We had a good week with Daniel's Duck. It was our first Five in a Row book for this school year. It is a deceptively simple story (an I Can Read book) about a boy who learns about self-worth by creating a unique piece of art.
We began by looking for signs that this a story that takes place in earlier times and perused the illustrations for aspects of country "cabin life".
The next day we talked about the county fair. We had actually gone to the county fair ourselves a couple weeks earlier, so the experience was still fresh in the kids' minds. We talked about the different things we'd seen and done and how that compared to the county fair in Daniel's Duck. When they noticed that there were no rides in the Daniel's Duck fair, the question came up "why did they have fairs if there were no rides?" So we talked about why the story said they had a fair-- to get together after a long winter, to share and sell what they'd made, and so on. This also led to a nice opportunity for B to later share with the kids his experiences of 4-H when he was growing up. I had K make a list of all the things she could remember from the fair we went to. She came up with 32 items. T drew a picture of his favorite part-- the roller coaster ride. I went on the ride with K and T. K loved it, but T was "a little scared", as you can kind of tell from the picture. It was a bit more intense of a ride than he anticipated.
I must say that going to the local county fair here made B and I rather miss the county fair we used to go to in Idaho. That fair felt a lot more like the fair in Daniel's Duck with people constantly running into other people they knew (it seemed you were always manuevering around little knots of folks who had stopped to talk in the walkways). There was also more pride and variety in the Home Ec and Fine Art buildings. It was just a much more organic experience to the community.
The next day we talked about carving. I started by showing some library books about carving, both adult and children's books. Baby M was getting a little impatient when we did this, so we really sped through them. Then we looked at some items in our own home that are carved from wood. I surprised how much we had-- most from Aunt K's world travels. (Thank you, Aunt K, you've given us some really beautiful things.)
Since then, we've noticed other objects in the house that were hand carved from wood. Then we tried our hand at soap carving. I really didn't have much expectation for this activity, since many other FIAR blogs had mentioned how difficult it was. So I tried to set it up as an experience in carving, rather than focusing on how the soap carvings might turn out. It went pretty well-- it really helped to use some tools for clay along with what tools we could scrounge up from the kids' play dishes and Play-doh sets.
I tried it first while the kids watched. It felt good to use my pottery tools again, even it was just for carving soap. Then K and T went at it.
They were actually happy with how their carvings turned out. K made a butterfly and T was happy to scrape away at his "racetrack" until the whole thing broke apart. Even then, he didn't seem bothered and proudly put one of the pieces by the bathroom sink for us to wash with.
The last thing we did for this day was read the book The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey. The version we got from the library came with a cd with the story masterfully read aloud by James Earl Jones. You can learn a lot about inflection and phrasing listening to that man.
The next day we talked about the long nights of winter. We looked at a calendar, admiring the pictures, and I had the kids guess whether there was a season change for that month. We talked about the solstices and equinoxes (noticing the similarity to the word equal). Snowed In and Dear Rebecca, Winter Is Here were beautiful go-along books. I worked with T on saying the months of the year and gave K the assignment to study a small encyclopedia entry on season change. I asked her to demonstrate what she'd read using balls for the sun and the earth. We'd talked about this earlier rows, so I was curious how she'd do. She had to think about it, but she did well, remembering to mention that the earth is tipped and that the northern portion gets more sun part of the year while the southern part gets less.
On our last day with Daniel's Duck, I had K and T learn about different topics. I had K do a notebook page about Tennessee and gave her a couple of library books about this state with the assignment to write down one interesting fact she learned. I was impressed with the sentence she found: "You can see as far as 100 miles and parts of seven states from the top of Clingman's Dome." Interesting.
With T I reviewed the seasons of the year and had him make a little seasons craft.
I kind of expected K to be jealous that she wasn't doing something crafty, but she didn't say a word. Instead, she *supervised* T while she was supposed to be doing her work. Vicarious crafting.
This was a shorter row than what we've done in the past, but had just the right amount of learning. Great way to start the year!