Friday, September 27, 2013

Storm in the Night

Our latest FIAR read is Storm in the Night by Mary Stolz.  It's about a boy named Thomas and his grandfather, who share a storm experience.  (This book was the perfect pick this week since we have been learning about storms in Science.)  Grandfather relays a story from his childhood and Thomas, the boy, learns more about fear and overcoming it.  The book is filled with lots of sensory wordage and it's easy to imagine yourself right there, on the porch with Thomas and Grandfather, witnessing the storm, too.  Maggie enjoyed it, and it didn't hurt that the story had a cat (Ringo) in it!
So, let me show you what we did.

Day 1 - Social Studies

After we read the book for the first time, we colored our story disk for our map.
There was no definitive geographical setting for this book, but there was the mention of Congregational church bells ringing.  Grandfather and Thomas are both African-American.  Years ago, my husband and I toured the very first African-American church in the US, in Savannah, Georgia, so Maggie and I decided to place this story disk over Savannah.  (You can read more about this church at,_Georgia.)
After that, we discussed the relationship between Grandfather and Thomas, and we talked about fear.
We then completed the FIAR Bible supplement to find out what God tells us about fear.

Day 2 - Language Arts

On Day 2 of our book study, we covered Language Arts.  After we talked about contrast in language in the book (for example, the words used in the beginning to relay the strength of the storm versus those used at the end of the book to relay how the storm had quieted) and the use of italics for emphasis, we covered a couple of new vocabulary words that we heard in our reading.  We learned the word bough, and the word mandarin.  If you look at Ringo's eyes here and in the next picture, you will see what the author meant by "mandarin eyes."
So, of course, we had some mandarin oranges for a snack!
 We then talked about onomatopoeia.  I got this great idea for a weather mobile to illustrate onomatopoeia at, using gray, blue, and yellow cardstock, scissors, a black marker, a hole punch, and string.
First, we cut a big cloud shape from the gray paper.  This will be the base of your mobile, that everything else will hang off, so be sure to make it big.  Then we used onomatopoeia to write on it a sound it might make ... "BOOM!"  We then made a lightning streak from the yellow paper ("ZAP!"), and drops of rain from the blue ("Blip-Blop," "Ping-Pang," and "Drip-Drop.").
We strung it all together to make our mobile!
(For more storm project ideas, see our other posts from this week.)
After our mobile was finished, we talked about personification and simile.  In the book, Grandfather recalls a man who had a face “like a crack in the ice.”  We talked about simile, and then I challenged her to draw what that might look like.  This is her picture, which she explained was "gray and cold, like ice."  Smart girl.
Finally, I challenged her to use her five senses to imagine and then complete this poem to describe a thunderstorm:


I see ______.
I hear _______.
I feel _______.
I smell ________.
I taste ______.
Once she completed the poem, I typed it up and we glued it onto gray paper.  Then, she added storm stickers to the gray paper, all around her poem.
Here it is!
(Here is a close-up of her poem.)
Day 3 - Art

For our art study of this book, we talked about how the artist used color, to depict darkness and light throughout.  We also talked about reflections, and facial expressions.  In this picture from the book, you can see Thomas looking out the window, to the right of himself.  You can see this by how the artist made his eyes.  Maggie and I talked about eye direction ...
 .. and then looked at the examples in the manual.
 We then decided to experiment with this ourselves, and make some of our own faces with eyes seeing in different directions.  I found these great templates to use at
Then, Maggie set out to make the faces looking in different directions, to the left, to the right, up, and down.

Here is her face, looking up.
 After that, we looked at how the artist drew profiles, like the three here on the book's cover.
 Using a blank piece of white paper, tape, and a flashlight, we then set out to draw our own profiles!
 (Here is Maggie's.)
 She also decided it'd be fun to get her stuffed elephant's profile.  (I just realized I snapped yet another picture with our nosy cat, Emmett, lingering in the background!)
 Elephant's profile. 
Day 4 - Math, Science
Our final study of this reading was devoted to the math and science of the book.  For math, we observed the shapes and patterns in the quilt on Grandfather's bed. 
We then played this great "Polygon Quilt Game" that I found at, using triangles to form different shapes.  The harder the shape found, the more points it gets.  (I colored a few ahead of time for Maggie as an example.)
Getting to work ... 
 In her first try, she scored 20 points! 
Then, for science, first, we talked about sources of light and what happens when a little light is present in a dark space.  (Even the smallest of lights fills up the darkness!)  Here we are in her pitch black closet, after she snapped on the flashlight!
We also talked about aging, noting the differences between Thomas and Grandfather, and the senses, specifically, how some senses become more heightened when one is not in use.  (For example, how you can hear better when the room is dark and you are unable to see.)  Finally, we talked about storm safety, and put together a "Storm Survival Kit."  (This was VERY exciting for her!)  She gathered flashlights, extra batteries, a battery-operated radio, first aid items, and a couple of granola bars. (We had talked this week about where we would go in our home in case of a tornado warning, and since we discovered the best place is in Mommy and Daddy's bathroom, and not the kitchen, we thought a couple of snacks might be a good addition to the kit!) 
All ready to go!  She is very proud of her kit and was happy to find a secure place for it. 
We resume school next week, Week 5, with a study of living things, all things forests, and another FIAR book, Three Names by Patricia MacLachlan.  Check back with us!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Snow Wonder

I'm late on making this post, but we wrapped up last week, Week 3, with a lesson on snow (finalizing our weather study), then completed our work with grasslands for Geography.  (There will be another post soon to follow with our sixth FIAR book, Storm in the Night.)  This week, Week 4, is our "Break Week," and we have been enjoying it thoroughly, but also getting some work done, too (like finally getting around to catching up on the blog).  We will resume next Tuesday with Week 5.  Here is how Week 3 ended ...

We read Today Is Cold by Martha E. H. Rustad ...
... Weather: Snow by Ann Herriges ...
... It's Snowing! by Gail Gibbons ... 
... Snow Is Falling by Franklyn M. Branley ...
 ... and Who Likes the Snow? by Etta Kaner.
We also read The Magic School Bus: Lost in the Snow by Joanna Cole ...
 ... Snow by Roy McKie ...
... The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats (a classic!) ...
... and, for fun, There Was a Cold Lady Who Swallowed Some Snow! by Lucille Colandro.
 For our first activity, we made the "Okra Print Snowflakes" as seen at  For the same, you need raw okra, blue construction paper, paints in white, blue, and purple, and a paintbrush.  First, cut your okra at the widest part, so they look like this.
Then, using your paintbrush, coat the cut side of your okra with a light layer of paint.  Lightly press the painted okra onto your paper.  (If you press too hard, the spaces between the okra's seeds won't be seen, and it won't resemble a snowflake.)
Keep making prints.
Maggie's thoughtful piano teacher suggested a really neat site for virtual snowflake cutting,  It is really neat!  Just click on the little scissors icon and start snipping away at the folded paper!  Maggie loved it!
And, what's a snow study without a "Grow a Snow Day" snowflake?  (Maggie loves these grow things, just like every kid I know!  I enjoy adding little, cheap things like this to our curriculum as fun surprises throughout a lesson.)
Adding it to water ...
... and waiting for it to grow!
Then, just for fun, I gave her a box of sugar cubes and challenged her to make a "snow" castle.
 In construction ...
Our snow study wrapped up our two-week study of weather, and with the new Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs movie coming out next week (Maggie is obsessed with the first one!), I thought this next activity was perfect!  I found it at  The owner of the blog offers great printables for your young writer to imagine what he/she would want it to rain, instead of meatballs.  Maggie predicted it will rain cheeseburgers.  :)
Cute!  (I am so proud of this kid's handwriting!)
Then, we finished up our grasslands study in Geography.  First, we read The Prairie Builders: Reconstructing America's Lost Grasslands by Sneed B. Collard, III.
Then, we made the cute little grasslands finger puppets we found at
We then wrapped up our week-long study of grasslands with a journal entry (I giggled at what she said her favorite African savanna animal was) ...
... and a grasslands diorama using this great Scholastic Animal Habitats book!
Here is the American prairie side of our diorama ...
 ... and the African savanna side!
 (Here's a view of it from above.  I love, love this book!)
So, Week 5, we will be starting our study of living things, and continuing our landforms study with a closer look at forests.  Also, we will start a new FIAR book, Three Names by Patricia MacLachan.  But before that, look for our new FIAR post for Storm in the Night, coming tomorrow evening!  Thanks, as always, for checking in with us!