display quilts hanging on the walls.  K was interested in all the bolts of cloth for sale.  She had fun picking out her favorites.  Then the shop lady began using a quilting machine to put the finishing top stitches on a large quilt that was fastened to a frame.  The quilting machine was suspended over the quilt and it had handle bars on either side that she used to guide it.  It was fascinating to watch her make free-hand swoops and swirls.  We found out that you can also program quilting machines to make certain kinds of decorative stitching designs over the quilts, such as dragonflies and butterflies shapes stitched on a quilt with bug-themed fabric, and so on.  It was really fun to see this machine in action.

We also had a day to learn about coal--what it is and where it comes from.  The kids had a super fun time being "coal miners" by hunting for pennies I'd scattered in a pitch dark garage.  I taped flashlights to their bike helmets and they searched and searched.  I was not able to get a good picture of them with their coal helmets in the dark garage--pictures taken with a flash did not look like they were in the dark and ones taken without a flash looked like this:


But you can see they got a bit of an idea of what it might be like to work in a dark place like a mine.  Several days later, when T was with me as I looked for something else in the garage, he spied a leftover penny on the floor and exclaimed, "I found a coal!" 

We also spent some time learning about Appalachian culture.  I showed this video of Appalachian-style speech which I think was of more interest to me than to the kids, but I think it is good for them to see that not everyone speaks like we do.  Then we watched several more videos--I wanted to expose them to the music of Appalachia.  We watched fiddle, guitar, dulcimer and banjo playing.  I also threw in Didn't Leave Nobody but the Baby as an example of the style of singing you might find there.  The kids really liked the clogging dance we watched here and the flatfooting here.  As we watched all these videos, we kept our hands busy by passing around a container of cream and shaking it till it turned to butter.  I spread the butter on toast which they thought was "so good" and ate while we finished our last video.  It's always fun to make some of your own food like they did in Appalachia.

T wanted to keep his mining helmet on for quite awhile after the coal activity, so that's why you see it still on him as they watched the Appalachian videos.  This was another fun row and I'm glad we had the chance to do it.

1 comment:

Joelle said...

Fun to read your posts for books we rowed last year. Fun to see a quilting machine in action! Love how Tobiah still has his helmet on while watching videos!