As I’ve mentioned before, I’m really trying to make these Before Five In a Row selections into more of the unit studies they are meant to be as per this curriculum. I have mixed feelings about it, really, because believe it or not, the girls sometimes get tired of reading the selections for several days in a row. Too, I often feel that the activity suggestions in BFIAR are a little lightweight for us; they seem more appropriate for Louise’s age (3 1/2) and under instead of Lulu’s (a newly minted 5). Thus, I decided with Angus Lost to explore the world of lapbooking.
Angus Lost is a sweet and simple story (my thoughts here) with plenty of material for expansion. I used BFIAR to come up with subject material to explore to make this more of a unit study. We focused on dairy cows and the process of getting milk from the pasture to the refrigerator and caves (how’s that for an unexpected pairing of topics?) since Angus hides in a cave and follows the milk man back home. Using our library’s online catalog, I located all the books on these two topics that would be remotely accessible to my girls. For our foray into the world of dairy farming, we usedThe Milk Makers by Gail Gibbons
From Milk to Ice Cream by Stacy Taus-Bolstad (Start to Finish series)
The only one of these I think is a must-read is Gail Gibbons’ The Milk Makers. I consider Gail Gibbons to be the queen of juvenile non-fiction, and although I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned her here on my blog, we frequently enjoy her books as read-aloud selections. Gibbons’ illustrations are bright and colorful, and she includes labels and diagrams that are accessible even to preschoolers. The Milk Makers begins with identification of the breeds of cows that are used for milk production, continues on through how cows produce milk, then details how the milk gets from the cow to the dairy, and finally, how the milk gets from the dairy to the home refrigerator. Although the other two books are good and useful, I’m certain that there are other titles that would work well. The Milk Makers would actually be enough, though, to stand alone.
The other topic we explored from Angus Lost is caves. Since Angus spends the night in a cave before returning home, the BFIAR unit includes a cave activity (which we tried to carry out but much was lost in the execution), and our library has some simple juvenile nonfiction books about caves, we explored them a little. (A pun–get it?) The books we used are
These two books served both ends of the spectrum. The first one, Explore in a Cave by Dana Meachen Rau is very simple and age-appropriate for preschoolers. It details what a person needs to explore in a cave (hard hat, jacket, flashlight) and what one might encounter in a cave (dripping water, bats, a stream, and stone walls). Each page contains no more than two sentences. Larry Dane Brimner‘s Caves, on the other hands, is more appropriate for older children (maybe fourth grade and up), but it contains some very interesting pictures of geologic features in caves, etc. Both were useful for us in our cave “exploration.”
Of course, I had to check out this picture book when it came up under a search for caves on the library catalog:
Castles, Caves, and Honeycombs by Linda Ashman
Castles, Caves, and Honeycombs by Linda Ashman is a sweet story about animal habitats. Lauren Stringer’s bright illustrations are very simple and complement the text. This would be a great book to use as a “spine” to research the various places animals live.
In addition to reading all of these books, we also created our first lapbook. I borrowed most of my ideas from the Angus Lost page at Homeschool Share. I also found this sample lapbook extremely helpful. Our lapbook is very simple (almost to the point of my not wanting to post it), but maybe it will inspire or help someone. I googled dog breed coloring pages and found the image to use on the cover. Angus is actually like the dog in the back.
Inside our lapbooks we put a “What color is Angus?” mini-book, milk process layer book, and tab book in which the girls illustrated things one might find in a cave. All of these resources are found at Homeschool Share. (Lulu obviously has pilgrims on the brain. If you click on the picture, you’ll see that she included “pilgrims” in her Cave Book as one of the things found in a cave. I’m not sure where this originated, but we have read a book about the first Thanksgiving at least half a dozen times since then.)
The “What Angus Saw” game is my own creation. I googled coloring book images of the things Angus encountered in the story, glued the images to cardstock, and used a library pocket template to create a pocket to hold the cards. This is a sequencing activity; the girls are supposed to put these cards in the order in which Angus met them in the story. Of course, Lulu wrote the names of the things on the cards as I dictated.
We had fun making this lapbook. The girls created some of these minibooks while I prepared breakfast on different mornings. This worked well for us because they were fresh and interested in doing it (mostly) and it kept them occupied during a usually stressful part of the morning. Lulu especially loved making the minibooks–she has a heretofore undocumented on my blog affinity for little pieces of paper. In fact, she has asked me repeatedly for some of these books (the “What color is Angus?” book in particular) for her to put in her purse.
All things considered, though, I’m not really sure if I feel like lapbooking is a good fit for us right now. It honestly requires a lot of planning that I just haven’t gotten a handle on yet. I also don’t like the idea of having multiple file folders to store. I think notebooking might be more useful in our home. Also, we’re planning to follow a (neo?) classical education model a la The Well-Trained Mind. I thought we’d continue on with the Before Five in a Row selections now and begin with Five in a Row when Lulu officially begins kindergarten as a fun activity to incorporate some art, etc., into our weeks. Of course, we’ll keep on reading all our read-alouds, so this is really just an extension of that.
If you’ve made it this far in this epic post, congratulations! I did want to close with a proud grandparent story, though, if nothing more than to prove to myself that my girls most definitely are learning through all the things we do each week. On Memorial Day, we were at my parents’ house, and the girls, their cousins, and my dad were looking at his cows (one of them had just calved in the day or two prior to this, and a new calf is always reason for excitement). Lulu informed my dad that the cows were chewing their cuds, that they swallow the grass before they chew it “thoroughly,” and that they bring it back up to chew it again since they didn’t chew it “thoroughly” at first. Oh, she also pointed out that cows have four stomachs. My dad, of course, was amused and delighted. He told Lulu that she would be smarter than he is soon if she didn’t watch out, to which she replied something to the effect of, “I think I’m already smarter than you are, Papaw.”
Up next in lapbooking/notebooking at the House of Hope: the importance of humility.