Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Mirette on the High Wire

This week, for our FIAR book, we rowed Mirette on the High Wire by Emily Arnold McCully.  Amazon says of it: "Mirette was always fascinated by the strange and interesting people who stayed in her mother's boardinghouse. But no one excited her as much as Bellini, who walks the clothesline with the grace and ease of a bird. When Mirette discovers that fear has kept him from performing for years, she sets out to show him that sometimes a student can be the greatest teacher of all."  Maggie enjoyed it a lot.
To start our study of this book, first, we discussed its geography -- Paris, France, just like the location of our last FIAR read, Madeline.  (Here is a link to that post, as we studied the city extensively: http://homeschoolingmom2mags.blogspot.com/2014/10/madeline.html.) 
After we located it on the globe, we placed our story disk for this read on our world map.  (It's getting pretty crowded over there in that region, but there are still more to add soon!)
Next, we talked about all the places that were also mentioned in the book -- Moscow, Naples, Niagara Falls, and Barcelona.  These we located on the globe and then labeled them on this free printable world map at http://travel.newarchaeology.com/worldmaplarge.gif.
For dinner on Night 1 of this read, we made the recipes for this book out of The Five in a Row Cookbook (omelettes, crepes, and hot cocoa), pages 58-59.  Here is our cocoa, cooking on the stove.  Yum!
A happy diner!
 The cocoa was delicious!
My omelettes were a bit darker than I had hoped, but they tasted awesome!  We added portabella mushrooms to them.  So good.
This story was full of compound words, for example, "boardinghouse."  We took out our compound words cards to make more!
"Snow" + "man" = "snowman!"
To start on our study of art for this book, we first watched the great YouTube video about Blondin at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9H-yrfmqmGc.  (Blondin is who the character of Bellini in the book is based on.  I have posted the video for you, below.)
We also talked about viewpoint, as there were several in the illustrations throughout this book.  I challenged her to use watercolor (the medium used in the book) to paint a viewpoint using a tightrope (either from the wire looking down, or from the ground, looking up).
 She said she wanted to paint her picture from the viewpoint of the wire's level, looking down.
 All done!  She painted the people very small, in the bottom right-hand corner.
 The black "hook" is a streetlight!
 Then, we did some work for this book out of our Evan Moor Literature Pockets: Caldecott Winners workbook (pages 37-44).
The first activity we did from the workbook was to create a night scene of the act of Mirette and Bellini, as seen in the book.  She started by coloring buildings on the bottom half of a piece of blue construction paper with crayon.
Once her buildings were drawn, she added a moon and stars.  Next, we painted a wash of black watercolor over the whole scene.  (The crayon resists the paint.)
Last, we added a string (tightrope) to our scene and silhouettes of Bellini and Mirette that they offered in the workbook.
 It turned out so great, a real masterpiece!
After her artwork, she did a writing activity that had her recall a time that she faced a fear and was victorious over it, like Bellini in the book.
And then it was time to make a circus poster to advertise Mirette and Bellini's act!
Cute, Mags!
The last activity we completed from the Evan Moor workbook was one where she imagined something new that Bellini would perform on the tightrope, a difficult feat.  She wrote, "Bellini does ten flips on the high wire," and then illustrated it.
All of this went in her literature pocket for this book.  (I love Evan-Moor!)
It was time for some science.  We talked about balance and focus and I challenged her to concentrate and look ahead as she walked the length of her jump rope across the room.
 She was very focused!  :)
We learned more about balance and the fluid in our ears by reading through pages 372-373 of our The Usborne Science Encyclopedia.
(Here is a snapshot from those pages.)
Then, using the idea we saw at http://www.schooltimesnippets.com/2012/02/fiar-mirette-on-high-wire.html, we filled a small bottle with water and glitter to show how the fluid continues to move in our ears even after we've stopped moving.  Here, Maggie is shaking the bottle, pretending it's her body on a roller coaster.
 When she stopped the bottle (pretending her body was now still), the fluid still moved, just like the fluid in our ears.  This is why we feel dizzy sometimes after a lot of movement.
 For another activity on balance, I used the experiment suggested at http://lifestyle.howstuffworks.com/crafts/seasonal/winter/science-experiments-for-kids9.htm, using an index card, pencil, scissors, paper clips, and string.  (This picture is from their site.)
First, we folded our index card in half and I drew half of a clown on one side so the full clown would be symmetrical once cut out.  (We learned about symmetry before when we rowed Madeline.)
 Here is our symmetrical clown!
 Maggie then colored him to make him more clown-like!  :)
 Once he was fancy, we added one paper clip to each of his arms to add weight and turned him upside down to balance on the eraser of a pencil.  (We didn't have much luck, but gravity certainly proved true!)
 Then, we tied a long piece of yarn between two of our dining chairs to make a tightrope.
 And we tried to balance our clown on the string!
Again, not much luck, but she had fun trying!
 It was another great row!  Next up?  The Giraffe That Walked to Paris


  1. Looks like yet another great row. I absolutely LOVE her viewpoint watercolor and her night scene. Are there many other FIAR titles in those Literature Pockets? Looks like a great resource! I can't help but notice your table and chairs outside your dining room window, and how lush and green everything looks by you. Do you ever sneak out there to school? Looks so inviting. :-) We have not had a true onset of fall yet....our only cool days have been either rainy or excessively windy. Most of the time we still have pretty high temps. I'm more than ready for true fall to arrive! I don't know The Giraffe That Walked to Paris yet because that is one I have not found as of yet to purchase for our FIAR library. I'll be excited to see how that one goes!

    1. Hi, Brooke! Yes! In the Evan-Moor Literature Pockets: Caldecott Winners books, there are a few FIAR titles. In 1-3, they have Owl Moon and in 4-6, they have Grandfather's Journey, Mirette on the High Wire, and Snowflake Bentley. Sometimes, we do work outside, but it's still been hot here. We are in Georgia and Fall hasn't come fast enough here, either! As for The Giraffe That Walked to Paris, Purple House Press now sells it! Here is a link ... http://www.purplehousepress.com/giraffe.htm! Chat with you again soon!

    2. OH! I'm so glad you shared the link to Purple House Press. I've never heard of them! I keep hoping to find a reasonable copy of Down, Down the Mountain, which I desperately want to row. (They don't currently have it, but I'll keep checking.) However, I do see that they carry a number of other FIAR titles which I have not been able to locate. I'll definitely be ordering from them! Thanks again.

    3. You are so welcome! Be sure to check their bargain bins! Sometimes, they have FIAR titles for as little as $5! Score!