Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Rowing Mike Mulligan {FIAR}

Rose and I are quite close to finishing up Volume 1 of Five in a Row. We won't be doing every book from this volume, but I think we'll hit most of the titles. We recently rowed Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel. This is such a wonderful classic tale - I can remember reading it when I was a kid!

Here's what we did!

*Social Studies*

  • We talked about steam power and hunted through the pages of the book to find examples of "old-fashioned" things. I could not find my regular copy of Mike Mulligan, so we ended up using the story from our 20th Century Children's Book Treasury instead. It was definitely not ideal, because we didn't have as many illustrations to look at, but it was the kind of week where you just make do.

  • We talked about how Mike cares for his steam shovel Mary Anne. He has taken such good care of her that she still works as well as ever, even though steam shovels are beginning to be replaced by diesel motors. 
  • We talked about boasting - because Mike boasts that Mary Anne can dig as much as in a day as a hundred men can dig in a week - and how it is not a great thing to do.
*Language Arts*

  • We went over the vocabulary from the  manual - this just involved a brief discussion of canals. 
  • We discussed the elements of a good story (setting, conflict, rising action, climax, denouement) and identified these in Mike Mulligan
  • We talked about personification - Mary Anne has many human characteristics, much like Katy!

  • We talked about the different way trees are drawn in the illustrations. Some are "ball and stick", while others are canopy-style.  Then Rose tried her hand at making some trees. We agreed that trees are challenging to draw!

  • We looked at the pages that have "action swirls" to show Mary Anne's intense work. Then, Rose tried drawing some action swirls of her own. 

Trees & action swirls

  • For practice, I had her try to draw "four corners neat and square". You can see her two little squares in the tree drawing above. 


  • Using the manual, we had a brief discussion about steam power, then tried it out with a pinwheel and the steam from a tea kettle. 

  • We discussed the importance of creative problem solving. The boy who comes up with the idea of Mary Anne acting as the furnace for the new town hall is definitely using creative problem solving!

  • We discussed road engineering - because Mary Anne is one of the steam shovels responsible for helping to build and straighten the roads. 

*More Fun*

  • To cap off this row, we made a fun Mike Mulligan cake in a square cake pan. James provided us with a tiny Lego steam shovel, and Rose made a crowd of teddy bears to look on. She was very proud of this, and of course enjoyed eating it. She didn't even notice that my hole didn't exactly have four corners "neat and square". 

We are currently finishing up our row of Madeline, so that will be my next FIAR post!

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