Monday, January 11, 2016

FIAR: Mrs. Katz and Tush

When we started back to school after the holidays, I asked the boys what they wanted to learn about, and we landed on Mrs. Katz and Tush!

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Mrs. Katz and Tush

Emory specifically requested to study cats, and I started thinking about our FIAR books.  I knew we owned Mrs. Katz and Tush by Patricia Polacco.  The book is about a little boy and a widowed Jewish woman who bond over a new pet cat, and the unlikely, but lifelong friendship that develops.  Since one of the science lessons was about cats, I pulled out Volume 2, the manual and a few go-along books.  It was a casual week, and it took some interesting turns, but that's the fun part.  You might not guess from the lessons in the manual that we'd learn about rituals of Ancient Egypt, but that's the beauty of delight-directed learning!

Social Studies
Loving your Neighbor, Persecution of Minorities, Immigration

These were several of the lessons from the manual that we covered verbally.  Sometimes the best lessons are discussions we have about more mature topics.  We did read the book Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles, which is about growing up in the 60's in the south, particularly after The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed.  It shows us the hurt that can be caused, but it also shows us the depths of childhood innocence and friendship.

Geography - Poland
We kept the geography simple this week.

Language Arts
Foreign Language ~ Yiddish ~ Vocabulary
We covered most of the vocabulary in context.  Since they were foreign words the kids were naturally curious and asked a lot of questions.

We read the book Cats by Seymour Symon, which was very interesting and informative.  The boys enjoyed it.  Especially Emory, but then he was the one that requested to learn about cats. He seems to really like non-fiction, particularly non-fiction animal books.  He loves facts and pictures and we're forever looking up random things online.  (Not for this row, which was last week, but today during school, he asked if we could look up bobcats and the largest, and the most dangerous cats in the world.)

We also completed an Animal Fact File.  It's always interesting to see what the boys will choose to write in these.

They both (independently) wrote about cats being domesticated and/or mummified in Ancient Egypt for their "interesting" facts.  The next morning, Emory was asking more questions, so we got out some books about Egypt, and we spent some time really reading through I Wonder Why Pyramids Were Built.

The interesting thing is that I offered this book on Egypt when they asked to row The Giraffe that Walked to Paris, and they didn't particularly care to read much of it. Now that they had a reason to learn about Ancient Egypt {specifically, why Egyptians mummified their cats} they were fascinated. We focused on pets of Ancient Egypt, as well as the mummification process, and that led to a book on the human body.

One day we did something simple and made a small booklet of texture rubbings from things around the house.  They both used rubbing plates from my scrapbooking days, and some other things they used were the door, table, wainscoting, fireplace and carpet.

Raindrops rubbing plate

I also was lucky that this row had another great art lesson that I could tie directly into ARTistic Pursuits again.  Elliott enjoys new art projects, and even though we're skipping around between the three K-3 books, being able to actually use them more makes him happy.  This time we used Book 1: An Introduction to the Visual Arts.

The two lessons in FIAR were on Textures and Details in Art (and drawing what you see out the window), while the lesson in ARTistic Pursuits was "Artists See Texture" and the associated project was called "You See Textures in Nature!"  The project required them to look out the window and draw what they saw, using oil pastels.

Emory chose an evergreen tree he could see from his bedroom window.

Elliott picked a deciduous tree he could see from the kitchen window, and he got the "texture" into the tree by outlining it in dark brown and doing the trunk in a lighter shade.  We're still working on filling the whole page.

Like I said, a light row, but very interesting!

This row took place last week, but I realized today as I was writing it, that it lines up this week with Blogging through the Alphabet.  We're on week 11, letter "K" so K is for Mrs. Katz and Tush!

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  1. I am so considering using Five in a Row with my almost 8 year old daughter! You make it look so fun. I love how the Artistic Pursuits tied in with the FIAR art theme... You are welcome to link up FIAR posts, as well, to my link-up. I don't have many link-ups, but those posts get a LOT of traffic! Oh, and you are the winner of the Count and Color for Girls!! Email me at with your mailing address!

    1. It can be a lot of fun! It has taken me some time to find the right balance of what to add to FIAR to enhance it, without overdoing it . . . but we've really enjoyed our time with it! It's gentle, but covers such interesting topics, and it's easy to do delight-directed learning with it!

      Thank you for the giveaway ~ my girly will love it!

  2. intriguing notion to study cats for a week. I like it. :)

    Visiting from blogging the alphabet.

    1. The kid says he wants to be a "Taste Tester" but I'd see him as a zoologist first. He's my bug/animal/nature lover!

  3. That looks like such a fun week of schooling. I've thought about FIAR in the past, dismissed it as being too young for my almost-ten-year-old, but now I'm reconsidering. She could perhaps benefit from the easier books and repetition so that she can strengthen her comprehension skills.

    1. Cristi, I just mentioned this in an email with another mom considering FIAR! I think their age suggestion, and the fact that they use picture books, can be somewhat misleading. Yes, they use picture books, but many are longer and cover mature topics. I think my 9 year old gets more out of the program than my 6 year old. (Plus, we have the crew to bulk up his plan a little.) If you have any questions, feel free to email me, I'd be happy to discuss it with you!

  4. I might have to look into FIAR myself.. I've heard about it but didn't really think about it too much.. You do make it look fun and all the hands on would be perfect for my son.

    1. I'm glad I make it look fun! :) There are a lot of opportunities to make it hands-on and interactive, and my boys usually enjoy it.

  5. What a great Row! We haven't done this one yet (we have only just started with FIAR having done all of BFIAR). I love all the lovely learning that went on!

    1. We are the other way ~ I started my boys last year in FIAR, and I'm just starting Before with my preschooler. Looking forward to it!

  6. I love Five in a Row and how flexible it is. We're able to have structured homeschool time but can also follow interests. We haven't done this book yet, but I think my kids would enjoy it and you've given me some ideas! Thank you.