Friday, January 27, 2012

FIAR Week: Madeline, by Ludwig Bemelmans

I only planned to work on Madeline, by Ludwig Bemelmans for one week, but it took two full weeks to really "row" this book and I still felt there were a few things that we could have added! Ah, next time around!

Monday: Social Studies

First, we placed our story disc on the map.

Of course, we drew a French flag. 

I found this wonderful "pocket size Paris" paper doll-like set online for free, and we used it to act out some of the scenes from the book. It included Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower, but we had to make our own Sacre Coeur to align with Bemelmans' illustrations.
The kids work together to put up their city with the Seine.

Here is our Paris with the Seine.
We also talked at length about the difference between cities and towns. Last week we rowed Lentil, by Robert McCloskey and that was a unit which focused on small town life. A book based on the city of Paris provided a great opportunity to compare the two geographical concepts.

We had an unexpected January thaw this week as well, which caused a ridiculous amount of snow to melt, so we took advantage of it! We had already talked about the importance of the Seine to Paris, and the use of rivers as transportation devices, so we decided to test our snow-melt rivers with our own boats. We used some on-hand recycled materials for boats and loaded them up with foam beads as "cargo." So fun, and the point was made!
We test the boats without cargo
Then we load them up with foam bead cargo and send them down the river

Simple construction: yogurt container with a popsicle stick mast, paper sail, adhered with duct tape.

Everyone gets in on the action
Even the baby wants to watch!

Her boat made it from one end of "Paris" to the other!

Tuesday: Language Arts
I never have any good photos for language arts. We talked about rhyming, and we created our own short rhyme about our family and our homeschool. (I don't remember it or I would share it with you- sorry!)

Wednesday: Art
We did a little French Knitting this week to begin our study, and we had a blast doing it! Knitting is great fine motor work for all kids, but also is just plain great for the soul, in my view. We used a new kit which we got for Christmas, from For Small Hands, a Montessori school supply store.

As an additional activity for our art day I asked the kids to do a search on the internet for one of the buildings we learned about in Paris (Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower, Sacre Coeur, and the Louvre). We copied the photos into iPhoto (I LOVE my Mac!) and tried a variety of different effects on them. We talked about the variety we found in Belemans' illustrations, and the variety we created in our own.

Thursday: Math
In the book there is a sign on the hospital door, which reads "visitors from two to four." We used our classroom clock to explore what that really means and to begin a discussion of how time is told.
I also used some free printables I found here to give my kids a chance to practice drawing in where the hands should go on a clock to make it both 2- and 4 o'clock, respectively.

We also talked about symmetry by doing one of the age-old symmetry paintings. Everyone on the planet has probably done these, but in case you have been living under a rock and haven't ever had the experience, you paint one side of a paper (anything at all), then fold the paper over so some of the paint is transferred to the other side of the paper. Voila- symmetry.

Last, our middle child worked on putting items in order from smallest (like Madeline) to largest.

Friday: Science
Since Madeline has appendicitis in the story, we decided to find out a bit about how our digestive system works. We watched this very corny video about the digestive system and how it works. Other than a few weird pronunciations it was a good resource to help the kids understand the basics. Plus, we read our human body book to reinforce the idea. Then we checked out this link to learn about appendicitis and did this coloring sheet to reinforce.

Other activities:
Since Madeline's friends brought her flowers in the hospital, we talked about compassion this week and what it means to have compassion for others. Our intent was to bring someone flowers in the hospital (we thought we'd visit someone from our church who was ill), but a snowstorm put an end to that idea. Instead, we made some cards and sent them.

Oh, and I almost forgot! We did a scavenger hunt in French! I called out the names of household items (en francais!) and the kids had to race to find the item and bring it to me. 

Next up: we row Katy and the Big Snow!


  1. Found your blog form Preschool Corner! We also do FIAR! Looks like you had a lot of fun : ) Those celery prints are cute, I pinned them for another book. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Thanks for visiting and commenting, Kristina. We are just beginning to use FIAR, but we are really loving it! I take it that it works well for your family as well- such great books and such great perspective on learning through literature!

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