Friday, September 06, 2013

Wrap Up: The Giraffe that Walked to Paris

We here at Chaos Academy have two weeks of school under our belt, and friends, it has been a WILD ride! We have certainly had some growing pains, and have already had to do some major schedule & routine troubleshooting.  I think we're maybe almost sort-of starting to settle in.  I hope.

I'll hit the academic highlights first, and then we'll talk growing pains at the end, shall we?

We spent the first two weeks of school covering the Five in a Row unit on The Giraffe that Walked to Paris by Nancy Milton.  This was a book that I had often seen listed as a "not to be missed" title in FIAR, yet until this past summer it had been out of print for some time and was extremely hard to come by!  Neither of our library systems had it, and I was afraid we'd have to skip it altogether.  I was thrilled when it came back into print in July, though, and snatched up one of those fresh new copies to start our school year with!  I must say that it truly is a wonderful book and I'm so glad we got a chance to row it!  Here is how we covered each subject with "la girafe" and FIAR:

Social Studies: In the story, a giraffe is given by the pasha of Egypt to the king of France.  The giraffe takes a boat across the Mediterranean Sea, lands on the coast of France, and then walks up to Paris.  I printed a map of the region, had the kids color France and Egypt and draw the path that the giraffe traveled.

Language Arts: We covered some new vocabulary with this story including ambassador, impatient, and counselor.

Art: We had fun looking through the illustrations in the story after discussing how facial expressions convey feelings.  The illustrator used such fantastic facial expressions throughout the story, but especially with King Charles.  We had no trouble telling what he was feeling!

We also talked about how it's important to know your subject when you're drawing.  In the story, the people of France had never seen a giraffe, so when the king has a scientist draw him a picture of one, it looks more like a spotted horse.  The kids found the comparison between the king's picture and the actual giraffe very amusing.

One morning we also did a picture study of this painting by Jacques-Laurent Agasse. It actually shows the giraffe that walked to Paris!  The kids were so excited!

photo from Wikipedia on Zarafa 
Math: We did a measurement activity for our FIAR applied math day.  In the story, "the giraffe was eleven feet tall... still a baby."  We measured out 11 feet on our sidewalk and then I tried to draw a giraffe in the space.  Didn't come out too badly, I don't think!  We also looked up how tall a giraffe would be when fully grown (~16' for females and 18' for males) and drew a line farther up to see how how much the king's giraffe still had to grow.

Science:  We covered a couple of science topics for this row.  We spent one morning talking about the calendar, the four seasons, and what months fall into what seasons.  We figured out that it was fall when the giraffe left Egypt and landed on the Mediterranean coast of France, that she spent that entire winter in the south of France and then began her journey to Paris in the spring, arriving in the summer.  No wonder the king was impatient!

We also spent a morning talking about animal care.  We discussed how the people in charge of la girafe cared for her throughout her journey (food/water, shelter, exercise, companionship), and then we took a trip to Petco to see how you care for different animal pets there.  We came home with a fish!  Meet Gerald, named for the elephant in Mo Willems' charming series of books about Elephant and Piggie.

We read some wonderful go-along books for this row.  We checked out the usual non-fiction books about giraffes, France, and Egypt.  Those sat mostly ignored this week.  Since this is a true story, there happen to be other books that tell the same tale.  We really enjoyed reading and comparing two of these with the one that Five in a Row has selected: Zarafa: the Giraffe who Walked to the King and A Giraffe Goes to Paris

Our FIAR notebooks are cleaned out from last year and ready to hold this year's work.  For Giraffe, we're adding our map page, an animal report about giraffes, a field trip report about Global Wildlife, and each child's retelling (narration) of the story (for those, they talked and I typed).  I am excited to have the new Five in a Row notebook builder download this year!  The map, the animal report template and the field trip report template were all printables from that download.  Off to a good start!

This year, I have scheduled some Charlotte Mason-y things into our curriculum, and we've been enjoying them so far! We finished up several months of studying local artist George Rodrigue and his Blue Dog paintings.  We tried to finish our study with a trip to his gallery in the French Quarter, but it was closed.  A look through the window had to suffice, and we'll try again next time we're down there. We start a new artist next week.

We are focusing our nature study on birds right now, and started by setting up a backyard birdfeeder and getting a field guide to identify what we see.  So far, we've seen absolutely nothing.  Either we have no birds or they don't like sunflower seeds.  Go figure.

We have been listening to Camille Saint-Saens' Carnival of the Animals for composer study.  We love the illustrations and poems that come with this version!

The biggest hits of the first two weeks BY FAR, though, were the field trips!  Yes, plural.  To go along with Giraffe, we went to the Global Wildlife Center, which is about an hour north of New Orleans.  We had such a good time!

loaded up on the safari wagon, ready to go!
the llama that stole Hazel's feed cup! 
Jono feeds a giraffe!

My favorite pic from the outing--bison tongue! 
This morning, we went downtown for a Johnette Downing concert.  Ms. Downing is a local children's author and performer.  She gives a free children's concert in the French Quarter every month.  They're always so fun, and the September show is always empty since schools have just started and no one is taking field trips yet.  We went with another homeschooling family and the kids had an almost private show!  Her shows get super crowded later on in the year with field trip groups, so this one is always a fun one.

Jackson Square--NOLA kids!

Alright, that's all the school stuff.  I said I'd tackle the growing pains at the end, but I think this has gotten long enough.  I'll hit that in another post.  Thanks for following along!

No comments: