Friday, September 25, 2015

Rowing Night of the Moonjellies {FIAR}

Rose and I just finished our first "row" of the school year - Night of the Moonjellies. I am linking to it here, but it looks to be out of print on Amazon and the used prices are pretty ridiculous, so I would not recommend buying a copy! If you can get it from the library though, it's a really great book and lots of fun to row.

Here's what we did....

*Social Studies*

  • We found the New England states on a map and she colored them in.  We talked a little bit about each state. She is quite familiar with them and has been to all of them, because we are from New England! The story doesn't mention exactly where the story takes place, but a note in the back of the book says that Mar Gra's was an actual restaurant in Rhode Island, and the author (Mark Shasta) based the story on his  own experiences as a child. Neat! We also talked about why the early settlers named the area "New" England. 

  • We discussed what sorts of things she would need to do to run a business like Mar Gra's. She talked mainly about the food, especially serving it to the customers. So I brought up some of the behind the scenes making the food, ordering supplies, keeping inventory, upkeep and cleaning, etc.
  • I asked her to try to remember all of Mark's responsibilities at the restaurant. The story tells us that he was responsible for keeping the ketchup, mustard, and relish supplies full, helping with food prep, acting as a runner, and assisting with cleaning. I pointed out that he is only 7 - the same age as her!

*Language Arts*

  • We used the manual to discuss the contrast in language in the story. The tone of the story changes to compliment what is going on. The bustling restaurant scenes feel busy partly because of the pictures and partly because of the language. In contrast, the peaceful scenes by the harbor have a calmer tone.
  • We discussed how boat names are shown in italics,  like the Periwinkle. We reminisced about a summertime visit to a  harbor where she spotted a boat with the same name as her cousin.
  • We discussed first person point of view and some unfamiliar vocabulary words (like pier), using notes in the manual.
  • As suggested in the manual, we kept a running list of food items from the story. After each reading we added whatever items she could remember.  I wrote the names; she drew the little sketches. She had a lot of fun with this and got very excited if she heard a new one while I was reading! On the last day of our row we double-checked to make sure we had them all. 


  • We discussed the medium the artist used, then she tried a pastel drawing of her own. She chose to do an ocean scene, but she was feeling tired so she didn't add much detail.

  • Using the manual, we talked about how the details in this story add a lot to the narrative. There are many things we would not know if it weren't for the wonderful pictures in the story, like what Mar Gra's looks like.
  • Also from the manual, we discussed the different palettes in the story...the cool blues of the nighttime dock scene versus the warm reds and oranges of the ship's cabin.


  • I asked her to tell me about some animals that live by the sea, and she added a few to her oil pastel drawing. 
  • We used information in the manual to briefly discuss the needs of saltwater versus freshwater animals. I pointed out that Mark puts saltwater in with the moonjelly...not freshwater!
  • We visited Mark Shasta's page and read about moonjellies. We found out that they aren't jellyfish at all, but that they really do give off light.

*More Fun*

  • We had a Mar-Gra's theme dinner. Rose does not like lobster (or fish of any kind), so she chose to have hot dogs, onion rings, and orange soda. The FIAR cookbook had a recipe for homemade onion rings, but we kept it simple and used frozen ones. We added watermelon, so there would be something healthy on our plate!

  • We made seaglass candy, which I think was Rose's favorite part. It really looks just like seaglass!

We followed this recipe, except I couldn't find blueberry oil, so I used orange extract. I have not had much success with candy making before, so I didn't expect too much, but this recipe was easy and turned out great. Rose's favorite part was hitting the candy with the mallet to break it into pieces.

I have one more craft we may try for this row...but Rose has been sick this week and we haven't been able to go shopping for supplies yet. It also took us a long time to row this book...almost a month! So we are feeling ready to move on. We rowed How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World two years ago, but she wants to do it again, so that's the plan. You can see our previous row of that book here. If Rose feels better this weekend (and no one else gets sick!) we will head out to pick apples to kick things off.

Update...we did squeeze in one more craft, this super-cute jellyfish inspired by this post.

Rose painted a paper bowl using acrylic paints, then glued on wiggly eyes. I helped her hot- glue pretty ribbon all around the inside of the bowl...and a jellyfish was born. I love how it looks hanging in the corner of her room.

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