Wednesday, November 6, 2013

When I Was Young In the Mountains

Our ninth FIAR read was When I Was Young In the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant.  I chose this one to follow Down Down the Mountain, our last read, since our learning of Appalachian life would be fresh on Maggie's mind.  It was a sweet read, reminiscent of all things the author remembered from her mountain life as a child, and all the contentment she felt during that time.
Day 1 - Social Studies
After we read the book, we colored our story disk, a picture of a simple cabin in the mountains.  (You may remember from our last FIAR read that we, too, rented a simple cabin in the mountains for a fun experience!  Try it!  Ours was less expensive than a hotel room and way more fun!)
 Then, we placed it on West Virginia on the map, where the story takes place.
After that, we completed this simple writing activity that we found at
Then, we got into the history of the book.  First, we observed the differences in life long ago, and now, out of our Usborne Then and Now book by Heather Amery.
Next, we read My Community Long Ago by Bobbie Kalman.
After our reading, I found a great idea for a Contrast Chart for how the narrator of the story lived versus how Maggie lives at  Here is the simple chart I made for us to fill out.
 And here, Maggie is showing off our completed chart, after we went through all the differences we could find together!
Day 2 - Language Arts
For another writing activity, I found this great worksheet at, which required her to remember a time in her history and write about it, using the start of sentences to help her.  (One of the themes of When I Was Young in the Mountains was reminiscing on things past.)  She really enjoyed this activity!
Day 3 - Art
For the art study of this book, we talked about how the illustrator painted the sky, and about the soft colors throughout, which expressed contentment, a major theme in the story.  We also talked about how an artist draws the pouring of liquid, like this picture from the book.
We then poured our own liquid from a pitcher, to observe the arc that is formed from the same.
 And what was there left to do but have her draw her own picture of pouring liquid?!  Cute.  :)
Day 4 - Math
There was a lot of opportunity for teaching Math with this book, which I have found is not typical with our FIAR studies.  For our first activity, I used the story problems worksheet I found at  (A few of the problems were challenging for her to do on her own, but working together, it was a great addition.)
 Then, using scales, we learned how things were packaged at general stores during the time the story was set in.  (Here, Maggie is measuring out popcorn kernels on a bucket balance scale to get an equal weight for both.)
 Adding a little more to this side ...
 ... "I got it!"  :)
 Then, we used a digital scale to measure out our popcorn by weight.  (Of course, I had to explain to her that the digital option would not have been available back then.)
And for our final Math activity, at the suggestion of our FIAR manual, we made a bar graph of all the times we saw different animals illustrated in our book, cows, snakes, dogs, chickens, and other birds.  (Here was the simple chart I typed up for her to work on.)
 After she counted all the occurrences of those animals in the illustrations, she graphed her results. 

Day 5 - Science
And for the Science study of this book, we learned more about snakes!  First, we read Slinky Scaly Snakes! by Jennifer Dussling.

 Then, we followed it with The Life Cycle of a Snake by Bobbie Kalman.  (Maggie enjoyed both.)
Then, using the great "Snake Measurement Activity" we found at, we used a measuring tape to note the length of some different snake species. 
(She was astounded that the anaconda was the length of part of our home, from the front door to the back of Mommy and Daddy's room, approximately 450 inches!)
And finally, to wrap up our study of snakes, I found this great idea for making a "snake egg" at, using only one egg and enough vinegar to cover it.  (Leave the egg covered overnight and the vinegar will eat away at the shell.)
After 24 hours, this is what our egg looked like after I rinsed it clean!  It resembles a snake egg!
 And it was leathery like a snake egg!
She was tickled with it!
 "I can't wait for Daddy to see it!"
Another FIAR success!  Check back at the end of this weekend for our synopsis of Book #10, Miss Rumphius.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

James and the Giant Peach

We just finished reading our first Roald Dahl book together, James and the Giant Peach, and we are both fans!  I read 3-4 chapters a night to her, and she would beg me for more, so I knew we were on to something!  I decided to make a whole lesson after the reading!
After we finished the book, we watched the movie from 1996.  She loved it!
Then, we made peach smoothies, using 1 large peach (with the pit removed and sliced), 1/2 cup peach yogurt, 1/2 cup whole milk, and 6 ice cubes, all blended together.
 I added an orange straw and a couple of peach chunks and we were ready to slurp!
 Next, we mapped the peach's journey from England to New York!
 Then, we set out to make the peach art I found at, using white paper, orange and yellow tissue paper, green construction paper, scissors, glue, and a few bug stickers.  First, cut a large circle out of one of the pieces of your white paper to serve as the base of your peach.  Next, cut pieces of your tissue paper and adhere onto your circle with glue to make a mosaic collage of color.
 Once covered, we glued our peach onto our paper, added some green paper leaves, and our bug stickers to the top!  Cute!
 (A close-up of our bugs -- Ladybird and Earthworm from the book!)
 After that, we used the pictures seen at as inspiration for our own book art, using colored paper, scissors, glue, colored pencils, and string. 
 Here is Maggie, gluing string from the seagulls bodies to the peach stem.
 Our James and the Giant Peach book art!  It looks great!  Notice the entry hole she drew in the side of the peach!
 (A close-up of her sharks.  Cute!)
 (And here is a close-up of our attached strings, still drying.)
 For our second piece of book art, she drew the Empire State Building, and we added our peach to the top!  (She was so proud!)
 Our book art!
 I wrapped up our lesson, but later, she surprised me with more art that she made in honor of the book!  She is hooked!  I love when she gets into it!  :)
She even, on her own time, recreated the scene where Centipede fell into the water.
 There is Centipede, in the water, while James and Ladybird stand on top of the peach, horrified.  Clever girl!
I think we'll be diving into Charlie and the Chocolate Factory next!  Roald Dahl rocks!