Friday, February 2, 2018

Hanna's Cold Winter

We just wrapped up our latest Five in a Row (FIAR) book study, Hanna's Cold Winter by Trish Marx, illustrated by Barbara Knutson (Volume 4).  I chose this book for this time because not only is it winter, but the story centers around hippopotamuses, an animal we have been learning about in our most recent Zoology 3 lesson, about even-toed ungulates.

Hanna's Cold Winter is a wonderful book.  Amazon's synopsis of it reads, "Hanna was a hippopotamus in the Budapest zoo.  Hanna and the other hippos thrived in the warm springs which flowed from the ground.  One winter, however, it was so cold that the river froze.  There was a war going on, and the people and animals were starving.  But the people of Budapest made a plan to save their beloved hippos.  This heartwarming story, based on a true incident that took place during World War II, is beautifully told by Trish Marx.  Barb Knutson's charming illustrations magically evoke the faraway place and time."

Maggie and I both loved the story.

Day 1 - Social Studies

The first topic that we approached with this book study was the geography of the story.  It takes place in Budapest, Hungary, a place we had not studied before now.  We read more about it in DK's Children's World Atlas.
You can see in the picture from the same (below), that the popular baths of Budapest, mentioned in the story,  are discussed here, too.  We were also able to follow the Danube through the city.
We then found this great little video about Budapest by The Traveling Trio at, below.  Again, the baths are shown.
So, of course, our story disk went over Budapest.  (Between our FIAR disks and our Zoology 3 critter pictures, I'm worried about our poor, burdened world map.  One of these days, I know I'm going to come into the classroom to find that it jumped in mercy.)
It was time to discuss the historical references in the book.  During the story, we see the effects that World War II had on the town.  We have touched on World War II with past FIAR books, but to review, we read out of The Story of the Second World War by Paul Dowsdell (an Usborne book).
This map inside shows the world, divided.  The green depicts the area under Allied control, while the red shows the areas under Axis control.  (Yellow is neutral.)  We were able to see that Budapest was right in the middle of that red area.
For dinner that night, we made the "Hungarian Goulash" recipe out of the FIAR manual.  Here is the container of sweet Hungarian paprika we bought for the two recipes we would make with this row.  (I found it at Fresh Market.)
Here is our goulash, complete with egg dumplings.
Apparently, it is eaten with sour cream, which I thought was strange, but it completed the dish nicely.  We were pleasantly surprised how good it was!

Day 2 - Language Arts

The manual suggested comparing and contrasting the themes of Hanna's Cold Winter with Stone Soup by Marcia Brown.  We love this old story and enjoyed seeing the parallels and differences between the two.
We then read the "Hippo's Hope" poem out of Shel Silverstein's A Light in the Attic.  I love sharing his poetry and illustrations with Maggie.

Day 3 - Art

Hanna's Cold Winter is illustrated using watercolors.  I wanted Maggie to create her own picture of a hippo using the same method, so I looked for some inspiration online.  First, I found this sweet hippo watercolor at (the picture below belongs to that site).  I liked the natural scenery and also that everything was outlined in marker to make the picture pop.
Then I found this fun idea of drawing a hippo both above and below the surface of water.  This idea came from, as well as this beautiful picture below.
I found a similar technique at  (The picture below belongs to that site.)
I also found an image on Pinterest that shows you how to draw a hippo, step-by-step.  (You can click on the image itself to see it larger.)
Using these four examples, I challenged Maggie to create her own hippo piece.  She was very excited to get started.  She decided to use the step-by-step drawing instructions to draw her hippos ...
 ... (Aren't they cute?!) ...
... then she chose to use the scenery picture from the first example to create her scene.  Once we outlined her drawings in black Sharpie, she used watercolor to complete it.  We love it!  And it was her idea to make it postcard-sized, like a postcard she would send to a friend after a visit to the Budapest zoo.  Clever girl.
 We stuck this in our science journal with our notes on even-toed ungulates.
Next, we talked about how accurately the illustrator, Barbara Knutson, depicted actual places around Budapest.  We looked up photographs of these real places online to compare them to her illustrations.  Here is her picture of the Budapest zoo.
And here is an actual photo!
Here is her picture of the hippos outside their hippo house ...
... and two actual photos of the same!
Here is the Lanchid Bridge in watercolor ...
... and in real frame!
Here is a picture from the book of the family noticing the bridge's lions' tongues missing.
In truth, the lions have no tongues!
Here is her depiction of the bath at the Gellert Hotel.
It's spot on!
And here is her picture of the Budapest cog trains.
Her work was so on point!
This train reminded us of our trip on the Incline Railway on Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga a few years ago.  It is said to be the world's steepest incline with a maximum grade of 72.7%.
Here is my photo of the train car from the side.
 Here are my two favorite people, before the ride down.
 It was STEEP!
So, back to our book study ... we wrapped up Day 3 by listening to the "Hungarian Rhapsody" on YouTube.  You can listen to it, too, at, below.

Day 4 - Science

Our first science discussion was all about peppers and paprika, two very important things to the Hungarian people.  We found this amazing video about Hungary's most-loved spice at, below.

We then broke out our Hungarian paprika again to make the second recipe from the FIAR manual, "Chicken Paprikash."
 Once cooked and served over egg noodles, it wasn't as colorful as it began, but it sure was good!
 Mags liked it better than the goulash.
Another science concept we studied was friction, after learning about the cog train in Budapest and how people were able to safely ride it with such a steep incline.  We read more about friction in Thud! Wile E. Coyote Experiments with Forces and Motion by Mark Weakland ...
... and in Usborne's First Encyclopedia of Science.
We then completed an activity where we quickly rubbed this coin over a pad of paper many times, feeling the heat that was produced from the friction of the two over time.
Hanna's Cold Winter also presented us with the opportunity to talk about geological hot springs, as Budapest has many.  We watched this video of the springs in Yellowstone on YouTube at, below.
And, of course, we studied hippos in depth.  As I said at the start of this post, this same week, we have been studying even-toed ungulates in our science studies (Apologia's Exploring Creation with Zoology 3: Land Animals of the Sixth Day by Jeannie Fulbright, Lesson 9).  We read about hippopotamuses in our text, in addition to the extra things we did to learn about them, below.
We spotted this baby hippo at the Montgomery Zoo on our recent trip there!
We also watched this great video by Free School on YouTube at, below.
We then read Owen & Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship by Isabella Hatkoff, Craig Hatkoff, and Dr. Paula Kahumbu.  It was not only a sweet read; it was also full of information on hippos.
After reading, we searched for a video of Owen and Mzee on YouTube.  We found this fun one at, below.
Next, we watched the "Fun in the Sun" episode of The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That! on YouTube at, below.  In this episode, we see that hippopotamuses secrete an oily substance that acts as a kind of sunscreen, and they live in water which keeps them cool in the African heat.  (This video actually has two episodes in one.  The hippo video, "Fun in the Sun." starts at minute 12:00.)

We have also had fun keeping up with Fiona (the baby hippo that was born 6 weeks premature at the Cincinnati Zoo, below) on her Facebook page at  Isn't she so cute??
Here is a recap video of her first year on YouTube at, below.  She just turned one last week!
Using the awesome printables for this book at ...
... and San Diego Zoo's hippo informational page at, we were able to answer a lot of hippo facts in these flipbooks and fact strips.  These will be added to our science journal.
For a snack, we had potato sticks, to resemble the straw that Hanna and her hippo housemates ate during that winter.
And that's a wrap!  

(The science post that I referenced covering our study of even-toed ungulates (artiodactyls) can be found at

I got some great news last week.  Mags and I get to travel to Colonial Williamsburg for eleven days this April!  I am so excited!  We are starting our colonial studies now, so our next FIAR read will be The Hatmaker's Sign: A Story by Benjamin Franklin, retold by Candace Fleming and illustrated by Robert Andrew Parker (Volume 4).  Check back with us soon!

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