Monday, January 16, 2012

FIAR Week: Rowing Lentil, by Robert McCloskey

Here is our first week of using Five In A Row:

We "rowed" Lentil, by Robert McCloskey. Can I possibly be more enthusiastic about this week in our homeschool?! No, it's not possible. I have been 110% more excited than the kids to try out this new style of learning, and even they are pretty excited. :)

So, first we ate lentil soup for dinner. Why wouldn't we?? I wasn't sure about how this meal would go over with the junior members of the family, so I added sausage to the recipe to entice. It worked- everyone at least had some, which I consider to be a victory,  and if nothing else, they now have an appreciation for what a "lentil" actually is. (If you use this recipe, I would use a lot more spinach- my kids love it and the 1/2 cup in the recipe wasn't nearly enough for this veggie-conscious mom.)
Lentil soup with a side of spinach salad for our first day of "rowing" Lentil!
 Monday is our "social studies" day, so we worked on a few different themes. The first was the idea of small town life, as suggested in the curriculum. I had seen this idea on Pinterest, so I decided to incorporate the two in order to best discuss small town life, by juxtaposing it against larger geographical concepts. It worked!

The maps I used are here: World map, United States map, Maine map.

We've also done this idea just for fun in the past, but it would be a great tie-in to this lesson on small town life and the types of building necessary in a town.  (You can tell these pictures are old because I still have my long hair!) 
We took an old shower curtain and I drew the basics of a town on it with permanent marker, and let the kids (and their imaginations!) take over with magic marker that we wash off after each play experience. We use hot wheels cars, Little People carriages, and anything else we can think of as props for our little town. We could so easily integrate this experience with the book by adding, "the drugist, the barber shop and the library..." as McCloskey's town includes. 

On Tuesday, we had a language arts day. The suggested lesson involved the components of a story (introduction, setting, etc.), but I felt that my learners weren't yet ready for that kind of distinction. Instead, we simply read through the book and picked out the new vocabulary terms which weren't familiar to the children. We talked about the pictures, and discussed whether or not they gave us clues as to the word definitions.

Wednesday brought Art day, which was a blast! It just so happened that I had a meeting in Portland that morning, so we used the chance to go to a local artist supply store to purchase real charcoal pencils and a real sketchbook. What wonderful additions to our supplies at home! One suggested lesson for the day was to look carefully at the type of illustration in the book and to simulate shading independently. This was much harder than it looked, even for the adults (ahem!), and we wound up just having more of a giggle about our own efforts than anything else. Still, lesson target achieved: understanding the complexity of book illustrations.

On Thursday we did our math lesson. Initially I was unsure about presenting my five year old with a lesson on fractions, as described through the concept of musical notes, but I decided to give it a try nevertheless. It was a suprising success! We began by clapping out how many beats each type of note demanded (I made the below chart beforehand to give us a template to follow). Then, I used our felt board (made from covering a very old corkboard with black felt) to illustrate the concept of "whole" notes vs. "half" notes vs. "quarter" notes. I was suprised to find that my oldest student followed right along! See below how I made the props to support this lesson idea.
First, I traced a large circle onto the felt.

Then, for the half notes, I cut that circle into halves. I cut them again for quarters, always floding to be sure each section was equal to it's other parts. (I left a pink one whole to demonstrate what the whole would look like.)

Here is what I finally presented to the children. They could move the felt pieces at will and could stack them up to find out how many quarters make up a half, and how many halves make up a whole, etc. I left the chart available to them as a reference throughout the lesson. 

Finally, Friday brought our science lesson, which this week had to to with taste buds- what they are and what they do. This was a fun thing to do because in the story the character Old Sneep sucessfully thwarts the efforts of the Alton Marching Band by sucking on a lemon and making everyone pucker up! We tasted lemons ourselves, and they did indeed make us pucker.
Then we made some lemonade to see if we could make the sour taste of the lemon change- and we sure did! I bought the Five in a Row cookbook on Amazon for $19, and I highly recommend it as it gave us a bunch of fun lemon-related recipes (which tie into the book) to try this week while we read.
First we squeezed the lemons...
...removed the seeds and poured the juice into a large measuring cup...
...we added sugar...
...and water...
...and drank! Ava's expression is one of concern for her brother, given that we had just tasted the sour lemons on their own, and she wasn't yet convinced that the sugar was going to sweeten the deal!

I should note that I do other math and reading/writing related things with the kids throughout the week, but I will post more about that later. For now, LOVING this new approach to school!


  1. How cool! Do you pick the book on your own, or are there suggested curricula for a bunch of kids books?

  2. Very awesome. A couple of years ago Jupiter planted some lentils in the garden to see what they would do, and wonder of wonders, they sprouted and we had a tiny patch of lentil sprouts in the garden. But since she planted them in August, that was as far as we got with that. I could maybe sprout some in the windowsill now though...I'm having garden withdrawal!

  3. There are a list of books with the FIAR curriculum, so I decide a week in advance what book I'm going to "row" and we request it from inter-library loan, then we pick which activities we're going to use (which relate directly to the book).
    And I had no idea that you could sprout lentils right from the store-bought, dried version- can't wait to try that this spring! I too miss gardening in a huge way!

  4. Welcome to the world of FIAR! Thank you for sharing your Lentil post! That lentil stew looks yummy :) I love how you taught your fractions, too.

  5. Thanks, Tamara! I'm loving the link ups so that I can see what others have done before me. Thanks for providing such a valuable resource!

  6. As a former school teacher (Pre-K and K), these are some of my favorite books. Ping! I love Ping! Make Way for Ducklings! Loved these. I am saving copies of these books for my grand baby. Good Job!

  7. You know, I had the same reaction when I saw Ping on our list of books. I have wonderful memories of reading that book with my parents as a child, and it really does sweeten the deal for me to be able to share the experience with my own children. I hope your grandbaby loves them as well!

  8. I truly love your site.. Great colors & theme. Did you develop this amazing site yourself? Please reply back as I’m planning to create my own site and would like to learn where you got this from or exactly what the theme is called. Appreciate it!

  9. The shower curtain idea...GENIUS...freaking genius! I love it :) :) :)

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