Tuesday, January 5, 2016

FIAR: Another Celebrated Dancing Bear

I wanted to start December off with a FIAR book that could lead us into a Christmas study, so I chose Another Celebrated Dancing Bear by Gladys Scheffrin-Falk.  It's a quaint story about two bears who live very different lives, with different careers.  Boris thinks he leads a simple life as an animal doctor, and is jealous of his friend Max, who is a dancer in the circus!

Another Celebrated Dancing Bear

Five in a Row:  Another Celebrated Dancing Bear

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I picked Another Celebrated Dancing Bear because it takes place in Russia, and I thought that would help us transition into a study on The Nutcracker Ballet and Tchaikovsky.  Also, Elliott specifically requested more ART and I knew there would be some fun art lessons we could do with this unit.

Social Studies
Character ~ Relationships ~ Jealousy ~ Friendship 
When I asked what the book was about, one of the boys talked about how he (Boris) was sad and got a friend to teach him to do dance.  So we talked about how Max was a good friend to recognize Boris's jealousy and to offer to help him, without even being asked.

Russian Geography and Culture
We spent some time learning about the geography and the culture of Russia. While reading, one of the boys asked what the Hussars dance was, so we looked it up.  I found this Gallant Hussars video.

The story disk goes on Russia, obviously.

FIAR:  Another Celebrated Dancing Bear

I found this cute Russian Map Story Paper, and had the boys color the famous landmarks other symbols of Russia while I read to them about Russia.  Then they could write about something they learned.  Elliott wrote about St Basil's Cathedral, and Emory was fascinated by some of the vocabulary words we learned, so he wrote about that.

Five in a Row:  Another Celebrated Dancing Bear

Five in a Row:  Another Celebrated Dancing Bear

They particularly like the book If You Were Me and Lived in . . . Russia.  We've enjoyed all the ones in this series that we've read so far.  Each book focuses on one country, and shows what the life of a child is like.  They have a lot of vocabulary, for words like mama, papa, money, and they always mention favorite foods.  They are also great for pointing out similarities between children in America and around the world - the toys they play with, playground games or sports, celebrating holidays and going to school.  I actually received Russia as a review book a long time ago, but I've purchased some on my own as well.

This might have been one of the most insightful lessons we've ever done.  From the FIAR Fold-n-Learn, I decided to do the Occupation activity.

Five in a Row:  Another Celebrated Dancing Bear

Elliott focused on things he could do with Minecraft--design video games, become a minecraft shirt designer and create a Minecraft theme park.  Not surprising.  I told him by the time he's ready to enter the workforce, he might have to expand his horizons beyond the world of Minecraft, but those were great goals.

Emory ~ oh boy.  He told Elliott not to get a job because then he'd have to move out.  I suggested all kinds of occupations (things he's previously mentioned like zoologist and firefighter) but he said no, because they're too hard.  He wants to be a Taste Tester.  Not even a food critic, he just wants to eat the food.  He's going to be one of those adults.

Language Arts
We usually just do vocabulary orally as it arises, and the kids actually have great vocabulary and comprehension skills, so I don't do structured vocabulary activities very often.

There were only two words from the long list of vocabulary suggestions in the manual that we we needed to discuss.  The first was elegant, as one of the boys specifically asked what it meant.  We discussed it in context right then.  The other word was czar, because they were unfamiliar with it.  Since Elliott is practicing dictionary skills, he used a nifty little vocabulary worksheet, to learn about the word czar.  Emory used the simplified version of the worksheet, which did not have the synonym/antonym spaces.  (Both are free!)

Expanding Vocabulary (advanced)
Expanding Vocabulary (simple)
Merriam-Webster Children's Dictionary

Acting out a story, parts of a story or even just specific action words is a great activity.  It's helpful for reinforcing verbs and interpreting the meaning of a word or phrase, especially if the word has a homonym, and they have to think back to the story and the context in which it was used.  Plus, it's just FUN!  Even Elliott enjoyed it, because the boys liked to exaggerate their movements and become overly dramatic to make each other laugh.

In the past, it has been hard to get the boys interested in the art related to the books.  This one, however, I knew I could tie into Elliott's beloved ARTistic Pursuits and his request to do more art.  I used K-3 Book 2 and a lesson on printmaking.  We learned how the illustrations in the book were made, and then did our own version, following the lesson in the art curriculum. {There are a variety of lessons on this, and we'll continue to explore them, as they really enjoyed this!}

FIAR:  Another Celebrated Dancing Bear

Another day we talked more about Russian culture and created this Matryoshka (nesting doll) project from Great Empires.  There was a blank version, but I worried the boys might find having to design all the dolls intimidating, and after I printed these, I worried they might find coloring a bunch of flowery dolls "girly" (although I do not condone them stereotyping activities or actions as such), but gladly, I was wrong!  Emory just decided his would be a family, and thus needed a father.  So he colored the largest one blue and black and gave it a mustache!  Elliott actually enjoyed the history, and we looked up a "how it's made" type video on YouTube.

FIAR:  Another Celebrated Dancing Bear

We ended by transitioning into a study of The Nutcracker and a simple composer study on Peter Tchaikovsky.  These are the resources we used:

The Nutcracker from Maestro Classics
The Story of Swan Lake from Maestro Classics
The Story of Tchaikovsky in Words and Music
The Nutcracker Ballet by Vladimir Vagin
Peter Tchaikovsky (Getting to Know the World's Greatest Composers) by Mike Venezia

We already love Maestro Classics, but I was pleasantly surprised that they were quiet and attentive during the The Story of Tchaikovsky, as it was more informative, and less entertaining.  The biography was a little long for a picture book, I could have broken it down into two readings, but they enjoyed the picture book version of The Nutcracker.

All in all, it was a good row.  This row happened to focus on geography and art, but I'm finding the more delightful rows are those were I don't necessarily worry about rowing as written, but just doing what meets their interests and needs.  I was also delighted with how well our first composer study went, and I'm looking forward to choosing a new composer!

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  1. I just wanted to stop by and say thank you for sharing your FIAR learning moments. I love looking at what others are inspired to do with each book :) I used to always post our "rows" but life has been crazy lately. I hope to return to posting but in the meantime, I do appreciate those that are sharing.

    Happy Rowing!

    1. Thank you for the kind words! I also love looking at what others do with their rows. :)

  2. Wow, what a fun "row"! I can't wait until we start FIAR in August, because it looks so fun! I love the printmaking. My kids would enjoy that. Your kids are adorable, by the way. Thank you so much for linking up, and I hope to see you link up again this Friday!

    1. Thank you! I hope your family enjoys FIAR! It's been a fun journey so far!

  3. This was a really fun post to read! We just finished studying Russia too. Here's my post about it if you're interested: http://desperatehomeschoolers.com/2015/11/13/our-weeks-in-russia-romania-and-the-former-u-s-s-r-with-winter-promise-children-around-the-world/

    I host a link up for all-things-books-and-literacy every Thursday at Mommynificent.com. I'd love to have you join us there anytime!

    1. Thanks, I will try to remember to link up our book activities!

  4. I haven't heard of this book, but it looks like a great way to learn more about Russia. Thank you for linking it up with Favorite Book Friday.

    1. I had never heard of it before Five in a Row, but we enjoyed our studies. :)

  5. wow.. what a neat way to study a book. We liked the "if you were me" books as well.