T was interested to learn about steam power and the machines and vehicles that used to use it. I referred him to B, who was happy to give a more technical explanation (pistons and valves and such) than I ever could. We discussed old and new machines, and we brainstormed lists of machines that used steam as well as ones that used diesel, as diesel is the "new" technology mentioned in the story.
"Mike Mulligan and Mary Anne built the foundation neat and square." We reviewed what a square is and found some around the house, measuring them to be sure that they were, in fact, squares. T also enjoyed making some squares on a geoboard.
Another activity was to discuss road engineering and the way Mike and Mary Anne lowered the hills and straightened the curves to make better roads. We see some good examples of lowered hills as we drive to church each week, and I pointed these out the next time we drove through them. I also poured some sand into a bin and made "mountains" for T to make roads through, which he very quickly did so. I think he must do this frequently on his own in our sandbox.
Another highlight of this unit was to discuss how steam does work for us. We made a pinwheel and the steam from a boiling tea kettle made it twirl.
After we did this experiment, T wanted me to take an "explaining" picture where he struck a pose, pretending that he was telling all about how the pinwheel worked.
Then a few days later we were able to visit the same steam engine we saw when K rowed this book. It was still big, still impressive. T wondered why some of the spokes on the wheels were partially covered.
Another explaining picture:
Other topics covered included house construction, drawing trees, and vocabulary. I think there were others, too, but you can look at the post of K's row to see what they were. This row was a lot of fun and T seemed to pick up and retain a lot of information.