Monday, February 17, 2014

Wrap Up: Andy and the Lion

We just finished up a short row of Andy and the Lion, from FIAR volume 3.  My kids LOVED this book. They loved the story and they especially loved the illustrations.  It's an early Caldecott honor book from 1939--only the 2nd year the award was given!  We only spent a week on this, where we usually savor a row for a couple of weeks, so we didn't do it all, but we certainly enjoyed what we did!

Social Studies:
We chose to focus for geography on the dedication inside the book instead of on the setting of the story itself.  The book is dedicated "To Lady Astor and Lord Lenox, the Library Lions" who sit in front of the New York Public Library. I read the dedication, and then we looked up the lions in Google images, and learned that their names have changed!  From the page about the lions on the New York Public Library's website:

Their nicknames have changed over the decades. First they were called Leo Astor and Leo Lenox, after The New York Public Library founders John Jacob Astor and James Lenox. Later, they were known as Lady Astor and Lord Lenox (even though they are both male lions). During the 1930s, Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia named them Patience and Fortitude, for the qualities he felt New Yorkers would need to survive the economic depression. These names have stood the test of time: Patience still guards the south side of the Library's steps and Fortitude sits unwaveringly to the north.

My kids were fascinated by this--more so than I expected them to be! They were also adamant that we go visit the very similar lion statues that sit in City Park.  We did go, later in the week when the rain let up, and had our nature study while we were there, too.

Nature study mostly consisted of investigations into the use of spanish moss hanging from sticks as nets to catch ducks.  They did not have much success in these endeavors. ;)  We did identify a new species of waterfowl--the American Coot! I was much more excited about finally remembering to look up the name for this little bird that is at every park we go to than the kids were, though.  

Language Arts: 
We read Aesop's The Lion and the Mouse and Androcles and the Lion, discussed the genre of fables (although it's one they're familiar with) and discussed parallels between those two stories and our FIAR book.  Then we made lions from three different cut-out hearts, with it being Valentine's week and all.  

Charlie lobbied to put the lion heads on sticks so that they could be masks, so we did that, too!

We read some library books about lions, their habitat, life cycle, diet, etc.  Each of the kids told me some things they learned from our reading and I wrote them down. They then took a couple of their sentences and used them for copywork (handwriting practice).  

Hazel also got a quick discussion about contractions. ;) 
That's about all we did for Andy! Short week, short row, but a delightful story.  We read some other go-along books that were much enjoyed, too.  We recommend Lions at Lunchtime (Magic Treehouse), Jan Brett's Honey, Honey, Lion!, Library Lion, and I'm Going to New York to Visit the Lions.  

Looking at the pictures above, you'd think I was missing a child for a week.  I wasn't! Here's some of what Charlie's been up to: 

overjoyed by the arrival of the cursive workbook he asked for
deep in thought with those tangrams that came in the Chick-fil-A kids' meal 
 I'm not sure how he escaped the lion pictures, but I promise he was there! Thanks for reading about our row.  We enjoyed it!

Saturday, February 01, 2014

birthday present crafting

We bought some clementines in a little wooden crate a few weeks ago.  I happen to think those are completely adorable and struggle to throw them away.  We have a little girl's birthday party coming up, so Hazel and I decided to make another Princess and the Pea playset with it.  I made one about 3 years ago, and it's been one of my all-time favorite craft projects.  This time, Hazel selected the fabrics from my fabric stash and helped me plan out the project.  

Seven 1/2" thick mattresses, stuffed with craft foam, pillow, knit pink blanket, crocheted green pea and a little patch pocket on the blanket to store it in, plus a story book to finish the set. Came out so cute!

wrap up: Owl Moon

We just finished a delightful Five in a Row unit on Owl Moon! This story is simply gorgeous! The text is pretty simple, but the pictures are amazing, which is unsurprising, since it is a Caldecott medal winner.  We enjoyed some animal science, did some fun art projects, and even had a "snow" day (mostly sleet and some flurries), which is very rare in New Orleans, and was perfect for this snowy book choice!  I couldn't have planned it better.

For our first reading of the book, I turned out all the lights and closed all the blinds in the house to make it as dark as we could in the middle of the morning and had all the kids get a flashlight.  I hid our owl puppet up high in the mud room, and after we read the book, I told the kids to go owling and see if they could spot the owl we had hidden in our house.  So fun! They took turns after that and hid the owl for each other to find.

The other just-for-fun thing I did one day was make an Owl Moon themed lunch.  I am not normally the sort of mom who makes cutesy food.  My daughter was very impressed and appreciative, and all of the kids thought it was fun. Maybe I'll do something like that again?  But probably not soon.

Here's what else we did, by subject:

Social Studies
We located New Jersey on the map for our story disc, and colored a map page for our notebooks.  We discussed how it must be colder in New Jersey than it is here, since the story is set in a snowy winter wonderland, the likes of which New Orleans has never seen.  This gave us a chance to talk a little bit about how different parts of the country have different weather.

We did a second social studies day on kid/dad relationships.  This was SO fun.  In the story, the child has been looking forward to going out at night to look for owls with her father for a long time, has heard stories about it from her older siblings, etc.  I asked each of the kids to tell me one thing they like doing with their dad, and I wrote down their answers and had them illustrate them.  We gave them to David when he came home from work that day.  They were so sweet!  Here's Jono's:

I participated in this assignment too, and mailed my memory to my dad.  I'm sure he got a good laugh at my very juvenile art work.  

We did two different art projects, neither of which were in the FIAR manual for this story.  They were just ideas I saw on Pinterest or other FIAR blogs about this book and thought looked fun.  Jonathan declined to participate in both of these (art is not a hill I'm going to die on for a 6yo boy), but I made one of each along with the twins.

Snowy evening scene with owl eyes:

Hazel's top left, mine bottom left, Charlie's right
We also used this tutorial to draw some owls!

Hazel's left, mine right, before coloring
Charlie was much more into the scene he was drawing with exploding stars than his owl.
Hazel's with some color
mine, finished
We love animal science days!  After we read All About Owls, the kids did this Owls Can/Have/Are page.  That was a great notebook page to record what they picked up about an animal. I'm going to have to use that Can/Have/Are idea again when we do lions in a few weeks! Here's Hazel's:

Our big science activity this week though, was dissecting owl pellets!  This was a BLAST!! I ordered this kit from a homeschool science supplier and was very happy with the size of the pellets, how detailed the instructions and bone identification key were, etc.  The kids did one pellet together and we determined that it held the remains of 3 mice and one rat.  Later, I did a second pellet that included 3 mice.  So fascinating!

intact owl pellet, with visible mouse shoulder blade (I think?) 
see that little mousie skull?
I love Hazel's face here!
one full-ish skeleton (rat) and the three mouse skulls and jawbones above
After a couple of days cooped up in the house due to sleet, we went to the zoo in search of owls.  We found two different owl species at our zoo! I didn't take pictures of them, but they have an Asian Bay Owl  and a whole family of Spectacled Owls.  The kids were thrilled to see the two white fuzzy baby owls.  Adorable!

The big surprise at the zoo, though, was the table set up in the kids' discovery area about owls! They had several owl pellets, some feathers, some talons, and some skull bones from rodents that local owls might eat (mice, rats, nutria).  It was meant to be! The volunteer working the table said that we were the first visitors to stop by that morning, and that she was pretty sure my kids knew more about owls than she did. ;) My kids loved to see the talons and feathers.  We had talked about both of those when we read owl books earlier in the week, but to see the two talons facing front and two curving back for grabbing prey and to see the serrated edges of feathers to aid in silent flight was really meaningful!

checking out feathers at the owl display table at the zoo
We enjoyed the go-along books Owl Babies and Wait Till the Moon is Full, as well as All About Owls that I mentioned earlier.  Such a fantastic unit!

A couple more random pictures this week, not related to FIAR:
Jono has been doing a word search puzzle almost daily. His occupational therapist did one with him and he loved it, so we got him a book of them to do at home.  
Charlie's written phonogram practice.  The phonograms had to be part of a "sound train" going to the factory to make words.  This is what doing spelling with a 5yo boy is like. LOL

sleet on the trampoline!
icicles on the bird feeder!
remains of ice at the zoo!
Next week, we're taking a break from FIAR to spend a week on the winter olympics, and then we tackle Andy and Lion after that!  I hope you'll follow along!