Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Climbing Kansas Mountains

After taking a break, we restarted our Five in a Row studies at the end of March.  Our book this time had the humorous title Climbing Kansas Mountains.  It is a warm story with beautiful pastel illustrations.  It is about a boy sending some special time with his father, and by the end of the story we learn that the mountains of Kansas are really grain elevators.
Our first activity was to read a few books about mountains.  It felt odd to cover this topic with a book that takes place in Kansas, but it is one of the suggested topics in the manual and we had just taken a trip to Eastern Oregon a couple weeks prior and had spent some time near the beautiful Blue Mountains. 
The kids hadn't had a lot of prior experience with mountains, so it was good to talk about what we had seen.  We talked about what mounains look like, what they are (the terms elevation and sea level were introduced) and what a timberline is.  They were interested to learn that their grandpa had actually climbed to the top of the tallest mountain in Oregon a few times.  I then shared with K the choices of topics related to mountains that are described in the manual for further reasearch.  She chose to research forms of recreation available on the mountains and wrote few paragraphs.  On his own, T decided to build a mountain with his marble run toy.  (He had a cold, hence the Kleenex and standy-up hair.)  I think he picked up on the concept of altitude.
Then another day we looked at the topography of Kansas and observed how it is a very flat state.  Since the kids were fascinated by our trip to Oregon, we compared the topography of this state to Kansas.  We made salt dough maps, and both kids wanted to make a relief map of both states.  K and T enjoyed doing this and were proud of the results.
We learned about Kansas.  The state bird is the meadowlark, which also happens to be Oregon's!  And it is my favorite songbird.  However, the same bird will sound different in different parts of the country, so we looked for Youtube videos of meadowlarks in the Midwest and compared their song to those of the West.  The state flower of Kansas is the sunflower, and I showed K and T this gorgeous blog with pictures of fields of sunflowers.  That is something I'd like to see.
We learned that Kansas is the breadbasket of America, so we spent a couple days learning about wheat.  We read From Wheat to Eat, and watched this and this video to see the process that wheat goes through to become flour.  B used to work on a combine crew years ago, so he was able to explain what he did and how a combine works.  T became fascinated by combines and watched as many videos about their inner workings as I could pull up for him.  He is still excited when we happen to drive by one.  I'll just mention that we also happened to take a trip to Missouri about a month and a half after rowing this book, and as we drove across the state, we saw a good many grain elevators.  They really do stand up against the flat fields.  K and T were interested to see the variety in their sizes and constructions.
We learned that there are many occupations related to producing grain.  I made a couple of posters using saved packing paper of the various grain handling jobs while we talked about them.
Since Kansas wheat fields can cover many many acres, one of our activities was stop by a local football field to see about how big one acre is.
Incidentally, I had been reading The Wonderful Wizard of Oz aloud to the kids, and we happened to finish the book while covering this unit.  Homeschool Share has a nice lapbook of this book that K and T enjoyed putting together one day.  There were too many minit books for them to make in one day, but each enjoyed picking the ones they were most interested in. 
Our rowing of this book came during a difficult period for our family and it was amazing how well it fit into our lives at this time.  FIAR has often worked this way for us, a true blessing.


Dana said...

How neat that you were able to integrate what they were learning into your travels. And I love the sunflowers, so peaceful...

Joelle said...

what!? I never commented on here?!

I thought you did a fabulous job with this book. love the salt dough maps. I was lazy and did only Idaho with them. there are a bunch of curves in the border of Idaho! your drawings are great! you are such an artist!