Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Five in a Row: Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel

This post is quite overdue considering we finished "rowing" this book a few weeks ago (and have actually finished rowing another one since then), but I really want to use this blog to archive some of the fun things we do in homeschool so that nobody can say I didn't teach them anything so that we can look back and remember how much we've accomplished!  By the way, the term "rowing" is a unique term used amongst those who use the Five in a Row curriculum which I first introduced in this post.  It basically means the book you are currently working your way through (reading, doing activities, discussing, etc.).

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel was the first book we rowed this school year (actually the first book we rowed EVER since this is all new) and we had so much fun with it.  

We rowed this book for three weeks.  Typically, people using this curriculum only row each book for one week.  I like stretching it out in order to have more time to do activities that go along with the story, and not stress myself out by feeling like I need to pack all of those activities into a short timeframe.  
Throughout our weeks with this book, we read it in a variety of different ways - I read it aloud, we listened to it narrated on CD, we listened to a different version narrated on CD that incorporated music from the Philharmonic Orchestra (my library had this and it was so cool!), and the kids even watched an animated version of the story here on YouTube.  By the way, I have come to learn that YouTube is a homeschooler's best friend.  It's amazing what you can find!  We even learned a bit about the history of steamshovels and watched some "in action" again thanks to my friend, YouTube.

One component of FIAR that I really like (and the kids do to), is that it emphasizes geography with each lesson - relating it to where each story takes place.  There is an opportunity to teach about where the location is on the map, what the culture is like, what language is spoken, etc.  With each story that we read, we plot a story disk on our map to remember where it is taking place.  For this particular story, the location is fictional (Mike and Mary Anne dig a cellar in the town of Popperville... near other fictional towns that are named in the book), so we posted a "Land of Make Believe" on our wall next to the real maps and the kids helped to draw in some of the landmarks and towns.  We placed our story disk on this map :)

We learned about story characters by discussing the four main characters in the book and how they were similar/different from one another.  We also talked about how authors can make a story interesting by personifying characters (such as Mary Anne in this case).  We watched a clip from Beauty and the Beast (the "Be Our Guest" song where all of the dishes, food, etc. are personified) in order to see some more examples.  The kids then created their own personified characters:

Meet "Rainbow"

 and "Belle"

We also studied some new vocabulary words.  Since my kids regularly discuss cellars and canals they will be getting lots of use out of these new words for sure.  :) haha.

Our Art lesson used the drawings in the story to demonstrate how to make something appear close-up or far away based on the amount of detail added.  We drew trees to represent this.

The kids LOVED doing science experiments... we learned about steam and the water cycle.


They made bead necklaces for their stuffed animals using colors to represent the water cycle:
blue: water in ocean
yellow: sun heats it up
clear: evaporation
white: clouds/condensation
blue: rain/collection
(then repeat the cycle)

As our Bible lesson, the kids memorized Philippians 4:6 and we talked about how we don't have to worry when things don't go as expected because God is looking out for us and we can always  trust him with our needs.  We discussed the character trait of FLEXIBILITY and tied it into the story by talking about how Mike Mulligan and Mary Anne were faced with numerous opportunities where they chose to be flexible when their plans didn't work out.  I had the kids hold up these happy and sad face cards as we read, and they turned them to one side or the other to show if the characters were facing a sad or happy time and demonstrate how they had to constantly be flexible.

I think the highlight of our time with this book was making a Mike Mulligan cake!  

The kids did a great job measuring their ingredients, and even took the finished product to their daddy's office to share with him and his co-workers.  (Can you see Mary Anne digging the town cellar with all of the "people" watching?)
 Mmmm, it was tasty!!

To consolidate what we learned throughout our weeks of rowing Mike Mulligan, we created a lapbook.  I am hoping to work with the kids to create a lapbook for every book that we row this year, just so they have something tangible to hang on to and look at as a review.  They have already pulled this one off the shelf many times since we completed it!  I just made a short, narrated video to walk you through the components of our lapbook in case you want to use any of the ideas.  I got most of them from, but also a few ideas from other blogs and forums.  Thank you to everyone who shares ideas and resources online!!


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Happy Family Day!

On October 9th we celebrated our 2nd "Family Day" in honor of becoming a family of four in 2009 when we arrived home to the United States with Mikayla.  We spent a fun evening together going out to dinner and then hanging out at Enchanted Island, a small theme park in Phoenix.

The kids had so much fun flying helicopters,

 driving bumper boats,

riding the dragon coaster (multiple times),

 flying planes,

 racing cars,

 and riding horses!

The big kid had fun riding horses too :)

Speaking of the big kid, I think he had as much fun as the kids did on this next ride... either that, or he wanted to see if he could make somebody puke.  I certainly would have! As you can see from the video below, the bucket holding my children was spinning faster than any of the others (by FAR)!  

And yes, they did request that their dad take them on this ride THREE times throughout the evening. :)


This one cracks me up because it looks like gravity is just plastering Eli up against the side.

Then we came to the "parachute ride."  From the looks of it, Eli wasn't quite sure if he wanted to ride it.  Doesn't it look a little intimidating?

So of course, the best thing to do in this situation is end your sister on the ride and see if she comes back in one piece... ladies first, right?

There they go! Up, up and away!

She came down smiling! :)

Now Eli decides to give it a try... as you can see he's a little unsure...


Fortunately he was all smiles as well when they came back down.

As you can see, the "fast" descent requires loud, dramatic yelling...

What a special day!  So thankful to be a family of four and take the time to remember a journey  to bring home a little girl, our daughter, who changed our hearts and our lives forever.  We are truly BLESSED!