Our next Five in a Row book was Follow the Drinking Gourd. This book tells the story of slaves escaping to freedom by following the underground railroad. K had been introduced to slavery when we rowed Who Owns the Sun? a few months earlier, so I spent less time explaining slavery and more time talking about the Underground Railroad.
We also talked about what a drinking gourd is. I think K and T were surprised to learn that people might drink out of something other than cups. I Googled drinking gourd images, and what came up seemed to help K see how the Big Dipper might resemble a drinking gourd.
We also discussed one of the most famous Underground Railroad conductors, Harriet Tubman. She's my hero-- I've always admired her grit and determination and the way God seemed to provide her with such special protection. Both kids liked the book Young Harriet Tubman.
Another day was spent listening to spirituals. When I was researching these, I was surprised to find how many I already knew. I already had several on cd, and playing these one after the other helped give a feel for what a spiritual sounds like. Ella Jenkins' "This Train" was a favorite. (T asked me to sing this song again later in the day. "Sing it louder!" )
We also spent some time with cotton, cotton picking and cotton gins.
Finally, we took a couple days to learn about stars and constellations. I thought K would be interested in this as she went through a phase where she was fascinated by space and the solar system a year or two ago. However, I was a little disconcerted by the strong evolutionary bent of the books we checked out and the emphasis on the universe being billions and billions of years old. One children's book depressingly explained how the sun would eventually get old, turn red and burn out. It was chilling and a wee bit frightening. So that night, I looked up Answers in Genesis and the next day explained how much of this information is incorrect. For example, according to the Big Bang Theory, the oldest stars should be in one particular part of the universe, and younger stars in another. However, in reality, they're all mixed up. The Bible says that God created the stars on the 4th day. Could it be that He created them to have different brightnesses and temperatures? People and animals have such variety, why shouldn't also the stars? I don't know how much K absorbed of my rather unscientific assurances of a topic so big and mathematical, especially as I didn't have much time to study it out for myself. But she did seem reassured by the fact that Jesus will come back before the sun burns out. In fact, God promises that there will by springtime and harvest until the last day. I wasn't expecting for this to be a difficult subject to learn about, but in the end it was best to simply ask what does the Bible say about the stars. We looked up several star verses and they are stunningly beautiful (Gen 1:14-19; Is 40:26; Ps 147:4; Ps 19:1; Ps 102:5), just like the stars themselves. Clearly, they are God's handiwork. We did do a KWL chart about stars and K learned why we see different constellations at different times of the year.
Anyway, we also did a fun craft to recreate the constellation Orion. It involved punching holes in an oatmeal container and shining a flashlight through the holes so the "Orion" showed up on a wall in a darkened room. I intended for us to go out and find this constellation in the winter night sky, but our area was in the midst of a fog inversion and the weather did not cooperate. However, one evening after we'd finished rowing this book, as we drove home in the darkness, K was able to pick Orion out all by herself. She had no help from me-- my mind was filled with other thoughts (Baby was due in a few weeks, among other things) and it did not occur to me to look up at the stars. But K did, and after doing this craft, was able to find Orion. I thought that was great, and when we got home, we looked up at the stars as a family before going inside to the warmth of the house.
That's the highlights of this book. It was kind of a different row, a bit heavier in spots than I anticipated, but with great opportunities for learning.